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PeterW

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Oct 18, 2000, 3:00:00 AM10/18/00
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One thing that bothers me sometimes is that commands, responses, room
description and event descriptions (like: birds fly by, giant mushroom
eats your pants) all appear in the same screen. (I'm specifically
refering to Inform and Tads games)

I find myself typing _look_ a lot to get the room description to
reappear and feel kind of uncomfortable (no grip :)) when it disappears
again after typing a couple of commands. With Inform and Tads the room
name appears on the top but in my opinion it would be nice to have a
fixed room description up there as well.

Also nice would be one or two command lines (also for error responses
and disambiguating questions) at the bottom of the screen while
descriptive command responses and event descriptions could be showed as
normal in the big screen.

I figure the main reason is that Inform and Tads don't support this. Or
do you writers and gamers feel it would take away from the story-feel
of the game? Any other feelings about this?

Are there games/platforms that do use this kind of frames approach?

Peter

roger...@tesco.net

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Oct 18, 2000, 3:00:00 AM10/18/00
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In article <39ED822B...@zonnet.nl>,

PeterW <pvand...@zonnet.nl> wrote:
> One thing that bothers me sometimes is that commands, responses, room
> description and event descriptions (like: birds fly by, giant mushroom
> eats your pants) all appear in the same screen. (I'm specifically
> refering to Inform and Tads games)
[snip]

> Are there games/platforms that do use this kind of frames approach?

ADRIFT, Quest and SUDS (all on Windows) do to some degree. See
http://homepages.tesco.net/~roger.firth/cloak/ for URLs and
some screenshots.

Cheers, Roger


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Before you buy.

Iain Merrick

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Oct 18, 2000, 3:00:00 AM10/18/00
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PeterW wrote:

> One thing that bothers me sometimes is that commands, responses, room
> description and event descriptions (like: birds fly by, giant mushroom
> eats your pants) all appear in the same screen. (I'm specifically
> refering to Inform and Tads games)

Yeah, that can be annoying, although many terps at least let you scroll
up and look at previous pages of text. Some games are nearly impossible
to play without this feature.

> I find myself typing _look_ a lot to get the room description to
> reappear and feel kind of uncomfortable (no grip :)) when it disappears
> again after typing a couple of commands.

I don't mind typing LOOK a lot, but I do resent having to type UNDO
afterwards if I don't want to waste a turn. LOOK ought to be a
meta-command which doesn't advance the turn counter.

> With Inform and Tads the room
> name appears on the top but in my opinion it would be nice to have a
> fixed room description up there as well.
>
> Also nice would be one or two command lines (also for error responses
> and disambiguating questions) at the bottom of the screen while
> descriptive command responses and event descriptions could be showed as
> normal in the big screen.
>
> I figure the main reason is that Inform and Tads don't support this. Or
> do you writers and gamers feel it would take away from the story-feel
> of the game? Any other feelings about this?

I'd love to see experimentation along these lines. Rather than the main
IF systems not supporting alternate formatting schemes, I think the
problem is that they support the Infocom style _by default_ -- changing
the display style involves a bit of hacking around.

The thing I like about the Infocom style (Dungeon style, Advent style,
whatever) is that the input lines help to break up and punctuate the
text, as it were. A big chunk of text in a single font is difficult to
read on a computer screen. Text in small chunks, interrupted by room
titles and input lines in different styles or colours, is much more
readable.

> Are there games/platforms that do use this kind of frames approach?

Yes -- all of the established IF systems can do this, with a bit of
fiddling.

HTML-TADS has 'banners', which are a bit like standard HTML frames but
simpler. Banners could easily be used to create the kind of effect you
have in mind -- in fact, the standard library uses a banner for the
'status bar' in HTML mode. You might want to take a look at Stephen
Granade's game _Arrival_, which uses banners for various special
effects.

The Z-machine used by Inform has a different screen model; you only have
one 'status window', but unlike (non-HTML) TADS it can display multiple
lines of text. I believe one of the comp games uses the status window to
input text, though I'd better not say any more until the judging period
ends.

The version 6 Z-machine allows multiple status windows, but there aren't
many z6 interpreters around; it's best just to stick with z5 and z8.

I haven't used Hugo, but I think it allows multiple windows like z6, not
to mention graphics and sound.

Finally, the Glk I/O model also allows multiple windows, and places few
restrictions on what these windows can be used for (there's no special
'main window', for instance). It's also more widely ported than
HTML-TADS and (arguably) Hugo. The Glulx virtual machine uses Glk I/O,
and Andrew Plotkin has adapted Inform to compile to Glulx as well as the
Z-machine.

--
Iain Merrick
i...@spod-central.org

Jan-Erik Karlsson

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Oct 18, 2000, 3:00:00 AM10/18/00
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On 18 Oct 00 12:36:52 Iain Merrick wrote about "Re: screen layout":

wouldn't this be rather simple to implement in for instance tads
(at least on the amiga and probably on the mac) simply open two windows where one is
output (with scrollbars of course) and one is a simple input line window (perhaps two 'lines' high)(which is auto selected so that it recives all keyboard input)

the problem with glk is that it mostly deals with it also on a terminal based which means
some
trouble regarding scrolling etc. (but I haven't looked at it much even though I've ported
it :-)


ghde...@my-deja.com

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Oct 18, 2000, 3:00:00 AM10/18/00
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In article <39ED822B...@zonnet.nl>,
PeterW <pvand...@zonnet.nl> wrote:

> Also nice would be one or two command lines (also for error responses
> and disambiguating questions) at the bottom of the screen while
> descriptive command responses and event descriptions could be showed
> as normal in the big screen.

I`ve been thinking about doing this in my own game although its not near
the top of my list of things to do. One thing I plan to put into my game
is an area or display showing visible exits which I`ve found useful.
Some HTML-TADS games have done this in the past.

> I figure the main reason is that Inform and Tads don't support this.

HTML-TADS can split the display into different static panels using the
BANNER command. I think it would probably be possible to put the room
description into a static panel if you wanted. I think you can also
split the screen if you`re using GLULX.

> Are there games/platforms that do use this kind of frames approach?
>

> Peter

Beyond Zork had different static parts of the screen for a room
description and a map. Other older (8bit) games had descriptions,
graphics, exits and messages split into different panels.

Guilherme
ghde...@yahoo.co.uk

Iain Merrick

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Oct 18, 2000, 3:00:00 AM10/18/00
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Jan-Erik Karlsson wrote:

> Iain Merrick wrote:
>
> > PeterW wrote:
[...]


> > > Also nice would be one or two command lines (also for error responses
> > > and disambiguating questions) at the bottom of the screen while
> > > descriptive command responses and event descriptions could be showed as
> > > normal in the big screen.

[...]


> wouldn't this be rather simple to implement in for instance tads
> (at least on the amiga and probably on the mac) simply open two windows where one is
> output (with scrollbars of course) and one is a simple input line window (perhaps two
> 'lines' high)(which is auto selected so that it recives all keyboard input)

It would be reasonably straightforward to do this _once_, but writing a
new terp that can do this on half-a-dozen operating systems -- and
persuading people to use it -- would be pretty difficult. And we already
have HTML-TADS, anyway.

I don't think there's any way to extend the status bar in standard,
non-HTML TADS.

> the problem with glk is that it mostly deals with it also on a terminal based which
> means some trouble regarding scrolling etc. (but I haven't looked at it much even
> though I've ported it :-)

Well, the Glk library for any particular OS can be as minimal or as
fancy as you like, depending on how much effort the porter is prepared
to invest in it. MacGlk is quite nice -- the enclosing window can be
resized, text buffer sub-windows have scroll bars, stuff like that.

--
Iain Merrick
i...@spod-central.org

Textrooms

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Oct 18, 2000, 3:00:00 AM10/18/00
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> HTML-TADS can split the display into different static panels using the
> BANNER command. I think it would probably be possible to put the room
> description into a static panel if you wanted.

This is indeed quite possible. I've been developing a TADS module that does
just this. A few quirks so far, though:
-- It does just work for HTML-TADS,
but the module does take into account
non-HTML-enabled platforms.
-- I've been using the BANNER command,
but I've been letting the height be
determined by the text it contains. This
choice being made to allow for variable
text size choices and screen widths. Keeping
a consistent size to the banner then becomes a
matter of formatting text and spacing within
the banner itself.

I've been giving myself until the end of the competition to share this because
the runnable example I've been developing to go with the module is based on a
current comp entry. However, over the next couple of days I'll work on
something I can post before the comp ends.

When I do so, I'll post an announcement both here and in
rec.arts.int-fiction.

-T. Rooms

Richard Bos

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Oct 18, 2000, 3:00:00 AM10/18/00
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PeterW <pvand...@zonnet.nl> wrote:

> Also nice would be one or two command lines (also for error responses
> and disambiguating questions) at the bottom of the screen while
> descriptive command responses and event descriptions could be showed as
> normal in the big screen.

There used to be a lot of games that did this on the Spectrum, where
many adventures had static graphics, and many that hadn't used thatspace
for a static room description. See also, for example, the ZCode ports of
the Scott Adams adventures.

> I figure the main reason is that Inform and Tads don't support this. Or
> do you writers and gamers feel it would take away from the story-feel
> of the game? Any other feelings about this?

I think an important reason is that Advent and Zork both did it the
"normal" way (and thus set the norm for "normal"); and one reason why
they did it that way may well be because it's easier to program, and
certainly easier to port to things like line printer terminals.

Richard

Carl Muckenhoupt

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Oct 18, 2000, 3:00:00 AM10/18/00
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On Wed, 18 Oct 2000 11:57:47 +0100, PeterW <pvand...@zonnet.nl>
wrote:

>Are there games/platforms that do use this kind of frames approach?

well, as far as *games* go, it actually used to be rather common to
have the room description, including objects and exit list, in a
separate window at the top of the screen. Scott Adams games did this,
and since most early text adventures on micros were influenced by
Scott Adams, many of them did, too.

"Beyond Zork" took a similar approach, but made the contents of the
window customizable - you could make it display your inventory
instead, for example. This was carried into early games by Legend
Entertainment (Timequest, Spellcasting 101, etc.). Beyond Zork runs
on the Z-machine, but it would probably be difficult to code the same
effect in Inform. (That is, it would probably require Z-assembly
coding.) It would be nice to have a library for such things available
in Inform, though; a large game like Spiritwrak could definitely use
it.


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Fillmore

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Oct 18, 2000, 3:00:00 AM10/18/00
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"Carl Muckenhoupt" <ca...@wurb.com> wrote in message
news:39edb368....@goliath2.usenet-access.com...

> On Wed, 18 Oct 2000 11:57:47 +0100, PeterW <pvand...@zonnet.nl>
> wrote:
>
> >Are there games/platforms that do use this kind of frames approach?
>
> well, as far as *games* go, it actually used to be rather common to
> have the room description, including objects and exit list, in a
> separate window at the top of the screen. Scott Adams games did this,
> and since most early text adventures on micros were influenced by
> Scott Adams, many of them did, too.
>
> "Beyond Zork" took a similar approach, but made the contents of the
> window customizable - you could make it display your inventory
> instead, for example. This was carried into early games by Legend
> Entertainment (Timequest, Spellcasting 101, etc.). Beyond Zork runs
> on the Z-machine, but it would probably be difficult to code the same
> effect in Inform. (That is, it would probably require Z-assembly
> coding.) It would be nice to have a library for such things available
> in Inform, though; a large game like Spiritwrak could definitely use
> it.

As it happens, I've been working on such a library for a while now. Not only
that, it works. However, the map doesn't work anything like the map in
Beyond Zork, but more like a compass, and I messed up something to do with
the display while trying to make the code less ugly, so it would need quite
a bit of testing before I consider releasing it to the general public.

--
Fillmore

From ghoulies and ghosties and long-leggety beasties
And things that go bump in the night,
Good Lord, deliver us!

Fillmore

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Oct 18, 2000, 3:00:00 AM10/18/00
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"Fillmore" <DCAFi...@Hotmail.com> wrote in message
news:PskH5.12017$NQ4.2...@news2-win.server.ntlworld.com...

Actually, it's going to more of a suite of library files, covering
every odd thing about Beyond Zork I can. This includes the screen
layout, the RPG stats stuff, monster and weapon classes, nameable
objects, possibly random room connections, and suchlike.

Of course, most of this isn't done yet, and the information is
of no practical use. The point, however, is that I have actually
completed one of those files, and uploaded it to gmd, and then
not advertised it or anything. So I will, now.

fkey.h, which is sitting on the if-archive at
ftp://ftp.gmd.de/if-archive/infocom/compilers/inform6/library/contributions/
, should
enable games to use function keys (and the numeric keypad) in the
same way as Beyond Zork. Yay.

JCZorkmid

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Oct 19, 2000, 3:00:00 AM10/19/00
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In article <39ED8B...@spod-central.org>,
Iain Merrick <i...@spod-central.org> wrote:

> PeterW wrote:
>
> The version 6 Z-machine allows multiple status windows, but there
aren't
> many z6 interpreters around; it's best just to stick with z5 and z8.

I uploaded a new version of advent.z6 that 'looks' in a third window
(use the 'style' command to activate it), if any one is interested. It
doesn't seem to work in WinFrotz for some reason... but Dos Frotz is
happy.

It's in incoming, until it's moved where it belongs.

Later,
JCZ
--
JCZorkmid
Check out V6Lib @ <http://www.chelmsford.com/home/jpenney/V6Lib>

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