Saturday, April 09, 2011

Announcing Leadlight

In case you didn't hear the news, there's a new Eamon game out there. Written by Wade Clarke, Leadlight is the first Eamon game to have ever made it into the annual Interactive Fiction Competition. While Leadlight didn't win, it came in 14th place out of 26 entrants, it really offered an opportunity for the IF community as a whole to be exposed to Eamon, perhaps for the first time.

I honestly think that it would have scored better had it not been on the Eamon system. As much as I love Eamon, I think we can all recognize that it is archaic in comparison to modern IF systems. When reading some of the IFcomp reviews, complaints about the game ranged from the lack of modern IF shortcuts to inability to UNDO a death in combat to the chunky lettering on an emulated Apple screen to the random nature of the combat to just the fact that it's on an emulated system.

But there were some good things too! One reviewer called it "the perfect Halloween treat--perfect for a night when you want some creepy thrills" while another states "this game is highly recommended to all those who believe they might like a game with random combat and unfair death traps, for it is surely among the best games of that type." I was surprised by the number of people who weren't completely put off by Eamon! Then again, there were mixed emotions. "I am fascinated to say that I simultaneously got really into this game and also have almost nothing good to say about it."

This snippet of a review may sum it up best:
This would have been a pretty damn good game twentysomething years ago. It has a coherent setting, it's good at gestural, tell-you-as-you-need-it information-delivery, it has hints of a plot that is, if not particularly striking, at least somewhat considered. (It seems highly likely that we're either hallucinating or caused all the horrors with our BRAIN.) The trouble is that IF has improved rather a lot over the past twentysomething years.
Since you're here, reading this blog, I can only imagine that you've played Eamon and are familiar with it. In a way, these complaints are similar to the old complaints about the older v4 Eamons when v7 was widely available.

So what do you think? Have you played it? Are these accusations fair? Should Leadlight be judged compared to modern IF standards or should it be judged in the Apple II/Eamon context which was the basis of its creation?


Unknown said...

Returning to Eamon is difficult because you have to:
-set up an emulator
-deal with disk swapping
-or deal with trying to get Eamon Deluxe to run on modern hardware

On top of that, you have to switch to "old school mode" to play the games unless you don't mind cheating. This can be frustrating with the amount of death traps that are in a lot of Eamons, especially ones without warning.

I don't really mind gaming like it's 1985, but the barriers to entry are pretty high.

Unknown said...

After perusing the Leadlight web site, I was pleased that there was an easy option to play the game in the browser with a plugin. That greatly simplifies things and means you can just dive right in and play.

I've mostly played the kill-and-loot scenarios in Eamon, so it was very refreshing to see an Eamon based more on atmosphere than killing, although there is plenty of that to do in Leadlight.

I'd have to agree with most of the reviewers, though, that I'm not sure that using the Eamon "engine" is the best way to tell a story these days, because despite all of the improvements, it still lacks a lot of basic capabilities of more sophisticated platforms like TADS and Inform.

For example, there is no status line to tell me my current score, what room I'm in, where the exits are, etc. That alone would be a huge improvement to gameplay and would eliminate the need for several commands.

That said, I like the game and I'm certainly going to try to play it all the way through to see what happens.