This week saw the last reading session of the Purple Blurb Fall series. Andrew Plotkin, a.k.a. Zarf, talked about his latest experiment in digital writing, a writing game based on the Myst world. Plotkin is a celebrated Interactive Fiction author (The Dreamhold, Shade, and Spider and Web), and game designer (System's Twilight and Capture the Flag with Stuff). He's also produced other geeky, nifty stuff, such as a hack of the Z-machine to play Tetris, Freefall, as well as a reimplementation of ElectroPaint called StonerView, which is quite pretty. We confirmed by is presentation that he very much tends to story-based, puzzle-like games as an author and a player, which we had already inferred from his previous IF oeuvre. His works more often than not thrive in the disquieting and the disconcerting, giving you a fascinating dive into ontologically unstable worlds. To put it plainly, Plotkin's IF pieces mess up with your head... and you'll like it.
Plotkin's last experiment sounds a lot less disturbing than his IF: a writing game based on the Myst world. Two player-authors write a story, one plot in the present and another in the past, and challenge each other to introduce and explain new elements in the narrative. You can read the rules of the game and an example here. The first test of the game is not complete, so Plotkin could not give much insight on how successful this game could be. What is interesting about this game is how it taps into the quite active Uru community (the online version of Myst), which endured the close of Uru and reproduced parts of the world in other online worlds such as There and Second Life (that was part of Celia Pearce's PhD thesis). Plotkin pointed out that Cyan is trying to find tools to encourage and promote player-created content, but their efforts so far have not been very successful. His game is an example of the types of content they could encourage, which does not require knowing any 3D modelling but a devotion for stories and storytelling.
The Purple Blurb reading series will continue next Spring, keep an eye on their homepage for future engagements.