Interactive Fiction

“it runs on the most powerful graphics chip: the imagination” – Sheldon Cooper

The first computer game I ever purchased was Zork III. All you had was a brass lamp and you had to wander the ruins of the great underground empire of Zork and prove yourself worthy of being the Dungeon Master. All this before amazing color graphics were invented – you had to do it all by typing commands like “go east” or “light lamp” or “push wall east”. This was a text adventure, or Interactive Fiction as it’s also called.

A company called Infocom was the number one producer of text adventures back then. And sometime in late 2001, I learned it was possible to download and play those old games on my own modern computer. Not only that, I found, but there were a number of systems available for authoring those games. I was enthralled. I was more than enthralled. I was hooked. I had to try to make a game myself. Thus a hobby was born.

I had a number of starts and stops as I tried different authoring systems. I eventually settled on one called ADRIFT, an acronym for Adventure Developent and Runner Interactive Fiction Toolkit. It has a number of windows that let you basically link rooms, create objects and write descriptions. It’s pretty straightforward and doesn’t require programming knowledge – but it can have a bit of a learning curve.

To play these games you need the ADRIFT v. 4.0 runner which you can download from the ADRIFT Home Page.

 

The ADRIFT games are comprised of:
Melbourne Beach

2001 – This is my first game, which was essentially a tour of my house. It seemed easier to write something that was familiar, thus my home. In this game you wake up in the guest room. You will meet me and the other residents of my house. You can go swimming in the pool, use appliances, play chess, drink beverages, use my computer and even drive the car. Thanks to those of you who have responded favorably to my game.

Menagerie!

2002 – In this game you are an animal lover who works for PETA. It is your mission to videotape mistreated animals at the local circus. But the circus is not what it seems – can you do it and escape with your life?

This game won a mini-comp and had many favorable reviews. At the time that I wrote it, it took advantage of many cutting-edge features of ADRIFT. For this version (a post-comp revision) I issued it with an installer that would create a windows icon for the game.

Invasion of the Second-Hand Shirts

2002 – Frustrated by unfair comments on both mine and others’ games, I created an intentionally bad game with the following description: ”This is a really bad game. I guarentee you’ll hate it. Unlike the other games on this site, it has no plot, makes no sense, has banal characters, is completely illogical, and has not been extensively tested. I’m not even sure it works. I also turned off auto complete just to annoy you even more. (boy you really want to play it now, don’t you?) I made this game so all you people who like to give games 1′s have something to vote for. Play my game and give it as many 1′s as you like. It’s awful. Really really bad. “

Regardless, it turned out many people found my game to be very funny, and it got many favorable reviews.

In 2006 I rewrote Invasion of the Second-Hand Shirts in Inform 7, which you can play online without installing anything.

A Party to Murder

2002 – In financial difficulties, you go to meet with a neighbor during a party. However, he seems to be missing. Where could he be? And who are these mysterious party guests? Watch out for the police, they seem to be suspicious of you!

This was my entry in the 2002 8th Annual IF-Comp. While it had a few complimentary reviews, the vast majority of judges in the comp didn’t like it much. Oh, and the house in the game is a very close version of the house I lived in at the time, which isn’t the same house as the one in the Melbourne Beach game.

 

I’m currently working on a game that isn’t written in ADRIFT, but in Inform 7. I had hoped to have it out soon, to enter it in this year’s IF Comp, but it didn’t happen. We’ll see what happens.

I’m having fun teaching myself Inform 7, but its compiler is a little tricky at times getting things just right. I hope to produce an acceptable game with it soon. One of the best things about Inform 7 is there’s a way to run the games right within a web page – you won’t have to download anything special to play the game. In fact, here’s a list of games you can play with Parchment right now!

Recent Posts

David the reboot

The past few weeks have been turmoil for me. I don’t want to get into every detail, but in a relatively short period of time my girlfriend and I broke up, I moved to another city and took up residence at my sister’s house. As you can imagine, I have been busy moving this and that, closing some accounts remotely, and stuff you have to do when you move.

Ending a relationship that lasted several years is very traumatic to everyone involved. Moving to another city is as well. Not to mention the fact that I miss our dog terribly. Here I am in my mid-40s and I am suddenly reinventing myself.

I don’t know if any of my siblings or other family will read this, but everyone has been great. People have put me up, helped me find a place to live, hit the garage sales for dishes. I wish I could thank each and every person who has help me get, well, rebooted.

That’s what this is, you know. A reboot. David version 2.0. As a reboot (maybe Christian Bale will play me in the movie) it gives me an opportunity to reinvent myself. What should I do? What kinds of friends should I hang out with? I could, perhaps, blog about my reboot on these pages. But I’m sort of a private person, and I am not sure I am that narcissistic. I’ll think about it.

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