For MIT’s IAP (January intersemester), we decided to run a series of IF readings. Over four consecutive Wednesdays, we played the top four IFComp entries from the previous fall.

* Wed, Jan 11: Stone Harbor (Liza Daly) — an urban fantasy story constructed as hypertext.
Stone Harbor session transcript

* Wed, Jan 18: Cactus Blue Motel (Astrid Dalmady) — a Twine-based ghost story on the road.
– (no transcript available)

* Wed, Jan 25: Color the Truth (Brian Rushton) — a parser-based police procedural.
Color the Truth session transcript

* Wed, Feb 1: Detectiveland (Robin Johnson) — a noir detective story built in a parser-like point-and-click interface.
Detectiveland session transcript

Unfortunately, we have no transcript for Cactus Blue Motel. Twine does not offer a way to capture a session transcript.

The groups were small (three to eight people) but we had a good time. Two-hour sessions sufficed to finish all of the games except for Detectiveland.

Our group has run group IF sessions before (Lost Pig, The Lurking Horror, etc) but this is the first time we’ve tried a mix of choice-based and parser-based IF.

Turns out both styles work, at least in the small-group setting. The styles of play are somewhat different — if you have only three link-choices available at any given time, the audience is more in the mode of voting rather than discussing what to do next.

On the other hand, choice-based games can offer more range of action than the naive “select one of three links” interface implies. Cactus Blue Motel lets you explore a map and enter structured conversations with various characters; so in that session, the audience discussed plans like “go back upstairs and talk to so-and-so”. Stone Harbor has less room to plan, which follows directly from its design choices.