Issue running TADS on my PC

Hello!

When I use the latest interpreter from the TADS website, Elysium Enigma crashes randomly while playing. It might be related to Adobe Flash Player, as I get a warning message when I load the game that the “Adobe Flash Player ActiveX Installer is only intended for Windows 7 and prior. Please run the Adobe Flash Player ActiveX Installer for Windows 8 and Windows 10.” I’m not even sure what this means; I thought Flash was just a browser thing. When I try to open in QTads it says it’s not compatible.

I can get Arrival to work in the standard TADS player kit, but none of the graphics load.

I have Windows 10, 64-bit. I’m using TADS release HT-24, Build WIN121; TADS 2.5.17/3.1.3)

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This one? TADS Downloads

I’m not sure what the issue is, but there are some other interpreters on this list that you could try:

(IFWIki results for user-friendly interpreters that support both TADS 2 and TADS 3 games, and run on Windows, and have been marked “stable”)

The standard interpreter has not been updated for many years now, and it has issues running on modern versions of Windows.

You can use https://realnc.github.io/qtads/ instead.

Edit:
If QTads says it’s not compatible, then you downloaded the web version of the game. Download the normal versions instead:

https://ifdb.org/viewgame?id=qpecxgjpxnvw50xq

Download Elysium.zip.

Thank you everyone. Of course, you are right; I had downloaded the web version, creating all of my problems.

Is HTML TADS the one that has problems? If it doesn’t run correctly on modern versions of Windows, then I can take it off the list of recommended interpreters on IFWiki.

Well, AFAIK it’s the only TADS terp that can run web games, but it’s exactly that part that doesn’t work on modern systems. So… tough call. The issue is that it needs Internet Explorer to run web games, and it uses Flash.

For non-web games, it should be fine though.

Thanks!

(This message is long, so here’s a summary version.)

tl;dr:

  • TADS has two kinds of .t3 files, “regular” and “WebUI”
  • No modern OS/browser can play WebUI TADS 3 files in 2022
  • Despite that, Parchment can play regular non-WebUI .t3 files on iplayif.com
  • I’ve updated IFDB’s https://ifdb.org/fileformat page to explain that “TADS 3 Web” games are unplayable, but still link to HTML TADS, for legacy use

I did some research into this question when investigating the “Play Online” button for IFDB.

The nomenclature here is all mixed up, and has become more confusing over time.

Regular TADS 3 vs. “WebUI” TADS 3

First off, I think there are three terms that have overlapping meanings: “WebUI” TADS, “Web Play” TADS, and “HTML” TADS.

The documentation is available here.

https://tads.org/ov_web.htm
https://tads.org/t3doc/doc/sysman/webdeploy.htm
https://tads.org/t3doc/doc/sysman/webhost.htm
https://tads.org/t3doc/doc/htmltads/intro.htm

The way it works is that TADS 3.1 can generate two kinds of incompatible .t3 files (with the same file extension :sob:): regular .t3 files, and “WebUI” .t3 files. For example, we have two links for Return to Ditch Day:

Regular .t3 files are playable in traditional interpreters like Gargoyle, QTads, Spatterlight, and Lectrote, but those interpreters can’t play WebUI .t3 files. You need a TADS WebUI runner to play WebUI .t3 files; WebUI runners can’t play regular .t3 files.

No modern OS/browser can play WebUI TADS 3 games at the moment

IFDB supposedly includes code to support TADS “Web Play.” https://github.com/iftechfoundation/ifdb/blob/main/www/t3run But the code doesn’t work, and I haven’t done enough research into it to find out how to make it work. You can go to e.g. https://ifdb.org/t3run?id=sicva377zqygxcq2 and click “Start the game,” but it’ll say “Sorry, but we’re having trouble finding an available server to run this game. Please try again in a few minutes.”

At one point there was supposedly also a WebUI runner at gs.tads.io; someone manually added a link to it for Jay Schilling’s Edge of Chaos, linking to http://gs.tads.io/?storyfile=http%3A%2F%2Ffos.textfiles.com/jolt/Chaos--Web.t3 … but that link doesn’t work, either.

There’s also “HTML TADS” https://www.ifwiki.org/HTML_TADS_(Interpreter) also known as the “HTML TADS Player Kit.” It was designed to be able to play both regular .t3s and WebUI .t3s, and is only available on Windows, but, as @RealNC explained, HTML TADS doesn’t play WebUI games on modern Windows.

Therefore, it is my current belief that WebUI .t3 files cannot be played at all in 2022. Luckily, almost all TADS 3 games that have a WebUI .t3 file have also have a regular .t3 file.

Parchment can play regular TADS 3 files on the web (but don’t call it “Web Play”)

And here comes the bombshell that makes everything 10x as confusing… As of 2021, it is now possible to play regular non-WebUI TADS 3 .t3 files on the web via Parchment on iplayif.com. Parchment is not TADS 3 Web Play™ but it is “playing TADS 3 games on the web.”

When Parchment added “regular” TADS 3 support, I updated IFDB’s “Play Online” button to link regular non-WebUI .t3 files to Parchment, and to never link to IFDB’s broken WebUI runner.

This explains why I never did the work to resuscitate IFDB’s WebUI runner: anyone who wants to play TADS 3 games on the web (but don’t call it Web Play™!) can do so via Parchment, so there’s very little benefit in adding WebUI support.

(Now, this isn’t strictly true, because the WebUI runner had one cool feature that Parchment does not: it supported multiplayer mode, where a group of people could play a TADS game together, kinda like ClubFloyd. But IMO that problem is now best solved by playing the game by screen-sharing Parchment via Twitch, or perhaps even to literally play on ClubFloyd.)

IFDB still links to the HTML TADS Player Kit, because there’s nothing better to do

https://ifdb.org/fileformat recognizes three types of TADS files:

  1. TADS 2
  2. TADS 3
  3. TADS 3 Web

…where the third one is for WebUI .t3 files. (Note that IFDB does know the difference between regular .t3 and WebUI .t3 files!)

As of a few minutes ago, our “TADS 3 Web” file-format description now says:

Legacy WebUI format for TADS. No known interpreter can play this type of file on modern operating systems. On older versions of Windows running Internet Explorer with Flash, you can download the HTML TADS Player Kit to use this file.

If somebody some day decided to fix TADS WebUI support on IFDB, or to implement TADS WebUI support in Parchment, we could update the message then/there.

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WebUI games require a server. The game doesn’t run in your browser. It runs on a server that somebody needs to pay for. What you get is the output of the game running on the remote server.

The only way to play them locally other than the html TADS windows terp, is to use t3run.exe (from html tads players kit) or frob (from frobtads.) They will run the game and create a local web server you can connect to with your web browser.

But really, webui should just quietly die off, imo. Don’t keep it alive and certainly don’t release new games using it :stuck_out_tongue:

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Does that mean I’ll never be able to play my beloved 1893 in its full glory again??

Uhm, that’s not a webUI game. You can play it in any multimedia tads terp. QTads runs it properly, and I think that Android terp that I forgot the name of also supports multimedia TADS.

Still works fine for me using Chromium Edge v101 on Windows. What issues are you seeing?

That link works for me too, at least for the beginning of the game.

One issue in the past was that it didn’t support storyfiles hosted over https, which is most things these days. I’d be surprised if that was fixed.

You’re right, sorry.

So, just to make this clear for third parties who might be reading along or stumbling upon the thread later.

From a player’s perspective, there are three sorts of TADS games around:

  1. Pure text-based games without any special formatting (or only using old-school TADS formatting sequences), without multimedia adornment, and playable locally offline in a pure text interpreter without multimedia capabilities (in a console, for example).

  2. HTML/Multimedia TADS games: they can be purely textual, but they might also use a subset of HTML markup elements for formatting, and can contain hyperlinks (for example, the direction commands might be clickable links), and can also use images and sound. Arrival and 1893 are in this category.
    Importantly, despite the name, this has nothing to do with the “Web UI”. The HTML here just refers to the fact that Mike Roberts allowed authors to use some HTML markup to customize formatting. HTML/Multimedia TADS games are playable locally offline, and (AFAIK) they work fine in the official Windows HTML TADS interpreter and in QTads.

  3. Web UI games: are intended for online play in a web browser using a client-server model (although, as RealNC notes, there are other possibilities).

TADS 2 can output games in categories 1 and 2, TADS 3 can output games in all categories. (Well, regarding category 1, one has to say that TADS 3 is always in “HTML Mode” – but if an author doesn’t use any of the special HTML/multimedia features, then the game will play without a problem on console interpreters or Gargoyle etc. and will be functionally identical to category 1; otherwise, if multimedia features are used, those interpreters will try to degrade gracefully).

See also: HTML TADS vs. Plain TADS

Dan, thank you for the very insightful post about the state of things regarding the Web UI format. But I think this line is not exactly accurate, because HTML TADS is different, as noted above. (Well, there is overlap in the sense that they’re using TADS under the hood, but not in the sense relevant to this thread, I’d say.)

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When I navigate to https://gs.tads.io/?storyfile=http%3A%2F%2Ffos.textfiles.com/jolt/Chaos--Web.t3 it takes 30 seconds, times out, and fails. (Does it work for anybody else??)

Now it is as you say, but the link worked fine for me earlier today.

As is typical for IF naming, I think “HTML TADS” is, itself, ambiguous between the authoring format for multimedia TADS games, and the player kit.

https://tads.org/t3doc/doc/htmltads/intro.htm calls the player kit “HTML TADS.”

What is HTML TADS?

HTML TADS is an interpreter for games created with TADS, the Text Adventure Development System. HTML TADS is an extension of the standard TADS interpreter that allows a game author to use HTML markups to control the appearance of the game.