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"National Post" article about interactive fiction

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Last response: in PC Gaming
March 17, 2005 8:34:29 PM

Archived from groups: rec.games.int-fiction (More info?)

Just saw this yesterday in the National Post, one of Canada's
nationally-distributed newspapers:

------------------

Actually, there weren't any pictures at all
1970s text games are preserved by dedicated fans

Adam McDowell
National Post

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Before the invention of graphics, when a gamer entered the darkness of
an evil cavern they would do so armed only with their imagination and
the written words supplied by a talented wizard of the text gaming.

These text-based adventures, which originated in the early 1970s, were
quickly dispatched to the virtual dumper when graphics arrived, never,
it was thought, to be seen again.

But a dedicated band of amateur adventurers has kept alive these classic
text-based games, and created many new ones. They've even rebranded the
genre as Interactive Fiction (or IF) to acknowledge the evolution of
text games.

"It's worth preserving the old works of interactive fiction. They're
part of computing history, and offer a glimpse into how this form of
entertainment developed," says Stephen Granade, who helps maintain the
Interactive Fiction Archive (www.ifarchive.org), a repository for
text-only games, most downloadable for free.

In text-based games, players move between "rooms," using one- or
two-word commands such as "open door" and "take sword" to interact with
the environment described. There's no time pressure: A command prompt
will wait for eternity for a player to decide what to do next. Early IF
games typically featured Dungeons and Dragons-style settings.

Text adventure games began in the 1970s with Will Crowther and Don
Woods's Colossal Cave Adventure (also called simply Adventure), in which
the player explores a treasure-stocked cavern. The game ran on an
enormous, expensive mainframe computer.

Adventure spread like a pandemic through the ARPAnet, the forerunner of
the Internet. Among its addicts was Scott Adams.

"I would come in before work and play a few hours, and stay after work
to play for a few hours [more]," Adams says. "I started my own game
almost immediately."

In 1978, Adams proved that a text adventure game could be made for home
computer when he released Adventureland for the Tandy TRS-80 Level II.
"[It] was the Gutenberg Bible of text adventures."

Many commercial games, such as the popular Zork, followed, but they
disappeared just as quickly after about 1980 when adventure games with
graphics started to appear. The genre didn't die, however. It went
underground.

In 1992, IF enthusiast Volker Blasius started the IF Archive, which
brought together remaining text adventure files and fans from across the
Internet. Paul O'Brian, who runs a newsletter for IF fans, says the
archive brought text gamers together. "The fact that people can go to
one predictable, reliable space ... has given the community a focus to
organize around."

For the past decade, Granade has unleashed the text-gaming community's
creativity by running IF Comp, an annual competition involving 40 to 50
new entries. "There started to be this recognition that there was a
renaissance occurring in amateur IF," says O'Brian, the 2004 winner for
his Luminous Horizon. "Because there's no longer a customer out there or
a profit to be made, that has opened the form up artistically."

For example, the fourth-place finisher at IF Comp 2004, Sting of the
Wasp, is set at a country club. The player controls a classy but
conniving woman who must destroy evidence that she's cheating on her
husband. "It's a long way from 'Kill troll with sword,' " O'Brian says.

Die-hard IF fans know their community of perhaps a thousand people will
remain small. But there's hope in that there are uses for games without
graphics even in 2005 -- some people like to load them onto PDAs, for
example, and they're relatively easy to program. Adams (who doesn't play
text-based games anymore) says they have one key advantage over ordinary
commercial games:

"No matter what the graphics are, your mind's eye always seems to
provide better."
© National Post 2005

More about : national post article interactive fiction

Anonymous
March 17, 2005 8:34:30 PM

Archived from groups: rec.games.int-fiction (More info?)

Interesting, if a tad innacurate in spots. :) 

--- Didn't the term "IF" come from Infocom? I don't think it was a label
given to the revival of text adventures, as suggested in the article.

--- The IF Archive isn't just for text-only games (some do have graphics).
:) 

--- Wasn't the IF Competition run by other people for the first three years?
I don't think Stephen was in charge the while time.

But it's cool that an IF article made it into the Canadian paper!!

------ Mike.

"Steph" <notmyreal@email.address> wrote in message
news:D 1cf35$atk$1@titan.btinternet.com...
> Just saw this yesterday in the National Post, one of Canada's
> nationally-distributed newspapers:
>
> ------------------
>
> Actually, there weren't any pictures at all
> 1970s text games are preserved by dedicated fans
>
> Adam McDowell
> National Post
>
> Wednesday, March 16, 2005
>
> Before the invention of graphics, when a gamer entered the darkness of an
> evil cavern they would do so armed only with their imagination and the
> written words supplied by a talented wizard of the text gaming.
>
> These text-based adventures, which originated in the early 1970s, were
> quickly dispatched to the virtual dumper when graphics arrived, never, it
> was thought, to be seen again.
>
> But a dedicated band of amateur adventurers has kept alive these classic
> text-based games, and created many new ones. They've even rebranded the
> genre as Interactive Fiction (or IF) to acknowledge the evolution of text
> games.
>
> "It's worth preserving the old works of interactive fiction. They're part
> of computing history, and offer a glimpse into how this form of
> entertainment developed," says Stephen Granade, who helps maintain the
> Interactive Fiction Archive (www.ifarchive.org), a repository for
> text-only games, most downloadable for free.
>
> In text-based games, players move between "rooms," using one- or two-word
> commands such as "open door" and "take sword" to interact with the
> environment described. There's no time pressure: A command prompt will
> wait for eternity for a player to decide what to do next. Early IF games
> typically featured Dungeons and Dragons-style settings.
>
> Text adventure games began in the 1970s with Will Crowther and Don Woods's
> Colossal Cave Adventure (also called simply Adventure), in which the
> player explores a treasure-stocked cavern. The game ran on an enormous,
> expensive mainframe computer.
>
> Adventure spread like a pandemic through the ARPAnet, the forerunner of
> the Internet. Among its addicts was Scott Adams.
>
> "I would come in before work and play a few hours, and stay after work to
> play for a few hours [more]," Adams says. "I started my own game almost
> immediately."
>
> In 1978, Adams proved that a text adventure game could be made for home
> computer when he released Adventureland for the Tandy TRS-80 Level II.
> "[It] was the Gutenberg Bible of text adventures."
>
> Many commercial games, such as the popular Zork, followed, but they
> disappeared just as quickly after about 1980 when adventure games with
> graphics started to appear. The genre didn't die, however. It went
> underground.
>
> In 1992, IF enthusiast Volker Blasius started the IF Archive, which
> brought together remaining text adventure files and fans from across the
> Internet. Paul O'Brian, who runs a newsletter for IF fans, says the
> archive brought text gamers together. "The fact that people can go to one
> predictable, reliable space ... has given the community a focus to
> organize around."
>
> For the past decade, Granade has unleashed the text-gaming community's
> creativity by running IF Comp, an annual competition involving 40 to 50
> new entries. "There started to be this recognition that there was a
> renaissance occurring in amateur IF," says O'Brian, the 2004 winner for
> his Luminous Horizon. "Because there's no longer a customer out there or a
> profit to be made, that has opened the form up artistically."
>
> For example, the fourth-place finisher at IF Comp 2004, Sting of the Wasp,
> is set at a country club. The player controls a classy but conniving woman
> who must destroy evidence that she's cheating on her husband. "It's a long
> way from 'Kill troll with sword,' " O'Brian says.
>
> Die-hard IF fans know their community of perhaps a thousand people will
> remain small. But there's hope in that there are uses for games without
> graphics even in 2005 -- some people like to load them onto PDAs, for
> example, and they're relatively easy to program. Adams (who doesn't play
> text-based games anymore) says they have one key advantage over ordinary
> commercial games:
>
> "No matter what the graphics are, your mind's eye always seems to provide
> better."
> © National Post 2005
Anonymous
March 17, 2005 9:17:08 PM

Archived from groups: rec.games.int-fiction (More info?)

In article <KBj_d.11642$ju.11290@okepread07>,
Mike Snyder <wyndo@prowler-pro.com> wrote:
>Interesting, if a tad innacurate in spots. :) 
>
>--- Didn't the term "IF" come from Infocom? I don't think it was a label
>given to the revival of text adventures, as suggested in the article.
>
>--- The IF Archive isn't just for text-only games (some do have graphics).
>:) 
>
>--- Wasn't the IF Competition run by other people for the first three years?
>I don't think Stephen was in charge the while time.
>
>But it's cool that an IF article made it into the Canadian paper!!

You can write an electronic letter to the editor with your corrections, at:
http://www.canada.com/national/nationalpost/info/contac...
--
"Yo' ideas need to be thinked befo' they are say'd" - Ian Lamb, age 3.5
http://www.cs.queensu.ca/~dalamb/ qucis->cs to reply (it's a long story...)
Related resources
Anonymous
March 18, 2005 12:41:53 PM

Archived from groups: rec.games.int-fiction (More info?)

On Jeudi 17 Mars 2005 19:01, Mike Snyder wrote:
>
> Interesting, if a tad innacurate in spots. :) 

Yes, but still, this is an excellent article. I'm amazed the
author managed to accurately describe the genre, its history, the
community and the current state of affairs, with so few words. A
good journalist, that's for sure.

--
spam.bucket@free.fr
You have my name and my hostname: you can mail me.
(Put a period between my first and last names).
Anonymous
March 18, 2005 7:53:04 PM

Archived from groups: rec.games.int-fiction (More info?)

"Mike Snyder" <wyndo@prowler-pro.com> writes:

> Interesting, if a tad innacurate in spots. :) 
>
> --- Didn't the term "IF" come from Infocom? I don't think it was a label
> given to the revival of text adventures, as suggested in the article.

Yes.

> --- The IF Archive isn't just for text-only games (some do have graphics).
> :) 

Yes, and all of its contents may be downloaded freely.

> --- Wasn't the IF Competition run by other people for the first three years?
> I don't think Stephen was in charge the while time.

Yes.

> But it's cool that an IF article made it into the Canadian paper!!

Yes. :) 

Stephen

--
Stephen Granade
stephen-usenet@granades.com
Anonymous
March 18, 2005 7:53:05 PM

Archived from groups: rec.games.int-fiction (More info?)

Stephen Granade wrote:
> "Mike Snyder" <wyndo@prowler-pro.com> writes:
>
>> --- Wasn't the IF Competition run by other people for the first
>> three years? I don't think Stephen was in charge the while time.
>
> Yes.

Still, you've been doing it *almost* a decade. I thought that one was close
enough to accurate :-)

--
Jess K.
March 19, 2005 2:52:55 AM

Archived from groups: rec.games.int-fiction (More info?)

I think it's just nice to see some of the exposure that IF has been
getting in the last few years with multiple articles in major
newspapers, either concerning specific games or the genre in general.

I also recently came upon this on the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation
web site. It is over a year old, but I never did see it when it was
first published:

http://www.cbc.ca/news/viewpoint/vp_barss/20040113.html

On another note, I found some of the Scott Adams comments in that
"National Post" article slightly amusing. Actually, am I the only one
that finds him slighty amusing in general? Particularly when he credits
himself with "starting the entire multi billion dollar a year computer
game industry" (quote from his web site). :-)

Steph


Stephen Granade wrote:
> "Mike Snyder" <wyndo@prowler-pro.com> writes:
>
>
>>Interesting, if a tad innacurate in spots. :) 
>>
>>--- Didn't the term "IF" come from Infocom? I don't think it was a label
>>given to the revival of text adventures, as suggested in the article.
>
>
> Yes.
>
>
>>--- The IF Archive isn't just for text-only games (some do have graphics).
>>:) 
>
>
> Yes, and all of its contents may be downloaded freely.
>
>
>>--- Wasn't the IF Competition run by other people for the first three years?
>>I don't think Stephen was in charge the while time.
>
>
> Yes.
>
>
>>But it's cool that an IF article made it into the Canadian paper!!
>
>
> Yes. :) 
>
> Stephen
>