Twisty Little Passages: An Approach to Interactive Fiction (MIT Press)


Open Preview See a Problem? Thanks for telling us about the problem. Return to Book Page. An Approach to Interactive Fiction 3. A critical approach to interactive fiction, as literature and game. Interactive fiction--the best-known form of which is the text game or text adventure--has not received as much critical attention as have such other forms of electronic literature as hypertext fiction and the conversational programs known as chatterbots.

Twisty Little Passages the title refers to a maze in A critical approach to interactive fiction, as literature and game.

Twisty Little Passages: An Approach to Interactive Fiction

Twisty Little Passages the title refers to a maze in Adventure , the first interactive fiction is the first book-length consideration of this form, examining it from gaming and literary perspectives. Nick Montfort, an interactive fiction author himself, offers both aficionados and first-time users a way to approach interactive fiction that will lead to a more pleasurable and meaningful experience of it.

Twisty Little Passages looks at interactive fiction beginning with its most important literary ancestor, the riddle. Montfort then discusses Adventure and its precursors including the I Ching and Dungeons and Dragons , and follows this with an examination of mainframe text games developed in response, focusing on the most influential work of that era, Zork. He then considers the introduction of commercial interactive fiction for home computers, particularly that produced by Infocom.

Commercial works inspired an independent reaction, and Montfort describes the emergence of independent creators and the development of an online interactive fiction community in the s. Finally, he considers the influence of interactive fiction on other literary and gaming forms. With Twisty Little Passages , Nick Montfort places interactive fiction in its computational and literary contexts, opening up this still-developing form to new consideration.

Paperback , pages. Published February 11th by Mit Press first published To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up. To ask other readers questions about Twisty Little Passages , please sign up. Be the first to ask a question about Twisty Little Passages. Lists with This Book. Feb 15, Aneel rated it did not like it.

Twisty Little Passages: An Approach to Interactive Fiction (MIT Press) [Nick Montfort] on domaine-solitude.com *FREE* shipping on qualifying offers. A critical approach to. A critical approach to interactive fiction, as literature and game. Interactive fiction —the best-known form of which is the text game or text adventure—has not.

Sadly, I found this rather dull. It's literary criticism about Infocom-style text adventure games. Because this is a pretty new field the games have been around for decades, but apparently nobody has given them a serious critical reading , the author spends a good deal of time just defining terms and providing a history of the genre. Montfort spends an early chapter arguing that text adventure games are descendants of riddles, a more established literary form. This seems to be the meaty idea in Sadly, I found this rather dull. This seems to be the meaty idea in the book, but I felt it wasn't very well-developed.

Perhaps I'm just not used to reading criticism, but it seemed like he was constantly telling the reader about the point he was about to make, rather than making the point. I'm tempted to play a bunch of the recent works he describes. I didn't get much more out of the book than that, though. May 06, Paul Bond rated it liked it Shelves: A well-researched book on a fascinating topic, "Twisty Little Passages" is still surprisingly leaden. I suspect the issue is organization. Telling the history of interactive gaming mainly as a historical development, with some academic overlay, obscures the reasons this form should be of more general interest.

Aug 19, Phil rated it it was ok. The subtitle to this book is "An approach to interactive fiction. Maybe some suggestions as to how best navigate a work. Or maybe some suggestion on how to approach interactive fiction from the point of writing a work best practices, common pitfalls, etc. Either way, I would have been interested and appreciative. Instead, what this book really is is a very comprehensive histor The subtitle to this book is "An approach to interactive fiction. Instead, what this book really is is a very comprehensive history of the form. As a historical lesson, this book is spot on.

But I didn't need to read page after page after page of the author proving that interactive fiction is actually a new form of the riddle. While learning the history was nice, it's not what I was looking for, and the book read at times like a dry history book. For those looking for the history of interactive fiction, this book is for you. For those looking for some insight on how to actually use interactive fiction, as either a player or a designer, this one misses the mark.

Mar 17, Steve Losh rated it did not like it. I got about a quarter of the way into this and had to stop. I tried to give this one a fair shot. One of this author's other books, Racing the Beam, has enough technical content to make it worth wading through all the countless "I am smart so let me use lots of big-sounding words" pages. But this book never seems to evolve past the "let' I got about a quarter of the way into this and had to stop. But this book never seems to evolve past the "let's define lots of impressive soundings words by referring to other impressive sounding words" stage.

I had to stop. I couldn't take it. Feb 27, Ken rated it it was ok Shelves: A well-researched history of interactive fiction, but with problems holding my interest.

by Nick Montfort

There's little investigation into the substantive technical details of the IF platforms, and the insight into IF stories and their various elements is only skin-deep and that bit vastly over-analyzed. The one redeeming part is the chapter on Infocom's history and games. If that strikes your interest then skim it, otherwise skip it and try Jimmy Maher's book about the Amiga instead: The Future Was Here: The C A well-researched history of interactive fiction, but with problems holding my interest.

Dec 20, Olivia Dunlap rated it liked it Shelves: There is some really good information here, but I feel like it gets a bit lost in its own twisty passages. The sections seem to ramble, and a larger portion of the book simply presented history of the form than I expected.

Overall, I do recommend it to anyone interested in interactive fiction at all, but to those who are already familiar with the format and its history, only a few chapters will be of much interest. Personally, I learned a lot and have many of pages bookmarked for future referenc There is some really good information here, but I feel like it gets a bit lost in its own twisty passages.

Oct 15, DeadWeight rated it it was ok. Dec 26, Nick Rudzicz rated it liked it. These are not merely the setting of the literature that is realized; they also, among other things, serve to constrain and define the operation of the narrative-generating program. IF worlds are reflected in, but not equivalent to, maps, object trees, and descriptive texts.

Twisty Little Passages

The IF world is no less than the content plane of interactive fiction, just as the story is the content plane of a narrative. The arrangement of challenges and the way in which the IF world can be experienced can be discussed with reference to the riddle. An art such as architecture, which considers that people may take different courses through a space, also has advantages in considering this aspect. To understand how language functions in interactive fiction and what the literary aspects of interactive fiction are, the best comparison seems to be not to the novel but to the form of poetry considered here, the riddle.

The riddle, like an IF work, must express itself clearly enough to be solved, obliquely enough to be challenging, and beautifully enough to be compelling. These are all different aspects of the same goal; they are not in competition. An excellent interactive fiction work is no more 'a crossword at war with a narrative' [ I'd get the game about two thirds done and then I would stop. The next one third of the game literally came from the people I gave to play the game.

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I'd watch how they played the game, I'd watch what they tried to do with the items that I never thought they might try to do. Mike Dornbrook, Infocom's director of marketing, said this cross-platform availability was important to the company's bottom line: The true popularity of computer literaturenot its mass marketability or brazen promotion, but rather making works in the form available to those outside a narrow academic or newsgroup-based communityis an essential, not incidental, concern for all writers who use the computer as a medium for their work.

Mar 02, Joe rated it it was ok. Twisty Little Passages considers interactive fiction IF -- text adventures -- and explores ideas of how to analyze and understand them as creative works. It also provides a short overview or history of significant IF works, and describes a little bit of how IF continues to be developed today.

The text does a reasonable job of all those elements, but unfortunately it does a poor job of really delving into interesting ideas of how particular works were developed. The first few chapters focus more Twisty Little Passages considers interactive fiction IF -- text adventures -- and explores ideas of how to analyze and understand them as creative works.

The first few chapters focus more on considering how IF works fit into literature or other creative works, and focuses quite a bit on riddles. There's really not that much meat there; Montfort goes into a detailed history and categorization of riddles that isn't all that relevant to IF. The bulk of the work covers a number of significant IF works, and this was the section that I enjoyed the most in this book. I was hoping it would grip me in the same way that another of Montfort's books Racing the Beam did -- but, sadly, most works were only summarized.

An Approach to Interactive Fiction

Montfort is well informed from a technical standpoint and takes a historical approach; he cites just enough literary theory to provide insight without losing focus. If you're new to the genre, then perhaps it's a bit dry yet well researched work, but for those of us that perhaps have a long history with Interactive Fiction, it will bring back great memories. Finally, he considers the influence of interactive fiction on other literary and gaming forms. Dec 20, Olivia Dunlap rated it liked it Shelves: This is certainly a work of scholarship, but it also functions as effective IF evangelism:

A few especially interesting interactive fiction works did get more attention, but I ended up feeling that only a small fraction of their interesting aspects were covered. I was hoping that this book would explore deep aspects of how interaction fiction was created -- technical challenges, stories of how authors and companies approached them, and so on.

Sadly, those topics were not explored to the depths I would have liked. Jul 03, Lightreads rated it really liked it Shelves: Consequently, it's an entertaining read for general audiences and English professors alike. If you're an IF aficionado like me, you'll find Twisty Little Passages enlightening and fun, and if there's anyone in your life who genuinely wants to know what interactive fiction is and why they should care, hand them this book.

How much better, then, to have a single book that does all three and is even a pleasure to read. Nick Montfort's book provides both overview and new insight, and is important enough that I expect it to be a canonical reference for years to come.

Like any good travel guide it points out the roadside attractions, but it also teaches you to appreciate their often bizarre beauty. We are so used to the eye-candy that our graphics cards spew forth so abundantly, that the experience of interactive fiction threatens to be disorienting at first — but once our eyes have adjusted to the dark screen with its scarce spattering of bright alphanumerics, we are likely to feel like we are returning to a place we haven't ever really left.

The effect is exciting and soothing at the same time — like the wave of remembrance that washes over Marcel as he dips the Madeleine into his tea — and Montfort deserves praise for reviving this lost world for us. Here is a thorough history of interactive fiction as an outgrowth of the computer's capacity for text management.

An Approach to Interactive Fiction is any indication, Crowther and Woods's pioneering computer game Adventure and its descendants are finally beginning to garner the critical recognition they deserve.

At only pages, Twisty Little Passages is a small, accessible book that addresses a deep and complex subject. The author's stated intention is to bring us the first book-length consideration of interactive fiction IF as a legitimate literary field, and he has certainly succeeded. His enthusiasm as an observer of the modern IF scene is infectious. I can wholeheartedly recommend Twisty Little Passages not only to IF fans and amateur historians, but to anyone serious about the foundations and culture of computer gaming.

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The text is also surprisingly readable for an academic work, with occasional dry humour and mercifully little jargon. Because it's a good history and contains a number of worthwhile insights, I strongly recommend this book for any current or former IF fan. Fortunately, Nick Montfort keeps the tone light and short on obtuse literary-theory jargon, and tells an entertaining and thoughtful story of how interactive fiction made the leap from geek pastime to commercial success, and how it ultimately evolved into the tremendously varied forms in which it manifests today.

Such a book is timely, much needed, and greatly appreciated by this reviewer for its depth and scope. Historical and explorative as its orientation is, the book's main concern is scanning the multitude of characteristics that turn interactive texts like 'Mindwheel' into a meaningful cultural experience, and in doing so, making the necessary and often difficult first steps towards a fully functional theory. Montfort is not afraid of taking risks, and spends a lot of effort discussing topics that have largely been neglected in the academic community In Twisty Little Passages, Nick Montfort not only outlines the history of interactive fiction through its commercial primetime and its community-based explosion but also provides a vocabulary and an approach with which to understand the genre.

Let's Play Zork with Yahweasel Part 6 — You are in a maze of twisty little passages, all alike

Montfort's discussion of riddles as the primary literary ancestor of interactive fiction is a novel and valuable insight that will be of value in the larger debate of seeing not only electronic literature but also games in terms of literature and literary theory. This is a book that you should read not only to find out about a genre, but also to see an alternative way that a genre can develop: This is also a book you should read to see alternative ways of theorising games, seeing them as literary but as more than merely narrative.

It is a book you should read to find ways in which Janet Murray's dreams of Hamlet on the Holodeck narratives starring you as the protagonist have been tried out in practice Twisty Little Passages is an ideal introduction to a little known genre, not only describing the genre but also presenting interpretations and summarising previous readings and discussions of works. I worked at MIT's Laboratory for Computer Science at the time that Zork was created, so I'm familiar with the technology and knew the people who created it.

Being an avid player, I wrote a book on the subject. But after Infocom fell and text games gave way to graphic games, I thought the field had dwindled to a few isolated efforts and then died. It wasn't until I read Montfort's book that I learned that interactive fiction IF is still being created, even though there's no longer a commercial market for it.