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DRIFTERS MONTHLY
- Edited by Woodfish (yimcphee@hotmail.com
- Issue #01
- 29th August 2002
Drifters Monthly (c) Woodfish 2002
DRIFTERS MONTHLY is an independent newsletter, in no way official and came about
just by a bunch of drifters on the forum (www.adrift.org.uk/forum.html) who decided to
make one for fun. All work on this newsletter is original content from the respective
authors, and please do not copy it without their prior consent.
Contents
REGULARS
1. Editorial
2. Feedback
2. Mut's Rants
3. Links
4. Mad Monk's Corner
5. Letters
5. Current News
6. New Releases
INTERVIEWS
7. MileOut
ARTICLES
9. 'Let's Talk Interactive Fiction' by En Kerklaar
PREVIEWS
13. 'Stig' by MileOut
REVIEW S
14. 'Storm Tossed' by David Grigg
15. 'Selma's Will' by Mystery
16. 'The Lost Mines' by Mel S
EXTRAS
17. 'Life On The Lilies' by Stewart J. McAbney
19. ENDNOTE
Regulars
EDITORIAL
Welcome to the first edition of Drifters Monthly. This is the result of weeks of plotting,
planning, writing and chasing up on people. It has all been worth it though, this seems to
me like a great first issue. Before you all start reading, though, I'd like to say a few things.
First, I will be posting this issue to several newsgroups and forums, to let everyone know
what kind of things you can find in this newsletter. After this, it will be email only, and you
will have to subscribe to it to receive the newsletter. To subscribe, send your email
address and name to yimcphee@hotmail.com and you'll be added.
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May I also add that the site www.driftersmonthly.8m.com is the site for the newsletter, and
once each issue has been released, I will be posting it on there too, the only difference
being there will be working links and use of HTML. I hope to get this site up within a few
weeks.
Anyone can write for Drifters Monthly. I am constantly looking for reviews, previews,
letters and articles, and if you would like to submit one, simply email it to me at
yimcphee@hotmail.com and I' ll put it in.
That' s all for now, enjoy the issue!
- Woodfish, 29th August 2002
FEEDBACK
If you have any suggestions or questions about the newsletter, please send me an email
(yimcphee@hotmail.com). Or, if you find any errors or anything wrong with the letter,
please tell me. Thanks.
MUT'S RANTS
First off, I' d like to welcome all of you to my column, lovingly called ďMut' s RantsĒ. For
those of you who don' t know me, I' m a computer and movie addict with a love for
interactive fiction, cult cinema, and all things controversial.
The other day I was sitting in my favorite chair, wondering just what I was going to write
about. As this is an IF newsletter, I thought that it might be appropriate to discuss the
main subject: interactive fiction.
Why is it that people like IF so much. Is it because of the fact that it uses words instead
of pictures, allowing the player to visualize for themselves the game they' re playing. Is it
because it exercises the mind, entertaining as well as expanding one' s vocabulary. Or
perhaps some just find it a good substitute for sleeping pills.
Myself, I love the fact that it uses the imagination. Game developers are always bragging
that their new game has an "improved graphics engine" or that it now includes "UltraMax
bump mapping" or some other such industry babble. Regular computer games have
always been restricted in that no matter how detailed their environments may be, no
matter how many pixels they can cram onto the screen at one time, they will never be
able to achieve absolute realism.
With interactive fiction, the words are simply a guide, a few sentences designed to help
paint a picture in the player' s head. Consider the following passage:
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Stepping out of the door, you emerge onto a great hill overlooking the sea. A light wind
blows through your hair, and high above two birds dance through the sky. As the ground
slopes downward, the grass disappears, to be replaced by sharp, jagged rocks and hot
sand. If you listen closely, you can hear the sound of the waves crashing down upon the
shore, and you can almost taste the sea spray ...
You can' t actually see the hill, nor can you feel the wind. However, you have managed to
visualize an image of that scene in your head. The chances are that if you show the
above passage to a friend, you and he will not imagine the exact same picture. Sure,
they' ll both contain all the elements: the grass, the birds, the rocks and the waves. But
perhaps you imagine a hot sun beating down overhead, and he imagines it to be a
much milder temperature. By not including the description of the sky, the author lets the
player form his own conclusions.
Now imagine how the scene would appear in, say, a first-person shooter such as _Quake
III._ It may look pretty, but does it utilize all of your senses. Can you feel the grass
beneath your feet, can you taste the salt from the spray. The answer, of course, is a
resounding "No". This doesn' t mean that regular computer games are bad, it simply
means that they cannot compete with IF in the immersion department.
Everyone has their own reasons for liking interactive fiction. Why do you. Is it the words,
the imagination, the visualization. Is it because you love reading, or does it just give you
something to do when you' re bored. Think about that for a while. The answer just may
surprise you.
- Mut (Mut2000@Ameritech.net)
LINKS
Courtesy of Lancer Sykera...
Ranchoweb.com Image Hosting
http://www.ranchoweb.com/images/
Good, free image host. Helps when you have images to put on the Forum, such as the
Logo competition.
Lllama's Web Site
http://lllama.iwarp.com/
I was amazed she actually got into a college at all... I invite everyone to look around,
especially look at the rants, they are really good. I' ve been following this crazy girl around
the web for over a year or two now.
The Site Fights
http://www.thesitefights.com/
Great competition for websites. Takes a lot of hard work and dedication, but pays off in
fun and recognition. I have been active in TSF for over a year and a half.
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And courtesy of Woodfish...
Brass Lantern
http://www.brasslantern.org/
A good all round Adventure Games site, mainly focusing on IF, but still with reviews and
news of the wider spectrum of Adventure games. Includes some good articles on game
design, reviews and even has a newsletter.
The IF Archive
http://www.ifarchive.org/
The IF Archive - the place to go when you' re looking for any IF game. Since its move from
the FTP, it' s become more easier to use, especially with the Frobozz Magic Searching
Tool (there' s a link on the main page) which lets you look through for a certain game
.
KFADRIFT
http://www.kfadrift.org.uk/
An ADRIFT specific site, recently hosted a competition (KF' s Summer
MiniComp - See Current News or more details) - one of the most
informative ADRIFT sites, it contains current news, tutorials and links.
The Official ADRIFT Site
http://www.adrift.org.uk/
The official site for ADRIFT, this holds the ADRIFT game archive - the place all new
games get released to. Also, you can download the Generator and Runner from here, as
well as keeping up to date with all the new releases.
The ADRIFT Forum
http://www.adrift.org.uk/forum
The Forum is the place for all drifters to go to. Lots of kind and humorous people here,
everyone is very informative, always happy to answer any newcomers questions, while
having a laugh at the same time. This is the number one ADRIFT site, for me.
MAD MONK'S CORNER
"All right then," I said. "Okay, here we go." I opened my briefcase and realized that I' d
never thought beyond this point. The orange leaves were the extent of my lesson plan,
but still I searched the empty briefcase, mindful that I had stupidly armed my audience
with straight pins."
-David Sedaris in his book, Me Talk Pretty One Day, on the subject of being a writing
workshop teacher.
If your life is going nowhere
and your rewards are few,
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just remember that the mighty oak
was once a nut like you.
Women' s faults are many,
while men have only two.
Everything we say,
and everything we do.
"I doubt if any of them are working now, it' s only 9:45."
-Tedd Pierce
Slapsie Maxi Rosenbloom, on seeing his first solar eclipse: "Gee, dat' s bad, ain' t it."
~By The Mad Monk~
LETTERS
_Off Topic_
I have noticed that theres a tendency to get off track regarding the subject stated in the
Forum, and a very good example is the Adrift class idea that DuoDave (I think it was)
came up with. The first three, four replies actually dealt with his suggestion about making
a class, but then it slowly (but surely) turned into common chat about schools, grades and
other stuff that had absolutely nothing to do with the subject. I find it very irritating (I use
this word because I dont know how to spell anoying *lol*) that when I see a subject that
looks interesting and want to read it, I have to sift through all kinds of comments that has
nothing to do with anything. I often find myself not even bothering to go through them all
and thats a petty. Because there are probably people out there who can benefit from the
things that are brought up in the Forum. Sometimes it looks like people are writing
comments just to get their name on the page...
I suggest that only replies that are linked to the subject being placed in the forum. If you
have something to say to the author, use the e-mail - I guess thats what its there for.
Regards
Finn RosenlÝv
CURRENT NEWS
KF's Summer MiniComp
It has come and passed, this time, unfortunately only receiving two entries - but
outstanding ones at that. The Amazing Poodle Boy entered his fairytale game with a
twist, ' Goldilocks is a FOX!' . This game has received lots of praise, including good puzzles
and imaginative descriptions. This came in second place (as well as, coincidentally, last
place), but was beaten by only one point by Mystery' s latest adventure ' Professor Von
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Witt' s Fabulous Flying Machine' . This is a good short game, filled with varied puzzles, and
multiple endings - keeps the standard of Mystery' s games still high. Overall, a pleasing
competition, we can hope that the lack of entries means more games reserved for the
Annual Comp.
ADRIFT v4, Release 32
This is the latest release, and now there really is no excuse not to download ADRIFT and
give it a go.
Logo Competition
The competition for a new ADRIFT logo (for the main site) has now ended, the multiple
winners being Holliday Kedik and Timmon. You can see their works of art at
www.adrift.org.uk.
RIP Smacking Thread
It may be locked, but it' s memory will live on. *smacks davidw for lo
cking it, from the
comfort of the Editor' s chair*
NEW RELEASES
This past two months summary of releases, by Woodfish.
LAIR OF THE VAMPIRE - David Whyld
(Vampire, horror style)
PROFESSOR VON WITT' S FABULOUS FLYING MACHINE
- Mystery
(Winner of KFADRIFT' s
Competition. Short, puzzlefest.)
THE WOODS ARE DARK - Cannibal
(Horror, suspense-filled story)
STORM TOSSED - David Grigg
(A game based on Shakespeare' s ' The Tempest' . Read a review of it
later in the issue)
SCREENSAVERS ON PLANET X - Josh Lawrence
(Re-posted by Mystery)
FAR FROM HOME - The Mad Monk
(New release, version 1.2, now in version 4. Remains a classic.)
THE LOST TOMB - T. Mulkerrins
(Puzzlefest set in Egypt. Lots of action.)
ALIAS: UNDERCOVER AGENT - Rainbowscape
(Short, secret agent-style game)
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PICK OF THE MONTH
' The Woods Are Dark'
- A very interesting game. It' s actually told in
story form, in the past tense and it works very well. It actually makes
the game seem more like a story that just events happening around you.
The writing and description have obviously had time taken over them -
you can imagine the often spooky scenes clearly, the author managing to
utilise all the senses, while not over elaborating. Definitely a good
game.
INTERVIEWS: MileOut
Stewart J. McAbney, better known as MileOut. Lately his gothic horror piece, Panic, has
been much talked about, and is regarded as one of ADRIFT' s best authors. Here is what
he has to say about his works, and himself.
DM: To start with, please tell us a little about yourself. Who are you, and what do you do
for a living.
M: My name is Stewart J. McAbney, and Iím twenty-three years old. I live in Glasgow,
Scotland, and work for an insurance company. My job involves creating reports, data
analysis, and for the most part, building database applications. I have though, also
worked within the British Merchant Navy. I have, for the most part, universal interests
within literature, film, and music - the benefits of this being a great general knowledge that
helps win the local pub quiz regularly.
DM: How did you first get into Interactive Fiction, and then ADRIFT.
M: My IF baptism - so to speak - occurred when I owned an Amstrad CPC/464. I had two
games that I found intriguing but could never really work out. These were Heroes of Karn
and Forest at Worldís End. I never really played much until years later when, feeling
nostalgic and with an afternoon to spare, I downloaded an Amstrad emulator and went in
search of said games. Finding them, but not being able to work out how to use the
emulator I searched for more IF games, preferably modern ones, and came across
ADRIFT which I promptly downloaded - and loved.
DM: Why do you choose ADRIFT over all the other IF languages.
M: Iíve chosen ADRIFT as, although I can program, my main love is to write. With
ADRIFT I can spend more time directing my attention towards prose than with
programming. In the future, as my games become better I might look to further their
reader/playership but by that time ADRIFT will hopefully be more recognised.
DM: What compels you to write interactive fiction. What do you enjoy about making
games, and why do you make them.
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M: I think I am compelled to write interactive fiction because it is a way to look at some of
my ideas that I couldnít turn into short stories and make something worthwhile - or
investigative - with them. Enjoyment comes mostly from seeing an idea realised and/or
concluded, and getting responses from other users that, although the style or genre may
not be their favourite, appreciate it. Originally, I made the games for myself. If youíve ever
played my first effort, The Shuffling Room then you could see that: it had no story, no plot;
just a point to prove about society. After my last game I feel Iíve chilled slightly, wanting to
make games that are more fun and less preachy.
DM: Your latest game, Panic, in terms of completeness and writing, is one of ADRIFT' s
best. Let' s talk about that. First, what was your main aim when you made Panic.
M: Initially I had set out to create a zombie game after watching the Mandarin movie
Biozombie wherein zombies overrun a shopping mall. My premise, however, was to trap
the player within a church and have puzzles built upon puzzle that continually changed
the roomís description, with the scenery crumbling away introducing more objects, and
more puzzles. Finding a conclusion for such a story was hard so I had to find a new slant,
and settled upon writing about the Second Coming. My aim, with Panic, was to create a
timeless peice that was, in its own way, a message about belief towards Christian
chiliasts: that, like panic, the return of a messiah is all in oneís head.
DM: What inspired you for the gothical setting, of St. Venerius.
M: I have, by all accounts, a Gothic mindset. I remember, on a school trip to Germany,
visiting Der Dom which was an inspirational building, its many stairs spiralling ever
upwards. Being at a Catholic funeral a few years ago also had its place in my mind: the
nonsense mantras, the liberal wafting of incense, and the pained imagery. Finally, my
own disbelief in religion seems to be a driving influence: to explore something to disprove
- or believe - it for myself.
DM: What other things give you ideas when creating interactive fiction.
M: I get ideas from everything. Using the old adage that Ďevery picture tells a storyí I
sometimes look through books and write about the scenes I find in pictures: sometimes I
can expand upon it; others remain as fragments. Other methods are to look through
books and find two or three words together that could be a possible title and then let
the imagination run with a possible plot.
DM: Looking over your upcoming games, Stig has caught my eye. Surely a game like this
will take a lot of work. Why have you chosen to make a game such as this.
M: To begin with, Stig will take an awful lot of work but as Iíve already said about finishing
a game, it will be well worth it. Iíve chosen to make a game like this after reading a piece
about making NPCís more involved with your game, and so I thought: what if the NPC
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was the main character and the player was secondary. Itís a challenging idea to work
with but enjoyable, especially adding in extras as I go, garnishing it all with a darkly comic
flavour.
DM: What are your favourite ADRIFT games at the moment. And why do you like them.
M: I must admit that I download every adventure posted to the downloads board, but
donít get around to playing every single one of them. However, my favourite ADRIFT
games, at the moment, have been: Y.A.D.F.A. and thatís simply because it made me
laugh, Menagerie because I can see and understand the amount of work put into it,
Selmaís Will because of its simple storyline and extreme from fantasy adventure, and -
always a favourite - Silk Noil because of its overwrought writing, and seeming
ridiculousness.
DM: And finally, if you had five things that you could say to all IF writers everywhere, in
regards to what makes a good game, what would you say.
M: All my advice goes into the building of a game, and that - I believe - is what will make it
good. Iíd have to say that authors, when they get an idea, should work out its nuances
before stating to make the game. Plotting allows you to scope your game and create
landmarks to achieve. Also, donít just write because you are making an IF game, write for
other reasons - itís good practice. Understand people, in real life, as the more you do the
more you can translate their actions into an IF game. Continually improve upon your
vocabulary, learn new words all the time, subscribe to a mail service that sends new
dictionary words in email every day, and learn those words. Finally, the best advice I can
give with regards to making a good game is to build upon your previous efforts, with
practise comes - not perfection - but personal betterment.
DM: MileOut, thanks for your time.
MileOut has written a short story, also included at the end of this newsletter. His next
game, Stig, is also previewed.
ARTICLES
LET'S TALK INTERACTIVE FICTION With En Kerklaar and a talking camel
This month' s topi
c: The player character, and what it means to you, the game designer.
CAMEL: Seeing as I' m not a game designer, it means nothing, really.
EN: Come now. Surely as a talking camel you have something to say about this delicious
subject.
CAMEL: Delicious in what way.
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EN: Delicious in the way that bacon is delicious.
CAMEL: Mmm, bacon.
EN: Mmm, babies.
CAMEL: What.
EN: Nothing.
CAMEL: Anyway... the player character. What does it mean to me. Well, I guess at its
most basic level, the player character is simply the vehicle through which the game world
is communicated to and explored by the player.
EN: So in essence, even the most minimalist game needs a player character.
CAMEL: Right. In every text adventure ever made, there is at the very least the implied
presence of yourself. That is, even if a specific character is not implied or stated, you are
at bare minimum taking on the persona of your own identity.
EN: I.e., the persona of the Nameless Adventurer, that is, the persona one adapts in
playing a game where no specific persona is implied, is in reality the persona of the
person playing the game.
CAMEL: Right. A lot of people like games that achieve only that minimum, because they
find being able to define themselves as the player character adds immersiveness.
However, most games, even those of the Infocom era, have at least some kind of
backstory worked in and possibly a persona of sorts for the player to adapt to; for
example, an occupation, such as a pirate, a space ranger, or an Alaskan prostitute.
EN: Now you' re just being silly.
CAMEL: Hey, you' re the one talking to a camel.
EN: Good point.
CAMEL: Then of course, we have games that take it one step further, and attempt to
imply, if not define, a certain personality for the player character. These games are a
mixed bag with people; some prefer them over the other kind, while others prefer that kind
of game over those with more open-ended PCs.
EN: Those' re the ones that usually end up going with the Macs.
CAMEL: Bada-bing.
EN: You can say that again.
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CAMEL: Bada-bing.
EN: You can say that again.
CAMEL: You can say that again.
EN: No.
CAMEL: Okay. Um.... where was I.
EN: Open-ended PCs.
CAMEL: Right. The thing is, both those who prefer open-ended PCs and those who
prefer more personality-defined PCs usually cite the same reason for liking one or the
other.
EN: And what reason would that be.
CAMEL: Immersion.
EN: Whoa.
CAMEL: That' s what I said.
EN: You can say that again.
CAMEL: No. Anyway, the point is this. Different people find different kinds of games
immersive for different reasons. Or some don' t necesarily find certain games more
immersive, but perhaps more fun to play. It all comes down to personal taste, and that is
what you should excersise in designing your game. Your own personal taste.
EN: God point. How should one go about deciding what kind of PC to use.
CAMEL: It' s up to the designer. It' s the kind of game you most want to make, and what
your focus will be. Generally, the main focus of a text adventure, even if it' s not at all
obvious, will be either character or setting. Atmosphere tends to be a combination of both,
but is contributed to more by one or the other. Thus, character-focused games such as
Adam Cadre' s classic Photopia tend to have more well
-defined PCs, while setting-
focused games such as Zork tend to leave more up to the player.
EN: What about games that focus on neither character nor setting, but rather story.
CAMEL: Right. Those, too, can fall in either of the two categories, which is why I only
included those two as categories. Even though story is the vehicle of many games, there
is still either a character or setting-driven focus that will arise from it.
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EN: Okay. So, last thing: how to go about defining character in your games.
CAMEL: Well, for the most open-ended PC, do nothing at all.
EN: Brilliant!
CAMEL: For the rest, there are various options. The most obvious of these is
descriptions. Depending on how much you want to define your PC, you can add varying
levels of personalization to your room and other descriptions, usually by somehow
equating them to the player character' s life. For example, in a game of non
-defined PC, a
sentence from a room description might read, "The bed is here." If you want to utilize that
one sentence in saying something about the PC you could change it to something along
the lines of, "Maggie' s bed is here, but you can barely bring yourself to look at it." Further
examing the bed could peice together more of our protagonist' s thoughts, feelings, etc. As
an added bonus, this tactic will often give more reason to examine things, to see how they
are connected to the player character.
EN: Of course, depending on the mood one is trying to create, this effect will either be
highly understated or blatanly present.
CAMEL: Right. Everything should be scaled to the needs of the game. Which brings us
to a few other ways to reveal character. The introduction will generally contain the seeds
of character development, if not all the character development in the game. Another
good, subtle way is in tweaking the default responses of your games, to various
commands just as wrong directions, jumping, or, uh, attempting to perform sexual acts on
NPCs.
EN: Always a favourite.
CAMEL: Yep. So while many designers tweak these responses by making them
humorous or even hostile, the designer who wants to define his PC would do well to
relate the responses to the character' s personality. Michael S. Gentry' s Little Blue Men is
an excellent example of this. In fact, that game is a good one to check out for new ways
to approach the PC in IF in general.
EN: Right. He won an XYZZY for the PC in LBM, didn' t he.
CAMEL: You bet a llama' s ass he did.
EN: Good show. So, that about does it. Any parting words.
CAMEL: Yeah. Do what you want with your game and your PC, but make sure you do it
/for the game/ and not just for yourself. And never kill a mockingbird.
EN: God bless you, Atticus.
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PREVIEWS: 'STIG' by MileOut
You are a yattering - one of many - that inhabits the spirit world. Led by their God, the
Yatterings are a race of guardian angels living ethereally within a hierarchical structure:
the more novice the yattering the lesser the lifeform they are commissioned to protect.
Promotion through the structure is based upon performance through protection rates.
Stig, our hero, is a swampling, a breed of green creatures that make their homes within
the trees of the swamps. With not much knowledge of the world, they tend to live alone
asserting their values upon all they own, and blatantly disregarding the rest. Stig,
however, is a breed apart from his fellow swamplings: everything he does is calamitous,
and has the potential to become fatal.
The god of all yatterings has assigned you to look after Stig, after finding evidence of an
unwarranted attack on his life. Not only is it a chance for promotion, but a chance to prove
that you are ready to protect more than flowers.
The only problem is, you are as much a calamity as Stig, and on saving him from an
assassin' s attack, you unwittingly send
the poor swampling on a mission that he has no
reason to undertake causing you to continue following him on his quest ensuring that he
remains safe throughout. And who knows, with the rewards the situation could potentially
reap, saving Stig may elevate you to the High Council of yatterings eliminating you from
the on-site protection team.
Features
o
You, as the player and invisible, do not have control over where the adventure
goes, but the NPCs do.
o
Fully playable introdction immersing the player in the prologue and allowing a feel
for the game before the adventure starts.
o
The game is level based, allowing you to return to the start of each level should
Stig die. This ability to try different scenarios allows comedic scope. Around 20
levels are expected.
o
Puzzles increase in difficulty although they are well-clued.
o
The game is ALR extensive, with almost all descriptions drawn from variables,
their values themselves decided from numerous expressions.
Problems in making the game
The only problems I see in making the game are the speed issue of how long it takes to
make. Every scene thus far, no matter how minor, has had numerous objects placed
within it for interaction with, and I' m trying to think of ways players might interact with all
these objects and create responses for them too. Object descriptions often reveal more
objects which in turn have to be made to create the illusion, and to eliminate all replies of
ďYou see no such thingĒ..
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REVIEWS: ' STORM TOSSED' by David Grigg
Review by: davidw
How accurately the story-line of Storm Tossed follows that of Shakespear' s The Tempest
(on which it is based) I couldn' t say as I' ve never read The Tempest but, that said, it' s an
interesting game that keeps your attention well enough.
The game begins with you aboard a ship in the middle of a ferocious storm. You' ve just
awaken with a pounding hangover and must find a way to escape from the ship before it
sinks, taking you with it. Wandering around the ship, exploring in the old adventure game
tradition, is not a good idea as the ship has a nasty habit of sinking without any warning
being given and leaving you in a watery grave.
Once you' ve escaped the ship and found your way to the second part of the game
- the
island - the adventure opens up quite a bit. Unfortunately I' m not sure whether this is a
good thing or not. The island is a confusing place: going east from one location and then
back west doesn' t necessarily lead you back to the same place. Sometimes you enter a
location and find yourself unable to get back to the one you just left while other locations
seem to have multiple exits which all lead to the same place. Making your way around is
quite nightmarish at times.
Another problem with the game once it reaches the island stage is that it seems to lose
focus; whereas on the ship your objective was obvious (get off the ship before it sinks and
takes you with it to the bottom of the sea) as soon as you reach the island it becomes
much harder to figure out what to do. I encountered Miranda but was unable to make
much progress with her - she ran away every time I tried. Caliban just tended to wander
around grunting from time to time. As I said above, I' ve never read The Tempest so what
happens once the character arrives on the island I don' t know. Maybe someone
familiar
with Shakespeare would be able to figure out the next move, but this unfamiliar person
found himself struggling.
As far as puzzles go, the game had quite an interesting variety of them. There were too
many at the start, making the game a little too difficult, and too few once the island was
reached, but all in all they were quite well thought out andreasonably logical. There was,
thankfully, not too much of the dreaded guess-the-verb syndrome at play here. The hints
system, while not giving as many hints as I might have liked, was at least there to help out
in the hardest places.
My main criticism of the game overall is the ease at which it is possible to die, often with
little or no warning given to aid the player in avoiding his fate. The ship on which you
begin the game has a nasty habit of sinking very quickly indeed and there is no way of
avoiding this happening and there are other instances - floating around in the sea,
fighting with the shark - that seem to end with the player dying quite often. You might think
this was no big problem as ADRIFT comes with a nifty little save game facility but it
quickly becomes a pain when you' re having to do it every three or four moves.
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In conclusion, a fairly decent game let down by a little overeagerness on the part of the
writer to kill off the player without any kind of warning given.
Bugs: 1.8
Bugs as such no, but the geography of the island was confusing in the extreme and left
me wandering around lost for the most part.
Story: 1.2
Started off promising but seemed to lost its way once I reached the island.
Characters: 0.5
Not particularly well drawn and difficult to communicate with.
Writing: 1.5
Definitely the best thing about the game. Locations tended to be well
written and interesting and the overall style was quite impressive.
Game: 1.3
All in all, a decent enough game that should keep you interested for a while.
Overall: 6.3 (out of 10)
' SELMA' S WILL' By Mystery
Review by: Mike0101
Instead of choosing a newer game to review for the first edition of the Adrift Newsletter,
I' ve decided to give some recognition to one of the best games (and one of my favorites)
made with Adrift. Where other games fall short in either the story, description, or puzzle
department, Selma' s Will delivers..
.
Story: 7/10
For those of you that played the first two Monster in the Mirror games, you are in for a
surprise. The storyline has been drastically altered. No longer will you be trying to get
home by solving puzzles in a fantasy world (or your dreams), but instead searching for
the will of your deceased aunt in her cluttered country home. In hopes of claming the will
and the entire estate, your entire abnormal family has turned out to find the will, and drive
you nuts. I hope that the family in this game wasn' t based upon the author' s, but hey, at
least you can choose your friends...
Writing (descriptions, style, etc.): 9/10
This game has the best description of any game on Adrift so far, and most of it is
important. You have be shrewd to complete this game, especially because every object
you pick up has a use. The game also flows very nicely. With the amount of detail, you
really do feel like you are in an old house. What really sets this game apart from most
other Adrift games is that you will be reading room and object descriptions more than
once. The only problem is, with all the details you gather about the house, the
16
family, and your deceased aunt, the more you want to know, and the characters only
respond to a few questions each.
Puzzles: 7/10
The average difficulty of the puzzles is medium- easy, depending on how
observant you are. Most of them are simply getting the right object and
giving to the right family member for something in return. There are a
few tough ones which stumped me for a while, but all in all, there' s
enough puzzles to keep you playing for a while, but nothing to make you
really frustrated.
Annoyances (bugs, guess-the-verb, etc.): 9/10
There was hardly any guess-the-verb to speak of, and the only bug that really annoyed
me had to do with the door in Selma' s bedroom *SPOILER* (it was only in the description
before you gave Zeke the candy). Not much to speak of here.
OVERALL*: 8/10
Before you do, check out the first two Monster in the Mirrors. *The overall score isn' t
an
average because I weigh some things more heavily than others.
' THE LOST MINES' by Mel S
Review by: davidw
I have to confess I was never a particularly big fan of Mel Sí games in the past. While
some of them were quite well written, and others had interesting storylines, they all
seemed to fall down at some point - mainly through guess-the-verb - but, with The Lost
Mines (an adventure about hunting for hidden treasure), he seems to have hit gold (pun
intended).
The best thing about The Lost Mines is its ease of use: itís one of those games whereby
you can figure out some of the puzzles right at the start and you donít start in one location
and have to struggle to reach the second only to find yourself stuck with an even worse
problem. The puzzles were all (fairly) logical (although a couple did require a bit of use of
the old grey matter) and quite well thought out. Guess-the-verb surfaced in a few places
and was the only real downside to the game; aside from that there is little to actually find
fault with here.
I encountered a few bugs but these tended to be fairly minor ones that didnít affect the
game too much; indeed, there are a couple (one with the axe, the other with the playing
cards) which makes the game considerably easier - the axe doesnít need to be carried to
be used, and the task involving the cards can be executed whether or not youíve actually
found the second pack of cards. So while bugs are always a bad thing in a game, this
time they were easy to forgive.
The Lost Mines was unusual in that I donít think thereís a single way of die during the
game - is this a first. I' m not sure if this is a good thing or not. Dying is generally a pain
- it
17
happens at the worst possible times and if you havenít saved your game previously then
a lot of hard work has gone down the drain - but it also serves a purpose in making the
game more challenging. A game where the player cannot die is a game that rapidly
becomes monotonous. That said, Iíd 90% finished the game before I realised you canít
die and it didnít affect the gameplay much (if at all) so I' m probably just nit
-picking here.
All in all, this was a pretty good game, if a little on the small side for someone who prefers
vast epics, and if Mel S can produce more games of this quality Iíll be looking forward to
playing them.
Bugs: 1.3
One with the axe, another with the playing cards, maybe a few other minor ones, but
nothing that really affected the gameplay.
Story: 1.2
Interesting enough although the idea - a hunt for treasure - has been used a lot of times
before.
Characters: 1.0
Only two characters in the game that you can interact with which is a pity as the game
could have used a little fleshing out.
Writing: 1.4
Certainly the best in any of Melís games so far. The location descriptions were all well
written and the style of writing interesting.
Game: 1.4
One of the better of the recent ADRIFT games although a little more work could have
made this a great game.
Overall: 63 (out of 100)
EXTRAS
Life On The Lilies
"I donít think I can make it this time."
Jones slumped on his knees. He could feel his heart coming under pressure from the
strain of the activity. Breaths streamed out in uneven, rapid fashion. His forehead
shimmered under the smile of the sun.
Shank took Jonesí arm, gripping the cloth of his shirt. "You can, stop telling yourself you
canít."
"But itís too far this time."
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A few metres of stagnant water bridged the gap between the lily that supported them and
the next. A few fish silvered the surface, while something larger skulked in the depths, the
only clue to its presence the few bubbles that coasted free. Three men stood in similar
anxiety on the next lily pad, a few ripples spread outward just before it where someone
had obviously not been strong enough to make the jump.
"Itís not far at all, Jones. Look, those others have made it."
"Someone didnít." He pointed at the ripples.
"You donít know that for sure. Anyway weíve got to make the leap as the others are
waiting to land on this pad."
Looking back, Jones saw that indeed, at the previous pad there was four men waiting to
make their leaps. The men in front jumped, both were successful in their endeavour.
"Have you noticed how the gaps between lilies are getting wider every time."
"I try not to think about it."
"Why."
"I try to keep a positive mind."
Shank took a deep breath and backed off to the rear of the lily pad and then sprinted to
the edge making a huge leap. "Come on."
Repeating Shankís actions, Jones made the jump. For the seconds that he flew it
seemed as if time had stretched. The breeze slipped by slowly, pulling him down. He
forced himself not to look below, to see the water he expected to land in. He just
managed to alight on the lily.
Holding out his hand, Shank helped Jones to his feet. "Told you we could make it."
"You did." He looked at the jump, a mammoth gap between the green pads. "But weíre
not going to manage that."
"Course we can, we did the last one. It doesnít get any harder."
"Yes it does."
"Shh! Thatís exactly how you donít make it."
"Okay, but I donít even understand why we have to live our lives jumping from lily to lily
anyway."
"Why." Shank face registered something honest. Confusion.
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"All we do is jump." To demonstrate his point he hopped on the spot.
"Weíve always jumped. Thatís what we do" Shank circled his arm, encompassing the
jumpers in front and those behind.
"I donít understand how we canít do anything else."
"We werenít created for anything else."
"But with every leap we make the chances of us making the next are more unlikely."
"Uh huh!" Shank grunted. "Itís always been like that."
"So why donít we try developing our lives, taking it into our own hands and doing with it
what we want."
Shank frowned, bewildered.
"Look over there, for example," said Jones. He pointed to the bank. "Thereís land there,
we could go there and give ourselves a proper life."
Indeed, Shank noted, there was a bank by the edge of the river. And on that bank there
was grassland and woodland. Trees rose magnificently, and rocks lay in their shadow.
Occasionally, small mammals would dart from under foliage collecting nuts, retreating
with their spoils to whatever safety the shore provided them.
"Jones, you donít have to stay on the lilies, thereís no rule that says you must keep
jumping. You can leave anytime. Why donít you swim to the bank."
The bubbles from somewhere deep down popped and fizzed to the surface.
"Iíd surely get eaten by the fish."
Shank nodded, knowing now that ones would understand. "And thatís why, my friend,
we live our life on the lilies."
ENDNOTE
And so finishes the first ever edition of Drifters Monthly. I really do have a feeling that this
stands where other newsletters have failed. Hopefully it will get more people interested in
ADRIFT, getting it the recognition it rightly deserves, while giving everyone an interesting
monthly letter to read and enjoy. Thank you to everyone who has contributed to the
newsletter this month, it has been worth it. Hopefully we can carry this on, if there
continues to be content sent in.
Thanks for reading, and see you all next month! - Woodfish, 29th August 2002