Using Inform For The Cell Phone Market

Hello. I discovered “Interactive Fiction” and “Text Adventure” games during the Summer of 2012 and was impressed by the genre’s abilities for a player to form their own story through the choices they make.

I was inspired to write my own material and completed two stories in October-November and wanted to distribute my work to the Android Market. (Along with the iOS and Windows Phone markets in the future) However, after downloading many SDK’s to attempt to make my own application, I found it difficult due to having no prior programming experience.

I was directed to this forum because I received a tip that “Inform” may be useful to what I need. Is ‘Inform’ a good tool to distribute Interactive Fiction to the cell phone market? I am mainly looking for opinions and perhaps better tools that could be more useful.

Thank you for your time.

There are free interpreter apps for iOS and Android which will play Inform games. (iOS Frotz for iOS, Twisty for Android.)

If you want to distribute an app which plays your game, alone, you will have to do more work. I’m not sure what’s available for Android; you can probably find the source code for Twisty and modify it, but I don’t know what’s involved.

(I have source code for building a standalone iOS app from an Inform game. I’ve done this, and so has at least one other IF author, but the process is still pretty rough. I haven’t updated it for iOS 5, either.)

Thanks for the response.

To be clear, I am ignorant of the many development systems that are available on this forum. To be more specific, here is some more information about the application I am wanting to create.

There will be two applications, (One will be free, the other will be paid) both will serve as “hubs” for the my Interactive Fiction stories. Upon opening the application, the player/reader will view a “Main Menu” screen with four tabs,

Story - Players will load the stories that they want to play here.

Information - I will post information that I want players to be aware of concerning future updates or otherwise.

Options - I would like to have options to turn on/off music, and set a
light/dark background for reading during the day and night.

Credits - To give credit to those concerned.

Finally, I would hope that there is some sort of save/load system so that the individual wouldn’t have to restart every time that they use my app(s).

None of the existing phone interpreters can do all of that. You’ll either need to learn a lot of programming yourself, convince someone to do the work for you for free (unlikely) or find a developer you can pay to do it. Sorry.

What are the capabilities of the development systems on this board?

That’s a wide question.

The IF development model – and this applies to most of the systems we discuss here – is pretty much fixed: you design a game, in some sort of language or development structure, and the compiler hands you a portable game file. You can then run the game in some sort of interpreter application, or possibly in a web browser. The game comes with all the standard IF actions (including save and restore) – you don’t have to design that stuff yourself – you just have to create your world, your game objects, and their game-specific behavior.

(Well, I say “just”. That’s plenty of work all by itself. :slight_smile:

As Dannii says, the standard interpreters aren’t built to act like a custom portal for a single author’s work. It’s possible but you’d have to get the work done.

As zarf said, your best bet to make money out of IF is to write a game and compile it to a so-called “story file”, and distribute this story file commercially, so that it can be played with one of the free interpreters out there.

Be aware though, that

  • writing those games involves a steep learning curve (I know what I’m talking, I’m in the middle of it right now, and I have a background as a programmer),
  • writing a good game is a lot of effort, especially when it comes to testing all conceivable user responses,
  • the audience for IF is small, and
  • they are used to getting games for free.

In other words, it’s a cool and very worthwhile hobby, but I don’t think it’s a viable business model.

I’d recommend you make yourself acquainted with some of the more wide-spread development platforms around. To name a few, Inform 7 has a “natural language” approach, TADS 3 is a more “classical” programming language, and ADRIFT uses a GUI/IDE to compose (or “configure”) games.



I’m not completely sure we’re taking about same “interactive fiction” here. Raserisk, you said you have already made two stories – are they parser-based (reader types in commands) or hypertext (reader clicks on links)? What did you use to make them, or are they currently only on paper?

I’ve actually been going through this same process… I’ve written one entirely in x-code, and then given up because I didn’t have the design elements. I converted it to GameSalad, and then quit again because it didn’t handle choices and automation the way I wanted it to. It’s a frustrating experience… I’ve just wound up here, and I’m thinking about starting again with Inform. Thing is, Inform’s output looks a bit sketch when I know I could easily convert the output from Quest to HTML+Java and wrap it…

Like I said, it’s a frustrating experience. Months of Game writing, years of app writing. But you’ll only have to write the app once if you do it right. And if your writing software doesn’t change too much…