Android Interpreters: State of the Art in 2013?

Just checking in to see if there are any new/improved Android interpreters for zcode and/or glulx(e?) games.

As of last year, the last time I looked really hard and was trying all the 'terps I could get my hands on, there were basically four interpreters worth paying attention to: ZMPP, Hunky Punk, JFrotz and Twisty. Of the four, Hunky Punk was the slickest, followed by ZMPP. Twisty and JFrotz were pretty plain-jane. Of the four, only JFrotz could actually play all the games I threw at it (however crudely) so I stuck with that for my regular playing (and I play primarily when mobile, so that means JFrotz is what Interactive Fiction mostly looks like to me).

But I’m hoping this info is out of date now. Anything fun to report?

I logged to post the exact same question. Also, are there any functional glulxe interpreters for android at all?

Unfortunately those 4 are the only onesI have found too. Of these, I use ZMPP for my mobile playing. It seems to be the most recently updated of the 4. I prefer not to play on web based interpreters as I am not always in range. Ideally, I would love something like Gargoyle to be available for the Android OS and as I am far from being a programmer, I’ll have to wait (and hope) for someone else to do the porting.
I found that JFrotz, while it had changable font sizes, didn’t implement the soft keyboard all that well.ZMPP seems to work ok on both my tablet & smartphone.
There are a few stand-alone IF games in the Play store but you need to know their names to go looking for them.

I would actually like to ask people who know about this sort of thing - interpreter developers, programmers, you know, the wonderfully brilliant folk in this community that make it possible for the rest of us to actually play the darned games…

…how feasible is it - really - to create an interpreter for TADS/Glulxe/ZCode6_games for an ordinary Android phone? What are the difficulties? Is it to do with memory? Some hard limits of some sort? Is it viable to include graphics/sounds or would those always be out? Is there some sort of extra complexity in the formats that excludes, at present, an acceptable interpreter? Is it to do with screen size?

I am hoping to acquire a QWERTY Android phone fairly soon, to run JFrotz. I’d be ecstatic if I could also play other things. :slight_smile: Like Ghalev, I mostly play IF on the move now, because I just haven’t the time to properly sit down in front of the computer anymore.

By the way - there are spectrum, commodore and Apple II emulators for Android (there’s even a DosBox for Android, apparently, but naturally I doubt that would work well in a mobile phone). They could presumably be used to play older games (an experiment I’ll make when I get an Android myself), though they might require a QWERTY keyboard.

Pity there is unlikely to be an Android interpreter for such formats as Level Nine and Magnetic Scrolls… Lvl9 released many games for the Spectrum, but not MS…

Yeah, I’ve tried pretty much all of those, I believe :slight_smile: I did manage to get a little progress in some Spectrum games that way, but for the most part they’re not ideal for everyday IF-ing of the sort I like to do, well, every day :confused:

Bumping the thread again… I’d like to ask for an opinion.

What would be the best platform for mobile gaming? A mobile phone or a similar-sized Android tablet?

Tablets seem to be the way to go, and so does Android (if they can really emulate DOS on Android, then surely any IF interpreter is only a matter of time). I’m just bothered about the lack of a hard keyboard (a necessity for me) and the size of the tablet. The advantage of the mobile would be that I can whip it up any time, any place, and start/resume gaming. But screen size is also an issue, and in mobile phones with QWERTY keyboards, there’s pretty much only one size.

Like I said, I’ll be buying - I hope! - an Android qwerty phone very soon. I just started wondering whether a tablet might not be a better investment in the long run. Opinions welcome.

It is not obvious that Android is the way to go for mobile gaming. The iOS game market is bigger than Android’s game market. (For whatever reason, Android users seem to use the Android “Google Play” app store a lot less than iOS users use Apple’s App Store.)

For this reason, a lot of developers are still releasing their games for iOS first and Android second, if at all; zarf, for example.

Tablets and phones both support Bluetooth keyboards, though, at that point, you might as well use a laptop.

Indeed, due to the necessity of typing, I’d argue that today a laptop (or a tablet with a keyboard) is still the best device for playing parser games while sitting on a train/plane.

IMO, there’s still not a good way to play parser games while standing in line. A lot of great games require maps, notes, and sustained concentration. You can’t really get anywhere in Counterfeit Monkey in just five-minute segments spread out throughout the day.

I understand your arguments as far as new, platform-specific games are concerned, but the vast, vast majority of IF remains, and probably always will be, VM-based, making its accesibility potentially infinite. While I’m sad I can’t play Zarf’s iOS specific games, I wouldn’t buy an iOS system (they are, to my mind, ridiculously overpriced, but that’s just me) just for those couple of games when I have alternatives that will allow me to play many, many more other present and future games that will live on if/when the iOS platform becomes so obsolete no-one will touch it.

You see, it’s not the Android games that I see the possibilities for - but rather, the Android IF interpreters.

Yes, but it’s still too big and unwieldy for any situation other than “I am going to be sitting down with at least 15 minutes to spare”. I play my IF on and off every day, just minimising the application. I get it out of my pocket when I go to the bathroom; when I enter the subway; again when I enter the tram.

As you can probably guess through my previous comment, I disagree. :slight_smile: In my experience, continuous breaths of fresh air and changes of scenery are tremendously stimulating for puzzle solving. But to each his own. :wink:

EDIT - And I gather that an answer to my original question would thus be that, according to my sensibilities, a tablet would be a bit too bulky for the way I would use it. Well, that makes sense, thanks for sharing!

Fair enough, but you might be waiting a while. The iOS interpreters are ahead of the Android interpreters, and I expect they will remain so for at least a few years. By the time Android interpreters will have caught up with iOS, it’ll be time to buy a new device anyway.

In that case, if you’re nervous about lacking a hard keyboard, I’d recommend the biggest phone you can stand to carry. If you wear jackets, try a phablet like the Galaxy Note II; otherwise, consider the Galaxy S3.

So does that mean there are already iOS interpreters for TADS, Glulx, ZCode version 6, Hugo, Level 9, Magnetic Scrolls? I was only aware of a ZCode interpreter - something that the Android already has.

I may be misunderstanding, but googling those phones doesn’t show me anything with a hard keyboard…

“Phablet”? Is that the name for those very-smart-phones-that-can-do-your-calls-your-scheduling-and-your-laundry? More seriously, is it an attempt to create a middle ground between phone and tablet? I didn’t know of such attempts; I knew only that mobile phones were getting more sophisticated.

Sorry to double post, but since this is unrelated to the discussion I’m currently having with dfabulich I thought it’d be pertinent.

I don’t really understand much of this, but it does seem to be an attempt to get Glulx and ZCode in Android via the same interpreter, yes?.. Or is it just a sort of theoretical manifesto?

iOS Frotz doesn’t advertise it, but it plays Glulx games as well as Z5/8. It can even handle graphics in Glulx games, though it is slow and a bit buggy. It’s using CocoaGlk under the hood, so it may be that it also includes the other plug-ins that OSX Zoom (also CocoaGlk) can handle, including T2, T3, Adrift, and others. Someone else will have to weigh in on whether it actually does.

Honestly, people use their touchscreen phones for texting, and IF typically requires less typing than that. Especially using iOS Frotz, which has a particularly handy double-tap-to-add-any-word-on-screen-to-the-command-line-feature.


Other people, sure. Me, I happen to really dislike touchscreen. I’m sure I’m perfectly within my rights to dislike it and to avoid it.

Thanks for the other information about the iOS, I had no idea it was potentially so versatile. I just checked the price and it’s pretty much one month’s wages in one go, so meh. Android and JFrotz for the money.

EDIT - Sigh, I can’t believe I’m pondering this, but… if it’s iOS, it’ll work on iPod Touch, right? Anyone has any experience with IF in iPod Touch?

That comment was actually aimed at Dan’s blanket statement about phones/tablets being a poor fit for parser IF. There are very possibly some chiclet keyboards on Android phones, but I don’t pay enough attention to the market to know. (Don’t own a smartphone.)

Sure, the iPod is fine. That’s what I use. In the US, there isn’t much difference in the price of Android vs iOS phones, at least for most folks, because you are typically buying into a 2-month contract and Apple forces a steep discount on the carriers. But I bet that in Europe you’re looking at the unlocked price here, which I think is in the $500-650 range, whereas a good Android phone can be had unlocked for in the $350 range, I’ve heard.

Whooops… sorry about that. Completely misguided crankyness.

Regarding prices, I had one in mind that cost only 100€, Android QWERTY. Can’t find it anymore - wasn’t high-end, but it sure as heck was enough for JFrotz - but that’s more like the price range I had in mind, and I’m pretty sure I can order it anyway. I’m really just buying it for the software, too - I’ve already got a phone for the call-making. :stuck_out_tongue:

Stuff to chew on. Of course, I could just lug my desktop around. Would be easier.

Entirely, though it may be worth checking back every couple of years on the state-of-the-art on soft keyboards. If, in your mind, you’re picturing a hunt-and-peck process of striking individual letters on a touchscreen, for example, that’s already a couple of years out of date. For the last year or two I’ve actually been drafting chunks of my books entirely on my phone, using modern swipe/predictive style soft keyboards that let me twiddle entire words in the time it would have once taken to type one or two letters :slight_smile:

I’m actually predicting a screen getting more and more dirty, with thumbprints all over, as well as rough usage making it lose some of the accuracy and having to meticulously point my fingers towards those little squares. :wink: I also dislike sacrificing screen space for a soft keyboard,

The process you describe sounds intriguing. However, to try it out I’d have to risk doling out a big amount of cash (for me) for something I’m not entirely sure I’d like, whereas I know that I like typing, and typing full words without prediction at that.

EDIT - I’m leaning heavily towards the iPod Touch now. I just wish I could bypass Apple entirely - I hate their imposed restrictions on developers, and am loathe to support it…


Well, certainly, I would not recommend paying to try it out. That undermines the whole idea of trying it out. Definitely wait until you have access to either retail outlets (where you can try it at no charge) or friends with smartphones (with whom you can try it at no charge with even greater leisure and leeway than at retail outlets … unless your friends are shockingly mercenary).

Do you mean mercantile? (Not trying to be irritating here, just trying to see whether my sense of the English language is correct.)