review: The Blue Death (by Otto Grimwald / in Ramus)

http://anamnese.online.fr/site2/textallion/showcase/the_blue_death/the_blue_death_ramus.html

A nifty little game I’ve played through a few times. It’s puzzling, in the way CYOAs often are. Parsered IF tends to force the game to focus on a specific scenario, and therefore situational coherence is to some degree enforced. Not so with CYOA, as we all remember from the old playbooks: go through one door and the aliens of UFO 52-40 are traveling in time, choose another and they are heading to another planet.

The Blue Death does not change the factual basis of the story with which door you walk through, but the story does have that drifting quality. It is not a story driven by cause and effect, nor a situationally-bound series of events. The story is intentionally CYOA-like, with choices and sections unnecessarily designated by numbers. Early choices may lead to death, or may circuitously lead around to the city in which the game is mostly set. Cheating is almost endorsed, with the user prompted to roll a die and click on “I am lucky” or “I am not lucky”, with the computer able to generate a random number if desired.

Lite spoilers follow.

[spoiler]You navigate the city, seeking a job, perhaps in one sub-plot trying to seduce a woman, or getting embroiled in a pattern of inexplicable intrigue surrounding the shadowy Indigo Love Cult. You’re a monkish character, who prays in (untranslated) Latin and whose idea of seduction is…

I tell her about beauty, about the will, about ascetism and humility.

(This does not work.)[/spoiler]

What’s interesting to me is the way that a CYOA has the ability to back up and allow the player to make broader decisions, to tell the story of a time period. It’s an effect I’ve noticed before, and it’s a difficult one to get in parser-driven IF. I read a Tolstoy story last summer that I wanted to adapt to IF, but it would have been impossible: it tells a highly biographic story of a judge who leads a life of petty self-indulgence, thoroughly negligent of his responsibilities, and in his finest hour, at the height of his career, is afflicted with a malady that sends him to an agonizing death. A true story, by all indications: modern doctors can identify the malady.

The final scenes of convalescence could be done. The rest would have to be handled with a series of flashbacks. But this would not really capture the narrative effect, which relies on highly summarizing storytelling leading up to the senseless twist of fate. CYOA can do this, but it is a kind of storytelling that does not televise, and therefore goes against our modern editorial tastes.

The Blue Death can, in fact, be solved. It has the oddly sprawling structure of classic CYOA, but it has a point to it. It is getting at something. It’s a difficult form to get right; I suggest keeping at TBD until you find the right solution. You’ll know it when you find it.

Conrad.

1 Like

I believe it was written using textallion’s CYOA Module. anamnese.online.fr/site2/textall … ation.html The numbers designate jump points.

Textallion CYOA can also export Ren’Py Files.

I thought the story was ok. It does have a layered effect that you need to go through it a couple of times so you can see the pattern.

Susan

I really wish these games were announced somewhere - Game Announcements, RGIF, IFDB, a blog on PlanetIF… if it weren’t for this review I’d never have heard of it.

I think the rule is, you find a nifty game, you speak up.

Thanks for the link, Susan.

Conrad.

Pretty nice, I like the setting, although I think it could have been a little bigger. Or rather that is was more focused perhaps - skipping some parts and expanding what’s left.

Conrad, out of curiosity - which ending is it you think is the “right” one?

you mean when when you become a librarian? It seems the ending where you go back home and hit it off with Beatrix is also a happy ending I suppose.

I don’t get the feeling that this is so much about “solving”, but more about exploring different options.

Peterorme, I did feel the ending with B. was the “solution” for this game. It’s the most difficult to find, and seems to speak to the value of a commonsense life over a life of spiritual questing, bookish learning, or political activism. The ending with B. specifies that you overcome your fear of the Blue Death, which in the other endings, when you encounter it, you welcome with open arms.

The Google tells me that name probably means “voyager,” or “traveler,” and is thought to have been popular among early Christians. I interpret this to mean that the true spiritual journey the main character was yearning for was not the one he had put himself on. The game is deeply thought out.

IMHO.

Conrad.

Hello,

thank you for wandering through the Blue Death journey :slight_smile:

The hidden meaning of the game is since you’re playing it in front of a computer, the only true death is the hideous “Blue Screen of Death”: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blue_Screen_of_Death :mrgreen:

The other (not so hidden) reason for this name is the game was designed for the Indigo (=blue) New Language Speed-IF: ifwiki.org/index.php/Indigo_New_ … e_Speed-IF

It’s not really an IF, as you noticed, and it has the usual limitation of CYOA games. I had the idea of this CYOA system, but never made a complete game with it. The Indigo New Language Speed-IF was the opportunity to write it, even though it was more a proof of concept rather than a “real” story, but I did my best to write it “seriously”. In addition to the limited time (and the fact I improved the “game engine” and the output at the same time), the main barrier was the English language I don’t master well.

You might find funny to see the full nodes of the game (and yes, 55 chapters is quite short):
anamnese.online.fr/site2/textall … _graph.png

Later I translated it into French. I intend to expend it, or write a sequel in the same world (which has some steampunk elements in it). I also took some parts from this world into this game (only in French): jacl.animats.net/fastcgi-bin/camion_frigo.j2 (Port-Londhrin <=> New Londrin Haven)

I wasn’t aware of the early Christians, but I quite agree with this interpretation:

Small elements of bliss can be more effective than a true exotic adventure…

I would never have gotten the BSoD reference…

C.

Parsed.

So because the input is parsed, the output is more coherent? Please do elaborate.

How rude.

You’re making progress.

To my English, parsed interactive fiction is a different thing than parsered, and parsered is what I meant. If you dig; if you can parse that.

Parsered IF as a rule relies on physically modeled scenarios, or on scenarios that are otherwise modeled, perhaps socially, in a conversation tree. Parsered IF therefore tends to the concrete. It is the kind of storytelling that could televise. A camera can’t tell you the man on the bench has been sitting there since yesterday, and his feet hurt, but he is ignoring them because he is thinking about Betty. Old fashioned fiction easily can. Newfangled fiction obeys the rules of the TV camera, and modern editors do not approve such departures from the TV camera bardo.

Conrad.