I have always thought that the Victorian dramatic monologue would be very well suited to the IF medium. The genre seems to call out for dramatic action and interactivity – qualities that can never be fully replicated on the page. With IF, on the other hand…
In his reading of “His Last Duchess.” Robert Langbaum notes that the point of the poem is not the wickedness of the duke, but his “immense attractiveness” - the fact that the reader becomes complicit in his bravura performance. So what if instead of of listening to him on the page, you actually act the part of the silent deuteragonist whose actions are reinterpreted and narrated? Talk about “readerly” complicity.
Unfortunately I know next to nothing about programming in general (and Inform in particular), but the other day I sketched a very rough version of “My Last Duchess.” The language verges on the parodic (I’m afraid neither English nor Robert Browningian is my first language), but I just wanted to see what the form might look like. Here’s a link to the online Parchment version: jpe.fastmail.fm.user.fm/play.html
I am sure the dramatic monologue form has been adapted to IF before, and I’d be happy if someone could give me some pointers.
An interesting experiment. I feel like you’d have to start composing new material at length to keep it up, but this works well for what it is.
Interesting and evocative. I like this.
Thanks! I am glad you guys think that the language works; I do realize that I will have to keep churning out pseudo blank verse lines/heroic couplets (preferably ambiguous ones at that), but my main concern is which way to take this (e.g. puzzle-based or not, one ending, multiple ones or even a complete lack of closure?)
I am currently experimenting with PoV shifts (well, technically speaking they’re not PoV shifts, but you get my point) between the Emissary and the Duchess, but I fear the air of tragic inevitability – playing a character doomed from the get-go – might feel too dank or claustrophobic for the player.
I think that’s more down to the nature and purpose of the journey. Does the story have an impetus beyond the misery felt by its actors?
If narratively speaking the sum of your story is “they were miserable and then died” then sure, it may well come across as too cheerless for some players. If however you alter the ultimate focus of the game to include the characters’ inner processing and development as a consequence of their predicament, well, then the story might gain both a measure of conflict and dramatic finality.
Then again, as I’ve yet to publish my first work of IF I’m just a backbencher with an opinion, so my advice should probably be taken with a grain of salt.