Pre-release Jitters

As I’ve mentioned elsewhere, I am attempting to teach myself TADS3, with the goal of an IFCOMP23 submission. According to the timeline I have in my head, it is time to end the formal learning process and shift to OJT. As a learning vehicle, I created a one (extended) puzzle toy game. Two very generous souls have agreed to provide feedback on it, as a way to gauge how far I have to go, and where my blindspots are. I would love if I could entice some folks here to do so as well, as this is (as far as I can tell) the last remaining nature preserve of the skillset I decided to learn. I tried to make the game complete (including howto and hints), albeit small.

Even if hand-holding a noobie is not as attractive as I think it is, a few other questions/observations.

  • Is there a community “release” mechanism for these things, other than just emailing compiled files? I do not intend that this trifle lands on IFDB or anywhere.

  • Actually, is there a ‘Game Release: Considerations and Checklist’ community doc anywhere that will at least steer me clear of well-understood pitfalls?

  • Because I am a linux user primarily, (ancient, ancient) frobtads is my interpreter. What other interpreters should I consider test driving before a true release?

  • What is the word for ‘near debilitating anxiety and urge to continue polishing a work before others see it, even when its function has long been satisfied? And by extension, delaying start of the next project?’ Gotta be a word for that, right?


I just sent through email… you can’t attach .t3 files to forum messages, right? I’ll try to take a look, I just can’t make any guarantees about my time availability…

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QTads is the big interpreter…


Congrats! Just my take on these questions (in order):

  • Typically folks either host the game file themselves, or upload to the IF Archive; since you’re using this process as a learning mechanism, I’d go the Archive route since it’s helpful to know how that works, and unlike IFDB I don’t think there are many people who trawl the new activity feeds there in search of new games to play.

  • How do you get things onto the IF Archive? Actually, there’s a handy guide that is sorta like the checklist you’re asking about; it’s the “Publishing” chapter of the Inform documentation. A little bit of it is Inform-specific, but most of it is generally applicable, and I personally found it useful – not sure if there’s something analogous for TADS but figured I’d pass along!

  • I think most folks do (or should!) play TADS games in QTADS these days. I’d also test Lectrote and Gargoyle (which is what I tend to use; it’s likewise a bit out of date) – others might have more recent thoughts.

  • We in the community call this “releasing a game”. Congrats!


One typical release process is uploading the game to the IF Archive (or or any file host) and entering it into the IFDB.

In fact, the community has quite a strong focus on historical preservation and archiving, so it might very well happen that someone else enters it into the IFDB, if you don’t do so.

If you want to make relatively sure that it’s not directly “in your record”, so to speak, you could release it under a pseudonym, that’s totally fine.

Having said that, there’s also no shame in publishing a tech demo or a polished one-puzzle learning game. You might want to make sure to mention the intended scope of the game in the ABOUT text. (Although, in the end, once it’s on the IFDB, people might review it according to their own standards, and it’s not guaranteed that they’ll take into account that it’s just intended to be a small learning exercise.)

Side note: it sounds as if you’re not too keen on that, but you could also think about extending the game a bit and entering it into the upcoming TADS Jam: Winter TADS (and Zilf) Jam starts December 1, 2022

I’m not aware of a checklist doc. Here are some thoughts and resources:

I’d say ideally Gargoyle, Lectrote, QTADS, and the official Windows TADS interpreter, if you’ve got the opportunity.

Dunno, but I know the feeling. :slight_smile:


You can’t, but you should be able to just change the extension to .txt with instructions to just change it back to .t3 if you really want/need to – per my reply though I think that’s probably not the best option.

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I could take a look at it if you still need more people.

If you want to keep it particularly private, itch has a Restricted mode where you can send (and revoke) access keys for a project but it’s otherwise not visible, which I’ll occasionally use as a way to keep notes on who I’ve shown a thing to…


I went ahead and added .t3 as a permitted extension - since we also have .i7x and .zil. Another option is you can zip your files and upload them that way.


Thanks all, for the great info. Some homework for me tonight! I think the counsel to testdrive IF Archive is strong, will probably go that way. Will let you guys know when it is ready. Once I wrestle my inner Perfectionist to the ground. Weird how he only ever shows up at the 11th hour…


QTADS uses all the formatting bits like <tt> and <center>, which I found Gargoyle and others do not, for what it’s worth. Still, people choose to use Gargoyle so it’s still worth testing on.

Also: Hello, fellow Linux TADS user!!! I have a neat toolset for you, if your distro is able to run it!!

  1. Install VSCode (the package is called “code”, I think).
  2. Install your preferred code spell checker extension for VSCode.
  3. Install the absolutely wonderful TADS extension for VSCode, created by this absolute hero!
  4. Tada!

That extension for VSCode gives you TADS 3 syntax highlighting, code validation, several really useful analysis tools, and a map-builder! Also, since you’re running it in VSCode your edit-compile-test iteration time goes WAYYY down! That TADS extension actually lets you do a compile with every save operation, which I think is quite handy! It also comes with a way to automatically reopen the interpreter of your choice, but I actually have an open-interpreter script (usually called so I can quickly test it on my own time.

Lemme know what you think!! :smile:


If you’re planning to enter the IFComp then most people will probably play it online. So test it in Parchment. You can now just select a file from your computer in Parchment, you don’t need to upload it somewhere to test it. And then test it with the website the IFComp site will generate for you.


I only tried out VSCode briefly, but I did notice this feature, and I disagree. I quite often work on a puzzle by editing two or even three source files at once. I’m prone to forgetting to save files, which is annoying, so I save each file after editing it and before I switch to a different file to go on with the creative process. For my workflow, it’s ugly to have the machine stop and compile each time I save a file! I don’t like it at all. I want to compile when I’m ready to compile, not when the IDE thinks I’m ready.


I use VScode when I am working on the RPi. I have it set for syntax highlighting but I have automatic compile disabled. I save files as I’m working. There is a selection to open a terminal “window” tab. The window opens on the bottom when I choose. I use the terminal to compile and test and then click it closed for further editing.

There are SO many settings in VScode and they are not intuitive to find. (at least for me). Very cumbersome.


Given my start point was GVim, I’m thrilled with VSCode 18hrs in. The TADS toolkit is the bomb. I tend not to mind baroque setting sequences as once I get things dialed in I leave them be. Hardest part is training my fingers not to use VI commands as an extension of my will.

Noticed a few glitches in some of the interpreters:

  • QTADS does not like specific executable code inside hints. Am working a workaround for this.

  • Lectrote only allows REPLAY of Glk files, does not even let you attempt arbitrary file formats! I do like that interface though.

  • Gargoyle will not start on my machine, further debug ahead. “There is no application installed for ‘AppImage application bundle files’.” (Qtads and Lectrote AppImages run fine) EDIT: I’m a moron. Simple chmod ‘fixed’ it. Though it ALSO does not like executable code in Hints.

  • Parchment (is this a web frontend for Lectrote?) spins forever trying to load my very small game!

Frobtads handled all of that just fine!

Good call on testdriving them. A bit more work before release, looks like.


I’d have to check this, but my recollection is that hints are assembled into lists of single-quoted items. A list of this sort may be consulted by the output code several times before anything goes to the screen. For that reason, it’s just not safe to put executable code in a single-quoted string. There may be subtleties, but that’s the basic situation.


Aren’t you happy about that… A chance to put it off a bit longer…


@rovarsson Oh a world of yes! :smile:

@Jim_Aikin I didn’t try exactly that, I tried putting code in an overridden

+++ magicHint : Hint 'some words'
	getItemText() {
		"other words";
		return inherited;

Since it just worked under frobtads I didn’t poke at it too closely.

@Dannii Parchment working fine today. Not sure what issue was yesterday.


Welp, I pulled the trigger. The workarounds seem to be working across frob, Lectrote, Gargoyle, Parchment and QTADS, and are pretty specific to my idiosyncratic needs. I submitted it to IF Archive under the name “Trenchline.” Looks like it’s going to take a few days to show up there. Under games/tads if it takes my suggested directory. Attempted to include cover photo (visible under ABOUT in QTads) and rest of GameInfo. Will let you know when it shows up - would appreciate anyone that testdrives and provides feedback. The more detailed/harsh the better!

I need some karmic leveling for my glibness during IFCOMP reviewing.

If you get a jump on me, appreciate anyone running it capturing a transcript with >SCRIPT as their first command, and sending with feedback. Originally, I had set the game to do this automatically, but disabled before release.



How are those jitters now? Gone, or transmuted into pre-feedback shakes?


Very nice!

You might consider entering it in the Winter TADS Jam. ???