My final project was made in Twine. The interactive fiction piece is called Secrets. There are three different secrets you can explore and the user controls the decision the character needs to make at the end of each one. The goal is to choose the path that gives you the key to success. I was able to change colors for different things and add significance to the text. I was also able to add images this time. After searching the web, I also found a code that would replace the original html file in Twine and this allowed me to use the return button instead of having to write “go back to “here” etc. The Story statistics are 31,455 characters, 4,968 words, 95 passages, and 93 links. I posted the link below if anyone would like to check it out. Have a great summer and congradulations class of 2012!
For my creative project, I replicated my apartment in inform 7 and made an adventure game involving keys and locked doors. I felt like the basic commands that inform understood were too limited. Although I am happy about the way my creative project turned out, I didn’t like having to work within the confines of inform’s understood phrases.
So, for my final project I decided to use Twine to take the reader on a more extensive journey. I don’t want the readers of my final project to feel like they are just clicking a series of links to get to the end of the story. Instead, I want the reader to be actively engaged in the story and I want them to feel like the words they chose to click on actually make a difference in the outcome of the story.
We didn’t look at many works that use Twine in class but I would like my game to feel kind of like the work of interactive fiction “Everybody Dies.” I liked how the game was in third person and you were directing a character around rather than pretending that the reader is the character in the game.
By having the game in third person, this adds another element into the game: the interaction between the player and the character. This way, it will almost feel like a team effort to guide the character through the story. In a first or second person game, the reader is the player and you lose this exchange. I really liked in “Everybody Dies” when the character you were guiding would say something directly to you. I think that the other points of view attempt to be more realistic. But when the character, in a third person game, speaks to the player it becomes more realistic.
As far as theme, I’d like the character in the game to come across multiple examples of works of interactive fiction that we’ve discussed in class. The themes of those games will reflect the current theme of my game depending on the route the character has travelled. Also, I would like there to be a scenario where the game ends in the player realizing he’s in a game and the virtual world he lives in sort of collapses in on himself.
This is my first time working with Twine so I am welcome to any tips that past users may have for me!
For this blog, I decided to try my hand at Twine since I focused all of my attention on Inform 7 for the creative project. I made a simple hypertext choose your own adventure, A Matter of Choice. I thought using this program would be more difficult since I hadn’t used it since we learned it in class, but it was very easy to use. I still do not feel up to the challenge of beautifying my projects just yet, though, so I left it in the simple Sugarcane format. I did try the Jonah format first, but I’ve grown so used to the Sugarcane sidebar and dark color scheme that I had to change it. I enjoyed exploring all the different ways a person’s day can change, but next time I work with Twine I will try for more complexity. A lot of the Twine works out there are very impressively complex, especially the ones on the blog from the creative projects. Now that I know I can use the program successfully, I look forward to doing more with it the next time.
I was personally pretty satisfied with the final version of my Creative Project “Simple Reality“. Most of all, I was extremely impressed with the fact that I was able to successfully create a piece of “electronic literature” – a field of literature I still consider myself brand-new to, never having considered creating my own since I didn’t really know what, exactly, it was. A huge win for me in this assignment was that I created something and it worked – though, admittedly, I did come across several errors in my process – which is to be expected when you are first getting started with something.
I was extremely overwhelmed about creating something – programs like Inform 7 seemed terrifying to try to figure out and I found myself extremely frustrated trying to word things correctly to use it. I couldn’t come up with an interesting enough idea to use something like Scratch, though I considered it because it seemed really fun and I enjoyed playing around with it. In the end I decided to make a work of hypertext fiction, Twine was the best fit for me and was relatively user-friendly for an e-lit newbie.
As can be easily concluded from the title of my project – the storyline is relatively simple. I wanted to create something relatable to someone. After a few ideas written and dismissed, the final project ended up being a little free-write story about coming home after an exhausting night stemming from busy life – something I’m sure many college students could relate to. It isn’t a fancy poem, or sme work with a cryptic message – just words. Reality.
I like what I did with the project- even if it was simple. I do wish that I had been able to come up with a way to make it more exciting because I’m afraid it may seem a bit bland in comparison to other e-lit. I’ve had a few ideas since it was turned in, and I’ve thought about how it could have been different and more interactive if I had gone in more of a choose-your-own-adventure direction with more different selections as you go and various possible endings. My project did have a few user-interaction choices, but they all led to the same ending.
I had also tried to figure out how to customize my work and make it more personal – by changing colors and things – but after several failed attempts and errors in that department, I decided the default look would have to work and that I should probably stop trying to convince myself that I knew what I was doing with all that.
Creating my own piece of e-lit was definitely a learning experience. It is certainly a way to show how much work goes in to these pieces, and how much work must have gone into the examples of well-known and respected works we have seen in class. I’m sure with a lot more time to practice and develop, my project could be pretty awesome too. For my first time and first e-lit creation, though, I’d have to say I’m satisfied. You have to start somewhere, practice makes perfect.
For my creative project, I chose to use Twine mainly because I understood it better than the other types of Electronic Literature we’ve explored so far this semester, but also because I wanted to create a Choose-Your-Own Adventure kind of game. Also, Inform and Scratch confused me so much during class and I didn’t really want to throw my computer out of my window in frustration doing this project. Therefore, I created my Creative Project entitled “College Life.”
The idea behind “College Life” is pretty basic: it’s a story on your life as a college student. Simple right? The beginning is pretty simple too, asking really basic questions such as “Are you a girl or boy?” and “Do you like books or cheerleading?”
However, as you continue to make choices in the story, the storyline gets more complex and more cynical. Most of the scenarios I created in my project were based off typical “college life” stories you hear on the morning news or read about in the newspaper, such as getting an STD, committing suicide, getting raped, etc.
As the story progresses, instead of making any more choices, you end up “going with the flow” of the plot. Eventually, in the end, every single option leads to the same ending: death.
Yes, I do realize my overall project is, well, bleak and pessimistic; however, I find it to be extremely existential. As you are playing the game, the disappearance of options and choices towards the end of my project depicts our false sense of free will. This is similar to the theme of free will seen in Albert Camus’ novel, The Stranger. I was hoping that my project depicted the lack of free will that we really have because what happens to us in the future is predetermined by our past actions. Therefore, it is impossible for you to change your future.
Ironically, the ending somewhat debunks the entire idea behind existentialism. With existentialism, people believe that what you do defines your existence. The thought of a “fulfilled life” differs from one person to another since a fulfilled life consists of what choices you’ve made and what challenges you’ve overcome, as well as how happily, optimistically, and passionately you’ve lived your life. However, in this story, it is actually impossible to live a fulfilling life since in the end, you will die no matter which path you chose to take. Nothing you did in your short life will change that inevitable fate.
Not going to lie, I actually had a pretty difficult time creating this project. Although making the actual game was somewhat easy, I still had some technological problems. One issue I had was that two of the links on my project weren’t working when I tested it even though they were connected perfectly on the map.
Below are images of the problem I had:
See? Nothing wrong, right? I was up until 2A.M. trying to figure out what was wrong until I eventually threw my hands in the air in defeat and emailed Professor Whalen begging for help. The next morning, I received an email back from him, which advised me to take the quotations off of the passage titles. At this point, I thought the project was still due at 10A.M. so I hastily opened my laptop in my 9A.M. class and tried Professor Whalen’s suggestion. And guess what? It worked!… and even in hindsight, I still think it was worth getting kicked out of class for (haha, don’t worry, I ended up explaining my situation to my professor and apologizing for it later).
Besides some of the technological issues, it was extremely hard for me as a writer to evoke the grim, disheartening, depressing emotions I wanted my readers to feel. I don’t consider myself a very good creative writer, so I think the creative writing aspect was probably the biggest hurdle I had to jump over for this project.
Overall, I’m actually pleased with my final product. I have already added it to my ePortfolio (scroll to the bottom) to showcase to potential employers and showed some of my friends my project (who all thought it was very depressing and gloomy… which were the emotions I was going for!). I wish I had more time to make the story plot more in-depth, but I feel like no text is ever fully complete to a writer.
People often talk of rebirth, or finding themselves born again. But how deep does the phoenix go? Where is the cutoff point when it is no longer an option, and who’s to say?
As the title suggests, a huge theme within Amion, my creative project, is rebirth.
A little background first. Originally, Amnion started out as an untitled assignment in an Introduction to Creative Writing class. We had about 4 or 5 different options we could choose from, but the one that jumped out the most to me was the task of writing from the perspective or a murderer but without ever once mentioning the murder itself. In a sense, you end up with this sinister literary detachment.
The initial run of the story about approximately 730 words. i attempted to channel a sort of Faulknerian vibe into the text by writing long winded sentences injecting several adjectives in quick succession–that mega-stream-of-consciousness style, making up my own word by combining others (“notyetspehere”), and using 5 dollar words such as “liminal.”
The end product was pretty neat to me and one was one of the only pieces of mine whose end product i felt truly great about. One fellow girl in my peer review group had some really cool mixed feelings: her conflict was the haunting relatabilility of the unnamed male protagonist coupled with the knowledge of his past crime.
In short: i managed to accomplish my goal of accessible uneasiness, relatively speaking.
But only the teacher caught the rebirth concept floating in there at the end. So i had to find some way to make the protagonist’s coming-out-of-the-river more noticeable, and thus i chose the name “Amnion.” Why that word specifically? The word has an eerie yet comfortable liquid sound to it with the 2 vowels flowing with the soft consonants. i may have been also playing Silent Hill: Homecoming at the time whose final boss has the title.
This short story of a previous assignment was chosen for the creative project initially because i wanted to revisit the work to make the text a bit longer and to edit and revise. Paul Valéry once said that “[a] poem is never finished, only abandoned.” i took this statement to apply to most literary works of text and i think the words have quite a bit of merit. One can always come back to their brainchildren and find things to shift about and improve. (Except for you, George Lucas.)
So then comes to my decision to use Twine as my modus operandi to transpose this mother into a digital counterpart. Initially i started out making this a work of interactive fiction much in the vein of Galatea. i started to map out the the area the protagonist was in and try to find ways to make a cohesive world in which to interact. The idea was to have players control this murderer after the murder took place and he (or she if i made the work gender neutral and universally accessible) just finished burying their victim. That relatability would be intrinsic of the players whether they wanted it or not and were forced to relate. Maybe have a different ending or 2 so the illusion of choice was present.
i soon found that, given the nature of the short story, this medium didn’t really fit the desired direction. i felt a person wandering around a bunch would be frustrating (and was frustrating for me at first to make and to play) because the gameplay would detract from how i wanted the story to be perceived. Additionally, the ending had to happen the way it did. People had to be uncomfortable that an unpunished crime happened and that, not only did it go unpunished, but a sick sort of redemption concept was an inherent part of the story’s narrative.
So Twine happened.
Twine is great for some who’s into visually mapping something and doing so quickly. As an interactive fiction i drew and mapped out the forest area and river and the burial site with a pencil and paper. But Twine catered more to my needs and i found the software to be much more accessible. Jonah was ultimately the format used. This work started out as paragraphs of continual text; the Sugarcane format made previous text disappear. While Sugarcane fit the need of not allowing a player to go back after making a decision, the previous text was gone. Jonah allows a trail of previous text to see where you’ve com from. Although with Jonah i had to explicitly state in the directions that after a choice had been made it is verboten to click back.
The neat way i used Twine and am a little proud of is how i utilized Twine’s ability to create infrastructure that mirrored Faulkner’s writing style. A teacher who once taught us Absalom, Absalom! provided a great way to comprehend (sort of) how Faulkner got at things: his writing style and narratives were done in such a way that readers were given just enough of the fringe of the goings-on to get an idea what was actually happening in story but without looking at the happenings directly until culminating to some ending. You are always looking on these fringes and have to painfully piece stuff together to understand the whole and its shaky epicenter.
There are not too many path choices in Amnion, but different paths lend themselves to getting a better idea of what’s going on. A few playthroughs give the player the full picture. The story is linear with a single ending because the nature of the story itself is to have a specific ending proper. The risk was writing about something nastily taboo and to freak people out once they get what was actually going in. Readers are put in this twilight time and path of things in motion and are forced to feel uncomfortable but to find something disturbingly human in this redeeming yet inhuman descent.
The true way to consume the story digitally was to allow multiple tries to totally grasp what is going on. Specific word links to each new lexia allows one to think about why one path signifies going to one direction while another goes elsewhere. For example, one choice has the protagonist finishing his burying and clicking the actual word “finishing” skips over two lexia. If one has the trigger finger itch to click to “finish” quickly, some stuff gets missed. Other choices are more complexly related and up for subjective interpretation but there is a method to the madness’ path.
The biggest narrative change i did make, though, was the introductory quote by rapper Ian “Aesop Rock” Bavitz.
Aes’ vocabulary and use of diction to me are really onto some sort of new age Hip-Hop Faulkner lyricism (all right, all right, hold up, yo, hold it. This seems kind of overblown and overshooting and somewhat pretentious but i think there is a little something to this.). His style has a rather stream-of-consciousness vibe and oftentimes is metaphorical to an extreme. He thrives on abstraction a lot. As Aes has put it:
“It’s probably because it’s not the most accessible music in the world. It may pose a slight challenge to the listener beyond your average pop song. I’m no genius by a long shot, but these songs are not nonsensical, that’s pretty preposterous. I’d have to be a genius to pull this many nonsensical records over people’s eyes. It’s not exactly fast food but when people pretend I’m just spewing non-sequiturs and gibberish I can’t help but think they simply haven’t listened and are regurgitating some rumor they’ve heard about me. Even if it’s not laid out in perfect sentences—is any rap?—you’d have to be an idiot to not at least grasp a few things from these songs. Or have had no interest in pulling anything from them in the first place.”
The production he makes himself and most prominently with longtime collaborator and producer Blockhead is wild, especially when coupled with his unique flow. But his lyrics are where he maniacally jumps out. One has to really sit down and read his lyrics if they want to get all the messages floating around. His use of words are offbeat, imaginative, multi-syllabic, complex, and just downright playful. One can certainly garner a few one-liners here and there just listening but sitting down and reading this stuff is getting onto a whole different plane.
At first, the inclusion of the quote seemed ridiculous and completely subversive of the short story. But something about the quote really hooked me. The origin is from a song composed by Aesop Rock for a friend, Jeremy Fish, who performed a San Francisco art gallery showing who also works directly and frequently with Aes for album work and other various music related oddities. The song played at the gallery showing and was distributed in a limited edition run of USB flash drives with some collectible swag. The title of the whole show: Ghosts of the Barbary Coast.
The song: Tomorrow Morning
The quote used to kick off Amnion is the first half of the chorus while the latter half features fellow Weathermen colleague, rap family, and Definitive Jux associate/former CEO El-P. i’m a huge Hip-Hop fan in the sense of any of the music and artists that advance the genre as an art form, so i wanted to do something hip with the short story. The line seemed really to have nothing to do at all with the text initially, but then i thought the water connection and coming out of that surreal and dissociated state the next morning only to have the cycle start again. Somehow something clicked with the story. Cycling, recycling, and rebirth; keep it going intriguingly.
So all in all out came Amnion. It was an interesting exercise in digitally creating and consuming literature in our infornographic age and was fun to do, albeit frustrating every now and then. The result is not the flashiest, most creative, clever, or incredibly imaginative thing done but for the most part i like what came out given the nature of the text i was working with and my personal vision of how to manifest it digitally.
So if you haven’t played it, check it out maybe. Given it a run and see what’s up. Provide some feedback. But most importantly, thank yah!
My story is called “Masks”. I used Twine to create this story. It’s really two stories that converge together. One story is in poetry form and it is the present time. The reader meets a two girls that are friends. One of them is very jealous of the other one until she begins to understand that she is really the lucky one because her friend has cancer and is dying. The other story is about their friendship itself. That is where the real jealousy and other qualities can be seen.
I used Twine because I thought that I would do really well with it. I think I learned more than I thought I would too. I figured out that you can really add to a story’s meaning if you use the highlighted words to say something about the next passage that you are sending the reader to. I tried to make sure that there was a word that had some sort of resonance with the next passage. I didn’t learn anything about the code (some people were not blessed with insight into computers) but I would love to learn how to mess around with code and be able to create a more complex story with it. However, I liked being able to bring what I like about literature into life here.
oh. p.s. I loved the colors in Twine and actually built my story around it.
When we first learned how to use twine, I was very intrigued. I played with the software a bit and thought about how the way it worked was almost like a conversation. The first panel is speaker 1. You click a link, and you can get to speaker 2. And so on. Although that’s not the best way to use the software, it was where the idea for my story came from. The story is no longer quite like that, since I’ve tweaked and completely rewritten and added significant portions of it to the original, but the base is still there in some spots, giving the reader the flow.
I mixed up the way the story works. It’s not like the original poems we read in class, where you received a bunch of random links to the next page of poetry. The links are embedded in the story to give a better feel of a person thinking.
The point is for this to be a post-apocalyptic science fiction story.
There are a number of problems with the story. The world is not fully developed. I’ve actually been changing it and adding more details to the characters, city, and what has exactly happened to make the world and people involved make more sense. So this is a work in progress. What I have here is a complete story, but there is much more that can and will be added to it to hopefully improve it and make it easier to understand. I’m also aware that the opening needs a lot of work. The basic idea is there, but I want to improve it and make it less vague and cliche.
A noted reason on why I chose Jonah over Sugarcane is the visual difference. Since the original concept was to make the story look like a phone call, I didn’t want to have old panels showing up. I just wanted to see a single panel. It makes things look more significant. You also can’t undo things in a phone conversation. You can apologize for it. You can explain it. But you can’t really take them back as if they never happened. So I didn’t really see the purpose of having a ‘rewind’ option.
I also noticed a big difficulty in using sugarcane: every panel had a title. It is very difficult to make this work well. Every link would have to reference what was going on in the panel or be significant. Since I tried to work most of the links into the narrative, rather than have bottom links on the page, this proved difficult because I had to work much harder to work the next panel’s idea into the current panel, which took away from what I could write on the panels I was on. While this could make a ‘better’, more connected story, when I really tried to make this work the panels turned a little too cliche and overly metaphorical. I wanted a story that was relatively simple, because I felt that would be more profound. I also wanted the panels to be a little more open-ended than how they were turning out when I tried to go down that path.
The song usage was an idea coming from the idea that the reader is meant to be sort of following Thea’s train of thought. Music is such an important part of human life that I thought it would be a useful tool to show what Thea is thinking. Songs can demonstrate so much about us and how we think. Whether it’s a happy song or a sad song, or a song with lyrics that make us think of certain things or remind us of what’s going on in our lives, with slow music or erratic music, with a patriotic theme or a mournful theme, songs speak volumes about us. We typically don’t listen to something unless we like, and if we go against that, there is a reason. The songs are also messages to others in the story who hear them, not just the player.
Anyway, please try out all the different story lines. You can play it here.
- Brittany Vitner
I decided to use Twine for my creative project. I attempted to play around with CSS, but I’m pretty sure the only success I had was changing the color of the links. Small victories. The back macro apparently does not work so I just ended up adding several rewind points. It’s not that long because I didn’t want to force length on the poem when I felt that it had reached an organic stopping point. I hope you enjoy it and let me know what you think!
**I own the rights to all work**
I had a lot of trouble coming up with an idea for my creative project. I finally decided to base it on the adventure/choose your own ending type stories we have discussed in class. I created my project using Twine which was really easy to work with. The basic idea is to get safely get out of the sea cave without dying. There are several options of which direction to go however only one of them will help you get out of the cave alive and get rescued. My game can be played here.