Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Serendipitous Interactive Fiction discovery

I've recently started reading up on Inform 7, a natural-language approach to writing and coding up interactive fiction.

When I think IF, I think Zork ("You are standing in an open field west of a white house, with a boarded front door. There is a small mailbox here." So familiar, and so evocative). Right after Zork, I usually think Zork II and Zork III, but also the other classics of Infocom: Planetfall and Suspended, the Enchanter trilogy and Wishbringer. All of these I played on my trusty Commodore 64, but I distinctly remember playing the first Zork on a Compaq luggable in the mid-80s at my aunt's house in Houston, running off five-and-a-quarter-inch disks. I know I owned and never finished Stationfall, the Hitch-Hiker's game (briefly played on an Amiga), Ballyhoo and Hollywood Hijinx. Thanks to the wonderful series of tubes and Bittorrent, I can play all of these and more. I'm primarily using a great multi-game engine called Spatterlight for Mac OS X, which rules- I'm a big fan of using one app that pulls double (or triple, or quadruple, or quintuple, or...) duty instead of several.

I've also started searching for other, good, IF to play. As much as I love the old classics, they have a tiny bit of roughness around the edges- lack of UNDO and the inability to use X for EXAMINE keep cropping up out of habit. Save early, save often. But the medium has evolved in the last score years.

While doing research for game suggestions, I started at the no-frills but hugely complete Baf's Guide. I wandered into one of the IF newsgroups and happily discovered that the thirteenth annual IF Comp is in full swing. It's too late to submit an entry, but it's not too late to donate a prize or play and vote. Who knows what this year brings?

1 comment:

Neal said...

The two banes of my existence back on my 8088 (yes, I had the fast one, with a turbo key sequence) were tHGttG and Trinity. In the first case, I never thought to 'take' the mail, since the first take only had you read it. In the latter, the bomb always got me.

Oh, and hi Mischa. :)