Make It Good

The call comes through. Of all the dicks; you get the call, sitting in the front seat of your car, hands shaking on the steering wheel. An urgent call; but all you were thinking of was the bottle in the liquor store and so that’s where you went first.

Now you’re pulled up outside the house. The rear mirror’s showing two steely eyes. You adjust your hat, stiffen up your collar and grab your badge off the dash. Here goes. You’ve one last chance to…

*  *  *  *  *

5 Word Synopsis:

Noire Murder Mystery Interactive-Fiction

What it is:

A quick start for those unfamiliar with the genre of Interactive-Fiction (IF). It’s those text based games. Yes, those. The ones that invariably make you tear you teeth out from frustration and lack of pretty pictures. For those who aren’t willing to deal without such luxuries (which is perfectly reasonable, believe me) there are only a few IF games that you should play. The interface of most IF games require text prompts to advance the plot, identifying commands through a text parser. The fiddly-bit is that unless appropriate events are programmed for a command, nothing will happen. This results in a situation similar to brute force hacking, you know what you want to do but the game. Won’t. Listen. And. You. Have. To. Try. Every. Synonym. Of. The. Word. You. Want. Add to this the fact that most IF games have only one way of winning, and you get a very confusing mess, with some notable exceptions.

So:

You’re a screw-up. An alcoholic. It’s been forever since you’ve actually solved a case, and this time your badge is on the line. You have until the end of the day to solve the murder, or you’re out on your ass.

This is a very difficult game. (For the sake of transparency, I haven’t beat this game. It’s way to hard for me.) If you want to play the game it can be found at: http://parchment.googlecode.com/svn/trunk/parchment.html?story=http://www.archimedes.plus.com/makegood.z8

Warning: The next bit contains spoilers (of a sort).

Why it’s Fantastic:

The first time I played “Make It Good” I lost within 30 seconds. I adhered to the IF rule of “pick up everything you can, because that random scenery item is the only way to open the door with the random scenery item-shaped lock.” So I picked up the whisky and knocked on the front door of Number 15, Broken Top Boulevard. A dashing lady named Angela opened the door, saw that I was hung over, and holding a whiskey bottle. She didn’t even give me the chance to show my badge, and it was over. Of course. No one wants a raging drunk all up in their crime scene. It makes sense. “Make It Good” has an in-game logic that actually makes sense. There is no rocket-jumping or “Fetch X things by killing Y thingies”.

The investigation starts like any other. Taking my time, trudging through the house, giving cursory looks into everyones’ underthings, interrogating witnesses about their favorite color, typical detective stuff. In most games that would be enough to uncover a vast conspiracy that points its bloody finger at the victim. Instead, my alcohol addled brain comes up with only threads suggesting something bigger. I know that the maid’s boyfriend supposedly suffered a sprain, but the medicine he’s been taking is fake. The windows that lead to the murder scene only opens from the inside, and they were apparently open at the time of the murder. The widow who found the body closed the windows, mussing up any potential for fingerprints. It’s possible to scale a trellis of roses to reach the crime scene through the window. There’s mud at the bottom, but no footprints. The victim was killed by a knife, but the only knife in the house has no blood or fingerprints on it. Ultimately, all of this leads nowhere. There’s no motive, no weapon, no eye-witnesses, nothing. So what  to do? I needed to find the murderer. If I can just solve this case… But there’s not enough evidence. Pieces are missing. There *should* be blood here, fingerprints there. If only –

Clunk.

I just need to pin this on someone. Someone’s fingerprints on the knife, incriminating footprints, the works. I sit down in the kitchen and begin untying my shoes. I take them of and drop them with an audible thunk. I gaze at the frilly shoes that sit on the bed.  *Sigh* I can do it. I can make it good.

It is that moment that makes this game wonderful. In most other games, there would be some incriminating evidence here and there, left out for someone to come snooping. That doesn’t work here. In other games, it wouldn’t even cross your mind that, as a police detective, you can mess it all up. You can botch the fingerprints, and swap murder weapons. Make It Good gives you the opportunity to experience freedom. Hell, if you want you can simply go crazy and try to escape. You can drink yourself into losing the case. Whatever you want. It certainly gets too complicated to solve the case within the allotted time, but that initial moment, when you realize that you can change everything, is solid gold.

Yes, I did just use screenshots for a text-based game.
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~ by prolixpostoffice on July 10, 2010.

3 Responses to “Make It Good”

  1. […] « PTT on Fragile Shells Two links July 10, 2010 Enthusiastic, spoilery review of Make It Good from someone who doesn’t generally seem to be a big fan of […]

  2. (got here by Emily Short’s blog, getting mentioned there is a life achievement, congratulations)

    I love this game so much. Not finished it myself either though.

    What I wanted to say. There is a murder weapon. The weapon was what got me thinking about what the hell was going on. Spoilers next: Search the plant (yucca I believe?) at the murder scene. Also, make sure to get that stuck glove compartment open!

    • (I am very flattered. Just to be mentioned by the great Emily Short 🙂

      Spoilers: That might work out better. I had a completely different way of doing it. I tried to frame the maid, so I asked her for a sandwich, and after she put down the knife, I took it (wearing gloves). Then I gave a piece of evidence to Joe so he would leave the crime scene for a while, then I would put blood on the knife from the body and hand it to joe when he got back.

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