Announce: IF Demo Fair

Do you have a vision of the (or a) future of interactive fiction that you would like to share with interested players, authors, implementers and theorists?

The IF Demo Fair will be running during PAX East (Boston, March 11-13), showcasing new and interesting demonstrations in the IF world.

These don’t need to be polished, complete games, just pieces that show off your concept. We’re particularly interested in demonstrations that explore one of our themes:

  • novel ways to interact with in-game characters
  • innovative user interfaces for text/story-based games

But if you have a great idea that doesn’t match either of these themes, send it anyway! We welcome any demonstration that can reasonably be construed as relating to interactive fiction and storytelling: traditional parser-based IF, works with multimedia and graphical components, choose-your-own-adventure, or interactive poetry.

Entries in the Fair will be set up on laptops in the IF suite for players to explore. Saturday afternoon, there will also be an official playthrough in the Alcott Conference Room at the Westin, where we will go through all the entries on a projector screen (exact time TBA).

Authors who are there with their submissions are welcome (indeed, encouraged) to talk briefly about their design concepts.

Note that this is not an official PAX event. No badges are required to attend or participate.

Entry restrictions. This is not a competition, and there are no judges or prizes. Authors who have submitted content are welcome to comment on each other’s work. The only restriction is that you must be willing to have your work showcased in a public forum, and presented or linked from a website afterward.

Intent to enter: Friday, February 18. Email me ( with your intent to enter and include your technical requirements, answering these questions:

  • does your project need software to run other than a standard IF interpreter?
  • is it restricted to one OS?
  • will your project need internet access to run?
  • are you going to be present in person to install your project and/or present it on your own device?

I reserve the right to refuse an entry that is technically infeasible for us to present, but will do my best to accommodate reasonable requests.

Submission: Sunday, March 6. Email me ( your project or a link to where it lives on the web, and installation instructions.

Optionally, you may also submit an author’s note (no more than about 500 words, please) explaining the background of your project, anything you want players to know about it, and your hopes/expectations for the project.

Feedback for authors. Forms for anonymous feedback will be available both in the IF Suite and during the live presentation. Players and audience members who would like to share their thoughts without attribution can do so via these forms.

After the event, we’ll provide website coverage for the submissions, with links to author projects, as well as an article on the event in SPAG.

Proposed: IF Demo Fair

One suggestion that we’ve been kicking around on the mud for PAX East is a sort of minicomp/show, as follows:

Authors have the opportunity to work on tech demonstrations during February, focusing on one of several themes. These would not have to be full games — a single scene or mockup would suffice, as long as it gets the idea across. The point is to share interesting new concepts, not to produce finished products.

During PAX, these will be on show on laptops so that people would have a chance to experience them individually.

On Saturday afternoon when we have the big room available, there will be a dedicated Demo Fair time when we get together and play through the demos on a projector, and discuss.

Authors will be invited to talk about why they did what they did, if they’re present. It’s still permitted to submit a demonstration if you’re not going to be there, and you’re welcome to accompany your demo with some authorial notes to be shared with everyone.

This is not a competition, in that there will be no official prizes, judges, or winners, and anyone is free both to enter and to offer feedback on other entries.

The currently proposed themes are:

* New styles of NPC interaction
* UI concepts

It sounds like this is of interest to enough people that we’re probably going to do something like it. Before we do a definite public announcement, though — are there other themes we should include? Concerns or suggestions?

PAX 2011 programming

People who might come to IF events at Boston PAX, is there anything in particular you’d like to see discussed in the IF programming? Tutorials, panel talks, other stuff?

(If so, obviously you can edit the wiki with ideas, but I am wondering whether there’s stuff people would like to see but didn’t write down because it’s not something they would offer themselves, or whatever.)

PAX East 2011

So, as last year, there will be organized IF events at PAX East this year (March 11-13, Boston). Last year’s event was a big event with lots and lots of IFfers, and plenty of fun all around, so we’re hoping for good things again this year.

I’m going to be speaking on interactive dialogue, as we just got this panel approved:

Interactive Drama: Dialogue as Gameplay

Jonathon Myers (Moderator) [Writer, Reactive Games]
Stephen Dinehart [Narrative Designer, Narrware]
Evan Skolnick [Writer, Producer, Editorial Director, Vicarious Visions]
Emily Short [Interactive Fiction Author, Independent]
John Gonzalez [Lead Writer, Lead Creative Designer of Fallout: New Vegas, Obsidian Entertainment]

Other IF and IF-related stuff: zarf will be speaking in a main-PAX panel on self-funding via Kickstarter. There will also be an IF suite as before, with some organized meetings and discussions, Speed-IF, and casual socializing; there may be some overlap activities with the IGDA Writers SIG, the special interest group for professional game writers; the IF theory book may, Kevin Jackson-Mead hopes, be finished and ready to share.

Note that you will need a PAX badge to see my panel talk or zarf’s, but that all the rest of the IF activity is separate and free to attend.

If you’re interested, check out the ifwiki page for a current list of people attending, or to sign up or suggest events.

Talk at GDC 2011 AI Summit

I’m going to be speaking at GDC’s AI summit again this coming year, this time about the behavior and conversation modeling on a project I’m working on with Richard Evans and Andrew Stern. (Session write-up here.)

Last year was a great time, and I’m looking forward to this a lot — thanks again to Dave Mark and Steve Rabin for organizing the summit.