Chapter 23 Worlds Narrative Case Study: Dust: A Tale of the Wired West


Script Samples and Images Courtesy of CyberFlix Inc.


Description of the program

Dust: A Tale of the Wired West is an interactive Western set in 1882 Diamondback, New Mexico. In the precredit linear video scene, The Stranger catches a gunslinger, The Kid, playing foul at cards and nails his cheating hand to the table with a knife. Before the Kid can recover, The Stranger flees.

In the next scene, you/the user become The Stranger as the rest of the game is played through first person point of view. What The Stranger sees, you see. When people talk to him, they're talking to you.

Running from The Kid, you/The Stranger stumble into the town of Diamondback in the middle of the night with no gun, little money, and a hole in your size twelve boots. Your goal is to first get cash, gun, and boots, then to defend yourself from The Kid who is gunning for revenge. If you survive your high noon shootout with him, then you may get appointed sheriff and lured into helping a Native American school teacher recover her tribe's lost treasure.

The town of Diamondback is a three dimensional world populated with forty animated characters. Dust's writer Andrew Nelson calls it "Myst with people in it". (Nelson) You/The Stranger can move through the town, exploring most of its building and talking to its citizens. They will sometimes help and sometimes mislead; a big part of the game is judging the character of the people you meet and deciding whose advice to follow.

In addition to the story, this program also has games to play, such as blackjack, poker, slot machines, checkers, and a shooting range. These games are well integrated into the story and success at them helps you advance the narrative. For example, your first night in town you must win enough money gambling to stay at the hotel.

Bio of the writer & description of the developer

Andrew Nelson

Andrew Nelson was producer and writer for Dust, a role that involved creating the entire town of Diamondback and its inhabitants. He also wrote the interactive screenplay for CyberFlix's bestseller, Jump Raven, and is currently at work on an interactive adventure based on the sinking of the Titanic. Nelson is one of Cyberflix's founding members and is also the company's creative director. He was formerly an editor and staff writer for Whittle Communications' Special Report magazine. Before moving to Knoxville, Nelson lived in Los Angeles, New York, and London where he worked as a news correspondent. His articles have appeared in GQ, Conde Nast Traveler, National Geographic, and The Washington Post. He has been a producer for and is currently working in print journalism.

Cyberflix Incorporated

An interactive storytelling company and CD-ROM publisher (for Windows and Macintosh), CyberFlix was founded in 1993 and is based in Knoxville, Tennessee. The company's first two releases were the critically acclaimed sci-fi action-arcade titles Lunicus and Jump Raven. Other titles include the interactive Western saga, Dust: A Tale of the Wired West, Titanic: Adventure out of Time, a suspense thriller set onboard the doomed luxury liner; SkullCracker, a supernatural action-arcade game; and Red Jack's Revenge, a romantic pirate adventure. CyberFlix has ceased producing adventure games to focus on its authoring software.

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