Mid-March Link Assortment

Events and Deadlines

March 17, Atascadero, CA, there is the first of several classes for students 9-16 in writing IF.

March 22 and 23 in Montreal, there are two performances of Bad News, a human-mediated interactive drama that relies on information generated by a Dwarf-Fortress-esque simulation. The simulation is rerun each time someone plays the game.

March 25, Brussels, I will be speaking at the Passa Porta festival as part of a panel with Joost Vandecasteele and Gaea Schoeters about digital literature.

Odyssey Jam, a text game jam which takes inspiration from the Homeric epic, is running from now until March 26.

March 29, 7:30 PM, Cambridge UK, Rob Chant leads a meetup of the Camcreatives group on creating interactive fiction. The group meets at Hot Numbers.

April 1, 1 PM, the San Francisco Bay Area IF Meetup gathers at MADE.

April 2 is the deadline for games to be submitted for Spring Thing.

Also April 1, at the V&A in London, there is Contemporary Board Games Study Day, coordinated by James Wallis and offering curated games to play and talks from designers. It runs from 10 AM to 4 PM and costs £20 to attend.

April 5, 7 PM, the Oxford-London IF Meetup hears from Ian Thomas on the art of LARP and lessons we might draw from that for interactive fiction. We’ve chosen a central location in London for this event.

April 6, Spring Thing games become available for everyone to play.

And it’s some way off, but indie games conference/festival Feral Vector will run in Yorkshire June 1-3. If you go, I recommend booking a place in the adjacent hostel: most other accommodations are further away, more expensive, and less fun. (Exceptions: if you sleep badly in shared rooms, or if you have small children, that might not be a good fit. But evening conversations with fellow hostel-goers are a highlight of the conference.)

Text Club, an IF reading group, has launched over on imzy. They plan to make their way through several games per month and discuss them both separately and in relation to each other. Text Club’s first readings for March are Chandler Groover’s Midnight, Swordfight, S. Woodson’s Magical Makeover, and Emily Ryan’s Secret Agent Cinder.

Announcements and Releases


Stories Untold, by Devolver Digital, has been released on Steam.

Astrid Dalmady has released Role for Resistance as part of #ResistJam; there are several other text-based entries, though I haven’t had a chance to look through extensively.

inkle has announced their forthcoming game Heaven’s Vault, which looks frankly gorgeous.

DINE is an interesting experiment in text-input IF without a traditional parser or world model. As it’s picking the next best answer from a sequence of authored outputs, it’s not particularly designed to handle complex puzzles of the classic Infocom style. Anyone can add to the collection.

And François Coulon’s delightful The Reprover is available to play in a web-based form. This piece is a mix of interactive video, text, and music, available in French or English, about a world in which people hire professional reprovers to disapprove when they go off their diets or indulge other bad habits. The piece is very much its own thing; I wrote a lot more about it back in 2008 when it came out, but it’s been hard to recommend to people recently because it’s been a challenge to get running. Now you can play it again!

Podcasts and Articles

Netflix is bringing out shows with branching narrative, and journalists are reacting with loads of Ebert-fallacy responses. This is not to say that Netflix’s application of interaction is guaranteed to be good, but there are a lot of ways in which it could be good. This article from Thomas McMullen gives a somewhat deeper dive based in more knowledge of interactive stories in games.

Austin Walker’s Idle Weekend podcast for March 6 talks about Aisle and Galatea along with a number of other story-related games.

Here’s Emily Gera on the nostalgia factor in Stories Untold.

And Alastair Horne on various types of interactive and location-based fiction.

Here’s a free GDC 2017 Vault talk where Christine Love talks about the dev process for Ladykiller in a Bind (starting about 31:30), including a brief view of the tool she used to write for the unusual dialogue system.

I didn’t write this piece on being female and post-35 in the game industry, but oh boy does it resonate.

4 thoughts on “Mid-March Link Assortment”

  1. Thank you for your monthly assortments, they always provide intriguing information!

    Emilia Gera’s review of “Stories Untold” mentioned something I am curious about since quite some time: The use of nostalgia in contemporary fields of art and entertainment. (For example Horror and Nostalgia often go hand in hand which makes a lot of sense if you think about the trope of the haunted past)

    When did you notice the use of IF as a means to create “nostalgia” in video games? And what further functionality was provided by this “nostalgic IF”? I have seen two talks of yours in Youtube where you talked about past, present and future of IF / Narrative in Games. Did you also notice something like a “Past, Present and Future of LOOKING BACK at IF”? I guess the field of method and artistic purpose of Nostalgia and IF is very broad (Retro-Futurism and Meta-Reflection being the most prominent in my head right now) and I was wondering if you had some thoughts about this topic or maybe already wrote about this / know about someone who did.

    1. “When did you notice the use of IF as a means to create “nostalgia” in video games?”
      -> I did not want to ask exclusively about video games, whoops!

  2. Congrats on the Spirit AI thing. It is the sort of thing which is near and dear to my heart (I specialized on machine-learning and analytical databases back in my days at Uni), so I’m really looking forward to seeing what games come out with this, and hopefully pick some interesting ideas from your future talks and posts. My own work is – unfortunately – mostly hobby-based tinkering and too small-scale (i.e., mobile-based), or I’d have tried to get into your Character Engine alpha.

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