June Meeting Post-Mortem

June PR-IF attendees

The People’s Republic of Interactive Fiction convened on Wednesday, June 16, 2022 over Zoom. Zarf, Hugh and anjchang, met up online. Warning: What follows is probably not proper English, but just my log of notes from the meeting to jog people’s memories:
Nick sent in an article about IF by someone who has been part of PR-IF and mentions several people in the Boston area: https://expmag.com/2022/06/these-video-games-are-based-on-nothing-but-words/
Hugh is working on a game about a tin mug and we talked about how people enjoyed making choices even if they didn’t further the narrative. Hugh’s story contained scenarios around what happens in a kitchen. It reminded Anj of Chi’s Sweet Home, a series of books from the point of view of a kitten. The narratives examine the everyday conflicts in mundane life. In Hugh’s game, a combination of anthropomorphism with the Slice of Life Genre provide interesting narrative explorations .
We talked about text scrolling problems in beta testing Hugh’s game. Sometimes, having an image within the text causes problems because the image loads after the text appears, causing the image to jump into focus after the text loads. This causes the user to have to scroll back to read the full text and access the choices.
Angela has rebooted her a copy of Sanitarium and is enjoying creepy scenarios with her kids. The game presents an alter reality that is nightmarish but intriguing to explore.

Perhaps there’s opportunity for more stories connecting with mythologies and folklore, such as Lochness, Bigfoot and Egyptian Mythology. Hugh mentioned that Egyptian hieroglyphics were mainly for simple ideas, such a sign posts and the laymen. Apparently, Egyptians had a cursive script (such as hieratic and demotic script) for writing more complex ideas and detailed legal documents.

We talked about the joy of lexical variations, and how nice it is to readers encounter new and unusal words. From a practical standpoint, it makes it easier to type alternatively spelled words than different adjectives with nouns repeatedly. For example, typing in tumbler vs. mug is preferable to “big cup” “little cup” “medium cup.”
We talked about how much hinting is useful for puzzles. Hugh mentioned giving successively more hints to help people solve a puzzle. Zarf says he usually doesn’t give out hints to his puzzles if people write him, because the answers can be found elsewhere. Also, having predictive hint suggestions while typing can spoil the exploration of the game. Angela is currently stuck during beta testing a puzzle, and the developer has given some hints, but it’s not enough to finish her testing. What to do?
We talked about IF copyright. Usually people use a code copyright license. If you want to be serious might use lawyers to draft a version of your code with a placeholder text.

Angela shared a link to plan for the next meeting in Early July. Please fill out by June 22, 2022 AoE. FYI, the next virtual meeting will be July 7, 2022 from 6:30pm-7:30pm. Hope to see you there!