IF & Conservatism

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steve....@gmail.com

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Oct 19, 2008, 8:46:47 PM10/19/08
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A few years ago, I remarked a trend in IF which I called
(neo)classical. (If you want to read that discussion, you can find it
here: http://groups.google.com/group/rec.arts.int-fiction/msg/b2e75bd42a1a99e0

Bellwether I am not, for at that time, I argued that classical IF is a
dead-end (though it can, even in its dead-end expression, also be very
rewarding). Four years later, I would still say that RtDD is the best
example. Perhaps this says something about that dead-end decay, and
perhaps it says something about the logic underlying the predicted
decline.

Clearly, we have had far better competitions than the present one.
Predictably, the art follows the culture. The culture is essentially
increasingly poorer, so the decline of the art is almost a given.

Develop the community, and we will develop the form. But if community
leaders are encouraging hateful speech amongst the community, we're
going to have a great deal of difficulty making general progress of
the genre. I strongly believe that the decline of the genre is a
direct reflection of a failure of leadership, a failure of
communication between people who know better.

Breaking the rules is the primary things which artists are supposed to
do. Artists are supposed to be interested in developing their genre,
producing new ideas, not applying new text to old forms. Developing
the form.

Conservatism is doing the same thing over and over, sometimes in a
slightly different way, but in a way which always very gladly affirms
the normative. But it is also more than this. Conservatism seems to
require a dissatisfaction with alternatives, and it seems strongly
opposed to novelty and development. It is not explicitly anti-novel,
but whatever comes along novel is judged harshly, against the norm.

Along with this there comes a very strong emotional assumption that
the norm carries an intrinsic value, over and above its manifest
virtues. Often criticisms leveled at avant garde works could be
equally applied to conventional works. This is frequently unrecognized
by the conservative critic, as failures of the conventional are
passively accepted and ignored.

--

With neither envy or scorn, we can say that I7 is not so much a
programming system as it is an IF development system, and of its
nature defines and limits IF to the conventional, conservative sense.
This means that it will be successful for producing mediocre/medial
works, but it will not contribute to any development of the genre.

As a theoretical exploration, it could have contributed, and may yet
still, but it remains conservative in a critical way, which prevents
the discussion.

--

In his Sunday column for the New York Times...

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/10/19/opinion/19rich.html?ref=opinion&pagewanted=print

...Frank Rich today wrote:

"[I]t isn’t just his flip-flopping on some of these and other issues
that turned him into a Bush acolyte. The full measure of McCain’s
betrayal of his own integrity cannot even be found in that Senate
voting record — 90 percent in lockstep with the president — that Obama
keeps throwing in his face.

The Bushian ethos that McCain embraced, as codified by Karl Rove, is
larger than any particular vote or policy. Indeed, by definition that
ethos is opposed to the entire idea of policy. The whole point of the
Bush-Rove way of doing business is that principles, coherent
governance and even ideology must always be sacrificed for political
expediency, no matter the cost to the public good."

This represents the clearest modern image of conservatism, better
known as Machiavellinism: throwing over responsible discussion for
political domination. The good news -- it seems to be coming to an
end!

Maybe Sarah Palin, after being publicly scorned for her cruel
propaganda, and her ethical failures -- maybe she has learned to stop
and step in, when a supporter shouts something which degrades the
entire discussion to horrific levels. Maybe Emily Short will learn to
do the same!

Then again, maybe that's the only way that a bad policy can hope to
dominate. If domination is the name of the game, then don't expect
fair discussion!

Watts Martin

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Oct 19, 2008, 9:32:15 PM10/19/08
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On Oct 19, 5:46 pm, steve.bres...@gmail.com wrote:

> With neither envy or scorn, we can say that I7 is not so much a
> programming system as it is an IF development system, and of its
> nature defines and limits IF to the conventional, conservative sense.
> This means that it will be successful for producing mediocre/medial
> works, but it will not contribute to any development of the genre.

While I've been lurking here enough to note that you relish your role
as an agent provocateur of the IF community, this is dazzling even by
your own previous records.

You are clearly an accomplished TADS programmer and it's fine that for
you it's a much better programming language than Inform is. But I've
been lurking here for a while and watching these TADS-vs.-Inform
threads and I can't help but think of fellows who endlessly insist
that no *real* programmers would ever use Python because significant
white space makes it all but useless.

Programmers -- or writers, or designers -- are going to use whatever
environment makes them feel more comfortable. There's going to be
tradeoffs no matter what they choose. Do you prefer Python's list
comprehensions or Ruby's iterators? Partisans can probably find cases
where one is a better choice than the other for a given value of
"better"; but they haven't definitively proven the superiority of Ruby
to Python or vice-versa. I happen to prefer Python, but that doesn't
make those who disagree with me misinformed, let alone stupid.

Which is rather the point of the original assertion made in another
thread here: "Great IF has nothing to do with which platform you
choose." One can argue that the platform one chooses makes writing
"great IF" easier or harder. In finished products, one can probably
point to aspects that aren't features as much as side effects of the
implementation, and one can debate whether implementing in a different
language or with a different library would have given things more
polish or flexibility. But you know what? In the three-going-on-four
decade history of computer games, I think you'll find a vanishingly
small number of cases where the general critical consensus was, "It
would have been a classic if only he'd written it in Objective-C
instead of C++."

steve....@gmail.com

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Oct 19, 2008, 9:52:18 PM10/19/08
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Watts Martin:

> I can't help but think of fellows who endlessly insist
> that no *real* programmers would ever use Python because significant
> white space makes it all but useless.

That seems an exceptionally poor comparison. I've probably said a few
dumb things in my life, but I never made so stupid a complaint as "too
much whitespace makes a language useless."

> Programmers -- or writers, or designers -- are going to use whatever
> environment makes them feel more comfortable.

Ok, uh, thanks for that smashing insight, I guess, and... it was
interesting talking to you!

Back to the original point. I can't but think that, if Emily had taken
a leadership role and quelled (rather than fed) the rising tide of I7
righteous-defenders, against the hoarde of TADS-3 barbarians (*looks
around, not sure where they actually are*), then we wouldn't be
hearing such idiotic chatter years later, and instead we'd actually be
able to talk about design strategy.

Jim Aikin

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Oct 19, 2008, 10:43:03 PM10/19/08
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On Oct 19, 5:46 pm, steve.bres...@gmail.com wrote:

> I strongly believe that the decline of the genre is a
> direct reflection of a failure of leadership, a failure of
> communication between people who know better.

I'm going to tiptoe past the political aspects of your post.
(Comparing Emily Short to Sarah Palin -- the mind boggles.) But I
would like to comment on the passage above.

The decline of the genre, if there is a decline (a separate question),
is due quite simply to the shortage of great new games. This has
little or nothing to do with leadership, it seems to me, because
authoring a game is ultimately an individual creative act. An artist
with a vision is not going to be slowed down by the misfeasance of
alleged leaders. Anyway, it's very questionable that there _are_ any
leaders in IF. There are a few influential authors ... but so what?

Given the existence of adequate authoring systems (and we have
several), the genre will flower when more people write great games. If
no one writes great games, it will flounder and die. I just don't see
where leadership comes into it.

> Breaking the rules is the primary things which artists are supposed to
> do. Artists are supposed to be interested in developing their genre,
> producing new ideas, not applying new text to old forms. Developing
> the form.

This is a very 19th/20th century European/American view of what
artists do. It would not necessarily apply well to Chinese painting in
the 15th century. I know almost nothing about the latter field, but I
have the vague impression that reverence for tradition was valued more
highly, and innovation not so highly, as in the overheated arts
climate in which we live today.

> With neither envy or scorn, we can say that I7 is not so much a
> programming system as it is an IF development system, and of its
> nature defines and limits IF to the conventional, conservative sense.

This thesis is _highly_ suspect. To me, it's a lot like saying, "You
can't write a great novel with a Remington typewriter. If you want to
write a great novel, you need an IBM Selectric."

It's probably true -- I'll accept the testimony of the experts on this
point -- that producing certain rather esoteric effects (such as sense-
passing) would require a lot more effort in I7 than in T3, because it
would have to be coded by hand. But so what? A great game is not
defined by its usage of esoteric effects! A great game is one that has
a great story, great writing, great characters, and great puzzles. All
the rest is window-dressing.

--Jim Aikin

P.S.: Anyway, IF isn't a genre. It's a medium. Games written in the
medium fall into various genres -- horror, science fiction, fantasy,
romance, and so on.

Bert Byfield

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Oct 19, 2008, 11:52:23 PM10/19/08
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> Back to the original point. I can't but think that, if Emily had
> taken a leadership role and quelled (rather than fed) the rising
> tide of I7 righteous-defenders, against the hoarde of TADS-3
> barbarians (*looks around, not sure where they actually are*),
> then we wouldn't be hearing such idiotic chatter years later, and
> instead we'd actually be able to talk about design strategy.

RAIF is itself a melodrama, a morality play, with damsels tied to the
railroad tracks and villains and heroes, and wicked opposing cabals
pulling strings to pull the unwashed masses toward I7 or TADS3, sort of
a real-life *Lord of the Rings*.

That's why I do Hugo. I may even finish something in it one day. ;-)

Watts Martin

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Oct 19, 2008, 11:54:00 PM10/19/08
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On Oct 19, 6:52 pm, steve.bres...@gmail.com wrote:
> > Programmers -- or writers, or designers -- are going to use whatever
> > environment makes them feel more comfortable.
>
> Ok, uh, thanks for that smashing insight, I guess, and... it was
> interesting talking to you!

Touche. :)

The real "smashing insight" I was trying to get across is the same one
Jim Aikin made, I'm sure far more elegantly. The tools aren't the
issue. I'm noodling around with both T3 and I7 at the same time now,
and despite my previous needling of you, I think I'm understanding
some of the points you've been making in your comparisons -- but the
two systems are both good enough at what they do that it's simply hard
to credit your apparent thesis that I7 severely limits what can be
done with IF in a way that T3 doesn't. Some things may be easier in T3
than I7, but that's rather a different argument -- and in large part
that seems to be due to the different approaches to libraries (i.e.,
include only top-level world entities and make you download additional
extensions, versus a "batteries included" approach).

And yes, I know that's not a very smashing insight, either. :)

> Back to the original point. I can't but think that, if Emily had taken
> a leadership role and quelled (rather than fed) the rising tide of I7
> righteous-defenders, against the hoarde of TADS-3 barbarians (*looks
> around, not sure where they actually are*), then we wouldn't be
> hearing such idiotic chatter years later, and instead we'd actually be
> able to talk about design strategy.

But I'm fairly sure we could be talking about design strategy now
anyway, couldn't we?

pfshec...@gmail.com

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Oct 19, 2008, 11:54:54 PM10/19/08
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On Oct 19, 7:46 pm, steve.bres...@gmail.com wrote:

Goddamn, look at all them words.

Adam Thornton

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Oct 20, 2008, 12:37:37 AM10/20/08
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In article <a033a8a2-c881-4e43...@p10g2000prf.googlegroups.com>,

Jim Aikin <midig...@gmail.com> wrote:
>Anyway, it's very questionable that there _are_ any
>leaders in IF. There are a few influential authors ... but so what?

Jim, Jim, Jim. You have missed the point entirely. Steve's world view
is crucially predicated on the axioms that a) The Man Is Keeping Him
Down, b) The Man is Graham Nelson, and c) I7 is The Tool by which The
Man Maintains His Oppression.

Adam


S. John Ross

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Oct 20, 2008, 1:59:18 AM10/20/08
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> I know almost nothing about the latter field, but I
> have the vague impression that reverence for tradition was valued more
> highly, and innovation not so highly, as in the overheated arts
> climate in which we live today.

And beyond the reverence for innovation, we also have a pretty
constant issue with the conflation of innovation (in the sense of
doing something that breaks new ground that can be constructively
cultivated) and novelty (in the sense of breaking new ground out of a
vain desire to have broken new ground).

For my money, the word "innovation" has become so abused and
threadbare that it's _almost_ as tattered as the word "art" :)

Pete Chown

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Oct 20, 2008, 3:48:52 AM10/20/08
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steve.breslin wrote:

> With neither envy or scorn, we can say that I7 is not so much a
> programming system as it is an IF development system, and of its nature
> defines and limits IF to the conventional, conservative sense.

What specifically is Inform stopping you doing?

I can see that the various VMs have limitations compared to general
purpose languages. For example, suppose one room of your game is a
library. Theoretically, you could put the Project Gutenberg books in
that library, which would make it more realistic. Rather than having a
generalised description of books, the player could get Alice in
Wonderland off the shelf, open it at page 123, and start reading.

In practice, you can't do this, because the VMs don't have the facility
to download material from the Internet and process it.

Is this the kind of thing you mean?

Pete

JDC

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Oct 20, 2008, 4:20:39 AM10/20/08
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On Oct 19, 8:46 pm, steve.bres...@gmail.com wrote:
> [various odd things about Inform, conservatism, and Sarah Palin]

Look, all I really want to know is: What IF language would Ron Paul
use?

-JDC

James Jolley

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Oct 20, 2008, 6:53:56 AM10/20/08
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Could someone point me to this thread about the "deathmatch" or
whatever Em is meant to have said?
--
Best

-James-

Conrad

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Oct 20, 2008, 8:05:54 AM10/20/08
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On Oct 20, 12:37 am, a...@fsf.net (Adam Thornton) wrote:

> Jim, Jim, Jim. You have missed the point entirely. Steve's world view
> is crucially predicated on the axioms that a) The Man Is Keeping Him
> Down, b) The Man is Graham Nelson, and c) I7 is The Tool by which The
> Man Maintains His Oppression.

And here I had the impression that it was the woman who was keeping
him down...

C.

mikegentry

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Oct 20, 2008, 9:55:32 AM10/20/08
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On Oct 20, 6:53 am, James Jolley <james.jol...@me.com> wrote:

> Could someone point me to this thread about the "deathmatch" or
> whatever Em is meant to have said?
> --

Always glad to shed more light on Breslin's credibility.

http://groups.google.com/group/rec.games.int-fiction/browse_frm/thread/c5b9584464240a04/86127bdc48cadf63?lnk=gst&q=emily+short+steel+cage+deathmatch#86127bdc48cadf63

John W Kennedy

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Oct 20, 2008, 1:59:13 PM10/20/08
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In Breslin-Arda, Emily plays Sauron,
doing the will of Graham's Melkor, called Morgoth.
While T. S. Eliot is Fëanor,
and he, poor thing! is tortured Maedhros,
all others in r.a.i-f, a mob
of Awful Orcs with Edmund Wilson's face.

--
John W. Kennedy
...who can't imagine why reading Ruskin's "Praeterita", of all things,
has put him in this mood.

Jerome West

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Oct 20, 2008, 2:09:15 PM10/20/08
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JDC wrote:
> Look, all I really want to know is: What IF language would Ron Paul
> use?

He'd insist that it wasn't his place impose a choice of IF language on
the community, but that real men write everything in assembly language
anyway.

vaporware

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Oct 20, 2008, 8:23:45 PM10/20/08
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Also, that all the trouble with IF today can be blamed on the
community's abandonment of the "uppercase standard" in favor of tiny,
worthless "fiat letters".

vw

S. John Ross

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Oct 22, 2008, 12:57:27 AM10/22/08
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On Oct 20, 11:59 am, John W Kennedy <jwke...@attglobal.net> wrote:
> Conrad wrote:
> > On Oct 20, 12:37 am, a...@fsf.net (Adam Thornton) wrote:
> >> Jim, Jim, Jim.  You have missed the point entirely.  Steve's world view
> >> is crucially predicated on the axioms that a) The Man Is Keeping Him
> >> Down, b) The Man is Graham Nelson, and c) I7 is The Tool by which The
> >> Man Maintains His Oppression.
> > And here I had the impression that it was the woman who was keeping
> > him down...
>
> In Breslin-Arda, Emily plays Sauron,
> doing the will of Graham's Melkor, called Morgoth.
> While T. S. Eliot is Fëanor,
> and he, poor thing! is tortured Maedhros,
> all others in r.a.i-f, a mob
> of Awful Orcs with Edmund Wilson's face.

Oooh. Can I be Barliman Butterbur?


Paul J. Furio

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Oct 22, 2008, 4:40:48 PM10/22/08
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On Oct 19, 7:43 pm, Jim Aikin <midigur...@gmail.com> wrote:
> The decline of the genre, if there is a decline (a separate question),
> is due quite simply to the shortage of great new games.

And with respect to your arguments, I'd posit that perhaps the number
of great games produced on an annual basis is due to the fact that
this is largely the domain of individual contributors rather than
teams. IF is more theater than literature, and while the latter can
succeed for a single author, I am hard pressed to find great single
person plays by author-actors. Likewise with music, there are plenty
of singer-songwriters doing solo acts, but I think the proportion of
quality songs by these compared to those by bands or collaborations
between musicians is skewed towards the group efforts.

I think that when we have real, interacting entities that work
together to polish and refine titles, even titles largely produced by
individual authors, we'll see the overall quality of the genre rising
again. These could be as shallow as the equivalent of writers circles
or as formalized as corporate organizations that do daily
brainstorming and project review meetings, but I think the important
aspect is that they be face-to-face and the feedback is in-depth and
rapidly iterated.

A team of three people, each working on their own titles yet
interacting regularly and giving feedback on each others work would
produce, on average, higher quality titles than three authors writing
in isolation. I've seen this work in several other creative and
technical genres, and I think it can work for IF, it's simply a matter
of commitment, locale, and dedication.

As for the programming language, they're all just tools. At the root
of Inform, one can just write assembly to the interpreter, which is
the true limit of what can be accomplished. I guess (wildly?) that
TADS is the same. Don't blame the tools for the quality. "A Day In
The Life" is as brilliant on solo piano as it is in the full band
setting, and modern works on a word processor are arguably no better
nor worse than those written with ink and quill.

John W Kennedy

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Oct 22, 2008, 5:09:48 PM10/22/08
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I do not have the ordering of his fancy,
Of that, Breslin alone can be the master,
Breslin the master works, and up it goes,
Then shrinks again whene'er the master bates.


--
John W. Kennedy
"The whole modern world has divided itself into Conservatives and
Progressives. The business of Progressives is to go on making mistakes.
The business of the Conservatives is to prevent the mistakes from being
corrected."
-- G. K. Chesterton

Andrew Plotkin

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Oct 22, 2008, 6:08:29 PM10/22/08
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Here, Paul J. Furio <pa...@staticengine.com> wrote:
> On Oct 19, 7:43 pm, Jim Aikin <midigur...@gmail.com> wrote:
> > The decline of the genre, if there is a decline (a separate question),
> > is due quite simply to the shortage of great new games.
>
> And with respect to your arguments, I'd posit that perhaps the number
> of great games produced on an annual basis is due to the fact that
> this is largely the domain of individual contributors rather than
> teams.

Are you trying to argue that the greatest IF games were produced when
IF was written by people working in teams?

--Z

--
"And Aholibamah bare Jeush, and Jaalam, and Korah: these were the borogoves..."
*
Don't you think McCain looks tired?

Cindy "MiWi"

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Oct 22, 2008, 8:41:49 PM10/22/08
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On Oct 22, 8:08 pm, Andrew Plotkin <erkyr...@eblong.com> wrote:

No, I think his point is: teams are more likely to make a better work
at a given time. Three people are more likely to make one good game
per year, but when you work alone you usually let other things come
first, like work and studies and writing IF falls back, waiting for
your moments of inspiration. In teams you usually have some "momentum"
so you don't stop writing so easily.

Also, the IF comunity is rather small, so it's hard to expect always
NEW AND GOOD AND INOVATIVE IF...

We are a lot of (usually) lonely writers who like to express
themselves trought IF. We are artists, and artists aren't usually the
kind of people that attend to schedules and to "you must release at
least one good game per year"

I think we should discuss, and call more people, and spread the good
things about IF to call some new writers, so we always have some fresh
air in the comunity. I think we should try new things: good friends
who are IF writers could try writing an IF together, and telling other
people how was it.

(sorry if that didn't make much sense, I'm rather sleepy right now...
~_~)

Personman

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Oct 23, 2008, 1:17:32 AM10/23/08
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On Oct 22, 4:40 pm, "Paul J. Furio" <p...@staticengine.com> wrote:
> I am hard pressed to find great single
> person plays by author-actors.

I don't know how I feel about the overall thrust of your argument, but
that's ridiculous. Just to pick an example off the top of my head, the
one-woman (written and acted) show Bridge & Tunnel was on Broadway for
quite some time a few years ago; I saw it in San Francisco, and it was
wonderful. I have seen quite a number of smaller-scale one-person
productions before and since; solo performance is a thriving form of
theater with as high an incidence of quality as any other.

steve....@gmail.com

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Oct 23, 2008, 1:29:31 PM10/23/08
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mikegentry wrote:
> Always glad to shed more light on Breslin's credibility.
>
> http://groups.google.com/group/rec.games.int-fiction/browse_frm/threa...

Thanks. Chasing down another reference... In that post, the thread
which Emily maligned as

>the GRR RAR WHAT GOES ON WITH I7??? thread

is probably:

http://groups.google.com/group/rec.arts.int-fiction/browse_frm/thread/ba1abee7d527db3d#

("GRR RAR" etc. [complete with all-caps] is another wild and hostile
mischaracterization, coming from the same place as "steel-cage
deathmatch")

Conrad

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Oct 23, 2008, 2:13:30 PM10/23/08
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On Oct 23, 1:29 pm, steve.bres...@gmail.com wrote:

> ("GRR RAR" etc. [complete with all-caps] is another wild and hostile
> mischaracterization, coming from the same place as "steel-cage
> deathmatch")

All right, Steve -- seriously, what is this? Fifteen years ago you
and Em started bickering while watching Mystery Science Theater 3000
and you're still torqued about it?

Conrad.

steve....@gmail.com

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Oct 23, 2008, 2:54:51 PM10/23/08
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Watts Martin wrote:

> I think I'm understanding

> some of the points you've been making in your comparisons[.]

Thanks, and sincere thanks for toning down.

> -- but the
> two systems are both good enough at what they do that it's simply hard
> to credit your apparent thesis that I7 severely limits what can be
> done with IF in a way that T3 doesn't.

Well you're obviously a programmer, so I think this explanation will
make sense: you can write a Tetris program in TADS-3. As a programmer,
you realize that I'm not saying the future of IF is Tetris. You
realize that I'm saying that basic programming capability opens doors.

I7 is fine, if you want to stick with the standard. (You'll write a
lot more code for the same effect, and it's going to be a constant
pain, to figure out which English expression is Inglish-readable, and
the world-model is less robust, and the extensions fight with each-
other, and so on. But I7 is still "good enough.")

If you want to do something beyond standard -- that is, if you want to
develop the genre -- then chances are you'll want to actually
*program*. At that point, it will be useful to be working within a
programming language.

> [D]ifferent approaches to libraries (i.e.,


> include only top-level world entities and make you download additional
> extensions, versus a "batteries included" approach).

I agree with this concern. Back when TADS-3 was in development, I
suggested the same thing. Here's how that discussion played out:

http://lists.v-space.org/archive/tads3/200312/msg00063.html

and

http://lists.v-space.org/archive/tads3/200408/msg00072.html

> [W]e could be talking about design strategy now
> anyway, couldn't we?

You and me, sure. But we as a community? No, not unless Emily reverses
her rhetorical position, and campaigns in favor of open discussion.
Only then will we reopen the community-wide discussion.

steve....@gmail.com

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Oct 23, 2008, 3:02:10 PM10/23/08
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Conrad wrote:
> All right, Steve -- seriously, what is this?

Easily answered:

http://groups.google.com/group/rec.arts.int-fiction/msg/dfe601ecba84f5f4

Paul J. Furio

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Oct 23, 2008, 3:07:38 PM10/23/08
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On Oct 22, 3:08 pm, Andrew Plotkin <erkyr...@eblong.com> wrote:
> Are you trying to argue that the greatest IF games were produced when
> IF was written by people working in teams?

I'm arguing that the interpersonal environment, the weekly
"Implementors Lunches" and other face to face interaction that occurs
in team environments, produces better overall quality than that of
individuals working largely in isolation. I'd argue this is true for
almost all interactive and time-dependant works (theater, music, film,
video games).

I'm not saying there are zero great works by individuals, there
clearly are. But the ratio of great team efforts to great individual
efforts is clearly skewed in favor of the teams.

-paul

vaporware

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Oct 23, 2008, 4:40:54 PM10/23/08
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On Oct 23, 11:54 am, steve.bres...@gmail.com wrote:
[...]

> Well you're obviously a programmer, so I think this explanation will
> make sense: you can write a Tetris program in TADS-3. As a programmer,
> you realize that I'm not saying the future of IF is Tetris. You
> realize that I'm saying that basic programming capability opens doors.
>
> I7 is fine, if you want to stick with the standard. (You'll write a
> lot more code for the same effect, and it's going to be a constant
> pain, to figure out which English expression is Inglish-readable, and
> the world-model is less robust, and the extensions fight with each-
> other, and so on. But I7 is still "good enough.")
>
> If you want to do something beyond standard -- that is, if you want to
> develop the genre -- then chances are you'll want to actually
> *program*. At that point, it will be useful to be working within a
> programming language.

Luckily, Inform 7 *is* a programming language, as the manual points
out.

If you want to argue that it isn't, then perhaps you could provide an
example of something "beyond standard" that can't be done in I7. What
"basic programming capability" is it missing? What sort of genre
development might be possible under some other system but not under
I7? Surely you must have something more relevant than Tetris in mind
(even though one could, in fact, write Tetris in I7).

As a programmer, I've certainly wanted to "actually *program*" in I7
-- in fact, judging by the meager amount of fiction I've written,
compared to extensions and other abstract works, it would be fair to
say that actual programming is *all* I want to do with I7. But so far
I haven't been prevented from doing that, nor found it to be any more
difficult than it would be in I6 or TADS. On the other hand, I'm not
blinded by a personal grudge or persecution complex, so maybe that's
working in my favor.

vw

Adam Thornton

unread,
Oct 23, 2008, 6:48:37 PM10/23/08
to
In article <ead8bc2c-fb9a-4e77...@j22g2000hsf.googlegroups.com>,

<steve....@gmail.com> wrote:
>You and me, sure. But we as a community? No, not unless Emily reverses
>her rhetorical position, and campaigns in favor of open discussion.
>Only then will we reopen the community-wide discussion.

When did Emily get veto power over RAIF?

I didn't get that memo. None of my pets have mysteriously disappeared,
either.

Adam

steve....@gmail.com

unread,
Oct 23, 2008, 7:44:37 PM10/23/08
to
vaporware wrote:
> Luckily, Inform 7 *is* a programming language, as the manual points
> out.

The manual makes a point of pointing out that I7 is a programming
language? Heh, how amusing. I would have thought that this is obvious
enough.

> If you want to argue that it isn't[...]

Nope, but thanks for the offer!

> [P]erhaps you could provide an


> example of something "beyond standard" that can't be done in I7.

Nope. We both know that is logically impossible. Thanks for playing!

> What
> "basic programming capability" is it missing?

As above, it qualifies under Turing, so it cannot possibly be lacking
in theoretical capability. It's just highly inefficient and
cumbersome. But this is entirely beside the point!

> What sort of genre
> development might be possible under some other system but not under
> I7? Surely you must have something more relevant than Tetris in mind
> (even though one could, in fact, write Tetris in I7).

Use your imagination. When that fails you, complain about it on RAIF.
Oh, wait...

If you have no concept of genre development beside what I7 is designed
to accomplish, then you're basically just fodder for my initial
thesis. But re-read it: I have no problem with conservative IF --
repeat: no problem; it's fine. In fact, I like it. You're arguing
against a number of idiotic points, none of which anyone has made.

vaporware

unread,
Oct 23, 2008, 8:10:25 PM10/23/08
to
On Oct 23, 4:44 pm, steve.bres...@gmail.com wrote:
> vaporware wrote:
> > Luckily, Inform 7 *is* a programming language, as the manual points
> > out.
>
> The manual makes a point of pointing out that I7 is a programming
> language? Heh, how amusing. I would have thought that this is obvious
> enough.

I thought so too, but you implied it wasn't, so apparently this
obvious fact does need to be pointed out once in a while.

> > What
> > "basic programming capability" is it missing?
>
> As above, it qualifies under Turing, so it cannot possibly be lacking
> in theoretical capability. It's just highly inefficient and
> cumbersome. But this is entirely beside the point!

Then perhaps you could point out something that's so "inefficient and
cumbersome" as to be impractical.

Or perhaps you're just blowing hot air with these vague claims about
I7's unsuitability for tasks that you refuse to define.

> You're arguing
> against a number of idiotic points, none of which anyone has made.

Don't be so hard on yourself, Steve. You might not be a pillar of this
community, but you still count as "anyone".

vw

steve....@gmail.com

unread,
Oct 23, 2008, 8:33:59 PM10/23/08
to
On Oct 23, 8:10 pm, vaporware wrote:

> [Y]ou implied it wasn't [obvious that I7 is a programming language],


> so apparently this obvious fact does need to be pointed out once in
> a while.

I really don't understand the hostility. All I said was that I7 faces
the problem of specialization. General programming becomes highly
inefficient and cumbersome.

> > As above, it qualifies under Turing, so it cannot possibly be lacking
> > in theoretical capability. It's just highly inefficient and
> > cumbersome. But this is entirely beside the point!
>
> Then perhaps you could point out something that's so "inefficient and
> cumbersome" as to be impractical.

I should have thought that "inefficient and cumbersome" is a
reasonable definition of "impractical," but whatever. Again, this is
entirely beside the point.

> Or perhaps you're just blowing hot air with these vague claims about
> I7's unsuitability for tasks that you refuse to define.
>
> > You're arguing
> > against a number of idiotic points, none of which anyone has made.
>
> Don't be so hard on yourself, Steve. You might not be a pillar of this
> community, but you still count as "anyone".

Please, stop being "clever" and insulting. It's not helpful.

Jacek Pudlo, Esq.

unread,
Oct 23, 2008, 8:51:20 PM10/23/08
to
"Adam Thornton" <ad...@fsf.net> skrev i meddelandet
news:5jb7t5-...@quicksilver.fsf.net...

> In article
> <ead8bc2c-fb9a-4e77...@j22g2000hsf.googlegroups.com>,
> <steve....@gmail.com> wrote:
>>You and me, sure. But we as a community? No, not unless Emily reverses
>>her rhetorical position, and campaigns in favor of open discussion.
>>Only then will we reopen the community-wide discussion.
>
> When did Emily get veto power over RAIF?

The comicality of an unintentional clown is all the more comical for its
unintentionality. Emily Short is to Steve what Dulcinea is to Don Quixote
while I7 is a windmill transformed by his unwell mind into a ferocious
giant. Steve is a man who wears a wash basin on his head fully convinced it
is a knight's helmet. We, who can see Emily in all her quotidian semi-obese
banality, can laugh at Steve's notion of her near-satanic powers, but to him
she is his all, his religion. Note how he implores her to "campaign" for
free discussion -- much like Don Quixote prays to Dulcinea for protection --
as though free discussion on Usenet was possible only with Emily's
benediction. The sad part is that our "Dulcinea" is nowhere near as
influential and cunning as Steve would have her be. She's a woman whose life
is so empty she spends most of it commuting between IFMUD and RAIF,
occasionally informing us how busy she is. When will our "Quixote" realise
that his ladylove is a homely farm girl? Will he ever be well? The original
Quixote regains his sanity only to fall into a deep melancholy, and die
shortly after. I don't think we'll ever see a sane Steve again. The moment
he regains sanity he'll stop posting and will never be heard from again.


vaporware

unread,
Oct 23, 2008, 9:00:46 PM10/23/08
to
On Oct 23, 5:33 pm, steve.bres...@gmail.com wrote:
> On Oct 23, 8:10 pm, vaporware wrote:
>
> > [Y]ou implied it wasn't [obvious that I7 is a programming language],
> > so apparently this obvious fact does need to be pointed out once in
> > a while.
>
> I really don't understand the hostility. All I said was that I7 faces
> the problem of specialization. General programming becomes highly
> inefficient and cumbersome.
[...]

> I should have thought that "inefficient and cumbersome" is a
> reasonable definition of "impractical," but whatever. Again, this is
> entirely beside the point.

No, it goes straight to the point: you *claim* that general
programming is inefficient and cumbersome in I7, but you apparently
expect us to believe that claim just because you say so; you've given
no evidence that it actually *is* inefficient or cumbersome, and your
claim is contradicted by the experience of people like myself who've
actually taken the time to learn and use it.

vw

Andrew Plotkin

unread,
Oct 23, 2008, 9:32:48 PM10/23/08
to
Here, Paul J. Furio <pa...@staticengine.com> wrote:
> On Oct 22, 3:08 pm, Andrew Plotkin <erkyr...@eblong.com> wrote:
> > Are you trying to argue that the greatest IF games were produced when
> > IF was written by people working in teams?
>
> I'm arguing that the interpersonal environment, the weekly
> "Implementors Lunches" and other face to face interaction that occurs
> in team environments, produces better overall quality than that of
> individuals working largely in isolation.

First, you seem to have fallen off your segue from Jim's original
desire for *more* good IF works. Team game creation may be a more
efficient way to get works written, or it may not, but surely that's a
marginal change compared to the number of people *trying* to write IF.
You want to drop that and talk about quality now?

Second, you're saying that the Infocom era was the Great Era of IF,
the model we have to return to. I disagree. The best text adventures
in our canon are on the Archive. We've done better horror than Lurking
Horror, better SF than Starcross, etc, etc.

Infocom unquestionably produced more *consistent* quality than the
*overall* modern community. Their worst games were good, solid work.
Our worst games are tossed-off garbage -- as any IFComp judge knows.
Is this a surprise? No, it's because Infocom was a commercial
enterprise, made up of selected, talented people working full-time.
*We* are everybody we can convince to pick up a development kit.
Obviously this leads to a lot of non-great work. But that doesn't look
like a failure to me.

> I'd argue this is true for almost all interactive and time-dependant
> works (theater, music, film, video games).

I don't at all understand what you mean by "time-dependent".

Theatrical performance and musical performance have an element of
physical skill, in real-time -- I mean, you have to be able to play
the flute or emote dialogue -- but video games don't have that.

> I'm not saying there are zero great works by individuals, there
> clearly are. But the ratio of great team efforts to great individual
> efforts is clearly skewed in favor of the teams.

I don't think that's true in the IF sphere.

You can make a decent argument that writing is hard, and programming
is hard, and therefore you can get more good games if you let writers
team up with programmers. (Or three axes, viz Dave C.'s point of
view.) I'm not sure this is the argument you're making, though. And it
has nothing to say about the quality of the work produced -- only
about the relative difficulty of finding people who are good at both
writing and programming.

Paul J. Furio

unread,
Oct 23, 2008, 11:22:17 PM10/23/08
to
On Oct 23, 6:32 pm, Andrew Plotkin <erkyr...@eblong.com> wrote:
> First, you seem to have fallen off your segue from Jim's original
> desire for *more* good IF works.

Hmm... What I'm attempting to convey is that, even if lots of people
try writing IF, the proportion of good games to bad ones is at least
as important as the number of good games being produced. Otherwise we
may end up with an MP3.com type situation, where the overwhelming
majority of content is crap, and finding the quality is so difficult
that potential players are turned away from seeking it out. I would
rather see the overall percentage of quality go up rather than see the
ratio of good to bad remain the same, but have to choose from
thousands of titles rather than dozens.


> Second, you're saying that the Infocom era was the Great Era of IF,
> the model we have to return to.

I used the "Implementors Lunch" as an example, and that may have
conveyed more than I meant it to. Speaking from experience, I think
that teams produce better quality on a more consistant basis, than
individuals. Anyone can write a Flash casual game, for example, but I
think the best ones I've played have been created by teams, despite
the fact that there are many, many Flash casual games, most of which
are poor.


> I don't at all understand what you mean by "time-dependent".

I was attempting to describe anything where the passage of time is
important to the total enjoyment of the work. Paintings and sculpture
would not fall into the category, unless one wanted to be totally
pedantic and talk about outdoor sculpture at various times of day or
in various seasons.


> > I'm not saying there are zero great works by individuals, there
> > clearly are.  But the ratio of great team efforts to great individual
> > efforts is clearly skewed in favor of the teams.
>
> I don't think that's true in the IF sphere.

I'd agree with you, but only because, since the Inform era, the vast
majority of titles have been individual works. We haven't seen
significant numbers of team developed titles yet. If there's a large
list of team-developed titles that I'm unaware of, then I stand
corrected.

I'm trying to make my point without being too disagreeable here, I
hope you understand. There are lots of talented people who are
interested and commited to IF, and I'm not trying to crap on anyone.
I'm merely trying to state that I think group efforts are worth
exploring, and in my experience across a variety of different content
production, group efforts produce works that are consistantly better
than the _average_ individual work. If the goal is to get more
quality, we should try some collaborative works (and if I had the time
and funding at the moment, I'd be actively pursuing this goal, but, oh
hey look at my disappearing liquidity!).

If the goal is simply to produce _more_ and hope that the current
ratio of quality to garbage holds, then by all means, open the
floodgates to the individual contributors. I'd love to see the works
of the next Short, Plotkin, Cadre, and Graham. However, I think that
the works of Dedicated Interactive Fiction LLC would be collectively
better than the works of Furio et al.

I hope that comes across in a clear, and respectful, manner. Thanks.

-paul

Adam Thornton

unread,
Oct 24, 2008, 12:46:17 AM10/24/08
to
In article <tI6dnYzNt46MgZzU...@giganews.com>,
Jacek Pudlo, Esq. <ja...@jacek.jacek> wrote:
[snip]

On the whole, I think I preferred the Zhukov imagery to the Dulcinea
imagery.

Adam

Pete Chown

unread,
Oct 24, 2008, 4:03:26 AM10/24/08
to
steve.breslin wrote:

> As above, [I7] qualifies under Turing, so it cannot possibly be lacking
> in theoretical capability.

A Turing machine can lack theoretical capability in a certain sense. For
example, imagine a Turing machine simulator which has been implemented in
a Java applet. Ignoring constraints on memory, it can carry out the same
computations as any other Turing machine. On the other hand, it is
subject to the "sandbox" restrictions, so it lacks theoretical capability.

This is true of I7 as well. It doesn't provide access to all the
operating system facilities on the platforms where the games run. The
question is whether this stops IF evolving.

Certainly the game I was trying to write (which uses menus rather than
typed commands) would be very difficult in both I7 and TADS. On the
other hand, at the moment I'm a bit stuck, because I'm having trouble
making any puzzles work with that kind of user interface. If the
solution to a puzzle is a menu option, the user gets a huge clue as soon
as he or she looks at the menu.

If my game was finished and meaningful, I suppose it would be one case
where I7 and TADS were hindering the evolution of IF. If you want to
write a conventional game, you get a nice toolkit to do it. If you want
to write a game with a GUI, you end up writing in Java and get a load of
extra hassle.

Unfortunately because my game isn't finished, and right now I can't see
any way to make it meaningful, it isn't a good example.

Pete

Pete Chown

unread,
Oct 24, 2008, 4:17:57 AM10/24/08
to
Paul J. Furio wrote:

> Hmm... What I'm attempting to convey is that, even if lots of people try
> writing IF, the proportion of good games to bad ones is at least as
> important as the number of good games being produced. Otherwise we may
> end up with an MP3.com type situation, where the overwhelming majority
> of content is crap, and finding the quality is so difficult that
> potential players are turned away from seeking it out.

Wouldn't the ratings on things like IFDB help with that? It's hard to
remember, but I don't think MP3.com had ratings: the bad music was just
thrown in with the good. However, on IFDB, you can list the highest
rated games first if that is what you want.

Pete

S. John Ross

unread,
Oct 24, 2008, 7:01:46 AM10/24/08
to

> When did Emily get veto power over RAIF?
>
> I didn't get that memo.  None of my pets have mysteriously disappeared,
> either.

Well, YES but ... It's true that there's nothing _mysterious_ about
the time your tabby kitten, Mister Wrinkles, was hauled away across
the lawn by an electrified neck-collar being tugged by a burly man
wearing an "Emily Short Usenet Enforcement Agency" jacket, but it's
also avoiding the point, isn't it?

Mind you, I'm typing this one-handed ... and not in the FUN way, after
having my left arm literally broken off by another two officers of the
ESUEA. At least they had the decency to cauterize the stump with a red-
hot poker (and offer me a consolation in the form of some really nice
Leerdammer ...), but it was all because I tried to post a mild
critique of the "Assorted Text Generation" extension.

If I vanish into the night, you will know why.

Jacek Pudlo, Esq.

unread,
Oct 24, 2008, 12:42:06 PM10/24/08
to
<steve....@gmail.com> skrev i meddelandet
news:f4372dbd-0863-4f0d...@y21g2000hsf.googlegroups.com...

You live in the past, Steve. Of course, we all do. Old flames, old friends,
people and events that once resided in a tangible reality. Your past resides
in Google Archive.

Andrew Plotkin

unread,
Oct 24, 2008, 5:08:36 PM10/24/08
to
Here, Paul J. Furio <pa...@staticengine.com> wrote:
> On Oct 23, 6:32 pm, Andrew Plotkin <erkyr...@eblong.com> wrote:
> > First, you seem to have fallen off your segue from Jim's original
> > desire for *more* good IF works.
>
> Hmm... What I'm attempting to convey is that, even if lots of people
> try writing IF, the proportion of good games to bad ones is at least
> as important as the number of good games being produced. Otherwise we
> may end up with an MP3.com type situation, where the overwhelming
> majority of content is crap, and finding the quality is so difficult
> that potential players are turned away from seeking it out. I would
> rather see the overall percentage of quality go up rather than see the
> ratio of good to bad remain the same, but have to choose from
> thousands of titles rather than dozens.

I would *much* rather see the latter situation -- which is not so much
an "MP3.com type situation" as "the Internet". If people are
interested in working, they will work, and some of the work will be
bad. A better work methodology may raise your percentage of quality,
but never by enough to beat Sturgeon's Law.

Unless you're talking about keeping bad writers and bad programmers
off the teams so that they can't produce anything at all. Which I hope
you're not.

The solution to "drowning in crap" must always be filtering and
focussing mechanisms, not trying to micromanage the artists at the
source. That may mean blog-post recommendations, or IFDB, or
commercial publishers buying and distributing the best titles -- but
it's a conversation about what happens after the work is written.

The conversation about *how to work* is always incremental... we just
hope that the long-term gains add up.

> > Second, you're saying that the Infocom era was the Great Era of IF,
> > the model we have to return to.
>
> I used the "Implementors Lunch" as an example, and that may have
> conveyed more than I meant it to.

Okay.

> Speaking from experience, I think that teams produce better quality
> on a more consistant basis, than individuals.

I won't disagree with that... as an expectation, not a rule. But there
are dependent factors there. A team typically has more commitment to
finishing what they start -- because if any one member doesn't, he
flakes and possibly takes down the whole effort. In other words,
some of what you're looking at is selection bias rather than
methodology.

> > I don't at all understand what you mean by "time-dependent".
>
> I was attempting to describe anything where the passage of time is
> important to the total enjoyment of the work. Paintings and sculpture
> would not fall into the category, unless one wanted to be totally
> pedantic and talk about outdoor sculpture at various times of day or
> in various seasons.

I understand the term now, but I don't see what the link is between
that and individual versus team effort. It is at best a coincidence
that creating a movie, a symphony, or a first-person shooter requires
lots of different skills which are very hard to find in one person.
Text adventures are unusual (among videogames) in that they require
only a couple of skills, so I don't want to lump them in with other
games.

(I'd go farther: I think that creating great IF requires great writing
but merely competent programming skills.)

> > > I'm not saying there are zero great works by individuals, there
> > > clearly are.  But the ratio of great team efforts to great individual
> > > efforts is clearly skewed in favor of the teams.
> >
> > I don't think that's true in the IF sphere.
>
> I'd agree with you, but only because, since the Inform era, the vast
> majority of titles have been individual works. We haven't seen
> significant numbers of team developed titles yet.

That is true. And I would be happy to *see* team-developed titles.

I guess I was taking your posts as arguments from the history of IF,
rather than speculation (and suggestion) about the future. This is a
question which has not yet been tested, so, hey, it's the Internet --
thousands of titles implies more people trying different ways of doing
stuff. That's good. :)

Watts Martin

unread,
Oct 26, 2008, 2:38:35 PM10/26/08
to
On Oct 23, 11:54 am, steve.bres...@gmail.com wrote:

> I7 is fine, if you want to stick with the standard. (You'll write a
> lot more code for the same effect, and it's going to be a constant
> pain, to figure out which English expression is Inglish-readable, and
> the world-model is less robust, and the extensions fight with each-
> other, and so on. But I7 is still "good enough.")

I think of Inform 7 (so far) as something of an extremely elaborate
preprocessor. (Actually, I guess that's precisely what it is in
operation, since it's producing Inform 6 code.) You don't always write
more code, even though it can look awfully verbose compared to most
programming languages; for a while I was working on translating Eric
Eve's "Adventures of Heidi" sample TADS 3 game to I7, just as an
exercise in learning both. The I7 code looks much wordier, but in
terms of measurable length they're surprisingly similar.

The world model is less robust "out of the box," certainly; Inform
doesn't start with a concept of chairs, or a distinction between
sitting and standing on something, but the extensions to do many of
the things TADS' library does are already out there. For IF, there's
certainly an argument to be made for the batteries included approach
(part of why I stopped my idle porting experiment is that I really
didn't feel like digging into I7's myriad of conversation-focused
extensions at that time to see which one would get me closest to what
TADS does natively); in practice I don't know how much of an issue
that really is. (Note that by "I don't know" I don't euphemistically
mean "I really don't think it would be an issue," I mean "I haven't
ever tried to write anything large in IF and genuinely have no clue.")

> If you want to do something beyond standard -- that is, if you want to
> develop the genre -- then chances are you'll want to actually
> *program*. At that point, it will be useful to be working within a
> programming language.

Well, here's the thing. (Okay, just a thing, maybe not *the* thing.)
Your example of Tetris is actually a good example of something I7
can't do, as Turing-complete as it may be; the truly weirdo non-IF
examples of Inform programming seem to exclusively be Inform 6,
because I7 Just Doesn't Go There. And it seems more than a few
extensions available for I7 sneak in Inform 6 code, or sometimes even
Z-Code.

But in terms of things that are the main purvey of IF -- interactive
storytelling and related endeavors -- can you think of something
specific that can be done in TADS that would be really difficult to do
in Inform 7? I can't, but as I said above, I haven't tried to write
anything complex. (My not pushing on to port more complex TADS
conversation to I7 in that sample game may say more about my attention
span than it does about Inform...)

steve....@gmail.com

unread,
Oct 27, 2008, 9:58:17 AM10/27/08
to
vaporware:

> > I really don't understand the hostility. All I said was that I7 faces
> > the problem of specialization. General programming becomes highly
> > inefficient and cumbersome.
> [...]
> > I should have thought that "inefficient and cumbersome" is a
> > reasonable definition of "impractical," but whatever. Again, this is
> > entirely beside the point.
>
> No, it goes straight to the point: you *claim* that general
> programming is inefficient and cumbersome in I7, but you apparently
> expect us to believe that claim just because you say so[.]

Ah, I understand the confusion! You're quite right: the claim that "I7
is not a good 'general purpose' programming language" should be
demonstrated. If this were the main point that I was making, of course
I would elaborate this in detail.

However, this is beside my main point, so I will only make a quick few
points. First, computer-science departments across the world have
relatively few resources invested in rule-based programming models,
because it is generally agreed that rule-based programming is both
inefficient and cumbersome. Also, specialized programming languages
tend to be cumbersome when transplanted from their original intended
context; in other words, specialization is self-limiting by
definition. Take a look at any strongly procedure-oriented I7
extension: RAP, for example, is very messy and weird. Or you could try
to do any "abuse" program without dropping into I6; I think you'll
quickly discover it's laughable. Finally, anyone with a rudimentary
sense of rule-based implementations will immediately see that even
efficiently-compiled programs written in rule-based languages (like
Prolog) are much less efficient than equivalent programs written in C
for example. You can perform the study yourself, of course! Or you
could read a basic textbook on the subject.

But as I said, this is beside the point. (Not the least reason being
that this is obvious stuff, which I think we can assume everybody
agrees upon. The *significance* of I7's limitations can be argued, but
the existence of those limitations is apparent.)

To clarify the point -- it was really a set of points, relating to: 1)
the significance of I7's limitations (as tending to cement a
conservative view of IF -- that's the specialization range); 2) the
political campaign to polarize the discussion and demonize
disagreement and criticism (which is reminiscent of conservative
politics the world over); 2a) the consequent recent conservatism of
RAIF, and the hostility and identity-politics which tends to accompany
conservatism; 3) the increasing creative conservatism of the genre,
which has been noted for many years, but which has recently gotten
worse.

The larger suggestion being, of course, that these conservative
developments are related.

John W Kennedy

unread,
Oct 28, 2008, 6:08:39 PM10/28/08
to
steve....@gmail.com wrote:
> To clarify the point -- it was really a set of points, relating to: 1)
> the significance of I7's limitations (as tending to cement a
> conservative view of IF -- that's the specialization range); 2) the
> political campaign to polarize the discussion and demonize
> disagreement and criticism (which is reminiscent of conservative
> politics the world over); 2a) the consequent recent conservatism of
> RAIF, and the hostility and identity-politics which tends to accompany
> conservatism; 3) the increasing creative conservatism of the genre,
> which has been noted for many years, but which has recently gotten
> worse.

> The larger suggestion being, of course, that these conservative
> developments are related.

I would ask Breslin whether or not, in his estimation, John Ruskin was
"conservative", but considerations of hygiene prevent me.

--
John W. Kennedy
"Those in the seat of power oft forget their failings and seek only
the obeisance of others! Thus is bad government born! Hold in your
heart that you and the people are one, human beings all, and good
government shall arise of its own accord! Such is the path of virtue!"
-- Kazuo Koike. "Lone Wolf and Cub: Thirteen Strings" (tr. Dana Lewis)

vaporware

unread,
Oct 28, 2008, 8:23:00 PM10/28/08
to
On Oct 27, 6:58 am, steve.bres...@gmail.com wrote:
> vaporware:
>
> > > I really don't understand the hostility. All I said was that I7 faces
> > > the problem of specialization. General programming becomes highly
> > > inefficient and cumbersome.
> > [...]
> > > I should have thought that "inefficient and cumbersome" is a
> > > reasonable definition of "impractical," but whatever. Again, this is
> > > entirely beside the point.
>
> > No, it goes straight to the point: you *claim* that general
> > programming is inefficient and cumbersome in I7, but you apparently
> > expect us to believe that claim just because you say so[.]
>
> Ah, I understand the confusion! You're quite right: the claim that "I7
> is not a good 'general purpose' programming language" should be
> demonstrated. If this were the main point that I was making, of course
> I would elaborate this in detail.
>
> However, this is beside my main point, so I will only make a quick few
> points. First, computer-science departments across the world have
> relatively few resources invested in rule-based programming models,
> because it is generally agreed that rule-based programming is both
> inefficient and cumbersome.

Argumentum ad populum? Or is this merely an appeal to authority? It's
been so long since debate class, but either way, this won't fly.

> Also, specialized programming languages
> tend to be cumbersome when transplanted from their original intended
> context; in other words, specialization is self-limiting by
> definition. Take a look at any strongly procedure-oriented I7
> extension: RAP, for example, is very messy and weird.

What insight are we supposed to glean from your personal views of the
"weirdness" of an extension which was originally written for a
procedural language and then ported to I7?

> Or you could try
> to do any "abuse" program without dropping into I6; I think you'll
> quickly discover it's laughable.

No, not really. Perhaps you're assuming that no one will call you on
this claim, because no one will have done it already, because it's so
clearly impractical -- but in fact it isn't. I've written an I7 game
that uses character graphics and mouse input, and it was no more
"laughable" than it would've been in I6. Eliminating the story
transcript and command prompt, and relying entirely on mouse/character
input and full-screen character graphics, would be a trivial extension
to the code I already have.

("Without dropping into I6" is an amusing caveat, but it's safely
ignored. I6 inclusions are part of I7; I7 is largely a template system
for I6 code; and including I6 code for low-level tasks like screen
manipulation is no more of a cheat than including Z-code assembly
opcodes in an I6 program -- or including native assembly code in libc.
You can't have turtles all the way down.)

You mentioned Tetris earlier, and although Watts Martin thought you
were on to something with that, I must disagree. Tetris is just
character graphics and single-key timed input, neither of which pose a
problem. But Tetris and other "abuse" programs aren't the kind of
genre development you have in mind, so how is this relevant anyway?

> Finally, anyone with a rudimentary
> sense of rule-based implementations will immediately see that even
> efficiently-compiled programs written in rule-based languages (like
> Prolog) are much less efficient than equivalent programs written in C
> for example. You can perform the study yourself, of course! Or you
> could read a basic textbook on the subject.

I thought we were talking about the practicality of implementing
something in a language, not the efficiency of the output produced by
a particular compiler for that language. But without an example of
something that can be efficiently implemented in I6/TADS but not I7,
the point is moot.

> But as I said, this is beside the point. (Not the least reason being
> that this is obvious stuff, which I think we can assume everybody
> agrees upon. The *significance* of I7's limitations can be argued, but
> the existence of those limitations is apparent.)
>
> To clarify the point -- it was really a set of points, relating to: 1)
> the significance of I7's limitations (as tending to cement a
> conservative view of IF -- that's the specialization range);

You *still* haven't shown the supposed significance of these
limitations. What is I7 stopping us from doing, in terms of advancing
a broader view of IF? Do you have an answer for that question yet, or
are you just going to wave your hands around and bluster some more?

> 2) the
> political campaign to polarize the discussion and demonize
> disagreement and criticism (which is reminiscent of conservative
> politics the world over);

The existence of that campaign is pure fiction, but that doesn't stop
you from pretending you're being oppressed, does it? You claimed that
there was a conspiracy to keep you down, then you tried to weasel out
of that claim when you were called on it, and now here it is again.

> 2a) the consequent recent conservatism of
> RAIF, and the hostility and identity-politics which tends to accompany
> conservatism;

Please. The hostility and "identity-politics" which has been directed
at you is the direct result of your own past hostility and ongoing
persecution fantasies. If you had managed to express your criticism
with a level head, instead of insulting the developers and accusing
them of heading an outlandish conspiracy to suppress dissent, this
wouldn't be happening.

vw

Jacek Pudlo, Esq.

unread,
Oct 29, 2008, 11:16:22 AM10/29/08
to
vaporware

"You *still* haven't shown the supposed significance of these
limitations. What is I7 stopping us from doing, in terms of advancing
a broader view of IF? Do you have an answer for that question yet, or
are you just going to wave your hands around and bluster some more?"

Let's bring this thread down to earth. I'll give you an actual example of
what I perceive as an I7 drawback.

What follows is an excerpt from _An Act of Murder_ by Christopher Huang,
written in I7.


Central Hall
[...] High above, the night sky is visible through a vast skylight.

> X SKYLIGHT
It's a little grimy, but you can still see the clear night sky up above, and
the moon.

> X MOON
Gibbous moon waxing.

> TOUCH MOON
You feel nothing unexpected.


Note the competent prose, the level of detail, the fact that this game was
one of the top entries in last year's comp, and note the utter ineptitude of
its handling of distant objects. I believe that, had _An Act of Murder_ been
written in I6, its handling of distant objects would have been more
accurate. The limitation is not a structural but a pedagogical one. I7 makes
certain very basic things, things that were already easy in I6, easier
still. It makes those things so easy, in fact, that you can write a fairly
extensive game in I7 despite being algorithmically illetarate and having no
knowledge whatsoever of the standard libraries or even the command
vocabulary.

What I7 has done so far is to bring fresh humanistic talent to IF, to
attract authors like Christopher Huang, authors with an interest in the
human condition, as opposed to the "condition" of dragons and elves. An
unfortunate bi-effect is that I7 has also degraded the level of IF
craftsmanship.

mikegentry

unread,
Oct 29, 2008, 1:29:00 PM10/29/08
to

Can you provide a specific example of what makes it easier to remember
to write a react_before routine in I6 to catch touching the moon, than
to remember to write

Before doing something other then examining when the noun is the
moon or the second noun is the moon, say "You can't touch the moon."
instead.

in I7?

Jacek Pudlo, Esq.

unread,
Oct 29, 2008, 2:50:36 PM10/29/08
to
mikegentry

> extensive game in I7 despite being algorithmically iliterate and having no


> knowledge whatsoever of the standard libraries or even the command
> vocabulary.

"Can you provide a specific example of what makes it easier to remember
to write a react_before routine in I6 to catch touching the moon, than
to remember to write

Before doing something other then examining when the noun is the
moon or the second noun is the moon, say "You can't touch the moon."
instead.

in I7?"

One reason why a *competent* I6 author would be less likely to make such an
omissions is that I6 enforces an object-oriented typography. Consider the
following.

Object Moon "moon"
with name "moon",
description [;
print "Gibbous moon waxing.^";
],
before [;
Examine: rfalse;
default: "Too far away.";
],
has scenery;

Now, isn't this more intuitive, more comprehensible-at-a-glance, than the
pseudo-NL sentences of I7?

Another reason is I6's intimate relationship to the standard libraries. An
I6 programmer can easily tweak the libraries because they are written in his
language of choice. To an I7 programmer the libraries must appear like Latin
to a modern French speaker -- vaguely familiar and incomprehensibly archaic.

The third reason is that the I6 programmer knows how the system works under
the hood. He knows why FUCK is intransitive and how to make it transitive
while retaining the intransitive version, etc.

steve....@gmail.com

unread,
Oct 29, 2008, 6:42:03 PM10/29/08
to
vaporware wrote:

> The existence of that campaign is pure fiction[.]

I love that idea, "pure fiction." What a delightful notion! Ok, back
to reality.

Many people have said that they wanted to ask critical questions about
I7, but were turned off by the attacks which met other critical
questions. I saw a lot of public outrage at the I7 campaign, and I
received far more numerous private communications, which complained
about the outrageous behavior of Emily Short, Graham Nelson, and
others who wrote a lot of nasty stuff at the time (and still do!).
Even Emily Short recently conceded that she has received numerous
private emails from people who had issues with I7, but were afraid to
speak publicly for fear of being unfairly attacked.

It was a campaign, and it was political in nature. It still is.

> > 2a) the consequent recent conservatism of
> > RAIF, and the hostility and identity-politics which tends to accompany
> > conservatism;
>
> Please. The hostility and "identity-politics" which has been directed

> at you is [...]

Actually, I really don't mind the heat personally. Haven't you
noticed? :) But I do think the whole movement has been terribly poor.
Poorly thought out, foolish in execution, and it has dragged down the
whole community. That I do mind.

Also note that "identity politics" is perhaps a more useful concept
for this discussion than you acknowledge. It means that people attach
*themselves* to a political position; they label themselves. The idea
being that they want to identify with someone or something, and that's
their identity. Normally, weak-minded people do this -- you know, the
ones who lack an identity to begin with.

> You *still* haven't shown the supposed significance of these
> limitations.

Ah, now you're developing the argument intelligently -- almost! All we
need is that same question framed as a genuine interest (rather than
an odd rhetorical dart), and you'll be doing great!

Why don't you work on eliminating the bullshit, and trying to have a
real discussion?! That would be more enjoyable for me, and I think for
everyone else also. We can (2 and 1/2 years later) overcome the I7
flamewar, I hope. -- If you want it to happen.

--

Now I will have a bit of fun with the complaint that my argument is
unfair....

> > [T]his is beside my main point, so I will only make a quick few


> > points. First, computer-science departments across the world have
> > relatively few resources invested in rule-based programming models,
> > because it is generally agreed that rule-based programming is both
> > inefficient and cumbersome.
>
> Argumentum ad populum? Or is this merely an appeal to authority? It's
> been so long since debate class, but either way, this won't fly.

The short response: it flies because the argument is "cogent."

Your response is "argumentum ab obstinato," normally classified as a
"red herring" argument -- a double red herring, in fact. Not only have
you changed the subject, but now you're arguing that my response to
your tangent is entirely lacking in merit, on grounds that it contains
either a logical fallacy or an unfair piece of rhetoric. ("Appeal to
authority" and "ad populum" can come in both flavors.)

I'm greatly amused by the objection (probably the ironical part), so
I'll elaborate.

If you're grounding your objection on deductive logic, then the
correct response is to concede that the argument does not offer (nor
was it ever intended to offer) demonstrative proof. In other words,
yes, all the experts could be wrong.

(In this case, yours is a similar objection to those of anti-evolution
activists, who argue that evolution is a *theory* only. To this,
scientists sigh at the obfuscation and rhetorical gymnastics, then
clarify that *all* scientific knowledge is theoretical, and it's
outside of the field of science to *prove* anything; their task is
limited to the establishment of convincing probability.)

So, no, I'm not trying to "prove" that rule-based programming is
necessarily more cumbersome than procedural programming. But I haven't
specialized in this personally; I only know what moderately literate
people know on this subject. It's probably possible to establish and
quantify expressive power, compactness, and so on -- so maybe you
could do some research and prove this for yourself!

(In this connection, I refer you to the fallacy of "Burden of Proof"
-- or better yet, you might consider the rule of thumb that "if the
sceptic puts forth a hypothesis inconsistent with the hypothesis of
common sense, then there is no burden of proof on either side." So in
other words, I shouldn't be expected to prove that all the experts are
right, and you shouldn't be expected to prove that they might all be
wrong.)

The main reason that we have the objection against "argument from
authority" is reflected in the history of the concept: "argumentum ad
verecundiam" basically means "argument coming from a respected person,
who we believe." In other words, it's *not* "argument from experts"
but "argument from authority." You wouldn't object to a point because
it's upheld by a consensus of experts, but you might object if it's
upheld based on the testimony of someone in a position of authority.

The best modern example is Colin Powell's speech to the UN
(immediately before the Iraq war), where he argued that Iraq had WMD.
British news blasted him for standing upon sources which were
obviously unreliable and sometimes obviously laughable; and the world
(outside the US) quickly determined that he was lying. However, inside
the US, all the major news sources were convinced, because he's a
respected person. (Yes, it comes back to conservatism again; I do like
to stay on point. :)

"Argument from authority" really means "argument from false
authority," or "argument from misleading authority." The real problem
is not in the situation where the experts agree. The problem is in the
situation where somebody in authority claims something is true, based
on their own authority. Obviously, this is unfair and potentially
misleading.

If you're suggesting that it was unfair of me to invoke the fact that
experts agree that rule-based programming is cumbersome in general
terms, then I really can't see what you're getting at. The statement
is true and not misleading; you asked for an argument defending my
position; it seems a fair argument to me. If it makes you feel better,
I happily concede (with the experts) that rule-based programming has
its place; it can be really useful in specific domains. As I said,
I7's lack of general power concerns me; it's obviously fine for
designing whitebread IF.

I'm happy to move on whenever you are, but while we're identifying
fallacies which don't fly, consider the following which you have
committed: the self-sealing fallacy, proof by verbosity, and of course
the straw man, appeal to emotion, appeal to ridicule, and argument ad
hominem. My argument has been fair; yours, however, has not.

Adam Thornton

unread,
Oct 29, 2008, 10:02:22 PM10/29/08
to
In article <7cc9a3a5-f902-43ae...@26g2000hsk.googlegroups.com>,

<steve....@gmail.com> wrote:
>I received far more numerous private communications, which complained
>about the outrageous behavior of Emily Short, Graham Nelson, and
>others who wrote a lot of nasty stuff at the time (and still do!).

Awww. The lurkers support you in email. How sweet.

[...snip...]

>So, no, I'm not trying to "prove" that rule-based programming is
>necessarily more cumbersome than procedural programming. But I haven't
>specialized in this personally; I only know what moderately literate
>people know on this subject. It's probably possible to establish and
>quantify expressive power, compactness, and so on -- so maybe you
>could do some research and prove this for yourself!

But I think this is precisely the issue.

I will grant your assertion that (also being unfamiliar with the
literature) rule-based programming is less efficient than procedural
programming for the generic domain of computer programming. PROLOG did
not, in fact, take the world by storm.

Inform 7, however, is a very domain-specific language. Sure, it's
Turing-complete, et cetera et cetera, but, honestly, no one in anything
approaching his right mind would use it for anything other than *writing
text adventures*. ("Writing *interactive fiction*" if you're being, oh,
post-1990.)

What Graham is betting--and what my experience tends to bear out--is
that, within the domain of *writing IF*, rule-based programming actually
is much less effortful than procedural programming.

I don't know why you keep repeatedly dismissing my assertions that it is
so. It certainly is for me: I can write much faster--and it's much more
fun--in I7 than I can in TADS 2 or I6 (I do not consider myself
sufficiently competent in TADS 3 yet to claim proficiency, although it
looks, frankly, not-much-different from T2, so I don't think it will
take me long).

As some sort of assertion of my ability to write actual code in
traditional procedural languages, I'll point at
http://src.opensolaris.org/source/xref/systemz/usr/src/uts/zSeries/io/ccw/diag250_hl.c
(and its sibling
http://src.opensolaris.org/source/xref/systemz/usr/src/uts/zSeries/io/ccw/diag250_ll.c
)

Those are device drivers for OpenSolaris on System Z, which seems to me
to be straightforward procedural code (how much of the code is mine, and
how much is Leland's? The world may never know!).

>If you're suggesting that it was unfair of me to invoke the fact that
>experts agree that rule-based programming is cumbersome in general
>terms, then I really can't see what you're getting at.

I don't know what Jesse is getting at. What I'm getting at is that the
general case is not, in fact, the case with which we are concerned.

>I happily concede (with the experts) that rule-based programming has
>its place; it can be really useful in specific domains. As I said,
>I7's lack of general power concerns me; it's obviously fine for
>designing whitebread IF.

And, as far as I can tell, it's fine for designing non-whitebread IF.
Please, show me an IF-relevant example that's substantially easier in
TADS 3 than it is in Inform.

(I suspect that a decent NPC knowledgebase system actually *is* such a
thing, but it hasn't been demonstrated yet...and of course the
difficulty of doing that right in I7 might *still* outweigh the pain of
doing the *rest* of the game in TADS.)

>My argument has been fair; yours, however, has not.

My arguments rarely are, largely because I prefer snide one-liners to
actual reasoned analysis, as there are other things I do with my life
(like write device drivers) than reply to posts on Usenet. I think this
one has been, though.

Adam

vaporware

unread,
Oct 29, 2008, 10:46:05 PM10/29/08
to
On Oct 29, 3:42 pm, steve.bres...@gmail.com wrote:
> vaporware wrote:
> > The existence of that campaign is pure fiction[.]
>
> I love that idea, "pure fiction." What a delightful notion! Ok, back
> to reality.
>
> Many people have said that they wanted to ask critical questions about
> I7, but were turned off by the attacks which met other critical
> questions.

By "other critical questions" I can only assume you're referring to
your own posts, which were deservedly attacked -- not because of the
fact that you dared to question I7, but because of the hostile way you
went about it.

> Even Emily Short recently conceded that she has received numerous
> private emails from people who had issues with I7, but were afraid to
> speak publicly for fear of being unfairly attacked.

Well, that's a shame, but the responsibility for that falls squarely
on your own shoulders. You provoked the attacks, and then you claimed
that they were not a response to your own hostility, which they were,
but a knee-jerk backlash against criticism of I7, which they were not.
If anyone is afraid of being unfairly attacked, the most likely reason
is that you've managed to convince them that *you* were unfairly
attacked.

> It was a campaign, and it was political in nature. It still is.

Luckily, this persecution fantasy of yours has become so far-fetched
that I doubt anyone will fall for it this time around.

> > You *still* haven't shown the supposed significance of these
> > limitations.
>
> Ah, now you're developing the argument intelligently -- almost! All we
> need is that same question framed as a genuine interest (rather than
> an odd rhetorical dart), and you'll be doing great!

After the part you quoted, I wrote, "What is I7 stopping us from


doing, in terms of advancing a broader view of IF? Do you have an
answer for that question yet, or are you just going to wave your hands
around and bluster some more?"

And it looks like you managed to answer one of my questions after all.
It was the rhetorical one, but at least that's a start.

> Why don't you work on eliminating the bullshit, and trying to have a
> real discussion?!

The ball's in your court, Steve. Again: what is I7 stopping us from


doing, in terms of advancing a broader view of IF?

vw

steve....@gmail.com

unread,
Oct 29, 2008, 11:36:14 PM10/29/08
to
Adam Thornton wrote:
> >I received far more numerous private communications, which complained
> >about the outrageous behavior of Emily Short, Graham Nelson, and
> >others who wrote a lot of nasty stuff at the time (and still do!).
>
> Awww.  The lurkers support you in email.  How sweet.

I think you just spoke volumes about yourself and about RAIF (insofar
as you're a regular contributor). It's not just the snide dismissal,
the sickly sarcasm, the implied skepticism. -- You tell the story by
the way you edit the quotation. The full quotation was:

> Many people have said that they wanted to ask critical questions about
> I7, but were turned off by the attacks which met other critical

> questions. I saw a lot of public outrage at the I7 campaign, and I
> received far more numerous private communications [...]

You delete the part about public outrage, which (as public) is
confirmed right there in the historical archive. You also delete the
part after the quote you select:

> Even Emily Short recently conceded that she has received numerous
> private emails from people who had issues with I7, but were afraid to
> speak publicly for fear of being unfairly attacked.

That is also immediately certifiable. This was the proper context of
the quote. The only reason you delete the context is that you want to
imply that I'm failing to provide publicly-available evidence. You
want to sound skeptical. I'm not pulling a fast one -- but you're
trying to!

And you wonder why I don't take you seriously! Heh, you could start by
taking a honest leadership role in the community.

Andrew Plotkin

unread,
Oct 30, 2008, 12:44:58 AM10/30/08
to
Here, vaporware <jmc...@gmail.com> wrote:
> On Oct 29, 3:42 pm, steve.bres...@gmail.com wrote:
>
> > Even Emily Short recently conceded that she has received numerous
> > private emails from people who had issues with I7, but were afraid to
> > speak publicly for fear of being unfairly attacked.
>
> Well, that's a shame

It would have been a shame, if that had happened. Unsurprisingly,
Emily said something else which Breslin is misconstruing.

Pete Chown

unread,
Oct 30, 2008, 5:41:26 AM10/30/08
to
steve.breslin wrote:

> ... experts agree that rule-based programming is cumbersome in general
> terms.

Even though Java is object-oriented, Swing is rule-based. When you use
addActionListener and similar methods, you are creating a list of rules
which run when the user interacts with the GUI.

Interestingly, there is an object-oriented way of achieving the same
effect. You could imagine JButton with a method called action(), for
example. When you use JButton in your code, you would override action()
so that your code is invoked when the user clicks the button. However,
Sun chose not to do this, because creating all those derived classes ends
up being cumbersome.

Java EE does similar things with annotations. The annotations create
rules which are outside the inheritance tree. For example, the @Timeout
annotation says that a method will be invoked when a timer expires. It
could have been done by implementing a "TimerTarget" interface, but it
wasn't.

It's true that Prolog and Mercury never became mainstream, but that
doesn't mean rule-based programming is pointless. You do what is natural.

(I should say that I don't know enough about I7 or TADS to comment on
them specifically, this is just meant as a general point about software
architecture.)

Pete

Diogo Osorio

unread,
Oct 30, 2008, 8:34:54 AM10/30/08
to
Hi all,

first of all I must say I'm a lurker and I've been following RAIF for
quite sometime now. I don't know anything about programing and I love
to play IF. I've been trying to write some IF and the first system I
tried was TADS 3, I downloaded the manual and tried to write something
but it was very difficult: as I said I'm not a programmer. Then I7
arrived and a whole new world opened for me. Everything became so much
easier and I've been able to write some small IF and to have fun while
doing it. I'm thankful to all that worked on I7, specially Graham
Nelson and Emily Short.
As for you Mr. Breslin I must say that you're nothing but a troll. You
write and write and write here and yet you say nothing at all. You
make accusations and yet, when you're asked to prove them, you crawl
to your cave and make some personal attacks without any substance. You
say that you want to promote some dialogue and all you engage in are
long and dull monologues always trying to defend yourself from someone
or something that, it seems to me, only exists in your mind. Mr.
Breslin, you have issues that you should attend to. Honestly. You
feel you need some lovin, you feel you need some attention, you feel
you need to be heard and that is something that I can understand but
please just say so. You don't need to call attention to yourself by
attacking other people because it is getting very annoying. You want
help? Ask for it. Communicate. And let others be at peace.

I'm sorry for this post but after a few years of lurking in RAIF and
seeing the same bashing over and over again I felt that I had to say
something.

D.

mikegentry

unread,
Oct 30, 2008, 9:24:29 AM10/30/08
to

Are you asking my personal opinion? No.

I know how to write a before routine to catch actions in I6. I wrote
enough of them in Anchorhead, after all. What I'm asking is why
someone *who is well-versed in I6* would find it easier to remember to
write a before routine than someone *who is well-versed in I7* would
find it to remember to write a couple of before rules that do the same
thing.

You didn't answer that question. You just asserted, again, that the I6
user would find it easier. And so far your supporting data consists of
one bug from one comp game.


> Another reason is I6's intimate relationship to the standard libraries. An
> I6 programmer can easily tweak the libraries because they are written in his
> language of choice. To an I7 programmer the libraries must appear like Latin
> to a modern French speaker -- vaguely familiar and incomprehensibly archaic.

> The third reason is that the I6 programmer knows how the system works under
> the hood. He knows why FUCK is intransitive and how to make it transitive

> while retaining the intransitive version, etc.- Hide quoted text -

I'm still confused about how this knowledge simply bursts like an
ingrown Minerva into the head of a beginning I6 user, or
alternatively, what quality of I7 prevents an I7 user from learning
the corresponding knowledge. Your argument seems to be that an I6 user
finds I6 easy because he already knows how I6 works, but an I7 user
finds I7 hard because he doesn't know how it works yet.

I can indeed tell you exactly why FUCK is intransitive in I7. And I
can tell you exactly how to make it transitive while keeping the
intrasitive version. I can do this because I've been working in I7 and
learning how it works. That's how I learned to do it in I6 as well. I
assume most people learn that way. That doesn't prevent me from
occasionally accidentally coding a touchable moon or a takeable
staircase, in either version. Hopefully testing catches those things,
but sometimes it doesn't.

Adam Thornton

unread,
Oct 30, 2008, 11:58:18 AM10/30/08
to
In article <a5e7649a-afdf-4ffe...@k7g2000hsd.googlegroups.com>,

<steve....@gmail.com> wrote:
>The only reason you delete the context is that you want to
>imply that I'm failing to provide publicly-available evidence. You
>want to sound skeptical. I'm not pulling a fast one -- but you're
>trying to!

How nice that you know my reasons. Can you tell me where I left the
second set of car keys for the Saturn? They've been missing for months,
and since you can evidently read my most secret thoughts, you should
know.

I delete the context because it's been proper netiquette since time
immemorial to trim the original post to only the part to which you're
replying. Just as you did when you elided the actual meat of my post,
which was about I7 clearly being a domain-specific language, and just as
we all do when we don't top-post.

Adam

Mike Tarbert

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Oct 30, 2008, 12:58:53 PM10/30/08
to
Adam Thornton wrote:
>
> Can you tell me where I left the
> second set of car keys for the Saturn?

Have you tried:

>look under bed

You might also try "call locksmith", but I don't know how well -
implemented your phone is. ;)

Skinny Mike

JDC

unread,
Oct 30, 2008, 1:08:00 PM10/30/08
to
On Oct 30, 12:58 pm, Mike Tarbert <miketarb...@embarqmail.com> wrote:
> Adam Thornton wrote:
>
> > Can you tell me where I left the
> > second set of car keys for the Saturn?  
>
> Have you tried:
>
>  >look under bed

This all depends on whether he was using I6 or I7 and whether he
remembered to code a rule to make Saturn untouchable. Oh, wait, that
was a different post...

-JDC

Jacek Pudlo, Esq.

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Oct 30, 2008, 3:56:59 PM10/30/08
to
mikegentry

"I know how to write a before routine to catch actions in I6. I wrote
enough of them in Anchorhead, after all. What I'm asking is why
someone *who is well-versed in I6* would find it easier to remember to
write a before routine than someone *who is well-versed in I7* would
find it to remember to write a couple of before rules that do the same
thing."

Because if you're well-versed in I6, you're also likely to be well-versed in
the standard libraries.

I7 compiles to I6. I7 thus relies on standard libraries written in I6. To
fully understand and exploit the libraries you must be fluent in I6, which
you, Mike, certainly are. But you're an anomally, a tourist in I7 land. Most
people who write in I7 do so because they don't have the talent, the
discipline, the inclination, whatever, to learn a traditional language. I7
is the ghetto of interactive fiction, where wealthy I6 suburbanites, like
you and Adam Thornton and Emily Short, occasionally take a leisurely stroll.
The vast majority of people who have chosen I7 have done so because its
faux-NL syntax carries the false promise of easy accessibility. My argument
floats or sinks on the assumption that writing in Inform (whatever version)
requires an intimate knowledge of the standard libraries, which are written
in I6, which is Greek to most I7 authors.

"You didn't answer that question. You just asserted, again, that the I6
user would find it easier. And so far your supporting data consists of
one bug from one comp game."

I believe we are experiencing a decline in the craftsmanship of IF. Perhaps
you could convince me otherwise by providing the titles of all those
groundbreaking games written in I7 I've apparently missed?

> Another reason is I6's intimate relationship to the standard libraries. An
> I6 programmer can easily tweak the libraries because they are written in
> his
> language of choice. To an I7 programmer the libraries must appear like
> Latin
> to a modern French speaker -- vaguely familiar and incomprehensibly
> archaic.

> The third reason is that the I6 programmer knows how the system works
> under
> the hood. He knows why FUCK is intransitive and how to make it transitive
> while retaining the intransitive version, etc.- Hide quoted text -

"I'm still confused about how this knowledge simply bursts like an
ingrown Minerva into the head of a beginning I6 user, or
alternatively, what quality of I7 prevents an I7 user from learning
the corresponding knowledge."

The quality of I7 being an entirely different language than I6, yet relying
heavily on standard libraries written in I6.

"Your argument seems to be that an I6 user
finds I6 easy because he already knows how I6 works, but an I7 user
finds I7 hard because he doesn't know how it works yet."

You're misconstruing my argument. My argument is that the I6 user is more
likely to have an intimate knowledge of the standard libraries, because they
are written in I6. Imagine an English translation of a Polish novel where
the translator has omitted to translate entire chapters, where these
chapters appear in the original. To read the novel you must be fluent in
both English and Polish. But then the question arises: if you're fluent in
Polish, why not simply read the original and skip the bizarre
semi-translation? People like you have that choice. Most I7 users don't.

"I can indeed tell you exactly why FUCK is intransitive in I7."

You know this because you're an Inform biglot. You know this because you
know I6 and the standard libraries written in I6. An I7 monoglot doesn't
know why FUCK is intransitive.


Victor Gijsbers

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Oct 30, 2008, 4:21:48 PM10/30/08