Our Motto

It is very easy to be blinded to the essential uselessness of [the products of the Sirius Cybernetics Corporation] by the sense of achievement you get from getting them to work at all.

In other words — and this is the rock solid principle on which the whole of the Corporation’s Galaxy-wide success is founded — their fundamental design flaws are completely hidden by their superficial design flaws.

— Douglas Adams: The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy


440 Lines of Code already for “Sinners and Saints”

Not bad. Not at all.

Most of the code is even already functional.


It’s been quite quiet

Yes, but after some two years now I’m back from my long search, and of course I’m where all long odysseys end, namely at square 1.

I had decided to look into writing my own IF authoring system — tentatively called Stardust — and to this end I looked for a suitable programming language.

After dabbling around with JavaScript and Ruby, among others, finally two candidates remained — Lua, and SmallBASIC (not the Microsoft variant, but a charming little piece of open source). In the course of getting acquainted with the latter, I even got sucked into a documentation project, to which I still devote some time, since documentation is apparently SmallBASIC’s Achilles’ heel. The poor documentation was also the reason why I finally decided against using it and opted for Lua, and simultaneously with the SM documentation started to work on a protoype of Stardust.

After about 500 lines of code, I began to see the immense amount of work I had ahead of me. For the first time, I understood concretely what designing and implementing an IF authoring system means — which in turn lead me to look back on Inform 6 to see how Graham Nelson had dealt with the questions which reared their countless ugly heads. I didn’t exactly despair, but now I grasped that with the limited amount of spare time to assign to this hobby, I’d never get anything worthwhile together, so I decided to give up on Stardust.

But it wasn’t all for nothing (otherwise I wouldn’t revive this blog); first of all I got a bit of insight into several programming languages which had been black boxes to me before. Secondly and more importantly I now also understand Inform 6 much better. One confronted with the questions and problems programming an IF system entails, I now much better understand Nelson’s concepts and why he choose to design I6 the way he did. This in return makes it much easier for me to program in I6, because I can follow Nelson’s “trains of thought.”

To make a long story short, I’m pouring and sweating over my first “real” work of IF, after the Isle of Statues, which always was only a prototype. The new story will be called Sinners and Saints, more story- than puzzle-driven.*) Currently, work on it is going at a good pace (note, I have to re-learn much detail of what I had already understood once three years ago…), and due to my exploration of the IF authoring world, I daresay I encounter less blocks and bottlenecks than back then. So, the odyssey wasn’t all for nothing. ;-)

Here’s the intro to Sinners and Saints in it’s nascent state:

“The time: 1525, a sunny spring morning. The location: A city which shall remain nameless, in the northern regions of Italy. You are Fortunato di Carazza, a young cavaliere, quick with the rapier and the wit — a renaissance gentleman.

You have been summoned to the palace of the town’s Doge, the almost absolute ruler of the community. The summon was friendly but positive, so you decided not to keep the Doge waiting, though you have no idea what he wants from you. You arrived at the appointed time at the palace, but now you’re waiting in the antechamber for the Doge to finish his other, apparently more important businesses.”


*) I never really got the hang of most puzzles, and found them endlessly and needlessly frustrating. YMMV.


The Search Continues

In the long term I plan to write my own IF authoring system and am still looking for the proper programming language to do the job in. Sadly, none of the languages I’m proficient in seems to be well suited to this project.

I’ve had my eyes on Lua for some time, but it’s far too eclectic for me. Smalltalk looked good, but doesn’t seem to be able to provide standalone applications. I’ll check out Ruby next…


Name gesucht

Für mein erstes “richtiges” IF-Spiel (zu schreiben in Inform 6) suche ich noch nach einem Namen für ein Raumschiff — bevorzugt was Deutsches, da das Spiel in deutsch geschrieben wird.

Vorschläge?


While you’re waiting:

Here is a link to a wonderful blog catering to players of IF: Amongst a lot of links to other helpful sites, it also features the notorious “cheat sheet”, a small postcard-sized paper with a few notes immensely helpful for beginners in the sport of interactive fiction — Check it out!


Arbeit…

Ich bin noch über der deutschen Übersetzung der “Insel der Statuen”.

Da ist doch erstaunlich viel Text zusammengekommen. (Und nebenbei läuft die Ideensammlung für das erste “richtige” Spiel… ;-)


Man spricht Doitsch

Okay, ich mache Fortschritte: Inzwischen kann Inform 6 in meinen Händen auch recht geschmeidig zwischen Deutsch und Englisch umschalten.

Von daher steht einer zweisprachigen Version der “Isle of Statues” nichts mehr entgegen…

(Can work bilingual with I6 now, which means that future projects can be realized in both English and German.)


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