Mid-February Link Assortment

Mask demo!

This month’s link assortment is a few days later than usual; that’s because I was focused in the first half of February on launching the demo for Mask of the Rose, the new game I’ve been working on at Failbetter.

Mask of the Rose is set in the Fallen London universe, but decades earlier than the other games in the series: even if you don’t know the game universe, it would be a safe place to jump in. It’s also much more focused on relationships (romantic and otherwise). I spoke about the project with Fraser Brown for PC Gamer, and that article captures a lot of our thinking about what the game should do.

Mask of the Rose gives you a ground-level perspective on Fallen London.

Even if you’re not a fan of the Fallen London universe, if you are interested in my procedural narrative work, Mask might interest you. The fundamental narrative arc is designed rather than generated, and the vast majority of the text is also hand-written. But in between those layers are a host of systems that handle different aspects of

  • NPC responsiveness – from how they decide whether to honour your requests to how they pose and move during a scene
  • Protagonist characterisation, allowing the player to build out a social persona with different social “moves” available
  • Selection of narrative chunks (scenes and sub-scenes that happen automatically, and those that are offered to the player to explore)
  • Procedural text generation to describe the outfit you’ve chosen each day, or stories that you invent as part of gameplay

I’ll be going into more depth about Mask‘s internal features, and especially the way it makes NPC reasoning into part of the storytelling, for the AI Summit at GDC next month.

Events

The French IF Comp for 2022 has released its games, so fluent French players may like to give that a try.

February 20 (tomorrow!) is the next meeting of the Seattle IF Meetup, and will be held via Discord, so people are welcome to attend remotely. It will feature a guest appearance from Daniel Ravipinto, one of the authors of the classic parser IF game Slouching Towards Bedlam.

Cover art for The Master of the Land. The images is divided into quarters. Each quarter is the portrait of a richly dressed monarch, with their face cut out of the image.

February 23, there is an IF bookclub discussion group looking at Pseudavid’s game The Master of the Land.

If you’re trying to decide whether you might find this game interesting, Sam Kabo Ashwell’s review describes it as “odd and audacious,” and talks at some length about its dynamic character behaviour. This group is new, and meets remotely on Discord.

February 23 is also the date for the next meeting of the Boston/Cambridge-area People’s Republic of IF. This is also a remote event, and will be conducted by Zoom.

March 5 is the next meeting of the SF Bay Area IF Meetup.

If you wish to enter Spring Thing this year with a new work of interactive fiction, you have until March 1 to submit your intent to enter, and March 31 to complete your game. For those who haven’t encountered Spring Thing before, it’s a long-running festival for IF games, as opposed to a competition: there are ribbons and prizes but not overall rankings, and the mood is often more relaxed.

Videos, podcasts, articles

Arcweave’s sponsored series on interactive fiction now has a short (flattering!) video about Counterfeit Monkey and how the game works, both mechanically and as a piece of storytelling.

This is not a new podcast, but I’ve recently been listening to and very much enjoying Soren Johnson’s Designer Notes podcast, especially episodes with Jon Ingold, Meghna Jayanth, and David Dunham. These are detailed, long-form interviews that get into specifics of why games were designed the way they were.

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