By happy coincidence, I recently played Deadline and The Corsham Witch Trial at the same time. Both use Forms (note capital “F” for clarity) in service to a narrative. By “Forms” I do not mean the everyday sense, as in a form one completes (to submit one’s taxes, apply for a credit card, etc.). Rather, I mean it in the creative writing studies sense: a piece of writing in an established, recognizable format. For instance, the emails in Corsham Witch Trial or the letter from Robner’s attorney in Deadline are both examples of Forms in IF. A sonnet is a Form, too.
A form is a Form, but not all Forms are forms.
It’s a technique I enjoy. I thought it was more effective for JC Blair to link PDF files of email threads, so that we could see their structure as they would appear on-screen or in a court of law. A text transcription would have a different effect. Likewise, the on-paper history of Anderson’s case in Deadline situates a reader differently than an in-interface transcription would.
I would argue that Deadline goes a step further, since many of the papers have different textures–which after all can be seen as part of the Form. Only owners of a physical copy (does paper stock change in the grey box release?) can touch the paper, which is a downside.
I am wondering if there are other works of IF that make good use of Forms. I also wonder if people find Forms preferable to transcriptions.
As a bonus: do the specific textures of pieces of paper packaged with Deadline (as well as the physicality of the folder) leave modern, digital-only players with a diminished experience? Folios range from 200-400 USD on ebay, which excludes most players.