Now that the comp is over and feedback has been sent, I thought I’d provide a postmortem on what went into this game. Thanks to everyone who played, and/or who provided thoughtful feedback, as well as to the organizers! The other games were also a lot of fun to play, and it was cool to see so much variety in concepts and styles.
The ideas that went into Memorosa had been percolating in my head for a while: creating a sequential reading experience with in-line cycling choices that wouldn’t immediately impact the narrative, but rather alter stats that would branch the story over time; using the new Twine Chapbook format, which has an evocatively bookish layout; and incorporating some of the aesthetics of visual novels, which help situate the player in relation to an environment and add color to dialogue with NPCs.
From the feedback and reviews, it’s pretty clear that my implementation of the choice structure (descriptive cycling links with delayed stat-based branching) didn’t create an experience that felt interactive; many people didn’t realize that the story branched at all! I think this could be improved by making the cycling links more explicitly choice-like, and making some of those choices have clear, immediate (next page) effects; maybe also highlight paragraphs that represent divergent results in different colors. I don’t want to abandon the concept of a page-by-page reading experience, but there are definitely ways to improve the reader’s sense of agency and illustrate how choices are having effects, and I’m glad I got valuable feedback about this.
On the more encouraging side, most reviewers appreciated the setting, writing, and visuals. This gives me motivation to try to make some fixes to the choice structure, and perhaps complete the story for next year’s Spring Thing.