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Honorable Mention, Event - 2003 IF Art Show
In this piece, the player moves from room to room, each of which represents a single card randomly selected from a subset of the tarot deck. Some of the rooms are very thoroughly implemented, allowing the player to examine (and to some degree interact with) the figures of the tarot. Others are a bit sketchier.
As is often the case with fortune-telling devices, most of the burden of interpretation is on the player.
-- Emily Short
I poured this out in a tortured couple of weeks and was halfway through before I realised I'd bitten off more than I could chew. So only the major arcana are represented.
On the one hand, it's very interactive, because I was new to IF and really liked all the things I could make the library classes do.
On the other hand, I hid some hints a little too well, so the many comments the personifications can make never really got seen. The Fool says, in a throwaway line early on, 'Ask them about [topics to ask about].' Unfortunately the line was a little too throwaway; I don't think anyone asked the characters anything. For extra fun, ask the Empress about life, or about art.
I was pleased that a bit of a who's who of the IF world thought it was okay (http://members.aol.com/iffyart/reviews5.htm). After some years out there, it doesn't seem to contain any real bugs to fix. All in all, not bad for first try, I think.
If I were to alter it, which I might one day, I think I'd leave the outline and the cards the same. I'd just implement even more interactivity and better interraction between the many portable items.
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Tarot, as I conceive of it, is not so much a fortune-telling device as it is a symbolic system used to stimulate reflection. The idea that the cards "know" about your past and your future is preposterous (in the modern age). But the idea that you can gain unexpected insights into your self, your life, your relations, by contemplating the powerfully symbolic cards as if they have some special deep significance for your situation, that idea is persuasive. In order to understand ourselves, we do not need to gain new information and learn new things. Rather, we must learn to see what we have always already known. A Tarot reading, by putting constraints on our thought even as it opens many possibilities of interpretation (through the vast overdetermination of its symbols), allows us to do just that.
Michael Penman's The Tarot Reading allows us to do a very simple tarot reading: by moving, we are transported to four random rooms, each of which is a card of the Tarot. The first card stands for the "past", the second for the "present", the third for the "near future" and the fourth for the "distant future". Only the Major Arcana (i.e., the trump cards) is implemented, but this shouldn't bother those of us who have little prior knowledge of the cards.
As an idea for a piece of IF, this is neat: implement the cards as rooms that can be interacted with. Just as the many different designs of the card-based tarot stand or fall with how well they evoke our symbolic thought, so The Tarot Reading stands or falls by how much our interaction with the rooms serves to explain and explore the meaning of the cards. Here, unfortunately, the piece falls short. One or two of the cards allow for surprising actions (climbing the tower was impressive), but in general the interactivity is very limited. Often, all we have is a description in text of the appropriate Rider-Waite card, and a two or three sentence suggested interpretation that can be uncovered by examining stuff. The effect could have been achieved more easily by simply showing us the card plus its suggested meaning on a web page. What IF should add is interaction, but there is very little of this in the game.
So I appreciate the idea, but am not convinced by the execution.