May 2003 Issue 6
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-Get the latest
Feature Article
Out of Writer's Block - Part
3 By Apryl Duncan
-Special Guest
David Whyld
-Silk Noil by Heal
-Information right
from the ADRIFT V4
- Sign Up and
find Beta-Testers
Another Comp!
Rumors are swirling about perhaps another
competition in the works for August. Details are still
sketchy at this point, but we'll keep you informed when
more information is available. My sources tell me it will
be a 20 room mini-comp.
Happy Birthday Drifters!
Incoming=22, gamefreak1020=15, ShogunNz=30,
fairyyale=20, azurestone=19, Heal Butcher=29,
Drifters Toolbox
Sometimes authors want a little more in their games
besides plain old text. The ability to add music to
ADRIFT adventures is an added bonus for those who
enjoy a little more atmosphere. With Anvil Studio, you
can do just that. You can create simple sound effects
and create harmonized midi to add that special touch
to your game. It is especially kind to those that have
no musical talent. Best of all- It’s FREE! You can find it
The ADRIFT Spring Competition has ended. Though there were not many participants
this year, the games that were entered were well above the standard. The winning entry
was To hell in a Hamper,created by Jason Guest . For those that have not yet played
the game, I won' t give away the details. But I have to say it
is amazing that so much
could come from a one room game.
The other entries were Cowboy Blues, by David Whyld and House by Syke39. All off
the entries were very well done and it is easy to tell that a great deal of effort went out
by all. Congratulations to everyone that entered the competition and thanks to everyone
who took the time to participate by being a judge.
New Addition to the Wild Family
There is a new addition to the Wild Family. Her name is Indie, and she is tortoise shell
grey/brown/ginger. Some of us were lucky enough to catch a glimpse of her, while
Campbell visited us in the ADRIFT Chat on MSN. With any luck, Indie won' t chew the
cables too badly, and leave us in chaos!
Breaking Out of Writer's Block - Part 3
By Apryl Duncan
Use Real Pictures
Flip through a magazine. Cut out pictures, headlines, even certain blocks of text.
Now write a short story based on your clippings.
For example, you might cut out a picture of a man riding a bicycle on page 14 of
your favorite magazine. On page 22 you cut out a quote that says, "Anyone
caught doing this will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law."
Your story could turn into one man' s crusade. Perhaps this man' s riding his
bicycle across country because he' s outraged by automobile pollution
levels. His
point is to raise people' s awareness about the effects of pollution.
Meanwhile, police keep hindering his efforts because the man' s riding his bicycle
on the freeway, a violation of the law. So you have a man on his bicycle and the
police quote, "Anyone caught doing this will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of
the law."
Yes! You were scolded in elementary school for doodling on your paper. Now
you have full permission.
Free your mind while scribbling. No need to think about your character' s next
move. No plot structures to consider. Just a sense of connecting your pen to
Object Focus
Take a look around you. Does something catch your eye. Even something as
simple as a stapler. Describe an object in full detail. Start with its size, shape,
Building Blocks
Romance. Mystery. Thrillers. All genres have their own keywords. Build
keywords from your own genre.
If you' re a romance writer, you could come up with words like love, marriage,
betrayal, lust, happiness. Jot down as many words as you can think of.
Life Events
The birth of a child. Holidays. Graduation. Weddings. We all have our favorite life
events. Pick one of your own and write down all your thoughts and feelings about
that day. Turn it into a story.
Many authors beat Writer' s Block or avoid it altogether by networking with their
fellow writers. Bulletin boards, chats and writer' s Web sites all offer you the
chance to meet other authors and work your way through the many facets of
fiction writing.
Think of talking with other writers as your own personal support group.
Writer' s Block may attack you at some point in your writing career but always
remember: WB isn' t fatal. Overcoming WB is not impossible. WB' s only temporary.
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.
Special Guest David Whyld
Interviewed by Woodfish
Behind The Avatar: Davidw
One of the most prominent members of our forum, davidw, has always been a bit of a
mystery to me. Sure, we' re all aware
of his great games, and views on ADRIFT, but do
we really know the real Davidw. I jumped him last week, as he returned home from
work. After some frenzied confusion, I got to hear some of his thoughts, views, and
First of all, I'd like to know you a little better. Tell me, who exactly is davidw.
Okay, my name’s David Whyld. Hobbies I’d put down as ADRIFT, endlessly replaying
“Baldur’s Gate 2: Shadows of Amn” (you know a game is becoming a bit of an
obsession when you’ve finished it four times and still find yourself yearning for another
go) and trying – with the emphasis on “trying” – to write a novel. My job. I work as a
legal secretary/trainee domestic conveyancing solicitor. And yes, it really is as boring as
it sounds.
So how did you first get involved in interactive fiction, and more importantly,
I got involved in interactive fiction back in the mid-80’s. I don’t remember the first text
adventure I ever played but I know the first one I really liked was “The Hobbit”, which I’d
still rate as the finest piece of IF ever written. I just found games like that so much more
interesting than the usual stuff that seemed to be around at the time – Space Invaders,
Pac Man, Manic Miner, etc, etc – and I remember thinking “one day I’ll write something
better than that!” Which is something I haven’t done yet but one day, who knows…
I first came across ADRIFT in about August 2001. I remember finding some text
adventures on a site when I was surfing the internet one day and being quite surprised
that IF was still going – I hadn’t played a text adventure since the very early 90’s and
had been under the impression that with the death of the Spectrum and Commodore
home computers, the bottom had pretty much fell out of the market. So it was quite a
pleasant surprise to find that IF had been carrying on all these years and, even better,
there were programs like ADRIFT that took away the hassle of programming (always a
horror to someone who just can’t be bothered with such things!) and left you to just
write your games without the necessity to pour over hundreds of pages of code.
What makes ADRIFT appeal to you more than, say, Inform or TADS.
I guess the main reason most people use ADRIFT: Its ease of use. I' ve never really had
the urge to learn a complex programming language such as TADS or Inform for the
sake of writing a text adventure, which I look on as more a hobby than anything else. I
don’t know if the IF market is ever going to pick up again and one day reach the stage
whereby you can make a financial living out of writing text adventures so I tend to just
approach the whole thing as something that interests me and passes the time.
I downloaded TADS before ADRIFT, but the manual looked to have been written in
either some obscure foreign language I didn’t speak, or in the kind of techno jargon that
has always made me shake my head in bemusement.
So that’s a pretty long winded way of saying: I use ADRIFT because it’s nice and easy
to use. Maybe there are advantages to TADS and Inform that ADRIFT hasn’t got, but if
you’ve got to go to the hassle of learning them first that takes most of the fun out of
game writing. The best text adventure I’ll ever write might well be waiting for me with
TADS, yet for some strange reason I can’t quite put my finger on, the very idea of
spending the next three years poring over code just doesn’t really appeal to me…
The games you've written vary in their subject matter quite a lot, from fantasy
adventures, to detective crime solvers. Where do you get your inspiration from.
I actually thought the subject matter of my games is pretty similar: comedy, comedy,
comedy and one horror! It wasn’t intended that way. The first game I wrote was a
comedy and I intended to follow it with a fantasy and then a horror, but somewhere
along the way the fantasy just lost interest for me and the horror – after sitting on my
hard drive for six or seven months – eventually became “Lair of the Vampire”. So at the
present time I’ve written about ten games and – with one exception – they’ve been
comedies. I' m not sure why really as I prefer science fiction or horror, but I guess the
simple reason is that I find comedy easier to write.
Inspiration. Not sure really. I very rarely watch a film and get inspired to write a game
about what I' ve
seen, and the same applies to books as well. The idea for “Scene of the
Crime” and its sequel “City in Fear” came from an old Spectrum game I was playing
when I first discovered ADRIFT called “The Big Sleaze”. “YADFA” and “ONNAFA” were
just ideas that I had one day – I started writing “YADFA” about ten minutes after I came
up with the idea of an adventure in which you go to rescue a princess from an evil
sorcerer. Its original title was “Adventure Quest” which was seriously lame and I
struggled more with the title than I did with the game itself before finally deciding I’d call
it something dumb and leave it at that – “Yet Another Damn Fantasy Adventure”
seemed quite an apt title at the time, and an accurate one besides.
You've churned out a fair few games in your time - what's the secret to getting so
many done in so little time.
To be honest, I' ve always wondered at how few games other people write. I don’t find
writing games difficult and it wasn’t until I’d done something like half a dozen games in
a year that I began to realise I was writing them a lot faster than other people seemed
to be. I guess some of it comes from whether you' re a perfectionist or not: are you the
sort of person who agonises over every object, task and event in your game. Do you
spend hours typing your locations descriptions and then often scrap them altogether
because you haven’t written something resoundingly spectacular. Or are you the sort
of person who just writes the first thing that comes into his head and is happy with it.
Actually, I probably fall somewhere between the two. I don’t agonise over every little
thing in my games but neither do I just write something and never touch it again. If I' m
happy with what I' ve wrote
– and I tend to be because I find it difficult to be critical about
anything I' ve done (even the bad ones)
– it generally stays that way.
On average, I write for about half an hour to an hour a day and get around 3-4 KB done
(under V4, or about 9-12 KB under V3.9) so if I manage to write something every day –
and I find it easier to work on a game day by day instead of in fits and starts – I get
about 20-25 KB done a week. So in the average month I could do a 100 KB adventure.
Considering that, it’s not really hard to write a game every few months. Or, if I was
wanting to write smaller adventures, a game every couple of weeks.
What would you consider the best advice to IF programmers. What rules do you
try to abide by when making games.
Actually I’ve probably been guilty of many of the things I’d advise other IF programmers
to avoid. My first game – “Blood Relative” – was impossibly hard and suffered the sort
of guess-the-verb that I quite often write scathing reviews about if anyone else dares to
use it. “Scene of the Crime” had a fair amount of GTV as well, “YADFA” had a tendency
to kill the player without any warning – not necessarily a bad thing, in my humble
opinion, if you don’t overuse it to the extent where the player’s dying every five
But I think I' m getting better as I go along at avoiding the bad things in my games,
although of course it’s never that easy to judge just how hard you' re making a game. (I
wait expectantly here to see if Mystery is going to insert a comment about beta-
The best advice I would give then is: no GTV, if you' re going to use puzzles in your
game make them straightforward and logical, and always – always – give hints. People
often get stuck and if they get stuck early in your game, they' re very likely to give up
and never come back to it. And don’t try to be so clever that you put people off playing
your game: there’s no big deal about making a game so hard that no one ever finishes
it. If it’s too hard they’ll probably never even try.
Where do you think the future of IF lies. Are you expecting a rise in popularity,
possibly it breaking onto the mainstream, or for it to die out completely.
To be honest I can’t really see IF competing against the likes of the graphical
extravaganzas we tend to get these days, even though the most talked about ones –
“Neverwinter Nights”, “Dungeon Siege”, etc – are pretty naff once you take away the
state of the art graphics. The way things are, people tend to look on IF as a novelty that
blossomed in the 80’s and then died out. Or if it didn’t die out, these people think it
probably should have. Who, after all, wants to look at lines of text on a screen when you
can look at amazingly lifelike 3D graphics. But we can always hope…
I don’t imagine it will ever die out though. It might have if the internet hadn’t flourished
the way it has done, but I think that provided the programs – like ADRIFT – that we use
to write adventures continue to improve, there will always be an audience for it.
The future of ADRIFT. I imagine it will rise. I don’t think it’s looked on quite the same
way as it was when I first came across it – I remember almost every forum saying that
TADS was the way to go, or Inform, or HUGO – but it’s still not considered on a level
with the likes of TADS. The root problem with this is that its so easy to use anyone can
use it, literally. Someone with mental problems could download it and write a game with
it (as has probably happened already considering the state of some of the games you
tend to come across) whereas with TADS or Inform, you' d have to learn a programming
language first and if you weren’t really serious about – i.e. you' re only doing it for a
laugh or to pass the time because you' re bored
– you' d give it long before you got your
first TADS game done. With ADRIFT you can write a game in five minutes.
Unfortunately when you do that the game tends to be downright awful and it’s this sort
of thing, more than any actual drawbacks with the program itself, that tends to make the
rest of the IF community look down its nose at ADRIFT. After all, if you came to ADRIFT
and the first game you played was “Death Agency” you' re hardly going to be impressed
with what ADRIFT can do.
Hopefully though the way ADRIFT is viewed will change over the years. ADRIFT games
fared better in the IFComp last year than they ever have before (though that was
probably more due to the fact that they were better games than the previous year’s
entries), and thanks to the likes of “The PK Girl” others in the IF community finally seem
to be realising that maybe, just maybe, ADRIFT does have something to offer. What
would really be the clincher is for an ADRIFT game to win the IFComp – that and that
alone would firmly put paid to all the snide insinuations that ADRIFT isn’t as good as the
others IF programs.
Finally, have you got any projects under way at the moment. Care to divulge a
The game I' m currently writing is called “Cowboy Blues”
– yet another comedy, this time
about a bank clerk in a town called Stonetomb who has to save the town from a gang of
outlaws. I' m planning to enter it in KF’s spring comp which, by the time anyone reads
this, will probably be well under way. So if I win I’d just like to take this opportunity to
thank everyone who voted for me and say I knew I was going to win all along. If I lose,
well… it was fixed!
After that I' m going to get on with:
“Mind Shadows” – a horror about a writer slowly losing his mind and a place he visits
called Markham House where nothing is as it seems.
“Sophie’s Adventure” – which I' m intending to enter into the I
Fcomp this year (wish me
luck!) about a young girl who makes a birthday wish for an adventure and gets more
than she bargained for.
“Musings of a Foul Old Man” – the FOM’s first text adventure. Not a comedy but a
serious look at just how hard it is for an ugly, foul-mouthed, deceitful, lying, scandalous,
hateful old fellow to make his way in the world faced with the kind of prejudice…. Oh,
okay it’s a comedy.
And somewhere along the way I' m even going to get on with the collaboration project
Soothsayer started a thread about on the forum a while back.
Thank you for your time, davidw.
And as I untied davidw, and he ran away, casting back scared looks as he went, I
gazed on at him, happy in the fact that I had got to know him a little better.
Silk Noil
By Heal Butcher
David Whyld
I’ve been playing text adventures for close to twenty years and in all that time, this has
to be, without a doubt, the strangest one I have ever come across. It’s downright weird,
almost frighteningly so. And, also, quite brilliant.
Giving a description of just what Silk Noil is about is difficult because, even after
finishing the game and playing through it several more times to try and get a better
idea, I still don’t really have a clue about it. It’s one of those games which plays at times
more like a strange trip through the writer’s mind than a ‘real’ game in the sense that
most of us would define a real game. There are no real puzzles to solve and the game
can be completed in less than a dozen moves. The ‘objective’ – if such a word can be
applied to a game like Silk Noil - is to seize a key from the strange Silk King and open a
door with it, although quite why is never explained and little is achieved even after the
door is opened. But then I suspect that Silk Noil was never really designed as a game in
which puzzles need to be solved: the idea was to write something strange and original –
and at this Silk Noil clearly excels.
If you persevere with the game and try to overcome the sheer strangeness of it, Silk
Noil is quite a captivating little game – the emphasis being on “little” as there are no
more than four locations in total to explore although because of the lengthy descriptions
given to each and the way part of the description often changes through clever use of
events it sometimes seems to be a far larger game than it really is. The writing is
excellent from start to finish though at times is pretty hard going. It takes several read
throughs before you fully understand just what the writer is trying to say and even then
you might find yourself shaking your head in confusion a time or two.
Silk Noil clearly isn’t a game that will appeal to a large audience: it’s too strange to have
mass appeal and the style of writing is offputting when you first start playing it. Also
there are the strange references to the Silk King spraying perfume from a phallic
shaped bottle onto his crotch whilst being crawled upon by a host of minute women that
I can well imagine would dissuade more than a few people. I guess this is the sort of
game that will divide players into two groups: those who love it and those who hate it.
Personally I loved it.
Logic: 3 out of 10
The game made no sense whatsoever although I' m sure this was intentional.
Problems: 10 out of 10 (10 = no problems)
Weirdness aside, Silk Noil had no real problems although the game is so strange it
would be a challenge noticing them in any event.
Story: 7 out of 10 Bizarre would be the best way to describe it. It held my attention for
the time I was playing it although I’d really struggle to give a decent description of what
it was about.
Characters: 7 out of 10 Only the aforementioned Silk King who was the strangest
character I' ve ever come across while playing a text adventure.
Writing: 9 out of 10
Truly inspiring.
Game: 7 out of 10
Speaking from the group of people who loved the game, I' m giving it 7 out of 10
although I could well understand people rating it 1. At worst, view it as something
different and original and the sort of game you’re never likely to come across again.
Overall: 43 out of 60
In The Manual
Page 13 of the ADRIFT V4 Manual
Objects are the substances within games. They are physical things that can be
examined and can be manipulated in many different ways.
To add an object, either select
Add > Object
from the menus, or click on the object icon.
This will bring up the
Add an object
dialog box.
Object Types
There are two types of object in ADRIFT;
objects, and
objects. The
Player can pick up dynamic objects, whereas static objects are fixed in specific rooms.
When you view a room all dynamic objects will be listed, in the format "Also here is ...".
Every object requires to be given a name. This is how you will refer to the object in the
game. You should try to keep this as short as possible with any extra descriptions being
put into the object prefix. This means that it will be easier for the player to refer to the
object during the game, as this will have to be typed every time the object is referenced.
should contain any adjectives for the object, and determine whether or not it
is singular (i.e. “a large”, “an”, “some purple”).
Objects can be given any number of aliases. These are alternative names that can be
used in the game to refer to the object. For example, if you wanted to create a red
poppy, you would set the
to be "a bright red", the object
to be "poppy", and
to be "flower". To add multiple aliases, simply type the alias into the box and
press Enter.
Objects can be given a description. This will be displayed if the player types "examine
object" in the game. If nothing is entered, it will appear in the game as "Nothing
special." If completing a task changes the appearance of the object, then you can select
the task from the
But if task
pull down menu, and enter the new description in the
second text box. This description supersedes the first one.
Objects and Locations-Look for that in next issue!
Copyright © 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