Mid-October Link Assortment

Events

October 25, the London IF Meetup is having a virtual IF Comp game playthrough – 2 PM to 5 PM, you can join us on Zoom. As there are a hundred games this year, we’ll only get through a few of them, but we’ll aim to have a mix of game styles represented.

November 7 is the next meeting of the SF/Bay Area IF Meetup.

Contests & Jams

IF Comp has just opened for judges to play and rate this year’s games. Judges must play at least 5 games and rate them by November 29.

The competition is also continuing to accept prizes and contributions to the Colossal Fund.

Meanwhile, the 23rd Annual Saugus.Net Halloween contest is still accepting entries for another week, with the deadline on October 22. Ectocomp 2020 is still open for submissions as well, until October 30.

In a typical year (not this one) the AdventureX Narrative Games Convention would have been held in the UK in mid-late autumn. Because the convention this year was canceled, the AdventureX team has instead decided to host a non-ranked game jam from November 14-28. AdvXJam focuses on story-driven games (but this can be broadly and creatively interpreted) and it is open to authors at all levels of experience.

Kickstarters

“What if you could dive into a Wikipedia rabbit hole in the year 2049 and use that information to investigate a high-profile assassination?” That’s the question asked in the premise of Neurocracy, a project by Joannes Truyens and Matei Stanca of Playthroughline. The game is currently in the early stages of development, and still needs some additional funding, if you are interested in helping it get off the ground. You can check out the preview here:

End of September Link Assortment

Events

October 3 is the next meeting of the SF/Bay Area IF Meetup.

October 3-4 is Roguelike Celebration 2020. This year it will be online-only. More specifics about the event can be found here.

October 11 is the next virtual meeting of the Seattle Area IF Meetup. The special event will focus on IFComp 2020, and several authors will present their games for this year’s contest.

Contests

A pair of Halloween-themed contests are getting underway for the month of October. The annual Saugus.Net Halloween contest is already open for entries, while Ectocomp 2020 recently announced that it would be returning this year as well. For Ectocomp, submissions will be accepted starting October 27, but now is a good time to start working on an entry.

IF Comp — the annual interactive fiction competition that has now been running for more than two decades — opens for judges very shortly, and the competition is also continuing to accept prizes and contributions to the Colossal Fund. You’re very welcome to judge and review the competition: you only need to have played five of the games to assign scores, and reviewers are encouraged to share their views on social media, blogs, or the intfiction forum.

As the competition is ongoing, you may also enjoy the coverage from the podcast Verb Your Enthusiasm, hosted on Patreon but in fact free for all to enjoy.

Releases

I wrote an audio romantic comedy piece, Matchmaker, for Zombies, Run! — it’s part of their New Adventures series of stories about subjects other than zombies. Rather than a standard meet-cute, it’s a story of a couple who have already been together for some time, and are deciding where their relationship will go next. That’s now available to Zombies, Run! players, and the Six to Start website also features an interview with me about the process of writing it, though it’s very spoilery.

While you’re over there, you may also enjoy the other New Adventures and interviews with their creators, such as the horror piece Between the Lines and the interview with its author Tom Crowley.

inkle’s Pendragon is now out, and the game is doing intriguing things to create narrative out of the player’s choices and actions during non-narrative gameplay. I discussed this topic in more depth back in January, and people who are interested in those techniques will likely want to take a look at what Pendragon is doing.

David Welbourn has released a big new walkthrough for Cragne Manor, for anyone who would like to see the whole game but was overwhelmed by the scope of the project. For background on the game itself, check out my post from when it was originally released.

Another recent release, The Year After is a story-based Gameboy game best described as an 8-bit JRPG-looking Firewatch or What Remains of Edith Finch. Author Hadrian Lin says: “the game tells an emotional tale about a family coping with a brutal winter. You walk forward and backwards in time. Seasons pass and characters age. It is an exercise in minimalism and uses the idea of player choice/accountability and a few simple movement mechanics to invoke emotion.”

The game runs in desktop or mobile web browsers and is playable in 30 minutes.

Resources & Links

There are some videos available for people interested in catching up on what happened at the Game Devs of Color Expo.

Play Craft is writing articles about narrative design concepts in things that aren’t quite games; here is an article on Swipe Night, Tinder’s Choose Your Own Adventure-esque experience.

Here’s Chris Gardiner talking about techniques for writing endings with EGX Digital.

Mid-September Link Assortment

Events

The Foundation of Digital Games is moving ahead with its conference this year as an online event, spanning from September 15-18. It only requires an online seat registration in order to attend.

September 23 is the next meeting of the Boston Area IF Meetup.

October 3 is the next meeting of the SF/Bay Area IF Meetup.

October 3-4 is the weekend for Roguelike Celebration 2020. This year it will be online-only. More specifics about the event can be found here.

Contests

It’s the final stretch! Entries for IFComp 2020 are due September 28. There is still time for interested parties to donate cash or other items to the prize fund.

IntroComp has just posted a list of the winners for their 2020 contest, and you can still check out any of the titles from the now-completed inkjam 2020.

XYZZY Award finalists for 2019 have just been announced – yes, later in the year than usual, but this is an unusual year. Congratulations to all the nominees! Anyone may vote for winners, in categories from Best Story to Best Individual NPC to Best Technological Innovation. This year’s nominees include a range of parser and choice-based work, and some games — from AI Dungeon to Disco Elysium — that are neither.

Releases

Inkle is about to unveil their latest game Pendragon, slated to release on Steam on September 22. The game promises to be a character-based adventure set around the mythology of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table.

Meanwhile, September 24 is the release date for Vampire: The Masquerade — Night Road from Choice of Games and Kyle Marquis and set in the Vampire: The Masquerade universe:

It’s a new Dark Age for the dead. When the Second Inquisition’s vampire hunters hacked phone lines and computer networks to expose and destroy vampires all over the world, the elders turned to undead couriers like you. For ten years, you’ve raced across the desert between cities, delivering vital information and supplies. But when an old friend reappears with a plan to disrupt the blood trade across the American Southwest, everything you’ve built starts crashing down.

Resources

Someone recently asked me about writing for audio games. I had the wonderful good fortune to be educated by Jude Kampfner, a hugely experienced producer of radio for the BBC and others.

That process was one of the most effective professional learning experiences of my career. I continue to use techniques that she taught me. She’s very interested in games as a medium, and we had many many conversations about them while we put together Game Over.

I mention this because she’s now doing some freelance coaching, editing, and feedback on audio projects, as well as some broader workshops on creative career development. She is such a resource. If you are trying to learn the craft of writing for audio and you have funds for professional development, I definitely recommend talking to her.

End of August Link Assortment

September 5 is the next meeting of the SF Bay Area IF Meetup.

September 13 is the next meeting of the Seattle Area IF Meetup, focusing on Lynnea Glasser’s Coloratura.

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October 3-4 is the weekend for Roguelike Celebration 2020. This year it will be online-only. More specifics about the event can be found here.

Contests

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The “intent to enter” deadline for IFComp 2020 is just around the corner, on September 1. The entries themselves are due September 28.

IntroComp, meanwhile, has its voting come to a close at the end of August. Results will be posted on September 15. And the games from the recently-concluded inkjam 2020 are still online to play.

Books

Celestory founder Pierre Lacombe’s recent work Writing an Interactive Story is an in-depth look at the topic of branching story-writing. The book contains interviews with David Cage, Jean-Luc Cano–among a number of other writers and storytellers–and is available from multiple sellers, including Blackwell’s and Bookshop.

Releases

A couple weeks ago, StoryFix posted a short bit about one of the projects I’ve been working on, an adaptation of George Orwell’s Animal Farm. There isn’t an exact release date as of yet, but you can check out the Steam link here.

Mid-August Link Assortment

Events

August 16 is the next meeting of the Seattle Area IF Meetup.

August 23-24 is Reality Escape Con, an online, free convention about room escape games, organized by the same people who are behind the Room Escape Artist blog.

September 5 is the next meeting of the SF Bay Area IF Meetup.

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October 3-4 is the announced weekend for Roguelike Celebration 2020. The event is moving to a virtual model this year. More specifics about the event can be found here.

Contests

iftf_logo.pngIFComp 2020 is still accepting entries for another two weeks. Authors should register their intent to enter by September 1. The entries themselves are due September 28.

downloadIntroComp, meanwhile, has already passed the deadline for submissions, but you can play the games and vote on them until August 31.

And inkjam 2020 has just recently concluded, with a number of games written in ink. The winners are still online to play.

Releases

Wide Island is a Twine piece by Draconic Chipmunk. It relies heavily on the technique of text expansion: a few linked words will expand into a much longer passage, which itself contains further expansions. Important information about the protagonist, setting, and situation are buried in different parts of the narrative, and the structure means that you might encounter them in any order. The effect reminded me of the telescopic narration in Lime Ergot, where new details constantly encourage the reader to recontextualise what has come before.

I had been reading for several minutes before discovering that the main character was a man with a wife and child. For lack of other information, I’d initially pictured someone demographically more like myself — but that shift felt like an intended part of the reading experience.

There were a few things that surprised me; for instance, several of the links seemed to offer more information on one topic but in fact opened out to talk about something different. But that relative lack of readerly agency also felt appropriate here. Overall, an interesting experiment in hypertext construction. (If this technique interests you, see also stretchtext.)

littlecover.pngThanks to Petter Sjölund, Dan Fabulich, 2lindell, Ed King, jackk225, Kevin Lo, nosferatu-if, OtherOlly, Sabe Jones, Sukil Etxenike, and thehatless, as well as long-term contributions by Dannii Willis and Andrew Plotkin, Counterfeit Monkey is now available in Release 9(!). There is a change log, and the game can be played in-browser complete with the map and all the assorted goodies.

AI and Text Generation

GPT-3 has been available to a limited group of people for a couple of months now, and interesting applications are starting to appear, including a blog that fooled a number of human readers.

Nick Walton, the creator of the AI Dungeon project that used GPT-2, has now set up a GPT-3 version that requires a subscription to access. (Once you have access, you’ll need to go to the settings panel and switch over to the “Dragon” model to activate it, as well.)

On my trials so far, it’s given a reasonably coherent but often sort of conservative performance:

The Dragon model also adds a feature that explicitly logs quests and tracks whether it thinks you’ve completed them or not — more of an attempt to track world state than we saw in the earlier versions of AI Dungeon.

You can also try priming the system with a prompt of your own; it took Counterfeit Monkey in a surprising direction with some torch-carrying sewer-dwellers.

End of July Link Assortment

Events

Aug 1 is the next scheduled meeting of the SF Bay Area IF Meetup.

Contests

ifcomp-blank-screen.jpgIFComp 2020 is accepting entries! Authors should register their intent to enter by September 1. The entries themselves are due by September 28.

A full description of the rules can be found here.

If you have the spare income and the inclination, you can also donate to the IFComp’s fund here.

The September deadline means that we’re still a ways off from playing and voting on the comp games themselves, but in the meantime…

downloadIntroComp will be entering its own play/voting phase at the beginning of August. The last of the entries should be submitted on July 31, and after this, players can check out the games themselves. For IntroComp, the voting deadline is August 31.

 

Talks, Articles, and Podcasts

Ryan Veeder talks about making the classic Taleframe Crocodracula: The Beginning accessible. You can also play here, but the blog post is a delightful read.

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I mentioned Victor Gijsbers’ YouTube channel earlier this month, but he has since uploaded two new videos, both of which are worth a look. Of particular interest to new players is this introduction, which explores four examples of both choice-based and parser-based IF.