May 1 in Cambridge, MA, Salon 256 shows off creative computer programs in 256 bytes or less; Nick Montfort presents some of his work there.
The Spring Thing Festival of Interactive Fiction is live through May 5; if you want to judge the games, you have a few more days to play and submit votes, and of course publishing reviews is also encouraged.
May 6 is the San Francisco Bay Area IF Meetup.
Edgelands launches May 9: it’s a graphical Fundbetter-funded game that draws inspiration from Infocom and perhaps Kentucky Route Zero. (I have not tried it myself, so I’m relying on the coverage here.)
May 11 is Hello Words in Nottingham, a text game writing group.
Also May 11 in London, Strange Tales presents an evening about Kickstarter and story/game projects. James Wallis is speaking.
May 15-16 I will be at the Creative Coast festival in Karlshamn, Sweden, where I will speak about interactive narrative structures beyond branching narrative.
The Machine Learning for Creativity workshop is accepting papers until May 16 and will be held on August 14; the speaker lineup has people who are interested in computer-aided storytelling or various forms of generative narrative.
May 17 in the Boston area, PR-IF is meeting and will be looking at some new interactive narrative projects created by Nick Montfort’s students, among other things.
AdventureJam runs May 5-19.
If you would like to submit a game to the indie showcase at Develop Brighton, you have until May 19 to do so.
PCG Workshop 2017 has a call for papers out. The theme is “PCG in context,” with the tagline “Exploring the biases, and potential to subvert bias, in procedural systems.“ Proposals are due May 22.
May 31 is the IF Tools Meetup in London, where we will talk about innovations in interactive fiction tools, presenting several different systems. I know in a previous link post I had guessed this would not happen until June, but the 31st turned out to be the most workable date for us.
I’ve also moved us to a new location with a bit more room; our old location was imposing a limit of 25 people, which was proving inconvenient or crowded when we had a popular topic. The new room is larger; we’ll see how we like it and whether we want to continue with that solution.
Ruber Eaglenest is running a Spanish-language jam with these rules: 1) choose a favourite song of yours about adventures of the frontier, 2) Join the jam, 3) Make a game inspired by the song. https://itch.io/jam/canciones-del-desierto-la-tormenta-y-el-mar
June 1-3 is Feral Vector, a delightful indie games festival in a really beautiful setting in Yorkshire, which usually includes talks, workshops, and hanging around on the grass eating and drinking with fellow devs. Last year there was also a LARP in the woods. I can’t go this year, but I’ve really enjoyed it both times I went. Not specifically IF-focused, but a good time.
June 20 — this is a bit in advance, but I want to give people plenty of time if they’re interested — the London IF Meetup is gathering at the Eaton Square Bar to play In Case of Emergency, a mystery storytelling game assembled and run by A Door in a Wall. Atypically for our events, there is a small fee of £5 to participate.
June 28-30, I will be speaking at Gamelab XIII GAMES & INTERACTIVE ENTERTAINMENT CONFERENCE in Barcelona, about artificial intelligence and games.
The British Library is running an Interactive Fiction Summer School as a weeklong course in July, with multiple instructors from a variety of different interactive narrative backgrounds. More information can be found at the British Library’s website.
Mysteries of the Polar Wastelands is an interactive fiction jam focusing on that particular setting, and open through July 15.
I tried the game Alycone currently being Kickstarted, and wrote an RPS article about what I thought of the demo.
IFTF is seeking volunteers to help with their accessibility project, which they describe thus:
The plan was (and is) for a community effort to test IF tools and make sure they’re usable by everybody. IF has a long history of being open to gamers with visual disabilities. We want to make sure that remains true, and also that it extends to other groups of gamers.
This is an important goal, and they need some additional assistance to organize the testing process.
It’s been a good couple weeks for tools, with new releases of several. The latest version of Twine includes localization features and other goodies; there is also the new Vorple for skinning Inform Glulx games.
Assorted IF has been nominated for the Reading Digital Literature competition, and there is an audience vote to indicate your favorites. The competition includes Phantom Williams’ 500 Apocalypses, Robin Johnson’s Detectiveland, Astrid Dalmady’s Cactus Blue Motel, Gavin Inglis’ Hana Feels, the Marino family’s Switcheroo, and a variety of other Twine works, mobile apps, and other pieces.
Articles and Talks
“Everything I Said Was Wrong: Why Indie is Different Now” is a talk I wasn’t actually able to attend at GDC 2017, but it’s available free on YouTube now; it talks both about how the indie scene has changed over recent years, and also about advice-giving. It’s all excellent, but if you only have time to watch 15 minutes of the panel, watch Rami Ismail’s at the end.
On the other hand, if you’d like more things to watch from GDC, Carolyn VanEseltine has listed some of her recommendations as well.
Here’s Alastair Horne on the challenges of maintaining and archiving digital fiction when Apple keeps making iOS changes that break old apps — something I find extremely easy to relate to, unfortunately.
Tea-Powered Games writes on conversation in games.
Lost My Name discusses their customized books for children that incorporate a lot of options for how the protagonist is defined.
Glixel covers James Ryan, Adam Summerville, and Ben Samuel’s procedurally-generated-town-plus-interactive-improv piece Bad News.
After the Giants’ War is a new piece from Emily McCosh at Sub-Q — backed by concept art, and an epic music score (from, fittingly, Epic Score). The music definitely shaped my experience of the whole thing — I suspect it was much more emotional with the music behind it — but it felt like a climactic bit of the new Doctor Who, a moment that reflects on love and mortality in a fantasy/SF framework.
Rhyl-on-Sea is a new Android interactive fiction set in seaside Wales, and based (loosely, I assume, given some of the events hinted in the screenshots) on the author’s own experiences as a journalist in that region:
Inspired by noir detective thrillers and the experience of living and working as a journalist in North Wales, ‘Rhyl On Sea’ is an interactive fiction game, which pitches you into a nationalist conspiracy where your decisions will decide the fate of entire countries.
Play as an under-equipped newspaper reporter in the fictional North Wales seaside town of Rhyl-On-Sea, and investigate the stories of the day.
We always thought that we were alone in the universe. But when in 2021 a signal is received from the dark side of the Moon, everything we accepted as norm is put under question. Lead a team of four hand-picked United Nations specialists as they unravel the deep, black secrets of the first decades of human space exploration.
Zarya-1 is a Lifeline-alike space mystery-horror game, free to play on mobile devices (iOS, Android), and providing both English and Russian-language play. In addition to the dialogue with other characters that provides the majority of the actual gameplay, the game features a number of additional special effects — moment when we see feeds of telemetry data from the moon, or when the screen glitches out in the manner of a computer several decades old.
The developers say that it will be coming to Mac and PC as well.
The Eagle’s Heir (Jo Graham and Amy Griswold) is a new Choice of Games title set in a steampunk variant of Napoleonic France:
Since Napoleon won the Battle of Waterloo in 1815, seventeen years ago, Europe has enjoyed an uneasy peace. While the great empires of Austria, Russia and England have tried to stem the tide of revolution, France has mastered steam power to conquer the air and sea. Now, Napoleon’s health is failing, and France is torn between his legitimate heir, Franz, and his illegitimate son Alexandre.
Luckily, Alexandre has you, his loyal bodyguard and childhood companion, skilled in the arts of the duel and the ballroom, and ready for anything from diplomacy to airship combat!
The Devil in the Details, by Jerry Ford, is a new parser IF game in TADS 3. An intro was released years ago in Introcomp, but this is now the finished version:
You have just arrived in San Francisco, no job, no family, no friends, just a letter of introduction addressed to Lucy, who offers you a lifetime of everlasting fame, fortune, happiness, or power, if you will just sign the contract she offers you.
Can you outwit the devil?
Choice of Games is offering some variants on their existing work, including Choice of the Dragon in Spanish, and A Midsummer Night’s Choice with an in-app purchase of Director’s Commentary. (IF with director’s commentary is rare but kind of cool in my opinion; Child’s Play released with directorial notes, and it’s something I experimented with for the unreleased Versu version of Galatea.)
Hatched is a new pencil-and-paper puzzle zine soliciting puzzle submissions from the public.
If you liked the conlang stuff in Counterfeit Monkey, or the procedural text of Parrigues, I bet you will love this procedural conlang generator.
Con or Bust is a yearly auction that raises funds to assist fans of color to attend SF conventions. Not strictly interactive fiction-related at all, but their offerings this year include items of possible interest to IFers, including: a Firkin of Hesperidean Cider in Fallen London; and a critique by IF and SF author Yoon Ha Lee. There is also a variety of foods, signed books, reading copies, and other SF/Fantasy goodies. Improving access to events is a topic near to my heart.
And speaking of cons, events, scaling, and access, this article on scheduling !!Con was an interesting read; I particularly liked what they had to say about reviewers giving talks a score from A-D.