Chris Miller

Two Conferences, One Couch: Narrascope and PyOhio 2022

For once I’m grateful for virtual conferences. Understand, I get the utility of them in the age of Covid, but like many others I miss seeing people in person. This weekend the virtual thing worked out well for me because two that I wanted to attend happened on the same weekend. In the Before Times, I would have had to choose. Not so in this brave new world.

And so, coffee in hand, I attended Narrascope on my iPad, and PyOhio on my TV.

Narrascope is the annual conference put on by the Interactive Fiction Technology Foundation Now in its third year, it is a conference for both gamers and professional how love varying styles of interactive fiction, ranging from early Adventure/Zork-style text games to modern visual novels and rich media experiences. This was my first year attending.

PyOhio is a free conference for Python amateurs and professional who gather, usually at the Ohio Stare Unviversity, to hear talks , network, and generally converse with other enthusiasts. This was my fourth time attending.

A screenshot of the virtual lecture hall for Narrascope.
A screenshot of the virtual lecture hall for Narrascope.

Notes on Narrascope

  • Aaron Reed’s keynote on what he learned while working on his 50 Years of Text Games project was fascinating. He was an engaging speaker, and had some great takeaways for all of us.
  • The pre-conference working sessions were exactly what I was looking for. Since I am not a professional game designer, I was mainly looking for a survey of different tools and how people use them. The three talks I was able to attend covered Twine, Articy:Draft 3, and Inform. I hope to catch the talk on Ink when they release the videos. The main takeaway for me was that Twine looks to be the best for me to get in and start playing, while Inform would be good for more highly customized, deep detail text games.
  • Graham Nelson’s update on Inform was an unexpected pleasure. Not only did he cover how open-sourcing the platform was evolving it, but also introduced a feature process that reminded me a lot of Python’s PEPs. It turned into familiar ground for me, which was most welcome.

Notes on PyOhio

  • Instead of a full weekend, the program was one day of many short (10-15min) talks with several built-in breaks.
  • The diversity of presenters was refreshing. We were off to the races when the first speaker, a high school student of Indian ethnicity, led with creating an AI to play Flappy Bird. Man, I wish I were that bright hand focused in high school. The trend continued throughout the day. I was really appreciative of seeing all genders and racial background represented.
  • While I might not use much that I learned (retired, yo), I loved seeing what people were up to, what excited them, and how the community and Python language are growing. I always walk away inspired.

Both conferences have given me a lot to think about and more than a few things to tinker with. Maybe I’ll write about some of them here. :)


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