Computational Narratives – Evolutionary Journal

I decided to continue with my evolutionary tree idea from earlier in the semester. The concept is that the reader starts as one sea creature, and becomes others by traveling the evolutionary tree’s branches.

I enjoyed getting to spend more time learning about interesting animals, and reminding myself of the major branches of evolution.

You can see my prototype here. This time I was able to add a sense of discourse, or genre, to hold the piece together. For this iteration, I employed the concept of a journal. The narrator is writing entries in their journal as they time travel.

(I don’t like how this looks, but it gets the point across.)



I was also able to flesh out the branching steps more completely. In talking with Allison, my first draft seemed limited by only allowing the reader to go backwards in the evolutionary tree. I decided to let the reader go backwards and forwards.

I did have challenges with a few stretch goals I had for myself. Most disappointing was not being able to debug properly. I found Twine to be intuitive most of the time, but quite unintuitive when I was trying to do something less conventional. I had wanted to create a way for the reader to be given a list of all the animals they transformed into. Perhaps these could become stickers? Or a nice flyer? After meeting with Allison, I had an idea of how to use Sugarcube and Twine to modify plain javascript to create a global variable.  I wasn’t able to debug or finish the code. As for the CSS, I’m pretty sure the CSS code is entered properly but it’s not displaying well. I’m happy to fix these two things.

All in all though, I think the Twine format affords an interaction that matches the form of an evolutionary tree. I think with enough styling and design, a piece like this might be able to stand on its own. There’s an educational component that could be very strong in a museum. Or there could be a more philosophical approach to existence. Either could be accomplished with different tones, design systems, and imagery.