Charles Parkes

Stood on the wall with Druss
#1
So I was hoping to ask whether anyone else here enjoys reading or writing interactive fiction!

I couldn't find a thread for it, so I fully expect posting here to be a lonely experience. . . But you guys just don't know what you're missing :)

I'd love any comments on people's experiences of reading IF - one big comment I've heard is 'I don't think the quality is up to scratch'.
As fans (and writers) of IF we're still pretty niche, and in the Choose Your Own Adventure style IF, yes, it's true that offerings are often nowhere near as polished as with regular (static?) reading.

I hope this will improve as established writers experiment with the medium. If you're working on anything or reading anything, I'd love to hear about it!
 

Matticus Primal

Journeyed there and back again
#2
With the proliferation of people using their smart phones/ devices to consume fiction, I'm always shocked that IF (I always called it CYOA, which might show how dated I am) hasn't caught on more. I mean, you would no longer have to flip the pages to find the decision you made; just click the link, which would make the whole experience all the more seamless.
 

Charles Parkes

Stood on the wall with Druss
#3
With the proliferation of people using their smart phones/ devices to consume fiction, I'm always shocked that IF (I always called it CYOA, which might show how dated I am) hasn't caught on more. I mean, you would no longer have to flip the pages to find the decision you made; just click the link, which would make the whole experience all the more seamless.
You're right. I think that's the biggest surprise for me so far - though:
- it becomes less so when you consider the lower quality (having multiple strands appears to take its toll, and its more expensive to have edited, per word actually read by the consumer)
- and when you consider the relative difficulty for the author writing multiple strands (for no extra money per word actually read by the consumer). This probably acts as a barrier to established authors.

I think a lot of IF at the moment is tailored towards people who use video games a lot, rather than say, people who read a lot. That might explain why there aren't big fanclubs on genre specific forums for Interactive Fiction.

I think you may be more correct on your terminology @Matticus Primal - I'm technically trying to write CYOA (the old gods of Interactive Fiction used to have a thing about what qualified as IF and what as CYOA. I'm sure they're still fighting that war out on some Olympian pre Discourse forum. I'm not sure the boundaries are so solid these days. :)
 

Nuomer1

Journeyed there and back again
#4
Hmmmmm. I suspect the answer is Computers!
I am a (retired) junior school teacher, and I remember trying to use the old Jackson books to interest children in books back in the early 1980s.
In the late 80s I even wrote a quickie - principally text-based, but with a rather primitive map added, to get children started on a small writing project. It ran on a BBC, and was already being overtaken by technology! It was used in my own school, but I didn't even try to publish it - I could see that BBCs were already obsolete in the wider world.
That trend continued. The niche that Interactive Fiction ought to have occupied was rapidly absorbed into the MMRPG environment, and the graphics available were sufficiently appealing that paper-based interactive work simply faded away, into a very small niche indeed.
I rather regret this. I would like to see more interactive work, particularly for children, and definitely text-based (maybe with a little bit of supplementary image work, but separate from the really big multi-player games. Sadly, I think computers (IT in general!) advanced so far so fast in the nineties and noughties that the 'write your own' field doesn't really exist any more, and I rather doubt if it could be reinvented. By moving on so far and so fast we have missed something potentially valuable - but the fact remains, I think we have missed it.
I would not be unhappy to be proved wrong . . . but that's life!
 

Charles Parkes

Stood on the wall with Druss
#5
By moving on so far and so fast we have missed something potentially valuable - but the fact remains, I think we have missed it.
I would not be unhappy to be proved wrong . . . but that's life!
I hope so :)

Computers (and consoles) have certainly focused the mass market on high-visual offerings, but one could say the same for books.
I'm taking the optimistic view:

- Almost any novel can be read on e-readers now. Once on an electronic device, people are unaware how code can be used to change the experience of reading.

- So at the moment this is quite limited: and one example is a small number of people who are using this to provide choice.
This is because a generation of people who grew up reading the old Choose Your Own Adventure books and they cottoned on to the fact that using code allowed them to do it seamlessly (or I should say without require pages to be flipped).

- But that isn't the limit of what can be done.

- I would say that anything about a novel (apart from the physicality of touching a paper book) can be improved/altered using code. Because code can be written to do whatever you can possibly think of.

At the moment I'm trying to use it to mesh some randomly generated words into a narrative in a way that prevents the reader from realising the computer has generated small parts of the story they are reading.
I was chatting elsewhere on the forum about this a couple of days ago and used the example of:

a person walking. The computer has the potential to fill in whether the person is walking in a desert, or on a glacier. But you have to teach it to do that, then you can teach it nouns that might be found in those contexts, and verbs that might be appropriate for actions taken in that environment. And then how all these can fit together.

It's really fun. And the nice thing is the 'coding' part has been packaged for people who are writers, more than coders. It's accessible now for people like me. ;)

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

Here's an example of what it can look like (I'm at a really basic level at the moment so don't expect Shakespeare!)

${MC_first_name} had always been a little different.

She'd been much younger when she first summoned the courage to speak to ${MC_first_name}. Orin had met ${MC_personal_pronoun_object} on the broken bridge that gave the village its name.

The little ${MC_boy_girl} had been ${phrase}.

---------

I'll put up the first chapter this evening when I get back to work for anyone who wants to see what this actually does
 
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Nuomer1

Journeyed there and back again
#6
At the moment I'm trying to use it to mesh some randomly generated words into a narrative in a way that prevents the reader from realising the computer has generated small parts of the story they are reading.
Hmmmm. Not quite sure where you intend going with this - but it looks like a way to tweak backgrounds, though you would still need a human to write the main framework . . .??
For comparison - in John Varley's Gaia trilogy (the second book, I think - Wizard) there is passing mention of a book, intended for children (or very immature young adults) which can be personalised (at time of purchase) so that the hero of the book has the name of the child reading it. The book was written pre-internet, but within the early days of the personal computer, and it wasn't made entirely clear but I suspect it was a comic book, very heavily illustrated - and presumably with an idealised and slightly older version of the child added into the pictures. Varley shows it as being a major item in the young life of a rather immature and socially inept character (though one who is going to 'come good' in the end)
When I first came across that I had some worrying thoughts about the psychological development of the reader (and Varley hinted at similar thoughts), but I didn't have the time or psychological background to reach any definite conclusions. Now I have thought about it, and I think it might be dangerous - though I don't suppose there will ever be any attempt to regulate it.
Had you read Varley? Are you familiar with that idea? Do you believe that authors/programmers who work in this area have some responsibility for the possible outcomes? This is a genuine simple query, not an attack. There may be room for some ethical debate in this area!