Inside Woman: Adventure!

I vaguely remember watching a drama about Hollywood some years ago. At one point someone mentioned something about a “film” to a studio mogul, only to be corrected: “Films are for the French. I make movies.” And that summarized the difference in what the two characters wanted to do with the medium.

Something similar could be said about Andy Phillips. The term “Interactive Fiction”, despite its history, connotes artsy, experimental stuff — it’s just barely removed from “Electronic Literature”. At a time when indie games are entering the mainstream, IF is indier than indie. Phillips doesn’t write IF. He writes adventure games.

At one point I wanted to remove a nail from a wall, previously used to hang a calendar. After unsuccessfully trying to pull and twist it out, I tried breaking it, and was surprised that my character snapped it off with a single swift downward kick. I don’t know why I was surprised. She’s a secret agent of the Chinese military. Of course she has martial arts skills. This is an adventure game.

Interactive Fiction is a collaboration between author and player. An adventure game is more like the player bending to the author’s will. It’s a maze, and you’re the rat. You think you have a reasonable alternate solution that would plausibly work in the real world given the materials at hand? Ha! I scoff at your alternate solutions. You will find the solution that the author wants you to find! Or you will get stuck. That happens to me sometimes. In fact, it happens so much that I’m barely past the point I was at in my last post. I’m still having occasional breakthroughs, and I think they’re all the sweeter for the relief they provide from stuckness. But I’m very much aware that I’m basically playing a guessing game most of the time. The thing that triggers a breakthrough is usually examining a random scenery object, or searching it, or even looking under it. You get used to this, and you make it part of your routine. Fortunately, this gameworld is pretty thoroughly implemented, and examining random scenery objects usually yields more descriptive text.

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