Talk:PAX East 2010

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This is the "ideas in progress" section that built up on the main page. I've shifted it here, because it's more discussion than result. Somewhat reorganized.

Feel free to keep adding ideas! I will update the main page as they solidify.

Managing the room

"How to throw a large room party at a science fiction convention"

Extra room supplies

  • Giant post-it poster paper, butcher paper. (Clara Fernandez said she could bring these)
  • 3M Scotch-Blue Painter's Masking Tape, PN 2090, as prescribed. (Zarf)
  • Cheese? Sushi? (Coolers to put them in?)
    • Isn't sushi expensive, also a little dicey (as in going off) if sitting out?
  • nm suggested an easel or whiteboard to facilitate group IF play -- set it up next to the TV for mapping, notes, etc.
  • How about nametags? Given that many of us only know each other as names on a screen... (Paul O) (Most of us will have PAX nametags. --Z) (Ah. Clearly, I am a con newbie. --Paul)
    • What are "PAX nametags"? The PAX '09 badges didn't have names on them, will the PAX East badges be different? --vw
    • Wait, the PAX 09 badges didn't have names on them? Blah! What kind of a convention is this? (...clearly I am a newbie to cons that have over 50k people.) Okay, nametags. Um. I guess sticky-labels and sharpies are the easy solution.
  • IF-related books, game boxes, memorabilia to show off.
    • Second Person, Twisty Little Passages
    • nm had a copy of "The Gothic in Interaction Fictions" which really has to show up
    • At least a printout of the Jerz "Colossal Cave" article, if nobody has the journal it appeared in
    • Artwork for the wall - the poster jrw mentioned, a collage of the some of the best submissions from Emily Short's IF cover art-a-thon, flag of The People's Republic of Interactive Fiction, Steven & Misti Grenade's dated-but-still-cool-looking IF timeline (I have the pdf if someone can print it - HK) (I have this hanging on me wall, but I'm not sure how I'd get it to Boston uncreased, since I don't think I'm going to check any bags. I'll see if I can figure something out. --Paul), jrw's zorkmid coin graphic if it is not used to adorn a giveaway feelie

(Note that while there will be known people in the room at all times, there will also be an inevitable chaos factor. Don't bring anything if you're not willing to let strangers handle it behind your back for three days.)

Electronics questions

Note that the room comes with an HDTV which *probably* allows laptop input. (Late update: it didn't. --Z)

(I am going to bring a bag of wires and adapters to and from various formats, so that hopefully we can get anything to work that ought to work. --jrw)

Record the panel discussion of "Storytelling in the world of interactive fiction" and put it up on an appropriate website as a downloadable audio (not video) podcast. (Many people, believe it or not, don't like to listen to or watch anything lengthy at a computer but prefer a portable player. And what would video add of any real value to audio? - HK) (The PAX events person has offered to video-record some of the PAX panels, including ours. Once the file exists we can worry about converting it to audio or whatever. --Z)

Photos of the room? I assume many people will show up with cameras. I'd like to collect event photos afterwards for a web gallery. Or maybe this just means agreeing on a flickr tag. --Z

(I've done some professional photography, and was planning to have my camera with me. I'm volunteering to get some photos for Jimmy's SPAG newsletter already, I'd be happy to Creative-Commons them and put them up on flickr as well. I agree we should have a shared flickr tag. -- BenCS)

Another idea: at many 'unconferences' I've been to (a la foo camp), there's a great custom of taking polaroid photos of the participants when they first arrive. (We usually just use a DSLR and print from a portable photo-printer.) We then put the photos up on a wall with a notecard under each: Name, Interests, etc. It becomes a *really* useful gallery. While people will have nametags already, it's a whole different story when you can look at the gallery for someone's name, lookup a face, then go seek the face. Or if you forgot someone's name, do a face-to-name lookup on the wall. I guess I'm saying that I'd be happy to volunteer to make such a thing happen, provided a Cambridge native can find us a photo printer.  :-) -BenCS

Panel discussions

We will be having some scheduled discussions beyond the official PAX panel.

Confirmed panels:

  • No Hints Please: Adaptive Difficulty Strategies. We have different ways of collecting data on how "well" the player is doing and can shape the gameplay to suit, but not many people do it. Is the notorious difficulty of IF a design decision? Participants: Jim Munroe (Everybody Dies), Aaron Reed (Blue Lacuna), Dave Gilbert (Emerald City Confidential).
  • Tearing Down the Invisible Walls: IF Outreach. What's working? What's not working? Why? What hasn't been tried? Two panel members from the IF world, two sympathetic parties from the non-IF gaming world, Harry Kaplan benignly moderating. Participants: Andrew Plotkin, Jason McIntosh, Chris Dahlen (freelance writer who covers general gaming and also likes/plays IF), John Bardinelli (major contributor to the JayIsGames website that has been so supportive of IF). (Just a tiny, selfish note on the time for this one -- I'm really drawn to the PAX panel "But Thou Must: Choice in Games", partly because of the content and partly because of Chris Avellone. That panel is at 8:30. Any possibility of moving the Invisible Walls panel up a half-hour or so? If that's annoying request, I will cheerfully withdraw it. --Paul)

Panel ideas that didn't make it:

  • Meet the First Generation: hang out with Infocom emeriti and other folks from the old days. (Obviously dependent on such people being interested! I will ask jscott. --Z)
  • Platform Design: White board different ways of parser->action->word model architectures. No code - just ideas.


  • Fliers: we should have a stack of fliers describing the suite and all PAX IF events, official and unofficial. Leave on free-flier tables in the convention center.
  • Badge ribbons for all of us. Many possible slogans. ("Grue lover", "Ask me about Interactive Fiction", "Lost in a maze of twisty little passages", "Interactive Fiction is Real", "What IF?", "Look around", "X ME about IF", "Likely to be eaten by a grue", "Twisty little passages", "IF at PAX" "Interfictive Action")
  • Badge stickers for anyone who drops by the suite (may be same as ribbons). (Or maybe these can be simple: a prompt and cursor? --AAR) (Prompt and cursor was the first idea I had, but I may use a Zorkmid design that I made for another project. --jrw)
  • An intriguing (though inexpensive) modern-day "feelie" for visitors to take away

Re the feelie idea: I looked at geocoin sites -- thinking about a fancy zorkmid coin -- there are some great products available but they're expensive, $2 to $4 each. I'd want to have at least 200 for the weekend, so under a buck would be preferable. Wooden coins? Acrylic? --Z

(The coin falls somewhere between art and manufacturing. I have a a couple of designer friends who might know where to point me - let me see if I can get a bead on an affordable source during the upcoming week of 2/1. --HK)

(Oh! In fact, I created the zorkmid design because Jota wanted to make zorkmid geocoins. Hmm. I guess I should send that to you. --jrw)

(I think jrw just answered a question I was going to post - I will assume that if I can find an affordable way to have the coins produced, we can supply the graphics for both sides. Are we talking true geocoins or just souvenir coins? I thought the latter, but if we're looking for authentic geocoins it's unlikely I can help. If the former, what size souvenir coins? Please advise. -- HK) (Whatever size is economical. --Z)

Instead of geocoins or anything using a zorkmid design, a People's Republic of Interactive Fiction Passport. This would be some sort of stiff paper folded in half to make a booklet, with appropriate graphics on the front, a "map" of the People's Republic on the back (use your imagination!), and the How to Play IF cheatsheet lettered inside. Makes both a nice souvenir and a useful tool to help novices play a first IF (with guidance from one of us) in the IF suite.-- HK

Forget the map on the back. It adds nothing, makes work for a graphic artist, and it's too cute. I still like the Passport cover, the cheatsheet inside, but I favor jrw's Beginner's Guide to IF illustration on the back, maybe with some color if and only if the Graphics Squad think it would look better and if anyone has the time. Then I think all three elements tell the same story and would make not only a nice but also a useful feelie. --HK

  • "Starter" CD with some interpreter software and a few appropriate beginner games.

(I still think this is a nice idea, but I don't know if I or anyone have the resources to make enough. Maybe a less medium-centric solution might be better, like a USB key chained to a table, or a wireless network with a shared folder containing the disk image? --AAR)

(AAR may be right. If we were to produce CDs, though, what would be the minimum number we would want to have for giveaways? - HK) (Same question applies to coins. All guessing is ass-wise. 100? 250? Extras can be used at future events, so they won't be wasted, but it's still down to how much money is available. --Z)

I made 100. They should arrive at jscott's house tomorrow (3/22/10). ^______^ -- Robb

  • A barebones "How To Get Started in IF" handout, defining some basic terms and giving relevant links (along with searchable phrases) to both more expansive instructions and most useful game/review sites. (At one point Emily made a booklet like this, and I did the cover art for it. I was almost thinking of printing the cover art as a poster to bring to the suite. --jrw)
    • Booklet update: Download This appears to be a zip file with the original booklet text (it seems to match the printed booklet I have, but only after a cursory comparison -- it might not be the final proofread version) in three formats: html, pdf, and TeX. I'm putting it here in case someone can make use of it. (--jrw)

General notes

  • (Re: the list of room attendees): Is there a way we can turn this into a table and find out exactly when people are arriving and departing? It would also be good to create a mailing list to communicate with people as most people will have smart phones. People could offer phone numbers for texting as well, but not on the wiki page of course. That would have to be a private document. Not sure how that could work as some people are very private.

  • While certainly doffing our hats to our roots (as in a possible zorkmid souvenir, Meet the First Generation panel discussion, and most especially Jason Scott's epic documentary and its planned panel discussion), keep in mind that anyone stopping around who's truly new to IF may never have heard of this stuff. If we want new blood, which we do, we want to be careful not to come off as too retro.
    • Seconded. For that reason, I prefer JRW's prompt/cursor and beginner's guide art to the Zorkmid artwork. (Paul O)


Okay, here's the bits of artwork I have around, for my use or possibly others. (jrw)

Discussion Item

The one that needs feedback before I run with it is the IF badge sticker, a prompt-and-cursor logo. It looks like it might be 1" wide by .5" high. It could easily be bigger (and in fact is easier on the printers I've looked at -- I may have to cut them by hand to make them small), but I don't think the badges are big enough to take a two-inch-wide sticker. Here's a large version and an approximate actual-size (as converted to web resolution):

IF sticker big.png

IF sticker small.png

  • Personally I think an underscore would read better as a cursor than a non-blinking block does. - DougOrleans 20:36, 14 February 2010 (UTC)
    • I agree with Doug. I think the block overpowers the prompt >. An underscore cursor may be more palatable. Hmmm... a wild thought. Could the block cursor be turned into a door? Like a rectangular frame, with a receding opening door? Or does that just obscure the intent? SeanHuxter

Examples: (>_ or >door) Prompt-Shirt.gif

PAX-East-Nametag-thumb.png -- The nametag. I am getting a stack of these as sticky labels. -Z (YAY. I love that. --Paul)

Ribbons-thumb.jpeg -- The badge ribbons. -Z

Other art for use

  • Zorkmid coin design - This is the Zorkmid coin design I made, adapted from artwork used in Infocom documentation. Feel free to use it to make buttons or what have you. The thumbnail on the Zorkmid design seems to be crufted, but the full-size original displays properly if you click on the link for it.
  • Beginners Guide to IF illustration - The Beginners Guide to IF drawing I made for the feelie booklet once upon a time. Could still be used for a booklet, or for a room poster. I'm making it available for anyone to use. Or color, if they feel like it.
Update: I've uploaded a color version I had archived, in case it's useful.