Loci (short story - WIP, sort of)

Hi all! This is my first mostly completed piece of interactive fiction, and I feel ready to share it with the world a little… shivers nervously

It’s a brief, gentle, slightly whimsical exploration of travel and memory. The conceit is a sort of hub room, from where you can explore various scenes (or memories) in different locations.

It’s not an ordinary WIP in that it is a short story rather than a game - there are no stats, and while choices do impact the story, it is mostly for flavour rather than mechanics. But do keep an eye on the achievements!

It is a WIP in that I am looking to improve it, and I may add more memory scenes in the future.

Mostly, I am developing my style and voice as a writer, and I’d love feedback on what you guys liked or didn’t like.

https://dashingdon.com/go/2826

Thanks all and enjoy!

PS - I chose the title because the Method of Loci is another name for a Mind Palace, which is kind of how I see the main room. Also it means “locations” in Latin, which felt appropriate!

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Need to give us more of the story

Loved this.

The concept–tableaux instead of story-line, unresolved questions, the forcefulness yet malleability of memory–is well-suited to CS. The ships that pass in the night ending seemed very fitting.

Do you have any further plans for this?

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Thanks so much! Really glad you liked it. Yeah, the idea of a collection of vignettes which combine to make parts of a bigger picture, rather than a single plot line, appealed to me.

I have ideas for a couple more memory scenes I could add in - one of the perks of this structure is that I can add new sections on to it fairly freely without disrupting the original work.

There’s also the possibility of adding scenes from later in the main character’s life. Currently they are all set around the same time, but I could eventually add more of a timeline, so we get a picture of a whole life, rather than just youth. In this case I’m not sure whether to make all of the memories accessible from the beginning (as they are now, so you can play them in any order), or whether I’d need to gate off future memories until some of the past ones have been lived. Hmmm.

Would any of this especially appeal to you (or not)? Is there a direction you’d like to see it go?

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Thanks for reading! What in particular would you like more of? More vignettes, more content? It is quite short, I am definitely considering adding scenes. Or are you looking for connections between the vignettes, so there’s more of a plot?

Vignette, that’s the word! It kept escaping me.

To be honest, and this is all personal preference, future memories don’t sound appealing. What I enjoyed about this is that there’s one time period, and we pass the former self at the end, and don’t find out the progress of the MC’s dream/career or their relationship. Changing that, I think, would make it less emotionally impactful and perhaps even a bit tedious. What I had in mind was more scenes, but from other spheres of life (so we still don’t really get to know the details of any one sphere, or become too acquainted with any other character–just pinpricks of indistinct light that we can make constellations from).

Also, are you considering writing full-length games? I’ve just checked out your bio and it sounds like you’d have some interesting stories to tell.

I’m so glad to hear that you like this approach - ‘pinpricks of indistinct light’ is a really nice way of putting it, that’s exactly what I had in mind for this piece. I like the feeling of possibility and the power of unanswered questions, but I feared that people may end up finding it unsatisfying or boring. I think you’re right, in that there is more richness that can be added to this time frame, without needing to extend it in a predictable fashion.

Thanks! I am writing a full length game, quite different to this one, but it’s still in the early stages (I’m only 15,000 words in or so, it needs more work before I can release a demo). That one will ideally conform to HG guidelines - it is a more traditional adventure, with stats, more variables and the possibility of failure. I originally aimed to enter it into the CG Competition that closed in January (which is how I discovered ChoiceScript in the first place) but the timeline was way too ambitious for me in the end!

It’s a shame that this project doesn’t really fit into the HG mould, but I feel like adding stats etc. would just get in the way…

Love the idea. Will play through the whole thing.

First impressions are just okay, though: I know the game is literally called place, but just describing the place isn’t exactly a breath-catching opener … It’s also very clinical. I like the detail about the bed being sadistically narrow, but other than that the descriptions are workmanlike rather than evocative.

I think the very first thing I want to do is get a sense of the personality of the place.

So far I get that the place is …

  • very tall
  • sunny
  • mildly crowded
  • equipped with an uncomfortable bed

Plus a lot of the description is what the place isn’t, rather than what it is.

Since it’s a dreamscape (I assume) I would heavily exaggerate its main features:

  • It’s not just sunny, it’s blinding. The curtains do nothing to block the glare.
  • The ceiling stretches up hundreds of meters tall. It makes you dizzy to look up. You can spot a small fan wobbling away ineffectually at the very top.
  • It’s nearly impossible to move through all of the gadgets and trinkets lying around. You have to wade through old toys like you’re in waist-deep water.
  • The bed is sadistically narrow (I liked that detail a lot)

Something like that! Something that tells us this place isn’t quite real, and that there’s something off about it.

EDIT:

Mmm, hummus.

EDIT:

THOUGHTS:

It reminded me a lot of Walking Simulator games like Gone Home and Dear Esther. I think the latter was a lot more successful in presenting a mystery and a reason for pushing forward, whereas Gone Home was more of a slow burn, like picking apart a knot. I think Loci would have benefitted from a strong central mystery; I spent most of the game unsure what the mystery was, and ultimately it wasn’t really clear who I was playing as.

So these were the characters:

  • red haired girl
  • Laurel / Loren
  • pianist
  • beautiful lady I can’t remember
  • Maria
  • the narrator who got really hung up on the sink
  • the room wanderer you play as

I feel that the most interesting part of the story is the relationships between characters, so I identified strongly with the laurel/red dynamic, but I didn’t feel that pull with many of the others. Maria and the pianist had an interesting dynamic, but while Laurel and Red went cave diving, parasailing, desert crawling, ziplining, and apple stealing together, Maria and the pianist just had a conversation.

I got the feeling that there was a lot more to the story, but I didn’t get the sense that I was unpicking a knot – each memory jumbled the knot further. When perspective changed from red to the pianist, I actually just wanted more light shined on Laurel and Red.

There was the uneasy feeling that something terrible was going to happen with Laurel (and I even deliberately picked choices to get there further out of sadistic curiosity) but it never came.

Anyway I’m sure I missed something.

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Thanks so much for all the feedback! I really appreciate the time you’ve taken. Really interesting to hear these thoughts, I agree with a lot of what you’ve said here.

To be honest this is something I’ve worried about myself as well. I do have a lot of rather neutral descriptions, which I’d like to make more characterful. Emphasising the dreamlike quality of the place is an interesting idea to explore, thanks for that.

Fair points - currently there isn’t a central mystery, there is no plot thread tying all the vignettes together, other than being points of memory from the same character’s perspective. It’s deliberately a bit wistful and without a point to ‘get’. But ultimately it does make for a bit of a shapeless read - I’m not sure if this is the best idea! Developing more of a through line, a core to the story, is something I’m definitely considering.

I’m not sure who this character is - Red should be the main character in all the vignettes. How did you get the impression of a pianist?

I mean, no spoilers, but I have more vignettes planned where Laurel may well feature …

The Hummus achievement repeat was originally a bug, but I decided to leave it in because I found it funny. :joy: What is wrong in the other screenshot you sent? I can’t spot it.

Thanks again! It’s awesome to hear what people get from my writing, and how I can make it better.

Nothing’s wrong! I just wanted to prove I had beaten the game. :slight_smile:

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