Twisty Little Passages: An Approach to Interactive Fiction (MIT Press)

Twisty Little Passages: An Approach to Interactive Fiction (MIT Press)

Nick Montfort

Language: English

Pages: 302

ISBN: 0262633183

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


Interactive fiction -- the best-known form of which is the text game or text adventure -- has not received as much critical attention as have such other forms of electronic literature as hypertext fiction and the conversational programs known as chatterbots. Twisty Little Passages (the title refers to a maze in Adventure, the first interactive fiction) is the first book-length consideration of this form, examining it from gaming and literary perspectives. Nick Montfort, an interactive fiction author himself, offers both aficionados and first-time users a way to approach interactive fiction that will lead to a more pleasurable and meaningful experience of it.

Twisty Little Passages looks at interactive fiction beginning with its most important literary ancestor, the riddle. Montfort then discusses Adventure and its precursors (including the I Ching and Dungeons and Dragons), and follows this with an examination of mainframe text games developed in response, focusing on the most influential work of that era, Zork. He then considers the introduction of commercial interactive fiction for home computers, particularly that produced by Infocom. Commercial works inspired an independent reaction, and Montfort describes the emergence of independent creators and the development of an online interactive fiction community in the 1990s. Finally, he considers the influence of interactive fiction on other literary and gaming forms. With Twisty Little Passages, Nick Montfort places interactive fiction in its computational and literary contexts, opening up this still-developing form to new consideration.

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place on top of it by a little piece of string, permitting them to rotate in relation to each other and to the larger circle." Although the I Ching is more widely known in the West today than is Hull's machine, the latter was also quite influential. Llull, known as "Doctor Illuminatus," had a tremendous following. He wrote approximately three hundred books, with the ones detailing his text-generating machine becoming some of the most important and influential. Chairs were established in

objects which he doesn't like. He may occasionally stop in a room you are visiting, but more often he just wanders through and rips you off (he is a skilled pickpocket). Clearly, much more potential text is available to describe the thief than the pirate. The text by itself cannot tell the whole story of who the thief is and how he functions within Zork. Encounters with the thief will certainly tend to vary more than encounters with Adventure's pirate. Still, this text demonstrates that

to return alive.Those who follow this path enable themselves to imagine their own ending, consistent with the framework of the text adventure. Even a third party examining a transcript of such a game could plausibly read it as having an outcome that Berlyn had not thought of and had not provided for in implementing Infidel. This demonstrates that reading against the grain (and writing against the grain, by interactors) is possible even in a work of interactive fiction, where the system of the

allows gender selection. It provides a detective-like setup but without the murders of Deadline, The Witness, and Suspect. In that work, the player character stays overnight in a supposedly haunted house, discovering what is going on there. When the player character announces himself or herself at the gate, the title used can indicate that the player character is male (e.g., "Mister" or "Sir") or female (e.g., "Lady," "Countess"). Other titles not recognized by the work or not gender-specific

"weather" (which had some emotional effect) or" drivel" (which did not) (Pinsky 1996, 41).This would allow Mindwheel to generate an atmospheric poem if left to its own devices, or to sprinkle whimsy throughout the interaction otherwise. Some examples from the initial crowd scene: "Held high in one pair of limbs you see a Twinkie and a silver revolver." "Gibbering reptiles dressed in antique finery whirl past and away from you." Some of the development work required Pinsky to enumerate all

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