Eternal Winter

This is an interactive hypertext fiction based on the fight for survival in the aftermath of a large scale nuclear war. In the story you will be forced to make decisions that will determine how long you will survive the deadly, unforgiving conditions imposed by nuclear warfare.

Click to begin: http://dcc.umd.edu/portfolio/ayuan/hdcc208/eternalwinter.html

Reflection

For this final project, I chose to create a hypertext narrative fiction on the topic of the negative aspects of large scale nuclear warfare, especially in terms of the long term effects on climate. I felt that Twine would be the most effective medium for storytelling particularly on this topic, because I wanted to make the reader/user physically feel an attachment to the story. By writing in second person and allowing them to make choices, they would feel more immersed and care more about the subject matter.

One big goal for this project was to make the user’s decisions actually matter. This is an area that I felt was executed poorly in my first Twine attempt. One way of finding success with regard to weighted decisions in my eyes was my implementation of an inventory system. For example, the first decision the user makes is between bringing more rations or gear for a shelter. If the user doesn’t select gear for a shelter one large branch (~15 boxes of text) is immediately eliminated from their experience. Not only does the use of inventory exponentially create more experiences for the user, but it also makes the user think about the problems they encounter. In making one do this, they would be doing critical thinking on the negative aspects of nuclear warfare.

A big challenge I found in the implementation of the inventory system was amount of writing required to progress the story. With the selection of different gear, the story would shift requiring parts to be written in a different way according to the items the user has and the conditions they are faced with.  This increased the scope of the project by a huge factor since I was writing parts of the story multiple times to account for the different possibilities.

I still support the idea that Twine is the most effective medium to tell this story; however if I was forced to use another I could have experimented with 7 Scenes. One potentially interesting aspect of 7 Scenes that is unavailable in Twine is experiencing an environment. For this story, a lot of the pain and stress for the characters are derived from the extreme cold as a result of climate change from the nuclear fallout. It would be interesting to utilize the current weather conditions outdoors to enhance the story. By forcing the user to walk around in the cold, they would likely feel more strongly about the topic through first-hand experience. One part I think this would be particularly effective for is when Ted and Nancy are driving to the cottage and get a flat tire. If the user hadn’t collected a spare tire prior to this event, they would be forced to continue walking in the cold until they inevitably die of hypothermia. By using 7 Scenes there is the potential to make the user walk in the cold (obviously not to the same extent as in the story) which could cause the user to feel more strongly about the climate change as a result of large scale nuclear warfare.

Overall I think Twine was effective in portraying the story in the way I had envisioned, being an interactive hypertext fiction that blurs the line between narration and story-based games. One constraint I found when using it however was implementation of media. I found it quite difficult to get external media to work within the story and only after a long time of working on it was able to change the background imagery utilizing the tagging feature.

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One thought on “Eternal Winter

  1. After a few play-throughs of your game, I am convinced there is no “good ending”, or at least not one I could find.

    I do think the use of an inventory is a sort of game changer for your story. In a way, it is a decision like anything else, but the reader has a more tangible sense of his or her character in the story. It does make the whole story feel more game-like, but the literary aspect is still there.

    The story was well-written, but from a game perspective, I found the story a little frustrating. I was running into the same deaths many times, even when I thought a decision I made would avoid it. I suppose this does add to brutal atmosphere of the atomic wasteland, but it was tough to find out exactly how to progress. The consequence of this, however, was how rewarding it felt to find a path that allowed me to continue on. I looked for how each item I could pick up was useable in the world, and it was cool to see how they could all be utilized to unlock new text passages.

    I used to dislike Twine because I saw it as far less capable than traditional text-based adventures such as Colossal Cave Adventure, but your story makes the case for a more interactive and game-like experience in the medium.

    Like

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