Posts Tagged ‘interactive fiction’

Wot I Think: Heroes Rise: The Prodigy / The Hero Project

They say a picture's worth a thousand words, and in my line of work, I should know. For the dame who entered my office just now though, I only need the one. And it's not like it's going to be 'no.'
‘You are the detective, are you not?'
I nod. That's what it says on the door. ‘Course, the side of it she came in from's not seen much footfall these past days. Not had much reason to go out myself, since getting that special on gin.
‘What can I do for you, Miss-‘
The dame holds up a gloved finger. ‘Mrs,' she corrects. ‘Mrs. Pembrose-Amberley.'
‘Pembrose-‘ I know that name. ‘As in Pembrose-Amberley, the Screenshot King?'
‘My husband went missing three days ago,' she says, lighting up a long white cigarette. ‘I don't think I have to tell you what that means.'
She does not. If the Screenshot King is gone, that means the Textual Revolution may finally have made its move against the graphical bourgeoisie.
‘I'll take the case,' I tell her. We both know it's a formality.

Heroes Rise proudly declares itself the first text adventure on Steam. Pffft. Reading words? On a screen? That someone wrote? Who’s got time for that nonsense, eh? What’s that, Graham? I do what for a living? Ah. I have just been informed that I was just kidding. Who needs graphics anyway? But! Do its first two parts have the power to overclock and fully exploit the most powerful gaming processor in the world, the Intel i7 47YOUR MOIST HUMAN BRAIN? Here’s Wot I Think…

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Heroes Rise: Text Adventures Coming To Steam

It’s 2014. Despite the creative rennaissance enabled by the likes of Twine, text adventures and interactive fiction are one of the few genres yet to experience a commercial revival from the rise of new funding models and digital distribution. There’s still hope, though. Choice Of Games, one of the few companies trying to make a living from making such games, have just announced that their Heroes Rise series is coming to Steam. They’re the first text adventures to join the platform.

So what’s your plan of attack?

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S.EXE: Snowblind Aces

Ah, mes cheries. This week’s S.EXE is a romantic tale of two hot-shots in a clinch. It’s hard to find well-written romance in games, but it’s also hard to find dialogue that’s naturalistic or flowing… Unless you go to the tenderly-kept gardens of the Interactive Fiction forums, where, somewhat ignored by Gamers At Large, the wordsmiths of choice and nuance solder their delicate meanings together, folding out words, opening up new landscapes purely constructed with the master knowledge of parser instructions or hypertext. So today we’re heading that way to the lovely little romance game Snowblind Aces, a short, replayable adventure in the vein of the Saturday afternoon matinee movie. It stays on just the right side of Indiana Jones cheesiness. It’s parser-based, so get ready to type GET YE FLASKE a lot, or MAKE LOVE TO BEYOOTIFUL WUMAN, and have the game stubbornly refuse to laugh. (Not really: this game is as straightforward as interactive fiction gets.) (Come the heck on!)

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Words & Music: Play 33 Text Adventures Inspired By Songs

“I need you to head down to the bad part of town and check out a StepEasy squattin’ in the industrial quarter. Dame across the street said she saw a lady, she thought it shady somehow. A man came through the window and she was struck down (I mean the lady) old dame thinks, to her doom. But listen, can you do this? I mean with all that happened before–“

ShuffleComp is a competition where people were challenged to create interactive fiction inspired by songs. The result is 33 short games, each based upon a single track. The above quote is from Groove Billygoat, a game inspired by Michael Jackson’s Smooth Criminal, and there are other games inspired by Oingo Boingo, Barenaked Ladies, Genesis, The Byrds, Quantic and a lot more. Most of them are even playable with a single click in your browser.

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SLAMMED! Is Interactive Fiction With Kayfabe

The best there is, was, and ever will be?

I didn’t grow up in a house where wrestling was ever on TV, so WWF was only ever this strange thing that made my friends want to “choke slam” and “clothesline” me, or otherwise do unpleasant things to one another. Yet still I’ve picked up enough residual love from Craig to think this is cool. SLAMMED! is an interactive fiction game about wrestling, and it has a kayfabe stat.
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Mostly Indescribable: Depression Quest

The new interactive fiction game from Zoe Quinn, Patrick Lindsey and Isaac Schankler begins with a quote from David Foster Wallace and a warning. Both of them tightened the knot in my stomach and made me feel a little less sure of myself. I decided that now is not the time to click ‘Begin’. I’ve never lived with depression, at least not my own, but I’ve experienced it through others and know that at least one of those people would be extremely anxious but hopeful when faced with that button. This is ‘game’ as communication, comfort and tool of understanding. I’ll share thoughts on Depression Quest soon. You can play for free or donate, both to the developers and to iFred

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Typeface: 2012 Interactive Fiction Competition

None of the games in this post are about shooting people, even though it contains links to many games that you can play right now. One of them is about making the final payment on your mortgage, an event that becomes a tragicomic fiasco. Another is the exploration of a life through study of a last will and testament. How about picking through a claustrophobic dystopia that might feel disturbingly close to your own midnight thoughts? Getting lost in a world made of puns? No? None of that appeals? Have a zombie then. Be a zombie, a hungry zombie in a world that has a severe brain shortage. Aren’t games imaginative and great? These are all entries in the 2012 Interactive Fiction competition. More details below.

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The Text Adventure Evolved? CYPHER

The text adventure, as we’ve known it for years, is finally beginning to evolve. It’s adding graphics, using new techno… hang on, it’s not 1984. And yet, it’s fair to say that the thriving world of Interactive Fiction primarily focuses on the purest form of the genre – just the text, ma’am. Now, I’m not nearly knowledgeable enough about the scene to know if the claims made by CabreraBrothers are definitely the case, but they’re arguing CYPHER is the first text adventure made using Unity3D, and they’re calling it “the comeback of commercial text adventures”.

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The Legend Ascends: Heroes Rise

DO NOT READ THIS UNLESS YOU ARE OVER THE AGE OF 18 AND NEVER WANT TO BE AROUSED AGAIN

From the same stable as Choice of the Dragon, which gobbled up a swathe of Alec’s free time back in 2010, comes Heroes Rise: The Prodigy. It’s a textual choose your own adventure game with character stats, customisation and combat, taking place in a world of advanced technology and celebrity superheroes. You can play a great deal for free but the full version will set you back the half pint price of £1.99. But did it distract me from listening to imaginary Bane and Batman voices having a gruff-off?

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Wot I Think: Endless, Nameless

Troll. DO YOU SEE?

I’m so glad I don’t review books for a living. When discussing a game, you have to be careful to avoid both narrative and mechanical spoilers as best you can, but generally there’s a great deal to talk about around these. But I’m not sure the editors of the Times Literary Supplement would take kindly to my describing how easy it is to turn a book’s pages, as I desperately find ways to avoid ruining the story for anyone who might want to read it. I often feel in a similar situation when reviewing adventure games, and never more so than when talking about interactive fiction. Yes, there are mechanics to discuss, of course. But really, with text on a screen, it’s tougher. And when that game has a crucial twist in the opening hour, er, you’re screwed. So it’s with this in mind that I suggest you go play Adam Cadre‘s Endless, Nameless before you read beyond the point I’ll clearly mark below. I’ll not ruin the entire game, of course. But, well, play it first.

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Absent Heroes: Choose Your Own Interview II

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?

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They Might Be Giants IF Tribute: Apollo 18+20

They are fighting in space

How many people like They Might Be Giants’ 1992 album Apollo 18? I think I count six raised hands. This next question is just for those six then: do you also like interactive fiction? OK then. That one handsome fellow jumping up and down, waving his arms, this is the post written specifically for you and me! In fact, it’s possible I’m jumping up and down in front of a mirror. No matter. A gathering of wordsmiths have created a textual adventure for each track of Apollo 18, celebrating its 20th anniversary. They’re all short, mostly clever, often funny and you can play them online or download them.

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Type-casting: Interactive Fiction Awards

Use 'working class poverty' on 'middle class conscience'

Edit – this isn’t the IF awards, but rather a specific one for short IF. Sorry for the confusion.

Interactive fiction – or text adventures to the 80s-raised layman – quietly continues to thrive in its own brainy corner of the internet. But where to start? Well, the annual Interactive Fiction Competition conveniently rounds up the best of the best for lazy people like me. The 2011 results are now in.

Taking the main gong this year is Taco Fiction by Ryan Veeder, which is an agreeably wry and downbeat tale of a feckless gunman attempting to rob a dirty fast food joint.

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Never Say Never: Maybe Make Some Change

It turns out that typing shoot [person] is a lot harder than clicking a mouse button

Maybe Make Some Change has certainly caused a change here, in my brain and my general emotional wellbeing. Despite the fact that it’s a Monday and a thin and sickly rain is scratching against the windows trying to chill my soul, I was actually feeling pretty good about half an hour ago. Not so much now. This is a game that may make you think or may simply make you angry or sad, but it certainly won’t make you say “By golly, that was a fun old time”. It’s a piece of interactive fiction (sort of) about this event, which took place in Afghanistan last year. You can experience it now or read my scrambled thoughts below.

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Storyseeking: Interactive Fiction Competition

It's the thing
I’ve been taking a look at some of the games in the 17th Annual Interactive Fiction Competition and though I’m not going to refer to these as “the cream of the crop”, having not harvested the entire crop yet, they should fulfill a variety of your text-based needs. With storytelling in games high on the agenda today, it’s a particularly interesting moment to look at the different ways narrative can be explored through interactive prose. Far from fetch quests and attempts to second-guess a limited vocabulary, interactive fiction at its best can allow a reader-player to discover stories in all kinds of interesting ways. This way to words about words.

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Splice Of Life: Cryptozookeeper

I couldn't bring myself to put a picture of words

You find some odd things, poking around the dusty corners of the internet. Take Cryptozookeeper, a darkly comic splatterpunk interactive fiction adventure with grisly Pokemon type elements. It sounds like an unholy abomination of game types but for the most part it’s a narrative interspersed with fairly conventional puzzles. The story isn’t conventional at all though. It starts with a courier collecting some alien DNA from a rundown shack containing a large one-eyed man and his pet bear-dog, Puzzle, and swiftly becomes increasingly deranged. Later on you’ll be merging DNA to make battle-beasts even more uncanny than a duckbilled platypus but first you just need to deal with that bear-dog. The game is free to download although there is a deluxe copy for sale, which comes on discs in a box like olden times.

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Text To Speech: Andrew Plotkin Interview

It's been a good day for staring eyes. Gotta go for the hat trick...

If I had to compare RPS’s relationship with interactive fiction to something, it would be an ex-girlfriend upstairs that we drop in on when the weight of the world has got us down. IF is always there for us, waiting, pouting, fascinating, erudite, a bit sexy (but not very sexy).

Earlier this week we heard about IF author Andrew Plotkin’s plan to quit his job and write IF full time. He created a Kickstarter page with the aim of raising $8,000. That was five days ago. To date he’s received a total of $18,862, with two people pledging more than $1,000. I got in touch with him to ask about the project, his new game, and why he’s so hooked on IF. In return, he made me look up Higgs boson. I am no smart. If you’re at all curious about IF, this is a must-read.
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IF Author Raises $10,000 In One Day

ask andrew plotkin for money

Next, another tale of glitz and glamour from the PC’s drug-soaked, rock-n-roll interactive fiction community. And by “another” I mean “possibly the first, ever”.

Highly respected IF author Andrew Plotkin (Spider and Web, Shade and much more) wants to make the switch to writing IF full-time. He created a Kickstarter page, saying that if he raised $8,000 in a month he’d proceed across the rocky tundra of self-employment and start making IF games for iOS devices (a pledge of $25 or more WILL get you a PC version on CD, though). What happened next? Well…
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Interactive Fiction Comp 2009 Judging!

Hullo! These e-mails keep on coming. Some highly-edible-sounding chap called Stephen mails news with news that Interactive Fiction Competition 2009 has started judging. That means that the – oooh! – upwards of 20 games can be downloaded by anyone, and then voted on by anyone with fingers still able to interact with a computer keyboard (i.e. Not Kieron, whose fingers were amongst the first things to go. They’re so moreish!). If you’re looking for opinions on them… well, last time around, Kieron linked to Emily Short’s blog as a good source for that kind of thing. So I’ll do it too. Seriously, this games journo thing is as easy as taking candy (and their tiny, defenceless heads) from babies. Toodles!