Works Consulted

Recommendations by Drew Cook (Baton Rouge, Louisiana)

I've decided to make a list of games that have influenced my writing, whether it be criticism or game development. I'll be adding to this over time. Comments and questions are welcome! There is no particular order or rating, no matter what the numbers say. I type these entries as I think of them whenever time permits. Stay tuned!

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1. A Mind Forever Voyaging
by Steve Meretzky
(1985)
Average member rating: (111 ratings)

Drew Cook says:

A Mind Forever Voyaging, in many senses, the most forward looking of all Infocom's games. Many of its structural and narrative moves were completely new, but they remain as common features in contemporary interactive fiction. The first "big" puzzleless IF game, the first vividly realized protagonist, the first game to evoke the emotional life of its main character. We may take these things for granted, nowadays, as if inventing an entire oeuvre were not enough.

Received extensive coverage at Gold Machine.

2. Pageant
by Autumn Chen
(2020)
Average member rating: (14 ratings)

Drew Cook says:

Both Pageant and New Year's Eve, 2019 gamify disability in interesting ways. While such practices can easily come of as tacky and inconsiderate, here they are thoughtful and empathy-inducing. Both games influenced my development of the main character in Repeat the Ending, D.

3. In the End, by Joe Mason (1996)
Average member rating: (16 ratings)
Drew Cook says:

In the End is not a good game. However, it is hard for me to ignore its innovative narrative strategy. It is, I think, the first IF to focus on the troubled inner life of a protagonist. Released in 1996, In the End is a staggeringly ambitious game (thematically) that, like A Mind Forever Voyaging, imagined IF as a larger and more narrative driven art form.

In the End was an inspiration to Repeat the Ending in more than one sense.

4. Disco Elysium - The Final Cut
by ZA/UM
(2019)
Average member rating: (9 ratings)

Drew Cook says:

I played Disco Elysium shortly before beginning work on Repeat the Ending. Its emphasis on failure greatly influenced my implementation of failure as a game mechanic.

One of the greatest games of the 21st century so far.

5. howling dogs
by Porpentine
(2012)
Average member rating: (120 ratings)

Drew Cook says:

One of a handful of games for which there is a distinct Before and After. Its influence is so widespread that it might be hard to see, just as we donít see air and fish donít see water.

6. Enchanter
by Marc Blank, Dave Lebling
(1983)
Average member rating: (107 ratings)

Drew Cook says:

When I sat down to design a magic system, my initial inspiration came from Enchanter. I wanted magic that could be experimented with. I wanted it to surprise players the way Enchanter surprised me. While my magic system isn't an exact match, my goal was always to make something "as good as Enchanter." A tall order.

7. Photopia
by Adam Cadre
(1998)
Average member rating: (557 ratings)

Drew Cook says:

Photopia is the most-rated game in the IF Database, and I doubt that will change. The field of IF was much narrower in 1998, and the number of ratings per game diminish year-on-year. Photopia has over 300 more ratings that that beloved favorite, Counterfeit Monkey.

Not that it doesn't deserve the attention. It's an important, transformational game that opened the door to IF with greater emphasis on narrative rather than puzzle gameplay. It came out two years after In the End and the fictitious Inform 5 version of Repeat the Ending.

8. Zork I
by Marc Blank and Dave Lebling
(1980)
Average member rating: (212 ratings)

Drew Cook says:

Really, mentioning the three numbered Zork games would be more accurate, as each had something to offer a very young version of myself. Today, I'm more fascinated by the cultural and social implications of them, but I'm fascinated all the same.

9. Spider and Web
by Andrew Plotkin
(1998)
Average member rating: (311 ratings)

Drew Cook says:

I am very interested in subverting the triangle of identities, and this is the first game that I played that really "went there" in terms of narrative reliability.

10. Deadline Enchanter
by Alan DeNiro
(2007)
Average member rating: (57 ratings)

Drew Cook says:

A strange, wildly subversive game. Beautifully written. I think it still feels fresh.

11. A Paradox Between Worlds
by Autumn Chen
(2021)
Average member rating: (27 ratings)

Drew Cook says:

I should mention A Paradox Between Worlds as an example of incorporating fictional texts and discourse within a larger fiction. I'm really interested in this sort of layered storytelling approach.

12. Nine Princes in Amber
by Byron Preiss and Roger Zelazny
(1985)
Average member rating: (1 rating)

Drew Cook says:

When I played this as a child, I was amazed by the number of verbs it supported. I've since realized that most of them were synonyms, but that's impressive, too. Even if that game wasn't a complete success, I admire it's efforts to anticipate and accommodate the player's input.

13. Slouching Towards Bedlam
by Star Foster and Daniel Ravipinto
(2003)
Average member rating: (211 ratings)

Drew Cook says:

I've recently seen an author suggest that this work is ableist, and I get it. I tend to bristle at mental illness as metaphor, or exoticized otherness, or what not. I don't want to litigate that here, but I understand why someone might find the game off-putting. Still, the organization of Slouching Towards Bedlam, particularly it's metafictional "win" state, is too impressive for me to dismiss or undermine. This is a very smart, interesting game that I revisited for ideas while writing RTE.

14. Hadean Lands
by Andrew Plotkin
(2014)
Average member rating: (64 ratings)

Drew Cook says:

RTE has an ongoing bit about game-over states and recovery/resuming. While I ended up doing something different, Hadean Lands presented a framework for thinking about failure and death as constructive outcomes. It's also just really impressive as an example of considerate implementation that eliminates busywork in a very busy game.

15. Rameses
by Stephen Bond
(2000)
Average member rating: (122 ratings)

Drew Cook says:

While writing/researching Repeat the Ending, I asked for suggestions re: personal, psychological, or "confessional" games predating Howling Dogs. Rameses was one of those games. I got a couple of ideas from it, particularly when it came to dealing with player freedom in the endgame.

16. Perry Mason: The Case of the Mandarin Murder
by Byron Preiss and Erle Stanley Gardner
(1985)
Average member rating: (2 ratings)

Drew Cook says:

I really enjoyed Telarium games when I was young. Perry Mason really appealed to me as a Deadline fan. Not only did I investigate crime scenes, I was a trial lawyer, too! Even if the execution wasn't up to Infocom standards, I still had a good time. I think an important takeaway here is that it's good to give the player something that just feels cool to do. Sure, Repeat the Ending is kind of a mopecore affair (at least for a while), D has superpowers. He is kind of a superhero. And that feels cool. That's the game part of the narrative. I don't really agree that IF has to be a crossword wrestling with a narrative. I feel like we should interrogate all of those 1990s assumptions. The right mechanics complement a narrative, and vice versa. I wanted to be Perry Mason, and then I was.

17. The Game Formerly Known as Hidden Nazi Mode
by Victor Gijsbers
(2010)
Average member rating: (28 ratings)

Drew Cook says:

I'm really into this kind of thing. HNM is a pile of signifiers: a bogus apology from the "author," bogus source code, and a highly suspicious game. I have some thoughts/feeling about the specifics (Nazis feel a little tryhard at this late date), but it's a very interesting package. Especially if the real-world reviews are read as well; they add to the experience.

18. SPY INTRIGUE
by furkle
(2015)
Average member rating: (37 ratings)

Drew Cook says:

I recently told someone that Spy Intrigue was on this list. Later, I realized that I had placed it in another list: my nominations for best IF games of all time. I can't say much without spoiling things, but I found it's take on failure instructive. Even though my work deals with different themes, this is a smart, subversive game that has a lot to teach.


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