Discussions about interactive fiction

Archive for December, 2009

IF archive usage statistics 1995

here are the download numbers for the archive by directory tree:

FTP statistics 1995-01-01 00:00:00 – 1995-12-31 23:55:21

392055 if-archive/
        440 if-archive/SPAG/          }  before they became subdirectories
        331 if-archive/XYZZYnews/     }  of if-archive/magazines; see below
        664 if-archive/betas/
       7027 if-archive/competition/
       4822 if-archive/download-tools/
        687 if-archive/emulators/
      94441 if-archive/games/
       7989 if-archive/info/
     137686 if-archive/infocom/
       7857 if-archive/magazines/
       1762 if-archive/mapping-tools/
      33961 if-archive/programming/
       3024 if-archive/rec.arts.int-fiction/
       3554 if-archive/rec.games.int-fiction/
       4284 if-archive/scott-adams/
        793 if-archive/shells/
      65941 if-archive/solutions/
       5951 if-archive/unprocessed/

(Thanks to Werner Icking, moderator of the music archive at ftp.gmd.de,
 86096 music/
for extracting the data from the log files.)


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[Inform] indirect?

Can anyone tell me, is there a difference between using (a) and (b)?

  (a) z = indirect(#r$Routine, x, y);
  (b) z = Routine(x, y);

Jools Arnold                                          jo…@arnod.demon.co.uk

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Re: More Zork whining (III today)

The story so far (for rec.arts.int-fiction people):

The gold machine in Zork III needed to be pushed from one room to another
in order to solve a puzzle, but it responded to ‘move gold machine’ as if
the gold machine couldn’t be moved, which has generated several complaints.

In article <4doteo$…@decaxp.harvard.edu>,

- Hide quoted text — Show quoted text -

Aaron Mandel <aman…@husc7.harvard.edu> wrote:
>Jeffrey Robertson (je…@bnr.ca) wrote:
>: Not quite.  The parser "knew" that I meant to try to move the gold machine.
>: No problem there.  The _game_ did not choose to respond in a special fashion
>: to let me know the machine was movable (by another means), but said "the
>: machine cannot be moved".  That fact is the fault of the game designer,
>: and makes the puzzle unfair, IMO.

>I agree, although I think I see why it happened. The problem could have
>been remedied perhaps even by saying "Your efforts are ineffective."
>emphasizing that what you’ve just tried to do isn’t going to work. On the
>other hand, "move" is what you tried to do, and "move" is what it tells
>you you can’t do…

>The problem, really, is in the fact that the designer regarded "moving"
>and "pushing" a heavy object as being different. I cannot for the life of
>me imagine what "move" would mean in this context otherwise. I could
>understand doing something like this if it had to be moved with, say, a
>lever, or if it had to be rolled along intead of slid…

I seem to remember (years ago) when I was first playing the Infocom games
that ‘move’ only worked on objects that you could carry. By the time I got
to Zork III, I guess I was hardwired not to ‘move <object>’ unless it was
smaller (say, a painting or a curtain).

I’m not sure if this was the fault of the game designers, for not explicitly
overriding a default mechanism for the ‘move’ action, (if such a default
existed), or for the designers of whatever authoring systems were in use
at the time, for not making ‘push’ and ‘move’ default to the same type of

Does anyone know? (Does anyone care?) Am I remembering this correctly?


Matt Carlyle                 | "This baby’ll flash-fry a water buffalo
mcarl…@leland.stanford.edu |    in forty-five seconds." -Moe

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thanks (was Re: [Inform] what gets printed after "x table"

My thanks to the kind souls who helped me with this.  I’m just learning
Inform, trying to write a small game as a programming exercise, and
sometimes not getting what I need from the manual, the example code, and
the online tutorials.  I feel stupid when I have to ask such basic
questions, but… oh well!

__   __
IC | XC  |   bonni mierzejewska "The Lone Quilter"
—+—  |         u6…@wvnvm.wvnet.edu
NI | KA  | Kelly’s Creek Homestead, Maidsville, WV

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Got a book you would like to have published? Call the Woodside Literary
Agency–main New York office: 718-651-8145, or Florida: 813-642-9660.

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Varying Max_Carried

Okay, this is probably a stupid question, but I can’t find the answer in
the manual.
 In my game, the hero is regrettably changed into a gerbil, and must
escape in
order to change back. HOWEVER, a gerbil can only carry one thing at a time

in theory. In practice, however, it doesn’t happen. He can pick up
whatever he wants.
 I’ve tried fiddling with MAX_CARRIED, but I don’t know how to make it
vary from
case to case. I also tried to block the gerbil’s receive, but that won’t
work, either.
 Any suggestions, or shall I just try something a bit less elegant?


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LORE#3- Corben/Price/Burleson/Pugmire

The third issue of the "Quarterly Digest of Maddening Fiction" is now
available. Stunning cover art by Richard Corben and interior illustrations
by Roddy Williams, Sean O’Leary and Jeffrey Thomas.  This issue begins our
new round-robin feature "The Challenge from Below," part 1 by Robert M.
Price.  Plus, new tales from Don Burleson, Wilum H. Pugmire and more.
Also, the second part of the Bob Crouch back cover mosaic.  For a single
copy, please send $4.00/$5.25 outside the U.S. (Check made payable to Rod
Heather, please, not Lore) to:

LORE  P.O. Box 672 Middletown, NJ 07748

A limited number of copies of #1(Harlan Ellison) and #2(Darrell
Schweitzer) are still available for $4.00 each.  Submission guidelines and
ad rates are available upon request with your order or for a #10 SASE.

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Re: Inform q: obj in multiple containers?

- Hide quoted text — Show quoted text -

John Wood <j…@elvw.demon.co.uk> writes:
> In article: <4drgrd$…@colossus.holonet.net>  
> d…@news.holonet.net (Dan "D.S." Yu) asks:

> >       Here’s an Inform coding question — has anyone done
> > anything with the concept of an object in multiple containers?
> > Standard properties don’t seem to support this (well, an
> > attempt to use ‘found_in’ places the object in the room
> > containing the containers, as documented).
> An easier way would be to have a single plank, and move it if necessary.
> One way to do this:

> Object West_Chasm "West Side of Chasm"
>   with  …
>         after
>         [; Go:  if (plank in East_Niche) move plank to West_Niche;
>                 …
>         ]
>         …

> and similarly for the east side.

Entirely sensible. (A subtlish point is that you’re trapping all Go
actions that enter the chasm room — not just crossing the plank. This
is important.) (It will fail, however, if the board is on the wrong
side, and the player is teleported into the chasm room, with
PlayerTo(). If your game uses PlayerTo() a lot, you could solve the
problem more generally, by giving the rooms an initial property. A
room’s initial property is called whenever the player enters the room
by any means.)

Another terribly sneaky trick (I used this in Weather) is to only have
*one* niche, and give the *niche* a found_in property. The niche
follows you across the chasm, and the board naturally comes with it.

> I suspect that found_in does something similar; I haven’t looked at the
> source, but it would make no sense for something to be a child of more
> than one parent.  Hmm, now that would sound silly taken out of context…

Heh. Yes, found_in is handled by MoveFloatingObjects(), which just
goes through and moves objects to your location if necessary. This
occurs at the very start of a turn, before your command is input. (To
be really technical, it happens whenever you enter a room — right
after the inital property it called.)


"And Aholibamah bare Jeush, and Jaalam, and Korah: these were the borogoves…"

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Re: Just an idea…

markw…@carleton.edu (chris markwyn) wrote:
>An idea I had in the shower this morning….
>Someone should really try implementing Cornerstone in Inform.

Heheheheh…and Fooblitzky too.

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Re: Questions regarding Zork II — Unreasonable puzzles?

Jeffrey Robertson (je…@bnr.ca) wrote:

: Greetings:

: I recently got myself a copy of The Lost Treasures of Infocom (vol 1)
: and resumed playing Zork II, a game I’d given up on many years ago.
: This time, however, I had the clue book to help, and I discovered
: the solution to the "Oddly Angled Rooms" maze.

: Spoiler follows:

: The point of this post: to ask if *anyone* solved this puzzle
: unaided, and if so, how they discovered the answer.  Was it
: luck, or a flash of insight?

Yes. Dumb luck. It was a year or more before I suddenly realized the baseball
references. Walking down the street one day, and it struck me. Considering
what my expression must have been at that instant, I’m surprised nobody
called a coronary care ambulance.

: Second question:  The four cakes in the Tea Room.

: Perhaps I’m just obtuse, but I’d never have thought of that.
: I had to rely on trial and error.

: I object to puzzles which are best solved by trying possibly
: fatal things until one discovers the secret.  I don’t like
: the fact that one is supposed to blindly accept the advice
: "Eat me".  Yet the hint book keeps reminding the player
: not to be afraid to try something potentially fatal, since
: you can always restore the game.

: Perhaps I’ve been playing NetHack too long, a game in which
: save files exist solely to save the game, not recover from
: fatal mistakes or experiments.

: The point of this question: to ask if anyone out there agrees
: with me, or if I’m being unreasonable.  (Of course, I don’t
: think I am.  I look to "Adventure" as an example of a game
: without puzzles of this sort, with the possible exception
: of the dragon on the rug.)

I don’t mind a single action that causes an irrevocable dead-end.


Whistling a cheerful little nuclear debonding tune, you stuff all your
possessions into the snark, where they softly and silently vanish away.

This one, perhaps is an extreme example of obviousness. Something with some
more long-term interest might be..


The door crashes inward, revealing a bizarre scene…

Much as you left it, late last night, but much of the machinery is humming and
active now, though many more minor objects have been smashed, or roll about on
the floor.

The green metallic hoop is filled with a shimmering, pearlescent opacity,
which outlines the the surreal cause of the noises that woke you. Not one,
but TWO professor Feinsteins struggle furiously with each-other. One is cut
about the face, perhaps from one of the many smashed retorts, the other sports
several deep bruises. They flop and flounder over the main console, trying to
strangle each other.

The stout metal bar from the professor’s demonstration (err…whichever
professor it was) promises a way to end this madness.


You step surely over the rolling objects, and broken glass, and take up the
iron bar. More hesitantly you glance over at the combatants.

Professor Feinstein (the one with the bruises) catches sight of you, and
croaks "Edward! Help me!"

The other professor Feinstein (the one with the cuts) does not look up but
manages "Edward? We must stop him!" though his air is cut off a little at the


Whillickers! You have no idea which one is the real one! You heft the bar in
your hand uncertainly, as the two combatants sway back and forth.


What do you want to hit, the cut professor Feinstein, or the bruised professor


Praying that your choice is right, you raise the bar and let it fall….

Now, it may take some number of turns for the player to know if their choice
was right. The author _might_ have produced a full game around each choice,
or made the choice unimportant for plot purposes. Usually the former isn’t
done due to time and space considerations.

At the very least, a good writer (IMO) should leave the reader guessing
awhile. It may still end the game early, but at least the writing can be
brought to a conclusion that doesn’t look too paragraphs-scroll-up-the-screen-
with-**-you-have-died-**-in-them, which is a let-down.


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