Interesting things

Instead of reviews, here are some small things I found of interest these past few weeks!

Screen Shot 2016-01-10 at 3.10.20 PM.jpg

Mansion Maniac allows you to explore public domain maps of New York apartment houses (map source here). The funky thing is that when you exit a room, it randomly generates another room. The algorithm isn’t foolproof yet – it’s possible to get stuck in a room because exits overlap with another room’s walls – but it’s awfully cute.


 

Screen Shot 2016-01-10 at 3.08.39 PM.jpg

/r/playzorkwithme is a subreddit for playing real-time IF events – a bit like an RPG, a bit like a MUD. The idea looks interesting, though I’ve not tried it out. (I also recently discovered the less active /r/textventures, which runs on the same idea.)


 

Joey Jones created a Twitter bot called Unlikely Powers – basically superheroes with disadvantages.


 

Screen Shot 2016-01-13 at 8.23.35 AM.jpg

Nicky Case has created a sim-building tool. It’s astonishingly simple and incorporates some not-so-simple ideas. It’s also fun to play with!


 

Screen Shot 2016-01-13 at 8.21.02 AM.jpg

Speaking of simulations and world models, Oskar Stalberg has created an adorable 3D tile editor, where you can plant your own terrain and build your own cities. (He also has other 3D tile editor tools such as Brick Block) It’s great fun, even if it made my computer go mad.

 

Personal wishlist for Choicescript

Choicescript is fast to learn and fun to write in (like Inform 7, yay), but there are some things I wish I could do with it.

  • Change default black text on white appearance
    • A beta-tester commented that it was uncomfortable to look at, and it’d be cool to be able to insert your own banner or logo
  • Be able to play-test game from a certain point
    • Like skeins in I7. I get that I can use a placeholder variable to get around this, but it’d be nice to have around.
  • (related) Dedicated text editor for Choicescript
    • syntax colouring for *choice and #options for example
    • Playtest within the editor
  • Keyboard shortcuts
    • YESSSS keyboard shortcuts for ‘Next’/*page_break and things like that
    • Like how Duolingo does it!

Saw your “Death is but the beginning” list. Emily Short’s Counterfeit Monkey is challenging and long, but death situations are usually played off as hypothetical situations. IF tutorial style games (like Andrew Plotkin’s Dreamhold) tend to make death merciful. If there were a way to sort the games of IFDB by difficulty, that may help in finding a list of merciful death games. Good luck.

Thank you for the suggestions! Yes I love Counterfeit Monkey – very very clever puzzles! – but I was actually looking for puzzles which use death as a means of progressing the story. Like in Endless Nameless, where you have to die to let the story progress.

Games for beginners

A few of my classmates just downloaded the Frotz interpreter for their phones but are sadly bereft of games to play. Recommendations welcome. So far my list has:

  • Bronze (forever and always; the tutorial mode saves a lot of trouble and frustration)
  • Photopia
  • The Dreamhold
  • Violet (but so much textwalls!)
  • Shade
  • Indigo (pity it can’t run on JFrotz/Frotz)
  • Glass
  • Afflicted
  • Counterfeit Monkey (again, not Z-machine, so can’t run on Android IF interpreters)
  • Dinner Bell
  • The Baron (essential for highlighting the emotional content of IF argh)
  • Nautilisia
  • Accuse (as an example of very short logic puzzles in the form of IF)
  • Little Blue Men (traditional, but story-driven and stuff)
  • MAYBE Ecdysis. Wasn’t one of my favourites, but it’s short and packs a decent punch. Perhaps in that note, Fish Bowl might also count.

Recommendations?

hypertext platforms

While I have not been playing much IF recently, I just realised there is an extensive- and growing- range of online IF platforms. I have not tried all of them, but here is what I have seen so far, and my first impressions, if applicable.

While Twine is gaining traction and challenging the idea of ‘traditional’ IF, there are other hypertext and CYOA platforms out there.

  1. Varytale
    The platform Emily Short used for her game, Bee, if I am not mistaken. Reads like a book. Great fun, really.

  2. Undum
    Was it used for First Draft of the Revolution? Aesthetically pleasing hypertext.
  3. Choice of Games
    A platform for CYOA (choose your own adventure) games. Uses its own language, Choicescript, which is supposed to be similar to traditional programming.
  4. Textadventures.co.uk
    seems to contain mostly poorly written, barely implemented IF so far. It seems a clunkier, slower version of traditional IF.
  5. Versu (new!)
    An iOS app for text adventures. Similar to Varytale?