I can has many twisty passages? January 23, 2009 9:00 AM   Subscribe

Proposed: a MetaFilter interactive fiction (also known as text-based adventure game) competition, to begin February.

Okay, so I mentioned the idea for a MetaFilter interactive fiction competition here and it got some positive response, so I wanted to float it by the general community and see if it was something that had some interest. The rules would be something like:
  1. Can only be written during the month of February
  2. Has to be turned in before March 1st
  3. Has to be in a format that can run on most platforms without downloading software (i.e. zcode)
Logisticaly, we would need a central location to store the interactive fiction files, so someone would have to donate some webspace. Ideally, once someone submitted a story we would set it up to be playable on that site. Then, I guess we could tally votes here on a MeTa thread?

I know there have been competitions here before, so I'm guessing this would be okay, but I'd like to check with the mods and also see if there's interest before doing anything else.
posted by Deathalicious to MetaFilter-Related at 9:00 AM (30 comments total) 8 users marked this as a favorite

posted by Deathalicious at 9:03 AM on January 23, 2009

Fuck yeah! I can't program IF, but I'm a huge fan of it, and I'd even kick in a few bucks prize money if others want to sweeten the pot.
posted by Rock Steady at 9:04 AM on January 23, 2009

I am on it like vomit, dude, but there's no way I'm doing this in February when the album-in-a-month thing is going on too.

More generally, anyone who is enthusiastic but brand new to the medium may find a one-week warning a bit too tight of a window to learn the ropes before jumping in. I wonder if it'd make more sense to aim for March and have this next month be sort of a chatter-and-learn/derust period. It'd give whoever wanted to organize more room to breath as well.
posted by cortex (staff) at 9:07 AM on January 23, 2009

More generally, anyone who is enthusiastic but brand new to the medium may find a one-week warning a bit too tight of a window to learn the ropes before jumping in.

Seconded. This contest would give me an excuse to learn an IF programming language, but a month is not nearly enough time to learn the language, write all the text, wire up all of the logic, test it, etc. I think it would make sense to use this thread to drum up support for the contest and plan it out, then make a new post in a month to announce that the competition is starting.
posted by burnmp3s at 9:17 AM on January 23, 2009

I've never tried programming IF, but I do enjoy it, and if anybody wants help with their project, I'm willing.
posted by empath at 9:17 AM on January 23, 2009

Hmm, this appears to be a good opportunity to work on this. So I guess count me in so long as someone gives me some good quick hints about where to go to learn how to write this stuff.
posted by greekphilosophy at 9:21 AM on January 23, 2009

I'm down, will pitch in a fiver for prize money, and think waiting till March would be a good idea.

And would like someone to suggest the best language to use, I don't program for a living and am most comfortable in Perl.
posted by These Premises Are Alarmed at 9:21 AM on January 23, 2009

I've never tried programming IF but I'm well-versed in programming THEN.
posted by DU at 9:24 AM on January 23, 2009 [3 favorites]

This idea thrills me, and I think that working in something like Inform 7 (which runs on the big three - Windows, Mac, Linux) would be an excellent choice, as it's all free.
posted by DWRoelands at 9:39 AM on January 23, 2009

I'd also consider if it was in March. Been watching to play with this for awhile and would give me a reason.
posted by ejaned8 at 9:39 AM on January 23, 2009

If you can compose simple sentences to instruct children or people with poor understanding of English, you can program in Inform 7.
posted by uncleozzy at 9:43 AM on January 23, 2009 [1 favorite]

Oh, hell yeah. I also vote for March, though.
posted by hades at 10:03 AM on January 23, 2009

Writing a text adventure has been on my list forever. I'm in, but think waiting for March sounds like a good idea.
posted by Zed at 10:35 AM on January 23, 2009

You have been eaten by a grue with a pancake on its head.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 12:06 PM on January 23, 2009 [3 favorites]

MetaFilter: compose simple sentences to instruct children or people with poor understanding of English
posted by DU at 12:26 PM on January 23, 2009

I can't program IF

You'd be surprised. Inform source code is practically like English (although, I must admit, some of the sentences look like they were written by a crazy person).

I'm not married to February. I suggested it because it's such a bleak month. March works, and even gives everyone a chance to teach themselves Inform. I encourage anyone remotely interested to download the Inform Application, which is available for Windows, Mac, and Linux (Gnome), and go through the exercises (built in to the application).

I think the general consensus is that the games should be in Inform. I think standardizing this will make it easier for most people. If so, I guess we just need to get someone to donate some webspace, and then me and/or someone else can whip up some kind of simple interface for uploading Z-Code files and displaying them on the web. I keep meaning to finally teach myself Python, so that might be a good option. Anyone want to do some Linux hosting?
posted by Deathalicious at 1:03 PM on January 23, 2009

Also, sounds like there is interest, but just to be clear: this does have the mods' blessing? Yay or NaN?
posted by Deathalicious at 1:08 PM on January 23, 2009

I'll informally bless the hell out of the idea of people who happen to be mefites writing IF in a competitive context.

I'm not sure it's any more a Metafilter thing than say the recent Diplomacy games were, if that's the question—I don't think this is an official site event so much as something a bunch of people on the site might like to do, and any worries about the adjudication and prizes should probably be handled by the organizer independently. But doing the ironing out and stuff in metatalk here is totally okay.
posted by cortex (staff) at 1:16 PM on January 23, 2009

Here's a sample game to get you guys started on learning Inform (and, as a fellow learner myself, I'm sure it could be written better). AskMe is left as an exercise to the reader.
"MetaFilter" by Deathalicious

There is a room called The Blue. "You are in The Blue. There is a link to MetaTalk." In
the blue is a banhammer. The description of the banhammer is "The almighty MetaFilter banhammer.
Mightily weilded, albeit reluctantly, by our loving moderators." Understand "hammer" as banhammer.
Before doing something other than examining or smelling or listening to the banhammer:
	say "Are you a mod? Then hands off.";
	stop the action. Instead of smelling the banhammer, say "The banhammer smells faintly of iron
and bitter, bitter tears."
In the blue is a deleted post. Instead of examining the deleted post, say "Stupid spammers." Before
doing something other than examining the post:
	say "No.";
	stop the action. Understand "MetaTalk", "MeTa", or "follow link" as west.
West of The Blue is The Gray. The description of The Gray is "You are in the Gray. You see a link
to MetaFilter here." A table is in the gray. It is scenery. A plate is on the table. "A plate of
beans lies on the table." In the plate are some beans. 
Before taking the beans:
	if the player is not carrying the plate:
		try taking the plate instead;
		continue the action. 
Before eating the beans:
	say "'Dear AskMe: I left some beans out for three weeks while I went on vacation. They still
look okay,
should I eat them?' 

The consensus is that you should not eat them.";
	stop the action. Understand "MetaFilter", "go to MetaFilter", "follow link" as east.
Overthinking is an action applying to one visible thing. Instead of overthinking a thing, say "You
think about [noun]." Understand "overthink [something]" as overthinking. Instead of overthinking the
plate, try overthinking the beans. Instead of overthinking the beans, say "Oh really?!? Are you ON
METAFILTER by any chance?!?"

Before swearing obscenely or swearing mildly:
	if the player is in The Gray:
		say "Worst callout ever.";
		say "Take it to MeTa.";
	stop the action.
Instead of listening to something or listening, say "It is completely silent."
Rule for printing a parser error:
	If the player is in The Blue:
		say "Oh! For an edit function." instead;
		say "Worst callout ever." instead.
posted by Deathalicious at 2:42 PM on January 23, 2009 [7 favorites]

posted by Pronoiac at 5:51 PM on January 23, 2009

posted by Pronoiac at 5:58 PM on January 23, 2009

For webspace, the wiki I set up for the Jean Grae collaboration hasn't seen significant edits in a couple of months - it could be repurposed.
posted by Pronoiac at 6:03 PM on January 23, 2009

Dungeons of Graygorrath
posted by cashman at 6:44 PM on January 23, 2009

ooh! I would absolutely love to do something like this.
posted by xbonesgt at 7:58 PM on January 23, 2009

I would jump at the chance to use this as an opportunity primarily to learn Inform (or IF scripting in general) and also to generate an IF adventure as a result.
posted by Durhey at 12:24 AM on January 24, 2009

So what's the word? We going to do this in March?

(Guess we'll have to get our 7-day Roguelike Challenge entries in during February.)
posted by Zed at 4:34 PM on January 29, 2009

Hopefully everyone is too busy learning Inform to comment here.
posted by burnmp3s at 12:56 PM on January 30, 2009

The contest is on.
Here are the rules (unless the mods disapprove this will be reposted here on MeTa as a new post just before the contest):
  • Contest begins March 1st and ends March 31st. Like other "month" competitions you are supposed to begin your project at the beginning of March.
  • Must be submitted by a MeFite. You can use your name as the author, but it will be submitted under the MeFi username
  • Similarly, voters must be MeFites. One vote per account slash sockpuppet
  • Inform-based games are strongly encouraged. If you want to use another format, you'll have to serve it off your webpage (because the contest site will have a built-in z-code player)
Other than that I think there are no rules. Submit as many as you like and any and all content allowed.

Thanks to Brandon Blatcher for the webspace!

Any and all feedback is welcome. If people can suggest additional rules that I've forgotten or anything else, let me know.
posted by Deathalicious at 6:10 PM on February 6, 2009

Oh! Since you have the whole month to write it, you can submit it through midnight March 31st, MeFi standard time.
posted by Deathalicious at 6:15 PM on February 6, 2009

Less than one week before launch! Hope you've been studying your Inform!

The website is here: http://www.brandonblatcher.com/~meficommunity/metafict/. Nothing to see yet, but I will be putting in the contest submission page soon, where you will be able to create a login and indicate your intentions to submit a story (I may set up the system to send you intermittent reminders as the month draws to a close if you so desire).
posted by Deathalicious at 11:14 PM on February 22, 2009

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