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Future of IF

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Future of IF

Postby Tyson » Thu Nov 07, 2013 1:58 pm

Let's speculate on the following question: where is IF headed? Where is the medium going? Who will play it in the future? How will it live on?

IF is by no means dead. And I don't think it'll ever die, really. There will always be room for niche gaming. (Just as there will always be room for niche literature.) The question is not whether IF will persist. The question is how IF will persist.

From my perspective, IF has gone through two stages.

The first stage was the golden era of IF gaming. I am too young to have experienced this firsthand. But it was back in the days when it was normal to pay for IF. The games were characterized by little to no description, horribly unnecessary puzzles, and a steep difficulty curve.

The second stage was the literary stage. Puzzles become easier. The competitions force games to become smaller. Story and literary depth begins to take precedent. Innovation is valued above all. The goal is not to make a good adventure; the goal is to formally innovate the genre.

I predict that this artistic trend will continue. IF will become seen more as a more sophisticated gaming experience. Additionally, I think IF will become part of the growing Indie Game Community, one that seeks refuge from the (let's face it) monotony of blockbuster video games.

I also think IF will become more web-centric. There's no good reason why we still have to download games, open an interpreter, and run a game on that interpreter. A web browser (just html and javascript, no special plug-ins) will be the new standard for IF playing. IF must be streamlined. Twine is progress towards this end.

Those are my predictions. What about yours?
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Re: Future of IF

Postby David Whyld » Thu Nov 07, 2013 5:09 pm

I have fond memories of the first stage of IF and think a lot has been lost over the years. What were once viewed purely as games now seem to be more works of art. Some are fine, some are even great, but I miss the simple games that used to be so much fun to play back in the 80's. Unfortunately, I don't see that sort of thing ever coming back, and even if it did, it wouldn't be the same. I remember struggling for weeks or even months with some games, and others never managing to finish at all. I remember talking about them with friends at school, but these days I don't remember the last time I even mentioned an IF game to someone in real life. These days, if I was stuck on a puzzle, I likely wouldn't spend ages attempting to solve it, I'd just Google the solution.

I think you're right about the web-centric side of things, which isn't something that fills me with any kind of enthusiasm but I guess it's inevitable whether you're in favour of it or not. I'm pretty sure the next version of Quest is going to do away with a desktop version altogether and so a permanent internet connection will be required to use it, though I'm guessing it'll still be possible to download the games and play them offline if you want. Not that Quest being web-only affects me too much as I don't have any plans to use it, but if it succeeds then there's a chance the other systems might decide to follow suit.

For me, I've never been fond of playing games in my browser. Browsers crash, sometimes frequently. They're also prone to throwing up error messages if your browser isn't up to date or if you're playing a game aimed at a different browser (try playing 'Boogle' from the EctoComp with Internet Explorer and you'll run into all kinds of weird error messages with it). I've also run into issues when I've hit the delete key to delete a word and instead found it's the back button in my browser, bringing me out of the game altogether or taking me right back to the start. I'm sure as time goes by, things will improve but something tells me it'll me a good few years yet before I'm as comfortable playing a game in a browser as I am on my computer.

For what it's worth, I quite like Twine (though a better way to handle the code for us non-coders would be nice) and I've even started writing my own game with it. I'm not keen on the lack of SAVE or UNDO commands, though, so until it undergoes some changes it looks like it's best reserved for short games that can be completed in a single session.
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