Hello, delicious friend!
This post will be of especial interest to those who like steampunk and the like, but all writers and authors should check it out – because something we were all looking for happened, and we didn’t notice it.
I last mentioned Fallen London in terms of its beautiful soundtrack, but it definitely deserves a mention in terms of its writing as well. Because it has managed to actually create the hyperlinked story that everyone was expecting last decade (and do it last decade!) and avoid literary notice… because it’s billed as a game.
The idea of a hyperlinked story excited the imaginations of many writers and publishers – but nobody really made a good one… at least, one that was recognized publicly as one. It’s arguable that the indie game revolution which celebrated, at least in part, text games like Zork also deserve a place here, but because they required a specific bit of software, I don’t include them here.
Fallen London, in contrast, only requires your browser. I mean, it even works with a text-only browser, as shown below:
|Fallen London in a text-only browser|
But I find myself using a modern browser and even playing the soundtrack in the background to add to the ambiance.
|Fallen London in a modern browser|
The basic “hook” of the story is simple: London, sometime during the gaslight era, was stolen away by bats. As FailBetter Games puts it:
Thirty years ago, London was stolen. Now it rests on the shore of the
Unterzee, that old dark ocean under the world. Hell is close,
immortality is cheap, and the screaming has largely stopped…
But that’s only the start of the story. It covers so many places and locations that I have only begun to scratch the surface.
|A map of most of Fallen London|
It’s great from a casual perspective because your actions are refreshed over time. (You can gain more by being an “exceptional friend” – e.g. paying – but it’s not required at all.) Play for a little bit, leave it be while you do other work, then return for a break.
But more importantly – and the reason I wanted to write more about it here – is because there’s a deep and rich story here. While you’ll find areas of grinding, they’re all in service of story and finding out more about the world of Fallen London and the Unterzee. A plethora of “storylets” will slowly, delightfully, spin out before you as you explore and do more in this world.
And it’s this aspect – now that I’ve played several of the major branches – that is most impressive. Stories involving the sudden appearance of a daughter, of a rumored shop that can change your face, or strange plants growing up from your floorboards are just a small sample of the tales you’ll uncover.
This is truly one of the first – and best – hyperlinked stories that exist.
And yes, you can write for them as well.
Check out Fallen London now, delicious friend. And see what hyperlinked stories really look like.
And feel free to message me as Senor Wombat there. He’s from Down Under … er, before London became even more down under.