I am not ruling anything out categorically, but the drab nature of desktop IF interpreters makes it unlikely. The pictures just doesn’t come into their own when they are floating in a grey void inside a bland interpreter client. The apps allow me to do some basic visual design, which makes things look a bit more organic.
Anyway, the iOS beta is now ready, yet I have not heard from a single potential tester. Don’t be shy, people!
I’d gladly pay for it… You don’t have to have them floating in a grey void, you can split the screen and have a fixed picture window. Or they can appear mid-text. I mean, it’s only as drab as you want it to be. I’m personally very sad that…
Hoist Sail for the Heliopause and Home
…and now, PataNoir
…have alternative platforms with great extra features or graphics that could have been adapted into the desktop platforms, but just haven’t been (though to be fair, the nice map on Dreamhold came years after the actual game was completed). I seriously don’t know what the issue is - the Spanish and Italian communities have been making heavy use of multimedia for years, so I know the system supports it. Heck, we should take a page from their book, maybe.
EDIT - Come to think of it… it’s very natural for this community NOT to know the sort of games made in communities of a different language.
Are people here totally unaware on how multimedia-heavy the Spanish community (especially them, though the Italians and French are also quite keen on it) is on their games? Maybe I could show some examples? “Beyond” and “Little Falls” are English versions of italian-made games, they should give you an idea. There are many adjectives to describe them; “drab” is not one of them. “Moon watch” is also quite ambitious.
Simon, I don’t know if you’re using 6G60, or if you’ve moved either of these games to the newer Inform. But the Glimmr extensions work with 6G60 and makes organising the graphics relatively easy. I mean, much better than the built-in support.
If anything, I find the text to be the hard part, since you have no control over it. Well, in that sense it’s actually easy because you can’t do anything about it. User chooses font. User chooses size. Screen size is unknown. But the graphics will basically go where you want (a particular edge of the screen, a particular percentage of the screen) and do what you want. Glimmr will scale them appropriately.
BTW, is it possible to have an image behind the text as background to create the beautiful “old typed paper” look in a desktop terp? I don’t remember a game every using that, but that doesn’t mean it’s not possible.
With Inform alone, it’s pretty impossible. A text buffer window is a text buffer window and shall contain only text and the occasional bitmap graphic which can’t overlap the text.
Glimmr can produce text one bitmapped character at a time, which you could then overlay on a background, but doing it this way is CPU-intensive, insensitive to user screen size (you’d have to write all your own code to reflow the text based on its current properties and the screen dimensions, if that’s possible, and if it is possible, it’s a nightmare) – and finally, Erik Temple, Glimmr creator, basically says in the docs, ‘Here are some bitmapped fonts, and here are 100 reasons not to use them.’
So my punt is that text on an illustrated background for an Inform game is only practically doable with Vorple or some other extra-Inform solution.
You could very well build a desktop version using Quixe (Assuming the game runs well on Quixe). Quixe lets you use CSS so you can choose the right typography and colours for the work. And then you can use something like node-webkit to package it as a standalone cross-platform app.
To make myself clear, my problem isn’t with image placement, or anything like that, but with the inability to style the actual text window in a vanilla Inform game. Simple things like background textures make a huge difference to the look of the game.
I’ll look into the possibility of using something like Quixe + node-webkit to make a desktop app, but it’ll be a while before I have the time. If I do release a desktop version, it will be as a standalone app and not as a raw .glorb file.
Shucks. If I were an active author I’d be clamoring loudly for this feature to be considered ASAP, on the grounds that in this day and age this could be a very important customisation feature, lending some games a very special extra feel and making authors feel that, quite apart from being drab, Inform and the desktop terps are all that they need for their works and they don’t bust themselves making extraordinarily pretty versions of games that a very big number of people around here won’t play because it requires special hardware.
But I’m not an active author, so I’ll just grumble.
It’s great that that alternative exists, too. Whatever works.
Hey, looks like the author is grumbling about it as well! Let’s grumble together and maybe things will change!
Oh, and BTW, I just remembered something that might be useful to you. Are you using zarf’s iOS framework? Because if so, by default (or, well, at least in The Dreamhold and Hadean Lands) the font sizes are a bit too small to be comfortable on an iPod. Unless I’m using the Euphemia (or whatever it’s called) font, that one can get pretty big but it’s ugly. So you may want to up that font limit a bit. This isn’t speculative, it’s a conclusion I came to after playing The Dreamhold and Hadean Lands in app form, and is the reason I ended up playing both in iFrotz.