So I found SUDS. I installed it and went through the Tutorials and thereby created the example game, (correcting the odd typo in the process). I have to see this has to be one of the most user friendly systems going. What a shame then that there are only a handful of published games and no apparent activity on the game’s home forum, and no response to e-mails.
Does anyone know the current maintainer? Can you find out what the situation is? It would be a shame if such a good system died. Perhaps if there was a rash of SUDS games published on the SUDS site it could all be kicked started again.
Anyone else like the system?
The only thing I found was a slight instability in that the occasional spurious internal error would be reported. But this could be cured by an occassional re-install, which is thankfully quick to happen.
The thing about SUDS is that, in Andy Elliot’s time, it was just as powerful and versatile as the current version - but without some of the hindrances the current version has. For instance, the text parser (as opposed to the point and click mode) isn’t exactly top notch, and never feels as natural as a real parser. There are tons of icons for verbs - the icons are somewhat cartoony, and it’s not always easy to understand what they’re for, and there’s just so MANY of them, it’s unwieldy. It used to be five or six.
The REAL deal-breaker with the current version of SUDS, though, is that every object you implement as being available for interaction, even if it’s just scenery, gets its own line. If you write “You are in a garden by a large orchard” as a room description and implement an object called “orchard”, it will read “You are in a garden by a large orchard. There is an orchard here.” And there’s no way around this.
Also, this is just me… I found that in Andy Elliot’s time, SUDS was a more serious project. Looking at it now feels as though someone found it, liked it, and tried to enhance it willy-nilly without really thinking things through. The rather over-enthusiastic tone I see on the present website is simply a far cry from the sober discourse of Andy Elliot. Even though, to be fair, the core of SUDS seems unchanged.
Now that THAT’s out of the way… what I remember from Elliot’s system (which I actually registered) is that it was powerful, versatile, and came with a wonderful tutorial and very interesting thoughts on game design, ideal for beginners.
Hmmm. I see.
Well then, may I ask what is the closest alternative in your view?
As not much seems to be happening at the moment, I wonder if he would consider passing on the sources? Which comes back to my other question, is anyone in contact with the maintainer?
In my view? Well, I know of no similar point-and-click tool for creating IF games that isn’t commercial - ADRIFT, RAGS and QUEST, and there’re probably others but these spring to mind. Frankly, having tried ADRIFT for a long time and having looked at RAGS and QUEST and the userbase and games that have been made with them… none of these three seem worth the price of registration, at least for me (opinions may vary), though ADRIFT is, by far, the worthiest of the three.
For ease of use and power, I have settled on AGS for graphical games and Inform 7 for interactive fiction. I7 may not be point-and-click programming as SUDS is, but with all the extensions which even allow for automapping, it does everything SUDS does and more (as it should, it’s been around longer). The documentation is, game-design-wise, also very interesting. And it’s remarkably easy to learn and use.
Regarding the sources, I’m not sure he’d be willing - the new maintainer seems very fond of SUDS and what he added to it, even if he seems to be lacking in maintenance lately. Nevertheless, you could always ask… but short of asking in the forums, I don’t really know how. Maybe if you try taking a look in the documentation (which I believe is still largely written by Elliot, but it must have some differences?..), or in the games Matt released himself?
WOW! This is sure a golden oldie. Andy and I talked frequently about my story “Snow Night” that I wrote with SUDS. The conversational system in SUDS was great. Alas, he was distracted by more important matters and left it behind. This was quite a few years ago, and I lost contact with him. Then I plunged into I7. Did my best to learn it and am amazed at what it can do if you know it. But I had too many distractions that required tedious relearning.
Now I’m working with a CYA format at chooseyourstory.com. Their tools allow for advanced and potentially complicated stories far beyond the old paperback books format.
As an example, you can visit the website for my story “The Adventures of Phoebe McGee” at ksu.edu/wwparent/story/Phoebe/ that has a link to the story and includes resources that support it.
Someday, I might go back to the heavy hitter I7. I am more of a storyteller than a programmer. The versatile tools at chooseyourstory.com are all that I need at the moment.
An authoring system’s strong point should not be ease of use for the author. It should be the ability to generate games that people are actually willing to play. I don’t think that SUDS does particularly well here.
Hard to judge ease of use because authors come in all different ages. I agree with your essential point. What matters is the experience of the player. The CYA stories that can be created at chooseyourstory.com can be extremely simple and easy to do. But they can also be quite complicated as well and for some quite immersive. Alternatively, I wouldn’t say that a difficult-to-use tool is necessarily going to create a better story.
The key to your point though is “actually willing to play.” Any storyteller, regardless of medium, has to find an audience. But I’m not sure why having ease of use and creating great stories aren’t compatible. I7 made a huge leap forward in its ease of use without sacrificing what can be created using it.