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Spring Thing version
Post Mortem
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The Roads not Taken

by manonamora profile

Science Fiction

Web Site

(based on 9 ratings)
3 reviews

About the Story

The Ritual awaits...
Are you ready to make your choice? The one that will shape the rest of your life? Or will regret the roads not taken?

This game was submitted to the 2023 Edition of the SpringThing, an IF festival.

This was my first attempt at creating a parser. And because I don't like to do things the easy way, this was created in Twine (which is more a program to create a choice-based/hypertext stories)!

Game Details


Entrant, Main Festival - Spring Thing 2023

43rd Place (tie), Best in Show - The IF Short Games Showcase 2023


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Number of Reviews: 3
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful:
You Can't Get There From Here, July 12, 2023
by JJ McC
Related reviews: Spring Thing 2023

Adapted from a SpringThing23 Review

Played: 4/16/23
Playtime: 30min, 3 cycles

This one was an interesting experiment: implementing a parser interface into the historically link-select driven Twine. The presentation was very attractive, the clean font, blue on black graphics were unique and sharp. It was also quite well written. The story conveys a coming of age ceremony in some unspecific post apocalyptic future, maybe not even with humans. You are pretty limited to surveying the ceremony’s location, minimally attending (or not) the instructions given to you, remembering things, then making a choice about your future. The descriptive text is clean, conveying a lot without being showy or distracting. You have good latitude to engage or ignore details, depending on your mood.

As a proof of concept, I would call it a success, but as a polished for play feature, a few burrs to buff off. There was a hint mode, which I think turned interesting nouns bold but don’t think the feature actually toggled so I still don’t know if I was playing in HINT mode or not. Despite being told I could use N/S/E/W navigation, only one direction seemed to be implemented. This was consistent with the scenario setup, but an odd thing to advise when invariably I got “cannot go that way” responses.

Again, not sure if HINT mode is to blame, or a legit design choice, but I found if I typed bolded text, I almost always got something interesting. Begging the question, “This is different from link-select how? More work?” Now it wasn’t ONLY that. I found non-bolded nouns that had interesting descriptions too. And a lot that were “can’t do that.” Occasionally, I needed to enter a hidden noun or verb to make progress. It wasn’t awful, the text gave enough info to trial and error, but it seemed inconsistent. HELP also sometimes provided additional guidance, and sometimes didn’t.

All that summed up to a UI that never quite disappeared into the background, and perhaps colored my responses to the text. Which itself was crisp and clean and friction free (a bigger compliment than it sounds). You get a lot of background, character, setting, and then you are told to make your choice. I think I did 3 cycles, (Spoiler - click to show)and all of them were bad endings! I might have done more, but the game did not allow UNDO, and provided no FF feature to arrive at the decision point again.

As much as I belabored the UI above, I think my net takeaway was positive. Certainly, the text itself was seamless and propulsive. It was the ending, and interpolating the message behind it, that pushed at me the hardest here. At my most generous (and discounting a dramatically DIRE ending), it seems to resonate with the title in the sense that given a single impactful, no-return choice, we are doomed forever to an unanswerable “what else should I have done?” That is an interesting statement, but only works if you don’t take ALL paths. Which I didn’t. Good job me!

If I had though, then I would have to grapple with the author’s statement on the universe of outcomes. The alternatives are (Spoiler - click to show)either that all choices are in fact bad, or that there are good ones but you have no way of predicting which they are. These are unconvincing artistic statements to me in general, and the text did not try to convince me otherwise. I already rebel at the assertion that any one choice can be so life-defining. (Well, barring that dire ending. I do get that.) These assertions run aground against my fundamental belief that life is long and varied, and all but the worst decisions redeemable, mitigable or minimizable over time. Especially decisions whose consequences are so arbitrary, meaning agency and intent are effectively nullified. While acknowledging the world is not ours to control, I can’t help but feel our responses to that world ARE. At least to some extent. TRNT, I respectfully disagree!

So all that said, I do think the trail this game blazes, of adding parser capability to Twine, is a pretty cool one. I could see future efforts leveraging the expanded interface to good effect. It is this game authorship achievement that I find most compelling here, and that is where I land on Spice Girl.

Spice Girl: Sporty Spice
Vibe: Social Sci-Fi
Polish: Rough
Is this TADS? No.
Gimme the Wheel! If it were mine, I’d scrub the UI in general for friction. I think there is an interesting mix in here, of combined parser/click input, worth playing around to refine.

Spice Girl Ratings: Scary(Horror), Sporty (Gamey), Baby (Light-Hearted), Ginger (non-CWM/political), Posh (Meaningful)
Polish scale: Gleaming, Smooth, Textured, Rough, Distressed
Gimme the Wheel: What I would do next, if it were my project.

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
A Twine parser game about choosing your career in a futuristic society, May 4, 2023
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes

This games has a parser written from scratch in Twine.

Making your own parser is a fraught thing, and many people have tried and failed over the years. The last-place entries of IFcomp are sprinkled with poor parser of years past. The biggest issue is that there is a bewildering amount of tradition in parser games that varies from group to group, all of whom may get upset if your style doesn't match theirs (like GET vs TAKE, X vs EXAMINE vs LOOK [object], G for again, Z for wait, abbreviations for cardinal directions, hitting 'up' for copying an earlier command). A few people have managed to make very robust custom parser: Robin Johnson, Nils Fagerburg, and Linus Ĺkesson.

This one is better than many I've seen, especially since it doesn't require downloading a Windows Executable and it has fairly quick response times. However, there are a few oddities that got in my way a bit: compass directions are part of play, but the text does not indicate possible compass directions to go in. Some basic actions are not repeatable, although no reason is given for it (generally things that give you one-time info). On the positive side, keyword highlighting is in use, similar to many Aaron Reed games, where you can interact with objects by typing their names. On the neutral side, much of the game occurs by typing Continue.

On the story side, this is reminiscent of books like The Giver or Divergent, where you are in a futuristic society and your role in life is chosen in a big ceremony.

I liked the overall story, and found it fun. I ended with a pretty big surprise in my playthrough, which was good. Some of the individual word choices stuck out as strange to me; one guy was referred to as 'the being' and 'the male' a lot, which made him sound kind of alien, and there were a few other choices that were a bit odd.

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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful:
Experimental parser game implemented in Twine, May 16, 2023
by Vivienne Dunstan (Dundee, Scotland)

This is a curious parser/Twine combo. I admire the author’s bravery for trying to implement a parser in Twine. Though I found it more often than not somewhat frustrating.

For example there’s a point where you are asked your name. Rather than just type that into the entry box you have to type e.g. “name Viv”. Which felt unintuitive.

Often I would struggle to get the game to respond. Not helped by the screen also often not scrolling down to show me when new text had appeared if I did type something recognised, so there were frequently times when it felt like I’d had no response but I just didn’t always see it before trying other commands.

There is a crucial choice moment where again I was running into a parser brickwall. I tried something different, and got an interesting outcome. Then replayed and managed to get a bit further through the choice, to get another ending. Then tried one last time and got a third ending. But I did not want to replay further. And ran into a bug when I tried to use BACK at the very end to go back to a previous choice.

The underlying story is interesting, intriguing scifi-esque, but I think this game might have been better if written as a more conventional Twine piece. Often I would be repeatedly typing C or CONTINUE to move the story on, which felt like little more than clicking “next” or “continue” in normal Twine. And then when I needed to use the parser I would struggle.

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