There are over a dozen authors of interactive fiction who have also made twitter bots. It’s a natural cross-over: in both cases you are using a machine to assist in fictive generation. Here I’ll be running through the various bots I know to have been made by IF people. Let me know if I’ve missed any out!
Locations, inventory lists and character names all lend themselves easily to a bot as you can easily translate content from one text medium to another.
YOU ARE CARRYING:
This bot by Andrew Vestal throws up random inventory selections from various text adventures (skewing to an older Infocom-heavy corpus). Gives a nice feel for the different games. Tweet I or Inventory to the bot and it’ll give you a customised inventory.
Mark Sample (a writer of E-Literature) made a bot to steals items from those given inventory by You Are Carrying. Actually more interesting than that is his call for Bots of Conviction, “computer program(s) whose indictments are so specific you can’t mistake them for bullshit”.
Hugo Labrande bot draws game ideas from random IFDB tags. Because of the mixed-noun/adjective nature of tags, the grammar of its tweets often don’t work. Sometimes it spits out neat ideas, other times it’s quite amusing.
IF Clue Bot
This bot was written by David Welbourn. It generates Cluedo-style Suspect/Location/Object tweets from content drawn from 111 games.
Emily Short made the IFDB Sommelier. Unlike the other IF-themed bots, this one serves as outreach and suggestion. It draws up searches on the IFDB for randomly selected lists of games. The nice thing about it is it has a good chance of selecting an interesting category of games that you wouldn’t have thought of investigating.
Anagram Book Bot
Andrew Schultz’s bot tweets anagrammatic book titles from his anagram-filled game A Roiling Original.
Generated Fictions & Other Magic
While the above bots are about interactive fiction, the following bots generate fiction. The art of using bots to generate randomised stories, situations, and prompts is a natural cross-over for the IF author: in both cases you are using a machine to assist in fictive generation. There’s some considerable skill overlap as well, indeed several text games have generated aspects (recently, the Harbour Master’s conversations in The Baker of Shireton, and the FAQ in Laid Off From the Synesthesia Factory come to mind).
Several of the following bots are generated using Kate Compton’s Tracery which is a tool for writing generative grammars. It powers cheapbotsdonequick (run by George Buckenham who made Hefty Seamstress a collaboratively made cybertext for creating bacronyms).
Bridging my two categories is Caelyn Sandel’s All Alike, which generates intriguing location descriptions for interactive fictions, often with directions or nearby objects.
Omens and Portents
A tracery bot made by Bruno Dias, it tweets omens in the format Sign: Meaning. Sometimes arresting, it tweets twice a day which is a good decision for the corpus size. (Plus, no one wants to be inundated with ill omens.)
Made by the Laura Michet who as well as twines made the intriguing verifiedfacts.org. This bot generates a Sherlock Holmes-style detective story title. Always in the format of The [case/matter/etc] [of the/in] [thing/place/situation]. The format invites interpreting the titles into little mini stories. The corpus is huge and very thematically on-point.
Generates story ideas with a reasonable variety of formats. Some of the formats tend to generate more compelling ideas than others. This is also made by Laura Michet, who has made a number of bots (I also quite like her generator of X-Files plots).
As the name suggests, dreamy bot generates random dreams. Made by &IF regular juxi. It has a wide corpus with a broad range of forms. Guaranteed to be dream-like every time.
City Exploration Bot
Verity Virtue’s city exploration bot generates scenes glimpsed while travelling an imaginary city. Well conceived, it creates evocative prompts.
Harry Giles has made a number of bot-poems now. They explained the process in a handy article on the subject. Lil Spellbook creates magical spells and rituals with a friendly, self-help bent. Harry has written extensively on bot poetics and presents a range of poetry bots worth investigating.
Sam Kabo Ashwell made a bot using cheapbotsdonequick which generates hypermasculine plot summaries. They all follow an identical format, not fully utilising the strengths of Tracery, but as it’s the same joke repeated it probably doesn’t need obfuscating with different phrasings.
Genuine D&D Facts
My first bot was made to tweet just-about-believable Dungeons and Dragons facts. It follows a too-simple format of [According to source],[class/monster/race][dubious fact]. I made it using google sheets as a first experiment in bot making. I need to prune out the more boring facts in the corpus and add more sources of rumours.
Unlikely Powers is a bot which I’ll continue to improve. It was inspired by the odd mishmash powers of the Worm web serial and the absurd specificity of abilities in Superhero League of Hoboken (Steve Meretzky’s best game). The bot generates unlikely superpowers every 3 hours. The corpus isn’t small, but could be broader, and some of the templates have become a little stale (I’m fed up of seeing You can [power] by [squeezing an appendage] but other people seem to retweet those ones more often).
The beauty of bots is that they admit a huge range of variations. Here are some more non-fictional bots made by IF people.
Made by Caelyn Sandel and Carolyn VanEseltine, Yayfrens tweets friendly, caring messages of support.
Jason ‘Jmac’ McIntosh made Acrostic Pi which renders the number π as an acrostic, retweeting other people’s tweets that start with each of the numbers. At the time of writing, it just went past the 28,000th digit.
Voltaire’s Philosophical Dictionary
My latest bot. Just tweets a random line from Voltaire’s philosophical dictionary. As the dictionary was already quite aphoristic in style, I thought it might translate well into the bot treatment.
Ingsoc Party Slogans
Leonard Richardson (who made Robot Finds Kitten and Guess the Verb!) has made a huge number of twitter bots. I particularly like Ingsoc Party Slogans for its elegance of execution. You’ll need to click through to see what I mean.
Finally, Nick Montfort has made dozens of computational poems. An Algorithm isn’t the most interesting of these (I really like Upstart) but it is the one he’s made for twitter. This is an algorithm that tweets about itself.