IFComp 2007: Lost Pig

Lost Pig concerns an orc named Grunk, familiar to some parts of the IF community for his Livejournal. Spoilers follow the break.

Grunk is a nice juicy character to get into, not really evil but sort of perpetually confused, like an enormous green child. One of the first things I do in any adventure game is take inventory. In this game, I was told that I’m carrying a torch and wearing pants. So I immediately took off the pants, then tried to eat them — I don’t make a habit of doing this sort of thing in games, but this is well within the realm of expected behavior for orcs, and I was pleased to find that the author had provided reasonable responses in orcish patois. (“Grunk chew on pants, but pants too tough. And them need ketchup.”) In fact, now that I go back and look, pretty much every object has a unique response for trying to eat it, some with permanent effects. If Grunk eats a whistle, for example, he goes “Tweee” every few turns for the rest of the game. This is what we call “attention to detail”, and this game has it in spades.

The story takes place in Grunk’s pre-livejournal days, when he was working at a Warcraft-style pig farm. A pig has escaped, and Grunk is charged with bringing it back, even though it’s probably capable of outsmarting him. This leads to getting trapped in a small dungeon crawl with alchemical gimmickry. It’s good fun, but there isn’t a lot of area to explore, and I did manage to get stuck a couple of times.

To elaborate, at one point I was stuck due to imagining things wrong: told that a stream was too wide to vault across with a pole I was carrying, I imagined it as much wider than the pole’s length. It took a look at the hint menu to tell me I was wrong, and the experience leaves me wondering if the stream was narrower than I imagined it or if the pole was longer. Problems of scale like this are one of the banes of text adventures (although graphic adventures aren’t completely immune either — I recall a part in Sierra’s Lighthouse that was rendered harder than it should have been because I didn’t know the relative sizes of certain inventory items). A lot of games deal with it by adding numerical measurements to descriptions: if you have a 15-foot ladder and a 15-foot chasm, it’s patently obvious what to do. I wouldn’t suggest that approach here, though — putting such a clinical detail into a description would be difficult in Grunk’s voice, even ignoring the fact that he can’t count to 15.

Rating: 7

1 Comment so far

  1. IF Competition Discussion: Lost Pig « Emily Short’s Interactive Fiction on 8 Oct 2007

    […] is a great (if silly) embodiment of that principle. Baf has talked about how he was led to try orc-appropriate behavior throughout the game (in this case, eating Grunk’s pants). I spent a lot of time chasing the […]

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