Whoa! or: Original research on the Crowther and Woods Adventure

Dennis Jerz has just released an article, set for Digital Humanities Quarterly, on the time-line of the original Adventure, together with an analysis of Crowther’s source code and how Woods changed it. There are also photographs of the actual cave rooms that correspond with the game, which are amazing. This is great stuff.

Two really quite minor extensions

Now that the I7 extensions page has RSS, it may be redundant to announce these at all, but I have added two little extensions in the last couple of days. One is called “Modified Exit”, designed to deal more sensibly with cases where the player wants to go somewhere but is sitting on an enterable supporter or is inside an enterable container; it makes a few other tweaks to the standard rules on exiting as well.

The second is even more tiny: Property Checking goes through and makes sure all your rooms and objects have descriptions, as a test. (It will not do this in released games — this is purely a debugging function.) I built it because I was startled to find in my (slowly ongoing) Floatpoint revision that I had one or two things about which the player could still see nothing special. Oops.

IF in the ACM literature

Recently I’ve been looking at academic papers available at the Association of Computer Machinery portal, checking out what various scholars and conference-attenders have recently had to say about interactive fiction. (Note that while you can register with the site for limited free service, full access is by subscription, so your best bet is to access it through a registered library.)

It turns out that what these papers have to say is often some variation on “here is why conventional interactive fiction doesn’t live up to its promise: …”. They have different ideas of what that promise is.

One take on this:

Continue reading “IF in the ACM literature”

Minor improvements

The Inform extensions page has now been upgraded so that

  • The defunct “(compatible with 4S08)” tags have been removed, since they’re no longer relevant; all extensions on the page have been re-
    tested as of this afternoon and those that do not compile (and there are only a couple) have been marked accordingly.
  • Extensions are now time-stamped with the date of last modification. (At the moment everything is registered to today, but new extensions will be correctly stamped as they are added.)
  • New or recently updated extensions are now marked “new” or “updated.”
  • Some new categories have been added to make things easier to find.
  • A table of contents appears at the head of the page to make navigation easier; this also shows in which categories new or updated extensions have been filed.
  • The site now has an RSS feed which will automatically carry information on any new and updated extensions as they are added.

Recent Plays

Yesterday I played Mondi Confinanti’s “Little Falls”, a Glulx horror/thriller game. It’s short (less than an hour to play once), with few puzzles, largely relying on atmosphere; it provides full illustration and sound effects. I had mixed feelings — fuller review to follow — but I was impressed by the polish and effort, and probably would have found it more effective if I hadn’t gotten stuck on something stupid for quite a long time. If you enjoy horror or are interested in multimedia IF, it’s worth a look. There’s a page on the game and a download page.

A few weeks back, I played and enjoyed Jon Ingold’s “Dead Cities” from the Lovecraft Commonplace Book Project. I’ve yet to try anything else from that set, partly because “Dead Cities” was so cool I wanted to just let it stand on its own for a while. Wonderfully atmospheric, with some creepy, visionary elements.

Also worth a look: Eric Eve’s “Blighted Isle” (Zip file here). I beta-tested, so will not be reviewing it, and a few things may have changed since I tried it. But it is a sizable historical piece with multiple endings, a large host of characters, and the care and polish you would expect from Eve.