What is interactive fiction? It's sometimes shocks me to think that there
may be an entire generation growing up on computer games without even the
slightest exposure to classic interactive fiction. I suppose the case
could be made that EverQuest, Dark Age of Camelot, Ultima Online, and other
online massively multiplayer role playing games are a type of interactive
fiction, but I tend to dissent from that opinion. Because classic
interactive fiction is based upon the idea that the "fiction" in the name
refers to the written word. (As such, you could say that online text games
such as MUDs and MUSHes are interactive fiction writ large.)
Interactive fiction is more or less synonymous with "text adventure game".
Though saying so dates me, these types of games were extremely popular back
in my early days of gaming. Any true veteran gamer will immediately
recognize the name "Zork" (one of the earliest and most famous of these
games) and "Infocom" (the company best known for creating them). The genre
is perhaps best known for its "find all the treasures to win" style of
game, though this was by no means all inclusive. As interactive fiction
matured, a wide variety of games were developed. Science fiction, fantasy,
suspense, mystery, comedy, horror, romance. Probably the only thing they
all had in common was problem solving (though there may even be a few
exceptions to that). Some puzzles were easy, some puzzles were hard, some
puzzles were excrutiatingly impossible to solve because they defied all
semblence of logic. Nearly all of them tested the limits of your reasoning
and imagination (and very often your patience).
I can't remember exactly how many of my own text adventure games I made.
There was one I developed in the 8th grade as a computer class project
(written in BASIC on an IBM 8088). There were a number I created on my own
time on our home Atari 8-bit computer, writing my own crude parser to
handle user input. Eventually my involvement with IF faded and was
replaced by purely graphical games.
In 2001 on Slashdot,
they had an article on the annual Interactive Fiction competition, which
first brought to my attention that this form of storytelling/gameplaying
was still alive and kicking. And so when I was sitting in front my
computer with absolutely zero desire to play any of the games I had
installed, I remembered that I'd meant to try some of these new generation
of IF games out and see how they played. And so I did. That's what's led
me to create this page and start development on a new IF game of my own.
It's too late to submit it for the 2002 IF competition, but it placed third
in the 2003 competition. See the links below.
Eventually I may be putting together my own review & "best of" pages. I've
just included a link to my reviews of the 2002 and 2003 competition
For more information on IF, please visit any of the following links.
Interactive Fiction links: