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"Read you a story? What fun would that be?"
August 26, 2013 6:30 AM   Subscribe

Adam Cadre's Photopia is a short, heartbreaking work of interactive fiction. You can play it in your browser. Cadre writes about the making of the game here—spoilers, obviously.
posted by Rory Marinich (17 comments total) 21 users marked this as a favorite

 
Previously.
posted by straight at 6:39 AM on August 26, 2013


Cadre is a genius of Interactive Fiction, for sure.
posted by Rock Steady at 6:49 AM on August 26, 2013 [2 favorites]


I wrote a post. Then I read it and realised that I had nothing nice to say about this.

I used to enjoy text adventures: colossal caves, zork, planetfall and all that. Wasn't any good at them, but I did enjoy them. I get the feeling these days that the genre has moved on and developed in its own way, to satisfy its own adherents, but leaving people like me behind.

Or maybe I've changed.
posted by YAMWAK at 7:02 AM on August 26, 2013


YAMWAK: I get the feeling these days that the genre has moved on and developed in its own way, to satisfy its own adherents, but leaving people like me behind.

There are still more "traditional" IF stories being written. This isn't one of them, to be sure, but they are out there. Try Anchorhead, for example.
posted by Rock Steady at 7:37 AM on August 26, 2013 [2 favorites]


Ye Gods, Anchorhead is 15 years old. Maybe someone who is still current with the IF scene will chime in with even more recent tradtional games.
posted by Rock Steady at 7:38 AM on August 26, 2013


Cadre himself released an old school game as recently as last year. It's a twisty mindscrew called Endless, Nameless, and it's the only game I know of that permits you to watch Rocky IV entirely in the parser.
posted by Iridic at 7:54 AM on August 26, 2013 [2 favorites]


Interactive Fiction is great! Someone should make a movie about it.
posted by jscott at 7:59 AM on August 26, 2013 [8 favorites]


I've had bad experiences with interactive fiction lately, but Photophobia has really sucked me in. I'm simultaneously wanting it to end to find out what happens, and wanting it to go on forever because it's so beautiful and engaging.
posted by L'Estrange Fruit at 8:35 AM on August 26, 2013


Seems to me that it only carries the appearance of interaction, a "rail shooter" of IF, I guess. Which is inevitable, perhaps, if you're trying to tell a story. I check in with IF every few years, hoping there will be some sort of breakthrough, but if someone's found a style that's not mainly puzzles or mainly rail shooter, I've missed it.
posted by rikschell at 10:08 AM on August 26, 2013


I've been fascinated by interactive fiction since playing Zork on my Commodore 64 as a kid. I never got anywhere in that game, but I still spent hours exploring as far as I got. It sounds cheesy, but the mind's eye is still a far better rendering engine than anything a video game can provide.

I was intrigued when I stumbled across rec.arts.int-fiction and lurked there for a while... every couple of years I'll get a bee under my bonnet and threaten to write my own story (adventure?) but the closest I've ever come was a tiny entry in a mini-comp, years ago. My problem is that I feel like I haven't actually played enough stories from start to finish to undertake my own... but I have a low tolerance for getting stuck and the more experimental IF pieces don't do much for me.
I used to enjoy text adventures: colossal caves, zork, planetfall and all that. Wasn't any good at them, but I did enjoy them. I get the feeling these days that the genre has moved on and developed in its own way, to satisfy its own adherents, but leaving people like me behind.
It's an interesting subculture for sure; interactive fiction exists in the space between traditional writing and modern gaming; because everyone associates text adventures with stuff like Zork, I think there's a tendency to dismiss IF as not being "serious" writing... and because it's so stubbornly old-school (no graphics, for the most part) enthusiasts of modern games don't pay much attention to it either. So yeah, in a lot of cases people are writing the kinds of IF stories they'd be interested in playing, because who else is going to? Nobody's making huge amounts of money in the IF market, so for the most part it's a labor of love for the authors, many of whom aren't as interested in classic puzzle style games anymore.
posted by usonian at 10:47 AM on August 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


chime in with even more recent tradtional games.

Violet is adorable and clever. Lost Pig is funny with smart puzzles. Although I suppose those are both still five years old.
posted by Simon! at 11:07 AM on August 26, 2013 [2 favorites]


Seems to me that it only carries the appearance of interaction, a "rail shooter" of IF, I guess.

That's a pretty good analogy in that Photopia gets trotted out as an exemplar of IF about as often as Half-Life / Half-Life 2 are put forward as the best of FPS games.

They're both about giving you an authored first-person experience while using the best tricks of each genre to make it feel more interactive than it actually is.
posted by straight at 1:32 PM on August 26, 2013 [3 favorites]


I certainly didn't feel I could have changed the outcome.
posted by alasdair at 1:51 PM on August 26, 2013


Emily Short has a pretty comprehensive listing of recommended interactive fiction, with separate lists of works that are notable for interface, plot / narrative structure, player character / narrative voice, characters and conversations, setting, world model, or puzzle design.
posted by straight at 1:52 PM on August 26, 2013


Oh, though it was very cool that when I got stuck I thought to type TALK TO NARRATOR and the right person answered...
posted by alasdair at 1:55 PM on August 26, 2013


I certainly didn't feel I could have changed the outcome.

I certainly had a moment driving the car where I briefly thought, "Oh no! Maybe..." I found that trick very effective at making me feel like I had agency but failed to act quickly enough, even though I really didn't.
posted by straight at 2:01 PM on August 26, 2013


YAMWAK: I get the feeling these days that the genre has moved on and developed in its own way, to satisfy its own adherents, but leaving people like me behind

For sure, things are different; generally, in modern IF the narrative is winning handily against the crossword puzzle. Photopia is an early example of a trend that Twine games have lately taken much further. Modern games, even the puzzlers, are also likely to feature fewer, easier puzzles (with multiple solutions) and maps, shortcuts, and hint systems, and less likely to involve instant death or non-obviously unwinnable situations.

How you feel about this change is largely a matter of taste, I think, and there are some Spellbreaker-level games out there (the list of 'cruel' games on the IF Wiki is a good starting point for masochists). I haven't followed the IF scene very closely over the last few years, but I enjoyed all of these, which I think strike a balance: Short and Plotkin, in particular, have a back catalogue that's well worth checking out if you aren't already familiar with them. (In which case you've probably been out of IF for a while!)
posted by Zeinab Badawi's Twenty Hotels at 2:34 PM on August 26, 2013 [2 favorites]


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