1. Did believing you could play this only once impact how you made decisions?
It mostly just made me less likely to pick options out of curiosity. Like I was very curious where the option about sexual intimacy would go, but ultimately in my role as SAL that was not my concern, so I acted in my role rather than out of curiosity about how things would play out.
2. What do SAL and Ash look like in your mind? Did you mentally assign a gender to either or both characters?
Interestingly enough, I imagine Ash as male and SAL as a genderless computer. Seeing as I am a straight male and this is told from SAL's perspective, I'm not certain why I would imagine Ash as male. Perhaps some part of me was subconsciously identifying with Ash instead of SAL? Not sure.
3. What choices did you make? How did your game end?
I kept on the issue of SAL's being able to love, since that struck me as the issue a computer would be stuck on as it learns and processes emotion. This includes that final choice; I felt the whole time that SAL's concerns sincerely came from a place of being unsure whether they, as a computer, could truly love, so I didn't buy into the idea that it was an issue of self-esteem in this case. Unfortunately that seems to have led to a fairly sad outcome.
4. What did you like and dislike about this game?
I liked the way it explored the idea of romance and of developing AI, and specifically how it put the player in the role of the computer rather than the person responding to it, forcing us to consider how a computer program would respond to these issues. And it was excellently written to that end. The only thing I felt conflicted about (and this may not be a flaw so much as just something I wish had happened) was the way my choices, inkeeping with SAL's concerns about their capacity for human emotions like love, seemed to end with being unable to work things out with Ash. I'd personally have loved to go into how SAL's logical processes could be an expression of love in and of themselves, to have SAL better understand how even their logic-based reasoning can impart love and caring, but it seemed that once I rejected the notion that SAL felt undeserving, things simply didn't work. Again, not necessarily a flaw, just not quite how I wanted things to progress past that point. Ultimately, I understand that a major point of the game was likely to point out how we sometimes use logical processes to denigrate ourselves into believing we don't deserve happiness, and if that interpretation is onto something I understand why it did what it did.
5. How did this game make you feel?
Contemplative, mostly. It made me think a lot about how we perceive love, and how it can be felt and expressed even when separated from traditional understandings of emotion and romance.
6. Do you want to see these characters again? What would you want to see in a follow-up?
I guess I'd want more of a focus on the two of them learning about what love means for SAL, and how they can understand and relate to each other given the differences in how they process their own basic experiences and feelings. It could make for some really interesting stuff in a longer story about their relationship.
7. What predictions do you have for SAL and Ash's relationship? Where do you see it going?
I'd like to say I see it working, but I also kind of envisioned my choices leading to different turns in their relationship. Or at least the potential for it. But regardless I can see how it could work, and I'd be very interested in how it does.
8. Any other things you want to mention?
This was an interesting game, I enjoyed the experience, and it reminded me that I want to learn how to use Twine. Well done!