PR-IF in Cambridge/Boston has been running a series of IF readings, and they’ve already started with Liza Daly’s Stone Harbor. That reading series continues on Wednesday afternoons, with more events January 18, January 25 and February 1. Next up is Astrid Dalmady’s excellent Cactus Blue Motel.
January 29 is the next meeting of the Oxford/London IF meetup: this is a pub meetup in Oxford. You’re welcome to bring a WIP, or just turn up to talk.
Tool Session Upcoming
Every successful IF system thrives on the feedback of invested beta users, who bend the tool in directions no one had anticipated, and who often become its first evangelists. But with so much going on, it can be hard to attract that engagement and feedback.
It’s not a complete solution, but periodically at the Oxford/London IF Meetup I run a tools session where tool creators can show and share their work, and get questions and responses from possible future users.
The next one of these will probably be May 2017, and I’m hoping to up our game a little bit. In the past, we’ve had a session of 3-4 talks and demonstrations from different tool creators, some local and some via Skype. Those talks will still be the backbone of the program, but I’d like to make the session a bit longer and add more time for hands-on exploration of at least some of the tools.
If you have something you’d like to share, let me know and I’ll follow up about what is involved.
House of Many Doors comes out February 3: this is a Sunless-Sea-reminiscent piece featuring eerie locations and procedural poetry, and one of the first beneficiaries of the Fundbetter funding set up by Failbetter Games. Not exactly standard text IF, but very word-focused:
A House of Many Doors is a 2D exploration RPG that takes inspiration from Sunless Sea, China Mieville, Planescape: Torment and Italo Calvino’s Invisible Cities. It features over 300,000 words of branching original story and over 770 trillion bad poems.
Here’s what Rock Paper Shotgun had to say about looking forward to this piece.
Stay Lost (Casey James) is a Texture piece about growing up lesbian in the suburbs.
The second part of Known Unknowns is now available. If you missed it earlier, this is Brendan Patrick Hennessy’s latest work, coming out in installments. It is set in the same universe to Birdland, and as before, a lot of the pleasure is enjoying how the various characters and personalities manifest themselves.
Episode Two is entirely devoted to a party, in which I managed to annoy all the people I wanted to get close to, while failing to get rid of the people I wanted to avoid. Possibly you will do better. It was good fun, though.
I’m also fascinated to see (but also totally unable to read) Li You’s Secret Admirer, one of several IF games designed for teaching Mandarin learners. Definitely something to be aware of if you’re interested in educational uses of interactive fiction.
Jams and Competitions
The IGF Narrative nominees have been announced. This year, I wasn’t on the judging panel, having rightly guessed I wasn’t going to have anything like enough time to do it justice.
(In fact, not only did I have too much work, but in December my primary laptop self-destructed and turned out to need a new power source, logic board, and display. In the end I’m not sure how much the repairs really differed from Apple just handing me a whole new machine, except in the sense that it took a while longer, especially thanks to the holiday season. Also I got bronchitis.)
But! Narrative nominee list. I’ve tried and enjoyed at least some of Event, Ladykiller in a Bind, and (of course) Sorcery! 4. I recommend checking out those or others from the list.
Also, Andrew Plotkin did participate in the judging this year, and at Gameshelf you can find his comments on the finalists and some runners-up. You may be particularly interested in his comments on Event and why it might be of interest to parser IF enthusiasts.
I’ve mentioned this before, but it’s good enough to mention again: through early March, intents are open for the Spring Thing Festival, if you’d like to join that or donate prizes to it. Spring Thing permits longer games than the IF Comp traditionally encourages; there’s also a “back garden” section for works that are not in ranked competition. The Back Garden is a great place for experiments or mellow projects or items from authors who just aren’t that excited about placements. The games will be released for play in April.
Meanwhile, Laura Michet and Cat Manning are running Utopia Jam, upcoming in February. They describe the project as follows:
Utopian Fiction is a kind of speculative fiction where storytellers imagine better futures.
Tell us about a future world where an injustice or problem that exists today has been somehow fixed. Imagine a more equitable, free, sustainable, or optimistic society. Show us that better futures aren’t impossible!
Utopia Jam submissions can take any form. You don’t even have to make a digital game! Submit a song, a short story, a tabletop game, or a work of art. Surprise us!
Utopia Jam submissions can also take place at any time. Our examples below are largely far-future science fiction stories, but your better future could be set next year, or next month, or even tomorrow.
Stephanie Chan has a collection of IF recommendations, some familiar, some possibly new to readers of this blog: I hadn’t previously run into @ciara3D‘s The Jugular Fish, for instance. Or Stay Lost, a Texture game where the draggable texts are mostly What and Why, questions to interrogate the story rather than verbs to change what happens.
PC Gamer covered IF Comp 2016 — some time ago, in fact, but the article is now available generally.
On Imzy, Bruno Dias is providing periodic roundups of the latest IF news as well.
This Rochester-based conference on story in Japanese games is currently accepting talk submissions.
Pre-reading for those heading into GDC/other conference seasons: Gretchen McCulloch has written about how to approach speakers at these events. Also, here’s a piece I wrote last year about preparing for GDC if you’re an IF author type and have never been before; and here’s something else I wrote about conference access in general. (Speaking of which, see also the next item.)
Veve Jaffa is author of Which Passover Plague Are You (published on Sub-Q). They’re currently holding an itch.io sale in order to fund a trip to GDC to speak about their work and about the political use of games.