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July 2011

Thank you IntroComp!

Now that IntroComp is over, I want to extend my thanks to Jacqueline the organizer as well as to all those who submitted games or voted.  Congratulations to the winners: Choice of Zombies, Speculative Fiction and Choice of The Petal Throne.

Even with today's great tools like Inform7, Tads, Hugo, Alan, ChoiceScript, it still takes a lot of effort (and gumption!) to create Interactive Fiction.  Hopefully this year's crop of entrants will have received feedback & motivation to help them finish their games.  

Creating IF is quite different from as writing a novel or conventional game programming. You've got to get the right blend of prose and interaction to make it work.  My respect for those who have successfully completed IF projects is immense.

While some of the feedback on my game The Z-Machine Matter has been encouraging, it's also been a humbling experience.  The first published reviews for The Z-Machine Matter were pretty harsh and I felt like I let people down.  But some of the more detailed later reviews were very insightful and pointed out areas of the game that could be improved, whether it was the writing, pacing or some of the IF references that became a distraction.

There are definitely some coding issues I chose to ignore in my IntroComp entry and these need to be addressed in order for the game to be more robust.  There's also a need to improve the writing to convey more of the atmosphere of the story.  Likely I will need to do some pruning in the scope of the game and the various objects to make things more manageable.  

But overall it has been a great experience and I appreciate all the feedback.  For anyone who has played the game I encourage you to send me the SCRIPT transcript file as well as any additional comments or suggestions.  I've found this the best way for me to see the game through the player's eyes.

Now I've got to figure out how I can spend weekends for the next few months boning up on Inform7 and writing in order to improve the game.  Or maybe I should just spend it finishing LA Noire...

IntroComp 2011

IntroComp 2011 is now officially open. This year there are an impressive 13 games entered --more than any prior year.  I don't know that any single factor has led to an increase, but I would imagine it's in part due to the proliferation of good tools (Inform7, TADS, ChoiceScript), excellent documentation (Inform7 book by Aaron Reed, Inform7 for programmersInform7 Cheat Sheet) and the release of the Get Lamp documentary last year.  

But whatever the reason, it's definitely a bumper crop of games of various genres including Science Fiction, Mystery and Speculative Fiction:

  • Bender, by Katz
  • Choice of the Petal Throne, by Danielle Goudeau
  • Choice of Zombies, by Heather Albano
  • Chunky Blues, by Scott Hammack and Jessamin Yu
  • The Despondency Index, by Ed Blair
  • Exile, by SimonGargoyle, by Simon
  • Of Pots and Mushrooms, by Devi and Maya
  • Parthenon, by Charles Wickersham
  • Seasons, by MT
  • Speculative Fiction, by Thomas Mack
  • Stalling for Time, by Dominic Delabruere
  • The Z-Machine Matter, by Zack Urlocker

I hope many readers of this blog will try out some of the IntroComp games and give the authors encouragement to complete their projects. Note that the voting deadline is July 17.  Some reviews are already popping up on the intraweb and I hope more will follow.

As proud as I am of getting my own Infocom-inspired cold-war murder mystery The Z-Machine Matter into the competition, I'm equally proud to be among so many new authors this year.  While I can't vote in the competition, I will be trying out some of the games. And for those who are interested to see the state of the art among new authors, I encourage you to check out many of these games.