C.E. Forman cefo...@worldnet.att.net
Author of "Delusions", the 3rd place winner in the 1996 I-F Competition!!
Release 4 is now at: ftp://ftp.gmd.de/if-archive/games/infocom/Delusns.z5
Ye Olde Infocomme Shoppe http://netnow.micron.net/~jgoemmer/infoshop.html
C.E. Forman (cefo...@postoffice.worldnet.att.net) wrote:
> not sure. Other authors: how would you react if someone released a
> game similar to, but not inspired by, your own, without telling you,
> even though s/he was aware of the similarities? Would you write it off
> as great minds thinking alike, or would you feel the new author was
> saying "Hey, great ideas, but look! I thought of them too"? This is a
> touchy subject, and I'd like to know how other authors feel about it.
I certainly wouldn't think the other person was showing off. A great idea,
practically by definition, can be done an infinite number of different
> BTW, it
> amazes me how *few* people seem to have noticed the similarities. Is
> it that easy to forget all about a game you played last year, even
> though you liked it enough at the time to vote it into 3rd place? Or
> are you all just ignoring me again like you did with "PtF"?
I do recall noticing the similar gimmick (trying to find your lost memory
in a lab.) But a gimmick is only a gimmick, after all. They were
I also recall noticing the similarity to the gimmick of "Who Goes There?"
(creepy, monsters, identity) but that didn't lose it any points either.
If it helps, I thought "A New Day" was the game that *really* had elements
in common with "Delusions". And I harshed upon it vigorously. ("At the
end the plot turns into 'computer program tries to leave computer and take
over the world', which, I hate to say, I am thoroughly sick of.")
> Cuz I'm not goin' away.
I hope not.
> "Erden" brought back plenty o' bad memories of doing rooms and scenery
> on "Path to Fortune." I'm giving you feedback here so you don't have
> to wait an entire year to learn the hard way like I did. I'm gonna be
> blunt, so brace yourself, okay? Ready? Big-budget fantasy quests like
> this one are not popular. Do not be surprised if you don't get much
> feedback. Do not be surprised if hardly anyone plays through to the
> end. Do not be surprised if the only mail you ever get is about how
> much someone hates fantasy games and how tired the setting is.
Well, Erden certainly did remind me of PTF (as well as Beyond Zork).
Your predictions... I recall that a lot of reviewers said they didn't
explore all of Erden (I certainly didn't.) It isn't as popular as the
popular entries. (The top 6 games in the ranking are all games that a lot
of people liked a lot. Wait, that's completely tautological... :-) Well,
you know what I mean.)
Not a lot of feedback? Well, competition games are guaranteed feedback.
No surprise there.
Lots of ranting about how tired the setting is? Several reviewers noted
that, usually in about one sentence. Interestingly, I didn't mention it at
all -- and you recall I was quite clear about saying that the setting of
PTF was tired and made me uninterested in the game.
Why this inconsistency on my part?
I'm not sure. It may be random mood; it's been, what, two years?
Different things set me off. Or maybe I take it as understood that the
generic fantasy setting is a weakness. I don't have to rant about it any
It may also be context. Back when PTF was released, there weren't that
many games around. I can't remember if it was before the '95 competition
or not. But I remember an attitude, inherited from Infocom and the
earliest TADS/Inform games, that a game had to be worth $40.
This is interesting. I'm just realizing it now, really. All Infocom games
were supposed to give you your money's worth. And the Curses and the
Unnkulia games were aimed at the same scale. (Bar UU1/2, which was more
of a demo.) I remember the expectation that all games were intended to be
This is a *big* change since 1995. We can now look at short games and
judge them as their own thing. We can look at games which are supposed to
do one thing (which, to me, is the hallmark of a short story as opposed
to a novel -- although I'm obviously not only talking about small IF
When you have 20+ games in a competition, you certainly don't expect them
all to be blockbusters. So Erden didn't blow my expectations the way PTF
did. One case got "Wow, a big new IF release! Oh, it doesn't interest me.
What a disappointment." The other got "35 games, and I *know* they'll
range from great to awful. Hm, this one isn't really catching my interest.
I'm rambling somewhat. Sorry. I think the point is, if Erden had been
released in '95 instead of PTF, I probably would have sent the author
much the same kind of comments I sent you.
--- I FORGET WHERE YOU MADE THIS COMMENT
> The well-known I-F authors (Graham Nelson, Gareth Rees, Andrew Plotkin,
> etc.) all have coding exercises, no doubt,
Actually, I don't.
--- SINS AGAINST MIMESIS
> Oh, but just to set the record straight: Roger Giner-Sorolla's article
> was actually titled "*Crimes* Against Mimesis."
Er, yeah, deliberate title change, because of the "seven sins" tie-in,
> (Personally, I find it amusing that MaxZip turned out to be not
> quite as standard as it thought it was.)
Hey! Hey! What's this for? MaxZip *does not* claim to be Z-Spec 1.0
standard. It never even claimed to be Z-Spec 0.2 standard. There's a
*reason* for this.
I've never gone through the code and checked that it fulfilled the
standard; I deal with issues as they're reported to me. So I carefully
leave header bytes $32 and $33 alone.
The @set_color bug is a good example of this. When ZIP was written, valid
arguments were 1 to 9. The ZIP code (which is the core of MaxZip) checks
this and throws an error if the arguments are out of range. A recent
(post-Infocom) change to the spec makes 0 a legal argument. I didn't
The @test_attr 0 and @get_prop 0 errors are yours. They did inspire me to
release XZip/MaxZip versions which display such errors, so that they're
easier to track down...
> Why *did* I bother with the Game Worlds? I expected
> everyone to see them, make a few moves, note the use of turn-based
> and real-time I-F in the same story, say "nifty," then restart and
> spend the rest of their time playing around with Ralph, Nolan and
This is something which didn't come across well. I felt like the first
part was an intro, even though you'd clearly put effort into it. (I
assume everybody puts effort into the details. :-) Ya wanna know how much
effort I put into the Scheme manual in "Lists"? That took much, much
longer than the interpreter itself.)
> I should have had it stop right before, or allowed a work-around so
> players could see the ending without playing the real-time part, or
Make it possible for Margot to play it for you?
> Now for the most frequently-asked question: Why were the Game Worlds
> rendered as textual I-F rather than character graphics? Answer: Yes,
> this was intentional, believe it or not. We already have Tetris,
> Robots and Z-Life. Character graphics have been *done*. This hadn't.
> I never claimed it was a good idea, just a different one.
One day I'll get permission, or not worry about permission, and upload
Icebreaker.z5. I'm afraid textual arcade games have been done too. :)
(Although I didn't use timed input, and I used more conventional IF text
style -- long room descriptions which describe what's visible in every
> (But then,
> I should have remembered that the point of the competition is not to
> experiment with new techniques, but to rehash concepts that have
> already been seen before. My mistake.)
"And Aholibamah bare Jeush, and Jaalam, and Korah: these were the
Congratulations, Chris, you've now managed to work in a reference in
your reviews to every piece of IF you ever wrote, and accused at least
one person of stealing from each. The crowd applauds wildly.
(Granted, I worked in a reference in my reviews to every game *I* ever
wrote, but that's not saying much since I only ever wrote one and have
two in progress. Didn't mention "Wronger of Rights", my incomplete
competition entry, at all! Oops, I just did. Anyway, I sure never
accused people of plagiarizing Reverberations, Guido forbid!)
"The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one
persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all
progress depends on the unreasonable man."
-- George Bernard Shaw
Russell can be heckled at
So you want the Hugo executable packaged up. You complained about going
to get AGiliTy, and presumably JACL too.
You say you want to include the interpreters in a big ZIP file along with
the games. But for what platforms? DOS, Mac, Acorn, Amiga, various
versions of Unix. Oh hell why not include every possible platform and
make that zip file an extra 5 or 6 meg larger than it should.
IMO complaining about a IF system just because it is something you
don't already have an interpreter for is pretty lame. By all means
criticize the games for problems in the gameplay but leave the system
out of it.
Also I felt you feel that nothing of any value can be set in a fantasy
setting. Pretty jaundiced view if you ask me. Now I am no fan of
rehashed fantasy quests, but to remove a point from _Zero Sum Game_
for it being set in a fantasy environment is plain lunacy. ZSG is
clearly a reversal of a fantasy quest and so relies on the fantasy
setting for most of its humour.
Andy Leighton => an...@azaal.dircon.co.uk
"... January is your third most common month for madness" - _Sarah Canary_
For what it's worth, I finally got around to playing "Delusions" in
depth while "A New Day" was already in playtesting... any
similiarities are completely coincidental.
While we're on this issue, though, the game that seemed like a real
rip-off to me was "The Edifice". Am I the only one to have seen the
opening to "2001"?
| Historian, Theologian, Fool - jf...@skidmore.edu |
| Interactive Fiction * rec.music.christian * Van |
| Halen * Byzantium * Ken Tamplin * In Your Face! |
>While we're on this issue, though, the game that seemed like a real
>rip-off to me was "The Edifice". Am I the only one to have seen the
>opening to "2001"?
No, I noticed it, of course. It IS derivative. But it didn't bother me at all.
I reacted, "Hey, this is what could happened with that big block, if they had
ever shown us what had happened with that big block! Neat!" In other words, it
STARTED where 2001 left off -- it showed us what could have happened... in more
detail, and to me that is derivative, not "copying". And very inventive and
Femal...@aol.com "Good breeding consists in
concealing how much we think of ourselves and how
little we think of the other person." Mark Twain
Since I am mentioned, I feel I must respond.
C.E. is a good e-mail iffy-bud of mine and he has been very supportive and
encouraging concerning me writing IF.
I think the detail of his reviews are going to be helpful to writers to assess
exact flaws and successes in their games, i.e. what works and what doesn't.
C.E. has an eye for detail and understands IF well. However, unfortunately, I
still personally think many are harsher than they needed to be.
But, specifically, as to the above, I have discussed with him and some others
that I was worried about IF going down a "deadend" road of very intellectual or
arty games -- games that become more and more obscure to "ordinary players" (if
they are tough for a lot of raifers, think how tough they may be to understand
for IF novices) and thus, becoming even more of a sub-culture and more easily
ignored by possible new players ("I can't understand that stuff and, besides it
isn't fun."). This still concerns me. But after having played more games this
year, I was reassured to see a lot of "regular" IF.
One thing I admit I do not understand, is why so many disliked Town Dragon JUST
FOR THE CONCEPT. Frankly, I haven't actually played that much fantasy IF that
actually has dragons in it, not that I can remember. I remember a lot of sugar
cubes and grues. For a first time writer, the programming was decent, often
fantasy has a set genre, so what? Does everything have to be new and different,
or can't some people attempt to write good games of old genres when maybe that
hasn't actually been that much IF in those genres that is really good? This is
not to say this particular author succeeded (I felt he came close and could
succeed next time), but I would hate to have games dismissed simply because
they are exploring genres that have already been done a lot in books, but, when
you stop to think about it, not necessarily in IF. Or even if they have been
done in IF, maybe not that many have been done WELL. I think there is always
room for more, myself.
Which makes a few very important points:
1) Derivative works of art are not necessarily bad, or unoriginal (well,
of ocurse, they're less than 100% original, but what isn't).
2) Creating a derivative work is *not* the same thing as plagiarism.
3) Derivative works can place well in the contest on their own merits
(this is, of course, a guess on my part. But I don't really think
anybody gave the game a higher score because it made them think of
So let me say now that I'm not going to complain about 90% of the
reasons you adduce for "Tempest" being dreadful. Let me also say
that I found your reviews incisive and that I hope they'll be archived
> -1 Reasonable solutions/actions not implemented.
> This is supposed to be *interactive* fiction. Can't do anything the
> Bard didn't write, sheesh, gimme a break. If I can only follow the
> play by the book, what's the point of doing a command-parser
> adaption? I-F is about the player being in control (within
> reasonable limits, of course). Far, *far* too rigid.
There are some entirely IF puzzles, such as the dance of Ferdinand
and Miranda or the problem of the flowers, but I agree that it is
a very unusual way to present either the play or IF.
That was "the point".
> -1 Cliched story/setting.
> Certainly not cliched, but nevertheless an exact copy of the
> original work.
> ... yet I remain steadfastly unconvinced that he wrote "The
> Tempest" all by his lonesome without help from any 16th-century
It depends what you call an exact copy. I wrote rather a lot of
iambic pentameters myself, as it happens ("Nicholas Moledrawer",
the 17th-century dramatist to whom I attributed the rubbishy bits,
is a further fictional member of the accursed Meldrew family).
> Although Shakespeare is technically in the public
> domain, that doesn't give Graham or anyone else the right to copy it
> verbatim, chop up the text into room- and event-sized pieces, throw
> in a parser, a fancy title screen, a history of the play and a few
> lines of new text and attempt to pass it off as an original work of
> interactive fiction. "Completely original and your own work" means
> "completely original and your own work."
I think your criticisms would be fair if either the organiser of
the contest had ruled the game out of bounds (but he ruled just the
opposite), or if I had sought in any way to conceal the imitation --
but I didn't; the by-line reads "William Shakespeare".
It is "an interactive performance". Its purpose is to perform the
text of the play, within the new dramatic form of IF. Since nothing
like this has ever been attempted in the history of IF, I think
it's reasonable to say that there's a dash of originality to the
resulting game, even if "completely original" would be an
And what does "the right" mean, I wonder? A play is not like a novel.
It is written to be interpreted, performed, adapted. Shakespeare's
contemporaries would not have been shocked by my making changes to it.
> And now I'll probably get
> bashed by the snooty "show-me-how-smart-you-are" intellectual snots
> and brainwashed Graham-worshippers for giving it a low score, which'll
> just make me hate it more.
Well, I'm not a brainwashed Graham-worshipper, and think that the
game deserves its low score (though perhaps not always for the same
reasons as you). Plainly it needs online hints and a much easier
prologue, as you point out. Your criticism is fair and useful; I
merely don't agree with all of it.
> I agree with Marnie Parker (with whom I corresponded through e-mail):
> Too many intellectual games -- and these *are* still games at heart,
> regardless of what else their content might make them -- will turn off
> the masses and plunge the medium into a backwater subculture again.
I reject this. "Intellectual" doesn't mean "turn-off" -- Tempest
is a turn-off because it's a third-rate game, not because it is
intellectual. (And I don't think Shakespeare is an "intellectual"
taste.) The medium was a backwater subculture when it consisted only
of games without ideas -- repetitious cave games, for instance,
or simulations of the author's high school, or house.
Graham Nelson | gra...@gnelson.demon.co.uk | Oxford, United Kingdom
Please, please do! From all I've heard of it, it sounds like a fascinating
As a non-Mac user I don't now about the original game it was based on
(Icebreaker? Wow, logic.) -- but it's there on its own right.
Why did you write that, by the way?
Miron Schmidt <mi...@comports.com> PGP key on request
WATCH TV... MARRY AND REPRODUCE... OBEY... PLAY INTERACTIVE FICTION...
I have to say that, whilst I didn't especially enjoy the game, I applaud
you for trying out such a radically new "variant" of a familiar work of
I've always felt that IF has the potential to be much, much more than
the conventional Colossal Cave/Zork type "adventure", and I'd like to
offer you my congratulations for your daring and innovative "pushing the
envelope" of IF!
Chris Marriott, Microsoft Certified Solution Developer.
SkyMap Software, U.K. e-mail: ch...@skymap.com
Visit our web site at http://www.skymap.com
For the record, Winston never "tries to leave computer and take over
the world". In fact, I defy you to try to support that argument from
the text. He's an electronic serial killer, not a conqueror.
Please someone tell me that I'm not the only one who thinks this is a
rather strange thing to deduct marks for. I'd love to see C.E. Forman
manage to produce a Zip file that contains all the interpreters for all
the platforms. Should be interesting.
I second this. Even if The Tempest wasn't too successful, it was
certainly an idea worth trying. The same goes for the second half of
Alrighty, as everyone must know I'm a Hugo fan, so I just want to say
> -1 Making me think when trying to run it.
> Had to download Hugo executable especially for this game.
This is ridiculous.
(Other than that I agree with your comments. I gave it 7 too, although I
experienced a different bug/crash, and my major gripes were with the
huge preponderance of default library messages and the bare-bonesiness
of it all, faults which I think are attributable to lack of time on the
"For small erections may be finished by their first architects; grand
ones, true ones, ever leave the copestone to posterity. God keep me from
ever completing anything." -- Herman Melville, "Moby Dick"
> For what it's worth, I finally got around to playing "Delusions" in
> depth while "A New Day" was already in playtesting... any
> similiarities are completely coincidental.
Well, the "computer program tries to leave computer" is obviously not
original with either of you. Not by twenty years. (I said "elements in
common", not "elements taken from.")
> While we're on this issue, though, the game that seemed like a real
> rip-off to me was "The Edifice". Am I the only one to have seen the
> opening to "2001"?
No, of course not. I took it as an obvious homage, not a rip-off. Once
you expand beyond the two words "prehumans, monument" they are completely
> For the record, Winston never "tries to leave computer and take over
> the world". In fact, I defy you to try to support that argument from
> the text. He's an electronic serial killer, not a conqueror.
It's the same plot.
Ok, it's the same plot *gimmick*, but I'm still sick of it.
> Please, please do! From all I've heard of it, it sounds like a fascinating
> As a non-Mac user I don't now about the original game it was based on
> (Icebreaker? Wow, logic.) -- but it's there on its own right.
Icebreaker (the arcade game) was released for the 3DO first, and ported
to the Mac and PC. Remember the 3DO? Anyone? Anyone?
Well, I don't have one either.
> Why did you write that, by the way?
To get a laugh out of the other people on the Icebreaker team.
The Inform Icebreaker is on the Mac and PC versions of the arcade
Icebreaker game CD. So if you see a copy floating around in the bargain
bin, buy it.
Besides, I think it's a pretty good arcade game, too.
Unfortunately, although we never formally discussed it, icebreaker.z5 is
effectively work-for-hire, and therefore the rights are entirely owned by
Magnet Interactive Studios. Even though I bet nobody still employed there
even knows of its existence. But they are big and have lawyers, and so
I'm not going to upload it.
I was wondering when somebody would bring this up..... I have a copy of
Icebreaker, and flipping through the notes I saw a familiar name--Andrew
Plotkin. About 15 minutes of deliberation about who Andrew Plotkin was (I
wasn't a regular of RAIF and RGIF then) and finally I found the MaxZip
standalone and it all fell into place. BTW, is there a way to "unprogram"
MaxZip standalones into z-codes?
>Unfortunately, although we never formally discussed it, icebreaker.z5 is
>effectively work-for-hire, and therefore the rights are entirely owned by
>Magnet Interactive Studios. Even though I bet nobody still employed there
>even knows of its existence. But they are big and have lawyers, and so
>I'm not going to upload it.
I've on occasion thought of e-mailing you and asking if you planned to upload
Icebreaker, and I always decided, "Nah. He's probably forgotten about it."
+--First Church of Briantology--Order of the Holy Quaternion--+
| A mathematician is a device for turning coffee into |
| theorems. -Paul Erdos |
| David Wildstrom |
Self-pity does not become you either. There were plenty of new ideas in
this year's competition, and I'd say, on the most part, they've been
recognized and applauded. Sunset Over Savannah's emotional-state status
line, Zero Sum Game's reverse scoring, Edifice's use of allegory--and even
Tempest, flawed though it was, has been criticized more for the problems
with its implementation than for its idea. I don't think the bulk of the
criticism of Sylenius has been for the idea either, but then again, people
aren't sending me reviews. I do think that, if you're actually committed
to the idea, you should take seriously the criticisms that are coming
in--like "it's boring in a text medium"--and think about them. Maybe
there's a way to make the idea _not_ boring. Vary the text that indicates
attacks, movement, etc.; I got tired of seeing the same "you move to the
left" messages. Make the deaths of the various creatures interesting;
different monsters don't have to die in the same way. I mean, people read
fantasy novels with long fighting sequences that aren't inherently any
more interesting than this; surely there's a way to spruce your text up.
("Already been seen before"? The grammar-critic pot calls the kettle
The room is as you left it; your last touch--
A thoughtless pressure, knowing not itself
As saintly--hallows now each simple thing,
Hallows and glorifies, and glows between
The dust's gray fingers, like a shielded light.
--from "Interim," by Edna St. Vincent Millay
Are you telling me this never happens to you? I remember back when my first
attempt at the expression evaluator slipped out the serial port and had me
pinned in the walk-in closet for close to three hours.
>Are you telling me this never happens to you? I remember back when my first
>attempt at the expression evaluator slipped out the serial port and had me
>pinned in the walk-in closet for close to three hours.
That's why the evil computer program running amock is such a
bore: that sort of thing happens all the time (but only on PC
compatibles, never Macs).
I agree, and who would want to download umpteen megabytes of code that
won't run on our own systems?
/ \ \
/ \ \
Climb every mountain
Ford every stream
Follow every rainbow
'til you find your dream
I notice no one's yet stepped forward to defend AGT.
Ah, but I only read a sample of your reviews. I didn't read the ones of
games I hadn't played. I haven't played the AGT game.
*However*, if you did say something similar about AGT (or AGiliTy), this
is ridiculous too.
After all, I had to port JACL to play the game (that is, in the least
sense of the word "port"). I didn't deduct a point for this extra
effort. Rather, I was quite thankful I'd made the effort, as the game
was quite good.
I suspect you exaggerate but I did know a chap who repeatedly found that
his washing machine vibrated across the floor in such a way as to block
his exit from his room. In a sinister fashion.
Well, I will. Not for any particularly good reason, just that if a
game is good, who cares - deducting marks for having to download the
interpreter is, hmm, odd.
Stephen (Don't make me get the mob again.)
I kind of like AGT. Had I not chosen Inform as my main language, and had I
intend to only write story IF (instead of puzzle IF), I'd use AGT.
Of course I'll work on weekends without pay!
- successful applicant