Archive for October 2007

IFComp 2007: Deadline Enchanter   2 comments

Review after the jump.

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Posted October 20, 2007 by Jason Dyer in Interactive Fiction

IFComp 2007: A Fine Day For Reaping   2 comments

I started playing A Fine Day For Reaping using Agility, but switched to the ADRIFT Runner when I was worried about a compatability problem.

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Posted October 20, 2007 by Jason Dyer in Interactive Fiction

IFComp 2007: Packrat   Leave a comment

Next up is Packrat, a satirical variation on Sleeping Beauty.

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Posted October 19, 2007 by Jason Dyer in Interactive Fiction

Categories of interactive fiction (redux)   6 comments

I have taken one of my old posts and tweaked it.

Visual model of interactive fiction

There are some changes from the last version.

1. I placed interactive poetry more ambiguously this time; I’m still not sure where it goes. It’s essentially a genre that doesn’t exist yet.

2. I do still wish I had an official name for “advanced hypertext”. I believe some of the Japanese “visual novel” works fall into the category, but I just don’t know enough about them to say more.

3. I simplified “keeping track of world state” into “world model” and “no world model”. What I mean is that some information is kept over the session; a CYOA book typically doesn’t care what previous parts of the book you’ve visited, whereas a Gamebook may require the interactor to keep a detailed log.

I made this revision because I am going to be referring back to this chart fairly soon in my survey of Nick Montfort’s dissertation.

Posted October 18, 2007 by Jason Dyer in Interactive Fiction

Narrative Variation (part 4)   Leave a comment

Continuing with the dissertation, there’s an interesting section in 3.3 on the Oz Project, but I’m skimming ahead to “Steps toward a Potential Narratology”.

(p. 26) Well-known text-based interactive fiction includes Adventure (1977), Zork (1977-78), A Mind Forever Voyaging (1985), Knight Orc (1987), and Curses (1993).

I am curious how many readers have actually played Knight Orc. I hadn’t heard of it until the late 90s. Even though Level 9 games went over well in Europe, they (from my vantage point, at least) missed the US entirely.

This raises questions of canon — specifically, it seems like the only works before 1990 that get referred to (when making theory arguments or otherwise) are Infocom games. (The dissertation does make the Knight Orc reference and a few others.) This is in a way understandable — the availability of commercial games other than Infocom is very low. On the other hand, it seems tragic to skip them entirely, for innovation came from other quarters. At the very least lessons can be learned from their failures. (For instance, the rampant randomization of puzzles in Angelsoft games.)

(p. 27) Roger Carbol’s “Locational Puzzle Theory” is interesting in that it attempts a strict definition of certain elements of interactive fiction. Unfortunately there are numerous difficulties with the approach. To begin with, Carbol defines a game only as “a collection of objects, in the object-oriented programming sense,” which does not distinguish games from non-games, as any definition should. Furthermore, “object” is not defined by Carbol as it is in any thorough discussion of object-oriented programming, but as simply “a collection of properties.”

(The original essay is here.)

I’d call this criticism partly unfair — from context it is clear to me Roger was using “the object-oriented programming sense” to mean he was referring to objects as discrete, exact entities (as opposed to real-life philosophically nebulous blobs).

Where I believe Roger’s argument has more difficulty is that his definitions narrow down to “in a puzzle, something changes that moves the game to a desired state”. For the definition to work it really needs to distinguish puzzles from non-puzzles. As the excerpt above points out, Roger’s paper also doesn’t distinguish games from non-games.

Roger separates “corporeal” (in-game objects) and “memetic” (pieces of information) elements, but treats them equivalently. However, they don’t work the same, because real-world information can be manipulated in ways where a property-based model doesn’t make sense (making deductions in a mystery, for example). Still, I see some promise in an approach to puzzle theory that separates these elements and distinguishes what is possible in each. (Dan Shiovitz has a review of Act of Murder which considers this; note while the link jumps to the review in question the rest of the page is a complete review list of 2007 IF Competition games with spoilers. Link)

Posted October 18, 2007 by Jason Dyer in Interactive Fiction, Narrative Variation

IFComp 2007: Jealousy Duel X   Leave a comment

This is that Flash game where the Mac version inexplicably only works on Classic.

Wouldn’t releasing the original Flash file be easier? Oh well. On to the review.

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Posted October 18, 2007 by Jason Dyer in Interactive Fiction

IFComp 2007: Vampyre Cross   Leave a comment

This is the Paul Panks C64 game. It’s another RPG with some IF stylings. I played it using VICE.

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Posted October 16, 2007 by Jason Dyer in Interactive Fiction

IFComp 2007: The Lost Dimension   2 comments

Note: this game is Windows-only.

Review after the jump.

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Posted October 16, 2007 by Jason Dyer in Interactive Fiction

IFComp 2007: Reconciling Mother   Leave a comment

I’ve gotten through enough of the Interactive Fiction Competition entries to write some reviews. Other blogs also have reviews.

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Posted October 16, 2007 by Jason Dyer in Interactive Fiction

CYOA game in 10th Independent Games Festival   1 comment

Masq is a comic-book form Choose-Your-Own-Adventure, and it is one of the entries into the 10th IGF.

Posted October 13, 2007 by Jason Dyer in Interactive Fiction