Sunday, July 06, 2008

Interactive Fiction

I've been toying with the idea of writing a text adventure for a few months. Granted I didn't do anything more than think about it untill a Random post on slashdot, or ReadIt (I forget which) linked me to Inform7.

Suddenly I discover that there is a thriving home brew community writing and playing Interactive Fiction. And Inform is a rather interesting approach to writing it.

Interestingly while story files are free they are not open source, as most games are shipped in binary form only.

Inform 7 is both very enticing and frustrating at the same time. Its goal to allow Interactive Fiction to be written in plain english is admirable and works quite well for simple cases. However in the end it is not english but a language which overlaps with it. The upside is it looks cool, and the fact that you are porgramming is generally hidden from few. The downside is that when you do need to do some programming you end up with a very verbose syntax, which often does not make sense as an english sentence.

For example: 'the list of things carried by the noun'. In English this is nonsense as nouns can't carry things, however it does make perfect sense to inform. As a comparison I had a cursory glance at Inform6 and TADS3, and there really is no contest in the given domain.

With inform I feel Like I'm writing a story, while with the others I'm very clearly programming. The challange now is to write somthing worth playing. Now I have a plot in mind, and I'm learning the tricks on how to extend inform to do new things. This leaves one stumbling block: I've forgotten how to think about Interactive fiction puzzles, solving them is hard enough, actually writing them, well I'm yet to come up with an interesting puzzle. Guess I need to play more Interactive Fiction first.

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