IFComp 2015: Cat Scratch   2 comments

By Allyn Chen, Hannah Turner, Laura Weber, Shirley Park, Will Hagen, Chris Klug, and Scott Stevens. Intended for Android tablet, but read on computer with the BlueStacks interpreter (instructions here).


I really have to put “read on computer” rather than “played” — this is literally a 97-page ebook. The various illustrations throughout can be touched (or in the case of an emulator, clicked) so sound effects occur or things move. Touching the image above causes a glimmer from the father’s eyes in the rear view mirror. Some images can be “rolled” to a slightly different perspective by tilting the tablet (the emulator I used simulated this effect with the mouse).

After a traumatic incident involving mean girls and a collage, Sarah and Summer’s father tells a story, “a whole new one with treasure, toads, swamp witches … inter-species linguistic communication, acts of courage and valor.” And, most saliently for the title, Cat Scratches, cats with wings. The frame story is not forgotten, returning with the usual devices of interruption and objection (“At this point, Sarah interrupted to demand details on how Scratches could possibly know about human class systems from the middle ages.”)

However, the book is dominated by the inner story and is pretty much a straight fairy tale that only moderately held my interest; I cared more about the reactions of Sarah and Summer, which made for a stronger narrative (sample: at one point Summer catches herself listening to the story and hopes nobody else in the car notices).

I’m afraid the interactivity didn’t add much for me. I’ve seen some spectacular ebook effects with other works (like Alice for the Ipad) but here the occasional random disjoint sound effect or stiff animation removed me from the world rather than adding to it.

BONUS POST-REVIEW THOUGHTS: After some musing I have two suggestions I want to address directly to the authors.

First, the sound design could be more layered. I could see sound working throughout the entire fairy tale section as long as it is not as simplistic as “this is the page where crows play” and “this is where you can click and hear a cat”. In games set in a three-dimension world, there are multiple sound sources with volume based on proximity; a similar technique could work here.

Second, the animations could carry over pages to feel less like isolated set-pieces. For example, on one page you have a feather that floats by and off the page; the next page could have the feather continue moving from where it left off.

Posted October 4, 2015 by Jason Dyer in Interactive Fiction

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2 responses to “IFComp 2015: Cat Scratch

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  1. Pingback: IFComp 2015: The Man Who Killed Time | Renga in Blue

  2. Pingback: IFComp 2015 Summary | Renga in Blue

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