Reviews by Victor Gijsbers

IFDB Spelunking

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Rough Draft, by Erica Kleinman

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
Picturing the process of writing, February 12, 2023
by Victor Gijsbers (The Netherlands)
Related reviews: IFDB Spelunking

In Rough Draft we take the role of Denise, an author of children's fiction who is plagued by the combination of an approaching deadline and writer's block. She decides to just start typing whatever comes into her head. Our job, as players, is to make choices about where to take the story. Almost all of these choices lead to dead ends in the writing process, but some of them give Denise an idea that she can then use in another branch of the story. Thus we need to visit the unsuccessful stories in order to be able to construct the successful one.

The story that we are writing is not very inspired, but it does the job. The game gives us a visual representation of all the story lines, which is very helpful indeed. Care has clearly gone into the presentation of the game.

Some things about the game are puzzling. For instance, it's not just ideas from one story branch that pop in another, but so do items -- we can use items that we haven't actually obtained yet. I suppose that we are to understand that Denise will later restore continuity. More importantly, it seems to me that the process presented to us by the game has little to do with the process of writing a story. Denise has only a starting situation, and nothing else -- shouldn't she think about at least some structure, or an ending, or something like that, before just writing? But I suppose just writing is a possible technique. But even then, surely the problem you run into and the solution you need is never going to be 'I don't know how to continue this story here in the forest, let's start again from the beginning but now they go to the mountains'. That's just not the kind of change that could be relevant to getting a plot sorted out.

(I played this game as part of an IFDB Spelunking expedition where I try to play through ten random games.)

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