Alabaster

Alabaster is a collaborative interactive fiction game – a “fractured fairy tale”. You play as the woodsman, asked by the Queen to take Snow White into the woods and bring back her heart. The story can delve off into wildly branching stories based on what questions you ask Snow White.

It's largely a game of interrogation, asking questions which are dutifully deflected by Snow White until you can finally uncover the truth of the situation. That final truth is largely dependent on which questions you ask, which in turn creates your ending. There are many, many endings to this game. It's solidly a member of the “repeat a short game until you get all the endings” subgenre of interactive fiction. As such it's quick, fun to play, and varied almost every time. It's also very user friendly, especially for those new to interactive fiction.

The story was written collaboratively which you can read about on this blog. The novel conversation system is very free-form with suggestions based on your previous question. You can read more about it in this article.

The story frequently takes a dark bent, there are hints of the Queen participating in human sacrifice, Snow White drinking blood, and the dwarves being constantly at war with man. Which of these paths of inquiry you follow is entirely up to you. Most likely you won't like the answers you receive. But you never know, sometimes your character might end up happy.

Why You Should Check This Out: An interesting story which is told well – it's an investigation, you decide which questions to ask. The questions you ask determine the answers you get and they ultimately determine your fate. If you don't play much interactive fiction, this would be one to check out.

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[size=15](Mac OSX) (Story File - requires Glulx interpreter)[/size]

Comments

Anybody know of any good glulx interpreters for linux?

This has already begun to win me over with it's optional tutorial mode.

[i wrote:

Alabaster[/i]]It is a moonless night. The lantern light does not reach far. You are seldom frightened in these woods, but tonight is unusual.

Snow White is with you. Her wrists are bound behind her back. She has made as much of a nuisance of herself as she could, deliberately stumbling over every root in the dark, until you had to half-carry her this far.

Earlier, you killed a hart and left it here. It was a preparation: you didn't want to have to hunt such an animal in the darkness.

Now, you can't help wondering whether you should have spared the noble beast.

At this point, you can learn more about any of the things around you with EXAMINE -- for instance, you could type EXAMINE SNOW WHITE or EXAMINE THE HART (and then press return).

I've been really interested in trying this one out. Emily Short is a really bright person when it comes to elements of game design, and I enjoyed reading the analysis and other thoughts on her blog while this game was in development.

I have to say what when I first saw this write-up I was a little skeptical, but downloaded it because I was bored waiting for an experiment to finish. Two hours later, after becoming completely engrossed and finishing the story twice, I have to say that this is definitely high quality, immersive storytelling.

wordsmythe wrote:

I've been really interested in trying this one out. Emily Short is a really bright person when it comes to elements of game design, and I enjoyed reading the analysis and other thoughts on her blog while this game was in development.

The conversational nature of the game is really very interesting. I realize it works best in text adventures where you're already typing in commands anyway, but I find it much more engaging than a standard branching dialogue tree. With this system, you feel more like you're actually trying to figure out what questions to ask, and not just trying to figure out the syntax. It definitely feels closer to a real conversation than the standard fare.

Could it work in something like Mass Effect? Maybe with voice recognition and better detection of syntax differences (i.e. omitting whether in a question). Still, as it stands it's very fun.

I saw the title of this in Google Reader and thought you guys were writing me a personal message.

PyromanFO wrote:

Anybody know of any good glulx interpreters for linux?

There's a Linux port of glulxe out there. I haven't used it so I don't know if it's any good - personally I'm using Git on my phone to play it.

Well, I've gone and screwed things up three times now. I'm a little confused as to the signals that the left-hand pciture provldes. At one point, I was halfway down snow white's body. I'm not sure what that signifies. I do know that the eyes only was a particular person, but other than that, and the sweating White as being upset at you, I'm not sure what to quite make of it.

Fun though, even though all three endings are a little unfulfilling for me. Guess I'll have to go about this differently.

Fun though, even though all three endings are a little unfulfilling for me. Guess I'll have to go about this differently.

Yeah there's quite a few more than three endings. Much of the ending on my playthroughs was determined by what questions I asked about Snow White herself and what questions I didn't ask.

PyromanFO wrote:
Fun though, even though all three endings are a little unfulfilling for me. Guess I'll have to go about this differently.

Yeah there's quite a few more than three endings. Much of the ending on my playthroughs was determined by what questions I asked about Snow White herself and what questions I didn't ask.

Looked it up... 18 in all. Haven't found a particularly happy one yet. Not sure there's going to be one either. Made it to four because I'm dogged like that. I'm sure #5 and #6 are closely related to not dragging the princess through the woods with the heart in box and simply returning her shizo-ass back to the queen herself.

This is a really well-written piece of IF. The syntax is just a little wonky...I think there was one point where I typed in a question exactly as the "suggestion" worded it and it didn't take, but then I tried "a haven" and it asked the question I wanted. I didn't even misspell anything.

12 endings for me, before it kind of started to wear thin. Thankfully I was taking a fair amount of saves, including what turned out to be an incredibly important one right before what seemed to be a timed event (which I didn't even discover was possible until the fourth time through). I found a few happier endings, and one truly happy one (which I assume is considered the canonical "best ending", but I don't know). It's amazing how subtle the differences are, though; it's a complex bit of work. Kudos to the whole team.

This is a text based game, correct?

Lard wrote:

This is a text based game, correct?

Yes all interactive fiction games are text based, similar to old Infocom adventures.

Minarchist wrote:

The syntax is just a little wonky...I think there was one point where I typed in a question exactly as the "suggestion" worded it and it didn't take, but then I tried "a haven" and it asked the question I wanted. I didn't even misspell anything.

I've run into this problem, as well, except that in my case every single suggestion, out of four, failed to produce anything more than an error message. Thinking about this and Violet has lead me to realize that one of my biggest problems with IF games is that I simply can't wrap my head around the controls (such as they are). I know that this is a common complaint about IF games, but I haven't played a single one that didn't at some point leave me flailing against the command parser as I tried to guess at the developer's preferred syntax. It feels to me equivalent to playing a platformer that used dozens of different, context-dependent jump buttons but that never bothered to tell you which to use when.

I'm honestly a bit baffled and terribly impressed by those of you who can play IF games without any problems. You casually romp through worlds full of experiences while I stand dumb-founded at the glorious possibilities on offer and then trip over my own shoelaces on the way out the door.

I loved this game! Can anyone else suggest similar interactive fiction? I downloaded a few at random, and they were all what I remember text adventures being: one right way to play and puzzles to figure out given very little information. I like this more exploratory style.

raddevon wrote:

I loved this game! Can anyone else suggest similar interactive fiction? I downloaded a few at random, and they were all what I remember text adventures being: one right way to play and puzzles to figure out given very little information. I like this more exploratory style.

There are a ton of really interesting experimental IF games out there. I would recommend you look up Galatea, also by Emily Short, for a good start.

Yeah, really anything by Emily Short recently; she is truly the Grand Dame of IF.

I would also recommend Violet, seen in this very space just a few weeks ago.

Looks like a fun game to play, especially since it can be different each and every time. Who would have thought that Snow White could be changed in so many ways. casino en ligne