Have you tried ADRIFT

I am curious. How many people here have actually tried authoring using ADRIFT 5? And if not, what are your reasons.

Please note, I deliberately haven’t put this in the Other Development Systems section because I want to get feedback from people who don’t use the system, or aren’t interested in it.

Many thanks.

This thread might work better in the “General Game Design” forum, since it really isn’t about playing IF. (And it might get more eyeballs there, though I don’t know.)

For me, it’s some combination of a couple of the above factors, plus one that isn’t listed: inconsistent Mac support. If I’m not mistaken, the ADRIFT 4 developer didn’t run on the Mac, and cruising over to the downloads page I see that the ADRIFT 5 Developer Mono distribution is listed as untested on the Mac. (I think I do have Mono installed, so it’s not an insurmountable barrier, but…) And the Runner is still Windows-only, isn’t it?

Yes, I agree. Could a mod please move it there?

I gave the ADRIFT website only an (admittedly) cursory glance yet.

Thing is, I feel much more confident with programming an IF game in the Inform or TADS style, rather than “configuring” it, which is what the GUI of ADRIFT suggests. But that’s really only a matter of taste.



So far I’ve only used ADRIFT 5 for playing games made in the language. I guess what’s needed is an excuse to try out a new language, such as a New Language Speed IF.

Several of the above, really, and none of them are quite right.

“I’m put off by its reputation” is close but misleading. My most basic assumption about systems (which I acknowledge may reflect lots of things other than the formal qualities of that system) is that by their fruits you shall know them. And of the ADRIFT games I’ve played over the years, I can think of perhaps three or four that were soundly constructed and overall pretty good. Perhaps just as importantly, I haven’t encountered any ADRIFT games that were blow-me-away awesome. (Perhaps the ADRIFT community is not good at promoting its best games to the wider IF community, or perhaps ADRIFT authors are just not interested in the things I’m interested in.) So I’d say that more than its reputation, ADRIFT’s problem is its track record. Certainly, there are coders whose opinion I respect who have a low opinion of ADRIFT, but that wouldn’t be such a big deal if I hadn’t played a lot of ramshackle ADRIFT games, few good and no great ones.

“I’m competent in an existing system and have no interest” is right, but not the whole story: I’m interested in lots of other systems, but only if they have features, design philosophies, specialties, etc. that a) are difficult or impractical in I7 and b) I’m interested in. I haven’t really heard about any features that ADRIFT offers and I7 doesn’t, except for the GUI coding environment, which I’m not interested in. I have a vague idea that I should try ADRIFT at some point in the interests of completeness, but it’s not high on the list because I really don’t have a conception of The Great Game I Could Make In ADRIFT That Would Be Hard, Impossible Or Ugly In I7.

The top two answers are currently “I am competent with a different system and have no interest” and “I would like to have a look, but haven’t found the time yet”, which are predictable - anyone posting here is already using something else, probably Inform or TADS as those systems don’t have their own forums.

If you want more people to use ADRIFT you will have to cast your net a bit wider. “Interactive fiction” as a whole is becoming bigger all the time now, but you will only find a tiny fraction of your potential userbase hanging around here on intfiction.org - and it would be a huge effort to make even a handful of people among this tiny fraction switch to a different system. So why bother? There are plenty of people elsewhere who are interested in writing interactive stories.

The way to make ADRIFT successful is not to appease the Inform and TADS users.

I’m not sure I’d agree Alex. I think, when it comes to newcomers - and there is certainly a decent turnover of newcomers to this forum - is that they get here and think “ok, what is the best system I could be using?”. They look and see that the majority are discussing Inform, a few discuss TADS, and the “other” systems are most likely no good as pretty much no-one is discussing them at all. So I guess perhaps I should be directing this poll more towards newcomers of this forum, but it is people from here that I would like to hear from.

I’d be particularly interested to know whether people download and evaluate each system to find out what works best for them, or if they just make a decision early on based upon something else.

Just a data point about why I started using Inform.

I started writing interactive fiction when Lea held the Interactive Fiction Writing Month, and that event was done using Inform 6 (with some nods to Inform 7). And then I switched to Inform 7 because people in my local area were using it.

So, the reason I started using Inform was that someone held an event especially aimed at beginners and said, “I’ll help you learn how to write interactive fiction, and let’s do it in Inform.” I don’t know what all you’ve done to promote the use of ADRIFT to newbies, but maybe something similar to this would be useful.


After reading from another adrift-related topic a month or two ago, I actually did head over to the website to download and have a look around the authoring portion of the system. My overall impression was positive. Admittedly, considering the interface, I came in with low expectations about the system producing games of much complexity. I was pleasantly surprised, though; with clever and careful planning it certainly does seem possible to create games with interesting mechanics.

I especially liked the ability to replace certain printed words/messages with my own text. I didn’t really get deep enough into it to fully explore the feature, but on the surface it seemed very convenient. Such message replacement is something other systems don’t always handle so easily. The built-in mapping system is also very handy both on the authoring and playing sides.

As for using adrift on a serious game, I’m currently way too deep into my own Inform 7 project at the moment. Once I finish that, I’ll probably try to give Adrift another more in-depth look and see how it goes.

Me too! But since that’s somewhat circular, I’ll say that the reason I picked I6 for IFWriMo was that the Inform Design Manual (DM4) was well-written and easy to find. Then when I wrote Byzantine Perspective, I couldn’t figure out how to do it in I6. But still wanted to make a game that was playable on pretty much any platform, so I switched over to I7.

As to why I haven’t switched since then, I’d say my reasons are very similar to Maga’s. I’d need to be presented with particular reasons to learn a new system, and ADRIFT just doesn’t do enough different things from I7 to be worth sinking learning time into. Undum and StoryNexus are higher on my wishlist.

I clicked ‘some other reason’. I almost clicked “I am competent with a different system and have no interest” (Inform 7) which in logistic reality is likely to hold sway, but I think I would have at least downloaded Adrift 5 by now and had a poke at it if it ran on the Mac.

  • Wade

I’m barely an IF writer, but I used to like downloading and trying out all the different systems. I still would, if I had time, but I’ve already looked at older versions of all of them, anyways.

I dismissed some of them for various reasons:

  • Although I really liked the source code style of ALAN (it looks like a simple, intuitive outline, which I prefer to “natural language”), I couldn’t get the verb library to be included in the sample game. Not wanting to code all the commands myself, I soon gave up and never downloaded it again.
  • I downloaded Inform 7, played with it, and initially had a little fun. Then I realized that it was far more different from Inform 6 (which I painstakingly taught myself as a kid) than I had thought, and I liked it less and less the more I tried to use it.
  • I really liked the way Quests combines a GUI with a scripting language, but the interface and the standardized design of versions 3/4 just didn’t work for me. I haven’t had time to look at the latest version, although I might like to.
  • When I was first getting into IF, I liked ADRIFT 4 a lot. I think I would have used it instead of Inform 6 if it had been free at the time.

I downloaded ADRIFT 5 a while ago and looked at the interface. I like it, and I think it’s an improvement from ADRIFT 4. I have not had the time to try making a simple game with ADRIFT 5, because Hugo has been working for me, and I would rather continue my Hugo projects and actually make something rather than start too many projects and never finish one of them.

The GUI does not make me think that it is a less serious or less flexible language. I’m digital media major. I’ve used advanced software with complicated GUIs, software that I have been told is professional level.

Campbell, here’s some advice that may or may not have any merit. Don’t try to market ADRIFT as an easy system. It seems like IF is either marketed as an easy system for beginners, or else as a highly complicated programming environment. Inform 7 seems to have a reputation of being both at the same time. But maybe there is another demographic. ADRIFT 5 may be a great system for designers.

Are you an advanced software user, but not a programmer? Can you handle GIMP and Inkscape, or Photoshop and InDesign and DreamWeaver, or AVID, or Blender? Then maybe ADRIFT 5 is the IF system for you. Don’t program your game. Don’t fill in a simplistic form that makes simple and standardized games. Instead, design your game with a complicated, flexible, professional GUI.

Well, thanks for the feedback folks. Gives me something to think about.

On general principles, I like to have tried whatever tools I can find, whether or not I plan to use them for major projects (and I get a fair number of “what should I use?” questions from new users both inside and outside the community, so it’s helpful for me to be familiar with the tools and their strengths and weaknesses). ADRIFT’s Mac-incompatibility and lack of time are the main reasons I haven’t at least sampled 5 yet. I think I played a little with 4 a very long time ago, but I wouldn’t use that encounter as the basis of any recommendations now, as I understand the system has evolved a great deal.

Regarding the mac incompatibility:

The mac/mono version is listed as “untested”. Has nobody tried it? Does it work?

There’s no reason why it shouldn’t - I just don’t have the hardware to test it. The mono distro is aimed at Linux in terms of the supporting files, but the exe itself should work fine. However, only Runner has mono support, not Developer.

Oh, I misread the download page! Well, if you have some unit tests or something that you want to do with the Runner – something along the lines of “play through this game and see if anything happens” – you could probably get someone on this forum to test it on a Mac for you. (Not me right now, but maybe later.)

Of course, this moves me from roughly maga’s position to “I couldn’t try ADRIFT if I wanted to, because I can’t run Developer.”

The main thing preventing me from using Adrift is probably that there’s no plain-english save file. The GUI is nice, especially for creating new objects, but sometimes it’s easier for me to edit text. I’m more used to it.

The (Seeming) GUI-onlyflavor of Adrift gives me less control than I’m used to. I also don’t see a way to use extensions or, maybe, templates to get a quick game set up.

That sounds like a good angle. I think TADS and I6 look like good languages for programmers. I7 feels like a good language for writers, to me, and that’s why I like it. I consider myself to be both a programmer and a writer, but to write IF, I feel like need to focus on the writing. When I tried I6, I felt like there were too many interruptions to the task of writing.

I’m a terrible designer, but there should be a system out there for designers.

Ironic that Macs have come to be known as the platform for designers. Maybe the biggest way to promote ADRIFT would be to recruit a dedicated developer to port it to Mac.