End of November Link Assortment

Events

December 4 is the next meetup of the San Francisco Bay Area IF Group.

December 12 is the next meetup of the Seattle/Tacoma IF Group, meeting online via Discord.

The Ectocomp competition for spooky and Halloween-y games is now over, but the entries can still be played.

Or, if you’re looking for something to enter in the future, signups are now open for Spring Thing 2022, which welcomes interactive fiction games of many varieties and lengths, and is a more festival-like venue than the IF Comp.

Articles and Videos

My colleague Bruno Dias writes about power creep in long-running games (including those with a narrative component).

Verge today has an article on procedural narrative, for which Lewis Gordon interviewed me as well as a number of other usual suspects in this space.

The Writers’ Guild of Great Britain has published new guidelines for freelancing work in the game industry, establishing some norms around contracts and work in this field.

Back in October, I did a talk for the Birmingham Indies meetup about narrative design for a long-running live narrative game (namely Fallen London). That talk is now available on YouTube.

Books

Hannah Nicklin’s forthcoming Writing for Games: Theory and Practice is now available for preorder.

I’ve reviewed a bunch of books on game writing here, but I’m definitely looking forward to this one, on the basis of Nicklin’s past tutorial and blog writing on the subject. She brings in theatrical as well as game experience, and has given a lot of thought to the art of writing strong, characterful dialogue, among other things.

Mid-November Link Assortment

Events

IF Comp judging ends today — you may have a few hours left to register your opinions, if you wish — and results will be available soon.

Today also marks the beginning of fos1’s jam for TADS games, which will run through early 2022. This is intended to invite more authors to try out the TADS system and put some fresh energy into that ecosystem.

November 21, the Oxford/London IF Meetup has a session on writing and narrative design for hire: we’ll be talking not just about how to get freelance writing work, but about what that work tends to involve and how to approach clients of different types.

November 29 is the next meeting of the People’s Republic of Interactive Fiction.

December 4 is the next meetup of the San Francisco Bay Area IF Group.

Articles

50 Years of Text covers Versu, with a background on what the platform was, how it worked, and what ultimately happened to it.

End of October Link Assortment

Events

IF Comp games are currently available to play and judge. Anyone can participate in judging — so if you want to be part of that, check out the website for instructions. The judging period runs through November 15.

November 6 is the next meetup of the San Francisco Bay Area IF Group.

Starting November 15, fos1 is hosting a jam for TADS games, which will run through early 2022. This is intended to invite more authors to try out the TADS system and put some fresh energy into that ecosystem.

Articles, Podcasts, Etc

Arcweave is a branching narrative design tool; its creators have also started a new YouTube series about interactive fiction, starting with a look at Spider & Web by Giannis G. Georgiou.

The Short Game podcast is covering some games from IF Comp 2021. At the time of this post, their Part One episode is the only one available, but more coverage of more games may be forthcoming.

Stacey Mason’s dissertation on Responsiveness in Narrative Systems is now available. (Disclosure: I was on her committee.) In the dissertation, she offers both a theoretical exploration of ideas of agency and responsiveness in interactive narrative and a discussion of the practical tooling and design she has been developing lately – and starts off with a strong argument for why this pairing of theory and practice is essential to advance the field.

Via arnicas, A Guided Journey through Non-Interactive Story Generation is a massive overview of narrative generation systems. (Also, if this type of research interests you, or you’re into related topics around text generation et al, I very much recommend arnicas’ newsletter.)

Releases

Speculative fiction author and long-time IF creator Yoon Ha Lee has released An Amiable Planet, a Twine piece running about 20 minutes and set in his hexarchate universe.

Mid-October Link Assortment

Events

Roguelike Celebration runs online October 16-17, and is often a great place to pick up some talks on procedural generation of various kinds.

October 18, at 2-4 PM Eastern time, Zack Whalen is running an online workshop on creating your own generative novel, in preparation for NaNoGenMo month.

October 22 is usually the deadline for submitting spooky interactive fiction to the yearly Saugus.net Halloween contest. This contest accepts both interactive and non-interactive short fiction, and has been running continuously since 1998. It doesn’t always get IF entries, but can be a fun place to send something if you’ve got a scary story in mind.

October 24, the Oxford/London IF Meetup will be playing IF Comp games together online.

Even if you don’t want to join us there, IF Comp games are currently available to play and judge. Anyone can participate in judging — so if you want to be part of that, check out the website for instructions. The judging period runs through November 15.

November 6 is the next meetup of the San Francisco Bay Area IF Group.

Stuart Lloyd is revitalising the tradition of the Windhammer Prize for gamebooks, with the new Lindenbaum gamebook competition. The submission window opens December 1.

Continue reading “Mid-October Link Assortment”

Mailbag: Macro to Micro Ideas

Close-up image of a car's gear shift

Today’s question, gathered from Twitter a little while back, is this:

How do you go from the macro to the micro, i.e. from a big, broad idea for a game to the concrete instantiation of it?

A long time ago I wrote Idea to Implementation, a discussion of how to get from implementation to completed project based on a lot of amateur experience but no experience working in a studio. If I were writing this advice now, it would have a lot more to say about studio-based practices: pre-production, the stage in which you try to eliminate unknowns about your project; vertical slices, in which you build a portion of your game at full quality. On our current project at Failbetter, Mask of the Rose, our producer Stuart Young recently wrote about what pre-production means on our project.

I mentioned “Idea to Implementation” to the questioner, who replied:

I was also thinking on a more micro level: tips for coming up with specific story beats, characters, choices, puzzles, items, descriptions. Maybe the answer is just “brainstorm a lot”, or else “collaborate with someone who’s good at brainstorming”.

For me, this is about three things:

  1. Verifying that big, broad idea
  2. Coming up with possible smaller elements, using brainstorming and research
  3. Assembling the ideas into a structure, verifying their quality, and identifying what’s missing
Continue reading “Mailbag: Macro to Micro Ideas”

End of September Link Assortment

Events

Tomorrow, October 1, IF Comp games will be available to play and judge. Anyone can participate in judging — so if you want to be part of that, check out the website for instructions. The judging period runs through November 15.

October 2 is the next meetup of the San Francisco Bay Area IF Group.

October 5 is the deadline to submit talk proposals to the GDC AI Summit in 2022. Building a talk proposal takes a little time, so if you’d like to present something there, do give yourself enough time to read through what’s required and then pull together documentation.

Roguelike Celebration runs online October 16-17, and is often a great place to pick up some talks on procedural generation of various kinds.

Also October 17, the Seattle IF Meetup will gather to play through some IF Comp games.

October 22 is usually the deadline for submitting spooky interactive fiction to the yearly Saugus.net Halloween contest. This contest accepts both interactive and non-interactive short fiction, and has been running continuously since 1998. It doesn’t always get IF entries, but can be a fun place to send something if you’ve got a scary story in mind.

October 24, the Oxford/London IF Meetup will be playing IF Comp games together online.

Continue reading “End of September Link Assortment”