I want to get into game designing, where should I start?

I don’t know shit about coding, but I have played a bunch of interactive fiction games and I like them and now want to learn how to make my own one.

What engine would you recommend? There are quite a lot of options, like Inform, Tads or Rags.

Check to see what your favorite games are written in and use that. (Probably Inform.)

I guess I go for inform7 then. One more question, if I want to sell my game one day, can I just do that or are there licensing problems? For example if I make a game in UE4 I would have to pay a part of the earnings to the creator of UE4.

You can just do that. §26.1 of Writing with Inform, the Inform 7 manual, says:

If you have Inform programming questions, you can find help on the Inform 6 and 7 Development Forum.

If you’re getting stared with Inform, I recommend “Creating Interactive Fiction with Inform 7” by Aaron Reed.

30€? You killing me goy. This is a hard for me to do right now because I just spend over 80€ on other textbooks. Education is way to expensive. Anyway, that books looks good, does this Aaron Reed guy hang out here? Because I would prefer a ebook version of that book and they don’t seem to be selling it on amazon.

Getting that book is not the only way (or indeed the most up to date) way to learn Inform - Inform 7’s gone through some syntax changes, apparently, so the most recent version of Inform (on the website) may not work with the book.

(Personally I found tinkering with the code - starting with a system in mind - to be helpful. Start from the most basic, figure out how to make a game from start to finish, then learn to add features and bits later.)

This little guide is what I personally used to learn Inform 7’s basics. There are also many examples built directly into the program to show how the code works.

And because they’re standalone, it’s easy to play around with them and see what happens, which I found to be a great way to learn.

I see your point, but I just feel like there has to be more to it. For example I tried to make stairs yesterday in my game yesterday without looking it up. Room X is above Room Y did not work. I tried all kind of stuff and non work so I had to look it up and it turns out that stairs aren’t actually stairs but doors. You see, I have no idea how to come up with these things. Even if I stood in front of my PC for days, without the help of the internet I would have never be able to guess that.

And this is still the easy stuff. I still have to figure out how to design fights, consequences for losing fights or breaking the law (stealing) like being taken by guards into a prison.

I am currently reading my way through it, but to be honest I feel like it will take years to finish this. And by finish I mean have a first playable version.

Edit: also thanks for the other link, I will check that one out too.

I think that the problem isn’t that you wouldn’t have been able to guess that, but that you had the expectation that you should have been able to guess it. You don’t need to magically intuit Inform programming knowledge out of thin air; you need to read and understand the manual and the examples in it, and practice the techniques that you learn. That’s not to say that you should understand everything, in the most minute detail, on your first pass through. I’d suggest a continuous cycle of reading, experimenting, and reading some more, until eventually the tool disappears from your consciousness and you’re able to spend most of your time focusing on what you want to implement instead of how to implement it. It’s a lengthy and ongoing process, moreso if you don’t have prior programming experience, just as with mastering any other nontrivial skill.

Perhaps you should start out with a simpler project and work your way up to this one. See what you can design and implement in a month. A game doesn’t have to be technically sophisticated to be fun to play.

You’ll note that there are very few Inform games with fights. Fights are possible in Inform, but it’s a lot of work.

I recommend, for your first game, taking two or three of your favorite small games, and making a clone mashup of them.

I guess I will put my current game aside than (I want this to become something big) and start working on smaller games for now. You know, each game being one feature of the main game. And once all those little fuckers work I put them into the main game and see where that gets me.

Anyway, can you guys give me names for these things so I now what to google for? I want small events in my game that are started by the player, or can be started by the npc depending on if they are friendly or evil. What I want are “events” or “games”. These events would be fights, or little gambling games like, idk flipping a coin I guess. E.g. the player can go to another one and ask them to fight or flip a coin. What do you call these events?

I’d call them minigames.

Also, you might find this article interesting. It’s not focused on IF, but it aligns with the approach that we’ve been advocating here.

But do they have a official name? Something I can google to find out more about it?

I want a fight to be something like a “minigame” (in this case a game within a game I guess lol), what I mean is you can go to a random other player and challenge them to a fight. And depending on the enemy (if they are friendly or nice) they can also challenge you. And fights are not the only thing, you can also gamble with others for money and hope to win enough to buy some nice armor and stuff like that.

I mean… I think minigame is an actual term that people use. Games like Legacy of the Ancients and Hillsfar come to mind when I think about the kind of gameplay that you’re describing (a top-level area with subgames that can entered), and the Wikipedia articles for these games both use the term “mini-game”.

Based on what you’ve said so far, it seems like you might prefer to work on what I’d call an “RPG” rather than an “interactive fiction” game.

I want to call out fighting specifically as a particularly tough problem in parser-based IF.

Repetitive text-based descriptions of battles are surprisingly boring. When you watch a spiky-haired protagonist swing a sword at a troll and the number “73” pops up over the troll’s head, it moves fast; feels tight. “You swing your hammer at the troll and do 73 points of damage” is just not as fun, especially when the text is repetitive. ("… and do 48 points of damage" “… and do 87 points of damage”)

In my experience, most turn-based fights I’ve ever played have been menu-based/choice-based, in two styles:

  1. Dramatic hand-written fights in CYOA style, without repetition.
  2. A standard menu (ATTACK, MAGIC, ITEM, RUN), with a sub menu to let you select weapon/spell/item and another menu to select a target.

#1 is easy-ish in Inform, but that’s not really what Inform is for; you might prefer another more choice-based language like Twine or ChoiceScript.

#2 is tough to do well in a parser transcript (in “conversational style”). Perhaps you’d want to let the player type, “attack the second troll with hammer”, but then how would I know to attack the second troll? In a CRPG there’s typically an on-screen depiction of the enemies, with positions and HP bars. Would I have to “look” to see the trolls and their HP? “inventory” to see my list of items? (In the middle of combat?!) In tabletop Dungeons and Dragons we play with a map and little figures to mitigate this.

Even without “proper graphics,” ASCII-art “rogue-like” games can often do fights better than parser-based transcripts. And IMO even those games are improved with simple graphics.

If fighting, exploration, and minigames are your primary mechanics, you might have better luck with RPG Maker.

I agree that what DönkeyKöng is describing sounds more RPGish than IFish.

I’d look at MUDs for solutions to some of the problems that dfabulich points out with text-based combat.

Here’s an example of MUD combat (in which a necromancer is fighting a letter of the alphabet):

Note the 3 somewhat cryptic lines of combat status info. These are echoed each round and serve the role that hp bars would serve in a graphical game. They can be configured by the player to show whatever subset of available information is desired. (There are also fancy MUD clients and protocols that will convert this info into graphical HP bars and the like. One could imagine a multi-window Glulx game doing something similar, falling back to the raw text version if necessary.)

MUD players can also typically define aliases to make input during combat more convenient. This leads to a departure from the usual IF conversational input style, but a justifiable one because MUDs are real time and the troll will continue to attack while the player inputs a lengthy command. Even with turn-based games, players are lazy and don’t want to type long commands repeatedly. IF abbreviations like x, g, and z are an acknowledgement of this.

Check out Beyond Zork, The Reliques of Tolti-Aph, and Kerkerkruip for some possible directions in the space of IF-RPG hybrids.

Going from IF to RPGmaker seems like “cheating” or giving up to me. I will just continue here and see how far I can get this project. Maybe afterwards I will give rpgmaker a try, which was also recommended to me by other people.

Re: RPGMaker: It’s an excellent engine, but note that it’s graphical. If you want a specifically text-based game, it probably won’t suit your needs.

It’s not cheating to move to RPGMaker if it makes sense, though. The best approach is to use the best tool for the best project - no cheating about it.

Combat isn’t that hard to do in Inform 7 - it’s just random numbers and math, after all. I haven’t shipped a full game with a combat system, but I’ve done a lot of partials. (You’ll find examples in Five Gods Exiled and Phoenix’s Landing: Destiny.)

The hard parts of combat with I7 involve things like enemy generation and loot generation. Natively, I7 doesn’t allow dynamic object creation, which means that you can only have predesigned enemies and treasure instead of infinitely spawning enemies and treasure. Jesse McGrew’s Dynamic Objects extension is one way to get around this. Another is to draw from a generic pool of potential items/enemies, customize them to the situation, and then reset them after use.

Just checking here. Did you mean another character (like an NPC) or actually another player?

If the latter, please be aware that none of the standard IF software supports multiplayer. You’ll want to use a MUD base or potentially guncho for something like that. (Guncho isn’t a good choice for a potentially commercial game, though.)