Manor- Interactive Fiction

The premise of my interactive fiction is that you are a kitchen maid working in a large British manor house at the turn of the 20th century. The objective of the game is in two parts: to find out the mystery of the house and to figure out your character’s desire and fulfill it.


The inspiration for my interactive fiction comes from the television show Downton Abbey, the second season of which just finished airing on PBS. As with most of the English department, I am completely obsessed with the show so I figured the 1910’s era British manor house would serve as a fantastic setting for my story. I wanted the game to be from the perspective of a low status person overwhelmed by the grandeur of a lofty house, so I chose a kitchen maid, similar to Daisy on the show. The plot of my game is not based off of Downton Abbey and I really enjoyed creating a plot around character development and their desires.

Inform 7 was a lot of fun for me especially because I liked the concept of manipulating the English language to serve as computer code. Understanding the specifics of wording the code was frustrating at first but it got much easier with practice (and a lot of Google searches).

My largest difficulty both technically and with story line was the fact that I wanted to write my story chronologically, but I had to write the code allowing the flexibility of the player. So I had to write the code with actions unlocking only after multiple other actions had already been performed or I had to make the same sentence make sense in multiple stages of game play. After having played Shade, I can see that there is a way to have a lot more control over the sequence of events and how items and commands reveal themselves, like the plant changing and the to do list developing new items. I hope to learn more about how the author of Shade accomplished this. I also liked how Shade only took place in one room (for a while at least) whereas my story had many different rooms which may have added unnecessary complication.

Some of the initial feedback that I got was very positive as far as understanding how to traverse through the room and understand the plot at the same time. Other players, however, seemed to be getting stuck in places that I wouldn’t have expected. I do know that other students who did interactive fiction created hints in their text as to how to move or what to pick up or look at. I didn’t do that very often because the text adventures that we have played in class did not do that very often.  It was wonderful to feel like I had developed a work of the electronic fiction that was intriguing to play and to know that process from start to finish. It definitely makes me appreciate the hard work that goes into the interactive fictions that we play in class.

Hope you enjoy!

Emily Brenton

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