IF Comp 2014 Results, and upcoming post-mortem discussion

ifcompIF Comp 2014 is over! Congratulations to Sean M. Shore for the winning entry Hunger Daemon, a thoroughly enjoyable piece of work. Full comp results, including the stats breakdown on all the votes, can be found at the IF Comp website. There are also some interesting author post-mortems on various games turning up on the intfiction forum; currently these include background for Hunger Daemon, Krypteia, Raik, Missive, Eidolon,
Transparent, Alethicorp,
The Entropy Cage, Following Me, Fifteen Minutes, Tea Ceremony, Inward Narrow Crooked Lanes and Ugly Oafs. (And my Roundup post is no longer stickied, but if you want it, it’s here.)

For those who’d like to discuss any aspect of the Comp live, we’re having a session of IF Discussion Club on that very topic! It’s 8 PM British time, 3 PM Eastern, noon Pacific, on November 22 on ifMUD (and there’s also an IRC channel set up to access the discussion for those who have trouble with ifMUD for whatever reason). I don’t have a strong planned agenda for this discussion; I feel like I’ve said a lot about this comp already and I’d rather hear about what others think.

But maybe you have something you’d like to see discussed: things that you particularly liked, trends you found exciting, experiments you hope will see some followup, or something else entirely? If there’s something you’d like to get people thinking about prior to the discussion itself, please feel free to post questions/thoughts here, and we’ll take that as a bit of a springboard.

Upcoming IF Events and Competitions

Votes are due for the IF Comp no later than November 15; if you wish to judge, there’s still time to play and rate at least 5 games. Please do consider playing and voting, as the competition thrives on participation.

ClubFloyd has been on hiatus during IF Comp, but resumes meeting Sundays after the comp ends. This is an opportunity to play (usually parser) IF collaboratively with others on ifMUD.

Inform 7 workshop, November 18, Lowell, MA. Run by Brendan Desilets in tandem with the ACM meeting.

ECTOCOMP, the competition for short spooky games, is also currently running; the download package includes a voting form, which should be filled out and sent to the organizer by November 22 to participate.

Also on November 22 (8 PM British, 3 PM Eastern, noon Pacific), the IF Discussion Club will meet on ifMUD for a post mortem discussion of the IF Competition. We have an IRC bot set up now that should allow people to participate via IRC if they find the MUD interface daunting.

The next meetup of the Oxford-London IF group will be the afternoon of November 23 at the Jam Factory. Expect food, optional pints, and relaxed IF-related chat.

NaNoGenMo is for people creating 50,000 word autogenerated novels, concurrent with NaNoWriMo. Here is an awesome thing that Liza Daly did, an autogenerated Voynich Manuscript-alike. Runs through November 30.

AdventureX is a London-based convention for adventures, with a lot of emphasis on point-and-click graphical adventures, but room for IF as well. Some IF folks will likely be there. It runs December 6 and 7 this year.

ParserComp, a competition for parser-based games written within a timeframe of several months, organized by Carolyn VanEseltine. Authors may begin at any time; games are due in first draft form February 1, 2015, and in final draft February 14. Games will be judged in multiple categories.

Spring Thing has traditionally also had a competition format with an entry fee. For 2015, its direction is being somewhat changed: it is now a free-to-enter festival focusing on celebration rather than competition, with non-cash prizes only, and there is a “back garden” section that allows introductions, demos, and parts of games intended for commercial release. Intents are due March 1, 2015.

Hadean Lands (Andrew Plotkin)


Hadean Lands is Andrew Plotkin’s massive parser IF game about an alchemy-driven spaceship. It’s been several years in the making, after a substantial Kickstarter. And it’s now available.

I backed the initial drive, I’ve been following the dev blog since, and I spent probably upwards of 20 hours beta-testing it, becoming (to the best of my knowledge, anyway) the first person to finish the game other than Zarf himself. (Yes, I am bragging. Play it and you’ll see why.)

So I can’t really claim any sort of unbiased reviewer status at this point. Nonetheless, I would like to talk about some things that I thought about the game.

The discussion below will be mildly spoilery for information found in the very beginning of the game and in the ABOUT text. It will reveal no significant puzzle secrets, but if you want to experience the game entirely free of such preconceptions, then don’t read on.

Continue reading

Upcoming IF Events

Some things you might want to know about:

September 1 is the deadline if you’re planning to sign up to participate in the annual IFComp. The comp has a new organizer this year, and a snazzy new website. Also, if you don’t plan to participate but would like to donate prizes, you can do that too.

September 13 at the Boston Festival of Indie Games, the People’s Republic of IF is hosting two events: a reading of Lynnea Glasser’s comp- and XYZZY-winning Coloratura, followed by an interactive fiction tutorial covering Inform 7 and Twine.

Also Sept 13 on ifMUD, at noon Pacific/3 Eastern/8 British time, there will be a discussion on IF and audience: how authors adjust their work for a particular audience assumptions made, etc. In the past the IF community has talked a lot about adjusting games for beginner players or for children, and somewhat less (but still a bit) about writing accessible games for visually impaired players — but there are a wide range of possible audience considerations to discuss.

October 11-12 at GeekGirlCon in Seattle, Jacqueline Lott is running an IF intro tutorial in Twine and Inform 7.

More distant, but worth knowing about in case you want to plan ahead:

November 8 in Toronto, Jim Munroe’s Wordplay Festival will be accompanied by additional IF events.

I myself will not be there; instead I will be speaking at ICIDS in Singapore, November 3-6, where I will talk about lessons from Versu. I will likely also be running a short workshop in IF creation. More about those things when the schedule is nailed down a bit.

Ultimate Quest


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.

Call for Papers: ICIDS 2014

From the call for papers from ICIDS 2014, held in Singapore in November this year:

The International Conference on Interactive Digital Storytelling (ICIDS) is the premier venue for researchers, practitioners and theorists to present recent results, share novel techniques and insights, and exchange ideas about this new storytelling medium…

The ICIDS conference series has a long-standing tradition of bringing together theoretical and practical approaches in an interdisciplinary dialogue. We encourage contributions from a range of fields related to interactive storytelling, including computer science, human-computer interaction, game design, media production, semiotics, game studies, narratology, media studies, digital humanities and interactive arts criticism.

ICIDS would welcome papers on many topics of interest to readers of this blog, including digital storytelling authoring tools, interactive narratives in digital games, interactive narratives used in education, close critical studies of interactive stories, and post-mortems of completed projects.

The submission deadline is June 16.

I will be participating in this conference as a keynote speaker.