Interactive Fiction: Haze
Haze is a dystopian novel about the advancement of technology and how Artificial Intelligence overtook Planet Earth, controlling the environment and the rest of humanity. The scene takes place in the year 3500 where all human beings are plugged into a dreamlike state and their living their lives in a virtual dream controlled by The AI.
In the realm of Haze, the world is divided into The Oasis, where The AI lives, and The Borderlands, where The Mist and its rebels live, otherwise known as outsiders. The outsiders are the people who are free from technology when it started to advance and slowly took control over the world and over humanity, otherwise known as The Taking. Over the years, humans have been captured and hypnotized by their devices and was brought to The Oasis to be The Dreamers that turned their lives into a digital reality.
The story revolves around four main characters: Marcus, Klaus, Nancy and Player 1, who woke up simultaneously from their virtual state on the day of The Awakening. They were brought together by the rebels plan and later on discover that the life they have been living up to that point was nothing but a virtual reality. The moment they started to become aware of what’s reality and what’s not and what their role is in the grand scheme of things.
Outside of the walls of The Oasis, where they have been kept for years since The Taking, are the rebels and the people of The Mist who have been keeping a close eye on them. They were chosen for the potential skills they showed in their virtual life which played an important role in retrieving The Clockwork Device that was the key to save humanity through time travel and fixing the mistakes of their past.
01 Player wakes up confused.
02 Player tries to go around and see other Awakened.
03 Marcus, Klaus, Nancy and Player meets.
04 Go across the bridge to the AI Tower.
05 Get trapped in The Tunnel and discovers another device while figuring out which way they should go next.
06 Find the right door that leads to where The Clockwork Device is located.
07 Find and retrieve The Clockwork Device.
08 Find the secret door that leads outside of the tower.
09 Unlock & Bypass The Watch Tower.
10 Go through the other side where The Borderlands are. Diego & his team rescue The Awakened and brings them to The Mist HQ.
- Tell the player to write down clues so that they won't be lost when they are prompted with riddles or questions that needs an answer.
- The clues should stay on the screen because if you hide them, the player will easily forget.
- The text is easy to read because you broke them down by using clickthroughs, but the basic information isn't necessary as clickthroughs because what would be the point?
- You have a good structure for making the character or player move forward.
- Think about your actions and how you would like it to play out and branch from there. Give your characters more option because it's very linear right now.
- Describe the objects that you present in the story. Some kind of visual would be nice to give reader's a clue or an image of what it is instead of leaving them clueless.
- Some of the passages can be revealed simultaneously instead of one by one which makes it exhausting to go through.
- The plot is linear, add more options.
Play Testable Link
This links to my final Interactive Story Game hosted on Philome: Haze Interactive Fiction
AS AN AUTHOR
From the playtesting, I learned to think on the richness of context by examining the kinds of actions my characters can do and giving viable options to the player to make it more engaging. I also learned to consider my writing style and how I should give more meaning to some of the passages or text that I write. I became more aware that I haven't been able to give further thoughts on how I could describe some circumstances or some objects in my story. Lastly, I also learned to be more meaningful in the breakdown of my text and linking them to show other texts, because some have no purpose in being clickable.
What surprised me is how some of my playtesters reacted to certain parts of my story. Hearing one of them praised the options I gave and said some were really good, and how one elicited a reaction of fear that he might die when he chooses the wrong answer. I was also surprised to find that some of the subtleties I integrated into my story that were meant to be clues or answers to certain riddles were overlooked.
The changes I created was to revise some of the text I already have and adding more actionable options for the player to choose. My story was very linear and I was aware of that. However, my awareness became more apparent when I observed how my players went through the story. At one point, even I got bored when they were simply clicking on one option and was progressing through it in a single path.
On a final note as an author, my advice would be to watch for the player's reactions and observe how they connect with your game. These unconscious behaviors tell a lot about what they usually think or feel about your game, like whether or not it's engaging. Also be open to feedback and ask questions on what could be improved. Be prepared to ask which specific areas of concern or improvement you would like to have an opinion on.
AS A PLAYTESTER
From the playtesting, I realized that large chunks of text are difficult to go through. It doesn't make the game as engaging and it makes the player want to skip through the story and just look at the options, which loses the context of playing, and what also happened to my playtesting session. I would usually skim through the text, most of the time not bothering to read it because I feel that it's time-consuming. As a playtester, I would rather have less information than being bombarded with a lot of unnecessary fluff. Details are great but should be kept to a minimum. I also learned that changing the layouts and fonts and creating hierarchy creates visual comfort when reading a lot of text, especially with this type of game.
Read the text and give meaningful feedback. Suggest how to make the game better in terms of visuals, context, and interactiveness. Ask what areas of concern the player wants to get a comment on.