Whom the Telling Changed

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Description (in English): 

In this interactive short story, author Aaron A. Reed explores what storytelling meant to the earliest civilizations and what it will mean in the 21st century. The player takes the role of a villager thousands of years ago whose people have gathered to hear their storyteller tell part of the epic of Gilgamesh. As the player traverses the mostly linear plot, he or she accumulates a history based on decisions both important and trivial that ultimately impact the outcome and significance of the frame story. Hypertext-like keywords allow the player to raise points in the interior story, persuading the crowd and other characters to corresponding points of view, while a more robust interactive fiction parser allows the player to interact extensively with the frame story. (Source: Author description, ELC v. 1)

You have a character that tromps around a village in the early 21st century. The game saves your actions, and the story changes based on your history. There are basic commands like look, touch, talk, etc., but there are also hypertexts you can click on, and occasionally you can get other characters to change their ideas or behaviors. For example, without giving any spoilers away, a prompt will come up that gives you the option of calling out in response to the Telling to try to sway other villager’s opinions. The story is framed around “the Telling,” (a tradition on New Moon nights when your village gathers around the fire to hear stories of ancestors and future predictions.) Your character is a respected tribe member, and on the night of the Telling, your character determines the future of your people. There is a new, neighboring people who are behaving in an odd way, and you have to decide whether to approach them in a peaceful or violent way. Opinions on this matter are split in your tribe, understandably so, because your decision determines whether many of your people live or die. It also has strong connections to the Epic of Gilgamesh, one of the oldest written epics in recorded history, because “the Telling” includes part of the Epic of Gilgamesh, and because your character reflects Gilgamesh’s character because they are both strong, smart, and respected warriors.

Technical notes: 

To Begin ... Mac: Download and install Spatterlight if you do not already have a z-machine interpreter. Download and unzip telling.zip and open the resulting file telling.z5 in your interpreter. Windows: Download and install Gargoyle if you do not already have a z-machine interpreter. Download and unzip telling.zip and open the resulting file telling.z5 in your interpreter. Interact by typing emphasized keywords or simple imperatives. For complete instructions, type "info" within the program.

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Eric Dean Rasmussen