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2004 Interactive Fiction Results 132

silent_knight writes "Early in October, the 2004 Interactive Fiction competition began. The results are now in! Be sure to check out some of this year's best entries: Luminous Horizon, Blue Chairs, All Things Devours, Magocracy, and Murder at the Aero Club. All entries (and interpreters) can be downloaded together for Windows and the Mac from the download page." As mentioned in the previous story, Linux support for these games is also easily available.
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2004 Interactive Fiction Results

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  • Play In Firefox (Score:5, Informative)

    by sbszine ( 633428 ) on Tuesday November 30, 2004 @07:40PM (#10958311) Homepage Journal
    There's a Firefox extension called Gnusto [] that lets you play these games from your browser. Have fun : )
  • by the_mighty_$ ( 726261 ) on Tuesday November 30, 2004 @07:41PM (#10958325)
    Here [] is the article announcing the beginning of the competition. May be interesting.
  • by conner_bw ( 120497 ) on Tuesday November 30, 2004 @07:46PM (#10958386) Journal
    • Thank you for the links. People wanting to re-live the goold-ol-days should download this.

      But for all IF noobs out there: do not play these first. This link takes you to the now-free Zork series. They are the "grandparents" of all interactive fiction (with Colossal Cave being the great-grandfather).

      The point is that modern IF is generally story-driven. There is an actual plot and generally other characters involved. The Zork series is known as a "dugeon crawl." The location descriptions are quite im
  • by murderlegendre ( 776042 ) on Tuesday November 30, 2004 @07:56PM (#10958475)

    I wiled away a lot of hours in my youth playing the classic Infocom games. It really warms my heart to see this format prospering _twenty years_ later. You can get a Z-machine interpreter for just about anything, from Athlon64 to PalmOS.

    I wonder if any of the tradtional 'printed page' literary organizations will ever embrace I.F. as a legitmate form of literature, be it prose, poetry or just 'other'? Perhaps a Pulitzer for 'Best work of Interactive Fiction?

    • I wonder if any of the tradtional 'printed page' literary organizations will ever embrace I.F. as a legitmate form of literature, be it prose, poetry or just 'other'? Perhaps a Pulitzer for 'Best work of Interactive Fiction?

      Probably not. The whole point of celebrating an artist is to commend the choices he/she made. The whole point of IF is to give choices to the player. Granted, there's still a lot of decisions when you write a game, but not to the degree that pre-written fiction has

      That's not to say

      • IANAIFA (blah blah Interactive Fiction Author) but I would contend that IF authors have to make more, not fewer, decisions than a pre-written author would for a work of the same length.

        Pre-written authors need ultimately only follow one timeline where everthing happens in sequence; IF authors have to anticipate the player performing actions at any given time under different situations, and account for that. (Has the player got the dingus to go through the puzzle door? Has he talked to NPC #2 and subseque
        • (Whoops. Minor edit: my favored game's name is Slouching Toward Bedlam, not Bethlehem. Apologies to the author. I guess I don't love the game as much as I thought!)
        • I still contend (and I'm saying this from the point of view of someone who likes IF, by the way) that these are not choices you're describing; more like options or contingency plans. A choice, by necessity, means some things are going to be excluded (and, as the old saw goes, a work of art is judged as much by what's left out as by what's put in).

          Moreover, even the best IF suffers from the inability to do any and every plausible action, and likely will for a long, long time. You can go up to the clerk, bu

          • I'm not sure the choices/options distinction is very useful, but you are right that authors of traditional fiction focus on a sequence of events that make the best story. But the best IF authors don't try to widen their world in order to permit every possible action... instead, they craft "refusal messages" that aren't stark, immersion-killing "You can't do that!" but that instead reveal character, motivation, help flesh out the back story, etc., all the while pushing the player towards that small subset o
        • I would like to chime in on parent's song.
          I've authored and played lots of RPG "scenarios", adventures and camapigns, as well as written ordinary fiction and to some extent also computer games.
          Writing a fixed story takes _far_ less work than authoring an interactive scenario.
          When allowing for player/reader to make real choises you have to have a much more solid story, you have fewer tricks to use and you have to cover a lot more ground "just in case".
      • Probably not. The whole point of celebrating an artist is to commend the choices he/she made. The whole point of IF is to give choices to the player.

        This was a very relevant comment, but it brings up another point.

        There are numerous instances of art, in which the viewer is allowed to take their own path to the presentation. This can be as basic as the angle from which we choose to view a painting or sculpture, or as technical as an installation that contains audio / video / kinetics, and alows one to

      • Maybe IF isn't quite there yet. Maybe it's being held back by it's object-manipulation-centric adventure game roots and the limits of its parsers and world models.

        Nothing wrong with that, but some IF really isn't "games" anymore. By that I don't mean it's "something better", just that it's got little to do with, say, the rather formulaic in-jokey mock transcripts you see posted here. Even so, this story-oriented and/or experimental IF still functions along much the same lines as a "Zork"-style dungeon rom

    • Printed page has already embraced Interactive Fiction. Ever hear of Choose Your Own Adventure books?
    • "You can get a Z-machine interpreter for just about anything, from Athlon64 to PalmOS."

      And not only that, you can actually write and compile them on just about any machine too! I had some fun with my Psion Revo a while back...

    • I'm an English professor who teaches interactive fiction in my classes whenver I can.

      In the 80s, some librarians and middle-school teachers embraced IF as a way to get kids interested in reading. That's fine with me, but I prefer to look at IF as a genre of its own, with its own aesthetics and critial vocabulary.
  • In Korea, interactive fiction is for old people.
  • Great IF (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 30, 2004 @08:01PM (#10958526)
    I haven't played this years crop yet, but some of the past winners are amazing.

    A must run: Photopia (Winner 1998) [] - not another D&D type adventure, that's for sure

    • Re:Great IF (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Euro ( 40585 )
      Oh yes! Photopia! Great stuff. I've never been a great fan of interactive fiction (mainly because Zork and its sequels constantly stumped me when I played them on the venerable C64), but Photopia was truly an experience. I remember getting the chills when I finished it.

      The great thing about Photopia is that for one, its puzzles are always obvious. So much so, that most of the time they don't even classify as traditional IF puzzles. There are some gems, however. Especially the IF mainstay, a maze, is done s
      • Along the same lines of story-focused IF capable of giving the chills I'd also recommend Shade []. It's also fairly brief and can be traversed in a relatively short time.

    • Photopia is great. One of the few text adventures that can truly be described as "interactive fiction" . It sounds lame, but to explain why would give away too much of Photopia's plot.

      I can also heartily recommend spider and web [] by Andrew Plotkin. More of a traditional puzzler, but with nice plot and NPCs.
  • by Tackhead ( 54550 ) on Tuesday November 30, 2004 @08:16PM (#10958627)
    You are in a little white house near a forest on the outer edge of the Great Underground Empire. There is a computer on the table here.

    You cannot buy Half-Life 2. You can only rent it.

    You download a Steam client and supply your FrobozzcoCard number.

    You cannot play Half-Life 2 on this computer without signing into your Steam account.

    You punch in your account information, but because you're in a little white house in the middle of nowhere, the computer's modem dials up the nearest internet provider and the game begins to download.

    > WAIT
    Time passes...
    4.9 gigabytes remaining. (5.4k/s)

    > WAIT
    Time passes...
    4.9 gigabytes remaining. (5.4k/s)
    Your blood pressure just went up. (Oh, wait, this only *feels* like you're stuck in "Bureaucracy". Your blood pressure is actually just fine.)

    > WAIT
    Time passes...
    4.9 gigabytes remaining. (5.4k/s)
    Your UPS battery is fading.

    You turn off the monitor to conserve power. The only light is the "RD" light on the modem - a solid, but feeble, red. Clever.

    > WAIT
    Time passes...
    You really think you can press "W" more often than I can tell you that Time Passes? I'm the computer here, remember? But have it your way - we'll skip a the next nine days.

    > WAIT
    Time passes...
    It is dark. You are still unlikely to be eaten by a headcrab.
    Grues, however, are another story

    *** You have died ***

    Your score is 0/150 (Victim of improperly-conducted usability study). Would you like to try again?

  • This may seem off-topic, but it is wihin the same genre and while it is great to see new Interactive Fiction (IF), if people are interested there are some of the true classics still out there on the net. While most IF afficianados have certainly played the IF version of 'Hitchiker's Guide to the Galaxy', if not it is available online at html [] . It's not always up, but it is available elsewhere and some links are provided on that webpage.

    This is the game t
  • by skybrian ( 8681 ) on Tuesday November 30, 2004 @08:19PM (#10958645) Homepage
    I played the first two when the winners were announced (because I was too lazy to judge this year).

    Luminous Horizon is a well-polished game, but it's the third part of a superhero series and the story is nothing new. The most interesting part about it is the way it handles switching characters and hints.

    Blue Chairs is far more interesting. It's hard to summarize, but it starts out with a drug trip at a party that turns into a dream sequence. Even if that's not your thing, it allows for some amazing writing. Highly recommended.
    • Luminous Horizon is a well-polished game, but it's the third part of a superhero series and the story is nothing new. The most interesting part about it is the way it handles switching characters and hints.

      Actually, that isn't the problem with Luminous Horizon. The main complaint produced by the people that hated the game was that the game felt much too short and railroaded. In particular, almost all of the puzzles (save one or two) can be auto-solved by talking to the other character.

      The only manipula

      • One other underrated game "PTBAD 3" was supposed to be a satire of bad text-adventures, but almost nobody understood that it was a satire - but even an improved rating wouldn't bring it past average.

        According to the authors "Stack Overflow" was meant to be a satire of bad text-adventures, whereas PTBAD3 was just meant to be a troll.

  • Game reviews (Score:4, Insightful)

    by zbik ( 194004 ) on Tuesday November 30, 2004 @08:21PM (#10958664)
    It would be great if anybody who has tried one of these games could post something to give us an idea about it. "Luminous Horizons" is the only one I found with a README; it's a superhero adventure done in comic book style. tition2004/glulx/eas3/eas3info.txt My personal favorite from the IF Archive is Christminster, a quirky Pynchon-esque conspiracy puzzle. Reviews for this game (and more) are in Baf's Guide to the IF Archive:
    • will soon be brimming with reviews for this year's comp games -- and there are quite a few up already. Here's the Google link [], check for posts preceded by [IFCOMP] or [COMP04].

    • Re:Game reviews (Score:1, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward
      1. Blue Chairs

      You play the role of someone--I recall it being a university student, but I may be filling in details from memory--who takes a drug at a party.

      The game basically consists of you trying to leave the party, and the events that occur along the way. There are subplots involving various characters, including romantic partners.

      I thought the game was extremely well-written and refreshing in its execution. It is much more sophisticated than my brief description might suggest. The story is extremely
    • I'm collating the reviews posted to the Usenet newsgroup at I expect to have them up starting in a day or so.
  • Looks like we are breaking the mirrors.
  • by tenzig_112 ( 213387 ) on Tuesday November 30, 2004 @08:25PM (#10958706) Homepage
    Oh, crap.

    Anyway, here's Eric the Power-Mad Dongeon Master [],
    a z-code game that follows a night of D&D gone awry.

    There are a few bugs, I guess, but folks say it's fun to play.
  • by j1m+5n0w ( 749199 ) on Tuesday November 30, 2004 @08:28PM (#10958726) Homepage Journal

    I like how they show the results as a histogram of ratings. This makes it easy to distinguish a game that everyone thought was mediocre from one that a lot of people liked, but a lot of others didn't. I wish imdb [], iblist [], and all the other similar sites would do the same.

  • anybody have a torrent we could use? I would like to check out these games before tomorrow.
    • (Quick primer for people unfamiliar with these: TADS [] is an authoring system and playing system for text adventure games. Z-Code [] is a platform independent bytecode for text adventure games. Z-Code games were originally produced by Infocom [] using proprietary tools. Inform [] is a modern authoring system that also outputs Z-Code.)

      TADS has its advantages (a friend of mine who wrote the above mentioned "Magocracy" used it to great effect), but it also has serious disadvantages that must be weighed. Perhaps its

  • Around 1994, I wrote a little text adventure using BASICA.

    It puts you in the role of a kid who has batted a baseball into an abandoned house. No combat, no way to die for that matter; you win by locating the ball and walking out the front gate with it.

    I recently recreated it with INFORM, to get familiar with the system so I could do more elaborate games. You can smell and taste stuff, and there's a lot more detail in the room descriptions.

    Here's the compiled file:
  • by robdeadtech ( 232013 ) * on Tuesday November 30, 2004 @08:43PM (#10958854)
    Too bad almost all the winners have announced their leaving the Cabinet.

  • Ah come on, we should have been way up there.

    What with the misleading headlines and trolls, I'd have thought it was a no brainer.

    cLive ;-)

  • I guess it's not nearly interactive enough for Slashdot. =)

  • When I read this story, one thing popped into my head: Is there any erotic interactive fiction? (There is definitely enough amateur erotic non-interactive fiction.) If so, where can I get it?
    • It's called AIF (Adult Interactive Fiction), and if you're really interested you can pick up some stuff from the AIF comps []. Be forewarned that a lot this stuff is generally really poorly written. Like any sort of "erotica," I suppose.
    • BAF's Guide to the IF [] is a great resource for everything IF. To find what you're looking for, use the search by genre on the left. Afterwards, you can use the other buttons to find something really worth playing, as erotic IF is generally really bad. One exception would be I-0 (Jailbait on the Interstate) as its written by Adam Cadre, one of the best IF designers around.
      • You consider I-0 "erotic?" Are you crazy? (Minor spoiler follows)

        >x jack
        Face like a slab of processed meat by-products left out in the sun too long,
        haphazard hair plugs that look like he rubbed a glob of rubber cement on his
        scalp and head-butted a cat, teeth so stained and discolored he must brush them
        with molasses... you really picked yourself a winner this time, Trace.

        Jack turns his head and looks you up and down. "So, darlin', how old are you?"
        he asks.
        [Enter a number or type "refuse"]> refuse

  • by Magickcat ( 768797 ) on Tuesday November 30, 2004 @09:16PM (#10959083)
    You are on the Internet. A web page is full of text before you. It is Slashdot. The page is a putrid green and there are advertisments for Suicide Girls and nerd toys. Exits are Back, forward and home.
    There is a menu here.

    You hear a computer fan in the distance.

    >Go to Journal.
    No, I'm afraid you can't do that now. Perhaps later.

    >Chat up chicks.
    Surely you are joking.

    >Read Slashdot.
    An hour or two passes. You have achieved nothing.

    You hear a computer fan in the distance.

    >Post on Slashdot.
    You manage to post +5 INSIGHTFUL about SCO and how what you'd like to do to Darl McBride. An angry and bored lone gunman moderates you 30% OVERRATED.
    You manage to post +4 INSIGHTFUL.

    You hear a computer fan in the distance.
    You are hungry.

    >Post on Slashdot.
    You manage to post +3 INSIGHTFUL about your ideas about American Foreign Policy. A disguntled group of Neo-Facists, Trolls, and lowbrows have read your post. You manage to post +1 TROLL. Your karma is terrible. You loose all your friends who thought you really were a Bush supporter.

    You hear a computer fan in the distance.
    You are hungry.

    >Get back to unemploymed life
    Please put on your tin hat. Your final karma is BAD. CowboyNeal thinks you suck.

    Do you want to (L)Load a Saved game, (R)Restart or (Q)Quit.
  • Teaching Aid (Score:2, Interesting)

    Has anyone out there ever tried to use Interactive Fiction to teach English as a foreign language? If so, how did you do it and did it work?
    • considering some of the odd grammar used in infocom games (in terms of commands), i couldn't see it doing much help.
      • As an English teacher, I find I'm much more concerned with fluency than with accuracy because I feel accuracy will come with experimentation, but experimentation doesn't occur without the confidence of fluency. The reading aspect should go a ways towards increasing vocabulary and I think the interactivity would also be engaging. Even if the grammar is not keyword based and not real world, I think this is OK. What about using the old, pre-graphical MMORPGs, text based (BBS?) games? Then it could be opene
    • I've actually used the IF-optimized language Inform [] as a teaching aid for computer science. It's a great introduction to object-oriented programming and concepts for beginners.

    • I actually wrote an adventure game on a 16k RAM TRS-80 back in high school for my Latin class, following the escapades of Publius and Furianus around Rome. You could play in either Latin or English, switching dynamically between the languages. It was helpful for learning vocabulary, and reading the place descriptions was sometimes challenging. Of course the commands you give are intentionally bad grammar, but for reading it was great.

      So -- I'm learning German now....any German adventure games out there?
      • There are a couple, yes. The three most important formats are Z-Code (interpreter: Frotz [], among others), T.A.G. (interpreter: T.A.M. [], Windows and Linux) and Floyd (interpreter: Floyd [], Windows and Linux). As for games, some are on the webzine's "Grand Prix" (competition) page [] (that's comp02, there're also 03 and 04). Of these I'd recommed "Der Angstbaum" (for T.A.M.), a fantasy adventure that almost plays itself (what puzzles there are aren't very difficult); if you're into spaceships and such tr
    • I've thought of this a few times, but could never find a game suitable for the task. The best bet would be to write one on your own, seeking input from ESL learners along the way about its effectiveness. From the looks of things, it's not too difficult.

      Another possible idea is using AI to teach ESL writing. You can send students out to chat rooms, but they encounter all kinds of difficult things: slang, insults, cultural confusion, etc. An AI program catered to ESL learners could be very beneficial, es
  • Do they have good graphics? I mean, everybody has serifs these days, but how about ligatures? Surely the winners had sexier "fl"s and "ff"s than the losers.
  • Great... (Score:4, Funny)

    by flatface ( 611167 ) * on Wednesday December 01, 2004 @12:51AM (#10960407)
    This is just fucking great. 20 minutes after I install a GeForce FX 5950 I'm playing Interactive Fiction. Thanks, Slashdot.
  • [] has also opened up their annual Halloween Ghost Story Writing Contest [] to interactive fiction entries. So far though there haven't been any takers.

    It's a fun medium and it's a shame more people don't try writing for it.

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