IFComp 2014: Origins   Leave a comment

Origins by Vincent Zeng and Chris Martens involves two characters — a courier and a runner — in a split-screen arrangement where you can choose “myopic” style so you only control one, or “omniscient” mode where you see choices for both. Each choice is between two options, for example:

Your breathing deepens as you start getting ready for the hill, and you let your stride open up a bit so you can hit the base of it and go.

The traffic light turns yellow.

You can make it.
You slow down.

There’s are five choices. Each one is in binary, and there seems to be no rejoining, so it looks like there are 2^5 = 32 possible stories. The result is each story is very short, and ends with something like “A courier was meant to deliver a package, but despite having reached the drop-off on time, the recipient never showed up.”

The other gimmick that took me a while to realize (you can only spot it in omniscient mode) is that if you choose the first choice on one character the other character will also make the first choice. Hence the two characters are strangely linked. There isn’t any logical reason this would be the case. I could armchair theorize about cosmic waves linking the two, but the real reason for the linking if both characters had free binary choice there would be 2^10 = 1024 possible stories.

While I had fun messing with the mechanism, the actual plot is dull and forgettable. For slices of life to work they need something extra — sociological insight, psychological depth, maybe just classy writing — and this game had none of these.

Posted October 25, 2014 by Jason Dyer in Interactive Fiction

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