For the past 6 months, I have been writing a Choose Your Adventure-style interactive fiction game with Twine. It's called Silver Spooning: Close Encounters with Mr. Right
You can play it right now in your browser by clicking here!
Please give it a try! Tell me the first ending you got (but please use a spoiler alert). Notify me of any typos or things that do not make sense. Let me know your opinion (and let me know if you are a man or a woman).
What is this?
You are a woman. You just broke up with your boyfriend because he was really boring. It is time to meet someone new. You create an account on Silver Spooning, a dating website for the shamelessly rich. Will you meet the eccentric weirdo of your dreams?
*Save a life. Commit a murder. Have sex. Travel through time and space. Witness the extinction of the human race. Wear cool clothes. Find true love.
*20,000 words. 25 unique and memorable endings. Many meaningful choices.
(SPOILER using rot13.com) V qenax gur cbgvba! (END SPOILER)
I say, I like this, very much. Although I didn't get to either save a life or commit a murder or travel through time... I'd wager I find my character's true love, though.
I'm not sure if the spoiler function of the forums work... so I used rot13. I hope it's okay.
Out of curiosity, do you think that the text is too wordy? In other words, is there too much unnecessary description between choices?
I'm still thinking on how to approach that issue, maybe by hiding some paragraphs behind link-replaces. Or having nested link-replaces, somewhat imitating the Jonah format, to 'force' the reader to read up to the link and no further until they click it. That said, I would have wanted moar steamy scenes They feel a bit dry, which is weird considering the type of...'person' my character is dating
On the chances of two people getting the same ending, I'd say that it captures the sort of people who would actually play a game that advertises "meet the eccentric weirdo of your life" and "find true love" at the same time I wouldn't go as far as saying that it influences the mindset of the player, though. Well, maybe a bit.
I tried several different options and I love how different the various outcomes are.
I think the stories have a bit of an Hitchcock vibe, with the way you have added twists to the traditional romantic stories. (I hope I made sense, I am struggling to explain what I mean and avoid spoilers at the same time).
It felt kind of weird at first to be playing this kind of game, but having some limited options in terms of what the character choses to do - I did end up thinking "Why are you doing that? / That escalated quickly" a couple of times, but I can see that it works very well with the type of gane you have created.
I might edit a few of the passages down. I'll have to get a few more opinions first. It's a balancing act between keeping it fun and short, and removing so much descriptive (and emotional) content that the story feels like an outline. Let me think about it.
I admit that I'm not very good at writing the steamy scenes. I don't read much romance or erotica. I'd love to find the right person rewrite a few of them for me.
I think I understand. Hitchcock's stories often had an element of romance, but also included mystery, danger, etc. Maybe a "romantic thriller" is a good way to think of it.
That was a real challenge while writing this story. I wanted to give the reader important choices that vastly affect the outcome of the story. As a result, I was forced to ignore some of the minute choices. Also, I wanted to avoid choices that were not that interesting. For instance, if one of the men does something creepy or weird, you could have the choice to end the date, but then the story would be over and it would an anti-climax.
That being said, I'm not opposed to expanding certain sections with additional choices. Are there are particular spots where you thought you should be given a choice that you were not?
I understand the reasoning and agree with you.
I actually think you found a good balance: many games let you chose the small details, or have you click several short passages of text to keep reading, and they get a bit annoying.
It is probably mostly just me being so accustomed to how the average Twine game works, that I expected more choices, but I agree that they are not necessary.
I think the only instance I found to bet a bit rushed is if you pick Struthers and decide to drink a lot, you pretty much go from the first appointment to being *really* involved (trying to avoid spoilers here) - but I don't know if that is easy to change, and given the type of story, maybe you want it to be like that.
The bit (on a different path) where you swim towards the island and stay there for a long time feels like that, too.
Unrelated, but I should add that I don't think that having more steamy sex scenes is a requirement. The ones you wrote fit with the story, I think.
Perhaps the two scenes you mentioned need a little bit of rewriting. Let me get some more feedback. Thanks for this!
I agree that the story does not need any more sex than it has. However, the sex could stand to be written a little better.
Volume of text is no issue. Prose is a tad bland though. Content is solid, just not presented in the best way (reperitive structure, few emotional hooks). Felt kinda sterile - could be by design tho?
Being forced to react in preset ways to events was weird. I feel a lot of control over my character was taken away and had a hard time identifying.
It's a compelling short but your writing is very much reminiscent of traditional fiction. You leave me no chance to define who I am and distill me down to preset responses. I started out much the same way in my IF but it does not work very well.
I do not like tea. And would have laughed rather than fainted. Nor would I readily make (or accept) any such advance without first playing mind games. I really wanted to take home a jar of slime and keep it on my bedside table (oookay maybe my imagination just ran away there). Really wanted to vent some projected rage at a certain someone too. But I was never given an option to handle the situation personally. So someone else solved it.
My biggest gripe really is that a character is forced down my throat without letting my actions define who I am first. As a result I cannot surmise what the result of any given choice will be, cheapening the experience to a coin toss and killing genuine curiosity. Since I cannot read your mind and have nothing to gauge potential outcomes by, it just feels really arbitrary.
Again I really like the idea and sorry for being harsh. I just dunno how to convey my thoughts in softer terms. It's a great lil short. But needs some refinement to work as IF.
26m by the way.
Sorry for the late response! Thanks for taking the time to provide me a detailed response.
A few other people have had the same response as you.
I'm not sure how to write an interesting story without giving some kind of personality to the player. However, if I provide the player with choices about everything, then the tree of choices becomes impossibly complex. Not only that, but the choices are trivial and uninteresting.
For instance, the player can get served tea and be provided a choice: "Drink the tea." "Don't drink the tea because you hate it." Then your host would offer you coffee instead. It isn't a meaningful choice with a lot of agency.
I agree with your assessment, but I'm not sure of a better way to tell the same type of story. Any thoughts?
Taking home the jar of slime isn't a bad idea...
On a more technical note, I would advise tending to your commas more carefully. For example:
Experiences should have a comma after it, as should 'meet you.'
As far as how to tell the story better: a few thoughts. You could switch to "I" rather than you, and try to write more emotionally and personally in your narration. Good first person narrators tend to have a strong personality in the way they observe their surroundings. That can be well utilized even in IF. It also feels less commanding and intrusive, imo. When a character says, "I shivered." -- I feel like I'm in the moment with them. When I am told, "You shivered." -- I react much as MoLuLu did and scoff 'no, I absolutely did not.'
Another option, which would take more work, but perhaps better payoff: have sort-of-multiple narrators. In addition to asking the narrator's name at the beginning, ask a one or two question survey. "Are you optimist/pessimist" "Better to be loved or to be feared" Although trite, those sorts of things could then guide which sub-narrator the reader goes on a journey with.
I.e., in your Twine files, the narrator might have three reactions to a certain scene. Options 1 & 2 align with Sub-Narrator A's personality; options 2 & 3 align with Sub-Narrator B; options 1 & 3 align with Sub-Narrator C. So you don't create too much extra work for yourself, but it still seems like a different game each time if the reader decides to go with a different sub-narrator via the pre-story survey.
...that was a lot of words. Hopefully that all made sense haha. I'd love to keep talking about IF and writing, as you can tell, so feel free to hmu. As for my ending...