It's the 20th anniversary of Anchorhead, Michael Gentry's seminal horror text adventure; to commemorate the occasion, Ryan Veeder and Jenni Polodna worked with 84 developers to create Cragne Manor, a tribute, whose puzzles are ingenious, frustrating and amazing.
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On January 15th, Google will disappear all Youtube annotations, which have lots of structural problems (spammy, don't work well on mobile or big screens), but which have been a font of creative inspiration that spawned whole genres of interactive Youtube projects, from games to interactive films to branching narrative adventures to musical experiments, to collaborative art projects to deep context and annotation.
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The heroic age of text adventure games was dominated by Zork and Zorkalikes, many from the games studio Infocom; the text adventures' fortunes sagged when improvements in computer graphics lowered the average gamer's age, and then rose again when BBSes carved new spaces for text-based play.
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Kevan Davis's Wikitext is an incredibly clever mashup of Wikipedia and Infocom-style text adventure games: starting with a random Wikipedia entry, it gives you the article summary, an 8-bit-ified version of the main photo, and "directions" to the articles referenced by the one you've landed on. (via Waxy) Read the rest
Wonderland is a wonderful idea for a game. It's an old-timey audio drama that lets you solve a puzzle at the and of each chapter—and if you can't, you can walk with your phone to get clues. Read the rest
The ambitious new Sub-Q
aims to create a brand new venue for interactive fiction and the players who love it. Fans believe the form is going mainstream in a big way, and there are ever more ways for you—yes, you!—to take part.
Your revolver is like a trusty assistant. I mean, it is your assistant, and his name is Mr. Smith Wesson.
You've just been accepted to university on Earth; you say farewell to your family and start your comfortable, luxurious trip through space. Once you're on your way, though, you realize you might not be alone.
The objective of NEVER GO TO WORK is in its title: Your alarm goes off just after 6 AM, and it's time to get to the office. Except arriving there ends the game, and you don't really want to go to work, anyway.
You are Agenesia, disgruntled and harboring a crush on your unreliable bus driver, and your meandering takes you all over town. Anything can go wrong: I was killed by ghosts on a mini golf course, and found myself inexplicably on a riverboat. I wanted to go to the strip club, but it was closed. I kind of like the gritty caprice of Agenesia's world: The rough textures of the graphical interface, the not knowing what to expect—is my intentional avoidance of efficient bus routes going to make my lateness to work sprawl wonderfully on the digital clock before me, or will I accidentally stumble into a game-over?
Some of the opacity doesn't serve the experience though, something I don't mind saying as developer Rani Baker (who also made this buggy but nifty nostalgic rebuild of Demon's Forge, the kind of Apple IIe game that I'm weird enough to still be excited about) is still taking feedback toward a final version of the game. I have a pack of cigarettes in my inventory slot, but while clicking it sometimes takes me to a wonderful neon ritual site, at other times it gets me stuck in an endless loop. I'm not sure what it's for. I enjoy the tension between needing to keep moving and not wanting to arrive at work, but while the collage of unpredictable moments feels creative and cool, at times I wish there were a little more for me to do. Read the rest
You're a totally different person now than you were then, and now there's probably some things you kind of want to explain to them, lingering memories you still feel bad about, things like that.
That's the premise behind the new interactive fiction game The Writer Will Do Something, which begins at a Monday morning meeting that's about to get ugly.
The ideal of "getting home for Christmas" is tinged with romance, conjuring images of rushing through snow and the chaos of transit to that ultimate family seat. For most of us, though, that holiday-card vision is a lot more complicated, and it's that painful, conflicting space that text game Bus Station: Unbound aims to evoke.
In Bus Station: Unbound, you can't rely on weather or the logic of whimsical urban transit any more than you can rely on your own family or the inexplicable magnet that suggests you ought to return to them. The transit hub you wander, lonesome and hungry and cold, is haunted by its own ghosts, other people whose pangs and circumstances will draw you into their orbit. Intellectually you have a goal, but your heart and spirit have manifold others, and they are sometimes at odds.
It's a text-only game made with Inklewriter, an incredibly simple and readable tool that even I can use (I once made a game about saving a pig, Bushwick, foodie culture and wild nights). If you can read and make choices, you can explore Bus Station: Unbound, and its incredibly piquant prose that conjures all the spiritual weight of returning to your hometown in the dead of winter.
Bus Station: Unbound is developed by Curious Tales and is free to play in your browser, but the developers would appreciate donations if you appreciate the experience -- a fair ask, given that there are some 100,000 words contained therein. Read the rest
Yesterday, March 11, was Douglas Adams' birthday. Did you know you can celebrate by playing the 1984 Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy game in your browser at work this instant?
Although games made with a text parser -- you know, where you type commands like TURN ON LIGHT or LOOK IN POCKET or S to travel "south" through described space -- are increasingly a lost art, the Hitchhiker's Guide game, made by Adams and Infocom's Steve Meretzky, was radically accessible for its time. The game playfully teaches you how to succeed at its opening circumstance by letting you die repeatedly in ways that quickly acclimate you to its sense of time, space, and humor.
The frustrating thing (or the beautiful thing, if you're like me) about old text games is the limitations of what they can understand. But the Hitchhiker's Guide game was downright literary for its time, empathetic to uncommon commands, skilled at understanding what the player wanted to do. It holds up well even today.
Give it a try. Maybe help each other out in the comments?
You can also emulate it a little more neatly with help from this crucial abandonware repository and an emulator like DOXBox or similar. Read the rest
In honour of the 30th anniversary of the brilliant (and incredibly frustrating) Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy text adventure game, BBC Radio 4 Extra have recreated the game in an online edition. I remember playing this for endless hours, with my Peril Sensitive Sunglasses perched on my forehead, repeatedly typing "look." The R4 version allows for saved games, so you can come back to it. You can also play the 20th anniversary edition.
The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy Game - 30th Anniversary Edition
(Thanks, Fipi Lele!) Read the rest
Mastaba Snoopy is surreal and wonderful dystopian science fiction choose-your-own adventure whose premise is that an all-powerful alien has mistaken a Peanuts book for a guide to human interaction, and enslaved humanity according to its principles. It's built on Twee and Tiddlywiki:
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1. An Unknown Alien Being acquires a child's forgotten book and mistakenly beliefs that it depicts proper protocol for interaction with the human world.
2. It grows and converts all life into more of itself, like a living strangelet - emotionless spacial cancer.
It can shapeshift or divide at will and learns quickly. Each mass it breaks off possesses its own intelligence.
3. The new being filters everything it perceives through the lens of Peanuts comics. It mimics characters, but with no understanding of how they fit together.
A computer-generated collage. It doesn't understand human rules - but it does understands the laws of Peanuts.
4. After many years, the Milky Way and surrounding galaxies have been entirely overtaken by this single entity. Suddenly deprived of food, the organism begins to STAGNATE.
5. The organism transforms into a distorted parody of the former planet Earth, a foul, expansive hellworld - filtered, again, through Peanuts.
End result: There exists an infinite, nonsensical world with all locations, living things, and social interaction based on half-remembered dreams.
Thousands of years to fester and the memory is going bad, the original book having been long since lost in the constant churning reshaping. This new, living world has been dying for millenia.
You are here to watch an alien rot.