I'd like anyone who'd like to, to post three brief stories about you
and IF. So, for example:
(Mine are maybe longer than they need to be):
I remember one of my early experiences with IF was when I was a young
kid over at a relative's house -- probably between '80 and '82. The
parents and the kid were all stuck on some infocom thing, which they
handed me the box for while they got to the part where they were
To solve the puzzle, they had to type in a sequence of colors taken
from a (circular cardboard "computer") chart in the box. It just
hadn't occurred to them that the stuff in the box would be part of the
game world; so, despite being very young, I solved this hurdle for
them almost immediately. Made me feel smart; then I had to pretend to
be modest so as to prevent them from getting pissed.
I remember in Zork II, a few years later, I solved the hot-air ballon
puzzle by using the newspaper as fuel; and I'd argued with an older
kid about whether this would work. When it did, she was impressed and
said I was smart, but the satisfaction in that one was there, but in
having figured it out without help (in fact, against help): since I'd
gotten the game from this girl and she had been explaining most of the
puzzles for me, offhand.
These days I'm more into emotional logic of games than the puzzley
stuff; so for a while I was hopeful that the games being made with the
Ren Py engine [http://www.renpy.org/wiki/renpy/Home_Page] would have a
little more substance to them; but from what I saw, there wasn't much
to them: you'd have otherwise very freeform CYOA-style games (often
involving dating ghosts--what's with that?) with only one "right"
ending, and so forth; which ultimately is, to me, not real
Looking forward to reading yours.
Well, mine is neither an essay nor a story. I like playing games for
recreation, the same way I like reading for recreation. When playing
alone, I don't have so much fun playing jump'n'runs and my computer is
too weak for modern ego-shooters (although I sometimes like playing
older ones - espacially Unreal II by Legend Entertainment. That
reminds me: I recently bought Wheel of Time but haven't got around
playing it yet).
So I mostly play adventure games. IF has the advantage to run on even
my pda (although I7 games don't) and on my laptop, so I can play in
the living room. And of course I like the genre, I like reading and I
like the satisfaction that comes with solving puzzles.
I like text adventures. But don't we all?
Second was Zork: The Undiscovered Underground, and then the Zork
Trilogy, which I needed a walkthrough to even comprehend. It was ZTUU
that introduced me to Inform, though it was many years before I 1.
learned to use Baf's Archive and 2. obtained a real appreciation of
well-written interactive fiction. I've been trying for years to write
such a thing myself, but all my attempts have either failed, or been
unmitigated crap. To be truthful, it wasn't until IFComp '06 that I
played anything other than Z-Machine games or used a Frotz
interpreter...despite a few odd bugs on certain games, these days I
find I play literally *everything* via Gargoyle.
I find that my one real impediment to enjoying the more difficult
works is that I have had a long-standing inclination to cut Gordian
Knots wherever I encounter them. I once solved a 4x4 Rubik's Cube
given to me by removing all the colored labels and replacing them in
their proper order. I have this evil habit of relying on help
functions and walkthroughs, and I wish I could break myself of them
long enough to sit back, relax, and enjoy slowly going insane as I try
to unravel the fiendish tangles Andrew Plotkin and his contemporaries
have woven in the fashion of the great Infocom titans of yore.
I acquired an Apple IIC the following year and with it, Infidel. That was
the first game I played all the way to the end. By then I desperately wanted
to create my own, but that technology didn't exist and I didn't have the
time to invent it. In the case of Infidel, I was most interested in the
concept of the antihero, which later led to several (unpublished) attempts
to achieve the same effect. The same thing happened later with Suspended,
which also has an unconventional "hero." I theorize that I wasn't finding
normal human protagonists satisfying, so I started looking for something
else that better fit into an IF world.
Many years went by and I found the Internet and then the modern IF community
(late 90's, I think.) I hadn't played much in years and my free time is very
limited, but I quickly became enthused and started playing IF Comp games and
fantasizing about writing some. I was a fulltime programmer by then, so TADS
was more familiar than Inform 6 but I got more interested in I7: while
annoyingly verbose, the process aesthetically "fits" the desired result
more. I still have the same problems I always did: the frustration of
hunting the exact word or viewpoint that will solve a problem; the
cumbersome interface (IF takes a lot of repetitious but abbreviated typing
that breaks the spell badly, like Myst was beautiful but a royal pain to
navigate); the necessary simplification of a story that makes it difficult
to engage (I've never been able to suspend disbelief with Harry Potter
either: too much cute but extraneous silliness.) I maintain my hopes of
solving some of those.
Another text-based game that stuck with me was "A Mind Forever Voyaging." I
liked the (perceived) depth of the plot and the idea of using a simulated
version of the future to find out the results of plans you might take now.
(This was pre-Matrix so simulated worlds like this weren't quite as common
in gaming.) I liked this general navigation of a world that seemed so
expansive at the time but that was clearly changing in subtle (and then not
so subtle ways). This game interested me in the idea of artificial
intelligence as well and that started me on a pursuit of that area of study.
Another such game that impacted me was "Trinity." I liked the melding of a
fantasy world "right next door" to the so-called real world and how
everything was linked up in certain ways, such as via various atomic and
nuclear blasts. I also liked the time travel aspect to it and, in fact, this
game was one of those that got me interested in studying the idea of time
travel more and the idea of causality violation.
In a nutshell, I liked "Hitchhiker's" for its puzzles; I liked "AMFV" for
its expansive world and central idea; I liked "Trinity" for its story and
narrative. Eventually I came to realize that text-based games can be very
effective (and fun!) depending on which element of this triumvirate they
So, as to why I play text-based interactive fiction: mainly because it was
something I grew up with and thus is familiar to me in a positive way. Plus,
I've always been an avid reader and a game medium that concentrates largely
on reading is something of a no-brainer for me.
Further, exploring these make-believe worlds not only (I believe) helped my
own imagination but introduced me to various ways of thinking and to
subjects of study I might not otherwise have approached as readily. I still
find that, like a good book, it's nice to exercise the cerebral muscle, as
it were, not only with puzzles of various types, but with the idea of
building up, solely in your imagination (i.e., pretty much without any
graphics or sounds at all), what a given game world must be like. The genre
of text-based games changed a lot of aspects about me and, for that reason,
they've always had a special joy for me.