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Practice Policy Reviews
Author: Sly Dog
What does AIF stand for? Adult Interactive Fiction. If you likely to be offended by games with sexual content, you are advised not to open these files.
Reviewed by A. Bomire
This was the first game for Sly Dog, and it plays that way. It has that not-quite-there-yet feeling of most first games. The plot is very linear, the NPCs are very stiff and formal, with lots of guess-the-verb puzzles. Fortunately, Sly Dog provides in-game hints to walk you through the unfamiliar landscape of some of the commands. Unfortunately, it isn't quite complete as I got stuck in a couple of places following it and had to consult a walkthrough (which also wasn't complete, but that isn't Sly Dog's fault). I should also warn you that there are spoilers contained within this review.
As I mentioned above, the game is very linear. As in you can do almost nothing except in the exact sequence mapped out by the author (there were a couple of minor puzzles that can be solved in a non-linear fashion). This type of game can be frustrating if you get stuck on a puzzle, as you can do nothing until you get beyond that point. Most of the commands used to advance the game are non-standard (read "guess-the-verb"). A lot of the time, the author leads you towards the right command with hints in the text, such as "Can you hear what she is saying?" leads you to type "listen to Emma". A lot of time, the hints don't help, such as a suggestion to get Claire to show more of her body which is supposed to lead to "claire dance".
The sex in this game is okay, not hot, but not painfully dull either. There is a voyeuristic scene involving your receptionist and a rather large dog (licking only, no intercourse) which some may find to be a turn off.
There aren't a lot of spelling errors in this game, but there are other technical problems. For example, a lot of the time there are no quotes around the NPC's dialog. There are also cases where commands that seemingly should work, don't. For example, you are spying on the girls in the shower. You enter the command "look at girls" several times to watch the scene proceed. Until the last time, when you switch inexplicably to "x girls". There is also the problem of the aforementioned linearity of the game. Solutions to puzzles that may not work at one point in the game, will work later, such as drugging the dog. To me, you should be able to do this whenever the dog is by himself. However, you can only do it after spying on the girls in the shower (done while the dog is standing right there in front of you, by the way).
As I said in the start of this review, this is the first game released by this author, and plays like a typical first game.
Reviewed by A. Ninny
Sly Dog's readme that accompanies states that this is his first attempt at writing AIF, and some of my comments could be tempered, or at least informed, by that knowledge. For instance, I could be tempted to excuse this guess-the-verb problem or that impossible puzzle, all on the basis that Sly was using this game as a learning experience. I'll stipulate that an author's first game often has mistakes, including maybe even a newbie's belief that his game doesn't require beta testing. Even given this tendency toward being lenient, I don't feel particularly compelled to let the newbie defense excuse Practice Policy's poor writing, lack of interesting characters, drab storytelling, and frigid sex. Nor should it really excuse what is absolutely abysmal execution of the game's programming. Sly Dog should have taken advantage of playtesters who are generally more than willing to help debug games - Practice Policy could have been much improved.
One main problem with the playability of Practice Policy is that there simply isn't enough information provided to move through it. The game provides virtually no guidance as to what my goals are, and only sporadic guidance about how to handle specific situations. Sometimes I am supposed to magically know when I am supposed to ask an NPC about a specific subject or tell her to perform a specific action. Other times, I am to know to just 'talk to' her. Sometimes the game provides in-your-face cues about what to do and other times it just leaves you hanging. Sometimes when you try something it will give you a smartass disclaimer like "Wow! That achieved a lot" or "Gosh, that was very impressive" that make you want to put your fist through your monitor. I don't mind being told by a smart game that I'm a ninny, but if an idiotic game does it, I find that to be completely unacceptable.
Another main problem is that the game's premise simply doesn't work. Nothing about the story or characters resonates. This is partially because the writing is juvenile, but also because it really feels like Sly Dog was at his wit's end to make up a game with any excuse whatsoever for characters to have sex, and so he jumped on the first idea that flitted through his brain. As a result, the sex itself reads largely contrived and false, and lacks spark.
The puzzles in Practice Policy are of the guess-the-verb, the guess-the-sex and the find-the-invisible-object variety. I challenge anyone to complete Practice Policy without using both the hints and the walkthrough.
The sex in Practice Policy is undistinguished. I found it to be very run-of-the-mill with very little heat. Sly Dog tried to put in some original touches, by having Emma getting eaten out by her dog, and by putting the women in OB/GYN stirrups. Despite his best creative efforts, though, the scenes just aren't written in a way that makes for enjoyable reading. The fact that you have to guess the next acceptable sex act pours ice water on the scenes, making them far more frustrating than fun.
I understand that it is generally obligatory for a reviewer to actually finish a game that he is reviewing. Practice Policy made that a difficult pill to swallow. I ran into waves of bugs which I managed to work through with help of a horribly obtuse walkthrough and inept built-in hint system. Considering that this is a very small game (10 rooms, 2 NPC's), I normally would have found these problems to be a signal to simply stop. As examples of problems I found, in one instance, I am expected to know that there is a CD player in a room, but nowhere in the room description is a CD player mentioned. Combined with that is the requirement at one point that I tell an NPC to dance, but nothing about the scene or any descriptions of her indicate that she or I are interested in dancing. Other crucial objects are omitted or inadequately described, the game's vocabulary is extremely weak, many of the tasks in the game are buggy, and there are numerous grammatical and spelling errors. Another critical problem: I am expected to read the author's mind as to exactly which sex acts an NPC will be open to, and when.
Practice Policy is bad stuff. I am tempted to give it an F, but am relenting, partially on the 'give the newbie a break' platform, but also because I decided that the two voyeuristic scenes are a high point and redeem it and save it from utter failure.
Reviewed by Christopher Cole
I have to admit, this is the first Sly Dog game I've played through to the end. I've tried a few of his games, and usually end up quitting for one reason or another. This was his first game, so some of the things I'll be discussing could be forgiven. However, many of these things don't improve on his later games (which is why I never finish them), which is unforgivable.
A veterinary clinic is not my idea of a good setting for an AIF game. This could be because I'm allergic to cats and find dogs extremely un-sexy. The clinic in this game is the strangest vet clinic I've ever heard of. It has a unisex change-room and shower area. I can understand possibly having a common washroom for staff, but a shower? I admit I don't know much about vet clinics, but a shower area seems a little out of place to me.
Sly Dog's writing is passable, but the situations he creates do little to turn me on, and his NPCs are boring.
When the author uses different spellings for the title of the game, I have little faith that the game will be a good one. The title of the game is "Practice policy", yet the readme is for "Practice policies". Sly Dog is known for releasing a game and then releasing updated versions of the game every few days after the initial release with various fixes. He still hasn't learned to use enough testers and make his first release the final,
Sly Dog adds numerous commands to the 'ask NPC about THING' conversation structure such as 'talk to NPC' and 'say hello to NPC', but it is very difficult to know when to use these new commands. I think if you're going to add a 'talk to NPC' command, it should take the place of any other conversation commands in a game. Especially when there are bugs related to the new commands (see Technical below).
For the most part, the puzzles make sense in a traditional way, though there are no real hints within the game as to what it is exactly you're supposed to be doing, and why.
The writing is passable for the most part. However, I'm not a fan of beastiality at all, and the first sexual scene I get in the game (with a guess-the-verb round of when to 'look' and 'listen' and how many times to do each) is one where a dog is licking a female NPC in the you-know-where. What is more disgusting is that the PC can then lick her there later (I don't care if she showers or not).
Though the sex writing is okay, the NPCs are boring and less than one-dimensional.
There are numerous problems with this game, though it has no game-killing bugs that I found. It had numerous spelling mistakes (what exactly is a 'corridoor'?), glitches ("You have already done that." followed by the new response), and coding problems: -objects such as the drug cabinet need to be spelled out, ie: 'x cabinet' gets "Nothing special". You need to 'x drug cabinet'. It's the same with objects such as 'bottle of pills', 'store cupboard', etc. -many times there are no quotation marks in conversation -regarding the new conversation commands: in the "corridoor", I 'say hello to claire' to get a "not surprisingly, no one takes any notice of you" message. Why don't they take notice of me? However, 'talk to emma' works just fine.
Spelling mistakes I can deal with. Glitches I can deal with. Coding problems I can deal with. Unfortunately when you have numerous examples of all three, it gets very annoying and difficult to finish or enjoy a game.
I'll again point out that this was Sly Dog's first game. As a first game it shows some promise (though I doubt it was beta tested). Unfortunately I know that he doesn't improve much with later releases.
Even if the game was well made and well written, I probably wouldn't have enjoyed it much due to the setting.
Reviews should be considered copyrighted by their respective authors.
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