Playtesting: Heartless

A new experimental drama from the mind behind… nothing especially exciting or exotic!

But the idea remains. The general concept is that you are an observer, and the events of the play unfold before you. You cannot necessarily impact the succession of events, but, eventually, you will be able to interact by uncovering bits of information about the characters’ pasts, personalities, etc. And, if this is a successful experiment, I have several more plays that are just begging to be put into StoryNexus form. Point is, if this works, it will become a series of plays rather than just one.

As for the topic of the story… I’ll give this brief description: A woman with a dark secret, a mourning husband, a rash father, an empathetic mother. What happens when it all comes crashing down?
It’s melodramatic, vaguely romantic, and a bit unreal. So, hopefully, enjoy! You can find it here:

And as I said above, this isn’t the final version–eventually, you will be able to go through an opportunity deck to uncover information about each of the characters, depending on where you are in the story. Thanks for reading/playing!

To play>> link
edited by SomePerson on 2/19/2013

Haven’t had a chance to play yet, and I know this is the nit-pickiest comment in the universe, but: it might increase throughput if you hotlink the game’s address in your post. Looking forward to it! :)

I am playing (or rather, reading) it - and I’ve got far enough for Jacobson to have arrived, but now I’ve run out of actions at the most suspenseful possible moment. I’ll wait until tomorrow and read some more before I comment, I think. But thought you’d like to know I’m looking.


Thanks for letting me know you’re interested! I wasn’t quite sure where the actions would line up, but I think it adds to the suspense. Or at least, that’s the effect I’m hoping for. Hope you enjoy, and look forward to more feedback!

So. First of all, if monetization had been on, then I’d absolutely have ponied up the 10 Nex to finish it last night. So if that’s something you’re aiming for (and why shouldn’t it be?), then you’re on the right track.

The play itself

I don’t have much to say because it’s just good, really. It doesn’t try to cram too much in, develops the characters nicely, and feels natural even though something physically implausible happens. A couple of moments might be a little cliched (a graveyard in the pouring rain…) but I think you can get away with that in such a short piece. The premise is intriguing, and I’d say you’re right to leave so many questions open at the end.

The writing’s unobtrusive (which is meant as a compliment, in this case) but there were still a few phrases which stood out to me. As I was reading it, I could imagine the whole thing as a short film.

Maybe it’s a little rushed towards the end, though? Specifically, from the point where Jacobson appears. David acts oddly decisively in response to something so perplexing, while Henry in contrast doesn’t seem as conflicted by it as you might expect him to be. And the crux final scene in the apartment is over in a flash. There’s a lot to take in very quickly, and I missed the sense of escalating unease which defines the earlier scenes… plus, I wanted to understand more about David’s motivations, though I realise that could be on its way through the Opportunity cards.

The mechanic

This is the really interesting part, of course. And it’s hard to form any conclusions without seeing the opportunity cards, which will transform the experience.

Even as it stands, though, I got a lot out of the… well, unusual structure of the work. For the first half I was wondering why on earth you’d chosen to do it on StoryNexus, and then for the second half I was admiring the chutzpah of doing it on StoryNexus. You’ve got a kind-of Brechtian thing going on, highlighting the fact that the reader is outside the story - merely an observer - which is the polar opposite to what almost all StoryNexus creators are trying to achieve.

I loved it, though I have a nagging worry that there’s an awful lot in my background which pre-disposes me to love this kind of thing. I’ll be interested to see how it plays with everyone else.

In any event, more power to you for a bold experiment! And I’m very impatient to see what it’s like once you’ve added the opportunity cards.


Edited long after the fact to correct a horrifyingly basic homophone error - oh, the shame, the shame!
edited by Richard on 2/27/2013