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Twine of 2015: Part 2

Starts with Part 1 here. Continue with Part 3

Silver & Gold (by rosencrantz)

This has two perspectives running in parallel on either side of the screen: the hunter and the hunted. It's difficult to get into the right headspace for that. Letting text draw you into a place or character takes some work, and doubling up on that can be rough. It's tempting to focus on one side at a time, and that weakens the effect. It took clicking through a few times to start to feel more comfortable with it.

I admired Silver & Gold more than I enjoyed it. The story itself didn't do a lot for me but in some places the way the persectives work against each other is very effective. If I try to pull out a theme it'll be something mundane like "you're stronger when you're not alone". There are tropes here seemingly for their own sake without much significance, such as the concept of misguided human sacrifice to placate a powerful beast. But I'd love for someone to set me straight about that if there's more going on that I picked up on.

Lightyear (by Jim Bruges aka chromebookbob)

"In space time is measured in loneliness"

Lightyear is formed from succinct descriptions of living alone in space. You're stuck in a small space and the days blend together as you seach for radio signals. This is human-based science fiction and thematically reminds me a little bit of anime by Makoto Shinkai, but in this tiny, stripped back form, and with more focus on family. It has effective use of text formatting, images and occasional sound to evoke what it needs to, with zero extra fluff. Some jumping text to create a sense of transmission static is hard to deal with but it settles down.

Porpentine's use of cycling from day to day in games like Howling Dogs and With Those We Love Alive is a likely influence, but Twine does seem particularly well suited to this sort of story. It's good for constructing something claustrophobic, in both space and time. It also works well with loops and gradual iterations. Small changes feel weighty, but without immediately knowing whether they are significant.

The Writer Will Do Something (by Matthew S. Burns)

You're the lead writer on the latest game in a once popular AAA franchise. It's six months before shipping and things are not looking good. I have mixed feelings on games about games, but this hits the tone it's going for. It made me fidget in my chair as everyone pointed fingers and pressured each other to fix something that's fundamentally broken. Choices don't have any real impact here, but neither should they. The meeting will continue, no one apparently noticing any meaningful difference between a genuine attempt to salvage something versus getting huffy and threatening to quit.

The text is simple black on white, seeming something like a writer having to face a blank page with a blinking cursor. There's appropriate use of timers to create an introduction and other minor elements. TWWDS would be a good case study for beginner Twine devs who want to learn more about pacing.

The characters are probably slightly exaggerated but the core of the issues it's getting at feel realistic. Presumably there is at least some level of inspiration taken from the creator's experiences working on games like Halo and Call of Duty. But it's an uncomfortable way to think about jobs and group dynamics in general, and some of that feels familiar even as someone who has never had to live in a world dominated by Metacritic scores and crunch time.