Unsorted #2 (15 Minutes, 2299)

Posted by F1ak3r on May 24, 2013, 9:07 a.m.

I finished lectures, projects, practicals, etc… for this semester today, so now it’s finally time for the second part of this series. At this rate, my game collection should be nicely organised sometime around the time I get a new PC and have to choose between not being able to run them on Windows 80 and not being able to run them on Linux.

0 – The devs/designers at Microsoft must be on some transcendent drugs, or more likely they’ve all been replaced by marketing people. The idea of having the same operating system with the same interface on tablets, phones and PCs only makes sense from a branding/marketing perspective. And sure, the obvious bad stuff like the mismatched Frankenstein abortion of an interface and the restrictions on window resizing (of all things) will probably get sorted out in Windows 8.1, but the app1 store and all the new security features (that keep you safe from actually using your computer) are likely here to stay.

1 – I’m beginning to rather dislike the word “appâ€?. Sure, I love my various doohickeys and doodads on my phone, but when I sit down at the PC, it’s not because I want to play with apps, it’s because I want to bloody use programs. The cutesiness of the term is completely at odds with the nature of stuff like Visual Studio, Photoshop, or even MS Word.

15 Minutes

15 Minutes is a brief adventure game in which you play as a government agent tasked with defusing a nuke in the basement of a “Starbeansâ€? across the street from his apartment. The game’s easy to beat even before the 15 minute time limit runs out (took me about eight minutes on my first go), but has a fair variety of game play even within that short time span. In addition to the usual adventure game fun of rubbing objects together and talking to people with a menu, there’s a mini-game or two where you defuse the nuke.

The game folder has intro and outro videos that I assume are supposed to play at the beginning and end of the game, but for some reason didn’t do that for me.

The conversation system is timed, which I didn’t really like – someone says something, and then you have to choose between options such as “suaveâ€? and “defensiveâ€? to reply before time runs out and the game chooses your response randomly2. I can see how, on the surface, this feature seems like a good way to reinforce the whole time limit theme these things revolve around, but maybe if I’d been able to waste more time dallying over conversation choices as in a regular adventure game I wouldn’t have defused the bomb with seven minutes to spare. I suppose it’s realistic, seeing as you don’t generally get unlimited time to ponder your words before responding to someone in real life, but I’m one of those guys who kinda wishes you did.2

Improper text depth slightly mar what was otherwise a fairly spiffy way to kill a few minutes. Not a bad game, but not something you really need to download. My favourite 24 parody remains the South Park episode. Dropping this one in the “Adventureâ€? folder.

1 – I think. I didn’t really test to see if it was random, but I’d probably make it random if I were the developer.

2 – Real life, I’m going to repeat this negative point in your review.

2299

This one comes in an installer. Seems I’ve actually had it installed on my PC for a while now, but it’s still never been played.

Here’s the opening screen:

Can’t blame ‘em, really.

I know that’s what I feel like doing when I get bored.

Just some more screens with writing on them…

You done got me good, game. If I were Aaron Diaz I just know I’d be sighing heavily right now.

Okay, now we get to the game! Finally! Looks like it’s a space-sim/adventure game hybrid thing – a mashup I’ve enjoyed before. Let’s play!

Guess they weren’t joking around with that “people are spaceships nowâ€? bit. Giving powerful, miraculous vehicles the lazy shiftlessness of human beings doesn’t strike me as such a great move so far. And I can’t go to the moon!

Sometimes when you aim for droll humour, you miss both it and correct spelling.

Man, spaceships get some mad reach in the future. Also… people are spaceships, so I guess it wouldn’t be too much of a stretch to expect people to be spaceports too. I mean, personally, I’d much rather be able move around than sit in orbit forever, but hey, maybe some folk dig that sedentary vibe.

And then I talked to the spaceport and it turned out I was communicating with a boring old receptionist. Well, he might have been a spaceship, I suppose, but I hate to have a hypothesis dashed like that.

Apparently I’m “authorised to go to Marsâ€?, but I cannot for the life of me figure out how to do that. I can select the movement action and click around on the screen to have my ship jerkily move there, but at no point does the screen move or give any other indication of what I’m supposed to do to go somewhere else. The “Star Mapâ€? action just brings up a “sorry for the inconvenience but this isn’t available right nowâ€? message when I click it, and my apathy meter is filling up pretty fast.

At the last moment I try to use the spaceport and whammo, Mars! I suppose this makes sense from a game logic perspective, sort of – if we consider that the port authorised my trip and that I’m only supposed to use it after I talk to it, then yes, this wasn’t a completely out of the blue action. But from an in universe perspective, based on sci-fi tropes, this makes no sense at all. How would docking at a space port cause me to travel to Mars? Maybe I’d prep and refuel there and then head off to Mars, like with an airport, but I really expected more freedom of movement from what looks like a space sim. At the very least I’d have liked another unfunny text popup informing me that I did in fact prep, refuel and then head out.

Is that… did he just say… I think I’m supposed to find this funny. I found out from the menu bar at the top that there’s a 2299 webcomic and suddenly everything makes sense.3 I quit the game in disgust at poor humour, and then am unable to restart it because all the shortcuts the installer made are broken.

On the plus side, 2299 has multiple “you can’t do thatâ€? messages for a number of actions you can take, some of which are almost funny, and not all of which have spelling mistakes in them.

On the minus side, pretty much everything else. Conversations are repeated that shouldn’t be, movement is jerky and completely useless, the attempted running gag isn’t even funny the first time, and there don’t seem to be any obvious action shortcuts, making this not only an adventure game done up to look like a space sim, but a pretty poorly interfaced one.

Still, I might come back to it if I get bored enough. Into “Adventureâ€? you go, EXE I pilfered from the install folder.

3 – Turns out the guy who made this also made Linux Tycoon, a cute diversion that feels like it could have been so much more, but a cute diversion nonetheless. I’d honestly recommend that over 2299

Next time I’ll do three games I guess. With any luck they won’t show my adventure game favouritism as heavily as the last three.

Comments

Cesque 10 years, 11 months ago

Quote:
I’m beginning to rather dislike the word “appâ€?. Sure, I love my various doohickeys and doodads on my phone, but when I sit down at the PC, it’s not because I want to play with apps, it’s because I want to bloody use programs.

It's also bloody hard to render in non-Germanic languages, so there goes translating the catchiness of the term. French, Japanese and Korean go with shortening it to two syllables ("appli-"), but a plenty of other languages are stuck with "application". "There's an application for that" or "killer application" doesn't have quite the same ring to it.

I'm yet to see a conversation system I would feel is genuinely conversation-like. I think a part of the artificiality comes from conversations in games having very little consequences (I think the Walking Dead games "fixed that" in a way).

The author of 2199 game and comic have an interesting approach to writing dialogue and story. Oh yes, and humour.

eagly 10 years, 11 months ago

Haha, 2299 looks awful! Thanks for sharing it. :D

15 Minutes sounds like a nice idea.

I completely agree with you on the "app" thing, and Cesque is certainly right about the catchiness of "application". I'm really not keen on Windows going the way of the app store.

Astryl 10 years, 11 months ago

inb4 everybody calls it the crapp store.

I should burn for that terrible, terrible pun; but it had to be done.

After your lost blog in this series, I made an "Organize" folder on my desktop. I have successfully organized my downloads folders and documents folders into little labelled categories. At the same time, I somehow managed to delete 24GB of superfluous stuff I had lying around. So I guess organization is a good thing. :P

Alert Games 10 years, 11 months ago

The win8 app store is horrifying. I use windows 8, and the only advantage of the Win8 app side that I use is the start menu. Although, I would watch a movie in it, but when I have the media player anyway for small videos, why bother having both. The only other really cool thing is the sync with xbox, which i think is neat.

You have an interesting game collection there

F1ak3r 10 years, 11 months ago

@Cesque: Heh, that's pretty interesting. Thanks for sharing.

@eagly: I often say that the EXE is the only reason I keep Windows installed, and it's true. The lack of app stores and ridiculous security features that make your system impossible to mess around with are what I like about Windows. I don't think it's a very good marketing move to try to become a second Apple when the main benefit of Windows is how it's not an Apple product.

@Mega: Oh, puns.

Yes, organisation! Having been terribly lacking in foresight when I got this laptop, I chose a model with a horrifically small harddrive, so space is a big enough concern that I get really happy when that happens to me.

@Alert: Oh man, that's just sad.

Astryl 10 years, 11 months ago

Well, I must say my computer is so much easier to navigate now that there's nothing on it. Also, I had a good laugh at the back of the booklet that came with Windows 7… "Your PC, Simplified!".

All that time spent organizing wasted… I'm going to have to download a random clutter again so I can have stuff to organize… :(