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Whom the Telling Changed

From the Database of Home of the Underdogs




Copyright 2005, Aaron Reed

Whom the Telling Changed is a well-deserved first place winner in the 2005 Spring Thing competition. Dan Shiovitz’s concise review says it all:

“This was the last game I played of this year’s spring comp, and it was an extremely satisfying note to close on. It’s always nice to play something that is a little experimental, and it’s especially nice to play something experimental that works, and Whom The Telling Changed totally does. The concept is sort of like The Space Under The Window with a plot and momentum, but in ancient Sumer, hearing one of the tales of Gilgamesh. Isn’t that awesome?

Normally I’m a little suspicious of games with conversations where the key words are highlighted, but I thought it really worked well here (though if you don’t care for it, you can turn the highlighting off). Probably this is helped along by the occasional presence of a third option not listed even though a lot of it is effectively menu choices, you don’t forget that this is a game with a parser. And the “menu” system definitely doesn’t fall into the exhaustively-try-every-option trap that Andrew Plotkin has complained about in the past: when you make a choice, the story moves along, and you can’t just go back and try option B to see what it would have done.

Naturally, even though I really liked Whom The Telling Changed, I do have a few gripes. One is that it’s not always clear what effect a particular word is going to have: while that doesn’t matter in The Space Under The Window since it’s just an art piece you’re exploring, here it seems like you’re nominally participating in some kind of moral/philosophical argument, and you ought to know what statements you’re making before you say them. The other is, well, this was good, but now I want more. Lately I’ve been really interested in IF games that let the player make a few serious choices that have real consequences this feels like it does that, but the basic plot seems to be pretty fixed. There is one significant change you can make, but it’s predicated on a choice you have to make early on and without understanding the implications. But, yeah, these are relatively minor complaints. Whom The Telling Changed is an excellent game, well-crafted and innovative, and I absolutely recommend it.”

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