[Rosebush] What articles are you interested in seeing?

I want to make clear right off of the bat that I am not involved in any official capacity with The Rosebush's staff, and am just an enthusiastic cheerleader.

Something that’s come up in discussion over with the Neo-Interactives general chat is that despite there being an appetite for articles, it seems that sometimes people weren’t sure of what to pitch, or didn’t know if people would be interested in reading what they had in mind, and the verve sort of fizzled out at some point.

Some people had already mentioned some ideas they’ve had simmering away in the background, but I figured collecting some responses into a tidy thread might help either inspire people, or help orient them in terms of what others are also submitting to the magazine, to make it all feel a little more inviting and less scary. Plus, who doesn’t love rabbiting on about plot bunnies?

As a reminder from their page, The Rosebush is a platform where ‘in-depth analyses, theory articles, discussions of craft, interviews, historical explorations, and so on, can be published,’ aiming for ‘substantial articles that increase our understanding of interactive fiction, from individual works or authors to design patterns, community structures and historical trends,’ with an explicit inclusion of parser and choice fiction, the communities surrounding IFComp, the SpringThing, the IFDB and so on, and adjacent groups such as the Choice of Games community and retro text adventures. They note that tabletop roleplay games, computer roleplay games, and choose-your-own-adventure books are not their primary topic.

Articles should ideally clock in at 1,500+ words, and authors can submit complete articles or short pitches, with no closing date for submissions and articles published on a rolling basis. Having worked with one of their editors, Mike Russo, to polish the interview with Manon I have published with them, it’s a very breezy process and very enjoyable. Mike’s a great guy.

Anyway, if you have any topics you’d really like to see in an article on The Rosebush, feel free to share below!



An article that I don’t feel qualfiied to write would be one focusing on the art of translation in interactive fiction that’s either been adapted from another language, or is available in more than one (as is common with some French/English games.)

The difference in narrative and language conventions (such as some of the confusion around Linus’ gender in Solkatt that people in the Neo-Interactives spoke about, due to the name reading as masculine to English speaking audiences, and French speaking audiences picking up on the use of feminine gendered pronouns) and how it influences interactive fiction seems like it would be really interesting to read about from someone more informed on the topic.

There’s also the difficulties in terms of straddling word-to-word fidelity and conveying the meaning, or feeling of a piece- and how subtle changes in the intonation or cultural associations can warp a piece. I imagine it would be really interesting to hear from someone more involved in the visual novel scene, where Japanese/English translations are more common, and issues pertaining to localization or loan words crop up.

Similarly, I only feel perhaps half qualified to write this one- tracking the progression from the commonality of the AFGNCAAPC, to the highly customized, wildly detailed and personalized protagonists that have emerged in the Choice of Games style.

Of particular interest would be the cultural context and player expectations surrounding this stylization, such as increased audience diversity, or the desire to roleplay a character because of genre conventions (romance), and how this works for, or not at all, for different interactive fiction communities in generalities.

There is also the craft element as well, and to what degree interactive fiction can benefit from characterization of the protagonist. The use of different story point of views and tenses also contributes to the amount that roleplay might provoke dissonance, if the protagonist does something the reader absolutely wouldn’t, breaking the suspension of disbelief, versus being in the position of merely guiding a pre-determined figure in a story, or creating their own little character from scratch wholesale.

I’m really only somewhat familiar with the more hyper detailed protagonists in the modern era, and it would be nice to hear from someone with a more established history or personal experience of the AFGNCAAPC running rampant.


First off… great idea, Sophia. I thought about what I’d like to read in The Rosebush, but always felt like you had to have something so concrete that just tossing an idea out there would be perceived as an annoyance. This feels like a great way to present some ideas and gather feedback without the pressure.

Also, what does AFGNCAAPC mean?

And while I have some of The Rosebush staff’s attention, I just wanted to say that the logo for the site is top notch. I absolutely love the thorns being the compass directions of classic IF. It’s one of those “that’s really clever” design choices. Brilliant. Curious, who designed it?



It’s a term that I first heard about on here from Daniel, I think, haha. It’s short for stands for ‘Ageless, Faceless, Gender Neutral, Culturally Ambiguous Adventure Person,’ though I think when I’ve seen people use the PC ending, it’s meant to be short for Player Character. They were a lot more common in parser fiction that’s a bit older from my understanding- but I’m also not very informed or super involved in the parser side of the scene!


I want to tidy up my post about ableism/schizophrenia portrayal in slouching toward bedlam and make it a wider look at good and bad mental disability depiction in IF in general, especially for disabilities outside of depression/anxiety/PTSD* (DID, schizophrenia, delusions, bipolar, ADHD, OCD, etc). it feels like it’d take a lot of research though.

I even made a poll requesting relevant games on the IFDB.

*i was initially intending to include PTSD but after Kastel’s legible trauma article i’m not sure i’d add anything


I wish someone would do extensive research about people who like to read and solve puzzles but who don’t play IF. And then crunch all that data and show us exactly why people who should play don’t. An actual data-driven article instead of all this speculation and anecdotal stuff.

It would also be cool to see a breakdown of the change in IF norms over time. Like, when exactly did cruelty fall out of favor and why? When did puzzle-less games get a toehold (I think maybe Photopia was the catalyst?) and how has that changed the player base?

**Edit-- by “speculation and anecdotal stuff,” I mean about why people don’t play IF, not that Rosebush articles are just speculative and anecdotal. Although nothing wrong with either one in many types of articles.


I like reading articles that help with the authoring of IF. A couple of ideas that come to mind are…

  1. The power of perspective. First, second and third person, plus whatever else is out there. Perspective can change a story dramatically and I wonder if there is a deep dive that could be done on that topic alone.

  2. Humour in IF. This might be a good interview article with someone known for their ability to deliver. I wonder what words of wisdom a respected comedic author could impart. As long as it’s not Joe Pesci, I think we’d all be safe.Classic scene from Goodfellas (1990)


One thing that’d be cool is an article comparing interactive fiction to other types of hobbyist fiction released online for free, and the communities around them. Fanfiction’s a big one. There’s some overlap of fanfiction and interactive fiction, and a fair number of interactive fanfics listed on AO3 (fun fact, Abigail Corfman’s Spring Thing Astarion fanfic has its own AO3 page). Also interactive webcomics, Homestuck being the most famous example. Quests, which I made a post about a while ago. Web serials, which I mentally catalogue with those giant Choice of Games IFs since both tend to get worked on for years and achieve enormous word counts and maybe loyal fanbases if you’re lucky. Plus all the other random self-published stories that are just floating out there, on the internet. (9MOTHER9HORSE9EYES9, anyone?) TV Tropes is the best catalogue of them in my opinion, and maybe the only one. It’s also got a page for interactive fiction and some IF games have their own pages (which I’ve been meaning to crosslink on IFDB for a while. Made another post about it too). Maybe tie it into how self-publishing and amateur writing work in general, or something.

They’re all interesting spaces since they’re a way to get people to read your stuff without having to go through the standard affair of finding a literary agent and publisher and whatever other hoops you have to jump through to get into an industry that seems to me oddly divorced from mainstream culture nowadays. It seems like the book industry has settled into its own niches of doing things and only accepts very specific types of writing that fits into those niches. To get published you have to know people who know people or have an MFA from Iowa. This very depressing blog post about the state of the book industry is where I got that from. Yeah it’s entirely anecdotal and doesn’t cite anything, but the author seems like he knows what he’s talking about.

It reminds me of the whole AAA versus indie games thing. One is a lumbering behemoth only willing to work on stuff that might be financially profitable and the other is full of more experimental unusual stuff that nobody would ever want to officially release under the umbrella of a large corporate type organization. And a lot of awful stuff too, because that’s the nature of self-published anything, but there are gems out there that get ignored because of the dominant culture and the sense that only stuff published by real companies/publishing houses are real and worth paying attention to.

So something about that, maybe. I guess I wrote more than I meant to, and don’t know how much is actually true or just based on gut feelings. Maybe I went off topic. Whoops.


An article about translation would be really cool. I actually had no clue about the gender of the player in Solkatt until now, think I ended up using ‘they’ in my review since I wasn’t sure. I’ve always wished there was more of an effort to translate IF across various languages. Right now a lot of games in non-English languages aren’t accessible in English and vice versa. You have to use Google Translate or something, which is very flawed. I’ve always wanted to try my hand at English translations of some non-English games (probably in French since that’s a language I almost know, and I might do better than Google Translate if I used a lot of dictionaries), for accessibility or archival or whatever. Having a translated version of a French game to refer to, even if I did the translation myself, would be better than having to rely on Google Translate or my few years of learning French to understand what’s going on. Maybe?


I remember Josh sharing in the Neo-Interactives that it would be nice to see some more articles in the Craft section, since it’s a little underpopulated compared to some of the other categories, and something that I’d find interesting would be a look into some of the tools people use for authoring interactive fiction. There is, of course, the obvious choice of authoring language, (Inform 6/7, Twine, TADS, Ink, Choicescript, and so on)…

But something that I’ve seen pop up over and over again is the use of Twine as a planning tool for some visual novel developers who primarily work in Ren’py but appreciate the visualization of the flow chart to map out dialogue trees or character good/bad endings. It sort of stuck with me, because I found it interesting how it was used to supplement the creative process, not necessarily as the main tool to author inside of, and it was sort of novel to me that there was this whole world of Twine games, and then people using the exact same tool to make an entirely different sort of game.

There’s also a lot of squabbling you can get into when it comes to writer’s tools, or plotting sheets or author bibles, but I do find it curious how people map out their parser games (Dan was playing around with some Lincoln logs or legos or whatever awhile ago, lots of people use pen and paper, some people fire up Trizbort, apparently.)

There’s also a little group of us who use fountain pens- it was one of the first things Amanda and I had ever talked about briefly when I was new to the forums, Jinx, Zed, and I are the resident fountain pen geeks in the Neo-Interactives, and Arlo uses them occasionally as well (they’ve dabbled with brewing their own ink) and I’d like a little sneak peek into the decidedly old fashioned practice as applied to a sort of similarly oldschool sort of videogame development (particularly when hyper-realism and dewy skin details are all the rage).

In an ideal world, it’d be an interview of some interesting people and their writing process, with a particular eye for people who do stuff that I find slightly unusual (like the use of Twine as merely a mapping tool) or oldfashioned in a charming way (fountain pens being involved in their drafting process), and maybe some cool organizational tips if people are quirky in that regard. (Kind of curious how people comment and organize their code, since I’ve seen in Inform 7 circles that that can quickly spiral out of control and chaptering your chunks makes it a lot easier.)

Not really a prescriptive article, but just an examination of some methods that the reader might or might not find useful. Maybe identifying some trends (could include some brief community pollings to shore up the data, or whatever. And pop in some graphs for the graphics for visual interest from that.)


I would really like to read an article about multiplayer IF—surveying the various attempts over the years, investigating some of the methods authors used, etc.


As someone who has recently written a theoretical(?) article for The Rosebush, I would like to see more interviews with fellow creators and the ways to visualize choice and structure.

I usually work in visual novels, so when I first encountered articles by Sam Kabo Ashwell on choice structure, it blew my mind. Few people in visual novels will ever systematize the branching paths into so many interesting categories and I’ve learned a lot from reading this article. I always share it with others interested in visual novel design, but I also wonder if it is possible to update it knowing how there are a few titles that don’t neatly coincide with the categories Ashwell used.

Here are some other ideas I’ve considered pitching before the trauma games article took over my life and I needed a break from theoretical writing:

  • Current Trends in Visual Novels and Interactivity: Less Branching, More Storytelling — Visual novels have recently dropped branching and choice for various reasons. It would be interesting to examine why (I have my own theories for the Japanese side at least: they’ve become detrimental to storytelling).
  • An Overview of Japanese Visual Novels, 50 Years-Styled — I enjoyed Aaron Reed’s history of interactive fiction and will like to take a stab at it with Japanese visual novels. Of course, this would be more a series.
  • The Confluence of Tabletops and Interactive Fiction — I’ve always found it fascinating how these two niches coincide in interesting way. We have the second-person narration from the DM/parser guiding us and some of the early IFs are indeed inspired by DnD. I also think it’s interesting that games like E. Joyce’s Dungeons and Distractions play with this format.
  • Slice-Of-Life IF: A Theoretical Approach — The less exhausting cousin of the Trauma Games article, it would explore how people design mundane activities in parser/choice/hypertext in different ways and what it says about the synergies between game design and regular activities.

As for craft, I would like to see discussion of:

  • Common Workarounds in Inform 7 and the Weird Tricks People Use — I’ve always liked how Inform 7 code reads so weirdly and it’s a blast hearing how people solve problems in it.
  • Twine CSS and How to Use It Effectively — Several people in the parser world are interested in designing Twine games, so it might be worthwhile to have an article for it.

Adding onto that, I am very curious about the different approaches taken by puzzleless parser games. Titles like Photopia after all differ from A Mind Forever Voyaging and After the Accident.


Having conducted one of the interviews currently up on The Rosebush, I really enjoyed that process and had a great time sitting down for a chat with Manon: I think it’d be a fun thing to take another stab at with someone else.

(Though, we conducted it in a little bit of a non-traditional way: I came up with a list of questions I had for her after we both sat down and generated some bullet points on general themes, we workshopped them, she answered them, and we met again for a quick polish and go over to make it feel a bit more coherent: all done asynchronously through text.)

Most of my close friends in the IF world either don’t seem particularly open to the idea of doing an interview (often due to feeling as if they haven’t participated enough in the realm), or are too busy, though, so it’s kind of been just an absent thought floating in the pea brain soup.

I had thought about sitting down with Tabitha perhaps, especially as we’ve been chatting a bit more since they’ve joined our TTRPG sessions: I’ve been an admirer of their writing for awhile, so it’s been quite exciting having them join our play-by-post styled campaign, and we do share some crossover in terms of writing character centric, romance with an LGBT cast, so I’m sure there’s a discussion to be had there- but wasn’t sure if people would be interested in something like that. So it’s good to hear there’s someone who would be!

This is also a topic I’ve been mulling over- but I had worried it was too off topic for The Rosebush, since it is like, TTRPG stuff. But the Neo-Interactives founding members all met / grew out of a TTRPG campaign for a Goncharov TTRPG that’d been submitted to the Goncharov Jam, so there’s that tie in that I find really interesting.

But I also often find myself in a position where I’m teaching people either years out of rusty practice with adjacent styles of roleplay (usually a smaller scale, or less prose-y), or completely new to collaborative writing how to play along, and I think I’ve done a pretty good job at it so far: I’ve converted one into my most steady writing partner, and gotten a good review from the latest little meowmeow to hop into the kitten basket, haha! But, there is a lot of transfer in terms of the dynamism and creating a fun world for fellow writers to play in, that I think would work well in terms of writing IF too…

Also, with our current campaign, we’re all IF writers- Tabitha, Manon, Jinx, and myself: and have vague plans to transmute our campaign into a work of interactive fiction, playing with some of the presentation I’ve explored in other tiny little IF projects… Plus Jinx and I have already used our TTRPG characters from a former Butterfly Court campaign (also run with the Neo-Interactives) in several little games of IF, which has been slightly confusing for some people with my many AUs of Andrey, hahaha. But yeah! This is definitely an area of interest for me.


Yall might find Aaron Reed’s keynote for Narrascope 2019 interesting, he talked about this. Not that it can’t be explored further.


And if you like the talk, it’s a distillation of his 400+ page PhD thesis, heh. Though I think the talk hits a lot of the high points.

And yeah, definitely more area to be explored there…


Theoretically I’m still working on that article about how parser games evolved into VNs in Japan (I do intend to finish it, I swear, I’ve just been having an… interesting year), but it definitely would be cool to see people tackle other VN-related topics, especially covering more recent games. I don’t play as many as I used to and would love to hear about what’s going on in the medium.


I’ve thought about how to tackle this because there’s a lot of angles I can take, but I’m not sure what would be helpful for readers. If someone like me were to write an article on current visual novels, what kind of aspects would people be interested in?


Man… There are a bunch of cool examples too with this (like Dysfluent from the last IFcomp, The Last Sanctuary by Sjoerd, I think my own DOL-OS would apply there). But you don’t know if something is effective until… a bunch of people play it :joy:

I’d love to write something about it, but I’ve realised I would not be able to string coherent thoughts on the matter, and there’s also the issue that the different formats do things differently, with Harlowe and its (enchant:) macro and SugarCube being like nah just use HTML/CSS…)


I was mostly thinking of something about recent trends—how are the popular VNs these days (either in a specific category or across a range of categories) different from, say, ten years ago?—but I’d also be happy to see a deep dive into how a particular VN or set of similar VNs handle a particular topic, or how a particular VN’s use of art/visual design and music enhance its narrative, or the ways the Japanese and English VN scenes have diverged (maybe even bringing Chinese VNs into it—my sense is that they’ve diverged less, but I haven’t played a ton)… there are a lot of possible areas to cover!


There’s a whole genre of narrative focused TTRPGs you should check out. They seem to use a lot of the same techniques used in IF computer games.