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On Facade

Facade is by no means a technological marvel. The character models are the butt of many jokes (and memes, which will be the majority of the pictures in this post) and there’s the occasional graphical hiccup from time to time. And the voice acting….well, it was certainly serviceable. And playing the game on modern Windows 10? A nightmare. I miss my MacBook, but I doubt even playing it on there would’ve enhanced my experience any more than it already was.

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But we were just getting started!

Then again, it was released in 2005 and worked on mostly by two people, so fair’s fair. Today the game shares a legacy with its rough development; its unique method of story telling that forces the player to become directly involved in the interaction of the two main characters, Grace and Trip. Long before Telltale Games (rip) made the idea of player-based story choices as the primary focus in a video game commonplace, Facade took its own shot at it, and the result? Well, it might depend on who you ask.

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Coming to a major theater near you, never.

The E-Lit Collection says that Facadecomes closer than any digital literature work thus far to realizing a long-held dream, which is the creation of an interactive, animated fiction that can accept any type of language produced by the user and assimilate it into the outcome of the narrative”. While something like this may not be anything special today, at the time of release most of this was true. There were plenty of similar flash “negotiation” games at the time, but none of them really came close to having an open conflict like Facade had, there was typically a straightforward solution that may or may not have appeared obvious to you at the time. But Facade, with its text-based choice system, meant that you basically controlled how the game played out, even if you weren’t aware of just how much weight your responses could carry.

Since this game was allergic to Windows 10, I decided to watch a playthrough of the game, aptly titled “How To Actually Win Facade”. This may seem like cheating, but considering that the wrong responses could even lead to a murder on your hands (well, their hands, but you get the idea), I wanted to actually see the thought process behind what would be considered “winning” the game, if morally at least. So as the protagonist “Diana” (the names were user-generated from a selection), I watched for the next 17 minutes as Trip and Grace bickered about the small things; despite the constant attempts at complimenting each other, they just seemed destined to want to pick a bone with each other. I came here for a good time, not marriage counseling.

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And the melons. Lots of melons.

The dialogue, while a bit camp, accompanied with the (serial) killer music in the background, made for a very uncomfortable scenario the entire way through. Trip and Grace constantly want you to back them up, to focus their frustration on the other spouse. But slowly but surely, their cold demeanor began to crack once questions about each others’ feelings started to crack; they still loved each other, and any questions doubting that put them on the defense. This led to what was perhaps the climax of the game; an former affair on Trip’s side, and a slightly less shocking confession of former love from Grace in college. Even the player was getting irritated at this point, typing in “win already” and variants that would hopefully drive the conversation forward. But eventually, the two of them realized their lonely nature was driven by their skeletons hiding the closet. As they two of them bid Diana farewell (“I think you helped us.” “Totally :3”), I realized that this was an outcome that is still interesting even today; the player technically “won” the game by resolving the conflict….but only because they were trying their best to. What could have happened if the player had malicious intentions instead?

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Also available in Blu-Ray and 4K Ultra HD.

Facade is in many ways, a classical example of e-lit. Not only is a narrative told through the usage of technology, but the technology is also used in a way that enables the player to interact with the story more than any normal book would have allowed them to. What I had experienced was just one of many ways that the player could interact with the story given to them, with the choices they had presented. No two player experiences are necessarily the same, and that level of depth, combined with the unique storytelling approach, is perhaps why it is still a studied piece of e-lit today, even with all the technological advancements made since the game’s release.

Graphics aren’t everything in a game, and Facade certaintly proves that. While a lot of people today are confused by the literary impact it might’ve had (although it still has a healthy known existence thanks to memes), it has a style that hasn’t quite been matched even by modern storytelling adventure games today. It may be a little rough around the edges, but that’s just sometimes the nature of e-lit, and while the story might not be everyone’s cup of tea, even I felt like the average person would find themselves caring about the brief interaction during their time with Grace and Trip, and in that sense, it becomes an effective e-lit work to demonstrate the power that the genre can carry.

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They’ll figure it out.

On Brainstrips

Comic books are some of the earliest forms of reading that I can remember. I can’t say I read as much as I used to lately, let alone with comic books, but I’m glad to say that when viewing “Brainstrips”, the format remained familiar and easy going to me. Which is good, because BOY, reading the three “stories” in this piece of e-lit was a bit of a trip.

The first “story”, covering “Deep Philosophical Questions”, seemed a little tongue-in-cheek in nature to me…or maybe I’m just a little cynical from all the e-lit I’ve read. Either way, it used panels from pre-existing comics in its apparent quest to discover Life, The Universe, and Everything.

Get yourself a man who has the right answers.

The responses were….a bit vague to say the least. I wasn’t expecting to find out if God exists through a single-set comic strip, but the response I got of a bunch of people shooting at each other was….actually, that did seem a little more coherent, now that I think about it. Some of the other ones, including the strip on whether or not is color real, seemed a little more avantgarde in its delivery.

“How can color be real if our eyes aren’t real” 🤔

Others, like “How Do Know If We Are Human”, were a little unintentionally funny in nature. These panels were a bit more straightforward in their delivery, and I believe that added to the (un)intentional humor even more.

Nothing reminds you of your fragile existence like getting creamed by aliens.

“Do Trees Have Rights”? Unless “Trees” is less than subtle allegory for “women”, I have no idea if they do after reading this strip. I do now know that there’s a warehouse with 5,000 trophies lying somewhere in New Jersey though. You’d think someone like this would be easy to find.

400 toaster ovens? This guy barters.

After reading all of the “Philosophical Questions”, Brainstrips shifts to a darker, more bizarre take on covering “Science”. Specifically, “Science for Idiots”, in particular. I’m a particular idiot when it comes to most science, so this seemed right up my alley. But in reality, just about everyone would’ve felt dumb trying to go through the particularly blunt nature of the various subjects covered…which might’ve been the point to begin with.

Their nuclear fission panels for instance, covered “frequently asked questions” on a nuclear blast, which itself was okay. The issue….lied more in its execution. Whoever wrote this needs a few more lessons on people skills.

Feedback: Not enough humanity in the responses. Actually, I don’t think there was any at all.

And finally, a pop quiz that I didn’t ask for. It held back no punches with asking the hard questions, that’s for sure.

Science pop quiz AND you’re asking the hard questions already?

But way more surprising than the quiz, was the score I received. See for yourself.

That’s about what I was expecting, sadly.

Then the shift to the third “story” or math, got a little too real at times. Their pop quiz was heavy on the application and light on the practice, but the literary narrative behind it was fairly apparent. And antagonizing. Mostly antagonizing.

Uhh, can I use a calculator for this one?

The results screen at the end was interesting. I sucked and excelled all at the same time. Not too far away from the real deal too, at times. Having skills in “Higher Math” made me feel like I was doing something right, but I have no idea what was “Skills Operator” supposed to be. Either way, this “story” emulated the confusion and occasional senselessness of an actual proficiency test, which may have been the point all along. Ohh, I see where this might have gone now.

The results don’t make sense! Sounds like I got it right after all.

In the end, Brainstrips definitely lived up to its name if I had to admit; it kept things easy to read, but left several cryptic messages that made me doubt its purpose on more than one occasion. As a piece of electronic literature, I feel this is exactly the type of piece to get both new and experienced e-lit readers like myself thinking, which means that in a sense, it’s certainly living up to the ideas of this class; of e-lit presenting a different type of narrative, one without a concrete purpose or meaning; sometimes it’s just meant to be the way it is.

Blog 3

In Pieces of Herself, I didn’t really look at the instructions or how to play the game. It was easy to get an idea of what to do, however, just from the name. I inferred that I would be identifying an individual who passed once I got to the Main Street and saw the cop cars outside. Then I just dragged items that were random and rearranged them to see what I could do with the grey image to the left of the screen. The grayscale screen makes it seem dark and creepy.

Facade prompted me to install a flash player, and unfortunately the computer I’m blogging on isn’t mine to be downloading anything. I assume that it’s like an interactive game on the computer where every decision made creates an alternate outcome. I like stuff like this, so the game must have many realities in itself depending on who is playing and what is decided.

Pieces of Herself…Pieces of Myself

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What is Pieces of Herself you ask? Well, it is just this…“At ironic and playful polemic, Pieces of Herself uses the motif of the dress-up doll to explore issues of gender identity in the context of home, work, and community. As the user explores the black-and-white spaces of the text (the shower, bedroom, outside, kitchen, living room, office, and Main Street), she encounters a variety of colored objects that she can drag onto the outline of a body, metaphoric acts of inscription that trigger audio files ranging from music to a biblical pronouncement about the “proper” socio-cultural function of women. What emerges from play with the seemingly disconnected pieces is a notion of the gendered subject that is both culturally produced (discursive) and singularly embodied (material)” (Pieces of Herself, Juliet Davis).

This was one of the most vulnerable pieces of literature I have read as an adult. I found myself discovering things about my past and present through traveling through Davis’s created world. Before learning and journeying through the story, the very first picture we see is an empty body with the words, “Her friends said she needed to ‘find’ herself. And sure enough, when she started looking, she found pieces of herself everywhere…” (Davis). Before reading, I already could relate to this character. I believe every woman at some point in her life has been told that she needs to “find herself,” which could mean something positive or negative. Either way, I have received that statement multiple times in my life. Her friends told her she needed to “find” herself and my friends told me as well. However, I found it interesting that I never told myself that I needed to “find” myself. It was also someone else telling me how to discover things in my life that felt empty and broken. I did not enter the rest of the story, and already I was drawn into the concept of this virtual world. Out of the seven different places, I am going to focus on only two for this blog post. There is so much to say about each room, but for now, I will be taking a close look at the shower and the bedroom. Who knows, maybe I will do a part two for this blog post and discuss the other places shown.

The most vulnerable places such as the shower and bedroom are where one can find out the most about someone if they were a fly on the wall. I appreciated that Davis had us look at the first part of Her world, which was the shower. Even the woman who the world has claimed was the most beautiful has felt the ugliest in the shower or the bathroom. At the top of the image, it says, “In the SHOWER ROOM, where women slip behind the curtains, in perfect synchronicity, to remain invisible from each other” (Davis). This was such a powerful statement to show how women really behind closed doors. “We,” meaning women, have skillfully mastered not allowing another woman to see us because of our insecurities to the point where we actual synchronize with one another in doing so. There were many “pieces” of herself that I found and were able to drag to the empty body. There was one that I saw not drag, and that was the image in the mirror of the woman putting her hands over her mouth and covering her mouth. Anyone, whether it is an artist, an author, a filmmaker, a writer, who shows that visual of a woman looking at herself upset in the mirror, is a pillar in my opinion. It is an image of a tender woman who is not weak but is a human being.

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The second place that I had an emotional and more profound connection with was the bedroom. A person’s bedroom, woman or man, is just as private as their diary. At the top of this page, the text says, “In the BEDROOM, where her mind would sometimes float to the ceiling” (Davis). This was such an eerie and captivating description of how and what the character goes through while in her bedroom. Another chilling part of the room that was genuinely relatable was the voicemail of her boyfriend, or the man leaving her several telephone messages. He started to sound concerned after the second time of not returning his phone calls. There have been many moments in my life where even the people in my life who I should have trusted just because they had certain titles, I would not return messages and did not want to speak to anybody. Just like Her mind would float, my mind does that more than I would like it to. The mind becomes overcrowded to the point where you are aware of your surroundings, but because your mind is so clouded, it can’t help but merely float away. What I realized was how much I was able to drag to her body only by the second place. Her body already was filled with the different pieces of herself. I found this reading to be insightful, relatable, and worthy of my time (just to be frank). 

Click to view slideshow.

Brainstrips

Wow. Brainstrips definitely “stripped” my brain. Felt as though a lot was going on without the first section and i couldn’t really grasp the story at first without reading it again and again so that wasn’t my favorite section. The sound was so incredibly distracting that I wasn’t able to focus directly on the story. It definitely tests your mind in a way however, and try to make you to focus and make it more fun. Never been a fan of comic books or anime and things of that nature so I had a difficult time staying in order. Before even opening the questions being asked and I was automatically intrigued because these are valid questions in a sense.

The next part “Brain” was my favorite section because it talked about situations dear to my heart such as global warming, and animals and the entire idea of evolution. That section certainly WOW’d me in the sense when it stated… how apes are kept in a cage the size of an office and how those cages existed before offices. I mean we are very similar, the way they explained how apes draw, write, take anti-depressants from being in a small area. So similar to humans, it makes you go hmmm..

the informative part was also something that intrigue me because though these are simple facts some of it definitely surprises you about how we live and everything around us.  Oh then you find out your an idiot after taking the idiot test 😦

view ape thinking primate
things that make you go… “hmmmmm..”

Brainstrips/ Blog #4

The structure of Alan Bigelow’s work “Brainstrips” is really interesting. It is made up of three separate parts: “Strip”, “Brain”, and “S”. I really love the part entitled “Is color real?” in the first part “STRIP”, which is about some “Deep Philosophical Questions”. In this part, there are three characters in a comic strip. One character said that he senses a blackness around them, which is actually the frame in dark color of the comic strip. Then, the other two characters’ dialogues indicate that they knew they are characters in the strips. Which attracted my attention is that in the second strip, outside of the two windows of the boats, there are a pair of human’s eyes actually. I think it reveals the fact that they are in the comic strips, rather than the reality. However, the eyes are actually a part of the comic strip, too. That kind of makes me questioned that “am I a part of comic strip or reality?” or “how can we make sure that we are not just comic characters?” I feel that comic strip questioned and challenged the boundary between reality and fiction or imaginary world. 

It really reminds me a lot of a South Korean television series, which is called “W”. In the teleplay, the hero is the hero in an alternate universe written by the heroine’s father in his comic book. The heroine goes back and forth between the two worlds. And at last, the hero comes to the real world and realizes that he is only a character created by a comic book creator. Both of the teleplay and the Elit make me confused about my exact identity and the world I live in (hhh)… Like… Am I real? How could I know? Maybe I am just a character created by someone in the other world…But anyway, I feel like I can never figure out the answer. So, just live the way I want and do whatever I like hhh…

By the way, I really do not like the dialog bubbles which are kind of vibrating and quivering. They make me feel weird and make my eyes tired reading them. But I can kind of get it, like the author is trying to convey the message that trying to query and overthrow some of the stereotypes.

Brainstrips- by Alan Bieglow (Blog 4)

Of both the articles for this week, my favorite one was the Brainstrips piece by Alan Bieglow. This piece was very engaging and even humorous at times, I enjoyed every section of it.

I noticed that the word brain strips in the main page lead to a category for different lessons.
In the first word brain, the two characters in the comic discuss deep philosophical topics of existential theory. The questions were “what is art’, “are men more sensitive than women, “does God exist”, “how do we know we are human,” “do trees have rights” and “is color real”. All of these questions forces the reader to think outside the box and formulate reasons that are neither right or wrong. For each of these question, I enjoyed the artistic and narrative process of creating my own story. I also enjoyed the visual and audio experiences that Bieglow provided while reading. Everything felt like a real-life comic movie.

In the second section, the word strips were “Science for Idiots”. You would probably expect that the section was like the dummy book of science, however, it was unlike that. Science for Idiots discussed the politics of science in everyday life and how some things just don’t make any sense. For example, in the evolution category, Bieglow writes that “minimum cage size recommended by the zoo industry for an ape is 14 by 14 by 10 feet, slightly larger than a standard office cubicle” Well this statement raises that question of ethics because that size is not large enough to accommodate an ape. So the question remains, who are the real idiots in science?

Lastly, just the letter S in that word lead me to another page with math lessons and concepts. Each word in that section was interactive and hilarious! I felt like I was learning a classroom lesson, however, it was more enjoyable because at random parts there would be a tangent that made it not so serious. The storyline was intelligible and tasty to follow along. I loved that the visuals in the background were consistent and moved while reading. Overall, this was a fun read for today’s blog.

*** Click Here to Read it!

A Quiz that Lasts One Lifetime minus 8 Months

This is going to be a last minute review of Brainstrips by Alan Bigelow.

The first section is titled ‘Deep Philosophical Questions…’ and it is a comic book with some deep philosophical questions. For example, is color real? I never believed colors were real. They always look fake. I think the rumors about the colors being products created secretly by the government to make us forget black and white is true. I am totally fine inside my box, thank you very much. I do not need to see the fake things outside of it. I pay my taxes and that should be enough. Another question is ‘Do trees have rights?’ and it is a good question. Some people believe they do have rights but I watched a YouTube video of a guy in his basement talking about those trees and he said trees are overrated and I think it may be true. Trees clean the air but I prefer animals because you are not allowed to have a tree as a pet.

The second section is titled ‘Science for Idiots’ which I do not need because I am smarter than everyone else. Especially my neighbor, George. He is a curious one. I do not understand why he never bothers to leave his trash on his side of the sidewalk on Mondays. I always find banana peels on the ground as I leave for the office and I just want to scream and throw a rock at his house. Perhaps I should ask him to look at Brainstrips. The part called ‘Evolution’ might teach him something. Maybe he could become as smart as I am and work in a nice cubical office just like me and earn more money. There is also a part called ‘Gravity and You’ and it is about gravity. It shows a person digging into the core of the world. I do not think this is real. I have never tried it myself but I do not believe you can actually dig that deep. There are some videos online about digging that deep but I think they are fake.

The third section is titled ‘Higher Math’ and I do not like this section. It is stupid. The part called ‘Subtraction’ shows a guy winning one million dollars by gambling. He only tries three times and wins big and it is not believable. I buy instant tickets all the time and I never win big. I only manage to win ten or twenty dollars after three tries, so the guy in the story should win only that much to make it more believable. I write stuff on Reddit all the time. Storytellers should be more careful with their stories. Another stupid part is ‘The Googolplex’ and I thought it was about Google search but it is not. It is about a girl and numbers of 1 and 0. In the end of the story, the girl discards all the zeroes for some reason and make the number small. I do not understand this at all. The more zeroes mean the number is higher and I think everybody knows this. The guy in the part ‘Subtraction’ is smarter than this girl, I think.

My overall score for this particular piece of literary work is: “I’m late!” out of 10.

 

 

(In case there is some confusion, this was a satirical post.)

Brainstrips/Blog 4

Brainstrips is an interesting take on an old concept. In fact, it’s a few old concepts mashed together in an intriguing way. The textual elements of the comic are thought-provoking, in the way that philosophical questions are. For example, even on the cover, the man in the army uniform says, “So this is how you found the Meaning of Life…?” Then girl replies, “I’m sorry, but Richard has the right answers for me!” However, philosophical questions are not necessarily meant to have “right” and “wrong” answers, so where does her response come from? Are Mr. Suit’s answers simply what she wants to hear? Has no one ever told this woman that a healthy debate is good for the heart? (JK, I am not a doctor).

Another textual element that I really enjoyed was the the lines in “Is Color Real?” One character seems to now know that he is in a comic, and the other two are aware. The first character says, “I sense a blackness all around us…” Then the other two point out that it’s the black border on the page of the comic. The first mate point’s out that the captain’s left hand is “breaking the frame.” The comic declares, “Suddenly, a shift in foreground perspective!” as a too-big bird passes by the boat, the oblivious character not realizing that it’s in the foreground. The very last quote is a cute sentiment about thinking outside the box, obviously referring to the panels of the comic.

I honestly was not very fond of the visual effects in the first part of the comic. The shaking of the speech bubbles felt… cheep. That movement did not need to be there in order to advance or enhance the story. It was as if the comic was screaming, “Look, I’m eLit, I promise!” The flashing lights on the boat were cute, but it was a very small part of what the comic was actually about. The sound was essentially just background noise that I muted after the first two panels. I am honestly not even sure if I missed anything in the 2nd and 3rd parts of the comic because I forgot to turn it back on again.

The theme of Brainstrips was consistent thoughout, discussing philosophical questions that aren’t really meant to be answered. If I had more time I would go through the comic a number of times and see if different answers effects the outcome of the quiz, but I have a suspicion that it’s all the same.

Overall I enjoyed this piece of eLit, but mostly for the content and quality of pictures. For me, I probably would have enjoyed it no more and no less if it had been a comic in a physical comic book.

Blog#4 Brainstrips by Alan Bigelow 

Brainstrips is a quite interesting E-lit piece as it combines both visual and auditory approaches. In a nutshell, it is a three-part knowledge series as it says on the first page. When I read this piece, I felt like I was thinking all the way along my walk through. It really envoked my inspiration and awareness.

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The first part of knowledge is titled “deep philosophical questions”. It presents when I click the letters “STRIP”. It is a philosophical section. There are five questions: “What is art?” , “Are men more sensitive than women?” , “Does God exist?” , “How do we know we are human?”,  “Do trees have rights?” , and “Is color real?”. Hence, this part addresses totally five philosophical questions by using comic pictures.

deep philosophical questions1. Deep Philosophical Questions”

The second part of knowledge is titled “science for idiots”. It presents when I click the letters “BRAIN”. This part is in charge of six scientific issues which are global warming, evolution, gravity and you, relativity, elementary particles, and nuclear fission. The animated images and texts inside each issues are vivid illustrations for each point. For example, in global warming, the images and texts sequencely tell the readers the origion of the phrase “global warming”. Wally, an earth science professor, once lived in Oak Park before he arrived in Columbia. Oak park is a suburb of Chicago with a large population and it suffers from global warming.

science for idiots 2. “Science for Idiots”

The third part of knowledge is “higher math”. There are six categories: the googolplex, geometry, addition, subtraction, multiplication, and irrational numbers. However, the content is not about the superficial mathematics. It applys the mathmatical formula into life. Like the addition, it tells a story of a pegnant woman and addition is indicated in the sum of her experience. The addition formula is applied into adding her experience of life. I love the way of connecting mathematics with life. They are different fields of theory and practice, but sometimes have several subtle association. The formula has no emotion and sense, but life has temperature. It has a neutral effect when these two things connect.

higher math      3. “Higher Math” QQ截图20181008204002“Addition”

Yeah, the exact prinple of life is called “higher math”.

 

Works Cited:

Alan Bigelow. “Brainstrips”. http://collection.eliterature.org/2/works/bigelow_brainstrips.html