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July 2003 – Number 8
Contents
1.Editorial
1. News and
announcements
Forum news
Competition news
2. Drifters birthdays
2. Next Month
Request for input
2. Drifters toolbox
QuickPlot
3. Tip of the month
3. Article
Where to from here.
4. Interview
Mystery
6. Review
Captive Universe by
Mischav Navoritch
8. Reference
Runner features
News and announcements
Editorial
I would like to take this opportunity, as the current editor of
Inside ADRIFT, to thank Mystery and her predecessor
Woodfish for all their hard work in getting a regular newsletter
going. My intention is to start off by keeping fairly closely to
the old format, while making a few changes.
News and announcements
Forum news
The forum has been fairly turbulent of late, as there has been
quite a bit of concern at the speed of ADRIFT bug fixing.
Some regulars have been looking at other IF creation
systems, but it is to hoped that most stay loyal to ADRIFT.
Things improved late in June with the reappearance of
Campbell and a new release of Adrift. Release 40 is mainly
aimed at fixing some of the bugs, with a few consmetic
changes. A whole host of bug fixes have just arrived with
release 41 on 27
th
June.
Competition news
Kind of busy on the competition front with two comps
sneaking in towards the end of June adding to the Summer
Minicomp previously announced.
First into the arena was DavidW's minicomp, closing date 27
June 2003, for V4 games up to 15Kb or V3.90 games up to
45Kb. Voting is currently taking place with four entries vying
for the top place.
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Next issue
The next issue will be
due out at the end of
July, but a lot will
depend on the
assistance that I get
from you ‘drifters out
there. I can only
produce a newsletter if
others can write some
articles. Contact me if
you have an idea for
use.
Drifters birthdays
this month
July
2 30otsix (33)
8 syke39 (31)
9 The Mad Monk (14)
mammoth (35)
15 Tonyg (15)
17 Mel S (17)
22 nick (19) driftingon (23)
This was closely followed into the arena by the One Hour
Game Competition organised by Woodfish. Closing date for
this was 24 June 2003. There were 3 entries and after a vote
on the forum the entry by the organizer, “Forum” was the
winner.
After these, the next ADRIFT competition is the Summer
Minicomp 2003 which takes place in the later half of August. It
is an event for ADRIFT games with no more than 20 rooms.
Entries to be in by 24th August, with voting over the next
week. Not forgetting that there is prize money.
On the wider IF front there is the 2003 IF Competition, the
major event of the IF calendar. Any entrants must have
registerd their intention by 1 Sep 03.
Drifters Toolbox: QuickPlot
Having trouble keeping track of your plot. Take a look at
QuickPlot which allows you to put things into a tree structure,
and attach the text which can then be cut and pasted into
ADRIFT when you are ready. You can move items around as
much as you want, until the structure works for you.
If you are interested, you can get QuickPlot from
http://www.characterpro.com/quickplot.html
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Tip of the month
Anything you mention
in a description, no
matter where in the
game, you need to
either make an object
to account for it, or
make a task to fool the
player into thinking it is
there.
If you are getting a
"You see no such
thing." message, then
you need to add more.
There is nothing more
infuriating to a player
than to find that
something you come
across isn't actually
there.
Where to from here. by KF
Thought I would just put down my hopes for the way ahead in
the ADRIFT world. My main wish is to see a stable version of
ADRIFT 4.0 available by the start of August at the latest. If we
don't have that we are heading for the same problems as last
year where IF Comp entries were incompatible, in minor but
annoying ways, with the runner. Also the runner
was quickly updated in the week before the comp, so that the
versions of the runner in the judging packs were out of date.
Next I would like to see some thought put into a kind of
development environment, I have been looking at Plugh! for
TADS which is flaky, but does allow you to put together a
map. What is required is a utility that would be a split screen,
one side a game map, the other a creation window for rooms,
objects and characters. When anything was updated, the map
would be too, and you could decide whether the map boxes
displayed the start of the description, or had the objects
and/or characters they contained. The program would be able
to save both in ADRIFT format and as an ADRIFT module to
import. If it were possible to add in task construction, based
on automated use of verbs and objects, we would have a very
handy addition to the ADRIFT environment.
What would be useful to see would be some kind of route map
for the future development of ADRIFT. We could be told that
no new features will be added
to Version 4.0, only bug fixes aim stable by 1 Aug 03. ADRIFT
4.1 development to commence Oct 03, aim of beta release
end of Jan 04, with full release within the following four
months after full testing and fixing. Listing of major new
features such as conversation trees to be released. This is an
example timescale and NOT based on any facts.
What do other Drifters want to see. This is just a starting point
as I hope we are all equally commited to the future
development of ADRIFT.
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Interview: Mystery (our erstwhile editor)
Hello Mystery, as we agreed when you interviewed me, here
is my reciprocal set of questions.
Q1.
We all know that you are an imaginative writer, but what
first brought you to the world of ADRIFT.
A. During my first introduction to the net, I wanted to find out
more about the text games I had been hooked on when I was
younger. I happened along ADRIFT, and instantly fell in love
with it.
Q2.
Within the community you have put a lot of effort into
developing the creative writing side of things. Do you see that
as a vital key as to how we can move forward and be noticed.
A. Unfortunately, writing exercises on the forum have never
really taken off as I had hoped. I' ve noticed that there are a lot
of Drifters out there that have the creativity and imagination,
but just don' t want to put the effort out. I do think that is part of
what is going to separate ADRIFT from the big three. Along
with future enhancements, I think the authors are going to
play a key role in how ADRIFT is seen. Anyone can use
ADRIFT, but I think some very talented Drifters are going to
help ADRIFT get noticed, by putting themselves on the line.
Q3
. You have always been very active within the community,
particularly in urging the increased use of proper beta testing.
Are you satisfied with the way testing is happening now, or do
you believe more should be done.
A. Well, there hasn' t been a great number of games out
recently, and I hope that is because they are being beta-
tested. I' ve played some of the Annual IF Comp games and
was shocked at how well some of the games had done when
they were littered with guess the verb, spelling errors, and
were so lacking in description it wasn' t funny. With proper
beta-testing things like that should have been discovered and
taken care of. It not only makes the author look terribly bad,
but it makes the program they use look bad as well.
As for ADRIFT, specifically, I think more need to beta-test.
Using the transcript is the best way, in my opinion, as it allows
the author to see how different people are playing, what verbs
they tend to use, and how their approach to certain situations
differ from others.
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Q4
. As an entrant in the Annual IF Competition a couple of
years ago, how do you think entry in a wider competition
effects development of ADRIFT games. Do you think that the
focus on the IF Competition can cause a distortion in the
authoring process when writers aim to complete their game by
September.
A. That is a tough question to answer. The game I had
entered was so terrible, and I was so worried about finishing
the game in time, I overlooked so many things. I did have the
game beta-tested, but it was very poor, and many things were
overlooked. Thankfully, now, a certain fellow Drifter will be
completely honest with me and tell me outright if my work is
no good.
I certainly think the focus on the Annual IF Comp can blind
authors and can certainly rattle their nerves quite a bit too. It is
a very hyped competition, with entries from many other
systems, and authors from all over the world. There is a lot of
pressure on the author, and a desire to do well. I have learned
one thing from entering, and doing poorly. I will not write a
game specifically for the competition, because I believe the
quality of the overall game would suffer. I say write your game
as you intend it to be. If it happens to be complete, with proper
testing, at the time the competition rolls around, then enter it.
It really takes the pressure off.
Q5
. You decided to give up writing the newsletter, I know you
felt it took up a lot of your time, but do you have some advice
for the mug who took up the challenge .
A. My advice would be, if you don' t want to really do it, then
don' t. If a newsletter is that important to our community, then
more should put forth the effort to support it, contribute to it,
an not complain about when the next issue is going to be out.
So, my advice is that if you' re not wanting to do it, then don' t.
You' ll end up resenting it.
Q6
. Writing with ADRIFT has been frustrating in recent
months, particularly with your unerring knack of finding bugs,
have you been put off working on games. What methods
have you found to help minimise problems.
A. To be honest, having come across some very annoying
bugs well into writing several games, I was very put off and
ready to give up, since the bugs seemed to stop the game
production. But I really had to put things in perspective. This is
Campbell' s hobby, not his life, not his job, his hobby. Without
his hobby, I would not have this hobby. So I had to think,
' What could I do to help.' I could not complain about it, for
one. It was upsetting to see much of the forum so stressed
about the bugs, and seeing how angry they were about it, only
made want to help more. I had to try to help find what was
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production. But I really had to put things in perspective. This is
Campbell' s hobby, not his life, not his job, his hobby. Without
his hobby, I would not have this hobby. So I had to think,
' What could I do to help.' I could not complain about it, for
one. It was upsetting to see much of the forum so stressed
about the bugs, and seeing how angry they were about it, only
made want to help more. I had to try to help find what was
causing some of the bugs. So that is what I did. I have also
found a couple work-arounds for a couple of the bugs, until
the proper solution is found. I hope during future releases that
more drifters, when discovering bugs, will ask themselves,
"What can I do to help."
Thank you for replying to my questions, and being a source of
help and advice to the whole ADRIFT community.
Review by DavidW
Captive Universe by Mischav Navoritch
In Captive Universe, Mischav Navoritch' s only ADRIFT
adventure, you begin the game trapped in a cell, imprisoned
there by the local priests when you spoke out against their
rule. Everything you know, your whole world, lies in the valley,
a large area from which there is no escape; the only way out
is blocked by the Boulder, a huge stone dropped there
centuries before by the Gods in punishment for an untold
crime. No one has ever escaped from the valley before, but
you intend to be the first…
Based on Harry Harrison' s novel of the same name, Captive
Universe is an engaging, if frequently frustrating, game.
Though relatively straightforward to begin with - escaping the
cell you start off locked in is childishly simple and says little for
the efficiency of the priests - it rapidly becomes a very difficult
game to make much progress with due to there being a liking
on the part of the writer for killing the player off every five
seconds. Often it' s nightmarish just moving from one location
to the next without getting yourself killed in the process.
Randomised events leading to the player dying add further to
the difficulty factor - sometimes traveling through one location
is perfectly safe, other times it leads to certain death. Naturally
there' s no way of knowing beforehand (at least not that I
discovered) just when it' s safe to venture into a specific
location and when it' s not. As such I tended to die a lot of
times and even though I was saving my game every few
moves just in case, it still becomes a pain when it was
happening for the fifth time in as many minutes. Admittedly,
there' s a hint right at the start of the game that tells you of the
best way to avoid getting killed but as this incurs a whopping
356 score penalty it' s probably not advisable to try it out!
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there' s a hint right at the start of the game that tells you of the
best way to avoid getting killed but as this incurs a whopping
356 score penalty it' s probably not advisable to try it out!
But bad points aside, what of the game itself. It' s well written
and has a quite impressive atmosphere. The majority of the
puzzles are reasonably straightforward and don' t
require too
much thought to figure them out although as mentioned
before the hardest part of the game involves random deaths.
Often it seems you' re just about to make a bit of progress and
then a guard appears from out of nowhere and kills you. This
might be acceptable if it happened once or twice or if there
was some way to avoid it, but it really brings down what is
otherwise a fairly decent game.
I haven' t finished Captive Universe yet and haven' t reached
the later stages of the game but what I' ve played so far,
random deaths aside, was well worth playing.
Logic: 7 (out of 10)
Fairly logical.
Bugs: 10 (out of 10)
None that I could see - unless the random deaths are a bug.
Story: 6 (out of 10)
A fairly engrossing one although the background could have
done with a little more fleshing out. The Boulder is blocking
the way out of the valley as a punishment for some crime -
what crime.
Characters: 3 (out of 10)
Perhaps the least part of the game. There are only two actual
characters - your mother and the village smith - and neither
have much in the way of
programmed responses. None of the many guards who
frequently pop up and kill you have anything to say at all.
Writing: 7 (out of 10)
Stylish in places and with a definite flare for description.
Game: 5 (out of 10)
An above average game let down by a penchant for killing the
player every few seconds.
Overall: 38 (out of 60)
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Reference
This page is included here as it would seem a sensible page
for those Drifters entering the IF Competition to add
information from for those who are new to ADRIFT.
Manual page 73: Runner features
Auto Complete
To make typing a bit easier, you can select Options > Auto
Complete from the menu. This will attempt to guess what you
are typing, making it a lot quicker. Aside from making it
quicker for the player to type common commands, it can
sometimes make the game a bit too easy by giving away
object names. Usually this will only happen if the Player has
come across them, but nevertheless, the option exists within
Generator to disable this feature.
Control Panel
If you select Options > Control Panel from the menus, it will
bring up a small control panel with buttons on it. This allows
you to navigate the map and do simple object manipulation.
Verbose
If you select Options > Verbose from the menus, then every
time you enter a room you have already visited the whole
room description will be displayed. If it is not selected, only the
short room description will be displayed.
Transcript
If you want to save some transcript to file, select Adventure >
Start Transcript. This will prompt you for a filename to start
logging the text from the game. Once you click Save, anything
you type, and all the responses will be logged to this file. To
stop transcript, select Adventure > Stop Transcript from the
same menu. You should now be able to
access this file which should contain all text in the game in
plain text format.
Right-clicking
You can right-click the mouse in the main Runner window for
a list of common commands. Clicking on object names will
give a different menu specific to that object, and clicking on a
direction name will attempt to move the Player in that
direction.
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High scores
Runner has built in facility to keep track of high scores for
particular adventures. To enable this option, select Options >
High Scores/Scoring > Enable High Scores from the menu. To
view the current high scores for the adventure you are
playing, select
Options > High Scores/Scoring > View High Score table from
the menu. You can clear this at any time by selecting Clear
High scores. If you want to be notified explicitly every time the
score changes, select Options > High Scores/Scoring >
Notify when score changes from the menu. This will display
the score change as a reference (in brackets) every time it
happens.
© 2003 Edited by KF. Please send any contributions
or suggestions to kf@kfadrift.org.uk
(revised edition)