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Meteor by Goblinboy

Posted by admin - 2010/09/25 07:49 _____________________________________

Meteor by Goblinboy has been uploaded to the files section. Enjoy! And, thanks Goblinboy!

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Re:Meteor by Goblinboy

Posted by ExLibris - 2010/09/26 05:04 _____________________________________

Update 30/09/10: IâTMve rewritten my review now that I think I actually understand how the game works Plot In Meteor the player takes on the role of James, a young man whose life takes a strange turn after he witnesses a meteorite impact and becomes infected by an alien that drives him to seek out sex because, you know, Mars Needs Women.

As a plot itâTMs predictable and not very original, but considered merely as a framing device itâTMs more effective. For example it means that for once the superhuman sexual endurance of an AIF protagonist has some sort of explanation. It also provides a rationale for why James is suddenly having sex with as many women as possible (other than the fact that heâTMs male). Hopefully it also protects him from the effects of long-term priapism (which, in case you were wondering, include impaired erectile function, impotence, and potentially penis removal if gangrene sets in) However, because the explanation is post facto, playing Meteor for the first time feels a bit directionless, as it depends on the player adhering to the conventions of AIF rather than being guided by the plot. That might have been mitigated if Silvers had been more forthcoming about what was going on instead of being irritatingly cryptic. That would have made the game about James either resisting the alien or giving in to the temptation it offers, which would have placed more emphasis on his choices.

As it is, itâTMs the alien thatâTMs largely responsible for JamesâTM conquests, trespassing on what would normally be the play role in the game and adding an extra layer of insulation between player and protagonist. The fact that the girlsâTM emotions are artificially induced also reduces some of the impact of their scenes. Neither player nor protagonist have really done anything, so thereâTMs less sense of accomplishment. ThatâTMs particularly the case in the scenes where the girl essentially hurls herself at James (Helen, Nikki, Tammy), but it also undercuts those scenes where there might have been a preexisting attraction (Jenny, Ellie). Other than Anna, Kim is the only girl who has a strong reason to be with James that canâTMt be explained by the entity (ie. hurting her sister), but that doesnâTMt have anything to do with the player either. Structurally Meteor is quite similar to School Dreams 3, in that it takes place over four separate days and each day there are different events or actions that James can take. The major difference is that most of JamesâTM choices are passive, taking the opportunities presented to him, as opposed to SD3 where the PC could actively pursue Becky or Molly. All that being said, I prefer a game that provides some reason for why the protagonist is behaving as he does, rather than banging everything that moves because heâTMs a guy and thatâTMs what guys do in AIF. Because of that, Meteor's plot gets a passing grade from me. 6/10 Characters At the beginning of the game James is a virgin who has been reluctant to become sexually active. That makes sense given that the plot is about an alien entity that alters people's behaviour and lowers their inhibitions. If James had been a typical AIF protagonist, there wouldn't have been many changes to make. Unlike in previous games, Goblinboy has chosen to make the protagonist a distinct character rather than a simple avatar for the player. That's my preferred choice in a game that involves people and locations that the protagonist is supposed to already know, since the author can then detail the pre-existing relationships. It also means that James can appear in more of the pictures, since there's no need to maintain the illusion that the player is the protagonist. A character that's easy to overlook is the alien entity itself. It comes from another universe and takes control of James, making him seek out sexual encounters... all of which makes it sound very much like a typical AIF player. If that was intended it's an interesting metatextual touch, but it comes at the price of increasing the separation between the actual player and the ostensible protagonist, James. Anna is the game's primary love interest, although I didn't find her to be completely successful in that role. That was partly because I thought her model was one of the less attractive ones in the game, but mostly it was because I didn't find her very sympathetic or likeable. With her prior history (assuming that the player brings it into existence by finding out about it), it's much more difficult to rationalise her behaviour during the game as being wholly caused by the alien

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entity. She consistently lies to James, either outright or by omission. Even when she's caught in flagrante delicto with Silvers, her first impulse is to blame James for not trusting her rather than accept any responsibility for her actions. That's not to say that Anna isn't a well-realised character. The glimpses into her background that she allows James go a long way to explaining why she is the way she is. She's more rounded than Becky from SD3, whose devotion to the PC in that game was frankly inexplicable. Unfortunately believable doesn't always equate to likeable. In some ways, Kim is Meteor's version of Alison from SD3. As an emotionally damaged girl with an athletic background who dislikes her older sister and keeps a photo of her lost past in her underwear drawer, there are a lot of parallels. The main difference is that, as the only sane person in the Stevens household, Alison is a victim through no fault of her own. By contrast, Kim is a victim only in her own mind, which makes her less sympathetic. However, she's still the more fully rounded character, and by the end of the game I felt that I fully understood her. Unfortunately her misplaced anger towards her sister never gets resolved so by the end of the game she still needs a whole lot of serious therapy, which makes her even less believable than Anna as a long-term partner for James. Silvers plays what might be described as the 'Mike' role. He's a self-centred quasi-antagonist for James who helps catalyse the plot. Unfortunately he's a less well-developed and consistent character than Mike. Silvers devotes most of his interactions with James to being alternately creepy and cryptic, even though it antagonises James, simply to conceal the plot from the player for as long as possible. If Silvers actually wanted to get information from James he'd try another approach. This is actually what he does with Anna and Laura, highlighting how illogical his behaviour with James is. It also strains believability that someone who comes across as a creepy sexual predator would be chosen for a mission of this sort, rather than someone more professional (like Ashlee or Kelly for example). Needless to say, I wasn't mad keen on him being an enforced participant in the final scene, but as in Camping Trip those are the cards you're dealt. I found Jenny to be the most likeable of the major characters. She just comes across as a fun person without any crippling character flaws or dark secrets lurking in her past, which is good since she is probably the character that James interacts with most frequently. It's that large amount of dialogue that fleshes her out and makes her a believable character. The other character that I particularly liked was Ellie, although my own personal tastes probably had something to do with that (even though she insisted on taking her glasses off in nearly every picture). James's interactions with the other characters is much more limited, and in most cases they serve a single function within the plot (Kelly, Ashlee) or are Easter eggs for the player willing to search them out (Helen, Rachel, Mrs Edwards). Although I didn't think that every character was ideally suited to the plot or the reaction they're presumably supposed to provoke from the player, taken as a whole they represent some of the best characterisation in AIF. That's an even more impressive achievement when you consider the size of the cast. 9/10 Writing Goblinboy's only real flaw as an author is probably the lack of interest he seems to have in non-sexual description. How big a flaw that is depends on the tastes of the player. It's not as much in evidence here as it has been in previous games, but personally I find that a generic description or objects not being implemented doesn't do much to sustain my suspension of disbelief. It also sends a message that Meteor is primarily about sex, and things like plot, immersion and gameplay are merely afterthoughts. Certainly the one typical IF puzzle stands out like a sore thumb. However, one place there definitely aren't any problems is the dialogue. The conversations that the NPCs have with James and with each other are a big part of why the characterisation is so strong in this game. The decision to use a menu-based conversation system gives the author tighter control over what dialogue the player sees, although it comes at the price of taking away some interactivity from the player. Although it wasn't interactive either, I liked the pre-scripted opening as I felt it was more involving than a simple text dump of exposition. I would have preferred it if there had been an option to restore a saved game before the introduction, but thatâTMs a minor quibble. One authorial decision I found mystifying was the decision to set the game in an alternate history America. This is alluded to so rarely that the player could be forgiven for not noticing it, and it has no real effect on the game. Given the narrow focus of Goblinboy's writing it's hard to believe that he ever intended to develop this idea further. The only thing that I can think of is that it supports the thesis that the alien is the player, since both are effectively from 'another universe'. 7/10 Technical In a game as large and as complicated as Meteor there are bound to bugs, even after testing. That's why I'm not too upset by the handful that I encountered, especially as none of them were game-breaking. I'm a little less charitable towards the epidemic of typos and spelling mistakes. The amount of text might have been too daunting to proof-read it line by line, but I don't think it would have been an insurmountable task to spellcheck it, either from a transcript or using something like Textout to extract the text from the source file. That probably would have removed 99% of the typos, and it's disappointing that this wasn't done.

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However, it would be a bit churlish to get too hung up on spelling given the amount of effort and polish that has gone into other aspects of the game. In particular, the final scene must be easily the most complicated ever seen in AIF, dwarfing even the climax of SD3 with the number of possible variations and positions. Elsewhere, the technical flourishes that are a trademark of Goblinboy's games are on display. Most notable is the camera, which adds an extra dimension to James' interactions with the girls. The sole aberration that I noticed was the lack of a coded response to my attempts to punch Silvers in his smug cryptic face, a disappointing omission. While I thought the menu-based conversation system worked well in helping to characterise the NPCs, I was a bit irritated by the way that choosing an option usually (but not always) dumped you out of the menu. Continually having to retype 'talk to x' quickly became tedious. 9/10 Sex As is the case with most of Goblinboy's games, Meteor incorporates a vast amount of sex in its story. The girls of Meteor form a broad array of different types (e.g. little sister, virgin, teacher, jailbait, nerd, slut), which helps make their respective scenes distinct. I like the move away from an arousal-based mechanic because it removes the necessity to repeat the same commands over and over in order to get to a climax. The cost of that is that the scenes feel a little pared down compared to School Dreams 3. But there are little touches such as the order of actions changing the final outcome that prevent the scenes from becoming formulaic. Although all of the scenes are distinct, they have one commonality in that they are what I would describe as 'porn sex' (explicitly so in Jenny's scene). Nearly all of the girls beg James to take them hard and he obliges, to their delight. That's not inherently a bad thing, but it does mean that you will be disappointed if you're looking for romance, tenderness, or much in the way of emotional content from these scenes. As someone who finds the set-up and context of a scene nearly as important as the scene itself, that strikes me as a missed opportunity. Possibly the most impressive thing about the sex in Meteor is that despite the huge quantity of it, you never get the sense that Goblinboy ever succumbed to fatigue while writing it. There are a handful of scenes that play out as noninteractive cut scenes, but they're all peripheral to the plot so that's a forgivable shortcut. However, I think that quantity almost becomes a negative in Meteor's climactic scene. Each girl has up to a dozen major actions and half a dozen minor actions. With three girls involved that's fifty different actions if you want to see all of the scene. And therein lies the problem, as working through all of these possible options starts to become monotonous after a while. That was especially the case with the five person variation, which should be the game's tour de force but starts feeling a little bit like work once you've typed in the fortieth action. But it speaks to the overall strength of the sex scenes that the harshest thing I can say is that there were too much of them. 9/10 Final Thoughts When School Dreams 3 was released, it was hard to see how any game could ever top it. Meteor manages that feat. In terms of plot and especially characterisation Meteor is stronger than SD3, which I personally felt was a little weak in both areas. The sex scenes in Meteor are as good as SD3 in their overall quality and, although there is nothing to match the impact of the Becky/Molly scene, that's counter-balanced by the greater quantity and variety. However, James' passivity as a protagonist decreased the amount of fun I had with Meteor, allowing SD3 to edge ahead in that category at least. Overall score = 40/50 Final grade = A Post edited by: ExLibris, at: 2010/09/30 00:55

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Re:Meteor by Goblinboy

Posted by verymortal - 2010/09/27 15:16 _____________________________________

Plot I am going to have to replay SD3 again just to do some direct comparisons but I never felt a strong connection to James as to the protagonist of SD3. Short of Ashlee there wasn't the underlying sense of choice in Jame's feelings that our SD3 protagonist had when humoring Molly or disappointing Becky. The actual purpose of this game is much muddier than previous Goblinboy games. The beginning of the game implies a secret event with a meteor that is well presented in the opening script and leaves an element of mystery by flashing forward as soon as the young couple would be revealing the meteor. The problem is that the PC is then given control of a character who knows what happened while the Player does not. The Player is given the opportunity to catch up very early on by speaking to the Mr. Silvers but the honesty of the PCs answers is somewhat uncertain. Thankfully the girl at the beginning of the game is a main character but frustratingly

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not a single option to discuss the event is available to discuss things with her. Nor are there any opportunities in the game to re-examine the premise except through a pair of unhelpful computer searches. Devolving the game back to a bang everything that moves AIF with sci-fi bookends. Which is fine but lacks the effort that Goblinboy has shown he's capable of in previous games. In Darkness being a good example of the PC being compelled towards certain events. Characters While Anna can be considered a step up in depth from passively available Becky, her character doesn't warrant the sympathy Becky's received. The defensive attitude and body language of Anna did not resonate like the puppy dog responses of Becky if the PC of SD3 chose to toss her puppy love feelings aside. I do feel that Goblinboy has been successful in developing a well rounded set of characters for Meteor that don't overlap with his characters from the SD series. While Silvers is a dirty old man, he is not the master manipulator that Mike was and is easily foiled by the PC. While Kim is a more accessible character than Alison her connection to the PC is much less interesting and serves mostly as an opportunity to inflict revenge on her sister than any personal joy. Ashlee would be a much closer comparison than Kim. Aloof, not obviously available within a simple playthrough and aware of their sexual appeal and a willingness to use it despite a lack in personal interest. Jenny and Ellie are the most positive characters to interact with on the surface but its dark undertones are still apparent as Jenny reveals an awareness of its taboo nature the day after. Laura was a great inclusion of an interactive side character that was both useful in providing flavor and appropriately busy much of the game. Writing While it is probably fair to hold such a well renowned author to some high standard in every category of quality. GoblinBoy's knack for nondescript scenery are symbolic of Meteor's streamlined nature. If it's not relevant to the style of game, it's not distracting the player with red herring attempts at interacting with unnecessary items. This can and is taken to ridiculous levels with Jenny's thirst puzzle, and does break immersion by not blending more seamlessly with the world. Beyond this the immersion and depth of the world is well presented with the descriptions and interactions of the NPCs. They're moving about town, arguing with each other, tending to hygiene and work in a way that the PC finds so familiar that you understand why there isn't an abundance of flowery description, it's all material the PC has seen before. The only things the PC is seeing with fresh eyes, are the women. Which is in tune with the idea that the PC has changed from his pre-game self. Sex Again we see Goblinboy streamlining his product. While a great deal of fat is cut, the remaining meat is still quite juicy. Moving away from complex sex mechanics of insertion, position and interaction, a great deal more effort is put into the writing. While this takes a load of responsibility of the programmer, the writing responsibilities are now greater. It's to his credit that I didn't find any of the major sex scenes lacking despite the epic amount of interaction previous games had available. What was removed in sexual game mechanics was replaced with visual aids, Goblinboy has continued to work on his CG artist resume in Meteor with a huge number of pictures. Each character is a unique look that helps differentiate characters from each other, which otherwise may have been difficult with the huge cast. Conclusion Meteor is another leap forward for Goblinboy in technical gameplay.The Menu system get the player quickly involved with interacting with the characters of the game in the appropriate manner. The amount of originaly imagery is unlikely to be eclipsed by any other game short of another Goblinboy effort. The game plays much like an interactive story with many diverting paths but no roadblocks, providing the opportunity for several fun play throughs. While I feel that each character within Meteor was deeper than Goblinboy's previous games, their connection to each other was flatter. Grade: A Post edited by: verymortal, at: 2010/09/27 15:17

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