A Treatise on Heartly Manners

a Love & Dating by enterpride

Commended by mizal on 1/5/2020 2:50:27 PM

Player Rating5.87/8

"#156 overall, #4 for 2020"
based on 89 ratings since 01/03/2020
played 4,139 times (finished 156)

Story Difficulty3/8

"trek through the forest"

Play Length6/8

"It'll be a while, better grab a Snickers®"

Maturity Level6/8

"I'll need to see some identification"
Some material may be inappropriate for persons under age 16. If this were a movie, it would probably between PG-13 and R.

A contest entry for Bucky's year's end contest: choose your own prompt II.
Play as Lord Robert, the baron of Rivellon, at the lowest point of his life. He's cheated on by his wife, betrayed by his liege and filled to the brim with a turmoil of conflicting emotions.
How does his life end? 

Player Comments

A Treatise on Heartly Manners is a very well-written story with an almost poetic prose. As I mentioned when I was helping to beta test this story, I absolutely loved the titles in this one. Your descriptions of the surrounding world, political relations, etc. all helped to establish a realistic setting for your tale.

I liked the protagonist in this story. He was very introspective, as well as very emotional. I like how this story offered the reader so many choices to make -- many of which were of moral consequence. How you choose to react to your wife's betrayal in this story is entirely up to you. I played through at least ten endings, and it seems that there were many more to explore. Some of these endings also featured an interesting epilogue. While I feel like the story offered an excellent degree of interactivity, I would've perhaps liked to see the first choice of the story lead to a different path, rather than one that loops back with the first.

The central conflict in this story is the problematic relationship between Isa and the protagonist, with the secondary conflict being the one between the protagonist and the Duke. While it was interesting to explore the story from the main character's perspective, I feel like I would've liked to see things from Isa's shoes more. I'm not suggesting a point of view switch, but rather perhaps more dialogue or backstory that further develops her as a character.

In alternate scenes throughout the story, Isa is either portrayed as lonely and regretful, or cold and uncaring. Her feelings for the protagonist do not remain consistent. I understand that was partially the point -- that both main characters were wrestling with their emotions -- but I still felt like more could have been done here. Also, (SPOILERS): there are some scenes in which the protagonist is rewarded for reconciling with Isa, and others in which he is punished for doing so. The fact that Isa betrays the protagonist in some of the endings also lessens the impact of those in which the two characters get back together.

I loved the twist that you included in the epilogues of some of the endings. It was very creative, and an offered an interesting meta-narrative. I did wish that an epilogue had been included for a few more of the 'good' endings. My favourite ending (SPOILERS: the one in which the protagonist forgets about Isa, and embraces his friendship with Garreth) did not have an epilogue, even though I think this was perhaps one of the happiest ones. By contrast, many unhappy endings (like the one in which you reject Garreth's offer for friendship) have epilogues.

Overall, A Treatise on Heartly Manners is a poetic, well-written piece set in a medieval land. It is a good story to read if you want a tale revolving around the themes of love, betrayal, forgiveness, and regret. I give this a 6/8. Good work!
-- Reader82 on 1/25/2020 11:06:21 PM with a score of 0
You set a fantastic tone with the story, and I think that really helped the story shine. This story has a very different feel to it than most of the stories on the site. I think it really stands out in the Romance category.

The player protagonist was an excellent character, and you did a great job drawing on his inner torment.

Unlike some of the others, I actually did not find this story to be too linear. Though, I can understand the gripes since we had to click through a couple pages before being given a choice. Anyway, I thought there were a suitable number of choices and plenty of varied and interesting endings.

Moreover, this story was an impressive feat for a contest that last approximately six weeks. I think the formula for success that is easiest to pull off involves a bottleneck type approach to the story. With a bottleneck, you have one clear set goalpost to frame the rest of the story.

But you focused on a branching tree, which requires at least two primary pathways that lead to different places. And I think that requires a lot more time in the planning process.

The one true weak point, in my opinion, was Isa. She could have used a little more dimension to her. I gave this a 7/8, but if she had a little more flesh to her, this could have received a rare 8/8 from me.
-- Bucky on 1/5/2020 3:43:40 PM with a score of 0
I love the language of this tale. It takes it's time; it's poetic - especially in the early pages. For example, this gem from the first page:

"This land molded you into the man you were supposed to be. Its stark streams taught you caution; its rolling hills forced you to become more perceptive; the people infected you with their stoicism."

The setting, the land around, the events the character faces - they all function on a metaphorical level with the man himself. The subtle touches worked better than the heavy-handed ones. I preferred the calm reflections on blades of grass to the in-your-face comparison of the magical bear.

His emotional journey is also well done, with, for the most part, believable twists and turns. Sometimes they are almost too literary and jump to far at the expense of a consistent personality, but he's grieving and pained, so it works.

Isa was a bit less successful - for the most part I found her annoying and flat, and not just because she cheated. It was like she was an arch-type, just there to fill the role.

On the downside, the storygame is very linear. It was pages before a choice came, even when the man was making significant in-game decisions. He went through a couple stages of grief before the first choice was even made. One time during the bear fight, a branch quickly reconnected back, making it more of a side-trip for some history rather than a choice with agency. That could be done in a game with more branching, but in a fairly linear game like this it felt kind of meaningless. And, sometimes, where it seemed there should have been an important choice (such as to reconcile with your wife, or not, the game chose for me with something quite over the top.

Overall, it read a bit more like part of a novel than a game. But it was a novel I liked, with good character dynamics between the two main men, and great description that made the land seem like a character in its own right.
-- Camelon on 1/3/2020 11:06:27 PM with a score of 0
I really enjoyed this. The paths felt different enough to warrant replaying it. This was just a good solid effort all around.
-- tmanaking on 11/18/2020 3:28:53 PM with a score of 0
This was definitely not my favorite. What happens if we want to be a lady instead of being a male?
-- Lexi on 10/26/2020 2:43:28 PM with a score of 0
this game is really good
-- lin on 10/14/2020 7:32:13 PM with a score of 0
Clearly, this is an ambitious story, both in terms of scale (36k words cranked out in a matter of weeks!) and scope (epic story of an ill-fated romance!), although I can see where it would impress some readers and turn off others.

Structurally, as a CYS storygame, this is certainly in an upper tier. I appreciated that the dialogue sequences were anything but formulaic, deftly avoiding the "he says / she says" format and instead attempting to put us in the heads of these characters. Once past the opening sequence, there was a remarkable amount of branching, leading to various unique endings.

On the other hand, I kept thinking that this was the kind of writing that would piss off Hemingway. Not that ol' Ernest was an authority on storygames, but he believed that writing should be honest: one does not use words to show off a vocabulary, but instead uses each word carefully through a personal understanding of its meaning.

And there are a lot of vocabulary words in this story, many of them not used with much understanding of their meaning. The result is a few nonsensical sentences, which read just a little bit like something by Lewis Carol or John Lennon, but without the sense there might be a more far-out meaning to be gleaned through a chemical influence.

I might be willing to chalk this up to the rush to meet a contest deadline. To some degree, the overwrought language with its reliance on misplaced modifiers could be seen as a sort of stream-of-consciousness technique: it's just a first draft, so don't fret about perfection, just jot down the first words that come to mind and fix it later.

The reason I can't commit to that defense, though, is that as a romance this story is structurally flawed. It opens with a very long sequence about a bear hunt gone wrong, which has nothing whatsoever to do with the central conflict of the story: do I or do I not still love my wife, even after she's been caught "cheating" with my superior? Most of the choices throughout the storygame keep bringing me back to that question, even though I don't feel that I've been given enough of the backstory to make a reasonable response. (Also annoying: I have to answer what amounts to the same question over and over again.)

I mentioned earlier my appreciation for the dialogue format, in that the "he says / she says" format is broken up with tidbits of information that attempt to put us inside the characters' heads, seeing what they think of each other and whatnot. This tells me that Enterpride has much promise as a writer.

The problem is that once inside their heads, we realize there's not much there other than hormonal raging. The religious mores of this particular culture in regards to marital infidelity and/or divorce notwithstanding (is that even discussed?) from a modern point of view, if she's sleeping around with other men, then dude, she's not that into you. There was not really a romance here, just page after page of teenage melodramatics.

This brings me back to the Hemingway bit: none of the high-stakes emotion evoked in this story comes through experience, and very little of it was something I could relate to as a fellow human being. OK, sure, it stings to learn your wife has been sleeping around, but what one does in that case is get good and drunk, sleep it off, and go find a good attorney. Waffling back and forth about whether or not I still love is really poor form. At age 16, a girl leaving you is OMG THE END OF THE WORLD! After the first experience, things start falling into perspective.

So, to an adolescent reader, every single one of the (exactly) 36,000 words in this story might resonate. To others, it gets overly emotional. I think Enterpride has all the right tools to become a very good writer, save one:

Life experience.

But, thankfully, that just comes with time.
-- Bill_Ingersoll on 7/12/2020 10:43:18 PM with a score of 0
it was good but i didn't really understand the first part
-- Stephanie on 5/30/2020 1:47:53 AM with a score of 0
I loved the plotline, and the enjoyment of not knowing what's next.
-- BigTimeRush on 2/24/2020 8:09:41 AM with a score of 0
This was short but touching. We’re alive and together. Yay
-- Hi on 2/17/2020 11:56:23 AM with a score of 0
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