Frotz in the iPhone App store

After all the various discussion of whether Apple would or would not allow it: it’s there. Craig Smith has a free-download version of Frotz available, which comes preloaded with a bunch of games (9:05, An Act of Murder, All Roads, Anchorhead, Balances, Being Andrew Plotkin, Bronze, A Change in the Weather, Child’s Play, Christminster, Curses!, Dreamhold, For a Change, Heroes, Jigsaw, Lost Pig, The Meteor, the Stone, and A Long Glass of Sherbet, The Act of Misdirection, Photopia, Slouching Towards Bedlam, Spider and Web, Varicella, Vespers, The Weapon, and Zork (MIT version)).

It also has a button that taps straight into IFDB, and downloading a new game adds it and its cover art to your game collection.

Plays a little slowly with Bronze, but faster than the reports I’ve heard of the game on other PDAs (and Bronze does whacking lots of pathfinding all the time). Older I6 games are faster.

IF cover art looks really nice on the iPhone screen, too.

On Comedy and Feeling

Jimmy Maher’s most recent SPAG editorial contains the paragraph:

Some of us who are very, very good are writing games like the generally acknowledged best game of 2007: Lost Pig. On the one hand, Lost Pig is nothing to disparage. It’s hilarious; it’s great fun; it’s honed and polished to the most beautiful shine… And yet, on the other hand, it disturbs me just a bit that, after twelve months and dozens if not hundreds of game releases, a game about a cartoon-style orc with pidgin English skills trying to recover a pig was the pinnancle of our achievements. Best comedy (if such a category existed)? Sure. Best game? That concerns me a bit. It’s not that the XYZZY voters were wrong. Lost Pig probably was the best game of 2007. But why was it the best game? Where are the IF games that, to paraphrase a famous old Electronic Arts ad, make us cry?

I disagree with the sentiment that comedy is a second-class form, with less potential to be Real Literature. Continue reading

More IF publicity

At 1UP, thanks to Lara Crigger. There appears to be a main article (following the usual scheme of such articles, it starts by referring to the good old days of Infocom, but it does branch out to some history of modern IF) and a feature recommending some IF for beginners — Lost Pig, Ecdysis, Tales of the Traveling Swordsman, Galatea, and Photopia, this time around.

Make it juicy!

Often in IF design I think back to an old Gamasutra post on rapid game prototyping. (For a while I couldn’t find it again, having sort of sketchy memories of when it ran or what a good search term would be. But now I have, I thought it might interest other people as well.) I particularly like this bit:

“Juice” was our wet little term for constant and bountiful user feedback. A juicy game element will bounce and wiggle and squirt and make a little noise when you touch it. A juicy game feels alive and responds to everything you do — tons of cascading action and response for minimal user input. It makes the player feel powerful and in control of the world, and it coaches them through the rules of the game by constantly letting them know on a per-interaction basis how they are doing.

IF doesn’t do wiggles and squirts much, but it has its own kind of juice — fun and unique responses to as many commands as possible. And to judge by the success of Lost Pig and Suveh Nux on JayIsGames, I think this is part of what gives IF its appeal with newbies and people who aren’t hardcore IF fans.

Jay is Games reviews Lost Pig, with online play

Jay Is Games has reviewed Lost Pig, and they’ve got a new Flash interpreter hooked up to let people play the game in their browsers.

Compared with playing on Zoom, it’s not so fast and smooth as I’m used to… but it’s not bad, and it’s certainly a fine way to introduce the casually-stopping-by crowd at JIG to new pieces of IF, without asking them to download anything extra.

Haven’t attempted a systematic comparison with the other recent Flash-based Z-interpreter, Flaxo.