What's your IF White Whale?

I’ve been playing with gag titles since I read this. So far all I got is Potions Eleven and Nevermore Dogs, not in love with the latter.

Regardless, agreed, great concept!


A couple of years ago, I said I was working on an Obra Dinn-like deduction game about rebuilding the lineage of a professional wrestling championship from scraps of information and old PPV tapes. I still really want to make this game. I got as far as building a functional engine in Inform 7, but now there are two huge obstacles in my path:

  1. Planning the logic puzzle. I know this would be hard, but it’s hard. I made a good start, but it’s an organisational nightmare. I need a method that lets me write out what clue goes where, lets me keep track of what the player knows and how much of the solution they can figure out at each step, and which can be rearranged easily if I want to move a clue earlier or later in the intended solution path. I tried doing this with Scrivener, but I found I needed to copy and paste the solution table a bunch to keep track of the incremental updates made with each clue, which meant that I would have had to update many different instances of the same table if I changed something about the solution early on.

  2. Not developing it in Inform 7. You can totally do this in Inform - it turns out the way Inform works with tables is robust enough that I can have one solution table which the player can write updates to. But I don’t think that writing out commands to update the table is very intuitive or fun. It didn’t feel good to play when I was testing it, in my opinion. It needs to be more tactile and clicky; it really needs to be made in something like Twine. Unfortunately I don’t know anything more then the most rudimentary Twine coding. Perhaps rebuilding this project in Twine will be a good way to learn it?


Oh my god, Potions Eleven! If I ever make this thing you might be getting a title credit.


You could also try Vorple. For example, you could make an HTML page which contains Vorple’s interpreter embedded in the left part of the page, and an HTML table in the right part of the page, with clickable links in the cells (if it’s the classic logic puzzle table, you’ll probably want something like “mark/exclude/unset”, or “x/-/?”, for each cell?).
When the player clicks one of the links, then Vorple will automatically send off your custom Inform update-table command to the game.


You should, honestly, and not just because I’ll get a title credit, lol. The concept is solid and appeals to two different demographics while turning off neither, which is the best kind of crossover.


Years ago I imagined a maze puzzle in which the unencumbered player could travel freely in all directions through a grid of mostly identical rooms, but when encumbered with a 12 foot plank, there were only certain nodes within the grid that provided enough space to allow you to change directions (imagine trying to nanigate a 12 foot piece of lumber through a space withe a grid of pillars spaced ten feet apart and you’ll get the idea)

I coded the whole thing in inform, but knew that most players would hate the puzzle, and in any case, couldn’t think of any game to put it in where it wouldn’t simply be an arbitrary obstacle.


hmmm… was a nice idea, whose raise this proposal: What about uploading on IF archive the sources of those never-to-be-completed games ? (actually I gained some insight and coding ideas from Gjksberg’s archive…)

Best regards &c. from Italy,
dott. Piergiorgio.


Yeah, it would be a good idea, if I can get (me and my head) round learning it (or anyone still using ZIL who has the ability to use the magical thing can), then it would be awesome.
Or not.

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Fun topic!

For me, so much of my time has been spent using interactive fiction in the context of teaching and/or testing that I haven’t really ever settled down to see if I can create something that would be engaging.

That said, I have a few whales.

One project I have is Trinity: Remythologized which was based on a series of classes I gave around narrative and the use of interactive fiction. I would love to actually do something further with that.

I’ve had the idea for two other stories in my head for quite some time (both science fiction) that might fit well into an interactive fiction category – but I fear I lack the creativity to flesh these out as games with puzzles. (Even narrative puzzles.) I have no problem coming up with ideas as a general rule but I lack the ability to turn them into something. I fear I might be more of an editor than a writer. I can often see how I would change an existing thing; less how I might come up with a brand new thing.

Another whale for me is I would love to do an intricate time travel game. There are some good existing works I could learn from but their source is, for the most part, not available. So I can’t see how certain techniques were done to get me going. (All Things Devours is good but it’s in Inform 6 and I’m more looking at Inform 7.)


Short games have helped me make big jumps to longer games, and sometimes I like my shorter games more. I certainly enjoy seeing something-anything from authors.

Why not make it the whole game in a shorter jam? If nothing else, make a humorous angle for it. Also, allow for commands like, say, “N 6” that let you go north 6 squares at a time, or even “NN” to go north as for as you possibly can. This will cut down busy work.

It’s good to see so many different contributors, old and new, posting in this topic!


I have a grand sweeping five-act Shakespearian science fiction tragedy, implemented in about ten modules, that I’ve been picking at since the 1990s. I started up on it again during the pandemic, this time using Dialog, but got sidetracked on a different thing that’s threatening to evolve into an additional whale…


A Harry Potter fanfic Hogwarts game, complete with a fully simulated student body with unique personalities and even senses of direction, sound recordings or videos of classes, a library of readable textbooks and a curriculum featuring all seven years of classes, quidditch games, and collectible memories featuring scenes from each chapter of the HP books hidden all throughout the game world.

TBH, this white whale would ideally be done in VR, but I’d love to code it in Inform 7… this is where my interest in converting it to C and using it in Unreal Engine comes in…

Edit: Either this or a Legend of Zelda-like RPG called Legend of Time where I actually did code a pretty decent combat extension, but dungeon design escaped me completely, and its been stuck there ever since.


Wow, that is quite the Whale! I don’t think I’ve seen/read/played a SF Shakespearian tragedy, let alone five grand sweeping acts! Consider me interested!

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Okay, y’all making my whale feel like a minnow. :fishing_pole_and_fish:

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This is me… Every time I go to study C# or Java or JS my brain locks up in a way that Inform 7 never caused.

I think that everybody faces their own challenges, and some of us… might be aiming really high. My wizarding school is primarily charts and sketches in google sheets and drawn on receipt paper. On Inform I only have the opening rooms and a few rough systems.

I really like your Fallout Concept @pinkunz. I can’t wait to play it someday.

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The scope is definitely breathtaking, especially for a fanfic. For whatever it’s worth, I hope everyone here manages to eventually land their whale, if for nothing else than the personal growth and sense of accomplishment granted by finishing a WIP.

Thank you for the compliment; I hope to release it someday, lol.

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Well, at the very least, the theatre’s going to be clean.

----drrrrdabum tcchhh----

I’ll get me coat.


I have this idea of a cliché “Go save the galaxy/universe from the evil forces of darkness from beyond” grand-scale epic sci-fi RPG. No idea how that would work yet or how I’ll come up with all the content, but it sure sounds interesting, and tedious.

(It’s also basically Mass Effect crossed with Pathfinder: Wrath of the Righteous but don’t tell anyone…)

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hopefully with less bugs than the two Pathfinders… :wink:

Best regards from Italy,
dott. Piergiorgio.


Mine is a parser fiction based on the tarot. Idea is that it’s both:

  • A valid tarot spread: cards are chosen and laid out randomly.
  • A text adventure: you start in the first card and move through to the end, with some light generative puzzling to give you something to do and to tie the sequence together. (For example, a coin you find in one card may pay for passage in another.)

I’ve got a start on it in Dialog, including much of the basic scaffolding and a few cards. However:

  • There are 78 tarot cards - lots to implement!
  • Characters in particular have been really hard to write. (I’m unsure if I’m bad at character writing or whether the archetypal figures on the cards are just hard to develop mechanics for; likely both.)

I’m not sure if I’ll be able to scope this down enough to get something finished. I still poke at it fairly often, though… I find it very satisfying when I can come up with an interaction that works at both the literal/mechanical and a more symbolic level.