Initially, I thought Elegy for a Dead World would be a game where the player only inserted a couple of words into a skeleton of a text, so that it came with formulas and the final stories would not really be that different from each other. In this scenario, I would not consider the final stories to entirely belong to the player, since you’d only be inserting small phrases into a bigger text that was already given to you and to all other players. The “fill in the blank” format where prompts are fixed would strike me as uninventive and limiting, as we would have to find words that made some sense to the context instead of slightly changing – or completely changing – that context, like real writers do. When you can’t change the words around the “blank”, the sentences tend to sound irregular and don’t flow smoothly because the words aren’t as “connected”; the writer’s thoughts are forced to be broken, and there’s no fun in that.
However, what I did not realize is that we as players are actually able to delete the prompt or contextual text and write anything at all. The prompts are only guidelines that are there to help you move forward with your story, but you could go completely “off script” and write something original and spontaneous, which I guess is what Elegy encourages you to do. Watching players play Elegy on Youtube was hilarious because of the wild imagination many of them have, but it also made me see how players of this game need to keep track of their story’s plot and create new parts that make sense to the bigger story. The tricky part is also saying something about the new settings or objects that appear in the game’s world in each level while keeping the story consistent. For instance, there are icy/snowy settings, space/intergalactic settings, industrial-looking settings, etc., and the prompts that come with each one of these settings normally relates to them in some way.
At the end of the game, you can publish your story and read it all out, as well as read other people’s takes. You can also give them commendations, but I believe there are no number scores involved, which I think is a great thing in the case of fiction writing, where anything is possible.