Tip of the Quill: A Journal
On writing interactive fiction.

First off, let me assure all my friends and co-conspirators that yes, I have returned from Texas safe and sound, and actually Ike gave Austin a wide enough berth that aside from a number of uncomfortable-looking evacuees camping out in another part of the Austin Convention Center, there was very little evidence of anything out of the ordinary in Austin itself. This, alas, does not extend to the lives of my other friends in Texas, such as Natalie and Jen-Jen, both of whom came down to visit me and/or my fellow GAMBITeers during our brief stay, and regaled us with tales of Life in Houston Without Power, which were also accompanied by a number of phone calls to and from my folks, who regaled me with tales of Life in Ohio Without Power. I myself was only mildly inconvenienced by Ike, and I wish I could say the same for everyone else. Still, AGDC was awesome as always – I managed to reconnect with a number of friends in the industry and out, the workshop that Matt and I presented went very well, and there was much consumption of barbecue. (Hey, it’s Texas.)
One thing that AGDC did hammer into my skull, though, was a renewed desire to put my money where my mouth is and get writing again. Therefore, this morning I broke out Inform 7 and took another crack at writing IF, or interactive fiction. While I’m well aware of the debate surrounding the superiority of either Inform 6 and its more traditional programming environment or Inform 7 and its wacky natural language programming environment, I’ve gotta say I’m getting a kick out of using the natural language thingamawhosis. It takes a little getting used to, sure, and I’m definitely still coming to terms with its features and foibles, but I’m having a terrific time realizing an idea for an interactive storyworld that hit while I was at the conference.
After several hours’ worth of work I now have a small storyworld that can be more or less successfully navigated and played with, including the requisite key for unlocking the requisite door, the ability to pay attention to the bugs and the birds and the sun in your environment, and a whole whopping ton of Gothic-esque language riddling the whole thing through. I blame the season and the stuff I’ve been reading lately (particularly Mignola’s Hellboy and Peake’s Titus Groan), but it’s really quite cool. I have no idea how long it’ll take me to whip this thing into anything resembling a serviceable shape, but I’ll post something here when it’s ready to be tested. Right now it’s just fun to be experimenting again.