IFComp 2015: Birdland   4 comments

By Brendan Patrick Hennessy. Played to completion using Firefox.



I’d be nice if I could just end the review right there, but I suppose you want pesky things like details and reasons. Okay then.

Birdland involves a girl (Bridget Leaside) at summer camp and suffering. She has dreams of birds. The uncanny dreams start to link with reality.

The story is conveyed in “movie script” form, with dialogue taking center stage and all the action happening in parentheses.

Structurally, the most ingenuous part is that the choices of the dreams at night then affect the moods of Bridget during the day (things like “tenacity” and “melancholy”). The moods are the “statistics” and affect whether Bridget can make certain choices. Birdland advertises up front if a choice is available or not due to the moods.

Actions during the day don’t seem to affect the mood statistics, and the moods are generally only temporary conditions that can swing between extremities anyway. This cleanly avoids one of the problems in ChoiceScript games with a “snowball” effect where the only choices one feels safe in making are based on the statistics originally developed; those choices will likely boost the relevant stats further, and not focusing will cause failure later. This leads to the player steering clear of interesting choices they might make otherwise take. (Paradox Corps from last year’s IFComp had this problem.)

An excerpt from one of the dream sequences.

An excerpt from one of the dream sequences.

In any case, the plot is great, the characters are great, and the dialogue is so good I had to clip out some more:

TAYLOR M: I’ve got a boyfriend.

YOU: Oh yeah. Ambient light.

TAYLOR M: (staring off into space) He’s so great.

YOU: I don’t know, I guess it’s like, so we appreciate nature and stuff?

(She grabs you by the shoulders.)


YOU: Just as long as we don’t get eaten by a bear.

BELL: Don’t worry. I’ve seen the bear statistics. We’re fine.

YOU: Have the bears seen the bear statistics?

If there’s any con to be had, I don’t think the adult dialogue all works for me (this is pre-{PLOT SPOILER}) and the author spent more time getting the speech patterns of kids down than adults. I’m going to chalk it up to “perspective writing” and not worry. Full marks.

Posted November 3, 2015 by Jason Dyer in Interactive Fiction

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4 responses to “IFComp 2015: Birdland

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  1. Oh, good, what a relief. I remember seeing someone somewhere be like “WHAT STILTED WRITING” and I was sitting there thinking pathetically “….well I thought it was hilarious…”

    The hockey dream especially had me laughing aloud. Beautiful absurdity.

    The adults seemed pretty idiosyncratic even pre-PLOTSPOILER, no?

  2. I might have to revisit this game. I’ve read so many glowing reviews, though it didn’t really resonate with me in the opening chapters, causing me to speed through the later chapters at a rate that only a hypertext interface can allow one to achieve.

  3. Pingback: IFComp 2015 Summary | Renga in Blue

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