Modern Supplemental Transcript System

I just had an idea but I’d be really surprised if this isn’t already a thing, so I’m asking here to see if I can save the effort and use an established tool.

I want to bring a modernized version of the old-school feelies, sort of like the documents you get alongside Zachtronics games. The idea is a program (probably implemented in Java?) would tap into the transcript of a text adventure (running on another program). By using transcript string matches, it would automatically trigger various things like dynamic background music, ambient sounds, image windows, diagrams, dynamic maps (possibly using top-down images created by the author), and more.

This way, if the author wants to provide more to the player, then they can without having to create a brand-new interpreter engine. Additionally, (assuming it’s understood that this is all BONUS stuff), this doesn’t restrict the platforms that the story would run on. If your platform of choice can run this supplemental program, then you can see all the bonus stuff too. If not, then you still have a perfectly-playable text adventure.

The author would be able to package all the materials together with a list of transcript triggers into an archive file, and ship it with the story. Open the story with the interpreter, open the supplementals with the listener, setup and attach the transcript file, and start playing with ambiance and maps!

Could even include a possible auto-mapper (for supplementals that do not include map contents), as well as a notes sections for the player.

Has someone already created something like this, or am I adding this to my growing todo list, lol?

I think you’re describing the Vorple framework for Inform 7.


I was hoping for something that runs alongside any interpreter for zcode, glulx, and tads games alike, especially because I moved from using Inform 7 to preferring TADS now.

I was checking out Vorple, though. Out of curiosity: is it meant to be like a replacement interpreter, or somehow compiled into an Inform project? I’m having a lot of difficulty understanding exactly how it’s used. Vorple has an include in a story’s source code, but the system is described as running outside of the Inform interpreter.

Also, as a side note, I realized I’m seeing your name everywhere. The main story I’m playing right now is one of yours (Dreamhold), and I noticed that the Lectrote program is yours too. A lot of authoring materials in Inform seem to be from you as well, from what I remember.

There was something similar-ish that some people put together, for the web browser-hosted versions of games, I think. So the browser would see certain tags in the code and then play a sound or do other things. Whereas the offline version would not do these things (or maybe there weren’t offline versions). My memory’s vague, I can’t remember who made it. I remember @mathbrush talking about it at the time so he could probably point straight to it on these forums.


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Yeah, I made a game that did exactly this but the place I used in the transcript was the status bar; I printed the name of each room in the status bar and then added some code to the web interpreter to look at whatever was in the bar and play some appropriate music.

It worked great but was annoying to code. A systematic way of approaching it would be really nice. My biggest difficulties were that everything had to be hard coded manually and that the status line would have to be different for every action I wanted.

I think Vorple may do everything I wanted to do before (it got a big update!) but a systematic thing that could work in multiple interpreters is a cool goal. I’d check the capabilities of Vorple first though to at least get ideas of what’s possible with current tech! I believe it currently requires two sides: code included on the game itself as well as an outside interpreter.

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Vorple games generate a web page embedding the custom Vorple web interpreter; all of its fancy effects only work in the Vorple interpreter.

Thus, Vorple has two parts: the first part is a replacement interpreter, and the second part is a collection of Inform extensions that know how to communicate with the Vorple interpreter.

(A Vorple game can also generate a Glulx file, for use in non-Vorple interpreters, but the fancy effects won’t do anything there, so most people using Vorple don’t make that available to users.)


Thank you! That’s much clearer now!

This also reminds me a bit of this system, which only did a smaller functionality but looked really good: Zorkmid - human-designed maps automapping for IF (v3)

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Aaaaah!!! This is such a cool thing!! Is this hosted anywhere else? I tried the link provided in that post, and it seems like their site is gone. I would really love to have something like this to use!

I don’t know, but it’s possible that @roylaza halted Zorkmid’s development in favour of another, more recent project of his, which is quite similar to the Zorkmid site in that it’s an automapping interpreter with additional features, although there also seem to be slight differences in goals and scope. Relevant thread: Parchmap - automatic mapping, navigation, autocomplete, notes and more