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!
Today, Spooky Action at a Distance brings you something slightly different! We sat down to chat with Max Gladstone, John W. Campbell Award-nominated SFF and IF author, creator of the Craft Sequence novels (Last First Snow is the latest), Choice of the Deathless, The City’s Thirst and Bookburners. Below, he shares his thoughts about writing in the Craft universe for Choice of Games, what interactive and linear narrative share in common, and crafting choices with meaningful impact.
Thanks, Max! We appreciate it.
The Craft Sequence universe spans both interactive fiction and non-interactive fiction. What’s it like writing in the same world in two different formats? Do you think of interactive fiction as being a separate genre from non-interactive fiction?
Max: “Genre” is a very interesting word in this context—interactive fiction is a different form, for sure, and the stories crystalized around that form have developed their own genre markers. Think about the “Bioware RPG”: there’s the form of action RPG, a meld of real-time combat scenarios and “out of combat” talk in which most choices are made through a conversation tree. Then there are genre markers—like the way the games hinge on the navigation of party relationships and the development of romance. Those genres are kind of… orthogonal to what we think of as genre markers in non-interactive fiction, if that makes any sense? It doesn’t really matter whether the game has spaceships in it or not—is the game fundamentally about love, or blowing things up? Or something else entirely?