Monday, February 6, 2023

A treasury of Zork maps

Yesterday a Reddit link started going around the IF circles:
"Wait," I thought, "haven't I seen that map before?" No, I had not. But I sort of had? Then I looked through my collection of Zork maps. Then I realized, oh no, I have a collection of Zork maps, and it's incomplete.
Project time! Let's start at the very beginning.

Tuesday, January 31, 2023

2023 IGF nominees: mind dot dot dot blown

Finally, my IGF top favorites. At this point I have entirely departed the realm of objective, considered judgement. These are the games which made me cackle with glee -- in my head at least.
  • Immortality
  • Tunic
(Necessary footnote: I was on the narrative jury and had access to free review copies of these games. But in fact I bought them all before IGF judging started.)

Monday, January 30, 2023

2023 IGF nominees: wildly miscellaneous

And now my "I couldn't think of a category" category.
  • Case of the Golden Idol
  • The Forest Quartet
  • Gnosia
  • Queer Man Peering Into A Rock Pool.jpg
(Necessary footnote: I was on the narrative jury and had access to free review copies of these games.)

Sunday, January 29, 2023

Colossal Cave (2023)

A year ago, Ken and Roberta Williams boothed at GDC with a demo of their coming-out-of-retirement project: Colossal Cave in 3d. I wrote some thoughts at the time:
In a graphical environment, how do we render the confusing exits of Witt's End? How do we show that your inventory matters in the Tight Squeeze? Can you really not move around in the dark?
These are interesting questions! You can have fun thinking about them. I hope Roberta and Ken have had fun thinking about them. But I'd say that the best answers are going to point to a free adaptation of the game.
Now it's out, and I can say: this is a tight, nay, a pedantic adaptation of the original game.
(Warning: I assume you've long since played or at least read about the original game. So SPOILERS top to bottom, here on out.)
(By the way, when I say "the original" I mean the 350-point Fortran Adventure by Crowther and Woods. That's the ancestor of nearly every other version. If you're curious about the earliest history of Adventure / Colossal Cave, Dennis Jerz's 2007 article is definitive. And if you want to play the original -- not exactly the Fortran version, but close -- click here.)

Saturday, January 28, 2023

2023 IGF nominees: the personal

A game can be one person talking about a thing, in their own voice, framed by a bit of game stuff. This is a well-understood category, although it doesn't have a name that I know of. "Topical" misses the author's voice. "Confessional" makes it prurient. I could suggest "listening simulator" if that didn't come off as snark, which is not how I intend it.
It's hard to say much about games like this. The game mechanics aren't the point. If you explain the point, you're pushing the author offstage. So these comments will be brief; the games can speak for themselves.
  • Of Moons and Mania
  • He Fucked the Girl Out of Me
  • Atuel
(Necessary footnote: I was on the narrative jury. The games in this post are free or name-your-price.)

Friday, January 27, 2023

2023 IGF nominees: good old adventures

You may recall that I wrote a blog post on recent old-school narrative games just a few months ago. Unsurprisingly, a bunch turned up as IGF entries. So I've written half this post already!
  • Return to Monkey Island
  • The Excavation of Hob's Barrow
  • The Past Within
  • Beacon Pines
  • Backfirewall_
  • Ib
(Necessary footnote: I was on the narrative jury and had access to free review copies of these games. Of course, I'd played some already, but I played Ib, Beacon Pines, and Backfirewall for free.)

Thursday, January 26, 2023

2023 IGF nominees: visual novels

I don't really follow visual novels. But there are a lot of them, and some turn up in IGF every year, and I play the ones that are getting the most attention. That doesn't mean the best visual novels of the year! Just a couple that happen to come my way.
  • Butterfly Soup 2
  • The Wreck
  • Eternal Threads
(Necessary footnote: I was on the narrative jury and played free review copies of these games.)