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About the Story"This is not a game, but rather an experiment in telling a story using a dynamic and interactive medium. Leave your expectations at the curb side and take a walk down Beal Street." [--blurb from Competition '99]
26th Place - 5th Annual Interactive Fiction Competition (1999)
-- Duncan Stevens
>VERBOSE -- Paul O'Brian's Interactive Fiction Page
It isn't, in any meaningful sense, interactive fiction. Yes, the author works hard to emphasize that the choice between continuing to walk the street and turning back is a real one, just like those we make in everyday life. This is true enough in itself, but as a claim for interactivity, it's a crock. What it amounts to, more or less, is a choice between reading the next paragraph and quitting the game. These limited options make Life on Beal Street no more interactive than a book. There is one more possibility, which is the opportunity to say "no" to a chosen paragraph and have the computer spit out a new one, but that turns to be the equivalent of continuing to draw paragraphs from a hat until you realize that the hat is empty. Thus, in the final analysis the appeal of Life on Beal Street is quite fleeting. There's a wonderful sense of openness and excitement in the first few plays, one which quickly contracts as paragraphs start to repeat, and finally shuts down entirely as you search through the whole thing brute-force to find any text you haven't yet seen. Once you've done this, the game becomes just an interesting novelty whose possibilities have been exhausted.
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A short TADS game with some paragraph-size text substitutions, July 30, 2016
You can only advance the story 4-5 times before it ends.
The writing is well-done, although (probably purposely) overblown. The interactivity comes from the fact that each advancing paragraph has a number of variations. If you wish, you can cycle through these variations by typing 'No'.
This was an interesting experiment by Ian Finley, author of many experiments, such as Exhibition, where you just examine paintings.
If you enjoyed Life on Beal Street...
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