Results tagged “text”

Bruno Dias's space-text-RPG Voyageur was released this week. I spent a bunch of time playing it, which reminded me that I'd just spent a bunch of time playing Out There, and a bunch more time last month playing FTL. Three games about flying through space -- a randomized construction of space, with many hazards between you and your (distant) goals.

Let me start by describing each game. If you're familiar with all of them, skip on ahead to the comparing and contrasting. :)

Voyageur is prominently tagged as "procedural". That is, every planet you land on is described by a little paragraph:

The spaceport district you land on is busy, and surrounded on all sides by endless cityscape. You hurry along the roads past a group of threatening-looking locals. Crimson political graffiti is sprayed across the walls, although you don't understand the context of the slogans. Trash piles up on the roads, sometimes collected by sullen-looking recycler drones.

The sentences and details within them are randomized, based on a set of general stats about the planet. (Urbanized/agricultural/industrial, terraformed/desert/iceball, and so on.) The markets are loaded up with randomized goods ("high-grade computers", "cheap whisky", "curious gold ore", etc). And each planet might have one or more special features: religious centers, alien satellites, universities.

What you do: travel, trade, try to accumulate enough money to keep going. Long-term goals involve accumulating enough special items to make life-changing science-fictional discoveries.

The solar systems in Out There are also randomly generated, but without the detail of Voyageur. Each one has basic stats (rocky, gas giant, or habitable; high-resource or low-resource), but the only distinguishing marks are special events which might pop up:

The gravitational waves in this area have played havoc on my equipment. I fiddled around and some of it is working again, but the rest is completely out of order. What a mess--

These text paragraphs are not procedurally generated; they're selected from a large database, effectively a library of micro-sci-fi stories. On the other hand, the effects can be randomized. In the above example, a couple of your ship's systems are randomly selected to take damage.

What you do: travel, mine, try to gather enough resources to keep going. Long-range goals involve reaching various distant points on the map, where life-changing science-fictional discoveries are hidden.

Finally, we have FTL, which is much less textual; you spend most of your time fighting hostile starships. Small textual encounters are frequent:

A Rebel captain appears on the screen. "I thought we had been doomed to backwater assignments. This is my chance to get back in Command's good graces! Charge the weapons!"

Some of these offer choices (trade with a smuggler or attack him?); others, as in this example, are simply announcements (time for a fight!). In either case, you spend much less time reading text than you spend on the action (combat, upgrading your ship, etc).

What you do: travel, upgrade your weapons, try to gather enough money to survive the fights. The long-term goal, which is presented up front, is to reach the final sector and defeat the Big Boss Rebel Flagship.

Each game offers short textual riffs, but the texture of the texts is quite different.

The Warbler's Nest: now available for iOS

I am pleased to announce the release of my interactive short story The Warbler’s Nest for iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch. You can find it in the App Store for 99 cents American (or your local equivalent thereof). The original, free web edition of the game remains playable, but this native app brings enough unique and lovely features specific to a touch-based and text-philic platform that I hope you’ll find it worth your dollar.

It comes to you by way of Zarf’s iOS Fizmo, the open-source framework he released to the world in May as a milestone of the Hadean Lands project. I ship this new edition of Warbler in a similar spirit to Zarf’s re-release of 2004’s The Dreamhold alongside iOS Fizmo. Much as that game served as a reference implementation of sorts for the new framework, I hope mine to act as an early test case of selling modern interactive fiction on contemporary, touch-driven platforms.

I hope you have the chance to play and enjoy the game in this new format. If you do, then I would be thrilled and humbled were you to leave a brief review in the App Store as well.

Emoji Werewolf

Addendum to previous post: While searching for the method to make an inverted exclamation mark so that I could shout ¡El Hombre Lobo! at you properly, I came across Lion’s new Special Characters… menu, which for the first time includes a section just for emoji.

Here, then, is the Unicode glyph-string for a typical Werewolf village: 👨👩🐺👨👨👩👳🐺👨👩👩 .

Speaking of Werewolf, Scott Nicholson is giving a talk tomorrow afternoon at MIT’s Gambit GameLab on the topic of (mostly) co-operative games with a hidden-traitor mechanic. If you’re in the Boston area, feel free to stop by.

What game reviews on the web can be

Kill Screen magazine, the praises of which I have sung before, recently started publishing game reviews on the web. Despite my open disgust with mainstream reviews, I’ve been so far reading and enjoying this welcome alternative review source in silence. Today, a review by J. Nicholas Guest of Infinity Blade forces me to shout and point.

I’m not sure I’ve seen a review quite like this before, a piece of animated and (lightly) interactive text-art sharing a thematic groove with the work it addresses. It strikes me as possessing a digital version of what makes Mathew Kumar’s zine exp. worth reading, but I won’t otherwise spoil it for you. Block out 20 minutes and have a look.

(There does lurk an interesting — if surely coincidental — confluence between this review and Zarf’s The Matter of the Monster, eh?)



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