Mid-December Link Assortment

Events

SubQJam closes tomorrow, December 16, for submissions of short interactive fiction, and winners will be featured in SubQ Magazine next year.

The Oxford/London IF Meetup does not get together during the festive season, so we’ll not be together again until 2020.

January 4 is the next gathering of the SF Bay Interactive Fiction Meetup.

February 15-16 next year, 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 available as well if you’d like to present.

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.

End of November Link Assortment

Events

December 2 is the deadline if you’d like to submit a talk proposal or an exhibition piece (interactive fiction might very well be suitable) for the Electronic Literature Organization’s next conference, July 16-19 2020 in Orlando. Details of the call here.

December 7 is the next SF Bay IF Meetup.

December 10 is the next meeting of the People’s Republic of IF in the Boston/Cambridge area.

The Oxford/London IF Meetup does not get together during the festive season, so we’ll not be together again until 2020.

The NarraScope organizers have announced that there will be a NarraScope 2020: specifically, May 29-31, in Urbana-Champaign, Illinois. If you’re interested in speaking there, the call for proposals is now open.

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.

New Narrative Games

Tender Claws is the company behind the amazing PRY. They have a new piece out now for Oculus Quest, The Under Presents.

Meanwhile, Choice of Games has a new line of romance IF coming out, under the imprint Heart’s Choice. The first three titles will be available on Steam shortly, and consist of A Pirate’s Pleasure, Dawnfall (science fiction), and Jazz Age.

And this one isn’t a new release, but new accessibility for old releases: David Welbourn continues to release a steady stream of verbose, friendly walkthroughs for parser IF games from the 1990s and 2000s. His walkthroughed games can be found on IFDB via the lists that he publishes each month. Recent walkthroughs include Dr Dumont’s Wild P.A.R.T.I., a formerly commercial game.

Crowdfunding

Aaron Reed’s every-version-is-different novel Subcutanean is funding for a couple more days.

Competitions and Exhibitions

Zozzled

IF Comp 2019 has closed, with Steph Cherrywell winning first place for Zozzled. The full set of rankings and results is available on the competition website.

SubQJam is open now through December 16 for submissions of short interactive fiction, and winners will be featured in SubQ Magazine next year.

Ryan Veeder has announced his Second Quadrennial Exposition for Good Interactive Fiction, an event whose purpose is to create games that are pleasing to Ryan Veeder. Fortunately, Ryan’s IF tastes tend to elicit games that appeal to a lot of other folks as well. Last time around, the winner was the highly entertaining Foo Foo. As a taster of the sort of thing to expect, here is how Ryan describes his preferences:

Entrants should be advised that I like games that are funny, cute, elegant, spooky, friendly, dumb, and/or sincere. Entrants should be advised that I dislike games that are cynical, depressing, gory, horrifying, serious, and/or important.

Entries to the Second Quadrennial Exposition are due… well, at potentially several different times in early 2020. Rather than confuse matters by trying to summarize here, I refer interested parties to Ryan’s own site.

If you’re hankering to write a long game, or a game you don’t think is going to appeal to Ryan Veeder, or a game that is just going to take a bit longer to complete, Spring Thing 2020 is accepting intents from authors now, and through March of next year.

Finally, Green Stories is a competition for stories about building a sustainable future. The competition includes an interactive fiction division.

Articles and Videos

Jon Ingold talks to Meghna Jayanth about her work, the upcoming project Sable, and her presence in the game industry at AdventureX 2019.


Ed Fear talks about challenges around representation in games, and about writing gay characters in particular. Also from AdventureX. (Several other videos from AdventureX are now available as well.)


Jimmy Maher on Digital Antiquarian writes about the Z-Machine and the early days of Inform and Curses, with quite a bit of input from Graham Nelson. (Introductory thoughts about the Z-Machine, Graham’s personal account, Jimmy’s take on the IF Renaissance)


Those interested in the problems of teaching an ML agent to play interactive fiction may like these articles courtesy of Prithviraj Ammanabrolu:

https://arxiv.org/abs/1909.05398 Interactive Fiction Games: A Colossal Adventure – formalizing the task of playing text games with reinforcement learning agents, a software platform (https://github.com/microsoft/jericho) and series of baseline agents designed to play a wide variety of text based games.

https://arxiv.org/abs/1908.06556 Transfer in Deep Reinforcement Learning using Knowledge Graphs – answering the question of how well an agent can play a text adventure by learning to play other text adventures within a genre.

https://arxiv.org/abs/1909.06283 Toward Automated Quest Generation in Text-Adventure Games – looking at the other side of the problem, instead of playing a game, how can we use AI to help generate content for a game (here in the form of a quest within a given world).

Mid-November Link Assortment

Events

November 23 is the next Baltimore/DC meetup.

Dec 7 is the next SF Bay IF Meetup.

The Oxford/London IF Meetup does not get together during the festive season, so we’ll not be together again until 2020.

Crowdfunding

Aaron Reed’s horror novel Subcutanean, where each copy is unique, is now available for backing on IndieGoGo.  This is a cool procedural text project, and Aaron has also created a number of making-of posts that explain what he’s doing and why.

Competitions

IF Comp has just ended, and the winners should be announced shortly. (In fact, if you click that link, they may already have been announced — though they have not been at the time of this writing.) Meanwhile, there’s a huge spreadsheet tracking the various reviews written for the Comp, if you’re feeling like you’d read about some of the games.

Ectocomp, the Halloween-themed IF jam, received 22 entries this year. Voting is open through the end of the month, if you’d like to participate and rate the games.

ProcJam, the jam for making things that make things, is also recently over, having brought together 134 entries.

If the thought of all these competitions makes you want to write and share some IF, SubQJam is open now through December 16 for submissions of short interactive fiction, and winners will be featured in SubQ Magazine next year.

If you’d rather compete with something a bit more long-form, or just need more time to put it together, Spring Thing 2020 is accepting intents from authors now, and through March of next year.

Finally, Green Stories is a competition for stories about building a sustainable future. The competition includes an interactive fiction division, which has been described to me thus:

The Interactive Fiction competition is looking for entries from both individuals and creative teams, consisting of a complete story or demo of a longer piece, no longer than 30 minutes worth of gameplay in total. It may be the whole piece, the opening section, or a subsequent chapter or scene.

Winners will receive cash prizes and editorial feedback. Entries are due February 3, 2020.

End of October Link Assortment

Events

IF Comp is live now! You can visit the site to play and judge the games. The competition is also still accepting prize donations, in the form of cash or interesting objects, until the end of the judging period. Judging closes on November 15.

Also currently running, Ectocomp features games with a spooky or Halloween theme.

AdventureX runs November 2 and 3 at the British Library — I think it’s already sold out, however, so if you’re attending, you probably already know that.

The London IF Meetup does not do an activity separately in November in order to avoid competing with AdventureX for people’s time. We also don’t do a December meetup at all because people are usually slammed with other activities, so regular London IF Meetups will resume in January of 2020.

Also November 2 is the next SF Bay IF Meetup, which will feature more playing of IF Comp games.

November 7-8 is Code Mesh 2019 in London.  The conference focuses on promoting useful non-mainstream technologies to the software industry.

Wordplay in Toronto runs November 9-10 this year, showcasing games focused on words, text, and language.

November 12 is the next meeting of the People’s Republic of IF in Boston/Cambridge.

November 13 there is a Twine workshop at the University of Manchester Library.

November 15, Dan Hett is running, also at the University of Manchester Library, a workshop session on writing compelling interactive fiction in general.

November 23 is the next Baltimore/DC meetup.

OldGamesItalia is running a game jam for Italian-language games; that’s already in progress, with created games due December 15.

Crowdfunding

Aaron Reed’s horror novel Subcutanean, where each copy is unique, is now available for backing on IndieGoGo.

Upcoming Competitions

Green Stories is a competition for stories about building a sustainable future. The competition includes an interactive fiction division, which has been described to me thus:

The Interactive Fiction competition is looking for entries from both individuals and creative teams, consisting of a complete story or demo of a longer piece, no longer than 30 minutes worth of gameplay in total. It may be the whole piece, the opening section, or a subsequent chapter or scene.

Winners will receive cash prizes and editorial feedback. Entries are due February 3, 2020.

Mid-October Link Assortment

Events

IF Comp is live now! You can visit the site to play and judge the games. The competition is also still accepting prize donations, in the form of cash or interesting objects, until the end of the judging period.

Ectocomp will be running again this year, with submissions opening October 27, if you’d like to contribute a piece of spooky interactive fiction.

AdventureX runs November 2 and 3 at the British Library — I think it’s already sold out, however, so if you’re attending, you probably already know that.

November 7-8 is Code Mesh 2019 in London.  The conference focuses on promoting useful non-mainstream technologies to the software industry.

Wordplay in Toronto runs November 9-10 this year, showcasing games focused on words, text, and language.

OldGamesItalia is running a game jam for Italian-language games; that’s already in progress, with created games due December 15.

Continue reading “Mid-October Link Assortment”

End of September Link Assortment

Events

Indiecade Festival will be in October in Santa Monica, CA.

IF Comp begins properly at the beginning of October, and is still accepting donations to the Colossal Fund as well as donations of prizes of other types.

October 5 is the next meeting of the SF Bay IF Meetup.

October 12, the London IF Meetup gets together to play IF Comp games, starting with contributions created by our own members. We play for much of the afternoon, with someone reading the text and someone else driving interaction, while the audience participates by voting for what we do next. We sometimes get through five games or more in the play time, meaning that participants have played enough to vote in the Comp if they wish.

Indiecade Festival will be in October in Santa Monica, CA.

Ectocomp will be running again this year, with submissions opening October 27, if you’d like to contribute a piece of spooky interactive fiction.

ProcJam, the jam to “make something that makes something” is running November 2 to 10.

AdventureX runs November 2 and 3 at the British Library — I think it’s already sold out, however, so if you’re attending, you probably already know that.

November 7-8 is Code Mesh 2019 in London.  The conference focuses on promoting useful non-mainstream technologies to the software industry.

Wordplay in Toronto runs November 9-10 this year, showcasing games focused on words, text, and language.

OldGamesItalia is running a game jam for Italian-language games; that’s already in progress, with created games due December 15.


Game Releases

Ryan Veeder’s Authentic Fly Fishing is now available. Here’s how he describes the project:

I call Ryan Veeder’s Authentic Fly Fishing a “game,” but it’s not the kind of game that has conditions of failure or success. And it’s not really a proper story, with a beginning, middle, and end. I like to think of Ryan Veeder’s Authentic Fly Fishing as a place you can visit once in a while, to get away from whatever other stuff you have going on. I hope you’ll play for a while today, and maybe come back tomorrow, and then go on visiting as often as you care to, until you don’t care to any longer.

Articles and other Coverage

Verb Your Enthusiasm will be providing podcast review coverage of the IF comp while it runs.

A brief post about the Dialog tool and why one might want to try it out to build classic parser-based IF.

An interview with IF author Erin Roberts about her approach to interactive work; Erin has written for Sub-Q, a piece called Thanks for the Memories.

A GPT-2 implementation of parser IF, where the model is trained to take input and respond as though it were a parser game. The output isn’t exactly consistent, but it makes for an interesting toy.

Following my earlier post about IF pedagogy, Jeremiah McCall has shared some additional materials he’s created for history teaching with interactive fiction, including rubrics for students who are building new projects in Twine and some blog posts about using Twine in the history classroom. The existence of these rubrics also made me think back to conversations with Mark Bernstein about the absence of clear expectations when grading hypertexts.