What? No exe's?

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Robotboy8

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Feb 11, 2001, 12:57:44 PM2/11/01
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Someone recently posted a message about commercialising IF games. While I am
pretty sure hardly anyone would be willing to BUY an IF game, it would make it
a lot easier on newbies not to have to download interpreters. Most people I
know are quite new to IF and don't even know how to use an interpreter! I
believe it would be nice if someone would make a "plugin" for Tads, Inform,
etc. that would export EXE files for windoze and dos, and maybe executables for
some other OS's. Even better, a creation language dedicated to NOT be
interpreted. It would make distribution easier, and testing as well.

Anyway, if anybody knows of any such programs, please post.

Richard Fairweather

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Feb 11, 2001, 1:36:36 PM2/11/01
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"Robotboy8" wrote:

Sounds like you're looking for a program along the lines of JZexe by
Magnus Olsson (which is a utility for the JZip interpreter by John
Holder). This creates MSDOS executables of Inform z-files, and can be
found in ftp://ftp.gmd.de/if-archive/infocom/interpreters/zip/. I have
no idea as regards a similar program for TADS, though.

Stephen Granade

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Feb 11, 2001, 2:41:58 PM2/11/01
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robo...@aol.com (Robotboy8) writes:

> Someone recently posted a message about commercialising IF games.
> While I am pretty sure hardly anyone would be willing to BUY an IF
> game, it would make it a lot easier on newbies not to have to
> download interpreters. Most people I know are quite new to IF and
> don't even know how to use an interpreter! I believe it would be
> nice if someone would make a "plugin" for Tads, Inform, etc. that
> would export EXE files for windoze and dos, and maybe executables
> for some other OS's.

These utilities already exist. You can bundle JZip with a game,
creating one single executable; TADS has had this capability for quite
some time under DOS, Windows, and MacOS.

> Even better, a creation language dedicated to NOT be interpreted.
> It would make distribution easier, and testing as well.

Not at all. With languages that target a virtual machine (which you're
calling interpreted) you have the option of distributing either the
platform-independent file or an executable; distributing .gam, .z*, or
.hex files save space on GMD and download time for those who play a
number of games and already have the interpreters. And testing is
testing, regardless of whether the language requires an
interpreter. Why go through the bother of having to tack an
interpreter on the end of your game each and every time you compile
your game to test it?

Stephen

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

Adam Atkinson

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Feb 11, 2001, 3:37:10 PM2/11/01
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On 11-Feb-01 17:57:44, Robotboy8 said:
>Someone recently posted a message about commercialising IF games. While I am
>pretty sure hardly anyone would be willing to BUY an IF game, it would make
>it a lot easier on newbies not to have to download interpreters. Most people
>I know are quite new to IF and don't even know how to use an interpreter!

I strongly suspect that you're a troll. However:

Every time this comes up I'm told I just don't understand how stupid
the whole world is, but I still don't see what the problem is supposed
to be here. People seem to manage ok with PDF viewers and MP3 players,
so they can sodding well do the same with game interpreters.

Actually, I think it's important and useful to distinguish between
ignorance, stupidity and laziness. Ignorance, which may be the actual
problem here, can be cured. Stupidity is much rarer in my experience,
though there's plenty of laziness around. People who are lazy and/or
ignorant who _pretend_ to be stupid don't deserve any sympathy. I
don't much mind helping the genuinely stupid as they have enough
problems as it is.

--
Adam Atkinson (gh...@mistral.co.uk)
XYZZY

Aris Katsaris

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Feb 11, 2001, 3:48:30 PM2/11/01
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Adam Atkinson <gh...@mistral.co.uk> wrote in message
news:1207.442T524T...@mistral.co.uk...

> On 11-Feb-01 17:57:44, Robotboy8 said:
> >Someone recently posted a message about commercialising IF games. While
I am
> >pretty sure hardly anyone would be willing to BUY an IF game, it would
make
> >it a lot easier on newbies not to have to download interpreters. Most
people
> >I know are quite new to IF and don't even know how to use an interpreter!
>
> I strongly suspect that you're a troll. However:
>
> Every time this comes up I'm told I just don't understand how stupid
> the whole world is, but I still don't see what the problem is supposed
> to be here. People seem to manage ok with PDF viewers and MP3 players,
> so they can sodding well do the same with game interpreters.

Btw, I dislike PDF viewers. Disliked them the moment I knew I had to
download
one of them.

> Actually, I think it's important and useful to distinguish between
> ignorance, stupidity and laziness. Ignorance, which may be the actual
> problem here, can be cured. Stupidity is much rarer in my experience,
> though there's plenty of laziness around. People who are lazy and/or
> ignorant who _pretend_ to be stupid don't deserve any sympathy. I
> don't much mind helping the genuinely stupid as they have enough
> problems as it is.

I think that "laziness" is hardly as awful as you describe it to be. I have
pretty
much the most recent version of every interactive fiction interpreter that
exists...
but let us take the place of someone who's really not that interested in
Interactive
Fiction, of the newbie whom we want to draw in. What would you prefer to
tell him?
"Here, the game is all inside this small executable file" or "You have to
download
the gamefile and then download, unzip and install the interpreter, then run
the gamefile
through the interpreter." ?

In short for people who'd only care to play *one* game, to see how it's
like, the
interpreter has absolutely no reason of existence. It only helps to
complicate the
whole business. People who are well accustomed with the world of interactive
fiction
know the fallacy of that ofcourse. Nonetheless EXE files are still useful.

Unfortunately I don't believe there exists a utility which turns Z-machine
(or Glulx?)
gamefiles into Windows (Winfrotz for example) executables, only into DOS
executables... (which I consider to be a bit ugly btw)

Aris Katsaris


slightlytwisted

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Feb 11, 2001, 3:58:33 PM2/11/01
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"Robotboy8" <robo...@aol.com> wrote in message
news:20010211125744...@ng-df1.aol.com...

> Someone recently posted a message about commercialising IF games. While I
am
> pretty sure hardly anyone would be willing to BUY an IF game, it would
make it

So why don't you think anybody would buy an IF game?

--
slightlytwisted
slightl...@thekeyboard.com
http://www.ualberta.ca/~hausauer/


Alex Watson

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Feb 11, 2001, 4:54:52 PM2/11/01
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"Aris Katsaris" <kats...@otenet.gr> wrote in message
news:966tur$f8q$1...@usenet.otenet.gr...

Indeed. When I distribute my games to the (non-IF) community they're
targeted at, I provide several methods: Z-Machine file, stand-alone DOS EXE
and online play through the ZPlet. I find you reach a much bigger audience
if you don't force them to get an interpreter.

--
Alex Watson
http://www.watson1999-69.freeserve.co.uk/
http://www.h2g2.com/U103477


Kevin Forchione

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Feb 11, 2001, 5:05:25 PM2/11/01
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"Robotboy8" <robo...@aol.com> wrote in message
news:20010211125744...@ng-df1.aol.com...
> Someone recently posted a message about commercialising IF games. While I
am
> pretty sure hardly anyone would be willing to BUY an IF game, it would
make it
> a lot easier on newbies not to have to download interpreters. Most people
I
> know are quite new to IF and don't even know how to use an interpreter!

I find this amazing, given all the hype about today's 'wired' teens and
twentysomethings. I'd expect them to find interpreter download and install
no more daunting than setting up Napster.

>I
> believe it would be nice if someone would make a "plugin" for Tads,
Inform,
> etc. that would export EXE files for windoze and dos, and maybe
executables for
> some other OS's. Even better, a creation language dedicated to NOT be
> interpreted. It would make distribution easier, and testing as well.
>
> Anyway, if anybody knows of any such programs, please post.

TADS, by the way, allows an author to create .exe files at compile time and
is very simple to use. The reason TADS authors tend to distribute .gam
files, rather than .exe files is the same reason that java distributes
.class files: portability.

--Kevin


virtu...@lycosmail.com

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Feb 12, 2001, 5:55:58 AM2/12/01
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In article <20010211125744...@ng-df1.aol.com>,

As a curiosity, there exists an ultimate solution for a newbie -
an IF game sold together with a computer 8-)

http://nickm.com/if/winchester.html

(by the author of Ad Verbum, one of my favorite games :-)

--
>^.^<
|"|
" "~~~


Sent via Deja.com
http://www.deja.com/

Marie-Line Chabanol

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Feb 12, 2001, 8:25:37 AM2/12/01
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Aris Katsaris wrote:
>
> Adam Atkinson <gh...@mistral.co.uk> wrote in message
> news:1207.442T524T...@mistral.co.uk...

>

A "newbie" point of view : I completely agree. When you are just
curious, you do not want to put a lot of energy in understanding what to
download, where to put it; you never know how many things you are going
to configure... So being able to download just one exe file is a good
thing. The first time I downloaded a game from the
IF gmd ftp archive, I had no idea what a text adventure would look like,
still less an interpreter. Moreover, there were so many games I did not
know
what to choose. So I downloaded some starter kits, ready made for
losedows 95.. Some of them also had reviews of the games, and solutions;
which
I think would be a good thing to add if you want to sell a game. After
playing
one game, I read again those paragraphs about game files, game
interpreters and so on, which at first seemed like chinese to me, and
then it was all clear (anyway, the starter kits also came with TADS and
z-interpreters...).
And now I've got Linux interpreters, and I am quite glad the .z and .gam
files
exist, and are not too big...:)

Laziness at first ? Yes, but also the fact that it is difficult to read
and learn about something which you do not know at all.

Marie-line Chabanol

hohman...@my-deja.com

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Feb 12, 2001, 11:03:35 AM2/12/01
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In article <3A87E4...@lps.ens.fr>,

Dennis G. Jerz

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Feb 12, 2001, 3:42:56 PM2/12/01
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"Adam Atkinson" <gh...@mistral.co.uk> wrote in message
news:1207.442T524T...@mistral.co.uk...
> On 11-Feb-01 17:57:44, Robotboy8 said:
> >Someone recently posted a message about commercialising IF games. While
I am
> >pretty sure hardly anyone would be willing to BUY an IF game, it would
make
> >it a lot easier on newbies not to have to download interpreters. Most
people
> >I know are quite new to IF and don't even know how to use an interpreter!
>
> I strongly suspect that you're a troll. However:
>
> Every time this comes up I'm told I just don't understand how stupid
> the whole world is, but I still don't see what the problem is supposed
> to be here. People seem to manage ok with PDF viewers and MP3 players,
> so they can sodding well do the same with game interpreters.
>


Jakob Nielsen recently wrote a column about the false notion that anyone who
has problems with a particular interface is stupid.
http://www.useit.com/alertbox/20010204.html

In my various classes, I introduce about 100 people per year to interactive
fiction. Scores of them blank out when they see the opening screen of
"WinFrotz" or who double-click on an ".inf" file, or who don't know that
you're supposed to click inside the ZPlet window before it will "notice"
when you press the space bar. At first, many of them have a hard time
distinguishing between the game and the interpreter.

Highly motivated people, or people who enjoy technology, who have already
invested the time into learning the schema won't have a problem... but the
vast majority of human beings on the planet? Different story. My life would
be a lot easier if everyone came into my classroom already knowing
everything I was supposed to teach them... but then there wouldn't be much
demand for my job.

My electronic text students are choosing their term projects now. Two have
pretty much committed to interactive fiction, but others are not sure. I
asked, "How many of you would be willing to consider IF more seriously if
the tools were less complex?" and 2/3 of the class raised their hands. Draw
your own conclusions.

Complexity hurts comprehension. With time, we train ourselves so well that
the complexity makes sense, and thus have a difficult time seeing that
complexity; but it's still there, ready to trip up newbies.


--
Dennis G. Jerz, Ph.D.; (715)836-2431
Dept. of English; U Wisc.-Eau Claire
419 Hibbard, Eau Claire, WI 54702
------------------------------------
Literacy Weblog: www.uwec.edu/jerzdg


Matthew Russotto

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Feb 12, 2001, 4:20:46 PM2/12/01
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In article <969hsg$e18$1...@wiscnews.wiscnet.net>,

Dennis G. Jerz <Jer...@uwec.edu> wrote:
>
>Jakob Nielsen recently wrote a column about the false notion that anyone who
>has problems with a particular interface is stupid.
>http://www.useit.com/alertbox/20010204.html

He doesn't refute the idea, though, he merely contradicts it. IMO, anyone
who can't get past the simple issues involved in running a Z-machine
interpreter is unlikely to have a lot of fun with puzzle-based
interactive fiction.

>when you press the space bar. At first, many of them have a hard time
>distinguishing between the game and the interpreter.

As can be determined by the people who send me mail (usually HTML or
some =20 Microsoft thing) asking about Rogue, which they've seen
running in ZPlet somewhere. Not to mention the occasional "How do I
get in to the white house?"
--
Matthew T. Russotto russ...@pond.com
"Extremism in defense of liberty is no vice, and moderation in pursuit
of justice is no virtue."

Carl Muckenhoupt

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Feb 13, 2001, 12:36:13 AM2/13/01
to
On 11 Feb 2001 17:57:44 GMT, robo...@aol.com (Robotboy8) wrote:

>Someone recently posted a message about commercialising IF games. While I am

>Anyway, if anybody knows of any such programs, please post.

A tool for generating MS-DOS exe's (runnable under Windows) from TADS
code is distributed with the TADS compiler, or at least used to be.
There definitely exists such a tool for Z-code as well - look at
games/pc/vgame.exe for proof - but I can't seem to find it at the
Archive.

At any rate, I have a slightly different suggestion. Instead of
combining data and interpreter into a single executable, package the
data file and interpreter together in a zip, along with a Windows
shortcut (with a colorful icon) that runs the interpreter with the
data file. That way, the data can still be used under other
interpreters.

A lot of the games in games/pc are already in this form - most AGT
games are like this.

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Kevin Forchione

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Feb 13, 2001, 12:46:20 AM2/13/01
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"Dennis G. Jerz" <Jer...@uwec.edu> wrote in message
news:969hsg$e18$1...@wiscnews.wiscnet.net...

The same could be said for the windows interface itself. My wife had similar
stories to tell when word processors were first introduced. People had
difficulty with the concept.

> Highly motivated people, or people who enjoy technology, who have already
> invested the time into learning the schema won't have a problem... but the
> vast majority of human beings on the planet? Different story.

On the other hand, put a teen in front of a video game machine and they'll
work at it until their thumbs bleed. Funny what motivates people. >My life


would
> be a lot easier if everyone came into my classroom already knowing
> everything I was supposed to teach them... but then there wouldn't be much
> demand for my job.
>
> My electronic text students are choosing their term projects now. Two
have
> pretty much committed to interactive fiction, but others are not sure. I
> asked, "How many of you would be willing to consider IF more seriously if
> the tools were less complex?" and 2/3 of the class raised their hands.
Draw
> your own conclusions.

No, it doesn't stop there. Then you'd have to have a poll for those who find
the parser too difficult an interface, and those that find text too
difficult to read, maps too difficult to make. My conclusions are that
text-based games aren't for everyone, neither is chess.

> Complexity hurts comprehension. With time, we train ourselves so well that
> the complexity makes sense, and thus have a difficult time seeing that
> complexity; but it's still there, ready to trip up newbies.

Graphical games aren't getting any easier. They're becoming
management-oriented to a high degree (witness the FIFA games, Rainbow 6,
etc.) Complexity hurts comprehension? How many of us are still playing
tic-tac-toe? It seems to me that stretching the limits of one's
comprehension is part of the maturation process.

We've created graphical user interfaces - has computer programming become
less complex? We've created object-oriented programming, unified modelling
language, and integrated development environments. The world of IF, like
everything else, isn't getting any easier. The next generation of Inform and
TADS will involve more sophisticated model world designs and parsers, larger
libraries, and expanded language capabilities.

Yes, complexity challenges comprehension. Only mediocrity hurts it.

--Kevin


Adam Atkinson

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Feb 13, 2001, 1:22:39 AM2/13/01
to
On 12-Feb-01 20:42:56, Dennis G. Jerz said:

>> Every time this comes up I'm told I just don't understand how stupid
>> the whole world is, but I still don't see what the problem is supposed
>> to be here. People seem to manage ok with PDF viewers and MP3 players,
>> so they can sodding well do the same with game interpreters.

>Jakob Nielsen recently wrote a column about the false notion that anyone who
>has problems with a particular interface is stupid.

I'm saying I _don't_ think people are stupid. Just lazy or ignorant.
Except in rare cases.

>In my various classes, I introduce about 100 people per year to interactive
>fiction. Scores of them blank out when they see the opening screen of
>"WinFrotz" or who double-click on an ".inf" file, or who don't know that
>you're supposed to click inside the ZPlet window before it will "notice"
>when you press the space bar.

This last example, about activating a window, is surely a "basic use
of the system" problem, isn't it? If people don't know how to move the
mouse, use menus, click and drag, etc., I'm not inclined to consider
it my problem.

>At first, many of them have a hard time
>distinguishing between the game and the interpreter.

So why are PDFs and Word documents ok?

>Highly motivated people, or people who enjoy technology, who have already
>invested the time into learning the schema won't have a problem... but the
>vast majority of human beings on the planet? Different story. My life would
>be a lot easier if everyone came into my classroom already knowing
>everything I was supposed to teach them... but then there wouldn't be much
>demand for my job.

You're curing ignorance. This is fine and splendid. I recently spent
over an hour on the phone talking someone through turning on graphical
tiles in nethack. Would you expect it to take an hour to tell someone
how to open a text editor and delete one character from a text file?
Learning how to play IF (or Nethack) isn't this person's biggest
problem. They know far too little about their system to be able to do
anything with it. Are they interested in computers? Clearly not. I
don't care. If they want to start downloading and playing things, they
need to know that their computer has files on it. They need to know,
at the very least, that some of them need to be "executed" by being
double clicked (or whatever). I know a lot of people don't like the
car analogy, but I think it's perfect. How did these people ever learn
to drive? Did they say "But I'm not interested in the chemistry of
hydrocarbons, or internal combustion engine design"? I expect not.
Please note that I myself can't drive. If I ever learn, I wonder if I
should say "I want to be able to get everywhere without turning left,
changing gear, or opening the windows, because I enjoy making
capricious and arbitrary demands of people who try to help me."

Did the guy end up with tiles in his copy of nethack? Well, yes. So
mission accompished. But I had to become very very ... military.
"press this! do this!... Now read the entire text file aloud to me
until I tell you to stop. I can't hear you! Right. Press arrow keys
until (condition). Now press the delete key. Now move the mouse until
such it is over the word "file"" and so on and so on. Working out
where he'd put nethack on his machine was perhaps the longest part of
the whole process.

>My electronic text students are choosing their term projects now. Two have
>pretty much committed to interactive fiction, but others are not sure. I
>asked, "How many of you would be willing to consider IF more seriously if
>the tools were less complex?" and 2/3 of the class raised their hands. Draw
>your own conclusions.

Are they going to be writing it or playing it? There is _something_ to
learn to do when playing IF certainly. But if learning to open a game
with an interpreter is too hard (analogy: open PDF with viewer) then I
can't imagine they'd _ever_ have the patience to learn infocom command
syntax ("turtle, follow me", etc.)

>Complexity hurts comprehension. With time, we train ourselves so well that
>the complexity makes sense, and thus have a difficult time seeing that
>complexity; but it's still there, ready to trip up newbies.

So newbies have something to learn. Ignorance can be cured. Do I think
they are stupid? On the whole, no. Is using a car absolutely
immediate? I believe not. How about telephones, televisions, toasters,
microwave ovens? Likewise. People probably just forget that they ever
didn't know how to use them.

I don't know what sorts of computer games these people play (if none,
then why should IF be an exception?) but to be able to make any
reasonable use of many games you need to read manuals. Presumably,
these people would find that an imposition. Even Loom would probably
thus be too hard, not to mention Civilization, Settlers etc.

--
Adam Atkinson (gh...@mistral.co.uk)
"Let's catch that sick bird" he said, illegally.

Aris Katsaris

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Feb 13, 2001, 3:00:15 AM2/13/01
to

"Kevin Forchione" <Ke...@lysseus.com> wrote in message
news:MS3i6.89845$R5.39...@news1.frmt1.sfba.home.com...

Do you then feel that the whole downloading/installing/unzipping etc process
is *part* of the Interactive Fiction experience? Then by all means, let's do
it
in every game! Please, Kevin, so as to prove your words delete Frotz (or
any other interpreter) from your hard disk once you finish a game and
install
it all over again when you begin the following one.

Don't confuse the operations of the game itself with the irrelevant (though
necessary) junk that have to come with it.

The complexity of a game should ideally add to the fun. The interpreter
thingies
aren't adding to it. They are useful for compatibility.

But I'd still like a

Aris Katsaris

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Feb 13, 2001, 3:05:37 AM2/13/01
to

"Kevin Forchione" <Ke...@lysseus.com> wrote in message

>


> No, it doesn't stop there. Then you'd have to have a poll for those who
find
> the parser too difficult an interface, and those that find text too
> difficult to read, maps too difficult to make. My conclusions are that
> text-based games aren't for everyone, neither is chess.

Do you then feel that the whole downloading/installing/unzipping etc process


is *part* of the Interactive Fiction experience? Then by all means, let's do
it in every game! Please, Kevin, so as to prove your words delete Frotz (or
any other interpreter) from your hard disk once you finish a game and
install it all over again when you begin the following one.

Don't confuse the operations of the game itself with the irrelevant (though
necessary) junk that have to come with it.

The complexity of a game should ideally add to the fun. The interpreter

thingies aren't adding to it. They are useful for compatibility. And for
nothing else.

I'd still like a utility for the creation of Win-executables

Aris Katsaris


Richard Bos

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Feb 13, 2001, 5:26:31 AM2/13/01
to
"Aris Katsaris" <kats...@otenet.gr> wrote:

> Don't confuse the operations of the game itself with the irrelevant (though
> necessary) junk that have to come with it.

Not the point: the point is that people who have no problems playing a
text-based game should be intelligent enough to be up to installing a
'terp as well. It's not as if we're talking about the Solitaire crowd
here.

> I'd still like a utility for the creation of Win-executables

I wouldn't. It would lead to even more games coming out that I could
never play, because their authors didn't bother to release an all-OS,
all-systems, 'terp-file version.

Richard

Aris Katsaris

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Feb 13, 2001, 4:54:43 AM2/13/01
to

"Richard Bos" <in...@hoekstra-uitgeverij.nl> wrote in message
news:3a890a5a...@news.worldonline.nl...

> "Aris Katsaris" <kats...@otenet.gr> wrote:
>
> > Don't confuse the operations of the game itself with the irrelevant
(though
> > necessary) junk that have to come with it.
>
> Not the point: the point is that people who have no problems playing a
> text-based game should be intelligent enough to be up to installing a
> 'terp as well. It's not as if we're talking about the Solitaire crowd
> here.

I'm not talking about intelligence, I'm talking about interest. And time.
Someone may be interested in playing a game, but lose interest once he
gathers he has to download and install a whole interpreter.

> > I'd still like a utility for the creation of Win-executables
>
> I wouldn't. It would lead to even more games coming out that I could
> never play, because their authors didn't bother to release an all-OS,
> all-systems, 'terp-file version.

I don't think so, since the z5 (or glulx) gamefile would be a necessary step
in between. TADS already has such a utility I believe. And DOS executables
do exist and have been released. I don't think that anyone who releases
this executables has been fool enough not to release the .gam or the .z5
gamefile.

Aris Katsaris


Adam Cadre

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Feb 13, 2001, 5:52:31 AM2/13/01
to
Aris Katsaris wrote:
> I'd still like a utility for the creation of Win-executables

Richard Bos replied:


> I wouldn't. It would lead to even more games coming out that I could
> never play, because their authors didn't bother to release an all-OS,
> all-systems, 'terp-file version.

Do you really think that authors are going to compile their games to,
say, a .z5, bundle them with a terp to create a Windows executable --
and then, rather than releasing both versions, toss the .z5 in the
trash and release *just* the Windows version?

There are already utilities to make Mac executables of IF works. Seen
a lot of Mac-only IF games announced around here lately?

For what it's worth, I've offered my games on my site both as DOS
executables (using JZEXE at first and more recently using Ross
Raszewski's Bundle-O-Monkey) and as zipped z-code files. The EXEs
are universally more popular. The ratio of EXE downloads to z-code
downloads over the course of the past six weeks:

Shrapnel: 1.5 to 1
9:05: 2.2 to 1
Photopia: 2.2 to 1
I-0: 2.3 to 1
Varicella: 4.5 to 1
Textfire Golf: 39.8 to 1

-----
Adam Cadre, Sammamish, WA
web site: http://adamcadre.ac
novel: http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0060195584/adamcadreac

Magnus Olsson

unread,
Feb 13, 2001, 7:52:39 AM2/13/01
to
In article <3a890a5a...@news.worldonline.nl>,

Richard Bos <in...@hoekstra-uitgeverij.nl> wrote:
>"Aris Katsaris" <kats...@otenet.gr> wrote:
>
>> Don't confuse the operations of the game itself with the irrelevant (though
>> necessary) junk that have to come with it.
>
>Not the point: the point is that people who have no problems playing a
>text-based game should be intelligent enough to be up to installing a
>'terp as well. It's not as if we're talking about the Solitaire crowd
>here.

Without doubt, they *are* intelligent enough. It's just a matter
of how much energy they're willing to invest in order to try out this
strange thing called "IF" (Note that we're talking about the people
who have never played an IF game before).

Call it laziness if you like; in that case, I do believe that people
*are* inherently lazy (in that sense).

Of course, if you don't want "lazy" people to play your games, then
that's your choice. I think you will lose some audience in that case.

--
Magnus Olsson (m...@df.lth.se, m...@pobox.com)
------ http://www.pobox.com/~mol ------

Magnus Olsson

unread,
Feb 13, 2001, 7:57:33 AM2/13/01
to
In article <F0Eh6.82719$R5.38...@news1.frmt1.sfba.home.com>,

Kevin Forchione <Ke...@lysseus.com> wrote:
>"Robotboy8" <robo...@aol.com> wrote in message
>news:20010211125744...@ng-df1.aol.com...
>> Someone recently posted a message about commercialising IF games. While I
>am
>> pretty sure hardly anyone would be willing to BUY an IF game, it would
>make it
>> a lot easier on newbies not to have to download interpreters. Most people
>I
>> know are quite new to IF and don't even know how to use an interpreter!
>
>I find this amazing, given all the hype about today's 'wired' teens and
>twentysomethings. I'd expect them to find interpreter download and install
>no more daunting than setting up Napster.

The IF audience is much, much larger than the set of "'wired' teens and
twnetysomethings".

Branko Collin

unread,
Feb 13, 2001, 8:28:37 AM2/13/01
to
On Mon, 12 Feb 2001 14:42:56 -0600, "Dennis G. Jerz" <Jer...@uwec.edu>
wrote:

>Jakob Nielsen recently wrote a column about the false notion that anyone who
>has problems with a particular interface is stupid.
>http://www.useit.com/alertbox/20010204.html

JN invariously writes about reaching your audience. He is in the
business of making sure that you reach as many members of your
audience as possible.

>In my various classes,

Ah, but there you go. Your classes is not why authors write IF. You
are trying to apply an interface to a group that that interface was
not designed for, and now you are saying that that is the fault of the
interface.

--
branko collin
col...@xs4all.nl

Branko Collin

unread,
Feb 13, 2001, 8:28:38 AM2/13/01
to

What would be really cool is a webbased tool with which you can
indicate what platform you are going to use the game in, before
downloading the game. Such a tool does not make the server much
slower, it just takes 'some' time to program it, and you need lots of
disk space for caching (basically for caching the Windows files).

--
branko collin
col...@xs4all.nl

Branko Collin

unread,
Feb 13, 2001, 8:28:40 AM2/13/01
to
On 13 Feb 2001 6:22:39 +0000, "Adam Atkinson" <gh...@mistral.co.uk>
wrote:

>Are they going to be writing it or playing it? There is _something_ to
>learn to do when playing IF certainly. But if learning to open a game
>with an interpreter is too hard (analogy: open PDF with viewer) then I
>can't imagine they'd _ever_ have the patience to learn infocom command
>syntax ("turtle, follow me", etc.)

The fact that people do not mind having to learn how to open a PDF
file, but do mind having to learn other things, is an indication of
something. I do not know of what, but I do know it is important in any
discussion about learning interfaces.

>Civilization, Settlers etc.

Hey! I need to get work done today. Don't mention the drugs!

--
branko collin
col...@xs4all.nl

Branko Collin

unread,
Feb 13, 2001, 8:28:39 AM2/13/01
to
On Tue, 13 Feb 2001 11:54:43 +0200, "Aris Katsaris"
<kats...@otenet.gr> wrote:

>Someone may be interested in playing a game, but lose interest once he
>gathers he has to download and install a whole interpreter.

Then again, they may not. I have pointed a fair amount of people who
had forgotten about text adventures to the IF Archive, and none of
them had trouble finding and downloading both the game files and the
interpreters.

The problem is, as with most sentences starting with 'I', is that we
cannot draw any conclusions from personal experience other than that
something has occurred or something has not. We have no statistical
evidence that large groups of people turn away from IF the minute they
find out that they have to download two files rather than one to play
a game.

Even if we had that evidence, it still would not tell us much. What if
that same group stops playing IF for ever five minutes after they ran
their comfortable executables?

For the record: I agree with you that the tools you ask for should
exist. Of course, if _you_ feel that itch, it is _you_ that should
start scratching.

--
branko collin
col...@xs4all.nl

Gunther Schmidl

unread,
Feb 13, 2001, 4:25:35 AM2/13/01
to
> I know a lot of people don't like the
> car analogy, but I think it's perfect. How did these people ever learn
> to drive? Did they say "But I'm not interested in the chemistry of
> hydrocarbons, or internal combustion engine design"? I expect not.

Sorry, but knowing chemistry or engine design has nothing at all to do with
being able to drive. It allows you to _fix_ the car (or more likely, not)
when something's wrong, but you can drive without knowing much about this.

Personally, I don't give a damn how a car works beyond the crude details
(blah blah gasoline-air blah blah ignition blah blah cylinders blah blah).
Driving a car is simply a number of pre-learned, now automated tasks - you
don't think when you switch gears or turn the wheel to take a curve, or
you'd go mad.

Same thing with computers. You want to use them, you don't need to know how
they work. You want to get under the hood, things get icky.

And they get a _lot_ ickier than cars do, because at least cars all have a
motor, a gas tank, a windshield wiper etc. Computers can have literally
gazillions [1] of combinations of hard- and software components, and thus
are nowhere comparable with a car.

-- Gunther

[1] Ok, so it's not literal, but who cares? [2]
[2] I don't.

Kaia Vintr

unread,
Feb 13, 2001, 9:52:02 AM2/13/01
to
Branko Collin wrote in message <3a891ec0...@news.xs4all.nl>...

>The fact that people do not mind having to learn how to open a PDF
>file, but do mind having to learn other things, is an indication of
>something. I do not know of what, but I do know it is important in any
>discussion about learning interfaces.

Just call your game file "AnnaKournikova.jpg.z5" and people will have no
trouble opening it.


- Kaia

------------------------
"The patterned anthurid moves cryptically through algae and sponges just
subtidally."

Dennis G. Jerz

unread,
Feb 13, 2001, 10:10:28 AM2/13/01
to
"Kevin Forchione" <Ke...@lysseus.com> wrote in message
news:<MS3i6.89845$R5.39...@news1.frmt1.sfba.home.com>...

> > Complexity hurts comprehension. With time, we train ourselves so well
that
> > the complexity makes sense, and thus have a difficult time seeing that
> > complexity; but it's still there, ready to trip up newbies.
>

> Graphical games aren't getting any easier. They're becoming
> management-oriented to a high degree (witness the FIFA games, Rainbow 6,
> etc.) Complexity hurts comprehension? How many of us are still playing
> tic-tac-toe?

Estimate for yourself: http://www.google.com/search?q=tic-tac-toe

It seems to me that stretching the limits of one's
> comprehension is part of the maturation process.

True... but if by "how many of us" you mean "how many people who frequent
interactive fiction newsgroups", then you are talking about a highly
specialized group, not about newbies (who stand to lose the most from a
steep learning curve, and to gain the most from a gentle one). If I wished
to introduce a non-expert to tic-tac-toe, I'd be able to do it much more
easily.

> We've created graphical user interfaces - has computer programming become
> less complex?

Not all programmers are trained in graphical design standards, or in
communicating to average people. Hence, you have to shut off your Windows
machine by clicking on the "Start" button, and you have to retrieve your
precious disk of files from a Mac by dragging it into a trash can. In a
world where everyone has enough time and enough motivation, you *could* be
right. There are more ways to be "mediocre" in a game than to lack
complexity. Further, I was speaking in support of what I thought was a
reasonable comment about the usefulness of bundled game-and-interpreter
packages.

I remember reading somewhere that, despite how much faster computers are
nowadays, the boot-up time has remained more or less constant. Faster
computers are expected to do more. The bigger a hard drive you get, the
more you dump on it, and the more bloated each software package becomes.

We've created object-oriented programming, unified modelling
> language, and integrated development environments.

But most people on the planet aren't computer programming experts.
*Programming* is not "easier" -- in part because today's programmers are
writing for a more general audience, since more non-experts are using
computers; but using a computer -- and playing interactive fiction -- is
much easier today than in the days when you had to sneak into the building
after hours and tap away at a mainframe terminal.

The world of IF, like
> everything else, isn't getting any easier.

See _Why Things Bite Back : Technology and the Revenge of Unintended
Consequences_, by Edward Tenner

The next generation of Inform and
> TADS will involve more sophisticated model world designs and parsers,
larger
> libraries, and expanded language capabilities.
>
> Yes, complexity challenges comprehension. Only mediocrity hurts it.

In the Ivory Tower of education, where people are sometimes forced by their
professors to do things the hard way so that they will learn, you *should*
be right. But in their daily lives, most people are like electrons -- they
follow the path of least resistance.

But I don't see mediocrity as the opposite of, nor the lack of, complexity.
That would suggest a sliding scale of "simplicity" -> "mediocrity" ->
"complexity." I was, of course, speaking of the interface -- and of the
"fiddliness" of having to juggle multiple files to play a game -- not of the
games themselves.

I'm reminded of an old "The Far Side" cartoon, that had a picture of a store
with items on a single row of shelves, far out of the reach of customers...
the title was "Inconvenience Stores." No matter how good the merchandise is,
the inconvenient display is going to cut down on the sales. The British
Library (so I am told) is famous for requiring visitors to bring a written
letter of introduction from an approved source, before the visitor is
permitted to handle the materials. The books in the British Library are no
more or no less complex than the same book if it were sitting on a shelf
right beside my monitor; but the complexity of the interface -- the
mediation -- between the book and me is very different in both situations.
Since the British Library has books that are of great value to experts,
experts are willing to learn that complex interface.

But again, non-experts will tend to confuse the game and the interpreter. I
agree that more complex stories, more sophisticated parsers, etc., are all
worth the effort that authors put into them. But the Internet didn't become
a global social phenomenon until graphical browsers made hypertext (and
other things) available to the nonspecialist -- and there are many, many
more nonspecialists than specialists. I have no delusions that IF will ever
sweep the globe, of course, but I do hope that modifying Zplet so that it
permits some kind of save/load game procedure will greatly simplify what
it's like to "use" a game.

BTW, Graham Nelson's history of IF has an excellent discussion of how
newsgroups, Infocom's release of the IF CD's, the ftp archives, were all in
place just before the World Wide Web exploded into mainstream public
consciousness in 1993...
http://www.gnelson.demon.co.uk/inform/short.html#part4 -- and yes, I'm aware
that in that section he argues that the WWW is NOT as important to IF as FTP
& newsgroups (at least, during the "rebirth" of IF in the mid 90s).

I'm thinking of all this because I'm in the middle of preparing my files for
an annual performance review... I have to explain to a committee of
non-technical people what I'm trying to accomplish with the Zplet revision,
various articles on my IF website, my efforts to teach IF programming to my
students, and dozens of other online projects that have nothing to do with
IF. Most of those professors have probably never tried downloading and
installing a computer program on their office machines. Just as I don't
know the foggiest thing about how a VCR works or how the engine in my car
works, and I have no desire to learn, some of my colleagues simply don't
feel that there are any personal or professional benefits to working with
computers (beyond word processing and e-mail, but even then, when I started
working here there were some professors who had never used e-mail). Are my
colleagues stupid? Of course not -- they are experts in other areas -- and
darn good ones.

Dennis G. Jerz

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Feb 13, 2001, 10:14:28 AM2/13/01
to
Literacy Weblog: www.uwec.edu/jerzdg
"Adam Cadre" <a...@adamcadre.ac> wrote in message
news:3A8911...@adamcadre.ac...
>
...The ratio of EXE downloads to z-code

> downloads over the course of the past six weeks:
>
> Shrapnel: 1.5 to 1
> 9:05: 2.2 to 1
> Photopia: 2.2 to 1
> I-0: 2.3 to 1
> Varicella: 4.5 to 1
> Textfire Golf: 39.8 to 1

If we factored in hits to Zplet versions, what would we get? We can't be
sure that anyone who visited a Zplet page actually stuck around and played,
just as we can't be sure that anyone who downloaded a stand-alone
interpreter actually used it.

Neil Cerutti

unread,
Feb 13, 2001, 10:24:17 AM2/13/01
to
Dennis G. Jerz posted:

>I remember reading somewhere that, despite how much faster
>computers are nowadays, the boot-up time has remained more or
>less constant. Faster computers are expected to do more. The
>bigger a hard drive you get, the more you dump on it, and the
>more bloated each software package becomes.

It's just like playing an RPG computer game. Your characters get
stronger and stronger and, if it's designed properly, so do your
character's opponents.

--
Neil Cerutti <cer...@together.net>
"If you're gonna score 125 points in a game, you've only got to
play good enough defense to hold the other team to 124. How
the hell hard is that?" -- Red Auerbach

Kevin Forchione

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Feb 13, 2001, 10:24:28 AM2/13/01
to
"Aris Katsaris" <kats...@otenet.gr> wrote in message
news:96at5g$16lg$1...@ulysses.noc.ntua.gr...

>
> "Kevin Forchione" <Ke...@lysseus.com> wrote in message
>
> >
> > No, it doesn't stop there. Then you'd have to have a poll for those who
> find
> > the parser too difficult an interface, and those that find text too
> > difficult to read, maps too difficult to make. My conclusions are that
> > text-based games aren't for everyone, neither is chess.
>
> Do you then feel that the whole downloading/installing/unzipping etc
process
> is *part* of the Interactive Fiction experience? Then by all means, let's
do
> it in every game! Please, Kevin, so as to prove your words delete Frotz
(or
> any other interpreter) from your hard disk once you finish a game and
> install it all over again when you begin the following one.

Don't let's be silly. Implementing an interpreter, such as that for TADS, is
a one time deal, and as easy as double-clicking on an .exe, pressing a
couple of <next>s and a <finish>. Nothing more involved than implementing
Dungeon Keeper was. I don't reload DK every time I play it!

> Don't confuse the operations of the game itself with the irrelevant
(though
> necessary) junk that have to come with it.
>
> The complexity of a game should ideally add to the fun. The interpreter
> thingies aren't adding to it. They are useful for compatibility. And for
> nothing else.
>
> I'd still like a utility for the creation of Win-executables

This is a valid request. Although TADS authors do have the ability to create
them at compile time, there might be a utility that could bundle the .gam
and .z files at download for users who want them.

--Kevin


Dennis G. Jerz

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Feb 13, 2001, 10:43:10 AM2/13/01
to
"Adam Atkinson" <gh...@mistral.co.uk> wrote in message
news:5003.444T1957...@mistral.co.uk...

> On 12-Feb-01 20:42:56, Dennis G. Jerz said:
>
> >> Every time this comes up I'm told I just don't understand how stupid
> >> the whole world is, but I still don't see what the problem is supposed
> >> to be here. People seem to manage ok with PDF viewers and MP3 players,
> >> so they can sodding well do the same with game interpreters.
>
> >Jakob Nielsen recently wrote a column about the false notion that anyone
who
> >has problems with a particular interface is stupid.
>
> I'm saying I _don't_ think people are stupid. Just lazy or ignorant.
> Except in rare cases.
>
> >In my various classes, I introduce about 100 people per year to
interactive
> >fiction. Scores of them blank out when they see the opening screen of
> >"WinFrotz" or who double-click on an ".inf" file, or who don't know that
> >you're supposed to click inside the ZPlet window before it will "notice"
> >when you press the space bar.
>
> This last example, about activating a window, is surely a "basic use
> of the system" problem, isn't it? If people don't know how to move the
> mouse, use menus, click and drag, etc., I'm not inclined to consider
> it my problem.

You're right that it's a basic use problem... but rather than fold your arms
and sniff at ignorance, why not do what Adam Newbold recently did, and
suggest that ZPlet be modified to print a "loading applet" message or a
status bar? If that message also said "click here," then far fewer people
would be put off by a blank Java window. I sometimes marvel at people who
don't see how easy it can be to solve an interface problem. (This goes back
to my earlier statement about how we train ourselves so well to handle
complexity that we no longer see it, and we expect everyone else to put in
the same kind of energy learnign the system.)

>
> >At first, many of them have a hard time
> >distinguishing between the game and the interpreter.
>
> So why are PDFs and Word documents ok?

IMHO, they aren't. Of course, if you absolutely need the special
capabalities of those formats, then it is fine, and if the user is supposed
to use the document in that alternative form (like Roger Firth's excellent
Inform PDF cheat sheets, which are designed to be downloaded and printed
out), then the web is a great file transfer medium But Google only recently
started searching the content of text versions of PDF documents, and I don't
think any search engine looks through Word files; so, you are going to bury
your content if you put it in PDF or Word.

But if you were really ignorant, those wouldn't be capricious or arbitrary
demands. Those would be ignorant demands.

>
> Did the guy end up with tiles in his copy of nethack? Well, yes. So
> mission accompished. But I had to become very very ... military.
> "press this! do this!... Now read the entire text file aloud to me
> until I tell you to stop. I can't hear you! Right. Press arrow keys
> until (condition). Now press the delete key. Now move the mouse until
> such it is over the word "file"" and so on and so on. Working out
> where he'd put nethack on his machine was perhaps the longest part of
> the whole process.
>
> >My electronic text students are choosing their term projects now. Two
have
> >pretty much committed to interactive fiction, but others are not sure. I
> >asked, "How many of you would be willing to consider IF more seriously if
> >the tools were less complex?" and 2/3 of the class raised their hands.
Draw
> >your own conclusions.
>
> Are they going to be writing it or playing it?

Writing.

There is _something_ to
> learn to do when playing IF certainly. But if learning to open a game
> with an interpreter is too hard (analogy: open PDF with viewer) then I
> can't imagine they'd _ever_ have the patience to learn infocom command
> syntax ("turtle, follow me", etc.)

I've found that it's a relatively simple matter to tell students in an
advanced English class how to phrase their commands. I also introduce them
to Adventure on a page that has a set of instructions available in the
left-hand frame, while ZPlet runs on the right.
http://www.uwec.edu/jerzdg/orr/articles/IF/online/adventure/index.html

I am trying to make it easy for newbies to learn, which is altogether a
different thing than barking out orders (although the latter is often
useful!).

>
> >Complexity hurts comprehension. With time, we train ourselves so well
that
> >the complexity makes sense, and thus have a difficult time seeing that
> >complexity; but it's still there, ready to trip up newbies.
>
> So newbies have something to learn. Ignorance can be cured. Do I think
> they are stupid? On the whole, no. Is using a car absolutely
> immediate? I believe not. How about telephones, televisions, toasters,
> microwave ovens? Likewise. People probably just forget that they ever
> didn't know how to use them.

Excellent point. My son turned three today... he used to pretend to punch
numbers on an imaginary microwave, and then a minute or two later he would
shout "ding!" We finally got him a toy kitchen, and he already knew what he
was supposed to do with all the gadgets, since he had watched us.

Every term, I ask my freshman comp students about their first experience
using a word processor, and at least a third of them say they can't
remember.

But... what do you think is the percentage of readers on this newsgroup who
could actually make a fire? (In the real world, not in a simulation.)

>
> I don't know what sorts of computer games these people play (if none,
> then why should IF be an exception?) but to be able to make any
> reasonable use of many games you need to read manuals. Presumably,
> these people would find that an imposition. Even Loom would probably
> thus be too hard, not to mention Civilization, Settlers etc.

True, but many of these games do have playable tutorials, or on-screen tips.
But to play these games, you pop in the CD and follow the directions.
You've already made the decision to buy the CD, so you're already motivated
to play it.

Magnus Olsson

unread,
Feb 13, 2001, 10:56:56 AM2/13/01
to
In article <96bkmf$j8m$1...@wiscnews.wiscnet.net>,

Dennis G. Jerz <Jer...@uwec.edu> wrote:
>"Adam Atkinson" <gh...@mistral.co.uk> wrote in message
>news:5003.444T1957...@mistral.co.uk...
>> On 12-Feb-01 20:42:56, Dennis G. Jerz said:
>> >At first, many of them have a hard time
>> >distinguishing between the game and the interpreter.
>>
>> So why are PDFs and Word documents ok?
>
>IMHO, they aren't.

I think the PDF argument bites exactly the other way from what Adam
intended, if you consider that most of the big web sites that offer
PDF documents feel obliged to put up explanatory text about how you
need an Acrobat reader to read these documents, how to obtain one,
and how to install it. This, IMHO, makes it fairly obvious that you
can't expect the general user to be perfectly comfortable with PDF
files. And how many non-computer-literate visitors to these sites
just skip the PDF documents, because they are put off by all these
instructions?

Dennis G. Jerz

unread,
Feb 13, 2001, 10:56:57 AM2/13/01
to
"Branko Collin" <col...@xs4all.nl> wrote in message
news:3a891959...@news.xs4all.nl...

> On Mon, 12 Feb 2001 14:42:56 -0600, "Dennis G. Jerz" <Jer...@uwec.edu>
> wrote:
>
> >Jakob Nielsen recently wrote a column about the false notion that anyone
who
> >has problems with a particular interface is stupid.
> >http://www.useit.com/alertbox/20010204.html
>
> JN invariously writes about reaching your audience. He is in the
> business of making sure that you reach as many members of your
> audience as possible.
>
> >In my various classes,
>
> Ah, but there you go. Your classes is not why authors write IF.

The best authors in any genre probably write only for themselves. But we
have to teach SOMETHING in our classrooms, no matter what the subject --
right? Only textbook authors write speficially classes.

You
> are trying to apply an interface to a group that that interface was
> not designed for, and now you are saying that that is the fault of the
> interface.

No, I was supporting a post that mentioned the value of .exe files.
Further, I was presenting first-hand observation of what happens when a
group of newbies confront IF. A few have already turned into authors; others
may become fans. All have at least been exposed to the genre. When I teach
drama, or novels, or poetry to newbies, a few will turn into authors, others
will become fans, and all will have been exposed to the genre. I do have to
teach students how to read an interpret a playsrcipt, or what to value in a
poem -- the artistic content is mediated by the poet, publisher, editor, and
me. But if you put the books up on a high shelf and gave the students
instructions for how to build a ladder to get them, then many students who
would benefit from the contents of the books wouldn't bother to reach
them -- possibly because they are lazy, but possibly because they are just
no good with a hammer and saw.

Carl Muckenhoupt

unread,
Feb 13, 2001, 11:43:28 AM2/13/01
to
On Tue, 13 Feb 2001 13:28:40 GMT, col...@xs4all.nl (Branko Collin)
wrote:

>The fact that people do not mind having to learn how to open a PDF
>file, but do mind having to learn other things, is an indication of
>something. I do not know of what, but I do know it is important in any
>discussion about learning interfaces.

Possibly it's a matter of what is perceived as "program" and what is
perceived as "data". Of course, there's no real distinction between
program and data on a Von Neumann machine: they're both just bits in
memory. But there is a perceived difference. Computer users
generally understand that you can't use data without some sort of
program, but it's less obvious why you can't use a program without
another program.

Martin Julian DeMello

unread,
Feb 13, 2001, 12:02:33 PM2/13/01
to
Carl Muckenhoupt <ca...@wurb.com> wrote:

> Possibly it's a matter of what is perceived as "program" and what is
> perceived as "data". Of course, there's no real distinction between
> program and data on a Von Neumann machine: they're both just bits in
> memory. But there is a perceived difference. Computer users
> generally understand that you can't use data without some sort of
> program, but it's less obvious why you can't use a program without
> another program.

Rem acu tetigisti. I wonder if arcade machine emulators run into the same
problem, or whether your average arcade game enthusiast is willing to
undergo the higher entry barrier.

Something that might be managed with some sort of serverside program is to
have to download links, one for the game file and one for an installer. The
installer would download, unpack the terp (possibly checking for an existing
one), and then download the game file from the archive (the server side
script would be needed to essentially serve up the same executable
installer, and append a varying URL to it, so it gets the right file). That
way you could package the terp with every game, and yet have just one copy
of it on your ftp server. (You could also try generating zipfiles on the fly
when - dunno if that would be more efficient than passing in a url and
having a two stage download). Heck - with a little bit of trust you could
even set a cookie and have the terp installer read that.

After the game is installed, of course, you need merely click the game file
and the terp will load itself transparently and play it.

--
Martin DeMello

Adam Atkinson

unread,
Feb 13, 2001, 1:47:58 PM2/13/01
to
On 13-Feb-01 09:25:35, Gunther Schmidl said:
>> I know a lot of people don't like the
>> car analogy, but I think it's perfect. How did these people ever learn
>> to drive? Did they say "But I'm not interested in the chemistry of
>> hydrocarbons, or internal combustion engine design"? I expect not.

>Sorry, but knowing chemistry or engine design has nothing at all to do with
>being able to drive.

I know. This is my point. People's objections re: computers are
similarly equally silly. "I won't use a word processor because I'm not
interested in computers." etc.

I should perhaps also have said that silly
objections aside, it seems to me that even learning the minimum to
drive a car would appear to take quite a while and yet people don't
seem to mind. Following explicit instructions for installing Frotz
takes a few minutes, and you don't need to understand them, just
follow them. I'm capable of following instructions I don't understand
in readmes. I can type "make; make install" without knowing anything
about makefiles. I cannot believe there are many people not in need of
24 hour medical care who are incapable of doing the same.And "I can't
be bothered to type "make; make install" doesn't make any more sense.
It takes longer to say you can't be bothered to do it than it does to
type the damned thing.

>It allows you to _fix_ the car (or more likely, not)
>when something's wrong, but you can drive without knowing much about this.

Similarly, you can use computers without knowing much about them.
Which is why I use this example.

>Personally, I don't give a damn how a car works beyond the crude details
>(blah blah gasoline-air blah blah ignition blah blah cylinders blah blah).
>Driving a car is simply a number of pre-learned, now automated tasks - you
>don't think when you switch gears or turn the wheel to take a curve, or
>you'd go mad.

Sure.

>Same thing with computers. You want to use them, you don't need to know how
>they work. You want to get under the hood, things get icky.

Sure.

I think you missed the point of my example.

--
Adam Atkinson (gh...@mistral.co.uk)
Please, call me Robert. It sounds so much more substantial.
(AVPP)

Adam Atkinson

unread,
Feb 13, 2001, 1:41:27 PM2/13/01
to
On 13-Feb-01 15:56:56, Magnus Olsson said:

>>> So why are PDFs and Word documents ok?
>>
>>IMHO, they aren't.

>I think the PDF argument bites exactly the other way from what Adam
>intended, if you consider that most of the big web sites that offer
>PDF documents feel obliged to put up explanatory text about how you
>need an Acrobat reader to read these documents, how to obtain one,
>and how to install it.

Not at all. I have no objection to providing instructions. On pages
where I have postscript files, I have a link to the ghostscript site.

For the PDF argument to "bite the other way", it would need to be
routine to make PDFs available for download as self-extracting
executables with incorporated PDF displayers. Perhaps I should start
making text files available for download as self-extracting
executables with built-in copies of "more".

> This, IMHO, makes it fairly obvious that you
>can't expect the general user to be perfectly comfortable with PDF
>files.

It suggests that these sites imagine that giving people instructions
is possible, rather than giving up completely and giving them a new
PDF reader with every document.

Adam Atkinson

unread,
Feb 13, 2001, 1:42:45 PM2/13/01
to
On 13-Feb-01 13:28:40, Branko Collin said:

>>Civilization, Settlers etc.

>Hey! I need to get work done today. Don't mention the drugs!

I found the Settlers manual a bit of a struggle. Civilization and
Railroad Tycoon seemed much easier to follow.

Joshua E Millard

unread,
Feb 13, 2001, 1:41:22 PM2/13/01
to
Gunther Schmidl (gsch...@xxx.gmx.at) uttered:
>> [car analogy stuff]

>
>Same thing with computers. You want to use them, you don't need to know how
>they work. You want to get under the hood, things get icky.

But, see, there's the matter of deciding what "usable" is -- where do you
draw the line between basic utility and unnecessary ickiness?

Someone could, in theory, go about using their computer without having any
knowledge or understanding of files and directory structures. A whole lot
of people do, in fact. I do not consider knowledge of files and
directories to be "advanced" knowledge, though; it should most definitely
be something that a computer user groks.

This is something that *anyone* who's done tech support (professional or
otherwise) will recognize. When someone hasn't a clue what those icons on
their desktop represent (other than That Program I Use), expecting them to
manipulate their files is a frustrating and time-consuming endeavor.
People who draw a blank at the phrase "root directory" are in for a world
of hurt when they have to move files around or locate something manually.

Files and directory structure, basic GUI use, simple observation skills,
understanding of "left-click" and "right-click" and other minimal
interface skills -- these are not the internal combustion theory. These
are pedals and blinkers and a steering wheel. If the way a lot of folks
use computers has to have an analogy to vehicles, we're dealing with a car
that drives itself between a limited number of destinations whilst the
"driver" sits back and assumes everything will be all right.

--
+---+ With great effort, you move the boulder. ################
|..$| # Josh Millard #
|.@'.##########################################################
|<d.| # pu...@wpi.edu # www.wpi.edu/~pulp - music, words, etc #
+---+ ########################################################

Dennis G. Jerz

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Feb 13, 2001, 2:16:37 PM2/13/01
to
"Anson Turner" <anson@DELETE_THISpobox.com> wrote in message
news:anson-F53338....@news.efortress.com...

> My first three computers booted instantly, from ROM. In that sense, things
> have gone downhill. But even among contemporary computers, boot times vary
> considerably.

True. My laptop has a "sleep" mode, and my palm pilot pops up instantly.

Your last statement is dependent on individual habit and
> preference. It is not true that all modern software is bloated, nor do
large
> hard drives magically compel their owners to fill them. Perhaps there
should
> be a treatment program for people with "file addiction"?
>

There is -- it's called a hard drive crash. ;)

Lucian P. Smith

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Feb 13, 2001, 2:12:47 PM2/13/01
to
Dennis G. Jerz (Jer...@uwec.edu) wrote in <96bkmf$j8m$1...@wiscnews.wiscnet.net>:

: But Google only recently


: started searching the content of text versions of PDF documents, and I don't
: think any search engine looks through Word files; so, you are going to bury
: your content if you put it in PDF or Word.

Hey, there's an idea! Let's petition Google to search the textual content
of .z5 and .z8 files!

-Lucian

(Note: The post has no point)

Gunther Schmidl

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Feb 13, 2001, 4:41:40 PM2/13/01
to
> I think you missed the point of my example.

Apparently.

-- Gunther


Jonathan Rosebaugh

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Feb 13, 2001, 4:57:55 PM2/13/01
to
Kevin Forchione (Ke...@lysseus.com) wrote:

: I find this amazing, given all the hype about today's 'wired' teens and


: twentysomethings. I'd expect them to find interpreter download and install
: no more daunting than setting up Napster.

You have obviously never had one of "today's wired teens" come up to you and
beg you to "fix their Napster because it's broke again".
Today's teens don't know anything.

Magnus Olsson

unread,
Feb 13, 2001, 5:02:02 PM2/13/01
to
In article <1317.444T1358...@mistral.co.uk>,

Adam Atkinson <gh...@mistral.co.uk> wrote:
>On 13-Feb-01 15:56:56, Magnus Olsson said:
>For the PDF argument to "bite the other way", it would need to be
>routine to make PDFs available for download as self-extracting
>executables with incorporated PDF displayers. Perhaps I should start
>making text files available for download as self-extracting
>executables with built-in copies of "more".

This is not as ridiculous as it sounds - I distinctly remember
software distributions where there was a *program* called readme.com
which displayed the readme file - so obviously the software publishers
didn't want to bother people with finding a way to display a text
file.

>> This, IMHO, makes it fairly obvious that you
>>can't expect the general user to be perfectly comfortable with PDF
>>files.
>
>It suggests that these sites imagine that giving people instructions
>is possible, rather than giving up completely and giving them a new
>PDF reader with every document.

Well, giving instructions is perfectly possible. It's not ideal on
the web, though, where people literally expect to be able to see
any information just by clicking on a link.

I actually think that if PDF readers were as small as Z-code
interpreters, we *would* see documents distributed as an integral
reader+text application. Not as a self-extracting archive file, but
simply as an executable.

Conversely, if all IF were distributed on web pages with space for
instructions and links to download interpreters, etc, etc, there
would be less need for integrated executables. But most IF isn't
distributed that way - at least not yet.

Adam Atkinson

unread,
Feb 13, 2001, 5:07:12 PM2/13/01
to
On 13-Feb-01 21:41:40, Gunther Schmidl said:
>> I think you missed the point of my example.

>Apparently.

To be fair, the "bizarre objections" problem is much less noticeable
than it was 10-15 years ago.

The "driving isn't immediate" aspect is still applicable, though.

Adam Atkinson

unread,
Feb 13, 2001, 5:09:54 PM2/13/01
to
On 13-Feb-01 21:03:57, Anson Turner said:

>: I should perhaps also have said that silly


>: objections aside, it seems to me that even learning the minimum to
>: drive a car would appear to take quite a while and yet people don't
>: seem to mind.

>In other words, more people want to drive than want to play TADS games. I
>thank you for this valuable revelation.

How many seconds does it take to read a readme and install Frotz? How long
does it take to learn to drive? (I don't know the answer to the latter,
of course)

>Anson, who did, in fact, mind.

One of my main reasons for not learning to drive is the way it's been
presented as inevitable that I should.

Adam Atkinson

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Feb 13, 2001, 5:17:48 PM2/13/01
to
On 13-Feb-01 22:02:02, Magnus Olsson said:

>>For the PDF argument to "bite the other way", it would need to be
>>routine to make PDFs available for download as self-extracting
>>executables with incorporated PDF displayers. Perhaps I should start
>>making text files available for download as self-extracting
>>executables with built-in copies of "more".

>This is not as ridiculous as it sounds - I distinctly remember
>software distributions where there was a *program* called readme.com
>which displayed the readme file - so obviously the software publishers
>didn't want to bother people with finding a way to display a text
>file.

How do you make people run the readme.com? I come across people who
download things and then don't know where they've put them. (They ask
me. How should _I_ know?) They don't know about double-clicking things
to run them. They certainly won't have enough initiative to notice
that something's called "readme" and do anything about it.

I seem to recall that there's some special filename (".displayme"?)
that makes lha output the contents of this file to stdout whilst it's
uncompressing everything else normally. That's not such a terrible
idea, I suppose.

>Well, giving instructions is perfectly possible. It's not ideal on
>the web, though, where people literally expect to be able to see
>any information just by clicking on a link.

I don't much like PDF as a way of doing things. It just seems that
their widespread use suggests that the general population doesn't
suffer from the vapours as much as some people want to believe.

>I actually think that if PDF readers were as small as Z-code
>interpreters, we *would* see documents distributed as an integral
>reader+text application. Not as a self-extracting archive file, but
>simply as an executable.

Executable self-extracting zip files are enough of a curse. Grr.

--
Adam Atkinson (gh...@mistral.co.uk)
Libri e altro per matematici piu' o meno ricreativi:
http://www.mistral.co.uk/ghira/recmathslibri.html

Branko Collin

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Feb 13, 2001, 5:52:53 PM2/13/01
to
On Tue, 13 Feb 2001 09:56:57 -0600, "Dennis G. Jerz" <Jer...@uwec.edu>
wrote:

>"Branko Collin" <col...@xs4all.nl> wrote in message
>news:3a891959...@news.xs4all.nl...

>> You are trying to apply an interface to a group that that

>> interface was not designed for, and now you are saying that
>> that is the fault of the interface.
>
>No, I was supporting a post that mentioned the value of .exe files.

OK, I support that post too. There probably is such a value.

>Further, I was presenting first-hand observation of what happens when a
>group of newbies confront IF. A few have already turned into authors; others
>may become fans.

There is no telling, though, what would have happened if the newbies
had it a little harder.

--
branko collin
col...@xs4all.nl

Adam Atkinson

unread,
Feb 13, 2001, 6:15:01 PM2/13/01
to
On 13-Feb-01 22:54:28, Anson Turner said:

>: How many seconds does it take to read a readme and install Frotz? How long


>: does it take to learn to drive? (I don't know the answer to the latter,
>: of course)

>:
>: One of my main reasons for not learning to drive is the way it's been


>: presented as inevitable that I should.

>Okay, let me see if I've got this right. It's senseless to argue that
>executables should be distributed because "people don't seem to mind"
>learning to drive, which takes more time and effort than obtaining and
>learning to use an interpreter.

Yes.

>Except you, because you refuse to. Uh-huh.

I am led to understand that driving is a common skill, which takes
non-trivial amounts of time to acquire. So the universal laziness
phenomenon can't be quite as described.

I cannot drive. I am led to understand that this is uncommon in
someone of my age in a Western country. My reasons for not driving may
or may not be irrelevant, but for the record I'm mostly curious to see
what terrible fate will befall me.

>Gotcha. Point well taken.

I think the first of the above paragraphs is reasonable. Why isn't it?

--
Adam Atkinson (gh...@mistral.co.uk)
British Go Association: http://www.britgo.org/

David Glasser

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Feb 13, 2001, 6:51:59 PM2/13/01
to
Adam Cadre <a...@adamcadre.ac> wrote:

> Do you really think that authors are going to compile their games to,
> say, a .z5, bundle them with a terp to create a Windows executable --
> and then, rather than releasing both versions, toss the .z5 in the
> trash and release *just* the Windows version?

This is exactly what Activision did when they put the Zork games on
their website.

> There are already utilities to make Mac executables of IF works. Seen
> a lot of Mac-only IF games announced around here lately?

MacWesleyan!

> For what it's worth, I've offered my games on my site both as DOS
> executables (using JZEXE at first and more recently using Ross
> Raszewski's Bundle-O-Monkey) and as zipped z-code files.

My opinion: it's a great idea to do this for your own website, but it's
a waste on GMD.

--
David Glasser
ne...@davidglasser.net http://www.davidglasser.net/
rec.arts.int-fiction FAQ: http://www.davidglasser.net/raiffaq/

Kaia Vintr

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Feb 13, 2001, 7:06:49 PM2/13/01
to
Anson Turner wrote in message ...
>: Just call your game file "AnnaKournikova.jpg.z5" and people will have no
>: trouble opening it.
>
>And your definition of "people" is..?

The dead-end users. The un-defragmented masses. The fools we aren't proof
from. Y'know, *them*.

Isn't this in the FAQ?

Bennett Standeven

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Feb 13, 2001, 8:38:49 PM2/13/01
to

"Kevin Forchione" <Ke...@lysseus.com> wrote in message
news:MS3i6.89845$R5.39...@news1.frmt1.sfba.home.com...
> "Dennis G. Jerz" <Jer...@uwec.edu> wrote in message
> news:969hsg$e18$1...@wiscnews.wiscnet.net...

> > "Adam Atkinson" <gh...@mistral.co.uk> wrote in message
> > news:1207.442T524T...@mistral.co.uk...
> > > On 11-Feb-01 17:57:44, Robotboy8 said:
> > > >Someone recently posted a message about commercialising IF games.
> While
> > I am
> > > >pretty sure hardly anyone would be willing to BUY an IF game, it
would
> > make
> > > >it a lot easier on newbies not to have to download interpreters. Most
> > people
> > > >I know are quite new to IF and don't even know how to use an
> interpreter!
> > >
> > > I strongly suspect that you're a troll. However:

> > >
> > > Every time this comes up I'm told I just don't understand how stupid
> > > the whole world is, but I still don't see what the problem is supposed
> > > to be here. People seem to manage ok with PDF viewers and MP3 players,
> > > so they can sodding well do the same with game interpreters.
> > >
> >
> >
> > Jakob Nielsen recently wrote a column about the false notion that anyone
> who
> > has problems with a particular interface is stupid.
> > http://www.useit.com/alertbox/20010204.html
> >
> > In my various classes, I introduce about 100 people per year to
> interactive
> > fiction. Scores of them blank out when they see the opening screen of
> > "WinFrotz" or who double-click on an ".inf" file, or who don't know that
> > you're supposed to click inside the ZPlet window before it will "notice"
> > when you press the space bar. At first, many of them have a hard time

> > distinguishing between the game and the interpreter.
>
> The same could be said for the windows interface itself. My wife had
similar
> stories to tell when word processors were first introduced. People had
> difficulty with the concept.
>

Obviously the same people, since any Windows guru knows that one can only
type text into the active window, and that if double-clicking on a file
doesn't open it, it means you don't have the relevant program.

> > Highly motivated people, or people who enjoy technology, who have
already
> > invested the time into learning the schema won't have a problem... but
the
> > vast majority of human beings on the planet? Different story.
>

> On the other hand, put a teen in front of a video game machine and they'll
> work at it until their thumbs bleed. Funny what motivates people.

Other hand? I bet they'd be happy to play a Zork machine until they figure
everything out (if there were any such things, of course...)


Bennett Standeven

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Feb 13, 2001, 9:09:14 PM2/13/01
to

"Adam Atkinson" <gh...@mistral.co.uk> wrote in message
news:1317.444T1358...@mistral.co.uk...

> On 13-Feb-01 15:56:56, Magnus Olsson said:
>
> >>> So why are PDFs and Word documents ok?
> >>
> >>IMHO, they aren't.
>
> >I think the PDF argument bites exactly the other way from what Adam
> >intended, if you consider that most of the big web sites that offer
> >PDF documents feel obliged to put up explanatory text about how you
> >need an Acrobat reader to read these documents, how to obtain one,
> >and how to install it.
>
> Not at all. I have no objection to providing instructions. On pages
> where I have postscript files, I have a link to the ghostscript site.
>
> For the PDF argument to "bite the other way", it would need to be
> routine to make PDFs available for download as self-extracting
> executables with incorporated PDF displayers.

What makes you think it isn't? Of course, most of the common web browsers
automatically launch a PDF reader whenever they see a PDF file, which is
the same sort of thing.

> Perhaps I should start
> making text files available for download as self-extracting
> executables with built-in copies of "more".

I've seen that sort of thing too, though never with a stand-alone text file
(Unless you count the "Interactive List of Adventure Games" files, of
course.)


Bennett Standeven

unread,
Feb 13, 2001, 9:16:26 PM2/13/01
to

"Adam Atkinson" <gh...@mistral.co.uk> wrote in message
news:2074.444T2444...@mistral.co.uk...

> On 13-Feb-01 22:02:02, Magnus Olsson said:
>
> >>For the PDF argument to "bite the other way", it would need to be
> >>routine to make PDFs available for download as self-extracting
> >>executables with incorporated PDF displayers. Perhaps I should start
> >>making text files available for download as self-extracting
> >>executables with built-in copies of "more".
>
> >This is not as ridiculous as it sounds - I distinctly remember
> >software distributions where there was a *program* called readme.com
> >which displayed the readme file - so obviously the software publishers
> >didn't want to bother people with finding a way to display a text
> >file.
>
> How do you make people run the readme.com?

Usually, by running it from the install program. (Just like today...)

> I come across people who
> download things and then don't know where they've put them. (They ask
> me. How should _I_ know?) They don't know about double-clicking things
> to run them. They certainly won't have enough initiative to notice
> that something's called "readme" and do anything about it.

It was a lot more common in the early 90s, as I recall. Back then,
a much larger fraction of users would have found "readme"s
comprehensible.


Bennett Standeven

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Feb 13, 2001, 9:21:54 PM2/13/01
to

"Jonathan Rosebaugh" <ros...@krypton.mankato.msus.edu> wrote in message
news:96cal3$26h$1...@nitrogen.mankato.msus.edu...

And as for the "wired twentysomethings", they're us...


Jonadab the Unsightly One

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Feb 13, 2001, 10:22:51 PM2/13/01
to
"Aris Katsaris" <kats...@otenet.gr> wrote:

> > Every time this comes up I'm told I just don't understand how stupid
> > the whole world is, but I still don't see what the problem is supposed
> > to be here. People seem to manage ok with PDF viewers and MP3 players,
> > so they can sodding well do the same with game interpreters.
>

> Btw, I dislike PDF viewers. Disliked them the moment I knew I had to
> download one of them.

I hate unPortable Document Format too, but that's entirely different.
PDF viewers are a lot bulkier and harder to find and more difficult
to install and more difficu