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by Emily Short profile

Slice of life

(based on 11 ratings)
3 reviews

About the Story

Published by Up Right Down, in response to the following plot prompt:

THE PLOT: In a bistro in Paris a young woman (A) tells her three girlfriends (B, C, and D) about the affair she had with an American tourist, who returned home promising to write, and hasn't. It's been over two weeks; something must have happened to him. (She has just learned she is carrying his child, but she doesn't tell her friends.) B tells her to call him; C to e-mail him; D to forget all about him. Enter a fat American couple; each of them has a different speech impediment. They order food. The man chokes. A performs the Heimlich maneuver on him, and saves his life.

This is not a typical IF game -- arguably not a game at all -- but a participation in URD's project of constrained fiction.

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Number of Reviews: 3
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful:
CYOA pretending to be IF, June 22, 2010
by tggdan3 (Michigan)

I found this piece a bit awkward. Most of the backstory is explained in the tagline of the game here on this site. The characters are not named (they are literally A B and D), and the parser is extremely limited.

Your commands are basically "TALK TO [person]" "ASK [person] WHAT I SHOULD DO" or "SAY [what parser tells me to say]"

For example...

"You could mention how you hate phones."


"You can't think of anything to say on the matter.

You could mention how you hate phones."


[plot continues]

This is obviously an experiment along the "down with parsers" line, where beginning IF players may find it convenient to have their actions prompted. And sure, it isn't a game, like a few other of Short's works, it's a story that you help unfold. Still, I found the parser very annoying. The tagline of the game tells me I'm pregnant, yet I can't tell anyone about it.

The main problem with this is that it doesn't seem to know what it is supposed to be. Is it an interactive fiction piece? Not really, since the parser is so limited in scope and not particularly interactive. (It's somewhat interactive, moreso than Magic Travels, but less so even than Glass). It it a Choose Your Own Adventure? Kind of, except that your choices don't seem to affect much and you seem to be nudged in certain directions of conversation. Is it a short story? Kind of, except for the existance of the parser, which seems to imply a level of interactivity I didn't find.

Short does some great experiments in IF. Galtea was a good example of how to make a conversational tree for an NPC, and have them react in different ways to the same topics, based on how they were brought up. This one doesn't seem to have quite hit the mark, at least for me.

I guess it's interesting from the academic sense, and the story itself isn't too bad, it just seems like the kind of thing that would have been better suited to regular fiction rather than IF.

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful:
A game out of time--short, with little time but several options, April 21, 2024
by MathBrush
Related reviews: less than 15 minutes

This is a choice-based game written using a parser. At the time it came out, 2008, choice-based games had a long history already but they had never been popular in the IFComp or r*if usenet communities. The reviews from that time indicate that people found its choice-based nature unappealing.

The game is based on a writing prompt, and that prompt is essential to understanding the game. You begin in a cafe with three people around you called B, C, and D, and an American couple, one with a lisp and one with a stutter.

The speech impediments are part of the prompt; it can be difficult to write impediments in a way that doesn't come of as either condescending or mocking, but I think this pulls it off well.

For a choice-based game, this is actually quite complex. Time progresses no matter what you do, but you can focus on talking to each of the three people with you, or Wait. Each person you're talking to has a variety of options on what you can ask them about. I found that the game could recognize even small parts of the prompt, so if a question started with 'ask whether...', then typing ASK WHETHER was enough to solve it.

I remember trying this in the past and thinking it didn't go much beyond the prompt, so I was surprised this time that there was a major twist in the story. I had to reread to make sure I was understanding right. I'm surprised the other reviews don't mention that.

I genuinely liked this game; I liked the twist, the parser added a little 'crunchiness' to the choice interactivity, and it was well-written. The only thing that seemed 'off' was that choosing to just 'WAIT' ends up with an interaction that doesn't seem to fit the story as written.

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10 of 24 people found the following review helpful:
Awful, a waste of time, April 23, 2008

See http://www.uprightdown.com/whatisUpRightDown.html to explain what "uprightdown" is. Basically a game of contrained fiction where the authors interpret the story specification given by URD in their own way. This, of course, has possibilities. None of which are explored by Fugue which merely repeats the exact story specification, almost word-for-word. A pointless endeavour, not worth playing.

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