Discussions about interactive fiction

Archive for November, 2009

IF history — origin of "interactive fiction"

Here is a challenge for the collective memory of this group:

  When was the name "Interactive fiction" first used?

  Where, by whom, and referring to what?

There is an article in _Byte_ Sept. 1981 by Bob Liddil [or Liddell?]
called "Interactive Fiction: Six Micro Stories"; anything before that?
(I don’t suppose anyone would care to fax me a copy of it?)

Anyone got the famous Dec. 1980 issue of _Byte_, and care to take a look?
Also the first issues of _Creative Computing_(79/80),if anybody’s got them.

Maybe an "earliest known occurrence" could go in the FAQ?

Any help greatly appreciated!


espen aarseth                                               aars…@uib.no

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IF Business venture?

Hello. I realize that this is rec.arts.int-fiction and not
rec.business.int-fiction, but…

I’m a grad student in computer science and a wannabe newbie to the world of
IF creation. I’ve got a Mac (my undergrad CS department loved ‘em), an
aptitude for programming, a fair amount of creative writing skills, and
a summer ahead of me with no solid employment leads.

Instead of toiling under the golden arches like so many other unproven
programmers, I’m thinking of creating a text adventure and marketing it via
shareware. I’m currently in the process of mapping out my "world" and
situations. The first version will be for the Mac. Later versions for other
platforms may follow if the Mac version is successful.

My question is this: is there a living to be made in IF shareware? Don’t
get me wrong; I’m not a money-grubbing consumerist looking only for some
quick cash. I’m doing this because it offers me a chance to combine two things
that I enjoy very much: programming and writing. But someone has to pay my
rent, and my landlord won’t accept Zorkmids.

Assuming that I really can create an enjoyable game, Do I have a chance?
I’m looking to hear from anyone who’s tried this sort of thing before.

Jeff Butler

This has been a test of the emergency .sig system. If this had been an actual
.sig, this post would have been followed by a pithy quotation from my favorite
author, movie, rock group, philosopher, or other cultural icon. Either that,
or a horrendous beeping noise.

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Allen Ginsberg literary conference: Boulder, CO

CONTACT          SUE SEECOF (303) 546-3510
                 IVAN SUVANJIEFF (303) 546-3580

        For thirty years, Allen Ginsberg has been the most famous poet in
        America and the embodiment of everything this country has hoped and
        feared a poet could be.
                        -Village Voice

Updated 3/30/94

Beats and Other Rebel Angels: A Tribute to Allen Ginsberg
A National Literary Conference at the Naropa Institute

Event: National Literary Conference:  Beats and Other Rebel Angels: A Tribute
        to Allen Ginsberg
Who:    Allen Ginsberg, Cecil Taylor, Amiri Baraka, Meredith Monk,
        Robert Creeley, Philip Glass, Michael McClure, Dave Dellinger,
        Ken Kesey, Marianne Faithfull, Ed Sanders, Michael Schumacher,
        Francesco Clemente, Ann Charters, Galway Kinnell, Anne Waldman,
        Marjorie Perloff, David Amram, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Gary Snyder
        Gregory Corso, Antler, and more.
When:  July 2 – 10, 1994
Where: Naropa Institute, 2130 Arapahoe Ave., Boulder, Colorado
Cost:   $250 for one week pass to all events.
Info:   (303) 546-3578

One of the most significant national literary conferences of the decade: Beats

and Other Rebel Angels: A Tribute to Allen Ginsberg, will be held at The Naropa
Institute, in Boulder, Colorado from July 2 – 10, 1994.  Poets, writers and
musicians, many who strongly influenced American culture during the Beat
Generation will gather to celebrate and honor this important poet.

The convocation gathers major figures of the Beat era together with younger
artists, including literary and cultural activists of current international
reputation.  The event is a rare opportunity to interact with and attend
performances by these greats.

The conference features poetry readings interspersed with concerts,
performances, lectures, art and film exhibitions, workshops and panel
discussions with the participants.

For the past 40 years the artists of the Beat Generation have been a shaping
hand in defining American and international art.  Their influence remains
particularly vibrant in the United States, France, Germany and Japan.  Beats
and Other Rebel Angels: A Tribute to Allen Ginsberg, gives a glimpse of the
future of American culture as seen from the eyes of those who prepared the

No poet in the history of America, with the possible exception of Walt Whitman,
has so dominated the popular imagination as has Allen Ginsberg.  From the
close of World War II to the end of the Gulf War, Allen Ginsberg has been in
the vanguard of every popular movement.  In the 1950s, he was a founding member
of the Beat Generation.  He was on the front line of the hippie and antiwar
movements in the 1960s, and contributed to the ecology movement and the
Buddhist revival in the United States in the 1970s.

Allen Ginsberg has given voice to his generations spirit in poetry of
astonishing power, the power to bend the curve of culture.  His best known
works include Howl, Kaddish, Planet News, Reality Sandwiches, Mind Breaths and
more recent books, Collected Poems, White Shroud and Annotated Notes to Howl.
In November, 1993, he received the medal of the Knights of the Order of Arts &
Letters, one of Frances highest honors.

This conference also marks the 20th anniversary of the Jack Kerouac School of
Disembodied Poetics at the Naropa Institute, of which Allen Ginsberg is
co-founder (with Anne Waldman), Director Emeritus and faculty member of the
Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics.  He is also a Guggenheim fellow, a
member of the American Institute of Arts and Letters, and Distinguished
Professor of English at Brooklyn College in New York.

This tribute is sponsored in part by Celestial Seasonings, Inc., the largest
manufacturer and marketer of herb tea in the United States.  Its leading brands
of herb tea include Sleepytime., Lemon Zinger., Mandarin Orange Spice.,
Peppermint and a variety of other proprietary blends.  The Company’s new
Iced Delight. line was introduced nationally in 1993.  In addition, Perrier
Group of America manufactures and markets a line of ready-to-drink Celestial
Seasonings iced tea under a licensing agreement with the Company.


The 1994 Naropa Summer Writing Program

Honoring its 20th Anniversary, the Naropa Writing and Poetics Program will offer
internationally acclaimed artists and scholars in classes, workshops and
performances throughout the month of July.

Week 1:  Beats and Other Rebel Angels:  A Tribute to Allen Ginsberg
Week 2:  Ethnopoetics
Week 3:  Wild Form:  Experimental Writings
Week 4:  The New York School

Faculty includes:  Allen Ginsberg, Diane di Prima, Jerome Rothenberg,
Cecilia Vicuna, Peter Lamborn Wilson, Jackson MacLow, Leslie Scalapino, Ron
Silliman, Ted Pearson, Harryette Mullen, Kenward Elmslie,
Barbara Guest, Kenneth Koch, Ron Padgett and Larry Rivers.


The Naropa Institute is a private, Buddhist-inspired, non-sectarian liberal
arts college offering accredited undergraduate and graduate degrees in the
arts, social sciences and humanities. Centrally located in Boulder, Colorado,
it is 30 miles northwest of Denver, in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains.

The college was founded in 1974 by Chogyam Trungpa, Rinpoche, a Tibetan
meditation master, scholar, author, and artist.  Since its inception as a
summer program, the Institute has grown into a flourishing year-round
university.  Cultural life on campus is active; dance concerts, theater
productions, poetry and prose readings, meditation practice, lectures,
panel discussions, and other events are in keeping with its rich tradition
for cultivating lively exchange.

The new Allen Ginsberg Library, opened in September 93, with special
holdings in the fields of Buddhist studies and contemporary American poetry.
It houses an extensive Naropa Institute performance and poetics video and
audio archives.

The Naropa Institute’s unique approach to learning is called "contemplative
education."  Intellectual, artistic, and mind/body disciplines help students
understand themselves, their field of studies, and the world.  All of the
programs combine the disciplines of the classroom with those of personal
awareness through contemplative practices such as sitting mediation, aikido,
and tai chi chuan.  The combination cultivates both academic strength and the
desire to contribute to the world with understanding and compassion.

If you have any interset, please reply via e-mail of call the numbers listed
above.  Thank you.

Emily Hunter
Director of Special Events

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Green Card Lottery- Final One?

Green Card Lottery 1994 May Be The Last One!

The Green Card Lottery is a completely legal program giving away a
certain annual allotment of Green Cards to persons born in certain
countries. The lottery program was scheduled to continue on a
permanent basis.  However, recently, Senator Alan J Simpson
introduced a bill into the U. S. Congress which could end any future


The only countries NOT qualifying  are: Mexico; India; P.R. China;
Taiwan, Philippines, North Korea, Canada, United Kingdom (except
Northern Ireland), Jamaica, Domican Republic, El Salvador and

Lottery registration will take place soon.  55,000 Green Cards will be
given to those who register correctly.  NO JOB IS REQUIRED.


For FREE information via Email, send request to

Canter & Siegel, Immigration Attorneys
3333 E Camelback Road, Ste 250, Phoenix AZ  85018  USA
cs…@indirect.com   telephone (602)661-3911  Fax (602) 451-7617

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Re: IF Business Venture


Regarding ‘writing an adventure and whether or not it pays to do it’ is a
difficult question. My advice is no, it doesn’t pay, however, I imagine it
can be a nice supplement to earnings and enjoyable if you approach it as a
hobby rather than as a means of earning a living.

When I first decided to write an adventure I had no idea of the complexity
and time it would take to create what I consider to be a decent game. I
started writing my game nearly four years ago, it is only now looking like
it is drawing towards completion. This is probably not a typical scenario,
however, I think that you should be aware of a few things.

 (1) The level of complexity you are going to build into the game must be
CONTROLLED and decided on at an early stage, if not the game can always
be improved just a little bit more and as a result looks like never
geting to playtesting let alone being finished. (<sigh>)

 (2) The size of the game is also important (obviously) and must be
completely defined (mapped and puzzles detailed) before you ever sit down
at a computer and start to write it, otherwise you will suffer from (1).

 (3) Don’t make decisions on when it’s gonna be finished and tell
everyone unless you’re close or deadlines will come and go and people
might get upset ! (Fortunately, I only told my friends and someone I was
co-operating with but this was enough to make me realise it’s not a good
thing to do)

Now, I realise that the above problems I have experienced might be a
result of my own poor planning but the point is this, I have been writing
the game for four years and I believe that some of the reasons why my game
is not yet finished are due to the above. Basically, design it, stick to
the design (within reason) and then be disciplined with your writing of
the game (it’s hard work to keep going back to the computer for weeks on
end but if you don’t the game will lag) and you should be ok or at any
rate, not be in for any unexpected surprises.

By the way, the game I am writing is what I consider to be larger than
your average adventure (it stands at 500K of compressed text (800-900K raw
?)). It’s called Kalkazor and is basically the standard Tolkeinesque /
fantasy type game. It’s being written using the ALPS system, (not bad and
is user friendly but has a few limitations) for the Acorn Archimedes
platform. (For those in the US who have not heard of this it is a British
RISC computer that has been around since 1987 and is VERY nice)
Unfortunately, I doubt it will appear on any other format unless a
conversion routine is written to take the ALPS code and produce a piece of
equivalent run time code for a PC. It has possibly over detailed text but
I think (hopefully) should make a good game and will be with a bit of luck
a commercial product coming on 6-7 discs (lots of compressed scanned
colour graphics and possibly sampled sound and music).

If anyone has got an Arc out there who likes adventures and might want to
playtest it (UK only please (unless you plead !)) then email me.

By the way, not a bad group this, I don’t know anything about TADS,
however, I appreciate the other more general comments on adventures and
their style.



Max Palmer                      email : m…@sousun1.phys.soton.ac.uk

BTW : Please don’t flame me for playing my own trumpet, it’s just that
when a game nears completion you just kinda feel a bit pleased about the
whole thing !

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infocom info

Someone recently referred to me a question about the Infocom mural.  I
wrote this document in response.  Those of you who cherish the memory
of Infocom as I do, may be interested in it.

All information in this text may or may not be true.  All references
to "the institute" refer to MIT, the university where Infocom was
created. MIT does not condone or condemn the practice of painting
murals, playing IF games, or being bought by Activision.


The Infocom mural was something I created two years ago, when I was a
freshman.  It consisted of a 6ft x 4ft rectangle, painted black with
white letters reading:

              (just like the logo, about 1 ft high)

Under which, in a 1.5 inch high, elegant font, (Dragonwick) it had the
passage from Zork contained in the black book on the altar:  

                   Commandment #12592
 Oh ye who go about saying unto each other:  "Hello sailor":
 Dost thou know the magnitude of thy sin before the gods?
 Yea, verily, thou shalt be ground between two stones.
 Shall the angry gods cast thy body into the whirlpool?
 Surely, thy eye shall be put out with a sharp stick!
 Even unto the ends of the earth shalt thou wander and
 unto the land of the dead shalt thou be sent at last.
 Surely thou shalt repent of thy cunning.


The mural was created by printing the text on a Macintosh and cutting
the letters out using an Exacto knife, carefully leaving a mask which
served as a stencil.  The paint was then sprayed through the mask from
a regular spray can.  Since some diffuse spray leaked behind the mask,
the letters aquired a fuzzy, ghostly appearance- which was neat but


It was originally painted in what was once known to some as the
"Infocom Shrine", really the bottom of a stairwell in the sub-basement
of bldg 66.  Here, someone unknown to me had painted in weeping red
spray paint :

       1974-1987  (I think these were the dates they gave, but
                     my memory fades swiftly.)

And under the stairs, in a hard-to-see place, in blue, was a large
"FROBOZZ".  Admittedly, these were not tastefully done, but they had
a certian poignancy.  The mask for the mural I made took ~50-100
hours to create, and the resuting mural was moderately impressive.
Actual painting time took less than 3 hours to paint the black
background, let it dry sufficiently, and apply the lettering.


At some point during my sophmore year, the institute painted over the
older graffiti, as well as my mural.  At some later time, I decided to
repaint the mural in the sub-basement of bldg 9, where all the cool
murals are.  This area is also on the somewhat illicit "orange tours"
which more than a third of the freshmen take each year.

This too, has since been painted over. Unfortunately, the detail of
the mask also causes it to be very fragile. After two years of
storage, I found that the mask had deteriorated beyond reusability.
The infocom mural is no more, unless I recreate it from scratch.  I am
considereing doing so this summer, possibly on a more durable media
than bond paper.


Infocom.mit.edu, AKA xyzzy.mit.edu, and plugh.mit.edu, is the name
of my computer.  It has nothing to do with Infocom the company aside
from memorial value, and the fact that I play some of the games on it.


Infocom florished in the grand days of the Great Underground Empire,
but as civilization decayed, it became the subject of countless
trivial law suits, such as the infamous suit from the New York Times
for copyright infrigement by the Infocom newsletter, the New Zork
Times.  They also suffered from poor sales of Cornerstone, a database
program that was one of their few ventures outside of interactive
fiction.  This troubling era left it on unstable ground, and
eventually the company was bought out by Activision.  Shortly
thereafter the original hackers who founded the company left to do
some insanely lucrative Artificial Intelligence work for the US
Department of Defense.  There current whereabouts are unknown.

________________________Daniel Robert Risacher__________________________
| I swear this night, and once again affirm my vow: that I will stand on |
| Luna’s rocky shores, look homeward at the world that gave me birth     |
| without longing and without regret, and teach my children well, that   |
| destiny is theirs for the taking, and the stars are theirs to conquer. |

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2nd call for IF difficulty survey

First of all let me say thanks very much to all of the people who have
replied so far (8 of you). This is a 2nd appeal to the rest of you to
please find a little time to send me in a difficulty survey entry.
Details follow:

Consider all IFs you’ve played which are still available and accessible
to most people. I include in this:

a) all Infocom titles,
b) all TADS / Inform / etc titles, especially if available from the IF
archive site.

I particularly do not include games which were produced for old machines
and which are now not likely to be played by anyone (e.g. The Hobbit).

Could you please tell me for each title, whether you thought the games
was EASY, MEDIUM, HARD, VERY HARD or whether you gave up. As a
guideline, I would define the different difficulty levels as follows:

a) you completed it with no hints or help (EASY),
b) you completed it with 1 or 2 hints (MEDIUM),
c) you completed it with 3 to 5 hints (HARD),
d) You needed 6 or more hints (VERY HARD),
e) You gave up (GAVE UP)

(this last case doesn’t necessarily imply harder than very hard)

Ultimately, though, the level you give a game is up to you. I will state
my own case as example:

EASY: Wishbringer, Infidel, Planetfall
MEDIUM: HHGTTG, Lurking Horror, Zork 1, Trinity
HARD: Curses, Beaurocracy
GAVE UP: Starcross, Deadline, Stationfall

Please email me with your answers – I will post the results as soon as I
have a reasonable number of entries.

Many Thanks


Richard Develyn from Hastings, Sussex, England ( r…@cix.compulink.co.uk ).
Software engineer (datacomms) for Cray Network Systems. Married to Caroline.
Baby daughter Sophie (b. 3/11/92). Hobbies: Dr Who, FRPG, SF, Curry,
quality computer games, philanthropic discussions.

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Re: IF business venture?

>[Save Princeton makes only $250 in shareware fees]

It’s a shame that we’ve gone from a point where the Zork series sold zillions
of copies at $30+ a pop to a point where an IF adventure reaches only
2 measly dozen people who appreciate it enough to register. It’s an even
bigger shame because creating an adventure that goes beyond the usual shareware
fare (completely single-minded NPC’s, objects that can only be used for a
single purpose, totally-ordered puzzles, etc.) requires significant effort on
the part of the authors. If IF adventures were more economically viable,
chances are that we would be seeing more and better adventures.

>[You should not let players finish the game without registering]

I was thinking exactly that. I have a particularly gruesome death (in the game,
not in real life) in store for unregistered users.

>[An IF game needs graphics and a GUI to be a commercial success]

I sincerely hope that our society hasn’t been force-fed so many images
that it’s completely lost its collective imagination. That seems to be the

>[IF is a labor of love]

I still plan to create it. But I won’t be working on it full-time.
Look for my game, "Escape from Crudmoor," coming soon to a Mac archive near you.
But not nearly as soon as the end-of-summer release date I would have been
shooting for if I had received less dismaying news.

Thanks for the advice.

Jeff Butler

This has been a test of the emergency .sig system. If this had been an actual
.sig, this post would have been followed by a pithy quotation from my favorite
author, movie, rock group, philosopher, or other cultural icon. Either that,
or a horrendous beeping noise.

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Missing game info (Was: Worst Infocom game….)

Your LTOI didn’t photocopy the back of Buddy’s photo? Mine did.
But it doesn’t have the ad for the radio station in Ballyhoo.
It took me forever to figure out how to use the radio without that bit of info.

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Has anybody here seen Quarterstaff?  What did you think of it?  I
personally thought that the game system was brilliant, though I
haven’t gotten too deeply into the actual game (the version I have is
on a Mac, and I don’t have one at home — don’t know if they make them
for other machines as well).

Erik Max Francis, &tSftDotIotE …!uuwest!alcyone!max m…@alcyone.darkside.com
USMail: 1070 Oakmont Dr. #1  San Jose, CA  95117  ICBM: 37 20 N  121 53 W  __
   "Omnia quia sunt, lumina sunt."  (All things that are, are lights.)    \__/

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