IFReviewed by Ron Newcomb on 2007-02-09 10:23
Authoring interactive fiction is partially a collaborative affair in that some people write authoring systems (TADS, Inform), some write games, and some write "libraries", which are useful blocks of programming code that the game writers can share and use to expand their individual game's technical possibilities.
I imagine in the future, it will be common to have a library consisting of exactly one character, such as Darwin or Da Vinci, whom an author could just plug into the game they're constructing. And they'll describe it as, "it's like calling Galatea as a subroutine."
Galatea is one character, whom you talk to. For those of us light on literature learning, Galatea is the name of a sculpture that came to life, presumably much to the surprise of its (her) sculptor. And it's this Galatea to whom you talk.
I want to like Galatea (the game). I want to like it a lot. But I have a problem of orientation whenever I meet characters in IF, and it's the same problem when trying to have a long conversation with a stranger in a coffeeshop. It's hard. Try it sometime you're away from the computer. Now imagine this: you're a stranger to yourself as well. In Galatea, I'm not even sure if it's 1723 A.D., or 2317 A.D.
Galatea (the character) has the same problem all IF characters do -- many non-sequitors, many unexpected or abrupt actions and speech. It's like talking to a lost-in-his-own-head graduate student in mathematics: the conversation just doesn't seem to flow, and you're not entirely sure they want to talk to you anyway.
Galatea isn't intended to be a game; she's intended to be a friend. And I want to like her. I just don't "get" her.
Best Individual NPC on the 2000 Xyzzy Awards.