People mail me with everything and anything interactive fiction these days. I had a bunch of “I should mention this” links in my back pocket, and I think I might as well put them all here.
INTERACTIVE FICTION TYPEWRITER
Actually, an Arduino-controlled typewriter, that can do most anything, but can play interactive fiction for our entertainment. A buddy I’ve known for a few years, Jim Munroe, was partially behind this. He counts as one of the missed documentary interviews, but it’s a pleasure to link to this.
‘A House in California’ is a surreal, narrative game about four characters who bring a house to life. These four characters are based on relatives of mine (two grandmothers and two great-grandmothers). The game is inspired aesthetically by Mystery House, developed in 1980 by Roberta & Ken Williams. But whereas Mystery House is a mystery story about greed and murder, A House in California is more like an Imagist poem about family and memory. A House in California is currently being featured in the Learn to Playexhibition at Euphrat Museum of Art, was also exhibited at the Meaningful Playconference at Michigan State University in October 2010 and is an entry in the 2011 IGF.
In GET LAMP, there is a sequence about a newer commercial era for Interactive Fiction. Among those are Andrew “Zarf” Plotkin, game creator of master class, who says that if he had a chance for a working company to hire him to make a game, he would be there and write games forever.
Well, he’s going to try.
Plotkin has announced a Kickstarter campaign where he will create a game called Hadean Lands, full-time. Designed for the iPhone with other platforms available during the fundraising, he will quit his job, write the game, work on the development environment, and release a bunch of code so others can follow in his footsteps.
He opened it for a little more than 30 days of potential funding, with a goal of $8000 to supplement his savings. He made $8000 in thirteen hours.
He’s now past $20,000 and growing. If you want to show support for someone doing interactive fiction, this is a great way to do it; Plotkin is the real deal and as his page explains, he has a very long pedigree both as an excellent author, and as a coder who has advanced the state of the programs that drive interactive fiction’s development.
I contributed almost immediately; I suggest others do as well.
First of all, it’s definitely a real Zork – specifically Revision 88/Serial Number 840726, the “canonical” Zork I, which was compiled on July 26, 1984 and the final version Infocom released commercially. (Infocom sometimes quietly upgraded the software to reflect bugs found or writing errors or any other discovered issues.)
What unintentionally happens here by this easter egg being included is an in-your-face argument of the uphill battle text-based games face in the modern gaming world, at least in terms of bringing in new players from the pool of first-person games. You are strapped in a chair in a small room where monitors and machines blaze and swap around, providing tons of stimulation, and once you break free of the straps in this, the menu, you can walk entirely around the room, interacting with objects, seeing fully-rendered angles of all the material that previously looked like drawings, and then choose to log into a terminal which gives you a variety of choices.
Going from that and finding yourself sitting at your game which itself is sitting at a terminal, which is then playing a game of Zork, the contrast is just blistering. It’s like being in the middle of a football game and picking up a book. To me, it seems a head-on approach towards the people who find the first type of game fun is not the way to do it.
On the other hand, the mere existence of Zork in the game starts a conversation like this one. “What do you mean ‘Zork’, people in forums will say. They’ll look around, find it, and maybe of the thousands who happened to see what everyone is gabbing about, a few will find they actually like this book in the middle of the field. And read it.
A very interesting development. Activision had a good part in killing off Infocom and what was good about it, but this latter-day maneuver is worth watching.
The final leg of JET LAMP is next week. I’ve got three showings in 4 days.
Now, I’m not saying that there will be no more showings of GET LAMP in places, with me attending. That will happen. But they will be few and far between and at some point it’s just not really a tour anymore, it’s just a screening. So I’m calling the JET LAMP project a closed success after next week.
So, why am I showing GET LAMP at a Fencing Club? Well, the founder/owner of the club is an ol’ college buddy, and he asked. Simple as that! All are welcome and maybe you might get inspired to enroll your kids in an awesome and healthy exercise. Or enroll yourself!
November 8 (Monday), 7pm: University of Maryland, Ulrich Recital Hall (in Tawes Hall)
Check that spread out! I’ll be attending some various events related to MITH (Maryland Institute for the Humanities), giving talks, having meetings, hanging out – but the big show is this one, in this big and beautiful hall. If you’re anywhere in the area, this is the one to show up to. It’s going to be a pretty amazing thing.
November 10 (Wednesday), 6pm: Ponte Technologies World Domination Center, 8231 Main St, Ellicott City MD 20143
Finally, Bruce Potter of Shmoo Group has brought me into Ponte to give a showing. Here is their webpage about it. Free Pizza and Popcorn and Drinks!