text adventures (interactive fiction)
February 13, 2005 12:45 AM   Subscribe

Text adventures by Adam Cadre, including the amazing Photopia.
posted by jimmy (13 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
yes, Adam Cadre's work was previously discussed here, but that was nearly three years ago.

interested in more? start here
posted by jimmy at 12:46 AM on February 13, 2005

Of course, any discussion about the medium of interactive fiction has to begin and end with the ground-breaking Pick Up The Phone Booth And Die.
posted by Simon! at 3:02 AM on February 13, 2005

If we begin and end there then we would miss out on Curses, quite possibly my all-time favorite. And then there's Jigsaw, and Christminster, and, oh yes, the entire Infocom oeuvre (Zork, sure, but also their superior, later works: Trinity, HHGG, Bureaucracy, Spellbreaker, Plantetfall, Leather Goddesses...)

For those who don't know, all the Infocom games were written for a virtual machine, to make them easily portable to different platforms — which means you can still play them today. If the words "drop sceptre. get in raft." conjure up fond memories for you, you just need to find a copy of the game file (which has a .z5 extension, and google can be your friend), and an interpreter. The whole world of classic text adventures is once again your mullosc of choice, and a whole lot of modern ones as well — including Cadre's works.

And if you itch to write your own IF, Graham Nelson's Inform is a free, polished, object-oriented language for writing IF that compiles your program to the same virtual Z-machine used by Infocom, so it's playable by virtually anyone.
posted by Wolfdog at 4:57 AM on February 13, 2005

Shrapnel is an excellent story.
posted by ZippityBuddha at 5:24 AM on February 13, 2005

Oh, and for me, Cadre's greatest gift to the world was his entirely noninteractive MSTing of "The Eye of Argon."
posted by Wolfdog at 5:50 AM on February 13, 2005

I thought Andrew Plotkin's Spider and Web was incredibly clever.
posted by skryche at 5:50 AM on February 13, 2005

"Shrapnel" left me feeling more unsettled and creeped-out than any bit of fiction--interactive or not--since (that final ending sequence and texting tricks...crikey), so he became one of my shordurpersavs for that one alone.

I tend to like, on a hit or miss basis, the less "gamey" of IF these days; the puzzle-heavy ones tend to be unfun for me, since they tend to mostly be of the combinatoric object A in object B variety. There need to be more of them like Ad Verbum.
posted by Drastic at 6:49 AM on February 13, 2005

Yay! My favorite topic. Photopia was indeed amazing, although it took a few playthroughs for the real emotional punch to take hold. Some of my favorites have already been mentioned (Christminster which is awesome and Spider and Web which I really enjoyed) but I'll add:

*Anchorhead by Michael Gentry, a Lovecraftian horror tale with some good puzzles. Gentry also wrote Little Blue Men, which anyone ever forced to work as a depressing office drone will probably enjoy.
*Shade, by Plotkin (who is also known as Zarf on the web and on usenet), which is pretty unsettling although not much of a puzzler.
*So Far, yet another Plotkin title
*Varicella - my favorite Cadre title, in which you play a scheming palace minister and which I found really, really difficult.
*Sunset Over Savannah by Ivan Cockrum is another I liked. It's not at all gloomy or unsettling and the imagery is wonderful. The puzzles are pretty good too.
*Worlds Apart by Suzanne Britton is a beautiful IF fantasy.
*Babel by Ian Finley - creepy, creepy scifi.

I'm, playing Slouching Towards Bedlam right now, which is turning out to be quite creepy.

Baf's Guide to the IF Archive is a great place to get started. It contains a huge listing of reviews by grade, category, author and title. The 10th annual IF Comp ended a few months back and provided some good games. Competitions (results of which can be found in the IF Archive) are a good place to play some more experimental games.

Emily Short has authored some really interesting games, some experimental and puzzless (like Galatea and Best of Three) and some more traditional (like Savoir Faire).

Of course, if you're just looking for incredibly bizarre and disgusting satirical sci-fi porn, Adam Thornton's Stiffy Makane: The Undiscovered Country is sure to make you question your sanity and pour bleach in your eyes.
posted by LeeJay at 9:42 AM on February 13, 2005

Another vote for Christminster here. The writing is lovely, with a good plotline and tough, but solvable puzzles. The last third or so loses focus a bit and becomes quite difficult, but it remains one of my all-time favorite text games.

Sadly, it was written before the Interactive Fiction Competition started. It would have carried any year I can remember. As far as I know, it hasn't won any actual awards, because it predates all of them. This is really a shame, because it's just wonderful, easily besting 90% of Infocom's releases.
posted by Malor at 10:44 AM on February 13, 2005

The annual IF contest is largely for shorter works - so Christminster wouldn't have been an appropriate entry. The Xyzzy awards, on the other hand, only started in '96 - so CM just missed out there, havingbeen released in '95. Of course, back when CM was released there'd only been about 3 z-code games put out, and one of them was an inform demo. so annual awards might have been a bit presumptive at that point - the 'rennaissance' had yet to occur (TADS, the other powerful writing system at the time, wasn't freeware until mid '96).

Speaking of the IF contest....I actually entered it one year. Got mid-range in the final count, but Mr Plotkin ranked it second - which went a ways to making me feel better about it, as I prefer his style to Cadre's (though Photopia punched me in the gut like no game since Planetfall).
posted by Sparx at 12:28 PM on February 13, 2005

My friend Liza writes this stuff and here is a link to an article she wrote about how to write this stuff:

The article
posted by kteich at 3:41 PM on February 13, 2005

I've just been getting into IF authoring in the last few weeks, following on a read through Montfort's Twisty Little Passages. As a programmer type with a penchant for OO, I'm finding the TADS format very intuitive and an awful lot of fun.

IF forever!
posted by cortex at 10:40 AM on February 14, 2005

9:05 has always been a personal favorite of mine...

And if you're really jonesing to play some interactive fiction from Infocom you can always IM InfocomBot and play that way.
posted by davros42 at 12:58 PM on February 14, 2005

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