Violet (Interactive Fiction)

It’s been a long while, but I’ve got some more interactive fiction to recommend: Violet, by Jeremy Freese. It’s got all of the usual things I like in a modern piece of interactive fiction: a believable, detailed world that you can really feel like you’re a part of, and which “carries on” around you; a beginning that doesn’t need to explain itself (you can pick it up as you go along); an enthusiastic thoroughness as far as anticipating what a player might try (many of the “unusual” things you can try to do have been anticipated and have specific flavour text); and a story that’s emotive and clever. So far, so good.

But the way in which it really furthers the genre is in it’s presentation format. The narrator of the story – Violet – is the girlfriend of the protagonist, who – through a series of encouragements and discouragements, as well as ocassional asides and additional commentary – helps lead you through your adventure: it is, if you like, a second-person perspective text-based adventure. But it doesn’t take long to realise that she isn’t actually there at all: all of her dialogue is in your head – it’s what your character thinks she would say in response to everything you’re doing.

I thoroughly explored the game in about an hour, and I highly recommend that you do, too: it’s a fabulous piece of interactive fiction, wrapped around a reasonably good bit of fiction.

Fully expect your feedback on this one, JTA.

Update, 19th October 2008, 14:20: Fixed the link to Windows Frotz (previously pointed at WinFrotz, which – while a fabulous Z-Code interpeter, can’t cope with ZBlorb files like the one this game is packaged in). Sorry, Binky.


Some time ago, I recommended Photopia as a great text-based adventure for both beginners and veterans: with a great, sweet story (with a slightly depressing ending) and a short play time, it’s just great to show people why text-based adventures are fun.

Here’s my latest recommendation: Vespers. It’s dark, cold, and disturbing – insanity, bubonic plague, and temptation in the face of heaven and hell… and a cool mix of biblical prophecy and murder mystery in a quarantined monastary.

There’s about 2 hours playtime in it for an experienced adventurer, but it’s got SAVE and RESTORE commands so you don’t have to do it in a single sitting. And of course I’ll be available for hints if you get stuck!

Photopia, Again

I wrote the other day about Photopia, one of the most brilliant and unusual pieces of interactive fiction I’ve ever experienced. Finally, JTA gave it a go, and loved it too – and he and I have been spending the last few days discussing some of the really, really clever bits and putting our own explanations to them. There are so many questions left unanswered, even after having completed the story, and I’m sure we’ll both be going back and playing it again.

Why hasn’t anybody else played yet? Well; it’s possible I just didn’t make it quite accessible enough. So I’ve packaged Photopia into a single-file executable. Just download and run it, and you’ll have it installed on your system. It takes up less than a megabyte of space and it’s brilliant not only as entertainment but also as a work of fiction.

Download Photopia – it’s self-extracting, self-installing. All you have to do it play it. Windows only. Click here and give it a go.


Ever played a text-based adventure (interactive fiction) before? If so, this is a must-see. If not, now’s the time to start. I’ve just finished playing a short IF called Photopia, which won two prestigious (in IF circles) XYZZYnews awards back in 1998.

It’s not… great as an adventure game, but it’s amazing as a story. It’s… so amazingly clever and well thought-out. If you’re an experienced text-adventurer, you’ll be able to see it all in under an hour (and there is, of course, a SAVE and LOAD function). Wow. Just… just go play it. Go on.

Two good ways to get it:

  • Option 1: Download, packaged for Windows – download, extract to a folder, run the batch file (“play_the_game”, or something) – do this if you’re not experienced with setting up your IF enviroment.
  • Option 2: Get Photopia 2.01 (Glulx Edition) and a Glulx interpreter for your favourite operating system. You’ll work out the rest.

Chicken-Heated Atomic Weapons, And Quake [TM] For Those Who Miss Text-Based Adventures

[this post has been partially damaged during a server failure on Sunday 11th July 2004, and it has been possible to recover only a part of it]

[further fragments were recovered on 13 October 2018]

Two fantastic bits of funny news for you this April Fool’s morning:

1. A seven-ton atomic landmine, designed to prevent Soviet advance through West Germany, would have been kept warm while underground by being filled with live chickens (with enough food to keep them alive for a week). This (not an April Fool’s – really!) report brought to you by the BBC. Weird.

2. Do you remember a couple of years ago when somebody wrote ttyQuake, a front-end for iD‘s groundbreaking game, Quake, which replaced the graphics with live-generated ASCII-art [screenshot]? Well; somebody’s gone one step further: IF Quake. IF Quake is an Inform program that acts an an interface between your Z-Machine Interpreter and the Quake data files. What does this mean? It means that it’s a text-based-adventure version of Quake. So instead of wiggling your mouse and…