Cover Art Drive

IF Cover Art Drive is now officially running. From now until April 30, I am collecting IF cover art on Flickr. There are a few pieces already there, but more will be posted as they’re contributed.

The idea here is to try to collect contributions of art to serve as cover images for existing IF. There are two reasons to do this: first, to make IFDB more attractive and less pure-text; and second, so that people writing about IF on indie game blogs and websites will have something other than a screenshot of raw text with which to illustrate their articles. (More about the rationale for this is here.)

[Edit: for reference, a list of how things stand.]

Cover art submitted and accepted, or submitted by author:

  • The Act of Misdirection, by Callico Harrison
  • An Act of Murder, by Chris Huang
  • Ad Verbum, by Nick Montfort
  • Adventurer’s Consumer Guide, by Øyvind Thorsby
  • All Hope Abandon, by Eric Eve
  • All Roads, by Jon Ingold
  • And the Waves Choke the Wind, by Gunther Schmidl
  • Attack of the Yeti Robot Zombies, by Øyvind Thorsby
  • Augmented Fourth, by Brian Uri!
  • Bad Machine, by Dan Shiovitz
  • Balances, by Graham Nelson
  • The Baron, by Victor Gijsbers
  • The Beetmonger’s Journal, by Scott Starkey
  • Being Andrew Plotkin, by J. Robinson Wheeler
  • Blighted Isle, by Eric Eve
  • Blue Lacuna, by Aaron Reed
  • Breath Pirates, by Mike Snyder
  • The Chinese Room, by Harry Giles and Joey Jones (pending revisions)
  • Coke Is It!, by various
  • The Cove, by Kathleen Fischer
  • Cryptozookeeper, by Robb Sherwin
  • Dangerous Curves, by Irene Callaci
  • A Day for Soft Food, by Tod Levi
  • Degeneracy, by Leonard Richardson
  • Desert Heat, by Papillon
  • Distress, by Mike Snyder
  • The Djinni Chronicles, by J. D. Berry
  • The Edifice, by Lucian Smith
  • Enlightenment, by Taro Ogawa
  • An Escape To Remember, by IF Whispers
  • Fate, by Victor Gijsbers
  • A Fine Day for Reaping, by James Webb
  • Fine Tuned, by Dennis Jerz
  • Firebird, by Bonnie Montgomery
  • For a Change, by Dan Schmidt
  • Gardening for Beginners, by Juhana Leinonen
  • Gourmet, by Aaron Reed
  • The Gostak, by Carl Muckenhoupt
  • Help! My Vacuum Cleaner is Broken!, by Admiral Jota
  • In the End 2, by Adam Thornton
  • Katana, by Matt Rohde
  • King of Shreds and Patches, by Jimmy Maher
  • The Land of the Cyclops, by Francesco Cordella and Simone Di Conza
  • LASH, by Paul O’Brian
  • Learning to Cross, by Mark J. Musante
  • Legerdemain, by Nathan Jerpe
  • Letters from Home, by Roger Firth
  • Losing Your Grip, by Stephen Granade
  • Lost Pig, by Admiral Jota
  • Luminous Horizon, by Paul O’Brian
  • Lunatix — The Insanity Circle, by Mike Snyder
  • Lydia’s Heart, by Jim Aikin
  • Masquerade, by Kathleen Fischer
  • Moon-Shaped, by Jason Ermer
  • Mother Loose, by Irene Callaci
  • My Name is Jack Mills, by Juhana Leinonen
  • Not Just an Ordinary Ballerina, by Jim Aikin
  • Nothing But Mazes, by Greg Boettcher
  • Pass the Banana, by Admiral Jota
  • Persistence of Memory, by Jason Dyer
  • Photograph, by Steve Evans
  • Revenger, by Robb Sherwin
  • Rameses, by Stephen Bond
  • Ribbons, by J. D. Berry
  • Scavenger, by Quintin Stone
  • A Simple Theft, by Mark Musante
  • Snowblind Aces, by C. E. J. Pacian
  • Square Circle, by Eric Eve
  • Tales of the Traveling Swordsman, by Mike Snyder
  • The Tarot Reading, by Michael Penman
  • To Hell in a Hamper, by J. J. Guest
  • Trading Punches, by Mike Snyder
  • Treasures of a Slaver’s Kingdom, by S. John Ross
  • Undertow, by Stephen Granade
  • Voices, by Aris Katsaris
  • Waystation, by Stephen Granade
  • The Weapon, by Sean Barrett
  • Wearing the Claw, by Paul O’Brian
  • Whom the Telling Changed, by Aaron Reed
  • Worlds Apart, by Suzanne Britton

Cover art submitted and declined; submitted and unanswered; or supplanted by other art:

  • Aisle, by Sam Barlow
  • Anchorhead, by Michael Gentry
  • Chicken and Egg, by Adam Thornton
  • Choose Your Own Romance, by David Dyte
  • Christminster, by Gareth Rees
  • The Corn Identity, by IF Whispers
  • Deadline Enchanter, by Alan DeNiro
  • Delusions, by C. E. Forman
  • A Dino’s Night Out, by Aris Katsaris
  • Downtown Tokyo, Present Day, by John Kean
  • Elizabeth Hawke’s Forever Always, by Iain Merrick
  • Goldilocks is a FOX!, by J.J. Guest
  • Guess the Verb!, by Leonard Richardson
  • House of Dream of Moon, by IF Whispers
  • Janitor, by Peter Seebach and Kevin Lynn
  • Lost New York, by Neil deMause (would prefer no future cover art be created)
  • The One That Got Away, by Leon Lin
  • Rematch, by Andrew Pontious
  • Shade, by Andrew Plotkin
  • She’s Got a Thing for a Spring, by Brent VanFossen
  • Sins Against Mimesis, by Adam Thornton
  • Sting of the Wasp, by Jason Devlin
  • Theatre, by Brendon Wyber

Cover art submitted:

  • A Change in the Weather, by Andrew Plotkin
  • Delightful Wallpaper, by Andrew Plotkin
  • Hunter, in Darkness, by Andrew Plotkin
  • Spider and Web, by Andrew Plotkin

Cover art in progress:

Cover art requested:

Cover art “opted out”:

  • Building, by Poster

Continue reading “Cover Art Drive”

Art in Competition

One of the questions I semi-routinely get asked on interviews about interactive fiction is whether I think the annual IF Comp is a good thing for the community. I find the question hard to answer: the competition is so essential to the community identity that I have a hard time imagining it away, and besides, my opinion wouldn’t change anything; it’s like someone asking whether the human body would be more aesthetically appealing if it didn’t have a spine.

Nonetheless, I’m constantly conscious of the con arguments brought up a few times a year: that the competition siphons off attention from other games released at other times; that it produces a trend towards small games rather than epic works; that there is something wrong or unfair about the voting scheme (opinions vary on what that might be); and — my least favorite — that “real” artforms, like novels and paintings, are not produced primarily for competition, and that therefore competition is an unhealthy or unnatural context for artistic production, and we’d be better off without it. (Here we touch another of my pet peeves: people who make sweeping statements about “real” art are usually talking about [what they know about] commercialized artistic production in the early 21st century. I run into something similar with freshman mythology students: they’re often convinced that “originality” is the defining feature of good art, and so object to the fact that ancient authors reused mythological material. Their conceptions about literature have been shaped by market forces and copyright law in ways they don’t recognize. They also, if pressed, don’t have a very clear idea of what originality means, other than perhaps refraining from reusing the same plot and cast of characters from another work.)

Lately I’ve been reading two books that have helped clarify my visceral sense about this problem into something I can articulate.

Continue reading “Art in Competition”

IFDB meets Zoom: or, More Concentrated Awesome

The recently-launched IFDB has a browser-plug-in mechanism to enable Windows users a one-step “play now” button to download an interpreter and start playing many of the games on the IF archive.

That doesn’t mean that Mac users are out of luck, though. Andrew Hunter announced today a new version of the multi-format interpreter Zoom. With Zoom, you can

  • Use the “Find more” button to go browse IFDB. If you already have selected a game file in your Zoom window, it will look up the same game at IFDB, allowing you to read reviews and find walkthroughs, or use IFDB’s recommendation features to locate other games similar to the one you’ve been playing.
  • Download and start new games with a single click.
  • Automatically search for new interpreter plug-ins for Zoom, increasing its compatibility with minimal user upkeep. This new version adds SCARE to the Zoom interpreter set, so that Zoom is now able to play z-code, Glulx, TADS 2 and 3, Hugo, and Adrift games.

Lots of fun and very elegant.

IFDB Launch

A cool new thing! Mike Roberts has announced the launch of IFDB, a database of IF games. It pulls together reviews from a variety of sources and allows users to add their own new reviews and recommendation lists, a la Amazon. You can also use IFDB to track games that you’ve already played; view the game’s metadata, if any (such as cover art and the teaser provided by the author); and download files.

There is ongoing work on features to automatically install and launch new games, too, removing that tedious “find the correct interpreter, then install it, then use it” process that novices to the genre tend to find unappealing.