Opinions on Bitsy? Is it IF?

I did try to learn early versions of Blender. It was hopeless. v3.0 is SO much better, and it only took them (checks Wikipedia) 28 years to get it right.

Meanwhile…(glancing sideways at GIMP, Inkscape, etc…)

Using Unicode symbols as building blocks to create graphical elements would be essentially similar to ASCII roguelikes or ASCII art in general, and would, IMO, not be the same kind of textual presentation and gameplay that IF has.

In principle, you could build an entire graphical point-and-click adventure out of carefully chosen & assembled symbols, but that wouldn’t make it IF.

Roguelikes and similar games use those symbols to directly build and depict the environment and the goings-on (in lieu of graphics), whereas IF games use the symbols (letters) to build words and sentences which describe the environment and the goings-on. In my view, that’s an important difference.

(But if the pictures are just a non-essential embellishment to a game that’s told in prose and receives commands in textual form (typing words to be parsed, or clicking on words to make a choice), it could/would be IF. I agree with what Adrian said above on the overall question.)

Edited to add:
Regarding Bitsy games, in my impression, they’re more akin to minimalist graphical adventures (or maybe form a subgenre of their own), as there’s usually a graphic representation of the environment, and you move a sprite around that environment, and the interaction also centrally involves that sprite (it’s not just that a sprite is overlaid upon a background as in VNs, but rather so that one of the core interactions is walking into objects and people, somewhat similar to JRPGs). They’re a different kind of experience from what I regard as IF.

A possible narrative focus, if it exists, is IMHO a bit of a red herring, to a certain extent. Graphical point-and-click adventures, immersive 3D “walking sims” (I’m not using the term derogatorily) with voice-over or text pop-ups, RPGs and others can all have a lot of text and a heavy focus on story and characters, but they aren’t IF, in my view.

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Yes, I have seen some IF games that use full ASCII grid maps, and others that just use symbols in place of the text.

I actually had two games in mind but I can’t remember the title of either. I think the one with symbols-for-words is a little better known. I think the premise was that it was from the perspective of a child, and therefore used that picture book convention?

Does anyone know the one I am talking about?

I’m also thinking now that the Twine game do not forget is relevant to the discussion since it is sort of the opposite of a Bitsy game.

In “Do not forget,” you are primarily interacting with the text. However the graphical map is not totally irrelevant since it is necessary or at least useful for navigation.

In Bitsy games you are primarily interacting with the map; however, the text is not totally irrelevant since that text can tell you where to go.

In either one you can probably brute force your way to the end by randomly clicking (Do not forget) or by hitting the arrow keys (Bitsy).

I will be partial to the conversation as, as part of a team of gamedev, we’re planning to make a bitsy-like game with a forked clone of bitsy we affectionnally name Binksi that is essentially a 2D renderer for a script that exists primarily as an ink script (the narrative language of inkle for those not familiar with it).

We asked ourselves that very same question in relation to submitting to SpringThing and whether our game fit the above mentionned definition. In my own personnal opinion, it does, because the game will be entirely playable from top to bottom in the default ink player. Playing in the bitsy player certainly eases movement and allow more interactions that would otherwise clutter and make the number of choices unbearable in pure text format, but I’d say that this is only an affordance to get around the intrinsic limitations of the choice-based interactive fiction.

All member of the team are primarily writers and/or narrative designers usually doing twines, ink text games or linear kinetic novels so maybe it’s just that we see everything under that prism of Interactive Fiction : « we usually do IF, so if we do something different, it must also be IF » (which may very well be flagged as a fallacy).


I actually designed an adventure game like what you said, except instead of sprites, mine is circles, rectangles, and squares. Maybe someday I’ll implement it. It was an exercise in geometric collision detection. It has an extra dimensionality to it due to the nature of forms and space. I imagine bitsy is nothing more than choice IF in 2 dimensional form, assuming that is the goal.

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