Hmm. So this is my first post. And I am quite apprehensive to share my thoughts on these games. But who am I to share thoughts, when I’m not really even a member of this community, have never created a game ( at least not one since junior high back in the '80s), I barely play games, and I don’t think I have a strong handle on what’s good and what’s not good. But I do have a sense that this community seems very small and very niche, and that maybe creators would appreciate that their work is being consumed, and hopefully enjoyed. I will probably try to keep my reviews positive in nature, since I just don’t feel confident to really do a lot of criticism.
Since I’ve trying to make a Twine project myself, I’ve definitely checked out a lot of those to try to learn what is possible in the medium.
In case people are wondering who the F I am - I’m an indie filmmaker/screenwriter who makes his living as a software programmer (FileMaker, so REAL software programmers look down on people like me). During the pandemic I won a contest where I wrote an interactive branching screenplay (with 16 endings). I was supposed to get money to make the film, but that never happened. I can’t get more specific because I’m under a confidentiality agreement, but with some googling, you might figure it out. It got me really hooked on the format, so I wrote another interactive screenplay in the same 16-ending branching format. Recently, I branched out and have been trying my hand at a game in Twine. I’ve been sharing this game with my screenwriting group, and they are dying for me film these scenes as a live-action interactive movie, and would be so disappointed to learn that I might just keep it as interactive text game - I’ve been hoping to finish it share it in the IF contest in the fall.
I really enjoyed Insomnia: Twenty-Six Adventures After Dark. The story goes in a lot of crazy directions, but all seem to be part of the same world. (I guess I’m not supposed to give spoilers here?) - but anyway, I thought it was funny, and creative, and held my attention for at least 8 or 9 endings. I just watched another right now. I have been trying to figure out if these games have to have a goal. And I think the answer is usually - but it’s not mandatory. Anyway, this one had a clear simple goal - you have insomnia, and you need to get to sleep because you have an important business meeting the next day.
I did try Beam Me Up Scotty, and I guess I didn’t stick with it long enough, even though I do like Star Trek. From what I gathered, you had to replace the beam with a mother verb that starts with B. But I couldn’t figure out a B word that worked, and got pretty frustrated pretty quick. OMG I just realized just now as I write this that the title is Beat Me Up Scotty, not Beam Me Up. Oh my god, I’m a dork. So I just went back and played the game again, and let’s just say I had better luck. Hoping that wasn’t too spoiler-y. I have no idea how to blur this text like I saw Amanda do. Sorry I’m such a newbie.
I liked very much the Aesthetics Over Plot by ro-han. I mean, it’s really insane. It starts out so straight forward and normal - and then gets really crazy, really fast. I like the silliness of it all. From a learning perspective, I appreciate that it was a single achievable goal - get a job, with stakes (you’re broke, and need a job tonight) - and the structure of the piece - that there like three potential jobs at this party, and that’s it, and you have to make a decision by the end of it. I played through quite a few of the different permutations. I liked that it kept track of stuff like the outfit and the book, although I’m not sure I noticed the book having much impact on the game, and the outfit seemed to impact the arrival at the party, but I wasn’t sure it had impact on your ability to actually get a job. But I really liked the design of it all. Aaah, I feel like I just GOT the game - that the aesthetics of the game were even more important to the author than the game itself. Make sense. Then well done, because the plot is pretty bonkers, and the look of the game is really professional. I may try to emulate some of the design in my own game. (hope that’s OK to say)
I checked out Structural Integrity. This one is fascinating. The author says it’s based on their novella, and you can tell that it’s really high quality writing. I loved the dynamic between the two characters. But what really amazes me is that I’m guessing the novella is just linear prose, and they’ve added all these different permutations. I kept wondering which choice was the one from the novella, and which ones were new. It also felt like since there were so many choices, I was very intrigued by how complex the Twine must be. In trying to learn this form, I have downloaded games from the fall contest, and imported them into Twine to try to understand how they’re constructed. I would have loved to have done that with some of these (like this one), but I can certainly understand why people not to want to share their secrets!
I played with Your Post-Apocalyptic To-Do List. This was fun. it almost feels like a real video game, where it starts slow and easy and gets more and more challenging as you. As you play, he introduces more and more potentials tasks to your day in caring for and protecting these crazy pigs. I realized in looking closer at the author that I had previously played a different game of his where you were trying to convince people in a bar to buy a drink. I love the comedy of his games, and the short length is nice for my short attention span. Playing this game made me super interested in Ink - and definitely made me question whether my foray into Twine was the right choice.
I’m not sure enough free time to really dive into these parser games. Honestly, they all feel a bit hard. I loved Zork and Hitchhiker’s Guide when I was kid, but I feel a bit too busy for them right now. But I can certainly see why people love them.
I did play Marie Waits, and I was thrilled to actually get out of the pit. That was as far as I got because I definitely bit the dust in the next room, but I could see trying this again. It seems really well done. Like clearly she’s keeping track of how many turns you’ve taken, and if you don’t move fast enough, you’re not going to make it. So I guess the trick is now that I know how to get out the pit, that I need to play again, and get out of the pit FASTER so that I have some hope of solving the next room. It’s definitely a creepy creepy setting that felt like a movie.
I checked out A Single Ouroboros: My Postmortem. Whoa. This one stopped me in my tracks, and I read the entire thing. Here is someone who is obviously deeply connected to this community, and pouring their heart out in a very personal way. I love that they came to the realization that they needed to do this for themself. That defining success by whether you’re making a living at it is not the answer. You have it do it because you love it - because you’re compelled to do it. And by putting your work out there, there’s always the risk that not everyone’s going to like it. Oh my god, people have said some horrible things about the movies that I’ve made. And others have loved them. You just have to find those people who appreciate it. I’m a cis-white dude who found your honesty and story of mental illness and vulnerability really compelling. It was so clearly personal and open, and how can anyone turn away from that. So keep doing what you’re doing. You found at least one new fan.
You actually can download a zip file of all the games here (it’s the “stories.zip” file down at the bottom of the page): Spring Thing 2023 by mathbrush
There are various reasons to prefer itch.io rather than the Spring Thing website as a primary host, but I don’t think keeping secrets is among them for most of us! Nothing’s ever that secret in Twine, anyway. Even without an official download, there are ways to get the original HTML file from the itch.io page.
Hey, welcome, good to have someone new doing reviews! Don’t worry if you’re not enough of an expert, or whatever. You know more than you’d guess, with your background. Or even without your background–the experience we bring to the table often is something incredibly new to others!
Use spoiler tags (spoiler) (/spoiler) but with square brackets, or highlight the gear above the message text box. But it’s not critical to do so!
ETA: I used backticks here to show the actual spoiler tags: [spoiler]SPOILER[/spoiler].
No problem! I’ve also found it useful to look at other people’s Twine games to see how they do things, even as I am hypocritically horrified whenever I remember that other people can just look at my hacky spaghetti code at any time.
Thank you so much for playing and reviewing; so glad you liked the game!! I see below that someone explained how you can download it, and I’m definitely fine with you taking a look, but just be warned that I’m 100% certain that some aspects of my coding are suboptimal at best.