[ANNOUNCE] Three games in Inform 7

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Emily Short

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Mar 1, 2006, 7:26:22 PM3/1/06
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[I am posting the following at Graham Nelson's request, because it is
not currently possible for him to do so himself:]

Many small and medium-sized games have been written during the
development of the forthcoming Inform 7 design system for IF. Some are
used for testing, others were simply experiments, but most are intended
as illustrative samples. More than 200 of these will appear in the
documentation, but they necessarily show off one trick each: so we
wanted also to offer a few larger-scale "worked examples". Though not
enormous, these are too long to be included verbatim in any book, and
their full source text will instead be published on the Inform website
when Inform 7 reaches its public beta. In the mean time, we would like
to release three of these example games for the community to play. All
have been beta-tested by players, and while they should not be taken
too seriously, we hope they may be fun. Each comes with a "feelie"
booklet, presented in PDF format, from its own web page: the links are
given below.

At present, these story files can probably be played only on Windows,
Mac OS X and some Unix-based systems running X-Windows, since they are
presented as Blorb 2.0-wrapped Z-machine story files: they include
cover art and bibliographic metadata. This will be the standard format
generated by Inform 7, so another purpose of the present release is to
offer the Z-machine community some samples to experiment with. See
below for details.

-----

Reliques of Tolti-Aph
Graham Nelson (2005)

It used to be said that there are two kinds of magic-user: those who
have been to Tolti-Aph, and charlatans. It used to be generally
understood that the attempt to prove oneself in the unforgiving society
of Tolti-Aph was a bid for rapid level advancement or else romantic,
thin-young-mage-in-midnight-black-robes death. The closer you get to
the wilderness spot vaguely marked "Tholtaff" on the agate globe in
your great-great-grandfather's study, the better the alternative
sounds: settling down in some coastal village, perhaps, a little
weathermongering, some polymancy, and helping out with the nets after a
bad storm. Retire at maybe level 3, with most of your experience points
gained from observing rare fish-based poisons carry off those villagers
careless about gutting. Publish an awesomely tedious monograph on the
correct usage of the "untangle rigging" spell. You know, the good life.

http://plover.net/~emily/ROTA/

-----

Bronze
Emily Short (2006)

When the seventh day comes and it is time for you to return to the
castle in the forest, your sisters cling to your sleeves.

"Don't go back," they say, and "When will we ever see you again?" But
since they've filled the time by telling you every word spoken to them
by every male in the village, you imagine they will find consolation
somewhere.

Your father hangs back, silent and moody. He has spent the week as far
from you as possible, working until late at night. Now he speaks only
to ask whether the Beast treated you "properly." From his tone of
voice, he is obviously inquiring after your virtue, not anything so
irrelevant as your health, comfort, or peace of mind.

You might not have thought it possible, but you are looking forward to
getting back...

Bronze is a puzzle-oriented adaptation of Beauty and the Beast with an
expansive geography for the inveterate explorer.

Features help for novice players, a detailed adaptive hint system to
assist players who get lost, and a number of features to make
navigating a large space more pleasant.

http://plover.net/~emily/Bronze/

-----

Damnatio Memoriae
Emily Short (2006)

14 AD. Agrippa Postumus, grandson of the recently-deceased Augustus,
tries to avoid death at the hands of the next emperor, Tiberius. At his
disposal: a couple of old manuscripts, a lamp, and a recalcitrant
slave. And a powerful knowledge of the Art of Venus Genetrix, of course
-- the magic eventually known as the Lavori d'Aracne.

Damnatio Memoriae belongs to a series with the author's previous game
Savoir-Faire; though it can stand alone, the game's mechanics will make
most sense to players already familiar with that work.

It is a fast, timed game, taking only a few minutes to play once, but
probably requiring multiple attempts to bring to a satisfactory
conclusion.

http://plover.net/~emily/DM/

-----

The story files for these three games are standard-compliant Z-machine
story files, but each is "blorbed". This means that it is bundled
together with a cover picture and some bibliographic information inside
a Blorb wrapper. The Blorb standard for gathering IF resources together
was set down by Andrew Plotkin in 2001, and was documented in the
Inform 6 Designer's Manual. At present relatively few "blorbs", as
blorbed files are called, are in circulation. But Inform 7 may change
this, since it publishes games as blorbs by default. Blorbing is Inform
7's equivalent of binding a paper publication: it attaches outer
covers, adding a cover picture and descriptive matter to help identify
the book within.

So these new games are only playable using an interpreter capable of
reading blorbed Z-machine story files. We recommend:

Windows Frotz for Windows, maintained by David Kinder
http://www.d.kinder.btinternet.co.uk/frotz.html
The current version reads and plays blorbed story files, but does not
yet display cover art.

Zoom for Mac OS X, maintained by Andrew Hunter
http://www.logicalshift.co.uk/unix/zoom/
Version 1.0.5 alpha 1 is required. Zoom behaves like iTunes: it will
store any blorb it plays into a library, and displays the bibliographic
information in a browser in much the same way that iTunes displays song
information. Zoom also tidily stores saved game files associated with
each game, and is generally much to be recommended. (Click the
double-arrow button at the bottom right of the iFiction library window
to see more information about games, including the cover art and
detailed description.)

A more basic version of Zoom is also available for Unix-like systems
running X-Windows, and we believe this will also be able to play
blorbs: here we recommend version 1.0.4a.

-----

The Blorb format has itself been extended to facilitate this new usage,
and a new version 2.0 of the specification has just been published by
Andrew Plotkin:

http://eblong.com/zarf/blorb/index.html

(Blorb is extensible, so new blorbs do comply with the old standard:
but they contain extra data which will be invisible to older
blorb-reading programs. The changes to the standard specify this extra
data.) Further details are being posted to the Z-machine and Inform
maintenance mailing lists.

Graham Nelson
Emily Short
1 March 2006

jameshcu...@gmail.com

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Mar 2, 2006, 12:52:46 AM3/2/06
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For those on OS X who prefer Cugel: you may have to change the
extension of these games to get them to work (to z8). It won't open
.zblorb, and it thinks .blb is a glulxe game.

steve....@gmail.com

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Mar 2, 2006, 2:38:20 AM3/2/06
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I'd be interested to find out what these examples were designed to
exemplify, other than (presumably) good programming style in Inform.
Normally when I write an "example," I'm trying to feature something(s)
in particular. Is that what's going on here?

Emily Short

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Mar 2, 2006, 2:53:59 AM3/2/06
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Not exactly, or, at least, not in a way that will necessarily be
obvious from playing them rather than from looking at the code. Many
examples of specific features are written into the documentation; these
show how to put the bits together, for several different styles of
game.

Steve Evans

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Mar 2, 2006, 5:21:03 AM3/2/06
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The same applies for those Windows users who prefer Gargoyle.

steve....@gmail.com

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Mar 2, 2006, 10:08:41 AM3/2/06
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Emily wrote, quoting me:

> > I'd be interested to find out what these examples were designed to
> > exemplify, other than (presumably) good programming style in Inform.
> > Normally when I write an "example," I'm trying to feature something(s)
> > in particular. Is that what's going on here?
>
> Not exactly, or, at least, not in a way that will necessarily be
> obvious from playing them rather than from looking at the code.

No, I'm just wondering if there's anything in the gameplay which
exposes what players can look forward to for Inform-7 games in the
future. Or if the features are more for the game-writer's convenience,
say, rather than something the player can appreciate.

Judging from the studied vagueness of the answer, I'll assume that
we're intentionally avoiding talking about features of Inform-7, 'til
later. In the interim, I'll take these "examples" as examples only of
how badly is declined the subtle art of thinking up a decent title....
Not that titles are all that important, I guess; I can still enjoy the
game anyway.

But, I mean, when I'm on the bus or the subway, and I'm reading a book
with a bad title, I always take care that none of the other passgeners
gets a glance at the cover. This is not only out of respect for the
other riders, but frankly because I can get pretty embarassed looking
like the kind of guy who would read a book entitled "Lady Audley's
Secret," or "Tractatus: Logico Philosophicus" or some other nonsense. I
guess it's not so bad when nobody can see me, but still I try to forget
it's happening.... After all, I reassure myself, it *can* be a good
work, even if it does have a really bad title.

necl...@gmail.com

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Mar 2, 2006, 10:57:46 AM3/2/06
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I hope the games can be un-blorbed because I think very few people will
release the .z5 or .z8 to play with on handhelds, and they will only
release blorbs even if they don't use multimedia features...

Ignazio

Jacek Pudlo

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Mar 2, 2006, 11:02:45 AM3/2/06
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[Emily Short graciously releasing two games in Inform 7]

Imagine a small group of fiction writers inventing the typewriter, but
instead of going public with their invention keeping the secret to
themselves. Well, not really a stricto sensu secret, because now and then
they would show a typewritten manuscript to a friend and explain how much
faster and more comfortable their invention was compared to writing by hand.
The friend would then beg to loan it, or buy it, or even be allowed a
glimpse of the miraculous machine, but they would remain firm in their
refusal. "So why did you show me the manuscript? Just to rub my nose in it?"
the friend would ask. "Oh, fear not," the secret-keeper would say, "We do
intend to release it. We're just not saying when. If you behave, maybe soon.
If you don't..."

Kevin Forchione

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Mar 2, 2006, 11:46:50 AM3/2/06
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"Emily Short" <ems...@mindspring.com> wrote in message
news:1141286039....@z34g2000cwc.googlegroups.com...

I'm sure the community appreciates the release of these games, if ony as a
demonstration that some development system exists to create them. However,
I'm not sure what kind of response this will generate if the games
themselves do not demonstrate new facets of the development system that can
be experienced by the player. For instance, the release of Curses wowed the
community with its sophistication and its infocom style. As a flagship for
Inform this game demonstrated to the player that a system existed that could
be used to develop a game as cool as Curses.

But as showcase features, and particularly as their release coincides with
another thread on the newsgroup that expresses curiosity and frustration
over the lack of information regarding why an Inform author should be
looking forward to the upcoming release of the new system, I think these
releases might only serve to exacerbate the frustration of certain game
authors. Not having played these games yet, what we are apparently being
told is that these new games do not exhibit any features in their gameplay
that will distinguish them from any other game being developed under current
systems, and worse yet, that a limited number of interpreters exist to
showcase the features that a gameplayer could experience.

Certainly, as a system developer, and at this stage of the development
cycle, where flagship games have been released to the general public, there
would exist some core elements of the new system which are stable enough
that they are unlikely to be significantly altered prior to public release,
and that the developer could use to generate some positive PR to whet the
appetites of future consumers in a positive way. The last thing you want to
do before releasing a much anticipated movie is to expose the audience to
trailers that produce an "Hmmmm... interesting..." reaction.

We are, after all, speaking to some of the community's top showmen. And I
mean this in the very professional sense of the word. By all means develop
the system as you please, but don't forget to razzle-dazzle your adoring
public!

--Kevin

Emily Short

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Mar 2, 2006, 12:13:26 PM3/2/06
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Kevin Forchione wrote:
> However,
> I'm not sure what kind of response this will generate if the games
> themselves do not demonstrate new facets of the development system that can
> be experienced by the player.

Sorry, that's not at all what I meant. I took the previous question to
mean, "is there some single feature or cluster of features that each of
these is supposed to point out?" -- to which the answer is, from the
player's perspective, no. From a *coding* perspective, yes, different
games make use of different elements of the system -- especially in the
case of Damnatio Memoriae -- but that's not much help from here.

John W. Kennedy

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Mar 2, 2006, 12:24:57 PM3/2/06
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When a language and a compiler, and a library spec and its
implementation, are all still being developed, and, in particular, when
they deal with a problem space that is not, and, in the current state of
the art, /can/ not be well-defined, open public betas cannot be anything
but insane.

Emily has said in the posting that initiates this thread that there will
be a public beta. That will come when Graham, Emily, and the others on
the Inform 7 team can be reasonably certain that the specs for the
language and the library are complete, and that all of the essential
ones and most of the detachable ones (by which I mean such hypothetical
things as a fully worked-out rope module) work in the existing beta
code, and that anything that doesn't work yet can be made to work in a
reasonable timeframe.

I've been doing this stuff for 40 years, and I have a pretty good idea
by now of what methodologies are an open invitation to disaster.

So let's stop acting like children on a bus.

--
John W. Kennedy
"But now is a new thing which is very old--
that the rich make themselves richer and not poorer,
which is the true Gospel, for the poor's sake."
-- Charles Williams. "Judgement at Chelmsford"

Ben Rudiak-Gould

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Mar 2, 2006, 12:42:48 PM3/2/06
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I can't bring myself to reply to Jacek, especially not to agree with him.
But, honestly, my immediate emotional reaction to this announcement was very
negative. Whether there's any rational justification for it or not, I found
Emily's (Graham's) post both bizarre and insulting at a gut level. I found
myself hoping, as awful as it sounds, that people will boycott Inform 7 when
it comes out.

This feeling is not new: it has been percolating in me every time discussion
of Inform 7 comes up. I have a good idea as to why, but it's hard to
articulate. It's the difference between a company that begins sentences with
"In order to serve you better" and a company that makes changes that
actually serve customers better. There needn't even be a difference in the
actions of the two companies. The prefix "in order to serve you better" is
already insulting, no matter what follows it.

The posts from the---dare I say it---Inform 7 cabal have had that character.
It's not the lack of information that I object to, it's the attitude. All
Andrew P. needs to say, in response to questions about release date, is that
Graham hasn't told him anything, or that Graham doesn't want to commit to a
date because he has other responsibilities and this is a hobby project.
Those are forthright and reasonable answers. "Wait for an official
announcement" is condescending and rude. (I'm not talking about Al, but
about other people who've asked this kind of question in good faith.)
Furthermore, the increased recursion depth and the decision to produce Blorb
by default are things that I'd expect to be mentioned and discussed on RAIF
well in advance of any working games being released. A lot of tools will
have to be updated to support this. Were the tool authors secretly notified
of this last year? Do people actually want Blorb metadata? Maybe they do,
but the post creates the impression that Graham doesn't care one way or the
other; he seems to expect that people will start using it simply because
he's decided that that's what's best for them.

I'm writing this up because I can't help thinking that my reaction must have
been shared by some other people here. Jacek of course has nothing but
contempt for the whole community, and for Andrew and Emily in particular, so
his reaction is predictable and his post has little content (in
information-theoretic terms). I have a lot of respect for the community and
for Andrew and Emily in particular, as I hope my other posts to this group
have shown, and that's why I'm posting this. Maybe my feelings were
illegitimate, but I felt them nonetheless.

-- Ben

jameshcu...@gmail.com

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Mar 2, 2006, 12:58:03 PM3/2/06
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Ben Rudiak-Gould wrote:
> [...] Maybe they do,

> but the post creates the impression that Graham doesn't care one way or the
> other; he seems to expect that people will start using it simply because
> he's decided that that's what's best for them.

No one is being forced to use Inform 7: has Graham decided what's best
for
those who decide to stick with Inform 6.x? Why does development on
Inform
need to be community-driven, anyway?

As for tools, which ones need to be updated? The games above already
work
on normal, everyday interpreters, albeit without making use of
metadata.. Most
people don't use IDEs for Inform. Interpreters and a compiler ... am I
missing
anything? (Probably.)

> I'm writing this up because I can't help thinking that my reaction must have
> been shared by some other people here.

As someone who is as far from the Inform Cabal as a person could be
while still
being, perhaps technically, a part of the IF community, I'll say that I
don't share
your reaction. I cannot imagine what could be insulting about Emily's
post,
without the assumption that one should have a say in Inform
development.

And as an aside: Please don't mention *him* in your posts, even to
insult. It
encourages him. He is not even a real person with real opinions, be
them of
contempt or not; he is a mere creation.

aph...@altavista.com

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Mar 2, 2006, 1:36:25 PM3/2/06
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I frankly don't know what's going on here, (ive been away)..but what a
dramatic moment. Indeed.

I have the mental picture of Emily in a black robe with hood fully
adorned walking down a torched hallway, our view lateral of her sway,
as she balances the book of Inform 7 upon a black pillow. Where she is
heading, we do not know....

Here is theme to accompany this vision I see...:
http://www.santoonie.com/software/inform7.mp3


A.P. Hill

Emily Short

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Mar 2, 2006, 1:54:53 PM3/2/06
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Ben Rudiak-Gould wrote:
(About a general sense of distress, etc.)

I can't speak for zarf, and I have been trying to avoid speaking for
Graham (except, as here, forwarding text verbatim). A good deal of what
I'm doing myself is preliminary testing, and writing source samples,
large and small, to augment the documentation necessary for the public
beta. This means that I *do* know just a little too much to claim total
ignorance -- I could have made educated guesses about the answers to
people's questions -- but they would be just that, educated guesses,
not official announcements from Graham. Of course, people would tend in
the course of human nature to regard these as promises, and be
disappointed if they weren't met, and I do not want to commit Graham to
anything behind his back. That seems pretty foul play. I also don't
want to try to sketch out his personal motives, since those are
presumably his business, and my telepathic powers are on the fritz this
week anyway. If he wants to announce a release date, I'm sure he will,
but in the meantime all I really *can* say, in honesty and fairness, is
"you'll have to wait for Graham to answer that." It's not
condescension; it's just not really having a better answer.

Personally, I'm intensely eager for the day when we can have a detailed
discussion of what Inform 7 does, and how it compares with other
systems. I'm sure the release won't produce a consensus, but I'm also
certain that the conversation will be interesting; even now, it's hard
for me to participate in theoretical discussions about where IF should
go, because my discussion is influenced by things I can't draw in as
examples, yet, and this is why a few times when pressed on things I
have referred to it, mostly to say that I hope to take up (whatever
conversation) again when we can consider more evidence together. At the
same time, I7 is sufficiently novel that my trying to offer a partial
list of "features" -- even if I did have Graham's permission to do so
-- would give a pretty lopsided view of what it is and what it does.

All I can say is that it is such a tool as to make writing the two
games I just released a light and pleasant task, the work of days or
weeks rather than months. It took me weeks to straighten out the
linking code in Savoir-Faire in Inform 6, and the result was full of
bugs needing to be squashed, and hard to deal with every time I needed
to add a new object to the scenario. Similar source text for Damnatio
Memoriae was roughed out in a few hours, and was considerably more
robust when finished. This is *not* because I'd already done it once.

Anyway, for my part, I'm sorry there is frustration. This should not be
envisioned as a situation where I get the pretty toy and, for some
inexplicable reason, everyone else doesn't; if anything, working on I7
has rather been a distraction from finishing the next large-scale IF of
my own (though it also does provide the tools to do some things with
that project that I otherwise couldn't). This is obviously my choice,
but there it is. I'm doing my best to help get I7 to the point where a
public beta would be a sensible event. At that point, the package can
be seen together, and its features presented as a whole; while I
realize just how irritating it is to be told to be patient, I can't
offer much else. If it's any consolation (and I realize that you
personally were not suggesting as much), I guarantee that the
intervening time is not being taken up with a bunch of us sitting in a
clubhouse drinking martinis and watching football.

About blorbing and alterations to spec, I wasn't a major party to that
decision, but I do not believe these changes were undertaken in a
vacuum either.

Message has been deleted

Simon Baldwin

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Mar 2, 2006, 2:43:50 PM3/2/06
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Gblorb seemed able to extract the story file from these blorbs just
fine. I haven't had time to try any other blorb tools yet.

Jacek Pudlo

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Mar 2, 2006, 2:58:14 PM3/2/06
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<jameshcu...@gmail.com> skrev i meddelandet
news:1141322283.0...@z34g2000cwc.googlegroups.com...

> He is not even a real person with real opinions, be them of contempt or
> not; he is a mere creation.

So is Hamlet.


Jacek Pudlo

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Mar 2, 2006, 5:21:33 PM3/2/06
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"Poster" <Poster-...@aurora.cotse.net.invalid> skrev i meddelandet
news:MTE0MTMyNzcyOC5hd...@nulluser.com...

> Emily Short wrote:
>
>> Ben Rudiak-Gould wrote:
>> (About a general sense of distress, etc.)
>>
>> I can't speak for zarf, and I have been trying to avoid speaking for
>> Graham (except, as here, forwarding text verbatim). A good deal of what
>> I'm doing myself is preliminary testing, and writing source samples,
>> large and small, to augment the documentation necessary for the public
>
> [snip...]
>
> Thank you. I think that clears things up and will make folks feel a lot
> better.

Nothing was really explained. We still don't know when, if ever, it's going
to be released. Nor do we know the reason why Short used I7 for her Mystery
House Project game. It looks like she's appropriated the thing for her own
personal use. No wonder, considering this:

"All I can say is that it is such a tool as to make writing the two
games I just released a light and pleasant task, the work of days or
weeks rather than months. It took me weeks to straighten out the
linking code in Savoir-Faire in Inform 6, and the result was full of
bugs needing to be squashed, and hard to deal with every time I needed
to add a new object to the scenario. Similar source text for Damnatio
Memoriae was roughed out in a few hours, and was considerably more
robust when finished. This is *not* because I'd already done it once."

What takes weeks in I6 takes only hours in I7. Will she be writing
competition entries with I7 while the rest of us are clunking away on old
rusty I6? Because that would be like entering a formula three race with a
formula one car.


Graham Nelson

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Mar 2, 2006, 5:29:55 PM3/2/06
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There are few enough of us in IF as it is, and while some of the
comments in this thread may not have been intended as wounding to
others, they would certainly read back that way to lurkers. A newsgroup
which avoids flame-wars is such a fragile and precious thing, and RAIF
when it works is a credit to the sense of community which IF has always
fostered. Let's hang on to that. As my part in trying to understand
each other better, let me acknowledge that even some of the - pardon me
- rude and uncharitable things said above (about Emily, for instance)
were nevertheless motivated by a wish for the community to be cohesive,
and to work together. In that spirit, perhaps I may reply, in what I
hope will be taken as a non-confrontational way.

Inform 7 is not finished yet. It is not a simple extension of Inform 6,
and it turned out to be much harder to do than anticipated. After the
first eighteen months or so of coding, I finally produced a kind of
baseline system - one that was mostly capable of making viable IF. This
build was christened 1A01. But not until 1J34 did I get to something
which it was barely possible to show to other people - though it
collapsed at the slightest provocation - and it was about another
thousand builds before the system was able to cope with a full-sized
test, a work in progress of Emily's. Even so, in some weeks I would get
ten bug reports a day from only a couple of testers working at a time,
which may give some idea of why I could not have coped with a larger
testing team.

At that point, somewhere around build 2C80, we finally began to
understand what we were doing: what the important concepts were that we
were missing. The first wave of testing came to a close, and we went
back to the drawing board, because we finally knew what to draw. This
led to a substantial rewrite over the winter of 2004/5, and also the
writing of a testing suite of code to verify the system somewhat better
than before. (I really cannot describe how many hours Emily spent on
this, and ironically the result is that her original work-in-progress
game is now written in a language which no longer exists, so in a sense
I am responsible for destroying a new work by Emily Short - though I
have hopes that it may one day be rescued. Had earlier builds of I7
been circulated further, that fate might well have befallen others.)
Around this time I wrote up a research paper on the work done so far,
and setting out my increasingly firmly-held view that the question of
what an IF design system should do is essentially a problem in the
semantic analysis of language - indeed, while computer programming
research has acknowledged syntactic linguistics for so long that the
area is considered solved, I think semantics has too often been
overlooked as a theory applicable to how people could most expressively
use computers. At any rate work by Jackendoff, and others of his
school, has had quite a large influence on I7 since then, and I think
it was a wise decision to step backwards and think more carefully
rather than release something workable but superficial. (I hope to
publish the paper as part of the public beta. I'm still fixing
references, and so on.)

I7 is now at build 3F40 and reaching completion - testing, documenting,
looking for minor improvements, worrying over what we have missed, and
so on. Many things need to be right all at once: the software, on its
different platforms, the website, the documentation, the design, the
examples (some 226 of these, which I have spent the last fortnight
testing) - a to-do list of quite some size, and which new items keep
dropping into. (Making the Mac OS X release a Universal Binary, for
instance.) Many of these things involve concerted effort by several
people - David Kinder and Andrew Hunter, for instance, who have put
enormous amounts of time into the project. To those who say that I
should have put out a public beta at the earliest possible moment -
well, this is exactly what I intend to do.

Lastly, people routinely take three years to write a novel, or an
academic monograph: shouldn't we expect a new system for IF be at least
as substantial as that?

The sample games are not intended as clues, or as pointers to what we
are doing. They could have been written in I6, or TADS. But it was fun
writing them, so we thought others might have fun trying them out. In
so far as we had another agenda, it was the one mentioned in the
original posting (which Emily made on my behalf since I had newsreader
trouble - stay silent for long enough and you lose the power of
speech...). These games are samples of the story files output by I7. It
is true that some modification will be needed for some interpreters to
run I7 story files, and that at present few tools exist to manage
blorbs: that is why I wanted to circulate some examples now, ahead of
the public beta.

Why blorb? Well, blorb has been "officially recognised" by Inform since
at least the DM4, and I think most people have always thought of it as
a sensible idea, but at the same time it seemed an academic point -
there were so few blorbs to interpret. (Then, too, it had not been
sprinkled with the fairy dust of Infocom, being a format created
entirely in the post-1990 age.) I've adopted blorb as the default
output format for I7 for several reasons: (a) if one is going to have a
wrapper for IF resources, this is much the best yet designed; (b) it is
a format organised and documented by someone other than myself, which
builds in some element of peer review; (c) it is flexible enough to be
useful throughout the future lifetime of I7, as and when future
releases build in new possibilities; (d) it provides an element of
commonality as between Z-machine and glulx games.

But the main reason is that I would like I7 to draw in new writers,
people who have not tried IF before, perhaps even people who have not
played IF before. Let us see this from their point of view. Why
shouldn't an interactive novel have a cover? Why shouldn't it be
possible to write archiving programs, websites showcasing new releases,
etc., which make use of bibliographic data and cover art to present IF
as a lively, attractive and interesting world? I would point to iTunes
as a vivid demonstration of the way that metadata can transform the
experience of appreciating the breadth of culture (not just isolated
tracks by isolated artists). By all means let us run IF on tiny
handheld devices too: this isn't an either/or. But let us make the
whole experience of looking at IF, from the point of view of newcomers,
richer and more human.

I see that the cover art of these three sample games has already
appeared out there on a blog. IF needs to engage with that vast, loose
community of creative people who write blogs, and poems, and short
stories, and unclassifiable but somehow artistic websites.

Giovanni Riccardi

unread,
Mar 2, 2006, 5:32:09 PM3/2/06
to
Emily Short:

> All I can say is that it is such a tool as to make writing the two
> games I just released a light and pleasant task, the work of days or
> weeks rather than months. It took me weeks to straighten out the
> linking code in Savoir-Faire in Inform 6, and the result was full of
> bugs needing to be squashed, and hard to deal with every time I needed
> to add a new object to the scenario. Similar source text for Damnatio
> Memoriae was roughed out in a few hours, and was considerably more
> robust when finished. This is *not* because I'd already done it once.

Emily,
from your point of view (not Graham's), what about I7 in languages other
than English? Support for library translation (like my italian INFIT)
has been improved in some way?

Giovanni

Stuart Moore

unread,
Mar 2, 2006, 5:49:28 PM3/2/06
to
People don't seem to realise or appreciate the work you and your team
put into this. Thank you, Graham, Emily and Andrew.

--
Stuart "Sslaxx" Moore
http://sslaxx.livejournal.com/

David Fisher

unread,
Mar 2, 2006, 6:09:50 PM3/2/06
to
"Graham Nelson" <gra...@gnelson.demon.co.uk> wrote in message
news:1141338595....@v46g2000cwv.googlegroups.com...

> ... I wrote up a research paper on the work done so far,


> and setting out my increasingly firmly-held view that the question of
> what an IF design system should do is essentially a problem in the
> semantic analysis of language - indeed, while computer programming
> research has acknowledged syntactic linguistics for so long that the
> area is considered solved, I think semantics has too often been
> overlooked as a theory applicable to how people could most expressively
> use computers.

This sounds very cool ... I'm all ready to launch into a discussion about
semantic analysis and classifying things by concept instead of syntax ...
it'll have to wait though, I guess (sigh).

Thanks for all the work you (and everybody else) are doing on Inform 7.

Looking forward to everything being revealed,

David Fisher


Jimmy Maher

unread,
Mar 2, 2006, 6:11:27 PM3/2/06
to
Simon Baldwin wrote:
> Gblorb seemed able to extract the story file from these blorbs just
> fine. I haven't had time to try any other blorb tools yet.
>

There's a little tool by Felix Grutzmacher called Rezrov that does the
job very well also.
http://ifarchive.flavorplex.com/if-archive/programming/blorb/rezrov.c.
It's portable C code, and should be compilable virtually anywhere, but I
can make a DOS/Windows executable available if anyone would like to use
it but is not comfortable with compiling.

While I am quite excited about these games and can't wait to play them,
I do think a bit more of an effort should be made to accomodate those
who cannot or would just rather not use Windows Frotz 2002 or Zoom, at
least while we are in this transitional phase and other terp maintainers
have not yet made appropriate updates. One of Inform's biggest
advantages is after all its portability to many different computing
environments. Releasing the games in this format effectively negates a
big chunk of that, at least among those who do not know how to
de-Blorbify the files. It seems we are to some extent going against one
of our community's most long-standing philosophies here.

--
Jimmy Maher
Editor, SPAG Magazine -- http://www.sparkynet.com/spag
Thank you for helping to keep text adventures alive!

John W. Kennedy

unread,
Mar 2, 2006, 6:48:46 PM3/2/06
to
jameshcu...@gmail.com wrote:
> As for tools, which ones need to be updated? The games above already
> work
> on normal, everyday interpreters, albeit without making use of
> metadata.. Most
> people don't use IDEs for Inform. Interpreters and a compiler ... am I
> missing
> anything? (Probably.)

txd and infodump, certainly.

Giovanni Riccardi

unread,
Mar 2, 2006, 7:04:33 PM3/2/06
to
Hi Graham,

> Around this time I wrote up a research paper on the work done so far,
> and setting out my increasingly firmly-held view that the question of
> what an IF design system should do is essentially a problem in the
> semantic analysis of language - indeed, while computer programming
> research has acknowledged syntactic linguistics for so long that the
> area is considered solved, I think semantics has too often been
> overlooked as a theory applicable to how people could most expressively
> use computers. At any rate work by Jackendoff, and others of his
> school, has had quite a large influence on I7 since then, and I think
> it was a wise decision to step backwards and think more carefully
> rather than release something workable but superficial. (I hope to
> publish the paper as part of the public beta. I'm still fixing
> references, and so on.)

Last year I've started studying some semantic analisys for my work on
INFIT. How your work on I7 apply to languages other than english? What
about library translation?

> Lastly, people routinely take three years to write a novel, or an
> academic monograph: shouldn't we expect a new system for IF be at least
> as substantial as that?

surely a long time means more quality...

Giovanni

Emily Short

unread,
Mar 2, 2006, 7:20:28 PM3/2/06
to

Graham Nelson wrote:
> The sample games are not intended as clues, or as pointers to what we
> are doing. They could have been written in I6, or TADS.

Though this is necessarily true, parts of mine *would* not have been
written in I6, simply because they would have been too much trouble.
The main point holds, however.

John W. Kennedy

unread,
Mar 2, 2006, 7:23:17 PM3/2/06
to
Whew!

You know, I'm not sure that anyone here outside you, Emily, et al., have
quite had any idea of just what scale the work of I7 has been on; your
posting has given us (as far as I can recall) our first clue. It sounds,
if I follow you, as though this could be the biggest advance in the
technology of I.F. since mainframe Zork, all those years ago.

And this only confirms what I said earlier today -- releasing a public
beta of a compiler when the language isn't yet frozen would be insane.

steve....@gmail.com

unread,
Mar 2, 2006, 8:28:24 PM3/2/06
to
I asked:
> I'd be interested to find out what these examples were designed to exemplify[.]

Graham wrote:
> These games are samples of the story files output by I7.

That answers my question. The answer is depressingly humdrum to me, but
that's life. Note that this answer doesn't jibe with your previous
announcement that these three games are "worked examples" elaborated
from the examples you folks designed to expose particular features. I
guess it's clear by now that your initial post generated confusion, and
not only about what you were intending to exemplify...

Graham elaborated:


> The sample games are not intended as clues, or as pointers to what we
> are doing. They could have been written in I6, or TADS. But it was fun
> writing them, so we thought others might have fun trying them out.

Obviously, you underestimated your audience's desire to find out about
what you're doing. Releasing Inform-7 games "for fun" seems to have
been taken by some as a slap in the face. I'd guess you were going for
an advertising tease of sorts (or maybe you were hastily and clumsily
responding to the other thread, in which you were challenged for
developing the thing privately).

steve....@gmail.com

unread,
Mar 2, 2006, 8:30:00 PM3/2/06
to
I asked:
> I'd be interested to find out the rationale for developing Inform privately.

Graham gives three reasons. I'd like to respond briefly to each,
because I think it's useful to consider further this development
strategy.

Reason 1:
> [I]n some weeks I would get ten bug reports a day from only a couple of testers


> working at a time, which may give some idea of why I could not have coped with a
> larger testing team.

In all fairness to you, I daresay that the Inform-7 group would have
been slightly larger than the Tads-3 group. But I also daresay that the
Tads-3 group would have very easily coped with a much larger testing
team. When it's a discussion, YOU are not the only guy. A bug is
reported by somebody who doesn't know how to track it down, and someone
else tracks it down, and explains the change that probably needs to be
applied to the code; this proposed fix is further discussed -- and all
of this happens while you're having dinner with your wife.

Sharing increases efficiency. You create more work for everybody, when
you reduce the workforce.

Reason 2:
> [I]n a sense I am responsible for destroying a new work by Emily Short - though I


> have hopes that it may one day be rescued. Had earlier builds of I7 been circulated

> further, that fate might well have befallen others[.]

All you have to do is tell people that they're writing games in the
alpha version at their own risk. This "befallen fate" rhetoric is just
whispy rhetoric. People will volunteer to write games at their own
risk, but their creative energies will be poured primarily into
improving your system, not writing a great work susceptible to your
"befallen fate" situation.

I think you've suffered a much greater loss (or if you prefer: an even
worse fate has befallen unto you): you've lost all the input you could
have gotten, and you've effectively destroyed all record of the thought
involved in the development of Inform-7. Yes, we will have the final
product, but we will not have the development. And that's what we might
learn from most of all.

Maybe you're arguing that you would have made the same changes whether
there were 10 people writing games, compared to 1 person writing games.
I guess that would make 9/10ths of the work irrelevant and a waste of
time. Definitely there was some significant redundant work in the
Tads-3 development. So I can sympathise with this. But I don't think
the ratio of unique to reduntant work is significantly improved when
you cut the number of contributors. If this was your thinking, I'd
enjoy some elaboration.

Reason 3:


> Many things need to be right all at once: the software, on its different platforms, the

> website, the documentation, the design, the examples[, etc.]

It's strange you frame these things in terms of necessity. How is it
that Tads-3 is not under the same constraints as Inform-7? Is this an
implicit attack on the state of Tads-3, that it is availible, but with
no manual?

I must say, I'm a bit envious. You got to read all the Tads-3
development discussion, but we got to read none of yours. And we never
will, I expect. (By the way, I'd be very interested to hear how far
your reading of the Tads-3 discussion influenced your development of
Inform-7.) Oh, but it goes beyond envy. I'd say that's a real loss.

Dan Sanderson

unread,
Mar 2, 2006, 8:53:24 PM3/2/06
to
On 2006-03-02 09:13:26 -0800, "Emily Short" <ems...@mindspring.com> said:

> Sorry, that's not at all what I meant. I took the previous question to
> mean, "is there some single feature or cluster of features that each of
> these is supposed to point out?" -- to which the answer is, from the
> player's perspective, no. From a *coding* perspective, yes, different
> games make use of different elements of the system -- especially in the
> case of Damnatio Memoriae -- but that's not much help from here.

I think the novice mode in Bronze is pretty awesome. I'd feel
comfortable sending Bronze to my parents without much additional
instruction.

I'll take a wild guess that novice mode will be available as an
extension of Inform 7. To the goal of making IF more accessible to new
audiences, I think it's a neat idea, even if it's only included with a
few games.

-- Dan

Emily Short

unread,
Mar 2, 2006, 10:53:44 PM3/2/06
to

steve....@gmail.com wrote:
> I asked:
> > I'd be interested to find out what these examples were designed to exemplify[.]
>
> Graham wrote:
> > These games are samples of the story files output by I7.
>
> That answers my question. The answer is depressingly humdrum to me, but
> that's life. Note that this answer doesn't jibe with your previous
> announcement that these three games are "worked examples" elaborated
> from the examples you folks designed to expose particular features. I
> guess it's clear by now that your initial post generated confusion, and
> not only about what you were intending to exemplify...

They are worked examples in the same sense that "Ruins" is a worked
example in the DM4: their source suggests how the components of this
programming language might come together to produce a complete game.
This is useful, I think, especially to novices, since no small
single-purpose example can quite convey the shape a completed work of
IF might take. In fact, this approach is so useful that the Inform
Beginner's Guide offers several complete games in a row, by way of
graduated tutorial. So yes, these are worked examples; but their virtue
as example is to the potential coder. They were written originally for
this purpose.

But they were also designed to be, at some level, genuine games, if not
profound ones. As examples, they did have to be tested; and if tested,
then, ideally, not a purgatory of tedium for the beta-testers; and
besides, I'm not sure I'd enjoy trying to write a complete game without
giving at least a little thought to things like design. Damnatio
Memoriae is based on an idea I'd had for a while, based on a side
anecdote in the Savoir-Faire feelies. I could never quite bring myself
to try it in I6, the world model in the first case having been such a
lot of bother to write; but it seemed a good test of Inform 7's
flexibility. Once DM was written, we thought that some people might
enjoy having a chance to play with it before having all its secrets
ruthlessly spoiled by a published, annotated source file. It's neither
long nor profound, but I enjoyed writing it, my testers reported that
they enjoyed playing it, and perhaps someone else will enjoy it as
well. Similar remarks apply to Bronze, really: I set out to write a
certain kind of game for the sake of code-example, large and sprawling
but novice-friendly; put some genuine effort into constructing the
shape of it; annotated the source; wrote up a document discussing how
I7's features affected the design; and then agreed, when Graham asked,
that people might like to try it without first reading the source.

So these are just meant, at this point, to entertain, and to help
ensure that when other authors start releasing games in I7 beta,
*their* work is supported with an appropriate range of interpreters and
tools and whatnot. Here endeth my virtual paraphrase of the original
post; if it still isn't comprehensible, then I don't know what to tell
you.

Honestly it had not occurred to me when I agreed to release these that
we would produce negative feelings beyond a certain heightened
curiosity (though, for what it's worth, the release was set in motion
before the GRR RAR WHAT GOES ON WITH I7??? thread started; there were
only some minor hangups that prevented them coming out on Sunday
afternoon). You may if you like take this as a sign of crashing
insensitivity, but it wasn't malice. But look: these are not really in
much competition with anything; we haven't got some kind of unfair drop
on anyone; and they will soon enter that dim twilight land of all
example games, wherein hardly anyone will play them for fun, but only
to fiddle with their exampley functions, to copy code out for their own
games, and so on. They're welcome to do so, as that was indeed a large
part of the point. But I *liked* mine and I thought someone might have
fun with them.

Thinking about the responses we did get, I guess I can see how this
might be frustrating to someone who really wants their first taste of
I7 to take a different form (either a full release of I7 for all
comers, or a flagship work showcasing, in full surround-sound and
technicolor, every last thing the system can do -- which is of course
categorically impossible in one game). I am not quite sure how it gets
all the way to "slap in the face," though.

This release does not, admittedly, give you a chance to commence a
steel-cage-deathmatch between T3 and I7 *quite* yet, but frankly that's
fine with me: I think it will be clear that the two systems have
diverged so radically as to make this a bizarre contest, and an
unproductive one, and also that it's pretty much impossible to suppose
we have been unfairly snooping in T3's drawers and borrowing its best
ideas.* I've said before, and I will reiterate, that I respect the
tremendous effort that has gone into T3, and think it very capable in
many respects -- and I7 is completely different from the ground up. I'd
rather see people learn about the strengths and weaknesses of each, and
choose appropriately for their own projects. So please don't insist on
taking offense where none was offered or even imagined. No one is
implying anything, positive or negative, about T3, except you.

-- Emily

* Though the image of Graham and MJR meeting with pistols at dawn did
occur to me when reading your posts: for which bit of inadvertent
humor, I thank you. I think the role of seconds is, traditionally, to
make sure a doctor is present and the guns equally matched, but my
knowledge of firearms is nearly nonexistent; how's yours?

Samwyse

unread,
Mar 3, 2006, 1:40:59 AM3/3/06
to
Ben Rudiak-Gould wrote:

> [...] the decision to produce Blorb by default are things that I'd expect

> to be mentioned and discussed on RAIF well in advance of any working
> games being released. A lot of tools will have to be updated to support
> this. Were the tool authors secretly notified of this last year?

Yes.

Stuart Moore

unread,
Mar 3, 2006, 2:51:32 AM3/3/06
to
John W. Kennedy wrote:
> jameshcu...@gmail.com wrote:
>> As for tools, which ones need to be updated? The games above already
>> work
>> on normal, everyday interpreters, albeit without making use of
>> metadata.. Most
>> people don't use IDEs for Inform. Interpreters and a compiler ... am I
>> missing
>> anything? (Probably.)
>
> txd and infodump, certainly.

Wouldn't the current tools turn I7's .z5/6/7/8 files into I6 syntax?

Eric Eve

unread,
Mar 3, 2006, 3:46:37 AM3/3/06
to
"Emily Short" <ems...@mindspring.com> wrote in message

> This release does not, admittedly, give you a chance to commence a
> steel-cage-deathmatch between T3 and I7 *quite* yet, but frankly
> that's
> fine with me: I think it will be clear that the two systems have
> diverged so radically as to make this a bizarre contest, and an
> unproductive one, and also that it's pretty much impossible to
> suppose
> we have been unfairly snooping in T3's drawers and borrowing its
> best
> ideas.

This is intriguing, because it suggests (indeed, virtually states)
that I7 has taken a radically different approach to IF design (and,
I'm guessing, is in some respects radically different from I6 as
well as T3). I look forward to seeing what it is in due course, and
maybe joining in (hopefully friendly!) discussions comparing I7 with
T3 or anything else it might be compared with. My curiosity about I7
has been greatly piqued by this thread, since previously I had
formed the vague (and doubtless ill-informed) impression that it was
going to be some kind of incremental improvement on I6, but it's now
sounding like a totally different animal. Of course we have to wait
until it's ready, but I'm now hoping that it doesn't come out at a
time when I'm *really* busy with other things!

> * Though the image of Graham and MJR meeting with pistols at dawn
> did
> occur to me when reading your posts: for which bit of inadvertent
> humor, I thank you. I think the role of seconds is, traditionally,
> to
> make sure a doctor is present and the guns equally matched, but my
> knowledge of firearms is nearly nonexistent; how's yours?

LOL! Thanks for injecting some much-needed light relief into this
thread. Due to the order my newsreader presented the posts, I read
this before the post to which it was (mainly) a reply, so I first
thought you'd conjoured up the the idea of a duel from the image of
a slap on the face (as being the stock token insult used to provoke
a duel). Having read the whole exchange I'm tempted to push your
image further: should it not be a virtual duel fought with pistols
coded in I7 and T3 respectively?

-- Eric


steve....@gmail.com

unread,
Mar 3, 2006, 6:35:47 AM3/3/06
to
Emily Short wrote:
> [I] agreed, when Graham asked, that people might like to try it without first reading the
> source.

To me this is an entirely reasonable assumption. I would not have
expected to be arguing/apologizing for it at great length and at odd
hours shortly after. I would not have expected this to be the snafu
which motivated Graham to finally fix his newsreader. That this would
turn into an advertising snafu for you is a suprise to us both.

But the mere fact that it's been an advertising snafu is as
uninteresting to me as it is obvious to you. What it was exactly that
you miscalculated -- that's more interesting and more relevant. What it
was exactly that you miscalculated has to do with the much larger
question of the development strategy of Inform-7, which I would like to
hear better answers for, because I am curious (and not because I feel
any personal stake in this). Or as I said...

> Obviously, you underestimated your audience's desire to find out about what you're
> doing.

Take that for what it's worth. Take it as a compliment if you like.
Take it as a sign that your larger advertisement strategy has worked
extremely well.

Personally, so long as they're not exemplifying anything, I'm not
interested in them as examples. They're exemplifying the blorb file, my
response is, ok whatever. Maybe I'll make a joke about the titles.
(It's spelled "Relics" by the way, not "Reliques.")

I'd be frustrated if things backfired on me like this. I'd be writing
long posts at odd hours, trying to rhetorically re-frame the
discussion. I'd probably even go overboard....

> it wasn't malice

I know it wasn't malice.

> I thought someone might have fun with them.

I'm sure it's a fine bit of fun.

> I am not quite sure how it gets all the way to "slap in the face," though.

My face is not stinging.

> This release does not, admittedly, give you a chance to commence a
> steel-cage-deathmatch between T3 and I7 *quite* yet

Who, me? When the time comes, I'll compare the systems on their merits.
Unfairly, probably, since I'll understand one better than the other,
and I'll keep that in mind and be very reverential and polite about it.

> [I]t's pretty much impossible to suppose


> we have been unfairly snooping in T3's drawers and borrowing its best
> ideas.

It's not impossible to suppose that you might borrow ideas from (and
benefited from lessons learned by) Tads-3. You'd have to be very dim


not to. This would be neither unfair nor snooping. I wrote:

> I'd be very interested to hear how far your reading of the Tads-3 discussion influenced
> your development of Inform-7.

That's not a nasty question.

> Though the image of Graham and MJR meeting with pistols at dawn did

> occur to me when reading your posts[.]

This is your invention, not mine.

So, I appreciate your frustration, but this re-frame is, well,
overboard.

David Whyld

unread,
Mar 3, 2006, 8:24:20 AM3/3/06
to
>From a programming point of view how will I7 differ from I6? Easier?
Harder? The same?

Probably a long shot, but I don't suppose it features a nice, shiny GUI
by any chance?

Eric Eve

unread,
Mar 3, 2006, 9:44:15 AM3/3/06
to
<steve....@gmail.com> wrote in message
news:1141385747.4...@u72g2000cwu.googlegroups.com...

> Emily Short wrote:
>> [I] agreed, when Graham asked, that people might like to try it
>> without first reading the
>> source.

> To me this is an entirely reasonable assumption. I would not have
> expected to be arguing/apologizing for it at great length and at
> odd
> hours shortly after. I would not have expected this to be the
> snafu
> which motivated Graham to finally fix his newsreader. That this
> would
> turn into an advertising snafu for you is a suprise to us both.

I must confess to being so ignorant of American slang that I had to
look 'snafu' up in a dictionary. Apparently it's the U.S. equivalent
of what we Brits would describe as 'cock-up' (the online OED defines
'snafu' as 'A confusion or mix-up; a hitch, mishap; muddle, confused
state', so I'm supposing that's what you meant -- if it isn't then I
must apologize for a total breakdown in transatlantic
communication).

That established, according to whose judgment has a snafu/cock-up
been committed? That a relatively small number of people responded
to Emily's original post ungraciously does not mean that there was
anything wrong with the original post. I imagine the announcement
was expected to whet a certain amount of appetite for a forthcoming
I7 release, and provoke a certain level of curiosity, and it's
certainly done that. Graham's and Emily's subsequent posts on I7
have made it seem more intriguing than before, if only because it's
beginning to take shape (at least in my perception) as some sort of
interesting concept rather than a bare cipher. Moreover, the
courtesy and restraint with which Graham and Emily have responded in
the face of sometimes less than gracious posts can hardly have done
the reputation of either any harm. Far from being a snafu, this
thread might turn out to be a public relations triumph for I7, since
(for all we know), most readers of the thread will find themselves
more interested in looking at I7 once it comes out than they were
before.

> But the mere fact that it's been an advertising snafu is as
> uninteresting to me as it is obvious to you. What it was exactly
> that
> you miscalculated -- that's more interesting and more relevant.

You presuppose there was a miscalculation. But maybe it wasn't such
a miscalculation in the eyes of the silent majority for whom Sophie
Fruehling claims to speak (thought the fact that they're silent
makes it impossible to be sure)!. Or maybe it was a miscalculation
in the sense that neither Graham nor Emily expected quite such a
negative reaction from the relatively small number of people who
have expressed one, but in that case it's unclear to me that the
blame lies with Emily or Graham - unless, of course, you want to
argue that it would have been naive not to expect some folks round
here to react the way they did.

Sure, I can see where that reaction's coming from. The name 'Inform
7' has been a bit of a teaser round here for a while, in that it's
been named as forthcoming, but there's been next to no other
information about it. Curiosity, impatience, and a dislike of
feeling one is outside some privileged circle are all natural human
emotions. Something else that is open to being taken as another I7
teaser is quite likely to provoke such emotions in some quarters.
But that's quite different from saying that it *justifies* such
reactions, or rather, that it justifies their being expressed in
quite such a polemical way. The probability that Graham Nelson is
developing I7 for the sole purpose of tantalizing the IF community
with its non-appearance is vanishingly small, as is the notion that
Emily posted Graham's advertisement for three I7 games with the
intention of annoying people by emphasizing their non-insider status
("Hey, guys and gals, here's three games written in a system that
you don't have access to yet, released just to rub your noses in the
fact that we've got access to a system you haven't!"), and it is, I
feel, somewhat uncharitable (to say the least) to read the
announcement as if that were its intention (I'm not saying *you*
did, Steve, but your reference to a 'snafu' suggests that you think
it invites that reading).

> What it
> was exactly that you miscalculated has to do with the much larger
> question of the development strategy of Inform-7,

Well, okay, you've made your case for this, in a previous post, but
it seems to me that since Graham is presumably developing I7 out of
some combination of altruism towards the IF community and enjoyment
of the challenge, and not because he's under any obligation to
anyone to do anything, he's surely entitled to pursue whatever
development strategy works for him. Besides, the time to criticise
the I7's development strategy would be after it was released and
found to be a dog's dinner (I hasten to add that this is *not* the
outcome I'm expecting). If when it's released it turns out to be the
best thing since, er, Inform 6 (or even T3), then criticisms of the
development strategy will look rather pointless. Okay, it's possible
(though by no means certain) that another development strategy may
have resulted in an earlier release date for I7, but so what? Graham
is under no obligation to anyone to minimize development time if
that conflicts with other goals he may have.

Part of what you're getting at seems to be that Graham has chosen to
go a different route with I7 from that chosen by Mike with T3 (I
mean in relation to when to make early versions of the system
available to anyone who wants to play with them, test them, and
provide feedback). That hardly rules out the possibility that both
Graham and Mike had perfectly valid reasons for making the choices
they did. The proof of the pudding...

-- Eric


Andrew Plotkin

unread,
Mar 3, 2006, 10:24:04 AM3/3/06
to

Hm. Apparently my memory is even worse than I thought. :)

(I know there's been on-and-off discussion of this in email, but I
don't remember who was involved.)

--Z

--
"And Aholibamah bare Jeush, and Jaalam, and Korah: these were the borogoves..."
*
If the Bush administration hasn't thrown you in military prison without trial,
it's for one reason: they don't feel like it. Not because you're patriotic.

Emily Short

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Mar 3, 2006, 11:58:56 AM3/3/06
to

steve....@gmail.com wrote:
> > I'd be very interested to hear how far your reading of the Tads-3 discussion influenced
> > your development of Inform-7.
>
> That's not a nasty question.

No, though the previous two paragraphs ("Is this an implicit attack on
the state of Tads-3, that it is availible, but with no manual?... I


must say, I'm a bit envious. You got to read all the Tads-3 development
discussion, but we got to read none of yours. And we never will, I

expect.") did suggest to me some concern on your part. I'm glad to find
I misunderstood you; we can agree to wait, albeit with a little
impatience, for a time when we both have enough evidence available to
discuss this all profitably.

Emily Short

unread,
Mar 3, 2006, 12:04:29 PM3/3/06
to

Eric Eve wrote:
> Having read the whole exchange I'm tempted to push your
> image further: should it not be a virtual duel fought with pistols
> coded in I7 and T3 respectively?

Possibly, but in that case, who gets to code the basic anatomy rules?

Dennis G. Jerz

unread,
Mar 3, 2006, 12:07:08 PM3/3/06
to
Ditto. I'll be teaching Inform in a new media projects course this
fall. I'd love it if Inform 7 were ready by then, but it would be a
disaster for me to introduce students to an unstable system. I've
learned the hard way what happens when you release something that's not
ready, and I'm willing to wait.

Eric Eve

unread,
Mar 3, 2006, 1:41:05 PM3/3/06
to
"Emily Short" <ems...@mindspring.com> wrote in message
news:1141405469.9...@z34g2000cwc.googlegroups.com...

Presumably that would be the job of the seconds? Or do duels have a
referee/master of ceremonies who could be made responsible for this?

But maybe they'd have to be coded in Hugo to ensure neutrality...

-- Eric


ChicagoDave

unread,
Mar 3, 2006, 1:55:44 PM3/3/06
to
I think this is a little aggressive, but I'm inclined to think there
are some valid points here.

For Reason 1, I think most of us simply defer to Graham. I'm sure some
of us would love to see an IF platform developed in an open manner from
the ground up, but that's not Graham's problem. My preferences are
mine. I respect Graham and his decision to do things in the way he's
done them. Period. You should too.

Reason 2. The goal is to allow people to create games that can be
shared. I can't imagine the horror of having dozens of different
language syntaxes laying around and people resubmitting the same bugs
over and over. No, waiting until the syntax stabilized seems far more
efficient to me.

Reason 3. I guess this is where you could have the open source software
debate. Although OSS can be an effective way of developing some things,
if you want something polished and supportable, keeping it closed seems
to be a better way to go. (My opinion). You could also argue that this
is simply a control issue and all I have to say on that point is see
#1.

The bottom line though is that this is a hobby project, not some
commercial or corporate endeavor. It's my assumption that we don't have
any say in how Graham addresses his hobbying time.

David C.

Kevin Forchione

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Mar 3, 2006, 2:12:35 PM3/3/06
to
"Eric Eve" <eric...@NOSPAMhmc.ox.ac.uk> wrote in message
news:du8vpg$rit$1...@news.ox.ac.uk...

> "Emily Short" <ems...@mindspring.com> wrote in message
>
>> This release does not, admittedly, give you a chance to commence a
>> steel-cage-deathmatch between T3 and I7 *quite* yet, but frankly that's
>> fine with me: I think it will be clear that the two systems have
>> diverged so radically as to make this a bizarre contest, and an
>> unproductive one, and also that it's pretty much impossible to suppose
>> we have been unfairly snooping in T3's drawers and borrowing its best
>> ideas.
>
> This is intriguing, because it suggests (indeed, virtually states) that I7
> has taken a radically different approach to IF design (and, I'm guessing,
> is in some respects radically different from I6 as well as T3). I look
> forward to seeing what it is in due course, and maybe joining in
> (hopefully friendly!) discussions comparing I7 with T3 or anything else it
> might be compared with. My curiosity about I7 has been greatly piqued by
> this thread, since previously I had formed the vague (and doubtless
> ill-informed) impression that it was going to be some kind of incremental
> improvement on I6, but it's now sounding like a totally different animal.
> Of course we have to wait until it's ready, but I'm now hoping that it
> doesn't come out at a time when I'm *really* busy with other things!

Well.... One may have to wait until I7 is ready to delve into the
implementation details of the system, but one *could* begin a discussion on
the philosophical basis of its concept (i.e. the semantic analysis of
language as explored by Jackendoff and others). That's a discussion that, to
my knowledge, has not occurred on this newsgroup, and may serve to bring the
community up to speed. It may, however, prove to be too difficult a
discussion for the I7 development team to have without resorting to specific
implementation details....and there may not be any expertise within the
community outside of that group.

--Kevin


Al

unread,
Mar 3, 2006, 2:15:31 PM3/3/06
to

Ben Rudiak-Gould wrote:

The posts from the---dare I say it---Inform 7 cabal have had that
character.
It's not the lack of information that I object to, it's the attitude.
All
Andrew P. needs to say, in response to questions about release date, is
that
Graham hasn't told him anything, or that Graham doesn't want to commit
to a
date because he has other responsibilities and this is a hobby
project.
Those are forthright and reasonable answers. "Wait for an official
announcement" is condescending and rude. (I'm not talking about Al, but

about other people who've asked this kind of question in good faith.)


All I've ever asked was when it was going to be released. Since Emily
and several other "privileged" members of the community got their hands
on it first and the rest of us peons so to speak in the community
didn't get to share in the goodies I wasn't too unhappy but should
Emily have written MHTO in Inform 7 and thereby whetting several of our
appetities on a new Inform release when she could have written it in
Inform 6.30 and none of us would have been the wiser.

I believe it should have been kept "secret" then until now when these 3
new games have been released and most likely none of the confusion
that I believe this has caused would have taken place.

Yeah its one thing to announce something but NOT nearly 2 years before
you release it to the public. How about more like 1-3 months when
you've gotten most of the the bugs out
and its pretty well vetted and ready for distribution to the rest of
the community save for maybe a few minor glitches.

BTW Inform 6.30 will continue to be expanded upon or modified
separately from Inform 7 and I hope that it will continue to upgraded
as long as possible.

Heiko Nock

unread,
Mar 3, 2006, 1:41:43 PM3/3/06
to
["Followup-To:" header set to rec.arts.int-fiction.]

Stuart Moore wrote:
> People don't seem to realise or appreciate the work you and your team
> put into this.

Not that I want to complain, but that *is* kind of hard if you don't
know what work was put into what.

> Thank you, Graham, Emily and Andrew.

I wholeheartedly agree. Woohoo.

--
"Weiß jemand, wie das Gerät heißt, das einen Blick durch die Wand
ermöglicht?"
"Abrißbirne."
-- Reinhard Gonaus und Tilman Heckel in de.etc.sprache.deutsch

Emily Short

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Mar 3, 2006, 3:24:33 PM3/3/06
to

Al wrote:
> should
> Emily have written MHTO in Inform 7 and thereby whetting several of our
> appetities on a new Inform release when she could have written it in
> Inform 6.30 and none of us would have been the wiser.

I had a couple of reasons for writing the game in Inform 7, one being
that it seemed useful trying to write a releasable game at that point.
Writing a game that you actually plan to release at a specific date
puts pressure on that isn't there if you're experimentally writing a
test game that can afford to be done Whenever. (I had one of those in
progress also.) The answer turned out to be: yes, it was possible; no,
the job wasn't nearly as smooth as we'd want the average author's
experience to be. I needed regular support from Graham to get things to
work, and had to hack around various problems.

Another is that I7 made it a lot easier to structure what I wanted to
do. I could have written *a* Mystery House game in 6.30, but it would
have been quite a bit different. This was my decision, though I did
have Graham's permission.

In any case, Mystery House Possessed was a simultaneous labor of
game-writing and compiler-debugging, and contributed to my later
thinking about what features might be added to I7; it also suggested to
me that it might be time to develop a testing suite to guarantee that
the language continued to conform to its documentation while new
features were added. (I ran into a fair amount of "well, the specs say
it should do this... but I'm not sure this has actually been working
for the last six months" moments when writing the game.)

So perhaps the positive effect on the language from MHP will turn out
to be an adequate recompense for any frustration arising from the
knowledge of its existence.

Even with *all* that said, this did come out less than a year ago.

John Bruce

unread,
Mar 3, 2006, 3:45:37 PM3/3/06
to
Eric Eve wrote:
> (SNIP: Steve Breslin, American Slang, Snafus)

>
> Far from being a snafu, this
> thread might turn out to be a public relations triumph for I7, since
> (for all we know), most readers of the thread will find themselves
> more interested in looking at I7 once it comes out than they were
> before.
>
> (SNIP: Breslen quotes)

>
> You presuppose there was a miscalculation. But maybe it wasn't such
> a miscalculation in the eyes of the silent majority for whom Sophie
> Fruehling claims to speak (thought the fact that they're silent
> makes it impossible to be sure)!
>
> (SNIP: Everything else, relatively irrelevant to this post)

OK, I can stop remaining silent.

I'm a long-time lurker of these newsgroups, a professional programmer
with a passion for text gaming in my off hours who's casually tried
most every major development environment out there, from ADRIFT to Hugo
to Inform 6 to TADS 2 and (my current baby) TADS 3. And I will say
that I, at least, have had my interest greatly piqued by these
developments regarding Inform 7 and opportunities to try out some games
made with it. Granted, to a great many of you, Inform 7 has been a
second coming long prophesied, while it hasn't come up with much
regularity in my time hanging out here. Thus, this is largely new to
me. But to me, this is all very exciting and wonderful, and I for one
count myself among the (previously) silent majority for which Sophie
Fruehling speaks. I'm excited to hear that a new Inform with a new
paradigm is in the works and that it may change the difficulty of
implementing some of my more esoteric ideas.

I will also add that this thread and the other one like it have made me
even more loathe than ever to step forth from the shadows and speak on
this board, lest my words be twisted against me and others. (both
those I do and do not admire amongst this community) I am but a simple
man who still clings to the ideas of actually making and playing games
and enjoying things such as the clever feelies accompanying these
releases. These groups are a wonder and a blessing when it comes to
kind offers of help to newcomers, but a minefield of unknowns, past
wounds, and intrigues when the community turns its eye on itself. I
prefer to avoid making myself part of politics, but it would seem
commenting on some things makes one necessarily so. And I suspect that
is more than a small percentage of many people's reasons for remaining
only lurkers. Consider that my bit of speech for the silent majority.

--
With all due respect,
John Bruce

Jacek Pudlo

unread,
Mar 3, 2006, 3:53:06 PM3/3/06
to
"Emily Short" <ems...@mindspring.com> skrev i meddelandet
news:1141417472.9...@u72g2000cwu.googlegroups.com...

>
> Al wrote:
>> should
>> Emily have written MHTO in Inform 7 and thereby whetting several of our
>> appetities on a new Inform release when she could have written it in
>> Inform 6.30 and none of us would have been the wiser.
>
> I had a couple of reasons for writing the game in Inform 7, one being
> that it seemed useful trying to write a releasable game at that point.

This is what's called "deceitful behaviour". Always weasling out, never
admitting to a mistake. I'm *that* [thumb and forefinger almost touching]
close to revealing your real name, phonenumber and the name of the
semi-deserted island you're hiding on, "Emily" (or should I say Alfonse?).


Al

unread,
Mar 3, 2006, 4:28:59 PM3/3/06
to

Emily Short wrote:
>
>
> Even with *all* that said, this did come out less than a year ago.


I stand corrected on the time frame of MHTO. But having said that I
still feel that it probably shouldn't have been done although it WAS
your call and you did have permission from Graham but that a
dis-service was done to the rest of the community in revealing
something that was (at that time ) fairly far from being finished.

Cje Culver

unread,
Mar 3, 2006, 4:24:13 PM3/3/06
to
To: Eric Eve
Re: Re: Three games in Inform 7
By: Eric Eve to rec.games.int-fiction,rec.arts.int-fiction on Fri Mar 03 2006 02:44 pm

OTE: IceEdit 2.35 [Eval] [8]


> You presuppose there was a miscalculation. But maybe it wasn't such a
> miscalculation in the eyes of the silent majority for whom Sophie
> Fruehling claims to speak (thought the fact that they're silent makes
> it impossible to be sure)!.

Another lurker decloaking to say I think this is possibly the best post I've
read so fa ; certainly it says a good deal of what I feel. Being an irregular
lurker means I'm not even familiar enough with the names around here to be
able to identify with any certainty who's on which side, let alone who the
members of this "cabal" are supposed to be.

I rather suspect Graham and his team rather have their hands full just trying
to complete I7 without having to defend themselves against imagined slights
and perceived paternalism. Indeed, forcing them to do so would, it seems to
me, have rather the opposite effect -- delaying I7's completion. Seems to me
the practicing of a little patience would be to the benefit of all.

Shields up, cloaking device engaged!

CJ

.------------------------------------.
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--- Synchronet 3.13a-Win32 NewsLink 1.83
Accardi-by-the-Sea BBS - telnet://Accardi-by-the-Sea.info

Graham Nelson

unread,
Mar 3, 2006, 6:00:04 PM3/3/06
to
We did not "announce something... nearly 2 years before you release it
to the public": we did not announce I7 at all.

Emily's "Mystery House" contribution was not written so very long ago,
but even so its source code now looks dated. Much has changed since
then! It calls itself an Inform 7 game and I was very pleased when it
came out, but the definition of "Inform 7" had quite a lot further to
go.

The news that Inform 7 would produce blorbs (by default) is some months
old, and was set out in a posting made to the Inform maintenance
mailing list, and to the Z-machine mailing list.

As it happens, I detest plums, and would not like it to be thought that
I give them to my friends.

Rikard Peterson

unread,
Mar 3, 2006, 6:17:28 PM3/3/06
to

Here's the point of view of yet another somewhat rare poster in these
groups. (Me, that is.)

I can't understand why some people get so agitated over the existance
of games written with Inform 7. For anyone who wishes to create IF,
there exists several good options when it comes to choosing your
toolset. Graham, Mike, Kent and many others have created things that
enable the rest of us that have lesser techical skills to be creative
in this field to be so.

That's great. But it gives us no right to demand anything from them or
others regarding development systems. Should Kent Tessman decide to
make Hugo 4 for his own personal use only that's his every right, and
we can still create games in Hugo 3 or any of the other systems. Or if
Kent would let only (picks a random name) Paul Panks use Hugo 4, that's
still not our buisness. If this helps Paul making better games, isn't
that something we should be happy about? Wouldn't it be better to play
Paul's great games written in Hugo 4 than gnashing our teeth beacuse we
don't have access to his tools?

But that's not even what we're talking about here. As far as I can
tell, Inform 7 will be freely available for anyone to use (even people
like Al and me who have done nothing to deserve it) when it's done.
Excellent! But that still gives us no right to demand anything from
anybody. It's a great tradition in this community that tools and help
are shared, but we should not take those things for granted.

Rikard

steve....@gmail.com

unread,
Mar 3, 2006, 6:54:55 PM3/3/06
to
Eric Eve wrote:
> [A]ccording to whose judgment has a snafu/cock-up
> been committed?

I was thinking of the "damage control" urgency which I felt in Emily's
and Graham's recent postings (and to a much lesser extent, Andrew's).

> You presuppose there was a miscalculation.

It was a conclusion, actually, based in part on such statements as...

> Honestly it had not occurred to me when I agreed to release these that we would

> produce negative feelings [....] (Short)

... and based in part that it seemed awfully bad timing, and
surprisingly clumsily framed. But as I said, miscalculations don't
concern me.

However, while we're talking about the discussion itself, there is one
aspect that does interest me....

When one comes across a question which one forms (as if by instinct) an
immediate distaste for -- the kind of distaste that will appear even
before one actually grasps the question's meaning -- the logic of
response is very often tortured. For example, when one comes across the
question:

> I'd be interested to find out the rationale for developing Inform privately.

One will likely answer along these lines:

> It's Graham's program, and he can do whatever he likes with it, and it's nobody else's
> business what his motivations are. (McCullough)
> He has a plan and he will follow it. (García-Patos)
> [W]e don't have any say in how Graham addresses his hobbying time. (Cornelson)
> Why does development on Inform need to be community-driven, anyway? (Cunningham)
> [...] that still gives us no right to demand anything from anybody. (Peterson)
> Graham is [...] not under any obligation to anyone to do anything, [and] he's surely
> entitled to pursue whatever development strategy works for him. (Eve)
etc.

I don't even think any trolls challenged Graham's *rights*, but only
his decision. The most aggressive thing I've said is that I'd like
better answers than the ones he's provided -- I have not even called
the decision wrong. But if my legitimate inquisitiveness is mistaken
for fascist Inquisition, then it's probably partly my fault for not
writing more clearly.

In any case, Graham is not shielded by such paltry defenses as these,
and I'm almost positive that Graham is not threatened by challenge
anyhow.

But by contrast, uncritical defense of the establishment (and
ill-considered demonization of its critique) is a genuine threat to
Graham, insofar as it suppresses thoughts which might have been useful.
At least, that's how I'd feel were I he.

Kevin Forchione

unread,
Mar 3, 2006, 7:31:48 PM3/3/06
to
"Graham Nelson" <gra...@gnelson.demon.co.uk> wrote in message
news:1141426804....@p10g2000cwp.googlegroups.com...

> As it happens, I detest plums, and would not like it to be thought that
> I give them to my friends.

There are a few personalities who would protest your giving of plums, and
would also protest your withholding of them. There's no pleasing some people
over plums!

Having worked on various library extensions for TADS 3 over the past 6 years
(!), it comes as no surprise that Emily's Mansion is a little dated. A
system in development is a little like an embryo going through the stages of
evolution... Quite a few of the library extensions I've written for TADS 3
still bear the gills and vestigial limbs of some now-forgotten, long extinct
road-not-taken. I can only hope she finds the energy to revisit and reclaim
her game... But doubtless it served a purpose in helping to forget a bridge
between past iterations. Releasing it to the public at that time was no
mistake, and doubtless helped to reveal the bugs, both obvious and subtle,
that authors overlook while being enamoured of their creations.

--Kevin


Ben Rudiak-Gould

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Mar 3, 2006, 7:37:26 PM3/3/06
to
I wrote:
> [...]

Sigh. Naturally, I now want to crawl into a hole.

Please consider my previous post unposted, to the extent that that makes
sense. I guess I'm glad that there's some interesting discussion of Inform 7
going on in the subthread.

-- Ben

Samwyse

unread,
Mar 3, 2006, 8:09:22 PM3/3/06
to

I believe that Adam Thornton is the master of anatomy rules.

Bert Byfield

unread,
Mar 3, 2006, 9:36:04 PM3/3/06
to
> I must confess to being so ignorant of American slang that I had to
> look 'snafu' up in a dictionary. Apparently it's the U.S. equivalent
> of what we Brits would describe as 'cock-up' (the online OED defines
> 'snafu' as 'A confusion or mix-up; a hitch, mishap; muddle, confused
> state', so I'm supposing that's what you meant -- if it isn't then I
> must apologize for a total breakdown in transatlantic
> communication).

It comes from "Situation Normal -- All (uh) Fouled Up" -- from the army,
of course. Much like "fubar": (uh) Fouled Up Beyond All Recognition."

> Sure, I can see where that reaction's coming from. The name 'Inform
> 7' has been a bit of a teaser round here for a while, in that it's
> been named as forthcoming, but there's been next to no other
> information about it.

Specially a big one to me: Is Inform 7 based on a 16 or a 32 bit word? ?
? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ?

> Part of what you're getting at seems to be that Graham has chosen to
> go a different route with I7 from that chosen by Mike with T3 (I
> mean in relation to when to make early versions of the system
> available to anyone who wants to play with them, test them, and
> provide feedback). That hardly rules out the possibility that both
> Graham and Mike had perfectly valid reasons for making the choices
> they did. The proof of the pudding... -- Eric

Like the good ole days of Beta and VHS, the titans clash, like godzilla
battling rodan. ;-)

But to reiterate again: is Inform-7 32 bit?

Samwyse

unread,
Mar 3, 2006, 10:34:13 PM3/3/06
to
Andrew Plotkin wrote:
> In rec.games.int-fiction, Samwyse <sam...@gmail.com> wrote:
>
>>Ben Rudiak-Gould wrote:
>>
>>>[...] the decision to produce Blorb by default are things that I'd expect
>>>to be mentioned and discussed on RAIF well in advance of any working
>>>games being released. A lot of tools will have to be updated to support
>>>this. Were the tool authors secretly notified of this last year?
>>
>>Yes.
>
> Hm. Apparently my memory is even worse than I thought. :)

I thought the same thing when I saw your response. ;-) I guess the
particular shade of grey of this answere depends on the exact definition
of "secretly", and how many tools authors are subscribed to the maint list.

Bob

unread,
Mar 4, 2006, 6:54:27 AM3/4/06