You haven't been eaten, until you've been eaten by a grue
September 2, 2007 1:02 AM   Subscribe

oh man, it was the Matrix before the Matrix was cool.

ty infocom
posted by Avenger at 1:13 AM on September 2, 2007


posted by Poolio at 1:24 AM on September 2, 2007 [2 favorites]

posted by undule at 1:54 AM on September 2, 2007

The Inform engine, for those saints and masochists interested in creating IF.

Some resources and essays on IF by Nick Montfort.

Finally, Home of the Underdogs (the Smithsonian of PC gaming and digital literature, I daresay) has an IF shrine for your perusal.

(I love this subject matter, btw. Keep it coming.)
posted by kid ichorous at 2:15 AM on September 2, 2007

I can't mention my own text adventure documentary, so I'll appreciate someone else doing that.
posted by jscott at 2:23 AM on September 2, 2007

Actually, I can probably mention that I shot a music video for MC Frontalot for a song about text adventures (for the previously-unmentioned documentary) and it was shown at PAX 2007, which some group cellphone-recorded and put up here.

See? Content!
posted by jscott at 2:24 AM on September 2, 2007

posted by blenderfish at 2:32 AM on September 2, 2007

Also, 9:05 is short and well worth playing.
posted by blenderfish at 2:35 AM on September 2, 2007

jscott, you can mention your own text adventure documentary. Self-linking is okay in comments if it pertains to the subject matter.
posted by amyms at 3:37 AM on September 2, 2007

Ahh memories... I was reading "Choose your own adventure" stories (mentioned in the second link) before computers were even a twinkle in some of you young pipsqueak's eyes *shakes fist*... I only wish there had been more of them geared toward my girly demographic.
posted by amyms at 3:43 AM on September 2, 2007

posted by grouse at 4:34 AM on September 2, 2007

...and what a lovely plate of beans it really is. Mmmmm.
posted by honest knave at 4:45 AM on September 2, 2007

posted by grouse at 4:45 AM on September 2, 2007

posted by JDHarper at 5:00 AM on September 2, 2007

Last week, I hung out for a few hours with Michael Bywater, who wrote for Infocom back in the day, and who is supervising a short dissertation I'm writing within the area of electronic literature.


Bywater described a system they had written which let them do some basic world modelling-- giving items properties that interact with the environment and having the system determine the role they could play in the game. This often led to unexpected outcomes, such as the time a player carried an armadillo with them for much of the game, and at a key point, froze its tail with liquid nitrogen, snapped it off, and used this frozen tail as a blunt edge to accomplish the set task.
posted by honest knave at 5:18 AM on September 2, 2007 [1 favorite]

Avenger, thanks for linking to A Mind Forever Voyaging, that was a nice trip down memory lane.

I wonder if anyone else thinks The Plan for Renewed National Purpose looks sickeningly familiar. Eh, maybe it's just AxeGrindSoftware and should be dismissed.
posted by sidereal at 5:30 AM on September 2, 2007

OK, then. My documentary is called GET LAMP and it has a ton of interviews conducted so far.

Honest knave, if there was any way you could see through to giving Michael Bywater my e-mail address, I would be forever grateful.
posted by jscott at 6:24 AM on September 2, 2007

jscott: I'll see what I can do.
posted by honest knave at 6:59 AM on September 2, 2007

Perhaps the most significant foundational work for IF arrived in 1972 in the form of a unique little game called Hunt the Wumpus. This game sets the intrepid adventurer lose in a network of caves, all rendered with textual descriptions, and tasks him with hunting down and killing a fearsome creature known as the wumpus... The caves are rendered, in classic IF fashion, as a series of discrete nodes or “rooms,” connected to one another by passageways.

I had no idea this kind of thing went back that far. Nice find, BP!
posted by languagehat at 7:11 AM on September 2, 2007

Pick Up The Phone Booth And Die or die.
posted by cortex at 7:46 AM on September 2, 2007 [1 favorite]

And, really, for anyone with a modicum of ability at simple programming and a willingness to put a lot of writing into a little bit of game, it's worth it to give IF writing a shot. It's a lot of fun to really think your way through, say, a single room and figure out how to make it (a) compellingly descriptive and then (b) intuitively progressive. Setting up a simple, slowburn Rube Goldberg device, in a sense.

The TADS system is a bit more complex than the older-school Inform language—it supports some slightly more advanced approaches to world design and might be a bit more of a learning challenge to non-programmers—but it's also just plain great. I enjoyed the hell out of it last time I was playing around with this stuff.
posted by cortex at 7:50 AM on September 2, 2007

Has anyone created a little text adventure widget that you can embed in a web page (Flash? Java? Ajax?)? I've always wanted to try writing IF, but I'm not into having to deliver it in a form that forces people to download all sorts of stuff. I'd rather they could just come to my website and start playing.
posted by grumblebee at 9:31 AM on September 2, 2007

a little text adventure widget that you can embed in a web page

ZPlet will run games in Java. (Here's an embedded Zplet version of Emily Short's essential "Galatea" as an example).

iFiction's online games (plenty of classics there, by the way) are apparently rendered with plain old HTML. I have no idea what's running behind the scenes.
posted by Iridic at 10:15 AM on September 2, 2007

Has anyone made jabber the frontend for IF?
posted by kingfisher, his musclebound cat at 11:37 AM on September 2, 2007

OS X interactive fiction tools and more.
posted by craniac at 12:37 PM on September 2, 2007

Interactive Fiction can be so very well done. Check out Shade, a one-room game set in your apartment. So short yet so good.
posted by splice at 12:46 PM on September 2, 2007 [2 favorites]

Quick question for veterans of Infocom games. Did you find BRIEF (or even SUPERBRIEF) mode useful? I almost always switched to VERBOSE as soon as I started.
posted by grouse at 2:00 PM on September 2, 2007

One of my favorite things that ever came out of the IF community was Plotkin's "Lighan Ses Lion" -- not a game, but a transcript of a fictional game that was entered in Emily Short's Walkthrough Competition, where a list of commands was supplied and the competitor was asked to either flesh out the transcript or create a game for which the commands would be a successful walkthrough. He "had some fun with the concept" and won a "Special Award for Causing Emily Short the Most Grief".
posted by Rock Steady at 2:05 PM on September 2, 2007

I was friends with Andy Plotkin, author of Shade and Lighan Ses Lion,in high school. He wrote the funniest IF game I've ever seen, which looked as if it were set in a huge universe, but actually, a few turns after the beginning of the game, you'd see "Your bladder feels full." And after a few more turns, "You really need to go." But whenever you tried to go, you'd get "Are you crazy? You can't go to the bathroom right out here in public." And then after fifteen moves or so your bladder exploded and you died.

It seemed like there was some very hard puzzle involved, and you'd spend a lot of time trying to figure it out, but actually, you couldn't keep from dying, and Andy had only written in as many rooms as you could get to from the start in fifteen turns.

posted by escabeche at 5:34 PM on September 2, 2007 [2 favorites]

Thinking of Lighan Ses Lion makes me remember The Gostak, an IF game by Carl Muckenhaupt that creates an entirely new language for you to make sense of, based (apparently) on the linguistic in-joke sentence "The gostak distims the doshes." It includes responses like "Ah, jenth. It can't be durched, or zanked, or skobed. But I once rebbed a pank in a sitch of jenth. The pank malked the jenth with its goaves, and it just pobbed from where it was crenned." Insane, but really neat, and impossible in any other format than IF.
posted by Rock Steady at 9:33 PM on September 2, 2007

posted by Xere at 1:31 AM on September 3, 2007

...This has got to be the most awesome dangerous thread since the one where someone linked to jayisgames.

There goes the rest of the week.
posted by Many bubbles at 2:40 AM on September 3, 2007

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