Comparing games of four prolific authors

I was thinking recently about how much Jon Ingold had experimented with games throughout the years, the same way Emily Short or Adam Cadre experiments, and I thought it was interesting how some of their games parallel each other. So I made a little table of 4 authors and a series of similar game concepts that they all worked on, as a way to compare and contrast games.

So, the authors are, in alphabetical order by first name, Adam Cadre (AC), Andrew Plotkin (AP), Emily Short (ES), and Jon Ingold (JI).

Flashback-based sci-fi game:

AC: Shrapnel
AP: Spider and Web
ES: Floatpoint
JI: Insight

Epic fantasy puzzler:
AC: Endless, Nameless
AP: Hadean Lands
ES: Savoir-Faire
JI: Sorcery! 3

First game, now disavowed: (Each of these authors has downplayed their first game in writing)
AC: I-0
AP: Inhumane
ES: Not made with hands
JI: Break-In

Most-rated game by this author on IFDB, a psychological, mostly puzzle-less offering:
AC: Photopia
AP: Shade
ES: Galatea
JI: All Roads

NPC-focused murder game
AC: Varicella
AP: The second half of Delightful Wallpaper
ES: Mystery House Possessed
JI: Make it Good

Hmmm… aren’t old-school puzzlers represented? Let’s see, Mulldoon Legacy, Savoir-Faire… does “A Change in the Weather” count? Or “So far”, which I haven’t played yet?

I don’t remember Cadre doing an old-school puzzler, unless you could a subset of Endless, Nameless.

Yeah, there were a lot of things that 3/4 of the authors had done.

From Emily Short’s description of Not Made With Hands:

/prepares to rip it off wholesale for Garbage Explorer

NMWH was never designed as a full-scale release, though! It was written to illustrate a point in a discussion; it’s like sub-speed-IF.

That’s true! Inhumane was written by a 14(?)-year old, so it’s similar. The other two games were disavowed for different reasons.

I actually like Not Made With Hands, though, it’s very mysterious.

So, if you make a game in all of these categories, does it automatically make you a successful IF author? :stuck_out_tongue: (One can always try… :wink: )

An epic flashback-based, scifi/fantasy, NPC-focused murder puzzler and/or puzzleless mystery…

The human brain can’t help but find patterns, right? I know I’ve already stretched my reasoning far in this post, but I realized today that these four authors are very similar to the four greatest opera composers: Verdi, Wagner, Puccini, and Mozart.

Cadre is like Puccini; only a few works, but they are the most popular ones in their field. A big focus on characterization and people, with impeccable technique.

Short is like Verdi: very prolific, with more ‘great works’ than anyone else. Verdi once wrote that he wanted to show the impossibility of human happiness; similarly, Short rejects the idea of an easy happy ending.

Ingold is like Mozart; creative techniques, with an emphasis on likability. Perhaps the most well-known name to the general public (from Mozart’s other work and from Inkle’s games).

Plotkin is like Wagner without the racism and ties to Nazis. They both have heavy, dark storylines with a lot of symbolism and focus on decay. Both were highly influential; they rejected works that focused on technical set pieces, and instead made the music (or puzzles) serve to tell the story. Plotkin has said that To Change the Weather and So Far helped convince people that games can be stories, and not just puzzly adventures (paraphrasing a lot here).

Does any of this matter? No, but I enjoy classifying things in different ways.

I guess this would make Porpentine Schoenberg or Stravinski, both of whom wrote operas that were shocking and which peopled claimed weren’t real music, but which opened the doors to much of modern music.