How long does it take to write I-F?

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Magnus Olsson

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Jun 11, 1999, 3:00:00 AM6/11/99
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In article <01beb3a2$7e5f4800$6aaca0d8@user>, gainaz <gai...@uswest.net> wrote:
>Just wondering:
>
>(1) How long did it take you to learn to use the authoring
>system you use now?

Well, "systems" in my case, since I use both TADS and Inform.

If by "learn" you mean "learn enough to write simple games": a day or so.

But learning a system as complex as Inform or TADS is an ongoing
process. My experience is that you learn as you go along; when you
encounter a problem that can't be solved with the techniques you
already know, you sit down with the manuals and the library source,
and if you can't solve the problem on your own you ask on
r.a.i-f. This process can go on for years (at least if you're only writing IF
in your spare time :-) ).

>(2) How long does it take to finish writing an average
>I-F game?

Define "average" :-). A big game, say on the size of "Anchorhead" or
"So Far", can easily take years to finish. Smaller games take
considerably shorter time. I wrote "Uncle Zebulon's Will" in less than
a month, and "Aayela" in two weeks or so.

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

edr...@my-deja.com

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Jun 11, 1999, 3:00:00 AM6/11/99
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In article <7jqgqi$qib$1...@bartlet.df.lth.se>,
m...@bartlet.df.lth.se (Magnus Olsson) wrote:

> >(2) How long does it take to finish writing an average
> >I-F game?
>
> Define "average" :-). A big game, say on the size of "Anchorhead" or
> "So Far", can easily take years to finish.

Just for the sake of interest, "Anchorhead" took me 9 months to
complete, working ~2-2.5 hours per day, *every day*. Total debugging
time (which includes all versions up to date) was around 6 months,
working at a somewhat more sporadic pace.

By way of comparison, "Little Blue Men" represents about 3 months of
*very* sporadic work.

-M.

-M.


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JamesG

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Jun 11, 1999, 3:00:00 AM6/11/99
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gainaz wrote:

> Just wondering:
>
> (1) How long did it take you to learn to use the authoring
> system you use now?

Using TADS it didn't take long to get started - how to create rooms and
items off the basic classes isn't difficult. Learning the advanced
techniques takes longer - I still don't know everything.

> (2) How long does it take to finish writing an average
> I-F game?

Ask me when I've finished one :) If I wasn't so ambitious it would be
sooner...

JamesG,
too many games in progress...
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IF

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Jun 11, 1999, 3:00:00 AM6/11/99
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gainaz wrote:

> Just wondering:
>
> (1) How long did it take you to learn to use the authoring
> system you use now?

I had started programming in less than a week from starting to read
the manual, but I'm STILL very much in the process of refining that
skill.

> (2) How long does it take to finish writing an average
> I-F game?

Depends on the pace. Babel took 6 months of writing and about 4
months of testing at a rate of sometimes working five hours a day,
sometimes going nearly a month without touching it. Vivaldi, my WIP is
much larger and is going at that same sort of pace, so don't expect it
for a year or two. However I just finished another, smaller project
that took me only 3 weeks, working about an hour a day and is in testing
now, so it really depends on the length of the piece and how
consistently you're going to be working on it.

Ian Finley


Jim Aikin

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Jun 11, 1999, 3:00:00 AM6/11/99
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gainaz wrote:
>
> (1) How long did it take you to learn to use the authoring
> system you use now?

I learned enough about Inform to start coding my first rooms and puzzles
within a week or so. But I had taught myself C++ a couple of years
earlier (with the vague idea that I'd like to write IF), so I already
understood OOP and arguments and return values and if/else clauses and
stuff like that. I'm STILL learning more about Inform 6 months later.
(See my next posting, which will be on the mysterious BeforeParsing
entry point.)

> (2) How long does it take to finish writing an average
> I-F game?

I started in January, working maybe 10 or 12 hrs/wk on average, and I
now have an almost-completed 400k .z8 file that I hope to start finding
beta-testers for in another 2 weeks. So that's 6 months of solid work,
but it's a large, complex game.

The learning curve is probably about as steep as you choose to make it.
I'm a perfectionist. Last night I was staring at a react_before routine
that I wrote 3 months ago and thinking, "I really ought to fix that. It
works, but it's a mess." And I have trouble sleeping at night because I
keep thinking of more verb grammar I need to add. (Did you know that
'fix' is a synonym for 'tie' in grammar.h, but there's no 'repair' verb?
Gotta do something about that....)

--Jim Aikin

***********************************************
"A man has to have something to believe in.
I believe I'll have another drink."
-- W. C. Fields
***********************************************

wo...@one.net

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Jun 12, 1999, 3:00:00 AM6/12/99
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Hi gainaz,

>Just wondering:


>
>(1) How long did it take you to learn to use the authoring
>system you use now?

>(2) How long does it take to finish writing an average
>I-F game?

I'm still in the process of writing my first one. I started in
1978...<laughing>

Of course Thief's Quest has gone through about a dozen rewrites in
different languages through the years. I'm a programmer by trade, and
learning new languages is a bit of a hobby with me so my learning
times probably won't be representative for a new programmer/author.

S-Basic/Basic-Plus: aproximatrely 2 months each (for fluency)
ADVSYS: About 3 months (for fluency)
Inform: Approximately 1 month (for enough to start fair code)
TADS: Approximately 1 month (for fluency)
Alan: Approximately 1 week (for experimentation purposes)
Hugo: Approximately 3 weeks (for enough to start writing fair code)
Python: About 1 month (for reasonable fluency)

I'm currently in the process of creating yet another adventure writing
language/library system called PAWS that's aimed at new authors/new
programmers which is perhaps 85% complete.

(This is why Thief's Quest is taking so long, I kept looking at new
languages for it, and am finally rolling my own--more or less).

>- A potential new I-F writer (if the learning curve ain't
>- too steep :-)

Depends. If you want to get your feet wet Alan would be a good choice.
It's more of a description of the game you write rather than actual
programming, at least in my opinion.

I'd also recommend "The Craft Of Adventure" by Graham Nelson, it's an
*excellent* overview, and extremely helpful.
Respectfully,

Wolf

"The world is my home, it's just that some rooms are draftier than
others". -- Wolf

Marnie Parker

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Jun 12, 1999, 3:00:00 AM6/12/99
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>Hi gainaz,
>
>>Just wondering:
>>
>>(1) How long did it take you to learn to use the authoring
>>system you use now?

Years.

>>(2) How long does it take to finish writing an average
>>I-F game?

Forever.

Of course it depends how many bugs you are willing to live with.

Doe :-)


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Chris Wilson

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Jun 13, 1999, 3:00:00 AM6/13/99
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Hopefully these times will be reduced when writing IF using QTAC (to be
released in the near future)...
Chris (http://homepages.ihug.co.nz/~trojan/qtac)

gainaz <gai...@uswest.net> wrote in message
news:01beb3a2$7e5f4800$6aaca0d8@user...


> Just wondering:
>
> (1) How long did it take you to learn to use the authoring
> system you use now?

> (2) How long does it take to finish writing an average
> I-F game?
>

> Thanks,

Magnus Olsson

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Jun 13, 1999, 3:00:00 AM6/13/99
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In article <7jv6i7$ie4$1...@newsource.ihug.co.nz>,

Chris Wilson <tro...@ihug.co.nz> wrote:
>Hopefully these times will be reduced when writing IF using QTAC (to be
>released in the near future)...

Maybe you'll make the learning curve less steep, and maybe you'll cut
down on debugging time, but I think large IF games will still take
months to years to write. Most of the time is not spent coding, but
writing all the text (which I suppose QTAC won't automate :-) ),
designing puzzles, making the plot stick together, and thinking of
all possible cases how one object can interact with another.

And play-testing, of course.

Lelah Conrad

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Jun 14, 1999, 3:00:00 AM6/14/99
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On Fri, 11 Jun 1999 00:42:36 GMT, "gainaz" <gai...@uswest.net> wrote:

>Just wondering:
>
>(1) How long did it take you to learn to use the authoring
>system you use now?

I use ALAN -- it is not hard to learn, it looks like English, and yet
underneath it can be pretty powerful. Very few bells and whistles
though, but a good place for a newbie to start.

>(2) How long does it take to finish writing an average
>I-F game?

You might want to pay attention to minicomps when they pop up. I've
now written games for two of the minicomps (one in TADS, one in ALAN)
and found that completing short games helped my learning curve in
several ways. They each took me about a month of intense after-work
time in the evenings to complete. I had to figure out how to write a
short IF story, how to work out all the bugs, how to start it and stop
it, how to use all the most basic features of the languages, how to
beta-test it, and how to quit and say "no more fussing, it's done!"


I think if I had only continued working on the longer game I've
got going I might have just given up and never published a game. With
a short try, nobody takes it too seriously, you can get a bit of
feedback, you don't have to stick with a dubious conception forever,
and you get the satisfaction of completing something.

Writing IF can take as much or as little time as you want it to
(and then some!) -- it just depends on how interested you are in the
art.

Lelah

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