West of the House and Examining the Mailbox

Now that Script Frenzy is over (at least for this year), I am considering writing an interactive fiction game during any free time I have during the summer.  Sure, I’ve sort of dabbled in this sort of thing before, but I’m hoping this time, I can get past designing the first room and its random objects.

The biggest obstacle, obviously, is learning how to code the game.  I’m a microbiologist by training, not a computer programmer.  In some ways, computer code scares me a lot more than those terrible medical pictures scientists love to put in biomedical lectures.  Why?  I think it basically boils down to flexibility.  Although there may be certain “bad” outcomes in a biological situation, things can be flexible.  There isn’t necessarily one single solution.  Computer code, on the other hand, can come crashing down if you misplace a single bracket.

So why even bother? Interactive fiction is an interesting concept.  Just as computer code on its own is inflexible,  most fiction is a one way street–the author has control of the narrative and tells the reader what happens.  The reader has no input into where the story is headed.  But by melding of fiction and computer code, two seemingly static things, we get flexibility mimicking the real world.  In IF, the reader (or rather, the player) can manipulate the author’s fictional world and create a unique narrative.  So in a way, the resulting story is a collaboration between the author and the reader.

For the next couple of months (if nothing more shiny shows up in the meantime), I’m going to use this blog to chronicle my attempts at writing an interactive fiction game.

I’ve already picked out which design system I will be using (Inform 7).  So far, I have three ideas: 1) a character trying to retrieve a hidden text in a library; 2) my failed 2009 Script Frenzy project; 3) and a mysterious tree house that is bigger on the inside than the outside.  I am not completely happy with any of these ideas, so I suppose I will continue to brainstorm.