IFComp 2008: Lair of the Cybercow

(This is another Interactive Fiction Competition review .)

What is Lair of the Cybercow? A gag? Just a really bad game? I have no idea, and that’s the only reason it’s getting its own post. Spoilers past the link.

I wasn’t sure whether to give Lair of the Cybercow a post—I’ll be doing another dismissive post later about some games that were just clear, blatant insults. LotC looks suspiciously like a half-assed time-waster… cheap idiot-grade surrealism, random elements thrown together with no thought or theme.

Then again, it’s in ADRIFT. I’ve never played an ADRIFT game that was any good at all, so maybe the format dragged this thing down. In the end I decided to give LotC the benefit of the doubt.

Of course, all that means is that I’m giving it a 2 instead of a 1. Here’s all you need to know about LotC: The first commands I type in any game are EXAMINE ME and INVENTORY. I type INVENTORY and the game tells me “you lost it all in that crazy bit in the well.” What well? It turns out there’s a well in the area, which you discover when you examine the cottage and the game tells you it’s “just east of the well.” Then I get to the Chapel Yard and the game says “Vluurinik flits around” as though I’m supposed to know who or what Vluurinik is. And then I pick up some items, and when I take inventory the game still tells me “you lost it all in that crazy bit in the well.”

Not only was Lair of the Cybercow not beta tested, but the author—one Harry Wilson—didn’t even bother to play through the thing himself. Even the slightest, most cursory text run would have found these problems. There are only two possible explanations for this game. The first is that the thing was a deliberate insult, in which case the author can go take a flying leap into his own well. The other possibility is that the author is so far off in his own little world that he doesn’t know what a finished game is supposed to look like. In which case, Harry, wait a few years before you try to submit anything else, okay?

3 thoughts on “IFComp 2008: Lair of the Cybercow

  1. Thanks for the review. There has been an announcement about the game (below).


    LAIR of the CyberCow was written using ADRIFT 3.90, and apparently
    only properly runs under the Windows ADRIFT 3.90 runner. Converting it
    to 4.0 or using non-Runner interpreters can introduce bugs in the


    Stephen Granade


  2. The game’s ‘about’ command says the author is Conrad Cook. I am even more confused.

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