2023: A Recap

You may have noticed that I let my traditional fiction writing go stagnant this year; I haven’t published any books since DSHTPS in October 2022. I have some pangs of sadness about that. I have so many drafts in various stages of being written and edited, some of which I definitely hope to release in the future. But… this year I was possessed of a new passion. One that still involves writing, just a different kind: interactive fiction, otherwise known as IF.

I love writing IF because it’s a story… but it’s also a game! It’s super cool and I fell in love as soon as I learned how to use Twine. I started on January 1 of this year and have been going strong ever since, to the point that (as mentioned) I completed neglected all other writing.

Besides the sheer joy of making games, I’ve loved being a part of the interactive fiction community. They encourage the creation and sharing of new works by holding various events throughout the year, with people enthusiastically playing the games submitted to those events—and reviewing them! Getting thoughtful feedback on my games (often quite quickly after release) has been so valuable to me. I appreciate each and every review my books get, but I have to say, the IF community really goes above and beyond as far as writing thorough, in-depth analyses. Having that directed at my work has been such a wonderful experience.

So, while I haven’t published any new books or short stories this year, I have published a whole bunch of IF games. Here’s a little recap:

My first published game was You’re a Time Agent! This started as an experiment that grew into a complicated (to make) puzzle game, the only proper puzzle game I’ve made in Twine so far. It’s also by far my silliest game. For a first effort, I’m still pretty happy with it.

My second game was Structural Integrity, based on the novella. I got the idea for the game before I learned Twine, and back then I thought it was just a cool idea that would never exist. Then I discovered Twine, and here we are. This game was entered in the 2023 Spring Thing IF festival. It and Time Agent are, funnily enough since they’re the earliest, my longest two games.

I wrote Mother, Daughter, Sister for the Neo-Twiny Jam (June), which had a word count limit of 500; I think MDS might have been the shortest game in the jam, coming in well under that. Life of Puck is a game I drafted in January while learning Twine, mostly just as practice, but I cleaned it up and submitted it to this jam as well.

Cycle was written for the Anti-Romance Jam (May-July) and was influenced by feedback I got on the SI game. This one borrows Heron and Tiel from DSHTPS and explores an AU-version of their relationship.

Over the summer, I started learning the engine Inform 7, which is for making parser games. Stephenson Park is a small practice Inform game I made.

I wrote two games for the Single-Choice Jam (July-August): What They Don’t Know is quite short and uses characters from a static fiction idea I’ve had kicking around in my mind for a while. The 5-Second Simulation, meanwhile, is another puzzle game, this one done in Inform. I like the idea but was never quite fully happy with it. Writing parser puzzle games is hard!

POV: You’re a Teenage Girl in a Conservative Christian Family was written for the Bare-Bones Jam (October). This one rocketed up to be my most-rated game on Itch, and I’ve gotten a lot of positive feedback on it. I’m happy and also sad that it resonates with people.

My most recent games are The Loneliest House and Dark Communion, written for ECTOCOMP 2023 (October). This is a Halloween/spooky-themed comp, and TLH is a tight, contained parser game with an emphasis on vibes, while DC is more traditional horror.

So, if you want to read some fiction that I wrote in 2023, here you go! True to my brand, all the story-focused games feature queer characters, and most also have speculative elements.

I have a few more games in the works right now, and I’m sure I’ll continue to think up new ideas in 2024. But at some point I do plan to get back to those poor, languishing drafts…

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