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.

Continue reading “End of December Link Assortment”

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).