Design and documentation journal for my interactive fiction (text games); also reviews and other miscellaneous stuff.

About FTA

The end of the world wasn't the end of the world.  Earth still spins, growing wilder by the day, while the few human inhabitants scrabble for survival.  You're alone, in the wilderness, with nothing but the few supplies you've been able to carry with you.  Somehow, you've got to find food and shelter and a way to make a living off the land.  You have to learn fast, though - it's already May, and winter comes early to Killy Lake.  And winter isn't the only danger in the wilds . . .
Farming the Apocalypse (FTA) is the working title for a text-based farming sim, set in a post-apocalyptic version of the Midwest United States.  It's been under active development for a couple years now, although some of that time has been more active than others.


Yep.  FTA has a strongly modeled world, with weather, seasons, biomes, populations of animals and plants, and those all affect the world and the player character.

Essentially all of the simulation elements are based on real-world data.  The things you'll encounter and the techniques you'll use all have root in research.

Farming simulation?

Yep.  The heart of the game revolves around restoring and living off of Windward Farm.  You'll be able to grow a wide variety of crops, raise animals, and hunt and gather food from wild areas.  You'll need to build your own shelter, make your clothes, protect yourself and your assets, feed yourself.  There's a fairly extensive crafting system planned.  It's more a self-sufficiency simulation that a farming simulation.

What's the setting?

The world is about 50 square miles of terrain, a fictionalized blend of elements from Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Michigan.  (In the blog I'll usually refer to the region as Minnconigan, or Michnecon, or some other blend of the three state names.)  There's prairies and swamps and bogs, forests and cliffs, lakes and rivers and pools, caves and ravines, all waiting for your exploration. 

What makes it different than puzzle-based/old school interactive fiction?

Old school IF, like Zork, tends to have a lot of strong puzzle elements.  FTA isn't a puzzle game.  The parser, the mechanics, and the options available to you are meant to be clear, or contingent on things you can anticipate.  There's a list of all the verbs you can use.  There's a built-in help system - you can always ask for HELP ON (any command or noun) and get a breakdown of essential information and example commands.    I'm hoping to implement a suggestion list for players that need a nudge in the right direction.   There will be meta-commands for the most common goals - most chores can be accomplished with a single command.  In short, transparency and ease of use are of primary importance.

What makes it different than artistic/story-based/"new school" interactive fiction? 

FTA doesn't have an established storyline; any story is largely emergent, and it's very strongly a game.  Because it's a survival sim, a lot of elements that modern IF eschews make an appearance: you'll need to eat, and sleep, and do regular chores.  It is possible to get yourself into trouble that pretty much guarantees death.  Despite attempts to make these situations as clear as possible, there's always a chance you'll be doomed by sheer bad luck.  This makes it less forgiving than a lot of story-based IF.  Game difficulty can range anywhere from a sandbox mode to hardcore permadeath.  

So . . . is FTA interactive fiction at all?

Who cares?  You can kidnap a wolf cub, tame it, and raise it to be your bosom friend.

What are you using for development?

The game's being developed in Inform 7, a natural language designed for writing IF.  I've utilized a horde of extensions, tools, books, websites, and forums - I will try to make an organized list of those soon.