Search Results for: the fool's errand

The Fool and His Money is up

I was planning on writing this blog post Friday afternoon, and cueing it up to hit the streets at 9:01 PM. But that rat Johnson has tripped me up yet again and released The Fool and His Money a day early.

My download meter says "5 min 29 sec remaining", so that's how long I have to finish this post.

I was going to make a speech about not being a sardonic smartass about this sort of thing. I guess I still want to make that point. The past seven years have been punctuated by a lot of comments from That Guy -- you know who I mean -- the Guy Who says "Ha ha, 'the fool and his money', you're the fool, Cliff Johnson stole your money, he's never going to finish the game."

If you're that person, be ashamed. Doubt is easy; I've doubted. Calling somebody a liar is also easy, but it costs more. Don't impugn someone's honesty just to make a weak pun about the game's title. That's jackassery.

(Some of my friends are That One, and I'm sorry for lecturing you about this. I think it's important to say this.)

Yes, I am a biased commentator. I am a dude who is late with a game. Nobody's called me a liar yet, but I'm sure it'll come along. It won't break my spirit. That's not the point. The point is this:

If you have been 100% confident all along that Cliff Johnson would finish his game, today you are riding high. Your game is here and you're excited to play it.

If you have been hopeful -- or even doubtful! -- that Cliff Johnson would finish his game, today you are riding high. The world has justified your hopes, or the world is brighter than you expected; you are excited to play the game.

If you have been going around telling people that Cliff Johnson would never finish his game, that he was a liar, that we were idiots to believe it -- today you are horrified. You are disappointed. You're not the smart one after all. You invested yourself in believing the worst of someone, and the world has crushed your hopes. Your soul is smaller today.

I am here to tell you that you can be better than that. Your heart can grow three sizes today. It will hurt, though. Apologies always do.

Posted in Zarf on Games | Tagged , , , | 8 Comments

Hope, faith, etc

I've been checking Cliff Johnson's Fool and His Money production schedule regularly, as it ticked down past the diagnostic four-week mark. (In previous cycles, Johnson's habit has been to chime in at around four weeks to go, apologize, and reschedule.) As I write this, it says:

Sep-10   Finale & Bugs
Sep-17   Finale & Bugs
Sep-24       Done

However, I missed this additional note:

As priorities shift on an hourly basis, it is becoming clear that The Finale is falling behind schedule.

I concentrate my energy on the gameplay & on the bugs.

Do I release the Game without The Finale on September 24th and then publish the Game with The Finale at a future date?

What are your thoughts?

That's a tough question. Tougher because he's certain to get both answers from different groups of people, and they're both justifiable answers. Some of the answerers (on both sides, I'm sure) will be using exclamation points. I've gotten hypersensitized to Yelling On The Internet. Maybe my answer should just be "Dude, do what you're going to do, and don't let the Internets throw you off course."

But no. I am too much the Internet loudmouth myself to let the opportunity pass, so here goes.

My general answer, when this sort of question comes up, is "Take as much time as the game needs." But of course no case is ever the general case, and Johnson has staked a lot of good will on the September deadline.

I'm assuming the Finale in question is like the Finale of The Fool's Errand -- a miniature animated movie that wraps up the story. (If I'm wrong, and we're talking puzzles, then no question: take as much time as the puzzles need. Don't ship a game missing gameplay.)

For a non-interactive Finale, I'd suggest this: assemble a bare-bones Finale -- a simple text screen that conveys the end of the story. Ship the game on time with it. Obviously my text bias is showing here! I have no problem with story elements presented as text.

Then, if/when we get an update with the full-blown Finale, I'll go back and watch it. (Yes, I'm taking for granted that I can finish the game before Johnson -- er -- finishes the game.)

Kicking this around with friends, I saw two contrary comments: "Shipping an incomplete game will probably increase the chance of him releasing an update with the finale and bug fixes," versus "Shipping an incomplete game will probably take the pressure off him releasing an update."

Hm. You know what, there's no point in getting into that. I'm not in charge of Johnson's work habits, and neither is anybody else who's been waiting for this game.

There's some old irony floating around, by the way. When I played The Fool's Errand back in college, I was running off a pirated disk -- and it didn't include the game's Finale! So when I won, I didn't get to see it. I think I found a copy a couple of years later, and watched it then. If The Fool and His Money winds up running the same way, I can say for certain that I'll cope.

(I know, bootlegging is bad form. Sorry. I was in college. I bought the later Mac games.)

The other irony, of course, is that my own Kickstarter project is about to hit its two-year anniversary. I have not yet finished Hadean Lands. I'm not sure I have anything else to say about that either, but someone's going to mention it, and it might as well be me. Yes, I intend to take as much time as the game -- and I -- need.

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The Fool and his Money playable demo

Go get it.

Ooh, shiny.

(Requires Shockwave Player 11 from Adobe. When I ran the teaser app on my Mac laptop, it told me this and then sent my web browser to get Shockwave Player 10, which was confusing and unhelpful. Go to Adobe's site and get it directly.)


EDIT-ADD: The web site says the full game will be out in "early summer" -- he hopes.

A friend comments that one of the early puzzles is unduly hard if you're using a trackpad (as opposed to a mouse). I believe him. This is primarily a game of word and image puzzles, but -- as with Johnson's earlier games -- there are some click-fast elements.

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How to destroy hope

Around New Year's Eve, Cliff Johnson posted a note on his web site saying that he had tried to get out a playable demo of his upcoming game, but hadn't quite made it. Soon, he said, the teaser/demo would be out soon.

The "upcoming game", of course, is The Fool and his Money -- Johnson's long, long, long-delayed sequel to The Fool's Errand. As in, I pre-ordered the thing in December 2002. If you go to Johnson's pre-order thank-you page, you'll see my name scroll by in the first minute. The original ship date was April Fool's Day, 2003.

That didn't quite happen.

Skip past six years of countdown clocks and disappointment. It was a month ago that Johnson first mentioned the teaser release. A week ago I saw this:

January 26, 2009: This week, I will release a teaser of the game containing the Prologue and eleven puzzles.

And then on Monday:

February 2, 2009: Last week, I almost released a teaser of the game containing the Prologue and eleven puzzles. Today, I’ll be ironing out one last pesky bug and then I’ll be releasing it. Stay tuned.

And, you know, I was with him that far. Month, week, day -- that's a convergent series. If he'd posted at midnight saying "It'll be up in one hour!" I would have stood up and cheered.

Instead:

February 3, 2009: I have my fingers crossed that the current WIN and MAC versions of the teaser are indeed the final versions. I eagerly await news from my beta-testers. Stay tuned.

(Jmac's comment was on the order of "Oh, so now it's the beta-testers' fault." Frankly that didn't even occur to me. The beta-testers never promised me anything.)

The sad, or perhaps the pitiable or risible part: on Monday, I wrote a blog post saying "The demo is out! Download it now!" Yes, before the fact. Counting my chickens before I'd even seen the egg. I wanted to have the post ready to slap up here at a moment's notice.

Tuesday, I updated the post a little. Today... I wrote this one instead. I can't go that far out on the limb, and then pretend it never happened.

Sorry, Cliff Johnson. I don't hate you. I'm still checking your web site. I want to play your game teaser. Maybe you'll put it up ten minutes after I post this.

But for a week I had hope, and I invested in that hope, just a little -- just enough to write a blog post, just enough to be optimistic and not cynical. Just enough that now I feel like a sucker. My mistake, I know.

(For what it's worth, I can promise that the day a demo -- or the full game -- lands in my hands, I will forget all past disappointments. It's not that I'm a particularly forgiving person. I just have a minuscule attenOO SHINY!)

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The fool and his brain village

There's a planetary alignment of interesting puzzle games coming out this year.

Professor Layton and the Curious Village for the DS is already out, and looks interesting. Apparently, while it does have a lightweight mystery-solving theme, it's mainly a collection of puzzles, in the classic meaning of the word. The game packaging wisely calls them "brain teasers" so that you won't be expecting to play Bejewled. Penny Arcade made fun of it the other day, but that strip's writer makes clear in his blog that it was done out of love.

What really caught my eye was the promise of downloadble content, which as far as I know would be a first for any Nintendo-system game, even though they've been running an online service since 2005. I've heard tell of some server-side hiccups with it, but I'm confident enough they'll sort it out that I went ahead and tossed a copy on top of an Amazon order yesterday. (I recall how the very first game to use the online service, Mario Kart DS, managed to pound Nintendo's servers far more than they had originally prepared for.) I'll let you know how it is.


Speaking of the DS, Eidos has announced Brain Voyage, a digital game with puzzles designed by Reiner Knizia, of all people. It's slated to come out sometime this year.

Knizia's surely the most rockstar tabletop game designer alive today, by which I mean if he created a board game about, I dunno, pancakes, the game would be titled "Reiner Knizia's Pancakes" and that's all you'd need. It's not clear from the press release whether his name'll be on this box, or even what the nature of his relationship with the game content is. If the game doesn't stink, it'll be an interesting crossover between the digital and analog gaming worlds.


Finally, Cliff Johnson appears to be maybe actually we-hope poised to release his long-delayed puzzle epic The Fool and his Money this year. Originally slated for release in - gosh, I can't remember anymore, late 2003 maybe? - he kept bumping forward the release date until finally doing the right thing and promising no release date at all. He's been spending the last year or more laboriously repairing the game's content so that it runs consistently well in all implementations of Flash, and according to the counter on his site's front page he's accounted for 187 of 197 puzzles.

Money is the story-sequel to The Fool's Errand, a Tarot-themed puzzle extravaganza Johnson designed and had commercially published in 1989. That game, as well as its first (and differently themed) successor 3 in Three, are available as free downloads from Johnson's website. Because they're for ancient computers, you'll need emulator software to play them on your modern machine, but the author goes into careful detail on the download page about what works best on different computers and operating systems. Both games have my highest recommendation to those who enjoy a good puzzle!

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