February 28, 2011

The IF Theory Reader Arrives

from Post Position
by @ 11:47 pm

Almost a decade after the project began, the IF Theory Reader is finally here, thanks to the hard work of editors Kevin Jackson-Mead and J. Robinson Wheeler. The book has been published by Transcript On Press and has made it out in time for PAX-East, where Kevin’s group The People’s Republic of Interactive Fiction will be hosting a hospitality suite.

There are 438 pages in this book, which can be downloaded as a PDF for free or purchased as a paperback for a mere $13.26.

Social Network Clusters – Re: Koster’s GDC Presentation

from tiltfactor
by @ 8:46 pm

Raph Koster has [as usual, certainly] summed up a fair bit about social gaming in his GDC presentation. I wasn’t […]

On Dynamism and Player-Affected Game Content

from tiltfactor
by @ 8:20 pm

To me, the white elephant in the [digital] game design room is that of dynamic content. Maybe it’s an invisible white elephant, because not many other people seem to be talking about it.

Reader’s Block

from Post Position
by @ 9:33 am
Reader's Block, David Markson, Dalkey Archive, 1996

Reader’s Block, David Markson, Dalkey Archive, 1996

A pivotal point in this book – one that is reassuringly labeled “A Novel” – is the paragraph that reads, in its entirety, “Spent Adidas.” The other shoe drops. Imagination finally spills from one isolated paragraph to the next. This two-word paragraph does not stand out as unusually short among many that relating incidents or facts; literary, artistic, or philosophical deaths; and sometimes simply an author’s or some famous character’s name. How can we avoid being overwhelmed by the weight of what we know, what we have read about other lives? How can what we have learned about history frame, rather than imprison, what we seek to create as readers and writers? Why even attempt to imagine, when truth is stranger and so weighty? These questions raise themselves like ghosts in Hades scenting blood. As in Wittgenstein’s Mistress, a powerful image of a writer’s path of thought. Then, the poesies that succeeded in Borges’s “The Circular Ruins” takes a different turn in Reader’s Block, after a struggle.

February 27, 2011

Tiltfactor at GDC

from tiltfactor
by @ 10:13 pm

This year’s Game Development Conference in San Francisco promises to be enjoyable and informative. We are doing a soft-launch of […]

February 25, 2011

Tiltfactor at GDC

from tiltfactor
by @ 9:14 pm

This year’s Game Development Conference in San Francisco promises to be enjoyable and informative. We are doing a soft-launch of our new beloved tiltfactor.org site (uber exciting!), as well as following lab director Mary Flanagan as she’s speaking at the GDC Education Summit: Monday 10:00-11:00 Room 301, South Hall: http://schedule.gdconf.com/session/12198.

(and, just for GDC, we’re donning our new sneak-preview Tiltfactor bling, soon available on our web site!)


We are also bringing student designer E McNeill, winner of the 2009 Imagine Cup game design second place, as he launches his first indie game Auralux; also along is Heidi Gamer, our Virtual Finance Expert. Tiltfactor is also participating in the Game Education Rant at the GDC on Tuesday 4:15- 5:15 Room 301, South Hall.

February 24, 2011

Emily Short speaking at UCSC

Floatpoint by Emily ShortUC Santa Cruz and the Expressive Intelligence Studio are pleased to welcome Emily Short for a talk and visit this Friday, February 25th. Emily is one of the most respected authors of interactive fiction worldwide, being a co-creator of Inform 7 and the author of many acclaimed works including GalateaBest of Three, Savoir Faire, City of SecretsBronzeFloatpoint, and (with collaborators)  Alabaster. Talk information follows.

Beyond the Conversation Tree: Procedural Approaches to Narrative Challenges
DATE: Friday, February 25th, 2011 — 11:00am
LOCATION: UCSC Campus, Engineering 2, The Simularium (Rm 180; enter from the outside courtyard)
PRICE: Free (UCSC parking pass required)
HOSTED BY: The UCSC Center for Games and Playable Media
Using case studies from both interactive fiction (Galatea, Alabaster, the Threaded Conversation library) and commercial game projects, the talk will identify dramatic and expressive goals that traditional dialogue trees fail to satisfy, and discuss alternative solutions for these tasks. Topics covered include mood modeling for both player and non-player characters, interpreting player input in context, and structuring dynamic conversation to achieve a dramatic effect.
Emily Short is a freelance writer and narrative design consultant with a special interest in interactive dialogue. Her recent clients include Failbetter Games, ngmoco, and ArenaNet. Emily is the author of over a dozen works of interactive fiction, including Galatea and Alabaster, which focus on conversation as the main form of interaction, and Mystery House Possessed, a commissioned project with dynamically-managed narrative. She is also part of the team behind Inform 7, a natural-language programming language for creating interactive fiction. She has spoken at the AI summit at GDC and presented on interactive storytelling at PAX East, MIT, and the University of Passo Fundo, Brazil.

February 23, 2011

Get Yer Art, Culture, and Game Studies

from Post Position
by @ 9:56 pm

This and That Thought, a Turbulence commission, is a robot riot. (Turn on your sound before beginning!) The new issue of Culture Machine grapples with e-lit and the digital humanities and looks to be made of win. And there’s the happy occasion of a new issue of Game Studies, focused on game reward systems.

February 21, 2011

Book Meets Tube, Explains Tube

from Post Position
by @ 10:49 am

Learning from YouTube by Alexandra Juhasz is an open access MIT Press “video-book” published on Vectors. It’s made of “texteos” (with YouTube-like videos at the core) and is hilarious and incisive. I suggest you vread it right away.

February 20, 2011

Choose from 1 Ending to this Blog Post

from Post Position
by @ 4:38 pm

There’s a nice Slate article on the Choose-Your-Own-Adventure series, quoting not only both of the main COYA authors but also Zork creator and Infocom implementor David Lebling.

Click what?

from tiltfactor
by @ 12:49 am

Ubermorgen’s Clickistan is a wild ride. Designed as a web art extravaganza, and in part serving to fund raise for the Whitney Museum of American Art (a pretty credible cause, as causes go) Clickistan is a conceptual work that locates its work somewhere “between the 7th and 8th bit of every byte.” In other words, Clickistan is a nation surfing the hinterlands of the on and off of binary logic. This makes us very excited at Tiltfactor!

February 18, 2011

Games, motivation, and pleasure

from tiltfactor
by @ 11:41 am

Today at Tilt we are thinking about play and motivation, looking at variable ratio reward scheduling, empathy, and other means by which players might find pleasure in a game. To Caillois in his Man, Play, and Games, the experiences of competition, chance, altered perception (vertigo), and make believe are ways in which play can set the stage for pleasure. Csíkszentmihályi’s flow state (and the nice excerpt from Flow and the Psychology of Discovery and Invention) is worth a read; it is a nice investigation into pleasure through perseverance. But what about the simple satisfaction of completion, or taking a step toward completion? Or, how about, the classic Barthes treatise on The Pleasure of the Text, one of Tiltfactor’s all time favorite reads?

February 17, 2011

Label This One a Failure

from Post Position
by @ 11:23 am

It’s tough to write about the ideas that didn’t work out. Sometimes the negative results actually aren’t very interesting, and it’s better not to discuss them. In other cases, it’s impolite to point out other people’s roles – to blame them – and impossible to discuss the failure otherwise. But when a failure is not too big of a deal, possibly instructive to bring up, and as least as much my fault as anyone else’s, that rare opportunity to post about it presents itself.

February 15, 2011

Gatsby + NES … Abyss Gent?

from Post Position
by @ 8:25 pm

If you’re a fan of the ideal (not the reality) of video games that are adapted from literary works, and particularly if you liked Gatz

Do check out The Great Gatsby for NES. Old chap.

Put Another Token in the Jukebox, Baby

from Post Position
by @ 5:52 pm

“D.P.O.” is a pretty amazing X-Files episode, featuring not only an arcade, which is central to the episode, but also a Lenscrafters cameo, glimpses of a Jerry-Springer-like show and a music video, a reference to the land art piece Lightning Field, a rural boy pranking cows, Jack Black, and a Playboy centerfold with at least a passing resemblance to Sarah Michelle Gellar.

I particularly like how Moulder picks out the suspect by locating his initials on the high score screen of a Virtua Fighter machine. One thing I’m wondering about the arcade in this episode, though: It has a jukebox, which is rather instrumental (no pun intended) to the way the episode … plays out.

February 14, 2011

Portal Past

from Post Position
by @ 1:09 pm

Truth is often stranger than fiction. Sometimes fiction just exaggerates for effect, of course. In the world of this commercial,

  • Early Macintoshes have a green-on-black, all-caps display.
  • Interactive fiction text goes only 3/5 of the way across the screen.
  • Macs use 5.25″ floppy discs.

These changes were no doubt thoughtfully made to construct the “retro” in a more intense way, allowing for a readable and seemingly old-school display and collaging different aspects of 1980s home computers. This way the green-on-black display and 5.25″ disks can live alongside the iconic presence of the early Mac. Plus, GLaDOS gets to say the multisyllabic word “Macintosh” at the end of the video. The creators of the video surely knew they were doing it wrong but decided to try to construct something more 80s than 80s.

Electronic Literature Research Group and Talan Memmott Talks This Week

from Scott Rettberg
by @ 1:34 am

This semester we have initiated a new research group at UiB — the Electronic Literature Research Group. With so much research activity now happening in our group in this area, and after consulting with our colleagues in Digital Culture, we decided that it would be good to have a separate research group focused specifically on e-lit, digital art, and other digital media aesthetic-related research in addition to our existing research group in Digital Culture. We are hoping that the group will extend beyond our colleagues in the program at UiB and include researchers and writers interested in these topics from elsewhere, in other UiB departments, in Bergen (and the world).

February 13, 2011


from Post Position
by @ 2:13 pm

Google’s spam cop, Matt Cutts
the head of the Webspam team
in the sprawling, subterranean world
found 2,015 pages with phrases like “casual dresses,”
snoring, diamond drills, bathroom tiles,
a Google no-no.

Liquid nitrogen and “fairy tale pumpkin”
will flag a Web site that goes from zero
zero influence on the latter, he said.
Chinese cooking can bolster your profile if
organic search results
warn against using tricks

to snooker his employer.
You could imagine a dozen contenders
“Samsonite carry on luggage,” for instance,
And bedding? And area rugs?
Who is that someone?
The next it was essentially buried.

February 10, 2011

Letters in Space, at Play

from Scott Rettberg
by @ 4:09 pm

Prepress English version of article forthcoming in Norwegian in Vagant 1/2011 as “Bokstaver i bevegelse”

Escaping the Prison House of Language: New Media Essays in the Electronic Literature Collection, Volume 2

from Scott Rettberg
by @ 1:49 pm

Prepress version of article originally published in Norwegian in Vagant 4/2010 as “Flukten fra språkfengselet”

The first Electronic Literature Collection was published in 2006. Including 60 works of electronic literature of diverse form and content, all published under one cover online and on a CD-ROM, the collection offered readers and educators a valuable resource, a set of works distributed freely under a Creative Commons license. The ELC provided teachers with a place where they could send students interested in exploring e-lit, and critics with a set of archived works around which they could gather their discourse – a set of common touchstones that served to help develop and refine a shared critical language about the emergent forms of literary practice.

ELC Volume 2 is out!

from Scott Rettberg
by @ 1:19 pm

The Electronic Literature Collection Volume 2 is now out! Congratulations to editors Talan Memmott, Brian Kim Stefans, Rita Raley, and Brian Kim Stefans on bringing this project to fruition. The collection includes 63 works in 6 languages from 12 countries, and includes a wide variety of work, ranging from the classic web hypertext The Unknown, to the amazing narrative database / textual performance work The Last Performance, the minimalist poetry generator stylings of Nick Montfort’s PPG256, to Alan Bigelow’s philsophocomical “comic strips for the Web” Brainstrips, to Allison Cliffords visually stunning interactive treatment of the poetry of ee cummings The Sweet Old Etc.

February 9, 2011

Here’s the Electronic Literature Collection, Volume 2

from Post Position
by @ 2:30 pm

Thanks to the hard work of the editorial collective, Laura Borràs, Talan Memmott, Rita Raley, and Brian Kim Stefans, and to contributions of more than 70 (often collaborating) authors, we now have an incredible new anthology: volume 2 of the Electronic Literature Collection, which offers 60 new reading experiences for the networked computer.

(Here’s the ELO’s announcement about the new volume.)

February 4, 2011

AIIDE 2011 StarCraft AI Competition

The StarCraft AI competition introduced at AIIDE 2010 will be part of the AIIDE 2011 program. Last year the main event was won by UC Berkeley’s team, which showed how a computer opponent could be used to destroy enemies. This year, we expect to see even more sophisticated agents. Competition details are available here.

Congrats to new Dartmouth’s newest artist

from tiltfactor
by @ 12:05 pm

a big big honor! Dartmouth Assistant Professor of Film and Media Studies Jodie Mack received a Jury’s Choice First Prize award at the 2011 Black Maria Film Festival for her animated film. Mack describes her winning 28-minute “Yard Work is Hard Work” as “an animated musical featurette made with thousands of cut-outs from discarded printed materials. The piece follows a pair of newlyweds as they learn the perils of home ownership and life in general.”

February 3, 2011

Pocket Curveship

from Post Position
by @ 9:42 pm

Curveship running on a tiny computer, the Ben NanoNote.

Curveship runs on the Ben NanoNote, by the way. It could be faster, certainly – I and others will be working on that. But it does run, which is a good start and bodes well for the ability of Curveship games to run on many different platforms.

Happy Chinese New Year.

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