Fiction is a Three-Edged Sword

Fiction, interactive fiction and narrative


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The final 5%

If you watched the remake of Battlestar Galactica, you’ll know that after two or three years of escaping murderous robots with LED eyes and their sleazy-nightclub-owner-type owners, the last surviving humans were faced with the terrible threat of the Final Five. Five last Cylons who could yet destroy everything. Hard to pin down, hard to defeat, hard to negotiate with…

It’s something that anyone who’s worked on long projects can sympathise with. Projects can be easy or hard, but every project ends with that final 5%: the final 5% that nearly kills you.

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inkle launches!

Time to announce my new project:

Building on my IF and Undum work, inkle will make interactive stories for mobile devices, and do so in a beautiful way.

Our first project, Frankenstein, is being published in association with award-winning London-based publiser Profile Books; and is being written by Dave Morris (author of Mirabilis) and Jamie Thomson, super-talented writers with a long history of gamebook work.

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Choice: from analogue to digital and back again

Screenshot of demoErik Temple, creator of many extensions for Inform 7 that do animations, sprites, and lots of shiny things, has a new demo up on his blog, this time demonstrating a text-game playable without typing.

It’s a really good piece of work and shows real potential for making text games accessible: teaching the syntax while letting people get on with the game. But it also highlights one of the text games major problems – there’s way too much choice.

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Kingdom Without End

This link appeared first as a comment, then as a tweet, and finally now as a blog-post, which is all back to front. But this is archaelogy, which works downwards.

The short version is: presenting Kingdom Without End by Shannon Cochran, a multi-choice input game from 2001 about archaeology, that is perhaps the best example of CYOA written in a parser-IF style, and not only that, it’s a damn fine piece of work too.

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Make It Good, better

I’ve started work on a renovation of Make It Good. Not a rewrite (before anyone reminds me that it took nine years first time around), and I’m not moving it over to Inform 7 (that would be a rewrite).

Instead, I’m doing what I should have done five years ago when it was only half-made, and I’m porting it over to Glulx.

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Set-pieces, pacing, flow, and finally, Vorple

Recently, I’ve been writing a lot of selection-based hyperfiction. There are two reasons: firstly, it’s a lot faster to go from idea to playable game, and secondly, I can show it to people who “can’t” play text games and they get it.

The first of these isn’t really a problem, if your idea is good enough. The second is something we’re working on, with extensions for making IF easier to get into, and good general design.

Then there’s the third problem: pacing. And that one’s hard.

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Interactive parsing update

Interactive Parsing (as explained here and here) has now been updated to version 3.

This version adds support for suggesting and accepting words longer than the 9-letter Inform default, and for commanding characters using the “JIMMY, GIVE ME THE GUN” syntax.

This resolves all the known missing features of IP, so it should be now good to go in any game-project you care to throw at it. It also runs under Quixe once more, thanks to some help from Zarf.

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Announcing the Kindliser

A few weeks ago I blogged about a Kindle ebook I’d produced and put on Amazon. It was a simple “click the links” CYOA story with one cunning twist: a limited ability to store information about what the player had done, and use that information to alter game text and game choices.

That ebook was built using a custom tool – that tool is now getting its version 1 release. While it needs some validation and error checking to help diagnose typos and simple coding mistakes, it is fully functional and capable of producing working CYOA ebooks.

Full documentation and download on the Kindliser page.

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