Mid-November Link Assortment

November 19, London, is Wordplay, held at the British Library. [Not Museum, as I stupidly mis-typed earlier.]

November 20, also London, AdventureX is running the interactive fiction-y part of its content. I’ll be talking about IF past, present, and future.

November 25, London, Parallel Worlds is a game design conference running at the V&A museum.

ICIDS is running this week, with the latest academic work on interactive digital storytelling. The papers are currently available (though at some cost); or, through December 9, if you go through the link on icids2016.ict.usc.edu, you can download the full PDF for free.


Choice of Games is running a new competition for interactive fiction in their house style. There are very detailed descriptions of what they’re looking for. Top-placers will win up to $5000 and publication with royalties via Choice of Games; the competition runs through January of 2018 to give you plenty of time to put something together. Entrants that do not win may still be eligible for publication through CoG’s “Hosted Games” program.

New releases

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Known Unknowns is a new adventure from Brendan Patrick Hennessy, set in the same overall universe as Bell Park, Youth DetectiveBirdland and Open Up!. This time Bell and Bridget are not the main characters, though you can expect a cameo or two. Known Unknowns is being published in episodes, but episode 1 is now available.


bringmeaheadEctoComp dropped in a whole bunch of new Halloween-themed games, which are still open for judging through November 30. I mentioned a few I tried and liked in a previous post. Since then, I’ve also checked out and enjoyed Chandler Groover’s Bring Me A Head! — a one-puzzle story with multiple solutions, and typically Grooverian in the way it smuggles its most startling content into the story under a cloak of narrative voice:

“Supreme horologist. He’s got more arms than most horologists, hence his supremacy. That shadow on the wall, looks like an arachnid, it’s his.”

four_sittingsOr you might like Bruno Dias’ Four Sittings in a Sinking House. To describe what I like most about this one requires a semi-spoiler, so I’ll rot13 and you can decide for yourself whether you want to know:

Gur tnzr vapyhqrf bar bs gur zber fngvfslvat rkbepvfz fprarf V’ir frra, orpnhfr vg’f npghnyyl nobhg fbzrguvat naq abg whfg n enaqbz zlfgvpny-jbb fprar jurer sbe fbzr ernfba n ohaqyr bs fntr naq n srj yvarf bs n qrnq ynathntr qevir bss gur tbngl uryy-ornfg.

Try it: it runs a few minutes, no more.

There are 21 games in all, most with very short play times, so there’s a lot to find beyond what I’ve previewed here.


Those Trojan Girls is a new piece of hypertext narrative from Mark Bernstein, sold through Eastgate Systems.


The Recombinant Armorial Roll is a procedurally generated catalog of dynasties, created for ProcJam by Bruno Dias. There are many other Procjam goodies as well, which you can find at its itch.io page.


The Mirror is a short Twine piece augmented with a bit of imagery, about body positivity.


Somewhere between IF and civilization simulator, Epitaph is a game about sentient life developing on planets. You’re allowed to help the civilizations along from time to time, but they’ll often die off — either because your gift of (say) fire has caused them to burn down every tree on their planet accidentally, or because some random environmental event has happened. The point is a bit different, and the interface is a streamlined choice interface, but I found myself thinking of the opening puzzle of Worldsmith.


Dialogue from Tea-Powered Games is available on itch.io. The piece focuses on conversation and correspondence with other characters: there are passages where you’re revising what you want to write to other people, and then two different dialogue mechanics for conversation. Some conversations are timed choice-making dialogues as in Telltale games, where you have a certain number of seconds to take action before the choice times out. Others use a more overtly puzzle-like maze metaphor, where you’re looking for leads in the conversation to open new conversation topics. For instance, here’s a moment where the player has two leads to follow up that might connect to new conversation nodes:


Podcasts and Other Coverage

FLOSS Weekly talks with representatives of the IF Technology Foundation about their work, particularly around making interactive fiction more accessible.

Clash of the Type-ins is up to episode 39 at this point, with Chandler Groover and Buster Hudson as recent guests.

Related games and diversions

I enjoyed this gorgeous article with photographs of real-world mazes and labyrinths, executed in everything from stone and hedge to mirrored glass.

Sam Ashwell writes about Dogs in the Vineyard, a tabletop RPG with some intriguing narrative mechanics.

I’m hearing good things about the combination of board game worker-placement play and storytelling play in Above and Below.

Other resources some of us may need right now

Grieving and self-care

Here and here are some past lists of IF games I’ve recommended as mood-lifters or sources of comfort.

Protection and planning

This is a quick set of suggestions about how to intervene safely and effectively if you witness Islamophobic street harassment; the same methods would apply for any kind of racist or sexist harassment.

Lambda Legal fights for queer and trans rights. They have a page about what to expect after the election and how to deal with it.

The ACLU fights civil rights violations of all sorts in the United States. They will sue to fight unconstitutional actions on the part of the government.

The Southern Poverty Law Center tracks extremism and hate groups. Personally I am not sure this is quite as effective as the ACLU’s direct legal action, but YMMV. They do provide some tracking on what is currently going on.

CAIR tracks and reports on factors that affect Muslims in America.

This document collects many resources and pieces of advice for different groups likely to be affected by the change of administration.

DonorsChoose provides teacher-requested supplies for classrooms in the United States — including classrooms of students of color and immigrant students. Classrooms are a front line right now as children look for reassurance about their place in the US, and/or replicate the bullying attitudes they see in the surrounding culture. Teachers need to be supported and well-equipped. You can search specifically for ESL classrooms/projects if you want to send particular support to immigrant populations. (More on why this specific issue resonates with me.)

Activism and resistance

Cassandra Khaw curates a list of opportunities for writers from marginalized backgrounds.

Masha Gessen writes on living in an autocracy; Harold Pollack, less extremely, on what is likely to be necessary in the short term. Or there’s this from Jon Schwarz, or these reflections in the New Yorker.

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