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Inform 7

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For those of you unaware of what Inform 7 is or what it does let me give you a brief synopsis: Inform 7 is a programming environment used to create text adventures or as the industry names them: Interactive Fiction. You see back in the old days of computing there were no pictures (or crudely drawn using text characters as shown on the next page), and most of computing was not for entertainment value. Books were still the medium of escape with movies and music on par for entertainment value. This was the 1960’s, 70’s and early 80’s when the concepts of an adventure game like Dungeon’s and Dragons was starting to gain popularity and people’s imaginations reigned supreme.

The text adventures were the computer version of a role playing game. Not all of them had mythical creatures, and many of them did not use point systems or fighting or time (though many did). The point of the early Interactive Fiction games was to create the equivalent of a choose your own adventure book in the form of a world that you could explore, all within a program sitting inside your computer. With a blinking cursor staring you in the face you were left to make the decisions on where you would like to go and what you would like to do. Obviously the world inside the computer was not unlimited and many of the places you went to had little activity, but this was the start of good game design and there was nothing like it. A simple command like “GET LAMP” or “OPEN DOOR” would cause an event that you might not have anticipated.

It was within these early years of computing that the fundamentals of game design, concepts like balance, difficulty levels, mazes, points and scoring were created for the fledgling industry. A game that was great was not the one that had the best graphics, nor the best sounds or neatest ways to die. There was usually no graphics, no sounds, and many times the ways to die were more numerous and frustrating than you can imagine (like falling into a pit because you forgot to turn on a lantern inside a cave). It was in this world of words that computer games received a fundamental lesson needed for success: good plot and a great story. Today’s games are sorely lacking in the plot department. Many of today’s computer game designers are too focused on pretty pictures and loud sounds, or the way a bullet will hit the wall and leave a dent. What we lack in the modern world are the games that actually had substance. There is very little difference in plot between today’s modern shooter game and the old repetitive shooters of the past.

So I played around with Inform 7 and created a very, very tiny version of a microgame (really not a game at all, just an example of a text adventure.. it has two rooms, and two things you need to do in order to win the game). In the game you are a Beagle (like my dog Bella) and you have two places to visit: the living room and the kitchen. There are two things that are in the game: a sock and a doggie treat. You have to eat both (since dogs always eat things they should not eat). That is it, and yet in this text adventure you can get a feel for what the world used to have : imagination.

I encourage you to try to write your own text adventure, especially if you are a writer or someone who desires to be a good game designer. You will learn a lot about the fundamentals.

 

 SkyDrive Location for Test Game Example (this is the game location, it is called Dog Gone It.zblorb… just click on it to download)

Source Material for Dog Gone It! (if you want to see the actual guts of the game, this is it)

Windows Frotz 1.15 (you need this program to play the game)

Inform 7 (the website where you can download the software needed to create your own game!)

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Written by Josecito

October 7, 2011 at 7:01 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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