Alphas and Iotas WIP (edited 5/14/19)

science-fiction
gender-choice
#1

Updated 5/14/19
Hello, I’ve been reading these things for a long while and meaning to write one of them for almost as long. Now having finally gotten something far enough along to present I give you…

Alphas and Iotas.

Humanity is lost. You’re quite dead yourself. So is the universe, but a funny thing happened on the way to extinction. Mankind uploaded its best and brightest, storing their minds in the computational framework of a generational ship which is basically a Dyson sphere constructed around an artificial star, hiding in a higher dimension to avoid the death of the universe. Now the best and brightest are being awakened to do something about the whole extinction thing.

I have no idea how close I am to being done, other than not very. I suspect bad coding on my part has quite skewed the 20k word count I’m getting, but I’m guessing about 10k for a playthrough in the demo which at the moment is introductory stuff, character creation, and a taste of my writing style and world building.

There’s way more world building and background info on the setting viewable through the stats page.

To play the demo, go here: https://dashingdon.com/play/justhefax/alphas-and-iotas/mygame/

Features:

  • Sci-Fi in a very distant future
  • Rich history for that very distant future
  • Customizable main character (and recustomizable… eventually)
  • Partly randomized side characters
  • Between 5-8 romanceable characters (eventually)
  • Dialogue heavy with focus on character interaction
    • Update basic views of MC toward characters determined by your choice (Not all dialogue has been updated to reflect this)
  • Lots of meditations on the nature of humanity and/or AI

Any and all thoughts are appreciated. I hope to update this on at least a monthly basis.

Update #1
  • Added very first part of chapter 2
  • Added one last name (Udoh)
  • Last name choice now has small impact on stats (very small) family description should indicate what profession the families are affiliated with.
  • Improved recognition of gender change selection in subsequent dialogue.
  • Added two choices to chapter 1 fleshing out relationship with colleagues
  • You can now actively loathe or at least cordially disrespect colleagues
  • Small additions/changes to background information
  • Fixed erroneous description of the number 29 Quintillion
  • Miscellaneous typos
  • This close to getting out of that room
51 Likes
#2

O-OoH! We get to be AI? Romance an AI? Or romance a human? Count me in!

#3

Im sure the whole Humanity will get extinct when I play this lel

#4

Ah destroying humanity, long time hobby of humanity.

The goal is largely to unextinct humanity, how you manage that and whether the resultant people are in any way similar to the nice folks here on earth, for that matter whether they’d really count as human anymore… Well that’s sort of the point of the exercise.

#5

The game has a very interesting concept, and it’s clear that a lot of effort was poured into worldbuilding.
However, it has some issues:

  1. Large walls of text without page breaks or choices.
    a) This would be fine in a regular book, but not, say, on a smartphone screen - it will take forewer to scroll and looks overwhelming to a new reader.
    b) This fiction is supposed to be interactive, but there are little possibilities for interaction and player’s choices compared to all the massive text.
  2. Confusing dialogs with little player’s input.
    a) MC enters a room with people and is immediately bombarded with lines of dialoge, mostly consisting of names the character should know, but the reader doesn’t.
    b) The player can only choose a reply for the player character, how many, 2 times? So that scene consists mostly of other people arguing and the main character speaking without player’s decision.
    c) Half of the time it’s unclear who is speaking to whom. Very confusing.
  3. There is too much and too little exposition at the same time. It becomes very difficult to relate to the main character and understand the world.

I should explain the last point. There is a lot of information about the world and characters in the demo, but it is not delivered to the player effectively. And the player has to make desisions based on the information the character knows, but the player doesn’t.
For example, “choose your era” choice.

  • The text of the options tells nothing to the first-time reader about the eras themselves, besides years and name of the era.
  • Choosing an option does provide you with some interesting, if hard to understand, text, and I liked this “the summary says one thing, but I remember my era differently” bit.
  • But it doen’t have the choice between “Yes, that’s my era” and “Let me review other eras”, so it is hard to piece together the sequence of events and meanings of different eras relative to each other, and you need to restart the game to choose a new era.
  • The player might try to read the history option in stats, but it is not very helpful for choosing an era. Because it is a list of “person A became a captain”, and “person B organised a rebellion against an organisation C” , and “Technology D was installed”. The list is long and not clearly separated by eras.
  • Long story short, a new reader needs a few restarts, a full look at history, notable figures and glossary to even make a first significant choice in the game!
  • And it continues, so instead of enjoying an interesting story in a cool sci-fi world I went “Wait, what does this technology do and why it was installed on Beagle?”, “Wait, your last name associates you with notable historical figures? Who is ‘that’ Zonneveld, again?”, “Why don’t you do teleportation anymore?”, “Who are you? Who am I, at this point?”
    The worldbuilding looks very interesting and unique - but also very confusing and hard to get into. Hope you continue to develop your story.
6 Likes
#6

First, I wanted to thank you for reading and your detailed post. I agree with nearly all of your points.
There’s no shortage of issues I have with the demo. However I didn’t want to load up my first post with so many critiques of my own work. Many of which you’ve hit on.

One of the reasons I tried to load this thing up with excessive worldbuilding is that I like being thrown into the deep end of a world and figuring things out. I was particularly thinking of Jack McDevitt’s Alex Benedict series where because of an unspecified historic cataclysm none of his characters have heard of anybody we’ve ever heard of but there’s still a vibrant history within the universe that McDevitt feels no compunction about casually throwing into his writing entirely fictional historical characters. Which I will grant you is easier to get away with in a full novel than Interactive Fiction.

As I’ve just thrown out a very long sentence as part of a wall of text I’ll just say that verbosity is part of my writing style. I have disputed exactly what qualifies as a complete thought as it pertains to sentence structure with nearly every English teacher from fourth grade onward, a Math professor, and a few Law professors. We have all agreed to disagree.

I am very interested in reforming the demo. The excessively weird character creation system bugs me all the time, but at the time it felt more organic than the systems I’m used to seeing in CoG and Hosted Games. I don’t like the attributes I’m using, but because of the artificial nature of the characters adding some of the usual options like speed or strength wouldn’t have made any sense. If anybody has better suggestions for my attributes than the leadership - technology - charisma - ingenuity quartet I’m very open to it.

I am interested in adding another choice or two to the introductory section, but one of the reasons you may feel like there’s a lack of interactivity is intentional. Your character is new here, only has a handful of people to interact with, and feels annoyed and helpless with the whole situation. Another reason is obviously that I’m new to this writing format and still doing a lot of learning as part of the process.

Apologies for the length. Again thanks for reading and the feedback, I do tend to go on once I start writing.

2 Likes
#7

Small update, described in first post. Most importantly I corrected an erroneous description of the number 29 Quintillion. Also a few new choices and the very first part of chapter two.

Thanks to everybody who has read and if you only clicked through once feel free to take another look, there are 12 significantly different versions of your meeting with your first two colleagues thanks to the magic of random numbers. I’m not happy with them all, but there are 12 of them.

4 Likes