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A jam submission

Danny DipstickView game page

You need to find a girlfriend, but all the girls think you're a dork. Try to overcome your dorkiness to pick up a girl.
Submitted by Garry Francis — 8 hours, 58 minutes before the deadline
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Danny Dipstick's itch.io page

Results

CriteriaRankScore*Raw Score
Implementation#83.3003.300
Writing (General Quality)#123.1003.100
Puzzles#122.8502.850
Overall Rating#132.9502.950
Help, Hints and/or Instructions#132.7002.700
Presentation (Text, Graphics & Sound)#142.9502.950
Story (Plot, Setting & Objective)#152.6002.600

Ranked from 20 ratings. Score is adjusted from raw score by the median number of ratings per game in the jam.

Overview of Game
You need to find a girlfriend, but all the girls think you're a dork. Try to overcome your dorkiness to pick up a girl.

Requirements to Play
This game requires a z-code interpreter. Interpreters for many platforms can be found at the Interactive Fiction Archive http://www.ifarchive.org/indexes/if-archive/infocom/interpreters/

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Comments

(+3)

It’s fine.

Danny Dipstick is a short game with no higher ambition than to entertain for an hour or so. It certainly meets that goal, but it could have set its sights much higher.

Tone

The game faithfully — even doggedly — adheres to the tradition of old parser games, from the file format to the simple mechanics to the choice of verbs to the sparse rooms. This makes my withered curmudgeonly heart sing.

While playing, I would have liked some more flavour, more described items (e.g. the koalas), and important items folded into room descriptions instead of “you see here”. On reflection, though, I think they add to the nostalgia.

There are a few moments of sheer comedic genius: the whole sequence in the bar was my favourite.

Plot

The game follows Danny Dipstick, a dork trying to get a girlfriend at a nightclub, but beset by a series of problems.

The plot is linear and predictable: He solves these problems in sequence, with no acknowledgement that needing a change of clothes and needing a change of personality are quite different problems.

A thin plot isn’t necessarily a flaw, but I expected twists, new hooks, and character development. I would have liked either more plot, or clarity from the outset that the story would be very light.

Puzzles

The puzzles are, frankly, a bit naff. They’re mostly a series of fetch quests, often with little connection to the problem they solve. The solutions are often unrealistic — sometimes humorously so, sometimes embarrassingly.

I mostly found them very easy and would have liked the difficulty to ramp up near the end, but it’s a good level of difficulty for new players.

Politically-correct pearl clutching

I was a little put off by the treatment of class and race in the game. The characters fall into two categories: Those of the same class as the PC, whose race is unspecified, and whom the PC tries to do favours for; and service workers, whose race is usually specified (Indian, Maori), and whose good opinion the PC doesn’t care about. It’s not, like, Birth of a Nation, it just made me a bit uncomfortable.

I also kind of got the impression that the narrative was treating the clerk’s Indian-ness like some sort of personality flaw, which was quite perplexing.

Specific feedback for the author (contains mild spoilers)

  • “show [something] to clerk” should either be treated as a synonym of “give”, or produce a custom response
  • “read mints” should be a synonym of “read label”
  • “search rack” produces “Searching the magazine rack just reveals lots and lots of magazines. You wonder whether there’s anything underneath it. You wonder whether there’s anything else underneath it.” (note repetition)
  • The High Roller club is too sparse and needs to be fleshed out, with a puzzle or at least pretty scenery
  • The bartender is too prominent to be just scenery; either fold him into the scenery or have a puzzle involve him
  • The “Hmmm, let’s stop and consider this.” paragraph is redundant since the bouncer already said the same thing twice immediately before. Maybe only show it when the player talks to the bouncer more than once?
  • There’s no way Robbie could accomplish what he does in only a few hours. This breaks suspension of disbelief
  • It’d be polite to include help, hints, or at least a walkthrough
  • Any way you can release a web version with an interpreter? Inform tools tend to do that pretty well.
DeveloperSubmitted(+1)

Thanks for the review. I'll have to get you on board as a tester.

Danny Dipstick is only intended as a bit of fun, but most of the issues you raised are quite valid. I was still working on it just hours before the submission cut-off and it looks like I introduced a couple of bugs that weren't in the beta release. Maybe I should do a post-comp release to fix those issues.

I've also been experimenting with a web-based version. It's actually not as straight forward as you may think, especially when hosted on itch.io.

DeveloperSubmitted

I've been going through your notes and two things have me puzzled:

  • GIVE and SHOW are two entirely different actions. The former implies a tranfer of an object. The latter does not. SHOW <something> TO CLERK actually does produce a custom response. So, what were you getting at here?
  • The "Hmmm, let's stop and consider this." paragraph is not redundant as the bouncer doesn't say anything unless you talk to him or ask him about something. What did you do to think that the same thing had already been said twice immediately beforehand? And his response does change, depending on circumstances.
(1 edit)

So, what were you getting at here?

I expect “show butt to clerk”, “show ticket to clerk” (when the ticket is new), and “show ticket to clerk” (when the ticket is scratched) to all produce different responses. It makes sense to give hints that an action is almost right.

What did you do to think that the same thing had already been said twice immediately beforehand?

Ah, perhaps I didn’t follow the expected route. Consider this transcript:

>s

Outside High Roller Nightclub
You’re outside the entrance to the High Roller nightclub. This is not just another club. It has a much fancier atmosphere than any club you’ve ever been in. You can enter the club to the south or return to the street to the north.

A bouncer is here, guarding the entrance to the nightclub.

>talk to bouncer
You try to cajole your way in. “I’m sorry sir, I can’t let you in here dressed like that. We have a dress code and it’s my job to keep people like you out of here. Now back off before I bend you in half.”

Hmmm, let’s stop and consider this. He won’t let you in because you’re dressed like an idiot. Maybe you can do something about that.

(Emphasis mine.) As you can see, the same message mentions clothes thrice; a reasonable hint if the player seems to be stuck, but not so much on the second move of the game.

DeveloperSubmitted

Sounds fine to me.