While we were off the air, Greg Boettcher ran a "StupidTitleComp" to test his voting scripts for the IF Spring Thing. People were asked to come up with very stupid titles for imaginary games. The results are now available, and, er, congratulations to the winners.
Remember Mystery House? If not, that's not too surprising: it was Sierra On-Line's first graphic adventure some twenty-five years ago. Nick Montfort, Emily Short, and Dan Shiovitz have now reverse-engineered the game and, along with several other authors, have made modified versions of the game. You can also download the "Mystery House Occupation Kit," which will allow you to hack Mystery House to your heart's content.
ifbyphone.com is looking for IF authors to write games for the mobile phone market. The twist? The games won't be delivered as text. Instead, all of the game's text will be read to the user, who will then respond with commands.
While during testing, we have put up a number of "standard" IF games, it is out intent to work with IF authors to produce games specifically optimized for our environment. What does this mean?
1. Since the player is not looking at a screen the game has to assume the player will remember less detail then in a traditional text based environment. Puzzles must be much easier.
2. In general shorter games are better.
3. The game must be straight text -- no cursor addressing, single key input, etc.
4. Since many of our customers will be new to IF, the games should include built in hinting. The game should at time even tell the user the choices of words or phrases they might try saying.
5. Speech recognition is better when the list of words it is looking for is shorter. Reduce the number of verbs you require in your game to improve the speech recognition. Off the shelf games such as Adventure generate grammars with thousands of entries.
6. Many of our non-gaming customers may enjoy story driven games more the puzzle games.
We are looking for authors who will modify existing games they own or create new games for us. In particular we are interested in games suitable for: teen-age girls, non-traditional gamers, history fans, seniors, and also traditional games optimized for voice. With this new voice medium we expect authors to produce new and novel games that would not have worked well via text.
Authors will retain all rights to their games. We will license the games use from the authors.
ifbyphone.com is offering authors free one-month access to their services and 0.3 cents per minute that customers spend playing their games. To participate, go to the ifbyphone.com site, click on "My Account" to sign up as an alpha or beta tester, and in the form's description box, indicate that you are an IF author.