Artists' Profiles

Ian Ball - The Statuette, 2000 Show
J.D. Berry - Ribbons, 2001 Show
Steve Breslin - The Battle of Walcot Keep, 2004 Show
Jason Burns - The Guitar of the Immortal Bard, 2000 Show
David Clysdale - Statue, 1999 Summer Show
Alan DeNiro - Ogres, 2003 Show
Eric Eve - The Battle of Walcot Keep, 2004 Show
Guilherme De Sousa - Memories , 2001 Show
Jessica Knoch - Queen of Swords, 2003 Show
Kathleen M. Fischer - The Cove, 2000 Show; Redemption, 2003 Show
Yoon Ha Lee - Swanglass , 2004 Show
Jacqueline A. Lott - The Fire Tower, 2004 Show
Dave Malaguti - Flametop, 2004 Show
Joe Mason - A Stop For the Night, 2003 Show
Doe (Marnie Parker) - Visualizing & Carma , IF Art Examples
Mike Penman - The Tarot Reading , 2003 Show
Peter Polkinghorne - The Visitor, 2000 Show
Gunther Schmidl - Words Get..., 2000 Show
(plus The Possibility of Life's Destruction, 1999 Spring Show)
Chad Schultz - Pillow, 1999 Spring Show
Marian Taylor - Crystal Ball, 1999 Spring Show
John Toomey - Wheel, 1999 Summer Show
Caleb Wilson - La Lagune De Montaigne, 2001 Show

Ian Ball - The Statuette, 2000 Show

Ian Ball is the co-writer (with Marcus Young) of Madame L'Estrange and the
Troubled Spirit an IF competition entry which is being slowly beaten into
a more polished game. He was always attracted to art forms which everyone
else seemed to think of as juvenile or moribund, such as comic books and
silent films. In interactive fiction he has found a medium which falls
perfectly into this category (in terms of public perception).

"There is a lot of interesting things happening in interactive fiction,
the yearly competition has brings out great experimental works and the
sort of highly inventive pieces that I've always enjoyed. The Interactive
Fiction Art Gallery seems like a wonderful boost for experimentation and
for taking interactive fiction to a new level."

Ian Ball

J.D. Berry - Ribbons, 2001 Show

Don't let "Ribbons" fool you.  I love reviews.  (Alas, I have the same burden of proof I do in real life.  I'm sarcastic often enough that people don't believe me when I'm actually being sincere.  (Did someone just cry "wolf!"?))  I consider myself a review reading junkie.  I devour them, be they for movies, books, art, games or origami.  And what better place to find detailed critiques than the Interactive Fiction community?  The abundance of literate, humorous and insightful commentary astounds me. (Especially gifted are the reviewers of my next work.)

In part, this love for reviews prompted me to start writing IF.  The community came across as brutally honest, cynically intelligent and almost always fair.  If I could please at least some of these people, I would accomplish a difficult task.  An ongoing challenge was born.

Reviews are a curious creature.  They breathe life into an artistic community while simultaneously infecting it.  They reveal ways an author might improve, but often times in contradictory fashion  ("the typos worked great here and gave me a real feeling for the dyslexic PC", "I know the typos were deliberate, but they were still annoying to read.")  They provide emotional feedback blended with a host of factors separate from the game itself ("I was really tired when I played this, but here goes...")

Have fun with the show.  It's all just a game, after all.

J.D. Berry

Steve Breslin - The Battle of Walcot Keep, 2004 Show

"Steve Breslin" is a fanciful name for a carefully controlled labratory experiment, a personality simulation, consisting of two chickens, an orangutang, and a mess of wiring. Thus far, the experiment has been stunningly successful: this "Breslin" has become interested in interactive fiction (perhaps attracted to this activity in particular as a side-effect of the experiment), and has even published some library extensions in Tads-2 and Tads-3. It has become specifically interested in AI/automation, perhaps as another side effect, and recently submitted its latest demonstration to a team of humans working on the annual IF-Art Competition, a work which earned "honorable mention" -- praise indeed considering the circumstances.

Steve Breslin

Jason Burns - The Guitar of the Immortal Bard, 2000 Show

This artist is something of an oddity in the Interactive fiction world because he doesn't like puzzles. Sure, he'll smile politely and mumble that the puzzles in your game are "wonderfully challenging", but don't be fooled. The instant you turn your back he'll access the in-game hints faster that you can say "But you'll spoil the game....."

It's not that he doesn't TRY to like puzzles. He tries very hard. It's just that he'd much rather do things like wander through a richly detailed world, and read well written descriptions of the objects in that world, and interact with complex and interesting NPCs.

Indeed, he is picky about his I-F, and can often be seen ranting at his computer screen "YOUR CHARACTERS HAVE LESS PERSONALITY THAN AL GORE!!!". Like all serious artists, he is tortured.

Jason likes experimental I-F such as Aisle or Photopia. In the future, he intends to "color outside of the lines" as much as possible. To anyone who may in the future accuse him of pushing the envelope, he will have only this to say in his defense: "But the envelope pushed me first!"

"Guitar of the Immortal Bard" is his very first attempt at interactive fiction, so please be kind.

The Solar Echo

David Clysdale - Statue, 1999 Summer Show

I, David Clysdale, am an 18-year old student living outside Ottawa. I first discovered IF as a young lad when I was at my dad's work and he showed me the original Colossal Cave Adventure. I also played a few Infocom games around that time, particularly Zork 1 and HHGG.

I found these games much more interesting than the cheesy arcade games that were all too common. I find that IF is a great medium because it allows for fun and challenging puzzles, but can also tell a story or simulate an experience.

I first became really interested in IF back when I first discovered the internet in 1995. I downloaded Curses, and had some fun with it (although I still haven't finished it) and soon I grew more curious about the new games being written. It was not long until I discovered the blossoming new IF community.

I am working on a medium-length game, and have a few ideas for other works, but I am making no promises about my next release (I'm hoping I'll have something before the year 2050). Hopefully my enthusiasm for IF will get me somewhere.

Recently I have been playing Varicella, which I am enjoying greatly. I am becoming quite a fan of Mr. Cadre's work. I think my favourite game, however is Jigsaw.

David Clysdale

Alan DeNiro - Ogres, 2003 Show

I've been playing interactive fiction off and on for twenty years now, but it's been the last two or so that I've been actually writing IF. As an IF writer, I'm interested in ways to implicate a player in the narrative (conditions in which the flesh-and-blood player becomes entangled with the narrative). Creating ways in which a kind of meta-interactivity can slip into the playing experience (no, I don't totally know what "meta-interactivity" REALLY means, but I'll run with it, I guess). Also, the novel I'm working on (nearly complete, he says optimistically) has a great deal to do with memory palaces, and IF plays a small but important supporting role in that regard in the novel.

It is very likely my ambitions outstrip my programming skills. :) But all in all writing IF is as rewarding as it is difficult for me.

I'd like to thank the judges and Marnie for their hard work with the Art Show, and I look forward to playing the other entries!

Alan DeNiro

Eric Eve - Battle of Walcot Keep, 2004 Show

Eric Eve dimly recalls enjoying the text adventures from Level 9 more years ago than he is now prepared to admit, and over the years has occasionally amused himself by writing his own as entertaining programming exercises in a variety of languages; but he first discovered modern IF about 18 months or so ago through an article in a computing magazine. The Battle of Walcot Keep is the first piece of published IF to which he has contributed, but he is busily working on a game he hopes to enter for the 2004 Annual IF Comp. In his day job Eric teaches New Testament at Harris Manchester College, the only Oxford college that caters solely for mature students.

Eric Eve

Guilherme De Sousa - Memories, 2001 Show

I first became interested in adventures in the early 80s, spending my spare time playing games like "The Hobbit" and "Twin Kingdom Valley" on my Commodore 64. Later I played "Zork", "Hitch Hikers Guide" and "Guild of Thieves", enjoying the witty responses and extra depth these games provided.

Around 1999 after reading an article about adventure games in "PC Zone" I followed up some of the websites mentioned and found the IF archive and newsgroups. I've since confirmed that I`m a very poor IF player who needs to refer to hints if he`s to make any progress with a game. I`ve still not completed a single Infocom game despite buying "Lost Treasures" when I had an Amiga and now years later "Masterpieces". Recently I've enjoyed playing "Photopia", "Rameses", "Metamorphoses" and "Worlds Apart" and hope to eventually get around to all the other games I`m wanting to play. My preference is for smaller, story-based games rather than large games with lots of puzzles.

I've always enjoyed designing games but I always made the mistake of designing huge games that I would never complete. The Art Show gave me the perfect opportunity to create something smaller. Originally "Memories" was a very different game with more varied locations and NPCs but I wasn't really happy with it and I knew I wouldn't finish in time so I cut out a lot of elements and concentrated on building memories into the everyday objects. The characters in the game are not based on real people.

Guilherme De Sousa

Jessica Knoch - Queen of Swords, 2003 Show

Infocom's "Bureaucracy" being somewhat difficult for children under the age of seven, Jessica Knoch took a long break from Interactive Fiction until she was well out of college. She then discovered the IF community completely by accident while Googling for the answer to a 46-Across on the Washington Post Sunday Crossword. That came about the same time that she accidently picked up "The Sci-Fi Collection" of classic Infocom games at a used book store.

Although all of Jessica's work in Inform so far has produced mostly puzzley games with lots of little fiddly bits, she has plenty of ideas for grand storylines, sweeping landscapes, and raw emotion boiled down into parser responses. She would like to one day have written "one of each kind" of IF.

Jesscia Knoch

Kathleen M. Fischer - The Cove, 2000 Show

While I always liked playing adventures -- starting with the Scott Adam's text adventures on my dad's TRS-80, then the Zorks on a Mac Plus/Si, then switching to graphics adventures (Loom, Indian Jones, Myst, Riven...) -- it was writing my own games that I enjoyed the most. Of course, I never actually finished anything. Then about a year and half ago I started on Yet Another Big Game, and for once it looked like I might actually get a game out the door.

Unfortunately, I found I was losing large chunks of time to the compile/debug/run cycle when all I was doing was writing plain text (plot, descriptions, dialogue, etc). There had to be a better way. So I started copying text out of my Big Game and putting it into Microsoft Word, hyperlinking the parts together. I figured it would make the writing easier, but would it be hard to turn turn back into a game? Then Doe announced the Art Show. Perfect! Here was a chance to try it from scratch, with a deadline to keep the experiment from going on forever. I guess I can say now that the process worked for me, as for the first time, ever, I finally finished a game! (You have no idea how good it feels to say that.)

The setting for the game itself is loosely based on Monterey, California - one of my favorite places to visit during the summer. All the flora and fauna mentioned can be found there, though there is no actual cove matching that description (at least none that I'm aware of). For inspiration as to how it felt to be at the beach, and for the tunnel, I drew upon memories of countless summer days spent down at La Jolla Cove, CA when I was a kid. Thankfully, the story itself is completely fictional.

Kathleen M. Fischer

Redemption - 2003 Show

My first released IF was an Art Show entry (_The Cove_ in 2000). Two comp games (_Masquerade_ in 2000 and _Prized Possession_ in 2001) and a SpringComp03 game (_Inevitable_) later, I find myself back here again. Hopefully I have learned a few things in the process.

Redemption was conceived after a small argument with my spouse, when I realized that what matters isn't so much what is said but how it is heard, that you can hold both Yes and No answers in your head and mean both of them, and that sometimes what isn't said is just as important as what is.

Kathleen (for my pre-author IF background, see profile for The Cove)

Yoon Ha Lee - Swanglass, 2004 Show

Although I had previously screwed around with choose-your-own-adventure and similar gamebooks, I came across IF relatively recently. In fact, it can all be blamed on my sister, who keeps starting games, throwing me tantalizing alphas, then not finishing them. (That was a hint, by the way. I love you too.) I write sf/f and enjoy a variety of computer and roleplaying games, so IF, and in particular the Art Show, was a chance to stretch myself in several directions. Among other things, it's confounded hard to write a work that doesn't focus on puzzles (gamin') *or* plot (writin')!

My previous game, Moonlit Tower, was an IFComp 2002 entry that smashed several mythologies together and used far, far too many sesquipedalian adjectives. I can only blame the fact that I discovered an unexpected love of writing gobs and gobs of descriptive text, including responses to such unlikely actions as BATHE. I think I've got the adjectives a little better controlled now, and Swanglass gave me an excuse to abuse my bachelor's in math *and* my unrepentant adoration of Tchaikovsky and classical music (in fact, I used to play viola). The current work-in-progress, Ghostroad, is a surreal science fantasy that might even include a NPC. Which reminds me, I need to go annihilate a few adjectives...

Yoon Ha Lee

Jacqueline A. Lott - The Fire Tower, 2004 Show

I've been playing interactive fiction since I was eight, when my parents bought me a copy of Zork. I don't think I solved it for a number of years, but the beauty of many of the locations became fixed in my mind, and I would daydream about wandering through the Great Underground Empire when I should have perhaps been studying French. I was never about the puzzles, and though many look back on Zork and other early works as puzzle fests, I look back on how the prose made my imagination wander, how I would read a description and then stop to visualize. I still wish IF was mostly about that, and I suppose in the better works it still is.

I lost touch with interactive fiction until I stumbled upon the newsgroups in the autumn of 2001. Since that time, IF has become a fairly big part of my life. Many of my closest friends are fellow enthusiasts, I'm slowly improving in the realm of programming, and I have several works-not-yet-in-progress bouncing around in my cranium. Thus far, aside from The Fire Tower, I have three other games out there: an as yet unfinished IntroComp piece, The Waterhouse Women (I *am* still working on it and I swear it will see the light of screens), the amusing albeit not-terribly-interactive speedIF The Invisible Argonaut, and the tale of a sickly hoary marmot entitled Things, which I co-wrote with Sam Kabo Ashwell for a speedIF in which we were limited to five nouns. Since 2003, I have been the organizer for IntroComp, because I feel it's a fantastic way for authors (particularly *new* authors) to tempt us with ideas and receive some feedback prior to pouring everything into their work.

Jacqueline Lott

Dave Malaguti - Flametop, 2004 Show

My first brush with IF came in the mid-1980's. One night, my dad was showing me around the VAX system he administered. One of the things he showed me was a little game called ADVENT. I recall being fascinated then, as now, by the notion of a whole world within the game, waiting to be discovered. Over the years I encountered a few more games, such as those collected in The Lost Treasures of Infocom, as well as the graphic adventures from Sierra and Lucasarts that followed in the same tradition.

I believe I first encountered modern IF in late 2000 or early 2001. After trying out a few games, I set out to learn Inform and create a game of my own. Not long after that, I learned about the Comp and set my sights on creating an entry. My game quickly grew large and complex, and bogged down just as quickly. Comp '01 came and went, then '02 and '03 blew past when I wasn't looking. Finally, this year I decided to get serious and actually finish something. When I saw the announcement for the Art Show, it was the perfect opportunity to step back from my magnum opus and create something short and sweet. The result is my first release, Flametop.

My plans for the future? Comp '04 or bust!

Dave Malaguti

Joe Mason - A Stop For the Night, 2003 Show

Joe Mason's first game was 1996's In The End, which experimented with being "directionless" by simply not having any locations larger than a single room. A Stop For The Night goes one step further in an attempt to build a complex map without using directions. Between the two he published only Health Inspector, a tiny SpeedIF game which, practically unnoticed, used most of A Stop For The Night's complicated movement library to connect its two rooms.

Joe Mason

Doe (Marnie Parker) - Visualizing, Examples

"Visualizing" gave Doe a chance to "smudge the lines". Because a great deal of it is non-linear and/or optional, she really has no idea what each player will experience. To her that is art.

Doe, aka Marnie Parker, has this skewed opinion/view because she started out life as a visual artist. Beginning drawing at four, she never got over her pride at seeing her art work plastered on the fridge and so persisted with art classes through college. Until she was rudely awakened to the fact less than 1% of painters make a living at it (approx. .001%). Trying hard to stay in the lines, she quickly realized she didn't like "Commercial Art" as a college major. Much preferring to paint her own dreams/ideas, she was also perverse enough to later settle on surrealism as her style.

After a misspent youth at uninspired jobs with a lengthy dissipated side trip into the seventies/eighties "swinging" singles scene, she returned to college to study Computer Science. A life-long card/board game fan, she discovered Infocom games at about the same time. She can no longer remember which came first, but thinks it makes a better story to say IF turned her on to programming. She has remained fascinated with computers ever since, even during another highly meaningful side trip into the earnest political activism of the eighties/nineties. For over ten years she was self-employed as a computer consultant. Her clients were small businesses, with only one Fortune 500 company.

Having drawn/painted rarely after her mid-thirties, interactive fiction gives her the opportunity to still be artistic. Combining the two things she loves most: creativity and computers. In the parlance of her baby boomer generation, she thinks that is cool .

Doe (Marnie Parker)
The Doe Page

Mike Penman - The Tarot Reading, 2003 Show

I first encountered IF on the page, in the form of Penguin's "Fighting Fantasy" adventure game books. Shortly afterward I bought some text adventure games for my ZX81 (_Adventure Island_, _Planet of Death_) and almost immediately gave up on them. The paper versions just worked better, back then. I didn't have to spend hours guessing the verb and puzzles of limited complexity meant that a plot was a necessity in the books. I don't particularly like IF puzzles and those games were just that - extended, poorly executed puzzles. About three years ago I got nostalgic about those old text adventures. It was that special kind of nostalgia that is itself far more pleasant than the thing you feel nostalgic about. I went googling and ended up at SPAG. From there it was a short step to the IF Archive and a whole wealth of modern IF. If like me you played those early games on a ZX81 or BBC micro, you don't need to be told what a different world current IF is. Even so, I didn't really *get it* until playing _All Roads_ and _LASH_. They're the games that really made think, "I want to make this stuff."

The IF Art Comp. seems like a great place for the budding author to start. The piece has limited length and no need for a plot or character. It should be simple, right? Not so. My guess is that like me, most people will start by biting off too much. Even having realised early on that the piece should only cover some of the complete set of tarot cards, I still ended up getting bogged down.

The plan for _The Tarot Reading_ was to have a clever, very interactive implementation of each card, suitably demonstrating its meaning. Instead you'll sometimes find simplistic, lazy interactivity; those cut corners were to save my marriage. (Well maybe not to save it, but at least to prevent me getting justifiably sulked at for spending days in front of the screen.) I'm really happy there'll be something I wrote in the archive though. Next I plan to write a full length game based in my home town, Whitby on the North Yorkshire coast.

Mike Penman

Peter Polkinghorne - The Visitor, 2000 Show

Peter Polkinghorne is in his 40's, married with children and living in North
Harrow, a suburb in NW London, England. Because moving to work as a senior
system administrator at Brunel University 4 years ago, gave him good internet
access, he became reacquainted with IF.

He was familiar with Adventure (Crowther & Woods) on early Unices in the 80's.
But in the last few years he purchased Infocom Masterpieces (first and only
internet purchase), played & voted on Comp 99 entries and played a few other
games from the IF Archive. He enjoys story, atmosphere and exploration that
IF affords and as such particularly enjoyed Photopia. He is easily baffled by
puzzles, but does enjoy the feeling of triumph when one is solved.

He enjoys other games, playing Go (Wei Chi, Baduk), Monkey Island series (a
favourite with the children) and in his previous job, lunch time Doom death
matches! He also enjoys the arts, mainly as a consumer of novels, poetry,
theatre and art exhibitions, but also as a dabbler in production, such as a
ceramics course and now the Visitor, his first game. The inspiration came
from voluntary work mainly undertaken prior to marriage, as children do not
leave him time for much else!

Peter Polkinghorne

Gunther Schimdl - Words Get..., 2000 Show; The Possibility of Life's Destruction, 1999 Spring Show

the first ever published inform-made z4
try typing x

[oneTWOthreeEIGHT] century's dark things
#1# the caption says it
#2# it is not obvious at first but take a closer look
#3# stars mark ww1 1914-18 and ww2 1938-45
#8# self explanatory

[fourFIVEnine] discombobulation
#4# there are no columns on the page only rows
#9# !

[sixSEVEN] depressiac
#6# no comment
#7# all bad things must come to an end

Gunther Schmidl

Chad Schultz - Pillow, 1999 Spring Show

As of May '99, Chad Schultz is 14 years old, in his second semester of college, and surprisingly enjoys talking about himself in the third person.

Liking books and computers in the extreme, he finds interactive fiction to be the supreme epitome of both these things. He also likes how one person can make an IF game, while an arcade game may need an artist, musician, multimedia architect, a couple programmers, a manager or three, and of course, Mr. Coffee.

The first IF game he ever played was Adventure (he still is stuck. Bad Chad, bad, bad bad. :)) at the age of 12. Or 10. Or something. He later discovered Zork through the Rogue-like game of Kroz, which explained where it's title came from. Early 1999, he finished the trilogy and went mad, buying as much as he could off of eBay, downloading IF, discovering the newsgroups, etc. Pillow is his first official game, but he has many more ideas for games that should keep him occupied until 3001.

Chad Schultz

Marian Taylor - Crystal Ball, 1999 Spring Show

I was born in Chicago in 1950, attended high school in Alabama, and dropped out of the Ph.D. program in English (Victorian literature) at Michigan State University. I spent a month in Liberia when my first husband was working on a project for the Peace Corps. I was also a resident staff member for four years at the Rochester Zen Center, which is where I met my current husband, Ben Taylor, who administers a minimum security prison, but used to teach college art and was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Afghanistan. I've been writing poetry since the third grade, but didn't start writing good poetry until I had a bout with breast cancer in 1996. Besides poetry and interactive fiction, I'm also working on a novel.

My first contact with interactive fiction came in the mid-eighties. A friend and I played "Trinity" and "Bureaucracy" on her PC and "Sorcerer" on my Kaypro. Around 1990, I began the script for my first (and possibly last) game, "Victorian Orphan," but had no idea how to program it, so set it aside. I've been intrigued by unusual narrative formats ever since I looked at a programmed accounting text and thought that it might make an interesting way to tell a story. I've been disappointed by most programmed novels, though, but did enjoy _The Dictionary of the Khazars_.

What I like about writing interactive fiction is that it gives me the freedom to try things that would be considered hopelessly naive in conventional fiction--heroes, villains, unambiguous endings, secret rooms, puzzles, buried treasure, and cryptic messages.

A word about "Crystal"--I'm trying to get the poems published (with illustrations), so people who find it tedious to keep pushing the button will eventually just be able to turn the page.

Marian Taylor

John Toomey - Wheel, 1999 Summer Show

John Toomey was born in, raised in, and still continues to live in the state of Massachusetts. For those of you who don't know, Massachusetts is in the northeast of the United States -- that area called 'New England'. Of course, the only similarity between New England and (Old) England is that the towns all seem share the same names. Trust the Brits to rip off names from places they hadn't even settled yet.

John majored in Electrical Engineering in college, and, just to be perverse, hasn't looked at a circuit since. That's probably for the best; all of the C programming he does for a living keeps him in shape for his occasional fist-fight with Inform.

John's favorite IF games include: Photopia, Enchanter, Spider and Web, Zork, and... er... you know, that other game where you go crawling around unrelated locations trying to find a bunch of unrelated items which are protected by a series of unrelated puzzles. He'll get back to you when he remembers. :)

John Toomey

Caleb Wison - La Lagune De Montaigne, 2001 Show

My first memories of IF are back from when I was in about 5th grade. The game was Nord and Bert - never could get much of anywhere, but I would still spend my recesses trying to figure it out, even though everything I typed in took just short of forever to process. On the other end of the spectrum, I also remember being incredibly disappointed when a game I ordered from a shareware catalog turned out to be all text.

Then, one day, much later, I was poking around on the internet and found that Zork had been released as freeware. I downloaded it and pretty soon I found myself hooked. When I finally tracked down the Masterpieces of Infocom I was ecstatic.

Eventually I found out about Inform, and I got interested in writing my own IF. I love making up stories (telling them to my little sisters whenever I visit is a favorite activity,) so it seemed like it would be a fun medium in which to work. I'm still learning, but I've got lots of ideas ready to be written, and I hope to be writing IF, and getting better at writing IF, for a long time.

Among my future IF plans are a portrait and a still life. Maybe I'll even have these done to enter before next year's show.

Caleb Wilson

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