January 4 is the next gathering of the SF Bay Interactive Fiction Meetup.
January 11 is Visual;Conference, an all-online presentation of talks about visual novels and related topics in narrative and choice design.
January 21 is the next meetup of the People’s Republic of IF, in Boston/Cambridge.
There will be a London IF Meetup in late January, where I will be talking about narrative design with storylets; time and venue are TBD, but I will announce them via the London IF Meetup page when these are settled.
January 31–Feb 3, Ryan Veeder is running the first of three events in his Exposition for Good Interactive Fiction. This one is a short jam for Inform 7 games. There are a number of rules about how to participate, so please do check out the fine print.
February 15-16, Rob Sherman is running an interactive fiction masterclass at the British library. This is a paying event; tickets here.
The NarraScope organizers have announced that there will be a NarraScope 2020: specifically, May 29-31, in Urbana-Champaign, Illinois. Call for talks is here and the deadline for proposals is January 17.
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.
If you plan to enter Spring Thing 2020, you have until March 1, 2020 to declare your intent to enter. Spring Thing is a long-running competition for interactive fiction that welcomes longer games than IF Comp can accommodate, and features a “back garden” section for games that are unfinished, commercial, experimental, or where the author just wants to opt out of the competitive aspect of the competition.
Meanwhile, Ryan Veeder’s Exposition for Good Interactive Fiction will be taking place in early 2020, in the form of three different events for different formats and lengths of game. The rules for this are fairly complex, so rather than trying to summarize, I will just point you in the direction of Ryan’s pages.
Magician’s Workshop is a story by Kate Heartfield about an apprentice magician in Renaissance Italy:
When your master’s body washes up in the Arno river, you must take over his Maria Novella workshop—the designs, the paintings, the marvelous machines and inventions, and most importantly, his book of spells, written in various ciphers and magical invisible inks. You have inherited a roster of dangerous clients who are losing patience, and two rival apprentices who could prove allies or even lovers, if they don’t turn on you to wrest the workshop from your hands.
…while An Odyssey is an interactive retelling of Homer by Natalia Theodoridou.
It’s interesting seeing how the story of such a specific hero is recast into a Choice of Games presentation: you can choose to make the protagonist female or non-binary, or provide a name other than Odysseus, or make them dislike praise (a very radical diversion from the original); or affiliate them with a god of your choice, as here:
Articles and Podcasts
Wireframe this month carried an article about getting started with ink.
If, like me, you think “cool! …but a physical magazine? on paper?? that I then have to store in my house???” you may be happy to know that you can download the issue for free in PDF form.
Veteran IF reviewer Paul O’Brian writes about three of Steph Cherrywell’s games, including this year’s competition winner Zozzled. (For many years, Paul wrote about every game in the competition, and his coverage of late 90s/early 00s IF is some of the best out there.)
You may also enjoy Bruno Dias’ top ten list of games from 2019, which lean heavily towards the narrative.
And if you’re in the mood for a more extensive retrospective than that, here’s a thread on the intfiction forum discussing people’s favorite interactive fiction from the past ten years.
This isn’t new as of this month, but this month I listened to Writing Excuses’ podcast with Julia Rios on Latinx representation, speaking especially to the value of specificity about the characters and subcultures you’re presenting. This is a very active podcast series on a wide range of topics, from plotting and world-building to representation, that might be of interest to people here.
Tools and Interpreters
Fans of the Gargoyle interpreter (used to play many TADS, Inform, and other parser IF games) may like to know that there’s a 2019 edition that brings it in line with recent OSes on both Mac and Windows.
Glk support is currently being implemented for SCUMM VM, a virtual machine originally designed to play point-and-click adventures. This allows for a number of standard IF languages, including TADS, Inform, Hugo, Alan, and ADRIFT, to compile games that will be playable on this platform.
Dialog is a newish parser IF authoring system — its first game debuted in IF Comp last year, with another this year — and it’s now got its own discussion area on the intfiction forum.
Borogove is an online Inform + Vorple editor. You can, entirely in-browser, write and compile Inform 7 code, and build a game that ties into Vorple’s browser-friendly display features. There’s an associated thread for forum discussion as well.
Fans of constructed languages may like Harry Josephine Giles’ work on Glyphsprache, a constructed picture language for poetry.