Questor's Quest

This one has a pretty old-school sensibility. There are a dozen little points that we nowadays consider weaknesses: the flimsy plot motivation, the barely characterised player character, the sparsely implemented world.... The writing belongs somewhere in the "juvenile GM" department, but, interestingly, this actually ties the whole together and makes it charming. I found this narrative voice endearingly earnest. Rather than registering as a weakness in a stronger work, the sum of these weaknesses registers as a strength, at least for someone who remembers the Old Days of adventure gaming. For such a one, the whole Quest is just a big bath of nostalgia.

Another thing that helps is that the coding was highly competent. I'm generally rather wary of homebrew parsers, and I think most players at the IFcomp are too. They have a history of being not very good at all. But the parser here seems strong enough; certainly, if I ever encountered frustration, it was never a parser issue -- the one time it could have been (the puzzle involving the dog and the bone) I quickly made the connection with one of the more unusual verbs in the provided verb list.

There were a few moments of frustration, though, and these are the sort of thing that cannot be saved by a strong narrative voice. The bit with making a wish at the well was rather unintuitive. Though I wasn't stumped by the dog/bone puzzle, I think it could have been better clued, so as to not require a perusal of a verb list. The location of the lost ring was also a little questionable in terms of puzzle design: grass may be everywhere, but I think it's still considered bad form to require interaction with something that isn't mentioned in the room description.

Still, these are minor points. This was still, for me, a sufficiently comfortable nostalgia bath. It was like a big bowl of hot porridge on a cold winter's day, with hot chocolate and marshmallows. Pretty basic, but comfortingly familiar.