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A jam submission

Clash: Steel BaristaView game page

Take on a short job as Clash's temp assistant and solve the case of the murdered robotic barista.
Submitted by alygisrandom@yahoo.com (@Sciaenops22) — 5 days, 10 hours before the deadline
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Play tale of mystery

Clash: Steel Barista's itch.io page

Results

CriteriaRankScore*Raw Score
Usage of Theme#34.0004.000
Story & Plot#44.0004.000
Overall#93.5003.500
Gameplay/Usage of the medium#123.0003.000
UI Design#143.0003.000

Ranked from 12 ratings. Score is adjusted from raw score by the median number of ratings per game in the jam.

Team Members
Myself (with photography from Unsplash.com)

Program
Inky, exported to HTML

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Comments

Submitted(+1)

VERY fun twist, and I like the photomanipulation with the characters. Most of my critical comments are just rehashing what previous comments have already said, although I do wish that the images themselves had been a little bigger so I could get a better look at them. They're such a nice bit of the interface, but they're so small!

The backstory development is a little lacking, but given that this is a sequel, I can see how some things aren't established in this story. I also would have liked an option to refuse when prompted by Clash at the end, even though it is established during Eric's discussion that doing so would be pointless. It would have added a fun layer of interactivity, even if the end result is ultimately the same. It might have even balanced nicely with the player's personality style.

Developer

Thank you for your review!  I was having trouble getting the pictures to a good size that didn't hide the choices, inky was being fussy in that regard.  :-/

Submitted(+1)

This was great! I actually thought the cliffhanger would happen after the point when Clash said his theory, so I was pleasantly surprised that it wasn't over.

I like the use of the unreliable narrator, but I didn't like how the MC always comes across as accusatory even if you try to be friendly. I think it might be better if friendly MC brings it up with Clash after talking with the suspect instead.

Also not sure if this is a plot hole, but wouldn't the manager have recognized the MC?

Anyway, I'll also echo that I love Clash as a character. I enjoyed it overall, just needs a bit of polishing. Great job!

Developer(+1)

With the manager, each of his answers was supposed to hint that he's scared of the MC.  That was also supposed to tie in to why the MC was fired: for being a douchebag, not for being organic.  Which, in turn, ties in to why the MC is so accusatory: they're a jerk who thinks they are smarter than they are who is trying to keep a detective off his tracks.  Unfortunately, for as loud as I shouted those bits in my head, they were very quiet in actual words.  ^^;  As I've said to others, I'm still learning the ropes of IF.

Thank you for the review!  I am so glad people like Clash as much as I do.  :-)

Submitted(+1)

I loved the photo manipulations here! Very nice touch. I also really enjoyed the concept of robot characters and the base plotline here. I do agree with what other folks said, and definitely think this is a story that, if you were interested in continuing, would really benefit from some more world-building around the robots and even a little bit more of a backstory from the MC which, admittedly, would be somewhat difficult to do, but possible. I found the twist ending to be fun, though I definitely think the impact could be played up with a bit more length added to the game.  Overall, love the foundations and I'll definitely look into playing the other game you created with Clash!

Developer

World-building/foreshadowing are definitely my weaknesses right now, I need to keep practicing.  xD  

Thank you so much for your review!

Submitted(+1)

Overall I had fun, I guessed the ending twist from the references the MC made about Clash's responses throughout, but I'm not sure the twist works in first person, as previous comments mention.

 It feels a bit like a plothole that the character's don't have more of a reaction to the MC being the robot's detectives assistant, especially the manager? 

Once the twist is revealed, I'm not sure why we still have 0 thoughts or explanation from the MC's view, especially when we didn't seem to have any choices after this - I thought the reaction was strange and the game would benefit from some branching at the very end based on the stats. (Sorry if I missed it and there is, I did 2 playthroughs with opposite characters and felt like there should have been a different ending?)

I don't mean for this review to sound negative, I enjoyed playing it, well done! 

Developer

Did you mix the stats?  The game may not have recognized if you had one stat higher than the other, because it's supposed to give a bit of a monologue at the end based on your highest stat.  If not, it may have defaulted to nothing.  That was an unfortunate bug I didn't have time to iron out.  :-/

And this is a sequel to a whole other game where Clash was trying to make a name for himself; in there, he did have some folk who were assuming he was the sidekick since he was a robot.  By the time this game rolls around, he's got a little bit more pull with the city.  I probably should have added in a line along those lines somewhere.  ^^;

Thanks for the review!

Submitted(+1)

Oh my God was this story great! And I didn't see that twist coming! This was one of the most humorous stories I've played in this jam. Clash is just *chef kiss* and I would love to read 100s more stories with him in it!

That said, I feel like there should need a tiny bit more edits that should be done to make it a great overall game. Some choices didn't make sense to me, especially in the response I would get back. For example Victoria shooting me a glare when I didn't pick the dick-ish option. I think in hindsight it was to show how she knows you(?), but on first reading, it felt too out of character/narrative. Like something wasn't coded properly.

Like beeanca said, the use of the 1st person felt a bit weird. Maybe like she says, the use of the second person would work better? Or going through the perspective of another character? (that previous assistant that would train the unnamed MC?).

I agree with yousayrandy in terms of the story feeling a bit rushed in some parts. I think it would have helped to have a bit more conversation/interactiveness with the other. Maybe have the MC ask more questions or have more down time with Clash after each interaction? I did think it was good that Clash was hiding something from you, but now it makes me think that he was dragging me around to get the truth from me? Something in the story felt missing.

UI side, the dark theme does not work well. The background turns black but the text stays in this white box that makes it very annoying to read. Also, would have loved the option of going fullscreen or have the game window being a bit bigger.

Overall, great game! and would recommend others to play for sure! I had lots of fun playing it!

Developer(+1)

I am so glad people are loving Clash as much as I do.  xD  He's my favorite OC these days, and I definitely need to do more with him.  I mean, he's been in a few other games, sure, but I need MORE.  Like I mentioned earlier, I am still learning how to do foreshadowing in a way that isn't jarring.  :-(  

And I did not mention this earlier, but I will say that the first-person twist is a reference to Agatha Christie's The Murder Of Roger Ackroyd.  Or to be more specific, my reaction to that book's ending when I read it in 11th grade.  I remember almost throwing the book down the hallway in both anger and awe.  So I wanted to see if I could pull that kind of twist off, too.  :-)

But yes, thank you so much for the kind words!  I had so much trouble getting this story out, so I'm glad people are enjoying it.

Submitted(+1)

OMG This makes to much sense now!

I think this is one of her more polarizing story, with how the twist ended up being as well (you either love it or want to burn the book for making you look like a dumbass). It really is a very hard thing to pull off in such little amount of words. So in retrospect, kudos to you!

Deleted post
Developer(+1)

Thank you so much!  I do plan on doing more with Clash, he's one of my favorite characters I've come up with.  

Submitted(+1)

Congratulations on creating this. You should be proud. There's a lot to unpack here (which is a good thing), but forgive me if I ramble. 

Pros:

You have a very good talent for prose. This is surprisingly long, but I was never bored reading the words. There are human feelings that are inexplicable, but immediately relatable -- such as when the player walks into Clash's and feels like a stranger, or how you mention you can sense Clash's emotions without a face -- and you convey those extremely well. Clash is an interesting character, and I enjoyed hanging out with him. Without spoiling anything, I didn't see the ending coming, so it was a fun surprise.

I love the noir theme, and that comes across well. The dialogue is good and moves everything at a reasonable pace. I really like the clash of noir and sci-fi.

Cons:

There's two major issues that I have. The first, the "game" part of it. The nature of interactivity makes me immediately relate to the character, which is both a gift and a curse. It's a gift because I was very invested in what happened, but a curse when choices were in direct conflict with what I felt was right -- such as "accusing" people when I didn't really want to. Even before the reveal, I just kept feeling more and more like a jerk, even though I kept selecting the "compassion" option.

The stat system is neat, but is tricky in a game of this length. I'd love to know the different endings, but I don't want to go through the same narrative just to see it. I also wished I knew something about what it was doing, because as the nature of being an experience gamer, I tried to "min max" so I always selected the same option, which hurt the narrative a bit. 

The other issue is structural problems such as consistency and world building. I've already discussed problems with the protagonist, but even Clash takes a turn that I don't feel is earned at the end. He was very likable and polite in most instances. The world building, while fun, is a bit messy, insofar that I didn't have a really great sense of the rules. I walked into Clash's office thinking sentient robots were strange, or even "rumored," but that conflicted with with everyone talking to Clash like he was a normal guy, and conflicted greatly with the ending.

As I mentioned, I really like Clash as a character, but I have an issue with him pulling out deus ex machina technology to answer questions and make me look like an idiot. Why didn't he just say that out loud in the beginning? Why did we waste our time? You try to address it, but I didn't really get there.

Final thought is there are things that I felt were going to be setups that never pay off, and things that come out of nowhere that weren't set up (which I mentioned with Clash's tech). The choice to give backstories to some of the characters didn't really play into anything other than to build to the ending, which made it feel more distracting and unfair than a good misdirection. I really got hung up on the asexuality of Victoria, and how much that was focused on really led me to thinking it had some kind of meaning, but it appears like it was just there to be amusing, which pulls me away from a lot of what's good in here.

Overall, I really enjoyed my time with it, and none of these problems couldn't be fixed with a few more passes. I feel like if you had focused your time a little more on your strengths, and dialed back the scope a little bit in terms of the interactive nature, most of these problems would have been alleviated. I can't take points away for ambition, though, and you really have something here. Nicely done, and congratulations again.

Developer

Thank you so much for the detailed review!  It always hits hard (in a really good way) when someone takes the time to tell me what I did good and not so good.  It helps me figure out where my strengths and weaknesses are, because honestly I think I only have weaknesses. 

I will say that a lot of the cons you mentioned, interestingly enough, are things I actually debated with myself about putting in.  Like the stats; since this game wasn't going to branch as wildly as the first Clash, I didn't know if I should bother.  But then again, I wanted that same connection to the games (even though both already had Clash (lol duh)).  So I decided to go with it and see if it worked.  A lot of what I do is going with it to see if it works.  xD  Or they were meant to be character development and/or foreshadowing for another game...which, again, I'm still learning how to do that properly without confusing the audience (you should've seen my first web-IF piece, I tried to advertise two games at once, one of which wasn't going to be finished for another month or so, and it was a mess).  Or I just had no idea how to keep the scene moving so I pulled something out of my ass.  I will fully admit to doing that.  ^^;  

Seriously though, this game was hard to write.  I had a lot of struggles with both writer's block and my own self-doubts that I could pull off that kind of ending.  So again, the fact that you gave such a wonderful review really made my day!  

Submitted(+1)

You're welcome. And I understand and relate to everything you said. I struggled with writer's block with mine, too, and anyone says "the developer never thought of THIS!" is fooling themselves. You're talented enough to have considered everything, and everything is subjective. I just wanted to let you know what worked for me and what didn't, something that will vary from person to person.

I wasn't aware there were multiple games in the series, though. I'll have to check it out. Clash is a cool character.