Lately I’ve run across the term “hardcasual” or “hard-casual” to mean a game that appeals to a gamer’s sensibilities (rich and original game-play, not just another match-3 or time management clone) but offers the accessibility and limited commitment of a casual game.    .
People often ask me for examples of Glulx multimedia designs; and since I happened to be working on something with an easily extracted lesson, I’ve taken out the relevant code and made a separate project of it.
The idea is that we have a graphical sidebar along the left side of the screen that functions in place of the game’s status line. At the bottom of that sidebar, next to the command prompt, is a clickable compass rose that displays the available exits in each room, and indicates which of the exits lead to already-visited locations. (This is pretty much a combination of the screen layout from City of Secrets with the color-coded compass from Bronze.)
In a finished game, there would be cool pictures and stuff in the upper part of the status bar, or maybe a clock indicating the game time, or some kind of score-counter, or a whole glistening dashboard of steampunk gears and dials tracking seven simultaneous kinds of progress…
But for this example, we just do the compass rose. Here it is, with green letters for new places and white letters for familiar ones:
Anyway, if that all strikes you as interesting, you can try out the gblorb file. Or you can run it for yourself:
- make a new Inform project
- copy my source text and paste it into your source panel
- if you do not have the extensions I use installed, download them from the extensions page and install
- download my Figures folder
- unzip the Figures folder and put it in the Materials directory of your project
(Edited to add: the gblorb file produced will probably not run correctly under Gargoyle or Spatterlight, because they do not use the most up to date version of the Glulxe interpreter. For these purposes, I recommend Zoom on the Mac and Windows Glulxe on Windows.)
For those who don’t follow rec.arts.int-fiction, there is a new release of Inform 7. In addition to fixing over a hundred bugs reported in the previous release, it provides dynamic string handling for the first time, and regular-expression matching.
This means that it’s possible to (for instance) run regular expressions on the player’s command to modify it before parsing; that it’s possible to make any “to say” phrase produce upper-, lower-, title-, or sentence-cased output; and that it’s easier to store and read back text files for use by Glulx.
There are other goodies too.
The recently-launched IFDB has a browser-plug-in mechanism to enable Windows users a one-step “play now” button to download an interpreter and start playing many of the games on the IF archive.
That doesn’t mean that Mac users are out of luck, though. Andrew Hunter announced today a new version of the multi-format interpreter Zoom. With Zoom, you can
- Use the “Find more” button to go browse IFDB. If you already have selected a game file in your Zoom window, it will look up the same game at IFDB, allowing you to read reviews and find walkthroughs, or use IFDB’s recommendation features to locate other games similar to the one you’ve been playing.
- Download and start new games with a single click.
- Automatically search for new interpreter plug-ins for Zoom, increasing its compatibility with minimal user upkeep. This new version adds SCARE to the Zoom interpreter set, so that Zoom is now able to play z-code, Glulx, TADS 2 and 3, Hugo, and Adrift games.
Lots of fun and very elegant.
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.
Another item of interest only to I7 users doing multimedia stuff: