Game Development Reference
In-Depth Information
IF ( XYZZYnews , SPAG ) were born, as were an annual competition to create new
games and a regular award ceremony for the best works of the year. New IF devel-
opment languages that were free, powerful, and relatively easy for new authors to
learn drew new talent into the community. This infusion of talent, the potency of
discussions within the group, the emphasis on dramatic new ideas and innovation,
the exploration of the untapped strengths of the medium, very quickly propelled IF
storytelling in the 1990s and 2000s to surpass the fondly remembered games of the
1970s and 1980s in depth and quality.
Nostalgia is still a huge factor in terms of drawing players and authors to IF.
Mention them on a blog or in a game review and you'll get dozens of comments
saying, “I remember text adventures! Those were great!” IF games are now rising in
popularity and gaming consciousness once more, and with that there is playing out a
shift in tone from, “They're still writing those?” to, “Modern IF games are awesome.
If you're not playing them, you're missing out.”
Moreover,oneoftheuniqueaspectsofIFisthehighconversionrateofpeople
who like to play IF into people who want to write IF. Part of the appeal of this—there
are a number of reasons why this might be the case—is how easy it is to make the
switch. The act of writing IF is in many ways similar to the act of playing it. The act
of playing IF excites your mind about the possibilities for writing and crafting stories
in that medium; the availability of tools—and a community of support to answer
questions you have as a new author—makes the jump possible. If you want to write
IF, you can get started right now.
19.2 A Writer's Medium
ThebestthingaboutIFisthatitisawriter'smedium. Onecantoilalone,like
the writer of a short story or a novel, and produce a finished work in a relatively
manageable amount of time. You don't need a team of dozens. You'll need a few
volunteer beta testers when the time comes, but basically, you can do it on your
own.
Being an IF author requires both writing and programming. This combina-
tion means that top IF authors tend to be great at both, but very good IF authors
usually have a strength in one and a decent ability in the other. Some of the best
of the modern authors are professional programmers who were hobbyist writers,
and so they were able to deploy their writerly ideas with great technical skill and
polish. Others are professional writers who learned enough programming to do
the job, sometimes excellently—in large part because, as writers, they had a firm
enough idea of the story they wanted to tell and how they wanted players to inter-
act with it that they could figure out how to write the IF language code that was
required.
If you're reading this topic, you're a writer and may not think of yourself as a
programmer. Let me try to remove the intimidation factor from this, because writing
IF is great fun, and I want to encourage everybody who isn't writing IF to start doing
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