Shade for iOS

My port of Shade for iPhone/iPad has just popped up on Apple’s App Store.

This is the second Inform game I’ve released there, but unlike Dreamhold, I’m charging money for this one. (An entire dollar, or, I guess, 99 cents.) It is scary and strange. All these years working on IF and I have never told a customer “Hey, give me money to play this one.”

Pass this announcement along – popularity is a factor in whether these little game apps get noticed, which they need in order to be popular. (The vicious circles must roll!)

The option to “quit” does nothing.

Is it possible to configure Inform games to not offer a “QUIT” option on platforms where that doesn’t make sense? (For that matter, on what platforms DOES it make sense, any more?)

“Quit” is unnecessary, in this environment, but it doesn’t do nothing. It ends the game, and any further tap brings up a dialog saying “restart or restore?”

(The restart option crashed on me, one time, which is a bug I need to look into.)

There is no way for an Inform game to query the environment and discover that it’s in a mobile UI (where quitting is useless). We could conceivably add one, but I think the value would be minuscule.

  • Older games do not have code to make this check.
  • A game installed in a mobile IF package (like iOS Frotz) should probably retain “quit”, and let the player return to the game-list menu. (Which is what iOS Frotz does.)
  • A game written specifically as a mobile app would just drop the “quit” command entirely.

You only run into it here because I decided to install the original (2000) release of Shade, rather than recompiling it.

And now Heliopause is available as well.

Yay! Heliopause is one of my favorites. (It’s a wonderful adaptation of a fairy tale into a non-fairy-tale setting.)

I find myself torn, though. I (like many?) have thought that one of the ways forward for interactive fiction to grow and thrive has been the addition of graphics, and I have definitely been curious what the author thought the Horizon of Night looked like… but, relative to the ship screen in the iOS version, the Horizon of my imagination was so much better.

(That is not a criticism. I don’t suppose you can’t improve upon the imagination.)

So now I’m wondering how best to refine that philosophy. Clearly, illustrations aren’t so bad in books… why is that? Maybe I would have liked the graphics more if I played through Heliopause with them the first time? Maybe I just really like pen and ink drawings (versus CAD-like ship schematic renderings)? Maybe I’d prefer an illustration to appear as flavor when I “EXAMINE HORIZON” and not as a separate screen? Not sure, things to experiment with myself…

It may be related to the fact you knew the game without graphics before you knew it with graphics. In that sense it would be a similar thing to the discontent everyone experiences when they see a movie of a book after knowing the book. They suddenly encounter a specific rendition of something that was previously always their own uncontested rendition in their head. I’d guess it’s more a conditions of reception issue than an issue with the presence of graphics per se. In that sense, this is a danger for anyone adding pictures to a pre existing game - or if ‘danger’ sounds strong, it’s at least something to be aware of.

  • Wade