Oh, lovely: using Inkle to write a historical adventure in epistolary form – or, rather, drafting and redrafting a letter to be sent. And: by Emily Short! I'm glad someone's got around to that format.
You walk along the beach; a path goes up the bluff, another along the strand. You go one way or the other. There are no game-mechanics associated with the choice, and a plot-diagram analysis would call them "the same place" — you can try either, back up, and go the other way. But this misses the point. Precisely because the game lacks keys, switches, stars, and 1ups, it has no implicit mandate to explore every inch of territory. Instead, you want to move forward. Backtracking is dull. Worse: given the game's sedate walking pace, it's slightly frustrating. (They left out the run button for a reason, see?) Moving into new territory is always the best-rewarded move, and therefore your choice of path is a choice. You will not (unless you thrash hard against the game's intentions) see everything in your first run-through." Cracking writing about immersive, environmental storytelling in Dear Esther, and why it's clearly a game.
To put this another way:
Map-based games are ludicly non-linear but narratively inflexible.
Time-based games are ludicly linear but narratively flexible.
(Of course, these are spectrums: some games, like Rameses or Photopia are ludicly linear and narratively inflexible, and some, like Mass Effect, at least endeavour to be ludicly non-linear and narratively flexible.)
Do readers want to interact, toy and play with fiction, or alter, bend and shape it?" Jon Ingold is smart.
The world is already divided in to two camps: People who are going to watch the Super Ball and those who aren't. This is an opportunity to delight the former and reach the latter, by providing a larger and more playful cast of characters to describe the events during the game." Nice!