Saucers of Mud

April 14, 2010

Ten Very Short Interactive Fictions

Filed under: Uncategorized — matt w @ 10:38 am

You see here a red wheel barrow.
> x it
So much depends on it.
***You have won***

So there’s a competition for interactive fiction that could fit on Twitter — the source code has to be 140 characters or less (not counting tab stops and carriage returns). [Or, come to think of it, spaces — but I thought spaces did count, so I wrote these games accordingly. Well, my entries will just be a little more hardcore than everyone else’s.] I went perhaps a little overboard and wrote ten of ’em, eight in a linked series.

(That story isn’t strictly true — the first game was written before the comp and helped inspire it. See here; spoilers.)

Here are the games. The first link is to play online using Parchment, the awesome Java-based interactive fiction interpreter. The second lets you download the games and play them using an IF interpreter (they’re z-code), though I don’t know why you’d want to play them offline if you don’t have to. The third link is to the source code as .txt files, which obviously contain massive spoilers, though most of the games should be pretty easy to play anyway. If you want to recompile this in the the Inform 7 development environment, you probably have to fix the tab stops.

There’s no room for in-game credits, but thanks to Jack Welch for inspiration (and for at least one character-saving trick), and to Graham Nelson, Emily Short, and the Inform 7 team for the language. Quite a bit of most of these games consists of the default responses they’ve programmed in. Also to Rob Noyes for inspiration for one of these games.

Eight of these games form a linked series, and one has a hidden bonus ending. Currently I’ve submitted Sin 4, 5, and 6 as my three competition entries. It may be safe to say that I have now simultaneously published more games than any other first-time IF author.

Untitled (War)*: play online; download; source
Sin 1: play online; download; source
Sin 2: play online; download; source
Sin 3: play online; download; source
Sin 4: play online; download; source
Sin 5: play online; download; source
Sin 6: play online download; source
Sin 7: play online; download; source
Sin 8: play online; download; source
PUTPBAT: play online; download; source (this is entirely an interactive-fiction in-joke; if you can’t tell what it is from the title you probably don’t want to play it)

*It’s usually a pet peeve of mine when artists call a work something like “Untitled (as the llama made its way to the peak, we reflected on the fragility of life).” I feel that if a work doesn’t have a title, it shouldn’t have a subtitle either. However, in this case, I have an excuse: I couldn’t include a title in the game itself, because it would’ve put the source code over the 140-character limit.


  1. You’re aware of “Sins Against Mimesis,” right? Sort of a more, er, expansive meditation of some of your themes. Strangely thematically similar to the same author’s “In The End 2”, come to think of it, which despite the title is not a Stiffy Makane game.

    Comment by Adam — April 26, 2010 @ 10:09 pm

  2. I’d heard of it but not played it, and I didn’t realize it involved the deadly sins.

    …I was going to say, part of the reason I hadn’t played it is that I heard it was a bunch of IF in-jokes. But now that I’ve released an adaptation of “Pick Up the Phone Booth and Die,” I think that excuse has pretty much expired.

    Comment by matt w — April 26, 2010 @ 10:23 pm

  3. A quick tour of that game, with liberal use of the hints, reveals:

    –It probably helps to have played Curses, so you know what the rod does.

    –Yay playing games with timed death puzzles and two-move solutions in a terp that supports one level of undo.

    Comment by matt w — April 26, 2010 @ 10:45 pm

  4. I realize that the second point is my fault, and not the game’s.

    Comment by matt w — April 28, 2010 @ 11:18 pm

  5. I quite like these. Nice work.

    Comment by Jordan Magnuson — May 2, 2010 @ 7:04 pm

  6. Aw, thanks.

    Have you played the other entries? A lot of them are very clever.

    Comment by matt w — May 2, 2010 @ 7:13 pm

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