IF Comp 2013: Machine of Death (Hulk Handsome)

Machine of Death is a choice-based short story about a world in which people can get cryptic predictions of how they will die, but not when, and where the predictions are so vague as to be functionally worthless.

The Machine of Death concept is essentially an opportunity to play with the self-fulfilling prophecy trope, in which trying to avoid the outcome predicted for you is what in fact brings that outcome to pass. This trope has been around for a while, but an interactive variation of it allows the story to taunt the player. Sometimes you find yourself in situations that seem obviously dangerous, but you also know that this is the sort of story in which trying to avoid danger can be just as bad as walking into it. So what to do?

The scenarios are brief, but make the most sense if played several times; some of endings illuminate the meaning of others. The implementation is sound, in standard Twine. Most of the pleasure of these stories comes from experiencing the twists, so I don’t want to go into too much detail or spoil anything about them. To the extent that there’s a point, it’s essentially that allowing your life to be ruled by fear is a bad idea.

Not weighty or profound, but entertaining, and there was one particular storyline where I was especially pleased with how the Machine’s output was used to misdirect the player.

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