Textfyre – The second craziest thing I’ve heard today!

By: Xander

On: September 24th, 2007

Seriously, it looks like he's going to eat the 'x' doesn't it?

It would come first, but I apparently slept through a tornado this morning…

Textfyre Inc are a recently formed company (so recently that their website is close to the size of a novel’s blurb at the moment) with a relatively ambitious goal. Comparable I’d argue to deflecting a cataclysmic meteor with your face. To quote the company themselves on this;

“Over the last year we’ve been diligently working to build a new publishing company, to create new interactive fiction works, and to bring those works to the public. As of June 2007, we’re getting closer and closer to an official launch date. We still have a lot of work ahead of us and as we pass each milestone in our development processes, we’ll report back to you here about it.”

So, their mission statement is simple; Revive the interactive fiction genre. It’s an interesting goal, because it isn’t really like the genre is dead (Although it does depend on your distinction between Text Adventure and Interactive Fiction, so the following may sit less well with some than others). We did just have Pacian’s fantastic Poizoned Mind for the B-Game competition, and of course the IF Comp which always draws a strong creative response (Deadline for uploading is on the 29th don’t forget! I want to play!). However, the genre has been isolated from the commercial market for longer than I’ve been alive, with just boxed copies of ‘Zork’ and ’Hitchhiker’s guide to the galaxy’ for me to know that era by.

It definitely seems a challenge to try and sell these kinds of games again when such accomplished efforts as Slouching Towards Bedlam exist not only as incredible freeware IF, but also despite this greatly unknown and underappreciated. As much as I would love to see Adam Cadre works as successful financially as they are in my pants, I also know that it’s a long shot. A very long shot. From a bouncy castle. Covered in landmines.

(Source: Kotaku)

  • http://www.tscreative.net BMcC

    I’ve just recently fallen in love with IF myself. :)

    Will this company make money? Probably not — unless they come up with something amazing and unexpected.

    But that’s okay. It’s still progress, you know?

  • Xander

    Exactly! I wouldn’t have covered it if I didn’t find it interesting. I mean a longshot from a landmine bouncy castle is rediculous… but it’s sure as hell worth watching right?

    Make sure you try out Slouching Towards Bedlam if you haven’t already. It’s easily my favourite, and quite important to me since I stupidly only found out about it when one of the creators sadly died. Great game! Though Narcolepsy is fun too! (Adam Cadre)

  • http://www.tscreative.net BMcC

    I definitely will, thanks!

    Adam Cadre is basically THE interactive fiction guy nowadays, huh?

  • Xander

    Haha, quite possibly. Or at least he’s the only one who’s name I can remember.

    THE interactive fiction girl though is easily Emily Short(http://emshort.wordpress.com/). Though she hasn’t that many IF games to her name, her site is definitely a thing to behold. It’s worrying when a single woman can put the great Wiki to shame.

  • Xander

    I meant that in a good way, not in some patronising chauvanistic way…ack…

  • Matt Clemson

    This makes my brain hurt. I’ve been following IF long enough to know about Textfire, an April Fool’s joke from a while ago with approximately this premise, where a bunch of people in the IF community at the time made a bunch of demos of somewhat bizarre-seeming adventures (Zugzwang, the interactive life of a chess piece?).

    But, well, since Textfire was a while back, and everyone in the community knows about it now, and *it’s the wrong end of the year to do this*…

    Maybe it’s real, but trading on the Textfire name?

  • Matt Clemson

    Wait a mo. April 2008 would be the tenth anniversary of the Textfire thing.

    Just sayin’.

  • Moose

    Um, no-one’s even mentioning Graham Nelson? what about Andrew Plotkin? If you haven’t played Spider and Web, you really should..

    And it might have a chance. I mean, take a look at the Phoenix Wright games, they are basically pure text as far as their puzzles..

  • http://www.distractionware.com Terry

    The Phoenix Wright thing is interesting. Dessgeega made an pretty cool observation recently – through a bit of a design flaw, the series is hindered by the same “guess-the-verb” problem faced by a lot of interactive fiction.


    While I’m steering offtopic, here’s another side discussion – is Emily Short actually a girl? (Just throwing that out there – I’m not sure, and it appears to be a pseudoname… It would make her one of a very small number of prolific female indie game designers.)

  • Eudaimon

    It’s been awhile since I’ve played any interactive fiction. I’ll have to second the recommendation for Spider and Web, as well as throw in the compulsory mention of Galatea (it’s good, that’s why it’s compulsory).

    Anyways, if this is for real, the only way I can really see it succeeding, given the amazing state of free IF out there, is if it involves some major innovations. Maybe playing with GUIs, or other interesting ways with which to interact with the stories. But if they just try to crank out some stuff in Inform and put a price tag on it I don’t see them going very far. Even if it’s well-written, fleshed out, and polished up, if they rely on the same basic interface they probably won’t get much business outside the already established and fairly limited IF community.

  • Xander

    Hopefully she is, or else there is a certain amount of self-pleasuring I’m going to have to either repress or remove with a power drill later. /Pi

    Visual Novels shouldn’t be entirely counted out of the IF scene either, if we’re bringing Phoenix Wright into this. Maybe not One or Crescendo or anything, but Tsukihime has always been a literary gold-mine, and it’s sequel ‘Kagetsu Tohya’ takes Visual Novels into a very IF level of non-linearity. I’m part-way through it at the moment, and it’s pretty damn great.

  • nullerator

    Terry: There are quite a few well-known authors of IF who are female. Many of my favourite IF-games have female authors (Dangerous Curves, Worlds Apart, et.c.)

    Anyway, this seems real enough. I read an interview with them at Gamasutra, and they have an interesting plan. It might succeed.

  • Moose

    Actually, the “guess the verb” isn’t that bad in PW – you just have to make sure you avoid running off to your own conclusion, and address what’s actually on the table right now. Which I guess is similar to what an actual lawyer would have to do.

    It’s a problem really – Visual Novels (aka renai games) such as PW don’t give you much freedom of action. But traditional IF does – but only sometimes, and doesn’t tell you when those times are…

  • ian

    actually Emily Short does have that many IF games to her name, 20+ of them.


  • Daiz

    Like people have said already, I think Visual Novels fall under the category of Interactive Fiction. And Visual Novels are still going strong in Japan, plus some of them get even commercial releases in the west (like Ever17).

    Also, should PW really be considered as visual novel? Wouldn’t it be more like a point-and-click adventure? Because when I think of Visual Novels, Phoenix Wright sure isn’t the one that would come to my mind first (instead, I think of games like Tsukihime, Ever17, Planetarian and so on)

  • Moose

    Um, Phoenix Wright follows almost exactly the classic visual novel model.. you don’t move around the locations, except to play Where’s Waldo in the Examine mode, and you usually only need to do that once per location tops. There are no puzzles to solve that way, just objects to be found. The rest of it is all talking to people and showing them the correct items.

  • David Cornelson

    Textfyre is real. The original Texfire.Com domain is being squatted on and the guy wants $25k (moron).

    I have three dev/writing teams working on three different series of games. Each series will have at least three, but possibly many episodes.

    The user interface will indeed be nothing like the standard hobbyist interpreters. It will have high end fonts, interactive maps, hints, context sensitive help, and professional illustrations. Each game will come with a comic book and a set of progress cards that relate to chapters in the game.

    There are many other good hobbyist IF authors like Paul O’Brian, Ian Finley, Jon Ingold, Chris Huang, Mike Gentry, as well as many others. If you’re interested, the ifarchive has a downloadable ISO image of many of the best games (windows only). Also, you can check out ifwiki.org or Baf’s Guide (wurb.com/if) for more game info.

    Thanks for the PR!