Mid-May Link Assortment


Spring Thing has closed and the results are now available: congratulations to Bobby and Bonnie, Guttersnipe: Carnival of Regrets, and Niney.

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.

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, including Juhana Leinonen talking about the new Glulx-compatible version of Vorple; Robin Johnson talking about the JS system underlying Detectiveland; Andrew Gordon talking about DINE, an experimental interactive narrative project at USC; and me talking about the tools we’re developing at Spirit AI, which are designed for commercial application but have a connection back to interactive fiction history.

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, 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.


Texture has added a feature allowing authors to embellish their stories with image files; that link is actually to an example of this at work, namely…

New Work

Jim Munroe has released Data Doesn’t Lie, with illustrations by Luc Allenet de Ribemont. The game is a frequently-fatal gauntlet with ways to lose on almost every page. That’s a somewhat player-unfriendly structure for a Texture piece: in this engine, you can’t save state or undo the last move, so I had to replay a number of times in order to explore the narrative space completely. But I enjoyed doing so, and the protagonist’s confusion is narratively appropriate.

I very much liked the images, too. These work like book plates, interspersed between the textual interactions, providing a lot of hints about this world, and a lot of emotional inflection, which one wouldn’t otherwise get. Unsurprisingly, what this most reminded me of was Jim’s Inform game Everybody Dies, which also uses images as a comment on the action.


Jeremiah McCall has shared a selection of historical IF written by his students for educational purposes, largely in Twine.


Betsy Sykes Mysteries – Volume 1 is an Android text adventure game with a noir flavor.


6 Swords is a fantasy game designed to be played by voice with Alexa.

Articles and Podcasts

apocalypseheadBruno Dias has written a detailed postmortem on his game Don’t Mind My Apocalypse Head, with an emphasis on how he focused the systems and limited the parser mechanic to achieve a systematic storytelling method. He describes the game as a puzzleless story, though in fact it is manipulable to multiple endings and some of those endings could be difficult to find. So arguably that aspect is a matter of terminology.

He’s also written a post about Inform 7’s value as a prototyping tool, and about the concept of “parserless parser” — what games might look like if they drew on the features of a parser IF world model, but with a more accessible UI, perhaps driven by Vorple.

Astrid Dalmady’s Cactus Blue Motel got written up in NDR, a literary magazine put together by the MFA Program in Creative Writing at Louisiana State University.

At Rock Paper Shotgun, I wrote about IF games of linguistic experimentation, and a few curious related pieces, such as Lighan ses Lion.

Jimmy Maher’s always excellent Digital Antiquarian blog includes a post this week on letters from players of CRPGs back when they were newly released — including contemporary gripes about Wizardry, Bard’s Tale, and Ultima games.

On Script Lock, Rob Morgan and Aleissia Laidacker talk about AR experiences and narrative, and especially Rob’s work at Playlines. Playlines create interactive mixed reality experiences, where players interact with one another and also the story beats that are connected to particular points in space.

There’s also a good bit of the podcast at around 1:20 in about how professional wrestling is a training ground of narrative and particularly how to hold off from gratifying the audience too soon. (See also: Slammed!)

And speaking of Aleissia Laidacker, she also has a talk here:

…about how to do systemic design with modular elements. She’s talking about these strategies in the context of graphical games, but the same kind of thinking is useful for any type of system, even fronted by text.

Other things

Max Gladstone’s Craft Sequence was nominated for a Hugo for best series — and that sequence includes two Choice of Games works, Choice of the Deathless and Deathless: A City’s Thirst — another step in recognizing interactive SFF works with some of the same recognitions given to non-interactive forms.

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