End of February Link Assortment


springthing.jpgMarch 1 is the deadline for artists to send an intent to enter to Spring Thing 2019.  The games aren’t due until the end of the month, but if you want to participate, put your name in today.

March 2, the London IF Meetup does a workshop on Character Engine. This is already full at the moment, but if there’s interest we may do some more of these in the future.

March 2 will also be the next SF / Bay Area meetup.

March 15 is the deadline for designers to submit their work to Indiecade Festival. There is a late deadline of April 15, and the event itself is in October in Santa Monica, CA.

GDC is just around the corner, March 18-22 in San Francisco. I will be there, as will several other members of the Spirit team. I’ve recommended some talks from the lineup that I’m excited about, and I’m also around and meeting with people who are interested to talk about Character Engine. So if you’d like to know more about that, get a demo, or find out whether we might be a good fit for a project you’re working on, please let me know.

March 24 is the deadline for submitting full technical papers to the IEEE Conference on Games (CoG).  The conference itself will be August 20-23 in London.

March 29 is the deadline if you’d like to submit a paper to the Procedural Content Generation workshop at FDG this year. Demos will also be accepted, though the deadlines for this are not set yet. The conference itself will take place in San Luis Obispo, California, August 26th-30th, 2019.

This workshop aims to advance knowledge in the PCG field by bringing together researchers and facilitating discussion. Because academic workshops are a place for feedback and discussion of new ideas, our aim is to host three modes of submission and delivery: the standard full-paper format, the continuation of the demo session, and a short session for positions and provocations that will enable further discussion of topics and issues related to the community’s research and direction.

March 31 is the deadline for games to be submitted to Spring Thing 2019, and the festival opens on April 4.

wyCtxP.pngThe Rayuela de Arena gamejam is entering its second year, and this time it will be taking place in April (2018’s jam was in August).  A quick description can be found here on the intfiction forum.

The organizers are asking for Spanish language IF, and 2019’s theme is magical realism.  Submissions will be open from April 1-30. 

¡Buena suerte!


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GDC 2019 Previews

GDC is coming up, and I will be there! If you’d like to speak, please do get in touch. (And if you’re interested in learning more about Character Engine from me or one of the rest of the Spirit team, please drop me a line about that too.)

Also, if you’re an IF person coming to GDC for the first time, I’ve written previously about GDC survival strategies (scroll down), and most of the advice there still holds. This year, there is also a GDC 101 event for people who are attending their first conference.

I am one of the advisors for the AI summit this year, so I’ll be in that room pretty constantly Monday/Tuesday, and especially: participating in the Ethics panel and the AI Devs Rant session, as well as MCing the Experimental AI Workshop. I’m very excited about that session, as we’re bringing together some exciting projects from several different corners.

Below the fold I’ve pulled out my picks of things that might interest readers of this blog. As usual, there are too many talks I wish I could go to, many of them scheduled opposite one another, so I’m going to have to rely on the Vault for a few things…

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Bandersnatch (Netflix)

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If you work in interactive narrative at all, there was a period recently where you could not go anywhere without people asking your opinion of Bandersnatch, Netflix’s branching-narrative episode of Black Mirror.

Because I am ornery and/or busy and/or was sick part of the relevant time, I didn’t watch it then. Still, I was aware that IF folks felt

  • annoyed that people were treating this as massively innovative when there are tens of thousands of works, produced over the past fifty plus years, exploring the possibilities of interactive story, including quite a lot specifically of interactive film if we’re narrowing the gaze to just that
  • disappointed that a lot of the choices were kind of basic
  • weary at the prospect of yet another Author’s First Interactive Work about free will vs chance, fate, and external control — this theme being (for obvious reasons) not exactly new in the interactive narrative canon
  • excited by the hope that this meant big commercial possibilities for interactive story
  • like ignoring Bandersnatch and playing more Cragne Manor

I have now watched, and here is my opinion, now that no one is asking.

The short version: I found Bandersnatch slightly more satisfying than a lot of my friends did, perhaps because I happen to have landed on an ending that is, I gather, rare.

At the same time, I had various criticisms of it. Some amount to “this is a first interactive work by someone new to the possibilities, and it’s designed for an audience that is also not particularly literate in interactive fiction, and I guess that’s to be expected.” Others are more serious issues with the messages and themes.

Long version below the fold.

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Mid-February Link Assortment


February 20 Jason McIntosh will be leading an IF playthrough and speaking about IFTF at the Providence Geeks meetup.

The next Boston IF Meetup will be Thursday, February 21, 6:30 pm, MIT room 14N-233.

On February 23 the Baltimore/DC IF Meetup will look at Grimnoir and Cragne Manor.

February 28 unnamed.jpgis the deadline to apply to attend GAIA, a three-day event in Buenos Aires in November.  GAIA is being organized by GAIN and Game On!, and will have a cap of 20 attendees; confirmed key notes are Lorenzo Pilia from A MAZE./Talk and Play (Berlin) and Marie Foulston from Wild Rumpus/V&A Museum (London). More info can be found here.

March 2, I am running a workshop on using Spirit AI’s Character Engine for works similar to Restless. Sign up via the IF Meetup website.

March 2 is also the next SF Bay Area IF Meetup.

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Mailbag: Adapting IF Skills to Adjacent Media

This is a follow-on answer to a previous mailbag post, specifically the part in which the questioner asks,

Would you have any thoughts on how to… improve the adaptive skills needed for bringing IF to newer formats and into audio?

I take this to mean not “how do I port an existing work to an interactive format” (which is also an interesting question), but “how do I do IF-like interactivity in formats other than text, especially audio?”

Key challenges for this, in my experience, center on these areas:

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Sunless Skies: Carillon, Sky Barnet, et al

Failbetter Games’ Sunless Skies is out, as of January 31, and I contributed: Carillon, a port in which Devils work to refine the souls that come their way; Sky Barnet, the gateway to the Blue Kingdom; and the Repentant Devil’s officer quest. There was also some nightmare content, a story that you can fall into if your terror grows too great.

I’m going to talk a bit more about those stories; this will be light on any actual specific spoilers, but it will touch on the general lore of Sunless Skies and the Fallen London universe.

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