IFComp ’13: Blood on the Heather

Oh hey, we’ve got a for real CYOA here. It’s made in Twine, but doesn’t take advantage of in-text hyperlinks or dynamic text or anything. Just simple straightforward links to new paragraphs. There’s some fancy amenities like new paragraphs fading in when a choice is selected, or the option to save your current place, but Blood on the Heather could be published in a real-life book and I’m appreciative of that.

As for the story, well… it’s not bad. It has actual characters and plot, which is more than I can say for the previous two entries. The construction is clumsy though, on both the sentence level and in the overall structure. Awkward phrasing abounds, there’s frequent tense changes, there’s lots of “wacky” humor that comes off as hackneyed, and several times new paragraphs assumed I had learned information that I had not previously been presented with. If you’re writing a CYOA you’ve got to make sure that each path plays out logically. This entry is more focused on story than a typical piece of Interactive Fiction, and so the story needs to be strong enough to carry the load. It’s almost there (personal opinions on urban vampire fantasy aside) but it needs at least another revision to polish the text, and the various paths through the story need careful attention to ensure they all flow cleanly.

The story is long and the different paths through the book are divergent enough to justify being a CYOA. I’m all for innovation in the Comp but it’s nice to play something so old-school. And after the previous entries it’s nice to play something with some meat on its bones. It just needed to stew a little longer.

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