14 thoughts on “The Argument

  1. As an experiment in environmental storytelling, I think you succeeded. If you were touting this as a finished product, then I would be pointing out some things (like many generic responses left in, many intuitive actions not addressed, etc.). I think “The Argument” is a good example of what can be done in IF. It shows how a story can be told through the environment the player finds his or herself in. It also highlights some of the pitfalls, though. For example, playing through without looking at anything, nets the same ending as when you look at everything. In this case, someone who likes to explore first then work backward may be unexpectedly thrown out of the story.

  2. Yes, great comments about this and about the medium itself.

    If I did this regularly, I’d figure out how to make common objects usable. I really wanted to flesh everything out but ran out of time. (It was a homework assignment.)

    Glad you liked the fiction.

  3. Very interesting, but Starr had to walk me through it. Not being familiar with text based games, Starr had to tell me that I needed to phrase things in a format of going in a certain direction (i.e.: “Go South”) or looking at a certain object (i.e.: “Look at picture”). Originally I was typing in questions, which didn’t get me anywhere, or I was saying “Go to paint can”, which also didn’t get me anywhere.
    So maybe some directions someplace would be beneficial to the people like me out there.
    Good stuff, though.
    Glad to know it’s fiction 🙂

  4. This is a wonderful little tone poem of a game, Harvey. (“Wisteria” was a perfect choice of word/color, in particular, based on both the end reveal and the regretful tone.)

    I agree with the commenter above that you lose impact by having the same ending regardless of approach. Perhaps by offering multiple opportunities to look at paint (e.g. the wife was holding the phone, perhaps she left traces, etc). Alternatively, perhaps by being oblivious to the surroundings, the narrator misses out on the necessary cues and therefore has the opportunity to “fail”. Instead of saying what he says, perhaps it’s, “Why are you so angry?” >click<

    Anyway, great little experience, has stuck with me all morning.

  5. Thanks. I really regret not have more time to dig into Inform, both for alternate outcomes and for more interactivity from general objects.

  6. I’ve always been bad at IF text adventures and I was worried that I would get a lot of responses where it didn’t know what I meant or I didn’t understand what it wanted me to do or look for. This was very clearly laid out, however, and I found it to be mostly intuitive and I got to the ending without any problem.

    I’m not a good person to critique these types of projects, so I’m having a hard time finding where you can improve it. But I think this worked.

  7. Pingback: Harvey Wordsmith: The Argument | Rock, Paper, Shotgun

  8. Harvey,
    You really captured a moment we’ve all experienced here, nice job. This is actually such a nice, tiny little thing that I wonder if you might be interested in doing something for a digital multimedia magazine I’m working on (for iPhone/iPad/etc). I’m not the code-guy, but seeing as how I could run this on my iPhone it seems like we’d be able to handle it with HTML5 or Javascript — anyway, just a thought — you can follow the link on my name if you’re interested.

  9. Thanks, but if I was going to do anything, it would be to go and fix the things I dislike about this…figuring out how to make more objects usable and adding multiple outcomes. If it ran over the iPhone/iPad, awesome.

  10. Thanks!

    I have an update where you can sit on the couch and porcelain is spelled correctly. I just need to upload it. (Not only can I not spell, I am also “flustered.”)

  11. This was very touching.

    Love how you just use one object generally per room to reveal the story (a choice I’m sure you made to “get it done” too, but it works great).

    The tension was really building with each room, the ghost of the fight felt palpable to me, and the painting of the room slowly revealed the truth he hadn’t even realised yet.

    I also appreciated that the journey mainly carries you south, with offshoots to each side. Easy to navigate, while still feeling like a location, with spaces to explore. 🙂

    I became set on finishing off painting that room! Right from when I had been through the main bedroom, or thereabouts, I started to understand what she had wanted to talk about, and I decided, if it was me, then painting that room myself would be the perfect way to show what I was feeling.

    And suddenly I got a bit emotional as I tried to imagine proving something special and lasting to her, if I could just get her to return soon!

    Ahh, it ended differently than I expected!

    I liked the idea that, in my post-fight brooding, I calm down, realise what’s really going on, and despite having hated the wisteria, I now embrace it, and “get paint” from bedroom, and “get brush” from lounge room, and go and paint that room!


    Great story! I’ve tried to learn Inform 7, and it’s a LOT!
    Would still love to do a good interactive fiction piece one day.

    – Murray

    PS: If you haven’t tried it out, I was pretty blown away by “The Act of Misdirection” by Callico Harrison (2004).


    The whole sense of places and story flow and come alive in a way I have never seen in any other interactive fiction. I can only vaguely imagine how much time they spent really finessing everything behind the scenes.

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