Released: April 17, 2014
Platform: Web (html/twine)
“Newspaper Quest’s comedy of daily media manipulation bears the truthful sting of humor.”
– Jed Pressgrove, Storycade
Making my first and only Twine game was a fascinating experience.
Twine, for those of you unfamiliar with it, is a free software that allows for creation of text-based interactive fiction games. I spent about a week learning the format and crafting this short experience.
The funny thing is, though, I don’t really like interactive fiction (IF) games. I find them to be overwhelming in the way that recent Telltale Games can be overwhelming – with multiple branching storylines and lasting choices, I find myself paralyzed with choice. This is even worse with IF games, because if I stumble upon one and decide to play it, I have no way of knowing how long the game is. This ambiguity is enough for me to steer clear of most games of this type that I encounter.
So, I made a couple design choices that would make the style more appealing to me:
Firstly, it’s a very short game. A single play-through may take only a few minutes.
Secondly, the game hinges around a simple puzzle. Once you figure out the puzzle, you can easily see how many possible branches there are and how you can discover them.
Thirdly, the choices you make have quickly noticeable consequences. These may not be immediately apparent until you solve the aforementioned puzzle, but if you’re reading carefully, things will come together.
These design decisions made for a game that I was happy to show off and send to friends, even those who do not routinely play video games – something that I’ve not really been able to say about any game since.
The game was also favorably received on the internet. It’s gathered over 1,000 plays on GameJolt, and a fascinatingly intricate review/analysis on Storycade that presumes slightly more depth than I even intended.