InsideADRIFT ISSN 1743-0577
1
Issue 21 January/February 2005
Contents
News and announcements.
1. Main news
(Updated ADRIFT
website launched and hacked;
Results of the InsideADRIFT Awards;
OARS on the move again; Reviews
Exchange Issue 2 out now.)
2. Competition news
(
Game of the Year Competition
results; InsideADRIFT Spring Comp
announced
)
4. Forum news (
Changes are
coming
)
Regular features
2. Editorial
3. Drifters birthdays
4. Events diary
4. Drifters Toolbox: DAZ Studio
reviewed by KF
7. ADRIFT recent releases
9. InsideADRIFT merchandise
13.ADRIFT Wordsearch Puzzle:
Drifting Authors and Games
Articles
5.
The (big) idea by KF
:
Mimesis:
is it that important.
7. The Retro Appeal by David
Whyld
10
. Stop procrastinating and write
that game by Lumin
Reference
7. Manual: Overriding system
commands
Issue: 21 (Jan/Feb 05)
Issue 22 due out 27 Mar 05
News and announcements
Updated ADRIFT website launched but hacked
On December 12 Campbell Wild announced the launch of an updated
version of the main ADRIFT website. Gone are the more static pages
and, in their place, is a more modern portal. Unfortunately the site was
taken down when it was hacked into, and it was a long haul for
Campbell to rebuild the server. Currently email is working, but the site is
still offline. The outage began on Thursday 20
th
January, and it was only
on Wednesday 26
th
that we heard from Campbell what had happened.
Getting back to the positive rather than negative point of this item, and
looking at what the site is.
There have been a few early niggles, such as the fact all the files from
the old adventures page are there, but initially the author was set to
anonymous. This has largely been sorted by people registering with the
site, and then Campbell manually matching the authors with their
InsideADRIFT Issue 21 January/February 2005
2
Editorial
Well, Christmas and the New
Year celebrations have come
and gone. Here we are looking
ahead to another year of
drifting.
My thanks to David Whyld and
Lumin for providing two
thought provoking articles for
this issue.
I think we are all coming to
realise just what a large part
of our lives the forum has
become. As day followed day,
with no sign of it‘s return, the
feeling of concern grows, what
if it never comes back.
KF
Contact
Send any suggestions,
requests or comments about
the newsletter to:
editor@insideadrift.org.uk
Find the newsletter at:
http://www.insideadrift.org.uk/
InsideADRIFT merchandise
You can now purchase an
exciting InsideADRIFT mug, if
you so desire. It has been
updated with the new logo.
The store is really not fully
operational, if you are
interested look at
www.cafepress.com/insideadrift
More details can be found on
page 9.
site, and then Campbell manually matching the authors with their
games. Another problem is that the files are not divided as they were
before between games and demos. As a temporary measure the
demos have been marked in their titles.
Something that will need to be sorted out is that there is currently no
way to download version 3.90 as the link doesn’t work.
Results of the InsideADRIFT Awards for 2004
After periods of nominations and voting at the end of 2004 the
InsideADRIFT Awards ceremony took place in a chat room on the
InsideADRIFT site.
Nominations had been pretty close, with two of the five categories
needing an extra round of voting to get them down to three
nominations. With the game of the year being decided by the
InsideADRIFT Game of the Year Competition, there were six awards to
hand out.
The awards and winners are shown below
1. Most unusual ADRIFT setting/plot of the year. W ax W orx by Eric
Mayer
2. Best in game implementation. Choose your own by David W hyld
3. ADRIFT game of the year (winner of InsideADRIFT Game of the Year
Competition). Paint!!! by David W hyld
4. Best contribution by a newcomer to the ADRIFT community.
Richard Otter (rotter)
5. Biggest contribution to the ADRIFT community (excluding game
writing). Jointly Tedswippet and Mystery
6. ADRIFT author of the year. David W hyld
As can be seen the awards where a triumph for David Whyld who
picked up three awards as a reward for what was another highly
productive year for him.
O.A.R.S. on the move again
The Online ADRIFT Reference Site (OARS) has moved back under the
control of Andy Nicholas (NickyDude), whose original idea it had been.
Mystery felt that she could not devote the necessary time to the site as
there were few other contributor.
The new site at
http://oars.madladdesigns.co.uk/
is designed to be a
fairly static site, there for when drifters need to look something up.
InsideADRIFT Issue 21 January/February 2005
3
Drifters birthdays
February
4 WhiteLight (18)
12 Ambrosine (50)
14 Joseph_IV (37)
17 T. Mulkerrins (101)..;
WeAreLegion (29)
20 MileStyle (26); Clauz (34)
21 jvoilleq (32)
26 Markjd (26)
27 ralphmerridew (27)
28 Faraday00 (39)
March
1 Lyle Brown (20); QueenFelix
(32)
3 Black_Mage (14)
4 lizparnell (24)
7 Kerikhan (19); onnodb (20);
Pattra (16)
9 Axiom (44)
11 neo (17)
17 Superplonker (21)
20 EdS (36); shadow_2014 (17)
21 icypenguin (21)
25 FireWyrm (22)
26 rgrassi (35); doogle (27)
27 merryjest (26)
28 chocolatecake888 (30)
31 JodoKast (18)
Reviews Exchange Issue 2 out now
The latest issue of the publication dedicated to boosting the feedback to
ADRIFT authors.
The following reviews are in this bumper issue
Back To Life... Unfortunately by David Whyld [2 reviews]; reviews by
Laurence Moore and Lumin
The Cabin by Blue Roses; review by Lumin
The Cave Of Morpheus by Mark Silcox; review by THoiA
City Of Secrets by Emily Short; review by David Whyld
Darkness by Richard Otter; review by David Whyld
Doctor Who & The Vortex Of Lust by Christopher Cole; review by THoiA
The HeBGB Horror by Eric Mayer; review by David Whyld
The Magic Show by Jason MacInnes [2 reviews]; reviews by David Whyld
and Laurence Moore
The Second Three Hour Comp by Various; review by David Whyld
We Are Coming To Get You! by Richard Otter; review by Laurence Moore
The Woods Are Dark by Cannibal; review by THoiA
This issue, along with Issue 1 are available to download as a PDF from
http://www.shadowvault.net/rex.htm
Competition news roundup
InsideADRIFT Game of the Year Competition 2004
The votes are in and the competition is over. We had an interesting
group of games for people to play and judge. In the end we had a pretty
clear cut winner as David Whyld's "Paint!!!" was convincingly ahead of
his other game "Shards of Memory which tied for second place with
Eric Mayer's "Wax Worx".
David Whyld is the winner of the fifty dollar first prize and also wins
twenty two dollars fifty along with Eric Mayer for sharing second place.
Full Results
1. Paint!!! by David Whyld (davidw) - 9 6 8 7 8 = 38 (Av=7.6)
=2. Shards of Memory by David Whyld (davidw) - 6 8 6 7 7 = 34 (Av=6.8)
=2. Wax Worx (Version 2) by Eric Mayer 6 - 6 8 8 6 = 34 (Av=6.8)
4. Shadrack's Underground Adventure by Mystery 4 8 6 7 7 3 = 35 (av=5.83)
5. The Curse of DragonShrine by Mystery 5 6 7 6 7 1 = 32 (Av=5.33)
6. Darkness by Richard Otter 3 8 5 7 - 3 = 26 (Av=5.2)
Congratulations to our winners and thanks to those who entered and
those who judged.
InsideADRIFT Issue 21 January/February 2005
4
Events Diary
March 2005
Tue 15 Spring Thing 2005
This is the last day for making a
statement of intent to enter the
Spring Thing
Sat 26 - Sun 27 InsideADRIFT
22 due out
The March/April issue of the
newsletter is due to be released
this weekend.
Thu 31 Spring Thing 2005
All entries must be in by this date.
The judging period will be
announced when entries are
released (will allow about one
week for every three entries)
April 2005
Sun 17 - Sun May 01
InsideADRIFT Spring
Competition 2005
The InsideADRIFT Spring
Competition is open for any
unreleased, but complete, Adrift
games. Competition entries must
be in by 17 April 2005 with
judging tak ing place in the
following 2 weeks.
InsideADRIFT Spring Competition 2005
The rules for the next InsideADRIFT competition are up now on the
website.
Background
The InsideADRIFT Spring Competition is open for any unreleased, but
complete, Adrift games. Competition entries must be in by 17 April 2005
with judging taking place in the following 2 weeks.
Prizes
3 to 6 entries
1st prize will be forty US dollars
2nd prize will be twenty five US dollars
7 entries or more
1st prize of fifty US dollars
2nd prize of thirty US dollars
3rd prize of twenty US dollars
More details at
http://www.insideadrift.org.uk/e107/e107_plugins/custompages/comp_sprin_o5.php
Spring Thing 2005
The competitions rules are now posted up and everything is set for take
off.
There has been a rule change with the upper limit on the number of
entries that will be accepted being removed.
One Room Gam e Competition 2005 underway
Francesco Cordella posted on RAIF (rec.arts.int-fiction newsgroup) to
announce the launch of this competition for all IF languages. It is the
third edition of the Comp organized by www.avventuretestuali.com and
reserved to one room interactive fiction games written in any language
and programming language.
Rules, deadlines, prizes etc. are here:
http://www.avventuretestuali.com/orgc/orgc2005_eng.html
Forum news
Major changes ahead on the forum. Campbell Wild has appointed Mystery
and KF to be super administrators, with the power to make changes to
the forums and to act as his representatives in sorting out any non-
technical problems on the forum.
Unfortunately, virtually as soon as we received our new appointments,
the whole ADRIFT server became unavailable, which meant we couldn‘t
start work on developments.
InsideADRIFT Forums
The forums on the InsideADRIFT website have been reorganised in the
hope that they will provide a refuge when the main ADRIFT site is out of
action. Currently they are pretty much a desert, but the latest outage of
the main forum confirms the need for alternative arrangements to be
made.
InsideADRIFT Issue 21 January/February 2005
5
The (big) idea by KF
Mimesis: is it that important.
There is so much talk of mimesis
in interactive fiction, but is it over
emphasised to the detriment of
authors and players alike.
Definition: [n] the imitative
representation of nature and
human behaviour in art and
literature
There is so much emphasis in
modern discussion of IF about
how everything talked about must
be there to “avoid break ing
mimesis”. When writing static
fiction this is less of a problem, as
the reader cannot decide to play
with an object you just added for
effect. In interactive fiction the
author has the option of reducing
objects in the game, and at the
same time making the game less
interesting, or they can make sure
every tiny thing mentioned is
backed up by a description.
In many ways the reduced object
count takes us back towards the
older IF style of the 1980s, where
computer memory restrictions
forced many compromises. This
is also a type of game now looked
back fondly on by players.
Perhaps this is because modern
games have become more
interested in attempting to
simulate the world, rather than
make a game that is fun to play.
When you are playing a game,
and a family member comes up to
ask if you want a cup of tea, do
you throw a tantrum because your
mimesis has been wrecked.
Sadly I have a feeling there are
some who might, but most people
would just answer, and then
maybe return to their game.
While the following would be
unacceptable to most, if not all
game players, it illustrates where
the problem arises.
Drifter’s Toolbox
Pieces of software that may be of interest to drifters when they are
developing their games. Reviewed here is a useful bit of software that is
capable of producing high quality images, and eases the route to having
figures in your graphics.
DAZ Studio reviewed by KF
Starting off with a piece taken from the DAZ website that gives an
overview of the DAZ Studio project..
Join the DAZ|Studio program and help build a new cornerstone of digital
image creation. DAZ|Studio is a free application supported solely by
revenue generated from the sale of digital content (sold separately).
DAZ|Studio is a free software application that allows you to easily create
beautiful digital art. You can use this software to load in people, animals,
vehicles, buildings, props, and accessories to create digital scenes.
DAZ|Studio includes two pre-configured scenes ready for you to "Load &
Render" within DAZ|Studio. Just double-click on the scene thumbnails
inside of DAZ|Studio, and everything will come on screen posed, lit, and
ready for you to create a stunning digital image.
The interface will be fairly standard for those who have used 3D
packages, but I do feel it makes things simpler.
The scene below is supplied free with DAZ Studio, though the
downloads are on the large side. It is a demonstration of just what can
be done, the elements can be moved around individually in three
dimensions before being rendered.
InsideADRIFT Issue 21 January/February 2005
6
A large and imposing oak
tree stands in the middle
of the field.
> x oak tree
You see no such thing
Would be poor writing, how far
down into the description of the
tree is really needed. This sets
the author the problem of trying to
stop the player wanting to
examine further, or risk the wrath
of the mimesis police.
There is no right or wrong answer
as to the depth of detail that
should be implemented in a
game, the genre and style of the
game can dictate some of the
level. Essentially if you describe a
tree, others will want to examine
the branch, twig, leaf, acorn and
weevil within the acorn, and
complain when they can’t.
One of the main rules with writing
is write for yourself, if you are
satisfied with how you have
written it, and have worked hard
to mak e it as good as you can,
you really shouldn’t be overly
concerned when some come
along with different standards.
Apart from the usual menus and toolbars the most obvious area of the
screen is the view window in the middle where you see what your
scene will actually look like. All of the other windows can be moved
around, or removed.
As can be seen at the bottom of the screen there is now a timeline,
added since I produced the first version of this review for my
KF
ADRIFT on the Web
site, which means that you can do stop go
animation. A music file can also be added as a sound track to the
animation.
I have now done a little work with the above scene, rotating it a little
adjusting the viewing angle, changing the characters pose, and, where
a tree trunk didn’t quite work as it was too close, setting it to not visible.
The scene was then rendered and is shown below untouched.
As always it should noted that if you aren't an artist the results won't be
brilliant. I am far from an artist and feel the results are perfectly
acceptable, figures are always a nightmare normally, but that is where
DAZ/Poser excel.
It is important to remember this is still BETA software and there are still
bugs in it. Nevertheless it works pretty well. You have to understand
that while the program is free, DAZ are hoping that once you have it
you will by extra content from them. It is expected that the first non-beta
release will be out this year, and development has been fairly swift over
the six months that I have been using this program.
Important extra news from DAZ
In 2005 DAZ have announced that you will be able to obtain their best
selling Victoria 3 and Michael 3 figures for free. Previously they were
available for $39 each. These figures are used extensively within the
Poser community and there are plenty of props, clothes and accessories
available for them.
The DAZ site can be found at
http://www.daz3d.com/
InsideADRIFT Issue 21 January/February 2005
7
ADRIFT recent
releases
Since the re-vamped ADRIFT
site has changed the way
things are displayed I may do
similarly.
Ticket to No Where v1.1 (66 Kb,
ticket.zip) By rotter, released
Sun 2nd Jan 2005
In the race of life Colin never
seems to even get on the starting
blocks. Colin is a less than
effective stationary salesman
(pens, pencils etc). Broke
Brothers his last big customer (in
fact his only customer) are about
to move to the opposition, Super
Stationary. Stuck in the railway
station from hell you must help
Colin keep his job. [5th place in
the Adrift Summer Comp 2004]
New rooms (DEMO) (1 Kb,
1_newrooms.taf) By KF,
released Wed 15th Dec 2004
A fairly simple way of displaying
the room description when you
move the player to a random
room.
Back To Life...
Unfortunately [version 4]
(74 Kb, backtolife.taf) By
davidw, released W ed 15th
Dec 2004
An ancient king is resurrected
by his adoring populace...
much to his dismay as he kind
of liked being dead - lots of
time to think, put your feet up
and, best of all, no work. But
now he‘s back, he‘s expected
to do the job of ruling an
empire which stretches across
half the globe and is
constantly at war with
everyone. Time, he decides,
he died again... [genre:
comedy]
This is the recommended
game for this issue. I have
enjoyed playing it and
think that it should appeal
to a wide audience.
Articles
The Retro Appeal by David Whyld
Mention the words “retro game” to a modern day IF player and you'll probably
see them groan. When they think “retro game” they think “mazes” and “guess
the verb” and “mimesis breaking” and “too hard” and “too big” and (let’s face it)
“rubbish”.
It’s no secret that retro games aren't very highly regarded by most of the
modern day crowd. Why.
Mazes
It’s a common misconception about the retro years that the games were
infested with mazes. You started in a maze, solved it, found yourself in another
maze, solved that and - lo and behold! - another maze!
Yet were that many of the retro games maze-infested to that degree. I don’t
remember that being the case. Admittedly my favourite game of the period -
The Hobbit - did have a maze in it (and a particularly irritating one it was as
well due to the goblins which appeared at random and threw you back into
your cell every few moves) but I don’t recall the retro period of IF games to
have that many mazes. Out of every 100 retro games available at the
IFArchive, I imagine less than 10% had a maze and most weren't overly
difficult to complete once you got into the habit of drawing a map (a necessity
back in the days when games often stretched to a couple hundred locations).
Of course, the old saying “once you've seen one, you've seen ‘em all” certainly
applies to mazes. Clever game designers might go out of their way to
introduce new and inspired maze ideas but at the end of the day what you had
was still a maze. There are only so many different ways you can design a
game and though some might use some inspired ideas to make them appear
different to the rest, they were all the same basic maze.
As an aside, one irony about mazes that never fails to amuse me is the way
quite a lot of the modern crowd hold up a game lik e Zork as one of the few
games of the retro years they are prepared to accept was brilliant. Yet didn’t
Zork have a maze. I wonder what the reaction from the modern crowd would
be if a new game every bit good as Zork came out today. Probably “it’s got a
maze so it must be awful!”
Guess The Verb
Another cited reason for just why the retro gaming period was considered such
a washout. But then the same criteria could be applied to the current gaming
period as well and I certainly finished more games back in the 80’s than I do
now. Generally when I finished a retro game it was through sheer persistence
and more than a little luck (this being back in the days of yore before the
internet came along and people posted walkthroughs on websites or forums; if
you got stuck, you could always write to a computer magazine but the delay
between writing to one of them and actually getting your letter published and
being told what to do (if that ever happened at all) was such that you were
often better off trying to finish the game on your own than asking for help.)
When I finish a game now, it’s usually because I've either found the
walkthrough happily posted on the internet, asked for help or (in the case of
many ADRIFT games) cheated and looked in the Generator to find out what I
needed to do.
So was the dreaded guess the verb more prevalent in the retro years than it is
now. I don’t think so. Show me a retro game with guess the verb and I’ll show
you two modern games that suffer from the same problem.
InsideADRIFT Issue 21 January/February 2005
8
to a wide audience.
Darkness V1.05 (26 Kb,
darkness.zip) By rotter,
released Tue 14th Dec 2004
For the first time in living memory,
the lighthouse on the Croxton
Rock was in darkness. First on
the scene, you discover an empty
lighthouse and a missing crew. It
is now up to you to discover the
truth. [6th in InsideADRIFT Game
of the Year Comp 2004]
A Day In The Life Of A Super
Hero (162 Kb, superhero.taf) By
davidw, released Tue 14th Dec
2004
The fiendish Tax Collector and his
gang of cronies are threatening
the city and only YOU - the fabled
Masked Defender - can stop him!
[genre: super hero]
Door and NPC (DEMO) (1 Kb,
door2.taf) By Mystery, released
Wed 1st Dec 2004
This demonstrates how to be able
to go through a door once it is
unlocked. It also displays the next
room and the NPC’s that are
there.
The Three-Hour Games
Competition (223 Kb,
3hourcompetition.zip) By
various authors, released Tue
23rd Nov 2004
"This package contains the six
entries in The Three-Hour Games
Competition, with a judging form.
Each author has completed their
game in three hours or less.
Please play the games, and judge
by completing the enclosed
judging form and sending it to
woodfish5@hotmail.com by
Tuesday 7th December 2004.
Enjoy!"
The Magic Show (102 Kb,
magicshow.zip) By Jason
MacInnes, released Sun 21st
Nov 2004
"A sk illed magician, you expect
it'll just be another night working
at the dinner theatre. Or so the
evening begins as you head out
you two modern games that suffer from the same problem.
Mimesis Breaking
Who gives a hoot. Seriously.
Mimesis breaking seems to be a phrase thrown around so often these days
that you'd think some people only play IF because it gives them something to
complain about. The idea that you can ever forget you're playing a game and
be completely immersed in the game world is pretty ridiculous and yet the least
indication in the game that it’s a game you're playing and not something that’s
really happening has people up in arms. They go from one extreme to another
in pointing out why such-and-such a game breaks mimesis and seem to go
into almost paroxysms of rage at the very idea of it. One amusing post I read
on RAIF once criticised a game in which the player checked his e-mail the
moment he woke up - “but isn't that breaking mimesis to suggest that someone
checks their e-mail the moment they wake up.” cried the anguished poster.
Earth to poster: you really need to get out more. It’s a game for crying out loud!
Every day I expect to read a post on RAIF from someone saying that they had
to type commands into a game and that brok e mimesis to such a degree they
couldn’t bear to continue playing.
Here’s a shock revelation: mimesis isn't that important. It’s not completely
irrelevant and sometimes a game which continually breaks mimesis can be
annoying, if not downright frustrating, but it’s not that big a deal. Try playing a
game with the k nowledge foremost in your mind that it is a game and see if
you can make it through to the end without worrying over mimesis.
Too Hard
Another criticism that could be leveled at modern day IF.
Were the games of yesteryear too hard. It probably depends on your definition
of “too hard” but yes, a lot of them were difficult to say the least. But then this
was the age of commercial text adventures and when you spent a week or a
month’s pock et money on a game you didn’t want to finish it in an hour so
games were hard by necessity. After all, if you bought a game today for £10
wouldn’t you be a bit miffed to finish it an hour later. Bit of a waste of money if
you ask me.
But were the games unfairly hard. I wouldn’t have said so. Most were solvable
if you spent enough time and effort on them and the satisfaction at finally
finishing a game after months of struggling with it, particularly a game you had
spent your hard earned cash on, was immensely satisfying.
Too Big
The preference these days seems to be for small games, games you can finish
in an hour or two. “Big” games are considered those that might take you five
hours to complete; “huge” games could take ten hours. The modern crowd
experience severe depression at the idea of games bigger than “huge”.
Most retro games took tens of hours to complete.
The lack of patience from quite a few modern day IF players has always struck
me as a strange thing. Do they genuinely have so little free time that if they
can’t finish a game in an hour then they’ll perhaps die of old age before they
get round to finishing it.* What about saving the game position and trying
again at another time. Or is the game so forgettable that once you stop
playing for a day or so it’s impossible to remember what happened the
previous time so there's no point in playing it again if you didn’t finish it the first
time. Make a transcript.
InsideADRIFT Issue 21 January/February 2005
9
onto the stage to perform your
usual feats of magic. But the night
will be longer than you think and
your magical skills will become a
matter of life and death."
InsideADRIFT
Merchandise
Although this is not intended
as a money spinning idea,
more a way to create items for
me, these items are available
for the discerning drifter to
purchase.
The mug, priced at $11.39,
has a crisp copy of the new
magazine logo. It is large
enough for those beverages
needed to keep you going
through long creative
sessions.
Costing $17.39, the baseball
jersey comes in red/.blue/black
and white.
Also available from
www.cafepress.com/insideadrift
are:
sweatshirt $21.99; mousepad
$10.99; teddy bear $13.49;
sticker $2.49.
Yet they manage lengthy posts on a daily basis on the RAIF/RGIF message
boards so it clearly can’t be a question of not enough time. Maybe they have
the time but just don’t use it wisely…
Me, I like big games. I like games I can play on and off for weeks, months or
even years. I feel that if I play a game and I've finished it an hour later that the
sheer amount of time and effort that must have gone into writing the game was
a wasted opportunity. How long did the author spend writing the game. Four
months. Six. A year. And then someone comes along and finishes it in an
hour. What a waste.
Not to mention the fact that a game which takes you a year to solve is likely to
hold fonder memories for you than one that tak es an hour. I have fond
memories of a couple dozen retro games yet very few modern ones and it’s
doubtful, though some of the modern games are excellent in their own right,
that I’ll have fond memories of them in twenty years time. I’ll still remember
some of the retro games though.
Rubbish
As to whether retro games are rubbish is pretty much down to the individual
but the best of them were easily as good as the best of today’s games. Of
course, how good anything is down to what you, personally, think is good.
Most modern gamers think that Photopia is the best thing since sliced bread. I
didn’t like it. I preferred The Big Sleaze but the modern crowd would probably
get two minutes into it before they died of a sudden case of broken mimesis.
It’s a matter of taste. Casually saying that all retro games are rubbish is a
pretty silly statement to make.
* * * * *
So why is it that retro games are held in such poor regard by modern IF
players. Most of the problems attributed to them - mazes, guess the verb,
mimesis break ing, too hard, too big, rubbish - can either be attributed to
modern day games as well or just aren't that big a deal. Part of me suspects
the problem might be that there are so many free games readily available on
the internet that people these days just aren't willing to give a game a fair
chance. They’ll try a retro game out of interest or novelty value, run into a
problem with it after five minutes, and immediately quit. The fact that the game
is free just means that they haven't wasted any of their money on it and there
are so many other free games out there that they have the choice to pick
something different.
But for those of us with the patience to make a proper effort to play a retro
game, they can be surprisingly good. Better, even, than the more modern
games. Try one sometime. You might even lik e it.
InsideADRIFT Issue 21 January/February 2005
10
Stop procrastinating and write that game by Lumin
I originally meant this article to be about the “art” of writing. You know, like
clarity in descriptions, how to k now when you should give the adverbs and
adjectives a rest, and things like that. Then I figured, well heck, most of the
people who are going to be reading this have already got the basics figured
out, or at least a good enough grasp of the English language to write a
playable game if they choose to do so. So, while I may have an article on
writing here next time around, for now I’ll focus on a different kind of writing
topic, one that seems to me to be a bigger issue facing the Adrift community;
that whole “if they choose to do so,” part. You know, actually
writing
.
There’s a quote by Dorothy Sayers I really like. She says, “The art of writing is
in applying the ass to the chair.” Of course, she said that back when writing
meant using a typewriter, and not having the Internet and countless other
distractions at your fingertips at the same time. Nowadays people
like
sitting in
a chair. Probably like it a little too much for their own good, in fact.
Even so, her point continues to apply today. Writing takes some willpower.
There’re millions of things you could be doing instead that are more fun, less
work, or simply seem more important at the time. That last one is especially a
problem since it’s the only one that’s not just an excuse; for most of us writing
is just a hobby, something that’s never going to see a monetary return, and
things like work or school of course take priority. (Oh yeah, and there’s that
whole “family” thing. They’re sort of important, too, or at least they k ick up a
fuss when you ignore them)
But if you’re reading this, chances are you’ve either written a few games
already, or at least decided that writing one is something you’d like to do. The
first step in the process is of course coming up with an idea, but that alone
doesn’t mean much. Lots of people have ideas, but very few actually
do
anything with them. Right now, a decent game with clichéd plot would probably
do the community a much greater service than the greatest, most original
game in the world that was never actually finished.
Actually, trying to write ‘the greatest, most original game” ever may be the
surest way to k ill a project before you even get a third of the way through.
Believe me, I’ve been there. It’s the trap we all fall into; we want
more
content,
more
puzzles,
more
innovations,
more
realism, more, more, more! It’s easy to
get mired in the details, spending weeks and weeks on every imaginable thing
without ever really getting the game any closer to completion. And as the
project becomes more and more complex, ninety percent of the time we get
fed up with the whole thing and lose any desire to keep working towards what
seems an impossible goal.
Wouldn’t it be preferable to complete a basic game first. And then if you feel
the need to experiment with the puzzles or flesh the story out afterwards,
you’ve at least got a solid foundation to work from, instead of pouring all your
effort into a shiny coat of polish that in the end is useless without something
playable to put it on. Don’t get me wrong, it’s fine to set high goals for yourself,
but be realistic; not everyone is Shakespeare, and the great thing is you don’t
<I>have</I> to be to write an enjoyable game.
Besides burning out from trying to do too much, the next biggest hang-up can
be doing too <I>little</I>. All of us have lives outside of Adrift, and it’s hard
InsideADRIFT Issue 21 January/February 2005
11
enough finding a good chunk of time to play a game, let alone write one. It can
be incredibly difficult to stay motivated on a project you may only think about
for half an hour a week, and the longer you’re away the easier it is to forget
about it and go on to other things.
Just like static fiction, the key to writing IF is consistency. Write every day.
Even if it’s only for five minutes, and even if you don’t feel like it and have to
force yourself. Eventually it will become a habit, but most importantly it will
keep you focused. Heck, even if you only write one task or create one object a
night, you’re still making more progress than you would have been otherwise.
If you’re at work or school and don’t have access to Adrift, fire up plain ol’
Notepad and write a couple of room descriptions. Carry a spiral notebook with
you and jot down notes or pieces of maps. Mak e an outline of the plot. When
you first conceive of your brilliant idea, writing it down can be indispensable as
it lets you refresh your memory farther down the road.
So I challenge you right now, as soon as you finish reading this newsletter,
shut the window down and work on a game. Don’t check your e-mail, don’t go
get a snack , don’t check to see if the forum’s back up yet, just
write
.
And yes, I realize a person who has yet to complete a game may not be the
best one to give this advice, but you see, I have so many
ideas
Reference
Now onto a very important part of writing an ADRIFT game, overriding
the system commands with your own tasks. This has proved to be a real
stumbling block for many of us, so this short piece of the manual is one
that may help many.
Overriding System Commands
The vast majority of all the
system commands
(i.e. commands that
ADRIFT understands without having to explicitly define tasks for, such
as getting and dropping objects) can all be overridden with your own
tasks. This is necessary to allow you to customise the adventure and
do more advanced things. To override the system commands, simply
create a task with a command which would normally be understood by
the parser
One example where this is useful is if you have a fragile object such as
a vase. If you type "drop vase", then the default system command
moves the object to the current room the Player is in. You may want to
make the object break if the Player tries to drop it, so you would define
a task such as "drop * vase", then give the reply "You drop the fragile
vase, but it smashes on impact with the ground.", then move the object
to hidden.
The difficulty with overriding the system commands is to cover all
possible ways that it can be phrased. In the example above, if that were
the only definition in the task and if the player typed "put vase down",
the vase would still be moved to the current room instead of the task
running.
InsideADRIFT Issue 21 January/February 2005
12
Overriding the standard commands for taking and dropping objects are
slightly different from other commands. The reason for this is in case
the player types “take all” or “drop all”. You would then want all objects
in the room to be taken (or dropped) with the exception of whichever
ones you’ve defined tasks for. You would then want the task to run for
these. To enable this to work efficiently, you must define the task as
simply “
get
* <object>” (formatted for your particular circumstance), or
drop
* <object>”. You don’t have to worry about synonyms for get and
drop as ADRIFT will automatically cater for these, but it is essential to
use these keywords.
If you have defined a task that overrides a system command and the
task fails because a restriction is not met, then one of two things will
happen:
If you have put a message in the
else display
part of the restriction, this
will be displayed and the system command will be overridden.
If the
else display
message is blank, the system command will execute
normally.
NB. If a task successfully matches a player command but has no output
text, it will still execute as per normal, but instead of bypassing the
normal response to the command, it will continue to be executed as if not
being overridden by the task at all.
© 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
InsideADRIFT Issue 21 January/February 2005
13
ADRIFT Wordsearch Puzzle
Drifting Authors and Games
U M F S R F G F A Q E D A W W
J A S F O L G Q N O D L N H N
O G K S B M Y S T E R Y K E C
T I C K E T T O N O W H E R E
P C M A R N K P R M G W Q E R
A S A H T O K L P V Y D L A U
I H W Q O D T R J X M I B R O
N O S X G I Z T A P O V W E H
T W I X R X I R E D Y A U M T
T E H J A M F W Q R S D G Y S
U S F F S H S I F D O O W K A
C H O O S E Y O U R O W N E L
G T E R I C M A Y E R I P Y F
Y R O M E M F O S D R A H S R
S E N N I C A M N O S A J H L
All you have to do is spot the names and games list below in the the puzzle above here.
CHOOSE YOUR OWN
DARKNESS
DAVID WHYLD
ERIC MAYER
JASON MACINNES
LAST HOUR
MAGIC SHOW
MYSTERY
PAINT
ROBERTO GRASSI
ROTTER
SHARDS OF MEMORY
TICKET TO NOWHERE
WHERE ARE MY KEYS
WOODFISH
© 2004 Edited by KF.
Please send any contributions or suggestions to
kf@kfadrift.org.uk
.