November Link Assortment

Upcoming events:

Boston, Dec 2: Purple Blurb at which Christian Bok will read from The Xenotext.

Copenhagen, Dec 2-4: ICIDS conference meets, with keynotes by Chris Crawford and Paul Mulholland. This is an academic conference in digital storytelling that in the past has looked at procedural narrative, character modeling, authoring tools, augmented reality experiences, interactive nonfiction, pedagogical applications of IF, and assorted related topics.

Boston, Dec 10: PR-IF meets.

SF Bay, Dec 12: Bay Area IF meetup.

London, Dec 12-13: AdventureX, a convention for adventure games including text adventures.


IF Comp is over, and that means lots of discussion, post-mortems, and additional reviews. There was an extensive post-mortem discussion at Euphoria, a new, still-in-development threaded chat space that includes a room for interactive fiction.

Here’s some of the authorial writing that has come out since the comp closed:

Astrid Dalmady on Arcane Intern (Unpaid)

Brendan Patrick Hennessy’s postmortem on Birdland

Piato’s postmortem for Duel

AvB’s postmortem for Gotomomi

Tia Orisney on Kane County (plus some questions about where to go on a post-comp release)

Katherine Morayati’s postmortem for Laid Off from the Synesthesia Factory

Glass Rat’s postmortem for Seeking Ataraxia.

Joey Jones’ five-part series on Sub Rosa [Planning, Puzzles, Cut Content, Setting, Wrap]

An interview with Chandler Groover about Taghairm and his postmortems for both Taghairm and Midnight. Swordfight.


The Windhammer Prize for gamebooks has also concluded, with first prize going to Felicity Banks for After the Flag Fell. I didn’t have a chance to play either of the Merit Award winners, but here’s Sam Ashwell’s review of Merit winner Sabrage.


Liza Daly writes about her NaNoGenMo project this year, a computer-generated cops and robbers script that uses some IF-style world-modeling.


The Games by Angelina blog is running posts summing up interesting recent work in game AI, including narrative AI — for instance, this piece about a knowledge representation system developed by a team at UCSC.


New York magazine collects a list of particularly entertaining Twitter bots, as recommended by other botmakers. Includes some interesting thoughts about what makes procedural juxtapositions fruitful or funny, even if it doesn’t mention Harry Giles’ @LilSpellbook, my personal favorite.


Somewhat in the spirit of Sam Ashwell’s Tlön game reviews, Alexis Kennedy writes about “three unreviewable games”.

And meanwhile, here’s an IF game jam themed around that same idea, run by Jason Dyer.


Ryan Veeder has started a comp for games that will appeal to Ryan Veeder. It will be judged by Ryan Veeder and the prizes awarded by Ryan Veeder. An important rule is that you are not supposed to communicate with Ryan Veeder about his comp.

Even if you do not like this idea and do not want to enter it, it is worthwhile to view the video in order to see the costuming.


IF Comp author Marco Vallarino has written several other pieces, including an Inform piece in Italian designed to introduce students to the features of possible schools — this newspaper article covers the project and includes screenshots.


Here’s Bruno Dias (Cape, Mere Anarchy, et al) on Emily is Away, as part of the ZEAL project.


Adam Cadre has issued a complete rewrite of his novel Ready Okay!.


If you’re interested in writing German-language IF, the IF Grand Prix for 2016 has been announced and intents are being accepted through March 1 2016.

IF Comp 2015 Guest Post: Janice M. Eisen on Brain Guzzlers from Beyond!


As part of the ongoing project to get new reviewers talking about IF Comp games, Janice M. Eisen has written about Brain Guzzlers from Beyond! Janice is a long-time player of parser IF who beta-tested for Infocom.

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A Conversation with Ruber Eaglenest about ZFiles


Z Files: Infection is a project currently being Kickstarted, an interactive comic book set in a zombie universe. I talked with Ruber Eaglenest, aka El Clerigo Urbatain, about the project, and how it works as an interactive comic, as interactive fiction, and in terms of how it portrays its protagonist.

Interactive comic

RUBER: There have been other games that have tried to this fusion, but they are most experiments, or resort to the “infinite canvas”.

EMILY: I think that is an interesting direction. I’ve seen a handful of pieces that do similar things, but I think there is probably a lot of additional room to explore it. IIRC, some of the Tin Man Games pieces do include some comic illustration elements; also a few other things I’ve covered.

RUBER: To be honest, sometimes I’m not at all satisfied about how I try to communicate how interesting is our project compared to other attempts to make interactive comic. I do not want to look as I disregard other attempts, especially when I can climb on his shoulders and improve from there.

We are going to stay inside the pages of a comic, and so, the challenge is to apply the tree structure of CYOA to the finite space of a comic book.

EMILY: What actual constraints do you have in mind here? For instance, are you trying to make all the pages be the same size, or have the same amount of visual space assigned to each node?

RUBER: You see, people and the press likes to praise the infinite canvas because we simply love to see common things applied to new technologies. But when one uses the infinite canvas in a digital or interactive comic, you lose some of the features and inherent properties of the comic format. For example, the ability to close a page narrative, or leave it open with a cliffhanger so that an important revelation occurs at the turn of the page. To play with the structure, with graphic symmetry, among other wonders you can do within the pages of a comic book. For example, in the following conference praising Watchmen, Kieron Gillen explained very well the capacity of traditional structures of comics raised to its maximum capacity of artistic expression.

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Wunderverse is not a game but an iPad adventure editor that lets you build your own stories. It comes with a few starter adventure chapters already written, though as far as I saw it didn’t look like any of them were finished stories. Of these, I completed the sample set in the paranormal world: a vaguely Sixth-Sense-y story that could have been more strongly written and that still had a couple of typos. But I have the feeling that the actual content is not what the app’s creators most care about; they’re looking at this primarily as a tool.

IMG_0208The good: the app looks pretty slick, and it features the ability to theme your stories and include sound effects and other elements.

Though it has a tap-only interface, the underlying world model feels more like parser IF than the models in most competing systems. You can create nodes and objects, and certain verbs remain available to the player at all times. The system also provides for player character stats and abilities, and for conversation. Nodes function sort of like rooms and sort of like narrative nodes, so you could take this either in a very map-based direction or in the direction of a more CYOA-style narrative. (Personally I feel a little bit itchy about conflating space and narrative state into the same thing, but I accept that it’s sometimes useful to do so.)

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IF Comp 2015 Guest Post: Susan Patrick on Capsule II


This post is part of an ongoing project to bring more voices to the IF Comp conversation. I have been reaching out to players and authors who aren’t part of the intfiction community, and also to some veteran intfiction denizens who might not have time to cover the whole comp but who are likely to have especially useful feedback in particular areas.

Reviewing PaperBlurt’s Capsule II is Susan Patrick, a scriptwriter for Ubisoft who hopes to create her own Twine game soon.

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IF Comp 2015 Guest Post: JJ Gadd on Crossroads


This post is part of an ongoing project to bring more voices to the IF Comp conversation. I have been reaching out to players and authors who aren’t part of the intfiction community, and also to some veteran intfiction denizens who might not have time to cover the whole comp but who are likely to have especially useful feedback in particular areas.

Our reviewer this time is J.J. Gadd. Her five-book Lunation Series utilizes hyperlinks to create a choose-your own adventure style experience for readers, allowing them to choose between travelling with one character or another at various points in the narrative. Out now through Harper Voyager. 

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