Spring Thing 2009 Results!

April 28, 2009

Here are the results from the Spring Thing 2009 Competition:

1 A Flustered Duck by Jim Aikin… Avg: 7.28, Std Dev: 2.56, Votes: 18
2 Vague Richard by Richard Otter… Avg: 6.06, Std Dev: 1.98, Votes: 18
3 Realm of Obsidian by Amy Kerns… Avg: 4.25, Std Dev: 2.52, Votes: 16
4 The Milk of Paradise by Josh Graboff… Avg: 4.00, Std Dev: 1.28, Votes: 18

I take a little solace in some of the numbers here. Notice that I have two votes missing. That must be due to Realm of Obsidian being a Windows-only game. Though there are a few Windows emulators out there for the Mac and Linux, there were two people who weren’t able (or weren’t willing) to play my game, thus the missing votes. My score might have been higher otherwise. Anyway, congratulations to Jim Aiken on his win. I’ll have to give Flustered Duck a run.

I will be able to post more about my game now, so expect some Realm of Obsidian-specific posts in the near future. I’m working on another release that will feature the removal of a few bugs, then it’s time to expand out to the town of Abattoir!


Sound Effects and Music in Interactive Fiction

April 7, 2009
A Visible Pattern of Sound Waves
This has recently received some debate in the rec.arts.int-fiction newsgroup, but I felt that perhaps I could further the debate on my blog, and add my own thoughts.

Do sound effects and music belong in interactive fiction? First off, let’s separate the two. Despite both subjects being of the aural variety, they are very different. It can be argued that sound effects make the experience “more real.”

> close door. (Slam!)

> jump in lake (Splash!)

> kick walter (“Oww! What the–???”)

It could then be argued that music makes the experience less real (unless the protagonist in the game has just turned on a cd player or walked into a dance club). People just don’t go about their ordinary (or extraordinary) lives with a personal soundtrack playing.

Some people feel that sound is jarring, and depletes the “immersion factor” of IF. IF is another form of literature, after all. Audio books aside, literature doesn’t make noise.

Simply put, I find it entertaining. I could do with or without graphics, but for some reason, I just love sound. It takes IF up a notch. You didn’t just read about killing that ogre, you heard it’s death cry. Or there’s an avalanche, and you can hear the din of falling rocks getting louder. Entertainment and drama can greatly benefit from sound effects if used effectively (no pun intended).  That goes for music as well. Some suspenseful music can really leave you on the edge of your seat. A light, airy tune can amuse you. A dramatic theme could tug at the heartstrings just a bit more during a sad or profound moment. Sound, in general, is something that I feature (and will continue to feature) in my games.

But what do you think? Sound effects and/or music: yea or nay? Do they enhance Interactive Fiction or detract from it? Entertaining? Or just annoying? I’m interested in hearing your views.


Some News in the IF World…

April 1, 2009

First of all, the 2009 Spring Thing Competition is now underway. Best of luck to everyone (including me), who has submitted a game! I have (mostly) implemented the “automatic door opening” feature. See the last post for details on that discussion. I will admit that there are some minor bugs that have not been fixed in the release sent to the competition. Once I fix these and the competition is concluded, I’ll be posting Realm of Obsidian here. I don’t have the highest hopes for my game, since Blue Lacuna posted last in the 2008 Spring Thing, mostly because it was a preview game like mine is.

Second of all, the latest issue of SPAG has now been released. For those who don’t know, SPAG (Society For the Promotion of Adventure Games) is a quarterly webzine that features reviews and articles on Interactive Fiction. I have a small review of A Bear’s Night Out by David Dyte written within. There are several interesting features on Blue Lacuna, which I have heard is a staggering monolith of a game. The IF community has been all abuzz on this one, and I look forward to immersing myself in it whenever I have the time. There are also some interviews with the top IF Comp authors, which I found very interesting as well. Check it out! And subscribe! (I had some problems with the majordomo bot when subscribing, but hopefully it’ll be nicer to others.)

That’s all for now. I have some ideas for upcoming posts, so there should be less lapse time between posts for awhile.