“Choose Your Own Interview” on RPS

Rock Paper Shotgun’s Cara Ellison interviewed me, Adam Cadre, and Andrew Plotkin, and then assembled the result into a CYOA. We talk about interactive fiction primarily, but also text-based gaming more generally. I have a long riff about inklewriter and related tools, and another one about the project I’m working on now for Linden Lab, to the extent that I can talk about that publicly.

Meanwhile for iPad and iPhone

Jason Shiga’s choose-your-own-path comic Meanwhile has been around in book form for a while now. There’s even a copy in my household, but I haven’t ever gotten to the point of reading it properly (and there is a “properly”, as one soon discovers). Now, thanks to Andrew Plotkin, it’s available as an iPad/iPhone application, and in that new format I finally finished it last night.

Meanwhile is a puzzle story: there are many endings, but you’ll know when you’ve reached the point where you finally understand. Structurally it has more in common with Möbius, Rematch, or other replay-puzzle IF than it has with, say, the Choice Of series. Going through the choices with the right knowledge puts a new spin on the things you see, and equips you for a couple of combination lock puzzles that otherwise would be laborious to guess your way through. And — like many games of this ilk — it uses time travel and parallel universe tropes to explain its loops of repetition and discovery, so that you can if you wish rationalize all your playthroughs as belonging to one(ish) reality.

Meanwhile is self-graphing CYOA — you don’t just jump pages, you actually see the lines of narrative — and it plays with that fact frequently and intentionally. Embedded in the story are many witty moments: places where you find yourself stuck in an infinite loop, points where two paths reconverge for comic effect, panels that mirror or summarize other panels in surprising ways. Sometimes the lines connecting panels spiral or tangle or knot, indicating narrative complication or a breakdown of causality.

As a book, it’s a pretty cool artifact — lines running out from the comic panels to the edge of the page, leading to tabs leading to new pages.

As an iPad app, it’s more solvable. All the elements of the story are assembled on a single infinite canvas, making it easier to see how panels relate to one another. A trace records where you’ve been on the current playthrough, so you can easily jump backwards to the last choice or to an earlier segment of the story if you want to try taking a different route. There’s even voiceover functionality for the visually-impaired, though I didn’t experiment with this myself.

If you’re inclined to read Meanwhile, I highly recommend the app version. The crazy, mindboggling outcome is worth getting to — and worth getting to honestly — and it’s easier to do that with those helps.

Cover Art Drive

IF Cover Art Drive is now officially running. From now until April 30, I am collecting IF cover art on Flickr. There are a few pieces already there, but more will be posted as they’re contributed.

The idea here is to try to collect contributions of art to serve as cover images for existing IF. There are two reasons to do this: first, to make IFDB more attractive and less pure-text; and second, so that people writing about IF on indie game blogs and websites will have something other than a screenshot of raw text with which to illustrate their articles. (More about the rationale for this is here.)

[Edit: for reference, a list of how things stand.]

Cover art submitted and accepted, or submitted by author:

  • The Act of Misdirection, by Callico Harrison
  • An Act of Murder, by Chris Huang
  • Ad Verbum, by Nick Montfort
  • Adventurer’s Consumer Guide, by Øyvind Thorsby
  • All Hope Abandon, by Eric Eve
  • All Roads, by Jon Ingold
  • And the Waves Choke the Wind, by Gunther Schmidl
  • Attack of the Yeti Robot Zombies, by Øyvind Thorsby
  • Augmented Fourth, by Brian Uri!
  • Bad Machine, by Dan Shiovitz
  • Balances, by Graham Nelson
  • The Baron, by Victor Gijsbers
  • The Beetmonger’s Journal, by Scott Starkey
  • Being Andrew Plotkin, by J. Robinson Wheeler
  • Blighted Isle, by Eric Eve
  • Blue Lacuna, by Aaron Reed
  • Breath Pirates, by Mike Snyder
  • The Chinese Room, by Harry Giles and Joey Jones (pending revisions)
  • Coke Is It!, by various
  • The Cove, by Kathleen Fischer
  • Cryptozookeeper, by Robb Sherwin
  • Dangerous Curves, by Irene Callaci
  • A Day for Soft Food, by Tod Levi
  • Degeneracy, by Leonard Richardson
  • Desert Heat, by Papillon
  • Distress, by Mike Snyder
  • The Djinni Chronicles, by J. D. Berry
  • The Edifice, by Lucian Smith
  • Enlightenment, by Taro Ogawa
  • An Escape To Remember, by IF Whispers
  • Fate, by Victor Gijsbers
  • A Fine Day for Reaping, by James Webb
  • Fine Tuned, by Dennis Jerz
  • Firebird, by Bonnie Montgomery
  • For a Change, by Dan Schmidt
  • Gardening for Beginners, by Juhana Leinonen
  • Gourmet, by Aaron Reed
  • The Gostak, by Carl Muckenhoupt
  • Help! My Vacuum Cleaner is Broken!, by Admiral Jota
  • In the End 2, by Adam Thornton
  • Katana, by Matt Rohde
  • King of Shreds and Patches, by Jimmy Maher
  • The Land of the Cyclops, by Francesco Cordella and Simone Di Conza
  • LASH, by Paul O’Brian
  • Learning to Cross, by Mark J. Musante
  • Legerdemain, by Nathan Jerpe
  • Letters from Home, by Roger Firth
  • Losing Your Grip, by Stephen Granade
  • Lost Pig, by Admiral Jota
  • Luminous Horizon, by Paul O’Brian
  • Lunatix — The Insanity Circle, by Mike Snyder
  • Lydia’s Heart, by Jim Aikin
  • Masquerade, by Kathleen Fischer
  • Moon-Shaped, by Jason Ermer
  • Mother Loose, by Irene Callaci
  • My Name is Jack Mills, by Juhana Leinonen
  • Not Just an Ordinary Ballerina, by Jim Aikin
  • Nothing But Mazes, by Greg Boettcher
  • Pass the Banana, by Admiral Jota
  • Persistence of Memory, by Jason Dyer
  • Photograph, by Steve Evans
  • Revenger, by Robb Sherwin
  • Rameses, by Stephen Bond
  • Ribbons, by J. D. Berry
  • Scavenger, by Quintin Stone
  • A Simple Theft, by Mark Musante
  • Snowblind Aces, by C. E. J. Pacian
  • Square Circle, by Eric Eve
  • Tales of the Traveling Swordsman, by Mike Snyder
  • The Tarot Reading, by Michael Penman
  • To Hell in a Hamper, by J. J. Guest
  • Trading Punches, by Mike Snyder
  • Treasures of a Slaver’s Kingdom, by S. John Ross
  • Undertow, by Stephen Granade
  • Voices, by Aris Katsaris
  • Waystation, by Stephen Granade
  • The Weapon, by Sean Barrett
  • Wearing the Claw, by Paul O’Brian
  • Whom the Telling Changed, by Aaron Reed
  • Worlds Apart, by Suzanne Britton

Cover art submitted and declined; submitted and unanswered; or supplanted by other art:

  • Aisle, by Sam Barlow
  • Anchorhead, by Michael Gentry
  • Chicken and Egg, by Adam Thornton
  • Choose Your Own Romance, by David Dyte
  • Christminster, by Gareth Rees
  • The Corn Identity, by IF Whispers
  • Deadline Enchanter, by Alan DeNiro
  • Delusions, by C. E. Forman
  • A Dino’s Night Out, by Aris Katsaris
  • Downtown Tokyo, Present Day, by John Kean
  • Elizabeth Hawke’s Forever Always, by Iain Merrick
  • Goldilocks is a FOX!, by J.J. Guest
  • Guess the Verb!, by Leonard Richardson
  • House of Dream of Moon, by IF Whispers
  • Janitor, by Peter Seebach and Kevin Lynn
  • Lost New York, by Neil deMause (would prefer no future cover art be created)
  • The One That Got Away, by Leon Lin
  • Rematch, by Andrew Pontious
  • Shade, by Andrew Plotkin
  • She’s Got a Thing for a Spring, by Brent VanFossen
  • Sins Against Mimesis, by Adam Thornton
  • Sting of the Wasp, by Jason Devlin
  • Theatre, by Brendon Wyber

Cover art submitted:

  • A Change in the Weather, by Andrew Plotkin
  • Delightful Wallpaper, by Andrew Plotkin
  • Hunter, in Darkness, by Andrew Plotkin
  • Spider and Web, by Andrew Plotkin

Cover art in progress:

Cover art requested:

Cover art “opted out”:

  • Building, by Poster

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Chocolatier; lushness; Dreamhold

The other day, in search of something to do while I was feeling under the weather, I downloaded Chocolatier on a recommendation from Jay Is Games. Despite not thinking it was that brilliant a game, I wound up buying the full version; and thinking about why I did that has led me to some other thoughts about the appealing aspects of IF.

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