August 15, 2011

Hacking The Web With Interactive Stories

I recently made The Parable of The Hackasaurus, which is a game-like attempt to make web-hacking easy to learn through a series of simple puzzles in the context of a story. The parable is really more of a proof-of-concept that combines a bunch of different ideas than an actual attempt at interactive narrative, though. The puzzles don’t actually have anything to do with the story, for instance. But I wanted an excuse to do something fun with the vibrant art that Jessica Klein has made for the project, while also exploring possibilities for the Hack This Game sprint and giving self-directed learners a path to understanding how the Hackasaurus tools work. ... Read more

January 8, 2011

My Minecraft Adventure

I did not expect to enjoy this game. My friend Mike was completely obsessed with Minecraft, and Dave Humphrey blogged a bit about all the amazing things people had done with it: creating replicas of the German Reichstag, the U.S.S. Enterprise, working CPUs. All creative uses of cognitive surplus. But I still didn't think that it was for me. When visiting Washington, D.C. in the last days of December 2010, I finally sat down with Mike and he showed me how to play. ... Read more

August 10, 2008

Parchment on the iPhone

I recently spent time making Parchment work properly on my new iPhone 3G. The iPhone has been my first foray into the world of the mobile web, and getting Parchment to work well on it was an interesting experience. Some of the challenges I faced involved getting the iPhone’s on-screen keyboard to display properly—Parchment doesn’t actually have any text input fields on it, so by default the iPhone didn’t think that users had to enter text—and modifying some processor-intensive JavaScript code so that the iPhone didn’t think that Parchment had gone into an infinite loop. ... Read more

June 29, 2008

Learning How to Write Interactive Fiction

Yesterday I tried learning Inform 7. I’m not sure how I feel about the documentation for this language; on the one hand, like its predecessor, the DM4 for Inform 6, it’s extremely thorough and well-written. On the other hand, one aspect of the DM4 that made it among my favorite programming books—perhaps one of my favorite books, period—was its exercises, which made experiencing the book fairly interactive. The act of reading a relatively short amount of text and then putting one’s newly-found knowledge to use in the solving of a difficult problem not only helped reinforce the knowledge for me, but it was also fun. ... Read more

June 15, 2008

Introducing Parchment

A few weeks ago, I started a small project to create a user interface for something called a Z-Machine: a virtual machine created by Infocom in the late 1970’s to run their text adventure games—the most famous among them being Zork, which is apparently what the “Z” in Z-Machine stands for. These games, as their name suggests, are completely text-based; Infocom’s 1984 masterpiece The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, for instance, opens with this passage: ... Read more

April 24, 2008

Information Complexity and the Downfall of the Adventure Game

Back in 2005, I wrote a tentative article for The Game Chair titled Information Complexity and the Downfall of the Adventure Game, but due to some annoying legal issues, it never got published there. A little under a year ago, I contacted my favorite gaming magazine, The Escapist, to see if they’d be interested in publishing it, and they were. It was subsequently featured in issue 116 last September, but I just realized that I never mentioned it here. ... Read more

July 25, 2005

Façade - Second and Final Play

This game is not fun. I don't mean that as an insult; it's just an observation. I mean, how could mediating an argument that may result in the dissolution of a marriage possibly be amusing? There's a good reason that the authors call this an interactive drama and not a game.

... Read more

July 13, 2005

Façade - First Play Session

Gaming is born of conflict. From chess to Super Mario Bros. to Halo, it's always had something to do with disharmony, the player's mission to set things right being the impetus for gameplay.

It's no surprise, then, that the story of Façade, a one-act interactive drama, involves a battle of wills and charged emotion. Being the mediator in a pivotal argument that could easily lead to the dissolution of a marriage is probably about as tenuous as being caught in the line of fire between two opposing armies, if not moreso, and Façade faithfully depicts this psychological battleground with terrifying aplomb.

... Read more

July 12, 2005

Façade - Prologue

A lot of gamers have always longed for the kind of games that are like their favorite novels and films. Something that, for instance, carries with it the same emotional impact and capacity for provoking thought as an award-winning play.

... Read more

© Atul Varma 2017