InsideADRIFT ISSN 1743-0577
1
Issue 14 March 2004
Contents
News and announcements.
1. Main news (To hell in a hamper and
back; ADRIFT Beginner’s Guide)
3. Competition news
(DavidW’s One Room Comp;
InsideADRIFT Spring Comp; One-Hour
Competition; Summer Competition)
3. Forum news
(An updated forum arrives).
Regular features
2. Editorial
5. Drifters birthdays
6. Events diary
4. Drifters toolbox: Prose by Mystery
8. AD RIFT recent releases
6. Interview: Hanadorobou interviewed
by KF
Articles
7.
The (big) idea by KF
: Competitions: do
we need them.
10.
Failed game intro
Reviews
8. Humbug by Campbell Wild/Graham
Cluley (Reviewed by DavidW);The Last
Hour by Robert Grassi (Reviewer: Eric
Mayer); Dead Reckoning by David Whyld
(Reviewer: Eric Mayer)
Reference
13. Manual
Issue Details: March 2004
Issue 14 (Volume 2 no 5) Editor KF
Issue 15 due out on 27th Mar 2004
News and announcements
To hell in a hamper and back (With apologies to Poodle) by KF
Ironically I had this newsletter setup to welcome back several
of those who had drifted away. I was further going to
welcome the fact that Mercury had instigated some threads
that had brought back discussion of IF theory on the forum in
a way that we used to have on the old forum. I was
discussing things as follows:
Interactivity and nonlinearity got us started on the
relationship of these two authoring concepts and the
what is defined by interactive fiction. While Writing
took as it’s starting point an article, which Mercury
found on Eric Mayer’s blog, that details what the
author thinks makes a “strong” story.
Sadly Mercury caused an explosive row with some very
manipulative tactics, before once again leaving. In emails to
the moderators Mercury admitted that he had deliberately
stirred up a dispute, targeting DavidW with the aim of getting
a reaction which he did. He has since been banned from the
forum by Campbell.
I think it is fair to say that we should all feel betrayed by
anyone who uses the forum to play mind games. If any of us
have problems with other drifters there are plenty of ways of
discussing it and hopefully sorting things out without making
Campbell’s trust in creating the forum seem misplaced.
Unfortunately this was not the end of the dispute and there
was an extremely destructive thread where several of us did
ourselves and others no favours. I hold up my hands and say
I am not really satisfied with my handling of things as a
moderator, though at the time my only aim was to bring the
forum back to its users.
Some think I overreacted by taking my leave of ADRIFT, and
I may have, but at the time I felt tired and deflated by the
sheer ceaseless antagonism. As I said at the time it had got
to a stage where instead of coming to the forum for fun it was
InsideADRIFT Issue 14 March 2004
2
Editorial
I won’t comment again on the forum
disputes as they are covered
elsewhere. If anyone thinks I should
not have included it then I believe it
was an important enough matter that
it must be discussed here.
You may have noticed that this
publication now bears an ISSN, the
standard number by which serial
publications are recognized around
the world. It is a free service and I
thought it would signify that this is
aimed at being a long lasting
publication.
As most of you will hopefully have
noticed, I also launched a small
consultation exercise on the forum
with regards to the format in which I
publish the newsletter.
While most respondents were happy
with the PDF format, a significant
minority had concerns over the
speed of Adobe Acrobat Reader. I
am now considering the next move
and this issue will also be available to
read online.
Contact
Send any suggestions, requests or
comments concerning InsideADRIFT
to editor@insideadrift.org.uk
Find the newsletter at:
http://www.insideadrift.org.uk/
a chore and at times I dreaded what would come next. My
only defence for being so sensitive is that anything I was
doing was, I believe, with the best interests of the forum
members as a group in mind.
What I do regret was taking down the newsletter and my own
KF ADRIFT site, for a short time. It was unnecessary and
possibly an immature reaction to things.
As so many have found, leaving the forum isn’t as easy as
saying you are going. Somehow you just can’t go cold turkey
and have to pop back to see what is going on, even though
you try to make yourself step away. So a few short days later
I returned, having restored my sites.
Campbell Wild had been away from the forum for a few days,
so was only able to look back at it from. My walk out did have
the excellent result of having a new moderator appointed and
The Amazing Poodle Boy has now joined the team. We have
also got updated rules on the forum, which are linked to at
the top of the General Discussions forum.
Mystery releases the ADRIFT Beginner’s Guide
Early January saw the release of the ADRIFT Beginner's
Guide which is intended to help beginners get a quick start
with ADRIFT. It uses the creation of a simple first program to
give beginners a step by step lesson in using the ADRIFT
generator. They are taken through the basics of creating and
linking rooms, creating static and dynamic objects, creating
tasks, characters, and events, as well as teaching how to
use variables and the ALR.
This is the sort of project that, when well done as it is, can
only help ADRIFT to gain new converts. The approach is
initially simple, although Mystery intends to expand it in the
future, with each step explained and the user encouraged to
expand on the example.
Originally Mystery released the Beginner’s Guide using an e-
book format, but she has now moved it to the simpler HTML
format. The transfer was a simple move of the content rather
than a major change.
If you want to get your hands on a copy it is available from
the ADRIFT Network downloads page
(
http://home.gcn.cx/mystery/Downloads.html
). It is also
available from the IF Archive.
Also release on her site is a very attractive ADRIFT branded
skin for the GCN community software.
InsideADRIFT Issue 14 March 2004
3
Forum news
The whole One Room Competition
debate dominated the early days of
2004, before ultimately falling at that
most frustrating of hurdles lack of
entries, and being cancelled.
The end of January and beginning of
February also saw us limited to
spasmodic access to the forum as it
was unavailable for several periods.
Campbell’s updating of his webserver
was to blame for part of the problem,
but it certainly brought frustration for
many. With some (like DavidW)
agitating for a new forum, it should
be noted that Mystery’s ADRIFT
Network forum at
http://adriftnetwork.proboards22.com/
is the place to go when our normal
home is out of action.
The great schism of mid-February,
discussed in depth earlier, has
hopefully healed, or at least been put
to one side.
An updated forum arrives
Campbell has updated the
software used for the forum to the
latest available version of
Ikonboard, and it provides a
slicker performance with a
number of improvements. I think it
is fair to say the only real
complaint about the new look is
that the font it is displayed in is
rather small.
We now have an events calendar
where the moderators can link
threads to the calendar, and you
can see what is coming up in the
next 15 days listed on the front
page. Let one of the moderators
know if you want this done to one
of your threads, or I will try to do it
if I see something where it would
be helpful.
Competition news roundup
With nearly two months of the year has passed and we can look
back on a fractious start to 2004 with the great “what is one room”
debate.
For your diaries the dates of the InsideADRIFT Summer Minicomp
have been provisionally announced as 22-29 August 2004. No
details of the competition have yet been announced.
One Room Comp argument over rules
In mid January the competition threatened to descend into
farce as there was a great deal of discussion over the rules,
most particularly what actually constituted a one room game.
While I (and DavidW) tended towards the view that a one
room game meant one room in the generator, some wanted
it to be that the player was limited to one room, although
there could be more rooms he could not enter. Then again
others wanted to know whether it could be one room
spanning multiple generator rooms. Davidw then finally
compromised with words “
The game has to be take place in
one room which is defined as one room in the Generator (i.e.
no clever use of tasks to make one room appear to be many.
No making your character a fly (or something similar) who
can enter objects like boxes, cups, etc, as extra rooms.)
Other rooms can exist in the Generator but the player is not
allowed to enter these rooms.
Now all we had left was to actually come up with games to
enter!
One Room Comp cancelled
Sadly, after all of that argument over the rules, when it came
to it we failed to reward DavidW’s decision to run the event. I
for one failed badly as I kept on deciding I had a better idea
for a one room game. There are now half a dozen more
unfinished games littering my computer’s hard drive.
InsideADRIFT Spring Competition 2004
With judging at the end of April, there is still plenty of time to
make a full game to enter this competition. Further details
can be found on the newsletter website at
http://www.insideadrift.org.uk/comp_spr_04.html
New One Hour Competition announced
Woodfish has given us a chance to have another go at
writing a game in one hour. The last competition of this type
brought in 13 entries which was a hugely impressive total.
InsideADRIFT Issue 14 March 2004
4
Users can now set a default
colour to have their posts
displayed in, making identification
easier, of course we may just end
up with a multi-coloured forum.
You also get a notepad where you
can save some notes, an
incomplete post or private
message for use later.
A change that may not be
universally popular is that
moderators now have a warn link
next to each post. Clicking on that
link allows us to tell any user that
we believe that they have
contravened the board’s rules. If a
moderator chooses to they can
raise the warning level of that
user, and a small box is displayed
next to their posts. Repeated
warnings can result in suspension
from the forum. Allied with this is
the ability to display a link to the
forum’s rules at the top meaning
that no one should be unaware of
what is expected of them.
Wow, real game design
questions on the forum
Interestingly we also had the
return of a number of game
design questions on the forum,
something that has been in short
supply recently. In quite quick
succession we had threads about
moving a random object, selecting
a random character and making a
time system for a game.
The random object problem
brought several of us the
opportunity to play around with
the little known (and only
available) Task Command
Function
getdynfromroom(<room>). It
“The rule is that the game you enter must have been written
in an hour, give or take ten minutes - that includes all bug
fixes, writing and coding. Of course, no-one will know if
you've spent longer, so I'm leaving it to you to judge when
you've spent round about an hour working on it.”
You have until 1 March 2004 to complete your entry and
sent it in to
driftersmonthly@hotmail.com
for uploading and
judging.
InsideADRIFT Summer Minicomp 2004
The provisional timings for the Summer Minicomp were
posted in the ADRIFT Calendar. The competition in the
second half of August is for small games, and is designed for
those of us not madly trying to get games ready for the
Interactive Fiction Competition.
Wider IF community events
Voting for the
XYZZY Awards 2003
has taken place during
February. The way they were organized I couldn’t preview them as
the announcement came out on 30 January, and the two rounds of
voting over the next three weeks. With the way the games up for
the awards are arranged we all get our time in the spotlight, as any
game launched in 2003, however unworthy they might be, is on
the list including the many Minicomp entries.
The big news is that Poodle’s “To Hell in a Hamper” was in the top
five in five of the categories. The results are to be announced in a
ceremony on IFmud at 13:30 EST on Saturday 28
th
February.
Drifters toolbox:
Prose reviewed by Mystery
Through our course of adventures, the author often times
looks for other programs that might make things a little
easier. Over the past couple of years, we’ve found text
editors that help us to create a better, more organized
Language Resource file; we’ve come across word
processors that help make the writing easier with spell check
features; and there are other programs we try out to help
keep our files organized. Either way, we are always on the
hunt for something that will make creating IF easier.
I have come across another program that has helped me to
create better, more in depth characters. The program is
called Prose. Prose was designed for writers to help them
better organize their work by splitting it into chapters,
allowing for easy editing. It has a built in spell checker with
both American and British English dictionaries along with an
InsideADRIFT Issue 14 March 2004
5
could be useful, but is very tricky
to implement successfully.
Random character selection was
also awkward as competing
theories were put forward,
Mystery had one idea involving an
invisible object and assigned
rooms, while ralphmerridew
attempted to explain a method
using variables.
Finally Gigabyteman asked about
implementing a time system
having tried an old one of mine. In
this case I knocked up a different
demo, and The Amazing Poodle
Boy and ralphmerridew put
forward some other options. It is
safe to say there are many
elaborate ways of doing this.
This is what the forum used to be
about, the exchange of views on
game creation in a spirit of mutual
assistance. If we can return to this
real community spirit then the
future of ADRIFT will be rosy
indeed.
Drifters birthdays
March 2004
1 Lyle Brown (19)
3 Black _Mage (13)
4 lizparnell (23)
7 Kerikhan (18); onnodb (19); Pattra (15)
9 Axiom (43)
11 neo (16)
17 Superplonk er (20)
20 EdS (35); shadow_2014 (16)
21 icypenguin (20)
25 FireWyrm (21)
26 rgrassi (34)
27 merryjest (25)
28 chocolatecake888 (29)
31 JodoKast (17)
internal link to Word Web. You can also create word lists,
keep notes, and it also has an ASCII character viewer that
allows you to easily enter characters such as "
/
" into your
text with out the necessity of knowing the ASCII character
code.
One of my favorite features of Prose is the Character
creation Module. If you have ever had trouble with creating
interesting, detailed characters, then you really must give this
feature a try. It has built in name generation, occupations
list, and personality traits galore. Once you get started, it will
take you through a detailed questionnaire that will ask you
specific questions relating to your character. By the time you
are finished, you will have created a well-rounded, detailed
character just begging to be added to your ADRIFT game.
Another one of the great features of Prose is the ability to run
outside programs right from the interface. If you need to, you
can launch the ADRIFT generator, or runner, or any other
program that you like to use when you need it; and without
having to minimize or dig through your computer to find it.
This is one of the features that I would love to see ADRIFT
have.
To sum it up, Prose is a great program for any IF author or
any writer. It is feature packed, easy to use, and definitely
worth the download.
You can download the latest version of Prose and get the full
details from
http://www.hyperscribe.ca/prose.htm
InsideADRIFT Issue 14 March 2004
6
Events Diary
March 1, 2004
Fourth One Hour Comp - entries in
Woodfish is organizing the latest One
Hour Competition.
March 27, 2004
InsideADRIFT Issue 15 out today
The April issue of the ADRIFT newsletter
should be out.
April 18, 2004
InsideADRIFT Spring Competition
2004: entries due in
This is a competition for new ADRIFT
games, there is no limit on th game size
except that it should be less than 400kb
OR if larger it should be hosted
elsewhere and a link supplied. Judging
will tak e place in the 2 week period to 2
May 2004.
May 02, 2004
InsideADRIFT Spring Competition
2004
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. Judging
will tak e place in the 2 week period to 2
May 2004.
May 15, 2004
InsideADRIFT Issue 16 out today
The May/June Issue of InsideAD RIFT
should be out today.
22-19 August 2004
InsideADRIFT Summer Minicomp 2004
(Provisional)
Provisionally there will be a Summer
Minicomp in August. Entries in 22 Aug,
judging ending 29 Aug.
Interview: Hanadorobou questioned by KF
This issue I am interviewing Robert Goodwin, otherwise known to
us as Hanadorobou, author of probably the best known ADRIFT
game "The PK Girl".
Hi, firstly many thanks for agreeing to answer a few
questions for the newsletter. I hope you realise that there
was great disappointment within the community when you
decided to move on, even if we did understand why you did
it.
Q1.
I'll start with the obligatory question of what got you into
interactive fiction in the first place.
Infocom's Zork series was my first exposure to interactive
fiction. I remember Zork II being the first computer game I
ever purchased, and I loved it. On and off I've been an
interactive fiction enthusiast ever since. Interactive fiction is
of course a relatively new medium. I find it interesting to
watch it continue to evolve.
Q2.
Having been looking around I see the importance of your
time in Japan in your life. We have seen the influence of
Japan in the graphics of "The PK Girl", but how do you
reconcile your use of Manga graphics with the rather
unsavoury nature of some of the graphics in that genre.
Not all Manga art is unsavoury, and certainly not any of the
graphics used in "The PK Girl". Thus there is nothing to
reconcile. It was one of my goals for the "The PK Girl" that it
be enjoyable by the widest audience possible. In particular I
wanted younger audiences to be able to play it, and so to
include any objectionable material would have been out of
the question.
Q3.
When "The PK Girl" was released it very much split the
audience with it's theme and graphics. Can you understand
why it made some people rather uncomfortable. As it was a
big game with the graphics, do you feel "The PK Girl" came
out as you wanted, or did you still have to make
compromises.
Yes, I think I can. The very nature of the plot doesn't appeal
to everyone. Also, some players detected a sexist attitude
on the part of a PC that, they rightly guessed, was supposed
to be neutral. Whether or not it was enough to make a
player uncomfortable just depended on how sensitive one
was to that sort of thing. This effect, at least, was
unintended and easy enough to fix in later releases.
InsideADRIFT Issue 14 March 2004
7
The (big) idea by KF
Competitions: do we need them.
As I am guilty of running three
ADRIFT only competitions each
year maybe I shouldn’t be the one
looking at whether they are good
for the community.
I only ask this question because
there has been a noticeable
reduction in the non competition
games being produced. This also
means that the vast majority of
games are on the small side, as
they are aimed at rule limited
events.
As a writer, yes I do try to write
games, I find that I can come up
with game ideas quite easily for
one room games, even if I am as
unsuccessful in converting them
to the finished article.
What seems to happen is that
people throw themselves into a
Minicomp game as a break from
the game they are writing, but
they then find themselves unable
to return to their “proper” game.
I still believe competitions give an
impetus to game writing, but that
they should not be the only games
writing that goes on. When I
started doing the regular
competitions I thought of them as
a target for writing, but also
something for those of us who will
never write something up to the
Annual IF Comp.
What I would advocate is that
competitions should be planned,
not a spur of the moment thing.
Reminds me of an old “let’s put
on a show type musical.
Compromises over technical matters were many. For
instance, I had wanted the player to choose the PC's name
by means of regular command line input at an early point in
the story. In the first release of the game, for technical
reasons, I instead had to use the ADRIFT dialog box that
prompts for a name as soon as the game is loaded, and
wasn't even able to let the player know what the PC's gender
was before (s)he chose a name. There were other issues...it
was frustrating at times. But all in all I'm pleased with the
way the game turned out. Hearing the favorable reactions of
those who enjoyed it has been a source of great satisfaction
for me.
Q4.
Last year was certainly a difficult year within the
community, as we had to be patient while Campbell, quite
reasonably, was otherwise engaged. You decided to make
the break towards the end of the year to concentrate your
efforts elsewhere, was this a very hard decision or did it just
feel like the next logical step.
It was a hard decision. I want very much to see interactive
fiction recognized and enjoyed by a wider audience, and I've
always felt that by promoting easy authoring tools like
ADRIFT we as authors and developers can help play an
important part in making that happen. It was one of the main
reasons I chose ADRIFT as my authoring tool in the first
place. There are of course trade-offs that comes with using
any authoring tool. Coming to see that the trade-offs of
using ADRIFT were not suiting all that I want to accomplish, I
realized that a change was necessary. Though the decision
was for the best, now still a part of me misses using ADRIFT.
Q5.
You did come back to the forum and posted early in
January. Was this just a one off visit, or do you intend to
keep in touch with ADRIFT.
If I said it was a one off visit I'd look right foolish the next time
I post. :) ADRIFT is a special community. Its members are
intelligent, friendly, and on the whole quite well-behaved.
Internet forums where the topics of discussion are of a
creative nature tend to be that way, but even so I haven't
come across another community quite like ADRIFT, a
community which hardly any member can bare to leave
without dropping back in at least occassionally.
Q6.
Having started with a standard question, I will finish with
the normal one. What projects are you currently working
on/plan for the future.
It's been my experience that an author's best chance of
InsideADRIFT Issue 14 March 2004
8
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
Paint!!! (paint!!!.taf 54 Kb) By davidw,
released 19-02-04
An office decorator has to fight against
the odds (including a voodoo witch
doctor, an irate Thunder God with a bad
hangover and a meteor) in order to get
the job done. [one room game] [genre:
comedy]
The Last Hour (thelasthour.zip 21 Kb)
By Roberto Grassi, released 13-02-04
A short IF written for DavidW minicomp.
Probably something unusual... Have fun.
Hammurabi (hammurabi.taf 3 Kb) By
Ron Moore, released 31-01-04
Based on the 1969 Merrill/Ahl BASIC
kingdom simulation game. While the
concept remains the same, the
algorithms are completely modified and
some new wrink les have been added.
The Legend of Zelda: Legacy of a
Princess (legacyprincess.zip 40 Kb)
By Red Jett, released 25-01-04
A game set in the Zelda universe (or
perhaps, the alternate Zelda universe).
Why has the King been kidnapped. Who
wants Link locked up. And what really
happened to Sheik. These and other
questions will be revealed as you journey
through the land of Hyrule. Roughly the
size and difficulty of Wishbringer, will last
about 10-15 hours play time.
Dead Reckoning (deadreckoning.taf
80 Kb) By davidw, released 04-01-04
Drawn back to your childhood town of
Morrow after a distraught call from a
friend, you find yourself in a life-or-death
struggle against an ancient evil intent on
lifting an ages old curse. [Second place
in the ADRIFT End Of Year Comp 2003]
(genre: horror)
seeing a project to completion is to focus on just that project
and not start any others while the current project is still
unfinished. Well, I've been breaking my own rule lately,
which is probably why the WIP I'm most excited about isn't
making very good progress. But I hope to rectify that. This
project (unlike my last) will be very story-driven, with a
serious presentation, and (hopefully) strong characterization.
There is a peculiar element of this story that I am very
excited about, but I don't want to say more about it just now.
Many thanks for taking the time to answer my questions.
Game reviews
Humbug by Campbell Wild/Graham C luley (Reviewed by DavidW)
In Humbug, you play the part of Sidney Widdershins who has
been packed off to his Grandad's house for the school
holidays. You arrive here not knowing much but it soon
becomes clear that everything is not all it should be at
Attervist Manor.
Humbug is a sparsely written game for the most part but still
manages to derive considerable amusement value from the
brief descriptions, although quite a few left me wishing a little
extra effort had been expended to give them more depth.
The kitchen for example reads:
"I am in a long rectangular room with a heavy wooden table.
The walls are covered with pans, dishes and china plates.
There is a shallow doorway to my west labelled "Pantry",
whist an open archway leads southwards back into the
dining room. A kennel sits in one corner of the kitchen. There
is a door to my east. Exits are south and west."
Nothing really wrong with this but the literary soul inside of
me would have liked the description to be a little less
businesslike and a little more interesting. That said, the
descriptions are good for the most part and, while not flashy,
accurately show what is going on.
Like the writer's previous game, Jacaranda Jim, Humbug is a
remake of a Graham Cluley game, although how closely it
mirrors the original I couldn't say as I haven't played it. But,
as with Jacaranda Jim, the writer seems to have done a
InsideADRIFT Issue 14 March 2004
9
From the Demos Page
Character turns back demo
(characterturn.zip 1 Kb) By KF,
released 07-02-04
A demo where you want the characters
back to be turned to you so that you can
stab him.
Seated character demo (seatdemo.zip
1 Kb) By KF, released 31-01-04
A short demo with seated NPC who gets
up after a few turns.
Attack demo (attackdemo.taf 1 Kb) By
KF, released 29-01-04
A quick demo where if you pick up a
weapon attack ing a character kills him.
Without the weapon you are beaten up
and thrown out.
Clock demo (clockdemo.taf 1 Kb) By
KF, released 29-01-04
A short demo of a clock updated every
15 minutes, it keeps track of the days
and also morning or afternoon.
Task Command Functions
(movingobjects.taf 0 Kb) By Mystery
- modified by KF, released 15-01-04
This demo shows how to move dynamic
objects from a specified location
automaticlly. (This isn't the best
descritpion of what this can do- so you
might want to have a look at it for
yourself)
ADRIFT Beginner's Guide (bguide.zip
657 Kb) By Mystery, released 13-01-
04
The ADRIFT Beginner's Guide was
created to help new and beginner users
to quickly and easily get started using
ADRIFT. The guide will teach you how to
create and link rooms, create static and
dynamic objects (including object states
and doors that lock) You will also learn
how to create tasks, events, and
characters. There are also instructions
for creating an ALR (ADRIFT Language
Resource) and using variables.
Door with Sensor (doorwithsensor.taf
1 Kb) By Stewart J. McAbney,
released 10-01-04
This basic example demonstrates how to
make a door that is unopenable and
pretty good job of porting the game to Adrift and I liked this
quite a bit more than most recent Adrift games I've played.
However, enjoyable as it was, it would be nice to play a
completely new game instead of a remake. In a way, this
was a new game for me as I'd never played the original but
for many I imagine it would seem like playing a game they've
already played through before with a slightly difference
interface. But I guess if you're going to port a game to Adrift,
you might as well pick a good one. And Humbug is certainly
that.
Alas, it didn't come without its problems. There were quite a
few missing examinable items quite early in the game - a
long bramble hedge covered in frosty cobwebs couldn't be
examined or interacted with. Nor could the cobwebs.
Likewise a Viking longboat thrusting up through the ice was
unexaminable. As was the ice. Whether these were
remnants from the original games or bugs restricted solely to
this version, it was hard to imagine how they had been
missed in testing. I don't tend to go through games looking
for things that should have been implemented but haven't but
these sort of things tended to jump out at me.
There were some guess-the-verb issues along the way, the
worst culprit being on the Viking longboat where a rope is
hanging from the side of the longboat. All attempts to climb
the rope fail miserably yet "down" works fine. It also killed
me, which I was a tad annoyed about considering there
wasn't any kind of warning that this would happen (or if there
was a warning it must have been a very vague one because
I never saw it).
The puzzles hark back to the text adventures I used to play
back in the 80's and most involve finding an item (the
majority of which just seem to be lying around for the player
to stumble across) and then discovering what needs to be
done with them. Most, fortunately, are relatively
straightforward and an excellent hints system is there for
those who might be struggling to figure out how to defeat the
slug (harder that you might think because obvious
commands like "kill slug" just hit you with the default Adrift
response of "Now that isn't very nice". Maybe not nice but it
would have been easier than defeating it the way you have
to in the game. And also not nice that a new response wasn't
programmed for what was, in my opinion, the obvious action
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10
unlockable, and only responds to a
specific item in the player's inventory. In
this case, a keycard.
Failed game intros
A Hard Night in Byzantium by Eric
Mayer
I have a failed intro. I guess it is
failed, since it is from 2001 so it isn’t
looking like its going to be finished
anytime soon:
Rough hands drag you out of a
comfortable sleep. Before you realize it
isn't a nightmare you're being dragged
through the halls of the Great
Palace. You're still trying to focus your
eyes when the guards toss you
through the doorway of Emperor
Justinian's reception hall. You're afraid
you're in for --
A HARD NIGHT IN BYZANTIUM
Short, but it doesn’t say much. That ’s
because I had so much backstory
I decided to do an “interactive intro” in
addition to the actual intro.
Seven turns in which various things
could happen depending on what the
player tried to do. Of course, that meant
the intro alone was longer
than most of my games. Oops.
It goes on:
You smack down hard on the cold floor
and slide. When you come to a stop
you are aware of the torchlight playing
across green marble walls which
soar up toward a vaulted roof. The far
reaches of the enormous hall,
including the exit to the south, recede
into shadows.
During the day, filled with clamorous and
garishly robed courtiers, the
vast room presents a dazzling spectacle
of imperial power. At this hour
of the night it is just a cavernous space
to take at such time.) Explore the numerous locations (it
boasts a daunting 99 of which I've reached perhaps 30) and
you'll come across a Viking ship buried in the ice, complete
with an uncommunicative Viking called Sven.
Uncommunicative in the sense that conversation is handled
in the standard Adrift format of "ask [character] about
[subject]" and it's often difficult to know in these
circumstances just what subjects certain characters need
asking about.
In conclusion, Humbug is a wry and witty game, at least the
parts I've reached so far, and while a new game would have
been more welcome it's nevertheless well worth playing.
Logic: 7 out of 10
Little made sense here, although Humbug isn't intended as a
sensible game.
Problems: 6 out of 10 (10 = no problems)
Guess the verb struck in quite a few places (always a bad
sign) as well as there being quite a few instances of items
not being examinable. Maybe these were flaws in the original
game but, if so, it would have been nice if they had been
fixed in this remake.
Story: 6 out of 10
Very little background to speak of but once things get
underway you probably won't notice. And the introduction,
while short, does a good job of setting the scene.
Characters: 3 out of 10
I've encountered several so far but been unable to strike up
a conversation with any of them. They're amusingly
described yet I felt a little more conversation (or any
conversation) would have been nice.
Writing: 6 out of 10
Above average throughout, though lengthier and less formal
descriptions could have improved the game.
Game: 7 out of 10
A worthy remake.
Overall: 35 out of 60
InsideADRIFT Issue 14 March 2004
11
like an enormous sarcophagus.
Emerging from the shadows, the
Emperor Justinian pads toward you,
soundless as an apparition.
Then you can look around and try to do
this or that, and different
things can happen, but all leading up to
you being tossed out into the
night, where the real game starts. I
didn’t realize just how long it
was until I copied the stuff out of some
broken files to mak e one
possible route through to send to you.
Nothing like a 1000 word intro
to make you realize you’ve bitten off
more than you can chew, at least
in this lifetime. No wonder I got
discouraged.
If you have an intro or just an idea
you think Drifters might enjoy, why
not send it in to InsideADRIFT.
Dead Reckoning by David Whyld (Reviewed by Eric Mayer)
A glance at any list of recent If awards shows there's a
school of thought that the highest purpose of interactive
fiction is to stretch the limits of the genre, turn it on it's head,
confound players' expectations. That's not the school I
graduated from. I generally prefer If that's about something
other than If. Games that tell stories rather than propound
literary theories.
David Whyld's Dead Reckoning tells a darn good story.
That's about it...and that's plenty.
In brief, you have traveled to a village to help a friend whose
communications have led you to believe he is in some sort of
distress.Night is coming on. The place seems eerily
deserted. Gradually you learn "The Horrible Truth." I like
stories in which there's a Horrible Truth to uncover,
especially when there's some originality to the final
revelation.
David's a good storyteller. His style is efficient. The words
are the sort that don't call attention to themselves, they just
go quietly about their job, in this case creating a consistently
spooky atmosphere. In If, where a character often spends
much time alone, communing only with the surroundings, the
setting is often the most important character. This game
dripped with darkness and foreboding.
There are enough puzzles to give the story a game feeling,
and to involve the player, but they are generally easy and
entirely natural. You need only to do what you would likely do
under the circumstances. This helps to keep the plot moving.
In addition, Davidw employs cut scenes brilliantly to keep
shoving the player forward. For me the game had almost
perfect pacing. Something very difficult to achieve.
Consider this more a recommendation than a review. Dead
Reckoning is a terrific addition to the fairly small list of nicely
realized If horror stories. I'm always ready for one of those.
The Last Hour by Robert Grassi (Reviewer Eric Mayer)
The last hour is an effectively disturbing vignette. It is also
difficult to discuss without spoilers. You may want to take a
few minutes to play it before continuing.
You begin the game looking to escape a nearly bare prison
cell. Nothing unusual there. What's different is the character
you are asked to play. A foul mouthed white man who is
accused of taking part in the murder of a black man. You
InsideADRIFT Issue 14 March 2004
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know you are innocent. Of course, you are not the monster
they say you are. Your memories of the incident are
arguably ambiguous. You were drinking. Sometimes an
animal being hunted in the night really is just an animal.. But
how to prove it. How to escape.
Before long you have the opportunity to converse with a
number of characters who appear briefly. Your lawyer, for
instance, who shares your conviction in your innocence.
These visitors fill in the whole horrific story. The cell is
claustrophobic and, it would seem, maddeningly devoid of
useful objects. Realistic, in other words. Time passes. Day
gives way to darkness. Is the puzzle of proving your
innocence truly unsolvable.
There are problems with "message" games. For one, they
tend to go in for overkill. I recall a game about spousal abuse
from the If Comp a few years ago. From that same Comp I
remember a game that displayed another problem...the
author insisted he wanted to teach a lesson about illicit sex
(or some such) but his relish for the subject was so
transparent in his writing he defeated his supposed purpose.
Robert Grassi avoids those problems by allowing his
protagonist to stay true to himself, not forcing him to mouth
anything out of character for the benefit of the author's
lesson, and also by the brevity of the game. Indeed the
player does not need to be beat over the head for very long
to get the point.
This brevity also makes it possible for players like me, who
prefer sympathetic characters, to experience the whole game
rather than throw it aside after a half hour, as I did Adam
Cadre's "Varicella" -- disgusted and fed up with having to act
out the schemes of a murderous interior design snob.
A note. It is apparent that Robert Grassi's native language is
not English, although his English is perfectly fine by most
standards. However, in this game, I found that to be helpful.
His foul mouthed characters are just that. Nothing more.
They don't speak cleverly. If anything it makes their speech
more true to life. Uglier.
All in all The Last Hour is an ugly little game that's well worth
playing.
InsideADRIFT Issue 14 March 2004
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Reference
Moving right along this issues section from the manual is the
complete piece on events. Generally the big thing about events is
that they are used to add a bit of depth to games. They can be
used to trigger things that make it look like the player isn’t the only
intelligence in the game.
Manual pages 25: Events
Although most of what happens in a game is directly related
to what the player does, you may want certain things to
happen completely independently of the player. To do this,
you will need to create events.
To add an event, either select Add > Event from the menus,
or click on the icon.
This will bring up the Add an event dialog box.
Timings
Selecting Event Timings brings up the following window:
You should name the event when you create it. This is not
used by anything apart from to reference the event in
ADRIFT Generator.
There are three options for when you want the event to start.
It can either start as soon as the adventure starts, it can start
after a certain number of turns, or it can start once a task has
been completed. If you want it to start after a certain number
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of turns, you must say how many turns to wait. The event will
start at a random time between the two numbers you specify.
If you want it to start after an exact number of turns, then you
should set both numbers to be the same. The third option is
to have the event start once a specific task has been
completed. If for any reason this task is cleared (by a task or
another event) then the current event will terminate if still
running.
You also need to specify how long the event should last.
Again, there are two numbers, and the event will last a
random time between these two numbers. If you want it to
last an exact number of turns, set both numbers to the same
value.
There are two more options. You can set the event to restart
as soon as it finishes.
This really depends on the type of event you are creating. If
you have selected for the event to start after a certain
number of turns, then you can get the event to restart after
this same delay, once it has finished. If neither of these
checkboxes are selected, the event will only run once.
All events will run, regardless of where the Player currently
is, but you may only want the descriptions to display in
certain places, e.g. if the event was rain starting and
stopping, you would only want the descriptions to apply to
outside locations.
Descriptions
Selecting the Description tab brings up the following window:
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All the descriptions here will only display if you are in one of
the rooms selected in the list on the timings page.
When the event starts, you will probably want to say
something to announce the fact.
If the event was rain, you could put in What to display on
event start: "It starts to rain." This will always be displayed if
you are in the selected room(s).
In the box What to display during event if player "looks", this
message is appended to the room description. In the above
example, you would want to add something such as "It is
raining."
You can add up to two extra messages that appear when the
event is ending. You specify how many turns from the end of
the event the message should appear, and set your
message. In the same example, you might want Display this
3 turns from event finish: "The rain eases off slightly.",
Display this 1 turns from event finish: "The rain has almost
ceased." This will also always display if in the correct
room(s). Usually, you will want a message displayed when
the event finishes. In this example, it might be something like
"The rain stops." Again, this will always display if the Player
is in the selected room(s).
Advanced
Clicking on the Advanced tab brings up the following window:
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You may want to pause and resume an event, for example, if
your event was the Player running out of air when they were
underwater, you could pause the event if they find an air
supply, then resume it when the supply runs out. This can
also be used to permanently stop a recurring event if a
particular task has been completed, by just setting the
paused task only.
You may want to move objects about when the event starts
of finishes. You can move one object when the event starts
and two when it finishes. You also have the added flexibility
of being able to move static objects, so if you want a task to
move a static object, you can use an event to start as soon
as the task is complete, which then moves the object.
You may also want to execute another task when the event
finishes. This could be for many reasons, but allows you to
use the power of tasks spontaneously. An example could be
a gust of wind, which blows the Player from one room to
another.
The gust of wind could be a random event, but the task the
event runs would move the Player or other objects etc.
When the task is executed, it executes the exact task
selected in the list, even if there are more than one with the
same command. This is a change from previous versions
where they were executed as though the player typed the
command. If there are restrictions on the task are not met
however, the task will not run. If you want to create a form of
IF-THEN-ELSE, you will have to create the task as a
“master” task.
Get this task to execute a number of other tasks, each sub-
task with their own restrictions. Any task that passes the
restrictions will execute.
NB. If the event undoes a particular task, and that task
started another event, the first event will be stopped.
© 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
InsideADRIFT Issue 14 March 2004
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IF only by Mystery
© 2004 Edited by KF.
Please send any contributions or suggestions to kf@kfadrift.org.uk.