Interactive Fiction Competition 2000

In 2000, I entered the Interactive Fiction Contest, which is a competition to write text adventure games reminiscent of Zork. “Interactive Fiction” is the politically correct term, as a lot of these games have evolved from the classic Infocom/Scott Adams/Eamon styles into more elaborate performance art pieces in which the authors don’t want to be tainted with the concepts of “puzzles” or “entertainment.”

My submission, The Best Man, was far too ambitious for an initial go; still, it placed 15th out of 53, not bad for a novice. But then, I’ve always felt it is best to jump into a new environment with a large project than putter around with small ones. I was crippled by a distinct lack of enthusiasm from most of my friends; fortunately, Chris Livingston made up the slack and did the work of a dozen playtesters. Still, the bugs caught (and missed) reflect the lack of diversity in the test group.

We were encouraged to rerelease the games, fix the bugs discovered during the competition, and simplify the puzzles found too difficult by the reviewers. It has been almost two years since I submitted the game, and this is the first post-competition release.

Every attempt to release a fix has been jinxed. To wit:

The last one spooked me. I’m not normally superstitious, but the mental connection between the game (describing a terrorist plot to kill the President) and the actual events disturbed me greatly. In a sense, the school work saved me: I was seriously considering submitting a game for the 2001 competition in which the main character ends up blowing up a building. Not good.

Anyway, enjoy. If you find any bugs, even typographical ones, feel free to contact me. I recently rediscovered the source code on a dusty archive. It may be slightly out-of-date with this final release, though, so fixing a bug will probably introduce a dozen regressions…