Turandot!

I dunno that game looks kinda like a dating sim where a blood-mad woman controls everything.

1 Like

I keep thinking about this game. Damn this was good.

2 Likes

Also, I’m sort of revealing my influences before they actually are influences, but if you liked this, you may consider tracking down a copy of Opera, or the Undoing of Women. It’s a French theory book that is, well, extremely a French theory book (the author worked closely with Hélène Cixous), but contains some of the most gorgeous writing about opera, and about themes touched on in this game, anywhere.

2 Likes

It’s interesting reading the posts here because when I played Turandot, I legitimately had NO idea that the game was based on an opera (what can I say? I’ve never watched or listened to an opera in my life). I still got engrossed in the game, but knowing now that the game was based on an already-existing story better explains the feeling I sometimes got of it parodying specific tropes/cliches I wasn’t completely privy to. It’s like a self-aware fairy tale retelling that deliberately takes its stock characters in different directions than you were expecting.

1 Like

I had a very similar experience to JanetLin - I hadn’t heard of the opera before (I guess it’s not a big thing in Asia) and was absolutely bewildered by this game. Among other things, Calaf mourning his best friend’s death for like half an hour before moving on to try to marry the woman who killed him felt strange, though it makes more sense after reading this thread, and it fits the humorous nature of the game. I was also positively convinced the beginning was foreshadowing a reveal that Turandot had some mind-control thing going on that made men fall in love with her, and was surprised when nothing came of it. The tone was kind of jarring to me, jumping from comedy to seemingly-serious social commentary and back… which in hindsight should have made it obvious that it was a parody of something, given the high quality of the writing. I might play it again with the new context in mind, though I’m holding back on rating it for IFComp.

To be fair, this is also characteristic of some operas.

2 Likes

We played this at the London IF Meetup, with one of our members reading aloud, doing voices, etc.

Given the themes, we declared that anyone in the group could request at any time to move on to another game – we weren’t sure how far some of the content-warned themes were going to go, and we didn’t want to make anyone uncomfortable. (I think we may do this a little more officially in future sessions of large-group IF play, especially with games that we haven’t been able to fully vet in advance – adopting the tabletop storygaming convention of “the X card” or “drawing the veil”.)

I include myself among the people I was worried about, btw: there are some moments in the game that touch on dubiously consensual sex, and if the story had gone much further than it did, it would have entered territory I wouldn’t feel comfortable playing in a group setting, especially a large public group.

But no one did opt out, and the game played well that way – lots of laughter, and then a few choice points where people sort of stared at the screen in bewildered silence and we weren’t sure what to say.

Also one point where the reader stopped and said “oh no” because one of the Prince of Persia jokes was so blatant he wasn’t sure he wanted to read it off.

I did not want to stop the flow of action long enough to explain the Rameses reference/joke, though I was tempted, because I felt like that portion is not just referencing for in-joke points; reminding us at this point of the story of a socially anxious teenager adds a bit of nuance to the idea that people are not always able to be themselves. But in the Bond game, Rameses never does get to break out of his limitations, whereas Gijsbers’ Calaf does.

As for the riddle sequence, that was up there among the finer interactive-frustration-comedy sequences I’ve ever played.

5 Likes

I had a dream last night about Victor Gijsbers designing a new “game,” which was a hard white ugly collapsible stool you were supposed to sit on to peel potatoes. That was it. The game was just a stool. I suspect Turandot and Hard Puzzle 4 collided in my brain to make this dream, although it was honestly more like a chair than a stool. Very close to the floor, so that you had to squat to sit down. But I never got to sit down. The stool was dismantled, and filthy. I had to clean it with a garden hose. So much dirt to wash off. You shouldn’t ship your games when they’re so dirty, Victor!

That was only one part of the dream. The rest doesn’t really relate to Turandot, which, as you can tell, this stool part obviously and deeply does.

2 Likes

Wait… how did you find out about Chairman Mao, my surreal scatological horror game about the Great Leap Forward?

3 Likes

Apparently Ade McT has been planting subliminal hints in the Hard Puzzle trilogy all along! He did write a game about time travel. This conspiracy runs deep…

1 Like

The thing about the Rameses reference is that it’s kind of an optional extra. If you don’t get the reference, you don’t really miss anything important about the scene. It’s just a way for the author to subtly acknowledge that he recognizes that the scene he’s describing resembles a scene in a different game.

2 Likes

I’m going to try to find time to write a full review, since I was greatly entertained by this game, and the writing is superb. But I’m having great trouble viewing the work through a critical lens, or even deciding what the game is really about; it’s a patchwork of tones and themes and self-contradictory in its approach to those themes. It probably doesn’t help that I’ve never seen the opera the game apparently parodies.

2 Likes

I come here to join the applause.

Bravo! What a game!

1 Like

Added Opera, or the Undoing of Women to my reading list!

I thought I was fairly knowledgeable about opera, but I never heard of Turandot until this IFComp.

I see it that it played at the Lyric Opera of Chicago just last year. I’ll catch it the next time it’s in town. It looks wondrous. And I’ll brag to everyone sitting around me that I played an interactive version of the libretto. :grin:

Thinking back on the operas I’ve seen, a lot of them would make good IF games.

1 Like

My dream: people who have played the game, watching the opera and thinking to themselves that Puccini sure took a lot of liberties with the story. (“I mean, I understand why they wouldn’t want a crocodile down in the orchestra pit, but some of the other omissions…”)

1 Like

I’ve also written a review of this wonderful game on my blog.

1 Like

Since at least three reviewers have now commented favourably on the early choice where all your choices are “yes”, it is perhaps amusing to point out that I actually had to ‘hack’ ChoiceScript a bit to make this possible. ChoiceScript automatically assumes that you don’t want to offer a player identical choices, and throws a fatal error when you do! (Or at least it did back when I wrote the first version of the prologue.) So the code for this moment of the game is the following:

*temp choice1 "Yes."
*temp choice2 "Yes."

*fake_choice
  #"Yes."
  #"${choice1}"
  #"${choice2}"

Not a difficult workaround, of course, but I’m glad I did it. :slight_smile:

2 Likes

could you use spaces after the word? That’s my default when i want two bits of text to look the same

I don’t think so, although I’m not one hundred percent sure. Note that the quotation marks in the choice options are part of the text to be printed, so the trailing space would come after the last quotation mark and thus at least be invisible to the eye… Not sure whether they might not get ignored by ChoiceScript too.

To paraphrase a famous game designer: no one minds being railroaded if the train goes straight to Awesometown.

1 Like