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My School Social Studies Project
Reviewed by David Whyld
In the interests of providing constructive criticism, I
decided to pick a game by a newcomer – namely
My School Social Studies Project by the ever prolific Anonymous – and
give it a bash. In a purely constructive manner, of course.
First off... well, the title. My School Social Studies Project doesn't fill me with enthusiasm. It tells me nothing about the game itself. Is it a comedy? A horror? A fantasy? The blurb for the game on the main site reads "6th Grade Social Studies Challenge Activity - Ancient Greece", which isn't a lot better but at least now I know it involves ancient Greece. (It's a bad point that the game is credited to Anonymous as this shows the author hasn't even bothered to register an account on the site he's uploaded his game to. It's also an issue because if I wanted to send an e-mail to the author with my opinions on the game, I've no way of doing so.)
But enough with the title and the lack of an author name, what about the game itself?
The introduction doesn't really grip me: "You are the hero known as Nolanus, your mission is to find your way through this odd maze of horrors." At the very least, you should make an effort with the first thing a player is going to see. Flesh it out. Why are you in the maze? Who is Nolanus? What is the maze and why is it odd and what are the horrors?
The first location description is also pretty lacking, and pretty buggy. A torch and rope are both listed twice in the description, and even after you take them they're still listed. I'm guessing that whoever wrote this didn't bother finding out even the very basics of ADRIFT before embarking on their first game, and it shows.
Moving into the second location, I again see something listed twice in the description, this time a statue of Zeus. Unfortunately, I can only refer to this as "statue" and not as "Zeus". Examining the statue informs me I can open it to receive a gift, but I'm still informed of this even after I've opened it and retrieved the item from inside. A simple change to the item description, or a line in the ALR, would have fixed this.
Into the third location I go, which, like the previous two, is little more than a line or two long in description. Here there's a statue of Hermes (which again can't be referred to as "Hermes" but only as "statue"), complete with a couple of typos in its description ("mithology" and "theives"). I'm beginning to spot a pattern here: minimal descriptions, every item has precisely one use, no attention to detail, no checking for typos or general game errors. If the author spent more than half an hour writing this, I'd be quite surprised.
Obvious commands (well, obvious to me anyway) don't work. If I'm a hero, shouldn't I be able to fight the creatures in the maze? At the bare minimum, I should be given the choice of fighting them, even if it ends in my death or defeat.
And... that's where I gave up. Sorry, but there was nothing about this game I could find to recommend. It suffers from most of the mistakes written by newcomers – minimal descriptions, typos, no depth, a marked lack of testing, no proper title (or author name!), not to mention no hints or any proper background information. At the very least, make descriptions longer. Flesh the text out. Explain why I'm in a maze. Give me a purpose in making my way through it instead of simply telling me I need to.
One final point: can a long corridor really be considered a maze?
After playing this tonight to completion, I felt the writer was attempting to educate his/her audience rather than entertain. There were a few moments where I found myself smiling and groaning inwardly at the clumsy humour, but overall I enjoyed playing it.
As I'm new to Adrift I'm not yet able to form an opinion on it's technical merits, or lack there of, but from what I've seen there are a few areas, even as a beginner, I would have paid more attention to.
I would either turn of exits being displayed in text and just write my own, or leave them on and say nothing in the descriptions. Also having only one ending, and a bad one at that, after I had done so well in completing all of the puzzles was a bit frustrating.
To sum up. Educational with a few smiles along the way. Has potential but needs more care and attention to detail.
The title is about as straightforward as it gets - this is literally some kid's school project about Greek Mythology that they've uploaded to the site. So it's probable the mysterious Anonymous never meant the game to be played by anyone but their teacher, but other players' comments had me curious so I decided to give it a quick look, and honestly...as far as first time efforts go, it's not THAT bad.
Not to say that there aren't issues with it, because there are several. You take objects in a room, they're still listed as being there, you get text about giving an object to a character and afterwards it's still in your inventory, and of course there's a smattering of spelling issues, which I consider far more inexcusable than I used to now that the developer will actually underline them in red for you as you're typing. Puzzles that should be no brainers (apple of discord, I'm looking at you) become frustrating due to guess the verb. (Anonymous, there is no reason 'give apple to statue' shouldn't have been recognized...and making the player type out 'apple of discord' in full every time while they try to figure out the exact command needed is just cruel.)
But the game IS completable, and this kid at least 'gets' the basic concept of IF, which is more than I can say for a lot of 'my first gaems' that have been uploaded to this site in the past. With a little more attention to detail this could be a simple but perfectly respectable educational game. I hope they continue to write, and it would be great if they made an account on the forum (with their parents' permission I guess?) to ask any questions or get advice on designing their next game.
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