IF for kids

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mark.en...@gmail.com

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Sep 21, 2005, 4:03:26 AM9/21/05
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I haven't been following the IF scene for the past few years, but now I
have kids who might be old enough to start playing. Can anyone
recommend some solid, easy, introductory games?

Ideally, the room descriptions shouldn't be more than one paragraph. I
figure about 20 rooms or less so that my kids can easily maintain a
mental map of the game. Maybe more rooms would be okay if there is
some sort of auto-map capability. Playing time of an hour or less.

Also, it would be really cool if it had a Legend-like interface in
which one part of the screen has a compass rose showing obvious exits,
and another window always displays the room description so you don't
have to keep typing "l" every time the description scrolls off the
screen. Graphics are certainly welcome, but not necessary.

Thanks!

Cirk R. Bejnar

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Sep 21, 2005, 2:30:34 PM9/21/05
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mark.en...@gmail.com wrote:
> I haven't been following the IF scene for the past few years, but now I
> have kids who might be old enough to start playing. Can anyone
> recommend some solid, easy, introductory games?
>
> Ideally, the room descriptions shouldn't be more than one paragraph. I
> figure about 20 rooms or less so that my kids can easily maintain a
> mental map of the game. Maybe more rooms would be okay if there is
> some sort of auto-map capability. Playing time of an hour or less.

You know your kids better than I do, but I know that as a child I was
_more_ tolerant rather than less of large, difficult games. Of course,
only having two games (Adventure and Space Invaders) on the computer
helped. Still, you never know.

Games you could look at include
Uncle Zebulon's Will
Aayela
A Bear's Night Out
Isle of the Cult
Glowgrass
The Legend of the Tortoise
To Hell in a Hamper
The Earth and Sky Trilogy

Some slightly longer games would be
Winter Wonderland
The Dreamhold
City of Secrets
The Meteor, The Stone And A Long Glass Of Sherbet
Return to Ditch Day

Hope they like some of these!

Cirk R. Bejnar

Peter Mattsson

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Sep 21, 2005, 6:49:01 PM9/21/05
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A recent favourite of mine is Bonnie Montgomery's Firebird
(http://wurb.com/if/game/86). It's based on Russian fold tales (rather
loosely, in places!) and it's great fun to play. The only downside is
that there is a largeish maze at one point, but (a) it's mappable and
(b) I seem to remember that there's an easy way through, if you pay
close attention to the hints.

Regards,

Peter

Brendan Desilets

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Sep 22, 2005, 4:36:32 AM9/22/05
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Hi, All,

mark.en...@gmail.com wrote:
> I haven't been following the IF scene for the past few years, but now I
> have kids who might be old enough to start playing. Can anyone
> recommend some solid, easy, introductory games?

There are quite a few suggestions at "Teaching and Learning With
Interactive Fiction" (http://if.home.comcast.net).

In addition to the very good suggestions offered in this thread so far,
I'd recommend two Infocom stories, _Wishbringer_ and _Arthur: the Quest
for Excalibur_. _Arthur_ has the sort of interface Mark has asked about.

_Small World_, _The One That Got Away_, and _The Magic Toyshop_ are
worth considering, too.

Though I haven't tried any stories from last fall's competition with
kids as yet, I think some of them have possibilities. These include
_Mingsheng_, _The Orion Agenda_, and _The Great Xavio_.

It's always good to hear of kids getting into IF.

Peace,
Brendan Desilets

Paul Drallos

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Sep 22, 2005, 8:56:37 AM9/22/05
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mark.en...@gmail.com wrote:

> I haven't been following the IF scene for the past few years, but now I
> have kids who might be old enough to start playing. Can anyone
> recommend some solid, easy, introductory games?
>

I apologize for this shameless self promotion, but my game 'Trapped In School'
was written exactly for this purpose - An introduction to IF for 4th and 5th graders. The PC is trapped in his/her school after hours and has to find a way out. It has a built-in hint system.

The latest version (with many bug fixes and improvements) is available here:

http://mywebpages.comcast.net/pdrallos131681/IF/trapped.htm


Brendan Desilets

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Sep 24, 2005, 7:37:43 AM9/24/05
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Hi, All,

Paul Drallos wrote:

> I apologize for this shameless self promotion, but my game 'Trapped In
> School'
> was written exactly for this purpose - An introduction to IF for 4th and
> 5th graders. The PC is trapped in his/her school after hours and has to
> find a way out. It has a built-in hint system.

Paul is not being shameless at all. "Trapped in School" is a fine,
enjoyable story. I should have mentioned it in my list.

Peace,
Brendan

Paul Drallos

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Sep 24, 2005, 12:40:38 PM9/24/05
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Brendan Desilets wrote:

>
> Paul is not being shameless at all. "Trapped in School" is a fine,
> enjoyable story. I should have mentioned it in my list.
>
> Peace,
> Brendan

Thanks Brendan.

By the way, you may recall a couple of years ago that my wife was planning on introducing her 4th and 5th graders to IF with the intention of eventually introducing them to actually creating a small IF game themselves. You asked me to keep you posted on that.

Well, we didn't get very far at all at first. We started too late in the school year and only with the 5th graders. They palyed a few games - Cloak of Darkness, Bear's Night Out, Wishbringer, and Trapped in School. We didn't get any farther than just having them play the games before we ran out of time. The next term, the 5th graders became 6th graders and were gone to middle school.

This year, we started earlier and with the 4th graders. Since our eventual goal was to have them create a game, we thought 'real' Inform programming would be too difficult for 4th graders, but that they could probably do a CYOA style game using Jon Ingold's AdventureBook program. So as not to confuse them, we started them out playing a few CYOA games on the computer, so that they could get an idea of what they are and what sort of thing they might create.

As fortune would have it, the LowTech Competition was revived this year, so it gave the kids an extra incentive, since they could enter their game in the competition.

For simplicity (their first game) we decided to do what we call a 'tour' instead of a story or true game. This is where you simply create a virtual environment that the player can explore. No story, goal or puzzles. Just a tour of, in this case, a virtual Dog Show.

Then we had brain-storming sessions. What kind of areas would we include in the dog show? Activities, store, snack bar, benching area, etc. And, of course, what kind of breeds would we have? Then the kids had to do research on the particular breed of dog they each selected and write a few paragraphs about the breed and come up with an activity for each breed.

We also had to map out a layout of the dog show areas and how they are all connected to each other. We did most of this prep work on the board and on paper. Then, when we had all of the parts, it was fairly easy to put it all together with AdventureBook.

They were able to do it all with very little guidance and it came together pretty well. As it turned out, Dog Show was the only entry in the LowTech Comp this year. So their game won by default. They don't know that it was the only entry. No sense spoiling their sense of accomplishment. After all, the fact that they were the only ones to actually complete and enter a game is at least something.

Anyway, that was the 4th grad class, who this year are 5th graders and we are hoping that some of them expressed an interested in writing their own games this school year instead of as a whole class. And not just a tour like the class game was. Hopefully, they will. Meanwhile, we have a new 4th grade class to initiate too.

aph...@altavista.com

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Sep 28, 2005, 12:31:11 AM9/28/05
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Stranded by Jim Bayer
TADS2

samwyse

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Oct 6, 2005, 6:37:15 AM10/6/05
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mark.en...@gmail.com wrote:
> I haven't been following the IF scene for the past few years, but now I
> have kids who might be old enough to start playing. Can anyone
> recommend some solid, easy, introductory games?

Crother and Wood's Adventure. Yeah, they might need help with the
mazes, but the game is otherwise fairly easy to understand.

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