Thursday, October 8, 2015

IFCOMP'15: Crossroads, Cat Manning

Has a number of good ideas about it - playing with the text's timing, customizing small details, - but it could've done much more with them, the way I see it. In Twine.

Now, let me start by repeating that white text on black background is not the way to go for me. I've never understood why one of the basic Twine layouts had to look like that, but it really taxes my eyes. Obviously, that's not a criticism against the author, who probably doesn't have much experience with the platform, but next time she could try out some other css styles, like Leon Arnott's. (I see he's helped out with the coding.)

Then, the story - the PC is in the woods, waiting for a witch, seeking a fix. Something has pushed her to thiat (the PC, I mean, and I can't really imagine it as a man somehow), and defining that "something" is the object of many of the interactive elements here, as well as the fix she seeks.

I liked that to some extent the pacing is out of my hands, since the text of a passage is displayed automatically, in portions. The gaps weren't annoyingly long and they let my imagination fill in the silence in the meanwhile, mostly with the sense of passing time stronger than what it would've been if I just clicked and read in quick succession.

(By the way, I'd have really liked if interacting with the text in between displaying portions were possible, and if it changed stuff along the way. In the "Breathe. In", passage, for instance, I clicked away like mad in one playthrough, and didn't click at all in another. If it acknowledged that, I'd have been thrilled. Also, the coding's not really hard to do.)

On the other hand, I didn't find the text customization fruitful enough. I usually like reflective choices that let me create a sense of personality out of disparate little choosings, but here the character-defining elements mostly asked me to impart a sense of greater conflict, a theme to the whole thing, and a symbolic structure, choosing stuff such as a driving emotion, whether I've hurt other or have been hurt, whether and why I seek death - or else completely immaterial things like the color of the PC's eyes, that rather fall into the other end of the spectrum.

Setting-and-atmosphere-wise it's all rather gothic stuff - goth, even, - and slightly heavy-handed for my taste. The writing is good, but a bit rich on the Anne Ricean trappings, intense words, sentence-fragments and one-word-sentences. And in such an interactive structure, where the sense of character is entirely made out of player decisions, I would've preferred something more fruitfully stark, so I can fill it up with my own imaginings, instead of vague, the way it sounds to me as it is.

No comments:

Post a Comment