P2 The Oasis – Goutham’s IF & Reflection

Play the game here on itch.io!

The Idea:

When I was thinking about the interactive fiction game, I wanted to go back to another setting that I had written and thought about before in the story of a desert and an oasis that turned out to be a mirage. I thought this would be a good setting to tell a story about scarcity, abundance, and the tragedy of the commons.

The basic story would be that you would play as a member of a desert “pirate” crew that comes across an oasis in the midst of the desert. You’d act as your character through the events of the discovery and an eventual conflict that would occur as members of the crew become greedy and self-centered with the water of the oasis. One important element of the situation is that I wanted to make your relationships with other characters feel compelling so that your actions through the conflict feel impactful

I personally am not a huge fan of interactive fiction because it ends up summarizing a lot of conversations and choices rather than writing it like a book so I wanted to make the choices feel like realistic small actions that you might make at different decision points. However, as I got started, the choies started to balloon immensely. I’m also the sort of writer who writes as they go rather than planning everything out beforehand so it became an immensely time-consuming task to try and manage all of the different paths that the player could take.

I was a fan of my early writing in this piece of fiction as I felt like I had the time and energy to create an interesting environment and setting that would allow readers/players to feel immersed in the story. I tried to make the players interactions with the other characters feel like there were a lot of dialogue options even if the end result of the conversation would be the same.

However, after spending several hours on the first event of the story I realized it was sort of unsustainable. I think that the story became much more linear and choppier, but I think that it has enough to grip a reader especially for a game design sprint.

(my chaotic twine diagram)

Iteration 1:

The first version of this game consisted mostly of just the first event of finding the oasis since it was already a considerable amount of writing and storytelling. I think that this iteration was really powerful since it was a very condensed version of the kind of writing I want to do if I have a lot of time. I playtested with some of my friends and with Christina during our playtesting session. She mentioned that the pacing felt like a novella rather than a short story and that the level of detail and small choices made it feel like you were fleshing out your personality in the game (which is what I wanted yay!)

However, the challenge was expanding it out in a way that felt compelling.

Iteration 2:

This was when I was starting to run on fumes for the story. At this point, the player has fleshed out their character and then are making decisions with their relationships with the captain and other crew members. The captain asks you to help him steal water and you face several ethical decisions. I playtested this with Melody and with Christina and got great feedback! The story was still compelling even though I wasn’t exactly writing up to my own standards. Some interesting feedback was that the players felt like they were acting differently from how they would act if they were playing as themselves. They wanted to know more information but didn’t want to be confrontational. This was challenging as I wanted the player to feel the pressure in making these consequential decisions. I decided to add some choices that would expand out the possibilities.

I ended up finishing the final scene today so I would love to hear people’s reactions to the story!


I had a lot of fun with this IF project at first but because I was writing on a deadline and during school, I felt like I was getting really burnt out in the process. I also am not a huge fan of Twine’s interface so I might check out inkle as an alternative for the future.

I’m honestly really glad I got a chance to write so much and put it in front of people because it was one of my biggest passions over the pandemic. I just wish that I could do it when I wasn’t dealing with so much life chaos.

I think I’m also a perfectionist when it comes to my own writing, so it was an interesting experience to just put something out there and expand out a story just because I had a deadline. It made it so I was committed to writing even though at times I felt like I was dissatisfied with it.

In terms of the story, I wish I could have made it more detailed in the second half as I ended up having to summarize events in order to limit the number of decision trees I had to write. I also feel like I’m not personally compelled by the decisions near the end as they feel very drastic and over-the-top. I just wish I had more time!

Overall, I’m a fan of writing and I will always be. However, writing on a deadline stresses me out even though it makes me very productive. I would love to write more in this story and make it something that I can feel really great about. For now I feel like its serviceable 🙂

About the author


  1. Hi Goutham! I really like how your story has developed since the first time I played through it 🙂

    What values you see in the game, and how they are reflected in the choices made by the game designer

    I see a large theme of tragedy of the commons, with the captain and Rilo thinking that it can’t hurt if they just take some water for themselves. I also see the value of standing up for what you think is right, vs letting the crowd or majority take control of a situation. I think the choice of an apocalyptic setting with extremely limited resources emphasizes this really well! I also think the choices that you can make really force the player to consider what they would do in a morally questionable situation – I’ll talk about this more in the “interesting choices” section.

    How well did the game get you to care about the given topic or cause?

    I think you did a good job of making me think more deeply about tragedy of the commons and my own selfish behavior (“oh, it’s ok if I take a really long hot shower because I’m just one littler person” or “oh, it’s ok if I take a tennis ball from our class bucket because it’s just one”). I think the theme of water is also super relevant, as climate change continues to threaten our future and we use resources like water freely without thinking about the consequences.

    How well did the game’s use of the medium fit the story?

    Twine was a great choice for the branching of different choices! It felt like reading a choose-your-own-adventure book. However, I think that beyond just chunks of text that you click through, it could be cool to incorporate some different links, animations, or sounds to help make the experience more immersive or emotional – then you would really be taking advantage of the medium!

    Did it have choices that were interesting and consequential to you? (Did any make you really stop and think?)

    You did a great job including choices that made me stop and think! At first I was like duh, of course I’m going to say no to this selfish captain dude, like is this even a choice? But then I started thinking more about what if I was actually in a high pressure situation where I might get kicked out of job that my livelihood depends on, and then I was like would I actually stand up for myself? I see myself as righteous but am I really? So it got me self-reflecting, lol. I also think it’s kind of wild that you can actually just let the captain die, and everyone is cheering like woohoo we just killed this guy? So the choices that you make really have consequences – I can choose to indirectly kill someone in your story! That’s a pretty big consequence.

    At least 1 thing you appreciated or thought was awesome

    I think the world you have created is amazing! The strider and the sand sleds are really cool and I get a strong sense of presence when I’m in the strider – it reminds me of the pirate’s airship from Castle in the Sky (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Castle_in_the_Sky) or the castle on legs in Howl’s Moving Castle (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Howl%27s_Moving_Castle_(film)). The intro image at the start of the game also helps to set the tone for the setting!

    At least 1 thing you think they could improve on, if they were to turn it into their P4 project

    I think it would be cool to develop your relationship with the captain a little more before presenting the big choice to help him or stand up against him – why would you help him? Is it because you fear him and must serve him to stay alive? Or because he has treated you like his own child, raised you and showed you warmth + kindness? Or do you admire him a lot? I felt like there wasn’t a super compelling reason to go along with his selfish desires, so maybe some kind of stronger relationship could add more tension there.

    I also think it’s a bit strange that it’s an option to ask Rilo to take the lead after the captain has been removed – we just confronted him and found him to be cowardly and selfish, so why would we ask him to take the lead? Maybe we can ask Delaware? But I guess Delaware also blindly followed the captain’s orders before… I just think it should be somebody else upstanding, otherwise why would I ask them to be my leader?

  2. In the future, please link your writeup in a reply to the assignment post. Otherwise, it’s hard to keep track of whether you turned something in!
    – Interesting premise and engaging intro! Love the idea of the metal “ship” powered by solar panels!
    – Great writing/descriptions throughout, important message
    – It would help to motivate the excitement of seeing the oasis/outrage at using water for a bath by describing the current water scarcity situation/how it makes their lives more difficult
    – Might help to experiment with more detailed endings, e.g. do all the sailors end up dying in the desert?
    – You did a nice job defining the dilemma and laying out choices… seems the final consequences are simply that they’ll have to live with the water shortage?
    – Love that it turned out to be a mirage
    – The meaning of this line at the end is unclear : “some crew members theorize it was a mirage but you reckon the truth was that they had simply taken too much” –clarifying this will strengthen the conclusion
    Honoring the Medium:
    – Love the title screen & the image!
    o Optional but I’d be interested to see what the “metal monstrosity” looks like in future iterations
    – Like the idea of customizing player name
    – Fun directions for future-color schemes/music?
    – Complete
    Great work!

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