The 25th Interactive Fiction Competition is now over, and the results are in! Girth Loinhammer and the Quest for the Unsee Elixir came 33rd in the end, which may not be a Top Ten result but I’m still pretty happy with. There were 82 entries altogether so that’s very much in the top half of the rankings, and apparently high enough to score a small cash prize and possibly some other stuff. (IFComp is pretty generous when it comes to runners-up: if you’re on the fence about submitting something in 2020, I highly recommend giving it a go.)
The range of responses from the judges is interesting: the game attracted more votes than most (I’m guessing because people saw the title, thought “Haha what?” and clicked it), and managed to snag every possible score from one to ten. It didn’t divide opinion enough to earn me the Golden Banana of Discord (which, as you can imagine, I really really would have liked to win), but clearly there were at least a few people out there with strong feelings about it, and quite a few more who got a chuckle out of it. For something I hammered together in about a week, I think that’s a pretty good response.
I’ll be aiming to produce a slightly more ambitious version of the game in the not too distant future, which I’ll hopefully make available as an actual printed gamebook. There should also be an ebook, an online version, and probably a mobile app.
Girth Loinhammer and the Quest for the Unsee Elixir got a mention in Part 2 of The Short Game‘s IFComp 2019 podcast! (That bit starts at 00:39:27 if you want to skip ahead.)
It’s great to see the game reaching people in any form – this being my first time entering IFComp, I’ve been pleasantly surprised just how many players have already given it a go – but it’s especially nice for it to be so well received!
If you haven’t yet played Unsee Elixir, this might be a nice little lead-in to it, and if you haven’t got involved in IFComp at all, it the podcast as a whole might point you towards some good ones to try. You’ve got until November 15th, you only need to rate five to be a judge for the event, and naturally it’s easier to manage that number in that time if you throw a few short ones into the mix. For an introduction to the entire event (and a few more games), do check out Part 1 of their IFComp podcast as well.
Since Girth Loinhammer’s Most Exponential Adventure will be returning to EGX next week, I thought it was about time I uploaded the audio from its appearance at EGX Rezzed back in April.
If you’d like to catch Exponential Adventure at the main EGX event, it’ll be running from 13:00 to 13:45 on Friday the 18th of November. Even if you’re not there in person, the Fringe Theatre schedule suggests that you should be able to catch it streaming live on the official EGX YouTube channel, so you can still enjoy my live interactive* theatre thingy from the comfort of your own home!
*Unfortunately you can’t actually interact with it over the internet.** You’ll only be able to have a hand in the story if you’re there in the ExCeL centre.
**I guess technically you could still yell at your computer screen, but I won’t be able to hear you. Also, you’ll probably get some funny looks from anyone who can hear you. Especially if you’re in a library.
I had big plans to enter IFComp this year with a big fancy sci-fi game, but they were pretty much scuppered by a perfect storm of things getting in the way: I got called up for jury service again (making me the only person I know who’s done it twice), I snagged some extra freelance work, and EGX accepted my Fringe Theatre panel (also making me the only person I know who’s done it twice).
Since that plan went out the window, I came up with a new one:
It’s exactly what it looks like.
The scenario is going to be pretty familiar if you played Girth Loinhammer’s Most Exponential Adventure: Girth Loinhammer (Dungeon Lord) is unsatisfied with the public perception of his seriously evil dungeon, but this time – more than that – he’s traumatised by a certain something he was unfortunate enough to witness during its day-to-day operation. A certain something he wishes to unsee. Continue reading
If you missed my live reading of Girth Loinhammer’s Most Exponential Adventure at EGX Rezzed this year, then good news! You’ve got another chance to catch it. I’ll be performing at the EGX Fringe Theatre at 1pm on Friday the 18th of September!
This will all be happening at ExCeL in London, and it’s my first time there. In all honesty I’m a little disappointed to see EGX move away from Birmingham, but I’m also incredibly happy to get a chance to take my work to the “big” EGX. I think it went well last time (which I assume is why they’re letting me do it all again), and if you did manage to catch it back in April then you’ll be happy to know that the odds of hearing any of the same storylines again are more than a hundred to one.
If you don’t already have a ticket for EGX, you should know that they’re now running a little low. Early entry day tickets are already gone, but you can still catch my panel with a standard Friday ticket. There are also a limited number of Super Passes left, which will get you in early all four days. If you can stick around for the whole thing, I highly recommend it: if the London version of this event is anything like the Birmingham one, there’ll be way too much to see than you have time for while it’s running, let alone in just one day.
Finally, if you’d like to come along but can’t shell out for a ticket, you might like to know that Tranzfuser is looking for abmassadors (but be quick – applications close at 5pm on the 15th of September). Not only will you get free entry, they’ll pay you £70 per day to run their stand. I don’t know for sure that you’d be able to duck out and catch Exponential Adventure, but I figure there’s at least a possibility you could make that your lunch break or something. Regardless, it sounds like a great opportunity, and I’d be applying for it myself if I weren’t already attending as an exhibitor.
Flash Fiction Month 2019, Day 30
You are Gallopy Buzzbrain – a unicorn with a chainsaw for a horn – and you have been selected for the most brutal arena deathmatch in the whole southern hemisphere.
An air-horn blares. The Chunder Games are about to begin.
“I can get you out of here,” says the combat wombat in the cell next to yours, “but you have to do exactly what I say.”
Do that: 2
Murder him: 3
“When the gates open, let me ride you.”
The gates open.
You jam your horn through the cage bars and revel in the meat-splatter.
“DISQUALIFIED!!!” bellows the announcer.
Mope in your pen: 4
Arena violence: 5
You sit out the deathmatch and have no fun at all.
Flash Fiction Month 2019, Day 29
There was a rattle of chains as a counterweight dropped from the ceiling. Adonis Orcbane found himself suddenly dangling by both ankles, caught in a fiendish snare. His sword slipped from its scabbard and clattered to the ground. Focusing every ounce of his indomitable will, Adonis stretched his arm out as far as he could, trying to reclaim it. His gauntleted fingers just barely brushed the hilt, and…
…a thigh-high boot kicked it deftly out of reach.
“You were a fool to trespass in my domain,” said the villain who had appeared, “for I am Zhargla the Malicious, and tales of my cruelty are told across the land!”
Zhargla paced about the room a bit, partly because it looked really freakin’ cool and partly because her captive was slowly spinning round and it was really awkward trying to have a conversation with someone while they gradually turned farther and farther away from you.
“Those tales,” said Adonis Orcbane, through gritted teeth, “are precisely why I came.”
“Mmmmmmm… Then I shall be sure not to disappoint.”
Zhargla the Malicious stepped over to the low table that held her many diabolical implements.
“Perhaps the Lash of Ghkharkhak can beat some of that hubris out of you. Or maybe a few days on the Rack of Gzhou.”
“I’ll never bow to you, foul despot!” cried the paladin, the effect only somewhat diminished by the fact that he was now facing away from her again. Continue reading
Flash Fiction Month 2019, Day 19
Once upon a time, Little Red Riding Hood was walking through the forest towards her grandmother’s cottage when she saw a wolf coming the other way along the path. Her mother had warned her to be careful of wolves, and so she stepped off the trail and hid in the shade of a sturdy conifer.
But evidently she did not step quickly enough, for the wolf called out: “Who’s there? Are you the Big Bad Wolf?”
This seemed a very strange question indeed, and since she had been spotted anyway Little Red Riding Hood returned to the path.
“No,” she said. “I thought you were—the Big Bad Wolf, I mean.”
“Oh!” the wolf laughed. “No, though people get us mixed up all the time. I’m the Big Band Wolf, you see, and this is my Big Wolf Band.” Continue reading
Flash Fiction Month 2019, Day 18
Challenge #8: Produce a story in collaboration with two other writers. Each section of the collaboration must focus primarily on a different sense and, optionally, the story must take the form of a 369er.
It was an honour to tend the Oracle. To stand beneath its gaze, even merely to sweep the floor. To look upon the opulence of its temple, even merely to dust those gilded relics. Were he tending the house of a merchant, Johann would have resented days wasted indoors. But here, he enjoyed being hidden from the world: the three eyes of the Oracle the only eyes upon him.
The forlorn human stood alone before the Oracle, heart racing and blood roaring through her ears of flesh. When she spoke, her voice cracked as she begged for guidance. And the Oracle was kind, its crackling voice delivering the wooden yet sweet music of her heart’s desire to Amory’s ears, the clicks of its jaw like ancient rhythms. Amory’s breath hitched, and thuds echoed when knees met the floor.
Seated high in the gallery, Hester raised her hand as the supplicant crawled forwards. On the temple floor below, the Oracle mirrored her movement.
The supplicant held the Oracle’s hand and kissed its fingers. All Hester felt was the tightness of her rings controlling those invisible puppet strings.
Only Hester noticed the tears trickling down her cheeks in well worn tracks as far below, the Oracle bowed its head.
If you’ve enjoyed this story, you can find my work from previous Flash Fiction Months collected in these books:
Click any cover to find that book in your choice of format.
Flash Fiction Month 2019, Day 15
“This is the ship that did the Sselek run in less than twelve parsecs.”
“Isn’t a parsec a unit of distance rather than time?”
“Come now, Buke,” put in Ken Benobi. “I’m sure that what this dashing space-rogue means is that he managed to take a particularly dangerous shortcut, and that completing the journey without needing to travel any farther is a demonstration of his skill.”
“Okay, but even if you take that to be the case, isn’t it kind of weird for the pilot of an interstellar spacecraft to boast about a twelve-parsec journey? Twelve parsecs wouldn’t get you beyond the closest handful of stars. I mean, we say we want him to take us to the other side of the country, and his response is ‘I can drive to the corner shop really, really fast.’ Are we sure we want to hire this guy?”
“I’m sure he’s quite capable of—”
“Also he’s wearing an unwashed pair of Y-fronts on his head.”
Ken Benobi took a moment to study the cantina patron’s curious choice of headgear before turning to Buke Skytalker. “Okay, you know what? Maybe we should ask around. I mean, it never hurts to have options…”