SpeedIF is interactive fiction written to a premise in a short time, in a mini-minicomp-like format. SpeedIF Jacket is one way of producing those premises. (Normally we just run SpeedIF on ifMUD, but I thought I’d try opening it up a little.)
People interested in participating should supply a list of jacket blurbs – five is a minimum requirement, ten to fifteen is a good number, more is not a problem – by 5 PM EDT on Friday, April 8th. Then I shuffle them up and randomly assign each individual author their own set of quotes, and they set to work on making a game that fits those quotes. They turn it in by, let’s say, 23:59 EDT on Friday, April 15th. Both of these operations should be addressed to magadog, care of gmail.
What’s a blurb?
A blurb is one of those short quotes that appear on book jackets, movie posters and similar forms of advertising dressed up as bite-sized review. Often they’re meaningless praise – “A tour de force”, “A major new talent has emerged” – but lampooning the form is a long-established tradition, some writers include excerpts from their more entertainingly critical reviews, and some do both (as in the Metropolitan Police spokesman quoted on the back cover of Banksy’s Wall and Piece, “There’s no way you’re going to get a quote from us to use on your book cover”.) Usually, they’re a single sentence or a fragment. Two sentences is okay if they’re short and snappy.
The sort of blurbs that would be useful here are ones that give some information, but only a little. “A masterpiece of ironic perversity set in a brilliantly realized city” is pretty good, although ‘masterpiece’ and ‘brilliantly realized’ don’t add much except style. “I liked the bit with the dog” isn’t bad. “A brilliant work of the imagination and the intellect working in union” may be true, but is worthless for our purposes. Scathing criticism – “[The author] does not appear to actually understand most of the jargon that bloats [their] unremarkable prose” – is every bit as helpful as praise.
Can I use quotes excerpted from existing reviews?
If you want to and you find some good ones, sure, although it’s probably more fun to write your own. In any case, it’s a good idea to poke at a few examples beforehand, just to get a feel for the style.
Can I still take part if I turn up after April 8?
Yes, but you’ll have less time to finish and you won’t be able to supply blurbs. You’ll get leftovers from existing participants instead, and less time to finish your game. If you show up after April 15 you’re out of luck.
Aren’t these things meant to be written in two hours?
That’s the classic ideal, yes. Personally, I find speedIF more satisfying when it’s had a little more time and thought invested in it, but YMMV. Do as your heart mandates.
What if I get blurbs that I don’t like?
You don’t have to use every blurb. To be honest, if your creative process goes off on a series of wild tangents and ends up looking totally unrelated to the quotes, that’s okay too.
Who judges the entries?
SpeedIF isn’t a contest.
Then what’s to stop me submitting any old unfinished crap?
Honour system. The respect of your peers. It’s polite to enter something that is reasonably winnable.
I am a very serious person and disdain to squander my creative energies upon the tomfoolery that is SpeedIF.
Serious speed-IF makes up a pretty small minority of the form, but it’s not unknown. A few speedIFs have won or been nominated for Xyzzies. Some speedIFs have even been betatested.
That said, the baseline for speedIF is definitely silly, inconsequential, sketchily-implemented games; anything more than that is great, of course, but there’s no pressure to write anything spectacular.
I’d rather not use email – can I just post my quotes on the forum or talk to you on ifMUD or something?
Yes, as long as it gets to me.