In space, nobody can hear you starve
This week’s Premature Evaluation sees Fraser hurtling through the cosmos inside a space-faring locomotive in Failbetter Games’ eccentric early access space sandbox, Sunless Skies.
Narrative-driven games aren’t normally a comfortable fit with piecemeal early access development – it’s harder to offer a compelling vertical slice of a story that’s meant to be viewed as a whole. This isn’t Failbetter Games’ first rodeo, however; the studio has already had one successful early access game in Sunless Sea. Like its predecessor, Sunless Skies has another advantage: it’s a game about making and experiencing your own story through evocative vignettes and quests, rather than following a prescribed narrative.
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Listen now or don't, it's fine
What’s that faint light? It’s the glare of the RPS podcast, the Electronic Wireless Show, crashing through the atmosphere of the internet like an unstoppable comet capable of both massive destruction and enlightened conversation. This week, we’ve all been playing transhumanist adventure game Sun Dogs, which sees us romping through the solar system, necking drinks made out of germs and being killed over and over and over again by extraterrestrial forces beyond even our own post-human ken. It’s quite a pleasant trip.
But we’re also talking about “merchandise” and why it is often so rubbish. Pip will warm your heart with tales of a contraband dagger, and Adam will soothe you with a story about blood. There is much to learn. Read the rest of this entry »
A golem-populated SF city
Fresh on Kickstarter is a science fiction IF piece called Alcyone: The Last City. A look at the screenshots will suggest something familiar to dedicated IF fans: it looks a lot like StoryNexus, the Failbetter engine that powers both Fallen London and (behind the scenes) Sunless Sea/Sunless Skies. Read the rest of this entry »
Working the rooms
A House of Many Doors [official site] is developer Harry Tuffs’ expansive story-weaving game where you roam a mysterious parasite dimension creating memories and pursuing stories. It’s a curious, beautiful thing which I both loved and grew frustrated by as I scuttled from room to room. Here’s Wot I Think: Read the rest of this entry »
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.
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