[inform] Any Ideas For First Atempts?

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Nov 18, 2003, 11:24:41 PM11/18/03
I will admit right now that when it comes to ideas for teaching myself
programming languages, I am no expert. I was just wondering what sort of
games people using inform have written as first attempts? The sort of thing
one usually doesn't distribute, but that he writes anyway just to see if he
can really do it?
I am not asking for plot ideas here, just for general ideas about length,
etc. Plot ideas are, of course, welcomed, however.

Jonathan Blask

Nov 19, 2003, 1:51:15 AM11/19/03
For my first game, I used Gunther Schmidl's implementation of G.
Kevin Wilson's "Rules for Mad Libs I-F Creation." The rules themselves
are at http://bang.dhs.org/if/raif/mol/msg02858.html and the z-code file
is at http://www.fourcoffees.com/if/silly-d.html.
I may have not done the best job with what was supposed to be a
nice little diversion while I built up the nerve to work on a big project,
but it's a neat idea nonetheless.
- jon

Einar Faanes

Nov 19, 2003, 8:10:17 AM11/19/03
This chart reminds me of the plot, character, and gadget generation
tables in the back of the rulebook for the roleplaying game toon by
Steve Jackson games (http://www.sjgames.com/). I'm sure these can be
used for a IF too, at least a toon IF.

Quintin Stone

Nov 19, 2003, 8:47:40 AM11/19/03

Well, if you KNOW you won't be releasing it, you can always start by
modeling your house. It's a typical, almost traditional starting point
for learning an IF language. But if you try to enter that into a comp,
people will hunt you down and torture you!

|| Quintin Stone O- > "You speak of necessary evil? One ||
|| Code Monkey < of those necessities is that if ||
|| Rebel Programmers Society > innocents must suffer, the guilty must ||
|| st...@rps.net < suffer more." -- Mackenzie Calhoun ||
|| http://www.rps.net/ > "Once Burned" by Peter David ||

Roger Firth

Nov 19, 2003, 9:06:49 AM11/19/03
"Zachary" <vzd1...@verizon.net> wrote in message

Hi Zachary,

I would advise you to be extremely modest in your first attempt, partly
because there's a lot to learn, and partly because it's a lot easier to
throw away something that's obviously never going to be a real game,
but mostly because getting things right -- really right -- takes much more
work that you might imagine. From reading the recent IFComp reviews
you'll have seen the same complaints again and again: this thing is
missing, that thing isn't properly implemented, the other thing falls in
a heap at the slightest touch. Avoiding these newbie traps comes
with experience, with trying to build something and then reviewing it,
testing it, polishing it, going over and over the same ground until you
think it's perfect. And then giving it to somebody else, and immediately
learning that it's very far indeed from perfection. And so on, ad nauseam.

As an example, consider the "William Tell" game that Sonja and I
developed for the Inform Beginner's Guide. I can't tell you how long
it took us to get that game to a releasable state... and it's tiny:
half a dozen rooms, hardly any choice of action, nothing the slightest
bit radical. Go for something similarly modest, be pleased when you
first get it running, be critical of its faults (and try to fix them), and
never ever be tempted to show it to the world.

Good luck, Roger
You'll find my Cloak of Darkness, Parsifal, Informary
and more at http://www.firthworks.com/roger/

Kevin Buhr

Nov 20, 2003, 6:40:43 PM11/20/03
"Zachary" <vzd1...@verizon.net> writes:
> I will admit right now that when it comes to ideas for teaching myself
> programming languages, I am no expert. I was just wondering what sort of
> games people using inform have written as first attempts? The sort of thing
> one usually doesn't distribute, but that he writes anyway just to see if he
> can really do it?

Quintin is right: if you don't plan on releasing it, it may be easiest
to implement some familiar location and activity. And Roger is right,
too: you only need a tiny scene because even getting that right, by
today's I.F. standards, is a major undertaking. In short, it's a good
exercise to implement---as fully as possible---a small, familiar
scene, consisting of only one or two rooms and a couple of manipulable

For example, cooking yourself eggs in a two-room apartment is far too
banal a concept for a real game, but it will be fun and instructive to
program. And the thing about programming I.F. is that it is
absolutely impossible to truly finish an implementation, so even a
tiny scene like this, when used as a learning exercise, will provide
ample opportunity to figure out how to do lots of difficult and
interesting things.

In particular, there will be no shortage of new ideas to work on: If
you drop the eggs on the floor, how are you going to clean them up?
If you decide to hard-boil them, where's your egg timer? If your
bacon catches fire, how will you put it out? Once you've put it out,
how will you deal with the fact that the sink is clogged with the
faucet stuck on? If the sink overflows but the eggs you dropped on
the floor don't turn into an even stickier mess that washes into the
adjoining room, you clearly haven't finished programming yet. And if
you crack one of the eggs and a chick hops out, there's a whole
N.P.C. to implement!

Kevin <bu...@telus.net>

Kevin Venzke

Nov 20, 2003, 9:16:40 PM11/20/03
"Zachary" <vzd1...@verizon.net> wrote in message
> Hello,
> I will admit right now that when it comes to ideas for teaching myself
> programming languages, I am no expert. I was just wondering what sort of
> games people using inform have written as first attempts? The sort of
> one usually doesn't distribute, but that he writes anyway just to see if
> can really do it?

What I would do: Instead of a plot, come up with some puzzles you can
get excited about, and work on implementing those. I think this would be a
good way to learn things pretty quickly.

Kevin Venzke


Nov 21, 2003, 3:47:07 AM11/21/03

I reccomend starting with a walkthough sort of "game" simulating a place
you are often at (ie, home, computer science dept of a university).
Neither puzzles nor plot need not be included at first. Try to get a feel
for making good room and scenery descriptions. Implement some of the
objects one might find at this familar place.

David Griffith
dgr...@cs.csbuak.edu <-- Switch the 'b' and 'u'


Nov 23, 2003, 5:54:50 PM11/23/03
"Zachary" <vzd1...@verizon.net> wrote in message news:<dgCub.82559$p9.3...@nwrddc02.gnilink.net>...


I have just finished writing my first Inform code (after hours of
studying other peoples inform code, especially 'Ruins', 'Balances' and
the 'Adventureland' port. I also trawled through the Designers Guide
by Mr G Nelson (I'm not worthy ;-) etc..)

Anyway, to get to the point. This is what I based my game on: 2 rooms,
being my kitchen, living room. Objects being: a mug, a teabag, a
sweetener, a kettle (with water in it), a fridge, a milkbottle (with
milk in it), a coal fire, a spoon, a table, a surface (with an
electricity outlet), a guest sitting in an armchair + others. Anyway,
you get the idea.

It turned out to be quite a big job to code, but in the end it was
quite helpful, especially as I got some practice in implementing
classes (some objects belonged to 3 different classes!!! I really want
to thank Mr Nelson for allowing multiple inheritance). So I am quite
proud with my effort.

Anyway, the point I am trying to make is to study some of example
code, and then set a simple task that the player has to achieve. But
don't worry about plot too much.

Michael Lowe

A.P. Hill

Nov 25, 2003, 8:51:37 PM11/25/03
I have an idea you could try:

Not so much a story but a puzzle type story: You could do a 'who i
am' and have the pc start in the very middle of some strange
conversation with the goal of determining just who the hell they are.
For example:

"No, no, Z 42, split left, " you say. Brad looks at you, "I don't
think that'll work, I got two jamming me on the inside. "...etc etc...

The player has to type 'joe montana' to get to next story.

Have a game with various celebs, persons of stature, etc.

A.P. Hill
Gamma Globulin ( I saw the phrase in a med term book and it's ringy )


Nov 26, 2003, 3:49:56 AM11/26/03
"Zachary" <vzd1...@verizon.net> wrote in message news:<dgCub.82559$p9.3...@nwrddc02.gnilink.net>...


The opinion I have through my work is strictly the opposite of the
general opinion of the answers made so far, and since i have done only
one game (for now...:-)), take it as an item of reflexion rather than
an experienced advice.

The code source of my game is 5000 lines long (without comments and
rather compact) and took 8 months to write. I didn't use any classes.
I didn't even use variables in objects, because I didn't know it
existed, so it came up with bunches of global variables. When I began
coding, I didn't even understood what was object oriented
programmation and I used a global variable called "plot_depth" which
was monitoring the progress of the story.

My only goal and obsession was the burning need to write the Story and
let itself live through the medium IF, whatever was the elegance of
the way I builded it. The passion I threaded Filaments with may have
touched and been the only reason for the ones who translated it in
their own language, and the others who took the time to complete it.

Mastering inform is an enjoyment in itself, but if you happen to write
some piece of IF while you can share while practising inform, it can
be an enjoyment for everyone. So being ambitious at the very first
line of code you ever wrote can be worth the try.

"Aux innocents les mains pleines"

PS : I am writing a second game now and I still don't use Classes.

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