IF Community


Your comment about “imagining something that’s just not there” got me thinking about how some of the views that have been expressed at intfiction strike me as having–for lack of a better phrase–a very different approach to reality than I do.

Here’s a quote from a poster there who spoke up during that whole CoC thing:

Even if you think she was objectively wrong, it’s still not “equally inappropriate” to be wrong about misogyny as it is to make people feel ostracized and discriminated against.

Suppose a person (whom I’ll call “Betty,” because I can’t think of anyone in the IF community with that name) visits a country she’s never been to before. The language spoken in this place is not one that Betty is fluent in. While in this place, Betty overhears a conversation spoken in the local language. One of the words sounds to Betty like a slur in her own language. Betty suspects they are talking about her, calling her an offensive name. But Betty happens to be a pretty happy-go-lucky individual, and ultimately she just rolls her eyes and moves on.

As it happens, the people having the conversation are using a word that sounds phonetically similar to a slur in Betty’s language, but which is a totally innocuous word in their native language. The conversationalists do not even see Betty standing there.

If I’m to take the statement I quoted above at face value, and apply it to this situation–if even the most innocuous action that makes someone feel discriminated against is ALWAYS worse than EVERY accusation of whatever-ism that has ever been made–I suppose I’d have to conclude that people saying innocuous words in their own language is WORSE than a malicious false accusation that utterly ruins someone’s reputation, causes them to lose their job, lands them in jail, is a factor in their subsequent suicide, or whatever the worst-case scenario is that you can think of.

And as much as I appreciate the good intentions of people who want to fight against misogyny, I find this line of thinking incredibly problematic…and not especially comforting.

Like, I want to believe that this person was just speaking hyperbolically, and doesn’t actually carry it to this extreme, but…I don’t know what to think.


I’ve been sticking to technical topics over there, although I did post on the Rewind thread. I think the distinction that answers Peter’s question about criticism is: are you giving feedback to help the author better achieve their artistic vision, or are you telling them that their vision is “problematic” and should be changed?

The best response to the culture war is to vote with the currency of your time, attention and energy. Get involved with the stuff that appeals to you, ignore the stuff that doesn’t, and let other people do the same.

This gave me a sense of where Porpentine is coming from. Make of it what you will.


Hello, welcome, and hope you stay at both places!

I agree about criticism. I had a fellow competitor in the IFComp 2015 tear my game apart for something that wasn’t–but they also pointed out bugs and features to work on. I was upset with what I felt were cheap shots, but it kind of captures both things you said. If they’d been a bit less strident, I’d have realized the bug was not so bad.

The thing is that we can use our intelligence to point out bugs, or fix things, big or small, and move on.

The thing is, I agree with a lot of what is said–that we get our creativity quashed, and so forth. But I just don’t believe parser is that complicit, and I believe parser has made great strides. People realize what isn’t fun and how to get around that (e.g. having a VERBS command or whatever). There’s more to do. And if twine is pushing parser in that direction, good! The trend has been towards fewer verbs, or better labeled verbs.

Even as a dedicated parser author I’ve recognized something that’d work much better in twine (in fact I wrote one–but there’s that rift. I can feel the possible criticism of “well, he’s just trying to make fun of Twine with this.” Because I did take heat–quite possibly just for being here–over my IFComp 2015 game.

Still, a jump from “parser games need to clean things up” to “broken and elitism” is a bit much. And I think Porpetine’s “oh, some of my favorite games are parser” would, if the script were flipped, get a lot of condemnation.


I think there are a fair number of people who would LIKE to know if something in their game may come across as a problematic stereotype. There’s always the possibility that the author just genuinely doesn’t know it could be construed as a problem, and really doesn’t want to offend people unnecessarily, and never would have included it if they knew. So people may be genuinely happy to have an opportunity to change it.

Sometimes this type of feedback is used as a weapon, but sometimes it is genuinely well-meant.


I recently watched a talk by Penn Jillette in which he quoted Gary Panter of the Residents saying “if you don’t like supermarket music, start making supermarket music.” I enjoyed Hallowmoor, a choice-based game that retains an old-school puzzle-oriented sensibility. I’d like to see more exploration in that area.


Yeah, one of the potential problems for choice-based twine is, you don’t have any choices you like, or you think of something the author didn’t. That’s true for parser, too, but it can feel more restrictive.

Yeah, I definitely worried about some of the villains in The Problems Compound and was able to change things. Its just when peole read what they want to, it’s hard to avoid that. For instance a review of Chris Martens’s game Origins said “this (the game) is very sexist” responding to an idiotic passer-by being sexist. I don’t think they realized Chris Martens was female, but they rushed to make that point.

I don’t want to rush to make that point, and I don’t want to fear people who do. But I do want to make the right sort of mistakes, preferably in testing, and I don’t want fear of mistakes to gum up the development phase before testing–which has also happened. A lot is on me, but…


I think that an obvious solution is to provide more options, but a less obvious one is to provide fewer. Consider the first half of Delightful Wallpaper. I found it extremely engaging, but, at the level of individual commands, the player is limited to walking around the map. Yet, I never felt a lack of desirable choices.


You know, that’s a game I never played, but now that I look into it, I see exactly what you mean. (And, really, this is the sort of thing that helps me explore new games. “Game X has this new feature” vs “Game X is a -classic-!” I tend to mistrust superlatives. So, thanks.)



Well hey, I’m not college, mansions, or generic fantasy worlds. Parser IF has been unwelcoming to my people too, I guess! Can’t we ever catch a break?!

Later, she says minorities are exhausted and don’t have time to use a storytelling medium that requires such an investment of time or energy as writing code. Apparently the HTML, CSS, and JavaScript she mentions later don’t take any time to learn/write/debug, so they don’t count as code. And apparently the minority artists who create books, films, and other works that take time to put together don’t count as minorities, either.

In fact, her definition of “minorities” seems to be a tiny circle drawn around herself.

I can understand why someone who believes their personal preferences are inseparable not only from their own demographic group identity, but also from the group identity of every other non-cishetwhitedude, might mistake criticism of something they like for an attack on those groups.

What I have a harder time understanding(*) is why someone would be so desperate to have their work recognized as part of a specific art form, by the people and in the spaces traditionally devoted to that form.

Like, they think word searches are better than crossword puzzles, and that’s fine! Plenty of people like word searches. Some themes can be conveyed better through the medium of word search, and they’re a better fit for many tastes and schedules.

But if they love word searches for all the reasons they’re different from crossword puzzles, why is it so important for them to get word searches included in crossword compilations? If crosswords are old and unwelcoming, and Will Shortz is a pretentious elitist, why are they demanding his approval instead of finding their own audience?

(* OK, not really – I can understand it as a raid on a subculture that doesn’t like the same things they do and, according to the earlier point, must therefore be their enemy. But in the spirit of not perceiving things as attacks, I wonder if there’s another plausible explanation.)


Yeah, that sounds eerily like a few people I’ve known over the years claiming they can’t be racist because their friend’s brother’s cousin once dated a black guy.


To be fair, her personality is what makes her games unique. If she weren’t like this, she wouldn’t be making the games she’s making, so forceful, so blunt, so raw.

Hard to separate one from the other, and if we’re to enjoy one, we’re stuck with the other.

Of course, if we don’t enjoy one, we’re always free to just ignore both. It’s always an option, guaranteed to provide peace of mind.


A PDF file is now considered “IF” (entered in the Spring Thing, which used to be an IF competition.)

Can I use the f-word here?


Someone will enter a novel one year and justify it as IF because a) it’s interactive (you have to turn the pages to read it) and b) it’s a work of fiction.


Good for a laugh if you haven’t seen it yet:

http://ifdb.tads.org/viewgame?id=ockj09tjrr82swi&review=28854#comments[quote=“RealNC, post:55, topic:250”]
Can I use the f-word here?

Go right ahead.


Actually looking at the game list for the Spring Thing this year is pretty depressing. Of the 10 games in the main category, only 2 look to be actual parser games. Even taking into account the fact that I like choice games, I find it worrying that so many people choose to enter them into an IF competition as opposed to actual IF games. One day soon, I can well imagine there being an IF competition in which not a single game is IF.


Dear God. That’s just… words fail me… Someone actually went and typed a novel into an IF system then tried to claim it was IF?

Head meet desk. Desk meet head.


Actually, I don’t mind that so much because it lowers the possibility of lower-quality parser IF.

There’ve always been people who didn’t really want to make parser IF; they wanted to make something a lot more choice-based. But the best tools were the ones in the parser IF playground, so that’s what they used. They probably didn’t even realise that the game they wanted to make was better suited to another format.

We’re seeing less parser games, but hopefully a higher quality in general. We’ve also seen a pretty good turnout at the ParserComp, which maybe should become a regular thing…

The glass may be half full after all, 'swhatImean.


[quote=“PeterPiers, post:60, topic:250, full:true”]
We’ve also seen a pretty good turnout at the ParserComp, which maybe should become a regular thing…[/quote]
So for actual IF games we have ParserComp, which doesn’t have “IF” in the name. And for non-IF games, we have IF competitions.

When people say I’m salty and bitter, they should understand that there’s a perfectly valid reason for that.


When you put it like that, yeah, it’s sad. The focus has shifted. I don’t think, though, that we’re heading towards an all-choice IF comp turnout. There still appears to be interest in the parser, it doesn’t seem to be going away.

Still, y’know, making a parser game is hard and the community isn’t known for tolerating sub-par efforts (we’re a pretty hard crowd to please).

…I don’t really know why I’m trying to advocate both sides of the question, so I’ll stop now.


Maybe someone who’s been around the community longer than I have will know this: is it the case that, at one time, it was the term “interactive fiction” itself that was being questioned? Deemed too literary and pretentious for a text adventure game? (That’s an impression I’ve gotten elsewhere but I wasn’t tuned into the IF community for a long time.)

However that may be, the hypertext format doesn’t strike me as so very different from what’s done in, say, “The Space Under the Window” or “Blue Lacuna.” But even if that weren’t the case, I’d probably still be perfectly happy to have choice games referred to as IF.

I realize other people feel very strongly otherwise and I don’t expect to change anyone’s mind.