NEWBIE needs a bit of general help

Hey Guys,

So I just discovered Inform7, Lectrote and all these cool creative writing and fiction outlets yesterday evening before bed. This is absolutely amazing!!!

I have a one really important question. I dowloaded Lectrote for MacOs Catalina and downloaded a sample game and opened it up.

Eveything seems to be running good.

However. I grew up in the early 90’s and am familiar with some text based games like this which were developed by Sierra with animated graphics. I started hammering away the usual commands such as take, talk to, etc. I was surprised that the game kept prompting me that these were not recognised commands…

So I am curious as a programmer or designer, which I intend to eventually take a crack at, … in Inform7 would I be the one building the verb commands that the interpreter will recognize? Or is this something that is already built into the interpreters?

Thanks for the help guys.


Welcome to the forum!

I have to say, it sounds as if the problem is with the sample game you downloaded. In general, this kind of game should understand those commands you listed at least as well as the Sierra parser games do, or at the very least explain why they do not work. My advice would be to try another one.

Development systems such as Inform 7 understand many commands out of the box, but when you write your own games, you will almost certainly find that you want to change their default behaviour or add some verbs of your own.

Which game did you download?

Echoing what others said, but since you did mention “talk to”, it may be worth flagging that Inform doesn’t recognize that way of interacting by default - ASK (or sometimes TELL) character ABOUT topic is typically how things are handled out of the box.

Thanks for the reply,

Me being the J.R.R. Tolkien afficionado that I am was scrolling through a list of games and one jumped out.

The Hobbit: The True Story.

Thanks for the tip.

This seems to be the standard that was used here. In the opening room of the game the only thing the NPC’s Gandalf and Thorin respond to are: ask thorin about chest; and, ask gandalf about spell.

The next room however was infuriating. You actually had to use a command “wait”. Again when you’re a noob and not really acclimatized the environment; and all the possible commands the interpreter will recognize I had to eventually give in and use the “clue” command that was mentioned in the game’s readme to actually figure out what to do next… Shrugs.

Thanks for your reply.

Agreed. It’s slightly different then what I’m used to. I have typed Talk to “person” so many times in the old Sierra Quest franchise games. The transition to ask “person” about “topic” formula will be a bit of a slap on the wrist a few times to remember it kinda scenario I figure. But, hey at the end of the day it is more direct anyways… We are after all playing quest games… I suppose nobody just wants to chit-chat and “talk” anyways. Haha.

Another general question… Pardon my nostalgia, Would any of you guys know how to make an interpreter’s prompt like lectrote write out the text one character at a time like old school RPG text boxes?

Is that something that could be configured somehow in the interpreter, or is that something that would have to be programmed by the programmer in the game file(s)?

As mentioned on its Ifdb page, The Hobbit: The True Story is meant to be a parody of the 1982 game The Hobbit. So I guess the primitive parser is part of the joke.

EDIT: One review also claims that the Glulx version of the game is broken.

I think the easiest way to do this would be to download a terminal-based interpreter (dumbfrotz is the first one that comes to mind), then pipe its output through a program that displays each character with a slight delay in between. For added aesthetic, run the output of that through coolretroterm.

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I’m assuming such a text effect program would need to be written from scratch? …

I’m not super great at programming anything which is why the … straight forwardness? of the Inform language is very appealing to the nostalgic 80’s inner child in me… inspiring me to get into this and give it all a “GO”.

Don’t get me wrong it’s still a learning curve and a challenge. But one I think My old brain might be up fore… haha :slight_smile:

It’s not clear to me how familiar you are with IF in general, but if you’re looking for good games to get started with, I can recommend IFDB’s “recommended for beginners” tag.

There are 18 games there, sorted by rating. Start at the top, work your way down.

If you just want great games in general, there’s the IFDB Top 100. (Beware that this page takes a loooong time to load… just be patient with it.)

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Thanks for your replies and recommendations.

Text based IF, … Well I was exposed to two worlds in my childhood. MUD’s and Graphical typing adventures like Space Quest (Sierra).

So I’m not totally green. But as far as the languages, Inform 7, TADS, etc … and their Interpreters. Consider me a complete empty vessel. Total Noob.


thanks again,


There are two things here…

Hi David, @DavidC

Thank you for your reply. This is fantastic that someone else thought of this. A co-worker once said about a job we were trying to “McGyver” a fix for. I, the apprentice I was, said: Hey do you suppose somebody actually designed a relay that can do this instead of having to re-write a million lines of code in the PLC? Which lets face it, I haven’t gotten around to mastering yet. Anyways… He said my young apprentice rule of thumb is if you thought of it someone else has too… Sure enough that peice of technology existed. And here we are again…

Next question any known compatibility issues with it in Inform 7?

I need to run Inform 7 cause I’m on a Mac with Catalina OS… facepalm

Thanks agian for the reply.

The thing about “the interpreter” is that the player gets to choose their own interpreter; authors have fairly little control over what those interpreters will do.

Which is to say, in other game development tools, when you make a game, you make an app. On Windows, you might make an .exe file with an installer; on macOS, you might make an .app.

When you make a game with Inform, you’re going to make a .blorb or .gblorb file, which is more like a document than an app. The player will decide what app to use to run your game.

So, maybe you have an idea for a cool font to use. Well, too bad, because Lectrote will let the player choose their font.

Maybe you want to include an automap? Some interpreters don’t support graphics. You can try to include graphics in your game, but they must be optional; they might not work. (You can’t put puzzles in your graphics.)

Some interpreters (dfrotz) don’t even have a status bar.

So you can’t guarantee that you have any control over the presentation of your game, especially nothing as complicated as spitting out the letters one by one.

Cool. I kinda suspected something like this was more in the actual game file side of things.

Thanks for speaking newbie speak for me. :stuck_out_tongue: :smiley:

I’m all about TALK TO!

The ideal is that a game should probably tell you, or point you, towards the communication method it wants as soon as you try to communicate, or before. But there’s probably a great chunk of Inform-made games from what I’ll vaguely refer to as “the middle times” that just assume, and rely on, ‘ask X about’, ‘tell X about’. In its raw form, that’s my least favourite communication engine.


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