September 2 is the next meeting of the SF Bay area Meetup.
September 14, Hello Words meets in Nottingham to write IF together.
Also September 14 is the next meeting of the People’s Republic of IF in Cambridge, MA.
September 15-17 is Progression Mechanics, a Chicago-area conference on the changing medium of games and the business of the games industry. I will be speaking there.
October 14 in Dublin is a one-day course in writing for video games and interactive narrative, offered by Charlene Putney.
WordPlay, the annual festival of word-based games that came to London in 2016, is this year returning to its native Toronto on November 18. If you’d like to submit a game for inclusion, you have until September 30. Accepted games will be presented to the public, and submitting artists will receive an artist fee of $80 CAD.
If you’re going to be on this side of the water in November, you might be more inclined to attend AdventureX in London, November 11-12.
There’s one more month before IF Comp goes live: this is your opportunity to finish a game, if you’re working on one, or to contribute testing if you’re so inclined.
If you enjoyed my post about ASMR but felt that there wasn’t enough in there about, like, games, Bruno Dias pointed out this game that is about making ASMR videos.
The Secret of the Chatter Blocks is a children’s IF piece originally prototyped in Twine but with an iOS-friendly front end.
Matthew Ritter of the Boon Hill cemetery simulator has a new game out called Dead Horizon, a short fantasy-western story paced by lightgun-style shooting matches with various villains. It’s now available on Steam and itch.io. (If you play and are curious about the backstory of this world, there’s also some extra story material available from the menu.)
Vitaly Lischenko has made an Alexa skill to play classic IF. There is a demo video and a home page/source code.
Talks and Podcasts
Jeremiah McCall sends along a podcast where he talks about history teaching and interactive fiction — “and a host of other games and history ed topics, though mostly Twine.”
The talk I gave at Gamelab in Barcelona, about AI as Uncanny Mirror, is now available online. It’s covering a range of topics: a bit about what I’m doing now at Spirit, a bit about past projects including Versu, and the ever-vexed question of trying to make AI both sentient and obedient.
Talks from the GameDevsOfColorExpo are available online now.
Also available for viewing is this YouTube capture of the Procedural Generation Workshop 2017.
Especially recommended: here’s Nicky Case with a talk on Seeing Whole Systems. Nicky is the creator of Coming Out Simulator 2014, as well as some really fascinating work on understanding complexity by creating and testing simulations. If you too are interested in the juxtaposition of procedural rhetoric and narrative (interactive or otherwise), I recommend keeping an eye on Nicky’s work — perhaps, if you’re so inclined, via this Patreon account. Further, the talk mentions a sweet visualization tool Nicky created called Loopy:
Renga in Blue has covered dozens of adventure games from the 1970s — all of them, the blog claims, though it seems possible that some obscure personal experiments might have escaped this accounting — and has thoughts about them, as well as a catalog of firsts.
Cat Manning writes about constrained, limited-parser games, with special attention to Lime Ergot and Take.
cwodtke writes about some core “big ideas” in game design. If you’ve been around industry game design for a while, a number of these will be familiar, 101-level concepts, but there may be a few that aren’t; and it links on to useful further background on several.
Strange Horizons has a long-form review of the storytelling choices in the tabletop narrative game T.I.M.E Stories. And speaking of that, SH is also in the middle of fundraising to pay for its next year of operation.
Jon Ingold writes about procedurally generated artifacts in inkle’s upcoming Heaven’s Vault.
Here is an article for Topic about female mentorship pairs; one of the mentors profiled here is Liza Daly (Stone Harbor, co-creator and commissioner of First Draft of the Revolution, et al).
And here is Tuukka Ojala on what it’s like to be a programmer who can’t see.
Adliberum is a multi-player IF engine that is also available on Steam. This is the kind of thing that I would normally want to have more of a look at; the last few weeks have been comically over-busy, though. So I didn’t. Perhaps some of you will do so!
And along the same lines, Jeff Schomay writes about the ELM Narrative engine that he’s working on:
Here are the main points I’d like to share:
- This tool is unique in that it uses a context-aware, rules-based system, similar to what I believe you have called a salience system.
- A great strength of this tool is that it totally separates story logic, content, and presentation, making it possible to fully customize what a story looks like, or add interactive narrative to many different types of games. I speak of this on my dev blog, and have some nice polished playable demos showing the variety of games the same narrative system can power.
- I have a story starter to help people get started, and I am working on a visual editor with an exportable story data file as well.
- I recently created an interactive story structure visualization tool for the unique graph-style nature of stories made with this tool.
You can read more about the tool at my dev blog. http://blog.elmnarrativeengine.com/, including a post on why I made this tool and what makes it unique, per your suggestion.
A longtime friend writes about viewing the totality of the eclipse (which, being in England, I did not get to do); and in recollection of his father, one of the first science teachers in my life.