I’m not really up on my interactive fiction, but I hear Emily Short is something of a celebrity in those circles? In any case, she worked on Alabaster, which makes her pretty cool as far as I’m concerned.

Alabaster is a particularly gothic take on Snow White, in which you, the huntsman, has to decide whether to kill Snow White and take her heart to the Queen, or allow her to escape, and hide with her seven “quite short” servants. It’s a genuinely difficult decision, and it only becomes more so as you begin to question the princess.  The queen at first certainly seems the worst of the pair, but it soon becomes clear that Snow White may be something different, and worse. The story is excellent, which is just as well. Being a work of interactive fiction, there obviously isn’t really anything else.

Alabaster was apparently built as a test for a new conversation structure and engine, and it’s pretty good at simulating a real dialogue. The text parser is pretty deep, but it’s a system in which anything can be inputted, but will only respond usefully to a limited number of commands, so of course there is some frustration (I can spit, but I can’t spit on or at the princess?). In general, though, it works very well.

Play this game (If we’re calling it a game).


Alabaster can be found here.

Emily Short’s recent essay on conversation structure in games can be found here.