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What have I been doing?

It’s been a long while since my last update, thanks to lots of little distractions and life in general. Lots of ups and downs, mostly downs, to be honest, although I’m still happily living in Germany, healthy and working. So, things can’t be so bad.I’ve been devoting most of my non-work time to Interactive Fiction, which has been a trip. Interactive Fiction, Text Adventures, or however you want to call them, are my very first computing experience: I used to sign out 2 hour slots at the Howard County Public Library, once a week, in order to sit in front of some natty old PC and try to solve Infocom games. It’s hard to imagine that there was a time when I had no computer at home…

So, I’ve played these things off and on my whole life, I guess, although I hadn’t really looked at them for a long while. Anyway, the announcement of a decent Mac interpreter got me interested again. And then I started looking around for a decent Palm interpreter. Yes, I still have one of those.

One thing led to another, and I started rebuilding my favorite of the available interpreters, CliFrotz, adding a bunch of new features along the way. So, that’s nearly done and called CellarDoor. You can find it here. Check it out sometime…

Here’s the thing I like about IF: more than any other storytelling medium that I know, it most resembles ORAL storytelling. The direction of the story can be influenced by the audience/player, through a questioning of the teller/program. Despite the stasis of the texts (texts aren’t produced, per se, but culled from a large assortment of pre-written source texts). By accumulating knowledge about the story or environment being told or described, I increasingly gain fluency of movement within the environment and increased understanding of the underlying story (if there is one). Unlike a book or DVD, it’s not random-access: the pacing and access to different elements of the storytelling is controlled by the teller.

There are a reasonably large number of people still producing this kind of work, with free programming tools available. Some of the work barely resembles the original Infocom models: literary experiments, “straight” fiction without game-like elements or pedagogy are also possibly using these tools. I’ll post a short list of my current faves in a different entry.

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  1. joshua goldberg
    August 25th, 2009 at 18:51 | #1

    i’m still waiting for the next chapter of this.

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