December 2 is the deadline if you’d like to submit a talk proposal or an exhibition piece (interactive fiction might very well be suitable) for the Electronic Literature Organization’s next conference, July 16-19 2020 in Orlando. Details of the call here.
December 7 is the next SF Bay IF Meetup.
December 10 is the next meeting of the People’s Republic of IF in the Boston/Cambridge area.
The Oxford/London IF Meetup does not get together during the festive season, so we’ll not be together again until 2020.
The NarraScope organizers have announced that there will be a NarraScope 2020: specifically, May 29-31, in Urbana-Champaign, Illinois. If you’re interested in speaking there, the call for proposals is now open.
Last year was the inaugural year for this conference, focused on narrative games from classic IF and text adventures through point-and-click adventures to VR games, interactive audio, and mobile story games, TTRPGs and LARP, and quite a bit more. Meanwhile, if you missed this year’s event, or would just like to revisit its glories, there is a new podcast, Through the NarraScope, that discusses some of the talks and content.
New Narrative Games
Meanwhile, Choice of Games has a new line of romance IF coming out, under the imprint Heart’s Choice. The first three titles will be available on Steam shortly, and consist of A Pirate’s Pleasure, Dawnfall (science fiction), and Jazz Age.
And this one isn’t a new release, but new accessibility for old releases: David Welbourn continues to release a steady stream of verbose, friendly walkthroughs for parser IF games from the 1990s and 2000s. His walkthroughed games can be found on IFDB via the lists that he publishes each month. Recent walkthroughs include Dr Dumont’s Wild P.A.R.T.I., a formerly commercial game.
Aaron Reed’s every-version-is-different novel Subcutanean is funding for a couple more days.
Competitions and Exhibitions
IF Comp 2019 has closed, with Steph Cherrywell winning first place for Zozzled. The full set of rankings and results is available on the competition website.
SubQJam is open now through December 16 for submissions of short interactive fiction, and winners will be featured in SubQ Magazine next year.
Ryan Veeder has announced his Second Quadrennial Exposition for Good Interactive Fiction, an event whose purpose is to create games that are pleasing to Ryan Veeder. Fortunately, Ryan’s IF tastes tend to elicit games that appeal to a lot of other folks as well. Last time around, the winner was the highly entertaining Foo Foo. As a taster of the sort of thing to expect, here is how Ryan describes his preferences:
Entrants should be advised that I like games that are funny, cute, elegant, spooky, friendly, dumb, and/or sincere. Entrants should be advised that I dislike games that are cynical, depressing, gory, horrifying, serious, and/or important.
Entries to the Second Quadrennial Exposition are due… well, at potentially several different times in early 2020. Rather than confuse matters by trying to summarize here, I refer interested parties to Ryan’s own site.
If you’re hankering to write a long game, or a game you don’t think is going to appeal to Ryan Veeder, or a game that is just going to take a bit longer to complete, Spring Thing 2020 is accepting intents from authors now, and through March of next year.
Finally, Green Stories is a competition for stories about building a sustainable future. The competition includes an interactive fiction division.
Articles and Videos
Jon Ingold talks to Meghna Jayanth about her work, the upcoming project Sable, and her presence in the game industry at AdventureX 2019.
Ed Fear talks about challenges around representation in games, and about writing gay characters in particular. Also from AdventureX. (Several other videos from AdventureX are now available as well.)
Jimmy Maher on Digital Antiquarian writes about the Z-Machine and the early days of Inform and Curses, with quite a bit of input from Graham Nelson. (Introductory thoughts about the Z-Machine, Graham’s personal account, Jimmy’s take on the IF Renaissance)
Those interested in the problems of teaching an ML agent to play interactive fiction may like these articles courtesy of Prithviraj Ammanabrolu:
https://arxiv.org/abs/1909.05398 Interactive Fiction Games: A Colossal Adventure – formalizing the task of playing text games with reinforcement learning agents, a software platform (https://github.com/microsoft/jericho) and series of baseline agents designed to play a wide variety of text based games.
https://arxiv.org/abs/1908.06556 Transfer in Deep Reinforcement Learning using Knowledge Graphs – answering the question of how well an agent can play a text adventure by learning to play other text adventures within a genre.
https://arxiv.org/abs/1909.06283 Toward Automated Quest Generation in Text-Adventure Games – looking at the other side of the problem, instead of playing a game, how can we use AI to help generate content for a game (here in the form of a quest within a given world).