September 18-19, Emperatriz Ung is running a session for the Asian-American Writers’ Workshop called Prototyping Memory, A Game Design Approach To Nonfiction, about using Inform and IF techniques to reimagine setting, perspective, and structure.
The Oxford/London IF Meetup is currently running a jam for pieces written for Seltani, Andrew Plotkin’s multiplayer hypertext platform. We’ll meet and play through the submitted games on September 19.
If you’d like to contribute a game, you only need to build it on the Seltani system and then leave a comment on the Meetup page to indicate that it’s been submitted for play. And if we don’t get a lot of entries (people are busy and it’s hard to tell in advance!) we’ll still meet and play through some of the existing games on the Seltani system. You’re more than welcome to come and play with us even if you don’t have time or inclination to write anything.
September 28 is the deadline to submit games to IF Comp; authors should already have signed up for this, however, so if you haven’t done so, you cannot enter now. (If you’ve missed the deadline and are sad about it, Spring Thing offers an alternate comp opportunity each year, so you may want to keep an eye out for the next time that opens for entries.)
IF Comp is also still accepting prize submissions and contributions to the Colossal Fund, which helps support authors and the IF Technology Foundation.
October 2 is the next meetup of the San Francisco Bay Area IF Group.
Roguelike Celebration runs online October 16-17, and is often a great place to pick up some talks on procedural generation of various kinds.
Also October 17, the Seattle IF Meetup will gather to play through some IF Comp games.
October 24, the London IF Meetup will do our IF Comp playthrough session.
Talks, Podcasts, and Articles
Jimmy Maher’s history of games has reached 1995, with an article on some of the grand IF written when the post-commercial amateur IF community was coming into its own. People curious about the history of IF may enjoy the read; newer fans of text adventures may also find a few recommendations for older gems they haven’t yet played.
Hannah Nicklin has a marvellous collection of craft articles and workshop guidelines for improving your interactive writing skills, including a great set of instructions for improving your ear for dialogue.
Over the years, interactive fiction and other narrative games have been shown in a huge range of public contexts, including conference expo booths and in museums.
The Game Arts Curators Kit is a new handbook on how to approach game curation and display, bringing together input from more than two dozen people with experience in that area, and currently available in wiki form. It covers everything from curatorial selection to setting up a venue to how to communicate with the game creators about the results of the exhibition if they weren’t able to be there in person.
Readers interested in linguistics and natural language processing might enjoy this Lingthusiasm episode about a project to build machine learning models of African languages that aren’t currently well represented in machine translation solutions.
One of several neat things the game does is feature a conversation system where you need to highlight the elements of a patient’s illness you’re planning to try to cure:
…I imagine it might be a bit like listening to a bug report: you want as much information as you can get, and you kind of automatically filter things out that you know are unrelated. This was easily represented by the mechanic of clicking certain words to highlight symptoms: unless you “actively listen” to the patient, you won’t uncover what they’re feeling.Pestis Apotheca design discussion
Ord. has been around for a few years, and now the creators have released the toolkit for other authors who want to work with the system: you can create new Ord content using Google spreadsheets.
Ord’s guide for new authors makes clear that this a basic storylet system rather than a tiny-sized Twine variant: by default, Ord is randomly picking its next events from a pool of possibilities, rather than hard-linking to followup consequences. In fact, that guide offers a pretty good explanation of some real basics of storylet design: how to separate storylets into pools or groupings; how to make new storylets available or unavailable; how to create loops or hard links to create more structured areas within the storylet slurry.
Six to Start’s New Adventures are audio stories players experience while they run, jog, or walk. Players hear a short scenes of audio (1–3 minutes long) interspersed with songs from the music player on their phone. Each episode of a New Adventure features 6–8 scenes, and New Adventures can be standalone episodes (e.g. “The 13th Runner”) or multi-episode arcs (e.g. “Nellie Bly”).
Six to Start is currently accepting pitches to write audio pieces — not about zombies! — for inclusion in their New Adventures series. They pay for each stage of script development, and have a mentoring program for writers who have never previously written for pay. The pitching deadline is September 26.
The Exquisite Corpse in Maggots’ Keep is a gamebook project in which the authorship of the project changes every time the player makes a choice.
Somewhat alarmingly, the reward at the $5K tier is your own actual coffin, which raises a lot of question about coffin sourcing and storage.
But for those who are (very reasonably) more interested in having a paperback or hardback book sans funeral furnishings, there are a bunch of handy tiers for that as well.
Remember August, meanwhile, is a narrative game played by email or physical mail, about connecting with an old friend who has become unmoored in time.