Archive for the ‘INTERACTIVE FICTION’ Category

INTERACTIVE FICTION: Colossal Cave Text Adventure

Saturday, January 9th, 2010

I’ve been thoroughly enjoying watching Peter Jerz, 11 year-old son of Professor Dennis Jerz (Seton Hill) play this text adventure game via three videocasts of his experience.

Dennis is teaching this course at his college and it is a rare treat to sit back and enjoy the gameplay of someone else going through the interaction of the game. We did this in one of my literature courses at Tunxis prior to the inclusion of a New Media course later established and I remember sitting at the helm of the keyboard in the computer lab while the other students gathered around giving suggestions and directions as to how to maneuver through the game. It was most helpful to have someone provide clues that I’d missed since we all had played the game, Photopia,  individually at home and some of us got a lot further along in it than others. At one point, I remember trying all the standard directional functions of n (north), s, e, and w, and even up and down. I tried several other verbs but just couldn’t get out of a particular room without banging against the walls. After I typed in “cry” in frustration (hey, for a girl it sometimes works with a cop in a speedtrap) I was told to type “fly” and voila!

What Dennis has done here is made the reader/user’s first interactive experience a bit less intimidating by showing the thought process that develops in the game as one learns the lingo of text adventure. Besides the directions and most standard verbs acknowledged by the games, there are the shortcuts such as “x” for examine (a room, an item, etc.) and “i” to refresh one’s memory about what “inventory” has been taken, there are words such as “speak” or “talk” depending on the author’s choice in allowing the reader/user to interact with characters within the story.

This just may have me buckling back down to play with a few more games that I haven’t looked at in a few years and more, to maybe try my hand at creating a game myself. One that breaks down and helps you when you “cry.”

HYPERTEXT & 100 DAYS PROJECT: Weaving Patterns

Sunday, July 19th, 2009

071999hThis is the Tinderbox map of Hypertext #59 The Library. What I’m planning here is a sort of IF influence on the piece by incorporating a quest, or task, separating the library into rooms, and providing clues within the stories that will lead to a successful ending.

Not all that easy. If I’m writing for the IF value, I find myself sacrificing story through the language as there are instructions and descriptions to be given to the reader. If I concentrate on the story, I lose the thread that must run through to allow the reader full access to paths leading to the ultimate ending while making sure all necessary information or clues are given and accessible via several choices of path.

But here’s the fun part: I’ve discovered the key to the puzzle is language-based and while I need to figure out how the clues can be ‘taken’ as ‘inventory’ as in IF so that they will all be available no matter how or in what order they are collected. The neat part is how the puzzle, the clues, and the solving all came in a pattern that I have to work to coordinate while making the story entertaining.

NEW MEDIA: Never a Case of Either/Or

Monday, March 2nd, 2009

I’ve been checking my stats lately because of the changeover from Typepad to WordPress to see if and why Google searches still point to–and find!–old deleted posts on the Typepad versions of the weblogs. This search caught my eye: “interactive fiction versus storytron which is better.” Undoubtedly, it led the searcher to one of my many posts on either subject and left them there since further links from that web page were supposedly blocked (the files were actually all dumped, but the ghosts of posts still linger in the atmosphere), and since there’s no reasonable way of redirecting from Typepad to the WordPress mirror.

The particular search above gives me the willies; it would seem that the difference is obvious to anyone knowing anything about either project. While in many vague ways Storytron can be connected to IF in the meaning of “interactive,” they are really two separate animals when you consider that IF is largely felt to reference text-based adventure. Chris Crawford didn’t put ten years of his life into Storytron to merely come up with something “better” than interactive fiction. It also seems that a quick visit to the sites–that of Storytron and the many on IF–would reveal immediately that there’s apples and oranges here.

I suppose what bothers me most is not the question, but that an answer would not have been found before following the search that led someone to my site. And then, to be dropped off into the netherworld of impossible redirection because of Typepad’s stubborn manipulation. I wish I had had the foresight and the time to go through all 5500 entries (Spinning and Hypercompendia) to add a forwarding link on each post; I just never thought the old ones would still be floating around out there.


Saturday, February 14th, 2009


Thanks to Dennis Jerz for pointing out Interactive Fiction Month which in true new media style, runs mid-February through mid-March.

There’s more information at this site as to how to participate, and it appears to be both a stimulus package for beginners as well as an opportunity for the more knowledgeable to get into it.

INTERACTIVE FICTION: Interealm’s Journeymaker

Sunday, January 25th, 2009

Just about to download this Journeymaker software and give it a whirl. While the examples shown are not really what I’m interested in, the one that made me think along the lines of a visual comic-book type IF narrative game is the one called University Chapter Zero: Prelude and it’s got my attention on the creative end as well as the playful instinct. Here are a couple screenshots from this IF game:

It’s cheap enough at $20.99 plus it has a free demo option available and a 5-user special price of $39.99. One of the things I notices was an ability by menu to choose action, i.e., “allow this if this and this are in place” type of thing.  I’ll play a bit and report on it’s use and the project.

Interactive Fiction: Blindness – Borders

Saturday, December 20th, 2008

Everyone who has played with IF is aware of learning boundaries and that this element when met ("You can't go that way") helps to define the storyworld.

In Jose Saramago's novel, Blindness, the first victims of the epidemic are locked away in an empty mental institution and Saramgo draws out the map of the building, borders being extremely important in keeping the inmates behind gates, away from the outside world. At the onset, even the building is divided into two main areas separated by a hallway where the afflicted, and those who were in contact with them are kept apart until there are too many people, almost all blind. The intricacy of the hallways and the three wards on each wing of the building become a maze to be traversed by the blind in order to get food or to the main entrance.

When there is an uprising against the one ward and it is set on fire, all the inmates must find their way to safety, and safety means the same as what freedom had meant prior: outside the building,

But the "game" is not won. For the blind, the world outside of the building is unchartered, unknown. The very fact that it is an open expanse whereby all directions lead somewhere, where there is no wall to guide one's way, is perhaps their greatest loss of all. Since most were blind (or unaware of a need to know) on the trip to the facility, they have no clue how to leave it and return to their homes, It would be very interesting to see how one would deal with this in IF.

"A road runs parallel to the front of the building. To the north there is a town about a mile away; to the south, the open universe.

Interactive Fiction: Saramago’s Blindness

Saturday, December 13th, 2008

I'm obviously affected by my work with hypertext and find that in straight-reading for the past few years I'm noticing the connections where links would be appropriate or where a narrative would be prime for hypertext mode.

On Spinning I'm reading and reviewing Jose Saramago's Blindness and it strikes me that this story is perfect for application of IF. Six people suddenly go blind and in fear of an epidemic, are confined within a large, empty mental institution building that is separated by wards and hallways and courtyards and gates. What more perfect environment for IF?

I discovered this as I was reading this:

Finally they realised (sic) they could not stay there and, struggling to find the door by which they had entered, they ventured forth into the unknown. (p. 67)

More and more people are struck by the sudden white blindness and here they are put into an overfilled ward so must seek out other rooms in which to settle. Up to this point, there is one woman, a doctor's wife, who has been faking blindness in order to remain with her husband, so she alone (along with the reader) sees what is happening (which just fired up another thought on reading–would the story be able to be told without that single seeing character?). Through her eyes we can locate the other victims, the doorways, the beds, and the limited arena of the story world.

Just as I was about to draw up a little map for myself of the building according to the clues I'd been given by the doctor's wife, she comes up with the idea of tying strips of sheets together into a rope and with one end tied to the knob of the door of their room, tie the other to whoever chooses or has reason to wander down the halls for something (the bathroom, the food bucket, the kitchen). So much better and necessary when finding their way back to safety.

So despite my best intentions to forget about hypertext and IF and all that stuff, once explored, there will always be in my mind the directions: Go north.


Friday, November 28th, 2008

Really need to get into Inform 7 a bit to keep open my options. Early morning, turkey-induced hallucinations of story come to mind: Rooms that are compartments of the mind.

I've been thinking a long time about a hypertext based on the mind, specifically, Alzheimers and its effect of erasing the boundaries of time. I have one story started on it, yet I've never really progressed with it.

The idea of exploring someone's brain based on the physiological compartmentalizing of memories and reactions is of course terribly interesting in itself, but if there is a reason, and a character that is compelling and elusive yet logical, the story/game could be intriguing.

Interactive Fiction: New Stuff

Sunday, November 16th, 2008

While going through some student work, I've also been made aware that the winners of IF 2008 have been announced and have tried to at least take a couple steps around in each.

One thing I'm noticing is that either I'm still lousy at IF, or I've just no patience for guessing games. When I ask to "x table" and I get "I see no such thing" after it specifically mentioned a table, I'm outta there. I still remember my frustration with Photopia trying to get out of a room and realized that I didn't know enough to "fly" though I did resort to "cry."

I think that with experience of playing comes a more adept manner of playing and a better vocabulary at the ready. After the holidays, I usually take some time to relax and explore areas that I never seem to have time to put the effort into. IF will be on the January agenda.

INTERACTIVE FICTION: Tunxis New Media Drafts

Saturday, November 15th, 2008

At this semester’s New Media Class at Tunxis CC, Steve Ersinghaus and John Timmons have led their students into hypertext and now into creating IF using Inform 7. I’m just starting to play around with the student projects and this one, by Max Hampe, looked fairly simple, with only one exit and the quest to find a tv remote. There appeared to be no danger here, so I boldly went forward:

…which allowed me to step in and die within the first few moments of the game.
Yep, I fell for the “it looks too easy” that was cleverly used:

What a hoot!