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Exclusionary, problematic, biased

I feel that the listing of the IF Comp is exclusionary. But before I go off and change the thing, I'd like to see what others thought first. I propose putting in a competitions section to replace it, and then limk to all the contests out there.

I also feel, on a side note, that we shouldn't talk about the age of commercial IF as being over. 1893 and Future Boy have dispelled that myth quite handily. -- Aurora

Well, Aurora, my take on the FAQ is that it's a problematic page no matter what is done with it. It wants to be both succinct and authoritative, which are goals at odds with each other. It will either focus on one thing (like the IF Comp to the exclusion of all other comps), or become so bulky with information, it will no longer be succinct. The best compromise that I can think of is to include a 'see also' line at the end of each section to show that there is more to a given topic than the FAQ currently suggests. Unfortunately, my suggestion can't eliminate the inherit biases that are implicit within the FAQ. I would like to hear what others might have to say on how wide a scope the FAQ should be.

As to your suggestion that the age of commercial IF is not over, I think you are mistaken. Current sales of IF is miniscule, and organized by the authors themselves. It's little more than vanity press. This is nothing like how it used to be, when Infocom was selling millions of copies of their games. Yes, IF games will continue to be sold here and there, (and yes, I haven't forgotten Malinche's efforts), but it's still fair to say that the 'age' is over. -- David Welbourn 13:53, 11 Feb 2005 (Central Standard Time)

David is right that the FAQ is problematic and inherently biased, just as all the text he has added to ifwiki is also problematic and inherently biased. That's okay; the world is full of very useful pieces of writing, some of them collaborative, that are problematic and inherently biased. It really shouldn't be tough to provide short, useful answers to the common questions that newcomers have.

It seems to me that the IF Comp is the competition that is most widely known beyond the IF community, so I don't see any problem with having a question about it. Of course, there are other compeitions, and it's worthwhile to mention this. A useful addition to the "IF Comp" question in the FAQ might briefly mention the existence of other competitions and link to Category:Competitions. But you're welcome to make whatever changes you think are appropriate.

--Nm 00:27, 13 Feb 2005 (Central Standard Time)

Age and links...

To really know if something is over and will never return requires a perfect knowledge of the future. None of us has that, thus, we should be careful in issuing such pronouncements. There's no need to get into "my crystal ball is better than yours" arguments, either. I'm here to encourage the genre to grow in any way it can and to not establish boundaries for it, financial or otherwise. Fundamentally, it's a negative thing for the genre, because it makes IF look as though it was end-of-lifed and all that's left are the death spazms. So I say this -- let's not pronounce the patient dead, especially in a public wiki devoted to it. It's bad form.

I like the idea of linking to the contest page. -- Aurora

Everyone's here to encourage IF to grow. Giving newcomers misleading information doesn't further that goal. Unless you can document hundreds of commercial IF releases and hundreds of shareware releases since 1990, it seems to me that your edit is misleading.

The question we're talking about here -- a common question that newcomers to IF have asked me many times before -- is "What happened to Infocom (Magnetic Scrolls, Level 9, etc.)?" The answer that's given explains the big commercial companies from the 1980s no longer exist, but that lots of new IF is still being written.

The question is not about whether anyone in the world is still selling IF, whether it's plausible that IF will be a commercial force again, or anything else. If you think these are really among the most frequently asked questions that newcomers have about IF, you should add them or propose to add them. If they aren't, it's best to address the issue elsewere.

--Nm 14:47, 14 Feb 2005 (Central Standard Time)

Dear me, no one is saying IF is dead. What is being said is that interactive fiction had a rather large impact on software sales at one point. That time has passed. Whether that would somehow happen again is irrelevent. This wiki is about helping people make their way around IF as it stands "today". If you (Aurora) feel strongly, then start an article entitled "Commercial IF: It's past, present, and future." and add your thoughts there.

--David Cornelson 15:22, 14 Feb 2005 (Central Standard Time)

So now you're saying that my information is misleading, which is a backhanded manner of accusing me of purposefully lying. *laughs and just throws my hands up* If you think my stuff sucks, then by all means, don't wait for me to remove it! It's heresy! It's blasphemy! Take it out! I would help you do so, but I don't think I can muster to energy to care anymore. I'd completely remove myself from the site to spare you the agony of dealing with people who don't agree with you, but apparently there's no way to do that.

-- Aurora 12:30, 8 Mar 2005 (Central Standard Time)

Who said that? We have started this project with the intent on having a neutral voice. That means we'd prefer to stick to a more conservative reality. You can share your opinion and that is encouraged. We just want the main articles to be neutral. That's why recommended the alternative article title, which you would own and voice your own personal view of IF. Of course we'd still prefer you stay within some mannered parameters, but that's what a wiki is good at. People can help moderate your voice so that it's more communal.

Of course if you're looking for a place where you get to do it your way and only your way, that's not what a wiki is all about.

--David Cornelson 14:47, 8 Mar 2005 (Central Standard Time)


Does HyperTADS actually work on Mac OS X? I thought it was only for MAC OS version 9...

More generally, it's quite likely that the table of interpreters should be updated, but I'm not at all able to do that. --Eriorg 01:21, 4 May 2010 (UTC)

  • According to (the HyperTADS homepage), HyperTADS "isn't native to MacOS X yet, but runs happily in the Classic compatibility environment." Which I guess means that it is an option for Mac OS X users, but perhaps there ought to be a footnote regarding it. Unfortunately, I am also unfamiliar with most of the interpreters out there; we may need to actively ask for info about them. -- David Welbourn 06:17, 4 May 2010 (UTC)

A FAQ Update

I'd like opinions on whether some of the FAQ should be updated to reflect changes in how people today find, play, and develop IF. For example, it seems like Baf's Guide has passed the torch to the IFDB, and likewise for the main review sites; multi-interpreters such as Gargoyle and Zoom have more appeal to newer players; and, the beta-testing links in the FAQ seem outdated. If the FAQ is intended for IF newcomers I think these changes are important, but I'm not sure if my perceptions here are skewed. Thoughts? George 22:42, 30 October 2010 (UTC)

FWIW, I agree. – Huftis 08:17, 31 October 2010 (UTC)

I certainly agree, too! But I'd prefer not to do it myself. I guess you're a volunteer, George? --Eriorg 18:55, 1 November 2010 (UTC)

I've passed a mudmail note to Nick -- since he's the FAQ creator, I think he'd want to know -- but I did note that the copy of the FAQ on his own page only claims to be current as of 2005, suggesting (to me) that the IFWiki version is most current version. Which, as has been pointed out, isn't that current any more. Sigh. My initial thoughts: I agree that IFDB should be given prominence over Baf's Guide these days. And I'd also promote over r*if as well. Interpreters are one of my huge blind spots; I know too little about them to even suggest what to do there. I'll also take advice about beta-testing sites and ask that Beta-testing is likewise updated (if necessary). -- David Welbourn 20:44, 1 November 2010 (UTC)

  • Regarding Linux interpreters, I think it’s best to just recommend Gargoyle. It’s vastly better than all the competition, and it’s available in the package repository for at least some distros. It doesn’t support HTML Tads features though, so for Tads games the news QTads interpreter can be recommeded. --Huftis 21:27, 2 November 2010 (UTC)

I agree, an update would be great. IFDB is a great starting point to suggest, as is I think it's really important to pare away the less immediately useful information (even my beloved Baf's Guide) so that newcomers can easily find the most useful, helpful information that is featured here. That's the point of a FAQ like this. The table of interpreters, with Alan2 and Alan3 columns and System 9 and RISC OS rows, is rather silly right now and provides more noise than signal. We could perhaps just suggest a good multi-format interpreter -- Gargoyle, Spatterlight -- for common platforms. The main thing I'd suggest is not being afraid to focus on the really useful resources and on what are truly good answers to common questions. People will find other answers with a Web search, but they won't so easily find a few pages of solid introduction and orientation to IF. Also, I'm glad to be part of the conversation here, but please don't wait on me to edit this -- it belongs to all of us on ifwiki. Nm 01:50, 2 November 2010 (UTC)

Thanks for the comments all. The revision is up; I tried to make things current while still providing some history so the newcomer has some context for how things stand today. George 04:47, 3 November 2010 (UTC)

Re: Tdarcos's additions

I'm a little concerned about the newest edits by Tdarcos. Although he seems to mean well, much of the new text rambles on and on. It's also opinionated, possibly without him realizing it. It's not very neutral, for example, to characterize authors of new authoring systems as masochistic. And only Inform 7 might be described as a form of structured English; other authoring systems aren't like that. Please re-edit to make the text neutral and concise. -- David Welbourn 22:00, 9 October 2011 (PDT)

I read those edits a while ago and decided to put it aside, but coming back to it my instinct is to remove most of the 'how can I write my own game', 'which development system is best', and 'why not create my own IF development system', in favor of focusing the content on 'how can I write my own game' by providing specific contemporary examples (i.e. Inform 6 and 7, TADS 3, Hugo, Adrift, Quest, Undum, Choicescript, etc.). My feeling is the 'which development system is best' and 'why not create my own system' questions are to some degree products of a previous era where there was much discussion on those two topics. I wouldn't say those topics are completely without merit but I think this FAQ is better off leaving those subjects alone in favor of providing more fruitful information for the newcomer.

If no one objects I'll rewrite those sections soon. -- George 23:27, 11 December 2011 (PST)

I have no objection to you attempting a rewrite. Thanks. -- David Welbourn 08:55, 18 December 2011 (PST)

What is "interactive fiction"?

The very first Q in this FAQ defines IF as being only parser IF, specifically excluding anything that doesn't involve typing. This is no longer really the consensus definition used by the community, and it's also in pretty direct contradiction to the Unfeatured Article currently on the front page of the site, which calls out several non-parser systems as being part of IF.

Should this be written to be more in line with the definition the community now seems to be using? (i.e. something like the About IF page on the IFComp site?) sedm0784 10:42, 7 November 2014 (UTC)

Another FAQ Update?

I'm wondering if the FAQ is due for another update. In particular, Brass Lantern, IF URLs, and the current events page on ifwiki are listed as places to go to keep up with news, and none of these appears to have updated in years. Also, the SPAG URL has changed to IF Answers is a possible new resource to mention, as it includes additional, community-edited FAQs about interactive fiction and is not restricted to a particular development platform. But my main concern is the existing links.

I also agree with the poster above about the first question being revised to be less parser-centric. 15-May-2015 bg

Oh, please do update the links, and add new ones! It can only improve the IFWiki, which is out of date on many pages.
And yes, I think the first question definitely should be revised to be less parser-centric. (Personally, I must admit that I wasn't particularly delighted by the change of meaning that the "interactive fiction" phrase has had these last years to include all kinds of text games, but my little opinion is of no importance at all here: this wiki is supposed to serve the IF community in general, after all, not just myself!) --Eriorg 22:53, 16 May 2015 (UTC)
Ok, I can remove the out-of-date links, at least, and fix the SPAG link, if nobody objects. I'm not sure I want to try to revise the first question, as it seems like a potentially controversial thing and I'm a newbie here. It also seemed like this FAQ was attributed to someone in particular, so I wasn't sure how open it was to casual revision. --bg 00:13, 17 May 2015 (UTC)
I've now gone through and made the following changes (hope I didn't forget any):
  • Yoon Ha Lee's recommendations (dead link)
  • Sam Ashwell's recommendations (link did not work)
  • reference to Brass Lantern as a place to keep up with news, though I left it as a resource at the bottom, with a note that it's no longer updated
  • references to current events on IF Wiki, and IF URLS (previously listed as places to keep up with news)
  • Updated the SPAG links to point to the new SPAG site, and described it as an online magazine instead of an email newsletter.
  • Updated XYZZY transcript link to point to most recent available year (2013) instead of 2009.
  • Added IF Answers in the section about places to talk to other IF fans. I considered putting it as a resource at the bottom because it's general in nature, but wasn't sure if it has matured enough as a site to count as a "major" resource.
I'm a relative newbie here, so I just took my best guess about some of these things, and hope I did not step on any toes. Feel free to revise my revisions. Especially Sam's site, because I feel like I've seen his recommendations page not too long ago, so maybe the site is just temporarily down?
I do think there is more that can be done here, maybe especially with regards to community and forum links. It might be good to point people to the forums that are actually active. And the description of what interactive fiction is. --bg 01:30, 17 May 2015 (UTC)
P.S. I also noticed the spacing is inconsistent between the questions. Not sure how it should be, though.
And, I'm wondering if the interpreters section needs to be updated. I seem to think I've read that not all of the ones mentioned are updated/good for newer games.--bg
Ok, since no one else responded about the definition of IF, I went ahead and revised it to include choice-based and hypertext. It's not perfect but it's a start. --bg (talk) 20:18, 8 June 2015 (UTC)