Issue 13 January/February 2004
News and announcements.
1. Main news (ADRIFT 4 gets another
updated release; Campbell looks to the
future of ADRIFT; Campbell gives us
Humbug; Italian resources released;
Mystery updates her website)
2. Competition news
(End of Year Comp; DavidW’s One
Room Comp; InsideADRIFT Spring
3. Forum news
(Seasonally quiet).
Regular features
2. Editorial
3. Drifters birthdays
7. Events diary
8. Real lives:
3. Drifters toolbox: 1
Page 2000 by
9. AD RIFT recent releases
6. Interview: Jason Guest (The Amazing
Poodle Boy)
The (big) idea by KF
: an IF webring is
Think piece
by KF: Is it important to be
part of the wider IF community
Failed game intro
10. The birthday by J ohnny Reb
12. Manual p23: Task s concluded
Issue Details: January/February 2004
Issue 13 (Volume 2 no 4) Editor KF
Issue 14 due out on 28th Feb 2004
News and announcements
ADRIFT 4 gets another updated release
The latest release of ADRIFT Version 4.0, number 43, came
out in December and brought us the much requested option
to reorganize the list of tasks. Campbell added to ability to
simply drag the tasks up and down the list.
This was something that has been asked for many times, but
gives the programmer serious headaches in terms of
keeping all links correct.
A number of other smaller enhancements were made
including buttons to promote/relegate character walks and
insert/duplicate tasks works correctly when filters are
Campbell looks to the future of ADRIFT
In a brief discussion following the InsideADRIFT Awards
ceremony Campbell Wild expressed his hope that, with
ADRIFT 4.0 becoming more stable, he would be able to
squash the high/medium level bugs from the bug list.
This would allow him to consider starting development of
ADRIFT 4.1, although he made clear “Of course it'll surely be
quite a wait for you guys!”, so don’t get too excited. When
asked about the changes he replied “just the major
enhancement requests (from the website). Totally revamp
events, parts of objects, object classes etc”.
Campbell gives us Humbug
Campbell Wild has released his ADRIFT conversion of
Humbug by Graham Cluley. This is something that Campbell
has been working on for quite a long time. It is designed to
be as faithful as possible to the original work, including the
layout and interface, as a way of demonstrating that ADRIFT
can be used for big and tricky projects.
Details of the original can be found on the authors site at
InsideADRIFT Issue 13 January/February 2004
2003 ended in style with the
conclusion of the InsideADRIFT
Awards and the ADRIFT End of Year
Competition (more of which
elsewhere in the newsletter).
Looking forward we have the
prospect that later this year
Campbell will be setting out on the
mammoth undertaking that is needed
to take us through to ADRIFT 4.1. It
is clear that we will need patience
and mustn’t push too hard. Those of
us who were around for the launches
of 3.90 and 4.0 know that the launch
is just the start.
Campbell makes a great effort to fix
any bugs that are pointed out as the
new versions bed down. We must all
follow Mystery’s example and be
good testers as only in that way can
Campbell give us the bug free
product we want.
Just keep in mind we are very
unlikely to see the new version this
year (I think we can be certain of
Send any suggestions, requests or
comments concerning InsideADRIFT
to editor@insideadrift.org.uk
Find the newsletter at:
Italian resources released
Roberto Grassi has created an Italian ALR and synonyms for
ADRIFT that he has called ITdrift 1.0. Roberto admits it is not
complete, but seems committed to continuing to work
towards as complete a job as possible. He has made it
available to download direct from his website at
This is the sort of effort from a Drifter that can help to spread
the word further by easing the route for others. It has already
been suggested that this would be a good starting point for
other language conversions.
Mystery updates her website
Having made the decision that she wanted to redesign her
own site, rather than use a downloaded template, Mystery
spent a while looking around for inspiration. The problem
was to get a layout that she liked, without having the feeling
of having ripped off someone else’s work.
Having attempted to pick another webmaster’s brain, only to
find it sadly lacking in useful ideas, Mystery finally settled on
a simple layout, with graphical links down both sides of the
home page. To see what she has come up with go to her site
at http://home.gcn.cx/mystery/
Competition news roundup
Here we are in 2004 and hopefully all looking forward to entering
the Spring Competition next April. This is an event for unlimited
size, newly released games
The enthusiasm for ADRIFT competitions, at least in theory
continues with another One Room Competition set for February.
The ADRIFT End of Year Competition 2003 is just over
now (
) and the
full results and comments can be found on page 4 of the
The event was a major triumph for Jason Guest’s one room
To Hell in a Hamper
which dominated the
One Room Comp
DavidW posted to the forum suggesting that the time was
approaching for a new competition, something that I was
going to speculate on here.
After some discussion it was agreed that a one room
competition would be the fun way to go and DavidW posted
InsideADRIFT Issue 13 January/February 2004
Drifters birthdays
January 2004
10 Mut (19); Kok aku (19)
11 Ketigid (23)
13 Captain Obvious (21)
14 Sockets (3); Rashstash (16)
15 Marno (50)
27 Lancer Syk era (17)
28 ds490 (16); Soothsayer (18); Elf
Ranger (27)
30 Andye (19)
February 2004
4 WhiteLight (17)
12 Ambrosine (49)
17 T. Mulkerrins (
); WeAreLegion
20 MileOut/MileStyle (25); Clauz (33)
26 Markjd (25)
up some rules for the competition. Then some of us,
including me, suggested the initial end of January deadline
was too soon and it was changed with entries in by 14 Feb
04, judging to be complete by 21 Feb 04. Details are at:
InsideADRIFT Spring Competition 2004
With judging at the end of April, there is still plenty of time to
make a full game to enter this competition. Further details
can be found on the newsletter website at
With the IF Comp over for another year it won’t be long before we
are thinking about the next one. The next major event of the IF
calendar should be the XYZZY Awards in the next couple of
months. If you want your game included it would be a good idea to
make sure it has been sent for uploading to the IF Archive.
Forum news
Seasonally quiet
The forum was hardly buzzing over the Christmas period,
even with a competition and the awards running. There
seemed to be some technical problems, with the ADRIFT
server unreachable, but in the circumstances it wasn’t a
major problem.
In the new year things picked up a little with the one room
comp announcement, and some discussion on the wider IF
community, as represented by the RAIF newsgroup.
Drifters Toolbox: 1
Page 2000
A summary by Mystery
In this issue of Inside ADRIFT, we would like to showcase 1st
Page 2000; a 100% free HTML editor. Before you run off, let
me explain all that this free editor can do in regards to
ADRIFT. I’ve been using it for some time to create my
language resource files. And I can’t tell you how easy it is to
use. At first glance it may seem a little intimidating, but it
really is easy to set up for an ALR.
First, you can download it at the Evrsoft website at
http://www.evrsoft.com/. Once you have downloaded and
installed the program, start it up. You will have the option to
choose what mode you want to use it in, easy, normal,
expert, and hardcore. If you are a little nervous, maybe
starting on easy is the best choice. Now select File>New,
then select New Blank Document.
InsideADRIFT Issue 13 January/February 2004
ADRIFT End of Year
Full Results
“To Hell in a Hamper” by Jason
2. “Dead Reckoning” by DavidW
3. “Sophie’s Adventure” by DavidW
4. "How it all started" by Kevin
5. “Temple of the Sun” by Mystery
6. “Crimson Detritus” by Mystery
Congratulations to Jason Guest on his
triumph in the End of Year Competition.
His game “To Hell in a Hamper” is a truly
original work, designed for a one room
competition, it packs so much into a
small place.
This game was a runaway success, and
a great demonstration of what can be
achieved in ADRIFT.
The competition was pretty close behind
our favourite Poodle, with the last set of
votes dropping “How it all started” from
second to fourth.
DavidW continued to show an amazing
abilit y to get out ADRIFT games, and his
IF Competition
Sophie’s Adventure
to be penalized for it’s sheer size.
Players often feel they can only scratch
the surface when playing it.
It is rather unfair for Mys tery to occupy
the last two places as her entry was a
demonstration of her commitment to
Temple of the Sun
was put
together in a very short space of time,
and probably just needed some fine
You will notice a little menu bar down the left side of the
document. If you hover your mouse over that, it will tell you
what each symbol is for. I select word wrap, show line
numbers, and show gutter. Now you can begin creating your
ALR as you usually would. You can even format your text by
select Format>Font from the menu. If you select expert
mode, you will have a tabbed bar at the top -left of the page,
labeled FONTS, and all you will need is just a click away.
When you are finished creating your ALR, select TOOLS>
and Check Spelling to spell check your ALR. When you are
happy with your work, select FILE>Save AS and save your
file as YourALRname.alr
Be sure you select Text Files as the type to save it as. That
is it.
Now, if you are into creating websites, this is the best, FREE
program out there. It has more features than you can shake
a stick at. It has over 450 scripts, including DHTML, Perl,
HTML, CGI, and Javascripts/VBScripts. It also has a
Complete Web Builder Reference. It is easy for beginners
and experienced users alike. I used it to create The ADRIFT
Network at http://home.gcn.cx/mystery
I’m on dial up and it is well worth the time it takes to
download. You’ll be surprised just how many things you can
accomplish with 1st Page 2000.
Be on the lookout for a new release titled 1st Page 2003 (or
Added comments from KF.
Just thought I’d add my endorsement as I have been using this
software for several years (and introduced Mystery to it). It is my
software of choice for making websites and has a usable FTP
program that can be downloaded as an extra.
Although 1
Page 2000 is getting slightly long in the tooth, there
are so many great features, including the linked in help, syntax
checkers, etc.
One point to note is that some antivirus software report one of the
bundled scripts (Six buttons from Hell) as a virus. Even though it
isn’t you may be wise to delete that script even though it is just
InsideADRIFT Issue 13 January/February 2004
InsideADRIFT Awards
The awards ceremony took place in
the chat room of the MSN ADRIFT
Group. It was attended by ten drifters
including all but one of the Award
The Awards proved to be a great
triumph for Jason Guest as
To Hell
in a Hamper
swept away the
opposition to claim three awards.
Driftingon took the award for the best
ADRIFT game by a new author with
Black Sheep’s Gold
, but was not
available to receive the award.
Your editor feels very humble to
receive the award for the biggest
contribution to the community. I
would like to give a special mention
to Mystery who was just as, if not
more, deserving of the award.
DavidW’s contribution of most
ADRIFT games released this year,
including the only IF Comp entry, was
recognized with the author of the
year award.
It was good to see the efforts of
ralphmerridew rewarded with the
Most innovative Drifter award for his
jAsea clone of the ADRIFT runner.
This sort of project pushes ADRIFT
into new markets as it allows non-
Windows users to play ADRIFT
games. Since the awards Mystery
has made her
Selma’s Will
playable online on her website using
Campbell Wild was rewarded with
the InsideADRIFT Lifetime
Contribution Award, there really was
no other choice for the first such
For those who are interested I have
made a transcript of the ceremony
available on the InsideADRIFT site.
Think piece by KF
Is it important to be part of the wider IF community.
Often it can seem that the ADRIFT community is something
that stands apart from the rest of the IF world. This in itself is
a problem as we are really too small to stand alone.
In order to counter the feeling of insularity, I have tried to
invite members of the broader IF church to answer questions
in the newsletter. This helps to make the point that we are
not a minor clique that has no interest in what is happening
away from us.
Being a part of the wider community means participation in
the rec.arts.int-fiction (RAIF) and rec.games.int-fiction (RGIF)
newsgroups. RAIF is the main focus for discussion of
interactive fiction authoring and RGIF is aimed at the
discussion of actually playing of IF games. While it is easy to
dismiss RAIF because the welcome is often less than
friendly, it is not that different from the sort of reception
sometimes given to new users on the forum. We also have to
look at how we announce ourselves in the newsgroup,
sometimes arguing your case too hard can make you seem
rather arrogant and dismissive.
It may actually be true that our own lovely little forum is part
of the divide as we tend to post less to RAIF compared with
our active numbers. This tends to mean that only a few of us
do post and, unless we are careful, we can look like a few
Another big part of the wider community is the Annual
Interactive Fiction Competition which takes place September
to November each year. Representation in this event plays a
big part in boosting an authoring systems profile. There is
also the temptation, when judging in the IF Comp, to want to
promote ADRIFT by marking up any entries. This strategy
can in itself be counterproductive as it upsets the others in
the community.
As I have written this piece, the feeling has increased that
greater ties to the broader community are vital. To this end I
have posted on RAIF asking for IF enthusiasts to send in
articles or reviews.
InsideADRIFT Issue 13 January/February 2004
Full Results
Best short game: To Hell in a Hamper
by Jason Guest
Best ADRIFT game by a new author:
Black Sheep's Gold by Driftingon
Biggest contribution to the ADRIFT
community: KF
Most innovative Drifter: ralphmerridew
for jAsea
Most unusual ADRIFT setting/plot of the
year: To Hell in a H amper by Jason
ADRIFT Author of the year: DavidW
ADRIFT game of the year: To Hell in a
Hamper by Jason Guest
InsideADRIFT Award for lifetime
contribution to ADRIFT: Campbell Wild
Finally the Awards have come to an
end, I recognize in hindsight they
went on for too long. Fairly early in
2004 I intend to have a consultation
exercise to make sure that lessons
are learnt.
Interview: Jason Guest questioned by KF
This issue our interview is with Jason Guest, known to one
and all in the ADRIFT community as The Amazing Poodle
Jason, first of all thank you for agreeing to this interview.
Q1. An obvious first question is when and why did you come
to ADRIFT, and was it your first foray into the world of
interactive fiction.
I’ve been playing text adventures since I was thirteen years
old. The first one I went out and bought was Scott Adams’
“The Count” which is a deceptively complex game with some
wonderfully clever puzzles. The next thing that went through
my head was “how do you write one of these things.” I had a
book called “Games and other programs for the Acorn
Electron” and this had a simple example game which I used
as a basis for my own adventures.
Over the next few years I expanded the parser to accept four
words instead of two and even reproduced the Scott Adams
split-screen display which I so admired! I don’t remember
much about the games I wrote; one was a fantasy game
involving a magic mirror – the good king’s evil reflection had
taken over the kingdom and your task was to force him back
into the mirror and destroy it. Another was a Rocky and
Bullwinkle / Pink Panther inspired treasure hunt starring a
character called Inspector Macaroon. It was full of corny
humour and bad puns!
Then I went to college and forgot all about text adventures
for ten years. I first discovered ADRIFT in late summer 2001.
My return to the world of IF was inspired by the fact that I
had never actually completed "The Count"; the Acorn
Electron version was bugged, so I was delighted to discover
there was a windows interpreter called ScottFree. Having
finally laid Herr Dracula to rest it crossed my mind that there
might be others out there with an interest in
I wasn't aware of the phrase "interactive fiction" at that time. I
did a Google search for "text adventure authoring systems"
and was surprised at just how many pages came up. The
first authoring system I tried was CAT, but it wasn't flexible
enough for my needs, so I did another search and came up
with ADRIFT. The rest, as they say is history. Having written
text adventures in BASIC as a teenager I considered myself
a bit of a fan but I have to admit that I was completely
InsideADRIFT Issue 13 January/February 2004
Events Diary
February 14, 2004
One Room Comp: entries due in
The competition run by DavidW
goes into the judging phase now.
All you have to do is write a
brilliant game that takes place in
just one location.
February 21, 2004
One Room Comp: judging ends
The competition run by DavidW
comes to an end today.
February 28, 2004
InsideADRIFT Issue 14 due out
The March issue of the ADRIFT
newsletter should be available
April 18, 2004
InsideADRIFT Spring Competition
2004: entries due in
This is a competition for new
ADRIFT games, there is no limit
on the game size except that it
should be less than 400kb OR if
larger it should be hosted
elsewhere and a link supplied.
More details will be posted later.
Judging will take place in the 2
week period to 2 May 2004.
May 02, 2004
InsideADRIFT Spring Competition
2004: judging ends and results
The Spring competition winner is
announced and hailed.
clueless about the wider world of IF when I first downloaded
ADRIFT. I'd been using it a good six months before I’d heard
of TADS, Inform or R.A.I.F.!
Q2. You are the author of some well loved ADRIFT games,
"Goldilocks is a Fox!" and "To Hell in a Hamper" being stand
outs. These were both competition entries, what is your
opinion of competitions as a way of stimulating game
I'm not sure I'd have completed either game were it not for
the pressure of meeting a competition deadline! "To Hell in a
Hamper" was originally written for my own one-room comp,
but ironically I missed my own deadline and decided to enter
it in the Spring Comp instead. I was very surprised when it
won! Not only do competitions provide an additional stimulus
to get a game finished, they're also the best way to ensure
that the maximum number of people actually play it. You only
have to look at R.G.I.F. - almost all of the games discussed
there are competition entries; the rest pass into the archive
unnoticed and rarely get the same sort of attention.
Q3. Your style of writing seems to be well suited to producing
quality short games in ADRIFT, but do you think ADRIFT is
suited only to shorter games.
Not at all; "The PK Girl" and "Sophie's Adventure" both prove
that it is possible to produce a good quality big game using
ADRIFT. "Sophie's Adventure" in particular is huge. In earlier
versions of ADRIFT if you had a large number of objects it
could be hard to find the one you were looking for. The ability
to filter objects by room was a great innovation that makes
the whole process a lot easier. The other improvement made
recently that will make writing large games easier is the
ability to reorder tasks by dragging and dropping them. This
is especially useful if you favour puzzles that use a lot of
duplicate tasks, as I do. I wish I'd had that facility when I
wrote "Goldilocks"! I'd love to make an epic, but the
pressures of work mean that it's hard enough just getting the
short games finished.
Q4. After a rather rocky time in the world of ADRIFT this year
you have moved the focus of your game development to
TADS, while promising not to leave us totally. Can you
explain where you believe that using TADS will benefit
The flexibility of TADS appeals to me; you never have to
think "can it be done," only "am I up to the job of
programming it." Having written IF in BASIC in my youth, I
InsideADRIFT Issue 13 January/February 2004
Real Lives
Guess our real lives have largely
been tied in with the festive
celebrations recently, so no huge
events have come to our
Have you done anything recently in
the real world that you would like to
share with us.
The (big) idea by KF
An IF webring is needed
DavidW asked about the ADRIFT
webring on the forum, and I had to
confess that I had lost control of it.
At that point Mystery put forward
the need for an interactive fiction
ring that would cover the full
breadth of IF material. Her view
was that such a ring would spread
the ADRIFT message wider.
It may well be the case that what
is actually needed is two rings,
one broad, and one ADRIFT
specific. Since many sites belong
to more than one ring this
wouldn’t be a problem.
took to TADS reasonably quickly and have already made
TADS versions of my two previous ADRIFT games. In the
TADS versions I was able to add a few features that would
be near-impossible to accomplish using ADRIFT in its
present form. Pausing character walks during conversations
was one. Others included allowing NPCs to interact more
fully with their environments; stopping when they come to a
locked door, commenting on their surroundings as they move
from room to room, etc. In the TADS version of "To Hell in a
Hamper" Hubert picks up items at random from those strewn
on the floor of the basket; something I'd wanted him to do in
the original ADRIFT version but couldn't find a simple way to
do it. In TADS it is accomplished in just 22 lines of code, to
do the same thing in ADRIFT I would need a task for each
and every dynamic object and an event to run them every
turn. I daresay it could be done, but only by doubling the
number of tasks in the game!
Q5. Can you say what developments in ADRIFT might make
it a more potent force in game creation.
First of all, let me just say that I love ADRIFT, it's great fun to
use and I really appreciate all the hard work Campbell has
put into it over the years. If I've been a little too openly critical
of it recently on the forum it's because I want it to succeed
and have quite strong views about where I'd like to see it go,
but ultimately it's Campbell's baby and he has his own
priorities and pressures.
ADRIFT's biggest weakness when compared with other
systems is its parser, but since that has been discussed often
on the forum and changing the way it works would mean a
major re-write of the program, I’ll stick to things which I’d like
to see in future releases of ADRIFT 4.00. It would be nice to
have a greater range of options for task restrictions and
actions; it would be great, for example, if under the “state of
object” restriction we were able to select “object
must not be
as well as “object
must be”.
Under the “Player & Characters”
restrictions you can have “character must be sitting on
object” but not “character must
be sitting on object” etc.
ADRIFT is a lovely program but it is a little inconsistent in
places. I’ve always wondered, for instance, why you can
move static objects with events but not with task actions.
Ideally, tasks and events should have exactly the same set of
resultant actions. This would make programming complex
puzzles a lot simpler, eliminating the need to have tasks
running events running tasks.
Q6. We know that you are still working away on the
InsideADRIFT Issue 13 January/February 2004
ADRIFT recent releases
This will hopefully be a new regular
feature, bringing you the details of
recently released games, as
described by their authors on
release. The details listed here are as
posted on the ADRIFT adventures
page on Campbell’s site
G7056 (g7056.taf 9 Kb) B y Mike
Firoved, released 29-12-03
G7056 Welcome to the 7056 We just
received word from General Roberts...
Outpost 11 has just been attacked. You
have 3 objectives 1. Rescue all
hostages 2. R estart the power generator
3. Attack Enemy Forces Your plane
tak es off at 2200 hours. Signal when
you have retaken the outpost and we
will come pick you up.
Humbug (humbug.taf 72 Kb) By
Campbell Wild (Original by Graham
Cluley), released 21-12-03
You, Sidney Widdershins, are
sent to your Grandad's for the
school holidays.
Why is Jasper the dentist so
desperate that Grandad should
sell the manor.
Why has Grandad hidden a time
machine in the cellar.
Why does the octopus insist on
performing the ancient ritual of
Wubble-A-Gloop with you.
What doesn't Kevin the
clockwork shark like about your
What would you do with a
trombone, a terrapin and half a
pound of lard. Yes, quite.
All this, and more, is revealed in
Humbug. This is a conversion to
ADRIFT. Please visit
www.grahamcluley.com for the original.
legendary "Gorilla Suit", albeit now in TADS, but what other
projects have you got that you can tell us about.
I tend to have a policy of starting a lot of projects at once and
seeing which ones stick. Coming up with ideas is never a
problem; whether those ideas have legs is another matter
entirely. "Gorilla Suit" is a case in point. I've had no end of
trouble with that game. Essentially the premise is a simple
one - you wake up in a Zoo wearing a gorilla suit that you
can't take off because the zip is stuck. How do you escape
from the zoo when everyone thinks you're a bona-fide
gorilla. The problem is that that premise alone isn't enough
to make a game. A game needs to have a hook; something
to pull you into the story. With "Hamper" it was the appalling
personality of Hubert Booby. DavidW’s “Sophie’s Adventure”
had the dwarves. "Gorilla Suit" doesn't have one as yet. Part
of the problem is that I like to build my games around
colourful NPCs; in “Gorilla Suit” I can’t have the PC talk to
people – that would give the whole game away. Neither do I
want to humanise the animal characters too much as that
would detract from the central idea of a man trapped in a
world in which he doesn’t belong and can’t make himself
understood. I have yet to find that missing ingredient that will
bind the whole thing together. Some games just naturally
"click", like "Hamper" which was made in under three
months; "Gorilla Suit", sadly, is not one of those.
I do have plenty of other irons in the fire. I'm very keen to do
another game set in the Victorian period and have an idea
for one that is very much a black comedy; it’s called “Smoke
and Mirrors” and it’s likely to be written in ADRIFT but I’m not
telling you any more than that! I’m also working on a TADS
game based on “The Adventures of Baron Munchausen”
which will include new adventures as well as ones taken
from the original book. That one will take me a long time to
write as I’m (rather foolishly, perhaps) attempting to write it in
the staccato style of the original eighteenth century novel!
Then there’s that ADRIFT murder mystery game I’ve been
working on for months, a Miss Marple style comedy set in the
same village Hubert Booby hailed from. There just aren’t
enough days in the week!
InsideADRIFT Issue 13 January/February 2004
A.S.D.F.A. (A Short Damn Fantasy
Adventure) (asdfa.taf 27 Kb) By
Davidw, released 30-11-03
You're sure it must be a dream. After all,
the last thing you remember was going
to sleep... and then you found yourself
here! While you're not entirely sure
where here is - haunted mansions not
being your strong point - you're
nevertheless sure you are, indeed,
dreaming. Of course, what you need to
figure out now is what you're going to do
about it. How you're going to wake up.
And how you're going to try and prevent
yourself from getting k illed... (genre:
comedy fantasy) (Expanded version
of a previously released game)
Failed game intros
Haven’t got one this issue, nothing I feel
like letting go of at the moment
If you have an intro or just an idea you
think Drifters might enjoy, why not
send it in to InsideADRIFT.
Review by DavidW
The Birthday by Johnny Reb (Cowboy)
In some ways, The Birthday harks back to the text
adventures I remember playing in the 80’s – a new
illustration for each location – but for the most part it’s firmly
in the adult interactive fiction market of today. The premise is
a simple one: your girlfriend is losing interest in you and
you’ve got to find a way to win her back.
Graphics play a large part in this game, often concealing
clues that are otherwise missing from the text. Unfortunately,
a lot of what is in the graphics is misleading in the extreme
as in quite a few locations at the start of The Birthday there
are beds, desks, tables, etc that don’t seem to exist in the
locations themselves. Indeed, trying to examine them brings
up a response that they aren’t there! But they are. Definitely
so. I can see them in the graphic so I know they are. In
theory, this could have been a pretty neat idea – read
through the room description then look at the graphic and
see what you need to be examining. In practise, it doesn’t
work anywhere near as well. If the time was spent to draw
the items in the graphic then time should also have been
expended to put them in the location.
Another frustrating aspect of the game were, unfortunately,
the bugs. And there were quite a few annoying ones. Trying
to open a window led to me getting killed, and the text
informed me that I had died because I had already opened
the window fasteners (this I was told whether I’d opened
them or not!) Another time, it was possible to look through a
window and see my girlfriend in the room beyond, yet upon
entering the room via the door there was no sign of her.
Head back to the window and look through again and she
has mysteriously reappeared! Strangest of all: entering the
bedroom shows an empty bedroom yet if you knock on the
door beforehand, your girlfriend is there! All this hinted at a
game that was, perhaps, a little rushed in the writing and
without enough due care and attention given to testing it out
The score is one thing I found a little confusing. The
maximum is 153 yet when I finished I had achieved well over
160 – this despite the fact that there were a few things I
wasn’t able to do!
A smattering of guess-the-verb puzzles were evident
throughout. In one location “unlock drawer” worked yet “open
drawer” didn’t. Probably a matter of personal opinion as to
InsideADRIFT Issue 13 January/February 2004
whether this should make a difference but I, for one, felt that
the two should be the same. There were also a couple of
times when logic took a flying leap out of the window. In the
shed I could clearly see a ladder hanging on the wall yet was
unable to take it. Upon figuring out a way to light the shed I
saw another ladder under the sofa yet was still unable to
take it until I had produced still more light. Trying to move or
lift the sofa didn’t produce any noticeable response.
Overall I found The Birthday to be quite an easy and
straightforward game for the most part. Items can mostly be
found by examining what you see, although the use of all the
items isn't always at first obvious. Indeed, by the time I
finished the game, I had several items left over and no idea
what to do with them. Fortunately there is a pretty good hints
system at work here for when you run into those proverbial
brick walls, and this, more than anything, got me through the
trickier parts of the game.
Logic: 6 out of 10
The game had a frustrating habit of not describing countless
numbers of static items. Then there was the strange problem
in the shed when I could see a ladder yet was unable to take
it without looking under the sofa. Why was this necessary if I
knew the ladder was there and I was able to see it.
Problems: 3 out of 10 (10 = no problems)
I found quite a few things with the game that could clearly do
with work on. Missing descriptions for static items, as stated
above, were a big problem and the text being littered with
spelling mistakes didn’t help matters either. There were also
quite a few times when I’d be told there was a
cabinet/bed/desk/etc in the room description yet upon trying
to examine it I’d get a message that such-and-such an item
wasn’t there! Another time the text tells me I've been given
some money but my inventory disagrees. It’s only upon
opening my wallet (which I don’t even have to be carrying at
the time!) that I find the money.
Story: 4 out of 10
The storyline is one of The Birthday’s weaker points. The
general idea is to win back the love of your life and while
there's a reasonably detailed background for setting the
scene, there's precious little in the game storyline-wise.
Characters: 5 out of 10
Average for the most part. None really stood out but then
none were particularly bad either. Lack of conversation was a
InsideADRIFT Issue 13 January/February 2004
major failing. For the most part, I didn’t seem to be able to
strike up a conversation with any of the characters. Talking to
them advises me to try the “ask [character] about [subject]”
mode of conversation, yet I was stumped about what to ask.
Writing: 5 out of 10
The style of writing varied from the good to the not-so-good.
At times it was clear that English wasn’t the writer’s first
language yet, saying that, there was nothing horribly wrong
and nothing so glaringly bad that I was tempted to give up.
Game: 6 out of 10
Good points and bad points, but I felt the good points won
out in the end. The Birthday isn't a masterpiece of a game
but it is worth playing and the illustrations, while not
masterpieces themselves, are good enough to make their
presence here worthwhile.
Overall: 29 out of 60
Concluding our voyage through the most tricky of ADRIFT areas,
tasks. This final bit deals with making tasks repeatable or
reversible, and also creating hints to give your players a clue when
they get stuck.
Manual pages 23: Tasks completed
Repeatable & Reversible
You may want to make tasks repeatable and/or reversible. If
a task is repeatable, the player can type the command any
number of times, and the task will execute as normal. You
can also make tasks reversible. This will clear the completed
status of a task, if it has been completed earlier. Examples of
wanting to do this could be if the task was "open door", then
the reverse command would be "close door". You could then
put a restriction on a movement from a room, to only move if
"open door" is complete.
You could then open and close the door as much as you like,
but only be able to move through it if it was open.
You can have any number of commands for the reverse
command, much in the same way as the initial command,
and wildcards and advanced command construction can
again be used. Note that when you reverse a task, any
actions that the task performed will not be undone – simply
the status of the task will be set back to Not Completed.
InsideADRIFT Issue 13 January/February 2004
© 2004 Edited by KF.
Please send any contributions or
suggestions to kf@kfadrift.org.uk
Reversible tasks share the same restrictions as the forward
part of the task.
If the task is reversible, you can enter in the Message once
reversed text box the message when the task is reversed. If
the task is not repeatable then you can amend the default
message to display if the command is typed again.
You can also make tasks reversible and repeatable. There
are probably not many times when you would want to do this,
but it allows you to execute the task as many
min(%var1%, 2 - %var2%) * 3
times as you want without having to reverse it. If the task is
repeatable and reversible, the Message if task tried again will
also be displayed if the player types the command to reverse
the task when it has not been completed (or it has been
If the task is particularly difficult, you may want to supply a
hint for the task. There are three parts to a hint. The first is
the question. This is to allow the player to know which
problem the hint refers to. When the player types "hint" in the
game, a list of all the hints is supplied which can be
completed in their current location. For example, if there was
a slide that the player wanted to climb, but it was too
slippery, you could have a question such as "How do I get up
the slide.”
The subtle hint should be enough to get the player thinking
along the right lines. So for the above example, you might
want to put "Perhaps you don't have enough grip...” This
would hopefully be enough to let the player know that they
needed some kind of footwear.
The sledgehammer hint should be almost the answer. You
don't have to give a sledgehammer hint to a question. In the
above example, you may want to say, "Try wearing the
climbing boots!"
NB. In the game, if the player uses a subtle hint, they will
only score half points for the task. If they use a
sledgehammer hint, they will not score at all for completing
the task.
© Campbell Wild, Oct 2003
Information is copied and pasted from the manual and while every
effort is made to be accurate, there are no guarantees that it is
error free.