Names in Ultimate Quest

Because Ultimate Quest is a game with Twitter connections — and a game where you can create many different types of object — I thought it might be a good place to revisit the idea of puzzles of aesthetics. Puzzles of aesthetics try to tap into the player’s creative intuitions about what goes well together, but when you’re asking the player to invent new things, it’s kind of a pity to lose their inventions in the silence of a single-player game.

So UQ lets players build new objects according to certain rules, then rename their creations by tweeting what the new name should be — which means that browsing #UltimateQuest gives a pretty good view of what people felt moved to change, and how. Here are a few of my favorites:

There's the subtle(ish)

There’s the subtle(ish)

and the not so subtle

and the not so subtle

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Ultimate Quest

UltimateQuest

You’ve been kidnapped, confused, and trapped in a factory to do labor far beneath your true level. The friends you once knew think you’re dead, if they think about you at all. But you’re equipped with NV-level nanomite implants, meaning that you can disassemble and reassemble the world around you in surprising ways. It’s up to you to escape, confront the people who put you away, and complete the world-changing project you had begun.

Ultimate Quest is a new IF game — written by me, gorgeously illustrated by Silvio Aebischer — that opens today and runs in five episodes through the 22nd, as part of a new product launch by NVIDIA. The first players to complete the game will win actual prizes. If you’re reading this blog, you probably have a head start on the competition: this is classic parser IF with plenty of puzzles and exploration.

Note that this is a game with Twitter connections: you will need an account to sign in, and to tweet during play.

Blood & Laurels in The New York Times

Originally posted on Versu:

Blood & Laurels is covered in the July 7 edition of The New York Times (page C1 in the print edition):

What Blood & Laurels offers is one of those quintessential video game moments, a first glimpse at something on the horizon.

The coverage is part of a larger article about developments in IF, which also mentions the growth of Twine, work by Porpentine, Christine Love, and Cara Ellison, and other text-based apps such as Device 6 and A Dark Room.

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Heroes Rise on Steam

Choice of Games has brought their Heroes Rise series to Steam, making it the first all-text game distributed that way. (Steam also carries a few other things I would consider interactive fiction, such as Depression Quest, and IF’s relative Sunless Sea. But those games are somewhat more visual.)

CoG would like to bring more text games to Steam in the future, but the possibility of that will depend on sales, so they can use some support from Steam-using IF fans.

Latest Discussion Transcript

I’ve now posted last night’s transcript from the IF Discussion Club, this time on interactive nonfiction. It was a sparser session than some have been (people are busy on sunny summer afternoons!), but touched on a few different problems, including the question of how much “nonfiction” can be applied to anything interactive.

The proposed topic for next time, July 12, is testing. For perhaps obvious reasons, this doesn’t come with a reading list of games, but we’ll be interested to talk about testing methodologies and the various challenges that come with different forms of IF.

That said, if you want something provocative to read on the topic, may I recommend Mattie Brice on the Death of the Player?

Play- and player-centric design are usually interchangeable terms, but I’d like to make a stronger distinction between them. My main quibble with player-centric design is the fetishized iterative process, where you take a prototype and get players to playtest it. Sometimes, this is useful; if it’s very important to you that someone feels a certain way or does a certain thing, playtesting is a method to achieve that. When I made Mainichi, I released it without any playtesting and iteration. Because players have a tendency to want agency and a positive trajectory, their input would have been useless to me. As well, the game was made for a friend to understand something. I couldn’t playtest the game with them and then ‘release’ it after. It would be like asking your crush to read and edit the love note you want to pass to them one day. With games that use personal experience as a main part of their design, player input through playtesting washes out their voice. If your game leaves out traditional qualities and emphasizes voice, then player-centric design is a useless paradigm for you.

So perhaps it’s also worth talking about what testing does to a game — squeezes, squishes, alters, in ways that might be good or bad.

Blood & Laurels now in the App Store

Emily Short:

As promised: Blood & Laurels is now live in the App Store.

Originally posted on Versu:

Cults. Conspiracies. Poison. Stabbing. Blackmail. Seduction. Prophecies and rumors. Divine wrath — or possibly just bad weather.

Our new Versu game, Blood & Laurels, is now live in the App Store for iPad.

With more than 10 times as much authored text as you are likely to see in a single playthrough, Blood & Laurels adapts strongly to what you choose to do, and what you choose to explore. Scheme, romance, murder, or choose your own ideals and stick to them. It’s up to you.

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