Choose Your Own TextVenture: A Thread for IF Games

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Healy
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Choose Your Own TextVenture: A Thread for IF Games

Postby Healy » Sun Mar 02, 2014 4:34 am

It is March, and there is time for... Interactive Fiction.

What is Interactive Fiction, anyway?
Interactive fiction (commonly abbreviated as IF) is a subset of Games in which the primary interaction is through text, like, say, typing in commands in Adventure or Zork, or choosing an option among several presented, like in the old Choose Your Own Adventure books, or the various games made by Choice of Games, or any given visual novel, maybe. The former category is called text adventures, or parser IF (because it uses a text parser), the latter is known as CYOA, or choice-based IF. Most games in the IF community get divided along these lines. Note that there is still some contention over the definition of IF (see here, in the first half and the comments), but this is the definition most of the IF community tends to use.

Healy, I heard text adventures are real real hard to get into, what should I do
Most people's problems with text adventures come from two things, the need for an interpreter and the parser itself. Luckily, the first issue is pretty much solved; used to be you had to download a whole lot of interpreters to play all the different IF story-file formats, but nowadays there's Gargoyle, which plays the most popular formats and is available on Mac, Windows, and Ubuntu. If you can open a document through Word, you can play an IF game through Gargoyle. Plus there's been a lot of focus on web-based interpreters in the past couple years, so some text adventures you can just play on the web! Not all, but some.

The parser is the real problem though. If you want to play text adventures you are going to have to deal with the fact that the range of words and phrases the parser accepts is limited, and adjust your approach accordingly. Here's a card with the most commonly used commands in text adventures, made by Andrew Plotkin:
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Even so, there still might be guess-the-verb trouble and whatnot. The only real way to guard against this, it seems, is through judicious testing (though guessing what player might type certainly helps), which is why testing is held in such high regard by the IF community.

Possibly you think all of that is too much of a hassle to deal with, and that's okay! There's plenty of IF without a parser to go around. Personally I think you'll miss out on some great games if you avoid text adventures, but it's not up to me what you'd like.

Okay, so which of these IF games should I play, anyway?
I'm glad you asked! Here is a short list of recommendations, separated roughly into parser-based and choice-based categories:
Parser-based:
Lost Pig by Admiral Jota (natch)
Photopia by Adam Cadre (also natch)
Bronze by Emily Short
Violet by Jeremy Freese
Shade by Andrew Plotkin
Dinner Bell by Jenni Polodna

Choice-based
The Play by Dierdra Kiai
howling dogs by Porpentine
You Will Select a Decision by Brendan Patrick Henessey
Various games in the Choice of Games series: Recommended: Dragon, Broadsides, Zombies by various
Bigger Than You Think by Andrew Plotkin
Bee by Emily Short

Note that I have also created a Recommended List on IFDB for this thread, which you can read here. (Most are repeat recommendation from this thread, but some are new.)

Wait, go back, what was that about an IF community?
The IF community is loosely defined and kinda nebulous, especially with the rise of choice-based platforms like Twine, but there are still common jumping off points, such as...
The IFDB: The most visible part of the IF community nowadays. You can add IF to the database, rate and review games already in the database, create polls, lists, etc., etc. If you make IF, you're going to want to post it on the IFDB eventually.
IF Archive: This is where IF gets stored. Most users are better off accessing the IFDB and other sites than the Archive directly, but it's absolutely essential for authors, as it gives them a place to upload their IF on a site more permanent than their Dropbox.
Intfiction.org forums: This is where most of the IF Community's discussion takes place, now that the Newsgroups imploded on themselves. If you need help with a common IF language like TADS or Inform, this is where you should go.
IF Wiki: It's a wiki for IF, duh. Unfortunately some of the information on it is out of date. Still pretty useful, though, especially for parser IF.
Planet IF: A feed aggregate of IF blogs.
Emily Short's Blog: Emily Short is one of the most prominent members of the IF community, and she talks a lot about narrative in games in addition to IF. On the right side of her blog is a bunch of relevant links to IF stuff.
Philome.la: Like the IF Archive, this is a service that is more useful for authors than players. Provides free hosting for your Twine games. Requires a Twitter account.

All this talk is fascinating but how can I make my own IF?
Here are the major languages, currently:
Parser-based:
Inform: Inform is a language designed to look like natural English, in order to help out the beginning IF programmer. Comes with its own graphical IDE. Compiles to two formats, Z-Code and Glulx. Note that the natural language may trip up experienced programmers; if that is the case with you, you might want to check out Inform 6 or...
TADS: TADS is a much more crunchy language than Inform. Note that the latest version lets you build your game for web play.
Quest: More plug and play than Inform, Quest is a GUI-based text adventure creator. Has both a web-based editor and one for Windows. Quest games can be hosted online at http://textadventures.co.uk/.
Playfic: Playfic isn't really a stand-alone language; it's an HTML5 port of Inform. It's pretty handy if you want to make a web-playable version of your Inform game; just copy and paste the source into Playfic and you're good to go. Note that it only works with games compiled into the Z-Code format.
Choice-based
Twine: The CYOA creator that all the cool kids are using. GUI-based, has its own wiki and forum. Creates a single html file that you can upload almost anywhere. Highly recommended, especially for newbies.
ChoiceScript: Made by the Choice of Games folks. Good for making RPG-like CYOAs. No GUI or IDE. ChoiceScript games can be hosted by the Choice of Games people for a modest share of the income; see this page for more details.
Inklewriter: A little like Twine, in that it's a GUI CYOA creator. It's very much its own thing, though; for one, the engine is entirely web-based. (There is a web-based version of Twine, but it's not out of beta yet.) For a small fee they'll convert your game into an ebook that you can sell on Amazon.

That's about all for now. If anything big is missing, let me know so I can edit it in.
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Re: Choose Your Own TextVenture: A Thread for IF Games

Postby Healy » Mon Mar 03, 2014 11:15 pm

IF NEWS

Now that's some IF News you can IF Use!
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Re: Choose Your Own TextVenture: A Thread for IF Games

Postby TA » Mon Mar 03, 2014 11:21 pm

If you don't vote for Horse Master for everything then you are broken as a person.
のほも is such a good word?? the concept is kind of hard to fully get across in translation, but basically it means a feeling of pure, deep, platonic affection, and i think thats beautiful

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Re: Choose Your Own TextVenture: A Thread for IF Games

Postby Healy » Tue Mar 04, 2014 12:39 am

Personally I think there were a lot of stand-outs last year, so many that I had a hard time picking out which ones I wanted to nominate for which awards. But yeah, that was a pretty cool game. Hope it gets nominated for something, at least.
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Re: Choose Your Own TextVenture: A Thread for IF Games

Postby Newbie » Sun Mar 09, 2014 7:38 pm

Great thread, great lists. XYZZY nominations end today, so vote if you're going to!
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Re: Choose Your Own TextVenture: A Thread for IF Games

Postby Healy » Tue Mar 11, 2014 5:34 pm

The nominees for the 2013 XYZZY Awards are up! You may login and vote here, and check out this IFDB Recommended List I made of the nominees here.
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Re: Choose Your Own TextVenture: A Thread for IF Games

Postby TA » Tue Mar 11, 2014 7:21 pm

Seriously, there is exactly one candidate for Best PC? I know there was more than one entry because I nominated something different. Travesty!
のほも is such a good word?? the concept is kind of hard to fully get across in translation, but basically it means a feeling of pure, deep, platonic affection, and i think thats beautiful


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Re: Choose Your Own TextVenture: A Thread for IF Games

Postby Brentai » Wed Mar 12, 2014 1:55 am

Heh heh heh telling people to save frequently, what assholes.

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Re: Choose Your Own TextVenture: A Thread for IF Games

Postby Healy » Wed Mar 12, 2014 3:23 am

TA wrote:Seriously, there is exactly one candidate for Best PC? I know there was more than one entry because I nominated something different. Travesty!

There were bunch of nominations, but they only had one vote each. Meanwhile, the winner had more votes than all of them put together. This does not bode well for the future of the Best PC award.
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Re: Choose Your Own TextVenture: A Thread for IF Games

Postby Healy » Mon Mar 24, 2014 10:19 pm

Oh snap! ShuffleComp sign-ups are in! Here are the main deets:
Short version: you send me (magadog, gmail) a list of eight songs. I shuffle all the submitted lists up and send everyone a random selection. You pick one song from that selection and you make a game inspired by it; then you submit it to me, it's published under a pseudonym, and we vote for the best games.

SIGNING UP

By April 9, choose no more than eight songs and email the list to me. (magadog, gmail.)
  • The songs must be available online, in public, in full and for free. (Free here entails 'no signup required'.) Tracks available on YouTube are strongly preferred. Include a URL.
  • Your selection should not include more than two songs per artist.
  • It'll make my life a little simpler if you use the format ARTIST - SONG TITLE - URL.

With this, you should also submit eight (or so) pseudonyms for other participants to use. These pseudonyms should not be the names or handles of existing game authors, because that would be super rude. But otherwise do what you want. When you write your game, you'll (at least initially) do so under a pseudonym.

Email your selection to me, together with appropriate links (magadog, gmail.) I'll shuffle the results up and send a playlist to each participant.
Lists will be handed out by the end of April 10. The deadline for submitting your game will be May 1. After that, there'll be a short testing period; final versions must be submitted by May 12, and the games will be published shortly thereafter. (There is no requirement to use all of this time; if you write your game in an afternoon, that's fine.)

Remember to check main thread for answers to any questions you might have! If you submit songs but don't wanna submit a game they're letting you submit songs into a reserve pool which will be dipped into as needed, like if, say, there's a few late people who want in.

Oh man I am so fucking pumped for this thing you guys have no idea.
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Re: Choose Your Own TextVenture: A Thread for IF Games

Postby Healy » Mon Mar 31, 2014 1:47 am

Some Big IF NEWS today, folks!
  • First, to bury the lede a little, someone called Simon Carless has commissioned a new IF game from noted IF luminary Ryan Veeder for something called StoryBundle. Here is the announcing tweet, if you're interested. Ryan Veeder is the author of some of the best works of parser IF in recent years, including The Statue Got Me High, 2011 IF Comp winner Taco Fiction, and last year's Captain Verdeterre's Treasure, which snagged a couple nominations in this year's XYZZY Awards. I'm looking forward to the new game.
  • The big news I'm alluding to is this:
    Emily Short wrote:Inform 7 next release date on April 30, its 21st birthday. 400+ bug fixes, 50ish suggested improvements

    Woohoo! This has been in the pipeline since at least last year, and probably far longer than that (last stable build of Inform was in, what, 2011?), so I'm pretty pumped about this news. Emily Short goes over some of the new features in this blog-post.
  • XYZZY Awards ceremony will be held on the ifMud on April 6th, 1:30 PM Pacific Time. If you can't get on the Mud at that time, like say you don't have an account there, they will also be live-tweeted on this Twitter account.
  • Speaking of XYZZY, voting for the second round ends on April 3rd! That's this Friday! Remember to play and vote!
  • Sam Kabo Ashwell, organizer of Shufflecomp, has released an infographic of the current songs entered by year. Apparently the two years most popular with the entrants are 2000 and 2012, which you just know means that the current song list is packed to the gills with terrible indie rock crap. Defend ShuffleComp from the terrors of indie rock! Enter ShuffleComp today!

Now that's some IF News you can IF Use!
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Re: Choose Your Own TextVenture: A Thread for IF Games

Postby Healy » Thu Apr 03, 2014 8:02 pm

Oh shit! Today's the last day to vote in this year's XYZZY Awards! It completely slipped my mind before, sorry. It's supposed to be a close race in some of the categories, so if you've got a game you're gunning for (hint hint TA), go vote!
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Re: Choose Your Own TextVenture: A Thread for IF Games

Postby Healy » Mon Apr 07, 2014 9:10 am

This year's XYZZY results are in! Coloratura took home a bunch of awards, and some other stuff won as well (mostly comp games). There should be reviews of all the nominated games up on the site in a little while, so stay tuned!

ALSO: How many of you are entering/planning on entering ShuffleComp? I'm entering, but I haven't submitted my songs yet. If you are entering, you need to get those songs in by April 9th, which is this Wednesday.
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Re: Choose Your Own TextVenture: A Thread for IF Games

Postby Healy » Wed Apr 09, 2014 9:52 am

A reminder: Today is the last day to sign up for Shuffle Comp! (Or well, you can join after this, but any songs you submit will be much less likely to be used.) While I'm on the subject, how would you guys like it if I made a thread on out Seckrit Boards for this? I would appreciate having my games having a look-see by you guys, and posting about it will make it less likely for me to flake out.
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Re: Choose Your Own TextVenture: A Thread for IF Games

Postby Newbie » Wed Apr 09, 2014 12:59 pm

I'm not going to make it for Shuffle Comp, but I'll check out anything you're working on!
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Re: Choose Your Own TextVenture: A Thread for IF Games

Postby Healy » Wed Apr 09, 2014 9:14 pm

Thanks! Can I ask why you couldn't join this one?
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Re: Choose Your Own TextVenture: A Thread for IF Games

Postby Newbie » Wed Apr 09, 2014 11:06 pm

Our nightly routine lately hasn't left much time for projects. Got a couple game ideas--more than a couple, really, both for Twine and I7--but I'm probably not going to put much time into them until we finish Breaking Bad and stop playing Civ as heavily as we have been.
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Re: Choose Your Own TextVenture: A Thread for IF Games

Postby Healy » Fri Apr 11, 2014 1:45 am

Thread's up! Anyway, so that this post is about people other than me, Porpentine released a game called One Day Everything You Swallow Will Come Up Like a Stone. She's only leaving the download up for 24 hours, so if you want it, grab it quick!
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Re: Choose Your Own TextVenture: A Thread for IF Games

Postby Healy » Wed May 07, 2014 8:50 pm

So, after a short delay, the new build of Inform is out!!! Here is a bit of the press release:
This release is a major reform of a now-mature language which is widely used, and it has been over three years in the making. It has the following main objectives: to clarify and better enforce the syntax of the language (which is now formally documented); to have much greater linguistic flexibility, [...] paving the way for translation to non-English languages; to remove phrases and features which have been deprecated for some years; [...] to redesign the Index, the in-application documentation, and the extensions index; [...] to introduce a simple but powerful system of “responses” allowing authors to change stock replies in the Standard Rules and other extensions, including third-party ones (and also to make it easy to translate these to non-English languages)[...]

This will be a disruptive release. Existing source texts which use deprecated features will no longer work, and the improved syntax checking means that Inform will catch problems it previously missed. It should also be noted that the run-time implementation is different in numerous ways: story files are a little larger but will run a little faster. We believe that almost all Inform projects will be able to migrate to the new system with reasonable ease – for example, “Bronze”, a large story written in the very early days of Inform 7, took about an hour’s work to adapt. Nevertheless, authors of large existing Inform projects may want to be cautious in their approach to what is, we stress once again, an across-the-board reform of the language.

You can download it here. If you're still working on an older project you might want to hold off on updating for now, though. If you have any issues with the new Inform, by all means ask away on intfiction.org's boards.

NOW THAT'S REALLY SOME IF NEWS YOU CAN IF USE!!!!!
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