Text Adventures On The Web?

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Henning Strandin

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Sep 15, 1999, 3:00:00 AM9/15/99
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Hi folks,

I'm wondering whether anyone has ever heard of a text adventure engine
for putting text adventures on a web site? It would probably use cookies
to keep the state of the game between requests and sessions. I have no
idea whether such a system exists and I don't know where to look, I just
really would love to not have to write it myself if there is such a
beast for download somewhere. If you have any ideas about a system that
could be used for/converted into something like that, I'd like to hear
that too. I only know about Infocom's engine and Hugo (
http://www.interlog.com/~tessman/hugo.html).

Happy gaming
Henning

--
"The world will little note nor long remember what we say here."
- A. Lincoln


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Erik Max Francis

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Sep 15, 1999, 3:00:00 AM9/15/99
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Henning Strandin wrote:

> I'm wondering whether anyone has ever heard of a text adventure engine
> for putting text adventures on a web site? It would probably use
> cookies
> to keep the state of the game between requests and sessions. I have no
> idea whether such a system exists and I don't know where to look, I
> just
> really would love to not have to write it myself if there is such a
> beast for download somewhere.

The only thing I'm familiar with is a Java implementation of a Z machine
that can run as an applet:

http://wanda.pond.com/~russotto/zplet/ifol.html

--
Erik Max Francis | icq 16063900 | whois mf303 | email m...@alcyone.com
Alcyone Systems | irc maxxon (efnet) | web http://www.alcyone.com/max/
San Jose, CA | languages en, eo | icbm 37 20 07 N 121 53 38 W
USA | Wed 1999 Sep 15 (17%/949) | &tSftDotIotE
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/ \ Everyone wants to look good at his own funeral.
\__/ Louis Wu

wyndo

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Sep 16, 1999, 3:00:00 AM9/16/99
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This actually is very do-able. I've come across quite a few attempts at HTML
adventures. Most weren't too impressing. It could be done with a small frame
for input, a scrolling frame for contents, and a persistent frame from
graphics (if any). And it *could* be sharp and just as functional as
stand-alone IF. Of this, I'm certain.

I have written a multiplayer web-based RPG. It's not traditional IF but
you'll see that it uses HTML chat which is what I'm describing for the input
system. It's definitely worth a peek if you'd like to see what I mean -- and
you'll agree that making web-based IF is possible. Go to
http://www.lunatix-online.com/ ... It uses *NO* java which means it's not
only compatible with 4.0 browsers but it's compatible with AOL 4 and some
versions of WebTV too.

I have thought about writing web-based IF actually, but every time I get an
idea (StarLock for instance -- http://www.prowler-pro.com/starlock/) I
somehow manage to turn it into an RPG instead.

Mike Snyder
Prowler Productions

Henning Strandin wrote:

> Hi folks,


>
> I'm wondering whether anyone has ever heard of a text adventure engine
> for putting text adventures on a web site? It would probably use cookies
> to keep the state of the game between requests and sessions. I have no
> idea whether such a system exists and I don't know where to look, I just
> really would love to not have to write it myself if there is such a

wyndo

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Sep 16, 1999, 3:00:00 AM9/16/99
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> The only thing I'm familiar with is a Java implementation of a Z machine
> that can run as an applet:

Check out http://www.lunatix-online.com/ -- mostly RPG instead of IF *but*
if this is do-able, then HTML IF is *definitely* do-able. I used Perl, and
the method I used to implement chat could be used to implement an IF parsing
engine just as well (frames with one submitting the other).

Mike Snyder
Prowler Productions


Henning Strandin

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Sep 16, 1999, 3:00:00 AM9/16/99
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In article <37E0FC3E...@cxo.com>,

wy...@cxo.co wrote:
> This actually is very do-able. I've come across quite a few attempts
at HTML
> adventures. Most weren't too impressing. It could be done with a small
frame
> for input, a scrolling frame for contents, and a persistent frame from
> graphics (if any). And it *could* be sharp and just as functional as
> stand-alone IF. Of this, I'm certain.
>
> I have written a multiplayer web-based RPG. It's not traditional IF
but
> you'll see that it uses HTML chat which is what I'm describing for the
input
> system. It's definitely worth a peek if you'd like to see what I mean
-- and
> you'll agree that making web-based IF is possible. Go to
> http://www.lunatix-online.com/ ... It uses *NO* java which means it's
not
> only compatible with 4.0 browsers but it's compatible with AOL 4 and
some
> versions of WebTV too.

Hmm... My kind of attitude definitely. One thing that is appealing with
the web approach is that there is no need for OS specific binaries, no
download etc. And I agree with you that it could be quite smooth (let's
face it, text adventures were never _that_ smooth to begin with :-).
Nice to hear that I'm not a lone nutter on this.

> I have thought about writing web-based IF actually, but every time I
get an
> idea (StarLock for instance -- http://www.prowler-pro.com/starlock/) I
> somehow manage to turn it into an RPG instead.

Hehe, I think I know what you mean. I'll have a look at your RPG, thanks
for the tip.

Henning Strandin

Henning Strandin

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Sep 16, 1999, 3:00:00 AM9/16/99
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In article <37E0FCBD...@cxo.com>,

The way I see it, if I'm going to get serious about this, what I need to
do (or at least should do, optimaly) is to write, say, an Inform or Hugo
engine that can handle stateless requests and saves state after each
turn to a file. This is obviously the serious approach since you could
then use standard program files for that engine. Now, I program perl for
a living so the web/CGI part shouldn't be a problem, but I've never done
much language parsing (only some Markov chain stuff, but that's
statistics, not NLP). Optimaly I could take an existing engine and just
change what needs changing. I haven't done any C and perl integration
before but I hear it's really easy :-) The design should be flexible and
be able to communicate with other systems, so that any cgi-knowledgeable
person could extend their creations with graphics, email, make
interactive lookups in WordNet :-) search the ICQ database, etc. That
could be fun.


--
"The world will little note nor long remember what we say here."
- A. Lincoln

L. Ross Raszewski

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Sep 16, 1999, 3:00:00 AM9/16/99
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On Thu, 16 Sep 1999 19:36:08 GMT, Henning Strandin <hen...@travellab.com>
wrote:
Of course, msot modern text games are already distributed in
platform-independant binary formats (and if you suggest that you're going to
write a window-exclusive IF game in the IF newsgroups, you'll generally get
lampooned for it.)

wyndo

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Sep 16, 1999, 3:00:00 AM9/16/99
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You probably don't realize that a large number of people who'd be interested in
playing IF not only don't understand HOW to download and install a "runtime
engine" but furthermore wouldn't do it even if they knew how. Web based games
allow the newbie to jump right in and start playing. They've figured out how to
browse the web. They can find your game and play it and being HTML-based makes
it easy for them. I've run a web-based RPG since last November and I've dealt
closely with the players. I'm almost certain that IF playable over the web will
get many times the play as a stand-alone platform independant binary, from my
experiences with people who've enjoyed and played my web RPG.

The goal is to increase the exposure of IF, right? Your comment about getting
lampooned if you want to write a windows-only adventure put me on edge. Although
I *did* discover a couple years ago that you're right, I don't think it should
be. If you want more people to play IF, you've got to make it easy for them.
Hook them. If a newbie's first exposure to IF comes in the form of a platform
independant binary which (as it turns out) they can't use because they're
clueless about what it takes to download and install an "engine" for it, then
you've just lost another person who otherwise might have been interested in your
game and as a result, IF in general.

It seems to me that you'd be limiting your IF audiance to three general groups:
A) Those people who love their computers/platforms but need compatible games
(Unix, old computers, handheld computers? etc) in a day when state-of-the-art on
those machines doesn't match mainstream commercial games.
B) People who loved adventures when they were primarily the only game around
(this includes me) and have come to re-discover them by chance.
C) People who love IF for its nature -- fiction that's interactive -- and for
its literary qualities.

What you would have a general lack of (if discouraging the development of
PC-only IF and "adventures on the web") is the newbie who fits none of those
groups -- the person who would like IF given the chance but who probably won't
discover it. I think IF playable over the web in HTML form (given that the
medium allows for markup enhancement and for graphics) would reach a large
target audiance of people who WOULD enjoy it and take the extra steps involved
to learn more about downloading an engine to play IF stand-alone.

The suggestion of a web-based engine to run IF tickles me to no end. I, for one,
think it's a wonderful idea and perhaps a *necessary* one if you want to reach
an enormous audiance who *would not* have found IF otherwise. Henning Strandin's
suggestion that it run *existing* IF is great. Not only do you maintain your
platform independence, but you tap a new player resource that I feel *should* be
tapped.

Although, I've been wrong before.

Who does one go about contacting to develop a new port of an existing system? Is
the first step the author, or there is some kind of "resource" out there that
has info on what it takes to port a system?

Mike Snyder
Prowler Productions.
http://www.prowler-pro.com/


Stephen Granade

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Sep 17, 1999, 3:00:00 AM9/17/99
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wyndo <wy...@cxo.com> writes:

> The goal is to increase the exposure of IF, right? Your comment
> about getting lampooned if you want to write a windows-only
> adventure put me on edge. Although I *did* discover a couple years
> ago that you're right, I don't think it should be. If you want more
> people to play IF, you've got to make it easy for them. Hook
> them. If a newbie's first exposure to IF comes in the form of a
> platform independant binary which (as it turns out) they can't use
> because they're clueless about what it takes to download and install
> an "engine" for it, then you've just lost another person who
> otherwise might have been interested in your game and as a result,
> IF in general.

Here's the thing: writing an adventure in a platform-independent
language like TADS or Inform doesn't preclude either
platform-dependent versions or web-based versions. At this point in
time, you can create a Windows version of your TADS game which
installs, uninstalls, and runs like any other Windows program. You can
put your Inform game on your web page using a Java-based interpreter
which is freely available.

> Who does one go about contacting to develop a new port of an
> existing system? Is the first step the author, or there is some kind
> of "resource" out there that has info on what it takes to port a
> system?

Depends on the system. For z-code intepreters (like Frotz), you can
either create your own by reading the z-machine spec or adapt an
existing port like Frotz or Zip. If you do the latter, it's polite to
contact the original author of the interpreter. If you want to write a
TADS or Hugo interpreter, you need to contact the creator of that
language.

Stephen

--
Stephen Granade | Interested in adventure games?
sgra...@phy.duke.edu | Visit About.com's IF Page
Duke University, Physics Dept | http://interactfiction.about.com

Kent Tessman

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Sep 18, 1999, 3:00:00 AM9/18/99
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In article <jdhfktl...@lepton.phy.duke.edu>, Stephen Granade
<sgra...@lepton.phy.duke.edu> wrote:> Depends on the system. For z-code

intepreters (like Frotz), you can> either create your own by reading the
z-machine spec or adapt an> existing port like Frotz or Zip. If you do the
latter, it's polite to> contact the original author of the interpreter. If
you want to write a> TADS or Hugo interpreter, you need to contact the
creator of that> language.The author of Hugo would welcome a new (or ported)
implementation of the Hugo Engine.--Kent

wyndo

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Sep 18, 1999, 3:00:00 AM9/18/99
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> Here's the thing: writing an adventure in a platform-independent
> language like TADS or Inform doesn't preclude either
> platform-dependent versions or web-based versions. At this point in
> time, you can create a Windows version of your TADS game which
> installs, uninstalls, and runs like any other Windows program. You can
> put your Inform game on your web page using a Java-based interpreter
> which is freely available.

Well that's certainly a big plus I hadn't really investigated before
(windows-based TADS stand-alone games). I really believe though that
web-based IF is a wonderful idea. I think I've come across the Java IF
machine once or twice. It's true to the stand-alone runtime, but it seemed
to me very telnet-ish. If I had stumbled across it by chance without
having played IF in the past, I would probably have gotten frustrated with
it from the start (plus the little window was too small) and wondered what
it was... never really taking the time to get in to it.

I agree with you, and I'm certainly not against platform independence. The
thought of web-based IF is made better if it *did* interpret
platform-independent games. Immediately you'd have dozens of *great* games
to run just to get started.

I think that developing a web-based engine is something I'm anxious to
look into after the competition. A great "backdrop" can make the
difference between somebody playing the game... and merely noticing that
it exists. A web engine could be designed to use a graphic splash/logo on
the side, maybe a slick title screen (I have two computer artists) but
still keep the text/input system. The navigation frame could include
shortcuts (get, look, compass rose, etc) and be pretty impressive.

I'm not suggesting that yet another language be created (although if worse
came to worst, I would). Can anybody argue that the internet (the web, in
particular) is enormously popular? There are people ACHING to play games
on the web -- espeically WebTV users I'm finding out. Web games aren't
*that* advanced yet, and I've had experience designing them. I really do
think that a web-based port (not a java port, which has been done) of an
existing IF engine is a perfect idea. If the engine uses existing games,
then everybody wins. Authors can reach a huge audiance that might never
have played otherwise. Essentially it would just be another port of an
engine, right?

Anyway, I'm very fond of the idea.

Mike.


wyndo

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Sep 19, 1999, 3:00:00 AM9/19/99
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I'm planning to port an engine to the web or (if all else fails) develop my own.
Is ke...@generalcoffee.com an email where you can be reached?

Mike Snyder
Prowler Productions

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