Posts Tagged ‘Inform’

IF Only: What Will You, The Detective, Do Next?

Cropped box cover image for Deadline

The first piece of interactive fiction I ever played was Infocom’s locked-room murder mystery Deadline. With a plot that turned on embezzlement and unfaithfulness, not to mention a fiendishly unforgiving set of scheduling puzzles, this is not the game I myself would recommend for a six-year-old. But I suppose my parents figured it wouldn’t do me any harm, and it left me with a long-term affection for interactive mysteries.

The mystery is a natural fit for interactive fiction. The player has a clear goal. The focus of the story is usually firmly on past rather than present events. Locks, ciphers, and other standard puzzles feel at home in the genre. So many classic mysteries are essentially logic problems in fancy dress, so it’s not a great stretch to do the same thing in game form. (In fact, here’s Mattie Brice on why murder mystery writing can teach us about narrative game design in general.)

So if you have a taste for classic whodunnit genres rendered interactive, here are some highlights dating from 1995 to 2016.

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Informing You: Text Adventure Tool Inform 7 Has Updated

This picture is purely symbolic.

Inform is one of those tools, like Game Maker and Unity, which unlocks new creativity. It’s a programming system for creating text adventures in which you can write your stories using something resembling natural language. It’s more complicated than Twine, but also consequently more powerful. It is, basically, good enough that it makes you want to write interactive fiction, even if you’ve never considered that before.

It’s exciting then that a new version has been released, “three years in the making”, which expands the languages handling of procedural storytelling.

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