I did manage to get past that 243 kilobyte barrier last week -- I'm finding that updating this site has fallen into the same bin as playing video games, playing text games and doing one of a thousand other things. ("I could update the web log, but I could also finish level three and tighten up the graphics on CZ.")
That being said, I was up until two o'clock last night playing Shade. I was too dense to realize that at the end you need to start touching things -- OK, I understood what was going on, but there were a few moments where I think I had to drop something and pick it up again. Additionally, I had an actual chill moment when, after I'd typed >LOOK a few dozen times (it's just my nature to do so) the plant changed into a spider plant. I'll try to qualify why I just don't like spiders, because the same night I played Shade there was spider drama:
Our sprinkler system is broken and our friend Vicki came over to look at it. "Ah, there's a brown recluse down in the sprinkler box," she said and, of course, I freaked a little. I mean, come on, if they bite you, you turn into, for all intents and purposes, a goddamn zombie, due to all the necrosis going on. I don't think it's a phobia when your motherfucking hand will drop off as a result of a bite. I don't know if I mentioned it, but the Wikipedia entry on spiders has a nice history of a 2000x2000 hi-res image of a giant spider being dropped into the "spider" page. So that's always a bonus to encounter. Plus, it was two AM and I had spent Monday up until that time actually working on CZ.
I know a spider plant has nothing to do with real spiders. I have a spider plant at work -- they're cool with me. But if you really don't like flying and you're playing a game that is a little creepy like Shade and all of a sudden, instead of your luggage (which has faithfully been by your side for thirty room descriptions... it was like the brass lantern at that point, in terms of unyielding safety) you read that it got turned into a frigging FLYING squirrel, I don't know, you'd be a little freaked is all. Not a lot. I was able to keep playing and all, I'm just saying.
It would not be fair to end this by saying that 'games like Shade are why I keep playing text games blah blah' -- much of it was spoiled for me by simply hanging around the newsgroups for years. (It was not spoiled maliciously or anything.) I also ignored "spoilers" and read Emily Short's essay on what the game had to do with Adam Cadre's book Ready, Okay! However, HOWEVER, moments like the one that Shade go a long way towards playing more of these games. The first batch of the new wave of IF writers are mastering their craft.
Regardless of your opinion of spiders, whether it's "I love 'em," or "if you kill 'em close you get the full 900 points," an author quietly changing a long-standing room object into something else was not something I had seen before, and it worked on me. It's the silly little things that you remember best, isn't it?
(That being said, it's probably time to play the Ian Finley game that he suggests you play in the middle of the night real soon now. Been saving that one.)