Announcement: INFORM Announcing "Inform", an Infocom-format compiler: ================================================

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Graham Nelson

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May 9, 1993, 2:20:53 PM5/9/93
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Infocom game story files are as near to a universal format as we have for
interactive fiction games, but until now it has been very difficult to
construct them, and I am not aware that anyone has previously created them
outside of Infocom itself.

I have written such a compiler, called "Inform", the ANSI C source of
which is public domain. It is not a marvellously well-written program,
but it does work, and it is documented.

Inform produces version-3 files from a fairly C-like source language.

The documentation for it contains a description of Inform, and what I think
is a complete specification of the version-3 Z-code format; although this
information is mostly available on the nets, I don't think it has been
collated into a single account before. It also contains a couple of short
articles on game design, and particularly design subject to the version-3
limits.

There are also two example games, one medium-sized, one tiny. Both the
source files and the story files they compile to, are included.

Inform is public domain, though I retain the copyright. I have no objection
to anyone using its output for anything they wish.

I have also written a fully-fleshed out new game called "Curses", for which
the source is not available. Details are given in a similar announcement on
rec.games.int-fiction.

Inform may be found in the if-archive at ftp.gmd.de:

if-archive/infocom/compilers/inform

contains all the Inform files, including a copy of "Curses". See the Index
file there. There is also a copy of "Curses" in if-archive/games/infocom.
Remember that story files must be FTP'd in binary, not ASCII, mode.

My thanks go to Volker Blasius for maintaining the archive, and to the
InfoTaskForce and Mark Howell for their sterling work.

--
Graham Nelson
Oxford University, UK
<ga...@phx.cam.ac.uk>

Mark Christopher Macsurak

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May 10, 1993, 11:12:27 PM5/10/93
to
In article <1993May9.1...@infodev.cam.ac.uk> ga...@phx.cam.ac.uk writes:
>
>Inform may be found in the if-archive at ftp.gmd.de:
>
> if-archive/infocom/compilers/inform
>
>contains all the Inform files, including a copy of "Curses". See the Index
>file there. There is also a copy of "Curses" in if-archive/games/infocom.
>Remember that story files must be FTP'd in binary, not ASCII, mode.
>
>Graham Nelson
>Oxford University, UK
><ga...@phx.cam.ac.uk>

Does anyone know how to FTP binary files? I tried to "get inform" but it said
that it's not a plain file. Will I be able to use these on my Mac?

- big...@leland.stanford.edu


Graham Nelson

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May 9, 1993, 4:02:06 AM5/9/93
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Announcing "Inform", an Infocom-format compiler:
================================================

Message-ID: <1993May9.1...@infodev.cam.ac.uk>
Sender: gd...@cl.cam.ac.uk (G.D. Rees)
Nntp-Posting-Host: grange.cl.cam.ac.uk
Reply-To: ga...@phx.cam.ac.uk
Organization: U of Cambridge Computer Lab, UK
Date: Sun, 9 May 1993 18:20:53 GMT
Lines: 43

Infocom game story files are as near to a universal format as we have for
interactive fiction games, but until now it has been very difficult to
construct them, and I am not aware that anyone has previously created them
outside of Infocom itself.

I have written such a compiler, called "Inform", the ANSI C source of
which is public domain. It is not a marvellously well-written program,
but it does work, and it is documented.

Inform produces version-3 files from a fairly C-like source language.

The documentation for it contains a description of Inform, and what I think
is a complete specification of the version-3 Z-code format; although this
information is mostly available on the nets, I don't think it has been
collated into a single account before. It also contains a couple of short
articles on game design, and particularly design subject to the version-3
limits.

There are also two example games, one medium-sized, one tiny. Both the
source files and the story files they compile to, are included.

Inform is public domain, though I retain the copyright. I have no objection
to anyone using its output for anything they wish.

I have also written a fully-fleshed out new game called "Curses", for which
the source is not available. Details are given in a similar announcement on
rec.games.int-fiction.

Inform may be found in the if-archive at ftp.gmd.de:

if-archive/infocom/compilers/inform

contains all the Inform files, including a copy of "Curses". See the Index
file there. There is also a copy of "Curses" in if-archive/games/infocom.
Remember that story files must be FTP'd in binary, not ASCII, mode.

My thanks go to Volker Blasius for maintaining the archive, and to the
InfoTaskForce and Mark Howell for their sterling work.

--

Christopher Schweda

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May 11, 1993, 10:24:06 AM5/11/93
to
INFORM sounds quite fascinating. Is this available for the Macintosh?


Chris Schweda
--

Marc Sira

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May 11, 1993, 10:45:26 PM5/11/93
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In a previous article, big...@leland.Stanford.EDU (Mark Christopher Macsurak) says:

>>Inform may be found in the if-archive at ftp.gmd.de:
>>
>> if-archive/infocom/compilers/inform
>>
>>contains all the Inform files, including a copy of "Curses". See the Index

^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

>Does anyone know how to FTP binary files? I tried to "get inform" but it said
>that it's not a plain file. Will I be able to use these on my Mac?

You FTP a binary file by typing "binary" or "image", then getting the file as
usual. That's not what the "not a plain file" message means, though; you
tried to retrieve a directory. Try "cd inform". ;)

--
Marc Sira |
aa...@freenet.carleton.ca | "Your god drinks...p-p-peach nectar."
t...@micor.ocunix.on.ca '

Gareth Rees

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May 12, 1993, 3:17:27 PM5/12/93
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In article <schweda....@vincent1.iastate.edu>, sch...@iastate.edu (Christopher Schweda) writes:
|> INFORM sounds quite fascinating. Is this available for the Macintosh?

INFORM is written in C, so if you have THINK C or some other C compiler for the
Macintosh you might want to have a go. However, the compiler is written with no
regard for the possibility that it will be run in circumstances where integers
aren't 32 bits and where it can't immediately grab a couple of megabytes off the
heap, so don't be surprised if it doesn't compile.

INFORM certainly doesn't run when compiled by any C compiler for the IBM PC that
I've tried.

--
Gareth Rees <gd...@phx.cam.ac.uk>

Tom Almy

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May 13, 1993, 10:38:40 AM5/13/93
to

>INFORM certainly doesn't run when compiled by any C compiler for the IBM PC that
>I've tried.

It compiles and runs with the DJ Delorie port of GCC, which is a 32 bit
protected mode compiler (and a free one to boot!). Not a chance, however,
with a real mode compiler since the the manual for INFORM states that it
mallocs about 800k at startup.

--
Tom Almy
tom....@tek.com
Standard Disclaimers Apply

nel...@vax.oxford.ac.uk

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May 13, 1993, 6:10:06 AM5/13/93
to

Speaking (hopefully speaking; I've had trouble posting lately) as the author
of Inform, I must concede the above. A slightly updated version will come
soon which will grab rather less memory; the original malloc'd about 800K,
the next version will only take about 400. For small games this can be
reduced quite a bit further, but bear in mind: it is a large job to create
a version-3 game file, because of the number of internal cross-references
which have to be right; you can't expect a program to do it without workspace.

As for 32-bit integers, mea culpa.

Two other small difficulties: it uses the ANSI C library call strtoul, which
converts a string to a number in a given base; this is in ANSI stdlib, but
apparently some lax compilers don't have it.
Also, there is a minor bug: in the middle of the code there is one
#ifdef ARCHIMEDES
(the only #ifdef in the body of the code) whose #endif is slightly misplaced;
it should be after the call to system(), not before. This is easy to correct
and will be so corrected in the upcoming version.

Adam Justin Thornton

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May 16, 1993, 12:11:48 AM5/16/93
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>INFORM certainly doesn't run when compiled by any C compiler for the IBM PC that
>I've tried.


I'll try building it under Linux once I get my 'puter back.

Adam
--
ad...@rice.edu | These? Rice's opinions? Yeah, right. | "Might there have
been fewer crimes in the name of Jesus, and more mercy in the name of Judas
Iscariot?"--Thomas Pynchon | "This is not an assault."--FBI to David Koresh,
as they broke holes in the wall and began firing in teargas. | 64,928 | Fnord

Marc K. Newman

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May 18, 1993, 5:25:46 PM5/18/93
to


It worked great under SCO Opendesktop 2.0. No problems
compiling at all.

Marc

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