Reading IF

Once upon a time, this page was about helping people find IF that suited their tastes. But as the scope of interactive fiction has grown over the past few years, that’s become much too big a job to keep up with — and at the same time, IFDB has come to fulfill more and more of that role. Over on IFDB, you can search for puzzly or puzzle-less work, for choice-based or parser work, for games in many different genres and lengths, and for specific features. If you don’t find what you want, you can also make a new poll to ask other IF players to recommend games for you.

Now, instead, this page is a list of lists, meant to help acquaint people with some of the edges of what is done in IF. As you drill down, you’ll eventually come to specific game recommendations, and sometimes links to articles or discussions relevant to that area.

Overview of different IF concepts and styles, from early 2014: originally created for the Oxford-London IF Meetup, this list was designed to highlight the diversity of types of interactive fiction and rely as much as possible on relatively recent work, and work by Meetup members.

Interface: Different approaches to the IF interface, from hypertext to parser to more esoteric materials.

Plot Structure and Narrative: plots with events presented out of order; works in which scenes are optional or the plot threads diverge significantly; works with multiple endings; single-move IF; works in which the player’s actions are extremely constrained, so that a given outcome must occur.

Player Character & Narrative Voice: IF with unusual player characters and narrators: first- and third-person narrators, past-tense narrators, unreliable narrators; player characters explicitly customizable by the player; multiple protagonists and shifting viewpoints.

Characters and Conversation: This is mostly about character implementation. IF with unusual or highly-developed non-player characters; NPCs who move autonomously and pursue their own goals; works offering unexpected types of conversation.

Puzzle Design: single-puzzle games, puzzles with multiple solutions, games with adjustable difficulties; examples of specific puzzle types, such as resource-management, mystery and knowledge puzzles, word and language puzzles.

Multiplayer IF discussion. There are a number of issues tackled in this discussion, but one of the main ones concerns multiplayer IF of various kinds. At the bottom of the page is a list of additional reference materials.

Games of Co-Authorship: Games in which the player is contributing to or selecting either the plot events or the words that tell the story; interactive epistolary stories, games of dungeon-mastering, interactive poetry.

You may also be interested in past blog posts that are themselves game lists (such as lists of recommended games from each competition).