Mid-March Link Assortment



GDC is just next week; March 18-22 in San Francisco.

March 24 is the deadline for submitting full technical papers to the IEEE Conference on Games (CoG).  The conference itself will be August 20-23 in London, and I will be there.

March 24 is also the next meeting of the Seattle Area IF Meetup.

March 30, the Baltimore/DC Area IF Meetup will discuss Within a Circle of Water and Sand.

April 6, the Oxford/London IF Meetup hears from Tom Kail (inkle) and Xalavier Nelson Jr (freelance) about game design considerations in IF and narrative games.

Also on April 6, the SF/Bay Area IF Meetup will be playing through games from the 2019 Spring Thing competition.

indie-cade-featured.jpgApril 15 is the late deadline for designers to submit their work to Indiecade Festival.  The event itself is in October in Santa Monica, CA.

The Oxford/London IF Meetup has an excellent program in process for the weekend of June 8, interactive audio experiences for phones, smart speakers, and similar devices. Saturday, we’re going to be hearing about craft, tools, and commercial considerations, with a couple of speakers coming from out of town. Then Sunday we have a workshop on using Spirit AI’s Character Engine for natural language interactions.

If you’re interested in going to Narrascope, the big narrative game conference this summer in Boston, registration is now open.

New Releases9781138595309.jpg

I contributed to the forthcoming Procedural Storytelling in Game Design (“forthcoming” here is a term that will only be applicable for about a week; the book comes out on March 21.)

Each chapter in this collection is written by a different contributor and focuses on a unique topic in Procedural Storytelling. Tanya X. Short and Tarn Adams were the editors, and more info is available here.

41YXldsW6jL._SX392_BO1,204,203,200_.jpgThe Advanced Game Narrative Toolbox is a new book release following on to The Game Narrative Toolbox, which I reviewed previously.  I have it ordered but haven’t read it yet; I’ll share thoughts here once I’ve had a chance to do that. (Actually, I have now read it. Review coming Tuesday.)

The Quest Smith is cool, and a bit reminiscent of Jerry Belich’s Choosatron.

Lastly, another Kickstarter to check out: the “H2O: A Drop in the Ocean” project is live as of this month.

Articles & Podcasts

the bettercast is an interesting long-form podcast about learning to do conversation design for natural language interactions, from Danielle Frimer of Xandra (and formerly ToyTalk).


ElWtNt4e_400x400.jpgAnd we’ve recently had two related announcements about how science fiction and fantasy interactive fiction markets are now being recognized by SFWA.

First of all, Choice of Games announced at the end of February that three of their titles have been selected as finalists for the 2018 Nebula Game Writing Award.

A week later, sub-Q also had some good news of their own.

Talespinners has just announced their collaboration with the University of Southampton on the IF portion of the Green Stories Writing Competition.

The University’s aim is to explore the topic of sustainability through stories. The competition has a wide scope: novels, stage plays, radio dramas, short films, and various varieties of screenplay are all welcome.


According to the site: “all genres will be considered, but stories must engage with the idea of environmentally sustainable practices and/or sustainable societies.”

The IF contest is accepting submissions until December 1, 2019. It’s free to submit, and there are a number of prizes. For more information, check out the competition page here.

End of February Link Assortment


springthing.jpgMarch 1 is the deadline for artists to send an intent to enter to Spring Thing 2019.  The games aren’t due until the end of the month, but if you want to participate, put your name in today.

March 2, the London IF Meetup does a workshop on Character Engine. This is already full at the moment, but if there’s interest we may do some more of these in the future.

March 2 will also be the next SF / Bay Area meetup.

March 15 is the deadline for designers to submit their work to Indiecade Festival. There is a late deadline of April 15, and the event itself is in October in Santa Monica, CA.

GDC is just around the corner, March 18-22 in San Francisco. I will be there, as will several other members of the Spirit team. I’ve recommended some talks from the lineup that I’m excited about, and I’m also around and meeting with people who are interested to talk about Character Engine. So if you’d like to know more about that, get a demo, or find out whether we might be a good fit for a project you’re working on, please let me know.

March 24 is the deadline for submitting full technical papers to the IEEE Conference on Games (CoG).  The conference itself will be August 20-23 in London.

March 29 is the deadline if you’d like to submit a paper to the Procedural Content Generation workshop at FDG this year. Demos will also be accepted, though the deadlines for this are not set yet. The conference itself will take place in San Luis Obispo, California, August 26th-30th, 2019.

This workshop aims to advance knowledge in the PCG field by bringing together researchers and facilitating discussion. Because academic workshops are a place for feedback and discussion of new ideas, our aim is to host three modes of submission and delivery: the standard full-paper format, the continuation of the demo session, and a short session for positions and provocations that will enable further discussion of topics and issues related to the community’s research and direction.

March 31 is the deadline for games to be submitted to Spring Thing 2019, and the festival opens on April 4.

wyCtxP.pngThe Rayuela de Arena gamejam is entering its second year, and this time it will be taking place in April (2018’s jam was in August).  A quick description can be found here on the intfiction forum.

The organizers are asking for Spanish language IF, and 2019’s theme is magical realism.  Submissions will be open from April 1-30. 

¡Buena suerte!


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Mid-February Link Assortment


February 20 Jason McIntosh will be leading an IF playthrough and speaking about IFTF at the Providence Geeks meetup.

The next Boston IF Meetup will be Thursday, February 21, 6:30 pm, MIT room 14N-233.

On February 23 the Baltimore/DC IF Meetup will look at Grimnoir and Cragne Manor.

February 28 unnamed.jpgis the deadline to apply to attend GAIA, a three-day event in Buenos Aires in November.  GAIA is being organized by GAIN and Game On!, and will have a cap of 20 attendees; confirmed key notes are Lorenzo Pilia from A MAZE./Talk and Play (Berlin) and Marie Foulston from Wild Rumpus/V&A Museum (London). More info can be found here.

March 2, I am running a workshop on using Spirit AI’s Character Engine for works similar to Restless. Sign up via the IF Meetup website.

March 2 is also the next SF Bay Area IF Meetup.

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End of January Link Assortment


February 2 is the date for the next SF Bay IF Meetup. where the group will be playing Cragne Manor.

February 8-9 there will be a two-day conference Beyond the Console: Gender and Narrative Games.  I will be chairing Friday’s event; for more information about the conference, please click here.

On February 23 the Baltimore/DC IF Meetup will look at Grimnoir and Cragne Manor.

unnamed.pngEarly registration will soon be open for the 2nd International Summer School on AI and Games, to be held in New York City, USA, May 27-31, 2019.  The event is organized by Georgios N. Yannakakis and Julian Togelius, who wrote the Artificial Intelligence and Games book.

More information on the school and guest lecturers can be found at the site.


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Mid-January Link Assortment

January 16 will be the next Boston IF meetup.

logo-512.pngNarraScope is still accepting submissions for speakers, and the January 18 deadline is upon us.  This is a new games conference that will support interactive narrative, adventure games, and interactive fiction by bringing together writers, developers, and players.  They are interested in a wide range of games and platforms; more information can be found on NarraScope’s home site.

They are currently looking for a) panels and individual talks that explore the field in-depth, and would last about 50 minutes with a 5-10 minute Q&A, and b) Lightning Talks that contain 5-10 minutes of specialized information.  The conference is set for June 14-16 in Boston, MA, and interested parties can check out the event’s proposals page here.

January 19 is the next London IF meetup, and will consist of two talks (one from me) on conversation-based gameplay. If you’re curious about some of the design considerations coming out of my work at Spirit AI, I’ll be talking about that here; and we’ll also be hearing from Florencia Minuzzi of Tea-Powered Games about their conversation-focused designs.

January 22 is a meetup of Chatbots and Voice Assistants London, featuring among other things a talk from BBC R&D on ‘Hidden Cities’ – a 90 minute interactive audio piece where users can explore Berlin. This meetup space is an interesting one in general for people into interactive audio, Alexa games, and similar topics (content varies and is sometimes more commercial, so check out who the speakers are for the particular date you’ve got in mind).

Also January 22, I’m on a short panel about the future of PC gaming at Pocket Gamer Connects.

January 26 the Baltimore / DC IF group will meet to discuss Ian Michael Waddell’s Animalia.

February 2 is the date for the next SF Bay IF Meetup.

February 8-9 there will be a two-day conference Beyond the Console: Gender and Narrative Games.  I will be chairing Friday’s event; for more information about the conference, please click here.


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IF Comp Post-Mortems

Now that some time has elapsed since 2018 IF Comp has closed, a number of authors have followed up with post-mortems (and in some cases, there have also been a few game updates based on player feedback).

This is a tradition that has grown up over the past couple of years, and one that I really like: these posts in aggregate represent a pretty broad picture of the thinking around IF design and development at the moment, and one often hears from authors who don’t otherwise blog about their craft.

IF Comp saw a high number of entries, and there’s a lot to look at in the post–mortems.  In fact, there’s more than I personally could track, but with the help of my new blog assistant (“Mort”), we’ve done a little curation on posts to call out some interesting content and sort them by subject covered.

Just as a reminder, these all link to posts that are riddled with spoilers, so consider this your warning on that score.

Presentation & User Experience These post-mortems shed particular light on questions regarding user interface, design, and what the game would be like for the player.

Instruction Set (Jared Jackson). Jared wrote his entry with Scratch, which is fairly extraordinary given how very much Scratch is not a language designed for text presentation. The post-mortem explains a bit about why he took that approach, and what he learned from coming into IF Comp from a non-traditional direction using a different set of tools.

Abbess Otilia’s Life and Death (Arno von Borries). This piece invested heavily in presenting something that looked like a medieval manuscript, but that raised challenges and some players complained about readability. The post-mortem looks at the implementation challenges and trade-offs between readability and historical accuracy.

showimage.pngBogeyman (Elizabeth Smyth) “The nature of those weekly life-or-death decisions remains at the core of the game. It’s the only choice you really get to make: good vs “good”; conscience vs authority; defiance vs submission; integrity vs survival. Almost every major choice is designed around that conflict.”

The 2018 runner-up Bogeyman has a wonderfully detailed post-mortem that delves into concept, design, character, and the Bogeyman himself.  In the end, though, these elements were created in service to the choices in front of the player/character, as Elizabeth Smyth produced a game straightforward in its design, but emotionally resonant for those who experienced it.

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