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About the Story
The TURING project seeks to create the ultimate artificial intelligence to aid mankind in space colonization, and it is also too successful in this text adventure that sees the reader taking on the role of an MIT roboticist who must use the Turing Test to distinguish man from machine on the International Space Station. You are in a desperate race to save mankind and clock is ticking. Don't press the wrong button...
56th place - 27th Annual Interactive Fiction Competition (2021)
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Number of Reviews: 3
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This game feels like it would fit well in the early era of Twine. It's standard white text on black with blue hyperlinks, uses a couple text animations and has a standard branch and bottleneck structure with a sci fi or fantasy genre.
I like a lot of games like that (like Hunting Unicorn, for instance). This one turned out pretty well.
You play as a participant in creating sentient robots. You undergo questioning similar to a Turing test with your answers fed into the programming for a field of robots.
Later on, you encounter those robots, and must at a crucial moment conduct a Turing test.
I felt engaged with the story, and thought that the characters were vividly described. I felt like my choices mattered. I do think the game could use a little more polish, like a title screen or custom CSS or even some more callbacks to earlier choices. And while I liked it I don't think I'd replay it.
The TURING Test is a game with some interesting ideas, but I thought the implementation left some room for improvement.
The game starts in a very classic sci-fi mode, with direct references to Asimovís Robot series. The first act consists of an ethical questionnaire, asking the player what you feel about various ethical questions relating to robots, the three laws, the meaning of life, etc.
The next act is an exposition about the robot apocalypse that occurs as a result of your answers to the questionnaire. (Spoiler - click to show)Turns out, the AI interpreted your ethics extremely literally in a way that caused it to want to kill all humans. It was interesting to read how exactly the AI would go about its plans. However, I didnít think the robot rebellion story was plausible: (long spoilery section) (Spoiler - click to show)Based on my choices in the beginning, the AIís directive was to preserve all life on earth, but it found that humanity did more harm than good, so it must destroy humanity to stop global warming. But launching every nuclear weapon on earth would cause way more damage to life on earth and its ecosystems than most plausible scenarios of global warming, via the nuclear winter and radiation and so on. I guess since I didnít pick nuclear war as the greatest threat, the AI considered global warming to be a greater threat than nuclear war, but the reason I didnít pick nuclear war as the greatest threat is that the likelihood of global nuclear war is less than the likelihood of catastrophic global warming. Not just the absolute value of harm but the likelihood of harm. So... I don't know. This is kind of pedantic and wouldíve been avoided if the AI were able to kill humans without nukes.
Maybe the AI weighs the well being of cockroaches above every other life form. Which could make sense in certain branches of utilitarianism and could have been interesting to explore. Maybe it valued bacterial life the most because there was so much of it and thus decided to kill humans because they made antibiotics but then decides to avoid killing humans because they provide excellent hosts for bacteria but then decides to kill humans anyway because I donít know.
Then there's a long, essentially linear segment detailing your plan for taking down the AI that you helped create, involving uploading a virus. There are some choices mostly for aesthetic. And then you are sent to the International Space Station, and that was where I encountered my first bug.
The bug: I go to the Kibo lab on the ISS and see ďItís timeĒ, and then the game hangs. It just freezes. I think this was a problem with firefox, because multiple twine/harlowe games with timed text have had this problem. Chromium did not have this issue, I think, although looking at some of the other reviews, it has occurred in Chrome for some people.
Now we get to the actual Turing Test portion, where we have to distinguish between two entities to see which is the real human. You only get to ask each of them three questions, which seems like a remarkably short Turing test. Both the questions and answers feel kind of vague to me. I ended up guessing correctly, but I couldn't say why. (Spoiler - click to show)I think that the AI's answers are supposed to be based on the player's answers to the philosophical survey at the beginning of the game.
I had the same freezing error after the Turing test, when I had to decide which was the human and which was the AI. Picking one of the answers (the correct answer) led to the timed text never showing up. Again, I think this is an issue in the way firefox interacts with harlowe. Interestingly, the bug did not happen when I picked the wrong answer, and I might have actually preferred the "bad" ending.
I played through both endings, and while I thought the concept and writing were good, something about it just didnít click for me. The central plot device didnít really make sense, and the interactivity was less than the premise promised. I guess my feelings were soured by the technical issues I encountered, which weren't really the game's fault. Maybe without the bugs, I would have enjoyed it more.
Although not a fan of sci-fi, and usually adverse to dystopian fiction, I was quickly drawn in to "The TURNING Test," and enjoyed it all the way through. The description gives a two-hour playing time; if it took me that long, it didn't feel like it. The story builds interest well, and tension mounts as the stakes increase. As I worked through what felt like unsurmountable odds, every small success was its own reward. I have a couple of nitpicks, all of which have to do with the consequences of available choices: 1) (Spoiler - click to show) It felt like the numerous choices meant to establish the story in the beginning didn't make any difference, as it seemed like the result was the same on subsequent playthroughs. 2)(Spoiler - click to show)When I reached what I think was a successful ending, it felt much too tidy. Especially being able to reunite with a loved one, who probably should have long since been street grease. 3)(Spoiler - click to show)You are able to recover from a major mistake at a climactic moment; it felt too forgiving. Also, 4)(Spoiler - click to show)When I played online in Chrome, I got stuck. After I boarded the station and chose a lab, I came to a page with no choices available. I would give this game a much higher recommendation if some of the points I've hidden behind spoilers could be adjusted. However, even though I don't usually prefer to read about the themes this work tackles, I was glad I gave it a chance, and enjoyed it much more than I expected to.
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