What's New Among Zarf's Pages
Check here to see if I've added anything interesting since, well, the
last time you checked here.
You can also see
what was new in previous years.
March 4, 2013
I have updated my IF page to include links to
play-throughs of my games -- the ones that have been Floyded, anyhow.
(These are live play-throughs by new players -- complete with discussion,
getting stuck, and sometimes looking at hints.)
These are not new, but may be of interest to the historically-minded,
or if you want to see one of my games without playing it.
February 13, 2013
is also available for iOS.
January 24, 2013
Shade for iOS.
As with Dreamhold,
I've added Game Center achievements and a virtual feelie
(the to-do list). I know, it's not really an achievement-y game --
but I tried to make them thematic. You'll see what I mean
once you get a little ways in.
January 3, 2013
books I bought in 2012,
and what I thought of each one. (If you read the semiannual update
post six months ago, skip down to July. Alternately, if you want
to see reviews posted as I write them,
me on Goodreads.)
January 1, 2013
Now it is announced:
Bigger Than You Think,
a short choice-based text game that I wrote for
It was inspired by that gigantic
September 4, 2012
an iPhone version of the Boodler
one-hour thunderstorm concept. Available now on the App Store.
August 4, 2012
I have updated and expanded the
area (and shifted it to Zazzle). Old and new T-shirts!
Including the "Game Designer Bomb Squad" shirt that I mentioned
on Twitter a few weeks back.
July 1, 2012
books I bought in the first half of 2012,
and what I thought of each one.
By the way, these reviews are now linked from my
main book list.
Should make 'em easier to find.
June 18, 2012
Jason Scott has been posting his archive of unused Get Lamp
footage. This now includes
forty minutes of interview with me.
(This was filmed in February of 2007.)
It's lightly edited to remove most of Jason's prompts and some of my false
starts, but there's plenty of "um" and "hm" left for you to marvel over.
Or, if you want to see other interviewees, there's
hours and hours of dozens and dozens of us.
May 25, 2012
is now available for iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch!
This is the tutorial IF game that I posted in 2004.
It's free to play. (Has been since 2004, right?) The game
is unchanged, but I've added some iOS-specific bonus features:
a dynamic map (so you don't have to draw your own), and Game
May 7, 2012
Assorted bug fixes and medium-small features.
April 25, 2012
Eight Haiku -- An Experiment
by Richard Alderson. Based on Richard's original poem
(Thanks to him for giving me permission to post this.)
This uses CSS animations, and only works on WebKit (Safari/Chrome)
web browsers. (Sorry -- I need to figure out the moz- equivalent for
April 19, 2012
at MIT. The goal (not very seriously) is to procedurally generate
every possible riddle.
that runs the audio is also available.
March 31, 2012
An alpha release of
a remote-procedure-call Glk library. This is a component which should
make IF bots and web services easier to write.
March 11, 2012
In 2001 I posted a teaser page for
The Emperor's Star,
a three-day, six-player Chrononauts role-playing scenario.
Then nothing happened for eleven years. Then
rightly bugged me about publishing it, and bugged me again
until I did something about it. So here it is. All the rules,
character information, and the timeline are posted now; also the
PDF files I used for the original play session.
January 31, 2012
this awesome thing Jason Shiga made.
January 7, 2012
This may amuse some folks: A
of all the characters in
digitally remastered in vector form!
(Here they are in their
original 32x32 outfits.)
January 6, 2012
A new (tiny) IF work --
This was commissioned by MakerBot Inc.
in honor of their
upcoming product announcement,
which will be at CES on Monday. MakerBot is a nifty
3D printer company,
and that's what's neat about this game: you can literally print out the
feelies as real-life objects as you play! If you have a 3D printer.
(If not, you can still look at the model renderings to see what they'd
look like. The links will appear as you play.)
January 1, 2012
books I bought in 2011,
and what I thought of each one. (If you read the semiannual update
post six months ago, skip down to July.)
November 19, 2011
IFComp is over, and it turns out I entered this year!
Cold Iron placed fifteenth of 38
But there's more to the story than that: I collaborated with three other
Boston IF authors to create a secret, cross-game bonus puzzle. Here's
November 8, 2011
Meanwhile for iOS
is now available!
October 31, 2011
I just threw together a game-design aid to help me with
Hadean Lands puzzle layout:
a tool for exploring puzzle plot constraints.
Might be useful to other folks.
October 7, 2011
A preview of my next upcoming app: an iOS port of
an interactive comic by Jason Shiga.
September 27, 2011
A dynamic poem:
Argot Ogre, OK!
Content is not all safe for work.)
This is a remix of
by Nick Montfort, and a
stack of poems
that remixed that.
September 19, 2011
I've added another
demo: Finn Wakes Again.
(The source code is available.)
This is the same algorithm that powers
My Secret Hideout,
September 6, 2011
My first iPad app!
My Secret Hideout,
a textual bagatelle.
Available now on the App Store.
July 17, 2011
books I bought in the first half of 2011,
and what I thought of each one.
June 15, 2011
I've been meaning to post this for a while.
Umics: an Emacs replacement
that I wrote in Python! Or rather, that I started to write in 2003,
futzed around with for a few weeks, and dropped. It's got no editing
features at all -- just a framework for buffers, windows, and keyboard
commands. But the framework is pretty solid, considering how little
work I put in.
I'm releasing this under the "show your work" stricture of my web site.
I make an effort to release my unsuccessful efforts as well as my
successful ones. (I am not always successful at this.) Umics never went
anywhere, but maybe somebody out there will have a use for it.
May 7, 2011
The Matter of the Monster,
a very small choose-your-own-adventure-style story that I wrote for the
New Language Speed-IF challenge.
(The first version I posted was buggy on Firefox, but I think I've
fixed that now.)
The new language I used -- new to me, that is -- is
I had to hack on Undum a little to get the effect I wanted; you can
download my toolkit changes
April 26, 2011
A quick note to those interested in design archeology:
I have built an
Action Flow Chart
Hoist Sail for the Heliopause and Home.
It's an article in
the most recent issue of SPAG.
March 7, 2011
New Boodler release!
It's a very small update, though. Not really news.
February 27, 2011
Hoist Sail for the Heliopause and Home
has won the
2010 XYZZY award
for Best Writing. Also,
Quixe won Best Technological
Development. Excellent. On to 2011.
February 26, 2011
I've moved my web site to new hosting. If you're
reading this entry, you're there. I don't expect any trouble, beyond the
usual potential 24-hour delay as the Internet catches up with the
February 17, 2011
Glk spec 0.7.2,
along with CheapGlk, GlkOte, and
(I'll get to GlkTerm tonight.)
The new feature this month: the game can read the system clock (as a Unix
timestamp, UTC date-time, or local date-time).
(Try it out in your browser.)
February 1, 2011
Here's a collection of
interviews and articles with and about me.
I linked to the older ones when they appeared, and the big batch about
Hadean Lands are collected in
this blog post.
But I want a link farm on my own site, so there it is.
January 22, 2011
Glk spec 0.7.1,
along with a slew of Glk libraries and an updated
You can read an overview of the changes
(They're not dramatic.)
January 11, 2011
post with reviews of what I've bought and read recently.
Skip down to July if you've seen the first half already.
December 31, 2010
StonerView in your web browser.
In Safari, at least -- it doesn't seem to work in Chrome, and I haven't
set up the CSS properly to work in Firefox. Sorry!
But you can install it as a web app on an iPad, iPhone, or iPod Touch.
Probably on Android devices, too, although I haven't tested them.
December 22, 2010
Today was the
last day of my job as an industry software engineer.
Tomorrow is the
first day of my job as an interactive fiction designer.
But the first few days will be planned relaxation, because it's
December 5, 2010
Here's some apropos timing, or ironic timing as may be your view:
Apple's iOS App Store has just rejected a submission of my work.
It wasn't submitted by me.
was moved to do an iPad port of
which is my open-source creation of the ElectroPaint screensaver of yore.
We've reviewed your application, however, we cannot post this version
to the App Store because the features and/or content it provides were
not found to be useful or entertaining enough to be in compliance with
the App Store Review Guidelines:
2.12: Apps that are not very useful or do not provide any
lasting entertainment value may be rejected
(They were also cranky about the "Stoner" part of the title.)
I'm disappointed, but those are the risks of playing Apple's game.
I'm grateful that he made the effort.
In any event, Shigeru Hagiwara has
posted his source code
on his GitHub page. So if you're an iOS developer, you can grab it and
try it out. If not -- Apple coyly suggests doing it as a web app, and
I hear that HTML5/Canvas has some solid 3D chops these days....
November 11, 2010
I should have mentioned this earlier, and maybe it's completely redundant.
But I have been posting status updates and random commentary over on the
updates page of my Kickstarter project.
I will continue to do that over the whole course of development.
I'm supposed to be about process, right?
If you're a supporter, you can get those updates as email. Otherwise,
hit the RSS feed.
(Open question: should I mirror those posts to
as well? I think the open answer is "yes".)
November 1, 2010
I raised $10,000 for interactive fiction today. That's such a
weird thing to type. (And the day's not over yet.)
At 12:01 AM, I launched a
Kickstarter page for Hadean Lands
-- my first commercial IF project. It will be a full-length text adventure
for the iPhone. I will quit my day job and work on IF full-time. This
game, other shorter games,
-- everything I've been meaning to get to for years.
By 1:30 PM, I had reached my funding goal. I am flattered, flattened,
and humbled by the outpouring of support. But: this ride isn't over.
As you can see on the
contributions will be accepted until Dec 6th. Why contribute when the
thermometer's already reached the top line? Click through for the answers.
(Shorter answers: the more resources I have, the more time I can devote
to IF. Also, I've got some nice contribution rewards listed. Notably, if
you want to play this game on anything other than iPhone
(iPad, etc) then you'll have to pre-order this month.)
Even if this sounds absurd to you, check out the project page. I've
got a nifty video (directed by Jason McIntosh of
and a web-playable teaser scene from the game itself.
Thanks to everyone who has contributed already!
October 17, 2010
A frequent criticism of Inform 7 is that the manual needs an index.
Sean Barrett put together an unofficial one several years ago, but it
got out of date. I have now updated and extended it for the current
I7 release. Check out
Inform 7: An Unofficial Documentation Index.
August 26, 2010
The shirt-selling page wasn't solely a money-grubbing experiment.
designing shirts to wear myself.
(How many years have I
spent wearing other people's art?) It's a project, so it gets its own
Not all of the designs are for sale -- I'm still using a
free Cafepress account,
so I can only offer a few options. But I've added the
August 7, 2010
I'm trying an experiment:
selling more t-shirts.
Can I make a living selling Zarf swag? Well, no. But I can probably
cover my cookie expenses. So, I've put up
t-shirts, Dual Transform t-shirts, and LOLGRUE t-shirts.
(Okay, the LOLGRUEs were there already.) Plus the classic
Periodic Table of Dessert
posters. (All via Cafepress.)
If this experiment seems to be flying, I'll post more designs!
Teaser: remember this
Makes an awesome shirt.
July 12, 2010
Late, because I was getting ready for Readercon:
books I bought in the first half of 2010,
and what I thought of each one.
July 11, 2010
Back from Readercon, where I gave a
short introduction to IF for writers.
Jason Scott also showed his
documentary (the convention cut, 60 minutes), and folks from the
seemed willing to be interested in IF as a topic. At least for two
hours on a Saturday evening.
July 4, 2010
Meet the 1.0 release of
You can use this to put Glulx games (the larger games generated by
on a web page.
Try out Adventure on a web page.
June 21, 2010
I've just posted a short IF work:
Hoist Sail for the Heliopause and Home,
my contribution to
play it right in your web browser,
like my other IF games.)
June 16, 2010
This weekend I took part in an
online chat about rule-based programming.
Our original intent was to design a complete (albeit tiny) programming
language. We didn't succeed at that, but we did have a useful discussion
I've been idly kicking around for the past several years. Now they've
been kicked farther. Thanks to William Byrd for suggesting this, and
to him, Cassie Orr, and Doug Orleans for participating.
May 5, 2010
Zarf's List of Interactive Games on the Web.
Remember that? I found a cached copy, so now it's back on my web site
where it belongs. A couple of the links even still work!
April 25, 2010
All the games on my
interactive fiction page
are now hooked up with
all in your web browser. Scooch down the list, pick a game, click
the link. Some of them even have
April 10, 2010
This is a handy
that we came up with for the People's Republic of Interactive Fiction
Hospitality Suite at PAX-East 2010. (Kudos to
for the design and layout.)
It's Creative-Commons licensed, so
you can use it in your own games, print out copies to pass around,
April 4, 2010
I have posted my
absurdly long and detailed PAX East report
over at the Gameshelf. Summary: awesome. If you want to see me (or hear me)
talk, Jason Scott has
of the GET LAMP panel discussion that I was part of.
March 8, 2010
JayIsGames is featuring my competition entry
today. And they say nice things about it, too.
March 3, 2010
A quick experiment in presenting IF:
This is not a way to play IF, but rather a way to excerpt
an IF scene on a web page, in order to discuss it. You create a
handful of transcripts which demonstrate your point; the
munges them together into a dynamic web page. Go look at the examples,
it's easier than explaining how it works.
February 24, 2010
This is a frightening burst of web-site activity, isn't it?
I just re-played
Myst 5 --
my second time through. But this time I wrote a review. Finally.
February 22, 2010
has just been awarded second place... in a three-way tie
for second place... in the
Casual Game Design Competition #7.
Yes, that was me; I entered the competition under a pseudonym,
"Nigel Smith". (Bonus points if you can tell me why I chose that
as the pseudonym, and "Dual Transform" as the game's title.)
I will have a post-comp release, with full credits to my betatesters,
up in a few days.
The results were interesting. Looking at the
it's clear that I completely tanked on "Theme"; I might well have
won otherwise. That's perfectly fair. I deliberately took a very
skew, understated approach to the competition's theme of "escape".
I knew that it might not fly with everybody, and it obviously
February 17, 2010
Twitter must be old now, because I've gotten sucked in. Here's
me on Twitter.
I'm still feeling my way into the vibe and I'm not following
many people, so don't be offended, but I'm using it and I think
this mild burning sensation must be what they call "fun".
February 14, 2010
This isn't much of a web site yet, but I have put up a page for
The People's Republic of Interactive Fiction
-- the Boston local IF meetup group, organized by Kevin Jackson-Mead.
(We'll be improving the page over time. Or maybe not! Wait and see.)
Note particularly the link for
at Penny Arcade Expo East
in Boston this March. We'll be hosting an open hang-out room for IF
fans, authors, and interested newcomers.
And as long as I'm posting off-site links, check out this
Werewolf article in Wired UK.
January 1, 2010
Happy new year, and on time for once: the
books I bought in the second half of 2009.
And what I thought of each one. I extended the existing "2009" page, so
if the early entries look familiar, skip down to August.
November 29, 2009
I am thrilled to announce that my game
Spider And Web
into Russian by
He volunteered to do this over a year ago, and he has been working
tirelessly, almost entirely on his
own -- he asked me just a couple of questions over the entire
development cycle. I am extremely grateful to Vsevolod for his
interest and perseverance.
You can download the game file
(and accompanying introductory files, also in Russian).
Vsevolod has entered his translation in the
(Russian Interactive Fiction Competition),
in the "translation of a foreign game" category.
He tells me that there are no other entries in that category, so it will
win a somewhat anticlimactic victory. But please join me in congratulating
October 27, 2009
Here's a weekend hack I whipped up for the Boston IF meetup:
strings of text. Push the button! Keep pushing it.
Source code is linked from the
Feel free to use it or port it or whatever. It's more of an example
than a usable tool, but it might solve somebody's problem somewhere.
October 9, 2009
Look what I posted
fifteen years ago today!
System's Twilight was released on
October 8, 1994. But I waited a day before posting to Usenet, because
I wanted to make sure it had propagated to all the Info-Mac FTP mirrors.
October 7, 2009
I haven't done a review post in a while. I've been playing the games, but
they haven't been turning into reviews. I've been doing other stuff,
mostly. But specially for you --
Sherlock Holmes vs Jack the Ripper.
Some recent games have been turning into bits of commentary,
which I'm ashamed to even call "mini-reviews". But you can see them
Quick Take Reviews
page, and also in this
Gameshelf blog post
I just made.
August 2, 2009
Backdated entry here, sorry. I put this up in time for Worldcon, but
forgot to add it to the "what's new" list. Now you know: the
books I bought in the first half of 2009,
and what I thought of each one.
May 5, 2009
Have a look at
Rule-Based Programming in
This is a slide presentation I gave at
on May 3, 2009.
I describe the programming model which
is based on, and then go on to a more general rule model which I
am still trying to figure out. (See also my
earlier notes on rule-based programming.)
March 1, 2009
A week ago I, along with my Volity cohorts Jmac and Other Andy, launched
a web calendar and notification service for scheduling Xbox Live games.
It works. It's nifty. You can sign up, schedule a game of -- whatever
your favorite multiplayer Xbox game is -- and then other people can sign on
to play with you. It's got web forum features and buddy-list features
and RSS and iCal features and all the other stuff you'd expect.
Is this a valuable service? We think so. (Okay, Jmac thinks so -- he's the
one with an Xbox -- and I agree with him.) You can get on Xbox Live and
search for a random game of anything, but unless it's a super-popular
game, you probably won't find any. With Planbeast, you can arrange to
meet people in advance -- which makes it much more likely that a game
will actually happen. Plus, if you've already exchanged hellos on the
web site, you're not going into a totally blind Internet playdate.
Play with the same people a few times, and you're not strangers.
Check it out. Let us know how it works for you.
January 25, 2009
A few weeks late:
books I bought in the second half of 2008.
And what I thought of each one. I extended the existing "2008" page, so
if the early entries look familiar, skip down to Axis in late
June for new ones.
January 12, 2009
Boodler 2.0, the latest and vastly
improved version of my tool for generating infinite, never-repeating
soundscapes. Now at its permanent home at
January 4, 2009
Here's some more nostalgia:
the write-up of Inhumane
that appeared in The Book of Adventure Games II in 1985.
My first review! Entirely fair, considering that it was reviewing
a game I wrote in BASIC as an Infocom parody. I was 15 when I saw
it, and it was about the best thing ever. Thank you, Kim R. Schuette,
wherever you are.
January 1, 2009
2009 is the fifteenth anniversary year of
my old Mac puzzle extravaganza.
In celebration, I'm releasing the audio files.
All the little zip, zwoop, sproing noises that I made for
the original game. Download as
1997 - 2008
What was new in previous years.
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