Ideas for Interactive Fiction

Recently there has been a bit of an argument raging on several blogs about how much a game idea stands alone, how much it’s worth without any implementation, apropos of Squidi’s 300 game mechanics page.

I’m not going to dive into this debate, mostly because the point I’d want to make has already been made eloquently and repeatedly by other people: that the process of implementation includes a certain amount of further design work, raises questions that aren’t covered by the original specification, and so on. It tends to warp an idea in other, subtler ways, too. (A great book on this, not about game design but about art, is Baxandall’s Patterns of Intention. It’s a compelling description of how external and internal forces shape creative production, which I read in college and still go around recommending whenever I have the slightest excuse.)

On the other hand, not every game idea is viable even in its basic form: it’s either not a description of anything that could be elaborated (because it’s about incidental features of the game), or it leads inevitably to terrible implementation problems. So Squidi has genuinely accomplished something by serving up an assortment of ideas at least some of which are really pretty decent starting places.

I occasionally look through the search terms that have led people to this site, to see whether I’m providing what people are hoping to find, and one of the things semi-frequently mentioned is “ideas for interactive fiction” or “if premises” or the like. I wonder what these people are looking for — maybe, in fact, something like Squidi’s list, only IF-specific instead of directed to other kinds of (primarily video) games.

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The Reprover

The Reprover is a piece of digital art; or a lightly interactive comic book; or a French film whose pacing you control yourself; or a story written on the surface of a polyhedron. Or perhaps it is most accurate to call it a hypertext, but, if so, it is considerably more coherent and satisfying than most literary hypertexts I have encountered before.

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