Issue 9 August 2003
1. News and announcements
ADRIFT Network
ADRIFT home site problems
Competition news
2. Editorial
2. Newsletter index
2. Portrait of a Drifter
2. Tip of the month
Use ALR to format text
3. Drifters birthdays
3. Drifters toolbox
Global Communications Network
3. Preparing the newsletter
4. The (big) idea
How to boost ADRIFT
4. Think piece
Let’s be nice to newbies
4. Interview
Emily Short
ADRIFT wordsearch
Can you find the ADRIFT words.
7. Reviews
One Hour Competition
DavidW ’s Minicomp
10. Reference
Manual pages15-16: Object attributes
12. Next issue
Due out mid September
New web address
There is a new domain for the
newsletter it is:
News and announcements
ADRIFT Network
Mystery has launched her new website, ADRIFT Network, which
aims to help Drifters new and old. Here you will be able to
download the ADRIFT software, as well as a selection of the best
games for both versions 4.0 and 3.9. There is also a new
message board, with a twist that it has the text from the ADRIFT
4.0 Manual to consult and perhaps expand on. The new site is at
ADRIFT home site problems
The first half of July has seen major disruption of the main
ADRIFT home site. It has been down for most of the time putting
the forum out of reach, also removing the possibility of
downloading the software and games. Campbell’s IP address
had changed more than once, which always causes problems as
it is not pointed to correctly by name servers around the world.
The latest from Campbell Wild is this from the forum on 19th July
I've now set up dynamic DNS, so fingers crossed, should my IP
address change from now on, the internet will catch up straight
away, or within a few minutes anyway. I guess time will tell...
Mystery has led a number of us to download the Global
Communications Network software, which allows for chat and
other extras (More in the Drifters toolbox section).
Competition news
The recent minicomp, run by DavidW, was won by the organiser
himself, following the example of Woodfish last month. Reviews
of the games entered in these two competitions follow later in
this issue.
InsideADRIFT Issue 9 August 2003
Right one issue down, and not
too badly received so now to
trying to follow it up.
Hopefully this newsletter will
form a useful part of the
ADRIFT community, but as the
saying goes, it can only
continue with your support and
some of you do some of the
Newsletter index
Also available from the website
is an index to the issues of the
newsletter so far. I intend to try
to update this regularly.
Portrait of a Drifter
Thought I ought to share a little
about myself.
I am single, 42 and live in flat in
the south of England. My proper
job is working in a library
(though not as a professional
Ken Frank lin (KF)
I have been working with
ADRIFT for three years now.
The thing I enjoy most is
working out how to do
something, which is probably
why I can start a project, by not
get to the end.
Drifters birthdays
The next ADRIFT competition is the Summer Minicomp 2003
which takes place in the later half of August. It is an event for
ADRIFT games with no more than 20 rooms. Entries to be in by
24th August, with voting over the next week. Not forgetting that
with this one there is prize money. The rules and entry details
can be found on the competition page at
The 2003 IF Competition, the major event of the IF calendar, is
approaching fast. Any entrants must have registered their
intention by 1 Sep 03, and their games should be near to
completion if they are to be tested properly. If you are entering
the IF Competition take notice of the advice at:
which is a
set of sensible guidelines for entrants.
Then you can start looking to the longer term with the ADRIFT
End of Year Competition 2003. This is an event for any games
released during the calendar year of 2003, they can be updated
for the competition.
Tip of the month
Use an Adrift Language Resource (ALR) file to format text in
your games. If you do this things are a lot easier if you want to
change how you lay things out. I use {QUOTE} and {/QUOTE} to
surround speech. Then put
{quote}|<I><font color=yellow>”
in the ALR.
Fred said {quote}Wow!{/quote} becomes
Fred said
Hopefully you can see that things get easier if you decide the
speech should be red rather than yellow.
Another useful one is to use {P} as a paragraph break, which is
converted in the ALR to 2 line breaks, with
Basically, if there is something you may repetitively do in writing
the text of your game, use the ALR to make it make simpler to
change later.
InsideADRIFT Issue 9 August 2003
in August
2 schoolsinger (19)
4 outsider (16)
8 Lena1975 (28)
15 Coolkid (15)
18 rocksockm (26)
21 Bacchus (35)
23 Woodfish (15),
damien8000uk (17), White
Divine (19), Mickey Crocker
26 Starstream (58)
27 re_volvo (30), Filthy Bill
Preparing the
For those who are interested,
this is what I use to put the
newsletter together.
It is created with MSWord 2000.
It is then printed out to a PDF
file using pdf995 software,
which can be obtained from the
following site
bookmarks are added via the
companion program pdfEdit995.
The website is put together
using Zeta Producer Freeware
content management software
Drifters Toolbox: GCN
Global Communications Network (or GCN) is a software package
that gives you most of the standard communications programs in
a neat bundle. You can set up chat rooms, send private
messages, bulletin boards, play board games, communicate with
voice and video, collaborate on a whiteboard, listen to media and
browse the web. At the moment it is in beta, but nevertheless is
an excellent download.
Quick screenshot from GCN
An interesting bonus is the ability to download a co-branding
package, that allows you to create your own version. You can
have a custom welcome message, choose background and
colour scheme, as well as setting default board. Once you have
set up your version you are free to offer it as a download.
Give it a go, the idea was to have it as a backup for downtime on
other sites, but it is great fun any time.
Downloading GCN
You can find an InsideADRIFT branded package on the website
or go to the GCN home at
for the official download.
InsideADRIFT Issue 9 August 2003
The (big) idea
So what would be a good way
of helping to promote ADRIFT
and encourage new users. I
have a few ideas, but I’m sure
you will have some thoughts.
All I am looking for is
something short like this.
An example would be that I
recently put forward the idea of
an ADRIFT store. There we
could buy ADRIFT
merchandise, get a little extra
money to Campbell, and also be
promoting ADRIFT in the wider
Think piece by KF
Let’s be nice to newbies
More people are coming to ADRIFT all the time, but how can we
encourage them to stay.
It is encouraging that so often when you head to the forum you
will find a new user who has just found their way there and has a
question. What is a problem is making them feel welcome so that
they feel able to contribute.
Earlier this year a newbie corner was suggested, where new
users could be confident of having their questions replied to, and
their work fairly commented on. Too often an old hand will snap
at them, and probably put them off using ADRIFT. We are a small
community and must grow if we want to see more people playing
the games that are put out. Just because someone is new to the
community, and might not behave quite as we expect, doesn’t
mean that they are not going to become a regular.
Only an exceptional author will come up with a brilliant game first
time out of the box, so it is important that criticism is fair. DavidW
has a reputation for writing hard but fair comments on the games
he reviews, and if we comment on a first time author we should
take a step back and make sure that what is said will be helpful.
We were all newbies once so should remember that the hardest
thing can just be asking for help.
Interview: Emily Short questioned by KF
Thank you for agreeing to answer my questions for the August
issue of InsideADRIFT
Q1. Most Drifters will have heard of you and your considerable
input into the wider world of interactive fiction. Can you sum up,
for anyone else, your main achievements in IF.
Man, I always hate this kind of question in job interviews. Let' s
see: I' ve written a number of games, many of which are
experiments in improving NPC (non-player-character) behavior
or in providing a rich and complex world model. They' re not all
unqualified successes, but a couple have become talking points
for further design discussion, especially my 2000 Art Show entry,
Galatea, which consists of one extensively-implemented
InsideADRIFT Issue 9 August 2003
ADRIFT wordsearch
This square contains all of the
words listed below. See if you
can find them. Remember it is
just for fun.
Q2. You obviously spend a great deal of your time playing and
reviewing the new games that come out. Do you have an opinion
on the current state of interactive fiction. Is it healthy and
flourishing. Are there any trends that you think will be important.
I see some encouraging things developing. TADS 3 is opening
up some new possibilities in simulationism and NPC modeling,
and I' m eager to see how those will be used in games. Several
people are trying their hands at commercial IF distribution, and
while I don' t know much about their sales success, that may lead
to an increased general interest in IF. Every competition and art
show seems to contain at least a couple of pieces that try
something really new and interesting: new approaches to story-
telling, new experiments with multimedia IF, and so on. Even
games that aren' t entirely successful someti
mes open up
intriguing new
Q3. The Annual Interactive Fiction Competition is coming up
soon. Do you feel that has become rather to important as a
target for releasing games. Is it a great competition or just a way
of encouraging authors to finish their games.
As an author, I find deadlines useful, and it' s easier for me to
write for a competition than for general release at some other
What I do think is unfortunate is the fact that it' s so hard to get
feedback for any game released outside of a competition. Which
means that everyone aims for that release date, we don' t see
many works released during all the rest of the year, and then
there' s this clump of games that all have to be played and rated
at once. I usually start to burn out about halfway through the
competition package, which means that I' m less forgiving with
the later games and enjoy them less than I probably would if I
played them at some other time.
So I' m glad the Competition exists; it' s fun (if nerve
-wracking) to
enter, and it builds a sense of community. But I think it has
become unreasonably important in the IF calendar, and I' d like to
see it balanced by other venues and other opportunities to get
work reviewed
and recognized
Q4. What are your three favourite works of interactive fiction and
InsideADRIFT Issue 9 August 2003
1. Spider and Web, for the brilliant way that the puzzles work
together seamlessly with the plot, and the way you gradually
learn how to use the gadgets. It' s just simulationist enough to
feel as though the PC has some real freedom.
2. Anchorhead, for the extremely well-evoked atmosphere,
and because the first part of the game consists of a near-
perfect research puzzle. I didn' t feel like I was ever too stuck
or too much at a loss; I always had some clue I wanted to
follow up on, and I usually had some idea how to go about
doing that.
3. I have a hard time coming up with the perfect third. I have
fond nostalgic feelings for the Graham Nelson games I played
when I was first getting into amateur IF -- both Curses and
Jigsaw; another pair of contenders, though I haven' t played
either for years and years, would have to be Plundered
Hearts or Wishbringer, which were in my opinion Infocom' s
most player-friendly games.
Q5. Have any ADRIFT games that you have played come close
to reaching the high standards that you seem to expect.
I was impressed with how well Unraveling God succeeded at
telling the story it wanted to tell. There are two scenes in
particular, which I won' t name for fear of spoiling the innocent,
that have stuck with me months after playing it, partly because
they deal with situations that have rarely been handled in IF
before, and they do a good job of it.
I should also say that, while I' m not particularly interested in the
genre, I thought the images included with PK Girl were extremely
good. Multimedia games are especially challenging, because not
only do you have to come up with a design that sensibly
integrates your text game and the extra music or images, but you
also have to be talented in other media (or have collaborators
who are).
Q6. Do you believe that there is a set of dos and don'ts that
should be applied by all writers developing their games. Is there
a real no no that as soon as you see it turns you off a game.
If there are any rules I can point out, they' re pretty obvious
things. Beta-test; pay attention to what your testers say, and
don' t be afraid to rewrite if they' ve revealed a fundamental
problem in your work. Play the game over and over yourself, and
if there are parts that bore or annoy you after a bunch of
playings, change them -- they' ll bore and annoy your players too.
Personally I' m fairly sensitized at this point to certain kinds of
technical glitches, like large amounts of unimplemented scenery
InsideADRIFT Issue 9 August 2003
Result of One Hour
1. Forum by Woodfish
2= The Saga of Percy the Viking
by DavidW
2= Dance Fever USA b y MelS
don' t be afraid to rewrite if they' ve revealed a fundamental
problem in your work. Play the game over and over yourself, and
if there are parts that bore or annoy you after a bunch of
playings, change them -- they' ll bore and annoy your players too.
Personally I' m fairly sensitized at this point to certain kinds of
technical glitches, like large amounts of unimplemented scenery
or consistently bad grammar, but these are all things you can
catch if you' ve got the right beta
-testers. And the truth is that
even if something does have technical glitches, but is written with
enough enthusiasm, I may enjoy it anyway.
Besides, if you' ve done the best job you can of writing t
he game
you wanted to write, you' ll have accomplished the primary goal.
What other people think about it is secondary.
Q7. Thank you for your answers. In conclusion, what is your
great wish for the future of interactive fiction.
What I want most is for entertaining new games to keep being
written, and for there to be enough players and interested critics
to make writing worthwhile. It' s not so important to me how that
happens, whether we go on having a small community of
hobbyist authors or move on to some different format.
Emily Short’s website
For more information check out her website at
Review by DavidW
Recent ADRIFT competition entries
Reviews of entries in the two minicomps, excluding DavidW’s
own entries.
One Hour Competition
by W oodfish
A strong contender with anything written by Heal Butcher for
weirdest ever Adrift game, “Forum” is about… well, the Adrift
forum and what happens when a newbie asks for help and
drifters all over the world are abducted as a result. You, as Bob
the Newbie, are chosen to save the drifters. With me so far.
I' m not sure where the idea for “Forum” came from (I' m not even
sure I want to know) but it’s certainly an interesting and original
one that I’d never come across before. You, in the role of Bob the
aforementioned Newbie, have to trek around a strange
landscape defeating members of the forum who have become
evil and in doing so free them from the clutches of the evil one
responsible for all carnage, who happens to be… the person who
wrote the game. Still with me.
InsideADRIFT Issue 9 August 2003
Result of Minicomp
1. Neighbours From Hell
by DavidW
2. Thorn by Eric Mayer
3. Diary of a Stripper by
Christopher Cole
4. Monsters by Tech
aforementioned Newbie, have to trek around a strange
landscape defeating members of the forum who have become
evil and in doing so free them from the clutches of the evil one
responsible for all carnage, who happens to be… the person who
wrote the game. Still with me.
If you can get around the sheer weirdness of “Forum” it’s quite
very amusing and witty and contains more than a few decent
ideas for a game written in an hour. It isn’t a hard game and is
very linear but it certainly made me grin a few times.
7 out of 10
“Dance Fever USA” by Mel S
Not quite as weird as “Forum” (then again, few things in this
world are) but “Dance Fever USA” is still decidedly strange. The
storyline is pretty much nonsense – a dance craze has swept the
world and people seem to be affected with a desire to dance and
dance and… but I' m sure you get the picture. You have to stop it.
This is one seriously corny game that doesn’t miss an
opportunity to try its hand at downright tacky humour. That said,
it’s also very, very funny in places. Relieving yourself in an alley
and retrieving a crowbar from a cat are just a few of the strange
things you get up to in attempting to stop the dance craze. The
ending was strange and seemed a bit drawn out for my liking but
right up to there it was definitely worth playing.
6 out of 10
DavidW’s Minicomp
“Diary of a Stripper” by Christopher Cole
A difficult game to comment on. It wasn' t "quite" as explicit as I' d
first thought it was going to be but then again it was hardly a
game for the easily offended either.
Playing the part of a male stripper, it is your job to… er, entertain
a number of lady guests at a birthday party. Storyline-wise that’s
about it.
The writing was good throughout but the gameplay side really let
things down. For the most part there was no real freedom of
movement and you seemed to be forced along a very set path;
no chance to explore the game was given or any proper
interaction with the characters was possible. There was also the
added frustration of being given half the commands you needed
to complete the game instead of figuring them out for yourself
which pretty defeated the whole point of playing for me.
Admittedly, most of these commands were non-obvious and I
might never have figured them out on my own, but it seemed a
strange game that actually tells you what you should be typing. A
few subtle hints would have worked better.
InsideADRIFT Issue 9 August 2003
to complete the game instead of figuring them out for yourself
which pretty defeated the whole point of playing for me.
Admittedly, most of these commands were non-obvious and I
might never have figured them out on my own, but it seemed a
strange game that actually tells you what you should be typing. A
few subtle hints would have worked better.
4 out of 10
“Thorn” by Eric Mayer
Very well written and a surprising amount of depth for such a
small game. I played the game through the first time without
really understanding what it was all about and even after
finishing it I' m still a little baffled.
The game focuses around something called the Holy Thorn of
Glastonbury although just what the Thorn is supposed to do I
wasn’t entirely sure. There is a strange dream sequence towards
the end of the game which seems to imply (though I could very
well be mistaken) that the Thorn has supernatural powers and
curses all who come into contact with it.
Strangeness aside, this was certainly a well written and
interesting game and my personal favourite of the competition
8 out of 10
“Monsters” by Tech
I liked “Monsters” from the start. It was nicely written but failed to
be particularly frightening as it should have been concerning, as
it does, the monsters that every little kid firmly believes are hiding
under their bed. Personally I’d have preferred it if the monsters
were heard but not seen because they didn’t seem to have the
same effect when you' ve seen them.
Guess the verb was bad in a few places: “daybed” says the room
description, “bed” is what the game understands. There was also
an annoying event which ran every time I seemed to be making
any progress whereby mother would show up and carry me back
to my bed. This happened a couple dozen times and I began to
wonder if it might have been better if there was a limit to how
many times this should have happened.
All in all I found “Monsters” a fairly above average game. It’s
small – as it had to be to fit inside the competition’s size limit –
but there is quite a decent game here.
InsideADRIFT Issue 9 August 2003
6 out of 10
Returning to following on from where Mystery got to in issue
seven we move on to the vexed question of character attributes.
This is where you can setup objects so that ADRIFT can deal
with the in a standard way, as in making a door lockable with a
Manual pages 15-16: Object Attributes
Clicking on the Attributes tab changes the display to show
various options about the attributes of the object.
The vital second screen of setting up your objects
You will be given different options, depending on whether the
object is static or dynamic.
Object is wearable allows the Player and characters to wear
and remove it. You can then restrict tasks depending whether or
not the object is being worn. *
Object is a container allows you to be able to put other objects
inside it. You have to say how many objects it can contain, up to
a maximum of 99, and the size of objects it can contain; If you
attempt to put objects inside a container object that is full, you
will receive a failure message. There is no limit to the depth of
object containers; i.e. you could have a coin inside a purse,
inside a bag, inside a box etc.
InsideADRIFT Issue 9 August 2003
Object can be Opened and Closed. This can be used with
containers, or just on its own (e.g. a door). Tasks can be
restricted depending the status of an object. If the object is also a
container, any objects inside it are only listed on examining the
object if it is open. You must specify from the dropdown list the
state you want the object to start off in. If you define the object as
being lockable (see below), then you can also start the object
being Locked.
…and is Lockable, with key allows you to lock objects. This
option only becomes enabled if you’ve defined the object as
being openable. You must select a dynamic object as being a
key. You will then be able to lock and unlock the object with that
key. If you wanted multiple keys, for example a master key, you
would need to do that using tasks.
Object starts off in state allows you to create any state for the
object. This defaults to On and Off, but by clicking on Define, you
can insert, edit or delete the different states available, so for
example, you could have Up/Down. These states can be used in
task restrictions. If you want the state to be displayed when
examining the object in the format “The <object> is <state>.”,
then click the Show in description
Object has a surface allows you to put things onto the object in
the game. Objects on other objects won' t appear in the room
description, so the player has to examine the parent object to
see if there are any objects on or in it. There is no limit to the
number of objects you can put on a surface object.
The player is allowed to sit/stand on the object does just that.
This enhances the reality of the adventure, and can be used in
task restrictions.
The player can lie on the object does the same as above,
except for lying.
Object is readable means that the player can type "read
<object>". If you enter a description in the text box, this will be
displayed. If not, the same description is given as when the
object is examined.
Object is edible means that if the Player "eats" the object in the
game, it will disappear. If you want something specific to happen
when the object is eaten, you can add a task such as "eat
<object>" which would override this option.
InsideADRIFT Issue 9 August 2003
Next issue
The next issue will be a joint
September/October one, and
my target date for issue is
Sat 13 Sep 2003.
I have done this to allow me the
time to run the minicomp, and
also to put the results in. By
this time we may also know
who has entered the Annual IF
Contact me if you have an idea
for that can be included.
Object can be used as a weapon defines the object to be
something that the Player could potentially use to attack
characters with, although the default message will be that you
miss the character. To enhance this, you’d need to use tasks. *
You can define the size and weight of the object from the pull
down lists at the bottom of the screen. Each increase in size or
weight is 3 times greater than the
previous entry; i.e. a Huge object is 81 times the size of a Tiny
object. What these sizes actually mean is relative, and
determined by you.
If an object is put inside a container object and the container is
dynamic, the container will increase in weight by the weight of
the object put inside it but it won' t increase in size. Limits can be
put on the Player to limit the size and weight that they can carry.
You can edit objects by double clicking on an object, or selecting
an object, right clicking, and selecting Edit object.
* When the Battle System is enabled, additional options become
available in object attributes.
© Campbell Wild, May 2002
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.
© 2003 Edited by KF. Please send any contributions or
suggestions to kf@kfadrift.org.uk