IF on Terminals and the like

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Zachary Kline

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Jan 23, 2007, 1:39:32 PM1/23/07
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Hello,
This isn't intended to be a rant, or anything of the sort, and I
apologize if that's how it ends up sounding.
It just occured to me that lately it seems the IF community is
interested in putting more graphical bits or pictures or multimedia into
their works. This is understandable: realistically speaking, I suppose
that a good deal of today's computer users are people who use a GUI and
to whom an IF interpretor isn't complete unless it features one.
However, there are a few types of people who don't, either by choice or
because to use a GUI is very difficult for them, compared to a command
line interface. I'm talking about blind people mostly--a group I'm very
familiar with by virtue of simply being one myself.
I suppose what I'm getting at here is that traditions are important to
remember, in IF as much as in anything else. IF, for me, is
fundamentally a text-based art form: you write text in and get text out,
ad infinitum, and the like. Graphics and sound, though admittedly more
so the former than the latter, are not something I feel obliged to take
advantage of or particularly like, in the long run. I also want to
stress that some people still use programs like console frotz and
frobtads in console mode--and now I've heard of Scare for adrift? I
suppose I'll still be using these types of programs as the textual world
comes crashing round me, and be screaming at the top of my voice about
how text is the better way, etc. But never mind that, I hope I've
gotten the point across here without offending too many people. This
article was written using VIM--admittedly, not an original tradition of
text consoles--but one must make allowances. Perhaps somebody would be
nice and write a Curses-based interface for I7...
Thanks for listening to these ramblings,
Zack.

Adam Thornton

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Jan 23, 2007, 10:27:57 PM1/23/07
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In article <ep5kp3$b56$1...@aioe.org>,

Zachary Kline <zkl...@zkline.dyndns.org> wrote:
>Perhaps somebody would be
>nice and write a Curses-based interface for I7...
>Thanks for listening to these ramblings,

If you fiddle around you can certainly write your game in vim and submit
it to ni by hand.

In 2001, BeOS had a text-only Glulx interpreter, and I imagine that that
would actually be very easy to do simply by linking Glulxe against a
curses Glk implementation. I tested SMTUC in text mode, in fact, to
make sure that the graphics contained nothing essential to gameplay.

Adam

fel...@yahoo.com

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Jan 24, 2007, 1:02:52 AM1/24/07
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On Jan 23, 1:39 pm, Zachary Kline <zkl...@zkline.dyndns.org> wrote:
> I suppose
> that a good deal of today's computer users are people who use a GUI and
> to whom an IF interpretor isn't complete unless it features one.

That depends. I use console Frotz for Z-code games. My desktop isn't
complete whitout a terminal window anyway.

> I suppose I'll still be using these types of programs as the textual world
> comes crashing round me, and be screaming at the top of my voice about
> how text is the better way, etc.

Let's hope that doesn't happen. After all, you don't have a choice,
right?

I do appreciate the fact that interactive fiction is inherently
accessible
to blind people. On the other hand, I see no harm in having a minority
of games depend on graphics. Except, of course, you are denied the
pleasure of playing those few. Is it such a bad compromise?

To put it another way, I see a strong similarity between IF and the
web.
Both are non-linear and can (easily) be made to degrade gracefully.
Well, the keyword here is "degrade": an accessible website doesn't
have to be text only; it just has to make the graphics non-essential.
But sometimes that's just not possible. Where do you draw the line?

Rant, rant,
Felix

Zachary Kline

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Jan 24, 2007, 7:06:47 AM1/24/07
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fel...@yahoo.com <fel...@yahoo.com> wrote:
> On Jan 23, 1:39 pm, Zachary Kline <zkl...@zkline.dyndns.org> wrote:
>> I suppose
>> that a good deal of today's computer users are people who use a GUI and
>> to whom an IF interpretor isn't complete unless it features one.
>
> That depends. I use console Frotz for Z-code games. My desktop isn't
> complete whitout a terminal window anyway.
>
>> I suppose I'll still be using these types of programs as the textual world
>> comes crashing round me, and be screaming at the top of my voice about
>> how text is the better way, etc.
>
> Let's hope that doesn't happen. After all, you don't have a choice,
> right?
Truth be known, I do have a choice. Technically, screen readers for the
GUI (Windows and OS X, the latter provided by Apple) do exist. They
exist for Linux, too: the problem with those being they're generally not
production quality software--at least not yet. The Windows solutions
are prohibitively expensive in price: think $600 and above, with $100+
on upgrades sometimes. Granted, it's not terrible, but...
Technically, I'm still running Windows and the $600+ screen reader. But
I've got a fancy sort of emulation layer on top which runs Linux and
Linux-based applications, like the above mentioned console Frotz and
FrobTads, and the editor I'm using to write this, actually. Call me a
geek, but aren't most IF authors that way anyway? (No, I don't mean
this seriously.)

>
> I do appreciate the fact that interactive fiction is inherently
> accessible
> to blind people. On the other hand, I see no harm in having a minority
> of games depend on graphics. Except, of course, you are denied the
> pleasure of playing those few. Is it such a bad compromise?
It isn't really. I was just playing the devil's advocate, more or less:
far be it from me to tell IF authors at large how to write their work or
what to put in it.

>
> To put it another way, I see a strong similarity between IF and the
> web.
> Both are non-linear and can (easily) be made to degrade gracefully.
> Well, the keyword here is "degrade": an accessible website doesn't
> have to be text only; it just has to make the graphics non-essential.
> But sometimes that's just not possible. Where do you draw the line?
An interesting point. I find humor in the fact that, even without
graphics at all--at least in the bitmapped sense--it's quite possible to
render a text-based work of IF unplayable. Fortunately, this mechanism
is rarely used, but consider ASCII art. I've little enough incling of
what the characters of the English language look like in print by
themselves. To arrange them into neat little representations of coffee
cups or little blue men--no, not the IF game--is rathermeaningless for
me. You lose the entire point if you do it in Braille, by the way,
because Braille characters don't look remotely like the print
equivalents, I'm told.
>
Hope to hear back from you,
Zack.

José Manuel García-Patos

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Jan 24, 2007, 7:06:35 AM1/24/07
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> It just occured to me that lately it seems the IF community is
> interested in putting more graphical bits or pictures or multimedia into
> their works.

Is there any IF development system that deals with images the way HTML
does, giving (or substituting them by) textual descriptions? That would
be neat.

All The Best.
José Manuel García-Patos
Madrid

fel...@yahoo.com

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Jan 24, 2007, 7:36:28 AM1/24/07
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On Jan 24, 7:06 am, José Manuel García-Patos <j...@cervantes.es>
wrote:


> Is there any IF development system that deals with images the way HTML
> does, giving (or substituting them by) textual descriptions? That would
> be neat.

You mean, like HTML TADS? :D

Felix

fel...@yahoo.com

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Jan 24, 2007, 7:46:19 AM1/24/07
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On Jan 24, 7:06 am, Zachary Kline <zkl...@zkline.dyndns.org> wrote:
> I find humor in the fact that, even without
> graphics at all--at least in the bitmapped sense--it's quite possible to
> render a text-based work of IF unplayable. Fortunately, this mechanism
> is rarely used, but consider ASCII art.

Why, ASCII art, is obviously art, so it's not accessible. But you seem
to
imply that even a game with just words may not be accessible. Could
you be more specific?

Felix

Zachary Kline

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Jan 24, 2007, 7:58:38 AM1/24/07
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I meant mostly that even with just ASCII characters you could create
something unplayable. Words are naturally meaningful and accessible.
If I implied anything else, blame the hour or anything else you like: it
wasn't intentional.
With that, I think I'll catch some sleep.
Sorry for the confusion,
Zack.

James Jolley

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Jan 24, 2007, 8:05:00 AM1/24/07
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In article <1169642779.3...@v33g2000cwv.googlegroups.com>,
fel...@yahoo.com says...
> Hi,

I think he refering to some games that rely on ASCII for maps, arthur
was a case like that, but as I understand it there are commands one can
enter to disable them.

also, on this subject of access, I note that i've not yet found a decent
accessibly glulx terp yet that is usable. This is rather a shame as I
never did get to play Emily's IF winner, and knowing how mad she is with
I7 it would have been good fun to see what she did with the system.

--
All the best

-James-


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José Manuel García-Patos

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Jan 24, 2007, 8:49:24 AM1/24/07
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> You mean, like HTML TADS? :D

I don't know. I've never used HTML TADS. Does it do that? I asked
because I was curious.

fel...@yahoo.com

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Jan 24, 2007, 8:51:51 AM1/24/07
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On Jan 24, 8:05 am, James Jolley <james.joll...@btinternet.com> wrote:
> > Hi,I think he refering to some games that rely on ASCII for maps, arthur

> was a case like that, but as I understand it there are commands one can
> enter to disable them.

You mean it had a form of automapping with ASCII graphics? Or a
static map like in Christminster? The former would not be accessible,
but the latter could simply be skipped, I guess.

> also, on this subject of access, I note that i've not yet found a decent
> accessibly glulx terp yet that is usable.

That's a shame, indeed. But I thought text-based Glulx interpreters
existed?

A bit surprised,
Felix

fel...@yahoo.com

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Jan 24, 2007, 8:58:59 AM1/24/07
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On Jan 24, 8:49 am, José Manuel García-Patos <j...@cervantes.es>
wrote:
> > You mean, like HTML TADS? :DI don't know. I've never used HTML TADS. Does it do that? I asked
> because I was curious.

Well, the manual doesn't say anything about the
ALT attribute. At the worst, a text-based TADS
interpreter should simply ignore the images and
leave you with a plain text game.

Felix

d...@pobox.com

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Jan 24, 2007, 9:06:15 AM1/24/07
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James Jolley wrote:
> In article <1169642779.3...@v33g2000cwv.googlegroups.com>,

> also, on this subject of access, I note that i've not yet found a decent
> accessibly glulx terp yet that is usable. This is rather a shame as I
> never did get to play Emily's IF winner, and knowing how mad she is with
> I7 it would have been good fun to see what she did with the system.

"Rather a shame" is an understatement. You should shout out from the
rooftops about this.

What OS did you use, and which interpreters did you try? Why were they
unsuitable?

I know Spatterlight doesn't work with Apple's Speak Text thingy and I
had been meaning to mention this to its author.

drj

Darren Bane

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Jan 24, 2007, 9:14:01 AM1/24/07
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fel...@yahoo.com <fel...@yahoo.com> wrote:
> Well, the manual doesn't say anything about the
> ALT attribute.

Actually, one of them does:

http://www.tads.org/t3doc/doc/htmltads/charmode.htm

As with Web pages, the key phrase for HTML TADS is "graceful
degradation".
--
Darren Bane

James Jolley

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Jan 24, 2007, 9:43:24 AM1/24/07
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In article <1169647575....@s48g2000cws.googlegroups.com>,
d...@pobox.com says...
> Hi,

I use Win XP pro and I admite to only using the gargoyle interpreters.
If anyone knows of another one that might work, let me know. Mind you,
non of the interpreters spoke all that well in it, possibly because if
shells out to the commanline files.

fel...@yahoo.com

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Jan 24, 2007, 9:57:29 AM1/24/07
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On Jan 24, 9:14 am, Darren Bane <darren.b...@gmail.com> wrote:
> Actually, one of them does:
>
> http://www.tads.org/t3doc/doc/htmltads/charmode.htm
>
> As with Web pages, the key phrase for HTML TADS is "graceful
> degradation".

Which is wonderful. Now it would be interesting to know
what is the state of other IF platforms, such as Adrift, Hugo
or ALAN. Glulx, for example, allows games to test whether
graphics are available or not, but this feature is far from
automated. What about other platforms?

Just curious,
Felix

Stephen Bond

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Jan 24, 2007, 11:28:25 AM1/24/07
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On Jan 24, 4:27 am, a...@fsf.net (Adam Thornton) wrote:

> I tested SMTUC in text mode, in fact, to
> make sure that the graphics contained nothing essential to gameplay.

I've played SMTUC only in text mode.

I'm relieved to note that I haven't missed anything essential....

Stephen.

José Manuel García-Patos

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Jan 24, 2007, 11:27:47 AM1/24/07
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Thank you both for your responses.

Adam Thornton

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Jan 24, 2007, 2:20:23 PM1/24/07
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In article <1169656105.2...@l53g2000cwa.googlegroups.com>,

Stephen Bond <steph...@ireland.com> wrote:
>> I tested SMTUC in text mode, in fact, to
>> make sure that the graphics contained nothing essential to gameplay.
>
>I've played SMTUC only in text mode.
>
>I'm relieved to note that I haven't missed anything essential....

There are those who feel that people who played the last bit in a
text-only interpreter, in fact, were *very very* lucky.

Adam

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