Coupe of questions about formats and interpreters

I’m pretty new to the whole IF scene (been mainly playing infocom games on Windows Frotz) and I’ve got a few questions which may or may not be stupid. I’ll number them, ok?

  1. I noticed TADS 3 games I compile have the extension .t3, yet the games I’ve downloaded have a .gam extension. Is there a difference between .t3 and .gam?

  2. How do I play Level 9 or Magnetic Fields games in Gargoyle? I have DOS versions which don’t have .l9 or .mag extensions. (Of course I could play in DosBox but since Gargoyle has the option to play those I’m kind of curious how that works.)

3a. I’ve downloaded a zblorb file (it’s Bronze btw), now I know blorb is a container file, but from looking at the source code on the inform7 website I understand the solution and a website are included with it. How do I look inside a zblorb / blorb file?

3b. On a related note, is there a z-code player which can display the intro picture and the blurb of zblorb files?

Thanks in advance!

~ Chris

  1. .gam files are TADS 2.

  2. I would guess that renaming the files works, though I haven’t ever tried.

3a. Look inside to do what?

3b. Yes, WinFrotz or Zoom should do that.

3a - You’re mistaking things a bit, I’m afraid. Blorb packages together SOME information - cover image, blurb, and other stuff like that. What I7 can do is, it can create a “website” and “solution” for your game when you compile it; you get the finished webpage, all you have to do is put it online.

@Dannii: Thanks for clearing that up. Renaming Level 9 files did work, but Magnetic Scrolls didn’t. However I found this site where Magnetic Scrolls games in .mag format are available for download.

3b: No, what I meant was an interpreter that can play Z-Code but also display the story summary. When I load Bronze in WinGit is shows me an intro screen, then gives an error because it can’t play Z-Code. I wondered if there was a Z-Code interpreter that shows that intro screen.

@Peter: Ah, I thought it was like a ZIP or RAR archive, but apparently that’s not the case at all. Thanks.

Windows Frotz will do this, but only if the game actually has intro text and/or a graphic - not all do.

Turns out I was using an older version of WindowsFrotz, the newest version does indeed display an intro screen; my mistake. Thanks!

Sorry for ressurecting this thread, but…
My WinFrotz Version is 1.17 (which is newer than the current version according to David Kinder’s “deprecated” WinFrotz page :wink: )
But it doesn’t seem to show the cover of the game nor does it activate the “About this game” menu entry for my .zblorb.

I compiled it with babel and iPhone Frotz does show both the cover and the additional iFiction infos (author, description).
My description does contain german umlauts! Could that be a problem?

Or is my WinFrotz version broken?

Edit: My game is written in I6 this is why I use babel to compile the .zblorb… Maybe rereleasing with I7 is another option?

Well, first off, to minimise confusion, WinFrotz is not the same as Windows Frotz. If you’re using 1.17 you’re using the latest version of Windows Frotz, which is great.

The umlauts might be an issue, it wouldn’t surprise me, but the biggest question here is, do you see that behaviour with other blorbed files? If so, yes, something’s wrong with your Frotz (can’t imagine how). For now, try it without the umlauts and give us a shout. If that doesn’t work, try indeed rereleasing with I7 and let I7 blorb it for you.

Annoyingly I can’t access that old page to delete it: at least the version is correct here:

There’s no obvious reason why umlauts in the description would cause problems, but you could always try taking them out to test. There could be a bug in Windows Frotz here, or there could be something wrong with the generated XML in the Blorb file that iPhone Frotz is ignoring. If you email me the problem Blorb (my email address is in the Windows Frotz help file) I will have a look at it.

Yes, but unfortunately that link does not show up on the first page of search results when searching for “WinFrotz download”.
But this could also be a problem with the personalized search results from Google.

I tested that but it also didn’t work.

Since other blorbs did work (I just tried two random ones from

I found some differences in the .iFiction file, but that also didn’t help.

Last try: I’m sending the .zblorb via mail to see if there’s anything wrong! (Althogh babel says it’s ok!)

Well, it is the umlauts. Or rather, it’s important to worry about character encoding when you have anything other than simple ASCII characters in the iFiction file.

The root problem is that the iFiction file you’ve got isn’t a valid XML file, which it must be. Presumably iFrotz is using a less strict XML decoder that misses the problem, or even has its own XML reading code. The reason the file isn’t valid is that it contains the line

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>

But it isn’t encoded as UTF-8 - it’s encoded in European Windows’ default, which is ISO-8859-1 (actually even that isn’t quite true, but it’s close enough for now). This matters because while both these encoding schemes (which say which numbers represent which letters) represent English letters and numbers in the same way, they represent ü in completely different ways.

To fix this, you need to have the encoding stated in the iFiction XML file match how it is actually encoded. You could change how it is actually encoded by saving it with Notepad (from Notepad’s “Save As” file dialog, change the “Encoding” dropdown at the bottom to “UTF-8”) or change the encoding stated in the file, by changing the line to read

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="ISO-8859-1"?>

The Babel doc says that an ifiction file should always be UTF-8. The encoding line is therefore optional (it would always say UTF-8 if present).

The encoding was also one of my guesses…
But then I removed the umlauts and it still didn’t work!
I didn’t think the other characters would cause a problem with the encoding…

An automatic encoding-check would be a nice feature for babel! :smiley:

Thanks again for analysing!

Ok… It doesn’t seem to work!

When switching the encoding in my editor (Sublime Text 2) to UTF-8 (or UTF-8 BOM) and having UTF-8 in the xml-encoding as soon as there are umlauts in the iFiction file Windows Frotz doesn’t show the cover and infos (without umlauts it works).

When switching the encoding in the editor to Western (Windows 1252) and having ISO-8859-1 in the xml-encoding then babel does not recognize the xml-Header and doesn’t compile the zblorb.

(I also had problems when using UTF-8 in my game and trying to build it with the inform 6 compiler. Only using Western (Windows 1252) did work!)

I think I have to do some research regarding the UTF-8 encoding in Sublime Text 2…

Ooops, yes. In retrospect that was probably a bad idea, but it’s too late now.

I’ve emailed you a version of the iFiction file you sent, saved as UTF-8. If that doesn’t work, email back to me the resulting Blorb file and I’ll see why it’s still not happy.

Support for UTF-8 in Inform 6 isn’t in any released version, but will be in the next version, so unless you’re building Inform 6 from source, I wouldn’t expect that to work.

Eh. If we’d allowed arbitrary encodings, we’d be having this same bug discussion after the game shipped, and there would be more interpreters to update every time a new encoding turned up. :confused: