I enjoy writing and have always wanted to write my own text adventure. I understand that the current trend is to call them, "interactive fiction", but I'm from the old-school, and old habits die hard, so forgive me whenever I use the term.
I want to say that ADR-IFT is a Godsend. My mind would be frazzled if I tried to program a text adventure from scratch! I discovered the program after someone suggested TWINE, which I discovered to be little more than a souped-up "Create Your Own Adventure/Find Your Fate" book generator. So I searched for a better one and found a few; AFRIFT is awesome.
To get on topic, I just started messing with an experiment to learn how to work the software, and it evolved into something actually with some nice structure and backstory. So I continued to develoip it and I think I have a beginning of a game. I call it PROJECT ENTROPY. I don't really like the name, but I'm keeping it anyway.
The premise isn't too original: the player character awakens as the first cyborg, whose own mind is a digital upload of a human's mind. As the game progresses, the player ventures to seek out the true nature of whoever was the mind donor.
Here's the thing: in some text adventures, you must solve a certain number of puzzles before proceeding to the next scene (often within a limited number of turns), and it's all very linear. I never like that kind of play. Even games with innovative play, like "A Mind Forever Voyaging" is linear in nature, each round of play takes you to a new setting and you can't go back. I prefer something more free-form where you can unlock new, previously inaccessable areas, but always be able to return and seek the clues you need to continue, or just to further explore the world and discover its hidden surprises.
The last part of that is where the question comes in. As the game is more fleshed out, there will be characters early in the game who provide the incentive for the main character to want to uncover the mysteries of the game. They're not rendered yet. But also early in the game are several objects that allow the player to delve into the backstory, and really get immersed in the world of the game, should the player wish. One is a computer "character" named DANA which can be asked about topics found in the game. For instance, you can "ask Dana about Project Entropy", and Dana provides information about the project the game is named for. The information often contains other terms that you can also search Dana for. It's sort of like the guide in the "Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy" text adventure. Only that provides about 40 responses and Dana will be loaded. Some provide clues that help solve mysteries and puzzles, and one entry in particular is required to win (and there will be enough elsewhere in the game to suggest the notion to the player that Dana holds this answer), but Dana is designed to provide insight about anything the person encounters in the game that may seem cryptic, enigmatic, or unusual/nonexistent in the real world.
Another object in the game is a holographic news feed. The player character can turn on this device to listen to the latest news. The news feed lasts for one hour and repeats, and changes once daily. Listening to this device is not required to win the game. It does provide clues, however, it provides extensive backstory of the outside world in the game and its natue, and also provides clues in the knowledge that makes some mysteries easier to solve.
Here's the thing: I love this kind of thing in text games for two reasons: 1) I like to develop fictional worlds and these are great devices to do that, and 2) they are fun diversions to turn to within the game, to make the player feel there is more to control. If a player gets frustrated at some point, they can turn to either of these objects to take a break from the strenuous playing. But is it considered too much of a red herring, as a person may expect it to hold crucial keys to winning the game, and then feel obliged to explore these fully? That's my question.