The Interactive Fiction Archive (2019)

101 points25 comments12 days
by akavel12 days ago

(Meta: I wonder if the (2019) suffix really makes much sense here? On one hand, the site says "since 1992"; then, in theory, the front page has a "last modified (...) 2019", but this is really only about the front page's content itself; and it's a front to an archive/database that is actively updated IIUC - would it make sense to link to adding a suffix of when its front page was last modified? @dang?)

by rolph12 days ago

when i post suffix i use square brackets, i didnt use a suffix here as it is an archive thus covering historic material, or composed of factual information that is not expected to change or be revised. there is probably some tool for pulling a pages last update time, but where to put it in the mechanics of article submission? doesnt seem to have an entry for but has a number of backlinks to resources

by qbasic_forever12 days ago

The annual IFComp short interactive fiction competition just released the awards for this year's competition: I haven't played anything from this year yet, but from years past they are always a fantastic set of IF to explore.

by apples_oranges12 days ago

This website would benefit from having an embedded dos box emulator so we can just run those files in the browser!

by bcl12 days ago

They link to playable versions on

by rolph12 days ago

yes, this is my vastly greater preference, running the original version.

i have bias against browser basing every thing, when we already have perfectly good desktops. the code for most "IF" is small and suitable for the functions a browser is capable of performing, but i just dont trust browsers as a consumption device. im older than dirt so i work with files locally, isolated from internet environment.

by tjpnz12 days ago

Fascinating. How does one go about writing one of these in 2021? Do analogs to Unity/Unreal Engine exist for interactive fiction, or are people rolling their own?

by Zanni12 days ago

There are a lot of options.

Inform 6/7 is the most popular of the parser-based languages, with v6 being closer to a traditional programming language and v7 being a fascinating, natural-language based programming language that is powerful but can be difficult for those steeped in traditional programming languages to wrap their head around. Twine is the most popular choice-based system, supporting three languages that range from basically Javascript to no-code.

Honorable mention to both 1) Ink which is my personal favorite choice-based IF language and integrates well with Unity but doesn't have a great default presentation and 2) ChoiceScript, which is frustratingly limited (by design) but supports an incredible ecosystem of pro, semi-pro and amateur game writers (at

by Kinrany12 days ago

Ink is amazing: it's modular and is getting close to modern programming languages in terms of tooling. AFAIK all the others are still distributed as monolithic applications.

Ink has an IDE that exports to web, but there are also libraries for C# and JS that can be embedded in other programs, a Unity plugin and a VSCode language server.

inkJam 2021 happened recently:

by jkmatila12 days ago

Inform7 is a natural language based system for programming interactive fiction.

by Jupe12 days ago

Writing your own is, of course, an option, but don't underestimate the task. A "simple" POC is usually very easy (my son and I did one in an afternoon). But building an engine with block-able exists, recursive containment, item interaction (eg. "turn bolt with wrench" and the custom functions they need), can be a much larger effort.

by ScottAdams12 days ago

It can end up being a lifetime of work :)

by spencerflem12 days ago

For the choose-your-own-adventute type of story Inkle's Ink language & editor is really nice

by shmerl12 days ago

You can probably start with simple text console program that doesn't need any graphics.

Second step can be ASCII style graphics added to it.

Then you can do already something like The Hobbit with 2D graphical backgrounds.

I don't think you need Unity or the like for any of it.

It would probably be akin to writing a shell interpreter for the input at least.

by anthk12 days ago

>It would probably be akin to writing a shell interpreter for the input at least.

Nah, Inform6 and the library gives you all: the parser, interpreter, prompt, verbos and objects. And it's free as in freedom.

by ZeroGravitas12 days ago

The makers of the recent Netflix "Bandersnatch" interactive black Mirror used Twine to prototype.

by bobbytuck12 days ago

There's also zilf/z-machine -- the language/virtual machine used to write the Infocom games.

A relatively recent 'awesome' repo for z-machine is here:

And the current implementation of zilf is here:

by harel12 days ago

My first "public" software creation is on the IF Archive. A game I've created with a friend in, on an old 286 PC. It got some pretty bad reviews but it was niche and we were young...

by lvoudour12 days ago

Back in the day I was really fond of Legend Entertainment [1] and Magnetic Scrolls [2] games that offered a mix of text adventures + graphics. Are there any modern games that follow a similar format?



by ZeroGravitas12 days ago

I played a few of these recently (some on a phone which works better than you might think, but not great, even when you learn all the shortcuts of the specific app).

There's various lists of good ones to try if you're new to the art form. Lost Pig I think was a good intro.

I was already familiar with the general concept and so the "word magic" of "Counterfeit Monkey" was an excellent new mechanic that really tickled the puzzly part of my brain.

by abecedarius12 days ago

Seconding Lost Pig. It wasn't my first IF, but it seems a good choice for that role: funny and not too hard.

by scorpion_farmer12 days ago is a much more usable collection of IF. Most of the games can be launched in browser, and there are user curated lists of games.

The IFcomp winners are a great place to start, most of these can be finished in a few hours:

by palad1n12 days ago

I remember years back I was into interactive fiction. I remember converting a random haiku generator in JavaScript to Inform 6. Good times.