Hi, I’m Dannii the main developer for Parchment the web Z-Machine interpreter.
Since Parchment was introduced a year and a half ago we’ve had a lot of people use it and tell us they love it! We now regularly have hundreds of users a day, and sometimes that reaches the thousands.
But I don’t feel I really know what Parchment’s users think about it. The amount of feedback we receive has slowed somewhat.
So, if you’ve used it, what do you think? Any comments at all would wonderful. What do you like, or dislike? Any bugs? Features you wished it had? Had any crazy dreams that involve Parchment?
The main thing I would like to see would be more platforms supported – TADS, Adrift, Hugo, and an API for hooking it into new platforms (that may already exist, I’m not sure). I realize some of those may be hard targets (especially Hugo and Adrift) and some are on the horizon…but new platforms would be my top choice if things were prioritized.
I like Parchment, though to be honest I rarely use it for playing full games. Usually I use the play now button at IFDB (the one that downloads and then starts the game automatically), and it’s virtually like having a browser interpreter for all platforms.
I did in fact have a crazy dream involving Parchment – have you ever seen the Flash site wonderfl? I thought of the same thing, only for Inform 7, using Parchment.
More platforms is definitely something we’re working on, well for Glulx at least. I’ve looked into the TADS 3 VM spec, but it’s one complicated thing. There are no independent implementations of it - only the original one that Mike Roberts made has been ported around for other OSes. There is a full spec for the VM, but that doesn’t mean implementing it will be easy, or ever hard. It could be very hard . Because its so complicated I suspect no one other than Mike actually grasps how it all works, as compared to the Z-Machine and Glulx which have had many independent implementations and oobviously many people grasp how they work.
I’m not aware of there being specs for the other systems you mentioned. It could amount to reverse-engineering another interpreter, something I am not going to even consider doing.
All, a web compiler for Inform? That’s a good idea, I’ve considered it before. Not too easy, and not really in the scope of the Parchment project either… but another project could definitely use Parchment as part of it.
Thanks for your comments!
Having it display cover art when starting a game would be nice. I especially like how Zoom does it on the Mac: the image appears, then fades away after about a second.
I found myself missing the ability to scroll back. Would it be possible to add a scrollbar to the frame?
Multiple undo would also be great.
I haven’t seen this in action (or if I have, I’ve forgotten), but it’s done heavily with client-side scripting, right? If so, then the easy way – using GLK like Gargoyle does – is probably not an option. The Hugo specs are there in the Hugo Book (manual) and I’ve thought about writing my own browser-based Hugo engine. But I’m too lazy these days to even try.
the new release of parchment with the updated mouse wheel behavior and scrollback using page up and down is just wonderful!
I’ve added it to our French website, here is a sample of how it looks like, and I’m very satisfied with the result: ifiction.free.fr/parchment/parch … pole.z5.js
It’s time to revive this thread!
If you want, head over to the issues list and vote (ie, star) any issues you think should be worked on ASAP.
OR, comment here! Tell me what improvements you’d love to see in Parchment!
You asked recently about the accessibility of Parchment…
Short answer: it’s not very good. Part of the problem is the way it works within the browser, but an equally large degree of it has to do with how the game has been written.
If you want to test it out for yourself, go here (nvda-project.org/) and grab the NVDA screen reader (it’s free). Then visit Parchment and attempt to play one of the games. I tried Lost Pig and it was pretty disastrous.
I’ll be posting soon about the topic of accessibility, but not directly addressing Parchment. The information should, though, give you some insight about the authoring side of things. I’m still working through feedback on the draft but I’m working towards getting it posted before the end of the week.
Hope that helps.
Thanks for those comments! Using a screen reader that supports ARIA live regions should provide a much better experience, but I don’t think that NVDA does from the website’s description of it. I would like to try to increase accessibility further, but it doesn’t make a lot of sense to spend time doing it for screen readers which don’t support the official web accessibility standards.
I’ve dropped an email to Austin Seraphin (featured in Get Lamp) alerting him to this thread and asking for his assistance. He’s been helping me out with some of my own queries. His expertise on this (and his broader and more practical use of screen readers) far surpasses my limited knowledge.
Hello, Austin here. Parchment does something very weird with VoiceOver and Safari on a Mac. By the way, VoiceOver does have ARIA support, and it comes free with every Mac! Just hit command-f5 and enjoy. When the game opens, I see an edit box containing the whole text, and an edit box within that edit box at the bottom where I type text. This makes sense. Strangely, when I try to review the main edit box containing the game, I get it a word at a time. This makes it impossible to use, you can’t read a game a word at a time. Normally, VoiceOver will read a whole page element, such as a paragraph or link. By the way, Firefox with Orca on Linux doesn’t work well, I just get the intro text and status line. At least Safari got the game! It hung it up when I went back there though, I almost lost this message. I’d better not tempt fate. These sorts of client side programs can often have problems with screen readers, so don’t feel bad. I hope you can get this working, lots of blind people need an accessible way to play these games.
My cat discovered this feature the other day. It freaked me the fuck out.
Hi omeron, thanks for your comments! Based on this page of tests it doesn’t appear that VoiceOver has support for ARIA Live Regions, and as such is still one of those screen readers that I’m not going to work hard to fix.
But I’ll see if I can try it on a mac at uni one day.
Does anyone have any non-accessibility related ideas?
Matt W: Hilarious! My cat has almost activated things on my iPad too! Hopefully you figured out command-f5 toggles VoiceOver, but now you know.
Dannii: Those tests happened with VoiceOver under Leopard, and with Safari 4. Macs now use Snow Leopard, with Safari 5. I have 5.0.2. I went to that page you referenced and I can assure you the ARIA dialogues work, at least the few I tested. Screen readers change constantly.
Yeah, Apple wisely included a help topic titled (approx.) “Why is my computer talking to me?”
I love Parchment.
It would be cool if I could extricate a saved game to save to a flash drive to take home and finish on another computer, or send to an author. (Honestly, I’m not sure I’d use it that much, but there were a couple times recently when it would have come in handy.)
I had some trouble with transcripts, too, but I’m not sure if that was Parchment per se or just the computer I was using, which hates all things downloaded from the internet.
I thought it was worth mentioning here that Parchment now has Glulx support, and a new address: iplayif.com/!
I noticed that the saving and recording of transcripts was in “considering” status. As I’m looking to release my game to people who mostly don’t know anything about IF, I’d like to stress how much of a ‘must have’ this feature is for me.
Juhana Leinonen made a hack to save scripts to the server, but it’s not a public release. It would be awesome if I didn’t have to add ‘okay, now type this command, and save the file, and remember that you did that and email it to me when you’re done playing, as well as any other scripts you might have made over the course of play’ to the already considerable IF learning curve.
I am planning to turn that hack into an actual feature and release it later this year. I’m aiming for late spring or early summer if everything goes as planned. If you’re in a hurry and want to use the current version, you can point the players to http://parchment.game-testing.org/play/parchment.full.html?story=XX where XX is the url to your z-code game file (this is an older version of Parchment that doesn’t support Glulx). Some statistics will be available to the public (parchment.game-testing.org/play/html/stats.php) and you can e-mail/PM me for the full transcripts. Or preferably if it’s not urgent, skip the hassle and wait for the feature release.
You are my hero/ine, Juhana. I’m writing this as part of an academic project, so most/all of the playerbase is going to be unused to IF. I figure it’ll be an interesting study on how well all the tutorialish stuff I’ve included helps.