One of the great joys of playing Interactive Fiction games is in the discovery and exploration of the physical space or actual play environment of the game. Years ago when I played the Colossal Cave Adventure for the first time (on the Data General Eclipse computer at the office after hours), I delighted in drawing maps for all the locations and paths that were available. When I got to the maze area, where room exits looped back into the same room, the value of the mapping process became very clear. Those skills were well utilized as I grew into the Scott Adams adventure games, and later the collection of games from Infocom. Sketching out the location boxes with their associated path connections became second nature as a necessary Interactive Fiction player skill. (I am often surprised when I teach Interactive Fiction to college game design students, how few of them already know or readily develop the map-making skill set.)
Developing maps for IF is a slightly different process, though, that requires more than drawing boxes with interconnecting lines. There is the idea of location scale and relative size in IF games, and the developer needs to make some important decisions before committing to computer code. Locations are not all uniform in size (when we imagine our settings), and logical layout is not the same as physical layout. When dealing with fictional settings, there is some latitude for interpretation (though the good designers have a very clear picture of their environment before starting to code). However, there is no room for creative interpretation when attempting to recreate historical settings with absolute fidelity to the historical reality.
That’s our situation with the Historical Williamsburg Living Narrative. A large part of the questions could be framed around geographic granularity: as we build the maps, what is the smallest unit of measurement we should be using? (A square yard seems reasonable, actually.) There will be the typical Interactive Fiction flex in the maps; for example, walking down one side of a street may result in more “stops” along the way than walking up the other side. That would have much to do with the buildings or other pathways located on each side. But the point is, we need to make consideration of the space or area that needs to be “reserved” for game locations in which action may (or may not) take place.
I’m making my sketches now, and that will be one of the first pieces of the game that will be ready for review (we may even put that up on Playfic for people to try out). Do you have any suggestions regarding map making? Is that something you enjoy doing? If you’d like to contribute in some way on this (or any other) piece of the project, please drop me a line.
And don’t forget to check out the Historical Williamsburg Living Narrative Kickstarter project.
We’ve come across the PlayFic website, and it looks to be a very good tool for building Interactive Fiction through Inform 7 to place on the web. We’ve already built a few test programs, and the implementation works quite well. While we haven’t decided whether or not we’ll place “in progress” versions (perhaps the navigation component) of the Historical Williamsburg Living Narrative online through PlayFic, we definitely will be implementing a version of the program there.
Are you skilled in Inform 7? Would you be interested in developing parts of the Historical Williamsburg Living Narrative? We are looking for Interactive Fiction developers with experience in Inform 7, especially in the area of NPC dialog. Contact us for more information if you are interested!
The Historical Williamsburg Living Narrative is also seeking backers through Kickstarter. We are off to a very good start. Click here if you would like to learn more about backing the project.
We are up and running on Kickstarter with our 45-day window to raise $1500 to fund the Historical Williamsburg Living Narrative. Check it out at the Kickstarter site!
More info to follow, but in the meantime, please spread the word!
All systems are go, and Kickstarter has approved the Historical Williamsburg Living Narrative project! We are currently aligning our launch sequence, and we anticipate the official launch of our 45-day funding window to occur before the end of April 20, 2012.
The Kickstarter project plan and documentation have been completed and submitted for review and approval. It should only be a matter of a few days to obtain approval, then the Historical Williamsburg Living Narrative enters the funding stage.
Be sure to pass the word!
The rewards list for the Historical Williamsburg Living Narrative is now online. Check it out at https://historicalwilliamsburg.com/kickstarter-rewards/.