Posts from ‘Interactive Fiction’ Category

Classic: Photopia

By: Paul Eres

On: June 4th, 2009

Photopia by Adam Cadre is probably his most famous interactive fiction. It was released in 1998 for an IF contest (which it won). I don’t play IF games that often because their puzzles can often be maddeningly obscure, but this is an exception, and is one of my favorite games — it’s not a typical IF game.

As much as I hate when others say this, Photopia is a game that it’s best to go into unprepared for, without knowing what to expect. Expectations can affect the experience. But I’ll at least say that it’s short, very well-written, that it involves only a single puzzle, and that it’s linear. If that isn’t your cup of tea, ignore this post. There are a lot of things about it which don’t make sense until the end. The nature of its single puzzle and its ending are the things people tend to remember about it.

Cadre’s other IF are worth checking out too — he personally feels that his best work is Varicella (also found on that same page), because it is a full world and Photopia is more of a short story, but Photopia is probably better for the casual IF user since it’s less difficult to get into.

TIGdb: Entry for Photopia

Emily Short: Conversation Methodologies

By: Derek Yu

On: May 14th, 2009


Interactive fiction writer and pioneer Emily Short has a regular column at GameSetWatch called “Homer in Silicon.” In her latest column, titled “Sub-Façade,” she describes some ways to approach conversation modeling in games. The name comes from the game Façade.

Conversation is such an important part of real life, and yet in games it doesn’t seem like it’s discussed very much (at least outside of the IF community). It’s not too surprising – real conversation is an extremely complex and nuanced form of communication that is affected by all kinds of internal and external stimuli. In most games, it’s not only unnecessary to have realistic communication, but also extremely time-consuming to implement (indeed, since you would be essentially inventing the wheel), and probably a hindrance to the player as well.

That said, games are the perfect place to explore conversation (or anything, really). And who better to open up the discussion to the general public than Ms. Short, who has authored many award-winning interactive fiction games that focus on conversation. I thought this was a fascinating article that earns bonus points for containing the phrase “atomic quip.”


By: Derek Yu

On: April 13th, 2009


Judith is a new game collaboration between Terry Cavanagh (Don’t Look Back, Pathways) and Stephen “increpare” Lavelle (Rara Racer, Opera Omnia). If the above screenshot makes you want to play, then you should play, by God! It’s good.

TIGdb: Entry for Judith

Dead Like Ants

By: Derek Yu

On: April 7th, 2009

Dead Like Ants

Dead Like Ants is another unique Interactive Fiction game from C.E.J. Pacian, the creator of Gun Mute (2008 XYZZY Award winner for Best Puzzles). I don’t play enough IF to even pretend that I have any authority on it, but Pacian has always struck me as having a very strong written voice. DLA ranks up there for me – the theme is carried confidently through the game mechanics and writing, which is economical but also very evocative. Plus, insects are radsauce.

TIGdb: Entry for Dead Like Ants


By: Xander

On: February 26th, 2009


Blueful is a short story by Aaron.A.Reed, designed to act as a prelude for his IF adventure Blue Lacuna. The interesting quirk of Blueful is that it takes place over a number of different websites which you navigate through your browser. It adds a certain amount of reality to the story, though sadly it does degrade the experience when a couple of the links refuse to work anymore (though a clever ‘word’ system is in place so you can skip broken chapters and carry on to the next link), however the sheer inventiveness of it all makes it worth the trouble. The ending especially sounds interesting, but whether I can even get it remains to be seen. I’m afraid closure is something you’ll have to wait for.

I’d suggest ignoring a lot of the ‘reaction’ comments on both websites if that kind of ‘This will change my life. Honestly, Thank you!’ testimonial grinds you the wrong way, but truthfully its a tough story to not enjoy given the clear amount of effort that was put into it. It’s very well thought out, and if it was partly designed to get me interested in the more complex follow-up Blue Lacuna I’d have to say its worked on me. Look forward to a review soon!

(Thanks to Fuzz in the forums!)

EnvComp: An IF Environment Competition

By: Derek Yu

On: December 17th, 2008

To quote Pacian:

I’m not affiliated with this competition (although I am planning on entering it), but it’s doing something interesting and I think it could use a little more exposure. EnvComp, as those trendy kids in the IF community have abbreviated it, is looking for Interactive Fiction games with, and I quote, “interesting or unusual settings”.
Phrased like that it doesn’t sound too exciting, but then you remember that you won’t have to provide any graphics for the world you create, and you also remember how many IF games over the past couple of decades have been first rate mind-fucks. I think this competition could, if enough people set their minds to it, produce some of the most astounding landscapes you’ll see – uh, or read in a game in 2009.
EnvComp started officially on 15th December, and entries have to be submitted by 15th March. Submissions will be judged by an all-star panel of 13 IF authors. There’s more details, including the rules and guidelines for entering, on its IFWiki page.

IF Competition 2008 Games Released

By: Derek Yu

On: October 7th, 2008

Interactive Fiction Competition 2008

The entries for the 2008 Interactive Fiction Competition are now available for download, either individually, or as a torrent. The deadline for voting is November 15th.

(Thanks, Pacian!)

[edit] A number of bloggers in the Interactive Fiction community have been reviewing the games – courtesy of Emily Short, a list of people doing write-ups is available after the jump!

Emily Short
Peter Nepstad
Victor Gijsbers
Gemma Bristow
J. Robinson Wheeler
Michael Martin
“Another Mr Lizard”
Joshua H
Wesley Osam
Nick Bronson
Mike Rubin
Sarah Morayati (Lucea)
Stephen Bond

Interactive Fiction Cover Art Drive

By: Terry

On: April 26th, 2008

For the last two months or so, Interactive Fiction veteran Emily Short has been running a cover art drive. The basic idea is that attaching something visual, like a cover, to various works of Interactive Fiction would make it easier for sites (like ours, I guess) to promote the brilliant and very overlooked interactive fiction scene to a wider audience. It’s gone pretty well – including alternates, there are currently 98 submitted covers in the photostream (some examples are included in the side image), but there are still quite a few games outstanding.

I know there are officially only a few days left, but after seeing all the artistic talent on display in tonight’s iScribble session I figured that there are probably quite a few people reading this that could help out with a final push! To take part, all you have to do is create a cover like the ones on the side for any interactive fiction game and send it to Emily. A good place to start would be this post on her blog which lists a few games which have requested cover art but haven’t gotten any yet. Even if you’re not familiar with those games (or any interactive fiction), I’m sure someone on the forums would be more than happy to give you a synopsis or describe a scene. Full details about the project (including detailed clarifications) are collected here. As of right now, here are the games still looking for cover art:

There are officially only three days left, so if you’re interested, get cracking!


Gun Mute

By: Derek Yu

On: March 13th, 2008

Gun Mute

The desert sand squirms beneath your feet, alive with mutant nanomachines. Sheriff Clayton has Elias. He’s hanging him at noon.
It looks like you’re going to have to shoot some people.

So begins Gun Mute, a new interactive fiction game from Pacian, the developer of Snowblind Aces, a Text the Halls favorite.

And yeah, you’re definitely going to do a lot of shooting in this game, which may seem out of place for a text adventure. Non-linear exploration and item collection/usage are kind of the hallmarks of your “typical” IF, but in Gun Mute there are only two directions – forward and backward – and the only item you’ll ever need is your trusty six-shooter (ain’t that the truth!).

That Pacian can craft some tricky puzzles around such a limited set of actions is a testament to his abilities as a game designer. But it’s the narrative, set in a far-out futuristic Western, that keeps you hooked until the final, climactic showdown. Games like this really show off why interactive fiction is such a unique and exciting genre. Superb work!

EDIT: And if you’re stuck anywhere, you can type ‘HINT’ for hints.

XYZZY Awards 2007: Nominations

By: Terry

On: February 16th, 2008


Just a quick heads up: the nominations for 2007’s XYZZY awards are underway. If there are any pieces of Interactive Fiction from last year that you’d like to see get some recognition, you’ve got until Sunday the 23rd of February to vote. This year there are ten categories: Best Game, Best Writing, Best Story, Best Setting, Best Puzzles, Best NPCs, Best Individual Puzzle, Best Individual NPC, Best Individual PC and Best Use of Medium.

The voting form (as well as a full list of eligible games) is available on XYZZY news here.