I finally took the time to start a little something with Inky!
I haven’t got very far.
The game’s entry point is a ‘tutorial’. It’s a conversation between the ‘app moderators’ (eBuddy, referring themselves as ‘we’) and the ‘Confidant’ (who just got hired and will be paired with someone right after that first conversation).
It’s showing the choice structure for the whole game:
- ‘SEND MESSAGE’: Reveals a couple of sub-choices.
- ‘REMAIN SILENT’: It lets the other part of the conversation say more and react to such silence.
The intent is to try to mimic how we deal with text messages usually… First decision is to say something or wait. Then choose what to say. But when you choose to say something you’re already half-way. And again, I’m obsessed with timing so what you say is less relevant than when you say it.
Like there was an earlier version of the conversation I wrote that went as follows:
- The app prompts the Confidant to say ‘Hi!’ to confirm that the app is working.
- The Confidant can remain silent more than once. After several ‘remain silent’ the Moderators would say something like ‘You’re messing with us aren’t you?’
- The Confidant can still send a message to say ‘Hello! I can’t wait to know more!’ after and the Moderators would answer right away ‘Aren’t you the chatty type?’
So the Aren’t you the chatty type? works in all contexts as a direct answer to the long Hello! but if the Confidant remained silent before and had the ‘Messing with us’ answer, then the Aren’t you the chatty type? becomes ironical.
In the end I removed the ‘You’re messing with us aren’t you?’ because I wondered if the Moderators should be a tad more neutral in tone… but as I’m writing this journal, yeah, in fact I’m bringing back that line. It gives more flavor to the Moderators. And why not after all?
I’ve created 3 different ‘trustState’ at the moment — things I’ll use to create mini-variants in the text. I vaguely thought of assigning different adjectives to the different characters in the story, but in the end, these trustState are always contextual and conversational. They’re more tied to a situation than being a specific attribute to a character, so I think it’s fine to switch between them as things go. I’ll probably track other states for other things (based on characters’ memories of previous answers) but we’ll see. I’m not even sure I need that. That’s the fun part of writing to me — a same sentence can have so many different meanings depending on what was said before (like the Aren’t you the chatty type) and most of the time I don’t even need to emphasize that — the players will make these links themselves. The challenge is to write things that are elusive enough to be interpreted in different ways, while not writing something too obscure or vague that would lead to various misunderstandings.
It’s also what’s implied and intended with the list of ‘people’s types’: At some point the Confidant is prompt to list all the types of people they’re comfortable to talk to, especially in terms of sexual orientations. I don’t plant to track any of these types at all to alter who the Confidant will be talking to, because the Confidant should not be able to choose who they’re talking to (it’s not the point of the app). At this point, the prompt is more about a self-statement, self-reflection for the Confidant. From the Moderators’ perspective, it’s just a list of the people who trust the app enough to use it, and the Confidant should be made aware of that. But the Entruster (the person who the Confidant will be talking to) has their own identity and nothing from the Confidant’s input will change that.