May 2023 Post Mortem

The People’s Republic of Interactive Fiction convened on Monday May 22 , 2023. Angela, Kathryn, Doug, Stephen Eric Jablonski, Kirill Azernyi, Josh Grams, Hugh, Mike Stage, Andrew Stephens, Cidney Hamilton, feneric welcomed Jules Pelarski. Warning: What follows is probably not proper English, but just my log of notes from the meeting to jog people’s memories.

Jules wrote Tempus Fugit, a story about time travel. Here website looking to talk about her sequel. Jules recently shared about this work on a podcast.

Josh coding a custom UI for Spring Thing prize. Josh is also working on a collab story called “Fix Your Mother’s Printer”  by Adventure Snack. Also, check out Your Post-Apocalyptic To-Do List from Spring Thing 2023. Josh also shared Inside the Facility.

Hugh, at, is working on a new game set in 1870s. Andrew is writing in Ink. Cidney shared that she is a (minor) contributor to Ink, which she uses as much as possible for narrative design/dialogue. Josh shared Ink’s portal page

We started off talking about writing dialogue. Jon Ingold’s markup language for writing branching dialogue recommended by Josh. How do you test a game to make sure there are no dead end situations? Choicescript has a feature that plays the game for you and reports parts that can’t be reached. Creating discrete narrative passages rather than using a time loop gave Hugh more freedom. Hugh creates different constructs/modes to vary things rather than pure random for handling novelty. His dialogue can use shuffle, non-random (Inform Default without repeating too soon), quasi-random. purely at random vs just random.

Cidney also shared that she recently worked on Colossal Cave 3D, she worked with Summer Daze on Hero U , Also mentioned her collab on The Owl Consult .

Stephen is enjoying playing The Wand, by Arthur DiBianca, a limited parser command game. First part is called escaping the castle. A pretty tricky puzzle gamer the second half. His games are also cool. Trouble in Sector 471.

Reminds us of DreamHold. DreamHold is really accessible.

Taper#10 just launched 10 Kirill and Angela have pieces on it. The issue for the next call, Parallels, due Sept. 17, is out.

Continuations in IF. We talked about experiences finishing an IF, and then having another chapter open up. These continuations add to the story. Kirill mentioned Infinite body separator that explores this.

There’s a problem with focusing on the narrative vs too many scattered threads with too many options. If a scene or dialogue is not essential should it be part of the piece at all?

Freemium models allow players to add more bells and whistles to make the game more interesting. Unlocking scenes and character interactions. Mentioned Fallout New Vegas and Alpha Protocol. In Morrowind, after you win, you can save or keep living in a cursed world. There is caution that having more random encounters might distract from the original story arc, and what if the player never finishes or returns to the canon?

How might you translate a book written in Ink into gamebook format? The book Crown of Kings recommended by Andrew and Jules. Gamebook format. Josh recommended a RogueLike Games talk about tracking items. At Spring Thing there was an IF game implemented in google forms. Kuolema was quite interesting. Three things to track: state of the game, state of your character (stats), things that you as a player know (skills you learn). Playing among those is fascinating. The Wand is another good example. New Vegas and Stardew Valley (cooking recipes) also mentioned.

Josh went to Boston FIG. Hugh won Silliest Game in Spring Thing. Kudos to actual winners. Hugh gave us a tip to use links for your submission to the live game, that way you can update the code live. Thanks to PRIF for play testing! Any tips for debugging Ink.

Josh shared an invite to the Interactive Fiction Club (click through to signup for the discord channel and other fun stuff). Speaking of continuations, Jon Myers and his friend somewhat recently played the Legend Entertainment game Gateway for their IF Club, and that was interesting because it kind of psyched you out into thinking the game was about over and then Surprise! There’s a third act. A player may or may not appreciate it, but it seemed like a good thing.