For much of 2014 and part of 2015, a group met once a month onifMUD at 8 PM British / 3 PM Eastern / Noon Pacific to discuss topics in interactive fiction. This group is now closed, but the transcripts remain here for interested parties.
Feb 21: Tour de Seltani. We’ll start by spending some time together exploring several Ages in Andrew Plotkin’s Seltani server for multiplayer choice-based IF; then retire to ifMUD to discuss further.
Jan 10: Competitions, Anthologies, Shows and Zines. How do formal structures for IF generation and sharing work? What are the goals and unintended consequences? I prepped this one by reaching out to some comp- and anthology-runners in advance of the event and publishing a pre-reading blog post; those interested may also want to read Sam Ashwell’s post about running the ShuffleComp minicomp.
Dec 13: New directions in IF. Bring your ideas, whether they’re very specific or entirely pie-in-the-sky. Want to talk about a particular puzzle concept, mechanic, or game experience you’re trying to write? Something you’d like to play but have never yet seen?
Nov 22: Post-IF Comp debrief. Talk about the comp games, trends, favorites, memorable moments. NB that this is not the second Saturday of the month, in order for this to take place after the comp results are in. Authors will also therefore be welcome to join, comment, and share thoughts about their work. If you want to try the games, they are here.
Oct 11: Replayability. What makes for a satisfyingly replayable IF game? What are we looking for when we replay? What kinds of puzzles, and what kinds of stories, lend themselves well to this use? What kinds of stories actually benefit from replaying? Suggested reading/playing:
- Require multiple playings to win/experience fully
- Save the Date, a Ren’Py piece which is specifically all about its own status as a replayable, branching story. (My discussion is here.)
- Captain Verdeterre’s Plunder. A puzzle game based around optimization.
- The entire genre of one-move games, in particular the classic examples Rematch (one-move puzzle) and Aisle (one-move mini-story).
- Bigger Than You Think. Puzzle CYOA in which successive playings gain the player new knowledge and abilities.
- Slouching Towards Bedlam. A multiple-ending story game in which it is very unlikely the player will reach an optimum outcome on the first attempt.
- Randomized or Altered Content
- Kerkerkruip. An IF roguelike with randomized maps and monster locations.
- An Act of Murder, a murder mystery game with randomized murderer and clues.
- Ex Nihilo and Barbetween, two pieces in which the content you encounter depends partially on what was written there recently by other players.
- The Matter of the Great Red Dragon. A CYOA that explicitly *discourages* people from replaying to reach alternate outcomes.
- Attack of the Yeti Robot Zombies, a combat puzzle game that encourages the player to try to win on the first try.
- Additional background
Sept 13: Games and Audience. What adjustments do authors need to make for different audiences (for instance — but not limited to — IF novices)? What assumptions are authors making about audiences, perhaps without even realizing it?
July 12 August 9, 2014: Testing. How do we do it? What resources exist behind “get some friends to have a try”? What can be automated? How do the requirements vary for different types of interactive fiction? There are no recommended games for this, exactly; it’ll probably be more about exchanging news from the trenches.
- Mattie Brice on the Death of the Player: an argument for why sometimes testing isn’t what a game needs.
June 14, 2014: Interactive Nonfiction: any interactive work that depicts reality rather than the imaginary, including educational simulations, persuasive games, and personal memoirs. Recommended reading:
- Depression Quest: a piece designed to acquaint people with the lived experience of depression. (And see also this post by Richard Goodness on the target audience of Depression Quest vs other IF about depression.)
- The Fire Tower: an interactive walk through a real environment.
- maybe make some change: an exploration of the conflicting perspectives on a battlefield moment in Afghanistan.
- 1893: A World’s Fair Mystery: a massive, meticulous simulation of the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair.
- Conversations With My Mother: a piece that depicts the author’s experiences with links to actual tweets that document things that have happened to her.
- //: a piece on gender identity, from a pretty personal perspective.
- Duncan Stevens’ IF Theory Reader article on IF as argument.
May 10, 2014: Structures in Choice-based Games. Recommended reading:
- maga’s posts on CYOA structure, which analyze a number of conventional CYOA texts and other forms.
- Samizdat’s gallery of CYOA structures from the classic books.
- Choice of Games’ blog on how to build good games with ChoiceScript.
- 20 Strokes by Paperblurt, a CYOA game that uses real-time to introduce previously hidden possibilities.
April 5, 2014: Modeling Time in IF. Recommended reading:
- Thread started by Jan Thorsby on pacing and the way that common parser game behavior interferes with it.
- Choice of Broadsides, a Choice of Games piece in which the scope of player action varies significantly from one node to the next.
- David Welbourn’s collection of time modeling examples: these cover a lot of ways that parser IF games have made use of time.
- Past RAIF threads on the passage of time in IF.