1
Issue 12 December 2003
Contents
News and announcements.
1. AD RIFT manual updated; ADRIFT
tutorial begun; DavidW games schedule.
2. Competition news
(End of Year Comp;Third One Hour
Comp (p3 results); InsideADRIFT Spring
Comp; Annual IF Comp; Italian One
Room Comp)
4. Forum news
(Campbell asks for detailed bug reports;
WIPA: work s in progress anonymous;
Dry patch article gets flood of responses;
RockSock M releases Temporfell Beta;
One sentence story; Smacking thread;
InsideADRIFT awards).
Regular features
2. Editorial
2. Drifters birthdays
5. Events diary
8. Real lives: Campbell’s wedding
pictures; Mystery moves house
6. Drifters toolbox: Install C reator
11. ADRIFT recent releases
9. Interview: Roger Firth
Articles
8.
The (big) idea
: We need the best
games to recommend by KF; Reviewers
are always biased by Mystery
7.
Think piece
by KF: is IF lik ely to be
paid for again.
13.
Failed game intro The Stinking Alley
by KF
Reviews
13. Three monkeys one cage by
Hanadorobou
Reference
15. Manual p18: Task s
Issue Details: December 2003
Issue 12 (Volume 2 no 3) Editor KF
Issue 13 due out on 10th Jan 2004
News and announcements
ADRIFT manual updated
Campbell Wild had updated the manual for ADRIFT Version
4 which is available from the downloads page of the ADRIFT
site. While it isn’t a huge overhaul, it is very welcome adding
some extra detail on the following: a few extra tips; a section
on list filtering; formulae for text variables; referenced text
section; task command function section; plus a few other
nips and tucks.
In the future I will of course be using the updated version of
the manual in the reference section of the newsletter.
ADRIFT tutorial begun by Mystery
Mystery has begun the planning of a tutorial for new users of
ADRIFT, the idea of which is to guide the user through the
making of a simple first game. When she asked on MSN chat
about an idea for the first game she received loads of
feedback, just didn’t like most of them. The beginner will then
be walked through the simple steps needed to make a small
playable game.
I saw the first couple of pages of Mystery’s first draft of the
tutorial, in the form of web pages. It was simply done and
has great promise. This is the sort of project that ADRIFT
needs, but Mystery will certainly find that she has committed
herself to a really tough task. Most of the other IF languages
have quite an amount of documentation and, while the
manual is very good in providing drifters with some detailed
information for the advanced user, we have been short of this
kind of getting started with ADRIFT information.
DavidW publishes games schedule
DavidW has made a very powerful statement of intent on his
Shadow Vault website by giving details of his schedule of
games he intends to write. Currently his previews page has
ten games listed with some of details of the genres and plot
lines.
InsideADRIFT Issue 12 December 2003
2
Editorial
I hope you will enjoy yet another
bumper issue of the newsletter. This
month there has been a fair bit
happening in the news. Also hope
you like the new logo, decided
something more plain would suit the
style of what I am trying to do.
In addition I have interviewed Roger
Firth, a name that should register
with all IF enthusiasts as he is the
man behind the “Cloak of Darkness”
website. CoD is a place where
examples of the different IF
languages can be compared
implementing the same game, a
really important way to choose one to
suit you (Campbell did the ADRIFT
version).
The end FT Awards are due to be
announced tomorrow. When the
voting starts please take the time to
make your mark.
Contact
Send any suggestions, requests or
comments concerning InsideADRIFT
to editor@insideadrift.org.uk
Find the newsletter at:
http://www.insideadrift.org.uk/
Drifters birthdays
December
3 dove (21)
6 Samo (15)
14 Brighterskyte (23)
21 Tech (33)
23 Massassi (27)
25 Ravenous (16);
Foul Old Man
(100)
28 Scurvy Sockpuppet (26)
29 Hanadorobou (29)
Check out http://www.shadowvault.net for more details.
Clearly DavidW is trying to be a one man ADRIFT game
industry, and also to answer his own article on the dry patch
for ADRIFT games.
It will be interesting to see whether he also makes more use
of beta testers as he has been asked to by other drifters. His
IF Comp entry
Sophie’s Adventure
was hit by some bugs due
to lack of checking time and testing.
Competition news roundup
We are now into the final phase of the year where we look back
and forward, the End of Year Competition is a perfect chance to
hone your game and give it a lift, At the same time now is a good
time to plan for what you would like to enter in the Spring
Competition next April.
The ADRIFT End of Year Competition 2003 is still in limbo
as it doesn’t get under way until late in December. There
seem to be quite a few who are planning to enter, but as
organizer I just have to wait and see.
(http://www.kfadrift.org.uk/comp_win_03.html)
Third ADRIFT One-Hour Game Competition was won by
The Mad Monk’s entry “Apprentice of the Demonhunter”
ahead of “Farthest shore” from Stewart J. McAbney, with
“Just my imagination – musings of a child” by Mystery
coming in a highly creditable third.
I would have to call this a highly successful event with 13
entries, and, considering the time limit of one hour to write
the games, the overall standard was high. It is to be hoped
that such participation levels will continue on into the End of
Year Competition in December.
http://www.adrift.org.uk/cgi/ib/ikonboard.cgi.s=3f8914273275ffff;act=ST;f=1;t=2211)
InsideADRIFT Spring Competition 2004 has been formally
launched. I have released preliminary details of this renamed
competition that takes place between 18 April and 2 May
2004. This is an event for newly written, previously
unreleased games, with no limit on size (although if over
400Kb the author may be expected to find somewhere to
host the file for download). This is the main ADRIFT only
competition for new games, as opposed to the minicomps
and other restricted events.
Further details can be found at
http://www.insideadrift.org.uk/comp_spr_04.html
InsideADRIFT Issue 12 December 2003
3
Third ADRIFT One-Hour
Game Competition
Full Results
I thought drifters might appreciate a
complete listing of the results in the
Third One-Hour Game Competition,
as organized by Woodfish in October.
With thirteen entries the competition
was very successful, although the
standard of some of the entries
brought into question whether they
could have been written in an hour.
DavidW with three entries, as well as
Woodfish and Mel S with two each
showed particular dedication to the
cause.
The Mad Monk’s winning entry,
“Apprentice of the Demonhunter” was
a very well-constructed game with
good plot progression. While it wasn’t
hugely original, in terms of being a
straightforward battle between you
and a demon, this was a good game
of its genre. Certainly there was a lot
of effort put in given the limitations of
the competition.
It will be interesting to see whether
any of the authors develop the ideas
they entered into a full game.
1. “Apprentice of the Demonhunter” by
MadMonk
2. “Farthest Shore” by Stewart J
McAbney (MileOut)
3. “Just my imagination – the musing of a
child” by Mystery
4. “Doom Cat” by Eric Mayer
5. “Forum 2” by Woodfish
6. “Saffire” by Woodfish
7. “The Revenge of Clueless Bob
Newbie” by DavidW
8. “The Revenge of Clueless Bob
Newbie 2” by DavidW
9. “The Curse of the Revenge of the
Ghost of the Evil Chick en of
Doom...Returns!” by Mel S
10. “ASDFA (A Short Damn Fantasy
Adventure)” by DavidW
11. “Crazy Radioactive Monkey” by MelS
12. “The Pyramid of Hamaratum” by KF
13. “Quest For Flesh” by Tech
The Annual Interactive fiction competition has now finally come to
an end, finished for another year or at least until everyone is
thinking about their entries for next years event.
The 2003 IF Competition is now over and having seen a
drop in entries, this was matched by a lower number of
people judging. Over the past three competitions the number
of voters has dropped from 216 to 198 and then down to
157. Already the post mortem on the rec.games.int-fiction
(RGIF) newsgroup has started as to the cause of this
decline.
The summarized results were as follows:
Place Game
Avg. Std.
Dev.
No.
Votes
1
Slouching Towards
Bedlam
8.39 1.77
107
2
Risorgimento Represso 7.76 1.70
92
3
Scavenger
7.51 1.69
91
4
The Erudition Chamber 7.32 1.79
107
16 Sophie's Adventure
4.97 2.02
60
(Results from a total of 30 entries)
DavidW should not be too disappointed, his placing is very
much in the middle, and when compared with other years
(except for last years high placing of
The PK Girl
and
Unraveling God
) is a strong result. In 2001 there were three
ADRIFT games coming 32=, 43 and 47 out of 51 ,and in
2000 the games placed 39 and 45 out of 53. I think puts this
years result in perspective.
There have also been quite a few reviews posted on RGIF
from the judges, from which DavidW has been able to glean
some helpful remarks and praise.
It is sad that ADRIFT was represented by just the one entry
this year after last years three attempts, lets all see if we can
turn the tide around.
Italian One Room Competition is still taking place, but you
should be aware that the relevant web page has changed
http://www.avventuretestuali.com/orgc/orgc2003_eng.html
.
So far I haven’t seen whether any drifters have actually
decided to give this a go.
InsideADRIFT Issue 12 December 2003
4
InsideADRIFT Awards
As I announced previously in the
newsletter, at the end of this year Drifters
will get the chance to vote for their
favourites in a number of ADRIFT
categories.
This really will only work if people bother
to join in. Awards will be useless if there
are only five votes. H ere you can say
well done and thank s to those who have
put in an effort to make our community
better.
Extra information
There will be an additional
InsideADRIFT award for lifetime
contribution to ADRIFT selected by the
editor (me). I don’t think I will be causing
too much shock when I announce that
the first recipient will be Campbell Wild.
Each winner will receive a certificate in
recognition of their achievement. They
can either download it as a PDF file to
print themselves or I would be happy to
send them a copy, printed out onto card
and laminated.
Awards timetable
30 November – the 3 top nominations in
each category will be announced (trying
to remove the dafter attempts to rig the
vote).
6 December - The voting period starts.
31 December – voting ends.
4 January 2004 - The award winners,
along with the winner of the ADRIFT End
of Year Competition, which will be game
of the year, will then be announced.
There will be an online ceremony,
probably on the MSN ADRIFT group
chat.
Due to the international nature of our
group, I will post on the forum asking
people to select from three possible time
spans for the ceremony.
Forum news
Campbell asks for detailed bug reports
In a thread that concerned Marno’s problems in getting his
game to work, and the bugs that were thwarting him,
Campbell explained
“Stack overflows and runtime errors are
easy to fix so long as I can reproduce them”
. He went on to
ask that people give detailed reports of such problems, and
send a copy of the offending file to him.
If we can all try to report any such bugs to Campbell, rather
than just have a good moan, we may find the stability of
future versions of ADRIFT greatly improved. Here I am just
meaning that it is easier for us all (yes, we all do it) to rush
onto the forum and complain about a bug, without making
sure we have enough detail to allow Campbell the chance to
work out why it happened and fix it.
WIPA: Works In Progress Anonymous
Tech put forward this idea, which is based on a creative
writing group, of having a structured approach to games
development. In the initial post Tech laid out a timetable for
game writing with the target of completion for the End of Year
Competition. The timetable is broken down into four weeks,
and then into each day in that week, the weeks are given
over to: brainstorming/planning; writing; beta testing; re-
writing.
A number of drifters are attempting to commit themselves to
projects working to this plan, and another thread was started
up in which they started to describe their projects. I am sure
we will follow the progress with interest, bearing in mind how
hard it is to get a game completed.
Dry patch article gets flood of responses
DavidW’s article on the dearth of new full ADRIFT games in
the last issue brought a quite heated debate.
Some questioned the value of the statistics he used, and
some questioned that statistics have any value at all. It
seemed to be generally believed that his numbers for active
drifters were very optimistic and therefore greatly
overestimated the numbers of games that could reasonably
be expected.
For many the debate was more one of it is better to have one
really good game than fifty poor ones, a well respected
argument. Quite a few drifters took pot shots at how prolific
DavidW is, believing that he sacrificed the standard of his
InsideADRIFT Issue 12 December 2003
5
Events Diary
November 29, 2003
InsideADRIFT Issue 12 out today
The December Issue of the ADRIFT
newsletter is out today. This is the last
one to be issued in 2003.
December 21, 2003
ADRIFT End of Year competition 2003:
entries in and judging starts
This is a competition for any game made
using the Adrift Interactive Fiction
Creation System that was released
during the calendar year 2003.
The entries must be sent to
competition@kfadrift.org.uk, arriving no
later than 15:00hrs GMT on Sunday 21
December 2003. I will then try and get
everything together for judging to
commence that evening.
December 24, 2004
InsideADRIFT Review of the Year
Special Issue due out
A look back on what has been happening
in the ADRIFT world over the last year.
January 04, 2004
ADRIFT End of Year Competition 2003
Judging ends
Judging ends today, with marks to reach KF
by 15:00hrs GMT on Sunday 4 January 2003
.
January 10, 2004
InsideADRIFT Issue 13 due out today
The January/February issue of the
ADRIFT newsletter should be out today.
February 28, 2004
InsideADRIFT Issue 14 due out
The March issue of the ADRIFT
newsletter should be available today.
April 18, 2004
InsideADRIFT Spring Competition
2004: entries due in
This is a competition for new ADRIFT
games, there is no limit on the game size
except that it should be less than 400kb
OR if larger it should be hosted
elsewhere and a link supplied. More
details will be posted later. Judging will
tak e place in the 2 week period to 2 May
2004.
games by not having them tested by others. A point that he
argued vigorously, before conceding that testing could be
useful when errors in his latest game
“Halloween Hijinks”
were pointed out.
Detail in description debate
Following a conversion between Mystery and MileOut over a
game introduction Mystery had written. The debate is over
how much detail you should put into your writing. Mile has
always been one for writing quite detailed and artistic words,
it is a question of whether you should add a flood of
adjectives or leave more up to the reader’s imagination.
To cause confusion, the debate once started split into two
when Mystery opened up another thread to put the question
in a way which she felt better reflected the main thrust of
their discussion.
RockSockM releases Temporfell Demo/Beta
In an effort to release something, rocksockm decided to let
out him incomplete game as a beta/demo. The early
responses have been very promising, with some special
word of appreciation for his ANSII text art intro screen. The
author has received some helpful transcripts from players
and has asked for more.
One sentence story
A quick word for the one sentence story thread, started by
Woodfish in the Writing Discussion forum, which developed
into a quite comical (or even farcical) tale of genetic research
and mutation in a short space of time.
Smacking thread returns
The smacking thread was reopened to give drifters a bit of
fun as they have been reasonably well behaved.
Unfortunately I found the wrong thread, but Mystery put me
right (and gave me a good smacking for my pains). For those
not around in the heyday of this illustrious thread, it was very
much the ADRIFT play room where people “smacked” others
for the silliest reasons.
It is interesting to see that, after a fairly brisk start, the thread
was not used as much as it used to be in its earlier
incarnation. Is this a sign of growing maturity with the
ADRIFT community.
InsideADRIFT Issue 12 December 2003
6
May 02, 2004
InsideADRIFT Spring Competition
2004: judging ends and results
The Spring competition winner is
announced and hailed.
InsideADRIFT Awards continued
The nominations phase, picking the three top candidates in
each category, has continued throughout the month and
ends tomorrow (30
th
November). More information is
provided later on in this newsletter (p4).
Drifters Toolbox:
Install Creator from Clickteam
Recently Tech asked on a forum about finding an installer
program for something he had written and Mystery
suggested he look at Install Creator. Although Mystery hadn’t
used it herself, she thought as it was free, and the group
behind it had a good reputation, it might be worth a look. As I
often use an installer, for the competition files that I put up for
downloading, I was interested and took a look.
The download is 2.21Mb and, not surprisingly, comes as an
installation executable file.
The above window may worry you, I only include it because
it shows what is behind the simple to use wizard that pops up
immediately you launch the program. With a series of simple
questions you can quickly bundle together your files, with an
uninstaller, into a single executable file ready to make it
available to download.
Feature List from the Clickteam website
Small footprint of the executable
An empty installer is only 100Kb. We cram the complete
professional installation program and the complete de-installer in
InsideADRIFT Issue 12 December 2003
7
Real Lives
The wedding of Suzanne Thomson
and Campbell Wild
Campbell has posted up a series of
colour and black and white pictures of his
wedding at
http://wedding.adrift.org.uk/
for us to look at.
The bride and groom in traditional pose.
Mystery moves house
Our very own girl next door has
become her own girl next door as
she has moved into the larger
house next door to her old place.
On 1
st
November she spent her
time moving her children and
husband into their new place,
eventually return to the fold on the
third. I am sure that we all send
her our best wishes for the future
in the new house.
Have you done anything recently in
the real world that you would like to
share with us.
100kb! Compare that with other installer programs: minimums of
500Kb. We feel it is inexcusable to have a 500Kb installer!
A simple and easily understood interface
There's no complex scripting language, you simply select a
directory that contains the files to install and set options for any
special individual files and that's it, you're done.
Easy step by step wizard - it's a cinch!
When the project is done, just save the settings and you can
recover the project later and update it at your will.
Complete customization
You can change all the texts, choose any bitmaps, customize each
screen of your installer - you can preview the look of the install
process at anytime during the creation process.
Fully functional freeware version
The freeware version is fully and completely operational. You will
not find a better installer at 10 times the price. You have nothing to
loose test it out today. All these features sound obvious and
standard - don't they. So why do we still find programs on the
Internet that decompress the data files onto the desk top (isn't that
annoying.). Then there are the programs without proper de-
installation routines, and products that create a directory at the
root of your C drive instead of directing the files where you want
them.
I appreciate some may say what has this got to do with
ADRIFT, but I think that ignores the fact that we all often
have more than one file we want to keep together with a
game.
If I have whetted your appetite for this program, then you
should check it out at the Clickteam website
(
http://www.clickteam.com/English/installcreator.php
) for
more information. For completeness I should say that there
is also a Pro version with extra features at a price.
Think piece by KF
Is IF likely to be paid for again.
There are members of the ADRIFT community, Mystery step
forward, who are interested in the idea of making money via
their hobby. Is it really likely that people will want to actually
pay for a work of interactive fiction in the future, after all there
is a lot of free stuff out there.
InsideADRIFT Issue 12 December 2003
8
The (big) idea
We do need a collection of the best
games to recommend
So often new users arrive and the
cry goes up “I’m new here. What
game should I play first”. This is
where we need something a bit
more selective than the main
adventure page.
Mystery started off on the right
lines, but the idea needs
promotion so that we can have
perhaps a post on the forum with
links to the best. They would be
described so that people could
select a horror, comedy, science
fiction or fantasy game to suit their
mood and personal preference.
This is something we can all think
about and come up with what we
like. I don’t think we can
reasonably say that the ADRIFT
world is awash with great
masterpieces, but there are some
gems.
Having taken another look at the
games page Mystery has created
(
http://home.gcn.cx/mystery/games.htm
),
I would say it fulfils most of what I
am asking for and should be
promoted. It has games described
neatly and divided by ADRIFT
version. There are also copies of
the game files on the site for
downloading.
It is true that, in the early days of computing in the 1980s,
text adventures were a part of mainstream gaming. You can
however probably assign that largely to the fact that
graphical games were still very primitive, whereas now
photoreality is the order of the day.
Mickey Crocker started a thread on the forum, and the
debate seems to essentially be a matter of what would
represent a fair price and what would need to be there.
Trouble is there are so many factors to be taken into
consideration.
Starting with an obvious pay for feature we have the
packaging, it seems likely that it would have to be put on CD
to differentiate it from the games that can be downloads for
nothing. However you sell it the CD package would need eye
catching artwork, a photocopied bit of text won't suffice. If
you could also add some extra material, maybe a coloured
map to give something tangible for your buyer. The actual
cost of this sort of thing isn't massive if you are a big
company, but is a bit steeper for small quantities.
You will have to create a market for your game, a fairly
obvious thing to do is to make a small playable demo of your
game. As suggested by DavidW, this would probably need to
be about 10% of the size of the game, enough to give a
flavour without the buyer feeling cheated that they have
already played most of the game. Another reasonably cheap
way of marketing such a game is with something like the
Google Adwords scheme where you can get exposure when
someone searches on something like fiction, which does at
least target things. Put interactive fiction into your search and
you probably see on the right:
Remember Text Adventure.
Pentari: First Light
Interactive Fiction is back!
Clearly someone is having a go at the commercial marketing
of interactive fiction.
Problem for us is that ADRIFT is not ideal for this sort of
project as it isn't possible to make a stand alone game, and
having the runner with it detracts from the professional look.
While this is just a short look at this topic, it is something that
will keep on coming back until someone actually gives it a go
at selling their game. In the end it may be that the halfway
house offered by shareware is the way to go as it would
allow a game to still be made available online, but give a
InsideADRIFT Issue 12 December 2003
9
The (big) Idea 2
Reviewers are always biased by
Mystery
KF and I had a rather lengthy
discussion about reviews,
reviewers and authors. Now we
both agree that most reviewers
are not objective and are bias
towards certain aspects of games
based on the identity of the
author.
You could truly write a
groundbreaking masterpiece
game that is flawless in every
area (never know-could happen)
but because you rubbed the
reviewer the wrong way you get a
cruddy review.
I hardly think that is fair for the
author, or the intended audience.
I tend not to write reviews for the
most part because I of this. And I
certainly wouldn't write a review
for a game created by a person I
disliked. Not because I can't be
objective, but I wouldn't want to be
accused of doing something that I
am strongly opposed to.
You can usually spot disgruntled
reviewers. They tend to be
extremely rude with their
comments and usually focus on
the negative aspects of the work.
While a good, objective reviewer
will point out the author’s strong
points and weak points without
being rude and sarcastic with their
comments.
Perhaps this is why more don't
review games. You write a not so
gleaming review for one person’s
game and you get it back tenfold
because you've angered the
reviewer.
chance of gaining some reward from those honest enough to
pay up. The try before you buy principle is fair and, while you
will get many who won’t pay, some will which is better than
nothing. What to charge would be part of the equation, if you
go too low people may think it isn’t worth the bother, too high
and they will think it won’t be worth the money, maybe
coming in with £7.50-£10.00 as a reasonable compromise.
Interview: Roger Firth questioned by KF
The webmaster for the “Cloak of Darkness” and “Parsifal”
websites answers a few questions from your editor.
Hello, thank you for agreeing to answer a few questions.
Q1.
What was it that first brought you into the world of IF.
Infocom's Planetfall. Not the original 1983 release, but four or
five years later when its reissue at an affordable price --
something like £9.99 -- coincided with availability of a PC at
work, leading to weeks of enjoyable lunchbreaks. And then
Hitchhiker's Guide, and the Zorks, and... until I'd run out of
good cheap games, and my interest lapsed.
Until 1998. Working for a large computer corporation, I was
hunting for ways of making my group's niche product
noticeable to the corporation's salesforce; hopefully, greater
internal visibility would lead to more sales. Some form of
game would be ideal, but my creative capabilities were
clearly inadequate for anything graphical. And then I
remembered Interactive Fiction. Web searching on "Zork"
lead eventually to the Inform authoring system, and I was
astonished to discover a freely-available toolset which could
do just what I wanted. Only later did I realise that TADS and
Hugo and the other systems were also there for the taking. It
was pure chance that Inform came up first in the search.
(I wrote the game, by the way, and it was total and utter
rubbish; complete confirmation of the saying that you should
always throw away your first effort. But it did the job of
introducing me to the possibilities of IF authorship.)
Q2. You have clearly put a lot of time into your IF pages. Do
you begin to enjoy the support work as much, or more than,
actually trying to write or play IF.
I do genuinely enjoy the support side. Partly that's just
pragmatism -- I know that I'm not a half-way decent writer of
fiction -- but mostly it's because what I do gives me real
satisfaction in several areas: getting to the bottom of some
InsideADRIFT Issue 12 December 2003
10
I personally don't hold reviews in
that high regard. I prefer to see
for myself what a game is like
rather than rely on a review where
the reviewer has a vendetta
against the author. It certainly
says a lot about the reviewer
when the majority of that person’s
reviews are hostile and negative.
Mystery’s post on the forum after a
conversation on MSN messenger
particular topic and convincing myself that I understand
what's going on, for instance, and finding ways of presenting
that (sometimes hard-won) knowledge in a clear and
accessible manner. But the greatest reward comes from
discovering that, by flattening out the learning curve, I've
helped other more accomplished authors to get started. In
many cases, I think, the big hurdle to overcome is that
feeling of being overwhelmed by the number of tools and
techniques -- editors, interpreters, compilers, basic
programming skills, bug fixing and so on -- which get in the
way of turning a story idea into a workable piece of IF. So
what I try to do is to take the mystery out of those nuts-and-
bolts issues, to say in effect "yes, lots of newcomers have
trouble with this or that issue, and the best way forward is".
Q3.
Your "Cloak of Darkness" site is a highly respected way
of comparing the different authoring tools. The clever, yet
simple way, that the specification tests out the different
languages is ideal to aid a new user to see if a language
suits them. Have you ever considered expanding the
specification to a second level of difficulty.
It's over five years ago, but I can still recollect my difficulties,
in the early weeks after discovering Inform, of getting my
mind round what all this stuff was about: how big, if you like,
was the iceberg below the tip that I'd discovered. At that
time, the standard answer to the regular "which system is
best." questions was "look at a few, and pick on that suits
you". I
knew
from personal experience that this advice was
unrealistic: just 'looking at' a single system meant a whole
load of digging around in various places, and the idea that
most people would bother to do that more than once or twice
was, frankly, ludicrous; you either lived with the first halfway-
decent system you stumbled across, or simply went off the
whole idea and moved on to a less demanding hobby.
I think the thing that CoD got roughly right was simplicity.
This didn't happen straight off: I scrapped two earlier ideas
before coming up with the current model, because they
weren't easy enough to describe. The key criteria, to me,
were that the game's goal should be immediately graspable
by newcomers, that the necessary steps should embody a
certain logic and degree of realism, and that its
implementation shouldn't be very taxing. This last point was
important: the whole site would work only if all the significant
systems were represented, and that in turn would happen
only if experts in those systems could be persuaded to
volunteer good representative samples. Which, happily,
InsideADRIFT Issue 12 December 2003
11
ADRIFT recent releases
This will hopefully be a new regular
feature, bringing you the details of
recently released games, as
described by their authors on
release. The details listed here are as
posted on the ADRIFT adventures
page on Campbell’s site
Listed on the Full Adventure page
Sophie's Adventure (Version 2)
sa.taf (524 Kb) B y Davidw, released
16 Nov
For her eighth birthday, Sophie made a
wish: she wanted an adventure like none
she had ever had before. And an
adventure she got... (note: contains
updates/fixes from the IFComp 2003
version)(genre: comedy/fantas y)
The Star Trek Chain Reaction:
Episode 1 - The Hornets' Nest
(thestartrekchainreactionepisode1-
thehornetsnest.taf 20 Kb)
By scuey, released 8 Nov
This is just the 1st episode. There will
be more fighting in future episodes.
Countdown (countdown.taf 1 Kb)
By Matt (Dark Baron), released 30 Oct
You thought it was a prank-call but no,
some physcho had really planted a
nuclear missile in this abandoned
warehouse on the edge of town.
Halloween Hijinks (hijinks.taf 66 Kb)
By Davidw, released 26 Oct
Trick or treating should be fun, but when
you live on Murder Drive it's not so
much a case of "will you have a good
time." as "will you live to see
tomorrow." Guide you and your
antagonistic sister Lisa around the
deadliest street in the world as you hunt
for treats. Oh, and try to avoid getting
killed if at all possible. (genre: comedy)
proved not to be the stumbling block that I'd feared, and
thereby made CoD the single point of comparison that I'd
hoped to provide.
All of which is a long way of saying that, no, I've never
anticipated much benefit in an extended version of the game.
I suspect that, looking at various solutions to the same
problem, readers will naturally warm to certain approaches
without necessarily appreciating why, and that part of that
warmth is the solutions' positioning on the simple-but-limited
through to complex-but-flexible spectrum (and I
do
believe
that to be a reasonably linear progression). And so the
people who opt for, say, ADRIFT or Alan, implicitly
acknowledge when doing so that certain effects may be hard
or impossible and that, to them,
this doesn't matter
; at the
same time, the choosers of, say, TADS or Inform intuitively
recognise that the pain
will
be worth the gain. So,
demonstrating that 'second level of difficulty' that you
mention wouldn't actually add much that wasn't already clear,
at least sub-consciously, and therefore would be a lot of
effort for little reward.
Q4.
I am sure you follow the way the Annual Interactive
Fiction Competition pans out, and it is noticeable that the
number of entries seems to be inversely proportional to the
number of intentions to enter. Do you think this reflects the
community, and the fact that so many come in and expect to
produce a complex work first time they write.
Yes, the gulf between intents and entries is interesting, isn't
it. And a little scary, too; less than one in three actually
delivered this year -- I think that's an all-time low. I notice that
some of the current prizes are at a record level, which I'm
sure will have encouraged speculative entries. I suspect, too,
that the community
is
growing slightly, with the annual comp
a natural target for newcomers wishing for fame, or more
likely just feedback, or simply any form of recognition and
reaction. Against that, some of the pre-comp debate made it
perhaps clearer than usual that a game that was incomplete,
or poorly realised, or inadequately tested, should expect to
be penalised quite severely; my hope is that many of the
budding entrants took this message to heart, and actively
chose
not
to enter a game that wasn't ready. Much better to
wait, polish, take time to understand today's (pretty high)
standards, than to waste energy, ideas and reputation on an
unrealistically premature entry. And remember my earlier
remarks about the wisdom of letting your first effort out into
the wide world.
InsideADRIFT Issue 12 December 2003
12
Three Monkeys One Cage
(3monkeys.taf 77 Kb)
By Robert Goodwin (Hanadorobou),
released 22 Oct
Once upon a time in a galaxy far far
away a bunch of ugly aliens from
another planet decided that they would
test the intelligence of the alleged most
advanced life form on Earth...just for fun
of course. But will the subjects of their
experiment find it so funny. "Three
Monkeys One Cage" is a multi-part
puzzle that I can guarantee you will, on
one level or another, detest.
Listed on the Demos page
Temporfell - Demo/Beta
(temporfell_demo.taf 68 Kb)
By Matt Wood (rocksockm),
released 5 Nov
Have you ever been curious about the
purpose of your life. Sam Parker is
about to discover his. ------ This is a
demo/beta version of my full game
Temporfell. The game is not winnable
and it is still in beta form. Which means
you will run into bugs and you will even
run into rooms without proper
descriptions. It's still a lot of fun to play
and that shouldn't discourage you from
playing. Kind souls who wish to submit
bug reports or transcripts of their travels
should send them to:
rocksockm@rocksockm.com. I hope
you enjoy it!
Q5.
I suppose now would be a good time to ask for your
opinions on the development of ADRIFT in relation to the IF
community. I notice on the "Cloak of Darkness" page that you
add ADRIFT in after TADS and INFORM as a language
being written for more.
For reasons which are hard to explain, some systems
achieve much greater success than others. ADRIFT shows
all the signs of being successful in a way that for example
SUDS, a superficially fairly similar system, does not. I have
to say that I'm delighted that ADRIFT has found favour with a
large number of authors; it clearly appeals to a whole group
of people for whom the other systems are not realistic
alternatives. Any system which brings more people into the
community has to be a good thing; it matters much less what
system is used than that the craft of IF continues to thrive.
There is, of course, a small 'But...' lurking in the undergrowth.
I'm not very familiar with its current capabilities but, reading
rec.arts.int-fiction postings over the months, I get the feeling
that, beyond a certain point, making ADRIFT do exactly what
you'd like it to becomes increasingly awkward and inefficient.
I think it's important for all concerned to recognise and
acknowledge such boundaries, if they exist. Authors with
previous programming experience generally know when the
tool is getting in the way of the task, but I'm less sure that a
novice would be able to tell quite so readily; pretending that
ADRIFT can tackle
any
IF requirement without admitting that
some problems are better solved by using another system
entirely isn't really helping anybody. But that's my only
caveat: as long as it's a good match for what you're aiming to
achieve, I think ADRIFT is an excellent member of the IF
team.
Q6.
Once again, many thanks for replying to my questions. I
will finish up with crystal ball time, what do you see as the
future of interactive fiction.
I'd like to tell you about the glorious renaissance that I
foresee just around the corner... but it wouldn't be true. It's
hard to see IF ever being more than a minority interest,
rediscovered with delight by a tiny handful each passing
year. It's not just that IF doesn't meet today's appetite for
gaudy special effects. More, I fear that IF is fundamentally
out-of-tune with this generation's impatience for the quick
payback, the immediate gratification, the gimme-it-now
mentality. There's not a lot of demand for an art form where
you have to work pretty damn hard to make any progress,
where the norm is some form of rebuff, where what you get
InsideADRIFT Issue 12 December 2003
13
Failed game intros
The stinking alley by KF
This was a game I was working on
over the Summer, but in the end (as I
normally do) I decided to abandon it
as too complicated. Basically it is a
fairly standard game about finding
yourself in an awkward situation and
trying to extricate yourself from.
This is the intro
You awake in a dank and, it has to be
said extremely smelly, heap in an
alleyway. The smell of rotting vegetation
is enough to help you quickly regain your
senses, and as you do you cannot work
out how you got here. Of immediate
concern is the fact that you are naked,
save for your pair of union jack Y-fronts.
The last thing that you remember was
leaving the pub after a very pleasant
evening with your brother Jack
celebrating the fact that tomorrow
afternoon you were to make your debut
as new striker with your local football
team. You left the pub at about half past
ten, you said goodbye and headed off on
the short walk home and a good nights
sleep prior to the match.
On closer inspection, your chest has the
words STAY AWAY FROM THE GAME
scrawled on it in bright red, probably
lipstick. Rather perturbed by the implied
threat, you resolve that you must get
home, and ready for the match, the
bullies cannot be seen to win.
If you have an intro or just an idea you
think Drifters might enjoy, why not
send it in to InsideADRIFT.
out of a game is often closely related to what you're prepared
to put into it. Sadly, I foresee no bright shining tomorrow.
Actually, I'm not all that sad. I quite like IF's small-town feel,
the community spirit, the absence of commercial pressures,
the approval of one's peers being what matters. We've got a
splendid thing here, and it shows all the signs of keeping
right on going. That's good enough for me.
Roger Firth info box
Roger Firths home page
http://www.firthworks.com/roger/
is
a simple resource for interactive fiction users. It links to his
well respected Cloak of Darkness page
(
http://www.firthworks.com/roger/cloak/index.html
), which
allows people to compare the same simple game written in
different IF Languages. He also compiles Parsifal, which is a
one page set of IF links to all sorts of individuals and groups
(
http://www.firthworks.com/roger/cloak/index.html
)
Review by DavidW
Three monkeys one cage by Hanadorobou
Okay, this is a hard game. And by hard, I mean really hard. I
don’t think I've played many games quite as frustratingly
difficult as Three Monkeys, One Cage and, for my health, I
kind of hope I never do again.
After that intro you might gather that I didn’t like this game.
On the contrary, I loved it. Impossibly difficult as it is, offering
opportunities for getting well and truly slaughtered as it does,
killing the player off every few seconds as it very frequently
does – it’s also an exceedingly good game. Just a bit on the
difficult side.
The premise is straight from a pages of the corniest science-
fiction every written: the average guy off the street is
abducted by aliens and placed in a cage with two other
monkeys: a chimpanzee (who can prove to be quite helpful if
you can only figure out how to enlist his aid) and a mandrill
(who is anything but helpful and will tend to be the cause of
most restarts unless you can figure out some way to
temporarily deal with him). Watching over you are a gaggle
of strange alien beings, not to mention a commentator who
offers less than helpful comments on your progress (or lack
of) and generally makes himself one seriously annoying
figure. (Fortunately his chatter can be turned off if you so
desire.)
InsideADRIFT Issue 12 December 2003
14
On the face of it, Three Monkeys, One Cage is a game that
you will either love or hate. The room descriptions (of which
there are just four although the game often seems far larger
when you're playing it) are sparse for the main part and at
first glance don’t appear very involving. But then this is a
game more about the puzzles than about lengthy
descriptions and the puzzles are, without a doubt, intricate to
say the least. Every item seems to have a use somewhere
although finding that use – not to mention lasting long
enough to actually do it – is another matter.
Death comes quickly, and often, and anyone who finishes
the game in a single session is either a lot better at games
than I am or a hell of a lot luckier. Most games that result in
the player dying every few moves just because a single bad
command is entered tend to be games I don’t play that much
but I made an exception here because this isn't a game
you're expected to finish in one go. The puzzles are
designed so that you can generally figure out to how to solve
them the right way by doing them the wrong way the first
time (of course, doing them the wrong way results in you
dying so it’s knowledge you need to remember for the next
time you play) and this, as well as the demented lunacy of
Three Monkeys, One Cage, is as much a replay factor as
anything. There's also a definite feeling that you get slightly
further into the game with each successive playing, leading
to the kind of thinking: “oh, one more time and I’ll be sure to
finish it…”
Trial and error plays a large part in regard to most of the
puzzles and it’s a case of try everything and hope something
works out. Avoiding the mandrill becomes a pain after a while
but from repeated plays I was, eventually, able to figure out a
way to give myself some breathing space away from him.
Only temporarily, alas, as he always seemed to be there
ready to bother me again. Maybe it was just my bloodthirsty
nature getting the better of me, but at one time I was dying
for an option to be able to deal with the mandrill once and for
all. I even tried assembling a makeshift weapon from the
items found in the cage in the hopes of killing him, but no
such luck.
How the game ends I don’t know as I've yet to reach that
point but Three Monkeys, One Cage is certainly one game I’ll
be playing more than a few times before I put it to rest.
Logic: 8 out of 10
How logical any of the storyline is I don’t know but the
InsideADRIFT Issue 12 December 2003
15
puzzles at least made sense.
Problems: 9 out of 10 (10 = no problems)
If repeatedly killing the player could be considered a problem
(and some might view it as a big problem) then this game
would be riddled with them. Aside from that, Three Monkeys,
One Cage played smoothly and I didn’t run into an
unexpected bugs.
Story: 6 out of 10
A reasonably detailed introduction but this is a game more
about puzzles than anything else so a better storyline isn't
really called for.
Writing: 9 out of 10
Excellent. And very, very funny.
Game: 8 out of 10
One of the most amusing puzzlefests I've ever played and
while the sheer difficulty factor might put some people off this
is still a game that deserves repeated playing. A worthy
follow on from The PK Girl.
Overall: 40 out of 50
Reference
Continuing our voyage through the most tricky of ADRIFT areas,
tasks. First we finish off the first task creation screen by looking at
the description area. Here we are also introduced to the fact that
restrictions can be applied so that our task will only work in certain
circumstances, and actions which are where you can tell ADRIFT
to move things about, or even end the game.
Manual pages 20: Tasks continued
Descriptions
You need to give a reply to a successful command. Enter
your message in the box labeled Message upon completion.
If the task moves the Player to another room, you would
often want to give the description of the new room, so you
can select this from the pull down list marked Then show
description for room. If you wanted any text to appear after
this description, you can enter this in the box marked
Additional Message. Usually, you would want to restrict a
task to being completed in a particular room or rooms. In the
InsideADRIFT Issue 12 December 2003
16
list marked Tasks can be completed in, you can select which
rooms these should be. For tasks that can be completed
anywhere, you would want to select the whole list, by clicking
on All rooms. (Any new rooms added will automatically be
added to this selection.) If you don't select any rooms for the
task to be completed in, you will be unable to complete the
task.
As well as being typed in by the player, tasks can also be
called from events and tasks. It is best to set the command
on these tasks so that the player cannot accidentally type it.
If you prefix the command with the hash character (#), then it
will be impossible for the player to call the task from Runner,
as it strips off any preceding # characters. For example, if
you wanted a task that kills off the Player that gets called
from an event, you could call the task "# kill player". This
would then only be executable by the event or a task.
Restrictions
Restrictions are grouped into five sections. These are:
Object location
You can specify that NO object, ANY object, the Referenced
object, or a specific object must or must not be in a specific
room, held by the Player or a specific character, worn by the
Player or specific character, visible to the Player or specific
character, inside a container object, or on a surface object.
[get/take/pick up] {the} [{green} apple from] {the} {large}
[box/crate]
State of object
For openable objects, you can restrict that the Referenced
object or an openable object must be open or closed, or
locked for lockable objects.
Task state
You can restrict that any task must be completed or not.
Player & Characters
You can specify that the Player, Referenced character, or
specific character must or must not be in the same room as
the Player, Referenced character or specific character, or
that they must or must not be alone. You can also specify
that the Player must be standing, sitting or lying on a specific
object or the floor, or that the Player or characters are of a
specific gender.
Variables
InsideADRIFT Issue 12 December 2003
17
You can specify that the number the player typed, or a
specific variable must be less than, less than or equal to,
equal to, greater than or equal to, or greater than a specific
value or variable. To access existing variables, click on the
down arrow to change the text box into a selectable list.
Each restriction is evaluated in turn. The first one that does
not hold true will display the message defined in the else
display box, and no other restrictions will be checked after
this. You can alter the order in which the restrictions are
checked by clicking on the up and down arrows.
Actions
Actions are divided into seven sections. These are:
Move object
This allows you to move all held objects, all worn objects, the
Referenced object or a specific object to a specific room, to a
room group, to inside an object, onto an object, to the same
room as the Player or character, or carried or worn by the
Player or specific character
Move Player or Characters
This allows you to move the Player or a specific character to
a specific room, room group, or to the same room as a
specific character. It also allows you to move the Player’s
position to standing, sitting or lying on a specific object.
Change object status
This enables you to open or close objects.
Change variable
You can change any variable to an exact value, change it by
an exact value, change it to a random value (between two
values), change it by a random value (between two values),
or set it to the referenced number. There is also the option to
change a variable to a mathematical expression. This is
interpreted directly, and can include variables and functions.
An example might be something like: See Expression
Formulae for currently supported functions.
Change score
You can change the score by a specific value. If this is
negative, the score will decrease. Positive score increments
will only happen the first time a task executes if it is
repeatable or reversible. Negative scores will occur each
time.
End game
InsideADRIFT Issue 12 December 2003
18
You can end the game in one of three states; Wins the
game, Doesn't win (Just a standard end to the game), and
Kills the Player.
If the Battle System is enabled, Battle Options becomes
available. (See section The Battle System)
© Campbell Wild, Oct 2003
Information is copied and pasted from the manual and while every
effort is made to be accurate, there are no guarantees that it is
error free.
© 2003 Edited by KF. Please send any contributions or
suggestions to kf@kfadrift.org.uk