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Interactive Fiction Then and Now

Hemos posted more than 8 years ago | from the infocom-4-eva dept.

180

Flipkin writes "Interactive Fiction was immensely popular in the 80s and believe it or not has a strong, albeit small, following today. MobyGames takes a look at the origins and history of Interactive Fiction and where it is heading." These games really were some of the best I've ever played.

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180 comments

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Bush is teh ghey ! (-1, Troll)

Adolf Hitroll (562418) | more than 8 years ago | (#15189207)

Bush to bury the dollar. [oss.net]

Article also features the following revelation:
A major European intelligence service is absolutely convinced that when George Bush was a drunken teen-ager in Beijing with his father the Ambassador, the Chinese were able to arrange extraordinarily compromising photographs, including homosexual photographs with his Chinese male tennis teacher (the boy may have been so drunk he had no idea was what happending).

Re:Bush is teh ghey ! (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15189251)

A major European intelligence service is absolutely convinced that when George Bush was a drunken teen-ager in Beijing with his father the Ambassador, the Chinese were able to arrange extraordinarily compromising photographs, including homosexual photographs with his Chinese male tennis teacher (the boy may have been so drunk he had no idea was what happending).

His dad was Chief of the U.S. Liaison Office in the People's Republic of China during 1974-1976. [1] [wikipedia.org]

Dubya was born in 1946. So according to this article he was a... 28 year old 'teenager'?

Of course, to the enlightened mind, such basic errors cannot diminish the fundamental truth behind the story. If anything, their presence only goes to show how sneaky the Republicans really are! See also: Killian documents [wikipedia.org]

Re:Bush is teh ghey ! (-1, Troll)

Dis*abstraction (967890) | more than 8 years ago | (#15189271)

Well, I sure hope you fixed the mistake in the Wikipedia.

Choose Your Own Adventure Books! (3, Informative)

RockModeNick (617483) | more than 8 years ago | (#15189210)

Were my first interractive fiction, I used to love those. Especially the ones where you could die really easily.

Re:Choose Your Own Adventure Books! (3, Informative)

voice_of_all_reason (926702) | more than 8 years ago | (#15189279)

The best ones had the endings derived totally on luck, where even choosing the most logical and safe path would lead to your untimely demise. I liked that Packard guy who wrote the later ones (shiny covers). The earlier editions had stuff like "To run from the bear, turn to page 37. To fight him off with your fists, turn to page 129". And you always knew the endings were in the back :)

Re:Choose Your Own Adventure Books! (2, Interesting)

gEvil (beta) (945888) | more than 8 years ago | (#15189326)

TSR produced a short-lived D&D-based series of books that were actually mini RPGs. There was a tearout character sheet/bookmark in the front, you rolled up your character, and then you started reading. You'd get up to a part where you had to pick a lock or fight a monster. Depending on your stats and the die roll, it'd tell you to turn to different pages. It made the whole Choose Your Own Adventure thing more interesting because you could sit down and go through the same book/story multiple times with different outcomes each time.

Re:Choose Your Own Adventure Books! (3, Informative)

ronfar (52216) | more than 8 years ago | (#15189475)

I have one, Knight of the Living Dead [gamebooks.org] . It's pretty well written, by some guy named Allen Varney [slashdot.org] . I loved some of the dialogue in that game.. oh, and the neat picture of the one vampire lady taking a bath...

Now, Tunnels and Trolls [flyingbuffalo.com] made this their focus for a while. I have a ton of Solitare dungeons for T&T.

Chaosium had their Alone Against series, though I think there were only two, Alone Against the Wendigo and Alone Against the Dark, I have both. Pagan Publishing published a similar solitare scenarion Alone on Halloween [trollandtoad.com] which I do not have, and looking at the current price probably never will.

Oh, and there is something called Fighting Fantasy [fightingfa...ebooks.com] which is apparently British, so I missed out on that.

Still, being an angry loner as a teenager really paid off for me, as you can see....

Re:Choose Your Own Adventure Books! (3, Insightful)

PatrickThomson (712694) | more than 8 years ago | (#15189544)

In practice though, nobody did them. Why? because a failed luck stat either lead to death or a fight, and a failed fight lead to death. Noone's going to go back to the start of the book because they rolled a 5.

Lone Wolf! (1)

wuie (884711) | more than 8 years ago | (#15190083)

There was also Joe Dever's Lone Wolf [wikipedia.org] series, which had the fun of a CYOA and an RPG mixed all into one.

What I really enjoyed about them is the variety of Kai powers (which later became Magnakai, then Grand Master, etc), and how those choices could affect how easily you could survive the path that you took. An example would be that you wouldn't want to travel somewhere excessively hot or cold without the Kai power of Nexus (The ability to withstand extremes in temperature).

Also, it was a nice touch to have the ability to bring over your character from previous books. Sometimes, it felt like a necessity, since some parts were easier if you were in possession of certain items that were acquired in previous books, like the Sommerswerd.

Re:Choose Your Own Adventure Books! (1)

numerrik (970390) | more than 8 years ago | (#15190331)

i remember those! they were t3h shindig.

What I hated about CYOA (1)

hackwrench (573697) | more than 8 years ago | (#15189320)

They never maintained a coherent reality. Do one thing and you come across organization x, do something else, organization x doesn't exist.

Re:What I hated about CYOA (3, Funny)

bjorniac (836863) | more than 8 years ago | (#15189450)

That's quantum mechanics - the universe was in a superposition of containing organization x and not containing it, and by turning to page 137 or 25 you collapsed the wavefunction. Either that, or it was a neat way of making sure you could re-play the game without knowledge of what was going to happen if you took a different turn early on...

Re:Choose Your Own Adventure Books! (1)

meringuoid (568297) | more than 8 years ago | (#15189565)

The CYOA books themselves were pretty poor, I found. I liked Jackson and Livingstone's Fighting Fantasy series, at least early on; later, they succumbed to serious monster inflation. It was possible to complete Citadel of Chaos with hardly any fighting at all, if you were smart about it. Later books threw monsters at you non-stop.

I was a huge fan of the Lone Wolf series. Stomped through like twenty of those things. No magical weapon I ever had in any game ever came close to the Sommerswerd. It should have stopped after you took down the chief Sauron-type villain, though; after that, 'what, even MORE Kai levels we never heard of before? What is this, Dragonball Z?'

And there was one I played which was D&D Dragonlance-based. Raistlin's trial in some tower or other to become a wizard. Great plot, particularly the flashback to childhood where you can nail all the kids in your home village who used to bully you with a Burning Hands spell. And the ending. Erm, you're going to steal HOW much of my life-force, Mr Supposedly Helpful Wizard Guy? Yikes. Pretty dark. No 'hooray, you win', more 'hooray, you survived, albeit horribly drained and crippled'...

... sigh, the nostalgia :-)

Re:Choose Your Own Adventure Books! (4, Informative)

_|()|\| (159991) | more than 8 years ago | (#15190007)

I was a huge fan of the Lone Wolf series.

The author of the Lone Wolf series has generously allowed many of them to be published on line [projectaon.org] , free of charge.

Re:Choose Your Own Adventure Books! (1)

meringuoid (568297) | more than 8 years ago | (#15190144)

The author of the Lone Wolf series has generously allowed many of them to be published on line, free of charge.

This makes me very happy indeed.

However, reading through... I must have missed that rule about only ever carrying two weapons. I seem to remember having been a bit of a pack rat with those things. Not that I ever used any of them except the Sommerswerd, but I always had them. I feel I have dishonoured the Order and must do it properly this time. It's as good an excuse as any to do so, after all... :-)

Re:Choose Your Own Adventure Books! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15190077)

I was a huge fan of the Lone Wolf series. Stomped through like twenty of those things.

Available online for free (as in gratis) at:

http://www.projectaon.org/en/Main/Books [projectaon.org]

Re:Choose Your Own Adventure Books! (2, Interesting)

Hogwash McFly (678207) | more than 8 years ago | (#15190011)

Man, you've just unleashed a tide of nostalgia by reminding me of Deathtrap Dungeon. I can picture that multi-eyed monster on the cover and the descriptions of foul-smelling corridors and poisonous balls of mould.

Did anybody else ever read the Nintendo Adventure Books [wikipedia.org] ? They were quite big back in junior school, I can remember them being featured at a book fair in our assembly hall and we all used to swap them with eachother.

Memories...

Re:Choose Your Own Adventure Books! (3, Funny)

Spaceman40 (565797) | more than 8 years ago | (#15190189)

"Especially the ones where you could die really easily."

I had a set where - no matter what set of choices I made - I always was killed by ninjas. No, seriously; "Oh no, there's a tornado outside! Do you: get into the storm cellar (turn to page 54 and be killed by ninjas hiding in the storm cellar) or face it head on (turn to page 86 and be killed by ninjas falling out of the tornado)?

Madness, I tell you.

look around (-1, Flamebait)

Odiumjunkie (926074) | more than 8 years ago | (#15189215)

read story comment on story

Re:look around (4, Funny)

Rob T Firefly (844560) | more than 8 years ago | (#15189250)

>witty reply

I don't know how to "witty reply."

>clever reply

I don't know how to "clever reply."

>lame reply

You make a lame, cliche-ridden Slashdot post, probably having something to do with Netcraft or "Star Wars."
There is an angry moderator here.

Re:look around (5, Funny)

allanc (25681) | more than 8 years ago | (#15189463)

>examine moderator

This moderator looks like a pasty white Linux geek who hasn't left his parents' basement in at least a month. He is unsubtle, and quick to anger.

>attack moderator

The moderator is unphased by your ad hominem attack
(Score:-1, Troll)
(Your karma has just gone down by one point)

>tell moderator about linux

The moderator already knows about linux.
(Score:-1, Redundant)
(Your karma has just gone down by one point)

>tell moderator about linux superiority

You tell the moderator stuff he already knows about how much better Linux is than Windows. Even though he already knows it, he likes hearing about it.
(Score:+5, Insightful)
(Your karma has just gone up by five points)

Re:look around (1)

Kjella (173770) | more than 8 years ago | (#15189560)

Good. I even see you've managed to incorporate slashdot math, where -1+5 = +5. Not to mention I always love this one:

> tell moderator things copy-pasted from TFA
(Score:+5, Informative)

Re:look around (1)

ronfar (52216) | more than 8 years ago | (#15189641)

> Set browse threshold to -1

It is dark, you are likely to be eaten by a Troll.

Re:look around (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15189717)

> inventory
You have:
        a towel
        a babel fish
        a thing your aunt gave you which you don't know what it is
        an anonymous post on Slashdot
        no tea.

No mention of MUDS?!? (4, Informative)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 8 years ago | (#15189220)

How can you write an article about IF and not mention MUD's, which continue to be popular even today? These games not only continue the text-based adventure tradition, but they also allow for interaction with other players within the text "world."

-Eric (former alum of the Kobra MUD)

Re:No mention of MUDS?!? (1)

RockModeNick (617483) | more than 8 years ago | (#15189236)

I played a hell of a lot of batmud from 97 to 2001...

Re:No mention of MUDS?!? (1)

sendtwogrey (967794) | more than 8 years ago | (#15189371)

'SAY' 2001 ?
'SAY' check your calendar bozo, I've not been playing that long.
'SAY' that would mean I've been playing for nearly three years.
'EXIT NORTH'
'SAY' Laughing

Re:No mention of MUDS?!? (1, Funny)

voice_of_all_reason (926702) | more than 8 years ago | (#15189342)

If by "interaction with other players" you mean "more prick-waving dick-fights", then yes.

Re:No mention of MUDS?!? (1)

Threni (635302) | more than 8 years ago | (#15189461)

I've never managed to find a MUD that had any other human players in them. I mean, I'm sure some humans are present in some of them, but divide that number by the number of rooms and it seems to explain why it's such a quiet experience.

Also, all MUDS seem to require that you use telnet or some wretched dos box or whatever. Are there any MUDS out there that don't stink like they're 20 years old?

Re:No mention of MUDS?!? (1)

shudde (915065) | more than 8 years ago | (#15189537)

I've never managed to find a MUD that had any other human players in them. I mean, I'm sure some humans are present in some of them, but divide that number by the number of rooms and it seems to explain why it's such a quiet experience.

mud.arctic.org port 2700

I'm pretty sure the mud I played on and off for the last 8 years had human players or at least some NPCs who were surprisingly fluent in Finnish and enjoyed running a 12 man group after you.

It's a dragonlance-based dikumud with a heavily-modified codebase (10 years worth) and an average of 60-80 people online, a few of whom may not kill you on sight.

There are still muds out there with 200+ people logged on regularly, though they tend to be roleplay-encouraged or enforced.

Also, all MUDS seem to require that you use telnet or some wretched dos box or whatever.

http://tintin.sourceforge.net/ [sourceforge.net]

Modern variant of the old tintin codebase, runs on Windows, Mac and Linux.

Re:No mention of MUDS?!? (1)

meringuoid (568297) | more than 8 years ago | (#15189955)

I've never managed to find a MUD that had any other human players in them. I mean, I'm sure some humans are present in some of them, but divide that number by the number of rooms and it seems to explain why it's such a quiet experience.

I used to play on Discworld MUD quite a lot. Huge, but there are plenty of people around, especially in Ankh-Morpork. Also, all MUDS seem to require that you use telnet or some wretched dos box or whatever. Are there any MUDS out there that don't stink like they're 20 years old?

Um, they're text-based games. That's the point. Something wrong with telnet for that? If you want automapping or macros or something there are specialised MUD clients which provide those, but if it's fancy 3D graphics you're after then I suggest you try World of Warcraft, and enjoy your gold farming.

Re:No mention of MUDS?!? (1)

operagost (62405) | more than 8 years ago | (#15190106)

No MUD requires a "wretched DOS box"; what you're seeing is Windows' wretched telnet client. You should either go to hilgraeve.com and get the free HTPE upgrade or download another decent client. I like Tera Term as a freebie, but zMUD is a non-free, sophisticated MUD client.

I played on Apocalypse [apocmud.org] in the 1990s. I still have an immortal character with which I check in from time to time.

/** shameless plug follows **/
Of course, there's always Galactic Trader [galtrader.com] , but it's more a 1D VT100 adaptation of the Elite game than a MUD. And don't try to use zMUD with it, either.

Re:No mention of MUDS?!? (3, Funny)

mgblst (80109) | more than 8 years ago | (#15189500)

I can't believe they didn't post an screenshots!

Re:No mention of MUDS?!? (4, Funny)

lpangelrob (714473) | more than 8 years ago | (#15190265)

It's okay, here's one I found:
It is pitch black. You are likely to be eaten by a grue.

>_

Re:No mention of MUDS?!? (1)

Anonymous MadCoe (613739) | more than 8 years ago | (#15189502)

I remember Kobra, used to be a great MUD :-)

Re:No mention of MUDS?!? (1)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 8 years ago | (#15189950)

It's been a few years since I've played. I wonder if that annoying C3PO is still on Kobra Station, still being chased down and killed by players who've finally had enough.

-Eric

Re:No mention of MUDS?!? (1)

meringuoid (568297) | more than 8 years ago | (#15190005)

I wonder if that annoying C3PO is still on Kobra Station, still being chased down and killed by players who've finally had enough.

Not sure, but you've got _me_ wondering now. Is the creature known as The Lag still lurking in the streets of Ankh-Morpork, there to be slain by players frustrated with network latency?

... it's been six years, dammit. Do NOT get back into that habit!

... aaarrrrrrrgggghhhhhhhhhtelnet discworld.imaginary.com

Re:No mention of MUDS?!? (1)

Anonymous MadCoe (613739) | more than 8 years ago | (#15190098)

Hehehe, I do recall a newyear's eve when an arch with a sense of humor set C3PO to aggressive. Didn't last long, fun tho, having him attack players only to run away scared...

(Comming to think of it quite a few Jedi and arches were playing little pranks that new-year's eve, that was a good party, not as good as some of the Kremlin parties, but pretty good)...

There are other humans in muds?? where? (1)

grapeape (137008) | more than 8 years ago | (#15189720)

I played many MUDS back in their day but everytime i have felt nostalgic over the past few years and started into one all I ran into were scripted bots. I have a friend that MUDS 24/7 at majormud, he is mudding right now while he is at work at burger king. Never understood the appeal of having a script play a game for you but I would suspect that 95% of the MUD users out there are scripted while the other 5% are newbies or nostalgia seekers pondering why the other characters wont talk to them.

Re:No mention of MUDS?!? (1)

Bastian (66383) | more than 8 years ago | (#15190135)

I don't think there's a whole lot of similarity between MUDs and IF, other than that they're both text-based. MUDs resemble IF no more than Everquest resembles Myst.

Slash interface (5, Funny)

LiquidCoooled (634315) | more than 8 years ago | (#15189227)

> L
You are on slashdot.
You can see the headlines.

> Read headlines
There are 12 old articles.

> N
You are in the mysterious future.
There is 1 article here.

> RTFA
I'm sorry, you cannot do that.

> open article
You open the article in the mysterious future.

> L
It is empty in the comments section, You are likely to be eaten by a grue.

Re:Slash interface (2, Funny)

JeanBaptiste (537955) | more than 8 years ago | (#15189402)

>open article
Nothing to see here, please move along

>move along
Its Not News, It's Fark.Com!

>disconnect internets
ATH0~~~#@)@#)#_Q)#$(@#[NO CARRIER]

Re:Slash interface (5, Funny)

meringuoid (568297) | more than 8 years ago | (#15189898)

It is empty in the comments section, You are likely to be eaten by a grue.

> make post in comments section

First post - YOU WIN!

Loved these games as a kid (1)

nnnneedles (216864) | more than 8 years ago | (#15189231)

Go to page 177.

Page 177. You are in the future. [Describes grim future]. You are affecting events around you which causes a collapse in time space. No longer will you be able to get back to your friends or save the planet from [insert name of evil man]. Game over.

Oh boy, those were the days!

Seriously though, they had some really cool sci-fi/fantasy in those books, pretty much as good as any conan book or similar.

Re:Loved these games as a kid (1)

Oldsmobile (930596) | more than 8 years ago | (#15189289)

I would usually just cheat and read all the choices and pick the one I liked better.

FYI (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15189349)

The article is about interactive fiction computer games, e.g. "text adventures" like Zork, not about Choose Your Own Adventure books.

Where it's heading? (5, Funny)

mccalli (323026) | more than 8 years ago | (#15189239)

MobyGames takes a look at the origins and history of Interactive Fiction and where it is heading.

I can tell you that. Currently it is in a maze of twisty passages, all alike...

Cheers,
Ian

Four words that sum up the awesomeness.. (4, Funny)

Rob T Firefly (844560) | more than 8 years ago | (#15189259)

You have:

no tea

Re:Four words that sum up the awesomeness.. (1)

drxenos (573895) | more than 8 years ago | (#15189444)

I am so embarrassed that it took me several seconds to place the reference.

Re:Four words that sum up the awesomeness.. (2, Funny)

bloobloo (957543) | more than 8 years ago | (#15189473)

And don't forget the thing that my aunt gave me that I don't know what it is.

Better yet... (2, Interesting)

meringuoid (568297) | more than 8 years ago | (#15189509)

Later in that same game...

You have:

no tea
tea

I am convinced that this started life as a bug. The 'no tea' joke was great, but the 'no tea' item led to weirdness. Then they added the 'common sense' line to cover for the workaround to stop people doing things like dropping the no tea. Then someone did some really bad acid and decided to incorporate it into the plot as a puzzle...

Some good amateur IF (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15189270)

Try Metamorphoses [wurb.com] and Photopia [wurb.com] . The former is known for its diverse ways of solving the puzzles; the latter is known for its nonlinear plot, touching story, and controversial lack of influence over ultimate outcomes. (Slight spoilers in the Wikipedia entry [wikipedia.org] .)

Are we listing our favorites now? (1)

roystgnr (4015) | more than 8 years ago | (#15189690)

Then let me add Spider and Web [wurb.com] . Some of the puzzles are a little tough, but for many of them the game setting works as a built-in walkthrough without making you feel like you've failed or breaking you out of the story's atmosphere.

Re:Are we listing our favorites now? (1)

boa13 (548222) | more than 8 years ago | (#15190103)

Spider and Web is memorable for the extraordinary way the story is told, and for the impact this has on the main puzzle. Understanding and "solving" it at exactly the right time is one of the gaming memories I'm most fond of.

Re:Are we listing our favorites now? (1)

Gulthek (12570) | more than 8 years ago | (#15190298)

Spider and Web absolutely rules for the utterly awesome solution to escape from the interrogation room. Brilliant. I would repeat it here but it's just so deliciously good that I wouldn't want to spoil it for anyone.

Re:Some good amateur IF (1)

boa13 (548222) | more than 8 years ago | (#15190143)

Just to clarify: the way Photopia is told is very non-linear (fragments of a story that only make sense when the last one is revealed), but the gaming experience itself is very linear. Actually, it is so linear that some people have argued that Photopia is not a game but a merely a story where you press Next regularly. (This is wrong: there are puzzles, though not very hard.)

Photopia is very powerful, a dramatic short story that haunts you for a long time. Another of my best gaming memories.

Re:Some good amateur IF (1)

Nycteris_a (829110) | more than 8 years ago | (#15190325)

I think Shade haunted me longer. Brr! But Photopia was well written. Galatea haunts as well. Wonderful AI interactions.

Adventure (2, Interesting)

tedgyz (515156) | more than 8 years ago | (#15189295)

Playing Adventure on a PDP-11 at the local library was the primary reason I got into computers. Now, as a Software Architect with 20 years experience, I can safely say that computer games did me good.

I just saw a great sig on another thread:

You are in a maze of twisted little posts, all alike.

Adventure and Software Testing (2, Interesting)

martyb (196687) | more than 8 years ago | (#15189594)

I am certain that the need for focus and persistence to complete the game of Adventure (and later a number of Infocom titles) served me well in my computing career. I started programming in 1972 and later specialized in Software Testing and Software Quality Assurance.

I found that software testing is like playing a game of Adventure:

  • Adventure: Explore cave and collect treasure.
  • Testing: Explore code and collect bugs.

There are lots of little treasures (low-priority bugs), but once in a while I'd discover just the right "incantation" and locate one of the *really valuable* treasures: System Crash, Infinite Loop, Data Corruption, and Major Security Hole!

There is one significant difference, though... testing has much better pay! :)

FWIW: I first played Adventure in 1978 on an IBM Mainframe (3033) running MTS (Michigan Terminal System) at RPI. Someone in my dorm had found it on our system and we spent the next several months competing to be the first to complete it. I can't recall if I was first, but I *did* make it to Adventure Grandmaster with a perfect score of 350. I was later able to get a copy of it on magtape and a printed listing... I think I may still have them in a box in storage, too.

Re:Adventure and Software Testing (1)

tedgyz (515156) | more than 8 years ago | (#15189804)

Kudos to you. Good QA engineers are very hard to come by. I've only worked directly with one. It is not a popular career path.

I used to have FORTRAN printouts of DUNGEON (eventually Zork). It was the first open source game. :-)

"Read Game" in The Escapist (1)

Allen Varney (449382) | more than 8 years ago | (#15189315)

For The Escapist issue 7, I wrote " > Read Game," a similar article about the history of text adventures and current trends in interactive fiction.

This FP foKR GNAA (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15189324)

Coming a piss arithmetic, completely before posts on Usenet are That have r4ged duty to be a big BSDI is also dead, Members all over

Grues (2, Funny)

Rik Sweeney (471717) | more than 8 years ago | (#15189330)

I'll always remember the line

It is pitch black. You are likely to be eaten by a grue.

It always excited me, as back then it was the only sort of sex I could get.

Come to think of it, that still is.

sigh

Re:Grues (1)

drxenos (573895) | more than 8 years ago | (#15189377)

What really impressed me back then was you could ask, "what is a grue?".

Re:Grues (1)

ysegalov (849765) | more than 8 years ago | (#15189830)

Good thing the lantern could last for at least 300 moves or so.
Did you use to turn it off when reaching a room with natural light? I always tried to save battery power.

Where it is heading... (1)

borkus (179118) | more than 8 years ago | (#15189350)

Ahab: LFM [White Whale] need rezzers pst

I grew up on this stuff (1)

BHearsum (325814) | more than 8 years ago | (#15189386)

I haven't played most of the games mentioned in the article, but there's one specific type on interactive fiction I love: Sierra ones.

I didn't have an Internet connection until I was 16 or so, so I spent a lot of time playing these damn games. Police Quest 1/2, Leisure Suit Larry 1/2/3, Space Quest 1/2. In my opinion these are some of the best games ever made. I recall at the age of 5 spending half an hour guessing the answers to the 'age verification' questions in LSL1. That game rocked, despite me not understanding any of the jokes. /done

Re:I grew up on this stuff (1)

Rekolitus (899752) | more than 8 years ago | (#15189414)

Those are usually called adventure games, not IF. Although I guess you could say they're a comibation what with the text parser and all. And yes, adventure games are awesome [fullyramblomatic.com] .

Re:I grew up on this stuff (2, Informative)

drxenos (573895) | more than 8 years ago | (#15189483)

Yes, but the confusion is that Interactive Fiction was called Adventure Games long before these graphical ones (which evolved from the textual ones) came about.

Re:I grew up on this stuff (2, Funny)

meringuoid (568297) | more than 8 years ago | (#15189532)

I recall at the age of 5 spending half an hour guessing the answers to the 'age verification' questions in LSL1.

I downloaded LSL1 last year.

It started asking the age verification questions. I stare blankly. My answers convince it that I'm three years old.

No, I'm TWENTY-THREE you stupid game. It's 2005! You have to be like forty to know about all that crap these days!

You'd think they'd have it phone home over the net to get updated questions each year. Lack of foresight, huh?

Recommended book and game (3, Informative)

MythMoth (73648) | more than 8 years ago | (#15189403)

I recently read "Twisty Little Passages" ( http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0262134365/ [amazon.com] ) by Nick Montfort which despite its horribly self-consciously academic approach (it's all about developing a "theory" of IF for lit. crit. purposes) still has some interesting sections about the history of IF and comparing the various approaches to the field against each other.

It also introduced me to my favourite work of IF, "For a change" by Dan Schmidt, which is really proof that the genre has more to offer than you might have expected. He's a genius, and it's beautiful.

Give it a go online here: http://paperstack.com/for_a_change/ [paperstack.com] (requires Java) or download the ZCode files from Dan's site: http://www.dfan.org/IF/ [dfan.org]

Re:Recommended book and game (1)

drxenos (573895) | more than 8 years ago | (#15189504)

I completely enjoyed Montfort's book, except for the first chapter which, I am not ashamed to admit, I am too dense to understand what he was trying to say.

Re:Recommended book and game (1)

MythMoth (73648) | more than 8 years ago | (#15189545)

I completely enjoyed Montfort's book, except for the first chapter which, I am not ashamed to admit, I am too dense to understand what he was trying to say.

Well, maybe I'm dense too. And I've lent it out, so I can't quote the passages that annoyed me specifically. But the impression I gained was: "This book was written to be cited by other academics". Fortunately the subject matter is strong enough to survive that, at least in part.

He seems at his best when he is enthusing about the games and the history of the software houses that produced them. He is at his worst when it is trying to categorise the various games into various literary theories.

Overall I would like to see another book on the same subject by a less academic author, or at least written for a less academic audience. Alternatively I would have liked to see more technical (in a software sense) discussion of how the games were actually implemented.

Re:Recommended book and game (1)

drxenos (573895) | more than 8 years ago | (#15189883)

I think I am in the same boat as you. I bought and read the book for the history. I have always loved reading about IF history for some reason, maybe its the nostalgia.

Re:Recommended book and game (1)

boa13 (548222) | more than 8 years ago | (#15190354)

I tried For a Change very briefly, it is very interesting. The writing is intriguing. I'll have to play it more seriously.

Dan Schmidt, by the way, worked in the game industry, at Looking Glass Studio, a name I'm sure many slashdotters are familiar with. He has a great anecdote about commenting code here:

How not to comment code (Ultima Underworld example)
http://www.dfan.org/writing/comment.html [dfan.org]

Always lost my place eventually (1)

VGfort (963346) | more than 8 years ago | (#15189426)

Thats one thing I didnt like, i usually ended up on the "you died" page or was given another page with more possible options, and its hard to keep track of all the backpages you came from, unless u right them down or try to put a finger in each slot in the tiny paperback. Other than that those books were great, I've always wondered why they died down, I'm sure kids today would enjoy them.

Re:Always lost my place eventually (1)

drxenos (573895) | more than 8 years ago | (#15189465)

I took me awhile to understand what you were referring to. The article is not about "Choose Your own Adventure" books.

Re:Always lost my place eventually (1)

Rob T Firefly (844560) | more than 8 years ago | (#15190126)

I was a total sad fanboy of these books, and my school library had complete runs of a couple of series. One night after losing too many places I made myself a set of bookmarks, labelled 1-50 or so, and placed one in every "decision" page. This not only let me go back to the most recent whenever I "died," but after completion I'd go back and read all the other possible paths.

No mention of online IF? (5, Informative)

aussie_a (778472) | more than 8 years ago | (#15189479)

Wow, I'm really surprised that this article could completely miss online IF (otherwise known as MUDs). Not only are there commercial entities successfully running online IF (such as Iron Realms [ironrealms.com] it allows for a much larger story to be told.

The big problem with IF is that you can't do whatever you want. You're limited to what the creator was able to forsee and program. Not so with MUDs, which are able to have long and rich stories. The reason MUDs are able to overcome this limitation is that they have staff running it all the time, who are constantly adding new code updates and story updates.

An example of a player run storyline is in ArmageddonMUD [armageddon.org] , which is based on Dark Sun. In it a player playing a dwarf decided to free his fellow dwarves who were slaves in the obsidian mines, and lay seige to the city-state that had kept them enslaved. This was entirely thought up by players, and with the staff's help, done by the players.

MMOs sometimes attempt to be roleplaying games, to enable an interactive story to be told. But they're even further limited by the fact that, you can't do what you want. You can only do what animations have been coded. Again, MUDs don't have this limitation, with any action being able to be provided by emoting. [armageddon.org] MUDs have the advantage over IFs in that they are multiuser. Whereas in an IF there's no-one but yourself.

So I'm very surprised that something discussing interactive fiction, including it's future (which IMO are MUDs, with more and more being created every day while others continue to be run for over 10 years), didn't feel the need to mention MUDs.

Re:No mention of online IF? (1)

MenTaLguY (5483) | more than 8 years ago | (#15189610)

The big problem with IF is that you can't do whatever you want.

That and multiplayer are what separate IF from MUDs.

Re:No mention of online IF? (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15190035)

"The big problem with IF is that you can't do whatever you want. You're limited to what the creator was able to forsee and program."

Not really true any more. Authors like Emily Short with 'Savoir-Faire' have included a degree of simulation into their work. This means they do not have to predict the result of every choice the player can make, but rely on the game engine to do the right thing as it's treated as normal physical interaction.

Here's a page on the liquid modelling in 'Savoir-Faire'
http://emshort.home.mindspring.com/liquids.html [mindspring.com]
exeprt:

# Some materials, such as cloth, are absorbent

* Placing an absorbent object in a liquid or pouring a liquid over the absorbent object will cause it to become wet
* Absorbent objects remember what kind of liquid they contain
* Squeezing an absorbent object will dry it
    o Squeezing an absorbent object into a container will move a quantity of the appropriate liquid into that container
    o Squeezing a wet absorbent object over another object, or wiping another object with a wet absorbent object, will cause the other object to become wet
* Absorbent objects, if white to begin with, will take on the color of the liquid in which they are dipped, assuming that color is not 'clear'

Interactive Hiring/Promotion Exams (0)

jmoloug1 (178962) | more than 8 years ago | (#15189550)

Not many people may realize this but the State of NY uses the same type of approach for management promotion exams. They were implemented about 10 years ago and they usually comprise at least half of your score on civil service promotion exams (the other half being job-specific scoring). The idea is that these interactive management tests are standardized ways of evaluating people's "management skills."

So far these tests are not very consistent and are not truly standardized or normalized. I personally have done very well and poorly just taking the same test twice. They seem to be more of random-number generators than anything.

Having said that, they're probably more benign than the usual promotion mechanisms in civil service or elsewhere. At least you get some good qualified people promoted as frequently as the poorly qualified incompetents.

Re:Interactive Hiring/Promotion Exams (1)

meringuoid (568297) | more than 8 years ago | (#15189747)

So far these tests are not very consistent and are not truly standardized or normalized. I personally have done very well and poorly just taking the same test twice. They seem to be more of random-number generators than anything.

[Your blood pressure has gone up.]

Re:Interactive Hiring/Promotion Exams (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15189847)

[Your blood pressure has gone up.]

+42, Douglas Adams

Interactive Fiction (2, Interesting)

mknewman (557587) | more than 8 years ago | (#15189557)

I, like many people, started playing Zork at college instead of studying in my CS classes. Later, the Infocom games were lots of fun on my old Atari 800, and even today I still have all of the Infocom games on my PDA, there are a number of PD ZMachine interperters, I use ZipARM on my PocketPC. One thing I didn't see mentioned was the horribly abortive attempt for Infocom to break out of the game business into the database arena with Cornerstone, which eventually brought the company down. Just think, if they had made a go of it Office and maybe even M$ might be afterthoughts.

Today's reality (2, Funny)

nycguy (892403) | more than 8 years ago | (#15189558)

Brain hurts from too much reading. Must click graphics...

Re:Today's reality (1)

ArrogantParagon (964849) | more than 8 years ago | (#15189908)

Too much conjugation.

Interactive Fiction? Just read... (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15189581)

A republican web log...

Cha Ching!

Play these games on PalmOS (2, Informative)

wrecked (681366) | more than 8 years ago | (#15189596)

I play these games on my Palm with Frotz [csubak.edu] , a Z-code interpreter. Frotz exists for a variety of platforms, including Unix, Windows CE, GameBoy Advanced, Windows, KDE etc. Many of the interactive fiction games are in Z-code format.

Measure the Love in Dollars (2, Interesting)

Expert Determination (950523) | more than 8 years ago | (#15189597)

I was an active collector of Infocom games until recently, but I had to give up because (1) I eventually acquired all 35 games and (2) the special edition versions of the game still sell for incredible prices. Check out this [ebay.com] copy of Starcross that just sold on ebay for $500. People still have fond memories for these great games.

Re:Measure the Love in Dollars (1)

LMacG (118321) | more than 8 years ago | (#15189754)

Sure, everybody always talks about how well-written the Infocom games were, but the packaging was a stroke of marketing genius. I still have the copy of "Hitchhiker's" that I bought for my Atari 800, with the peril-sensitive sunglasses and the piece of pocket fluff. Hmmm, $500, eh?

I also have a fair number of issues of The New Zork Times (or whatever they were forced to rename it), and if I look hard enough, I could probably find my "I Got The Babel Fish" t-shirt.

random words in interactive fiction (1)

grapeape (137008) | more than 8 years ago | (#15189769)

You are in an open field west of a big white house with a boarded front door.
There is a small mailbox here.

> _

When I was a kid it was fun to type in curse words just to see what repsonse it would get.

Annual IF Contests (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15189881)

Don't forget too that there are various interactive fiction contests held annually. I know of at least two that have been running for more than a few years:

A Mind Forever Voyaging (2, Interesting)

vulgrin (70725) | more than 8 years ago | (#15190013)

Hands down, STILL my favorite game ever. I love CStrike, Oblivion, and Unreal, but no other game affected me so much after I finished it. Its led to my healthy dose of skepticism and paranoia that I have today!

Definitely go check it out if you are into these at all. I believe there is still a telnet server out there where you could play these games online...

Timely (1)

pete-classic (75983) | more than 8 years ago | (#15190149)

What a timely article! Videlectrix [videlectrix.com] just released Thy Dungeonman III [homestarrunner.com] today!

-Peter

Interactive fiction problem (1)

paulxnuke (624084) | more than 8 years ago | (#15190195)

22 years ago I bought a Commodore 64 floppy drive ($179 then!) so I could play a copy of ZORK I found in a department store in upstate NY. I had never heard of such a thing before but I fell in love with the description on the package. I've played a lot of IF games since and I've always wanted to create one but I've never had time to try.

The problem I always had was similar to pixel-hunting in graphical games: phrasing a command exactly right. Many times I've given up, asked/bought a cheat book/etc, and found that I had guessed correctly already but had not been able to get the program to take it. (Other times it was a completely out of the box solution that was obvious to the author but not me. Fair game.)

It's not surprising that new converts are so rare and the market so small. Look what modern teenagers do for amusement: the last thing they want is something that requires them to slow down or think. These are the kids who think a movie is "real" while the book it came from isn't, for Pete's sake!

Zork for the next generation (1)

Sw0rdfiche (587944) | more than 8 years ago | (#15190214)

Last June I taught a game design class to kids 11-13. As a way of talking about branching,I introduced them to Zork I. After the initial "where are the pictures" response, the kids dived right in. They'd never seen a natural language parser before. They'd never had to map anything out. They never had the machine talk back to them or crack wise when they typed something inane. They were hooked.

While "Zork Fever" only lasted a few days, the experience opened up a whole new world of interaction for the kids. After that, they went back to the online game where among the choice of weapons they could use was a toilet, which they could use to beat their prey to a bloody pulp.

Ah well...

Best IF character (1)

gerwen (960269) | more than 8 years ago | (#15190242)

The best IF character ever? Floyd the Droid from Planetfall iirc. I cried when he sacrificed himself for me. Anybody want to play a game of hucka bucka beanstalk?
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