Posts Tagged ‘IF Only’

IF Only: dressed for the party

Plundered Hearts cover slice

Plundered Hearts (Amy Briggs/Infocom, 1987) was Infocom’s one and only romance. It was also very much ahead of its time. Emulating the conventions of romance meant offering richer non-player characters, and spending more interaction time with them. There was a definite plot, not just a sequence of puzzles in an underpopulated landscape. There were set scenes where you could be clever and turn the tables on your enemies. There were multiple possible endings, depending on whether you wanted to give your heart to the sexy pirate after all.

Not only that, but it was easy enough to complete, even before we all knew how to find walkthroughs on the internet. When I got to Plundered Hearts as a teenager, I’d been playing Infocom and Scott Adams games since the age of six, without ever seeing the end of a single one. This was the first text adventure I ever actually finished.

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IF Only: Thaumistry and Southern Monsters on Kickstarter

Southern Monsters Screenshot

Kevin Snow’s work is notable for drawing strongly from specific cultures and folklore traditions. Snow’s two previous works, Domovoi and Beneath Floes, take on folk tales from Slavic and Inuit culture respectively. For Beneath Floes, he collaborated with the Nunavut-based game studio Pinnguaq (Singuistics, Qalupalik), which is why the game is also available in Inuktitut.

Both Domovoi and Beneath Floes deploy illustration as well as text; both show a taste for the uncanny as opposed to the simply horrific. Beneath Floes overlaps the supernatural threat and the threat that comes from our own failings and guilt; and while I enjoyed Domovoi, I thought Beneath Floes was more mature, more complex, and better written.

Now Southern Monsters promises to be Kevin’s biggest and most personal work yet, and it’s on Kickstarter and Steam Greenlight.

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IF Only: Apocalypse Eve

Prospero Cover Clip

Apocalypse is a popular topic of IF. Brian Moriarty’s Trinity explored the threat of nuclear annihilation, back in 1986; Phantom Williams’ 500 Apocalypses got several mentions here last year, from me and from Philippa Warr. Max Kreminski’s Epitaph takes a more Spore-like approach, as you’re allowed to try to nurture procedurally generated civilizations to survive longer than a few turns, and instead (most likely) rack up an impressive collection of failures.

Whatever kind of apocalypse you’re trying to model, interactive fiction probably has something to offer. Here are some of the most interesting.

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IF Only: Remembering Textfyre

Shadow in the Cathedral Cover

For quite a lot of the 2000s, IF enthusiasts hoped for a future in which parser IF would become commercially viable again. There were various theories about how to do that, but one company made a more serious attempt than most. Dave Cornelson put together Textfyre, a company that would create interactive fiction aimed at roughly middle school-aged children. The games would have a custom interface that resembled a book, and they’d be released as parts of a series, to encourage repeat sales. There would be handmade maps and artwork, so that these games would feel like quality products. And they’d sell for a serious price, $25 each. Read the rest of this entry »

IF Only: Looking back at 2016 in Interactive Fiction

Vesp Screenshot

We have, at last, reached the end of 2016. I’m not going to do a top-ten list — both because a lot of the games I might put on this list are things I’ve already covered elsewhere in previous columns, and because I think some of the most interesting things to happen in 2016 were about trends rather than single hits. But here are a few highlights of the year past. Read the rest of this entry »

IF Only: What to watch for

Screenshot of Interactive Fiction Database

Most of my columns look at a particular author, game, style, or theme in IF that you might be interested in trying out. But if you’re new to interactive fiction entirely and want to branch out into finding new work of your own, where would you look? Here’s a quick tour of some interesting things to look at and watch for.

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IF Only: The Works of Steph Cherrywell

Cover art for Jacqueline Jungle Queen

Steph Cherrywell is the creator of web comics (not necessarily safe for work) and graphic novels, such as Pepper Penwell and the Land Creature of Monster Lake. She is also one of the standout creators of comedy parser IF from the past couple of years, carrying over into interactive fiction her skill as an illustrator and her taste for riffing on naive adventure stories.

In Jacqueline, Jungle Queen (parser, Quest 5), the eponymous heroine is a spunky reporter who winds up stranded in the jungle and needing to explore her way to freedom. It’s available to play online. The online version offers a self-updating map, a permanent inventory list, and some other nice goodies. Just be aware that the website times out if you leave it alone for too long, so don’t expect to leave the game half-finished in a tab and come back the next day.

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