Final Project week!

A reminder: for Wednesday’s class, bring a beta version of your project that’s as far along towards completion as you can get it, but at a minimum has the whole structure of your piece in place (so a player can play from beginning to (all) ending(s), even if not all the pieces along the way are completed.

Also, since a few people asked: slides in .PDF format for all five weeks are now posted.


Homework for Wednesday

For Wednesday, take a look at the following two pieces, and bring a discussion question for each. Note that “Sleep is Death” from the syllabus has been replaced with “Mime Academy.”

  • Mime Academy. This is a demonstration mini-ARG with a goofy story. It will require you to take some initiative to uncover clues: clicking on links, calling phone numbers, etcetera. You should play till the end of the piece, which is when you get a phone call from the Master Mime.
  • Fallen London, which you’ve hopefully been looking at already.

Please also bring your one paragraph proposal for your final project, specifying which environment you’ll use to create it (Twine or Inform), some thoughts about the structure and narrative, and any difficulties or obstacles you’re worried about.

Finally, please purchase and install Sleep Is Death onto your laptop, since we’ll be looking at this together in class on Wednesday. You might want to also take a look at the first couple tutorial videos for Sleep Is Death, which will give you a head start.

Here is Jacob’s project page for From Closed Rooms, Soft Whispers: you can also find his contact information on that site.

See you on Wednesday!

Weekend Experiment #3!

Good luck as you head into your third (and last) weekend experiment. Remember, this experiment should involve a system of some kind, which could be as simple as a consistent set of action rules defining a certain behavior (like the haunted objects example we started Wednesday), or as complex as incorporating an existing extension for combat or conversation in one of your own stories. If you’re expanding on your experiment from last week, you should be roughly doubling the size of its code, or otherwise putting in as much effort as if you were starting a new project. Similarly, if you’re using an extension, you should have roughly as much code as someone who isn’t—the extension is bootstrapping you up to be spending time on parts of the experiment more interesting to you. (Instructions for including extensions can be found on page 33 of the textbook.)

Here are some useful links.

Please remember to submit your experiment by Monday at 10:00 AM, using the “Release along with an interpreter, the source text and a website.” line, and also to send your one-paragraph statement about the experiment along with your submission.

Finally, if you have an iPhone or Android smartphone, download and install the free “SpecTrek Light” onto it before Monday’s class. (There’s a commercial one, but look for the free “Light” version.) And keep playing Fallen London a little each day; we’ll be discussing it on Wednesday.


Homework for Wednesday

Come prepared to discuss these two procedurally narrative works, and remember to bring your discussion questions:

  • ‘Mid the Sagebrush and the Cactus, Victor Gijsbers
    • Note that you’ll need to download and play this in an interpreter, since the “Play Online” option is missing the Status Bar that provides helpful information.
    • The Inform 7 source code (fixed now!) for this work would also be interesting to take a look at after you’ve played the story (if maybe a little overwhelming), to see what other options are available and how the “Inform ATTACK” extension was used to create the conversation framework. This will be a .ni file, which you can open in any text editor or copy and paste into Inform. Take a look but don’t feel you need to understand it all.
  • Prom Week, Josh McCoy et al. You can play this on Facebook (it doesn’t use any of your personal information or spam your wall or anything) or there’s a link on the right to play it on Kongregate, a third-party site instead.
Also read Creating Interactive Fiction with Inform 7 Chapters 5 and 6, and start playing Fallen London if you haven’t already. Note that many of the NPCs in this world have Twitter accounts; you can follow them and even interact with them via tweets if you like— see this page for more details.

A few other I7 tips…

Something I ran out of time to mention in class which might be useful in your weekend experiments: you can use instead rules in conjunction with some built-in properties and conditional checks to make something like hypertext guard fields for your I7 projects. For example, to restrict the player from entering a certain area until they’d found the right item, you could add a line like this:

Instead of going north in Front Porch when the player does not hold the amulet, say “You can’t get past the gargoyle without the amulet!”

Similarly, “does not wear” could restrict an action when the player hasn’t worn the given item.

You can also used the “visited/unvisited” property of rooms to restrict actions. Every room is visited until the player has spent a turn in it, at which point it becomes unvisited. So you could say:

Instead of taking the sword when the Throne Room is unvisited, say “You can’t arm yourself until you visit the King!”

One last rule that might be useful: you can cause something to happen every turn a given condition is true by making an every turn rule:

Every turn when Entrance Hall is unvisited, say “You hear someone knocking at the front door!”

The [first time][only] and [one of][or][at random] text substitutions we looked it in class might help make every turn rules less obnoxious.

Have fun!

Second weekend experiment: Spaces and thing

Good luck on your second weekend experiment, using Inform 7 to tell a story with spaces and things. A reminder that these are due Monday by 10:00 AM, along with a one-paragraph write-up explaining your goals with the piece and anything you learned from its construction.

To submit your experiment #2 correctly, please remember to add the following line to your Inform 7 source text:

Release along with an interpreter, the source text and a website.

Click the “Release” button, and Inform will create a folder called “Release” in the location where you’ve saved your project. Zip up the entire contents of this folder and give me the .zip file as your submission (along with your write-up).

(Note: despite my best intentions, I failed to return the borrowed Mac adapter. I’ll bring it Monday, unless I hear from you that you need it earlier. Apologies!)

Wednesday Links

To interact with Wednesday’s pieces, you’ll need to install an IF interpreter on your computer. The ones I’d recommend are, for Macs, Spatterlight, and for Windows, Gargoyle. Once you’ve installed these, you should be able to open any of the pieces you’ll need to look at for class with them.

For Wednesday, you should play both of these pieces through to an ending:

Feel free to leave comments here or on the class mailing list if you’re having trouble interacting with either of these works. For Wednesday, you should come with a discussion question for each, and have also installed Inform 7 and read the first two chapters of the course textbook.

Other useful links:

See you Wednesday!

First Weekend Experiments

Have fun as you all head into your first weekend experiment, creating a link-based fiction. I’ve made up a quick Twine cheat sheet which is a helpful reminder of some of Twine’s capabilities in one place. Feel free to use the class mailing list (see right sidebar) with questions, or feel free to contact me directly and I’ll get back to you as soon as I can. You should e-mail me a .ZIP file containing your experiment by the start of class (10:00 AM) on Monday, host it on your own webspace and e-mail me the URL, or bring your project on a USB key.

If you need a break from working on your experiment and want to start playing Fallen London, once you’ve made an account you can link it to your Facebook or Twitter accounts (or create a custom Twitter account just for Fallen London socialization, which I’ve done for myself under the name @ObservantRumin). If you want to do the same, you can add a comment to this post with your account name, and we can all look for each other in the Neath.

Another Writing Exercise

If you’re looking for other ways to exercise your creativity muscles in advance of the upcoming first weekend experiment, here’s another writing exercise like the one we did in class on Wednesday that you can try on your own.

Get a piece of paper, fold it in half, then unfold it (to make a vertical crease down the center, dividing the page into two columns). In the left column, write down ten things you’re passionate about on any level: emotionally, politically, irrationally, whatever.

Below that, write down ten people you’re interested in. They could be people you know personally, celebrities you admire, people you don’t know anything about (someone from the bus? a face in a magazine?), or even types of people, like mountaineers or composers.

Next, divide your life into 5 even chunks– if you’re 20, for example, take each four year period as a chunk. Write down a memory from each of those time spans in the right column, just a few words or a sentence (enough to remember what you’re talking about). If you can’t remember one, make one up that seems plausible.

Finally, look at everything you’ve written on the page. Look for connections between things, and when you see them, circle each one and draw a line between them. Don’t think about this too much at first: just connect things that seem intuitively right to connect.

Once you’ve created a bunch of connections, then go back and start thinking about them. If you had to label each connection, what would you name it? Did any connections (or their labels) surprise you? Pick one or two that seem interesting and write a paragraph or two about it.

For other writing exercises and thoughts related to learning to write hypertext, check out Deena Larsen’s Fun da mentals, a great starting point.

Twine Links

Here are some links to helpful Twine resources. Make sure to have downloaded and installed Twine to your laptop before Friday, and bring your laptops to class.

Remember also to use the “Close Reading Sign-up” link in the top navbar, if you haven’t already, to choose a work for your close reading assignment. (And week 1 people, come prepared to present on Friday!) See you all then.
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