2016 Interactive Fiction Competition


I don’t quite get this bit. Lost Pig certainly looks like something very dumbed down, but most people who spend more than 5 minutes with it and who have experience with IF quickly realise the implementation is top-notch - to keep the illusion of a dumbed-down work, the game is actually highly polished and implemented.

Mind you, I get your point, I’ve played lots of under-implemented games where the author just didn’t care about whatever wasn’t necessary to follow the walkthrough in their head. That’s just wrong, and no argument about design decisions will save it. I just don’t see Lost Pig as an example.


but that’s not supposed to be interactive art :wink:


so what?

it’s still about an orc trying to catch a pig. It’s about as uninteresting to me as old cave/dungeon crawls, despite all the polish

I did play it quite extensively, but could not bother to go on after 3 puzzles


A long link with a different view (videogame references)

I wouldn’t put a strong emphasis on fun. An interactive experience can be intended to convey any kind of emotion or experience. Is Rameses entertaining?

But I certainly see myself as idealising IF as a pure thing separate from literature and wider traditional media influences. An exceptionalist tendency which ignores how new media is linked to existing arts and entertainments.


Depends on your definition. To me, it was.

It’s all really subjective. :slight_smile: We tend to forget how much so it really is.


It really is. I was intending that a game can present a difficult experience like visiting a terminally ill relative. Sure there can be humour in any situation but a game can be arbitrarily difficult or horrible.


oh, how much I abhor this notion of fun and art as mere shallow entertainment. The notion that everything should be valued for their “fun factor”, particularly prevalent in games communities. One of the reasons I don’t think IF should really try to go after such folks…


OTOH escapism is a big part of play. And a game should be somehow playable.


Sure it can. “Entertaining” and “fun” does not necessarily equate to amusing.

Then again, to some people it might. :slight_smile:

I find serious drama entertaining, though bad things happen to good people.


you certainly get entertained, but it’s no fun and shouldn’t be

“but games should be all about fun”, shouts a crackhead gamer. The same one who gets his fun from dying trying to slash thousands of Dark Souls demons or headshooting geeks skinned as soldiers in online paintballs


Games are about overcoming a challenge within an artificial framework of rules. This can be fun, whether or not the narrative side of the game is “fun”. However, if the only challenge is handling the emotional responses brought on by the narrative (as in the visiting a terminally ill relative example), then I don’t consider that work a game.

I think that some of these issues arise because some of us are looking for challenging games, that we’ve decided to call “interactive fiction” instead of “text adventures” (perhaps for the same reason that people want to call comic books “graphic novels”: to give an aura of maturity and artistic legitimacy), while others of us really are looking to experience fiction that is interactive and couldn’t care less about overcoming a game’s challenges. This isn’t a new observation; it’s just the old crossword vs. narrative dichotomy.

Maybe it’s time for the gamers to cede the IF terminology and go back to calling text adventures “text adventures”.


I thought we kind of already did? Unnofficially, if you start talking about the difference between text adventures and interactive fiction people will know this is what you mean, right?


Yeah, but we still have an “IF community” and an “IF comp” etc. etc., and yet we’re talking about two different things that happen to use some of the same technology. If we start using a term that unambiguously means what we mean it to mean, people will know what we mean. You know what I mean?


That’s the meanest post I ever saw. :slight_smile:

Thing is, a lot of games don’t fall easily under one or the other cathegory. Some people prefer pure text adventures, like Zork, and some prefer pure interactive fiction, like Photopia. But there’s a huuuuge middle ground! I’m not sure that forcing a distinction might not do more harm than good.

Then again, I’m famously bad at predicting this sort of thing.


I wonder how many authors would be unable to answer the question “Do you primarily see this work as a game?”


While I was writing this post, I realised that I actually agreed with you. I didn’t expect that. Yes, most every IF work really is, at its heart, either a game or a non game. The middle ground, upon consideration, isn’t all that big, not if you strip all the frivolities and put it as bluntly as you did.

Hmmmm. So you’re talking about separating “text adventure” and “interactive fiction”? Maybe even have text adventure comps?

I am starting to see your point, I really am, but I worry about further fragmenting the community. Then again, bah, maybe it needs fragmenting, or forking if you will… Maybe it will stop all of this, because IF people won’t be frustrated by getting TAs in their IF, and vice versa. Yes, the idea has its merit…


There are more dramatic roles than just the hero. Players use IF for their own purposes. Winning according to the game rules, solving the game, isn’t necessarily what players want. Plenty of people enjoyed just being a baker in The Baker of Shireton.

Posing IF as games tends to rule out observational experiences like the Art Show games. IF can put you in a virtual world which you can interact with and explore - why does there have to be a goal imposed on the player, a victory condition?


What was Parser comp but a text adventure comp? Drop the fuddy old name and go for Adventure Comp. And you have something inspiring people would get behind.


If I understand Vlaviano correctly, that’s the point - the Art Show games are not games at all. And they are no less valid nor entertaining for that. But someone who is specifically looking for games will now they won’t find them in the Art Show.

We are of course using a very specific definition of “game”, and it is possible to broaden that definition a lot, but the funny thing is, this very specific definition does encompass the usual IF/TA dichotomy.


There doesn’t.

My point is that some IF works are games and some aren’t, and we’re confusing the issue by calling them both IF and evaluating them against one another. We’re comparing apples and oranges, if you will.

The Art Show style “games” to which you refer aren’t really games, and so they would fall into the not-a-game “interactive fiction” category as opposed to the is-a-game “text adventure” category.