IF/webcomic hybrid: Essence of Eternity

k so I’m making an interactive fiction/webcomic hybrid. It’s called Essence of Eternity and has only started recently (only having one chapter atm, though a second will be up within two days, in theory). It’s about a girl named Athena Stonewell, who is forced to defend “Eternity” (an ethereal and really messed up extradimensional city) against the Time Bandit, a rogue dude from Eternity who tries to change the past to damage Eternity. Not that you’d know that yet, because it hasn’t been explained yet… w/e

Anyway, if anyone’s interested, here’s the link.

Note that I’m REALLY rusty at writing IF, and it definitely shows.

I really like the concept of this project: episodic IF should be fun, and has a lot of promise. I especially like the idea of audience suggestions for future episodes; that could turn out quite interesting.

I’ve a couple of criticisms which you may or may not find useful; I’d e-mail them, but couldn’t find an address. I hope this isn’t bad manners; if so, apologies.

[spoiler]- I almost ragequit when I couldn’t find any way of dealing with Fox. You had me playing guess the verb: I kept getting the “Normal conversation options have been disabled” message, which gave me no clue to the command I needed to interact with him. Not fun.

  • I don’t think you’re currently capitalising on the interactivity. I felt very railroaded, especially in conversation (always a risk with menus; I should know, I used them myself), but in general, as well – no reason to explore, no puzzle to solve, to motivation to act apart from performing the actions I’m obviously clued to do. There has to be a reason for this to be IF rather than a webcomic.
  • I’d like more jokes, mainly? The situation has promise and the prose is servicable, but I’d like to have something more to laugh at.[/spoiler]

Good luck!

Sounds like a very interesting project similar in some ways to something I’m working on. It looks like a cool adventure too, although I didn’t have much time and didn’t quite make it to the actual comic book part, or maybe I am missing something. Do I need to turn off my pop-up blocker? Anyway, I will try more, later.


  1. I would have thought “talk to fox” is pretty obvious. Or you could use the hint system… Which I may have forgotten to mention… I’ll look into making it more obvious. (Probably add something like “Try ‘talk to’ instead.” to the “Normal conversation options have been disabled” message.)
  2. I’m aware of this and intent to improve on this a lot as the comic goes on. These initial chapters are pretty important, though, and I don’t want people getting confused. So I railroad. Maybe not the best solution, but I don’t see anything better. >.> (Though, in the next chapter, there will be a lot of pointless stuff to do up until the end.)
  3. Heh, other people have said they find it hilarious, so I’m confused. Any chance you could post your transcript?

@above: More details, please.

Is this a comic, or episodic IF? I’m confused about where the hybrid part comes in.

Personally, I try to avoid ever assuming a command is obvious. That way lies frustrated players. Bare in mind that I’m someone who used “talk to” instead of “ask/tell” in my game, and I didn’t think to try it. Thinking about it, though, I reckon what happened was that the “Normal conversation options have been disabled” actively discouraged me from trying any other conversation verbs, so I tried attacking, forgiving, even kissing and every other action that’s regularly implemented before hitting HINT, which is always unsatisfying. So yeh, I reckon adding more cueing to the error message would be a bonus.

I’m afraid I didn’t keep a transcript. But no need to be confused: different people have different senses of humour. You’ve no obligation to amuse everybody, but, depending on what audiences you want to reach, I thought it might be useful to know that tnhe range of appeal might be more limited than it could be. So for what it’s worth: I don’t tend to laugh at snark, find words like “failtard” tiresome rather than funny, and I found the “massively powerful entity talks in overly casual language!” and “incompetence and non-sequiteur abound in this apparently serious situation!” humour a bit old. Maybe this is why I’m very picky about webcomics.

Wouldn’t there actually have to be sequential art to call it a webcomic/IF hybrid? Something like mspaintadventures.com/?

It seems like kind of an IF/MS Paint Adventures hybrid to me, with the IF taking the place of the art (instead of looking at a picture you play an IF game), and the real effect on the storyline coming from the suggestion box.

I didn’t enjoy the failtard joke much either – may not be in the target demographic – but I did like the explanation of why Athena had been chosen. Anyway it’s cool to see someone doing something new with the form, and an IF that plays out in lots of good episodes seems like a good idea; more newbie friendly. But I won’t have to play through all the episodes every time a new one posts, will I?

Of course not. That’s why I’m trying to hack together this save/load system.

@failtard: That’s actually not for humor. It’s because I’m offended easily by swearing and refuse to put any in the comic, so I introduced a (bizarre) euphemism so that I can use that rather than saying stuff like “gosh darn it” or censoring everything.

That’s kind of an odd way around it – I can’t be the only one who is more offended by variants of “retarded” as a slur (likewise “gay,” of course) than the common fornication and religion-based swears. If the goal is to minimize offense, perhaps you could take a page from science fiction television shows and make up something more ridiculous?

Yeh, it’s worth knowing that in the UK “retard” and its variants are considered really quite offensive; it’s a linguistic difference with the US, although I know Americans who also don’t like it.


[spoiler]The log-in without any information on the game or inducement to play, plus the requirement of a sign-up, is pretty discouraging. Is it something required by the site?

The first command encourages the player to type help, which encourages new players to click tutorial, which simultaneously routes them out of Parchment and then requires them to click another link to get instructions. Since pressing the back button in the browser restarts the game, this is a downside from a number of angles (breaks progress, too many clicks, still no easy way to reference commands).

When the game begins, there’s no immediate goal to accomplish. I feel like I’m finding out things that I need to know to be acting on - when I try to leave the throne room, I’m told that I can’t, because Alpha let the Bandit escape, but that’s news to me. My attempt to deal with Alpha (kicking him) results in an utterly unhelpful error message. My attempt to hit him results in “Sounds violent.” which, you know, is kind of the point. Dare I try “execute”?

There’s no sense of wonder in the thing. I’d expect Lord Chronos to be blase about foxes and clocks on his throne, but when a 17 year old girl describes a supernatural event with “Suddenly, there’s a giant blue vortex in your room. Simultaneous with its appearance, your computer turns off”, something is amiss. If your character is bored by the appearance of a giant blue vortex, why should I find it interesting?

The humor/tone . . . yeah. Not really my thing. (The response to xyzzy is one instance - references to memes are rarely fun in and of themselves. In addition, I find failtard immensely Not Okay.).[/spoiler]

Do you have betas? It feels like some of these things you’ll see from transcripts. There’s some incomplete sentences and oddly hyphenated words (pure-gold) that they’ll pick up, and they’ll give you insight into the kind of commands you need to provide as they try things out.

I find the idea of a webcomic/IF hybrid interesting, but I can’t quite envision what you’re trying to do.