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Interactive fiction writer Emily Short talks about her craft

John Bardinelli
April 10, 2007
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Emily Short doesn't design dull or formulaic interactive fiction. Each one of her releases is remarkable in some way, whether it's a technical achievement or artful storytelling. Her 2000 title Galatea centered around player and non-player character interaction, creating one of the most believable NPCs ever. Her latest work, Floatpoint, won the 2006 Interactive Fiction Competition and was top in several categories in the annual XYZZY awards.

Gamasutra recently interviewed Emily about one of her games, Savoir-Faire, and the process of creating interactive fiction. The interviewer gives a fascinating example of Emily's programming prowess. Savoir-Faire features an intricate linking system where similar objects can be tied together through the use of spells. The interviewer linked a cuckoo clock with a snuff box. A few turns passed and a message popped up saying the box had opened -- and then closed. A bit later, the same message appeared. Random coincidence or unsightly game glitch? Far from it. By linking these items together, the box was "programmed" to open every time the clock struck the hour. That sort of logical creativity is what keeps Emily's interactive fiction at the top of our must-play list.



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