InsideADRIFT ISSN 1743-0577
1
Issue 20 November/December 2004
Contents
News and announcements.
1. Main news
(New publication
schedule for InsideADRIFT; Reviews
Exchange Issue 1 out now.)
1. Competition news
(
Game of the Year Competition; 3
Hour Game Competition; 2004 IF
Comp
)
3. Forum news (
Drifter of the
Month Award; writing challenges
)
Regular features
2. Editorial
3. Drifters birthdays
4. Events diary
4. Drifters Toolbox: E107;
Hammerhead Rhythm Station
reviewed by Mystery
5. ADRIFT recent releases
8. InsideADRIFT merchandise
Articles
5.
The (big) idea by KF
:
Pauses are
good and bad
!
6
. Audio in adventures by Nickydude
Reviews
7. Reviews Exchange Issue 1
summarised by DavidW
Reference
7. Manual: References
Issue: 20 (Nov/Dec 04)
Issue 21 due out 29 Jan 04
News and announcements
New publication schedule for InsideADRIFT
From now on the newsletter will be published six times a year instead
of nine. I think, as well as freeing a bit of my time, it also is more
sensible given the community, we can’t really pretend there is too much
going on.
Just when everything was working
Mid-November has proved a tricky time with the ADRIFT website going
off line. Initially on the 17
th
through to 18
th
it was down due to what
Campbell reported as a DSL modem problem, which was hopefully
fixed. Unfortunately it went down again on the 19
th
and having returned
went down a couple of days later.
It is now up and seemingly working well, everyone cross your fingers
that it is still working by the time I put this up.
Reviews Exchange Issue 1 out now
David Whyld has released the first all reviews publication for ADRIFT.
This was born out of a forum thread that was looking to improve the
feedback on games to the author.
What was decided that people would make a commitment to review
other people’s games, and in return be guaranteed some reviews for
their output. The first issue contained 8 reviews and ran to over 40
pages.
You can take a look at the first issue on David’s ShadowVault site at
http://www.shadowvault.net/rex.htm
. David has written a summary for
the newsletter which you can find on page 6.
InsideADRIFT Issue 19 November/December 2004
2
Editorial
Well, I am still here editing
the newsletter, although with
a reduced schedule.
My thanks to those who have
contributed to this issue,
perhaps others will be inspired
to help with the next issue
due out at the end of January.
KF
Contact
Send any suggestions,
requests or comments about
the newsletter to:
editor@insideadrift.org.uk
Find the newsletter at:
http://www.insideadrift.org.uk/
InsideADRIFT merchandise
You can now purchase an
exciting InsideADRIFT mug, if
you so desire. It has been
updated with the new logo.
The store is really not fully
operational, if you are
interested look at
www.cafepress.com/insideadrift
More details can be found on
page 8.
Competition news roundup
InsideADRIFT Game of the Year Competition 2004
Just a reminder that you can still enter a new game for the Game of the
Year Competition, as well as any other game released this year.
The rules can be found at
http://www.insideadrift.org.uk/comps_win_04
Three-Hour Competition games released for judging
The following games have been entered in the competition run by
Woodfish:
"We are coming to get you! " by Richard Otter
"Veteran Experience" by Robert Rafgon
"The Murder of Jack Morely" by Mystery
"Buried Alive" by David Whyld
"Snakes and Ladders" by Ken Franklin
"Zombies are Cool, but Not so Cool when they're Eating your Head" by
Mel S
Judging runs until Tuesday 7
th
December, and from what I have seen
so far they are a very varied set of games. They are available to
download from the main ADRIFT site or from the newsletter site.
Wider IF community events
2004 Interactive Fiction Competition
The main IF event of the year ended in mid-November and the results
were announced.
Vote Summary
Place Game Avg.
1Luminous Horizon 7.85 94 (GLULX)
2 Blue Chairs 7.39 114 (Z-Code)
3 All Things Devours 7.22 104 (Z-Code)
4 Sting of the Wasp 7.12 98 (Z-Code)
5 Square Circle 7.07 89 (TADS 3)
6 The Orion Agenda 7.01 108 (Z-Code)
7 Mingsheng 6.67 99 (Z-Code)
8 Splashdown 6.62 101 (Z-Code)
9 Gamlet 6.55 101 (Z-Code)
10 Trading Punches 6.32 69 (HUGO)
The only ADRIFT entry —A Day In The Life Of A Super Hero“, by david
whyld was 23
rd
out of 36 entries judged. This did seem a rather
disappointing return for his efforts.
InsideADRIFT Issue 19 November/December 2004
3
Drifters birthdays
December
3 dove (22)
6 Samo (16) reelyor (58)
10 szupie (13)
14 Brighterskyte (24)
17 Radhagrrl (33)
20 Sharkie (31)
21 Tech (34) LapTop Tech (34)
23 Massassi (28)
24 CrypticWizard (33)
25 Ravenous (17) Foul Old Man
(101)
28 Scurvy Sockpuppet (27)
29 Hanadorobou (30) JemyM (27)
30 CyberNinja (12)
January
6 rotter (43)
10 Mut (20) Kokaku (20)
11 Ketigid (24)
13 Captain Obvious (22)
14 Sockets (4) Rashstash (17)
15 Marno (51) Spellcaster73au
(32)
27 Lancer Sykera (18)
28 ds490 (17) Soothsayer (19) Elf
Ranger (28)
30 Andye (20)
Spring Thing 2005
The competitions rules are now posted up and everything is set for take
off.
There has been a rule change with the upper limit on the number of
entries that will be accepted being removed.
Forum news
Yet another bust up on the Forum, it is a shame that Mystery has felt the
need to resign as a moderator, but I understand why she did.
There are times when I have to question the motives of certain drifters
who seem intent on spoiling the atmosphere.
Drifter of the Month Award
After a discussion between the forum moderators, it was decided that it
would encourage positive contributions to the forum to have an award
for the best contribution each month. At least three drifters will be put
forward for a poll on the forum to decide the winner for that month, with
the winner announced and a new contest beginning on the 1st of the
next month.
Following the initial award, where the nominations came from the
moderators only, forum members can send a message to one of the
mods when they see a contribution they think merits nomination.
The winner of the first award for October was Nickydude for the
monthly description writing challenge. The challenge was well received
with many taking part and voting on the winner. Mystery and Cannibal
won the first monthly contest jointly.
Writing challenges
We have had some fun stuff going on in the writing discussions board.
People seem to have enjoyed the chance to think about the use of
words.
I put up a picture for Drifters to suggest a caption to, the limerick
competition had a few more entries.
Of course there was also this months writing challenge The setting was
a school gym, and the entries had to include: Seats, basketball, a pair
of cheerleader pom-poms, a puddle of liquid, a large crash-mat, a
brown paper bag. The winner will be decided by a poll on the forum.
InsideADRIFT Issue 19 November/December 2004
4
Events Diary
November 27, 2004
InsideADRIFT 20 due out
The November/December issue
of the ADRIFT newsletter should
be available today.
December 19, 2004
InsideADRIFT Game of the Year
Competition 2004
Entries for the Game of the Year
(formerly "End of Year")
Competition must be in by
1500hrs GMT today. Judging will
take place over the next two
weeks.
This event is open to any ADRIFT
games released during 2004 as
well as any newly written games.
Events in 2005
January 02, 2005 InsideADRIFT
Game of the Year Competition
2004
Judging ends, all marks in by
1500hrs GMT today. Result to be
announced on the ADRIFT Forum
as soon as possible after that.
January 08, 2005 InsideADRIFT
Issue 22 due out
The January/February 2005 issue
of the ADRIFT newsletter should
be available today
March 15, 2005 Spring Thing
2005 closing date for intents
This is the last day for making a
statement of intent to enter the
Spring Thing
March 31, 2005 Spring Thing
2005 closing date for entries
All entries must be in by this date.
The judging period will be
announced when entries are
released (will allow about one
week for every three entries)
Drifters toolbox
E107 reviewed by KF
I have been completely reworking my websites,
KF ADRIFT on the Web
and
InsideADRIFT
, using a content management system called e107.
To be able to use this you need some web space with mySQL and PHP
on it. MySQL is a freeware database system that is very powerful and
PHP is a web programming language that accesses the database,
which is used to store all of the information.
The download is pretty small at 1.5Mb, bear in mind this includes a
complete website system with forum, chatbox, private messenger, a
selection of themes and much more. This has to be unzipped and
loaded to your site, full configuration is pretty straightforward if you are
familiar with using an ftp program to manage your website. Once the
files are loaded you simply open the config file and it will ask you your
mySQL database details and set things up, soon after this the plain site
is there for you to administer.
While I would never say things are simple with this sort of setup, I found
it reasonably straightforward to have something useable in under half a
day. Adding content is pretty simple though, and drifters will recognise
the markup codes used from the forum.
If you want more from your site you can go to the downloads link on
the
main e107 website
and choose the
plugins link
. If you register here you
can download a huge amount of modules to add to your site, on the KF
ADRIFT site I have a few Flash games selectable from a menu. The
new InsideADRIFT newsletter subscription management system is
another plugin that I downloaded. If you understand PHP you can write
your own plugins and share them with the e107 community.
The important thing about using e107 is that it is community software
and registered users can have the option of contributing, with an
administrator able to give the ability to edit things to others to spread
the load.
InsideADRIFT Issue 19 November/December 2004
5
The (big) idea by KF
Pauses are good and bad
What I am talking about here are
the places where the author adds
in pauses to their games.
From what I have read, most of
us seem to hate to many uses of
pauses in a game, especially
those games where the text
appears bit by bit. Here the
author has decided to break up
the display with set periods of
time.
The other use of pauses is to
allow the user to read the text in
chunks before pressing a k ey to
move on. Here I think that most
people are pro, but only in very
limited circumstances. Too many
“Press any key to continue”
prompts can be an annoyance,
but used well they are an aid to
understanding.
The correct use is where there is
a large block of text and you want
to specify where it should be
broken. Most of us find that the
default ADRIFT action is not ideal
as the split isn’t usually at the end
of a paragraph. Placing a break
every few paragraphs allows you
to mak e sure you get something
that better fits your hopes for the
game.
Whatever we are looking for can
only ever be a bodge as we do
not know how the player has their
version of runner set up. Do they
have it in full screen. What
resolution is their screen. What
font are they using and in what
size. As they can overrule what
the author set it is impossible to
be certain and you can only have
a go at what you think work s best.
Hammerhead Rhythm Station reviewed by Mystery
So, you want to add some interesting music to your text
adventures, but don’t have a musical bone in your body. There
are many commercial, shareware, and freeware programs
available to get you started. In this issue of Inside ADRIFT, we
are featuring the Hammerhead Rhythm Station.
Hammerhead Rhythm Station is freeware, developed by Bram
Bos in 1997. This program, to keep it short, is basically a drum
machine. It has an extremely easy to learn user interface, though
it may look intimidating at first. And best of all, no musical talent
is required. Within seconds you can create fantastic sounding
rhythm loops to use as background, sound effects, or suspense
music to your adventures.
You can download it from
http://www.threechords.com/hammerhead/download.shtml It
installs quickly and easily, and just to show you how easy it is to
operate, I’ll tell you how to make your first rhythm loop. Once you
install Hammerhead Rhythm Station, launch the program by
clicking on the hammer icon that should now be on your desktop.
Now, you see those blue and yellow buttons in the middle. Click
on all of the yellow ones. They should have a little white line lit
up, showing that those are active. Now, click the play button.
You created a your first loop, in just a couple of seconds. Now,
lets add a little more sound. Click on the Channel 2 button, below
the row of buttons in the middle. You’ll notice that no buttons are
lit up anymore. Below the Channel 2 button, there is a dropdown
box. Click on it and scroll down, highlighting 808 snare. Now
click on the centre blue buttons all the way across. You can stop
the loop from playing by hitting the play button again. To save
your first music loop as a .wav file, simply select File-Stream to
Disk. Select the options you want, and you now have a simple
rhythm file you and load up in the ADRIFT Generator. Make sure
you check the box in the generator to loop the sound file.
This is a very fun, and addictive freeware program. If you have
kids, even smaller ones, this a great program for them to play
with. There are also several User Bank Hubs that you can
download to add to your music as well.
InsideADRIFT Issue 19 November/December 2004
6
ADRIFT recent
releases
I hope this brief listing helps
drifters spot anything they
have previously missed. In the
end it is only of any use if
something is produced to list.
Where are my keys. v1.03
(keys.zip 40 Kb) By rotter,
released 10-10-04
After a drunken night in with your
friend Mark, you now seem to
have lost your car keys. You must
now begin an epic journey to
retrieve your keys so you can
once again return home to your
loving wife. Well actually your
mother-in-law is coming to stay
and you need to get home to
decorate the back bedroom
before your wife k ills you.
Demos
Dope Street (dopestreet.taf 10
Kb) By Sean Wheeler, released
08-11-04
This game is a demo of the seedy
underworld of the inner city. This
demo shows off some of what the
full version will have. **Features
of the full version** A invisible
money system which you have in
the demo version. You will be
able to anything you want. Talk to
any one you want. Be able to hire
your own thugs. Will take place in
3 large sections of the city.
Random Scattering
(randomscattering.taf 1 Kb) By
Daniel Hiebert, released 26-10-
04
This demo shows how you can
randomly distribute what objects
the player is carrying to a random
room in a room group.
Audio in Adventures by Nickydude
Pick your favourite game, any type of game, of any genre (Doom3. Warcraft
III. Grand Theft Auto. Half-Life.), not just adventures , now turn down the
sound and play it... it just doesn't play the same does it. So why should it be
different with text adventure games.
"Eh. Aren't text adventures by their very nature just text."
Ordinarily yes, but ADRIFT allows you to add images and sound to your
adventure, lifting it from a simple text adventure editor into a multimedia text
adventure so why should your adventure be just text and not give something
more to the player.
The use of sound in an ADRIFT game is divided; on one hand it spoils your
imagination when reading descriptions, you don't want some cheesy tune
spoiling the atmosphere by constantly droning on plus it can lengthen the file
size considerably which is not good news for those on dial-up; on the other,
sound enhances the adventure by providing an atmospheric tune that plays on
your imagination, spot effects can also provide extra atmosphere.
So what side am I on. The side of audio in adventures, spot effects but not
tunes. Having a continuous tune throughout the adventure will spoil everything
in my opinion, there's no sense of environment change; village, forest,
mountain, caves, catacombs, all will have the same tune playing throughout
and what type of tune should it be. happy., spook y., majestic., climactic.
Creating spot effects, on the other hand, can really bring it to life, take the
following location description:
“You shelter from the torrential rain in the porch. It seems like this porch
has been in disrepair for some time, rotten planks, boards missing, moss
everywhere, whoever lives here obviously doesn't expect visitors or
doesn't have the time for repairs. Eyeing the door in front of you the
north, you notice it is large and foreboding, made of solid oak with
intricate carvings, a bit different from the unrepaired porch. A large
brass knocker in the shape of a dragon's head holding a ring stares at
you, daring you to grasp it. What looks like a frayed bell-pull dangles to
one side.”
What spot effects do you think would fit here. Let's have a look: "You shelter
from the torrential rain", the constant drone of rain with the occasional
distant thunder; "A large brass knocker in the shape of a dragon's head
holding a ring stares at you.." perhaps when the player uses the knock er
you could have a few heavy, echoed thumps; "What looks like a frayed bell-
pull dangles to one side.", the tinkly-clang if the bell-pull is pulled.
As you can see, spot effects certainly do enhance a player's experience if
used correctly and I would recommend them at least in one adventure just to
see the difference.
I also plan to create the above example with the sound effects so people
can judge for themselves.
InsideADRIFT Issue 19 November/December 2004
7
Tracking Device 2
(trackingdevice2.taf 0 Kb) By
Daniel Hiebert, released 11-10-
04
This is another extension of the
thread started by Mystery and the
method discussed by DavidW. A
second NPC is moved via tasks
each turn to track the movements
of another NPC.
Location & Listen (location.zip
1 Kb) By Daniel Hiebert,
released 11-10-04
This is an extension of the demo
from Mystery about placing a
tracking device on a robot.
However, in this case, you can
know exactly where the player
character is each turn without
using the visible invisible method.
There is no documentation, so
contact Tech on the forum if you
have questions.
Game reviews
Reviews Exchange - Issue 1. A summary from Davidw
It’s no big secret that, as far as reviews are concerned, the ADRIFT
community is a little on the lacking side. There's a tremendous amount
of encouragement for people to go ahead and write a game but once
said game is done, actually finding anyone willing to review the thing
and tell you what it’s like is a bit harder than finding the proverbial
needle in the proverbial haystack.
Then along came Woodfish who suggested the idea of a reviews
exchange, with people each agreeing to review other people’s games.
The idea held quite a lot of appeal for me and Woody himself didn’t
seem overly eager to organise it himself (I think his comments on the
subject, had I bothered asking him, which I didn’t, might have been
something like “ye gods, no! A man’d have to be mad to take on
something like that! Mad, I tell ya! Ma-aaaaaaaaaaaaaaddddd!”) So
who stepped forward and took on the mad role when anyone with
common sense would have been running for the hills.
Well…
Thus the Reviews Exchange was born. I wasn’t sure what the first issue
would be like – I had vague ideas of it either being a part of the
Newsletter (which wasn’t currently being published (hey, I'm full of good
ideas)) or perhaps part of the forum or banged on my website
somewhere. Or, more than likely, quietly forgotten. In the end it became
a PDF document and the reviews I wrote – Mel S’ “Murder In Great
Falls”, Richard Otter’s “Where Are My Keys.” and Woodfish’s
compendium of games with the inspired title “The Woodfish
Compendium” – eventually making their way onto the forum.
“I wasn’t sure what the first issue would be like” – hmm… Actually, I
wasn’t even sure there would *be* a first issue when I started doing it.
Knowing that getting blood out of a stone is quite a bit easier than
getting the average DRIFTer to write a review, I had visions that the first
issue would, assuming it even became a first issue, be about three
pages long, contain one piffling review and probably finish with a long
and somewhat embarrassing rant over how few people write reviews
after they’ve promised they'd write a review and what a tragedy it is to
have all these games out there that can be reviewed yet people don’t
seem to want to review them and so what's the point of having a
Reviews Exchange which is about reviewing games if people don’t
want to write reviews even after they’ve promised they would write
reviews…
Fortunately I managed to avoid the long and embarrassing rant.
InsideADRIFT Issue 19 November/December 2004
8
InsideADRIFT
Merchandise
Although this is not intended
as a money spinning idea,
more a way to create items for
me, these items are available
for the discerning drifter to
purchase.
The mug, priced at $11.39,
has a crisp copy of the new
magazine logo. It is large
enough for those beverages
needed to keep you going
through long creative
sessions.
Costing $17.39, the baseball
jersey comes in red/.blue/black
and white.
Also available from
www.cafepress.com/insideadrift
are:
sweatshirt $21.99; mousepad
$10.99; teddy bear $13.49;
sticker $2.49.
A review showed up in my e-mail. An honest-to-God review. And then,
about five minutes later, another one showed up. (As it happened they
probably showed up at pretty much the same time but I think I was in
such shock over actually having received a review that it was five
minutes before I got around to checking for any others.) After that, they
flew in at the rate of, oh, about one every week or so. In the end there
were no less than thirteen reviews, a decent amount by any standards
and quite a few more than I ever expected.
There was quite a variety of reviews as well. I reviewed an adult game
– “Mount Voluptuous” – which I didn’t like a whole lot despite the
writer’s almost God-like status in the AIF community. Greybear wrote a
review of my game “Shards Of Memory” which served to highlight that I
really ought to have been a beta-testing mood at the time I wrote it.
Myself and Cannibal tackled Mel S’ “Murder In Great Falls” which was a
fairly decent game let down by some guess some verb problems and
lack of any kind of logic. Mel S actually faired quite well with three
reviews as Woodfish (freed from the joys of organising the Exchange
but willing to contribute a review) wrote one of “The Merry Murders”, a
jolly game about lots of people getting brutally murdered at a party.
There was even a review of my less-than-15KB game “Neighbours
From Hell” which is one game I've been meaning to rewrite for a while
now. Richard Otter’s “Where Are My Keys.” came under the spotlight
and fared better than it did during its recent (and unfair IMHO) mauling
on the forum. Bugs. Yes. But not so many as to make the game
unplayable. And then finally there were the six games in “The Woodfish
Compendium”, a mixed bag with a few real gems – “Topaz” in
particular” – and some downright strange efforts – “Forum” and “Forum
2” take a bow. All in all, a good first issue. The first, fingers crossed, of
many.
A big thank you to everyone who contributed and here's hoping the
second issue is even more successful than the first!
Reference
This time we are looking at the manual section that covers what are
called references. They can be thought of as system variables defined
during the command parsing phase.
References
What are References
There are certain circumstances where in order to do what you’re
trying to do you would need to add potentially hundreds of tasks.
More often than not, you can reduce the number of tasks required
by using References. References are like wildcards, which return
information about what was typed on the command line.
InsideADRIFT Issue 19 November/December 2004
9
References are supported for the following:
• Objects
• Characters
• Numbers
• Text
How to use them
To use a reference, you have to embed one of the system
variables into your task command. This will either be %object%
for referenced objects, %character% for referenced characters, or
%number% for any referenced number. This must then pattern
match on the player’s command to assign the reference.
An object example
You drop %theobject%.
That probably wasn’t very clear – references are fairly
complicated to understand, but once you understand them they
are fairly simple to use. Let’s say for example that you want to
create a task such that whenever you drop an object in a
particular room, it drops down a hole and disappears.
You would create a task with the command:
drop * %object%
This works in the same way as normal task commands, except
instead of requiring the player to type “drop %object%”, it will
search through all object names to see if they referred to a
specific object. The Referenced Object is then set to the object
mentioned.
So say you have an object called “a large” “ball” and the player
types “drop ball”, then Referenced Object is set to “ball”, and the
task would be executed (assuming it passes its restrictions). You
can use this Referenced Object in the task restrictions and
actions in the same way as any other object – instead of requiring
a specific object, simply select Referenced Object.
So for the example above you would have as a restriction:
Referenced Object must be held by Player
If this is true, the task will execute. You would then want as an
action:
Move Referenced Object to Hidden
As a message in your text, you can use the system variables
%object% or %theobject% for example:
You drop %theobject%. Unfortunately it falls down a large hole
InsideADRIFT Issue 19 November/December 2004
10
and disappears.
This would display:
You drop the large ball. Unfortunately it falls down a large hole
and disappears.
Characters work in much the same way as objects above. You
can also use a very similar method for numbers.
A numeric example
Let’s say you want to create a dial, which you can set between 1
and 10. You might set up a task such as:
turn * dial to %number%
As soon as a task command pattern matches against this, for
example the player types “turn the dial to 5”, then the Referenced
Number is set to the value the player typed in. You can use this in
your restrictions, so you could require that Referenced Number
must be greater than or equal to 1, AND Referenced Number
must be less than or equal to 10. If these restrictions pass, you
could set a variable such as %dialvalue% to Referenced Number.
NB. You can only use a single reference of the same type per
task command, so for example you couldn’t have a command
“put %object% on %object%”.
If you needed to create tasks such as these, you’d have to
replace one reference for the specific objects.
Referenced Text
Referenced Text works in much the same way as variables. In
your task command, you must specify the %text% keyword. This
will be pattern matched against the input text, and assigned if it
matches.
An example command might be something like so:
say %text%
This would match anything typed on the command line beginning
with ‘say ‘. If the player typed “say oranges”, then Referenced
Text would be assigned to the word ‘oranges’.
This can be useful in a number of situations, particularly things
like saying passwords, or when being asked questions. You could
for example have a character ask where the player is from. You
could take this response and assign it to a text variable, then
reuse the information later on in the game in a conversation.
In addition to this, if %text% is not matched in a task command,
Referenced Text always gets assigned with the entire command
InsideADRIFT Issue 19 November/December 2004
11
the player typed. This can be then be used for giving default error
responses. For example, in the Message when command not
understood (see Options section) you could have the response:
I don’t understand what “%text%” means.
© 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
© 2004 Edited by KF.
Please send any contributions or suggestions to
kf@kfadrift.org.uk
.