Ludology: Ludology 217 - What IF?


Legendary Interactive Fiction writer Andrew Plotkin joins Gil and Emma to talk about text-based stories that players can participate in. We explore the form's history and unique strengths, and discuss what good writing can bring to a game's experience.

Interactive Fiction platforms mentioned in this episode:

Check out some of Andrew's IF work:

  • Shade
  • Spider & Web
  • Hadean Lands

Other video games mentioned in this episode:

  • Colossal Cave Adventure
  • Zork
  • Donut County
  • 80 Days
  • Heaven's Vault
  • Galatea
  • AI Dungeon
  • No Man's Sky

Board games and analog IF mentioned in this episode:

  • Werewolf
  • 7th Continent
  • 1,001 Odysseys
  • Choose Your Own Adventure™ books
  • Meanwhile
  • Fighting Fantasy books
  • Leanna Fled the Cranberry Bog

If you would like to explore the world of IF, a good place to start is the Interactive Fiction Database - it's like the BGG of IF!

Some good games to start with (this is hardly an authoritative list):

  • 9:05 - You can easily play this in one sitting, and in most cases, you will want to immediately play again when you finish it the first time.
  • Photopia - This is a spectacularly well-written game, but it can bring up some intense emotions.
  • The Uncle Who Works for Nintendo - A fun horror game.
  • Howling Dogs - This is a work by Porpentine, whom Gil has raved about several times on the show and this episode. Be sure to find both endings.
  • Counterfeit Monkey - A fairly long game by Emily Short built around some remarkably brilliant word-manipulation mechanisms. You will likely need to use an emulator if you want to save your game and use the game's graphical map.

Enjoy exploring the IF rabbit hole!