Fiction is a Three-Edged Sword

Fiction, interactive fiction and narrative


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Is this the end?

I’ve been busting my way through a holiday text adventure, the way one does. A couple of days off is the perfect time to get 80% of a game down, ready to be shelved, redrafted, tweaked, and polished until it no longer seems like such a good idea.

I had the puzzle structure worked out before I coded a single word. I’m now 80% of the way through, but then I got distracted, adding hyperlinks.

I just turned off the actual text prompt thing. It seemed so… retro. There are just these buttons now. It feels kinda okay.


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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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Top 50 IF games – or 13, at least

Over on the int.fiction forum, Victor Gijsbers has started a thread asking for people’s list of the best IF games ever. It’s quite a fun trip down memory lane and makes me long for the days when text-games were an unexplored terrain rich with possibilities…

For those who are interested, here’s my list, also posted on the forum.

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Adventures in Time and Space: linearity and variability in interactive narrative

Recently, I’ve been doing a lot of work with choice-based stories. I haven’t played a new IF work in a long time – but this weekend I picked up Emily Short’s brief-but-beautiful Speed IF Indigo and it got me thinking about what I mean when I say “interactive fiction”.

(This isn’t really an article about that game, incidentally, which you should try out; rather, Indigo was such a very clean example of what text IF does well that it got me thinking.)

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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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Interactive Parsing, v4

It sometimes feels like I’m releasing a new version of this every two days, but Interactive Parsing is now up to Version 4. The new version is substantially faster, especially if what you’re typing makes sense. Running on my MacBook, it now feels like a normal command line. And on Quixe, well, it’s not too bad.

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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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