A List of My Twenty Favorite Works of Interactive Fiction

August 3rd, 2019 by

Every four years, Victor Gijsbers compiles votes for the Top 50 interactive fiction games of all time. The aggregate is certainly compelling reading—if nothing else, to get a baseline for what might be considered “canon” (however loose) for a field that is, especially in recent years, coming from wildly disparate sources. Moreover, it’s worth noting […]

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Once Upon a Time in the Age of Fable

June 4th, 2019 by

I wanted to talk a bit about a singular and peculiar pre-Twine, choice-based game that came out in 2006 called Age of Fable. Even now there’s not anything (that I’ve found!) particularly like it.   The FAQ for the game also points to this indeterminate, fluid history. The text describes the game as an “RPG” but […]

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Aisle: Twenty Years Later

April 9th, 2019 by

Aisle by Sam Barlow is one of the foundations of post-Infocom interactive fiction. This isn’t just from the impact on other one-move games, such as Pick Up the Phone Booth and Aisle (played for laughs), or Rematch (played for puzzles), or even more recent games like Midnight. Swordfight. that take the one-move conceit and expand […]

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Rat Chaos and the Preservation of Early Twine Games

February 1st, 2019 by

Welcome to 2019! I’m thrilled to have a regular column in sub-Q and get the chance to write about interactive fiction. For my previous essays at the site, I’ve largely written about games from a slightly earlier period of the development of interactive fiction, from the late 90s to the mid-2000s, a period in which […]

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“The Space Under the Window” and the Promise of Interactive Poetry

May 29th, 2018 by

Released in 1997, Andrew Plotkin’s “The Space Under the Window” (“Space”) was a groundbreaking, unclassifiable work of interactive fiction, the impact of which is still felt today. Many consider it a work of “poetic” IF, or poetry outright, but what does that mean? Is poetry a quality of language, interaction, or both? The work itself […]

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Romance in Early IF: A Review of Pytho’s Mask

February 6th, 2018 by

Interactive fiction’s history both intersects and acts as an alternative space to modern game development—even indie, narrative-based development—with its own unique traditions and community standards. One of the most prominent is “comp,” which could also be a “mini-comp” or a “speed comp.” Most were small, one-shot affairs with perhaps a few games entered, while others […]

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The Works of Rybread Celsius: A Critical (Re)Assessment

March 25th, 2016 by

“I think that one day Rybread is going to successfully get what’s churning around in his mind written & compiled and present us with an absolutely stellar adventure game. And after giving us three weeks to play it, I predict he’ll then blow up the earth.” –Robb Sherwin on L.U.D.I.T.E.   When I first became […]

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