"How to Play IF" card

At PAX we debuted the “How to Play Interactive Fiction” postcard. If somebody is sitting down in front of an IF game for the very first time, this card should give him or her an idea of what commands are likely to work – and what commands are likely to work. It’s not trying to teach everything an IF expert would know; it’s just conveying the pattern.

Was it a success? Heck if I know, but we gave away a couple hundred. People who looked at them seemed to exhibit varying degrees of “aha”.

I came up with the text, and Lea Albaugh (of the Interactive Fiction Writing Month) did the design and layout.

This is a public resource, and therefore we have posted the document to the Archive under a Creative Commons (BY-SA) license. You can print it out, package it with a game, translate it, reformat it, remix it, whatever you want, as long as you keep the license and credit the original creators.

The package is currently in the if-archive/unprocessed directory, but will eventually move to… I’m not sure what directory. Somewhere. We will also host it on the PR-IF web site in the next couple of weeks. In the meantime, you can check out the files at:


There’s a PDF, a bunch of image file formats, and then a plain HTML version. (The HTML version is an imperfect approximation of the PDF, but it should still be usable.)

(Note: the PAX postcard was two-sided, but this version only includes the business side. I figure if you’re printing more of them for an event, you want to tag it with your web site, not the Boston one.)

Those are so cool. I’m going to get some printed to drop into packages when my WIP is finished - wWhen I do, I’ll check with you and Emily to see how your supplies are. If you’re at all running low I’ll get some extras made and send them out.

The “Uncle Zarf” bit is very cute. :slight_smile:

Secretly I was thinking of “Uncle Shelby’s ABZ” when I wrote that. My first draft had much wilder font changes, for that crazy vibe.

Very useful. I may print a few as well, although I don’t often mention IF to the unfamiliar these days. I’d be interested in finding out how well the card helps a newbie really get into the flow of a typical game. At first glance it seemed like quite a lot of information, but it’s all essential. I kept thinking maybe I had spotted something it didn’t cover (such as “x” as an abbreviation for “examine”, or the “undo” command) but upon reading further, voila, there it all was.

New (permanent) URL: pr-if.org/doc/play-if-card/

Hahaha, sorry, but that’s the most amusing spam I’ve seen in a long time.

It’s definitely more clever than other attempts. I read it pre-coffee, and read quite more than I’d care to admit before it really clicked that something wasn’t right. At first I thought the poster was just hopelessly off-topic.

“Of all the reasons to get labeled as a bad player, I find bad play to be the highest on the gross offenses list.” So true.

At first I thought it was on topic… they thought there should be more about maps on the card! But then I read the next few words… and laughed :stuck_out_tongue:

Thanks to the stack Zarf brought to Swarthmore I’ve been dropping these on the train to Philly and in various libraries. Hoping to win some converts by ambush.

Thanks for this. I included it in on my blog. Hope that’s OK Andrew.