NT post #4

by Mike Lew

The two stories we read, “Inanimate Alice” and “Flight Paths,” used episodic divisions to greatly differing effect.  Although they were authored by the same folk, this difference comes from the fact that “Flight Paths” is completed and “Inanimate Alice” still has parts 5-10 left undone.

Flight Paths is a set of incomplete stories from the viewpoints of two different people that converge in the final two episodes.  The structure of these episodes is very unique — they give an introduction to what seems to be the story, then end.  A conflict is presented, but the rest it seems is up to the viewer to imagine.  Additionally, the superseding episodes do not even mention the conflicts of the previous episodes, except in the final two.  The linearity of the episodes is not there, and so the story ends up being: A man gets a job and finds it hard to get paid when… he stows away in an airplane and… a woman dislikes buying groceries, but then… the man falls out of the plane and lands on her car… and then they grab some coffee.

In summation, the story seems a little ridiculous, but it actually does work with the episodic divisions.  I believe that the point of this work is not to present a story to the viewer, but to get the viewer to think.  Each “slide” of each episode has a calculated amount of information on it.  The transition timing, background images, and sound produce the effect of the viewer constantly asking questions about the plight of the characters.  None of these questions are answered, but the viewer is still drawn into the mundane story.  The abrupt ending’s purpose is to keep the viewer thinking about the story after they have finished it.  In fact, Flight Paths has a forum set up so that viewers can publish the endings and continuations of the story that they thought of.

“Inanimate Alice” uses the episodic division in a different way.  Her stories take place in different parts of the world and all involve a scary moment in Alice’s life as she grows up.  In each episode, she relies heavily on the animated character, Brad, for morale support.  Brad also grows with Alice in terms of how well he is drawn each episode to represent Alice’s growing skills.

This story is more interactive than Flight Paths, and to a certain degree, seems more successful in its telling than Flight Paths.  The stories themselves evict emotion from the view, especially when paired with the creepy sounds and images.  However, the mini-games seem out of place to me.  I think they detract from the story a little.  It is an interesting device to include, but I don’t think it works very well, especially in the third episode where you must collect all the dolls for the guard to have a sudden change of heart and let you pass.  Other than that, the episodic divisions certainly match the nature of the story of Inanimate Alice.  Each episode is an event in a different place at a later time from the last, so it makes sense that the divisions would be there.  The interactive nature of each episode gives the user a first-person experience, where they relive the events of Alice through their own eyes and ears.  Overall, I like Alice’s adventures better than Flight Paths.

PS: When it comes to episodic divisions, nothing beats Homestarrunner!

 

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~ by MikeL on February 8, 2011.

 
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