I can’t recall ever playing any interactive fiction games. No Zork, no…uh, I’m sure there were other relatively popular IF games, but I can’t think of their names. If they had a heyday, I took up the videogaming hobby too late for it.
Still, as a wholly untalented hack an aspiring novelist and budding programmer, the concept of IF is quite alluring. Build a world, put stuff in it, populate it with people, decide how everything interacts with everything else and the player—infinite, the possibilities are.
So lately I’ve been tinkering around with creating my own IF work, using the Inform 7 design system, which uses a mostly natural programming language. For example, the code:
The yellow door is a door.
The yellow door is north of the red room and south of the blue room.
creates two rooms (the red room and the blue room) and puts a doorway (which can be opened, closed or walked through) in between them. The player starts in the first defined room (the red room) and can use relatively simple typed commands—like “go south” or “enter yellow door” or “open door” to do stuff.
The above left picture is Inform 7’s interface. To its right is a most simple IF game played in Windows Frotz.
Of course more elaborate coding can be used to create significantly more elaborate gameworlds with significantly more elaborate interaction possibilities. Of course, significantly more elaborate means soul-crushingly more complex and ridiculously more difficult to organize for a third-rate programmer-wannabe such as myself.
Still, I’ve always enjoyed programming, and I like to think I have a few creative neurons in my brain, so I’m going to play around with this, at least until I get distracted by Tales of Symphonia: Dawn of the New World when it comes out tomorrow later today.