Mid-September Link Assortment

Events

The Foundation of Digital Games is moving ahead with its conference this year as an online event, spanning from September 15-18. It only requires an online seat registration in order to attend.

September 23 is the next meeting of the Boston Area IF Meetup.

October 3 is the next meeting of the SF/Bay Area IF Meetup.

October 3-4 is the weekend for Roguelike Celebration 2020. This year it will be online-only. More specifics about the event can be found here.

Contests

It’s the final stretch! Entries for IFComp 2020 are due September 28. There is still time for interested parties to donate cash or other items to the prize fund.

IntroComp has just posted a list of the winners for their 2020 contest, and you can still check out any of the titles from the now-completed inkjam 2020.

XYZZY Award finalists for 2019 have just been announced – yes, later in the year than usual, but this is an unusual year. Congratulations to all the nominees! Anyone may vote for winners, in categories from Best Story to Best Individual NPC to Best Technological Innovation. This year’s nominees include a range of parser and choice-based work, and some games — from AI Dungeon to Disco Elysium — that are neither.

Releases

Inkle is about to unveil their latest game Pendragon, slated to release on Steam on September 22. The game promises to be a character-based adventure set around the mythology of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table.

Meanwhile, September 24 is the release date for Vampire: The Masquerade — Night Road from Choice of Games and Kyle Marquis and set in the Vampire: The Masquerade universe:

It’s a new Dark Age for the dead. When the Second Inquisition’s vampire hunters hacked phone lines and computer networks to expose and destroy vampires all over the world, the elders turned to undead couriers like you. For ten years, you’ve raced across the desert between cities, delivering vital information and supplies. But when an old friend reappears with a plan to disrupt the blood trade across the American Southwest, everything you’ve built starts crashing down.

Resources

Someone recently asked me about writing for audio games. I had the wonderful good fortune to be educated by Jude Kampfner, a hugely experienced producer of radio for the BBC and others.

That process was one of the most effective professional learning experiences of my career. I continue to use techniques that she taught me. She’s very interested in games as a medium, and we had many many conversations about them while we put together Game Over.

I mention this because she’s now doing some freelance coaching, editing, and feedback on audio projects, as well as some broader workshops on creative career development. She is such a resource. If you are trying to learn the craft of writing for audio and you have funds for professional development, I definitely recommend talking to her.

End of August Link Assortment

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

September 13 is the next meeting of the Seattle Area IF Meetup, focusing on Lynnea Glasser’s Coloratura.

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October 3-4 is the weekend for Roguelike Celebration 2020. This year it will be online-only. More specifics about the event can be found here.

Contests

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The “intent to enter” deadline for IFComp 2020 is just around the corner, on September 1. The entries themselves are due September 28.

IntroComp, meanwhile, has its voting come to a close at the end of August. Results will be posted on September 15. And the games from the recently-concluded inkjam 2020 are still online to play.

Books

Celestory founder Pierre Lacombe’s recent work Writing an Interactive Story is an in-depth look at the topic of branching story-writing. The book contains interviews with David Cage, Jean-Luc Cano–among a number of other writers and storytellers–and is available from multiple sellers, including Blackwell’s and Bookshop.

Releases

A couple weeks ago, StoryFix posted a short bit about one of the projects I’ve been working on, an adaptation of George Orwell’s Animal Farm. There isn’t an exact release date as of yet, but you can check out the Steam link here.

Mid-August Link Assortment

Events

August 16 is the next meeting of the Seattle Area IF Meetup.

August 23-24 is Reality Escape Con, an online, free convention about room escape games, organized by the same people who are behind the Room Escape Artist blog.

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

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October 3-4 is the announced weekend for Roguelike Celebration 2020. The event is moving to a virtual model this year. More specifics about the event can be found here.

Contests

iftf_logo.pngIFComp 2020 is still accepting entries for another two weeks. Authors should register their intent to enter by September 1. The entries themselves are due September 28.

downloadIntroComp, meanwhile, has already passed the deadline for submissions, but you can play the games and vote on them until August 31.

And inkjam 2020 has just recently concluded, with a number of games written in ink. The winners are still online to play.

Releases

Wide Island is a Twine piece by Draconic Chipmunk. It relies heavily on the technique of text expansion: a few linked words will expand into a much longer passage, which itself contains further expansions. Important information about the protagonist, setting, and situation are buried in different parts of the narrative, and the structure means that you might encounter them in any order. The effect reminded me of the telescopic narration in Lime Ergot, where new details constantly encourage the reader to recontextualise what has come before.

I had been reading for several minutes before discovering that the main character was a man with a wife and child. For lack of other information, I’d initially pictured someone demographically more like myself — but that shift felt like an intended part of the reading experience.

There were a few things that surprised me; for instance, several of the links seemed to offer more information on one topic but in fact opened out to talk about something different. But that relative lack of readerly agency also felt appropriate here. Overall, an interesting experiment in hypertext construction. (If this technique interests you, see also stretchtext.)

littlecover.pngThanks to Petter Sjölund, Dan Fabulich, 2lindell, Ed King, jackk225, Kevin Lo, nosferatu-if, OtherOlly, Sabe Jones, Sukil Etxenike, and thehatless, as well as long-term contributions by Dannii Willis and Andrew Plotkin, Counterfeit Monkey is now available in Release 9(!). There is a change log, and the game can be played in-browser complete with the map and all the assorted goodies.

AI and Text Generation

GPT-3 has been available to a limited group of people for a couple of months now, and interesting applications are starting to appear, including a blog that fooled a number of human readers.

Nick Walton, the creator of the AI Dungeon project that used GPT-2, has now set up a GPT-3 version that requires a subscription to access. (Once you have access, you’ll need to go to the settings panel and switch over to the “Dragon” model to activate it, as well.)

On my trials so far, it’s given a reasonably coherent but often sort of conservative performance:

The Dragon model also adds a feature that explicitly logs quests and tracks whether it thinks you’ve completed them or not — more of an attempt to track world state than we saw in the earlier versions of AI Dungeon.

You can also try priming the system with a prompt of your own; it took Counterfeit Monkey in a surprising direction with some torch-carrying sewer-dwellers.

End of July Link Assortment

Events

Aug 1 is the next scheduled meeting of the SF Bay Area IF Meetup.

Contests

ifcomp-blank-screen.jpgIFComp 2020 is accepting entries! Authors should register their intent to enter by September 1. The entries themselves are due by September 28.

A full description of the rules can be found here.

If you have the spare income and the inclination, you can also donate to the IFComp’s fund here.

The September deadline means that we’re still a ways off from playing and voting on the comp games themselves, but in the meantime…

downloadIntroComp will be entering its own play/voting phase at the beginning of August. The last of the entries should be submitted on July 31, and after this, players can check out the games themselves. For IntroComp, the voting deadline is August 31.

 

Talks, Articles, and Podcasts

Ryan Veeder talks about making the classic Taleframe Crocodracula: The Beginning accessible. You can also play here, but the blog post is a delightful read.

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I mentioned Victor Gijsbers’ YouTube channel earlier this month, but he has since uploaded two new videos, both of which are worth a look. Of particular interest to new players is this introduction, which explores four examples of both choice-based and parser-based IF.

Mid-July Link Assortment

Events

July 27 is the next meeting of the Boston IF Meetup.

Aug 1 is the next scheduled meeting of the SF Bay Area IF Meetup.

New Releases

Although things are decidedly slow when it comes to events right now, there are a number of interesting releases at the moment, both in terms of games and online pieces.

https___cdn.evbuc.com_images_104813350_226156754634_1_original.jpgThe first is the online interactive piece The Evidence Chamber by Fast Familiar, which was the team that put together The Justice Syndicate last year. The Evidence Chamber casts players as members of an online jury, attempting to piece together testimonies and evidence to arrive at a verdict. The project was created in collaboration with forensic scientists at Leverhulme Research Centre for Forensic Science.IgeOXM

Yoon Ha Lee has also just released the new game Entropy Soldiers on itch.io.

Play the roles of interstellar soldiers relying on each other to survive after they’ve escaped from the war. Entropy Soldiers is a GM-less narrative RPG that uses found texts like magazine pages to prompt your creativity. (Some sample texts drawn from public domain books have been provided for your convenience.)

Players can name their own price to download and play Entropy Soldiers, and all proceeds from this game will be donated to the ACLU.

promo408-1.pngChoice of Games has just released 180 Files: The Aegis Project, by Karelia Hall.

“As Agent 180, a star secret agent, you’ve never found a problem you couldn’t solve with guns, gadgets, or a devastating quip. But after a personal tragedy sends your life off course, your next mission will test you to your very limits.” 

Rounding out our list, Cait S. Kirby has written a pair of Twine games about the implications of COVID-19 for higher education in the fall. Each game focuses on a single day on campus, September 7, 2020 and October 1, 2020.

Speaking of Twine…

Tools

Twine has released an updated version 2.3.9, which can be found on this github link.

Contests

Screen Shot 2020-07-14 at 9.19.40 PMNext Adventure Jam voting ends on July 23rd. The 8-bit-centric contest focuses on games created using Adventuron Classroom. Seven unique titles are available for play and all are listed as browser playable.

Talks, Articles, and Podcasts

In this brief video, Victor Gijsbers gives an analysis of 9:05 by Adam Cadre. WARNING: SPOILERS ABOUND. If you haven’t played the game yet and want to experience it sans spoilery explanations, you can do so here.

 

End of December Link Assortment

Events

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.

Also January 11, the Baltimore/DC IF meetup is getting together to talk about AI Dungeon 2.

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 31Feb 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.

Competitions

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.

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