Cyrano de Bergerac

by Edmond Rostand and IF Classics profile

Adaptation
2015

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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful:
Not IF, January 11, 2015

Right, it appears that no one will come out and say it, so I will.

"IF Classics" is the label under which many "IF versions" of various literary classics have been released lately, mostly with Ren'Py or Quest. It's a nice idea - "Manalive" and "Tempest" immediately come to mind as other attempts, with mixed degrees of success. This because adapting a linear work into IF is very hard and has been the subject of various discussions.

How do "IF Classics" tackle this difficulty? They don't. Their works are nothing more, nothing less, than the complete verbatim text of the Public Domain work they've selected. Progressing in some Quest games means selecting the correct next sequence of the story. You know which one is correct because the game tells you so. This should not be mistaken with CYOA.

Progressing in this one is even more laughable. You click the mouse to get the next line of the play. This is not IF, nor anything remotely resembling it - this is a powerpoint presentation done in Ren'Py where you click the mouse to read the next line.

If you feel charitable, you can look at the effort "IF Classics" has made in making this visually more appealing. The multimedia has become integral to these "adaptations" (maybe "port" would be a better word?). They are trying to get more people to read good stuff.

This is all well and good. However: "Classics" they may be, but "IF" they certainly aren't.

This should be tbe bit in the review where the reviewer explains what it really means to adapt static fiction into IF, but too much has been said about it, too much has been discussed. I suggest the people behind "IF Classics" re-evaluate what they're doing. If they want to continue the way they are, that is perfectly fine, but it's not IF any more than the original books/stories are IF.

PS - I have just remembered the perfect example of a game that does this sort of adaptation right: Inklestudio's "Frankenstein" is an example of a successful adaptation, for my money. "IF Classics" would do well to study it.


Comments on this review

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<blank>, January 13, 2015 - Reply
I just noticed sometimes "IF Classics" calls their works "visual novels". This is much closer to reality than calling them IF. If "IF Classics" were to forget about the innacurate IF label and were to distribute the "visual novels" instead, I'm sure they'd find lots of people who'd appreciate it. Probably even people in the IF community. But not while they pretend that they've turned the works into IF, which they haven't nor show any signs of doing.
IF Classics, January 11, 2015 - Reply
<blank>:

We, of course, are very disappointed with your review. Have you noticed the large number of dead IF sites on the Internet that were formerly "authoritative"? Have you read the many articles that describe interest in IF as "seriously imploded"? Your overly restrictive definition of IF and consequent persecution of efforts to adapt classics to the computer borders on a literary Inquisition.

1. Our Cyrano de Bergerac integrates 298 images and seven clips from the public-domain film into the complete text.

We challenge you to find another version of Cyrano de Bergerac on the Internet that even comes close. (Given that nothing similar exists, if you decide to produce your own version, we **welcome** the competition. :-)

2. Our website contains the source code for every work that we produce. The hard labor--entering the complete text of classics in Ren'Py or Quest format--has already been done.

Enhance one of our works. You can even offer it on our website.

=====

In the meantime...

YES, we want people to read the classics.

YES, we are tired of seeing people on public transportation reading ebook classics that are still nothing more than a black font on a white background (a true "port" from printed books) several decades after the advent of PCs.
<blank>, January 11, 2015 - Reply
My "overly restrictive definition of IF" states that clicking the mouse to read the next line of text is not IF. Guess what - ask around and see how many people agree.

(A fringe case exists - Twine games where in every passage there's effectively only one link to click. I won't dwell on those fringe cases, they're very specific, and it's not the same as what you're doing)

Re your challenge - geez, I guess I can easily find it. What about the actual text that you used? It has the advantage of being portable, I can read it on the tube. Or maybe the film. You use the film so liberally, and are so proud of it, why don't I just watch the film and am done with it? If you mean "Find another IF version of Cyrano that's better", well, hon, first you actually gotta MAKE an IF version of Cyrano, you know?

Re your integration of 298 images and clips from the film... you clearly think that's the most important thing (i.e., the text can't stand on its own). So hey, that's good. Churn out visually-improved versions of the graphics. Add sound effect. Do all those things. It's actually pretty damn cool. Just don't pretend it's IF.

Re interest on IF - I keep hearing people say that, but guess what? New games - proper IF games, and quite a few non-standard, innovative ones - are still coming out. The "lack of interest" excuse is rather worn.

Re all your hard work - I'm not naysaying it. I'm saying that you keep advertising it as IF. It ain't. What you're doing is equivalent to re-printing the book with tons of new illustrations and accompany it with a free film. Your hard work is not invalidated. But you're not making IF - and you keep shying away from this fact, hiding under a strange shield of self-righteousness.

Finally - I completely miss your point re mobile devices for reading books, I fear. I am very, very happy to have a large amount of books easily avaliable on my iPod, pretty vanilla, Bakerville black font on a grayish-sepia background. It's far more portable than the Windows files you're churning out. It's better than the time when I lugged around the actual books, and I lugged some pretty big books. I like reading the books properly, as they were written. I thought you wanted to improve on it, but you actively seem to be against it?...

On a less combative note: if you want to adapt a novel into IF, you can't ignore the I in IF. You don't have to make an alternative ending to Hamlet where everyone lives happily ever after, but you have to at least acknowledge *some* player agency. "Manalive", for all its faults, was actually quite enjoyable for the time I spent on it (then I consulted the walkthrough, saw all the unprompted things I missed the first time around, and just stopped playing). I consider you take a good long look at it. Or spend a few bucks with Inklestudio's "Frankenstein", why don't you; that one's excellent as well, and it might be closer to what you want to achieve.

tl;dr
You spend a lot of time justifying your hard work and calling me narrow-minded, but you haven't addressed the basic lack of I in your supposed IF. See "Frankenstein" for inspiration.
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