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A self-perpetuating Twine, May 5, 2014
On the face of it, Twine Story is a highly referential piece about the creation of a twine game. Initially it bears a resemblance to games like Violet, with its focus on the pains of writing and the tempting, unrelated distractions. But it eventually takes a surreal turn, becoming even more meta.
The interaction comes in through the brainstorming of ideas and optional procrastination. But really the game is very linear, and only becomes more so as time goes on and as it becomes more self-referential. (Spoiler - click to show)Each time you a compile a twine story in the game, you go back to the very first node ("You are sitting at a desk") -- or a variation thereof -- and begin writing the next story. It then becomes apparent that each story writes the next. The moment you press "test play" at the end of a section you once again find yourself sitting at a desk, ready to write the next story. And this next story follows the creative intentions outlined in the last. Then, finally, you encounter what appears to be a garbled sequence of code but is actually a variation on the last story, whereby you intended to write a game about code.
I'm sure that description only half made sense, because believe me it is a touch disorienting. Then, when you get past the surreal code story, the game starts from the very beginning again. A self-perpetuating Twine. The creations are not the product of a person, but rather a product of the stories themselves -- an inescapable loop of hyperlinks.
This kind of self-referential stuff never sits that well with me, but Twine Story doesn't do it too badly. It can be kind of funny, if a bit predictable when making ironic statements about the meta-ness of some Twine games. And also predictable in its depiction of frustration. Yeah, I understand coming up with ideas is hard, but it's kind of boring to read about, at least for me. The fact that a lot of it is just going through established tropes ("You want to create a faceless protagonist that everyone will relate to.") doesn't help. But the somewhat surreal twist does make it that bit better.
The prose itself is generally well-written, bar one or two typos and a few trite sentences. It does have a certain bounce and energy you would associate with the creation process. Short and rushed, speech-like sentences. And that suits it well. (Spoiler - click to show)Then the last section, the one dominated by weird code, is a bit more interesting. You get to see the passages you've become accustomed to deconstructed and contorted into one whacked-out creation. Code as prose. I'm sure I've seen something similar elsewhere, but it was certainly an inventive inclusion.
The presentation was the most annoying aspect for me. On the plus side, it uses a nice big font instead of Twine's default teeny one. However, the colour scheme is pretty dire: white text on an agonisingly-sharp blue background. I think it may have inflicted upon me a minor headache. But the game is relatively short, so it isn't too much of a problem. (Spoiler - click to show)(Though considering the piece loops infinitely I suppose that isn't really true...)
It's by no means a "must play", but if you have, say, 15 minutes to spare it may be worth your time. And its slightly surreal, though perhaps overly meta, content may appeal to a few.