I’m not a professional programmer, and I have to say I’m struggling quite a bit with Inform 7. I have some experience of language learning though, and got this rather diffuse idea: how about if someone wrote an Inform 7 reference grammar, something along the lines af Wheelock’s Latin? If it’s already been done, I’d appreciate a link.
Perhaps either this: inform7.com/learn/man/Rex317.html ?
Thanks, but this stuff isn’t very intuitive, at least not to me.
I have some BASIC experience. Do you think Inform 6 or TADS 3 (ah, those numerals!) would be more up my alley?
You might find the Inform 7 Cheat Sheet useful: http://user.cs.tu-berlin.de/~moreiser/inform/Inform7_CheatSheet.pdf
Inform 6 and TADS are in the vein of ”traditional” programming languages (though more like C than BASIC). Do have a look and see if you prefer any of them.
This, for what it’s worth, is a word of sympathy from another beginner (i.e. still at the “clutching the brow and reaching for the help index” stage with Inform 7).
When it came to trying decide which IF development system to use, for me my choice had to be one of the major players — I6, I7, or TADS3. I did look at others, but… not my scene. So I looked carefully at the “big three”.
TADS3 I quickly rejected. However if (unlike me) you actually enjoy programming in a language that’s C-ish , then your decision could be quite different. But I think you implied that you were a BASIC man? — in which case… maybe not.
Hence for me it quite quickly became a choice of I6 or I7 — with a bias towards I6 because I have looked at it before, and hence I already have on my bookshelf “The Inform Beginner’s Guide” and also “The Inform Designer’s Manual”. (Looking at on-screen manuals may be tree-friendly, but I’m prejudiced in favour of flipping pages made of real paper).
But nevertheless — and somewhat to my surprise — in the end I opted for I7. Not because it is English-like (i.e. it speaks a rather strict sub-dialect of its own) but because it feels more powerful than I6, so that you can do as much in one fairly clear I7 “sentence” than you could in many lines of I6. The clarity aspect also makes it distinctly easier to work out what you were actually trying to do, when you return to that chunk of code a few weeks later.
Then I started playing about with some simple code, and was utterly blown away to discover a super-friendly development environment, fully integrated with both the documentation and examples (not to mention the fact that it sports helpful debugging assistance that’s a dream to use) and my decision was set in concrete.
(YMMV, caveat emptor, E & OE, and all that jazz).
Oh, and I found a paper book, too, that for me perfectly complements the built-in docs — Aaron Reed’s “Creating Interactive Fiction with Inform 7”. This was exactly what I needed, an approach to I7 from the point of view of someone starting to develop a game: I have found it to be tremendously helpful (thank you, Aaron, if you should ever read this).
If you’re more into pdf documents, though, you could try Jim Aikin’s “The Inform 7 Handbook”, or perhaps Ron Newcomb’s “Inform 7 for Programmers” (both from 2009; see your friendly search engine for details).
[Edit: Felix beat me to the punch with Mark-Oliver Reiser’s “Inform 7 Cheat Sheet”, although TBH I found that to be something which I might refer to once I have learned I7, rather than something which I feel I could use at my present fledgeling stage, so that’s in my “not yet” file. Just my 2ȼ…].
Best of luck in making your choice: I hope these words from a fellow-sufferer might help a little!