The education committee of the Interactive Fiction Technology Foundation is pleased to announce a companion IF workshop to this year’s Narrascope conference. Why should novelists have all the summer fun at their literary colonies and retreats? Let’s take ourselves seriously as writers and hang out together writing IF in the IFComp offseason.

Participants interested in choice-based IF will learn to write Twine-based games, studying with Chris Klimas, creator and current project leader of Twine. Those who’ve always wanted to master Inform 7 will work through the Inform 7 Tutorial series being developed at the Electronic Literatures & Literacies Lab (EL3) at the University of Illinois, working with Judith Pintar, the EL3 Director. Experienced writers of Twine and Inform 7, like Stuart Moulthrop and Andrew Plotkin, will participate in the workshop as mentors, writing by your side.

The workshop will begin in an online, asynchronous format in the two weeks preceding Narrascope and then culminate with a week in residence at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign immediately following Narrascope.

Email Chris & Judith at education@iftechfoundation.org to be notified when registration opens for our first annual IF Writers’ Workshop.

I like to put in a bit of tinkering time on the IF Archive over the winter holiday. Last year it was Cloudflare and index improvements. This year, we’ve launched a new feature: metadata!

I know metadata isn’t exciting to everybody. But as it happens, the IF world has collected a lot of it. If you visit IFDB, you’ll see all sorts of data associated with every game: author names, publication dates, language, dev system, and so on. Also a link to the IF Archive, for games that are stored there.

This is great for browsing IFDB, but the links were all one-way. If you had an Archive link — or if you were browsing through an Archive directory — you’d just see title, author, and maybe a version number. No link to the IFDB entry…

Until now. Take a look at https://ifarchive.org/indexes/if-archive/games/zcode/, for example. You’ll see that most of the game entries now have an “IFDB entry” link. This closes the loop between IFDB and the Archive.

This doesn’t just apply to playable game files, by the way. In the solutions directory, walkthroughs have an IFDB entry link to the game they describe. Same goes for source code packages in the games/source directory.

Of course, there’s a lot of work left to do. I said most of the games had IFDB entry links. I extracted these links from an IFDB dump. But for various reasons that didn’t give us complete coverage. Over the coming months we’ll be adding more links.

I also hope to import more of IFDB’s data and make it directly visible on the Archive index pages. That way, the crowdsourced efforts that support IFDB will benefit both sites.

We have other Archive improvements planned, but we’ll talk about those when they’re closer to fruition. Until then, enjoy our spicy metadata references.

The Annual Interactive Fiction competition has released its annual survey, asking all its participants — whether judges, authors, or interested observers — for their thoughts on how well the 2019 IFComp went, and ideas for improving the competition in time for 2020’s event.

If you have a few minutes to help IFComp, please do fill out the survey before January 31, 2020. We would value your thoughts very much!


On that note: NarraScope 2020’s Call for Proposals remains open through January 17. It welcomes pitches for panel discussions, 30- and 60-minute presentations, and five-minute lightning talks.

NarraScope will consider just about any topic related to narrative-based games in all their forms, digital and otherwise. If you have (or develop, in the next few days!) an idea for a presentation, discussion, or short event that you can share with our annual gathering to study and celebrate playful interactive stories, we hope you’ll pitch it to us.

This year’s NarraScope will happen at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign on May 29-31.

IFTF president Jason McIntosh and IFComp chair Jacqueline Ashwell appeared on the December 19, 2019 episode of Titans of Text, a podcast about text-based games. We discussed the origin story of IFTF, the state of the competition, and various other topics of interest. The show published a transcript, as well.

Since Titans comes out of the MUD community, discussion turned at one point to IFMud and Club Floyd, a long-running regular event where Jacq leads online group play-throughs of interactive fiction work new and old. These are not IFTF projects but they are certainly IFTF-adjacent, and we quite enjoyed the rare chance to discuss them on a podcast!

Titans has focused recent episodes on interactive fiction founders and creators, including a recent interview with Steve Meretsky. Go have a listen!

Seasons greetings! 2019 was an extraordinary year for the Interactive Fiction Technology Foundation. A few highlights:

And of course, IFTF’s ongoing programs continued their work throughout the year, with special attention this time around on the twenty-fifth Annual IF Competition.

As always, the generosity of the worldwide IF community powers everything that IFTF accomplishes. Please do keep us in mind when thinking of your year-end charitable gifts! Have a look at our giving page for more information about how you can contribute to our efforts with a tax-deductible donation.

Thank you so much for your consideration, and for continuing to follow IFTF’s ongoing misson. We expect another exciting year with 2020. For now, warmest holiday wishes from IFTF to you and yours!


P.S. IFTF has a page on LinkedIn now! If you use that network, please feel free to follow us there as well.

The call for proposals for NarraScope 2020 is up! We’re now accepting proposals for talks and panels.

The details are all on the web site. We’re looking for cutting-edge discussions about adventure games, narrative design, interactive fiction, and anything else that falls under our umbrella. NarraScope represents a wide range of viewpoints — indies, academics, communities outside the gaming mainstream.

(Have a look at our 2019 schedule if you want an idea of how NarraScope runs. But we’re always hoping to expand our range!)

NarraScope 2020 will take place at University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign from May 29-31, 2020.

Proposals are due by January 17th. We expect to have 60-minute and 30-minute talks and panel discussions, plus a session of lightning talks (five to ten minutes).

We regret we are unable to cover travel expenses for speakers this year.

Thanks in advance!

Logo of the 25th Annual Interactive Fiction Competition

The 25th Annual Interactive Fiction Competition has ended. Steph Cherrywell joins the rare company of two-time IFComp first-placers with the boozy comedy Zozzled, and of course the other eighty-one(!) entrants all brought something new to the world of interactive fiction as well. Please do browse the whole list; while games’ IFDB entries get settled you can download them from the IF Archive, or (for many games) play them from the ballot page, which we’re keeping around through year’s end.

And if you’d like something else to commemorate twenty-five years of IFComp, may we suggest something from our gift shop? Maia Kobabe, who drew the amazing artwork for the IF Archive’s own 25th anniversary a couple of years ago, returned to create a new design filled with signifiers of past competition winners. You can get the design for yourself on mugs, stickers, and other stuff. Proceeds from all purchases goes to IFTF, which powers IFComp and lots of other IF-related public services.

Thanks as always to the whole interactive fiction community for another outstanding IFComp year.

I’m pleased to announce that the name Twine® is now a registered trademark of the Interactive Fiction Technology Foundation.

Why do this?

​ The trademark protects the name Twine. For example, it prevents anyone (or any company) from creating, say, a competing application called TwinePlus without our permission. Anyone can still make an application like Twine—they just have to call it something different.

​ This also potentially prevents someone from trying to make a profit off of the name Twine without permission—for example, if a company tried to sell Twine T-shirts without our permission.

​ Neither scenario (application or T-shirt) has happened so far, but the trademark protects Twine should it ever occur.

​ This is not out of the ordinary for open source projects. Many other high-profile projects have their name trademarked, including Debian, Firefox, Git, jQuery, and VNC. These trademarks are often held by organizations, usually nonprofits like IFTF.

Does this mean Twine is going commercial?

​ No, not at all. Many nonprofits and non-commercial projects have trademark registrations, and “commercial” usage isn’t required to get a registration. Twine continues to be licensed under the GNU Public License 3.0, which means that you may use it without paying anyone. You can even create derivatives of it so long as you abide by the terms of the GPLv3, and that you choose a name for your derivative that is sufficiently different that there would be no confusion between your version and the original one. You may also continue to distribute Twine’s source code as much as you like. It in itself is not trademarked (nor can it be—trademarks only apply to names).

What does it mean for authors working with Twine?

​ Very little. The IFTF would kindly ask authors to avoid calling Twine stories “twines,” as this potentially makes it more difficult to enforce the trademark, but that is about the extent to which authors need to think about the trademark. You can of course continue to write about Twine, make videos about it, and post things you made with Twine wherever you like without asking for permission. Anyone can use “Twine” to refer to the TWINE® project—that’s called descriptive fair use—so there are no restrictions on saying “This story was created with Twine,” although we’d ask you to use the ® if you can.

Twinery.org now has a notice explaining that Twine is a trademark of IFTF, but you do not need to add this notice on material you create related to Twine.

​ The trademark also has no implications for anyone selling a game, story, or other unclassifiable project created with Twine—assuming, of course, the name of whatever you’re creating is sufficiently distinct from “Twine.” Selling “Beowulf: Twine Edition” is OK. Selling a hypertext game called just “Twine”… is something we are asking you not to do.

There are several other software projects named Twine. Does this mean you’re going to sue them?

​ No. The trademark filing is specifically for the name Twine as it pertains to the creation of hypertext. The other projects that we’re aware of, although they are also software, are in other domains.

What about Twine’s built-in story formats like Chapbook, Harlowe, Snowman, and SugarCube?

​ There are no plans to register them with the US Trademark Office at this time.

I have another question about this trademark stuff.

Contact us please.

You know the drill! Or maybe you don’t, in which case we’ll explain the drill to you.

Every year, the Colossal Fund raises money for IFComp prizes. (I can say “every year” because this is the third time we’ve done it.) Last year, IF supporters (that’s you) donated $9000; we distributed $7200 to the authors of 51 IFComp entries.

Now it’s time to open the Colossal Fund for IFComp 2019. The donation button is live! See your name listed on our donor page. (Or listed as “anonymous”, if you prefer.)

The fundraising deadline is November 15th (the end of IFComp voting).

This year we’re edging the goal up to an even $10000. As usual, 80% of the proceeds ($8000) will be distributed among the top two-thirds of IFComp finishers. The other 20% ($2000) goes to support IFTF and its operations, including IFComp, the IF Archive, the IntFiction.org forums, and other programs.

What does this mean for authors? Because we’re dividing the money among the top finishers, the exact numbers depend on how many IFComp entries there are. We’ve had about 80 entries for the past couple of years. Assume that remains true in 2019. Then we will divide the money among the top 53 entries. If we reach our target of $10000, the prize chart will look like this:

1: $424.89 15: $233.12 29: $100.35 43: $26.60
2: $409.24 16: $221.68 30: $93.13 44: $23.59
3: $393.88 17: $210.54 31: $86.20 45: $20.88
4: $378.83 18: $199.70 32: $79.58 46: $18.47
5: $364.08 19: $189.16 33: $73.26 47: $16.36
6: $349.63 20: $178.93 34: $67.24 48: $14.55
7: $335.48 21: $168.99 35: $61.52 49: $13.05
8: $321.63 22: $159.36 36: $56.10 50: $11.84
9: $308.08 23: $150.03 37: $50.98 51: $10.94
10: $294.83 24: $141.00 38: $46.16 52: $10.34
11: $281.89 25: $132.27 39: $41.65 53: $10.04
12: $269.25 26: $123.84 40: $37.43
13: $256.90 27: $115.71 41: $33.52
14: $244.86 28: $107.88 42: $29.91

The numbers add up to $8000, which is 80% of $10000.

As you see, this is not a winner-take-all plan. Our goal is to distribute prizes across a broad range of IF styles and ideas. Any game which does even moderately well should receive a decent prize.

Other details:

  • How do I donate? Go to IFComp.org and push the big blue Paypal button.
  • Is my donation tax-deductible? Yes, to the extent allowed by law. (Consult a tax professional, that’s all we can say.)
  • Does the Colossal Fund replace the usual IFComp prize list? No! These cash prizes will be in addition to the usual IFComp prize list. Please visit this page to donate objects and services as prizes.
  • How will the cash prizes be distributed? Via PayPal. If you can’t accept PayPal, we can mail a US check to a US address. If that doesn’t work for you, or if you wish to decline the cash prize, we will roll the money into next year’s prize fund.
  • Was any money rolled into this year’s fund from last year? Yes! Some of last year’s winners declined their prizes. So we are starting the 2019 CF fund with $780 already in the pot.

If you have further questions, please contact us at ifcomp@ifcomp.org. And thanks for your support!

As the summer winds down, the IFTF Education Committee (EdCom) is looking back at the amazing gathering at IFTF’s first Narrascope conference in Boston, and foward to our next steps.

In June at Narrascope, EdCom ran the evening workshops. Brendan Desilets offered a session on approaches to teaching IF; Chris Klimas and Stuart Moulthrop gave an introduction to Twine; and Anasastasia Salter and Judith Pintar covered the basics of Inform 7. On Saturday we did a “Meet the EdCom” Panel where we shared our experiences teaching IF and our thoughts about the wide range of pedagogical reasons why anyone would want to! We’re interested in uses of IF in classroom from primary school to graduate school, and in disciplines across the humanities, social sciences and STEM.

At the end of that panel presentation, we announced the creation of an IF Educator’s Forum on intfiction.org, as a dedicated space for IF educators to gather. Here we can share our experiences, resources, curricula and games, ask questions, and get feedback and support for writing educational IF, teaching IF, or teaching with IF. It is also a launching site for future community-creating and community-building efforts and initiatives.

If you’re an educator who uses or teaches IF in your classrooms, or would like to do, we want to hear from you! Please drop an email to the forum and introduce yourself.

We’ve also made a short survey, so IFTF EdCom can know more about who we are as a community of educators, including wannabes, and to get a collective sense of what we all teach, what resources we have to share, and what we need.

Please share this blog with your IF colleagues and in your educational networks! Our goal for this fall is to get started building an exciting, fun, and generative IF educator’s community network.