Discussions about interactive fiction

Archive for July, 2010

[Z-machine/Glulxe] @read_char

I’m using the following function to pause output awaiting the player to
press a key:

[ pauseOutput;
do { @read_char 1 input; }
       until (input ~=0);

First question: What’s the Glulxe equivalent of @read_char?

Second question: Is it possible to write a pauseOutput function that works
both under Glulxe and the Z-machine, maybe using something like #IFNOTDEF
and #ENDIF?

Third question: Is it possible to check which switches have been set?

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[Inform] quit


Are you sure you want to quit?

If the player answers NO, I’d like to output some text before returning to
the command prompt. Any idea how this can be done?

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How did this happen? (Spoilers, and LONG)

Hi Everybody!!  

There are a few things I’d like to get off my chest about the results
of this year’s if-comp.  These rants will take the form of reviews,
laid out in a pro-con format, on a couple of the top ten games.  Oh,
and there are a lot of spoilers.  Tons of spoilers.  BIG SPOILERS LIE
AHEAD!!!  If you haven’t played the top please do not read the rest of
this post!  In fact, I’ll go ahead and warn you that not only will I
give spoilers to games from this year’s if comp, I’ll probably refer
to other if games as well and spoil them for you, though I’ll try to
be as vague as possible so you won’t figure out what I’m talking

But before I get to all of that let me just say this:  it is not my
intention to hurt anyone’s feelings.  If you believe nothing else of
what I write, please believe both the previous sentence and the next
one.   I do not want to insult anyone, or make anyone feel less of
themselves or their abilities – I just want to "call ‘em as I see ‘em"
and try to state my ideas the best I know how.













1) Luminous Horizons
        Pros:  This was a fun game.   I have to admit, I didn’t play the
second in the series, but I did play the first one and had high
expectations going into this.  And I wasn’t disappointed.  The tone
was the same, the characters were entertaining,  and the evil villains
were evil and villainous.  If I remember correctly, the first one
stumped me for a bit, but after a while of trying different things I
ended up victorious.  It, like this game, was funny, comic-book-esque
(yeah, I know that’s not a real word), unique, and made me laugh while
I played it.  It definitely scored points in that column.  The
brother-sister interaction was wonderful, and while the NPCs weren’t
as developed as they could have been there were much better than most
(a hell of a lot better than mine) and were fun to talk to.

        Cons:  The puzzles, they, well, weren’t all that hard.  I finished
the game in less than an hour, (closer to 30 minutes if memory serves
*see later* – see, I usually don’t write reviews so I don’t take very
thoroughly detailed notes when I play these games).  There are three
things I like to see puzzles be: creative, unique, and unexpected.  My
most favorite games of all time contain puzzles that have those
attributes.  The puzzles in EAS3 could at most have two of those
three, but I didn’t find one that could be described by all three.
There was one puzzle in EAS3 that stumped me for some time, but I
ended up victorious in the end, and there were two puzzles that, when
I got to them, I thought, ‘Ah, now this should be a fun challenge’
that ended up disappointed me greatly.  Let me go into detail about
one of those.  This was when the PC encounters the parents for the
first time.  My initial reaction to the onslaught of attacks was to
dodge them every time while trying to think of ways to defeat in
between.  I didn’t do this, of course.  Some of the most fun to be had
in IF games is to do the opposite of your initial reaction (just for
kicks and giggles) and then reload the game and react accordingly the
next time.  I just stood there trying different things while me and my
suit got bombarded with hits and I ended up dying.  ‘Oh well,’ I
thought, ‘Let’s try that again.’  And the next time, going along with
my gut instinct, I happened upon the solution to the puzzle.  In my
book, that qualifies as being an easy puzzle.  And they all fall under
the category "Find locked door, find key, unlock door" – that is to
say, they aren’t compound puzzles like the ones you might find in
Trapped in a One Room Dilly, or Curses!  There is a key in that latter
game that’s hard to get at.  Once you’ve solved the puzzles required
to obtain the tools you need to open the glass demijohn that has the
key in it, the key drops to the floor, falls through a crack, and you
have to go through another series of puzzles before you can finally
obtain the key.  This is what I mean by compound puzzles: puzzles
layered atop one another to create a complex weave that makes the game
frustrating, challenging, and great.
        Next subject: the hint system.  Or rather, the in-game hint system
that I didn’t realize was a hint system as I used it.  This could very
well be why I found the game so easy.  But if the first of the series
(I could spend a few minutes and play that game to find out but I’m on
a roll here and don’t want to derail this train of thought) used the
same shtick for the hint system then I really don’t remember that game
at all.  And I really do try not to use hint systems in comp games.  I
will sit at my computer for tens of minutes thinking only, ‘Don’t type
HINT, try something else.  Don’t type HINT, try something again.
Don’t type HINT, try something strange and weird.’ And when I found
out later that I’d been using the hint system for this game I kicked
myself hard in the tuckuss.  But when I’m playing a game, I will try
to use everything at my disposal to beat that game *see last
paragraph*.  And, when I was stuck outside the robot room trying to
think of how I would get past all those robots to the large machine in
the back, I tried everything I could think of including asking the NPC
next to me about things.  That was a mistake (translation: I wish I
hadn’t done that) and an irreversible one at this point.
        Bugs.  I didn’t write down a list of all the bugs I found in the
game, nor did I go out of my way to find bugs, and I’m not going to.
I did come across this one – an archway that you can pick up.  That’s
a pretty easy one to find and de-bug, and frankly the game loses
points in that column.

Overall score from 1 – 10 (10 being high):  6

2) All Things Devours
        Pros:  This game blew my mind.  BLEW MY FRIGGIN MIND!!  I loved it.
Once I understood the premise of the game and what the challenge was
about, I was giddy and happy and jumped up and down in my chair.  I
haven’t finished the game yet, but merely thinking about how the game
might be solved is, well, one dilly of a pickle!  This is the most
creative and innovative puzzle I’ve seen in IF in, well, I’ve ever
seen!  To try and go back in time and coordinate all your actions so
that the continuity of the timeline can be preserved while all the
time being in multiple places at the same time…  whew!  Yes, I’ll
grant that it’s hard.  It’s no compound puzzle, but it is a creative
and unexpected one.  It’s also one of those challenges that I’ve come
across in my life where I can’t possibly see how it could be solved,
and yet I know it can be solved, so if I just think about it long
enough and juggle the components long enough I know that I’ll figure
out to solve it.  I love that process!!  I love tricky puzzles, and
man, is this one tricky.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve
destroyed Boston in this game, or how many crumpled up pieces of paper
now line my trash can as I make time tables on my actions and then
throw then away as I realize I forgot one key component.  And I love
it!  (Have I said that I love it yet?)  In fact, I don’t think I want
to finish this game just so I can savor this taste in my mouth: this
wonderful feeling of excitement and anticipation wondering how and
when I’ll solve this puzzle.  I tried to think of the last time I felt
this way, to give a good example, and I couldn’t.  I could only think
of a time I felt this way, and this was when I was first introduced to
the Towers of Hanoi.  I thought to myself, ‘it can’t be done.
Impossible.’  But people who knew the trick told me that yes, it could
be done, so I sat and I thought.  I thought about it and played with
it until I figured out what the method was.  All that time while I was
working on it my brain was on cloud nine.  Now that I know the method,
however, I can still appreciate the puzzle but it will no longer bring
me the joy and wonder that it first did.  That’s why I think I’ll wait
a few weeks at least before I solve Devours.  (If you don’t understand
any of that, well then, you’ll probably disagree with most of the
things I have to say anyways.)

        Cons:  Umm… I hate to say this, but I can’t think of any.  Like I
said, I haven’t finished the game, so I haven’t experienced it all and
there might be cons I don’t know about.  I’ll give you that. I don’t
do a thorough bug testing when I play these games (just try a couple
things here and there) so there could be some problems in that regard.
 And also I’ve been known to love something so much that I’m blind to
any downfalls it might have, i.e. the Simpsons, Outland comics by
Berkeley Breathed, my niece, etc, so I could just be missing a big
thing here that the majority of those reading this (if they bothered
to get this far) could name and probably will name in a reply post,
but as I sit here in front of my computer I can’t think of anything to
list under the Cons for this game.  I love it.  Oh, and I don’t think
Toby Ord is the author’s real name.  Perhaps it is, and perhaps I’m
just going to be so embarrassed that I’ll continue to hide from the IF
community for the rest of my life, but I’m looking at the pseudonym
and I’m familiar with Tennyson’s poetry, and I can see the metaphor
that might lie there.  And if we’re dealing with someone clever enough
to code such a twisted game as Devours, then they could be clever
enough to create a fake website to cover their fake identity.  ;)

Overall score from 1 – 10 (10 being high):  9

I guess what I’m trying to get at is:  HOW IN THE WORLD DID EAS3
MANAGE TO TAKE THE TOP PRIZE?!  No offense to those involved,
(honestly, I doubt anyone’s still reading this at this point) and I
don’t want to rain on your parade (I liked the game!  Really, I did!)
but let me put it this way:  if someone was to come along and say,
"Hey guys!  I’m new to the IF arena and I’m wondering if you can
suggest to me some really good games I should take a crack at?"  I
would have a list ready.  This list would include

read more »

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New Ivory Tower games column on games at:


"What Mastery of Which Arts" by Barry Atkins

Barry Atkins is the author of "More Than a Game: The Computer Game As
Fictional Form" and a Lecturer in English and Senior Learning and Teaching
Fellow at Manchester Metropolitan University.


If you have ideas for game related rearch topic for the Ivory Tower column
send me mail and we can work an article into existence.  Games are such an
enormous area of design and study that articles can range from pure games,
play and basic ludology;  to interactive script writing and narratology;
to sound and music design; to visualization, animation and semiotics; to
marketing; usability; information and retrieval; artificial intelligence
and many, many more areas. The box is so big it isn’t a box, but a world.

Industry and faculty folks are always good, but grad students are fine,
undergrads are fine and I’d love to find a couple of really smart 12 year
olds who are thinking about what would make games better and what would be
really ‘cool.’ If you don’t think in textual terms we are more than happy
to consider discussion in any form from game-like Flash to audio theater
and graphic novel-style.

Send mail to t…@indiana.edu, Thom

 \\\\////                tHoM gIllEsPiE
 /ww  ww\   Indiana University, Telecommunications Dept
6 (*][*) ?       1229 E 7th St      Radio & TV Bldg
 \  .7  /          Bloomington, IN 47405-5501 USA
  ( –’)       t…@indiana.edu     812-855-3254 (v)
   WWWW      THE MIME PROGRAM:   www.mime.indiana.edu
  / WW \     www.indiana.edu/~slizzard/resume/page.html
What is the use of a book, thought Alice, without pictures or
conversation. -Lewis Carroll, Alice’s Adventure in Wonderland

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Visit my new website!


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services as a trainer.  Please take a moment to visit my site and pass
along the word to anyone who may be able to help me reach my goals.



Grand Master Sayed Najem
sayednajem [AT] hotmail.com

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[Inform] Problem with long object names

Can anybody throw some light on the following please?

When you declare an Inform object:

        Object thing "misshapen thing"
                with …
                has …;

the length of the "misshapen thing" ‘property’ seems to be limited to about
256 bytes, whereas text for a ‘with-defined’ property can be much much
larger.  Presumably the ‘object name’ is not stored in the same way as an
object’s other properties.  Does anyone know if:

a. This way-of-storing / length-limit is Inform-imposed or

b. Is there any way around it?

Obviously in a normal Inform+Library, traditional-game context, it would be
very rare to want to use long strings for an object name; however, I’m
looking at a non-library application where it would be nicer (but not
essential) if it could be made to work.  Essentially, I’d rather be able to
write something like:

        Object thing "up to several hundred bytes or more of text" ;
        Object thing with text "a very long string of text" ;

Thanks in advance for any help.

Graham Holden (g-holden AT dircon DOT co DOT uk)

There are 10 types of people in the world;
those that understand binary and those that don’t.

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[TADS 3] Determining player's word use in the messages

Anyone know how to get the ‘The word … is not necessary in this
story’ message (or any other similar message for that matter) to know
how the player was trying to use the (unknown) word? e.g. if they
tried to use it as a verb?

–Tim B

There are no periods/dots/full stops/whatever in my email address
before the ‘@’. NOSPAM is what it says it is. You don’t need it.

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[LOTECH COMP]: Rules dradt (version 2)

Judges must base their judgement of each game on at most the first two
hours of play. If a judge is still playing a game at the end of a
cumulative two hours of playing time and wishes to continue playing it,
the judge must rate the game and not change that rating later before
continuing play.
Authors may write a game of any length they desire, but should keep
this rule in mind when determining the length of their entry.
Authors cannot judge their games.
Judges are asked not to discuss the entries in a public forum during
the judging period, in order to let other judges form their own
opinions of the games.
You may not give a rating to any game you have beta-tested.

Games must not be based upon works currently under copyright unless
permission is obtained from the copyright holder. You may parody
established works, but you may not, for example, write a game based on
Terry Pratchett’s Discworld without permission. This avoids the entire
issue of copyright and the ethics involved.
Do not use copyrighted multimedia assets (graphics or sound) without
permission from the copyright owner. This is especially important for
MIDI files, as many web sites have MIDI versions of
copyrighted songs available for download. If you don’t know if a song,
sound file, or picture is under copyright, don’t use it.
All entries must be freely playable by judges, no strings attached.
While you retain the copyright to any games you enter, by entering you
are granting the competition and the Interactive Fiction Archive the
non-exclusive right to distribute your game for free, and granting
judges the right to play your game for free. No shareware, donorware,
commercial products, etc. may be entered. All entries must be
previously unreleased at the opening of voting. If an entry has
previously been circulated, it will be disqualified. Translations of
previously-released works are not considered to be unreleased. If you
are unsure whether your game fails to meet this rule, please ask me.
Note that this rule does not prevent you from having your game tested
by a few beta-testers.
Authors of a competition entry may not discuss any of the entries in a
public Internet forum during the voting period, nor may they canvass
fora for votes. Once the competition has begun, do not post your
thoughts on your entry or anyone else’s on a newsgroup or bulletin
board until the deadline for voting has passed.
Authors may enter at most one game.
There’s no restriction for Platform or authoring system.

Games submitted to LOTECHComp must have the following properties:
1) The game must be run entirely using a MULTIPLE CHOICE command
parser. There’s no limit to choice numbers.
The ONLY INPUT needed from
the player to win (or complete) the game must be the following:
i) Single-digit numbers or letters (i.e. selections from a list of
ii) System commands: save, load, quit, etc.
iii) Non system commands *tolerated*: inventory, examine (only for
objects in inventory), look (to get back to location description and
multiple choice)

The deadline for games to be submitted will be midnight June 30th,
2005. They should be submitted as e-mail attachments to [roberto at
robertograssi dot net]. Please provide your name and e-mail
address. We’ll try to have the contest results available by the mid of
July (depending on the number of games) The winners will be made
available on the web with judges’ comments shortly thereafter.

The judges for the contest will be:
(To Be Defined)

No plan for prizes, at the moment.

Did i miss something?

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recent additions to the Interactive Fiction Archive

Hello again,

The following files have arrived at the Interactive Fiction Archive at
http://www.ifarchive.org/                            (USA, Pittsburgh, PA)
ftp://ftp.ifarchive.org/if-archive/                  (USA, Pittsburgh, PA)

and should be available soon at the mirror sites:

http://ifarchive.plover.net/                         (USA, Chicago, IL)
http://ifarchive.flavorplex.com/                     (USA, Saint Paul, MN)
http://ifarchive.jmac.org/                           (USA)
http://mirror.ifarchive.org/                         (USA)
http://www.ibiblio.org/pub/docs/interactive-fiction/ (USA)
http://ifarchive.heanet.ie/                          (Ireland)
http://ifarchive.giga.or.at/                         (Austria)
http://www.funet.fi/pub/misc/if-archive/             (Finland)
http://www.planetmirror.com/pub/if-archive/          (Australia)

and also the mirror FTP sites:

ftp://ftp.ifarchive.com/if-archive/                  (USA, Los Angeles, CA)
ftp://ifarchive.plover.net/if-archive/               (USA, Chicago, IL)
ftp://ftp.guetech.org/if-archive/                    (USA, Bremerton, WA)
ftp://ftp.ibiblio.org/pub/docs/interactive-fiction/  (USA)
ftp://ftp.giga.or.at/pub/ifarchive/                  (Austria)
ftp://ftp.funet.fi/pub/misc/if-archive/              (Finland)
ftp://ftp.planetmirror.com/pub/if-archive/           (Australia)

If you are looking for a particular file in the archive, check
if-archive/Master-Index  (updated daily) and
if-archive/unprocessed/  for files which aren’t in the index yet.


    The Magic Show, version 1.9c, by Jason MacInnes.

    Ticket to No Where by Richard Otter, version 1.1.

    Eamon adventure #243, The Dragon of Aldaar.

    Eamon adventure #244, The Caverns of the Sphinx.

    Eamon adventure #245, Dracula’s Chateau.

    Eamon adventure #246, The Sword of Inari.

    Eamon adventure #247, Amateur Alley.

    Eamon adventure #248, Quest for the Fire Dragon.

    Eamon adventure #249, The Hindenburg Ogre.

    The Eamon Adventurer’s Guild Newsletter, issues April 89 through
    January 2004 in RTF format.

    Eamon Adventurer’s Log – The National Eamon User’s Club Newsletter,
    Volume 1 * Number 1 – March 1984

    Eamon Adventurer’s Log – The National Eamon User’s Club Newsletter,
    Volume 1 * Number 2 – May 1984

    Eamon Adventurer’s Log – The National Eamon User’s Club Newsletter,
    Volume 1 * Number 3 – August 1984

    Eamon Adventurer’s Log – The National Eamon User’s Club Newsletter,
    Volume 1 * Number 4 – October 1984

    Eamon Adventurer’s Log – The National Eamon User’s Club Newsletter,
    Volume 1 * Number 5 – January 1985

    Eamon Adventurer’s Log – The National Eamon User’s Club Newsletter,
    Volume 1 * Number 6 – March 1985

    Eamon Adventurer’s Log – The National Eamon User’s Club Newsletter,
    Volume 1 * Number 7 – May 1985

    Eamon Adventurer’s Log – The National Eamon User’s Club Newsletter,
    Volume 2 * Number 1 – August 1985

    Eamon Adventurer’s Log – The National Eamon User’s Club Newsletter,
    Volume 2 * Number 2 – October 1985

    Eamon Adventurer’s Log – The National Eamon User’s Club Newsletter,
    Volume 2 * Number 3 – June 1986

    Eamon Adventurer’s Log – The National Eamon User’s Club Newsletter,
    Volume 2 * Number 4 – January 1987

    Eamon Adventurer’s Log – The National Eamon User’s Club Newsletter,
    Volume 2 * Number 5 – October 1987

    Trading Punches, Part 1 of The Convergence Saga, by Sidney Merk.
    Version 1.7, Hugo v3.1 / Library 31011
    This is an update to Sidney’s Competition entry.

    Dracula Episodio 1: La Primera Noche, by El Clerigo Urbatain.
    Revision 2 / Numero de serie 040731

    La Mate Porque Era Mia, by Ferran Montesinos. MS-DOS executable.

    Lola Huela Bien y Adora el Marisco, by Alejandro Barcena.
    MS-DOS executable.

    Orfeo en los Infiernos, by Javier Carrascosa.
    Revision 1 / Numero de serie 040805

    Una Revisin de Megacorp.
    Revision 1 / Numero de serie 040729

    El Anillo Regente, by Baltasar el Arquero.
    Revision 5 / Numero de serie 040830

    ReminiscenciaRol, by Aryekaix.
    Revision 1 / Numero de serie 040801

    The Golden French Fry, version 1.26, by Paul Allen Panks.

    Ninja version 1.32, by Paul Allen Panks.

    A Russian port of Adventure / Colossal Cave for MS-DOS.
    Ported from an earlier version from 1986 for the SM-4 with
    "Demos" OS.

    Breath Pirates, by Mike Snyder.

    Lunatix: The Insanity Circle, by Mike Snyder.

    I Must Play (an arcade adventure), release 42.00.009, by Geoff Fortytwo.
    TADS 3 source code. This is the source for Geoff’s 2004 Competition entry.

    Wizard’s Castle, published in the July/August 1980 issue of
    Recreational Computing Magazine. Originally written by Joseph R. Power,
    and updated for Microsoft BASIC by J.F. Stetson.

    128K Spectrum games for which Zenobi Software hold the copyright.
    See the index entry for a full list of the contents.

    48K Spectrum games for which Zenobi Software hold the copyright.
    See the index entry for a full list of the contents.

    Best of the Indies, tape 1. A compilation of several adventures for which
    Zenobi Software hold the copyright.
    See the index entry for a full list of the contents.

    Best of the Indies, tape 2. A compilation of several adventures for which
    Zenobi Software hold the copyright.
    See the index entry for a full list of the contents.

    The Quest of the Golden Banana, a freeware TADS 3 game that goes with
    the TADS 3 Tour Guide. Version 1.5, by Eric Eve.

http://www.ifarchive.org/if-archive/games/zcode/identity.z5  - Z-code game file
http://www.ifarchive.org/if-archive/games/source/inform/identity.zip   – Source
    Identity, an interactive science fiction short story by Dave Bernazzani.
    Release 7 / Serial number 041121
    This is an update to Dave’s Competition entry.

    Jet-Blue, by Paul Johnson.
    Release 3 / Serial number 161004

    Typo!, by Peter Seebach and Kevin Lynn.
    Release 1 / Serial number 041119
    This is an update to Peter and Kevin’s Competition entry.

    Jazz auf Tegemis, by Joerg Rosenbauer.
    Release 2 / Serial number 040522

http://www.ifarchive.org/if-archive/games/tads/russian/ditchr.zip    - TADS game
http://www.ifarchive.org/if-archive/games/source/tads/russian/ditchr.zip  - link

read more »

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[TADS 3] ActorState

It doesn’t look like ActorState works on the main player character. Is this
a bug?

It presents a problem, in that I want to create a game with traps such as
tar pits, quicksand, etc…

The basic idea would be:

me: Person
    location = hallway
    posture = standing

+ in_quicksand: ActorState
    specialDesc = "You are stuck in quicksand. "
        "You can’t move without sinking deeper. ";
        // do sinking stuff

Obviously it would be more complicated then that – and I planned to use the
takeTurn() to mimic sinking, etc… until the player figures out the puzzle
and gets free, or dies.

Am I missing something?

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