Refi

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General Discussion / Re: glitches
« Last post by KirstyM on February 07, 2019, 05:53:15 pm »
Thank you for this. I will investigate!

Not sure what has happened here as it never did this in the previous versions and nearly all of the code is the same.
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General Discussion / Re: glitches
« Last post by Flamekebab on February 07, 2019, 03:10:10 pm »
I'm not sure if the inventory and various other variables are supposed to reset between playthroughs. As a result I kept the boathook permanently and couldn't redo one of the dormitory rooms (or whichever upstairs room has someone in it - I only got one crack at it and so I don't remember which room it was!).
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What is your overall opinion of the game? / Mixed bag
« Last post by Flamekebab on February 07, 2019, 03:08:26 pm »
I can't say I'm a fan of the genre and that rather colours my experiences (the genre being horror of some variety, not as in text adventures). I mostly played the game to see where the research was going. It was okay.

The passages were reasonably well written. I wasn't sure if some things were red herrings or not. I prefer the shandification school of game design where things aren't pared to the bone but in a small game it's hard to know if a certain choices are there to add colour to the narrative or as vestigial elements remaining from unimplemented mechanics (the eyeball for example). Or perhaps they affect things in a nebulous way that I'd have to dig into the game's code to discover.

The few parts I could have done with mapping had timers and so mapping wasn't an option (the game's garden area - assuming it uses a map and the directional choices matter). The rest of the layout is simple in relation to the available directional choices (if I was having to navigate with cardinal directions to reach doors that could well change). I do not like timers in games.

Sound gets a mention but either Chrome isn't interested in dealing with the way you implemented sound or it's not setup correctly (the game, not my browser - the sound used in my own SugarCube Twine game works in Chrome). Perhaps it would have affected me for better or worse if it worked?

Lastly the stock creepy tropes felt rather forced but perhaps that's me being a grumpy old cynic. Creepy children, a bit of body horror, fear of the unknown, etc.. After finding the initial ending which taught me the type of game I was playing it became difficult to remain invested. "Ah, the game's trying to kill me. Exploration will probably be punished" was essentially my internal response.

It did make me wonder whether I could write horror of some kind though. I've never tried and have no idea whether it's difficult or not. I suspect it's a very fine balance to walk. Speaking of which the somber tone throughout the game primed me for bad things, for want of a better term. It wasn't shocking to find horror elements because the setting effectively telegraphed that that's what I would encounter in any given location.
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Did you find all of the endings? / Most of them?
« Last post by Flamekebab on February 07, 2019, 02:53:54 pm »
No. I found five or six of them and then decided I'd had enough. The timers annoyed me and the "chance of survival" on each passage left me baffled as to the effect of my actions. Also the inventory seems to be broken. I ended up carrying items from a previous playthrough as it doesn't reset properly. As a result I was unable to make a different choice on a subsequent playthrough.

Various passages are slightly broken and reveal the effects of one of the choices without selecting them:
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That's a painfully broad question without any guidance on useful feedback. Navigation, I suppose? Perhaps risk assessment?

The "chance of survival" thing doesn't seem to correspond to anything and fluctuates wildly with no apparent cause (which makes me wonder if it's there as a priming element rather than an indicator of anything).

Possibly one could argue that interpretation is a mechanic? Here's a situation, what do you make of it, etc.. Whether that's a mechanic depends more on the researcher, really. Was the goal to see what the sparse passages could get the player to guess?

More broadly perhaps "escape" is the game mechanic? I'm really at a loss to give useful information without some further guidance.
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Were there any choices you wish you could have taken in the game? / Countdown
« Last post by Flamekebab on February 07, 2019, 02:33:46 pm »
The speed of the countdown in a particular passage was such that I didn't get a chance to properly read the passage. I saw the countdown and realised I needed to make a choice immediately in order to (presumably) continue the game. Having the countdown appear after a prompt to take action would have been helpful. I wasn't sure which choice I'd made until a later passage.
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What is your interpretation of the story? / Not much to interpret
« Last post by Flamekebab on February 07, 2019, 02:31:37 pm »
I found the game too short to properly immerse myself. As a result the events lacked weight and the endings felt rather forced, especially given that one passage seemed to provide at least three potential endings that were all fairly different.
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General Discussion / glitches
« Last post by jkibbe on February 06, 2019, 03:59:24 pm »
i encountered some bugs today...
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Did you create a map to navigate the game? / A map would help!
« Last post by smyers56 on October 30, 2018, 02:10:32 am »
I don't have experience with this type of electronic-based interactive narrative, so this was new to me. I quickly got the hang of it and quickly realized that, as the creator suggested, a map may be helpful! I did not create one, but it would definitely help to orient the reader to the location which is confusing to navigate by trying to use memory alone. I found the disorienting nature of the story to somewhat add to the haunting story line...but then it just became frustrating. A map is the way to go.
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Heads up, this might be long because it is somewhat related to my studies as well and I'm still thinking through some of these implications.

Firstly, I would argue that the question "Do the game mechanics and narrative work together" is unnecessary, because it is impossible for it to be otherwise. Even Clint Hocking's (in)famous ludonarrative dissonance does not suggest that the mechanics and narrative of Bioshock don't work together at all, but rather, that they are working at odds with one another and sending mixed messages (which is in itself a message, though one could argue an unintentional one by the authors). So jumping to part two of your question, how do they work together?

The mechanics of most Twine games are very similar - players are given a small subset of options from which to choose, they select one, and then see what happens. One of the interesting consequences of this that I have observed is that many (most, probably) Twine games actually offer the player very little insight into exactly what will happen when they click on that link. For example, in your story, if the player simply chooses to wait and see what happens, the game ends. There is no way a player can know that ahead of time; I've found that many Twine games follow a similar trend. There is often very little indication of what will happen should a player make a decision.

I've also found that Twine games, because of the limited number of choices offered to a player on any given screen, often "lead" the player. For example, when I look under the bed in the girl's dormitory, I have the option to "pick up the box", "look out the window", or "return to the hallway." I doubt there are very many players who just ignore the box at this point and return to the window. So in this way, the player is being guided by the writing.

Finally, in your game in particular, the concept of a replay is actively encouraged. Not only are some of the endings so brief as to make the player think, "Well, I must have done something wrong", but you explicitly tell the players that there are nine endings and they are encouraged to find them all. This means that the second (or third or fourth or fifth) time I play the game, I arrive on a scene of what is essentially survival horror with prior knowledge. I can skip the pitfalls from before because I already know they are there, and the elements that were previously creepy are no longer scary. This reminds me of the film Edge of Tomorrow in which Tom Cruise's character respawns again and again in the same battle. Eventually he figures out the patterns and the battle is no longer terrifying or even deadly because he already knows exactly what to do. Your game, too, has this same quality.

So with these three ideas in mind (I'm sure there are more) - that the game is initially obtuse in relaying its consequences, it later becomes trivial because the pattern never changes (except for the 50/50 ending), and that the player is often guided towards objectives - the question then becomes how do these characteristics interact with the story? This is where things become much more subjective and interpretive. One could argue that the obtuseness of early explorations mirrors the confusion of the player character, or perhaps the unknowing that comes with being in a dangerous situation. It could be a reflection of the institute itself, which seems to be at once occupied and abandoned. It could be a literal interpretation of the darkness of the building, etc. The ability to replay the story again and again knowing what to expect speaks of a death-rebirth cycle, perhaps a suggestion that the player character is haunting this place and that they are never really free but will always wake up again. The guiding text could be a helpful or malicious entity that wants the player to achieve something or to fall into a trap. This also brings up questions of "meta" writing - is the author that helpful or malicious entity?

The point is that, yes, the mechanics and themes will always interact and it is those interactions that create the opportunity for interpretation, even in Interactive Fiction. To stop rambling and get to the meat: you posit that you are "looking at whether narrative game mechanics are present in interactive fiction- a text-based format that has been shown to have game-like qualities."  The answer is of course the one we don't what to hear. Yes, narrative game mechanics can be present in IF, but are not necessary. I could just as easily write a story where the links are simply "Turn to the next page." I think the interesting nexus here is where that overlap between literature and game happens. I've certainly read "playful" books, e.g., House of Leaves, many of Borges' works, or any "Choose Your Own Adventure" book. If books can be game-like and games can be book-like, then I think some exploration along this liminal space is where the argument that video games are literature is to be made.

Ok, I'll stop talking. Thanks for listening to my ramblings!

Edit: Oh, and one more thing (sorry)! I also noticed that your game casts judgment on the player's decisions - "Why would you do that?" when crushing the eyeball and "Are you sure you want to shoot an innocent child?". This evocation of guilt is one that Katherine Isbister suggests is unique to the format of video games. This would also make a great place to start probing the video games/literature nexus.
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