A Time of Tungsten - assorted rants inspired by the people

A Time of Tungsten was my first ever IF work. It took 23rd place in the comp and won the Golden Banana of Discord award.

I’m not really sure what to say about it - it’s a long and kind of strange work. I thought it’d be fun to do a Q&A sort of thing, inspired by Astrid Dalmady’s setup for Cactus Blue Motel. So, if you have any questions, I’ll try to answer them to the best of my abilities!

What was the hardest thing to implement?

Did the frame story come first or was it thought up later?

Beyond the internal plot reasons, why did you choose to redact the names of the characters?

I’m not sure what you mean by hardest thing to implement. I guess I would say it took some creative thinking getting the sound where it was given the limitations of HTML5.

If by “frame story” you mean the narrative within a narrative conceit, that actually came second. The initial idea was just about someone being trapped in a hole, and that’s basically it! I also wrote a lot without having that idea set in stone but lost it to a computer failure.

I chose to redact the names of the characters because [REDACTED]

Will you be accepting the physical banana?

Do you plan to write more games (and if so, will you use twine again)?

What did you learn most from entering the comp?

How did you plan/organise the work? How did you think people would receive Tungsten, before the comp?

I have accepted the banana!

I do plan to do more stuff in Twine (and in not that!), probably soon for catacalypto’s utopian fiction jam and also likely for next year’s IFComp with an even bigger project than Tungsten (if I finish it, of course).

What I learned most was probably that you should plan ahead on stuff - a lot of the storytelling came about kind of on the spot. I was writing the game as I went, basically, which worked for me but maybe isn’t 100% advisable for everyone (though I still think there’s merit to it).

I had broad story beats I wanted to hit ahead of time and pretty much hit them all (though I had plans for there being more to the cave-walking portion). As for a lot of the more granular worldbuilding details, as well as the log scavenger stuff, much of that just sort of came as I got there.

As for my expectations on its reception, I would say I was expecting it to place a little lower than it did. I figured many people weren’t going to be into it given how little there is in the way of player choice (though I did include some stuff!). A lot of the interactivity is in piecing together the story and in making inferences about narrative details and larger world implications that way, like some sort of…Detectiveland. There’s almost nothing in the way of traditional IF/parser design ideals here, so I knew that because of that plus a lot of the lengthier text bits and how its paced it would be off-putting for people.

EDIT: One thing I just thought of: people who pointed out the sound tended to like it, but most people did not point out the sound/music in reviewing it. I suspect this has to do largely with the feelings on sound in IF, which I suspect may generally be indifference, though ultimately I’m not sure. At the same time, it’s meant to be not too intrusive to the experience and is there to enhance the storytelling, so perhaps ultimately the sound did its job after all!

Just finished playing! I really enjoyed it.

What inspired the name of the game?
Do you plan on writing any more within this setting? It certainly seems fleshed out enough for it.

Some plot threads, like what actually happened to the Gargantua, the reasons behind the captain’s actions near the end, and what the mysterious merging figures might have been, weren’t fully cleared up in my playthrough. Is there something I’m missing, or are you just leaving it ambiguous?

I have thought about writing more things in this world, though I think those might be very different things than Tungsten.

I probably won’t be answering plot questions…

My greatest inspiration here was Cowboy Bebop…