The Statuette, 2000 Show
Ribbons, 2001 Show
The Battle of Walcot Keep, 2004 Show
The Guitar of the Immortal Bard, 2000 Show
Statue, 1999 Summer Show
Ogres, 2003 Show
The Battle of Walcot Keep, 2004 Show
Guilherme De Sousa
Memories , 2001 Show
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
Flametop, 2004 Show
A Stop For the Night, 2003 Show
Doe (Marnie Parker)
Carma , IF Art Examples
The Tarot Reading , 2003 Show
The Visitor, 2000 Show
Words Get..., 2000 Show
(plus The Possibility of Life's Destruction, 1999 Spring Show)
Pillow, 1999 Spring Show
Crystal Ball, 1999 Spring Show
Wheel, 1999 Summer Show
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."
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
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.
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.
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
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
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
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!
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.
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.
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
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
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!
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.
Doe (Marnie Parker) - Visualizing, Examples
"Visualizing" gave Doe a chance to "smudge the lines".
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
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 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
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
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
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
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!
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
#4# there are no columns on the page only rows
#6# no comment
#7# all bad things must come to an end
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.
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
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.
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. :)
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
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.