September 11, 2006

The chill of winter, interactive fictionally speaking

Last night I was almost enjoying myself while I played an Interactive Fiction game called Winter Wonderland. The cover image almost reminded me of a book, so I was eager to see what this game could offer that the tedious games I'd previously played could not.

It was text. Playing the game felt almost like reading a book. Most of the rooms can be discovered by saying "look" or "go". I like that. Whenever I got stuck, also, I could recall the room description's huge chunk of text to get an idea of what I could be looking at, instead of focusing on my ineptitudes as a gamer.

I didn't get far in my hour of play. I'm guessing because the hint sheet popped up and several worlds were listed that I didn't even consider. I actually liked that idea, though. The trip through this world was actually fun.

Playing as a child does have its benefits, as well. I didn't feel like an idiot when the computer couldn't recognize what I was saying, and even when I didn't phrase everything correctly, the game actually appeared to try to understand me. I know its a computer and it really can't do that, but I felt like I was on friendly terms with the narrative guide this time around. The game also seemed to be written for a child's perspective. Adults are towering creatures in my head, and my needs and wants are secondary, which makes them even more desirous to achieve.

Later that evening, I talked to my partner in Interactive Fiction construction, Stephan, and he said that our game isn't anything like that. I have to agree. Our game isn't about getting things and then putting it all together in a legitimate puzzle. Our game is a puzzle, but putting everything together is deductive--not like gathering coins.

I can't make up my mind which puzzle design I like better, but I like reading in the games. I don't think it even matters the caliber of writing, either. When I put in the right command, I salivate over that huge block of text. Maybe IF games are just showing us what the world might be like if books are burned and we have to search hidden troves for literature...

Posted by Amanda Cochran at September 11, 2006 8:26 AM | TrackBack
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