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Pretty Much Everybody’s Alabaster!

June 15, 2009

(Pretty much everybody, in this case, would be John Cater, Rob Dubbin, Eric Eve, Elizabeth Heller, Jayzee, Kazuki Mishima, Sarah Morayati, Mark Musante, Emily Short, Adam Thornton, & Ziv Wities, if we’re copying and pasting here, which we totally are.  Also here’s the link.  There, I have done my duty to humanity.  That’s it, humanity.  You’re cut off.)

Emily Short has been blogging about this project for a while now using the format “Alabaster <release number> <stuff I have no idea what she’s talking about>,” as in “Alabaster v1.83.907x-5/lavender is out!  A word of caution:  while I had partial success inserting self-referential clotii* randomly into the tree modus, some of the horseshoe nodes had to be replaced with butterfly nodes, which seem to be causing intermittent ruptures in the Marshall stack.   If anyone knows a way to *crackle* *fizz* Inform 7 *fizz* be glad to hear it *fizz* *crackle* went after them with a tire iron but they’re still coming out of the walls and I’m rapidly running out of muffins.  End transmission.”

I do know it’s a retelling of Snow White with some sort of interesting new conversational system, but other than that I am Blogging In Matters I Don’t Understand.  Let’s play the thing and find out.

* “Clotii” being the plural of “clotus,” which of course means a closed circuit in the shape of a lotus blossom.

[for those who haven’t played yet; spoiler-free, but don’t read if you like going into things knowing as little as possible]

Okay, I’ve been playing for a while, and the game is neat.  It’s definitely an old-school fairy tale, the kind you get when you mix blood and magic and people being just absolute dicks to each other.  Reminds me of Milorad Pavic’s Dictionary of the Khazars, a book of stories (or just one, really) in that same Jungian princesses-and-mirrors vein told in lexicon format, so the reader determines how the thing unfolds, which is cool as hell.  Alabaster’s conversation system does the same thing.  It’s worth playing.  Go play it.

[spoilers begin here]

Apparently it is the bitterest night I can remember since the dwarrows first marched against men.  What’s a dwarrow?  Dwarf sparrow?  Marrow named Dwight?  I suspect there is a word-makery-uppery happening and I call shenaniganza.

A week later they bought a couch.

The conversation-navigation system thingy drives nicely, in that after telling me I could, say, call her mother a whore, beg her for Lakers tickets, or ask her what’s her take on Cassavetes, it accepts “call”, “beg”, or “ask” without complaint.  I like this.

“But of course,” she replies softly.  “I will never reveal your treachery to the Queen while you live.”
Useful tip for life:  anyone who says this to you is planning to kill you.  Quintuple points if it’s your chamberlain.

Bethany reminded everyone he’d been cremated, though, and the plan fell apart.

CHANGE SUBJECT TO BLOOD works, CHANGE THE SUBJECT TO BLOOD only understands me so far as wanting to change the subject.  On a tangential note, I kind of like “only understood you so far as” error messages.  It’s cute how they demonstrate such willingness to carry out your actions, yet in terms of actually doing so are no more helpful than “I don’t know how to do that” or “No.  Fuck you.”

“I only understood you as far as wanting to change the subject, but boy, was I ever with you up until that point!  The subject is one of my very favorite nouns, and changing it is, not to brag, a specialty of mine!  Please consider me the solution to all your future subject-changing needs, unless of course there are extra words and I get confused!  This happens sometimes!  I know!  I feel just horrible about it!  Would you like a massage?”

Anyway.

“That burns a little,” I said, “is it cinnamon?”

Let’s see, so far I have become Lilith’s consort (sexy!), driven Snow White mad (oops), returned to the Queen with nothing and failed everybody (also oops), subverted the Queen’s magic mirror with a comic relief dwarf, and delivered Snow White to a cozy retreat designed around the needs of the vampire she used to have inside her.  These last two endings hinted I should find the King (in much the same way a Coke ad hints you should buy Coke).  How I’m supposed to do this in a one-room game with very few extraconversational actions, I have no friggin’ clue, but I’m digging the thing, so I’ll give it a shot.

She took her gum from her mouth and parked it on my balls for safekeeping.

Huh.  Apparently there was some sort of blood-sundering magic that made the King not the King, and there’s a good chance he doesn’t even know who he is.  Law of conservation of characters says that, as the only male in the story, it’s me.  Do I have something sha- oh, a dagger.  Excellent.  I will be with you right after I fill this box with my blood and set it on fire.

That went well (good thing, too, how dumb would I look if it hadn’t?) but I’m still married to a crazy person.  Maybe if I burn the heart and my blood at the same time?

Hmm.  Apparently there is not enough room in the box for both.  I will accept that as convention, but it’s weird that the blood can’t just occupy the space the heart doesn’t, like it would in real life.

“Cinnamint,” she replied.  “Now shut up and fuck.”

Okay, this is neat.  I’m feeling kind of stuck and unwilling to bang on the thing any more tonight or have thoughts about it, but it’s neat.  I haven’t said much about it yet because I’ve been busy playing it (always a good sign) but I’m going to throw a sort of summary thing for the people who haven’t played yet above the jump.  You’ve already read it, assuming you read blog posts in order.  It’d be an interesting coincidence if you didn’t, I guess.  Actually, this is making me want to add some out-of-order stories to this post.  One sec.

Steve had been dead for quite some time, and his roommates decided to have him upholstered.

One comment

  1. Regarding ‘dwarrow’: Tolkien wrote that the proper plural form of ‘dwarf’ was ‘dwarrows’.



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