Agonizing over development system choice

Hello there.

My name is Simon and I have been meaning to write some IF for a while now. I’m a hobbyist programmer and I used to poke around with TADS back when it was called number 2. Then TADS 3 came out and I poked around with that. I really like the system. Then one day, I discovered something called Inform 7. What’s this, I thought, a natural language programming system? That sounds really cool. So I tried it out and it was really cool. It was (and still is) hard to get used to, but I really like the concept and some of its unique features and the development environment is really slick.

So long story short, I couldn’t decide which system to use to write my games in. I’ve read most of the documentation for both and I have a pretty good idea of what they can do. I could of course learn both and use whichever one seems more suitable for a particular game, but I think that either system is perfectly capable of creating anything I can throw at it and learning one really well is better than learning two moderately well.

I have several game ideas, but all of them are rather complicated and I think unsuitable for a first game. So to solve two problems at once, here’s what I’ll do. I’ll write a simple short game in both systems and just see which one is better for me personally. Because I have a programming background and somewhat better familiarity with TADS, I decided to use Inform first, so that I’m less tempted to follow traditional programming paradigms.

EDIT: The game is finished and available at the IFDB.
My thoughts about Inform 7 are posted here.
The same thing about TADS 3 is here.

Agonizing over your choice of tools only delays the agony of writing the damn game. :slight_smile:

Sitting down and finishing something is the right plan here, I agree.

Try Inform6 too.

@simvig: my decision to go with Inform7 was pretty much based on the same reasoning. I code java, php, ruby, JavaScript by day - so I go with Inform not because it’s similar to what I know but because it’s different. Another hat, you know?

That said, I am sometimes extremely frustrated by the weirdness of I7. Things that are easy to do in other languages can be really hard in I7. But them there are some features that are really powerful, too - for me it’s a lot about learning to trust in these features and not try to coax i7 into behaving like something it’s not.

There are some guides for coders on how to think in I7 - on the ifwiki, perhaps? I’ll look it up when not on my phone.

There is Ron Newcomb’s Inform 7 for Programmers.

Thanks Felix, that’s the one, only I was thinking of the version on the ifwiki: … rogrammers

Oh, I didn’t even know about the wiki version! It’s good to have it on-line. (It seems that the pdf is a later version, though; so they might differ in details.)

Thank you all for the comments!

@peterorme: My job doesn’t involve too much programming, so I don’t feel like I need to do something radically different at home. I’ll be using whichever system I find more comfortable. I am aware of the Inform 7 guide for programmers and it has helped me get a better sense of how the different aspects of the language interconnect.

As for my test game, it is now finished. After I’m done testing it, I’ll be releasing. At the same time I’ll also make a post about the experience of writing it. The game serves double duty as a case study of using Inform 7 and my first complete game. Because of that, it’s short, minimalistic, and not meant to be a shining example of interactive fiction. That being said, if someone wants to beta-test it to make it even slightly better, I’ll be very thankful. It’s very linear puzzle-based fantasy, but not a dungeon crawl.

Thanks for those two comparison posts, simvig (and for putting in the work behind them, of course!). They come across as comprehensive and balanced.

Thanks for this contribution. Your comments were an interesting read, though I am too new at this to fully appreciate a lot of it.

The following question might be off topic in this particular subforum, but I’ll write it anyway, since we are on the subject of this game: I downloaded the I7 version of the game, the file called ThePrize.zblorb but to my suprise WinGit wouldn’t open it. Is it not supposed to or is something wrong?

Next I downloaded Windows Frotz, and it works, but I would rather switch to some other program because I have an aversion to software that insists on giving me its user interface in Spanish without asking for my permission to begin with, and even worse, like Win Frotz, doesn’t even offer me an option in the settings to set it back to English.

So, can anyone recommend any other software to run this game under Windows?

Back to the game itself. For a newbie like yours truly it would be great to have the source code of this game to study. Is it available? And a walkthrough?

Cheers, and keep up the good work.

Git is a Glulx interpreter; it runs Glulx files, which are .ulx or .gblorb. A .zblorb file contains a Z-code game, which will be .z5, .z8 or .zblorb; Frotz is a z-code interpreter.

Most interpreters run only one or the other. Gargoyle runs both formats (and many more besides), although you may lose certain multimedia effects in the process. The web-based interpreter Parchment can also handle either Z-code or Glulx.

I don’t know, but I guess Frotz is looking at the user’s current Windows-wide language setting to choose its UI language. If you want to give it another try in English, you can rename or delete the “FrotzDeutsch.dll, FrotzEspa±ol.dll …” language files in the folder to which you installed it.

I also use Gargoyle very often, because its font display is quite beautiful. A small issue that I have with it is that (as far as I know) it can’t display the cover picture and introductory blurb that some games (.zblorb, .gblorb) provide. Windows Frotz and Windows Git show those.