Works-in-Progress: Brags and Bummers

Didn’t see a thread like this elsewhere. Figured we could use a place to talk about specific bits of code we’re especially proud of, or milestones, or frustrations, etc.

I hit 10,000 words in my source code today. I think the final product will be around 50K. I’ve finally pushed past my urge to beta-test every single thing as I create it, which has really let me open up creatively. I’m also really happy that more and more of the I7 syntax is coming naturally to me, and I’m having to look up less and less as I code.

What about you all?

Heh, I never really get past that urge. Which is hard to keep up as your WIP grows larger and larger…

I’m kind of in an ebb period, so I’ve been working a lot on my map (most recent two posts). Which I am unreasonably proud of, considering how politely it was panned at a forum consisting of real fake mapmakers. Still, it makes me very happy and is actually helping set down some details that were kind of nebulous for awhile. (It’s also unfinished, but at least it’s in recognizable map-like form, which it wasn’t for kind of a long time.)

Very nice, Gravel. Are you on the Planet IF? And what’s this about fake mapmakers denigrating your map? Was it not fake enough? (I am genuinely confused.)

“Not Inform code, where lines seem to multiply like bunny rabbits when you look the other way…”

But they’re carnivorous bunnies!!

More on-topic: whenever I get a piece of code to do something tricky via very elegant code, I jump outta my chair and parade around like Rocky. Yes, I live alone. Anyhoo, getting I6 code to directly call some I7 code with parameters, without go-betweens, makes me very happy. Also, anytime my complex parsing or AI routines do something intelligent I hadn’t anticipated restores my faith in technology.

Thanks! There are some really accomplished cartographers out there, working on maps for all kinds of fictional things - D&D, games, stories. Stunningly accomplished. There were a number of areas sent up for improvement in mine, which is why I asked for help, after all, but I also think it’s a style issue - super realistic pseudo-satellite images are really in right now, and while I’m hard pressed to identify a style for my map, it’s definitely not super realistic.

And, the blog’s not up because it’s mostly a personal dev journal. People are more than welcome to read it, of course, but I’ve got the general sense that People Don’t Talk About Details of their games, and that’s essentially what it’s there for. I have no great wisdom or deep thoughts to pass down on IF - it’s pretty strictly “Aarrgh, why can’t I get anything to WORK?” and “Here’s the general plan for X detail.” Oh, and occasionally I promise myself that I’ll play bunch of competition games and then don’t.

I have a big mega-goal for the future: to get some emergent story or gameplay out of my game. If that ever happens, I’ll have to set off fireworks or something.

It’s a shame there’s not more discussion about IF design in general. I tend not to talk about my creative efforts for idiosyncratic reasons: on some level, it satisfies the inner urge to tell the story in the first place. Sharing the cool parts up front lessens the joy of setting it down in a fixed form.

I’d always assumed this was a factor for others, but if not, by all means share away!

I think what happens is that there will be a flurry of discussions, which will die down as people begin to implement what they’ve learned in those discussions into their own work. Then, as those new works are released, they generate new discussions.

It’s not that there isn’t a lot of discussion; we’re just percolating at the moment.

EDIT: But that’s getting off-topic. Another brag: I told my sister I was writing interactive fiction. She and I used to play Commodore 64 games together when we were little, and when I reminded her of Hitchhiker’s Guide and told her that interactive fiction was still alive and kicking she got all excited and demanded to see my work when it’s done. Sisters are the best!

Well. I started writing ADRIFT about 14 years ago so my sister could make me a text adventure. I’m still waiting…

I’ve also been working on a map for my work-in-progress, and I borrowed a trick from a friend, which is that I computer-generated a random fractal pattern for my coastlines. It gives them a sort of detailed look without having to make up detail by hand (which can be hard to do on a computer without a tablet), and gave me a chance to step away from Illustrator for a bit. The original is a couple lines of Processing code, and then my friend helped me re-write it in ML (SMLNJ) as a learning project for me, so if you’re handy with either of those languages and want some code that outputs pdf or ps respectively, send me an email (my name, as below, at instamatique dot com). I’ll be back to the computer with that code on it late Tuesday night.

Also just some general (unsolicited :wink: ) advice, which you should certainly feel free to ignore: if I were you, I’d pick a final size that you want your map to be – printable on a standard paper size, viewable in a standard browser window, whatever – and occasionally view it at that size. It’ll help you make decisions about font size and the amount of detail to put into the trees and such that can be hard to focus on when you’re spending all your time zoomed way in, especially if you’re not trying for a hyper-realistic style (and the style it looks like you’re going for seems perfectly appropriate to me).


[On the topic of this thread: I finished my re-design of my portfolio website! Now my IF is actually listed in my portfolio, along with, you know, everything else I’ve done in the three years since I last updated. And better pictures of some of the older stuff.]

Oh my… I hope it’s not writer’s block!

Brag: I wrote about 800 words at work yesterday in Notepad, and when I c/p’ed the code into Inform, it worked perfectly!

Bummer: I’m worried that, now that everything’s falling into place and I’m getting the chance to take a hard look at the game, the tone and the approach is ALL WRONG.

I’m just getting started on my first IF game, a cold war murder mystery. I’ve written about 15 pages of background on the game, characters, historical background, storyline, clues, alibis and a rough map. I’m just starting to code the prologue while reading Aaron Reed’s Inform7 book. Not sure if this is the right approach, but I figured it would be good to have the concepts fairly solid before I started coding.

Although I don’t have any insights to offer at this stage, I find it very encouraging to read some of the posts here and articles on design, using inform7 etc.


Well, I’m new to Inform 7 writing, but I’ve done some stuff I was pleased with.

I created a room with 3 dice you could flip over, roll, etc.

Of course, once I implemented rolling, I realized I allowed for the possibility of counterclockwise dice becoming clockwise, and vice versa. Oops.

So much of what I’ve done, though, is due to the examples I’ve read and tweaking them. But I created my first two puzzles. They involve some NPC action, too, but I think I can do even more. I still want to understand rules better and I know my code isn’t optimal.

Oh, I figured how my first “real” game will end, too, while on the bus yesterday.

Thanks for bringing this thread back, Zack! And congratulations - it sounds like you’re well on your way.

I’m happy to say I have something to brag about now - I did the programming for a complete game AND it was submitted to the IFComp!

So I guess in a sense that’s my “first game” down, though I didn’t do any of the design or writing. I learned a LOT about I7 while I was working on it.

Over the summer I started something of my own that I think I can actually bring to a point where I’d be proud enough to share it. I originally planned to do a little work on it every day, but that was during a slow time at work…

I was slacking off, but posting this has encouraged me to do another 10 minutes of work on it!

After programming one basic game (basically a “exercise in learning Inform”) and one “interactive review” (my Get Lamp review), I have started work on my first “real” text adventure. I say text adventure instead of Interactive Fiction because it has more in common with the classic text adventures than it does with some of the more modern games I’ve tried.

One of the things I’m having trouble with is programming a vehicle (in this case, an old El Camino) to transport the character between a few locations. I have the story logistics nailed down to where it makes sense, but the actual programming of the thing has turned out to be harder than I had anticipated. Right now the car is an enterable object, and when the player chooses a location on his GPS, the car takes them there. It sounds good in theory but there are so many little parts that aren’t working yet – for example, in some locations (like a fast food drive-thru) I don’t want the player to be able to exit the car, but in other locations (work), I do. So far, the game has been an exercise in coming up with ideas, trying to program those ideas, changing my ideas to fit with what I can figure out how to program, and settling for something less. I’ll get there eventually.

Have you posted your interactive Get Lamp review somewhere, online? I am interested in this sort of thing — using IF tools for documentary purposes rather than fiction. (Seeing as this is exactly how IF got started, in an attempt to convey Crowther’s personal take on something real, it seems an oddly underexplored avenue.) So, I’m curious as to how you decided to set it up for the purpose of review, and whether you were basing it on or borrowing from anything.


A link to the review, a bit of back story, and a walk-thru are all located here:

The second ending (not listed in the walk-thru) involves climbing the bookshelves.

The work wasn’t based on anything and I didn’t borrow from anyone. The review and (poor) coding are my own.

I meant more ‘borrowed’ in the sense of ‘inspired by’ than in any negative sense, since if there were something, I’d want to see that, too. Thanks for the link, Rob, I will check it out! 8)


I think this qualifies as a bummer.

I’ve spent a few weeks working on my first “real” IF game, only to find that I have been writing one big cliche. Many of the settings I’ve included (including my house, and the concept of “getting to work”) I now see have been implemented many times before me.

I think the writing on my game so fas is pretty good, but I can see the reviews now (“It was a well written game that covered no new ground …”).

With weeks worth of work invested, I now need to decide whether or not I should go ahead and finish this adventure, or scrap it and begin on something a bit more original.

Finish it anyway! Finish. It. Anyway.

Absolutely. You’ll be glad you did, no matter what you decide to do with it.