Pigeons in the Park

Pigeons in the Park is a conversation piece (game is probably the wrong word) by Deirdra Kiai, somewhat in the mold of interactive fiction conversation works, but designed in the Wintermute engine and accompanied by graphics and sound. (I gather. I played it with the sound muted because I needed to avoid disturbing people around me, but others have mentioned that there’s a soundtrack.)

Pigeons in the Park is at the extreme hypertext-like end of the interactive conversation genre. There’s no text parser, just a short menu of options to speak, and since the amount of content is relatively small, you can run through most of the interesting options in the dialogue tree in ten minutes or so of play. It also reminds me of some of my own earlier work in that it’s quite self-referential: most of the actual content of the conversation is about story-telling in games. The protagonist is also a bit of a blank slate.

Embedded in the conversation is a question: how do we make these exchanges emotionally affecting? How do we write interactive conversation that is moving as well as amusing or arty?

I still think the answer has to do with not starting from scratch, but beginning with characters who already have some history. But I’m really intrigued to see this kind of problem being addressed in other media than textual IF.