IFComp 2020: How The Elephant’s Child Who Walked By Himself Got His Wings

Here we have three fake just-so stories in a spot-on imitation of Kipling’s prose style. Or more like five stories, really, because the first two start with highly bifurcating choices that completely change what the story is about, but you get three of them in a single run. The stories go some silly places (“Do whales really climb trees?”), but arguably no sillier than their source material.

The interesting thing about it is that you’re not playing the role of protagonist. Rather, the whole thing is presented as your grandfather telling you stories and occasionally prompting you for details: “And what do you suppose happened then?” The possible answers are as likely to be things that happen to the main character as things that the main character does. It’s a style of IF that you don’t see much — it would be difficult to do in a parser game with mechanics based around giving commands to a character, but even in choice-based IF, the easiest way to give the player a stake in the story is to ask them to identify with, and act as, a character in it. Here, we do that halfway, identifying as a character around the story.

And really, some of the branches play up that role as a role. There’s one optional bit where the audience figure asks for a kangaroo to be included, and the storyteller refuses at first, because the story is set in Africa, but relents in the face of persistent insistence. At the very start, we’re warned about how this sort of interference could wind up altering the story, and with it, because the stories are how things came to be as they are, the fabric of reality. But the player doesn’t really have a choice in the matter. The stories are going to wind up warped no matter what choices you make.

No Comments

Leave a reply