March 2003 Issue 4
Welcome to Inside ADRIFT! Getting this newsletter out has been a great challenge.
Anything that could go wrong, did! It is finally together and I hope all of you enjoy it. If you
have any content you would like to contribute, please mail me at
-Get the latest ADRIFT
Feature Article
Out of Writer's Block by Apryl
-Special Guest
Ralph Merridew, jAsea creator.
-Melbourne Beach by
David Good
-Information right
from the ADRIFT V4 Manual.
Back to BetaDrifter
Beta-Testers for your
adventures and learn how you
can become a beta-tester too!
The ADRIFT Spring Competition is open for any
unreleased, but complete, ADRIFT games.
Competition entries must be in by 20 April 2003, with
judging taking place in the following week.
Spring Competition
Due to a conflict in scheduling, the winner of The
ADRIFT One Room Competition for unregistered
ADRIFT users, held By Jason Guest (aka- The Amazing
Poodle Boy), the winner will be posted at a later date.
Sorry for the inconvenience.
Happy Birthday Drifters!
Black Mage-12, Liz Parnell-22, Kerikhan-17, neo-15,
Superplonker-19, EdS-34, FireWyrm-20, merryjest-24,
chocolatecake888 -28, JodoKast-16
Congratulations to MileOut for selecting the name of our
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Excitement is building over the development of jAsea. The program is said
to allow ADRIFT games to be played online, and on different operating
systems. Be sure to see the interview with Ralph Merridew, jAsea creator.
The XYZZY News Awards have ended. The Awards were held on Sunday,
March 2, 2003. Congratulations to everyone who took part and made their
vote count. And the AWARDS go to:
BEST USE OF MEDIUM: Earth and Sky 2 (Paul O'Brian)
BEST INDIVIDUAL PC: Pierre, from Savoir Faire (Emily Short)
BEST INDIVIDUAL NPC: Boldo, from Lock & Key (Adam Cadre)
BEST INDIVIDUAL PUZZLE: Setting the traps, from Lock & Key (Adam
BEST NPCS: Lock & Key (Adam Cadre)
BEST PUZZLES: Savoir Faire (Emily Short)
BEST SETTING: 1893: A World's Fair Mystery (Peter Nepstad)
BEST STORY: Savoir Faire (Emily Short)
BEST WRITING: The Moonlit Tower (Yoon Ha Lee)
BEST GAME: Savoir Faire (Emily Short)
Breaking out of Writer's Block
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By Apryl Duncan
You stare at the blank page. The white of the page embeds itself in your brain, resulting in
your mind going blank. Breaking out of the block doesn't have to be a mind-boggling
challenge, though. Explore the causes and the cure and you'll be writing again in no time.
Common Causes
Unrealistic Goals
If you've decided that you're going to write from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. every single day - no
matter what - then you're probably pushing yourself too hard.
Your writing will become dull and drab. The natural flow you once knew will temporarily
escape to Writer's Block Island with the rest of your writing talents.
We all know how stress can affect your mood. But stress can also affect your writing.
For instance, say all you wanted to do was come home from work and write until bedtime.
Your boss makes you stay late. Your supper was a half-cooked hamburger and cold fries from
a local fast food restaurant. Your dog wants to go out. And all you want to do is crawl in bed
and forget the entire day.
As much as we try to carry a stiff upper lip, we're still huma n. External factors can affect our
mood and ultimately affect our writing. Our focus shifts to all the bad things that happened in
our day and writing becomes the last thing we want to do.
Neglecting Our Writing
Sometimes Writer's Block comes from not writing! Writing every day is essential to keeping
those creative juices flowing.
You don't have to make an impossible deal with yourself to write 100 pages of your
manuscript in one sitting. Taking as little as 10 minutes a day helps keep you writing and
words will flow from your mind much easier.
The perfect paragraph, word after word, is a carefully constructed piece of art. But hanging
yourself up on creating that perfect paragraph will win you an all-expense paid trip to Writer's
Block Island.
If you run into this problem, give yourself and your writing a cooling off period. After a couple
of days, re-visit your work and see where or even if it needs improvement. Your mind will be
fresh and clear, giving you a whole new perspective on your own writing.
A lot of writers don't realize how research can even be a hangup. Maybe you can't finish your
crime novel because you don't know how police would handle a certain situation in reality.
Sometimes the answer isn't so obvious and we try to write our way around it. All we really
need to do is a little more research.
Coming Next Issue! Part 2 of Breaking Out of Writer's Block cracks the case on this
dreaded word disease.
Apryl Duncan is the founder of
, a Writer's Digest Magazine Top 101 Web
Site for Writers. She is an author, workshop instructor and professional freelance writer who
enjoys writing everything from mystery novels to how-to articles on the writing craft.
Interview- Special Guest Ralph Merridew, jAsea creator
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Interviewed by Matt (Dark Baron)
It recently came up on the forum that a thing called jAsea could be used to play ADRIFT games online.
I, Matt (Dark Baron) went to Ralph Merridew, author of jAsea, to find out more.
What is jAsea.
jAsea is an open source clone of the ADRIFT runner. It is d esigned so it can be run directly or be run as
an applet in a browser.
So you could upload it to a website with an ADRIFT game and be able to play the game online.
That's correct. My original plans were only for use as application, but I realized that it would take very
little work to make it so it would also run as an applet.
Why were you making jAsea previously then.
During [IF] Competition 2002, I was rather impressed with the amount of detail that Robert Goodwin
put into the game [PK Girl]. I thought that the games should be able to run on a wider variety of
So what other systems does jAsea run on.
It should run on any system that can run java 1.1. I'm personally developing it under Linux, and I have
reports of it working on Windows and Mac OS.
What implications do you think jAsea will have on the if community.
I'm not sure. For one, it will increase the size of the audience [playing Adrift games], which will change
the kinds of feedback that the authors get. It also makes games a bit more available on impulse.
Have you had any help/influence/advice from Campbell about jAsea.
No. I sent him reports of a few ambiguities I discovered while working out the format, but he has not
replied. As far as I know, he may not have even heard of the project. Also, my first public
announcement of the project was in mid-December, shortly before he went offline, and that
announcement was fairly quiet.
How did you work out the format.
It was a fairly straightforward but tedious process. I guessed that he used the zlib / libz format because
it is open-source. I downloaded all the documentation on zlib, and found that the compressed part
starts with a certain header. I looked through a few .taf files, and found that header 22 bytes in. I fed
the data, after that, to a decompressor and was able to get semi -intelligible output consisting of
numbers and the game text. Then I made a small file, and changed one thing at a time. I kept doing
that until I'd worked out most of the format. (I haven't taken the time to analyze the Battle System
related data.)
Have you enjoyed working on jAsea.
Working on the project, I've had mixed emotions. I got very frustrated a few times when the TAF
format behaved in a manner completely unlike how I expected. And in late January, due to lack of
feedback from any players, I was considering giving up the project completely. Fortunately, before that
happened, KFAdrift noticed Simon Baldwin's post and started the "Have drifters seen this on RAIF"
thread. There was a pretty large response on the ADRIFT forum when jAsea was first mentioned.
How big was the response on RAIF.
A few people posted responses; Benjamin Fan added some comments to the code. Simon Baldwin used
the code as a base for his on clone of the runner. But there really wasn't much of a response.
Where do you see jAsea going.
I'm working towards full compatibility with the official runner, and hope to keep up with future releases.
Thank you very much for your time, Ralph. May jAsea continue to grow.
Thanks. See you.
You can download jAsea from the project's homepage at
If you
wish to see jAsea in action, jAsea has been configured to play When Beer Isn't Enough at
Scare is another Adrift runner clone. You can find out more about it at
Review - Melbourne Beach
By David Good
Review by David Whyld
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Melbourne Beach is different from most ADRIFT adventures (and most text adventures full stop) in that
it isn
t really a game at all but a tour around the writer
s house. Well, it certainly makes a nice change
from all those
save the world from evil
find the hidden treasure
While there
s a lot to like about Melbourne Beach, it
s not without its share of setbacks. The main one I
found was that, while wandering around someone
s house is interesting enough in its own right, you
rapidly find yourself yearning for something to do, and while there are a few tasks that need to be
completed, with no real goal defined at the start of the game it
s often a struggle trying to figure out
just what to do next. When the game starts it
s fairly easy to guess what needs to be done: find
yourself some clothes and get dressed. But once that
s out of the way, what you do next proves
something more of a challenge. There are a fair number of locations to explore but none really seem to
present any puzzles for the player to solve and before long you'll more than likely find yourself
wondering just what else the game has to offer. There are quite a few other things to do but finding
them is often more of a challenge than doing them.
On the plus side, the writing is at least up to the writer
s usual standard and the locations are nicely
detailed. Item descriptions tend to be a pretty much hit and miss affair: some locations are packed with
examinable items whereas others contain items galore that upon trying to examine them you find
yourself faced with the dreaded
you see no such thing
. Perhaps one advantage to this is that the
items you can reference tend to be the ones you need to solve certain tasks whereas the ones you can
reference don
t serve any purpose, but all the same it would have been nice to have a few more
examinable items.
A difficult game to review due to the lack of storyline and lack of things to do, Melbourne Beach is at
least reasonably playable. It passes the time and is never too demanding on the old grey matter.
Overall it
s a fair game but hardly one that compares to the writer
s other works like Menagerie.
Logic: 8 out of 10
Mostly logical throughout although some of the location exits seemed messed up.
Problems: 7 out of 10 (10 = no problems)
A more detailed background telling you the purpose of the game (or at least providing a few hints)
would have been a big help. The only actual bug I encounte red involved the garage which was
impossible to enter even when I
d opened the door.
Story: 3 out of 10
No real storyline as such.
Characters: 4 out of 10
Two characters
the author and his mother
but I was hard pressed to find anything they could
respond to. Asking them about each other gave the unhelpful response
[character] isn
t here!
Writing: 7 out of 10
As always above average.
Game: 5 out of 10
Playable but with little actual storyline this isn
t the sort of game you're likely to find yourself going
back to many times.
Overall: 34 out of 60
In The Manual
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Page 9 of the ADRIFT V4 Manual
Rooms form the basis of your adventure. They are the locations in which you can visit. You can
generally move between different rooms using the cardinal directions North, East, South and West, and
also Up, Down, In and Out. Some adventures also have off-cardinal directions, i.e. Northeast,
Southeast, Southwest and Northwest. These have to be explicitly enabled in the Options screen.
To create a room, either select
Add > Room
from the menus, or click on the icon. This will bring up the
Add a room dialog box.
Basic Room Descriptions
The two most important aspects of a room description are the Short description, and the Long
The two most important aspects of a room description are the Short description, and the Long
Short description
is the label that will appear at the bottom of the Runner screen at all times, to
show the player where they are. It will also be the description displayed when revisiting a room, unless
verbose has been turned on. You can select to have this displayed in bold before the long room
description by checking the relevant box in the display options in Runner.
Long description
is the main description that describes the room in detail. Here, you would want to
mention everything about the room that does not change each time you visit it.
You may want to prevent the room being displayed on the map. Typically, this might be because it is
part of a maze or suchlike. To do this, check the
t show on map
If you are creating a room for the first time that is all you should need for now. For more advanced
changes to the room description, you may want to alter the description depending on certain events. To
do this, you will need Alternate Descriptions.
Look for that in next issue!
Campbell Wild 2002
Mystery is the editor of Inside ADRIFT. Thanks to everyone who made contributions to this
issue and continue to show support. If you have something you would like to contribute,
please e-mail me at