Thursday, March 14, 2013

Design comment on Warblers Nest and Looming

Another Post originally made for an a school assignment.

The Warblers Nest uses the basic mechanic of many text based adventures where you type words to control what you do in the game. Besides that I found it rather different then any text adventure I have played before.  It had a way of telling you about your goal and letting you know of things you could do buy telling you about past memories or flash backs. This served as a way of expressing story as well as telling you about the character you are playing.

I honestly had a hard time figuring out what to do or rather I kept trying things with little result. I had to check the hints and learned to use the examine command more which I felt was tedious as I kept trying to use look in place of examine when I first started. Having the hints is a good thing for this game but I worry it could be overly necessarily to have them. Which could be a sign of bad design, possibly.

One mechanic that bugged me was telling me I can't go somewhere until later. I don't like this in any game but it seamed especially frustrating in this game as I wanted to explore and was told to search for eggshells and yet could not go places when I wanted to search there. However, this mechanic serves to prevent players from wasting time in areas that they cannot accomplish anything in yet.

This game's mechanics definitely make me feel like it is a mystery. You start wondering why you are looking for egg's, what happened, what's in the cottage, what did you throw into the river. Even the hint's try to not ruin this mystery for you. Unfortunately it can leave the player not knowing what to do so it is best suited for people who like to solve puzzles or play detective.


Looming felt a very intuitive game. The controls were displayed on screen when I started and were simple enough as was the rest of the game that no explanation was needed. Small bits of information are given as you find objects exploring and this works to allow you to figure out what happened in the past. Information on your character and his past are given when you exit the area through small portals. One mechanic I liked was the simple dots on the main screen that would fill as you exit and go back into Looming.

I also found their choice in graphics interesting, with small animals or insects represented by tiny dots and the black and white theme. It allows you to use your imagination even with a graphical interface. As exploration game I think all of these mechanics work very well.

I also liked the sense of being able to go in any direction you want. I of course hit the borders of looming which were fenced in, but then the story line mentioned the fence and commented on both the previous inhabitants and the outside world. I felt like this simple choice in narrative allowed a better suspension of disbelief then in many games.

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