Other Interactive Fictions: Dreaming Methods

Dreaming Methods is a site I ran into over the weekend because it tags itself as interactive fiction. Which it is, if you take that term in the most open-ended way. Each (of the stories I tried, anyway) presents an environment made of panning still photographs; with a mouse you can direct movement across these photographs as though you were turning around in a room, but the range of motion is limited. In each scene there are a few hot spots to click on.

Meanwhile — defying the sense that this is a very budget sort of graphical adventure — lines of text float through the environment at various distances. Sometimes they appear far off and small; sometimes, so close to the viewer that they are out of focus, hard to read. The effect is like encountering unacknowledged thoughts, things that one has never brought into focus in one’s own mind. It’s unsettling.

The two stories I tried (Capped and The Flat) are short, atmospheric, with very little in the way of plot; only a slowly unfolding discovery of past events. I never did feel that I understood The Flat; Capped makes sense if you’ve seen the Tripod series, but probably not very much otherwise. On the whole, these seemed to me to have accepted a hypertextual idea of what interactive fiction can be: most often an exploration of thoughts and memories of past events, with little or no foreground action.

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