The Life of a Duck

 “A Duck has an Adventure.”

An exploration by Lindsay Montgomery

http://e-merl.com/stuff/duckadv.html

In this work, the author personifies a duck and allows readers to choose their own adventures by giving several options for them to choose from at key turning points.

The duck in question is personified—while it’s possible to pursue “a simple life” initially, that eventually leads to an option to “chase ladies” after “hanging out at the pond” and “begging for bread.” An elaborate relationship ensues, in which the duck can choose to “play the field” or “settle down.”

That’s a good summation—without giving too much away—of how the author mixes the life of an actual duck with the sort of choices a person faces. Choosing certain options can lead to collecting achievements and/or hats. It’s a surprise when you get either, and they seem to pop up just often enough to make you want to find the next one.

At a point, the pathways you choose expire, but users can click around to go back and pursue different pathways to gather more hats and achievements.

Surprisingly, considering the simplicity of the game, I’d say the character development is my favorite aspect. The user has so much control over what kind of character the duck becomes — such as when choosing between whether to “play the field” or “settle down.” You decide if the duck is a bachelor or a family man, both of which have varying rewards and consequences. The characterization choices offered to the users are consistently fun and intriguing; often, it’s difficult to decide which path to take. For instance, when the duck becomes a pirate, should he go to the Bermuda Pentangle or Kitten Cove?!

Part three of this review is particularly challenging because there aren’t exactly full sentences in this piece. There is clearly writing—after all, the author created several storylines—but they are often depicted with simple images of the duck or simple phrases.

My personal favorite use of words in the piece is when they reflect the author’s cleverness and humor. For example, when the duck gets a haul of diamonds, the writing says, “A duck’s best friend: Bread may be grand but it won’t pay the rental.” This is a reference to pop culture made relevant to duck life (The song “Diamonds are a Girls Best Friend,” and “A kiss may be grand but it won’t pay the rental,” which is a lyric in that song). It’s moments like this that make the story the fun adventure that it is. It’s what kept me clicking.

I think this work exemplifies how important good design is in a choose-your-own-adventure story. The author uses simple images and text in a pleasing color scheme that makes me think of yellow ducks.

There’s also an option to zoom out of the story and click back to different parts. Because each new step is a square, when you’ve finished going through all of the steps and zoom out, it looks like a board game. If the design hadn’t been so good here, the writing definitely would have had to be even more compelling to make up for it.

With the range of web content available, good design becomes one of the things that makes an author’s work stand out.

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