Strand Games

Hi everyone,

Hold up!

We are stringing together an initiative called Strand Games;

Stand Games is about a bunch of things including; IF history, technology and new content.

We have remastered “The Pawn” by Magnetic Scrolls, which has been under wraps, but is now available in Beta for Android and soon for other platforms, once we tie up some loose ends. So that it cuts the mustard on mobiles, we have a front end UI technology in full swing, that does all the graphical heavy lifting but is tied to the original text games.

Later down the line, we plan to tackle new, open-source & free, IF authoring tools for writers that transpile directly into mobile games from plain text. It’s a knotty problem, but one that modern computers and AI can surely untangle.

Strand Games is not a company but a voluntary co-operation that we hope to later draw up into a DAO.

So, pull yourself together and consider becoming a strand - we’ll show you the ropes. Help us with the beta and give us feedback on what you’d like to see next.


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Remastering update;

Yesterday I had a great meeting with Rob Steggles, author of several original Magnetic Scrolls games.

We talked about the possibilities of making expanded, extended, updated or even sequel versions of some of the original Scrolls games; things Rob always wanted to do back then but couldn’t because the machines just didn’t have enough memory.

The idea has come about as a spin-off to the possibility that we might actually be able to recover the original game source codes and build tools from the tape archives. If that happens, then why not make updated versions as part of our remastering project.

BTW, all original source codes and tools will be made available to anyone interested in finding out how they worked back then as historical curiosity.

Rob’s also planning an “Easter egg walkthrough” of some of the old games. I know there are many proper solution walkthroughs, but these will be comedy walkthroughs, revealing some of the hidden Easter eggs and jokes.

One of the topics we discussed at the meeting was the question of whether people want new material, sequels or expanded areas of the old games. We don’t know the answer to this, so if you’ve got any ideas or suggestions, we’d love to hear them.


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It looks impressive!

Thanks. BTW, everything is going to be open source. People can use the front-end gui in their own works if they like.

Cool! Nice to see more innovation in “parserless parser games”.

Yes, one of the uses of parser IF is to be a channel between the UI and the game itself.

That’s how i started building a graphical front-end which interfaces to a back-end game “engine”.

We can take these old engines and turn them info black boxes where the UI generates the command “as if the player had typed it” and sends it to the back end.

Of course, this does not solve all the problems. Consider “inventory”. There are two ways;

  1. have a special command sent to the backend
  2. issue “i” to the backend and try to parse the response.

(1) is better, but requires a custom feature, (2) is brittle and often goes wrong. eg “i” -> “you are carrying nothing”. Hey! I’ve got a “nothing”. not really.

So, it’s possible to test for a lot of such cases, but there are limits. I started with method (2), but now i use (1) so the back-end can respond with a lot more; for example, people you’ve met and also whether you’re carrying or wearing items, for example.

I really liked Detectiveland. well done with that!

I played through Corruption the other year, and among the few MS games I’ve finished, it probably came closest to having a satisfying conclusion. I also found it interesting that, according to walkthroughs online, it’s a little vague on whether the alternate methods for doing some things are inherently better than eachother or if it’s possible to get a full score several ways.

I’m looking forward to your system being applied to it because I hope the maps help avoid the tedium of typing “exits” in every room (as Corruption does a rather poor job of listing room exits, I seem to recall). If possible, maybe you could also add some kind of conversation topic helper, as asking NPCs about anything than the few things they know about really makes the game seem shallow. Lastly, since the game is so time-sensitive, maybe maps could keep track of previous sessions and show the current location of NPCs if you have previously tracked them.

Hi Roody,

Yes indeed, that’s what I want too. We’re trying to take out the frustration and chore and improve on the entertainment. We have a dynamic map that draws as you explore. No one should have to manually draw out a game map anymore! You can also “fast goto” using the map. This has been insanely useful in testing.

Here’s an excerpt from The Pawn Map. You can also scroll and zoom. This shot is from the debug version of the forthcoming desktop betas (with room numbers indicated);

For some games, we’re not just planning to repackage them inside a GUI, but to genuinely expand them, adding new content. Corruption is one of those games;

We’ve managed to recover the original source code to Corruption. And we’ve manage to recover and recompile the original build tools. Ho ho!

Rob Steggles, who wrote Corruption, is interested in writing some new content for the game. He wants to expand on some of the areas; the city, the hospital and various other locations as well as improve character depth. I agree that there should be some system that keeps track of what you’ve learnt and what you need to find out. Also, what things you need to do and how they are relevant.

The idea is to add new locations and objects by editing the original fred23 files, and add new hooks to the virtual machine, that trap out of the emulator like “C” function calls. The new bits of story will then be written outside of the original codebase in a familiar language; Lua perhaps.

It could be really cool. I’d like to do the same to the other games if we can recover the source code. All the source code to the newly remastered editions, the original source files AND the tools are going to be open sourced.

Checkout what’s happening on the blog.

Corruption, in particular, had some interesting (for the time) technology. The characters had goal-driven behaviour. Say they had to do A & B then C. They would attempt A, but if you interfere they could get on with B, then come back to A, finally attempting C afterwards. 30 years later, that’s not new, but back then in such limited memory it was definitely pretty cool.

Sometimes they would escape their loops; go crazy, rampaging through the game doing mad things. They could also “solve” map routes. They were able to exploit map “shortcuts” (eg NW rather than N & W), which sometimes meant they could achieve their goals quicker than expected - and therefore thwart the player. Once the cleaning lady climbed down the lift shaft because it was quicker than using the stairs :slight_smile:

I’d love to hear feedback on the Android beta of The Pawn.

We’ve been asked about context sensitive word completion for the text entry box. This is a great idea and I’ve been looking into it;

Stuff like this will be added generically to the GUI (with context coming from the game engine), so it will appear as a feature in all releases now and going forward.

All suggestions welcome.

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