IFcomp 2016: Moonland

“Moonland” is next. Seems like classic Twine.

Dear Twine authors: can we please, please, PLEASE cease and desist with the timed/animated text? I’m sure it’s a very pretty effect, but it is annoying as all hell.

So. “Moonland”. It starts out like aimless, abstruse love poetry. We’re … I’m not sure what we’re doing. Having dinner, I think? It’s a lot of pretty words that convey an ethereal mood without really saying much about the actual situation. This goes on until we start getting birth imagery. Oh, I see, we’re playing a metaphor for the birthing process, from the newborn/unborn child’s point of view. Then errors start showing up, and it turns out we’re a robot, and the birth imagery was itself a metaphor for the emerging AI. This is a lot more concrete than the aimless imagery we started with; at last, perhaps we’re getting somewhere.

But I’m still not sure where we stand, or what we’re supposed to do. Up to now, the hyperlinks don’t seem to have had much to do with the results, so it really felt a lot like random choices. Now we’re beginning to get actual choices that look like they might have foreseeable consequences; but I have no idea what consequences we want or, if we’re in roleplaying mode, what actions would make sense for our character: we have been neither active nor reactive, but experiential. So I’m still picking choices at random.

In the end, I think we’ve malfunctioned and I think I’m supposed to derive some deep truth about the human condition from the process. I’ll leave the philosophy to those more learned than myself; my simple brain knows only that something is trying to engage its emotional right side while its rational left side is flailing for a handhold. Actually, isn’t it the emotional right side’s job to connect the dots and make a story? Whatever. My brain is getting cross-eyed.

I guess the bottom line is that abstruse imagery, while lovely, usually places the player at such a distance from the events of a story that they can’t really engage with the characters. It’s like trying to use a cubist painting to identify a missing person, or trying to read instrumental music as poetry, or trying to chew on a soup. It’s a different sort of engagement, and we’ve been locked out of it by the approach.

Breakfast: A slice of panettone, very stiff and fluffy and airy, with a delicious lemony scent. Jasmine tea. A fragrant meal, but kind of hard to get your teeth into.

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