Which authoring tool?

Hey guys,

I’m just planning my first IF game (as in sitting and writing the settings, storyline and interactions in notepad before starting to code) and was wondering which of the authoring tools I should explore in order to create the game - does anyone have any pros and cons for each of the ones available?

I’ve downloaded and played with TADS, which doesn’t look too difficult for the simplistic things such as moving from room to room and interacting with basic objects but I think this may get trickier as I try to do more complicated things.

I haven’t tried any of the others but would be interested in your views, with an easy to use interface and coding structure being rather appealing to me.



I’m in a bit of a hurry, but maybe somebody else will give an answer between now and when I get back. I will say, more people should give Hugo a chance. Almost nobody does. It’s very much a programming language, though. At the other end is Adrift, which is reportedly very easy with no programming required.

I’m a novice, with no programming experience, and I’m finding Inform 7 manageable. Much better than Inform 6 was, anyway, and I also gave Tads3 a shot and although that was better than Inform 6, I wasn’t able to do much with it either.

Anyway, my game in Inform 7 is coming along nicely, so I’d suggest going with that, as a free option.

ADRIFT is apparently easier than even Inform 7, but does have a cost involved. You can give it a try for free though.

There is a free version of Adrift available (version 3.9), though it lacks a lot of the better features of the paid-for version. Saying that, you can still write a perfectly acceptable game with it and the AIF community mainly use it in preference to version 4.

In terms of ease of use the list probably goes (from easiest to hardest):

Inform 7
Tads 2/Inform 6
Tads 3/Hugo

Hugo as a language looks like one of the nicer languages out there. I would probably use it myself if the display model and interpreters were nicer. As it is, I’m writing my WIP in Inform 7; I like the language, and the I7 application itself is invaluable for testing as you go.

In fact (this should probably be a separate thread) I don’t see why it wouldn’t be possible for the I7 app to use any of the source-text based IF languages (Alan, Hugo, TADS).

ADRIFT is certainly easier to get started; I disagree that it’s easier to write a polished game with ADRIFT. There are a number of pitfalls which TADS and Inform are designed to avoid which are very easy to make with ADRIFT.

Thank you all for your comments so far, keep them coming :slight_smile:

I’ve now tried a few things in TADS (2 and 3), ADRIFT and Inform7 and certainly feel the most comfortable with I7. I like the interface and the help guide featured inside the software.

As with all of them, I think I need a concrete plan for my story before going further than initial testing of the software, but am impressed by I7 so far after creating a few rooms, and the ease of using scenes.


I wrote this before the advent of I7, but it may be useful to you anyway: Choosing a Text Adventure Language.

Any plans to update that now that Inform 7 is out? I also notice there’s mention of SUDS there but does anyone use SUDS these days? I certainly can’t remember any new SUDS games in the last few years.

Oh, I had forgotten all about SUDS. I kind of dropped out of the scene around the time it was released, if I recall correctly.

Also, it seems like I heard something about ALAN 3 being different from 2, much the way TADS 2 and TADS 3 differ. I’m not sure though.

I forgot about Alan 3. It seems to be similar to Hugo in that it’s a true programming language yet gets overlooked in favour of Tads and Inform.

And I’m not 100% sure, but with Adrift 5 coming out soon, I assume version 4 will be free to download before long?

I haven’t heard anything along those lines, although I don’t think anyone has actually asked the question on the Adrift forum yet.

I’d hazard a guess that the answer would be: no.

Although it might be an idea to half the price or something seeing as the shiny new Adrift 5 will be out and there won’t be much incentive for any newcomers to buy 4 when 5 is out. However, if 4 was half price, you might encourage people to give it a go.

Problem I could see is that upgrading ADRIFT 4 to ADRIFT 5 will be free so, if ADRIFT 4 was half price then wouldn’t you just buy ADRIFT 4 and upgrade it. Guess we will have to see which way Campbell jumps.

I’d personally re-arrange that to this (from easiest to hardest):

Inform 7
TADS 2/Inform 6/Hugo

I’ve been using Hugo every now and then in some projects, and even from v2.5 to v3.1, I’ve never really seen it as difficult to learn as TADS 3. To me, it’s been like Inform 6 with a different twist.

Do you mean the application front-end?

Is there a Hugo manual along the same lines as the Inform one? Not that I’m really intending to learn Hugo right now, but it might be interesting to see how it handles certain things.

Yep. It’s available as a free PDF here, or a book you can buy here. I bought the book, and love it. It has been a great resource, although it’s useful more as a programming reference than as a step-by-step tutorial. The free PDF version is the exact same document – just not as convenient to use.

I think the chief thing working against Hugo is that nobody (myself included) releases extensions. What I’ve found is that the base libraries cover so much already – things that may have required extensions in the other languages (attachables, object “plural” collections, vehicles, etc). If the libraries lack something, it’s easy to add and extend. It’s powerful, and as programming languages go, it’s a pretty easy one.

Of course, “pretty easy” from the viewpoint of a programmer is a lot different than “pretty easy” from the viewpoint of a non-programmer. 8)

But I’ll have a little look at the manual all the same. Who knows? I might even have a go at writing a Hugo game one day.

Certainly. That’s why I say “as programming languages go”. :slight_smile: The hard thing about Hugo, if you do come from a programming background, isn’t the syntax. It’s very C-like, and structures are familiar. It simplifies OOP, because there really is no concept of a “constructor” in Hugo (every object defined, by definition, exists – even things that are “classes” are in essence an instance of an object), and multiple inheritence is built in. I really like it for this kind of development. No, what’s hard is figuring out everything that happens in the libraries. It’s sort of like learning what classes are available in C# and what they do, except the library code in Hugo is all inter-related. For a non-programmer, though, the whole thing would require learning to program. There aren’t really any shortcuts to that.

Yeah, it wouldn’t hurt to look. Kind of like me wanting to look at Adrift (and maybe write a game using it) some day. If you really don’t have any experience programming, though, there are some basic concepts that may just not make sense at first.