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About the Story
A new, experimental game that has no puzzles but uses only words that change your focus on things, thereby adapting the story.
Nominee, Best Writing; Nominee, Best Use of Medium - 1997 XYZZY Awards
Highly unusual. Rather than entering commands, you choose words from the text presented, and the text alters in various ways depending on what words you choose. (Example: when the text is "The table is open, so you climb down inside. The table is set for two.", and you type "table," the text becomes "The table is open, so you climb down inside. The table is set for two. An empty vase, white glass, stands beside a single lit candle.") You can interact with the game, to some extent, though it's rarely predictable, when you choose a word, exactly how the interaction will go. Some of the more interesting effects involve light--choosing certain words either limits or enhances what you see, and affects how you interact with the game in various ways. If you're especially goal-oriented, this might be frustrating, since it's difficult to steer the narrative toward any particular conclusion, but watching the story go where it does can be rewarding. There are lots of different endings, and not many of them are upbeat.
-- Duncan Stevens
Not being able to exercise control over the character -- yet playing in the second person nonetheless -- is a strange and disconcerting feeling, and the haphazard ways that your input affects events reinforce the sense that you are witnessing rather than participating in the narrative. The result is subversive in its way -- it questions the assumption that you are sent to an interactive-fiction environment to do something concrete, make an effect, rather than experience what's there. In effect, it makes the scene itself, and what happens there, more important than you, the player (though you as the player are distinct from "you", the character), since your importance is mostly to enter commands that allow you to see more. In that the setting is almost entirely fixed in one location, Space... also forces the player to appreciate the minute details that Plotkin brings out.
-- Duncan Stevens a.k.a. Second April
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Number of Reviews: 6
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One of my favorite sandbox gameplay interactive fictions. Rather than presenting a strong plot or developing fleshed-out characters, The Space Under the Window is an interactive free-verse poem with many different endings as well as paths to those endings. It is very rewarding to play repeatedly, even if one spends less than ten minutes exploring the possibilities.
I only wish it were more fully implemented, allowing more keywords to cause revisions to the narrative.
"The Space Under the Window," is a unique piece of Interactive Fiction. It stretches the definition of IF to its very limits.
Is it interactive? Well, yes, it is, but unlike traditional IF in that you do not control the character with actions. The flow of the narrative is triggered by single word input, a word that is already in the narrative on the screen.
Is it fiction? Traditionally fiction is plot oriented, although I am sure there are enough English majors who would argue that there are character driven works. Still, what is lacking in "The Space Under the Window," is a sense of motivation for the central character. What *is* the goal? This is an experimental piece of fiction.
This work is unsettling and surreal. The sense of time seems to fluctuate as certain commands seem to trigger going back in time to previous moments. That is what this piece is, a collection of moments strung together where the player is left to wonder what it was he (used in this context, "he" is meant to be a generic genderless pronoun, which English is sorely lacking) just experienced.
This is a game that is difficult to love, but easy to appreciate for the skill with which it was crafted.
Admittedly I am not a huge fan of poetry, especially free verse. Though if the imagery is evocative I can get lost in it from time to time. Unfortunately, the design of The Space Under the Window, while making for an easy game, results in an unsatisfying poetry reading.
In a sense, this structure of play feels like a precursor to Twine, only one has to guess at the keywords instead of clicking on them. And it's hard to get lost in poetry when the parser doesn't respond to half of what you type. It's very difficulty to predict what keywords will trigger a new path or bring you back to an old one, and also difficult to predict where the story will go. There are no puzzles to elicit satisfaction from all the keyword guessing so it's all a bit underwhelming.
That said, it's an intriguing (and short!) parser experiment from one of IF's greatest authors.
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