Next in our series where we interview prominent IF and SFF authors about craft, Cat and Arkady talk to Bruno Dias. Bruno’s work “Cape” was nominated for an XYZZY award, and he won Best Technological Development for Raconteur, a platform which simplifies writing interactive fiction in Undum. His recently-announced game Voyageur, a procedurally generated space exploration game, is one of Failbetter Studios’ first funded indie projects and is slated for a Q4 2016 release. We caught up with him about the meaning of “meaningful choices”, procedural generation, and the importance of interdisciplinary creativity.
We’re continuing to interview prominent SFF and IF authors about craft in specific works. This week, Cat interviews Brendan Patrick Hennessy, whose Twine game Birdland took 4th place in the 2015 IF Comp and recently picked up six XYZZY nominations.
2013 was a good year for you—you had You Will Select A Decision, KING OF BEES IN FANTASY LAND, The Thing About Dungeons, and Bell Park, Youth Detective. You got XYZZY nominations for two of those games, including best writing.
Haha okay. First off I love that you refer to that two year gap as “a break”. For me that was like not a relaxing breather in between projects but a long slog where I was not able to make any headway on anything. I tried to start maybe a dozen games in this time? Including a failed early version of Birdland and an abandoned Bell Park sequel set at an elite yacht club high school in the year 2017. It was very depressing to feel so unproductive for so long!
Birdland, by Brendan Patrick Hennessy, is playable here: http://birdland.camp/
(Birdland is another Twine game, but a much more complex and multi-branching one than most of the Twine I’ve played so far. It has a statistics system, where the choices that the reader makes have a direct influence on what further choices they will be able to make. I note that it has enormous replay value, something that is new to me in IF that I’ve read.)
There’s been a whole lot of press and positive buzz about Birdland, and I am not likely to be original in my effusive praise of the thing, but I have been having a lot of thoughts about the nature of the interactive part of interactive fiction, especially after my experience with First Draft of the Revolution, and Birdland is an example of something I’m still struggling to articulate: how to manage character creation and ‘game’ elements while keeping a consistent narrative voice and a cohesive sense of the protagonist’s personality.
So this is less of a review and more of a meditation on style.
It’s the time of year when awards nominations are announced: when a community comes together to honor the most notable writing and achievements of their members, when people ask for reminders on social media about what exactly constitutes a specific award category, when conversations about biasing voting are held. I’m talking, of course, about the XYZZY awards, the IF community’s annual celebration of the year’s most innovative text pieces.
Playable for free online here: http://maryhamilton.co.uk/detritus/
Mary Hamilton’s “Detritus”, like last week’s game, is written in Twine – but unlike “Solarium”, “Detritus” is not using Twine to tell a story so much as to experiment with the creation of a self – which, of course, is a kind of story in its own right.