Interactive Fiction


What is Interactive Fiction?

Interactive Fiction (aka "Adventure Game"), is a type of story-telling in which the narrative is driven forward by the reader (aka "player" or "interactor"). It is derived from such pioneering classics as the original "Adventure" (aka "Colossal Cave") and "Zork". The medium has developed since then, and opinions may differ on whether it should now be classed as a type of literature or a type of game; it clearly has elements of both, but the balance of the ludic and the literary varies from work to work.

Although some works of Interactive Fiction include graphics, this is the exception rather than the rule, and IF is essentially a text-based medium. The story is presented to the reader as text on screen, and is driven forward by the reader typing brief instructions at a command prompt, commands that instruct the program what the player wants the protagonist (or "player character") to do next. Such instructions might typically include commands like GO NORTH (typically abbreviated to N), EXAMINE THE RED BOOK (typically abbreviated to X RED BOOK) or PUT THE BANANA IN THE BOX, i.e. a simple imperative verb, an imperative verb plus a direct object, or an imperative verb plus a direct object, a preposition, and an indirect object. The program then responds by describing the result of the action (or else the parser complains that it doesn't know what you mean - the set of commands that an IF parser can make sense of is actually fairly limited, but experienced players quickly become used to the limitations).

For a more comprehensive introduction to Interactive Fiction, see Stephen Granade's essay at the Brass Lantern site, and the more comprehensive Beginner's Guide by Stephen Granade and Emily Short at the same site.

My Games

Blighted IsleI've written a number of games in TADS 3, including Square Circle, a puzzle-based game set in a dystopian alternative (or not-so-alternative?) reality, All Hope Abandon, in which the player has a near brush with death and has the opportunity to explore a possible after-life, The Elysium Enigma, voted the best game of 2006 in the XYZZY awards, Blighted Isle, an historical fantasy loosely set in the Napoleonic War, and Shelter from the Storm, a mystery set in southern England in 1940.

If you'd like to try out All Hope Abandon without downloading anything, you can try out the demo version, which should be playable on line if you have a sufficiently up-to-date version of the Java run-time environment installed.

I've also written a couple of other games in other systems, including Swineback Ridge, written in Inform 6, and Dreadwine, Nightfall, and Snowquest, all written in Inform 7. Nightfall placed second in the 2008 Annual Interactive Fiction Competition, while Snowquest placed third in the 2009 competition.

Swineback Ridge is a short, fairly easy, and somewhat tongue-in-cheek puzzle game - just the thing for a quick IF-Snack. In addition to the link above you can download a zipped version here. Or else you can try it out on line.

Dreadwine is another short and easy game, originally entered into the MCDream Competition, the premise of which was to capture the feeling of a dream the author had actually had. This can also be downloaded via the link above, or directly from this site in a zip file. Once again you can try it out on on-line.

In addition to these solo-authored games, I've recently (released 2008) co-authored (with Jim Aikin) a TADS 3 game called Mrs Pepper's Nasty Secret. This game won a couple of competitions for short games suitable for beginners to Interactive Fiction. If you've never tried playing any IF before and feel you might want to give it a go, this would be one game to try out.

Tads 3 Resources

For information about the TADS 3 resources available from this site, see the TADS 3 Resources page.


This page was last updated by Eric Eve on 21-May-13.