Individual Work

"Bronze" is an interactive fiction (IF) adaptation of Beauty and the Beast, overlaying it with familiar IF puzzle themes while introducing several puzzle-inspired elements for the fairy tale.

The reader/player becomes Beauty, returning to the Beast after her 7-day respite with her family, and must explore the castle to learn its secrets and its past, in order to make choices leading to several possible futures. The IF incorporates multiple endings, each exploring the original question of the fairy tale: what makes a person a beauty or a beast? What, if anything, lies underneath surface appearances, and how do actions demonstrate true feelings and intent? The reader/player, in his/her exploration of the castle, encounters several rooms and objects hinting at different paths of action leading to the different endings. The reader chooses actions based on their interpretation of the narrative, which the possible endings into the deeper themes of the story. "Bronze" thus leans toward a character-driven narrative, relying upon the reader/player as protagonist to write the story according to their understanding of backstory and their feelings as a result of those events, rather than a puzzle whose narrative lexias simply tie the different pieces together into a cohesive piece.

"Bronze" further simplifies the puzzle elements of IF by including several customized commands: ROOMS, which lists all the rooms the reader/player has thus far encountered; OBJECTS, which lists all the objects thus far encountered; GO TO, which enables the reader/player to go immediately to any room previously encountered; and FIND, which enables the reader/player to go immediately to any object previously discovered. These functions, as well as an ever-present status bar at the top of the screen that denotes current location as well as offering a rudimentary localized map of nearby rooms, reduce the laborious effort of mapping the storyworld and its contents. Though still a constitutive element, the puzzle again supports rather than supercedes the narrative, helping to structure and enhance the story.

Interestingly, while the tone and content of the IF is more reflective of the Grimm Brothers tale, "Bronze" also includes intertextual references to the 1991 Disney film in crucial objects such as bells and a candle, recalling Disney's Belle and Lumiere. "Bronze"'s various inhabitants are often represented through inanimate objects, a parallel to the household items that embody the ensorceled servants in the film.

Emily Short also offers a wealth of metatextual pieces supporting Bronze, in the form of process notes, source code, and a supplemental walkthrough to help reader/players work past problems:

Making of "Bronze":

Source Code: