What do you play IF on?

With the Comp in full swing and other recent announcements, I’ve been thinking lately about what kind of devices we use to play IF and what particular kind of IF – parser IF, CYOA, etcetera – we’re playing on those devices. There have been some threads here about the topic but my questions are very general.

So I’d like to take an informal poll of sorts about:

1. What specific platform do you use to play IF – for example, Windows, iOS, Kindle, Android, Nintendo DS, and which phone, tablet, and laptop?

2. How do you rate your experience on those devices, and how would you like to see it improved if at all?

3. What kind of IF are you playing on a particular device? Only CYOA on Kindle? Big Inform games only on PC?

4. What is missing from your platform of choice that you’d like to see?

For myself, I only play on a PC, usually at a desk, which unfortunately takes some of the fun out of playing – I’m keen to find something more suitable but I’d like to survey the landscape a bit first.

I have used the following in recent years:

  • GameBoy Advance SP (the model some fans refer to as the SP2, and what Nintendo just called the SP with a backlight).
  • Nintendo DS Lite
  • Netbook (eeePC), running Windows XP
  • Desktop Computer With Ridiculously Large Monitor, running Windows 7
  • Samsung Galaxy S Smartphone, Android
  • GBA was impressively good; super-portable, impressive keyboard alternative, and the GBA Frotz port could play virtually any z-machine game I could throw at it (a few were slow; most weren’t). Sadly, my GBA died.
  • Nintendo DS Lite is very good; all the benefits of the GBA port with touch-screen advantages. Z-machine only, but excellent for that.
  • Netbook is good. I do more IF-writing on it than IF-playing, but it’s good for both. Of the “real” computers I play on, I use the netbook more than the home desktop.
  • Desktop is okay (once I made the fonts sufficiently huge and grudgingly accepted that Windows Frotz no longer supports widescreen monitors the way it used to). The main thing I’d improve is some kind of toggle in Windows Frotz to let it support widescreen monitors the way it used to :frowning:
  • Smartphone: In theory this would be my favorite device for IF. I prefer playing on small portables, and the phone has Swype, which allows for astonishingly quick “typing” via touchscreen twiddling. But the state of the art in IF 'terps on an Android phone is still “a couple of apps that aren’t 100% there yet …” at least that I know of. Twisty has no Swype support and crashes on a lot of ordinary games. Hunky Punk has Swype support and other nice features but stumbles over long text-dumps due to a scrolling bug of some kind. Support outside z-code is minimal and mostly limited to browser-based stuff instead of native apps.

Only z-code on the portables due to support issues.

My platform of choice would be my Android phone. See above.

I currently play most of my games on either my Windows computer (Laptop, XP), or my Linux computer (Desktop, Ubuntu 10.04), though before I got my current phone, I played on my Palm Treo (Windows CE). I haven’t played a lot of games, but there you have it.
The Windows machine obviously plays anything out there, because everyone uses Windows.
The Linux box will play almost everything, thought it has troubles with a few interpreters (ADRIFT, for one).
I only ever played TADS games on my windows phone, but it worked really well.

Most of the games I’ve played lately have been TADS or just EXEs, since that’s what I’ve been working with the most.

Improvement? Definitely stuff for Android. I have a Droid, and that keyboard would be very useful for text adventures.
More Linux support, too; TADS has a good interpreter, but some others, not so much.
Better online support - the javascript interpreters are great, but I’d like to see something a little more robust (though what, I’ve no idea; Java applets are going the way of the dodo…)
Some sort of wrapper. There are a jillion different interpreters out there (it seems), and trying to figure out what game goes with which interpreter is a right pain. If there were some black box that I could throw a file into, and it would open the correct program automatically, that would be a huge step forward for me. If it would index all the games automatically, that would be even better.

I play on a Linux desktop. No mobile or laptop or kindle or whatever. I’m not interested in getting one either.

I play on a MacBook, and with Frotz on the iPhone. (Though my old iPhone recently died. I haven’t decided what to replace it with - I’ll wait for the iPhone 5 first.)

iPad for the most part, followed by PC. Unfortunately most interpreters don’t work very well on the iPad, including just HTML games. Hopefully Apple will update Safari soon to a flashier version.

Is there an iOS version of ADRIFT?

Linux desktop, sometimes Windows desktop, both using Gargoyle because of its nice typography. Generally this works fine.

No, not yet. I was just meaning in general for the other IF Comp games. The Linux Runner should also run on the Mac under Mono, altho I haven’t been able to test this to see how well (if at all) this works.

At a later date I intend on looking at MonoTouch, as this may well make it possible to create native apps for iOS and Android. But I guess I have a few things to concentrate on first… :blush:

I play on a Mac laptop – no phone/pad/pod/reader and no interest in one. I tend to play online if I can; otherwise I use Zoom for everything but ADRIFT, for which I use Spatterlight.

I guess my wishes are for Quixe to get faster so it’s a more practical option, and also for my computer/browser performance to improve so I don’t ever run into annoying delays. :confused: That’s not really something the community can do anything about. Also not to worry about messing around with different interpreters so much (for instance, I just tried to download an old ALAN game and it system errored in Spatterlight; Zoom doesn’t even acknowledge it).

[I’d also like the wider general indie gaming community to remember that Macs exist a little more often so I could play Knytt and Space Funeral and lots of other indie games, and for the Braid port for Macs to run on my computer. Does anyone have a sense as to whether I’ll have better luck if I switch to LINUX and run Wine?]

You will presumably have better luck, but it really depends on the game. Some work perfectly, some not at all. For instance, Knytt Stories seems to work well if you follow a short How-to.

If you have an NVidia graphics card, running games in Wine will be pretty much like running them on Windows. If it’s not NVidia, prepare for a lot of glitches and bugs.

I play them on my Windows. Here, let me show you my setup.


“Pending Games” is where I keep all uncathegorized games. “SimonSetup” is just a shortcut - I’m currently playing Simon the Sorcerer 3D. Normally, this is where I’d put shortcuts of any game I’m currently playing.

Cathegorizing means checking the game’s name and engine, sorting it accordingly, adding it to Grotesque and then playing.

“Tools and Interpreters” is where I’ve installed all my interpreters, plus some niceties such as Babel and the Eamon CD and iXu and Inform 7.

Usually I do it all alphabetically. But as regards ZCode, I’ve adopted a different system, because I’m playing those on my mobile phone via ZaxMidlet. After cathegorizing, I don’t play them - I add them to my mobile phone. I’ve got games there I’m still playing, but I give priority to the newest-cathegorized games.

If the game crashes with ZaxMidlet, I inform the maintainer and wait 'till I’m home to play it on my desktop.

You asked for it. :wink:

EDIT - My dream machine would be able to play most IF. Surprisingly, Android may be the way to go - there seem to be emulators for Spectrum, Amiga, Commodore, even DOS. Not TADS or ALAN or HUGO or INFORM, but there are two WIPs for Inform and I know of at least 1 WIP for TADS. Anyway, if the Android could play Parchment and/or Quixe…

EDIT 2 - Oh, and incidently, here’s my preferred display.

imageshack.us/photo/my-images/82 … aypng.png/

Since it’s a WideScreen monitor, I often shorten the game to about 4:3 and use the remaining space for Trizbort. A dream setup.

How well does Android handle Parchment and Quixe? I guess it must depend a great deal on version and device, but what’s been people’s experience?

My impression is that it is more common now. All the Humble Bundles have been available for Mac, for example.

Sure, but it seems to me that windows-only is still the default, to the extent that a lot of games don’t even bother saying “Windows only.” I mean, I’m basically thinking of one-person-in-their-basement kind of games, so it’s not surprising that they don’t port it to the Mac if it takes any work, but I’m talking about “things I wish” here. (And as I intimated, Braid didn’t run on my Mac, and the eventual response I got from the Bundle organizers was basically a shrug. Penumbra: Whatever didn’t work for me either, though that may have to do with my graphics card, which is way below interpreters on the list of things I don’t want to have to worry about.)

(For the record, I agree with you. I’m optimistic about the future, though.)

1. What specific platform do you use to play IF – for example, Windows, iOS, Kindle, Android, Nintendo DS, and which phone, tablet, and laptop?
I have a slightly aging desktop gaming PC which runs Windows 7 and Ubuntu Linux. I mostly play IF on Ubuntu, but occasionally boot into Windows for a particularly troublesome game that just won’t run under Linux or Wine. I also have an Asus eeePC netbook running Ubuntu Netbook Edition and an HTC Desire Z smartphone running Android 2.3.

2. How do you rate your experience on those devices, and how would you like to see it improved if at all?
Playing IF on Linux is excellent and only getting better. The netbook is particularly good. It’s great for curling up in an easy chair with a game or playing IF in bed - it even doubles as a hot water bottle! My phone ought to be good for playing IF, with that lovely QWERTY keyboard, but to be honest, IF support on Android is really poor at the moment.

3. What kind of IF are you playing on a particular device? Only CYOA on Kindle? Big Inform games only on PC?
I’ll play anything on the desktop and netbook, although I prefer to play games with multimedia on the desktop. The netbook’s screen isn’t really large enough for fancy graphical IF, and the speakers are far too tinny for anything with sound. My phone is by necessity restricted to Z-code and Choice Of games, but I’d love to play more IF on it if the interpreters were in a more usable (or even existent) state.

4. What is missing from your platform of choice that you’d like to see?
Android needs interpreters. Glulx and TADS at least, and some improvements to the existing Z-code terps. (I know people are working on Twisty. Thanks, guys!) As for Linux… I guess it’d be nice to have an all-in-one interpreter with an integrated game browser, like Zoom or Spatterlight. A pony would also be lovely.

Parchment: Runs in the Android browser, but is too wide for my phone’s screen even in landscape orientation. The browser won’t let me zoom any further out, either.

Quixe: In the Android browser, it loads and looks good. I can enter commands and the game responds (slowly, of course, but what do you expect.) Unfortunately, it doesn’t pause when it prints more than a screenful of text, and I can’t find a way to scroll back up to see what I missed.

Given the mild complaint I made about Quixe upthread – which is anyway specific to my aging laptop and browser abuse – I should maybe mention that I played Patanoir through on Quixe with only occasional short delays. (Calm hung up at what I suspect was the random map generation phase; I suspect my Quixe issues are very game-dependent.)

I play most of my IF on my computer (that is, the same computer I do pretty much all of my computer-y tasks on), which is a MacBook Pro running OSX. I use whichever of Zoom or Spatterlight I happen to think of, and only switch to the other if there seems to be a compatibility issue with a non-zcode/glulx game. I never use Parchment/Quixe, though I do sometimes refer less IF-savvy friends to them. I don’t play full-screen, but I also don’t have an elaborate gameplaying setup, because I don’t play the kinds of games that are going to require me to take extensive notes or map; on the rare occasion that I am playing such a game, I’ll use pen and paper for that.

I also occasionally play IF on my OLPC XO, because the screen is perfect for sitting outside on a nice day and toying with some light IF. However, the only interpreter I have on it is a command-line zcode interpreter (without even support for blorb, if I recall correctly) that crashes sometimes, so that sort of limits the games I play on it.