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About the Story
On the surface, > seems to be a traditional adventure game, featuring treasure, an NPC, a puzzle, and a happy ending. However, matters are complicated by the realization that the work's purported author is actually a character within the story, calling into question the objectivity of the narrated events. Deeper interpretations are possible once one examines the source code to reveal the gender of the supposed author, implicating the player character as a cheapskate customer trying to skip out on a poor but brave male prostitute determined to receive payment. In this interpretation, the piece's title takes on new significance, invoking not only the standard IF prompt with its promise of agency, but also the cultural perceptions of worthlessness familiar to marginalized members of society like sex workers. Does the prostitute-narrator think he is "greater than" the player? Or does the player value his or her own character over the NPC? If the player makes the moral choice to make payment before attempting to leave, how does this color the interpretation of the game's ending message?
Nominee, Best Use of Innovation - 2010 XYZZY Awards
|Average Rating: |
Number of Reviews: 4
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This game was great for me. Maybe it was my jaded view with "minimalist games", but this game was minimalist for the minimalist.
The game includes (Spoiler - click to show) an item called "$" and an NPC called "@". To win you give $ to @ then leave.
The game's source code is 140 characters. How much can you do with that? Well, if you code your error messages with 1-2 character responses, you can do more than you'd expect. Attempting to leave before the "puzzle" is solved, gives you a "@!" remark- clever as it tells you that you must do something regarding "@".
Aaron Reed's commentary is great also, because it gives detail to the "story" where there wouldn't possibly be any, making it kind of silly, though detailing at least the thought that went into the game. (Since @ is a character in the game AND the listed author- we have self insertion, etc).
Now I don't want you thinking you're going to get some kind of IF gem here. It IS a 140 character SOURCE CODE. No room description, no item/NPC description, nothing spectacular. What I do reccommend this for is for the people out there attempting to make "minimalist" games that are nothing more than doors floating in space. This game looks like Aaron Reed saw the other games and said "No, I'll show them how to make a minimalist game" and did so (hopefully shutting the door on the whole concept!).
3 stars. 5 stars for what it was, 1 star because, compared to most real games, it's quick, has no story, is simple, lacks room descriptions, etc. However all this works for the game in this *RARE* case, so I'll average it.
A welcome reprieve for the disheartened reviewer.
I bet there are plenty of reviews that say of a game, "it's good at what it does, but it's limited, and the author knows that." And I sort of have little more to say than that, here, about this game. There are lots of ways to riff on 140 bytes of source code (not counting white space) but playing this game always makes me try to be that much more succinct, and it helps me when I know I'm flailing in wordiness. The names of all objects are shift-characters. The solution (Spoiler - click to show)isn't hard if you don't overthink, and I in fact enjoyed saying, ok, this has to be simple, but even better was what this game opened to me.
Because I never knew about the whole TWIFcomp. It was a great idea and I was surprised at how many people submitted entries and tried silly and even dirty tricks. If you missed the comp, as I did, the results and source are at this link. I hope they stay a long time. And as someone once derided for not liking code-golf even though I should, I found something worth code-golfing and learned about all sorts of computeristic poetry and bizarre programming tricks from this. I bet there is something there for you.
This game is a fun experiment in ultra-short parser games. Unlike the other reviewers, I was not able to read Aaron Reed's commentary on the game, but I still found it very enjoyable. It was part of a competition to create a game whose code could be tweeted.
There is one item, one NPC, and one meaningful interaction.
Overall, a fun experiment in minimalism. Mirrored by the later Twiny Jam games, which had Twine games with <300 words of text.
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