Game Development Reference
In-Depth Information
Appendix for Chapter 19
J. Robinson Wheeler
In order to play IF games, you'll need to download what's called an interpreter, the software
that runs IF games. There's an interpreter for each IF language for each operating system,
which makes it complicated. Recently, all-in-one interpreters (Gargoyle for Windows and
Spatterlight for MacOS) have been created that try to run all games for you without much
fuss. Similarly, for each language you want to use to write IF, you need to download the library
and the compiler that go with your operating system. The best resource for navigating through
these issues and getting yourself all set is the Brass Lantern website ( ),
which has a Beginners section that teaches you how to play IF and a Writers section that
instructs you in how to find the materials you need to get started.
Choosing a language to use is a separate issue, and of course everyone has their own
preference. The most popular languages are Inform and TADS, with a system called ADRIFT
enjoying a special popularity of its own because it has a graphical interface and does not require
much if any programming to create IF games.
Inform was created by Graham Nelson, who specifically designed it so that he could write
Infocom-style games that compiled to the same game file format that Infocom invented, called
a Z-machine file. This means that Inform games can be played on all platforms that Infocom
games are playable on, and that is extensive—it comprises everything from Commodore 64s
and Apple II+'s to modern laptops and even mobile phones. Inform 6, which was used to
create many of the best IF games of the past decade, is a programming language that somewhat
resembles C or Java. (C and Java programmers would disagree, but it is more or less true,
especially to a non-programmer.) In 2006, Graham Nelson, in collaboration with eminent IF
author Emily Short, released a next-generation update, Inform 7. Eschewing programming
language syntax for English sentences, and bundling it (on MacOS and Windows) with a
development application that includes a suite of special features and language documentation,
Inform 7 is unique and growing in popularity. For more about Inform, take a look at http:// .
TADS (Text Adventure Development System) was originally a shareware software product
written by Michael J. Roberts. TADS version 2 became freeware around the time that Inform
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