Setting default colours/font in Inform 7

Hi, I hope this is posted in the right place, I’m new here. Whilst I understand that the choice of interpretive app will affect the visual appearance, is it possible to get Inform to set a “default” background or text colour that isn’t black text on white? I don’t want it to change throughout the game, just stay one way from the beginning. I am quite happy if particular interpretive software can’t cope with colours and ignores it, but I would like any that can to follow a particular colour scheme.
I would also like to be able to set a default font to use if the interpretive app supports it (and again, quite happy for those that can’t to ignore it).

Hi Simon,

Welcome to IntFiction.

You should consider Inform 6/7 along with Vorple. It may have the features you require. You can take a look at Also note that Inform 7 is in active development and may have additional features in the not too distant future.

Also, TAD 3 has an html option you can evaluate. Information is available at:

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If you’re using Inform 7, there are some built-in extensions that should do the job fairly easily, both by Emily Short: if you’re intending to release a Z-machine game, Basic Screen Effects will do the job, and if you’re aiming for glulx, the slightly more complex Glulx Text Effects should have you covered (I’ve used the former, but not the latter).

Note that since these are built-in, you just need to tell Inform you’re using them, by typing “Include Basic Screen Effects by Emily Short” or “Include Glulx Text Effects by Emily Short.”


Thank you. I’ve not got as far as looking into the benefits or disadvantages of Glulx versus Z-machine. Which would you recommend?

If you want visual control over your parser game and in particular the text and background colors, the Z-machine is more flexible than Glulxe. However, the Z-machine has fairly tight size limits and other restraints, which Glulxe was designed to alleviate. Another way to control how it looks is to host it online (easily done in Inform 7 with Release along with an interpreter), where you can edit the stylesheet however you want.

However, note that formatting decisions forced by the game author is another potential way to alienate the player. A parser game is, fundamentally, a command line program, so it’s not surprising that some players want to be able to choose the text style for themselves, just as computer users who use the terminal can choose the appearance of their terminal emulator. If I disagree strongly enough with the author about what kind of text looks good, I may even abandon the game. A complete absence of text styling (which the player can choose how to display) is far preferable to bad text styling. (See: 90% of the web.)


The major difference, as FriendofFred says, is the size limit, so depending on the scope of what you’re working on this is a decision that might get made for you! Though it’s pretty easy to switch back and forth – if you go to the Settings tab in Inform, you can choose which format you’d like to use to release.

Thank you for the info regarding the size, I will bear that in mind.
However… your point that absence of text styling is preferable to bad text styling is exactly my point, but from the opposite direction. In order for a text game to evoke a particular atmosphere, then black text on a white background CAN be considered “bad styling”. Just because it’s default doesn’t make it ideal for all circumstances. Just as you will abandon a game if you don’t like the styling, then so will I if I feel the presentation jars with the mood of the game.
As an example, I played a Batman IF game last night that had green text on a black background. It made it much more atmospheric and immersive than black on white would have been, and was suitable for the theme of the game. I understand some might not like it, but I did. It’s a subjective thing.
In the particular game I am planning, I am unconcerned about the potential audience size or whether other people will abandon it because they don’t like the look. If people want to set the visual look for themselves, then that’s fine, I have no desire to force my colour scheme on them - however, I would like the default colour scheme for people who don’t care to be the one that I want, rather than the one the designers of Inform 7 want. I don’t yet have any information on what takes priority in such a situation, whether it’s what the game says or whether it’s the user’s settings. I last wrote IF 30 years ago, so I’m a bit out of touch with the technology.

Z-Machine lets you change the colours for individual words (or even letters) fairly arbitrarily in whatever and as many combinations as you like (which is easy to overuse and abuse, of course).

Glulx only lets you define a very small number of styles of text (and some of those are reserved for special functions so in practice you can only freely mess with two or three). But within those styles you can freely set the colours, so it would still work for basic theming of the story as a whole.

Otherwise, Glulx is more modern and allows larger stories with more features (such as graphics and sounds, although not all terps support these), so it’s usually recommended for new projects to use Glulx unless there’s a specific reason to go the other way.

If you want to have your story playable in-browser, you will sometimes have to write some custom CSS in addition to setting styles within the story itself; the browser-based terps don’t always pay attention to the story styles.


But with the Gargoyle extension functions now gradually gaining support, Glulx is now pretty much a full superset of the Z-Machine (excluding version 6). :slight_smile:


  • Gargoyle
  • Windows Glk
  • Spatterlight (in the code, not yet in the latest release)
  • GlkOte support will be there for IFComp, and soon for and hopefully Lectrote