Wandering through IF

Montfort’s notion that works of IF are not games because they can not be beaten is especially true for Aisle.  Certainly the end of the frame in which you view the story of the man’s life is not the end of the life of the man.  Even so, I thought I could assemble a greater picture of the man which would allow me to “beat” the game.  I had realized certain patterns about the story and believed I was seeing different facets of the same life, only to stumble upon some final replies which made no sense.  Only then did I realize that the game had said up front that not all of the stories presented were about the same man.  My favorite of these incongruous tales is the reply the game gives the player for the command “inventory.”  Thus Aisle creates a sense of depth by deliberately making it ambiguous as to which stories are about the same man, if any at all.

This nature of IF to present a world which needs to be explored, which unravels as your fingers pound out the phrases on the keyboard, is very well developed in Bronze.  By allowing the player to control the pacing at which new information is presented, Bronze creates the illusion that the story in unfolding as the player traverses the castle.  Perhaps it is for this reason that Montfort says that works of IF are not narratives.  Still, a programmer would have had to decide at one point which events trigger certain dialogue or allow access to certain areas.  As such, the sequence of events, at least the key ones, is set before the player sits down to play the game.  If the player wanders around the game world for a while, is this not analogous to flipping back in a novel and re-reading the past few paragraphs?

Montfort states in his video that there is a nice symmetry between the text being presented on screen and the text inputed to the game.  However, it is key to the experience that this interface is as close to natural English as possible.  For games like Bronze, where the text parsing system is well defined, this works fine.  However, Shade was much less flexible with its syntax.  Rather than allow the more natural “go to kitchen,” which was fine by the standards of Bronze, Shade only accepted the rather curt and awkward “go kitchen.”

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