Shelter from the Storm: Conclusion

The rest of the game took me less time than I expected. Once you’ve reached a crucial turn, a body turns up, and the game settles down into being a murder mystery for a while. This shift brings the return of the NPCs, who guide you through the rest of the plot. I kind of feel like I took longer to complete the self-directed snooping segment than I was supposed to, probably due to my reluctance to use the hint system (which actually proved very gentle on those occasions when I tried it). After the murder, you get to roam about looking for clues, accompanied by a character who comments on their significance. I had spent so much time poking around earlier that I had already found them all, except for a couple of final open-and-shut-case ones that I simply didn’t have access to before.

Overall, what we have here is a well-done shortish period piece. It’s also quite technically sophisticated, with such features as a pathing “GO TO” command, automatic spelling correction, and a conversation system that combines the best features of menu-based and freeform conversation without ever taking away the player’s ability to enter ordinary commands. Actually, these are all features that I’ve been seeing in other games this year and not commenting on. It seems like the state of the art is advancing incrementally, and that features that Infocom could only dream of are becoming standard — especially when you consider that this game was written in TADS, and most of the other games I’ve been playing were written in Inform. So no actual code libraries were shared between this game and the others. Ideas that seem good get imitated.

1 Comment so far

  1. Eriorg on 4 Nov 2009

    Note that the “GO TO” command already existed in Level 9’s late games, since Knight Orc in 1987. So it’s not exactly brand new! I’ve always wondered why that useful command was so rarely used later, then apparently “re-discovered” around the release of Bronze and Inform 7… (To be more precise, Level 9 used two commands: “GO TO” or “FIND” to go to a previously visited room or find an already seen object with the detailed list of visited locations, and “RUN TO”, which did the same thing but without any details — very useful when you had to use it often.)

    Maybe Magnetic Scrolls also made a few games with “GO TO”, but I’m not sure. I don’t know if Infocom ever did it!

    Anyway, I think Level 9 were often very innovative: not only with “GO TO”, but they implemented “UNDO” (which they also called “OOPS” — not the same “OOPS” as in Infocom/Inform games) before Infocom (1986 for Level 9, 1987 for Infocom, if I’m not mistaken), and they had pretty sophisticated commands to give orders to NPCs in their later games.

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