June 30, Introcomp intent deadline. You have just a few hours to register your intent to enter this year’s Introcomp, a chance to get your game introduction in front of a bunch of players and collect their feedback.
July 3, Oxford, the Oxford/London Meetup is doing a WIP exchange to share and critique one another’s work. The RSVP list is currently full, but if you join the waitlist you’ll be notified if a spot becomes available. (These sessions need to be pretty small to be effective, hence the low ceiling.)
July 9, the SF Bay Area IF group meets.
I’ll be in Hong Kong, Kyoto, Tokyo, Honolulu, and Seattle over the course of late July/August. If you’re in one of those places and think it would be useful to meet and talk, drop me a line. My time is not unlimited, but as always I’m happy to try to set things up where useful.
Sept 17 (well into the future, but worth knowing in advance) there’s an all-day Roguelike Celebration event that might be of crossover interest to IF folks, especially if you like procedural generation or procedural narrative. Nick Montfort will be speaking.
Interactive Fiction Technology Foundation Launch
Today is the launch of the Interactive Fiction Technology Foundation (main website here). This is a non-profit, fundraising body in a position to do things like
- provide long-term stewardship of important IP assets and infrastructure
- raise (tax deductible!) funds for critically important developments such as Twine
I know this may sound rather dull and legal, but it is in fact very important. A lot of fundamental assets of the interactive fiction community, from the IF Archive to the various coding tools, have survived on quiet individual support — but no one person is able to provide support indefinitely. IFTF will be in a position to receive rights assignments and look after some of these projects. And some things, like Twine itself, perform their mission effectively only by being freeware, but would benefit from financial support from those in a position to offer it.
Then there are plans like this:
IFTF intends to create a program during the coming year that will help identify ways to bring popular IF platforms up to modern accessibility standards. We will assist projects in implementing these improvements, and create permanent accessibility guidelines for future IF work.
Again, accessibility is important, but often individual authors don’t have the skills or resources to make sure they’re meeting accessibility standards. This is a good work, and I’m excited to see where it goes.
Game releases and announcements
Classic parser IF games by Magnetic Scrolls have been difficult to access or play for some time, but now Magnetic Scripts offers them for free play in the browser. And if you’re curious to see more history of Magnetic Scrolls, Digital Antiquarian is as usual an excellent source on their creation and publishing.
Adam Cadre has launched a tutorial IF game for iOS, designed to teach new users about the parser (and possibly prepare them for the other iOS parser games he’s also got in the App Store).
Mike Preston (Map, Fifteen Minutes as “Ade McT”) has announced his forthcoming game Worldsmith, a parser-based game with a great deal of creation possibility, expected in fall of 2016. To quote the press release:
“As you explore the world of the Septem Tower, you will create solar systems and Life, unearth ancient mysteries, and discover the secrets behind the Septem Tower and its billion year mission.”
Yarn is an iOS app that repackages Twine games for mobile consumption. It already features several familiar Twine works on its platform. An Android version is forthcoming, together with more authoring tools.
Bring Out Your Dead, the jam for unfinished and abandoned works, closed with 89 entries. Comments are gradually still appearing on these, and Planet-IF has some commentary and reviews from various people. I hope to run a few more posts on this myself.
It’s not, to the best of my knowledge, new this month, but I also played and liked Niamh Schönherr’s All Tomorrow’s Parties, a Twine piece about the process of discovering trans identity. It isn’t doing anything especially startling in terms of interactivity style, but I enjoyed it.
Paid IF (and similar) Writing
Voicemap is a platform for building audio tours with GPS location tie-ins, where the listener unlocks new content by traveling around the designated area. They are open to including fictional work as well as factual tours, and are actively seeking new creators. They do not provide the voiceover work, so you’d need to record your own.
Payment structure is based on a 50% royalty on post-app-store earnings, with no advances offered; download volumes vary from multiple thousands to just a handful. So compared with some IF-like writing opportunities out there, this would be unlikely to earn much in the first instance, if you even reached the $100 mark at which they start paying out.
However, they do offer an editor on-hand to help you get your project into shape, and if you’re particularly interested in location-tie-in writing, this might be the most broadly accessible tool currently out there.
As noted here earlier this month, Sub-Q and Whodunnit Manor are also both seeking new writers.
Reviews and Other Venues
I have a new Rock Paper Shotgun column, exclusively about IF, where I’ll be doing news, reviews, and articles on various types and styles of game. RPS is a site dedicated to PC games, so exclusively mobile work won’t be suitable for coverage, but that leaves quite a lot of material available to investigate. If you think something you’re working on would be appropriate for coverage, feel free to get in touch. (I make no guarantees about the results: as always, I will choose what I consider most newsworthy and notable.)
Clash of the Type-Ins offers two new episodes in the second half of this month, with Carolyn VanEseltine and Wade Clarke.
Meanwhile, inkle’s podcast has been very busy, with observations on interactive film, VR, and lessons from interactive fiction.
Craft and Tools
Genre writing is like pro wrestling – the rare moments of truth dig in really deep, because as an audience you’re so completely primed to expect it to be entirely fake. So whenever we look at what concerns or thrills or saddens us, and we stuff that into science fiction or fantasy, that’s like aiming for the chink in people’s armour of irony. That’s like a gloriously ridiculous WWE cage match climaxing when a meaty, spray-tanned man dives into a bed of actual thumbtacks.
Spooky Action at a Distance has a long, detailed interview with Bruno Dias about writing in general, writing hypertext specifically, his upcoming Voyageur project, and procedural text generation. And if you like that, you might also like Bruno’s devlog.
And in particular, he has some detailed technical advice about how to scrape web sources for procedural generation corpora. Recommended if you have also caught the procgen bug.
If ink is more your thing, Luis Diaz offers this development diary about working with ink and Unity.