Ludology 217 - What IF?

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By Geoffrey Engelstein, Gil Hova, and Emma Larkins. Discovered by Player FM and our community — copyright is owned by the publisher, not Player FM, and audio is streamed directly from their servers. Hit the Subscribe button to track updates in Player FM, or paste the feed URL into other podcast apps.

Legendary Interactive Fiction writer Andrew Plotkin joins Gil and Emma to talk about text-based stories that players can participate in. We explore the form's history and unique strengths, and discuss what good writing can bring to a game's experience.

Interactive Fiction platforms mentioned in this episode:

Check out some of Andrew's IF work:

  • Shade
  • Spider & Web
  • Hadean Lands

Other video games mentioned in this episode:

  • Colossal Cave Adventure
  • Zork
  • Donut County
  • 80 Days
  • Heaven's Vault
  • Galatea
  • AI Dungeon
  • No Man's Sky

Board games and analog IF mentioned in this episode:

  • Werewolf
  • 7th Continent
  • 1,001 Odysseys
  • Choose Your Own Adventure™ books
  • Meanwhile
  • Fighting Fantasy books
  • Leanna Fled the Cranberry Bog

If you would like to explore the world of IF, a good place to start is the Interactive Fiction Database - it's like the BGG of IF!

Some good games to start with (this is hardly an authoritative list):

  • 9:05 - You can easily play this in one sitting, and in most cases, you will want to immediately play again when you finish it the first time.
  • Photopia - This is a spectacularly well-written game, but it can bring up some intense emotions.
  • The Uncle Who Works for Nintendo - A fun horror game.
  • Howling Dogs - This is a work by Porpentine, whom Gil has raved about several times on the show and this episode. Be sure to find both endings.
  • Counterfeit Monkey - A fairly long game by Emily Short built around some remarkably brilliant word-manipulation mechanisms. You will likely need to use an emulator if you want to save your game and use the game's graphical map.

Enjoy exploring the IF rabbit hole!

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