|11-05-2009, 08:13 PM||#1|
Join Date: Feb 2009
So I guess there's been an application for a while now that lets you play text adventures (Interactive Fiction as it's called these days) on your iPhone/iPod Touch. And if you're big into IF, you probably already know about it, but if you don't, it's called Frotz, and you might as well download it because it's free. It comes with a big stack of games that you can play, and it allows you to connect to the Interactive Fiction Archive and download... well, one or two titles from the archive, I guess.
I downloaded it recently, but it only served to remind me that I hate Interactive Fiction, so I deleted it again right away.
It really bothers me that I don't like IF. Like, sits in the back of my head and nags at me. I know it's a ridiculous thing to be bothered about, but... I really did like it at one point.
Like, I remember when I was in high school, and I was over at a friend's house, and he showed me Zork on his Commodore 64, and it just blew my mind. There was this whole world being described to you, and it seemed like you could do anything you wanted just by typing it in. That was a really cool concept to me back then, and in a lot of ways, it's still more interesting to me than some modern 3D full-immersion games.
And then there was this cool DOS game called The Multi-Dimensional Thief, which you should totally find and download because it's just so incredibly well put-together. The plot is that you're taking an aptitude test to join the guild of the multi-dimensional thieves, and the objective is to find the exit to a maze that's been put together by connecting ridiculously incohesive locations from all across space, time, and reality, because that's the sort of thing a multi-dimensional thief would have to put up with in his line of work -- jumping around between different points in reality at random. It's not even about thievery -- the whole point of the game was just to wander around these crazy rooms and play around with all of these crazy things that you find there. Like, one of the items you find very early on is a portable hole, which works exactly the way it did in the Looney Tunes cartoon. And I never got anywhere close to solving the game, but I didn't care because it was just so funny and creative.
And I knew how to program in BASIC, so at one point I figured out how to program a game like that on my own, and I made a couple. And they were all shit, but learning how to do it was kind of fun.
So when I got into college and found the Internet, I found out about people who were making games for free, and these free programs you could use to make your own games, and I thought great! This is what I've always wanted.
But... I dunno. There's just something about it that puts me off now. And I think it started with Curses!, which everyone was talking about when I first joined, and everyone was saying how awesome it was, the same way Nintendo fans went on about Ocarina of Time. So I downloaded it and I played it, and basically I just never got into it. It's like... You start the game, and it tells you the objective is to find this tourist map, and then when you get it, you discover it's the wrong one, and the game never really motivates you toward anything else. You wander around your house, and there are things to interact with and everything, and it seems like there's something you should be doing, but it's never really clear what?
And then there was Graham Nelson's next huge masterpiece, Jigsaw, which is described as a game about time travel, but all I ever got out of it is that it's a game about looking around a church for no particular reason, and then you run out of time and the game ends.
So for one thing, I hate how opaque Interactive Fiction is. And I hate how the fans seem to think that's a good thing. That's a terrible thing. If I need to consult a walkthrough to figure out what my objective is, let alone what steps I'm supposed to take toward that objective, then the game has done something wrong. It's bad.
And you know, there were some games that I liked. Jailbait on Interstate Zero is a terrific little game where you're a teenage girl stranded in the desert and you're trying to get home safely, and there's just all of these different ways you can reach the end of the game. Downtown Tokyo: Present Day is a fun game about a giant monster movie where you control the hero of the movie and a member of the audience simultaneously. Kissing the Buddha's Feet is a game where you have to silence all of your annoying friends so that your roommate can study for an upcoming test. And Conan Kills Everything is hilarious for the over-the-top way it delivers on the title -- you play as Conan, and to win the game, every single thing in your environment has to be destroyed in some fashion.
But when I download Frotz for my iPod and I look at the games it comes with, they're just... all these things with pretentious-sounding names, and none of them sound like they're going to be funny or interesting like that. I guess I just get this feeling like Interactive Fiction is becoming this serious thing and everyone who writes it takes it so seriously and it's this art form that needs to be preserved and cultivated, and... I dunno, I just feel like it's really hard to get into it for that reason.
What I should do is just make the sort of game I want to see. The Inform 7 system is just beautiful, as programming languages go. I love to write and I love to program. This seems like it should be a perfect fit for me. But I don't know, I just don't seem to have any interesting ideas for a game.
So yeah. Long, windy post. Anyone around here into IF? Am I insane, or does anyone else have sort of similar misgivings? Is there anything really great that I'm missing out on?