IFcomp 2016: Black Rock City

Next: “Black Rock City”. I pretty much never read the blurb, so I went into this without seeing that it’s set at Burning Man….

At first glance, it looks as if we might be in a fantasy universe: the very first choice offers the option of getting aboard a flying carpet. This appears to be the only case of apparent fantasy magic, however, and I am more inclined now to think that this is a mechanical thing designed to mimic the appearance of a flying carpet. Everything else about the setup, including the reference to “the Man” as a landmark and something you should already know about, suggests that we are in fact in the real world, probably Burning Man. (Oh look, that’s what the blurb says, too!)

There’s plenty to see, but no real story; the only fixed event is an oncoming dust storm, and whatever experience you find between the opening and when the dust storm hits is your story. The structure is a branching CYOA, with completely unrelated branches, so stories might differ wildly. While the very first ending I hit seemed a little ominous, all the others on subsequent playthroughs have been bright and cheery; so I get the sense that this is about portraying the event’s positivity, about describing the delight of an afternoon at Burning Man.

I don’t know, I feel like I want more of a Story With Motivation to be really engaged.

What is interesting is the format. I saw this earlier in “The Queen’s Menagerie”, where you pick an action or a thing down at the bottom of the screen and match it to a word up in the text. Some of the action options match with just one specific word, while others match more; some match different words from their neighbour options, while others match the same words. In a couple of cases, an “examine” option did not progress the story, but instead expanded the extant text for further information. It seems like a versatile system, and I kind of feel that “Black Rock City” is meant to be a demonstration of it rather than a story the author wants to get off his chest.

For breakfast, I believe we are grazing. Lots and lots of little sample pastries (are we at a newly-opened artisanal bakery?) with those little single-serving packs of jam that you get at restaurants and diners. Then Herbal tea or chai. Quite light, unless you go back for seconds or thirds or fourths.

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