InsideADRIFT ISSN 1743-0577
1
Issue 24 July/August 2005
Contents
News and announcements.
1. Main news
(
ADRIFT site gets
new server; Reviews Exchange
Issue 5 out now)
1. Competition news
(
ADRIFT Intro Comp 2005 results;
2005 IF Comp launched
)
3. Forum news (
Forgotten Genres;
Working from a walkthrough; How
much would you pay.
)
Regular features
2. Editorial
3. Drifters birthdays
4. Events diary
3. Drifters Toolbox: Nothing this issue
5. ADRIFT recent releases
7. InsideADRIFT merchandise
3. Failed intros Food Glorious Mud
by Jason Guest:
Articles
5. The Lair of the Vampire by
David Whyld (Reviewed by TDS)
8. Drifters think about . how
they will be writing in the future
10. A newbie's perspective on
ADRIFT by Stefan Donati
(Shuarian)
8. Easy, easy. by Eric Mayer
Reference
15. Manual:
Task Command
Functions
Issue: 24 (Jul/Aug 05)
Issue 25 due out 26 September 05
News and announcements
ADRIFT site gets new server
Campbell Wild has installed a much more powerful web server for the
ADRIFT site, including the forum
New server specification
Dual 2.8GHz Xeon processors
2Gb RAM
4 x 160Gb Hard drives, RAID 0+1 Array giving 320Gb space
1 x 300Gb Hard drive for backups
Fortunately Campbell was able to make the transfer work very smoothly
and things do seem to be better. The result is that things whiz along
much more smoothly.
Reviews Exchange Issue 5 out now
Issue five has been released by David Whyld and is available from:
http://www.shadowvault.net/rex.htm
. This issue contains a massive 32
reviews, including many for the IntroComp games, and runs to a printer
straining 111 pages of PDF.
This months reviews are:
The Adventure Of Space Boy! by David Parish review by David Whyld
Escape To Freedom by Richard Otter review by David Whyld
The Final Question by David Whyld review by C. Henshaw
The Final Question by David Whyld review by Stefan Donati (Shuarian)
The Fire Tower by Jacqueline A. Lott review by David Whyld
Future Boy by Kent Tessman review by David Whyld
Halloween Hijinks by David Whyld review by Robert Rafgon
In The Claws Of Clueless Bob by David Whyld review by Robert Rafgon
In The Claws Of Clueless Bob by David Whyld review by Stefan Donati
(Shuarian)
Laurens Awakening by TotalDirt review by David Whyld
Murder Mansion by Reelyor review by C. Henshaw
Murder Mansion by Reelyor review by David Whyld
Murder Mansion by Reelyor review by Stefan Donati (Shuarian)
Must Escape! by Robert Rafgon review by C. Henshaw
Must Escape! by Robert Rafgon review by David Whyld
Must Escape! by Robert Rafgon review by Stefan Donati (Shuarian)
pg_0002
InsideADRIFT Issue 24 July/August 2005
2
Editorial
The quietness of the spring
and summer shows little sign
of being broken. Here in
England the dull weather has
recently been replaced by
heat that makes work difficult.
Now we have actually had rai,
which, many will find hard to
believe, has been very rare in
recent months
The community is moving
along, but not exactly
buzzing. Hopefully many are
workingon their entries for the
Summer Comp, the IFComp,
or the Finish the Game
Comp, all of which take place
in the coming couple of
months. Good luck to
everyone.
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 7.
Normville by BBBen review by David Whyld
Outline by Robert Rafgon review by C. Henshaw
Outline by Robert Rafgon review by David Whyld
Outline by Robert Rafgon review by Stefan Donati (Shuarian)
Point 2 Point by C. Henshaw review by David Whyld
Point 2 Point by C. Henshaw review by Stefan Donati (Shuarian)
Rift by Red-Sith review by C. Henshaw
Rift by Red-Sith review by David Whyld
Rift by Red-Sith review by Stefan Donati (Shuarian)
Sex Artist by A. Ninny review by David Whyld
Silk Road Secrets: Samarkand To Lop Nor by C. Henshaw review by
David Whyld
Silk Road Secrets: Samarkand To Lop Nor by C. Henshaw review by
Stefan Donati (Shuarian)
The Will by Ambrosine review by Robert Rafgon
Zack Smackfoot: Escape The Jungle Terror by KFAdrift review by C.
Henshaw
Zack Smackfoot: Escape The Jungle Terror by KFAdrift review by David
Whyld
Zack Smackfoot: Escape The Jungle Terror by KFAdrift review by Stefan
Donati (Shuarian)
Competition news roundup
ADRIFT Intro Comp 2005
The results of the Intro Comp have been announced on the forum and
were as follow.
1. "Silk Road Secrets: Samarkand to Lop Nor" by C. Henshaw (25 points)
=2. "The Final Question" by David Whyld (13 points)
=2. "Murder Mansion" by Reelyor (13 points)
4. "Zack Smackfoot" by Ken Franklin (9 points)
5. "Outline" by Robert Rafgon (6 points)
6. "Must Escape!" by Robert Rafgon (5 points)
7. "Rift by Red-Sith" (1 point)
8. "Point 2 Point" by C. Henshaw (0 points)
A strange result, with the winning and last place entry having the same
author, Christy Henshaw. I think that the winner was certainly worthy of
the title, looking to be well researched.
InsideADRIFT Competitions
The rules for the Summer and Game of the Year competitions can be
found at http://
www.adriftwiki.org.uk
.
W ider IF Community
2005 Interactive Fiction Competition
As a surprise for no one, this years IF Comp has been announced and will
run under the normal rules and schedule. Already a number of drifters
seem to have games in the final stages of preparation, so there is a
chance that this year David Whyld will not be our sole representative.
(For more details go to
http://ifcomp.org
)
pg_0003
InsideADRIFT Issue 24 July/August 2005
3
Drifters birthdays
August 2005
2 schoolsinger (21)
4 outsider (18)
5 gigabyteman (Corey Arnett)(36)
7 Splink07 (25); lok i88 (39)
8 Lena1975 (30)
11 mjbstein (36)
15 Coolkid (17)
18 rocksockm (28)
20 Chenshaw (29)
21 Bacchus (37); malleus
maleficarum (32); Scarlettechi
(19)
23 Woodfish (17); Damien (19);
Mickey Crocker (21)
26 Starstream (60)
27 re_volvo (32); Filthy Bill (34)
30 bdenson (34); Scarecrow (34)
September 2005
1 Astridian (22)
4 RansomDchs (48); cewilson
(46); Lailokken (49)
5 Campbell (29); Keeling (30)
10 Lycaon (22); brucehum (34)
13 Chaos (20)
17 Mystery (33); lyonstomb (26)
18 Psyleid (18);ifjames (17)
20 ondre (27)
24Jacqueline (22); Lumin (22);
V.A. Spatski (35)
27 MadTom (19)
28 kolya (28); highways (62)
29 phazonstorm (13)
Drifters Toolbox
Has anyone found a program
that has made them go WOW
and wonder how they
managed without it. If you
have then why not share it
with us..
Change of editor for SPAG
After editing the SPAG newsletter since 1999, Paul OBrian has decided
that, after 24 issues, now is the time to hand over the role as editor. His
replacement is Jimmy Maher, author of the new Filfre Z-code interpreter
and a contributor to SPAG.
Paul does not plan to leave the community, but the birth of his son has
given new priorities for his life. (http://www.sparkynet.com/spag)
Forum news
Thats better, a few topics this month that lifted the lethargy from the
forum and excited some real discussions.
Forgotten genres
This thread proved lively, with over 60 replies, even if it did wander off
topic.
The start from David W hyld was:
Anyone notice how few Adrift games there seem to be written in an
historical genre. Or romantic. Or futuristic. (...to name but three...)
Do people dislike these genres is it that they feel more comfortable
writing about what they know (the modern age). Or is someone about to
spring an historical love story set in the future on us at any moment.
This is quite an interesting discussion as it does reflect the fact that
some subjects are easier than others. With historical the problems
seemed to be to do with the amount of research required, with Eric
Mayer able to give some information from his perspective as a writer of
historical novels.
Working from a walkthru: Anybody ever tried this.
This thread started when TDS asked:
Has anyone ever tried creating a walkthrough of their game and then
build the game around it. Because lately I've gotten the idea for a short
err...romance game that's fairly linear and story-driven. And I'd like to
write up a walkthrough and then fill in the blanks as I go along.
The general opinion seemed to be that it was an interesting idea for
setting out your ideas and could work. Cannibal said he had tried it
without getting round to actually programming it.
pg_0004
InsideADRIFT Issue 24 July/August 2005
4
Events Diary
August 2005
21st-28th InsideADR IFT
Summer Competition 2005.
September 2005
1st 2005 IF Comp
(http://www.ifcomp.org/) Authors
must have signed up with the IF
Comp database by this date.
24th InsideADRIFT Issue 25
September/October 2005 due
out.
24th 'Finish the game' Comp
entries should be in by today.
30th 2005 IF Comp
(http://www.ifcomp.org/) Authors
upload their games to the
competition site.
October 2005
1 2005 IF Comp
(http://www.ifcomp.org/) Games
are released sometime around
now; the six-week judging period
begins.
15th 'Finish the game' Comp
judging ends.
November 2005
15th 2005 IF Comp
(http://www.ifcomp.org/) All votes
must be submitted by the end of
the day.
26 InsideADRIFT Issue 26
November/December 2005 due
out.
December 2005
InsideADRIFT Awards 2005
votes during this month
18th InsideADRIFT Game of the
Year Competition 2005 entries in
and judging starts
2006
January 2006
1st InsideADRIFT Game of the
Year Competition 2005 results
How much would you pay.
David W hyld also started this topic with:
The issue of making commercial interactive fiction has been raised before
mainly by yours truly but I was curious just how much people would
pay for an IF game. Assuming it was well written, and bug-free, and had
a decent storyline, would people still be willing pay for an IF game. And,
if so, how much would they pay.
This brought a great deal of input from the forum members with
responses varying from the
yes I would buy if it looked good
to
no way
would I buy IF
.
The opinion seemed to be that the age of boxed games with
documentation was past and that any new IF would be paid for online
and downloaded.
Another side of this was put by MileStyle who stated that there was no
way an ADRIFT game could ever be good enough to be sold.
Failed Intros
Failed intros 2 by Jason Guest
"Food Glorious Mud"
The background
As a teenager I was often very busy starting to write adventure games.
Unfortunately I was less enthusiastic about finishing them. Recently I
powered up my old Acorn Electron and took a look at some of my early
efforts for the first time since purchasing my BBC Master Compact in
1988. A strange experience since I have only the vaguest memories of
writing them! Most were, as I said, unfinished.
The one complete game, titled "Hotel Ghastly", was also the earliest, and
easily the worst. Your car breaks down outside a creepy hotel, and you
can probably guess the rest. I must have written this game when I was
14 or 15. Written in BBC Basic, it is full of unfair, underclued puzzles and
empty locations and contains a completely random maze. Winning the
game is childs play provided you have read the code beforehand. If you
haven't, you'll probably waste a lot of time trying to find uses for the
various objects which, along with 90% of the rooms, appear to be nothing
more than window dressing. Highlights included a pot of spaghetti in the
kitchen with a hand sticking out, a butler who is described in a location
description as walking through the room but whom has always "just left
the room" when referred to, and a lot of very funny responses for highly
unlikely actions.
Much better was "The Adventures of Inspector Macaroon", a game I do
remember writing, which actually has a functioning two-word parser. The
game (which was inspired by the Pink Panther films and the Rocky and
Bulwinkle show) begins with the PC tied to a railway track by the
nefarious Mr. Nasty. The PC knows it was Mr. Nasty who did this, so this
isn't a whodunnit. Fortunately escape is easy - UNTIE ROPES gives the
response "Fortunately Mr. Nasty forgot to tie your hands - you leap from
the tracks just in time to watch the train thunder past - Mr. Nasty at the
controls!" Obviously I favoured wide games in those days; some fifty
locations are immediately accessible along with a eclectic range of
pg_0005
InsideADRIFT Issue 24 July/August 2005
5
ADRIFT recent
releases
These are the latest releases
from the ADRIFT site, why not
try one or two.
Complete games
Crazy Old Bag Lady (25 K b,
COBL.zip by Sprite, released
Sat 16th Jul 2005
After the ending of the last
adventure game you played left
you feeling empty and cheated,
you realised that the highlight of
your adventuring life tends to be
the miscellaneous rubbish you
find on the street. The giddy thrill
of finding old rubbish far
outweighs the satisfaction of
actually accomplishing anything.
Unfortunately, you cant hold it all
in your hands, so you must begin
your quest for the Golden Trolley!
Escape to Freedom v1.00 (21
Kb, freedom.zip) by rotter,
released Thu 16th Jun 2005
(RETRO) Originally written as a
game for the Commodore in 1989
by Mario Moeller, Escape to
Freedom has been ported to
Adrift. As pilot of a downed World
War II bomber you must escape
enemy territory and mak e it back
to your home country.
marmalade Skies (16 Kb,
Marmalade_Skies.taf) by
evil_flagpole, released Tue 7th
Jun 2005
You wake up after a deep freeze
to find that small escape pod you
are in has landed. You suffer from
memory loss, but that will have to
wait, survival comes first.
The Annihilation of think.com 3
(31 Kb, TAOT3.zip) by Pofty,
released Thu 26th May 2005
"The long awaited sequel to 1 & 2
Older drifters will know of this,
Woody for example. Dont diss
this as its my first "Full" short
game. Please put in a good
review. Thanks! Poft"
objects, all to be found in the most unlikely places. The alpine landscape
is also peopled by characters such as a very stupid bear and a parched
rabbit, but unfortunately I hadn't gotten around to coding any puzzles.
Best of all was "Blue Moon", a sci-fi spoof written with AC, the text-only
electron version of GAC. This game did, have puzzles, and one or two so
good that I'm tempted to re-use them.
Of another sci-fi spoof, "Food Glorious Mud", only the intro survives. The
strange name was a fusion of lyrics from two songs; Food Glorious Food
from the Musical Oliver! and the line "Mud! Mud! Glorious mud!" from
chorus of the Hippopotamus Song. The optimistic line "published by WILD
THING Software" is evidence of my genuine, though ultimately doomed
intention to enter into the then flourishing world of commercial Text
Adventures! Enjoy!
Food Glorious Mud
Written by Jason Guest using Incentive's Adventure Creator
Published by WILD THING Software
You are space bounty hunter Captain Kook of the Galactic Sector
Authority. One of those people who laugh in the face of fear and peril,
someone willing to risk your neck for a couple of thousand credits. In
other words, a complete loony.
You have recently received two distress signals, one from the muddy
planet Uliginous 7 and one from the Galactic Police. The inhabitants of
Uliginous 7 report that their famous nutritious mud is disappearing, and
that if the process is not stopped the planet will become a barren
wasteland like Earth.
The Galactic Police have called on you to track down the notorious
criminal Glutt the Gastronaut, who has escaped from exile on the
Prison Planet, where he was serving a ten million year sentance for
eating every morsel of food in the known universe. Is there a
connection between these two strange calls. Well, it is up to you to find
out, and bring Glutt to justice.
Article by J. J. Guest (c) 2005
Review
The Lair of the Vampire by David Whyld (Reviewed by TDS)
Nobody likes long games. This has been made very clear to us by the
IF community as a whole. Opportunities to display your large game
come far and few in between. After all, there is no competition for long
games. Enter it in the IFComp and points will be taken off, but at least
you'll get feedback. You could enter the Spring Thing but if your timing
is off your game may end up sitting on your hard drive for a year. If you
don't release it in a comp there's a good chance all your hard work will
go unnoticed(non-comp + long = little feedback).
Lair
is one of those
games.
pg_0006
InsideADRIFT Issue 24 July/August 2005
6
Demos
Key demo (1 Kb, keydemo.taf)
by phazonstorm, released Sat
25th Jun 2005
A small demo in which the colour
of the key can be changed,
affecting which doors it can open
RQ tester (3 Kb, RQ.taf) by
Sprite, released Sat 25th Jun
2005
A randomness test, which test to
see how random you are by
testing your rondomosity. C lear.
Good... have fun, people!
Character follows Character
(DEMO) (1 Kb, MoveChars.taf)
by KF, released Thu 23rd Jun
2005
In this demo one character walks
around and is followed from room
to room by a second character.
The Lair
You start the game off sitting in a cell with a couple others, and you
slowly learn that you are in...the lair of a vampire. The first thing you
notice about the game is the top notch presentation and atmosphere. It
makes an excellent use of colour and the writing is equally strong. The
only thing I dislike about the writing is sometimes things get a little
wordy. Some conversations get too long because the npc will start
dumping lots of back story on you and some books start to feel like
you're actually reading a book. The conversation system is interesting
because you type "talk to character" and when the npc responds, words
you can ask him/her about will be underlined.
talk to priest
"Truly we are cursed," he mutters bitterly, casting desperate glances at
the door. "God himself has cursed us for our sins and left us to rot in
this vile castle. I never believed the rumours myself. I'm a good,
religious man, and I just never believed that something like the Count
could be real." His voice drops to a whisper. "But now I know the
truth..."
This takes a lot of hassle out of figuring out what to ask the npc but it
also makes for one sided conversations. The writing is still of a much
higher standard than your normal adrift game. Vaslock, the vampire that
imprisoned you, is made out to be a most despicable villain because he
is always talked about but you don't see him until the end of the game.
This effects works very well but after a while you realize he is one of the
"arrogance is my downfall" type of character. You also meet many
different npcs that assist you on your quest to escape. This is a
refreshing change from the "solo evil slayer" type of horror games you
usually play.
Baffled
Like most large games, the length is increased considerably by
puzzles. And the puzzles in this game are a hard. Some are really hard.
But most are of the "I overlooked this" or "I never would have thought of
that" variety. You really have to pay attention to win this game without a
walkthrough. At one point near the end of the game I realized I missed
picking up a ring earlier in the game. Without the walkthrough I would
have definitely quit the game out of frustration. There are too many of
these little things that cause the player to quit the game prematurely.
Looking at the walkthrough you'll find that there are things that you
wouldn't have thought of, no matter how good an IF player you are. You
will inevitably be faced with the task of reading the author's mind to
make sense of a situation. The hints are usually no good too.
The Dream
In a shadowy cellar you stand, the walls forever fading in and out of
pg_0007
InsideADRIFT Issue 24 July/August 2005
7
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 boxer shorts, priced at
$13.49, with a discreet
InsideADRIFT logo on the right
leg.
Costing $17.39, the baseball
jersey comes in red/blue/black
and white.
Also available from
www.cafepress.com/in sid ead rift
are:
trucker hat $11.79;
sweatshirt $22.39; sleeveless
tee $15.89; womens tank top
$15.89; mousepad $11.49;
teddy bear $13.79; sticker
$2.69; journal $7.69;
messenger bag $19.99.
reality, the floor one moment there, the next gone, the ceiling the night
sky and then the bright light of day...
Resting on a plinth near to where you stand is a coffin.
Exits lie: in many directions
talk to vadris
"I fear I cannot help you here."
hint
Talk to the people here and listen to what they say.
Well that certainly cleared everything up! The game is largely nonlinear
in terms of what you can do. You are on a set story path but you can
are free to do things in any order you like. The story is engaging and it
starts off moving and it never stops from there. But further in the game
you do start to find more bugs, and in the end you find glaring ones that
make you wonder if the author beta tested the game one last time
before sending it out. The entire game you can't use the "look"
command for some odd reason, you can only type 'l'.
YOUR JOURNAL HAS BEEN UPDATED - PAGE 15John walks
towards you from the east.
You'll get spelling mishaps and cases of the author not closing the font
tag. You'll also encounter
Use the format "ask [character] about
[subject]"
later in the game, which is annoying. Cases of guess-the-verb
and other little bugs will also be found.
A Cool Castle
Fortunately, the game comes to a dramatic conclusion and leaves you
with a sense of accomplishment. Unless you aren't the author and had
to resort to playing with the walkthrough in your hand. I like it despite all
the bugs though. It was still engrossing and interesting to play through.
It's the type of game that will last you for more than 2 hours. You can
stop playing, save, and come back later.
I liked this lengthy adventure and I recommend it to anyone searching
for a game to play that'll last a couple weeks. It's surprisingly good even
though it seems like it was brushed under the rugs.
6/10
* That may seem like a bad score but for a long game it's pretty good.
An interesting fact I found was that
House of Horror
(possibly the worst
horror adventure in IF history) was reviewed twice as many times as
The Lair
. Yes. Nobody likes long games.
pg_0008
InsideADRIFT Issue 24 July/August 2005
8
Articles
Drifters think about . how they will be writing in the future
In answer to the question How they see their game writing
progressing over the next few years. Do they even think they'll
still be using Adrift in a few years or will they have jumped ship
and learnt something else instead. Drifters have responded with the
following thoughts
Eric Mayer says
It's hard to say how much writing in Adrift I'll be doing in the future. The
dread "other demands on my time" keep multiplying, as do the equally
demanding "new interests." Over the years I've run through a lot of
interests. However, I find it difficult to abandon hobbies entirely and
typically keep returning to them all, but in a desultory fashion --
something which Adrift makes it easy to do. Just this week I had a
spare afternoon and so popped open the generator and wrote a couple
rooms for an Adrift game I hadn't looked at in several months. I couldn't
have done that with an If language. I would've had to get my brain in
gear first.
I'd love to learn an If programming language. Alan I knew pretty well,
until it got upgraded on me. I expect I'll play with Alan again when v3 is
finally finished. But such a project is even more time consuming than
writing in Adrift, and also, for me, it's a different kind of activity. Messing
with code can't replace turning out a game with the generator. So it's
unlikely I'd ever abandon Adrift to use an If language instead.
My current project is a medium sized historical, which means it might
be a long time before it is done. Quite awhile ago I tried to set up a
base of tasks and alr stuff, using work by Heal Butcher and Mystery, to
try to produce a game that would run smoothly enough to satisfy RAIF
tastes. Since I've done so much work already, I'll continue along that
path for this game (provided it gets finished) but I've concluded that
Adrift is best suited to other game styles. It is wonderful for spur of the
moment, "quickie" bite-sized games -- the equivalents of short stories.
Also, one could easily compose a longer game of the sort that was so
popular in eighties. Those games used very simple commands, had few
objects, did not let you examine every leaf on the tree, but often had
wonderfully entertaining writing. Adrift automatically does practically all
the things that were necessary in those early games, with no need for
workarounds. I'd definitely like to write a game like that someday.
Ken Franklin says
I know some will think this is pure fantasy, but my target is to actually
finish writing a game. My problem is that I have never been able to stick
at things, in the last few days I have had ideas for three games. This
means that how my writing progresses is more down to my own
personal development as an author.
My hope is that I will still be using ADRIFT for many years to come, but
I will test out other systems as they come along and the mood takes
pg_0009
InsideADRIFT Issue 24 July/August 2005
9
me. If Campbell does develop ADRIFT in the ways most of us would
hope, then it does still have great potential.
Learning a "real" IF language seems to be an effort that I am not likely
to make. In the early days of my computer life I programmed in BBC
BASIC, and was fairly proficient. Even then I hoped to develop and
bought a variety of computer languages, such as C, but as I knew BBC
BASIC the effort involved seemed too much. This seems to mirror my
feelings with ADRIFT. I know one language that does what I want, so
why learn something harder.
David Whyld says
I've had a number of hobbies over the years and none of them so far
have lasted five years or longer. Saying that, I've been using Adrift for
around four years now (August or September 2001 was when I first
came across it) and dont really see myself giving up with it any time
soon. There have been annoyances with it lack of information
regarding future releases, bugs unfixed and the like and a couple of
times I've started casting favourable glances over to the Inform, Tads
and Alan camps, but every time I've come back for one reason or
another.
The main reason being that I like writing games without getting bogged
down with thousands of lines of code. I'm not a programmer. I dont like
programming. As a teenager, I was the kind of kid who would have
used the newest, flashiest system around purely because it was the
newest, flashiest system around, and Id probably have openly sneered
at anyone not smart enough to master it. How the times change Now
I'm complete happy to leave the programming for the people who are
good at it. HTML is about as advanced as I'm ever going to get in a
programming sense and I'm still getting to grips with that, so anything
like Tads or Inform or even a simpler language like Alan is never
going to hold any long term appeal for me unless a) someone brings
out a far easier version of them, and b) Adrift spontaneously combusts
and I end up using Tads/Inform/Alan because I dont have any choice in
the matter. I might start writing a Tads game, but if I'm getting stuck
every day or two trying to figure out how to code something, its not
going to be long before I'm back using Adrift again.
So Adrift for the foreseeable future then. Hopefully. But will Adrift still
be around in five years time. Well
Quick answer: yes, it'll still be around. Even if V4.1 never shows up and
no further updates to V4 appear on the horizon, there'll still be people
using the system to write their text adventures. Short of a system
coming along thats even easier to use and free and being constantly
updated, its hard to imagine Adrift dying out altogether. The AIF
community will probably still be using V3.9 even then.
Will it still be being worked upon. Dont know. Hopefully it will be, and
by 2010 will have a wealth of new features added. If were still using V4
in 2010, though, I suspect the community will be a good deal smaller
than it is now, with the bulk of the users probably die hard fans whore
pg_0010
InsideADRIFT Issue 24 July/August 2005
10
just too damn stubborn to use anything else. Newcomers will be few
and far between. Games will be rare. After all, AGT is still around but
the fact that it isn't being actively worked upon means hardly anyone
uses it these days.
And what will I be doing in five years time. Probably coming up close to
100 games. And if that isn't a frightening thought, I dont what is .
Sometime during the next five years, I intend to start work on some
huge, epic, uber-fantasy game spanning a couple thousand locations,
ten thousand objects, fifty thousand tasks, a thousand NPCs and with
about as much chance of being finished as all the other huge, epic,
uber games people announce they're working on from time to time.
Expect regular updates on its progress for a month or two and then
deadly silence, followed by a brief announcement, after I've been asked
a dozen times whats going on with it, that I've decided not to bother
with it. Or that my computer crashed and I lost it. Ho hum
Sometime during the next five years, if I get the time, Id like to write an
Adrift tutorial. I keep meaning to get started on it but every time I come
close to beginning the first page, I start thinking about all the things a
tutorial would need to cover, how much effort it would be, how long it
would take and wouldnt I be better off writing a game instead. But
one day maybe.
A newbie's perspective on ADRIFT by Stefan Donati (Shuarian)
While the Adrift community has its fair share of new users, most of the
forum regulars seem to be veteran drifters. My goal for this article is to
tell how the Adrift community looks to someone new, and offer some
distraction and memories to the readers.
Light at the end of the tunnel
My gaming experience has perished drastically over the last five to ten
years. As a kid, I loved to play games, mostly soccer and jump'n'run
games. As time passed, Ego-Shooters became the next big thing. But
for me, the pleasure didn't last long, as they got too violent for my taste,
and around the year 2000 I quit. Since then, I played a few short
games, and bought a grand total of three games.
At the beginning of the year 2005, I read about an anniversary edition
of the game 'The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy' (1), based on the
books by Douglas Adams. As I enjoyed them very much, I just had to
try it out. I didn't make much progress, but the style, especially the
direct
method of input and output, appealed to me, and my interest for
text adventures was born.
The surprisingly short journey to Adrift
As a person enjoying both reading and writing, I knew playing a text
adventure is entertaining, but writing one probably even more so.
Making a quick search on the Internet for text adventure authoring
systems (I can't remember the actual search term), Roger Firth's IF
pages (2) and his 'Cloak of Darkness' demonstration eventually showed
pg_0011
InsideADRIFT Issue 24 July/August 2005
11
up. The main aim of the site is quite different from what I wanted, but I
got a decent yet brief overview of several developing tools, and got to
know the term Interactive Fiction (IF) for the first time.
After some further research, I decided to give Adrift a try. It looked like
to most user friendly system, required no programming and had the
ability to include graphic and music files. Besides, I liked the name.
That things were as simple as that also shows a lack of (easy to find)
comparisons between the different developing tools and languages.
In order to test Adrift, I tried to create some rooms and write some nifty
descriptions for them. After this was done very quickly, I kept on running
around my virtual house for some time, until it was time to add more
suspense: One of the rooms was locked with a key, which the player -
me - had to find first. Even though this hopefully sets no record for
further puzzles in my games, I was very proud.
Enthusiastically about my achievement, my interest for IF grew, and I
tried a handful of Adrift games. The honour of being my first Adrift
adventure goes to 'Darkness' by rotter, as it then was the game on the
top spot of the most popular column on the main Adrift site. Again, I
didn't advance much into the game, a fate encountered many times
thereafter. 'The PK Girl' was the first game I completed, mainly due to
its online hints. This also marks my definitive decision to go with Adrift, I
just couldn't withstand the magic attraction of this toxic looking green
font on black background any longer, so I ordered my copy of the Adrift
generator.
When I got my registration key some time later, the Adrift site
experienced trouble keeping online, and a little bit unhappy about such
a situation, I postponed everything Adrift related until my return from my
trip to Turkey and Syria.
Epic plans, humble sequels
Back at Switzerland, I was keen to share all the new images and
experiences from my travels, and to pass them via a new text
adventure. My first game would be an epic journey, leading the player
through many countries, to many historical places. In short, no matter
that I didn't even know the benchmark, this would revolt the world of
Interactive Fiction.
Happy about investing a few hours in my masterpiece, I took a paper
and started to draw a map of all locations. The next day, I was looking
at some poor square boxes and a few unreadable notes, and realised
how titanic my plans have been. Enthusiasm changed into frustration.
I'd never, ever, be able to make my own text adventure!
A good week later, things looked more realistic; a 1000+ room game
with hundreds of NPCs probably was the wrong start. Feeling
enormously lucky and relieved that I didn't announce the game, I went
on with a more humble effort: Making a short, decent text adventure, so
I can learn more about Adrift and consequently improve my abilities.
pg_0012
InsideADRIFT Issue 24 July/August 2005
12
Adrift, the IF community, and everything
While I had glimpsed at the forums from time to time, now with a more
solid goal, I felt ready to join the community. As I imagined the first
impression to be important, I was very careful about my post to the
'introducing ourselves' thread, although I basically wanted to say 'hi'.
The warm welcome I got encouraged me to engage in some
discussions, and I found the Adrift forums to be both an interesting and
friendly place.
Many arguments have been held about the current and future state of
Adrift, so I won't repeat too much of it here. For one thing, being new to
Adrift means I don't know how things have been in the past. I cannot
judge how 'alive' the Adrift community is at the moment. I can, however,
say that for me the community seems to be still alive, even if there's a
recognisable core part, built by forum regulars.
Another thing I learnt is that the IF community seems to be separated.
Well, even the Adrift community seems to be divided between the
'normal' IF writing and the AIF community. It would certainly be nice if
there would be a more vivid discussion between the different IF
systems, but then again, I'm not a good example. I'm aware of some IF
comps, and I try to read the the two main IF newsgroups (rec.arts.int-
fiction and rec.games.int-fiction) frequently.
I'm more comfortable in the static world of IF, and there are many great
online resources available. Searching for it can be a little bit frustrating,
as it's not always easy to find, and good stuff is hidden between
technical and language-wise implementations, but some works (like
'The Inform Designer's Manual' (3)) have proven a very interesting read
to me.
Keep moving
Writing my own game is still my goal, and with the more realistic setup,
I hope I can finish it; no matter that it probably will be late. Because one
of the many things I've learnt is that time is easy arranged and talked
about, but that there's always something coming between - more work
in real life, sudden lack of motivation or inspiration, trouble and failed
attempts.
So it's no wonder that I'm currently at the third attempt to the same
game, but at least I seem to have found a way which allows me to keep
moving, and at the moment, the game progresses slowly but steadily. I
like to think I can build a text adventure like I'd build a house, from the
fundament down to the details. I first draw a map of the locations I want
to feature, then make a short description with indications of possible
plot-devices and puzzles. Then I virtually lay the fundament for the new
world, by creating all rooms of every location first. After this, I move
from room to room, and write short notes of objects, obstacles and
NPCs I want to put in there. One negative aspect of this method is that
new rooms which are added later on, are hard to keep track of, as they
can't be freely organised.
The biggest problem I face at the moment appears to be the middle of
pg_0013
InsideADRIFT Issue 24 July/August 2005
13
the game. My image of the beginning and the ending is pretty clear, but
the middle part has many open holes. How can they be filled without
mindless puzzles. I try to create a sub-plot, but I'm not sure how well
this will turn out. But the work, frustrating as it can be at times, is fun
and I really enjoy it; almost every aspect of writing is new to me, and it's
nice to try something new, especially if it's working. It doesn't matter
how simple it may look from the outside, or even in retrospect, it's
always a thrilling moment.
This probably costs some time, and I remember looking at a NPC
called 'bus' for about ten minutes in delight. The biggest time waster is
my habit of trying every new task/event immediately, but at least this
reduces the possibility of false dependencies.
One thing which also helps me to understand Adrift better is beta-
testing. I think it's a great way to learn about possible mistakes and
help fellow drifters. Besides, it's always nice to play good games earlier!
Think IF, act Adrift
Generally speaking, I think Adrift has its place in the IF world. It's a user
friendly system designed for fans of Interactive Fiction, and as such
surely will attract other new users like me in the future. Of course, to
remain a viable alternative to the more established systems, Adrift has
to keep moving, too.
While there are some things only Campbell can do, I think that we
shouldn't forget that a small community is not only a drawback, but also
a opportunity, as each member is able to make a greater impact. And
the very fundamental for a (flourishing) community are laid: The Adrift
forum is a friendly place for discussions, help and monthly writing
challenges; and there is also DriftOn, Reviews Exchange and the
InsideAdrift newsletter.
To really make use of them and help Adrift, it probably would be good to
engage in the wider IF community, and I'm sure every drifter is welcome
on other IF places. But basically, what we can do is why we all are here
in the first place: Write some good games, help each other, and have
fun along the way.
Notes:
1) 20th Anniversary Edition of 'The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy' -
http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio4/hitchhikers/game.shtml
2) Roger Firth's IF Pages -
http://www.firthworks.com/roger/
3) The Inform Designer's Manual by Graham Nelson -
http://www.inform-fiction.org/manual/
pg_0014
InsideADRIFT Issue 24 July/August 2005
14
Easy, easy. by Eric Mayer
When I was a kid my best friend and I had an ongoing argument over
Superman's powers. Or to be more precise, the Man of Steel's exercise
of those powers. Neither of us doubted that Superman could, for
example, blow out a forest fire with his super breath, but we disagreed
about how much effort it would cost him.
Johnnie insisted it would be no trouble at all, like blowing out a match.
(Johnnie took a lot of interest in matches, and in fact, you can do some
pretty exciting things with matches and a roll of toilet paper, but that's
another story). I, on the other hand, reasoned that it would take a
hurricane to extinguish a forest fire and although Superman could
produce such a wind he'd have to put some effort into it. He wouldn't be
able to just give a desultory puff, of the sort Johnnie insisted on
directing at me, by way of debate -- or maybe mockery.
Just because you are able to perform a task doesn't necessarily mean
it will be easy in the sense that it will take no effort. Paula Radcliffe can
run 26 miles pretty much at will, but I'd imagine it hurts.
But what, you are entitled to ask, do my friend Johnnie, and Superman
and Paula Radcliffe have to do with Adrift, aside from having just filled
up a few inches of the Adrift Newsletter. Just this: Adrift makes many of
the interactive fiction writer's tasks easy. Not just possible. Easy.
OK. You're probably having a "well...duh..." moment right now, but I
think the above statement is worth making (again) because very often,
when the ease of Adrift authoring comes up, discussion immediately
turns to the question of whether a writer who can use Adrift couldn't
learn to use Inform or TADS instead.
Clearly, the answer is usually yes. Adrift employs a lot of programming
concepts and it is necessary to puzzle out how to accomplish effects,
even though Adrift will take care of the coding. Some things, like verbs,
can be trickier to get right in Adrift than in one of the programming
languages. I've written a medium sized game in Alan and tiny games in
both Inform and TADS. I can write code (in an elementary way, but
good enough for most of my concepts) and at times enjoy doing it. In
fact, the things Adrift does with least trouble -- creating objects, room
descriptions, direction etc -- are, at the basic level, rather trivial in any
of the If languages, because the languages were specially designed to
make those things easy.
But the fact that you can learn to program isn't necessarily an argument
against using Adrift. For me, Adrift is much easier than any If language
I've tried. Even though I can write code, it takes me far more mental
effort than clicking on menus and filling in boxes in the Generator.
Writing code at a basic level is, to me, like blowing out a forest fire is to
Superman. Doable, but not without effort.
And there are times, for relaxation, for a hobby, when I'm not looking to
work hard. With Adrift, I can type in some descriptions or create a few
simple objects in a spare hour, without having to refresh my memory of
pg_0015
InsideADRIFT Issue 24 July/August 2005
15
either the game or coding. I can do it when I simply don't feel up to
tackling coding problems. And I can do it faster. The speed with which a
game can be made in Adrift means, for the me, the difference between
being able to write a bit of If and none at all.
I'm sure there are some to whom coding has become second nature
and every bit as effortless as Adrift but I suspect there are plenty like
myself who will never do enough coding to reach that point and prefer
the ease of Adrift notwithstanding whether or not we might be able to
learn -- or can already use -- a programming language.
Not to say I won't ever try my hand at coding, but usually, when I do so
it is because I feel like playing at programming. When I just feel like
writing, I prefer Adrift.
Not because Adrift makes it possible for me to do something I could not
do otherwise, but because it makes it easy.
You might disagree with me about the relative ease of Adrift and
programming languages. Johnnie and I never resolved our dispute over
Superman. More than once we attempted to find some common
ground by rolling around on the ground punching each other. I hope
there is a higher level of discourse in the Adrift Community. By which I
do not mean standing up trading punches.
Reference
This brief piece on Task Command Functions, a hardly touched and
complicated area of ADRIFT, concludes the Advanced Techniques section
of the manual.
Task Command Functions
Task Command Functions supply ADRIFT with additional power to do
specific things, in which there are no easy ways to do using pull down
menus and lists.
There is currently only one such function built into ADRIFT, but this may
well be expanded in the future as the need arises. Task Command
Functions are functions that are written instead of a task command.
Instead of the text being pattern matched against what the player types
in Runner, the function is run and if all the restrictions are passed, the
task will execute.
getdynfromroom
Format: # %object% = getdynfromroom(<roomname>)
This function assigns the Referenced Object with the first dynamic
object found in room <roomname>.
Example
If you had a room with short description The Park, you could create
the task command function:
pg_0016
InsideADRIFT Issue 24 July/August 2005
16
# %object% = getdynfromroom(The Park)
This will then assign the Referenced Object to the first dynamic object
found in room The Park. Say the Player held an apple and an orange,
and dropped both objects.
The first time the task runs, the Referenced Object would be assigned
to the orange (assuming it was first in the objects list).
You would typically have in the restrictions for that task that Referenced
Object must be in room The Park. You could then have as an action, to
move the Referenced Object to Hidden, with the output:
An old park keeper walks nearby and spears %theobject% with a large
prong, and puts it in his bag.
NB. Unpredictability may occur if you have more than one room named
the same. In which case, tags within the room names may help.
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
2005 Edited by KF.
Please send any contributions or suggestions to
editor@insideadrift.org.uk
.