by Anonymous

Episode 3 of A Study in Stateful Media with Narrational Agency

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
A classic story with a small addition involving reader response, November 23, 2022
by MathBrush
Related reviews: less than 15 minutes

This game is part of a group of similar stories. Other such games by this author have consisted of a classic short story with modern additions by the author where people comment on the story, including a text box where the reader can type something which the game then interprets using sentiment analysis to change some subsequent text.

This game is no exception, although it is smaller than the others. It is also different from the others, in that its 'meta-commentary' is no longer a separate, modern story; instead, it's an addition in-universe, still with the sentiment-analysis text box. However, due to this being a speed-IF, only one text box is included.

The short story chosen this time is obscure; I only found one 'hit' when searching, on an internet archive of an old magazine.

My view on these games has certainly changed over time. I went from believing they had no interaction to believing that they are excellent at hiding all the interactivity.

A game that makes you think its responding to your actions, even if it doesn't, is a game that is very fun to play, if only for one time. (For instance, see Attack of the Yeti Robot Zombies). But the converse is true; a game that does extensive work, but leads the player to think it does none, is not fun to play. Simply putting a message next to the box that is, as the author once said, metaleptic (or maybe extra-diegetic???) saying 'positive sentiment detected' in green and then highlighting the subsequent changed text in green or using red for negative sentiment would instantly improve reaction; this is just one idea, there are many ways to make it look like the game is really thinking.

Like a character says the movie The Prestige:

"The trick was too good, it was too simple. The audience hardly had time to see it[...]he's a wonderful magician; he's a dreadful showman. He doesn't know how to dress it up, how to sell this," and I think that applies to this whole series of games.

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- EJ, November 21, 2022

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful:
Miserly loves company, November 4, 2022
by jakomo
Related reviews: ectocomp2022

A neat 500-word short story from 1916 about a skinflint who suddenly becomes generous, now in the public domain so available for reproduction. The modern co-author adds an impressive cover art image and a short bonus section in the middle of the story, where the interactivity lies. A text-box lets you type an appropriate noun to end a sentence. Contextually, this should presumably be a synonym for "miser" but it also allows many other words (and will tell you if it doesn't recognize what you type). The result is a short chunk of text with one line of dialogue altered depending on what you wrote. It then proceeds with the rest of the story, unaltered and unaffected by this little interactive detour.

Why the extra section is presented in a different form to the rest of the story (a play script instead of prose) is difficult to fathom. Why this interactive section is supposed to elevate the original short story is equally difficult to fathom. As an overall concept, there is potential in a twine-like choice-based system that hides the explicit choices behind a type-what-you-want text-box, but it definitely requires a longer work, with multiple choices that matter, to do it justice.

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