Friday, March 31, 2006

Spring Thing 2006

It has commenced: the Spring Thing 2006. Four pieces of interactive fiction have been entered, among which is my The Baron.

I am not allowed to discuss the game during the voting period, which lasts until the 23rd of April, but I sure hope you will take a look at the offerings. Unfortunately for those who are new to IF, you need no less than three different interpreters (Z-code, Hugo and Adrift) to play these four pieces, but following either the instructions on the Spring Thing page or here, you should be fine. (And it works under Linux too!)

The best place to talk about these pieces is the IF newsgroup: rec.games.int-fiction. (Which you can either access through a newsreader, a good mail-program like Thunderbird, or a webbased interface like Google groups. There are actually two IF newsgroups, the other one being rec.arts.int-fiction, but the latter is for authors and the former for readers.)

I definitely recommend you to play all four pieces and submit your votes before the 23rd. :)

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Sisyphus - an absurd RPG

Introduction

Sisyphus cheated death and managed to remain on earth even after the gods had condemned him to die. When they at last got hold of him, they punished his insolence by setting him a dreadful task. Sisyphus had to roll a large boulder up a mountain in the Underworld; and every time he would reach the top, the boulder would slip from his hands and roll back down again. Then, Sisyphus had to walk back and begin his task anew - and so on, through eternity.


Rules

Sisyphus is a game of turn-based narration. One player should volunteer to begin the game; after that, proceed in clockwise direction.

During your turn, you must narrate how Sisyphus, starting at the bottom of the mountain, rolls his stone up the mountain, then sees it roll down again and goes back to fetch it. Within these confines, you are free to narrate what you will. You can either narrate the whole cycle, or zoom in on one part of it; you can add events unmentioned by the myth, or tell the tale stark and simple; you can tell a symbolic, an expressionist, a psychological, or any other kind of tale you wish; you can focus on the weight of the stone or the memories of Sisyphus' life on earth, on his moment of despair or his moment of happiness, on his actions or his thoughts - but most of all, you should try to keep your audience interested by telling the tale in a way that has not been heard before.

How do you do that? Not by being the world's best storyteller, but by putting something of yourself into Sisyphus, by opening yourself to the absurdity of the tale and trying to find out what it means to you.


Endgame

There is no endgame. Of course, at some point the game has to end, but that point has no more meaning and is chosen just as arbitrarily as the point of death where each human life terminates. The labour of Sisyphus goes ever on, even after the last game of Sisyphus has been played and long forgotten.


Essential reading

Albert Camus' The Myth of Sisyphus.

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Advanced Bacchanal

What makes Bacchanal a relatively safe game, is the fact that you are never allowed to narrate the actions of other player characters. It is more or less implicit from the text that the player characters never meet each other. This means that everyone has total control over his or her own character. (I would like to point out that Bacchanal comes quite close to breaking the Czege principle--and gets away with it because the challenges lie at the social level.)

I wonder what would happen if you add this rule:

The invitation

If the character of the player who is about to roll his dice is at the same location as the character of another player, that other player may offer the first a wine die from his glass. If the first player accepts, he is under the obligation to describe decadent acts involving both characters in the scene to be. This does not relieve the player of the obligation to roll the dice (including the new wine die!) and form his narration in accordance with the results of that roll.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Long time no post - but there is hope!

Yes, no new post for too long a time. There are many reasons for this, which range from having too much of my thought devoted to Schopenhauer, Heidegger and the existentialists to spending a lot of time on the course on epistemology and philosophy of science I'm giving, and from having had to install a new computer to RSI-troubles.

But, more relevantly and more fun:

  • I have been working like hell on my translation of De baron, the interactive fiction piece I hope to have ready before the 31st, when the Spring Thing 2006 competition starts.
  • I have been playing Paul Czege's Bacchanal, and have written a review which will appear on rpg.net next friday.
  • I have been playing the Shadow of Yesterday, and am writing a supplement based on this game, called Fleurs du mal (flowers of evil). Decadent, cruel and claustrophobic dark fantasy - which is all about love. Sounds fun, no?
So, the next things you can expect from me are the rpg.net review and The Baron. Hope you will forgive me for my silence - it is the way I have always approached subjects, in an on and off manner. :)