Okay, so sometime around the beginning of the year I declared on this blog that I had a secret hobby project for 2008. After being coy for awhile, I revealed what it was: to write a text-based computer game for the annual Interactive Fiction Competition. (Judge the dorkitude of that as you will.) Interactive fiction games were commercially viable when made by a company called Infocom in the early 1980’s, and then re-emerged afterward as a hobbyist programming community. The project involved me learning Inform 7, a computer language for writing Interactive Fiction.
Writing turned out to be way more difficult and involved than I was expecting. I had someone I know beta-test the first version, and it was so ridiculous buggy that I decided I needed to find complete strangers to help with the next two betas, because then I would feel less embarrassed about how defective it was. I started to understand why 2/3 of the people who register on the competition website as intending to enter the contest end up not finishing their games. But, in the end, I got mine done.
My stated goal was to finish eighth or above in the contest, although my secret goal was to finish fifth or higher. How did I do?
As far as I could tell from sources online, I’m the first person to win the competition with their first-ever game. I am also the first person to win with a game whose protagonist is a graduate student.
Anyway, my game is featured today on Jay Is Games, leading site for “casual” computer games. The review is written by Emily Short, who is arguably the top person in contemporary Interactive Fiction, which makes this a double-joy.
Important note: the version posted on the Jay Is Games site produces an error message along with the text a couple times in the game (although my understanding is that the message doesn’t otherwise affect play). This error is with their software for playing my game, and not with my game. The game plays fine on the options it lists for playing outside a browser on a Windows/Mac, and it plays properly on this site as well.