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Old 01-20-2007, 12:31 AM   #4
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Re: Extravaganzicon Contest Results

Obright's Extravaganzicon Contest Reviews - RPG Maker 3

A Series Aside

The overall concept of A Series Aside is amazingly's a puzzle diary of sorts, and therefore the concept score is extremely high. I had my own scheme for scoring, which operated within Hito's scheme. I played for a little while, and scored the game in each category according to my initial reactions. If I leaned more toward the positive side, I gave a score of 6, and if I was leaning more toward the negative side, I gave a 5. As I played through the game these scores fluctuated, of course...and just because a category was given a 5 initially didn't mean that it wouldn't go up, and vice-versa. Those scores were just a starting point. If I found an aspect of a particular category that I really liked, I added a star, and for everything I didn't like, I took one away. This was the best way that I found to judge all three games fairly.
When I played these 3 games, I tried to figure out what the main crux(es) of the game were. For instance, in A Series Aside, I could discern fairly quickly that the main thrust of the game was the puzzles & minigames, and the writings. Those had to be judged a bit more severely, because of their importance. After playing a bit further, I decided that certain things affected 2 or more categories, and as an example, any deductions in the 'puzzle' aspect would also affect the 'polish' score, and any problems with the 'story' aspect would also be deducted in 'layout', because the main problems I had with the puzzles were more in the realm of 'polish', and what wasn't so great about the stories was mainly caused by their layout. Both problems are more related to those other aspects than the original ones anyway. The overall score would probably be the same, but the scores for the meat of the game wouldn't suffer so badly with the 'divided damage'. There are scores that are deducted in more than one category, but there are also good scores which apply to multiple categories, as well.
Initial Layout Score:
+1 * The dungeons weren't anything spectacular, but they were neat, and not overly complex.
+1 * The relation between the minigames and the various text unlockings is nice. It's a deeply thought out pattern, and deeply cool.
-1 * The map feels like it's just a holder for the 3's not very interesting.
-1 * The town model has a nice feel to it, but it's too big for so few buildings in my opinion. The town might just get cluttered with the addition of anything else, but it still felt a bit too big and open for 5 buildings to me.
-1 * The books in the 2 reading rooms were way too unorganised, and they could have done with some 'decorative display ON/OFF' codes. I found myself having to look at every single book in both buildings quite often, to find the ones that were newly unlocked. Eventually that seriously wore on me. Also, there are several stories running congruently, all parts of each are opened seperately at different times, and quite often I got a bit lost or confused with the plotlines as a result. I know that's 2 things, but they both come down to how disorganised the the layouts of the reading rooms are.
Final Layout Score:

Initial Plot Score:
+1 * Using puzzles to unlock the text part of the game is just a cool idea.
+1 * Many of the characters in the writings appear in the game as NPC's...I loved that.
+1 * There are a variety of text plots that are interwoven with each other, and with the game itself.
Final Concept Score:

Inital Creativity Score:
+1 * The minigames had a lot of variety. All of them were pretty fun, and some were simply amazing. Brilliant use of variables to overcome the lack of a random generator!
+1 * There was also a big variety of writings...prose of different moods and themes, song lyrics, and poetry of different styles...even a stream of consciousness poem (which I loved).
+1 * The various ways that things were unlocked were very creative.
+1 * The Concept score has already reflected my love for the overall game idea, but the fact that it's executed so creatively is great...the fact that this game was made at all earns the creator one star.
Final Creativity Score:

Initial Polish Score:
+1 * The grammar, punctuation, and spelling in the writings are nearly perfect...I only spotted one error, and it was obviously just a simple typo.
-1 * The reading rooms look like that warehouse at the end of 'Raiders of the Lost Ark'. I know I already deducted for this in 'layout', but unfortunately the 'polish' score has to take a hit, as well...because not only does it effect gameplay, but it just doesn't look good.
-1 * Almost all of the minigame events desperately need modes set to 'AUTO', so that they don't operate so klunkily.
-1 * Some of the stories are not finished. Since reading the stories is the whole reason for going through the trouble of unlocking them, I had to take a point away for that.
Final Polish Score:

Initial Fun Score:
+1 * There are 'easter eggs' in the game, which open additional things beyond beating the game. Even though I didn't wind up finding many of them on my own, I enjoyed looking for them.
+1 * I had fun with the puzzles, minigames, and 'collecting' unlocked books.
-1 * I have to say that I did not enjoy the overall writing style. I absolutely refuse to take away from your creativity score...this has nothing to do with a lack of creativity, but at the same time I have to be truthful, and say that it hampered my fun with the game. I hate 97% of poetry (unless it's my natural gas goddess Sylvia Plath, or Walt Whitman), and I almost never enjoy lyrics to a song I've never heard. I realise that you wrote all of this when you were younger, but I think you should have re-written it, or at least edited it to better reflect your current sensibilities. For me, the writing style's a bit too obvious, although you did begin to toy with the idea of symbolism (the 'shadow of a cross' in one story comes to mind). The various other problems I had with the game also hampered my fun with it, but I thought a one-star penalty was enough for all of them.
Final Fun Score:

Final Thoughts:
Like I keep saying, the overall concept of the 'puzzle journal' is amazing. The puzzles and minigames were brilliant, although a bit klunky to operate. I didn't want to deduct for this unless it was possible to fix them, but after a few minor tweaks, I was able to get several of them running much more smoothly without triggering any infinite loops...all it took was for a few event modes to be changed to 'auto'. They all work fine the way they are, but without modes set to auto, the events just stop for all intents and purposes until you press X, and they each do this several times. To me, that just feels broken.
Personally, I would have loved to see some 'decorative display ON' codes used for the books in the 2 reading rooms. That would have avoided a lot of confusion and frustration for me. Also, I would have liked it if the NPC's, and even the plot of the game itself, were woven more closely with the stories. Like I said, I like the fact that that the characters from the stories were used as NPC's, but the only reason why they are there is for novelty...they just say 'Welcome to Perversion's world.' I guess what I'm trying to say is that I wish the game was more based on the writings, not the writings' author.

Last edited by Valkysas; 01-20-2007 at 12:59 AM.
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