IFComp 2023: Lake Adventure

Here’s some pretty strong nostalgia-bait. It’s presented (at first) as an AGT game written by a 13-year-old in 1993, basically a “My House” game with embellishments, supplemented by running commentary from the same fictional author in 2020 as he shows it off to someone else. Laughing at his younger self’s naive design decisions, explaining the context in his life, helping us through the worse puzzles. It turns out to not quite be the game he remembered making: he altered portions of the game throughout his teen years and forgot about it. But it all adds up to a character portrait of a fictional author over the course of years via multi-layered narrative. In the end, via in-game time machine, we get to take a look at his childish fantasies about his future, and contrast them with what really happened.

I call it nostalgia-bait not just because the whole premise is one of looking back at our past and saying “Remember those goofy amateurish adventure games we used to play and write when we were kids and our standards were lower?”, but because the layered narrative feels like the kind of formal experiment that we used to see a lot more of when modern IF was in its infancy. That is, it isn’t just the goofy AGT that hearkens back to games of yore, but the framing device as well. But I may be reaching here. To a lot of people, all parser-based IF looks nostalgia-driven. Still, the backstory we learn involves a sister who died in childhood, which, in the context of decades-old IF, immediately makes me think of Adam Cadre. I briefly entertained the notion while playing that this was in fact written by Cadre under a pseudonym, which would have some precedent, but I find it unlikely. It wouldn’t surprise me if it was meant to deliberately evoke him, though.

IFComp 2010: East Grove Hills

And now, the last game on my docket, submitted by someone going by the pseudonym “XYZ” — very fitting for the end of a sequence of 26. Spoilers follow the break.
Read more »