JJMcC's SpringThing24 A-S-2-T

Do Good Deeds by Sissy
Playtime: 20min, finished

I kinda love that there is a “children’s story” sub-genre of IF. We’re dealing with the breadth of human imagination, IF should have ALL THE THINGS, and our chronally challenged progeny deserve the magic as much as anyone. That said, there is no getting around the fact that I am not a child. Historically, I mentally conjure a childish avatar in my head when engaging these works, to assess how these things are landing. We just have a grand old time goofing together, this mental construct and I, like the brain-damaged maniac I am.

I found it harder to do with this work, and I think I know why. It wasn’t the presentation, at least not the graphical presentation. The excellent ‘painted’ backgrounds and animated-cell characters are Bambi-esque, immediately setting a friendly and welcoming tone. The setup is classic misunderstood-protagonist-winning-through-kindness. Revolutionary? No, though maybe in modern times we can use a lot more of it.

The UI paradigm though is punishing, and its primary sin is a common one: injudicious use of timed text. Text plays out sloooowly, not unlike someone narrating a book aloud to a pre-reading audience. Ok, thematic, except absent the verbal intonations and performance that make that tolerable it is just sloooow. Even if you try to speed it up by space-barring, subsequent text blocks remain delayed even after the current words are flashed up. Both choices are jarring. According to my mental avatar, kids are LESS patient than adults, not more so, so this choice is doubly defeating.

The UI has other issues too - the text box requires scrolling, but it is invisible so it is not immediately obvious WHEN it needs scrolling. This makes for some early delays in an already snail paced progression. Even a tinted, transparent box would have clued that better. (There are also a noticeable amount of typos in the text it bears observing.)

Then there is the narrative. There is almost no meaningful interactivity. Yes, you can decline to be helpful, but in a work titled Do Good Deeds … what level of sociopathy are we talking about here? ‘Click to continue’ is useful in IF for sure, but when ‘continue’ means more timed text, its welcome develops some back pressure. More to the point, there are a LOT of interactions. Story telling tradition recognizes the power of threes - Establish, Reinforce, Conclude/Twist. This is an especially powerful technique in kid’s lit. Deeds is embracing the power of… tens? Ten vignettes different in detail, but samey in result? Another dimension of drag.

All that said, the core presentation has a lot going for it. The individual interactions are varied enough to express a breadth of generous problem solving, with a large cast of woodland friends. The UI issues seem addressable to tighten down the experience. I could see this pushed into shape for my youthful avatar.

Mystery, Inc: Talking animals? It’s Scooby
Vibe: Kids’ Lit
Polish: Rough
Gimme the Wheel! : We talked about the UI and typos above. If my project certainly my first stop. On its heels though, I think clubbing the encounters into three groups of three, where the results of kindness escalate the protagonist’s acceptance in the larger loops would better leverage classic storytelling BKMs (Best Known Methods).