Curveship

An Example: Lost One

Lost One is a demo that shows how the narrative style can change during interaction without the player explicitly setting it. In this demo, the visitor is at the center of a plaza waiting for a friend. In this strange world where mobile phones apparently do not exist, the visitor must choose how to locate her friend. One strategy, which results in success but also in a very boring playthrough, is to stay put and wait for the friend to arrive:

LOST ONE
An Interactive Demo
   by Nick Montfort

   The sun hits the plaza. Now they drive cars, seeking flatpacks across the
sprawl once they were supposed to cluster here you have arrived, visitor to
this place where you briefly lived years ago, where you knew spaces and faces
now almost forgotten there is one here less lost to you than the others,
though, and it has been right here in this plaza, about now, that you have been
to meet him somewhere right around here.
   You see the center of the plaza.
   Your senses are humming as you view the center of the plaza. The morning has
concluded. It is midday now.
   You see a flaneur.
   From here, you are able to see: to the west, some punk and a tree; to the
south, an obelisk; to the east, a fountain; to the north, a statue; to the
southwest, a trash collector; and to the northeast, a boy.
   The punk gives the tree a fierce kick.
   The boy tosses a ball up.
   The ball drops to the ground.
   The trash collector picks something up.
   The flaneur heads north.

>wait

   The boy picks the ball up.
   The trash collector heads north.
   You wait.

>look at myself

   The trash collector picks something up.
   You look at yourself.
   You see someone who is out of place.
   You see that you possess a tortilla.

>inspect the tortilla

   The punk heads southeast.
   The boy tosses the ball up.
   The ball drops to the ground.
   The trash collector heads north.
   The flaneur wanders around, staying in the same area.
   You look at the tortilla.
   A thin white circle, a corn tortilla.

>taste the tortilla

   The punk gives the obelisk a fierce kick.
   The boy picks the ball up.
   The trash collector heads east.
   You taste the tortilla.
   You taste bland but wholesome nutriment.

>eat the tortilla

   The trash collector heads south.
   The flaneur heads east.
   You eat the tortilla.

>examine the flaneur

   The boy tosses the ball up.
   The ball drops to the ground.
   The trash collector heads south.
   You look at the flaneur.
   A foppish man who seems dedicated to strolling about.

>wait

   The punk heads north.
   The boy picks the ball up.
   The trash collector heads east.
   You wait.

>look at the statue

   The punk heads west.
   The trash collector picks something up.
   The flaneur wanders around, staying in the same area.
   You look at the statue.
   You see a marble likeness of Einstein. There is almost no hint here of the
playful, disheveled scientist so often seen in the photographs that were
popular in the early twenty-first century.

>look at the punk

   The punk gives the tree a fierce kick.
   The boy tosses the ball up.
   The ball drops to the ground.
   The trash collector heads north.
   You look at the punk.
   A girl who clearly is participating in the punk subculture.

>wait

   The boy picks the ball up.
   The trash collector picks something up.
   The flaneur heads south.
   You wait.

>wait

   The trash collector picks something up.
   You turn and see your friend. You smile.

== The End ==

There are quite a few things going on in this large space. But everything is narrated in the conventional, standard interactive fiction way. If the visitor is commanded to run around, the narrative becomes more and more distant. The tense shifts to past (the narrator is no longer simultaneous with the actions, but after them); the "you" disappears (the visitor is no longer the narratee); distancing expressions of uncertainty appear; and eventually the order of narrating shifts so that it is no longer chronological, no longer the same as the order of the events in the simulated world:

LOST ONE
An Interactive Demo
   by Nick Montfort

   The sun hits the plaza. Now they drive cars, seeking flatpacks across the
sprawl once they were supposed to cluster here you have arrived, visitor to
this place where you briefly lived years ago, where you knew spaces and faces
now almost forgotten there is one here less lost to you than the others,
though, and it has been right here in this plaza, about now, that you have been
to meet him somewhere right around here.
   You see the center of the plaza.
   Your senses are humming as you view the center of the plaza. The morning has
concluded. It is midday now.
   You see a flaneur.
   From here, you are able to see: to the west, some punk and a tree; to the
south, an obelisk; to the east, a fountain; to the north, a statue; to the
southwest, a trash collector; and to the northeast, a boy.
   The punk gives the tree a fierce kick.
   The boy tosses a ball up.
   The ball drops to the ground.
   The trash collector picks something up.
   The flaneur heads north.

>go south

   The boy picks the ball up.
   The trash collector heads north.
   You head south.
   You examine the southern area.
   The space south of the plaza's center.
   From here, you are able to see: to the northwest, the punk, the tree, and
the trash collector; to the northeast, the fountain; across the plaza, the
statue and the flaneur; and off toward the northeast, the boy.

>go east

   The trash collector picks something up.
   You head east.
   You examine the southeastern area.
   The space southeast of the plaza's center.
   You see a plastic scrap.
   From here, you are able to see: off to the west, the punk, the tree, and the
trash collector; to the west, the obelisk; to the north, the fountain; off to
the north, the statue and the flaneur; and to the far north, the boy.

>go north

   The trash collector examines the northwestern area.
   You head north.
   You examine the eastern area.
   The space east of the plaza's center.
   You see a shredded shirt and a newspaper.
   From here, you are able to see: across the plaza, the tree; to the
southwest, the obelisk and the punk; to the south, the plastic scrap; off
toward the northwest, the trash collector; to the northwest, the statue and the
flaneur; and to the north, the boy and the ball.

>go north

   The punk gave the obelisk a fierce kick.
   The boy picked the ball up.
   You headed north.
   You examined the northeastern area.
   The space northeast of the plaza's center.
   You saw the boy. No doubt, the ball was held by the boy.
   From there, you were able to see: off toward the west, the tree; off toward
the south, the obelisk and the punk; to the far south, the plastic scrap; to
the south, the shredded shirt, the newspaper, and the fountain; and to the
west, the statue, the flaneur, and the trash collector.

>go west

   The trash collector headed south.
   The flaneur headed east.
   You headed west.
   You examined the northern area.
   No doubt, the space north of the plaza's center, which was particularly
barren of vegetation and ornament.
   No doubt, you saw a rock.
   From there, you were able to see: to the southwest, the tree; across the
plaza, the obelisk and the punk; off toward the southeast, the plastic scrap;
to the southeast, the shredded shirt, the newspaper, and the fountain; to the
south, the trash collector; and to the east, the boy and the flaneur.

>go west

   The boy tossed the ball up.
   It looked like the ball dropped to the ground.
   The trash collector headed south.
   The trash collector examined the southern area.
   It appeared that the visitor headed west.
   The visitor examined the northwestern area.
   The space northwest of the plaza's center.
   From there, the visitor was able to see: to the south, the tree; off to the
south, the obelisk, the punk, and the trash collector; across the plaza, the
plastic scrap; off to the east, the shredded shirt, the newspaper, and the
fountain; to the east, the statue and the rock; and to the far east, the boy,
the flaneur, and the ball, apparently.

>go south

   The visitor examined the western area.
   It seemed that the space west of the plaza's center.
   It appeared that from there, the visitor was able to see: to the southeast,
the obelisk; off toward the southeast, the plastic scrap and the trash
collector; across the plaza, the shredded shirt, the newspaper, and the
fountain; to the northeast, the statue and the rock; to the east, the punk; and
off toward the northeast, the boy and the flaneur.
   Just beforehand, the visitor headed south.
   A moment before the trash collector examined the southeastern area.

I encourage you to start up Lost One in Curveship and see what happens if you continue to move around the plaza.

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