Join 3,559 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


The Digital Antiquarian
September 11, 2011 11:14 PM   Subscribe

The Digital Antiquarian discusses ludic narrative and has been filling in by bits and pieces an amazing history of recreational computing and adventure gaming. The Rise of Experiential Games traces the development of Wargames from H.G. Wells' (!) wargame for toy soldiers, Little Wars, to Avalon Hill's Squad Leader; he discusses the development of Dungeons and Dragons (part 2, 3) led to the first CRPGs on PLATO. He'll tell you things you didn't know about Oregon Trail (part 2, 3, 4, 5, postscript, the 1975 source code!), Hunt the Wumpus (part 2), Colossal Cave Adventure (part 2, 3, 4, 5), Eliza (part 2, 3), Scott Adams' games (part 2, 3, 4, 5), the TRS-80 (part 2, 3), the 2 adventuring cultures of university minicomputers and home PCs, and their unlikely bridging.

Or you could start with the first post and read them all; there's more good stuff I haven't mentioned.

The Digital Antiquarian is Jimmy Maher, who wrote Let's Tell a Story Together (A History of Interactive Fiction) (previously). He corrects a detail in that account; the term "interactive fiction" did not originate with Infocom.

His own interactive fiction The King of Shreds and Patches (ifdb) won the 2009 XYZZY Award for Best Setting and was nominated for Best Story. It was recently released for the Kindle.
posted by Zed (18 comments total) 57 users marked this as a favorite

 
Is Scott Adams some kind of code for Self Aggrandizing?

Who is Scott Adams?

[...]He is credited with starting the entire multi billion dollar a year computer game industry. [...]


Presumably we all know about the "certified genius" thing.
posted by BrotherCaine at 11:32 PM on September 11, 2011 [2 favorites]


Fantastic post -- there's a ton of good stuff here. First of all, I'm very excited to hear about parser-based IF on the Kindle... if that's not the perfect format for it, I don't know what is! Can't wait to play through the story.

The Eliza article was also especially great. Weizenbaum's fear of the intimacy people seemed to develop with his program reminds me of this mefi thread about a researcher who felt love for a robot, which is one of my all-time favorites...
posted by vorfeed at 12:25 AM on September 12, 2011


I hope this isn't the comics Scott Adams

also i bet the word "ludic" is incredibly easy to get tired of
posted by This, of course, alludes to you at 12:36 AM on September 12, 2011


Great FPP, Zed. Interactive fiction FTW.

BrotherCaine: Presumably we all know about the "certified genius" thing.

That Scott Adams is not this Scott Adams.
posted by troll at 12:57 AM on September 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


@This, of course, alludes to you

No, different one. This one was the progenitor of home computer text adventures, although they were more like text versions of the Dragon's Lair arcade game, i.e. one wrong move and it's back to the start.
posted by GallonOfAlan at 1:00 AM on September 12, 2011


Wait, what, adventure games on my Kindle? [Googles]

Ah, Choose Your Own Adventure style. That makes sense, although it's a bit limited.

Hmmm. Could you store a very simple state machine in the text locations, and therefore provide some kind of continuity/non-linearity?
posted by alasdair at 2:03 AM on September 12, 2011


I know it's not the same Scott Adams, but to have both of them make outrageous statements like that makes me wonder if the name makes the man.
posted by BrotherCaine at 3:24 AM on September 12, 2011


That's a remarkable series of posts. It's refreshing to read works by someone who seems to have both the humanities/literary sensibility and the technical chops to talk persuasively, engagingly, and (more-or-less, I presume) accurately about this sort of material.

I hope he continues into more contemporary games and reflects on what the most exciting works of "ludic narrative" might be today, mainstream or otherwise.

That said, this looks like a pretty substantial potential time sink to me as it is--doubly so since his IF post links to this interesting blog about Choose Your Own Adventure-style works--so maybe I shouldn't hope for more content from Mr Maher.
posted by col_pogo at 3:25 AM on September 12, 2011


Ah, Choose Your Own Adventure style.

The King of Shreds and Patches isn't CYOA; Maher says it "represents the first modern, parser-based work of interactive fiction to be released for the Kindle."

i bet the word "ludic" is incredibly easy to get tired of

How 'bout ludography?
posted by Zed at 7:28 AM on September 12, 2011


Or for that matter, ludology.
posted by fFish at 8:17 AM on September 12, 2011


Actually, Maher has a very interesting discussion of CYOA vs parser-style interactive fiction in that IF/infocom link above.
posted by col_pogo at 8:26 AM on September 12, 2011


The King of Shreds and Patches isn't CYOA; Maher says it "represents the first modern, parser-based work of interactive fiction to be released for the Kindle.

Only if you haven't jailbroken it. There has been a port of Frotz to the Kindle for some time, just Amazon won't certify it for their store.
posted by JHarris at 9:03 AM on September 12, 2011


I was mistaken, it doesn't seem to be a port of Frotz, but I can personally verify it runs Z-machine code. KIF: an Infocom text adventure interpreter for the Kindle.
posted by JHarris at 9:08 AM on September 12, 2011


also i bet the word "ludic" is incredibly easy to get tired of

Maybe, if you're inclined to get tired of words. But if you're talking about games a lot, it's useful to have a short adjective that means "having to do with games", and "gamey" already means something else.

(I've seen "gamic" used, but somehow I'm guessing that you won't like that any better than "ludic".)
posted by baf at 10:21 AM on September 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


Maybe, if you're inclined to get tired of words. But if you're talking about games a lot, it's useful to have a short adjective that means "having to do with games", and "gamey" already means something else.

Sure, but there's no reason why you can't simply say "game narrative" or "narrative gaming". In this day and age, "game" functions perfectly well as a noun, verb, and adjective. Hell, the author himself admits that "storygames" works fine. I love this blog to bits, but "ludic narrative" does seem like it comes out of a reluctance to call a game a game, lest Roger Ebert appear and sneer at you. Worse, the average person can't just look at it and tell you what it means -- if I played a storygame (cough) where the parser expected "ludic" where everybody else in the world says "game", I wouldn't consider that a positive feature.
posted by vorfeed at 11:54 AM on September 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


@cal_pogo: his IF post links to this interesting blog about Choose Your Own Adventure-style works

The linked blog of Sam Kabo Ashwell is delightful, and it is one of the main reasons I haven't stopped looking at LiveJournal altogether. He and his wife Jacqueline are foremost in the small group of people occupying the intersection of "people I've spoken with the least" and "people I most consider my friends", which is maybe presumptuous on my part, but there it is.
posted by jsnlxndrlv at 11:56 AM on September 12, 2011


This is a wonderful, wonderful post.
posted by Sebmojo at 4:34 PM on September 12, 2011


The King of Shreds and Patches isn't CYOA; Maher says it "represents the first modern, parser-based work of interactive fiction to be released for the Kindle."

I just played through the first little section, and it's definitely a full-parser game rather than a CYOA. The "about" box says it was written in Inform 7. So far I'm very pleased with it; the Kindle strikes me as a great way to play IF (though I've been spoiled by the "did you mean X?" feature of modern search engines -- having the game respond with "I don't understand" when you type "x buildinh" rather than "building" is annoying, especially given the tiny keyboard on the Kindle.)
posted by vorfeed at 8:47 PM on September 13, 2011


« Older "[H]ow interesting... to bring to life the clothes...  |  Slow is a short film by Darius... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments