Which authors have inspired you?

As I’ve been writing the author highlights, I’ve often said “so and so’s work inspired many other authors”. But most of that is gleaned from past interviews or online comments.

It’d be interesting to hear from more people about their inspirations.

What IF authors do you take your inspiration from? Have you ever consciously imitated or borrowed from another author’s style? Did another aithor’s Game give you an idea?

For me, the first game I wrote, Ether, was inspired Short’s Meramorphoses and Plotkin’s Dual Transform.

Ive consciously tried to imitate Ryan Veeder and Brendan Hennessy in writing, and I’ve been inspired by CMG in game design.

I’ve counted the puzzles in Brain Guzzlers from Beyond, Coloratura and Detectiveland to estimate how big my games should be, because I thought they worked out really well.

What are your inspirations?

If we’re talking IF authors that inspire us, two names I can mention that have made games that inspired me are Jim Munroe (for Everybody Dies) and Michael Gentry (for Anchorhead).

It’s different for each game as I try and do something new every time. So, to pick one example:

In late 2011 I played Paul Stanley’s Three More Vistors and Andrew Schultz’s Dash Slapney, Patrol Leader. In my most prolific year, 2012, I had these strongly plotted game structures to use as the structural model for Andromeda Dreaming, which rather than proceeding geographically, proceeded chronologically. The content of the game was, of course, mostly inspired by Marco Innocenti’s Andromeda Awakening.

howling dogs, The Baron, Lime Ergot, and The Ascent of the Gothic Tower basically set my standard for “this is what a text game is.” Going back to older adventure games, Riven is my all-time favorite. And just talking about authors, Porpentine and Caleb Wilson are probably my biggest influences.

The first text adventures I really enjoyed were Graham Cluley’s. He only wrote two adventures, Jacaranda Jim and Humbug. I don’t like the word “underrated” but I like them a lot and others don’t seem to as much. I loved the humour and tone in both of them. They both had inventory limits, numerous insta-deaths and impossible-to-know-about unwinnable states, but I didn’t find out those were Bad Things until much later. From there I got to Infocom. I preferred the more comic end of their output - again, it seldom went far enough into over-the-top comedy to draw your attention to the writer rather than the scene, but there was this wit to it, like a dry Dungeon Master who wants you to win, and is chuckling along with you, but isn’t going to give you any hints. That’s the tone I go for with my parser games.

Steph Cherrywell and Ryan Veeder are probably the people writing the closest to that tone today (with their own quirks of course), so it’s unsurprising that it was discovering them, through Brain Guzzlers and Taco Fiction respectively, that got me back into writing IF in the last few years.

I also have to mention the Scott Adams adventures - there’s not much actual writing in them, and frankly what there is is lousy with basic errors, but somehow they still squeeze clear, evocative descriptions into minimalist prose. They were a big influence on the design of the Versificator 2 engine.

Graham Cluley deserves more credit than he got, for what they were, his ubiquitous shareware titles were top shelf – peers of their commercial contemporaries. I still think he should have gone back into adventure design after wrapping up his stint at Sophos and told him as much.

My influences largely inform a series of unreleased WIPs, but Nick Montfort’s Ad Verbum and Sam Barlow’s Aisle weigh heavily on them.