October 06, 2004

Below Zero IF! - Individual Project Proposal

Here is a copy of my project proposal for an interactive fiction game which places the player in SHU. : )

After reading Neha’s blog entry about interactive fiction and following the link to Dr. Jerz’ academic weblog, I downloaded the Inform program that is typically used to develop interactive fiction as well as the IBG tutorial. I was skeptical about my own ability to learn and adapt to the coding language presented in the tutorial, but after working my way through the first “test” game, Heidi, I realized that not only was I able to successfully create an interactive fiction game, but I enjoyed doing it. Therefore, for my individual project for the course, I would like to create an interactive fiction game that is modeled after Heidi and builds upon this foundation in order to maintain an elaborate and satisfying experience for the player, more similar to William Tell, the second interactive fiction example included with the tutorial, which I have also completed. While searching for other interactive fiction which resembles what I hope to create, I came across She’s Got a Thing For a Spring, a game which focuses upon elegant, artistic portrayals of the scenery and settings, kind of an exploration game rather than a puzzle-solving or plot progression type.

The game I hope to create is one which allows the player to explore a particular area of Seton Hill University, beginning with the player character waking up in his dorm and then proceeding to prepare himself for the school day ahead. Naturally, I would focus upon allowing the player the freedom to move from place to place and provide interesting descriptions for the “rooms” as well as several “objects” with which the character could interact. The big “catch” in the story would be that everything has been sort of “skewed,” to create a pseudo-fantasy environment, so that the familiar things that my fellow students would normally be able to recognize and manipulate would provoke curious thought. The basic layout of the game would be as follows (note, this is just an excerpt from the final version of the game, which I have already begun to work on; most of the objects that I mention can be interacted with in some way or at least examined):

Below Zero
An Inform experience by Chris Ulicne

You awaken to find yourself lying in a rather uncomfortable bed.

A university dorm

The room appears to be a university dorm. The walls are covered
with pennants and banners, each embroidered with the letters 'SHU'
in bright gold letters. One of the pennants also portrays a creature
with a lion's body and an eagle's wings and head: a griffin. The only
furniture that you notice as your eyes adjust to the gloom is a desk
with a computer on it and a dresser. A few loose bits of clothing hang
out from the dresser's drawers, carelessly caught there when they were
last closed. There is a single closed wooden door in the wall to the

>Examine door

The door is plain and worn, showing signs of much use and abuse over
a long period of time.

>Examine desk

The desk is old and battered, chips of wood nearly ready to break away
from its weathered mahogany form. Although it has no drawers, a small
desktop computer rests on its surface. Strangely enough, there is a
keyboard, but no mouse.

>Open door

The door opens with some difficulty, the handle cold to the touch.


The hallway appears to be deserted. Its walls, ceiling, and floor are completely
covered with large sheets of glistening ice.

This is the basic format for my interactive fiction game; while it is still far from complete, I am quickly learning how to incorporate the techniques I learned in the IBG tutorial in my own story. I look forward to finishing this project in time to get some peer reviews from all of my classmates before I submit it to Dr. Jerz.


http://www.igs.net/~tril/if/best/#spring (page for She’s Got a Thing for a Spring download)

http://www.inform-fiction.org/manual/download_ibg.html (page for downloading copies of the sample games included with the IBG tutorial)

Posted by ChrisU at October 6, 2004 01:27 AM

Neha -

Yeah, I made up my mind as soon as I started posting some of my poetry on my blog that I wanted to get one in order to protect my work.

Of course, I never even would have known about it if you hadn't mentioned them in your presentation at the beginning of the semester... Thanks!

Posted by: ChrisU at October 11, 2004 12:34 PM

Ah, okay, thanks Dr. Jerz. Actually, I've been modifying the story a bit, and it will end up being mostly fantasy, just set in a college-type of setting. I'll post an update here soon that will show you what I mean.

Posted by: ChrisU at October 9, 2004 11:10 PM

There is a whole subgenre of "collegiate" interactive fiction... you might want to look at a few of the better-rated ones in order to get a sense of what's already been done to death, and where you can show your creativity.


Posted by: Dennis G. Jerz at October 9, 2004 08:45 PM

Im passing out this link to anyone in class who wants to get into IF:


Check it out Chris. Oh, and I'm also very happy that you've gotten yourself a CC license. Smart move.

Posted by: Neha at October 8, 2004 04:30 PM

Sure thing, thanks for the help in advance, Brian. I'll email you a copy of the game when it's done (along with a link to a WinFrotz download, if you don't have that program already).

Posted by: ChrisU at October 7, 2004 05:25 PM

If you don't mind, I'd like to review it. Let me know when you are done.

Posted by: Brian at October 7, 2004 12:18 PM
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