XYZZY Award Finalists are out

The finalists for the 2014 XYZZY Awards have been announced; if you want to vote, you have until April 25th at 0:01 US-Pacific to do so. Perhaps the most obvious difference vs previous years is how many of the nominees are commercial IF; there was more of it this past year than usual, but also I think it got more attention than it has in some years. There was also a strong showing for choice-based IF, featuring Twine, inkle, ChoiceScript, and Versu games.

In a few categories there are (unusually) only two nominees. If you’re curious, this thread on intfiction talks about why that is and how the nominees are selected; also about whether the current nomination system is best or whether we might want to go to one that allowed people to nominate multiple games per category in the first round.

Spring Thing 2015, and Aspel

Spring Thing is now open, with nine new games: six in the main category, three in the “Back Garden” area for games that aren’t in competition for prizes and have somewhat looser entry requirements. There’s a mix of systems, too — Twine, Undum, Seltani, Glulx and z-machine, and Ren’Py.

My contribution is a Back Garden game called Aspel, which is a realm in the choice-based multiplayer Seltani platform. As my entry blurb says:

Aspel is an experimental interactive experience designed for multiple players, featuring asymmetric information and collective decision-making. The text you see on the screen won’t necessarily be the same as what everyone else sees, so you’ll need to communicate with your fellow players in order to experience it most fully. To make that easier, I’ll be around to participate/host at the following times:

Tuesday April 7 at 8 PM British/3 Eastern/noon Pacific
Sunday April 19 at 8 PM British/3 Eastern/noon Pacific
Friday May 1 at 8 PM British/3 Eastern/noon Pacific

…but of course people are more than welcome to arrange their own visiting hours.

At some point I’ll likely write something about the experience of writing for Seltani.

Sunless Sea leaves early access

SunlessSea1

Sunless Sea is out of early access today!

If somehow you have not heard of this game: it is a grand, creepy exploration game from the cool people at Failbetter, set in the Fallen London universe. Sail a cavernous underground sea, fight off giant crabs, try to keep yourself and your crew sane, and encounter islands full of strange tales. It has more eye candy than Fallen London, and no action-metering or grind. On the other hand, it keeps the creepy setting and the tight, memorable prose. You can play it in a ferocious rogue-like mode with permadeath, or you can be wimpier and keep save files. (I keep save files. I admit it.)

It’s not just me with my fondness for Fallen London here, either. Eurogamer gives Sunless Sea a 10/10, and so does Starburst Magazine.

I’m hoping for a big launch day for Sunless Sea for a couple of reasons.

One, I guest-wrote three of the islands, and I’ve written a little about that experience here (general comments about writing for the Fallen London universe as part of a retrospective of my 2014 efforts) and here (spoilery design post about the island of Nuncio). I had a lot of fun with these, I’m happy about how they came out, and I’m hoping other people will like them too.

Two: Failbetter is doing some really intriguing commercial IF, and the success of Sunless Sea will have a direct impact on how much more they can do along the same lines. I am hoping that they’ll turn out to be able to do lots and LOTS more.

So! Buy a copy! Tell your friends! Leave a Steam review! Try not to commit any acts of cannibalism! (Harder than you might think.)

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.