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Interactive Fiction Competition 2001 88

Matchstick writes: "In the spirit of last year's article: The seventh annual Interactive Fiction competition is underway. This year there are 52 entries, each a bite-sized two hours long, and you only have to judge at least five for your votes to be counted. Winners from previous years are easily as high-quality as the classic Infocom games, and in many cases surpass them. Judging started October 1 and runs to November 15. The interpreters run on all major platforms (and many minor ones). It's late! Get started!"
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Interactive Fiction Competition 2001

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  • by Anonymous Coward
    National Novel Writing Month: [].

    Write a novel in November. You have one month. Write 50,000 words. You're not a writer? So? Do it. See what happens. Sure, it'll probably suck, but you don't learn by not doing. (See? If I was a good writer, I wouldn't have just used a double negative.)

    And it'll be fun!
    • Sign ups for 2001 are over.

      Thanks to everyone who signed on! We expected 500, we got 5000. This is going to be the biggest, best NaNoWriMo ever.

      At this point in time, the NaNoWriMo staff are busy planning their third-rate novels. Any emails recieved about sign ups after October 29 will be deleted automatically so as to give the staff more time to realize their own mediocre fiction visions.

      Thank you kindly,

      The NaNoWriMo Staff

      [Emphasis added]

  • by Anonymous Coward
    I can't seem to find a way past the timber room. I can't take the lamp with me and I get eaten by a grue :(
  • Check out Erasmatazz (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 01, 2001 @04:16AM (#2506150)
    I think the Chris Crawford (founder of the Video Game Developers conference-a very intellegent man) is the person making the biggest leaps in this genre, and perhaps "video games" in general.

    I urge everybody to check out Erasmatazz because of its potential. This is pushing interactive fiction to beyond what people expect out of it. Its true interactice fiction rather than north, north, north, get key.

    In video games somebody has set a path, if you go off it then nothing really happens. Chris Crawford is basically trying to make a game where instead of going to locations in order to advance the story, the events can come to you as you play. That'd give the gamer true freedom instead of end-level walls and barriors that exist, while at the same time making the game interesting even if (s)he tried to walk off in some random direction.
    • by zephiros ( 214088 ) on Thursday November 01, 2001 @06:48AM (#2506292)
      First off, obviously, Chris has done some amazing stuff with the Erasmatron. However, as a product, I don't think it has a viable future. It has some pretty significant shortcomings, and it would take an incredible amount of work to bring the engine up to modern standards. That said, Chris's documentation of his development is, quite simply, the best text out there in the field of interactive storytelling.

      If you're interested in this sort of thing, you'd can get a good feel for the existing work in the field from:

      • [] - Michael Mateas and Andrew Stern's interactive drama/believable agent project, and obligatory huge page o'links.
      • Oz [] - The Oz project at CMU
      • Erasmatron@Robotwisdom [] - Jorn Barger's excellent thumbnail sketch of Crawford's writings. In most cases, Jorn's synopsis is hyperlinked to the related page on erazmatazz
      I'd also recommend the following papers (try CiteSeer [] before heading down to the library):

      Selmer Bringsjord and David Ferrucci, Artificial Intelligence and Literary Creativity: Inside the Mind of Brutus, A Storytelling Machine, August 30, 1999.

      Nicolas Szilas, Interactive Drama on Computer: Beyond Linear Narrative, 1999.

      Antonio Furtado, Angelo Ciarlini, Plots of Narratives Over Temporal Databases, 1997.

      Barbara Hayes-Roth, Robert van Gent, Story-marking with improvisational puppets, 1997.

      W. Scott Neal Reilly, A methodology for building believable social agents, 1997.

      IMHO, interactive storytelling is one of the most interesting cross-discipline computational problems out there.

      • Interactive Fiction Scholarship
        I've compiled an annotated bibliography of interactive fiction scholarship and amateur theory and criticism. It's specifically focused on text-adventure games, and it's due for an update (some URLs have changed).

        See the recent copy raphy/index.html []
        ...or the copy published by the journal Text Technology: ml [].

        The Erasmatron comes up periodically on and related groups. For those who're interested, here's how Crawford's claims and accomplishments were received [] the last time they came up on that particular newsgroup.

        In that discussion, Neil K. posted thus:
        • Last time this came up here I believe the firm consensus was that the

        • Erasmatron is not particularly interesting and the demonstration games are
          terribly embarrassing. Crawford is about 15 years too late, for a start.

          For more interesting and worthwhile work related to IF and personality
          I'd look at Emily Short's Galatea or Adam Cadre's Varicella.

        Dennis G. Jerz
      • Since I don't have an mod points today, this is as close as I can get to saying, "Great job!" This post was very informative. I wish I could give this guy a 6.
    • As hinted at by other replys to this message, erasmatazz is considered a joke by the regular community.

      BTW, mid-November you can check out and for the results of comp2001. It's considered extermely impolite to discuss particular games on open forums until the votes have been counted and released (mid-November).
    • Patents. Bleeeech. (Score:4, Informative)

      by eddy ( 18759 ) on Thursday November 01, 2001 @08:47AM (#2506427) Homepage Journal

      The documentation he provides is interesting. However, one thing really irritated me as I browsed the site, and that was the following paragraph from his overview [] under "Why is the Erasmatron better?":

      Better than what? There simply isn't anything out there that lets you create interactive storytelling. (And if there were, they'd have to
      work around my comprehensive patent.)

      My emphasis.

      I have no problem with defensive patents, but he's basically saying that he wants to make sure no one else can use similar technology to write even better games (which would benefit players/human kind).

      At the risk of drawing hasty conclusions on how he will use his patent(s); I just cannot respect that.

      (I actually considered buying his book, but that will not happen now).

    • I`ll never forget the day i read his ridiculous tirade against Doom. He was some guy, with a magazine with a circulation of 27, filled with pleas for articles (strangely it wasnt a magnet for cutting edge ideas and designs), telling everyone that the most popular game ever wasnt really very good, and instead they should model their new games on NamelessAtari400Game#102142 or whatever the hell nonsense he write (in 1984 or something).
      I laughed, and laughed, and laughed. Good to see he`s been keeping himself busy. Hey, maybe he`ll get Jeff Minter in to code it?
  • handheld (Score:4, Insightful)

    by staeci ( 85394 ) on Thursday November 01, 2001 @04:39AM (#2506178) Homepage Journal
    I don't know about anyone else but I find reading (particularly fiction) to be very tiresome on a desktop computer.

    I have played several IF games 6 months ago (I like lovecraftian horror) but would be more likely to continue to do so and move into genres if I owned a laptop or such which I could play them on. I like to snuggle up on the lounge or sit in a park and read not at a desk.
    • Re:handheld (Score:5, Informative)

      by blancolioni ( 147353 ) on Thursday November 01, 2001 @04:57AM (#2506199) Homepage
      You can download a Z-machine interpreter for PalmOS from here [], and play all the Infocom and newer fiction, including more than half of the 2001 competition entries, anywhere. It's a treat.
      • You can download a Z-machine interpreter for PalmOS from here [], and play all the Infocom and newer fiction, including more than half of the 2001 competition entries, anywhere. It's a treat.

        You, sir, are pure evil. How am I going to get any work done today if I can play all the classics of my youth on my Visor until the batteries run out?

        What's next, an Atari emulator?

    • If you're into Lovecraft, you definitely should check out Infocom's Lurking Horror. I don't have a link though; sorry :(
    • I don't know about anyone else but I find reading (particularly fiction) to be very tiresome on a desktop computer.

      I tend to agree. However, I'd also contend that IF isn't straight-out fiction. The interactive nature of it means that you're getting sections of text piecemeal anyway, rather than just starting at the front of the book and working your way down. That interactivity makes it a lot easier for me. Then again, when you consider that Zork was one of the games that started me down the dark path to typing for the rest of my life, back in the early '80s, perhaps I'm just used to it.

      I have played several IF games 6 months ago (I like lovecraftian horror) but would be more likely to continue to do so and move into genres if I owned a laptop or such which I could play them on. I like to snuggle up on the lounge or sit in a park and read not at a desk.

      Played "Theatre" then, I assume? Great game, except that I was playing it while sleep-depped and missed the popcorn the first time around. After I'd been floundering for about half an hour, it was kinda nice when one of the other postgrads wandered over, watched for a bit and asked what I was stuck on - turns out that I shared an office with the guy who wrote the game. Truly a serendipitous moment :-)

  • Why would I want to sit at my desk and read five novels or 10 hours worth of reading?
    Why, that would just about kill a weeks worth of /. reading at work!!
    (BTW, I hope the boss dosn't read this!) ;-)


  • by DarklordJonnyDigital ( 522978 ) on Thursday November 01, 2001 @06:50AM (#2506293) Homepage Journal
    Never mind your new-fangled games of yours, I'm still stuck on Planetfall!

    I've gone to sleep in the spartan beds which at least provide a modicum of privacy, woken up, picked up all the stuff I could find, and now I've got this darn robot following me around and wanting to play hider-seeker. The laser won't even work because all I've got is a battery that doesn't work.

    Can anyone help?


    • First hint on the battery. You need to combine an acid and an alkali ("base" is the term used in the game).
    • You gotta be kidding. I enjoy IF games, but suck at them. Planetfall is the only game I ever got through without help, hints, or cheating. It's not so much about puzzle solving as about not being misdirected.
    • Drop all of your access cards, take the U shaped bar, hold it over the crevice in Admin Corridor South. Use the key to unlock the padlock in the kitchen area, take the ladder, extend it, and put it across the rift. Walk across the ladder, and utter a joyous cry of "Foo!" as you find the plethora of new access cards in the desks.

      And don't shoot Floyd. He gets his ass kicked enough in this game. ;)
  • by Sargent1 ( 124354 ) on Thursday November 01, 2001 @08:23AM (#2506389)

    Hi. I'm the competition organizer for this year. I suspect the competition web server is going to get hammered, so I'll give a rundown of what's going on and what you can do to enter.

    Zeroth, your source for most everything I'm going to talk about is the IF Archive. Reach it at [], or at the mirror [].

    First, you'll need interpreters, since most of the games are written for specific interactive fiction virtual machines. I'm guessing plenty of you have Linux boxes; I'll try to get my old article on Linux interpreters up at my personal IF site, Bras Lantern [], later today. It should have more bandwidth than the competition site.

    Second, the games. This directory [] on the IF Archive has all of the games, either unpacked or in a big .zip file.

    Third, choosing which games to play. You only have to play five of them to judge. If you think you'll only be able to play a handful of games, I ask that you play a random selection. There's a front-end to the competition, Comp01.z5 [], which is structured like a text adventure. It will randomize the list of games, sorted by which ones you can play, and even give you a nice voting form to fill out if you're so inclined.

    Fourth, judge. You can play games for a maximum of two hours before giving it a rating. Note that you don't have to play for two hours. We only set a maximum play time, not a minimum one. To rate a game, give it a score from 1 to 10. 10 is good. 1 is not good. Use whatever criteria you wish.

    Fifth, vote. You can mail your votes to the competition vote-counter or visit the web site to record your votes there.

    Sixth, and optional, we've got competition t-shirts [] for your wearing pleasure.

    All of this is detailed in the README which comes with the competition games packages. Enjoy.

  • by tenzig_112 ( 213387 ) on Thursday November 01, 2001 @09:27AM (#2506522) Homepage
    I built one some time back to run the database-driven Scott Adams text adventures using only Javascript and PHP- since even the best Java tended to break my browser.

    It works well on older versions of Netscape as well as IE 5. Opera users have reported some trouble.

    Here's the link: []
  • by libertynews ( 304820 ) on Thursday November 01, 2001 @11:09AM (#2506896) Homepage
    I have an if-archive mirror available at [], and my small IF website at []. The archive is updated nightly and the contest directory is at []

  • Hey there, for those of us too lazy or modem-impaired to download the games, they are available via Telnet at telnet:// . (BBS account setup required, but worth it.)
    They've not only got this year's competition playable (at least the ones playable sans graphics) but appear to have all past years' games, as well as many other Interactive Fiction goodies.



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