My Interactive-Fiction

(with author's/artist's notes)

I am slowly, but surely, building up my own body of Interactive Fiction. (But putting the bolts through the neck and animating it with electricity has so far eluded me).

Star. Stars are my own rankings of my own IF.


Inspiration:  The inspiration was the game of "Clue" and the supposed Hope Diamond curse. Note that I had not played "Curses" before writing this. (In fact, I had played very little "modern IF". In fact, I have still played very little -- to conclusion. I find the time it takes me to write/program IF interferes with me actually playing it.)

You may write me for hints.

The Family Legacy Star. Star. Half Star.

The "Family Legacy" is a traditional "uncle-died-left-will-&-lost-treasure-&-haunted-house-ghost-story," but with a definite twist (flashbacks by different characters). It was an entry in the 1997 Annual Competition and my first game out the door. I was later told that at the time I withdrew it, it was placing 17. Essentially it is a rewrite of an Apple Basic game that I wrote about 20 years ago. A rewrite of this rewrite was in the works when my old hard disk crashed, wiping out the source. (I have since have recovered most of it, but in bits and pieces, so I doubt I will ever paste it together again.)

The version at the archive is buggy, but only slightly buggy. I withdrew it saying it was too buggy, giving people the impression it isn't winnable. It is. Several people have played it to conclusion. However, it has eating / drinking / sleeping routines -- all mistimed. They occur too frequently and can drive players' with low tolerance levels, nuts. I only discovered this after I fixed a fatal flaw in the game when an early player brought it to Whizzard's attention. So I fixed the flaw, resubmitted it, then reconsidering, I finally withdrew it. (According to the contest rules I felt it wasn't fair to also fix the eating/sleeping routines after the deadline.) But since there are some good things in it, I now lay claim to this orphan child.

I may rewrite it some day with fewer locked door puzzles and fewer rooms -- tighten it up. And add a few more subplots. Or now, because pasting together the scattered bits of code is tough and tedious, I probably won't.

Players:   Players may ignore most of the outdoor grounds, except right outside some doors. There is a brush with American history and a few tricky puzzles. Warning: You play at your own risk, because if you take too long you can run out of drink/food.

Brain visualizing.

"I think Doe is on to something here with her art..."
Kathleen Fischer

I love this piece. I want everyone to do stuff like this. It's beautiful!
Stuart Barrow

Inspiration:  The inspiration was a creek where I used to play at as a child and a discussion in raif concerning visualization and visualization exercises.
Visualizing Star. Star. Star.

"Visualizing" is short and "experiential." Although this was actually my fifth or sixth WIP (work in progress), it was my second piece out the door. It is my scenery IF Art example and also my first attempt at IF Art, Puzzleless IF, and Experimental IF. It has no overriding, compelling goal -- instead it is intended to be an interactive experience. However, you can find a few minor goals if you look for them. It is also puzzleless, but you can also find a few puzzles if you look for them. Because the puzzles are optional and do not halt the player's progress, most people haven't even discovered the trickier ones.

Reactions were underwhelming, but a handful of people really liked it and/or "got" what I was aiming for.

I am very happy with it.

Players:   As intended, each player's experience can be quite different -- so yours may be different from anyone else's.

Animated dragon's head.

Inspiration:  The inspiration was:  the contest theme, nastily imagining Adam J. Thornton as an unwillingly participant in a "buddy flick" with a dragon, and Anne McCaffrey's "Pern" with a light dash of Zork.
Dragon George and The Man Star. Star.

"Dragon George and The Man" is a buddy "flick," with two very mismatched buddies:  a naive (and slightly stupid), young dragon named George and a cyncial, wise-ass man named Bruce (who is based on Adam J. Thornton, reknown for disliking dragons and games with dragons.) This was a Dragon Comp entry (March 2000, run by David Cornelson). I hate the ending -- it is probably one of the worst in IF history. I got sick and ran out of time approaching the deadline, so I was forced to literally chop the intended ending off. Although short, it approaches a mid-sized game -- it is as long as some comp games.

"George" had some discussion on rgif and a couple of people wrote and said they really liked it. Although it SCREAMS for a better ending, I like certain aspects of it. This was my first attempt at:  farce, playing with Mimesis, fantasy, and a dungeon crawl. It is also humorous, with some nice, hard puzzles.

I am going to rewrite it with the ending that I originally planned.

Players:   The new, improved version (with the more complete ending and the man's dialogue ironically rewritten by Adam Thornton) should be released some time in the Summer/Fall of 2009 (revised schedule). I am also rewritting it in TADS. I strongly recommend that you wait to play the rewritten version.

Carma title.

"Best Multimedia Monster Download."
Cedric Knight

"It's got that kind of loony fantastic charm that I like."
Scott Starkey

"Graphics and sound come together to create really fun and stylish extravaganza."
Akilesh Ayyar

"...the cartoon graphics are outstanding. "
Eric Mayer

"...very funny, too."
Frank Borger

"...even if it is more of a show than a game, it's a show well worth watching."
Paul O'Brian

Inspiration:   The inspiration was an exchange of email letters, a song, and the desire to do some genres either completely or usually ignored by IF, such as musical comedy.


The Evolution of Carma - Extensive author's notes.
Carma Star. Star. Star. Half Star.

"Carma" is a multimedia piece (graphic intensive and some music). It is again an interactive experience rather than a game. It is also very experimental. About my seventh to eighth WIP, I started it in 1999 and finally finished it to enter the 2001 Annual Competition. Placing 15, (although I broke down and entered, it will probably be the last time I do -- see notes below), it is my IF Art portrait example. But that may be very misleading, because it is more performance art. It is a visual approach to a puzzleless piece and thoroughly explores interactivity by employing all sorts of "easy" interactivity -- tactile, verbal, aural, visual, emotional, mental. (The fact that it is quite interactive, but easily interactive, is a point that many completely missed).

It uses three approaches to conversations:  blatant hints about topics with the ask/answer/tell model, traditional ask/answer/tell, and conversation menus. Interestingly, the section that is more like traditional IF with a traditional approach to conversation and problem solving (it has some actual puzzles, although fairly easy ones) is the part most liked least. I have not yet evaluated why that is. It is also episodic with little connection between episodes (they don't build on one another very much). But how much you become part of the performance is really up to you...

I am extremely proud of it. It may be the best IF Art that I will ever do.

Players:   "Carma" uses Glulx. As of 2001 -- notes on how to patch the Linux Glulxe interpreter are in the directory at the archive. It runs fine with both the Windows and Linux Glulxe interpreters, but not with Mac Glulxe.

Thoughts on Competitions

You may get the impression I don't like competitions. I don't. I find I don't do my best "artistic work" under pressure, and I don't equate creativity with competition. For me, the two are diametrically opposed. Despite that, I have tried several times to "fit" the contest mode since it is so prevalent in r*if. So I suspect one day I will enter the yearly competition just to "gain my credentials" (see "Carma" above, I did).

Also, as a professional programmer, my standards for my own programming are high. I tend to think things are bugs that other people might not even notice. But since *I* notice they don't work exactly the way I want, they ARE bugs. So arriving at a nice, finished, "debugged" game while working under a time limit is not my forte. Creating a debugged database-type program under a time limit, okay, but inspiration/creativity doesn't work that way. At least, not for me.

Yes, I "run" the IF Art show, which may make you think I am contradicting myself. But the only way I could see to get the concept of IF Art across was to turn it into a contest. Make it fit, somehow, the mold of r*if. However, only the top placers are awarded honors; none of the other entries are ranked. That was the best compromise I could reach between the rampant competitiveness of r*if and trying to promote the idea of IF Art. And my experience hanging around r*if had shown me that "placing" was necessary for a successful contest. A contest with no honors was not enough to sustain interest. Sometimes one must make compromises to make a dent.

I guess I will add some thoughts on now having actually been through the Annual Competition experience. I didn't enjoy it. At all. I found it anxiety-producing and unpleasurable from beginning (having to push hard to finish "Carma" in time), to end (having it compared to games). However, I guess I earned my credentials. Sort of. If I had placed higher then I would have felt I had earned them more. But I am going to let that carrot go (placing higher next time), since I prefer to be non-competitive while being creative. I also prefer to have "my audience" find me rather than insisting/wanting that everyone like what I do. So I reserve my own competitiveness for playing IF (and other games), not creating it.

Updated 2/2008

More IF to come...

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