Welcome to The Monk’s Brew.

This is a blog about a number of things, but if I had to summarize it, I would say that it is a blog that presents an indie game developer’s perspective on computer game design, development, and play. Although not limited to one game genre, the focus will tend to be on adventure games, including a focus on interactive fiction and its contributions to indie gaming and design.

The main context of this blog is the ongoing development of Vespers, an indie game project that I started back in 2006. As with many indie games, Vespers is an experiment. This experiment attempts to answer the question, “What would happen if you took a traditional interactive fiction game and dropped it into a 3D first-person graphic engine?” It is based upon the interactive fiction game of the same name, written by Jason Devlin in 2005. I found it to be a wonderfully written game, with excellent non-player characters, great imagery, and a compelling storyline.

I thought Vespers would make a great basis for my experiment. I wanted to know what it would be like to see, explore, and interact with this world in real-time, while preserving the distinct advantages of text as a method of communication — both input and output. Jason graciously agreed to allow it, and to assist with the long transition.

You can play the IF version of Vespers online for free at this link.

Along the way, I’ve come across some fascinating issues in the transition from a pure text environment to a graphics-text hybrid, and many of these issues have had a strong impact on design and development decisions. The process has also led to a greater awareness of game design and theory in general, particularly as it relates to story-driven games. It fits neatly into numerous ongoing discussions of game design and gameplay, including the issues surrounding linear vs. sandbox approaches, and real-time vs. turn-based play. This project provides the context and the opportunity to include my voice in these discussions.

In addition to Vespers, blog material will originate from several places, including:

  • mainstream games — predominantly adventure games (such as Dreamfall), but really any games that provide interesting examples of gameplay and game design;
  • literature, including excellent reference works such as Nick Montfort’s Twisty Little Passages and Pat Harrigan’s and Noah Wardrip-Fruin’s Second Person, as well as works by Chris Crawford;
  • mainstream articles and blogs, such as from Gamasutra;
  • other indie gamer blogs, such as Tales of the Rampant Coyote (a great blog that focuses on the indie game scene, particularly with respect to RPG games) and Grand Text Auto (a group blog with an academic spin on digital fiction and storytelling);
  • other indie game projects;
  • and much more.

The main goal is to generate discussion and to explore the many aspects of indie game development. I hope you find the content compelling and the opportunity to contribute your comments.

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  1. The Rampant Coyote
    Posted February 4, 2008 at 10:19 PM | Permalink

    I like the look of the site, and look forward to your comments on indie adventure games & IF these days!

  2. andrewstern
    Posted February 13, 2008 at 1:56 PM | Permalink

    This looks great, I’m looking forward to reading more!

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