98-228 Interactive Fiction: Assignments

Course credit is assigned by the completion of:

  • Two short game projects;
  • One lecture discussion led by students working in groups (of 2-3 people per group);
  • One final project (either a game or critical essay);
  • A presentation of the final project.
Completing all of the above will earn a "pass" for the course.


All assignments (games and essays) should be submitted to me by email, either as an attachment or URL, with the subject formatted as follows:

[IF-STUCO] Assignment N - andrewid

Where "N" is the assignment number and "andrewid" is your Andrew ID.

If you are handing in multiple files, please combine them into a .zip or .tar.gz file. If you need help doing that, contact me with what operating system you're running.

Preliminaries (complete by Week 2)

  • Fill out the Course Survey!
  • Install Twine or make sure the web version works for you
  • Install Inform 7
  • Finish playing The Dreamhold, especially if you have never played parser-based IF before.

Short games projects

  • You will have three weeks to complete a short work in Inform 7, due February 12.
  • You will have two weeks to complete a short work in Twine, due February 26.

Project 1, due Feb 9

You will create a short game/story in Inform 7. The suggested theme words are flash, paradise, and torrent, which are optional and may be interpreted however you like.

The goal of this project is to create a sense of discovery. I suggest that you should do that either by creating a large-ish map with interesting setting descriptions, or with a single room containing many interacting objects. You do not need to make your game technically complex: if you only ever override actions to provide different responses, using Instead clauses, that is fine. Other aspects of Inform I would suggest are worth exploring include:

  • New verb definitions
  • Multi-object verbs
  • The use of verbs whose behavior moves objects or changes state
  • The use of all 5 commonly-mentioned human senses (examining, listening, smelling, tasting, feeling)
  • An animate or human character with dialogue responses
Your game must have at least one ending condition.

Please hand in the following to me by email when you are finished:

  • Your .z5 game file
  • Your story.ni source file found in the ProjectName.inform/Source/ directory
  • A file named README.txt detailing (1) the design goals of your game, and whether you were able to meet them; (2) a complete walkthrough (sequence of typed commands leading to one or more end conditions).

Project 2, due Feb 26

You will create a short game/story in Twine. It should take about 10-20 minutes to explore all (or most) interesting content.

A suggested goal of this project is to explore the role of choice and consequence in a branching narrative. Try to find a way to make the links meaningful in a way that compels the interactor to do something other than exhaustively search all the branches.

If you need a bit more structure to the project, here are two (opposing) suggestions:

  • Try to create a physical space and inventory system like you would have in Inform 7 and design some parser-typical puzzles. Document what works well and what doesn't translate.
  • Try to create a completely *nonphysical* arena of interaction where links don't represent traversal through space or even actions within a space. Go as abstract as you can.
Document your decision if you pick one of these design goals.

The links from Lecture 6 may prove to be helpful resources for this project, but again, you need not strive for technical complexity.

Please hand in the following as andrewid.zip or andrewid.tar.gz (where "andrewid" is your Andrew ID):

  • Your game file named with a .html extension
  • Your .tws source file
  • A README.txt with design goals and walkthrough as before
  • Any images or sounds that you need. Including these might make the file too big, in which case you can make a folder on AFS or Dropbox or Google Drive containing all your files, and email me a link.

Lecture Discussion

The second half of the semester will be student-led; you will sign up for a topic in the schedule and work with the other students who signed up for that slot to come up with a list of questions and discussion points for the class, distribute this list, and lead a discussion for the class period.

Final Project

Project proposals are due April 9. Final projects and presentations are due on April 30, our last class period.

The final project should be a game made in an authoring tool of your choice OR a 5-10 page typed essay with a coherent theme of your choosing.

Project topic suggestions:

  • Love stories and dating sims: Digital; Even Cowgirls Bleed; Sacrilege; Flirt-off; Blink; 1STDATEMEM.EXE
  • Dialog systems: Versu; Alabaster; Bee
  • Physical mechanics: violence, combat, action, and timing. Even Cowgirls Bleed; Silent Conversation; Desiring Flights; Crystal Warrior Ke$ha.
  • The role of choice, consequence, player vs. narrator control: Failsafe; Violet; The Stanley Parable; Mattie's essay on The Player; Gun Mute
  • Synchronous multiplayer: MUDs, MUSHes, and MOOs; chat rooms with commands and bots; Twitter bots
  • Anything else that strikes your fancy!

Project format suggestions:

  • Write an essay (interactive or not) depicting your topic
  • Write a game "mashing up" or "remixing" two or three existing works
  • Write an original game in a genre or topic of your choosing, including an expansion on a prior project.
  • Write a Twine macro enabling authors to write more versatile and interesting text; document it and provide examples.

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