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Better Towards the End, March 23, 2014
by forgepoetWhile I did finish this, it took me three tries to get to an end, mainly because some of the initial segments are not very interesting or written very well (mainly too much telling, not enough showing). The first segment, in particular, could use a heavy rewrite -- it's not nearly as effective as some of the later pieces and that's a shame, because a lot of readers are going to quit after the first couple of pages and miss out on some of the more polished and fun segments later on.
Your choices affect the end of each vignette as well as the ultimate ending in a solid and clever design that works very well with the central conceit. However, there are too many segments per playthrough, and it detracts from the overall impact of the piece. No matter how cute or well-done a segment is, if it doesn't advance the overarching story (or give us a sense of the world), it's just filler. A couple of these might work for pacing, but as it is, I'm not sure I'm up to getting through all of that text again for a second playthrough. If I were editing this, I'd suggest picking one or two at random from the non-crucial segments to intersperse instead of showing all of them.
Another problem is that the overarching story isn't touched on often enough in the early game to make it feel relevant when it arrives; I know my choices affect the end segment and the ending, and how they do, but I have very little context for the end segment or how things came to suddenly be in a far worse position than they were in the previous segment. I mean, I can make some guesses, since it's not completely out of left field, but it felt very unconnected. Even a bit more foreshadowing in some of the less plot-centric segments would have helped.
Ultimately, if you can get through the first few segments, there are some interesting characters here and some interesting situations. Unfortunately, they're buried pretty late in the game.
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TYV, March 25, 2014 - Reply
forgepoet, thank you for your feedback. I appreciate your taking the time to read my story and to offer your thoughts. In hindsight, I probably should have chosen a smaller project for my first Twine work, so that I wouldn't end up writing the later portions about six months after the earlier portions! I also burdened myself by adhering to an underlying theme that dictated how many vignettes the story had to include, as well as what drove each set of characters. I wanted to avoid referring to that theme explicitly, for fear of influencing readers' choices, but clearly I needed to engage readers in a more effective way. I am not a creative writer by nature, and I wrote this story so that I could learn by doing. I have certainly learned a lot already. Thanks again!
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forgepoet, March 26, 2014 - Reply
Please consider beefing up the weaker vignettes! I really enjoyed many of the later ones (Spoiler - click to show)(the gambler, the thief, the ranger, and the archaeologists were my favorites and the ones I thought were best done) but the weakness of the first one in particular is going to shut out a lot of readers (who are not going to realize the depth of the piece).
I think the theme is fine, as is the central conceit, and that this could be a really good piece if it were just touched up a bit. (Spoiler - click to show)The magician segment, in particular, could use some more choices that overly affect that vignette. By a few segments in, I could see that the choices were more meaningful than it first appeared, but it's asking a lot of a casual player to understand that from the very first page.