[Taylor is busy]

I’m still chugging along …

I’ve been writing like a maniac this week through my typical morning sessions, but lately I’m adding a second one in the afternoon to help reach the end of the novel faster. In books past, I used to be able to write on the weekends. Last weekend’s laziness aside, I’ve been pretty busy with the impending arrival of the two babies so that’s been eating up most of my time.

I awoke to a text message from a friend the other day who recommended the iPhone game, Lifeline, to me. As you’ve probably guessed right now, my life isn’t exactly set up for another game to steal my attention, but he convinced me to give it a shot and boy is it nothing how I imagined it being.

Lifeline isn’t a game in the strictest sense. It’s more like an experience. The gist is you get a text message from someone who’s asking for help. This stranger, Taylor, is a science student who snuck aboard a spaceship that’s now crashed on a moon outside Tau Ceti. As the name implies, you’re Taylor’s lifeline. All you do is talk to Taylor and advise him on certain decisions that ultimately affect his life when given the prompt. Usually, he takes that advice and says he’ll get back to you and you get the message [Taylor is busy] while he’s off doing said activity.

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That’s it.

That’s the game.

But I gotta tell you, I’m completely hooked! It’s a choose your own adventure where you care about the protagonist. Every time he goes off on some venture, I’m always nervous about what’s gonna happen to my new friend without me knowing about it. Last night, he convinced me that he should spend the night in some other wreckage he discovered instead of trekking it all the way back to his original ship. Some wreckage, I might add, that he was pretty sure he spotted some other kind of life form scuttling about …

Lifeline doesn’t demand much from you and occupies more of your thoughts when you’re not playing it, which I find pretty novel. When you turn on the push notifications, you get his messages that pop up in “real time”. It’s to the point now that I’ll stop what I’m doing to check my phone when it buzzes and my wife will ask, “What’s Taylor up to now?”.

There are so many branching paths, that it can’t help but feel like a unique story. My friend who recommended it has already lead his Taylor to destruction, I found out. However,my Taylor, who’s been at it about three days now, is still kicking by his last transmission. He’s on his way to investigate a non-natural pinnacle he spied in the distance at the moment. He’ll text me next time he gets the chance.

As someone who’s fascinated by telling stories to others, this thing gets all the right hooks in me. I’m both voyeur and protagonist, but yet I can’t see anything. I’m helping the story, but he has to describe it to me while my mind fills in the blanks. It’s a fascinating thought experiment about the nature of stories.

I’m hesitant to talk too much to my real friend less something get spoiled, but through the few notes we’ve compared, we’re experiencing too completely different stories. I was genuinely scared when Taylor asked me to look up how many rads it takes to harm someone so he could sleep next to cooling reactor engines. I hope I gave him the right answer. I still worry about what I might have done to him.

Well look at that. There goes my phone. Seems he’s run into a huge crater and needs some advice… Gotta go!

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