<= 2002.08.20

2002.08.22 =>

cheap sex & sad films

A sadness: I have lost all of the computer games I wrote in BASIC at age twelve or so. There was an ASCII video game where you were the smiley face and shot periods to kill malevolent asterisks and section symbols; there was also a text adventure game along the lines of Zork which, in a burst of pre-adolescent originality, I named "Quaz." I don't remember much about it except that an integral part was played by a cow pie, which was naturally too gross to pick up with your hands; I think you had to use a shovel that you found in a tree. Also there was a mountain lion. Alas, it is forever gone.

At any rate, clearly the only solution is to write another text game. One possibility is BASIC (or more likely C, since I'm a big boy now); another is Inform, an interactive fiction design system which I have not yet closely examined. What I'm wondering is whether, after having been through the crucible of Iowa, I might be able to knock together a game with some degree of literary merit—even if it's necessarily merit of the pulp sort. The few examples of "hyperfiction" that I've seen have been rather dry, crafted by university professors, and entirely too much in love with their own postmodernity. For example, Terry Harpold, the author of a tome entitled Links and their Vicissitudes: Essays on Hypertext, writes in Norton's anthology of postmodern fiction:

In other words, in a text like afternoon [the portentously named hypertext under study] it is possible only to arrive at a contingent conclusion. Any ending will be marked by the punctuality of interruption. (Thus the purest paradigm of a hypertext ending: you can just stop reading, decide that you have had enough, get up from the computer and walk away.) But you can't come to a definitive ending within the universe of the text.

And we wonder why hypertext remains a curiosity—who wants to spend an hour clicking around like a jackass without a complete and coherent narrative as a reward? This is why Zork is far superior. It has no pretensions toward being a "text" of any sort—it's just a game—but it's fun. Might there be a middle ground?

 

<= 2002.08.20

2002.08.22 =>

up (2002.08)

The Warm South
The Roof Rat Review