The IF-Chive (&) Volume 3, Edition 2

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J. D. Berry

Mar 19, 2003, 6:01:25 PM3/19/03
GAGS Moratorium Lifted

New York
(20 March 2003)

With a 6 - 3 vote, the Interactive Fiction Council (IFC) lifted their
18-month moratorium on all "Generic Adventure Game System" (GAGS) games.
"Authors are once again free to use the development language and should be
able to do so well into the foreseeable future," according to an IFC member
who wished to remain anonymous. "After reviewing the evidence, we felt that
the language itself is not a problem and poses no risk to the IF community."

Shortly after the release of "Surreal" in 2001, the IFC forbade authors to
use GAGS. Although sample code and brief exercises were permissible for home
use, no public releases written in the language were allowed.

This is not the first GAGS moratorium--similar restrictions were set in 1986
and again in 1995--and GAGS proponents are skeptical that this IFC action is
a permanent one. "You know as soon as another GAGS game comes out, the
Council will be back to their old tricks," said Rik Anderson, president of
Gaming and GAGS (GAGAGS). "How many great GAGS games were sitting on
people's hard drives, only to be abandoned by yet another Council whim?
We're talking a major momentum-breaker here."

Interactive Fiction Defined

"Best" Setting fails to win "Best Setting" Xyzzy.

The mythical country of Best in the game "Nothing but the Best" did not
bring home the coveted "Best Setting" Xyzzy for author O. N. Smith. "I gave
it a shot," Smith said with a sheepish grin. "Sometimes gimmicks have a way
of garnering undeserved attention. I thought, 'why not?' A few people
nominate it as a joke, and it snowballs from there. It just didn't happen
this time."

Smith intends a "Best Game" trilogy, and expects pretty much the same
results from the voting community.

Speed-IF Winner Busted for Amphetamines; Stripped of Title

Player Succeeds in Going North in One-room Game

Anna Levins had thought she had seen it all in her 12 years of interactive
fiction playing. She was wrong. She went north in a one-room game, and her
world hasn't been the same since.

Levins started up the game, realized it was "one of THOSE games" and set
to work. Dozens of mildly humorous refusal messages and one 'n' later,
she suddenly found herself in a new location. "It was a command you
typically try when you're frustrated, knowing it won't help," said Levins.
"This time, however, it did help. I was flabbergasted."

Was this new location an Easter Egg? A bug? Levins doesn't think so. "I
realize an Easter Egg doesn't have to be funny, but there would be at least
some level of self-awareness in the writing. The extra location I found had
none of that. I don't think it's a bug, either. A bug would not be this
descriptive or apropos."

Not wanting to spoil the game for others, Levins refuses to reveal the
title. "Would you want to be trapped in a two-room dilly? Would you want to
raise the shade and see a secret passage revealed? Well, the same applies
here. If you knew you could go north, the tension would disappear."

Attempts to contact the author have been fruitless to this point. Levins
thinks one more e-mail might be the breakthrough.

Optimal Ending Poo-Poo'd

Spotlight NPC--The Invisible Man Bares All

> x man
You can't see any such thing.

> interview man
You can't see any such thing.

> ask man about life
You seem to want to talk with someone, but I can't see to whom.

> topic invisibility
1) So, like, you're invisible?
2) Dude, where's your car?
3) Say, Nothing...

> 1
"So, like, you're invisible?"


An unseen force messes up your hair.

> topic evil laugh
1) Where'd you get that evil laugh?
2) And a mwahahahahahahaha to you too.
3) Say, Nothing...

> 1
"Where'd you get that evil laugh?"

"From a friend, sight unseen."

You take a shot to the breadbasket.

> topic warning
1) You better stop that, Mister.
2) I have sonar, and I know how to use it.
3) Say, Nothing...

> 3
"Say, Nothing..."


"I was wondering if you would kindly stop doing that."

Onions float across the room and hover by your face.

*** You have cried. ***

Cave Crawl Cancelled; "Unsafe" Conditions Cited

Fourth Wall Broken; Temporary Fifth Wall Saves Day

During the middle of the final act of "Stonybrook", a recent avant-garde
work of Interactive Fiction, Andronicus, an NPC, began asking questions
directly of the player. What then would have been a disastrous mix of
pretentiousness and effect was averted by the quick thinking of
author/director T. Toby Miller.

Using a just-in-time compiler, Miller coded a wall object and patched it on
the fly, blocking the NPC but one turn away from imposing a painful moral
dilemma on the player. Miller expressed concerns that this temporary "fifth
wall" would withstand the continued prattling and the final, over-the-top
question--the one ending the game, offering no answers. He need not have
worried. The player at the time of the wall breaking attributed the
questions to his own ignorance and continued playing as the PC and only the

Assessing what went wrong, Miller concluded that his beta-testers played the
first two acts, got busy and then just assumed the rest would be fine. The
self-assured prose and fluid pace surely pointed that way. But if even one
tester had played to the *** Does Senorita Rodriguez Die? ***, Miller
fortifies the fourth wall, seamlessly integrates it, and prevents any
possibility of audience suffering.

Miller added that an author can get away with this kind of thing in a
comedy, but that even then restraint is crucial.

Area man Writes Stupid E-zine Instead of Tending to Work in Progress


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