Game Development Reference
In-Depth Information
Lovecraftian horror, madcap slapstick and Machiavellian intrigue. There have been
IF games where you play as animals, or as aliens, or even as babies. One of the great
things about IF is that you have the freedom to experiment.
As for how to dive in and start going about it, I'm a strong advocate for starting
with a mock transcript of what I imagine playing the game would look like when
it's finished. I imagine the actions that players will take, and I craft the responses to
them. This gives me a blueprint to follow when I start writing the code that will print
the right bits of text in the right places. I can then cut and paste the writing from
the mock transcript into the code, then play through it and see if the game's output
looks like the draft model. I usually find that I want a different flow than I planned
for and start breaking up the text in different ways, and of course there quickly come
all sorts of extra ideas for commands to enter, and fun responses to give to them, that
I didn't think of when I wrote the transcript.
And then there is the fun of finding all of the horrible ways your code is wonky
and doing something completely strange. During the process of coding and de-
bugging, you often feel like you're playing a meta IF game, trying to solve puzzles
of your own design. Rather than wondering, “How do I get that locked door to
open?” you lie awake wondering, “How do I write the code to make that locked
door tricky to open?” Long walks and deep ruminations in the shower become the
places where the “Aha!” solutions to programming problems come to you, just like
the way people remember solving the more devious puzzles of Zork II , Planetfall ,and
Trinity .
19.9 The IF Community and Its Resources
The best part about writing IF is the tremendous resource that the IF community
represents. It is an active network of authors with years of collective experience trying
to work out how to do probably the very things you're attempting to figure out. If
you've made a good-faith effort to work it out on your own, presenting the case to
the newsgroup and asking for help will always get prompt and thoughtful responses.
Before you start writing, though, you might want to start playing. Just like people
who want to become screenwriters are always told to watch a lot of movies and read
a lot of scripts, you should start by playing a lot of IF games and reading a lot of IF
source code. The IF Archive ( http://www.ifarchive.org/ ) has piles and piles of freely
available source code to look through, which will often show you how someone else
went about getting a similar effect.
Most important of all, though, are the freely available games. There are so many
of them, in fact, that there are now a number of resources devoted to helping you
sort through them and find the best ones. The IF Archive itself is just that—a rather
dense library whose stacks you can get lost in without some sort of guide. That's
where Baf 's Guide to the IF Archive ( http://wurb.com/if/ ) comes in. Eventually,
people built more tools that interfaced with the guide, creating the IF Ratings site,
the IF Wiki, and the IFDB. (See Appendix G for these and other links.)
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