Given that IF is a relatively sedate pursuit, and the audience is mostly folks for whom entertainment at the time of play consists largely of intellectual stimulation (otherwise they’d be playing Candy Crush Saga), can we generalize about the sort of feedback loops (repetitive rewards which stimulate a player to seek more repetitive rewards) which are most effective in the IF medium?
Would these be unlocking new narratives, novel interactions with the world model and objects, discovering new aspects of characterization… or something else?
Fair from this year’s IF Comp is an interesting example of a game that offers pervasive player choice. It’s a relatively short game, and I played several rounds in the allotted two hour judging time. For two games, all I did was try to peddle books-- which turned out to be quite humorous at the end, when my character finally had to judge the science fair and had not examined any of the exhibits. On another, I tried to take judging the fair seriously, and found out all kinds of other things are possible in the game.
Certainly Fair presented an authorial point of view, but managed to accomodate player participation generously (a difficult balancing act). I enjoyed the game quite a bit, and wanted to continue replaying-- which, I think we’ll all agree, is a rarity in the IF genre.
What can we learn from Fair about good game design? On the other hand, were there horrible flaws in Fair that we ought avoid from a design perspective?
Though I very much enjoyed Detectiveland, I don’t have much desire to replay it. In what respects is Detectiveland different from Fair to account for such an outcome?