I’d be willing to wear a blonde wig for this. I like that sort of thing.
Well, I mean the liaising, not the wig, but the wig isn’t a deal killer I suppose.
Does anyone have any particular authors or IF luminaries in mind? Steve Meretzky and Dave Lebling come to mind. As do Adam Cadre and Sam Barlow (Her Story was an interesting take and certainly had IF-y design influences). Or even someone more tangentially related to IF like Bandersnatch (Black Mirror episode, Netflix) writer, Charlie Brooker?
The Following are suggestions made up through March 31st, 2022 and will compose the list for our initial efforts. (04.01.22)
Mentions thus far (not in any particular order):
Michael Townsend & Amir Rajan
Mark Crowe & Scott Murphy
Carl Muckenhoupt (a.k.a. “baf”)
Ben “Yahtzee” Croshaw
David Welbourn *
Chris Ainsley *
Garry Francis *
John Wilson RIP
Mike, Nicholas, and Pete Austin
Tristin Dean Grizel
Porpentine Charity Heartscape
Note: John Wilson was included only to prevent a repeat suggestion from someone who may not know he passed away. Any morbidity/disrespect due to his inclusion is not intended in any way.
1= @zarf will be rewarded one mug (fribblenitz-full of ale) for his participation.
Any new suggestions will be added below to be pursued after the first list is exhausted: (04.01.22)
I have lots of ideas for this, so feel free to completely disregard anything that would not be of interest to the community at large.
1.) Michael Townsend wrote the text adventure version of A Dark Room and Amir Rajan adapted it for the app store, and it was an unexpected bestseller, and a game that I simply adored. It’s a great example of how IF can cross over into the mainstream and be lucrative (something I imagine a lot of people here might be interested in). I’d love to hear from them about how they think this kind of crossover IF could be done by more people, and how that collaboration worked. There’s a New Yorker article about it from some years ago, but it doesn’t really answer the questions that IF writers might ask. Here’s the article:
2.) Neven Mrgan also wrote some great touchscreen IF-- Blackbar and Grayout. I don’t know how these did financially, but they were really interesting and managed to be old-school IF-ish while being perfectly adapted to touch. Obviously, adapting IF is an interest of mine.
3.) Arvi Teikari wrote Baba Is You, which blew me away. Some might argue that it’s not IF, but I think it is, and I’m really interested in how how the writer came to make a word/text game that solves spatial puzzles, and how that fits into the IF genre.
I like all four of your suggestions, and I especially like reaching out beyond traditional classic IF authors, as cool as it would be to include them.
Here’s some more unconventional suggestions:
1.) Raph Koster could actually be pretty interesting, given how much he thinks about the very very basics of game design. Here is his personal landing page and here’s a great GDC presentation he did for those unfamiliar with him.
2.) Mark Crowe and Scott Murphy of Sierra and Space Quest Fame would have some interesting takes on Parsers, even though their games weren’t strictly text-based. They’d also have some interesting takes on the early text-adventure market, as they were Infocom contemporaries and would have been familiar with their works and competition at the time. They share a landing page here.
3.) Steve Saylor has been an advocate for videogame accessibility for the blind, which seems open to some pointed questions regarding IF, and he’s just an interesting person in general. You can skim his YouTube Channel here and his landing page here
4.) Finally, probably of more interest to the younger crowd, Mark Brown is the creator of the Game Maker’s Toolkit, a YouTube channel dedicated to game design of all types and kinds. He also hosts an annual Game Jam on itch and puts together an Accessibility Round-up each year (here’s the most recent), looking at how the industry as a whole is improving (or not improving) accessibility. I could imagine some interesting questions coming from an IF viewpoint.
And because I am always looking for ways to insert my favorite celebrity, Disco the Parakeet (sadly now deceased), into any conversation, here is Disco mangling “I am serious, and don’t call me Shirley” among other ramblings:
Yes, this is real. Go down the Disco rabbit hole on YouTube and you will laugh until you cry.
So far, I’ve got the following folks listed for possible liaised Q&A, but about half of them are from myself. I am following up on this, so please include anyone you’d like to see included on this list. No one too small or too big or too tangential to suggest:
Michael Townsend & Amir Rajan
Mark Crowe & Scott Murphy
I’ll give this until the end of the month before I try to start reaching out to individuals and assessing interest. For those folks that are amenable, I’ll create separate individual specific topics to collect community questions; I’ll probably leave them up for 2-4 weeks. After that, I’ll consolidate and format them into a single document and forward them to relevant parties. As soon as any one of them returns a response, I’ll post it up under the Authoring category for all to see.
Assuming this works out at all, I’ll probably keep this topic alive for ongoing suggestions. Perhaps we can even make it a regular thing; that’s dependent on community response.
Aaron Reed might be interesting to add to the list - beyond organizing Spring Thing and his recently-completed 50 years of text games series, I think there’s potentially a lot to dig into around his efforts to make IF more accessible and how/whether his current work in pen and paper rpgs connects with how he thinks about IF.
Carl Muckenhoupt a.k.a “baf” is an IF old-timer and worked at Telltale Games. Ben “Yahtzee” Croshaw of Zero Punctuation wrote three Inform games (and lots of point-and-clicks). Rian Johnson, film director (The Last Jedi etc) is an Infocom fanboy.
Another idea would be to get in touch with @GiannisG about his video series “Learning from the Finest”. If you knew what game he was going to do next, it would make sense to do Q&A with that author, if they’d be willing, and release their answers at the same time as the video.
No dates, no reason to increase your stress, but if we planned this correctly, it could actually reduce the number of crickets you hear when releasing your videos.
We could let folks know that we are collecting AMA questions for a specific author (with that author’s consent of course) in anticipation of a future video release in this series. It’d be a great way to increase buzz and engagement with the video without committing to a release date. I’d be sure to post the AMA results the same day you announce the video and I’d also crosslink your video announcement inside the AMA post.
If this sounds amenable to you, please feel free to discuss this further through direct message.
For what it’s worth, during today’s ClubFloyd session, Pinkunz suggested that my name might be added to the list. And I said I’m agreeable, but I can’t promise that anything I’d have to say would be all that impressive or useful. And it’s likely you’ll all learn how much of an idiot I really am, how many biases and how many blindspots I have. But it could be interesting, I suppose, since I’m more of a player than an author, and the questions for me would likely be somewhat different than the usual ones.
You certainly have an immense amount of play experience, and likely could answer author questions about optimal game structure from the perspective of writing walkthroughs. You basically analyze games and puzzle structure from the opposite end than the creator, and certainly could provide valuable insight - even if it may not seem that way to you.
Garry Francis @Warrigal was recommended by Tristin Grizel Dean @Grizel and Chris Ainsley @adventuron was recommeded by myself. Both have graciously accepted and were added to the list at the top of this thread.
Additional point, I will be adding an asterisk to those folks who’ve preemptively accepted, and will strike those who preemptively decline. The remaining haven’t been contacted yet because we’ve got a little over a week yet.
There are so many interesting characters in the IF world that I don’t know where to start. As I’m more into the retro scene, I’d like to see some of the old timers interviewed. I would have suggested John Wilson of Zenobi fame, but, unfortunately, he passed away last year. I think adventure historian Gareth Pitchford @8bitAG would have some interesting stories to tell. I would love to hear from Peter Kirsch, author of many of the SoftSide Adventure of the Month series, but I doubt that he is still in the IF scene. Does anyone know how to contact him?
Some of the Infocom implementors are still accessible. Marc Blank, Michael Berlyn, Brian Moriarty and Bob Bates are obvious ones to include. Scott Adams, Brian Howarth, the Austin brothers (Level 9 Computing), Peter Killworth and Jonathan Partington were prolific authors.
As I scan the list, I note an absence of female contributors. How about Dorothy Millard, Doreen Barden, Sue Medley and Amy Briggs to name just a few. There are many, many more. Jam winners Tristin Dean Grizel @Grizel and Dee Cooke @dee_cooke did a very interesting podcast with Chris Ainsley just recently.
Others that spring to mind are the reclusive Graham Nelson (author of Inform), David Kinder @DavidK (maintainer of Inform 6 compiler), David Griffith @DavidG (maintainer of Inform 6 standard library), Johan Berntsson @johanberntsson and Fredrik Ramsberg @fredrik (PunyInform), Hugo Labrande @mulehollandaise (Tristam Island and Remember newsletter).
And please try to include some of the lesser known authors. I’m sure they all have interesting stories to tell.