How do you adapt existing story for Text Adventure style ?

I wanna write a short story to help me learn Inform 7 (or Adrift). trouble is I haven’t written anything in over 30 years and I haven’t got a clue how to write an entire story. I haven’t had a creative bone in my body 'cept that funky one they removed at birth. They said it wasn’t supposed to be making humming noises.

I want to pick out a short story from the net and adapt it to Text Adventure style.

(I don’t use the term Interactive Fiction, INFOCOM didn’t use it either. (look it up, they never called any of their games Interactive Fiction) The IF term was made up by some geek who felt the need to coin a new phrase. I’d rather stay true to the masters.)

I need tips and tricks. How to split up the story to fit into the right text adventure bits and pieces?

Uh, yes Infocom did: … milli0.jpg

Anyways, this might be helpful: … riting-if/

Congrats ! I got you to do your homework. I feel anyone willing to look up that simple mis-fact is a Searcher and should have some good resources.

Thanks! I’ll check your link.


I read it. I found it interesting and really not what I was looking for. The writer seems to think a 2 hour game is a good IF length, when in fact Zork I took days or weeks to finish. The writer is drama oriented and does not seem to be able to apply a working ‘formula’ to other game genres. In fact he shuns popular game mechanics:

These are like puzzles, but they aren’t difficult. When the player arranges the simulator-objects in a certain way — pours the gasoline into the gas tank, gets in the car, starts the engine, and drives off — then the game transitions to the next moment.

What’s the difference between a simulator gate and a puzzle?

If the above situation were a puzzle, the gas can would be hidden in the sock drawer, the gas pump would be broken, and the PC would need to find the right knife to cut the garden hose to improvise a siphon. (And half your players would write you complaining: “This puzzle sucked!”)"

On the contrary, I think this would make a wonderful puzzle. That’s what happens in Zork and other games. You collect objects in odd places that are needed for solutions to puzzles.

He does have some good ideas say about Time and red herrings.

A good read but it doesn’t really tell me what I needed. How do you take an existing story and adapt it for use in IF?

Anyone else have ideas on this?

Having written both conventional fiction and the interactive kind, I’m not sure the kind of crossover you’re talking about can ever really work.

Possibly I’m being too negative (I often am). I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that Emily Short has written a long, thought-provoking essay about this very topic in her blog.

The key difference between CF and IF is that IF is interactive. That is, the reader/player can wander around, doing things in an unanticipated order or failing to do things the author thinks are obvious. As a result, the author has very little control over the pacing. And pacing is an essential component of a successful story.

You could certainly take the characters and setting of a conventional story and recast them in the form of IF. But you would have to rework the story in some basic ways. To the extent that you keep the original linear narrative flow, it won’t be interactive. Conversely, to the extent that it’s interactive, the story’s original narrative flow will be lost.

Another factor is what you put in and what you leave out. In conventional fiction, the author is very careful about deploying every essential detail and pruning away whatever is not essential. But in IF, you can’t be sure your readers will ever read the description of the painting over the mantel, or whatever it is. IF tends, in my experience, to contain a fair amount of window-dressing – stuff that’s perhaps evocative, but that if you never read it, you won’t miss anything.

Erm, why do you keep calling it a mis-fact if it’s already proven to be a fact? And incidently, Danni gave examples of later Infocom games, but if you look at the package from Deadline, it already uses the term. It was part of their sales pitch, on the back of any package. It was also part of their attempt to bring an extra dimension to adventure games, which is easily seen by comparing Deadline (or Starcross, both being '82 titles) to the rest of the IF of the period, mostly Scott Addamses which represented the staple in the genre that Infocom was trying to add to.

But anyway. I was going to say a lot of stuff, but Jim beat me to it. I can only add that what you can try to do is adapt the concept from some static fiction story and start developing it as IF. Then, as you develop, you’ll surely realise that the interactivity brings new possibilities that you simply wouldn’t get if you just tried to port SF (static fiction) to IF. Similarly, if you did try to do a straight port, you’ll run into a lot of difficulties - what’s happening in this scene? Exposition and internal monologue. Try to port THAT straight into IF and you’ll end up with boring screens of text, more likely than not.

Here’s a forinstance. When I was interested in making games (now I’m just interested in making them) I got my girlfriend to write up a story (I like her stories) I could adapt into IF. I knew it could be done if I were to adapt it to the conventions of IF - the need for continual action, having the player trigger the narrative, hinting towards a certain action, disallowing others. I knew it would be a linear game, but since it was so story-driven, it was a deliberate attempt to use the interaction in IF solely for greater immeresion, and not for puzzles or for branching the story. She gave me a .doc file. From that file I selected room descriptions, object descriptions, actions; I chose rooms, I envisioned connecting rooms, I made a mental map. I came up with ways to encourage the player to take the actions I WANTED him to take, but I damned well filled that room with all the things that WEREN’t necessary for the story at the moment YET, but were physically there for the player and had to be dealt with.

She cursed a lot at me, because she still wanted to write all the text (which she did with my blessing) and found she had to write replies to “take wind” and “kiss me” and “attack cliffs”. :slight_smile:

Anyway - long-winded post, ended up with little substance apart from a personal experience. Sorry about that, hope it’s in any way useful.

Thanks Jim and Peter. Your insight is helpful.

I said “mis-fact” because I purposely misstated a fact. This is a psychological tool. I use it for fun and cunning. It causes people to get their druthers in a dander and respond to the post emotionally. There is s sense of " I’ve got to prove to this yahoo where he went wrong". Drop these things in your posts to gain information and usually, If the true answer is not so easily shown as Danni did, you can play this card over and over to get more hard searched emotional responses from people.

I’m just kind of twisted that way, but mean no harm.

I have noticed Emily Short if a popular IF writer and even helped develop Inform though I haven’t played any of her games. I will look up her blog to see if she has insight into this matter.

Doing that for the purposes you’re describing sounds a lot like “trolling”, or at least playing to an unpleasant side of people. You are obviously no troll, but nevertheless, if I were you I’d take it easy on purposefully poisoning conversations.

Understood Peter but you only look at it as if I am “poisoning conversations” because I let you in on the trick. It’s harmless. If people feel they have an emotional investment in something they are more apt to be strong willed in their convictions. People may not like being tricked like that you may assume but I think people secretly love it. People are tricked in games all the time - they play games to be tricked. People allow themselves to be tricked every day in real world situations willingly. They believe what their doctors and politicians tell them and never research if they are being told the truth or not.

As far as writing goes, practicing these types of things helps keep the mind sharp. Here we digress greatly from the theme of this topic.

Emily Short has a lot of good info on her blog found here: I think I will write her and ask her if she has any advice on this topic to go with yours and Jim’s advice.

Yeah, I think you might want to pull back from that awesome psychological trick. I haven’t noticed any shortage of, uh, “strong willed convictions” even without provocation. And creating work for people to do (to prove stuff you already know) means there’s less time to talk about stuff we don’t know yet.

On topic, I think about half the trick of moving a short story to IF is choosing the right one. For a practice game, you probably want something very short; short stories can pack a movie’s worth of material in them, and a movie’s worth of material in IF is a full-length game (and then some). You want something action-based - an introspective short story is much harder to translate into IF and will give you less practice with everyday tools. There are ways to manage the pacing of games, especially short ones - limit the options you give players, trigger events, suggest things to do. They don’t solve everything, but they help.

You might find it helpful to look at stories that are still raw and unworked - first hand accounts, or urban legends, or other not fully fleshed fiction. Not only does this help with copyright, but it means you’ll do way less “translation” between genres. If you’re drawn to traditional puzzle-based IF, you might consider a story drawn from explorers - Lewis and Clark or David Livingstone or any of the expeditions up Mt. Everest could provide a wealth of inspiration for both puzzle setup and general exposition without chaining you to a narrative that doesn’t work. Myths or fairytales could give you some of the same framework without too much detail - the facts and story arc of Cinderella are pretty constant, but you could do a lot within that.

You come here with your begging bowl out, asking for remedial advice … and you want to be abusive to those who might help you?

Woo. Stay classy, firebird.

you’re not the first one :wink: . Look at this example

It should answer your question, even if I dont belive there is a magical formula to do it.

Relatedly, last summer I started working on an IF game, and when I was unsatisfied with where it was going, I decided to write a write a short story as a way of deepening my understanding of the character and setting. Hopefully I’ll eventually get back to the game, and if I do, I think it will be better for my having undertaken the exercise. Meanwhile, I’ve gotten a short story out of it. I also think that static fiction set in the universe of an IF game could be a good way to get people without prior IF experience engaged enough to want to climb the IF learning curve.

Hitchhiker’s Guide to The Galaxy is termed “An Infocom interactive fiction”. Their early games were called “Interlogic” whatever that was supposed to mean. They probably realized it was bogus and from then on started calling them Interactive mistery, Interactive sciece fiction etc.

It makes more sense than text adventure in that it is not necessarily an adventure and puts the focus on interactivity rather than the text medium. And it’s certainly all fiction. Text adventure is pretty puerile and reminds me of an amusement ride through many rooms in caves full of treasures and dwarfs. I can understand nostalgia, though…

Thank you riktik for that fine example. It was very helpful.

two-swords, you say, " I also think that static fiction set in the universe of an IF game could be a good way to get people without prior IF experience engaged enough to want to climb the IF learning curve. "

I agree. That would be a very good way. I will continue my thoughts on this matter in another Topic as they tend to move the discussion away from this one.