Notes on the Direction of Inform

Yesterday Graham Nelson spoke to the Oxford/London IF Meetup about what he has been doing with Inform recently, what has and has not been successful (in his view), and where the project is going next. The slides and text are now available here.

Because the talk is intended for a mixed audience, it does explain some things that readers of this blog may already know well, but by the later part of the talk is introducing some new elements.

15 thoughts on “Notes on the Direction of Inform”

  1. Thanks for the link to this preso. I look forward to learning more about how this might impact users of Inform7. It would be interesting to know even if there are no changes at the Inform7 language level, will this new infrastructure result in better performance, faster compile time, easier debugging, more frequent releases, or dizziness, indigestion, the heartbreak of psoriasis etc? ;-)
    I greatly appreciate all that you, Graham and others in the Inform7 community do.

  2. Also, this looks like it was a great talk. It provides a lot of insight into the making of Inform.

  3. What an enchanting history of literate programming; I’ve never been so curious and excited about a “way” of coding than when reading about Graham’s creative philosophy in this presentation.

    I’ve written a full-featured IF editor in C# / Unity but still struggle with manageable expressiveness and world modeling, so the future talk here about creating a more digestible output for I7 has me giddy. I think I’d like to help with that part if my skills are up to it.

  4. Such a delightful reading! I wonder if core support for other languages is being considered for the future, i.e. being able to write/program (history + code) fully in a language other than English?

    1. I trying to write a core module parser for portuguese/engish. but is too different languages. the hardest thing at now is the fact that all noums/articles in portugues has gender . this require an much more complex Noum type.
      Quando expande isso para o japonês vira uma complicação absurda, pois ha vários tipos de pronomes e plurais
      Maybe the solution is write an generic core, and (expecialized parsers + phase generators) for each language

  5. I want to drop just a cautionary tale about going away from the traditional story files of compiled works of IF. Right now, this has provided an accessible ecosystem of works of art. Our games, to be run by interpreters, or html files, provide an ideal environment for accessibility. The easiest example to talk about this is voice readers, for visually impaired people. They readers, even the readers integrated into Android and iPhone devices work smoothly with Twine games and Inform games built with an integrated website. Also, most interpreters work great with accessibility options for the desktop.

    I think, I’m not an expert in this field, but I have some experience trying things and studying the topic.

    So I think we must be careful to just encapsulate our IF works for the sake of it. Of course, I imagine this trend would be implemented in Inform 7 as an optional one, but eventually, if a trend that permeates in the users, will render most of our works unreadable for a lot of people.

    I’ve seen even some twine works being unreadable by voiceover just because they were encapsulated using Cordova. (encapsulated to be provided as a Google Play app). And of course, any If game integrated with Unity will lose automatically all its accessibility by nature. So I will provide a cautionary warning in the future chapter of Inform 7 exports. Do your game needs really to be encapsulated at all? Should you need to provide a plain text game as an alternative for people with accessibility problems?


  6. Also… I want to note. You can already add CYOA options to an Inform 7 game. Even you can build a proper hypertext interface with an inform 7 game with existing libraries. So I wonder if those must be studied to not reinvent the wheel. As with other past extensions that they were added by default to the main I7 ecosystem.

    I recommend casting an eye to this Spanish game: La pequeña cerillera. It builds an Inform 6 games in a beautiful canvas with multimedia and an elegant hypertext UI.

  7. I still working in a opensource implementation of inform 7 language as Interpreted language (opposite for compiled language as is now) . coded in pure C++17 ( and javascript by emscripten ). with a standalone interpreter
    Is really hard resolve the grammatical ambiguity. I solve via combinatoria parser technics and the results are very good,
    the query system ( something like prolog ) for check equality and values is far the most complex system in the project. but is works fine and very modular.

  8. The presentation proposes a public release later in 2018, aiming to address four out of five “crises,” one of which is the fact that Inform isn’t open source.

    Am I right in understanding that the goal is that the upcoming major public release will be open source? (Or, at least, that’s the goal for this year?)

  9. @Eraldo:

    > I still working in a opensource implementation of inform 7 language

    Thank you! It is frustrating to have non-free Inform 7 built on the free-software Inform 6. That forces double work to make an Inform 7 implementation with software freedom.

    Where are you working on your project? Are you inviting collaborators?

  10. As a reminder: this is my blog, and I posted this item in the same way I might post a link to any other presentation from the London IF Meetup that someone had permitted me to put online. Graham doesn’t generally read comments here, and I have stepped back from the role of trying to manage communication between him and the community multiple years ago. Therefore, I no longer answer questions or make commitments on his behalf, nor do I try to mediate how the community at large feels about development times and processes. I do, when he’s ready and interested, assist in letting him speak for himself, hence encouraging him to speak to the Meetup.

    I’m fine with leaving this comment thread open unless it turns actually abusive (which it’s occasionally done on this topic in the past, but not so far this time); I just wanted to warn people that there’s not much point in asking me for information that isn’t already contained in the talk.

    However, I’d suggest that if the community wants to discuss more generally projects it wants to undertake in response to Inform’s current standing, or has other community-action-organizing things to do, a venue like intfiction would make more sense and reach more of the intended audience.

    1. Is there an appropriate online venue to pose questions to Graham about this talk?

      1. > Is there an appropriate online venue to pose questions to Graham about this talk?

        I imagine the important part of that question (certainly the part I am most interested in) is, a forum where Graham will read *and likely respond* to questions about activities like this. Ideally, a forum where Graham normally participates in discussion.

      2. There is not such a forum, no. And yeah, since “please do not hold me responsible for Graham’s communication” is not working, I am closing this to comments now. The intfiction thread on the talk is here.

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