Tuesday, June 26, 2018

IF in pop culture and back again (guest post at sub-Q)

I wax slightly rhapsodic over at sub-Q Magazine.
I just noticed an amusing synchrony. In the late 1970s, when Crowther and then Woods were writing the first parser game, a New Wave SF writer named George R. R. Martin was writing short stories about far-future humanity among the Thousand Worlds. I, very young, was a fan of both. (Nightflyers, 1980, is still a favorite story of mine.) Heliopause was inspired, in part, by Martin’s sense of unbounded human potential set against even vaster, time-swallowing depths of space.

Another bit of news: Ryan Veeder and Jenni Polodna are organizing a collaborative IF game in honor of Anchorhead.
A strong female character wanders the halls of a decrepit mansion. Her husband is in danger. She has to help him. Each room into which she points her flickering flashlight teems with arcane danger and unspeakable history. Each room has been designed and written by a different author.
They note that the initial response has been "very very positive", so why not make their life even harder by volunteering to write a room yourself? Sign up by July 6th.
You can, of course, buy Anchorhead itself on Steam or Itch.

Finally: remember, as if you could forget, that Meanwhile and Hadean Lands are both on sale on Steam (and also on Itch.io) until July 5th.

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Meanwhile and Hadean Lands: the summer sale!

That time has come around again: the time when you buy a stack of exciting games which you always meant to try!
(Or "that time when your to-play stack grows out of control", but I shouldn't lead with that, should I...)
What I mean is: Meanwhile and Hadean Lands are both discounted for the Steam Summer Sale! 50% off on Meanwhile, 25% off on HL. The sale runs for two weeks, as is Steam's invariable habit.
If you like your platforms independent and scratchy, both games are also on sale at Itch.IO. Both 50% off there, so that's a bonus for HL fans.
I suspect that most of my regular blog-readers already own both games -- thank you! But this is a fine time to spread the word about interactive fiction and experimental dynamic narrative. You don't even have to say "interactive fiction and experimental dynamic narrative". Just tell your friends about the wacky text games. One of them is illustrated! It's an unbeatable deal.

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Heliopause, Memory Blocks

Announcements time!
Hoist Sail for the Heliopause and Home, a far-future parser IF piece, has been published by sub-Q magazine!
Heliopause isn't a new work -- I originally wrote it for @party in 2010. It's quite short, but I've always been rather proud of it. My thanks to Stewart Baker for offering to reprint it.
Speaking of sub-Q, I should mention that Anya DeNiro wrote an editorial there about my (even older) short game The Space Under the Window.
Keep an eye out for the next sub-Q editorial, written by me! That will be appearing next week.
Some memories fade, some memories break, and some memories outlive us.
It's Mysterious, so I'll just say that it's a Twine anthology project to which I contributed a small chapter. Organized by Priscilla Snow (also of Bravemule). Coming in September.

Sunday, June 3, 2018

IF titles: the next generation of generation

Many years ago, Juhana Leinonen wrote an IF name generator which mix-matched the titles of IF games:
  • Asteroid Synesthesia Factory
  • Ill The O Zone
  • Voices of Spoon Planet
  • Lethe Hobbit
  • The Quest Detective
This is "IF titles created by joining the beginning and end parts of random existing titles," to quote the author. The source code shows what's going on: it's taking a random number of words from the beginning of one title and a random number of words from the end of another, with some tweaks to avoid pulling just "The" or "A".
The result is very convincing. But this is 2018! Not only do we have neural nets, we have plug-and-play neural nets that any bozo can install.
I looked through some of Janelle Shane's blog posts -- she's been doing the lists of Pantone colors, D&D spell names, and so on which you might have seen. Obviously she knows what she's doing and gets excellent results out of her experiments. I do not know what I'm doing, so I probably got sub-par results. But they're still pretty great, so here's a list!
  • Hills of Paradise
  • Castle of the Impala
  • The School of Rock
  • The Door Drivers
  • The Volvil's Room
  • Guttersnipe: Sorcerors
  • Color the Demon Adventure
  • Vault of Survival
  • Il Das Etverra de Joie (Terror 1)
  • Playa Alley
  • The Dream Whore, Bubble Zefro
  • Smast of Imron
  • A Beginning of the Princess
  • Iramidic Text Adventure
  • Space Lust War Tale
  • El Sexter
  • Blackback
  • Friendly Doors
  • Shuce-Quest
  • Wolf: Spy to grind a codion
  • Gris e no pluu
  • The House of Zombrit
  • The Citch and the Dogs
  • The Heather Continences
This is pretty good stuff! I did a little bit of hand-selection, but this is most of one generator run, plus a few extras. (I couldn't resist The Heather Continences.) Most of my editing was to delete real titles like The Cube and All Things Devours.
Okay, so how did I do this? Content warning: the rest of this post is about Python code.