12in12: January

Adventures in Text

December’s side project took off in unexpected directions and explored short form content creation through animation. All good fun but it’s a new year so why not mix things up a little bit? Inspired by a lifelong fascination (and more than a little overdose on gaming on my holidays), January’s side project will focus on completing one, sizeable chunk of content. In this case, a work of fiction. Fiction of the interactive variety, that is.

This Month’s Project: Adventures in Text

Okay, I admit it, interactive fiction will always have a soft spot in my heart. I’m generally crap at the games themselves but the idea of an interactive story played out entirely through text fascinates me. I’m still not sure if it’s the mix of narrative and game, the mystery of no graphics and relying on your imagination, or the air of freedom and almost hacker-ish control but I just think they’re cool, okay? There’s something about them from a time before when you expected to run into invisible walls in vide games. You really feel like you can try anything… and then of course disappointment sets in when you realise you can’t but there is still that moment of magic when an unexpected interaction actually works and it becomes your story.

Nowadays classic interactive fiction and text adventures are pretty niche but the idea of an interactive narrative continues to grow and take on new forms, from visual novels and the many ‘choose your adventure’ apps to Telltale Games novel-based approach to video games. You can even play classic Zork on twitter! We form narratives around interactions whether there is one or not so if anything, this sort of practice is more relevant than ever before. So this January, I’m going back to basics and creating my own interactive adventure.

Goals

  • Create a complete work of interactive fiction (specifically a choose your own adventure because I don’t think I’ll have time to go for a full-blown text adventure but we’ll see)
  • Mix my love of design, storytelling, and games in a great big blender
  • Dabble in some coding again

Icing on the Cake

  • Mess around with interactive fiction in general.
  • Explore different implementations for interactive narratives (aka the best kind of research).
  • Get in on 48hrs of game design goodness during the annual Global Game Jam.

So Far This Month

Back at work after the Christmas holiday and gearing up for a new year of UX-ing all the things… and then I realised I am actually halfway through my placement, only six months left! Feels like it’s flown by. Of course that little bit of extra holiday time meant more time to indulge in a mad dive down the research rabbit hole. Nothing like reading up on the process behind interactive fiction, discovering new tools and variations, admiring massive branching visualisations of gamebooks, and exploring the modern IF scene from messenger bots and Alexa to Netflix’s Black Mirror. Now to put it all into practice and make something!

To find out more about The Side Project Project, see how it all began here.