Which authoring system to use for a graphical adventure?

I’d like to add graphics to my text adventure. I wonder, what is a good system that allows me to easily add graphics? I’ve tried to find details from the Inform 7 Web site, but can’t see where this is mentioned and what graphics features are present.

I’d prefer:

  • Pictures of the landscape are displayed when you are in a certain location.
  • Pictures of items are displayed when you type ‘look at X’.
  • I don’t want pictures to be cut in half, e.g. when I type a lot of commands, don’t want the picture to scroll up so that it is partially covered, the picture area should be undisturbed by the text.
  • I don’t like overly complicated interpreter interfaces that include lots of extra visual elements, like compasses, maps, etc.

I’m concerned text and graphics are a bad match, and might even threaten the player’s feeling that they are in the story. Do you know of any games where graphics are used quite successfully in combination with a text parser?

Most systems allow you to define areas/windows on the screen that will display graphics. Inform, TADS, Hugo and Adrift support this. Others probably too.

No, they aren’t a bad match by themselves. Like everything else, it depends on your design.

Commercial games that did it (and did so extremely well, IMO) include Eric the Unready, Gateway and Gateway 2. They were very customizable, allowing the player to disable stuff like the compass rose, map, verb lists, and all that stuff.

A TADS game that implements it in a somewhat similar manner is Macrocosm. Another approach is Six Stories. Six Stories, however, uses an approach you said won’t suit you (graphics scroll off to the top as you play.)

Games written in Hugo that do the same include Necrotic Drift, Cryptozookeeper and Future Boy.

Games like that tend to be in the top-part of my favorite games list. Except for Macrocosm, which is an example of what I wrote earlier; text and graphics are a bad match only if the game design itself isn’t really that great. If it’s done right, graphics (and music/sound) can add immensely to the game. They don’t threaten the player’s feeling that they are in the story. In fact, they can enhance it. Try Cryptozookeeper and Six Stories, for example. Immersion is great, especially in games that allow you to actually see the NPCs you meet.

It sounds like you just want a simple solution for showing one graphic at a time. Using Inform, Emily Short’s Simple Graphical Window extension will make that very easy (along with the Location Images extension, if you want to use that). If you want multiple images onscreen at once, you can check out my system, Glimmr (see my signature for link).

As RealNC’s post implies, TADS can also do what you’re looking for, though I don’t know any of the details.


I wonder, how does one deal with such problems as, there are items in a room, and the user takes them? Should I exclude those from the graphic? Or is there a system for displaying and overplayed image? Such a system would probably be complicated than I desire, I just am confused about how to deal with the vast number of potential different states of each room (e.g. if you drop everything, should these things appear in the picture).

That’s usually not done in graphical IF. At least not for smaller objects that aren’t represented in the image. The point of the graphics is not to represent the location in any detailed depth. It’s mostly to set the overall mood. The depth comes from the text describing the location.

You might want to play some of the games I mentioned in my previous post. I think this should be necessary research for you, finding out what’s been done and how.

Definitely go with Tads 3 ( to be exact).

For some Inform games with graphics, used in very different ways, you can check out Everybody Dies, The Blind House, and Bonehead, which is probably the closest to what you’re looking for. (I’m a little surprised that there’s no IFDB tag for games with graphics.)

Inform7 has several extensions that can do what you want. (It’s the only one I’ve used, so I don’t know about the others.) I wouldn’t try for full-on graphics to simulate what’s on screen: it’s not expected or necessarily helpful, and pragmatically, the more elements you add to your graphics, the more complicated it gets and the more that can go wrong.

There is (ifdb.tads.org/search?searchbar=tag%3Agraphics), you just happened to pick the games that aren’t tagged yet :slight_smile: