My friends: IF Comp 2016 is now open.
If you’re new to interactive fiction, you may not be familiar with the IF community calendar, so let me quickly explain why you’ve arrived at the best time of year.
RPS Feature Biggest festival of the IF year
RPS Feature IF engines that aren't Twine or parser-based
Newcomers to interactive fiction tend to distinguish just a couple of IF formats — Twine and parser, often, depending on whether you’re clicking or typing. Those with a little more experience might also recognize ChoiceScript and inklewriter, as options for creating games with a classic choose-your-own-adventure-style interface and some of the qualities of a gamebook. But in fact there are many other possible interfaces for IF — and the IF community has just seen the release of a new one.
Texture, designed by Jim Munroe and Juhana Leinonen, is an interactive fiction platform intended to be effective across mobile devices as well as the PC screen — unlike parser designs that require fiddly typing. Despite its simplicity, though, Texture gives the reader a little bit more control than the average hypertext piece: to interact, you drag a verb from the bottom of the screen and release it over a hotspot in the text.
Back when Kickstarter was relatively young, Andrew Plotkin proved that there was some money in interactive fiction by raising more than $30,000 to develop Hadean Lands. The game concerned the crash of a starship driven by alchemy, one in which the player would have to complete various rituals in order to get the ship moving again.
In full disclosure, I backed the game in its crowdfunding stage, and later helped to beta-test it. But I’m not alone in thinking Hadean Lands is one of the most extraordinary pieces of parser IF ever written, both as a technical achievement and as a piece of escalating puzzle design. Indeed, almost the first response when I started this column was a plea that I would cover Hadean Lands as soon as possible.
RPS Feature Interactive Fanfiction
I had a sweet time making the last Choose Your Own Interview, so this time I collaborated with long time Interactive Fiction heroes Adam Cadre, Emily Short and Andrew Plotkin to make you something special. The following is a heady mix of RPS fanfic, Interactive Fiction love letter, and slight autobiographical tendencies. Your secret content this time comes courtesy of a guest appearance by someone we all know and love. Enjoy, and keep me updated on your own adventures in text. Now let’s get really drunk. There must be a bar around here somewhere?