A Half-True Game About Half-Truths
July 14, 2014 10:45 PM   Subscribe

For a game that relies so much on dialogue, I think the writing needs a serious editing job. Jane Espenson might call the script clammy. IMO, that reddit-y patter either needed to be tightened up a lot, or it needed to be stripped out entirely; as it was, the lines were too diluted to hit as hard as they should have.

That said, even though my version of this story is around, jeez, 15 years old at this point, that scene with the mother was so queasily familiar to me that I thought about closing the window. And the game mechanic of "everyone remembers everything" really worked for me. It really brought back this feeling of having your every move scrutinized and analyzed, and of having people save your words to throw back in your face later.
posted by en forme de poire at 12:05 AM on July 15, 2014 [2 favorites]

Also, apparently he's 19, which saves it a little for me, too. It definitely feels like a "young," defensive perspective, but in a way that I remember and can empathize with.
posted by en forme de poire at 12:17 AM on July 15, 2014 [1 favorite]

That was mostly tedious—"too diluted" is a great way to put it—but in the end worth it.
posted by XMLicious at 12:40 AM on July 15, 2014

I really liked that - the size and the back and forth made it feel like a brisk conversation. I clicked what I would have said at first, then rapidly realised that there were narratives going on that had no 'winnable' outcome, that people said and did hurtful things. I liked his choice to have floods of dialogue at some points where you just keep clicking and they don't stop yelling at you. My mom cried into her grapefruit. It just resonated perfectly with me today, thanks for the link, MoT&T!
posted by viggorlijah at 1:59 AM on July 15, 2014 [1 favorite]

Loved the idea of a choose-your-own adventure game as a series of texts. Also liked the feeling I got when saying something bold he clearly didn't say. Secondhand empowerment?
posted by Solon and Thanks at 7:23 AM on July 15, 2014 [1 favorite]

Hmm---I admit I'm fan of text adventures and I liked how he managed to control the choices/paths in a way that didn't feel railroaded.
posted by chrono_rabbit at 9:03 AM on July 15, 2014

Solon, that's interesting. I actually couldn't bring myself to go with the truer but more hurtful and teenagery options here. As far as I was concerned those might as well have been the "fantasy" options in Stephen Bond's "Rameses."
posted by en forme de poire at 9:15 AM on July 15, 2014 [1 favorite]

I thought the dialogue was great and true to life and tense. "Rameses" is fantastic too, by the way. For some reason I think about that game all the time.

Was looking at the source code on Git. Does anyone know what Javascript libraries, if any, were used to make something like this? I was wondering whether he wrote all the functions from the ground up or whether there was some game library that was good for making something like this.
posted by johngoren at 10:20 AM on July 15, 2014

Count me among the people for whom this was an effective experience (affective, I suppose). Half a lifetime ago, I lived under a roof with parents who were religious and socially conservative, while my own life had taken me in a different direction. My challenges weren't the same as the author's, but it put me in mind of my own youth and that in turn gave me some appreciation of what he must have been going through at the time.
posted by jepler at 4:50 PM on July 15, 2014 [2 favorites]

One other thing I noticed was that the author has a game about surveillance which got quite a bit of press. He doesn't mention his queer identity explicitly as an influence, at least that I've seen on the internet, but to me it sounds like there are definitely some parallels: in "Nothing to Hide", the protagonist is an anxious teenage girl who has to escape while also being always in full view of a camera, pretending to be happy. It reminded me of a much more abstract game, "Lim", by Merritt Kopas, which involves a colored square trying to navigate a maze where other squares attack you if you don't match their color. The twist is that you can blend in, but the more you do it, the harder the game is to control. It illustrates, I think, how surveillance and the panopticon have particular thematic resonance for queer people.
posted by en forme de poire at 6:35 PM on July 15, 2014 [3 favorites]

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