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The Warbler's Nest

An interactive fiction
by Jason McIntosh

The Warbler's Nest is a interactive short story about a troubled soul, searching for answers among the reeds. I originally wrote it as an entry in the 2010 Interactive Fiction Competition, and it went on to win that year's XYZZY Award for Best Story.

Playing it

There are three ways to play this game:

The game is quite short. While it contains several explorable paths, a thorough traversal should take less than half an hour.

After you play the game, you might like to read an afterword about the motivation and research that went into its creation.

Help and hints

Stuck? This isn't meant to be a hard, puzzle-filled game, but sometimes one just gets stuck anyway. Consult the official hint book for some gentle nudges back onto the path.

Unfamiliar with interactive fiction? Please have a look at the wondrous IF guide-on-a-postcard, courtesy of Lea Albaugh and Andrew Plotkin. The game itself also contains some instructive text; type ABOUT at any prompt, then select "How to play" from the resulting menu.

Awards and Kind Words

The Warbler's Nest won the 2010 XYZZY Award for Best Story, and was nominated in two other award categories (Best Individual Puzzle and Best Game). Judges of the 2010 IFComp ranked The Warbler's Nest among the ten best games that year.

Some critical thoughts from around the web (click the names for the full reviews, but beware spoilers):

Emily Short, Play This Thing:

An interactive fiction about perception ... The Warbler's Nest uses the textual nature of the medium to full advantage.

Joye, Jay is Games:

Experience the truly creepy and realistic dark side of a story you may have idly passed over in your Brothers Grimm collection.

Chris Dalhen, writer and narrative designer (Mark of the Ninja):

A lyrical, haunting interactive fiction game. Highly recommended.

Sarah Morayati:

Here’s “Down by the Water” by PJ Harvey. For best effect, redo the story and listen right after you finish.

Patrick Klepek, Giant Bomb:

Having played Warbler's Nest, I'm now psyched to see what else the [text adventure] genre has to offer.

Christopher Huang, The Breakfast Review:

Oatcakes and farmer's sausage and apple juice. But IS it apple juice?

Credits, Acknowledgments, and Copyright

This work was crafted with Inform 7, a programming language and development environment by Graham Nelson, Emily Short, Andrew Hunter, et al.

Initial playtesters include Ruth Alfasso, Jake Eakle, Kevin Jackson-Mead, Joe Johnston, Mark Musante, and Doug Orleans. Additional testing and critique came from Lise Brodzik, Michael Hilborn, M. Flourish Klink, Andrew Plotkin, Emily Short, and Jack Welch.

Special thanks to the People's Republic of Interactive Fiction and its Grue Street writers' workshop, and to the denizens of the #I7 chat channel on ifMUD.

The game's cover art is based on a photograph of a reed beach by Jan-Eric Nyström, shared under a Creative Commons BY-SA 2.5 license.

This game is copyright © 2010 by Jason McIntosh.

Elsewhere

Non-review pages about The Warbler's Nest, elsewhere on the web: