is it really The End?

Hey class (and Will)! Libby here to turn in my Final Project.

For this project I wanted to focus on my stronger skills concerning writing and narrative to develop them even further, so I expanded a bit on my original Hypermedia Narrative. I would like to add a warning because it is about grief over death, but also grief in general if those feelings are too much for some people to handle- I totally get it. My project’s two course aspects include hyperlinks/interactivity and game-like storytelling.

Whilst creating my grief projects over the semester, about my deceased cat, one of my other cats died and it added a whole new level of confusion and- dare I say it- creativity to my work (although with tears is my eyes). All in all, I adored learning about new mediums to play around with, especially Twine and hyperlinks. One of my new goals for my future in higher education is to create an even bigger Twine adventure and post it somewhere for random people to play!

I am proud of this project and hope you enjoy it. Thank you for a wonderful semester.

Games and Stories and Narrative Oh My!

I play a lot of games. It is so hard to narrow down one to talk about, but I have recently been playing Mass Effect again so I’ll use that! There are three games in the series, but they all work and play relatively the same. Their story is arguably the most important part of experiencing them. Bioware, the developer of the game, have multiple gaming series, including Mass Effect, that are all about exploration and story in a roleplaying game. Every single quest usually has a small puzzle aspect to it, like talking to the right person or outright making a choice from a list of dialogue options. All of them, without fail, add to the overarching narrative of the story. I would not say they are an excuse so much as an essential part of the game and the story they are trying to get across.

The games are some of the best when it comes to choose your own adventure style gaming. There are so many options for the player to choose from- from which characters you save or kill, who to take with you into battle and missions, how much you personally care for all the entangling stories, to every last bit of dialogue you can choose for your character and their backstory. It is an individual experience in a huge universe which of course evokes a lot of emotion for the aspects you personally get attached to. The world building allows you to create your character first and learn who they are before setting you on a mission to become a special military operative. From there the game thrusts you into interesting places like a thousand different planets, alien species, and cities to explore in. It all depends on how much you want to invest, and I invested a whole lot.

Project Description?

I know this is a blog post for the description of our final project, and I’ll try my best to describe it, but I do not fully know what it will be yet. That sounds concerning, but I am just stuck choosing between two of my projects right now. For my final I am going to choose between my Hypermedia Narrative or my Diagrammatic Narrative. I quite like both, and they are certainly both the projects that you can tell I put more energy into (my bad), but I am leaning towards the Twine project. Especially after talking with Will (thank you) and the advice given about setting it up better and making sure the audience can understand the rapport between myself and them.

The story in 3-5 sentences would be: The storyteller, who happens to be me, explores grief as a feeling and a part of life. I take the audience with me to try and understand it as I tell a vague story about the loss of a pet. Whatever you think grief is, it is.

It will take place in Twine most likely now. My inspirations are the 1986 text adventure game Amnesia, and the more recent 2019 role-playing game Disco Elysium. Their use of gratuitous amounts of text make me use as little as possible on a screen so my audience does not get bored, but more interested in figuring out what I’m trying to get across.


3 Works or Pieces or Stories

Playing, or tapping is more correct, through these interactive hypertexts might have been my favorite blog post yet. I love anything interactive, I think a lot of people do, so it was a nice change to be able to interact with these works. To me, there was no coherent story besides How to Rob a Bank which depicts a funny little story about just that. It was not a story with ups and down and set characters, but it followed the main person clicking and looking up things. It was very linear compared to the other two which were more choose-your-own adventure type beats. Even then, though, they did not produce to me a coherent story.

My Boyfriend Came Back From the War was interesting and very daunting to me. I am someone who clicks excessively and was constantly just clicking every link available. I could not keep up with any of the smalls words or happenings because it just did not make sense with it all jumbled. There was a large sense of sadness, a lot of negative emotions and pleading, but not overarching story to me. It was very interactive, however, because you get to click what you want! The scattered words and lines definitely added to it’s already nerve-wracking and dark imagery.

With Those We Love Alive was the most interesting one to me because it fully felt like you were making decisions. You got to decide what some aspects, some adjectives and things looked like or felt like. It was amazing, but I also got stuck very easily when I thought I clicked through every option. There was no coherent story, it was vague and everything was very vague. It intrigues me, though. It kept me the most engaged and felt the most like a video game out of the three because of your choices making an impact on some of the stuff happening. All in all, they all are vague, don’t seem like coherent stories, but are experiences I valued over some books I have read.

Two Occurrences at Owl Creek Bridge

I had never read the short story or seen the film for An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge, but both were shocking to say the least. I watched the film episode first with my friends and roommates while we ate dinner and to be completely honest, it was very slow. That is something any type of video adaptation does that is slightly annoying for me, personally. I can always read the book, manga, comic faster than the film, anime, or tv episode can portray it. If they do not do it quickly, succinctly, or well then it can become a slog. That is one of the differences between the two. Another is in the film he only had a wife not a child, in fact we do not even know the main character’s first name or motivations, or why he was even being hanged. In the short story we do, which was interesting, as well as his general thoughts and feelings towards situations instead of having to rely on his actor to portray his feelings as best he can.

Events of the story were also rearranged differently in the film version. In that sense I think the show did well, however the pacing was so sluggish it was hard to care. I can appreciate slow narratives, but the antiquated colorless show made it even more so. The editing was pretty good, the snap and death took me by quite a surprise even though I was expecting it right at the end when he ran at his wife for too long. The shot composition was okay as well, the different shots for him drowning and pulling himself out of the river seemed advanced. I would say both versions do good for the story in different aspects, like getting to know more in writing but the music and gunshots adds more tension in the show. All in all, an interesting concept!

5 Photos, 1 Story

My photos are of my best friend, thank you very much wherever you are (in her room). This is a story of a worker, a student, whoever the audience relates with getting overwhelmed by an assignment and laying down in bed to ignore the problem. I tried to include an action shot of her getting into the bed, but I could have made it blurry like McCloud suggests on 133 with his obscure examples. If I could change anything I would zoom in on her frustrated face in the second shot to add depth and a different vibe than the rest of the pictures, like on page 136 shows in Understanding Comics.

Understanding Visual Narrative Through Comics

This is a textbook I don’t even view as a textbook because the imagery adds a level of fun for the reader to learn stuff. That was not a smart sounding sentence, but you know what I mean. I’m glad I bought this book from last semester because it was just as fun reading it a second time. One of my favorite aspects McCloud explores are “gutters.” Specifically from pages 68 to 72 when he talks about closure, how the audience fills in the gaps with the cultural and analytical context they know. He gives a bunch of examples of smaller comics that start moment-to-moment and end scene-to-scene. I always assume my audience is too smart for me to begin with and always end up writing vague scenes in literature because I have the confidence they will fill in any gaps with clues I have given them thus far. That is something I will more than likely incorporate into my visual narrative assignment! I can appreciate everything being laid out flat, but I always prefer a hint of mystery so not only is there no one way to look at it, but the audience must partake in whatever journey I send them on.

Time frames is the other concept that stood out to me as helpful for my own future assignments and visual endeavors. Specifically when McCloud introduces it on pages 94-95. Him telling us that comics may seem quick, but their time is a lot weirder when taking the reading speed of the viewer stands out to me. I have grown up reading manga, and sometimes when you get to a page that is littered with text, you almost don’t want to read it. The only times I was excited to read it was when the context of the story was setting something up for a reveal. You read manga and comics for equal part story and art! I want to make sure I can set up my own well timed slides or panels that do not take too long or too short to experience. I want to change panel sizes and not make it one note unless my story calls for it so I can eventually change it, things like that.

Story Summaries, Five of Them

I would like to preface this with saying I am using my previous five story summaries I came up with when I first took this class before withdrawing, so I am citing myself, I guess.

1. Classic 3-Part Structure 

A mystery, a hero, a bastard, or a demon. A man that shakes his hand calls him something different than the one that kisses his gun. One would never expect he would answer to “Dad” with his deemed profession, though. A killer for hire, Cedric Agrumin hears multiple names, but he never shakes the feeling of shame when his young son and daughter call him familiarly. He hides his line of work from his family the best he can with “business trips” and “signature deals,” but how long will it be before his children realize the truth? 

During a hit turned lengthy by some particularly hardy prey, one phone call makes Cedric feel like he’s the man currently struggling to breath at his feet. His phone. He brought his family phone instead of one of his many work burners. As the only guardian to his kids, it was a matter of time before he made a mistake, and they made a sensible decision to check up on their father. 

How does one assuage their son after their daughter sneaks out while simultaneously checking pulses to make sure they stop? A shocking accident like this can only happen once before his consequences, and many, many enemies, catch up to him. With his two halves bleeding together, his occupation and filial bonds, Cedric needs to pick which one to keep as his shift and this phone call comes to an end. 


2. Kishōtenketsu 4-Part Structure 

Ki: By the ocean, calm and free, a late man in his thirties lives in a house by himself. With the sea as his muse and the moon as his light he writes himself into a lonely oblivion. As he walks the beach one evening, he spots a barely clothed man passed out on the sand with bleeding legs. Panicked, he takes him back to his own house nearby to administer care and call someone. As he’s laying the man in his shower to clean off the sand and blood, the water hits his guest’s legs and turn into a sparkling fish tail. Awed and terrified he falls back as the man starts to wake up. The injured creature hisses, its tail flapping, and gills expanding under his torn shirt while our protagonist looks on with a new interest, intent, and muse: this merman he brought home. 

Shō: Knowing the merman would be taken for malicious research or phenomenon, the writer does not call anyone and sets to befriend the being. Learning his name via harsh kiss (the creature claiming it was to learn his native tongue) to slowly becoming friends as they learn about each other’s upbringing and preferences, the two develop a romantic relationship. With the two in a world that does not accept them, they only need each other. 

Ten: Occasionally the merman will cough, however even after he drinks, bathes, and sleeps in water- he is not able to stay. His gills are starting to dry out for he is not human and cannot exist on land.  

Ketsu: The merman is ultimately persuaded by the protagonist to go back to the sea and occasionally visit when he can. In a tearful and hurried goodbye, the merman swims back into the sea and after weeks of waiting turns into months into years, the writer can do no else but return to his house and never walk the beach again for it would be too heartbreaking to walk and hope. 


3. Episodic Structure 

Episode 1: A young boy is seen sitting at a lunch table in a crowded public-school cafeteria. His expression is angry as he sits alone, looking at all the full tables of children his age laughing and having a good time. A hand squeezes his juice pack so hard the juice comes out. When a group of girls and boys walk by and sneer at his measly lunch and dour demeanor, he abruptly stands up and throws a lunch tray that is not his at the group. After a couple gasps and scattered laughs, the lunchroom explodes into a frenzy of kids throwing their food with him in the middle. Lunch ladies and teachers try to calm the chaos, but it only truly stops when he throws an apple and makes a kid bleed. The fun has turned dangerous, and he is escorted to the principal’s office where he sits, unrepentant. 

Episode 2: The same boy, now a young man, is more rough looking now. He has a healing black eye that makes it hard to see out of. A nose that’s clearly been broken before and healed wrong. Standing in an alley, waiting for a hookup, instead of a juice box he squeezes a knife in his jean pocket to remind himself it’s there. Anxious on the inside, but as solid as the brick he’s leaned against on the outside, he glances at the entrance to the alleyway and sees a different guy than the one he usually meets. Now in defensive mode, the stranger walks nearer and he tenses up, opening the knife in his pocket, giving himself a small nick. Words fail him as the new guy saddles up and starts to reach inside his jacket. In fight versus flight, he pulls the knife out and stabs the guy in the neck before either can comprehend what just happened. 

Episode 3: The same young man, now slightly older, is seen sitting at a lunch table in a crowded public prison. His expression is angry as he sits alone, looking at all the full tables of young, old, and in-between adult men scowling and eating slop for the nth time. A hand squeezes his juice pack so hard the juice comes out. When a group of older men, those who have run this place for years with invisible rules separate from the one’s they all abide, walk by and ignore him completely, he abruptly stands up and throws a lunch tray that is his at the group. After a grunt and a nearby whistle from a guard, the lunchroom stays quiet with him in the middle. A guard starts to make his way towards him and with a last-ditch effort to feel something he throws a punch and ends up on the ground before it hits. Biting concrete and willing the tears in his eyes not to fall, he is escorted to solitary confinement where he sits, repentant. 


4. Surrealist Mode 

A dystopian world, one that seems familiar to all the others, lies our scene. Miserable, harsh, and oppressive, the rich stand at the top, with the poor at the bottom. Our protagonist has lived her whole life on harmful streets. However, she can see people’s words. Their colors, their aura. When they speak a color comes out and wraps them in its essence. Being born at the bottom the only colors she is used to seeing are dry grays, dull blues, and dark featureless colors. Until one day she is pulled alongside a crowd she does not belong in and finds herself staring up at a color she has never seen. A tall woman, wrapped in a vibrant color of war that drips across her body as a sign of power, of change, of mutiny. An uprising. Of an equality those at the bottom, even in their wildest dreams had dared not hope of. In awe she becomes obsessed with this color, it’s passion and intensity, and vows to follow this woman until her dream has come true. Until she can see that color flood the streets and overtake the drab hopelessness she has become accustomed to her whole life. She will follow. 


5. Personal Fictional Story 

A girl grew up and only knew love from her cat. Her parents were there, her siblings were there, but only did the cat love her and she love it. The cat had a tree and would climb it for her. Wait for her in a single spot every day on that tree. Growing up, she turned into an adult and the cat turned old. With the love from the cat, she was okay. One day, of course, the cat dies. And she cries. The tree is empty. Life goes on. 

A kitten pops into her life. Young and scared and confused. The night she is brought home the kitten cannot climb the tree and it remains empty. I cannot love her, she thinks. I cannot love this kitten like it deserves. She thinks about returning her to her mother. She sleeps on the couch and leaves the kitten alone in the room with the empty tree. 

Half the night wastes away like the girl on the couch. Not being able to stand another second on the couch she gets up. When she enters her room the kitten is not on the bed. Her heart beats so treacherously hard in her chest as she finds her kitten. Not unable to climb the tree but sleeping soundly in the spot her black and white had waited for her. Life goes on.