May 5, 2015

Let's Tell A Story Together

Words can do amazing things. Beautiful things. Ageless things. And though interactive words haven't yet managed to surpass the things static, printed words have accomplished --which is only natural for a particular sort of words that has been around for mere decades-- they have managed to create a more literary, more engaging and, usually, more demanding genre of gaming: interactive fiction. Or text adventures, but let's not argue terminology here.

Jimmy Maher does after all cover terms and definitions brilliantly at the beginning of his 2006 book Let's Tell A Story Together (A History of Interactive Fiction). Actually, Mr. Maher does an impressive job of getting you all excited about interactive words, introducing you to the many charms and idiosyncrasies of the parser, the intricacies of designing text adventures and even a more or less complete history of interactive fiction and its evolution.

From the late seventies and Adventure to Infocom's golden era and contemporary interactive fiction, Maher's book really does save me the trouble of doing anything beyond suggesting you read it. Read it even you've never dabbled with a parser in your life, read it if you have always loved the genre and, by all means, read it if you are an interactive fiction author. 

Let's Tell A Story Together, besides being well written and thoroughly researched, offers unique insights into defining text adventures and a comprehensive approach that covers over 30 years of parser driven gaming. Handily, it's also generously available for free both as an online hypertext and downloadable ebook.

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  1. Thanks for bringing this to my attention. I'm sure I'll read it (at some point, my book backlog is as big as my gaming one)

    From 2005, there's also "Twisty Little Passages: An approach to Interactive Fiction" by Nick Montfort. There's a history section in it but also an analytical, critical part. It sits unread in my bookshelf, so I can't say how good it is. Amazon users say it's nice, though.

    1. I'll have to agree with Amazon users then. Twisty Little Passages is a very good book indeed.