(This message is long, so here’s a summary version.)
- 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.
The way it works is that TADS 3.1 can generate two kinds of incompatible
.t3 files (with the same file extension ): regular
.t3 files, and “WebUI”
.t3 files. For example, we have two links for Return to Ditch Day:
.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
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
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:
- TADS 2
- TADS 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
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.