You stroll outside and are delighted to see the sun just clearing the eastern horizon. It is a beautiful autumn morning and the air feels brisk as you take a deep breath. Across the way, you spot a jogger just before they disappear into a grove of tall ash trees. —Mike Tolar —Clink: A Clickable Link Text Adventure (clickadventure.com)
I spent a few minutes enjoying this hyperlink-based story. Some clever text-based puzzles, which in one place made the chore of getting out of a maze of trees actually enjoyable.
One problem I have with the implementation is that the description of scenes includes actions. Thus, every time we return to the opening screen (which is often), I am told “You stroll outside and are delighted to see the sun…”. This is a common formal error committed by many newbie authors of command-line interactive fiction (see my essay on exposition in interactive fiction), and I find it irksome enough to hamper my ability to enjoy the rest of the experience. Further, Tolar’s text often announces the motivations of my avatar, or sometimes the lack thereof, rather than simply presenting an intriguing textual world and letting me develop my own emotional responses to it.
For instance, when I read, “You are delighted with the prospect of what lies ahead,” my first response is “I am? No, I’m not.”
Why not show me something deligthful, rather than tell me that I am supposed to be delighted? See “Show, Don’t (Just) Tell.”
Don’t just tell me something is delightful. Make the thing delight me.