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[] Interactive Fiction Authorship FAQ (2/3)

( Part1 - Part2 - Part3 )
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Archive-name: games/interactive-fiction/authoring/part2
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Copyright: (c) 1999 David Glasser

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        [] Interactive Fiction Authorship FAQ (2/3)
   Maintained by David Glasser (
   This chunk contains part 4 of the raif FAQ.
Part 4: Programming IF
  4.1: How do I become an IF author?
   Write some interactive fiction. This is done with an authoring system,
   such as those described below. Most systems comprise of a specialized
   interactive fiction language with which you write the source code for
   your game, a compiler which turns your source code into a playable
   gamefile, and an interpreter which is what is used to play the
   gamefile produced by the compiler.
   However, quite a few people write their own system in C or BASIC or
   another language, either focused solely around a single game or as an
   expandable language. It is easier to use a pre-made system, and they
   will offer more portability. It will also stop you from having to
   remake the wheel. However, if you want to make your own system,
   nobody's going to stop you (well, they shouldn't, at least). It would
   probably be a good idea to look at the current systems to get a basic
   idea of what to do.
   With the advent of Glk, making your own systems portable is easier. If
   you are writing in C, take a look at Glk. If you use it for your input
   and output, it will make your game a lot more portable. It is simple
   and powerful. However, it can't do everything. See [What is Glk?: 4.5]
   for details.
   It is generally agreed upon that much work on a game is done before
   any source code is written. There are many and varied approaches to
   this design and planning stage, and it is difficult to recommend any
   one method (and this is hardly the right place). Several people have
   written documents on this very subject. These may be found in the
   IF-Archive, in the directory /if-archive/info/ . Of particular note
   are Graham Nelson's ( "The Craft of
   Adventure" and Gerry Kevin Wilson's ( "Whizzard's
   Guide to Text Adventure Authorship." The filenames for these are
   Craft.Of.Adventure.* (where * is one of the various formats that it
   has been translated into) and authorship-guide.{base, sup1, sup2}.
   Also, there are many excellent articles on game theory and design in
   the 'zine "XYZZYnews" [What 'zines exist?: 6.5] .
   You really ought to betatest your game before releasing it to the
   general public. Usually, when betatesting a game, the author sends the
   game out to her betatesters, who work as hard as possible to find
   bugs, writing flaws, and any other problems with the game and send the
   author reports. You can find betatesters by posting on the IF
   newsgroups (but see [What topics are appropriate here?: 2.2] for
   details on how to post betatester requests), by asking on ifMUD (see
   [Are there any IF-related chat spaces?: 6.4] ), or by using Lucian
   Smith and Liza Daly's IF Betatester page. Using their (free, of
   course) service, the author sends them a game which can be downloaded
   and tested by any of their registered betatesters (which anybody can
   sign up to be). More information on this service can be found at
   You can also find betatesters among your friends and other people who
   have not played IF before; though such a betatester can be useful, it
   is *very* important that you have at least one or two betatesters from
   the "IF community" (r*if, ifMUD, TextFire Beta, etc). Only somebody
   who knows IF well will know where bugs are most likely to crop up.
  4.2: Who's going to appreciate my work; who cares about IF anyway?
   As it turns out, quite a lot of people. Interactive fiction regularly
   achieves respectable rankings on the "Internet PC Games Charts"
   <> and has been as high as #3. Indeed,
   there were five interactive fiction games in the 1996 Year-end
   Download Top 40, the highest romping in at #12 (beating Doom), making
   these games some of the most popular non-commercial computer games in
   the world.
   The six winning entries from the 1995 IF competition [What sort of
   events does the IF community do?: 2.6] were published by Activision on
   their recent CD-ROM release, "Masterpieces of Infocom" (July 1996),
   which has sold surprisingly well. Activision also uses the Inform
   authoring system as a prototyping tool for some of their large
   graphical games (such as "Zork: Grand Inquisitor"), and used an Inform
   Zork game (by G. Kevin "Whizzard" Wilson, Marc Blank and Mike Berlyn)
   as a promotion for Z:GI.
   Specifically, the readership of the two rec.*.int-fiction newsgroups
   make up a faithful audience. Popular games such as "Curses" have been
   played by quite possibly thousands of people worldwide. In this
   specific case, the game has been downloaded at least 2000 times from
   two sites (more from other sites, but figures are unavailable),
   published on at least 4 CDs (probably more without the author's
   permission) and as a cover disc of two magazines with circulation in
   the 10000s, and included in commercial packages.
   Mike and Muffy Berlyn have started a company, Cascade Mountain
   Publishing, that, among other things, sells IF. It is doing quite
   well. More information can be found at
  4.3: What about copyright; how can I protect my work?
   I'm not a legal expert, so you might want to look at such websites as
   the U.S. Copyright Office Home Page <>
   and the Public Record Office of England and Wales
   You should include in your game (perhaps in the response to the HELP
   command) something saying that you own the copyright on the game, and
   giving a distribution policy: for example, you may not want to to be
   distributed for charge, you may not want it distributed at all, or you
   may not care.
   On a somewhat related topic, you should ask John Francis
   ( to list you in the file
   /if-archive/info/author-list.txt at the IF-Archive. You can give him
   your email address and the distributability status of your game or
   other IF product.)
   On another somewhat related topic, getting commercially sold games,
   even if they are no longer available, for free is illegal unless the
   copyright owner has specifically decided to allow distribution. There
   is no such thing as "abandonware": just because a game or program is
   no longer sold does not make it legal for you to distribute it. On the
   other hand, most people are in favor of getting copyright owners to
   freely distribute abandoned programs, but that choice is up to the
   owner. This specifically covers most of the Infocom games, but see
   [Where can I find Infocom games?: 6.7] for more information on that.
  4.4: What authoring systems are available?
   Though some people simply write their adventures in C, BASIC, and
   other general languages, this tends to lead to a lot of remaking of
   the wheel and problems with parsers. Most IF authors choose to use a
   specialized IF authoring system. Descriptions of them are below.
   Tier (i) contains the most popular systems; posts about them are
   common on raif, and even the least-used one has at least a game or two
   each year. It contains Hugo, Inform, TADS, and ALAN. These are all
   good systems, with Inform and TADS the most popular and ported.
   Tier (ii) contains systems that are either waning in popularity, or
   have not started waxing yet, though they are being supported by
   authors. It contains AGT, Quest, and SUDS.
   Tier (iii) mostly consists of old systems that never really caught on.
   Tier (i)
   The most popular and/or powerful, these are currently used by a large
   number of people; many posts to concern these
   systems and their use; games produced with these systems are
   guaranteed a relatively large audience.
          2.5.02a lib, with a 3.0 beta.
          Kent Tessman (
          Acorn RISC OS, Amiga, BeOS, MS-DOS, Unix (i.e., Linux, SunOS,
          etc., with pre-built executables for Linux), OS/2, Win95/NT,
          and any Glk-supporting platform [What is Glk?: 4.5] including
          the Macintosh.
          The author intends to continue supporting Hugo indefinitely,
          and is developing further releases of the compiler/engine
          package. He will take e-mail and respond to posts. In his own
          words, he will contribute "anything I can offer" to the
          product. Messages specific to Hugo are posted to
 from time to time.
   Programming Knowledge
          Owes its origins to Inform, C, and BASIC. It is thus
          object-oriented, has a straight-forward syntax, and an effort
          has been made to keep programming as free of punctuation and
          confusing formatting as much as possible. Much low-level
          (assembly) programming is done within the system itself (so the
          user needn't worry about it).
          As of v2.4 Hugo supports graphics (in JPEG format) and multiple
          tiled windows. It also has music in MOD, S3M, MP3, MIDI, and XM
          format and sound in WAV format. The standard sound package
          (which the DOS and Windows ports use) allows 32 channels. Full
          multimedia support is available in the Windows/DOS, BeOS, and X
          Windows ports. As of v3.0, Hugo even supports movies in MPEG or
          AVI format. The compiler allows precompiled headers. Features
          include global events, object-linked events, object/character
          scripts, hierarchical inheritance and the ability to use
          objects as classes, dynamic run-time dictionary creation,
          multiple-turn undo, and (practically) unlimited game file size
          due to indexed addressing. Hugo allows the programmer to fully
          manipulate the interpretation of the input line prior to engine
   Documentation and Game Sources
          The "Hugo Programming Manual" covers many of Hugo's features
          and there is an extensively annotated tutorial game, "Vault of
          Hugo." Currently available game source code include ports of
          "Adventure" and "Pirate Adventure", and the author's own
          full-length games, "Spur", "Guilty Bastards", and "Down", and a
          shell-game to build on.
   Online Documentation
   Web Pages
          Hugo - An Interactive Fiction Authoring System
          Jerry's Hugo Site
   Debugging Features
          The Hugo Debugger, HD, is a full-featured source(ish)-level
          debugger, which allows code search, watch expressions,
          breakpoints, and so on. The HugoFix library is a suite of
          debugging routines allowing the user to monitor, set, and check
          almost every aspect of a game at run-time.
          Freeware, so long as it is distributed in an unmodified manner.
          Games produced by a user are the property of that author, and
          may be freely distributed. Only if the game (including any
          included libraries from Hugo) or the Hugo engine is intended
          for distribution in any commercial manner (shareware or
          otherwise) must Kent Tessman be contacted for permission.
   Quick Pros and Cons
          As it is slightly newer than Inform and TADS, less people are
          using it and the Glk-based port to Macintosh doesn't have all
          the graphics and sounds perks (yet). On the bright side, it is
          quite powerful and offers advanced sound and graphics
          capabilities. Mac users are very very grateful for the Glk
          port, which is quite nice in the non-multimedia areas.
          6.21. Library 6/10. (Also, 6.21(G0.32) for glulx is in beta.)
          Graham Nelson ( Glulx features by
          Andrew Plotkin (
          Acorn RISC OS, BeOS, Macintosh, Atari ST (latest release 5.4,
          may be unsupported), Amiga, IBM PC (on pre-386, release 5.5
          only), Linux, OS/2, UNIX, VMS (for DEC VAX or Alpha), and EPOC
          (the Psion 5/Revo/7 handhelds). The ZMachine interpreters
          needed to play Inform games compiled for the ZMachine (that is,
          those that don't use glulx) are available for these platforms
          and many more.
          The author fixes library bugs whenever they are reported, and
          issues updates about every three months. The compiler is
          updated approximately twice a year, and the documentation is
          now in its 3rd edition (with an update May 1997). Feedback from
          users is welcomed. There are a large number of relevant posts
   Programming Knowledge
          Compiles a largely object oriented language, reminiscent of C.
          A quite sophisticated parser is supplied, which can be entirely
          invisible to the designer but is highly programmable if need
          be. The library is itself written in Inform and is relatively
          easy to modify.
          Produces files in the `Z-machine' format, as used by Infocom.
          Thus Inform games can be played on any of the many publicly
          available `Z-machine' interpreters. A standard library is
          supplied; it is possible to replace library routines. The
          run-time format does now permit dynamic object creation.
          Low-level programming is provided for, including a full
          The parser can be supplied with a language definition file
          allowing Inform games to be played in non-English languages.
          Translations of Inform have been made into German, Spanish,
          Italian and Renaissance English, with several others in
          development. These translations are linked from Graham Nelson's
          website (see below).
          A system called "Blorb", for convenient attachment of sound
          effects and modern-quality graphics, has now been fully
          implemented by Kevin Bracey's "Zip2000" interpreter.
          An alternate version can compile to the "Glulx" format, which
          allows advanced I/O capalities and removes many of the
          ZMachine's arbirtrary size restrictions.
   Documentation and Game Sources
          The main manual is the "Designer's Manual"; the "Technical
          Manual" documents very dry internals; the "Specification of the
          Z-Machine" defines the run-time format and the standard for
          interpreters (an alternative to this last document is "The
          Z-machine, and How To Emulate It"). A handful of game sources
          are available. The Inform Translator's Manual documents
          language definition files. The Designer's Manual should shortly
          be available as a printed book, thanks to Cascade Mountain
          Publishing; see <>.
   Online Documentation
          The Z-Machine Standards Document 1.0
          The Inform Designer's Manual (3rd edition, updated)
   Web Pages
          Inform 6: A Compiler For Interactive Fiction
          The Inform Library Patch Site
          Inform Page (somewhat old)
          Inform Programming (old, outdated)
          The Informary - a quick reference summary
          Inform for New Writers, David Cornelson
          Inform for Beginners, Jeff Johnson
          Glulx: A 32-Bit Virtual Machine for IF
   Debugging Features
          Can print tracing information for calls to routines and a suite
          of debugging verbs is included in the library: these monitor
          timers, daemons, actions, the object tree, messages between
          objects, the parser's internal workings and the like, and give
          the tester supernatural powers to travel and move things
          around. The library can also record and play back scripts of
          commands. Tools such as TXD (a disassembler) and Infodump (an
          inspector of objects, dictionary and grammar) are publicly
          As of Inform 6.21, you can compile your games with "Infix"
          debugging mode. This allows the author to use a variety of
          debugging verbs to examine and change the game's state in a way
          similar to the programming of Inform itself. You can trace
          references to a routine or object.
          Inform can also produce a file of information useful to any
          debugging tool, with, for example, Z-machine PC positions
          assigned to every statement of source code.
          There are some help-tools to configure various text editors to
          Inform, too; the Technical Manual provides an algorithm for
          syntax-colouring Inform code which is used in several of these.
          ANSI C.
          Freeware. The author retains copyright of the compiler in order
          to prevent commercial exploitation, but (subject only to mild
          restrictions) is prepared to let people sell games produced by
   Quick Pros and Cons
          It is the most highly ported authoring system, and is quite
          popular. It is very powerful; some of the very advanced
          techniques are difficult to understand, though. Though it has a
          few more ports than TADS, HTML-TADS' graphics and sound support
          are both more powerful and more usable (at the current time)
          than Inform's. Also, the ZMachine suffers from the fact that
          extraordinarily large (and I mean really really big) games do
          not fit in it. However, for a normal-sized, text-only game that
          doesn't do extraordinarily complicated hacks (most games fit
          this description), Inform's problems do not hurt at all, and
          the glulx virtual machine fixes some of these problems.
   TADS (Text Adventure Development System)
          Version 2.5.2.
          Michael Roberts (mjr_ at hotmail dot com).
          Acorn RISC OS (interpreter only), AmigaDOS, Atari ST/TT/Falcon,
          DECStation, Linux, Macintosh, MS-DOS (also GO32 DOS extender
          version for 386+), NeXT, OS/2, SGI Iris/Indigo, SunOS & Sun 3.
          Posts to dealing with all manner of TADS
          queries are not uncommon, and there are many third-party
          programming examples and utilities, including WorldClass and
          Pianosa, complete replacement libraries.
   Programming Knowledge
          Uses a high-level, largely object-oriented language very
          reminiscent of Pascal or C.
          Provides virtual memory support, permitting games much larger
          than your computer's physical memory. Full multiple inheritance
          is supported, and incremental changes can be made to library
          files so one can include the standard library and override bits
          of it piece by piece. Objects may be created at run-time
          (dynamic object creation). TADS also provides multiple UNDO,
          routines for general-purpose file I/O, and "user exits" that
          let one link in code compiled with other languages (such as C).
          TADS allows you to write your game using HTML TADS, which
          allows you to add styled text, still graphics, sound, and MIDI
          music to your TADS games. Rather than relying on some
          proprietary markup language, HTML TADS uses standard HTML, the
          language used to mark up Web pages, for which documentation is
          readily available. (However, HTML TADS doesn't need a web
          browser or the Internet: it uses HTML but isn't a Web-based
          system.) HTML TADS also supports ISO Latin-1 character sets, so
          accented letters are easily added.
          At the time of writing, HTML TADS interpreters are only
          available for Windows 95/98/NT and Macintosh. However, a game
          written in HTML TADS is still fully playable (minus graphics
          and sound, of course) with character-based TADS runtimes that
          have been updated to at least version 2.2.6.
          The Windows port of TADS 2.5 and up comes with "Visual
          Workbench", an integrated development environment including the
          compiler, debugger, runtime, and an editor. It can even create
          self-enclosed executable installater programs for Windows for
          your TADS games.
   Documentation and Game Sources
          TADS' comprehensive manual is available in TeX, PDF and HTML
          formats, although the HTML version is the most current. At the
          moment, TADS documentation is a little scattered between the
          TADS manual (<>), the
          TADS Parser Manual in
          /if-archive/programming/tads/manuals/ , and the HTML
          TADS Revision Notes, available with HTML TADS. Neil K. Guy is
          working on updating the main TADS manual to include the
          information from the Parser Manual. Lastly, you might want to
          look at the slightly outdated but still useful TADS Tip Sheet
          In addition to the manual the full source for a medium-sized
          game, Ditch Day Drifter, is available from the usual sources.
          The source code for many other games, from small and simple to
          huge and complex, is also readily available.
          Mark Engelberg has written a tutorial for TADS. It can be found
          on the IF-Archive as
          /if-archive/programming/tads/manuals/ .
   Online Documentation
          TADS Author's Manual
          TADS Manuals directory on the IF-Archive
   Web Pages
          The TADS Page
          The TADS Programming Page
          WorldClass Programming Page
   Debugging Features
          TDB is a full-featured source-level debugger. It allows
          single-stepping through your source, the setting of breakpoints
          at specific lines, and the examination and alteration of
          variables in your program.
   Quick Pros and Cons
          It is very popular and powerful powerful. It has better
          graphics support than Inform/ZMachine, and HTML TADS is
          available on the Mac (which is not the case for graphical
          Hugo). Its library is very object-oriented, which may be a good
          or bad thing, depending on who you are. It has slightly less
          ports than Inform/ZMachine, especially to ancient computers
          like the C64 and small computers like the PalmPilot. On the
          other hand, the reason is can't run on the PalmPilot is that it
          allows games of any size whatsoever, which is good if your game
          needs to be huge.
   ALAN (Adventure LANguage system)
          2.8, with various correction levels for different platforms.
          Thomas Nilsson ( and Gran Forslund
          Amiga, Macintosh, MS-DOS (currently only 386+), sun4 (Solaris1,
          SunOS 4.1), sun4 (Solaris2, SunOS 5.x). A HP-UX version of 2.8
          is upcoming, though a 2.7 version exists. There is also a Glk
          [What is Glk?: 4.5] version, but because ALAN's source is not
          freely available, it is a little harder to compile your own Glk
          versions than you would with the other IF systems.
          As a non-profit project author support may vary, although the
          authors will endeavor to act on bug reports sent by e-mail.
          Most ALAN questions on raif will be answered by other ALAN
   Programming Knowledge
          Uses a very high-level language. With an easy-to-learn syntax
          and semantics, ALAN takes a descriptive view of the concepts of
          adventure authoring. There are no variables, subroutines or
          other traditional programming constructs. A general statement
          which describes the ALAN philosophy is that a game's author
          should not need to program, only describe, what the player will
          Actors may be scripted and rules are evaluated between each
          actors turn which can trigger actions. Events can be triggered
          by objects, actors or locations. Expansion of the parser syntax
          is simple. ALAN lacks actor interaction and inheritance
          (although a prototype of v3.0 supports this). General verbs can
          be overridden both for locations and objects on which they are
          invoked. There is support for multinational character input.
   Documentation and Game Sources
          The manual, available separately in PostScript, HTML, and ASCII
          formats, contains a lot of detail on all aspects of IF
          authorship from a beginner's level upwards. A few examples of
          ALAN source are available, including the source to the games
          "Saviour" and "Skipping Breakfast".
   Online Documentation
          ALAN Adventure Language Manual
   Web Page
          The Alan Home Pages
   Debugging Features
          The debugger currently supports viewing (but not altering) of
          most data, tracing of significant parts of the execution and
          single-stepping though compiled code.
          The source is only available to porters, through the authors.
          Freeware. The interpreter may be freely distributed with
          compiled games for commercial purposes (i.e., no fee or
          royalties are required if you start to sell games).
   Quick Pros and Cons
          It isn't as powerful as the other Tier (i) systems. However, it
          is apparently easier to learn. Its ports to some systems, such
          as MacOS, are not wonderful or completely up-to-date, but work
          is being done on them.
   Tier (ii)
   Intermediate popularity and new systems, these do not appeal to quite
   as large an audience as those in tier (i) or are less powerful; there
   are infrequent posts to dealing with these
   systems and their use; occasionally games are produced using these
   AGT (Adventure Game Toolkit)
          Version 1.7 (may vary between platforms). But if you want to
          use AGT, use MAGX and AGiliTy instead of the original. Please.
          David Malmberg ( and Mark Welch
          Amiga, Atari ST, Macintosh, MS-DOS, Windows. There seem to be
          many different versions for different platforms.
          No technical support from the authors (i.e., no new versions).
          Posts to are not uncommon.
   Programming Knowledge
          Uses a meta-language similar to English. Standard Level games
          can be created with no prior programming knowledge.
          Creates Standard Level games ("require no programming
          experience (honestly!), only a fertile imagination") or
          Professional Level games. There are limitations on the number
          of locations (200) and animate/inanimate objects (100 each) in
          a game. As AGT is no longer supported by the authors there will
          be no future upgrades/bug-fixes. It is not nearly as powerful
          as the Tier (i) systems, and many games are unportable from
          There is also now two programs, MAGX and AGiliTy, which are
          more portable and less buggy than the original AGT programs.
          However, they do not improve the language itself much.
   Documentation and Game Sources
          The documentation available on the Internet is out-of-date in
          regard to author support (which no longer applies) and
          licensing details (AGT is now freeware). Included is the source
          for a small game, Crusade. Other source for some two dozen
          games is publicly available. Mark Welch has 50-100 copies of
          the final "Master's Edition" printed manual and would invite
          suggestions from AGT users on how he might disseminate them at
          no charge. He *does not* have the "Master's Edition" source
          code though.
   Online Documentation
   Web Page
          AGT Home Page
          MAGX webpage
          AGT-authors mailing list page
   Debugging Features
          A few basic debugging commands (such as MOVEPLAYER and
          LISTROOMS) to be used at run-time.
          Turbo Pascal 4.0/5.0/5.5/6.0. Magx and AGiliTy are written in
          ANSI C.
          Freeware. Games produced with AGT are freely distributable in
          whatever manner you choose.
   Quick Pros and Cons
          I really wish I could put more pros here. When AGT was first
          released, ages ago, it was an improvement over what little IF
          creation software existed at the time. However, there really is
          nothing it can do that Inform or TADS can't easily do, and
          unlike the tier (i) systems, it is not expandable. That is a
          key point: in Inform, Hugo, and TADS, you can basically get it
          to do what you want, at least in terms of the internal world
          (if not multimedia output). This is not the case for AGT. It is
          poorly ported. And, though some claim it to be easy to learn,
          others find AGT source incomprehensible. You can write a good
          game in AGT. It's much easier if you just use a different
          Alex Warren (
          Windows 95/98/NT4.
          All technical questions can be emailed to
 Bug reports can be emailed to
 Other enquiries can be directed to
 The author will try his best to
          give an answer to any questions you may have.
   Programming Knowledge
          None required. Quest comes with full documentation on the "ASL"
          programming language used. This is an easy-to-use language
          without much in the way of confusing syntax, designed with
          ease-of-use in mind.
          Pretty much unlimited in any way; memory is allocated
          dynamically, so in theory games of any size could be created.
          Easy-to-use interface; built-in multimedia support for WAV and
          various image file formats (including BMP, GIF, and JPEG);
          save/load facility; text formatting; built-in support for
          items, characters, objects, selections, string and numeric
          variables, conditional statements, and user-defined commands;
          error checking. Its built-in library isn't as advanced as some
          of the Tier (i) systems in terms of IF capability, but it
          allows more graphical Win32 power than them. Users can use QDK,
          the Quest Development Kit, to create Quest games without any
   Documentation and Game Sources
          ASL programming language reference and small sample game
          included in Quest download.
   Online Documentation
          Included in the Quest download.
   Web Page
   Debugging Features
          String variables can be viewed at run-time; various warning
          messages outputted to a log file when errors are encountered.
          Not available.
          "Free shareware". You can use the Quest runtime free of charge,
          but you are encouraged to register for 10 UK pounds (US$20) via
          cheque or credit card. For this, you get the compiler, which
          allows you to make your own games without distributing the
          source code to them. The free version of Quest is capable of
          running games from both uncompiled ASL source code and CAS
          compiled game code.
          SUDS Player: SUDS Constructor:
          Andy Elliot (
          Windows 95/98/NT.
          The author will continue to improve and develop SUDS for the
          foreseeable future in the light of feedback and functionality
          requests, both of which are welcome. SUDSystems endeavours to
          respond to all queries and suggestions within a maximum of five
          business days.
   Programming Knowledge
          Aimed at writers rather than coders, SUDS requires little or no
          programming knowledge, although it does demand the ability to
          think logically. SUDS enables users to build sophisticated
          event-driven procedures via a simple Cut and Paste mouse-driven
          interface. Syntax and construction of commands is handled
          automatically by the program. Design environment is modelled on
          object-oriented development packages such as Visual Basic.
          Games are designed in the SUDS Constructor, which outputs the
          game as a single file. Games can be installed and run in the
          SUDS Player without compilation. Games are wholly text,
          although a "welcome" graphic can be specified. However,
          keyboard entry is replaced with a simple cursor-driven mouse
          interface: there is no parser and games consist of putting
          together words on the screen, like in the LucasArts graphical
          adventure games. A graphical map is automatically maintained
          during play, and players can add their own notes to each
          location. Event-driven procedures are triggered by player
          actions or between-turns housekeeping. There is a dedicated
          conversation interface with a drag-and-drop tree editor. The
          map editor is wholly graphical. You can have up to 32767 of
          each of Objects, Scenery, People, and Rooms. The map size is
          unlimited. Unfortunately, because code is not edited as textual
          source, you cannot export code to share with others.
   Documentation and Game Sources
          In addition to the documentation packaged with the
          applications, FAQs and information on upgrades are available on
          the SUDS website.
   Online Documentation
          Included in the SUDS download.
   Web Page
   Debugging Features
          The SUDS Player contains fully integrated debugging features
          which can be enabled from the Constructor for a game. These
          include the ability to report on the attributes of every game
          item and all system variables, to move the player to any
          location, and to take or drop any item. An in-game procedure
          monitor gives the ability to view procedures, step through
          code, skip over individual code lines or procedures, evaluate
          conditions, and pre-decide the result of decision points.
          Borland Delphi (Object Pascal) using a Paradox 7 database.
          The SUDS Player is freeware: there is no fee for installation
          or use. However, the SUDS Constructor is shareware: if you
          intend to continue using it to create a text adventure you must
          register. The main benefits of registering are that you receive
          notification of (free) software updates and game releases (if
          you wish) and your support issues take precedence over those
          who have not paid. Registration also deactivates the nagging
          messages in the Constructor and enables your projects to run in
          the SUDS Player without terminating in after 50 turns.
          SUDS-format games must be released as freeware and cannot be
          distributed for profit.
   Quick Pros and Cons
          If you want a Windows-only program with a good IDE and
          dialog-box-based programming instead of text-based programming,
          and you do not mind that SUDS does not even have the pretense
          of a parser and players simply point and click, SUDS is
          probably the system for you: it shows every sign of being
          written with care for that purpose. However, it isn't portable
          outside Windows and doesn't have a parser like most IF, and to
          create games using it costs a small fee, which is more than the
          major IF systems.
   Tier (iii)
   Little current popularity, these are not generally popular; they often
   cater to only a small number of platforms (usually only MS-DOS) and
   may be less advanced or more specialized (such as handling graphics-
   or multimedia-based games) than systems in the other tiers; games are
   rarely produced with these systems.
   ADL (Adventure Definition Language)
   AdvSys (Adventure System)
          /if-archive/programming/archetype/ A highly object-oriented,
          bare-bones system.
          /if-archive/programming/aventuro/ A system in Esperanto.
   DROOL (Dave's Reworked Object Oriented Language)
   GAGS (Generic Adventure Game System)
          /if-archive/programming/gags/ The precursor to AGT.
   GINAS (Generic Interactive Narrative Authoring System)
          /if-archive/programming/ginas/ An experimental, lisp-like
   GTAC (Graphic Text Adventure Creator)
          /if-archive/programming/gtac/ Creates a complete playable
          adventure game without losing the friendliness of the Acorn
   LADS (Levi's Adventure Development System)
          /if-archive/programming/lads/ Produces games with a distinct
          "Scott Adams" look and feel. The state of the art of IF
          authoring systems is today well beyond this, yet LADS is still
          a workable, if primitive, system in its own right.
   NMP (NM Parser)
          /if-archive/programming/nmp/ A Spanish-language system.
   SINTAC (Sistema Integrado de Creacion de Aventuras Conversacionales)
          /if-archive/programming/sintac/ A Spanish-language system.
   These systems are either new, or are experimental or beta-release
   systems and as such may not have the popular and immediate appeal of
   systems in other tiers. (In reality, it means that they have been
   sitting in tier with this description since before I (David) started
   maintaining the FAQ, and I do not really know what to do with them.)
   Adventure Builder
          Alan Conroy (
          PC-DOS (v2.0 or later), MS-DOS (v2.0 or later), Windows (3.1 or
          Minimal, but it does exist. Support is entirely through e-mail
          at this time. Bug reports and suggestions are solicited, and
          response for issues with known work-arounds are timely. Issues
          requiring updates/upgrades of the software are not.
   Programming Knowledge
          No programming is required to create a game. However, some
          programming is necessary if the game is to be customized (which
          is nearly always the case). The programming language is a
          non-conforming subset of Sirius, which is similar to Pascal and
          BASIC. No knowledge of advanced programming techniques is
          required in any case.
          Provides a source language compiler and linker for writing
          routines, and a database compiler. Features include: up to 8191
          nodes and 4096 items per game; memory caching of disk accesses;
          on-line help; easy-to-use database definition language and
          source language for writing routines; support for time, season,
          weather, day, and earthquakes; ability to log game/debug
          sessions; Linker and Librarian for large software projects.
   Documentation and Game Sources
          Documentation consists of a Programmer's Reference manual,
          Database Compiler Reference Manual, Primer, and Master Index.
          Source code for the default handling of basic actions is
          provided. Complete source code for the demonstration game is
   Online Documentation
          None, though electronic docs do exist that are not HTML.
   Web Page
   Debugging Features
          Debugging tool built into the run-time system provides insight
          into the internal workings of the run-time system. A
          full-functioned source debugger is available for user-written
          (Sirius) code. The debugger allows setting breakpoints,
          watchpoints (breakpoints on changed data), examination of
          source code and variables, searching of source code,
          single-step, on-line help, and other minor features.
          Source to Adventure Builder is available only under license and
          in specific cases at this time.
          Shareware. You may use it for personal enjoyment at no charge.
          If you sell, for profit, any byproduct of this software, you
          are REQUIRED to pay a $25.00 (US) one-time fee. Once this fee
          is paid, any number of games may be produced and sold
          royalty-free. Also you will be notified of any updates, you are
          eligible for discounts on updates, and your support issues will
          take precedence over those who have not paid. Adventure Builder
          is freely distributable to anyone and everyone so long as it is
          distributed in UNMODIFIED FORM and no fees, other than
          reasonable for the distribution media, are charged.
          Mike DeSanto (
          OS/2 (2.1 or better, ReXX installed).
          Send e-mail to the author. At least two people other than the
          author are currently working on adventures, and an AGT to
          Rexx-Adventure converter is being researched by a third party.
   Programming Knowledge
          Minimal programming knowledge required.
          Features object based adventure creation with a GUI interface.
          Object variables are totally user-definable and all ambiguity
          about what objects can be manipulated, and how they can be
          manipulated has been removed. There is currently no indirect
          object support and objects inside other objects can not be seen
          (i.e., water in a bottle), although these are respectively
          planned and already implemented for version 2. While movable
          windows are also implemented for version 2, they are not
          present currently (i.e., fixed screen layout).
   Documentation and Game Sources
          Documentation will soon be available in OS/2 .INF format.
   Online Documentation
   Web Page
          Rexx-Adventure <>
   Debugging Features
          Very Few.
          Watcom VX-REXX, available to porters from the author.
          Freeware. Mike DeSanto retains the copyright and it may be
          distributed only in its original form. Authors may charge for
          their adventures on the condition that it is made very clear
          that the fee is for the adventure, and not for Rexx-Adventure.
   A NOTE ON AUTHOR SUPPORT: While most authors are happy to accept email
   concerning their system please remember that reading and responding to
   email does take time. While bug reports, requests/suggestions for new
   features, etc. should be sent to the author directly, questions on how
   to implement a particular feature or operate a particular function
   should go to, where time is not an issue. Bug
   reports for the authoring systems should probably be both emailed to
   the author, who can fix them, and posted to raif, so that other
   readers can realize that the bug exists. (Bug reports for games other
   than the Infocom ones should not be posted to,
   but rather emailed to the author. A bug in an authoring system can
   create bugs in other people's games; a bug in a game can't do that.)
   You should also realize that, especially if you are not paying for the
   system, the system authors have no "responsibility" to the community
   to update their program. There was once a nasty stir on raif in which
   a poster ordered Graham Nelson, who had been unable to read the
   newsgroup for a while for various reasons, to update Inform. Graham
   and the other authors have put a lot of hard work into their systems,
   and probably will continue to do so. But if they wanted to stop, they
   could. (After many messages asserting that point were posted, the
   thread died down. This was shortly followed by a new version of
   A NOTE ON LICENSING: Games written with some authoring systems,
   notably Hugo, may not be distributed for money (shareware or
   commercial) without the system author's express consent. You should
   always read and abide by any and all licensing details relating to the
   system which you choose. If you do not like the licensing
   arrangements, use a different system. Of course, system authors are
   (usually) good human beings, and will probably say yes.
  4.5: What is Glk?
   It is a standard for text-based I/O, designed by Andrew "zarf"
   Plotkin. Complete information can be found at
   Here is a brief description of it, plagiarized from LucFrench and
   Zarf's descriptions on raif:
   GLK is a spec for porting Input/Output code across platforms. In order
   to understand why it's necessary, one must understand a bit about I/O.
   A Unix machine has a different way of printing to the screen than a
   Mac, since one is primarily text based, and the other is a graphical
   windowing enviroment. As such, they have two *very* different ways of
   outputting data, particularly for some of the special effects that
   many high level IF systems need (e.g., a status line, picture, color,
   So, porting the I/O can be difficult. What Glk attempts to do is
   specify a set of calls to the Glk system that allows for easy porting
   across multiple platforms.
   The Glk calls are intended to be not only portable, but to be *easily*
   portable: abstracted in such a way that they give the interpreter
   maximum flexibility. This allows interpreters on different platforms
   to take advantage of particular UI features.
   A port of Dungeon, a scripting language, interpreters for the major IF
   languages, and a few demos have been ported to Glk. If you are writing
   an IF interpreter or similar program, consider using Glk. It'll make
   everyone happy.
  4.6: What are VILE 0 ERRORS FROM HELL, and how should I avoid them in Inform?
   It is illegal on the ZMachine that Inform compiles to to do any of the
   following when x == 0 (nothing):
child(x), parent(x), sibling(x), etc
if (x has attribute)
if ( == ...)
give x attribute = ...
move x to y
move y to x
remove x

   ... or pretty much anything else which assumes x is a legitimate
   Some interpreters will ignore this, and either end up not messing up,
   or crash. In the former case, this means that you will falsely believe
   there is nothing wrong with your game. In the latter case, it, well,
   MaxZip, and some other Zip interpreters, will check and warn at these
   illegal statements.
   There is a bug in the Inform library (version 6/7) that will cause
   this in the HasLightSource function. You should patch this immediately
   if for some reason your are still using library 6/7.
   In the library file parserm, find the function HasLightSource. Near
   the top, there are the lines:
   if (i has enterable || IsSeeThrough(i)==1)
   {   objectloop (i in i)
           if (HasLightSource(i)==1) rtrue;

   This should be
   if (i has enterable || IsSeeThrough(i)==1)
   {   objectloop (j in i)
           if (HasLightSource(j)==1) rtrue;

   In other words, change two i's to j's.
   Library 6/8 and later fixes this and a few other uncommon V0EsFH.
   Much more information on the subject of VILE 0 ERRORS FROM HELL can be
   found at <>, thanks to Andrew
   Plotkin, who made everyone aware of this problem and helped with this
   As of Inform 6.20, VILE 0 ERRORS FROM HELL and other common Inform
   problems are caught at run-time by compiled-in checking routines.
   There is much rejoicing! Unfortunately, if this "strict" mode is
   turned off, Inform 6.20 (though not the newer 6.21 which should be
   used instead of 6.20) creates buggy code; and Library 6/8 in strict
   mode is too large to fit in a module, meaning that you can't create
   strict library modules. Inform 6.20 should *not* be used due to its
   bugs in non-strict mode: either stick with a lower version or upgrade
   to 6.21.
   Inform 6.20 and up also classifies objectloop errors as V0EsFH and
   catches them. These are another common cause of problems in Inform. As
   most Inform programmers know, objectloop (x) { ... } will run ... once
   for each object in the game, setting 'x' to that object. Here's the
objectloop (foo in someobject)
   move foo to somewhereelse;

   You'd think this moves every object in someobject to somewhereelse.
   But it doesn't. This is becase objectloop(a in b) {...} is optimized.
   Instead of being equivalent to
   if (a in b)

   it is the same as
for (a = child(b); a ~= 0; a = sibling(a))

   In other words, it simply strolls along the object tree. If a is moved
   out of b, it will make the next a be equal to the sibling of the
   current a, which will not be what you want.
   The solution is, for the simple case of "move all children of foo to
while (children(foo) ~= 0) move child(foo) to bar;

   For anything more complicated than that, use:
   if (a in b)

   The same problem can occur in the little-used 'x from object' and 'x
   near object' versions, though not in any other ones (such as 'x
   ofclass c'). Inform 6.20 and up will catch these at run-time.
  4.7: How do I find bug fixes for Inform?
   Recent versions of Inform's library and compiler have introduced some
   annoying bugs and weird ways of parsing. Though Graham Nelson fixes
   these in new versions of the Inform library, between releases you can
   look at the official Inform Patch Site at
   <>, maintained by Adam Cadre.
  4.8: What editors can I use to write IF?
   There are many text editors that are useful for writing IF. The
   following list describes some of them. If you have any corrections or
   suggestions, feel free to email them to me. Most of the following
   descriptions were written by others; I'd like to thank everyone who
   helped me. However, I edited them, so any incorrect statements are
   probably my fault.
     * DOS/Windows (Win32-only (Windows 95, 98, and NT) unless specified)
     * Inform
     * Informer
     * Author: William J. Schlaer
     * /if-archive/programming/editors/
     * Informer is a text editor that can generate Inform code for
       objects, locations, routine, etc. It includes Inform syntax
       highlighting; it can run the Inform compiler from within the
       editor and captures error messages for viewing; can view code as
       graphical object tree or location map.
     Inform IDE
     * Author: Andrew Bault
     * <>
     * Availability: free
     * With Inform IDE, instead of creating your program in a text editor
       as usual, you write code in a "browser" which shows the
       relationship of pieces of code to one another. You can import and
       export code with the normal text version of Inform source code.
       You can browse and modify objects and functions within
       hierarchical or alphabetical trees.
     * Author: Tim Middleton
     * /if-archive/programming/editors/
     * IMForm is an ambitious and pretty IDE for Inform. However, it is
       unfinished. It is not recommended for use in writing Inform games,
       but is interesting to look at for anyone thinking about writing an
       IF IDE. It has been uploaded with source code for anybody who
       wants to to complete the project.
     * TADS File Editor
     * Author: Satan's Mutt
     * /if-archive/programming/editors/
     * TFE is a conventional text editor with TADS syntax highlighting.
       It can run the TADS compiler and capture the compiler output to an
       editor window.
     * Ultraedit
     * Author: Ian David Mead
     * <>
     * Platforms: Win32 and Windows 3.1
     * Availability: $30 shareware
     * Ultraedit is a programmer's text editor with configurable syntax
       highlighting that can be set up for any IF language. You can run a
       compiler from within editor and capture its output to a window for
       viewing. It has macros. You can create your own syntax
       highlighting config files. Giovanni Riccardi has created an Inform
       config file, available at
       /if-archive/programming/editors/ueditinf12.txt . Gunther Schmidl
       has created a Hugo config file, available at
       <>. Theodore
       Hwa's TADS config file is available at
       /if-archive/programming/editors/ueditTADSwordfile.txt .
     Programmer's File Editor (PFE)
     * Author: A. Phillips
     * /if-archive/programming/editors/ (Win32)
     * /if-archive/programming/editors/ (Windows 3.1)
     * Availability: freeware
     * PFE is a programmer's text editor. It can run a compiler and
       capture output from it. It has macros. It is highly configurable.
       It matches paired characters. It remembers your cursor position in
       previous documents. It has no syntax highlighting, however. It
       interacts well with other programs, and can execute them, passing
       them the current file.
     * Note: the author of PFE decided to stop developing PFE in October
       1999; copies of PFE for both 32-bit and 16-bit Windows can now be
       found at the IF-Archive.
     * Author: ?
     * <>
     * Availability: $27 shareware
     * Platforms: Win32 and Windows 3.1
     * TextPad is a highly configurable text editor focused on
       programming. Some of its features include automatic indentation; a
       changeable tab size (4 or 8? The tab size Holy War continues...);
       word-wrap; macros (very handy sometimes); a "clip library" for
       saving related macros (many user-created clip libraries are
       available for download from the TextPad website); the ability to
       compare two files (like Unix diff); a user-extensible Tools menu
       where you can enter custom commands, such as calling a compiler or
       syntax-checker; the ability to sort lines in a file according to
       various user-definable criteria; line-break reformatting (a
       feature that is immensely useful when using cross-platform text
       files); and block highlighting and copying.
     * Author: Shawn Hargreaves
     * <>
     * Availability: Free (open source)
     * Platforms: MS-DOS, Linux
     * FED is an open-source folding text editor. It has an intuitive
       user interface, syntax highlighting, the ability to fold blocks of
       text out of sight, multi-level undo and redo, flexible wordwrap,
       binary and hex editing modes, macro recordings, and more. Plus, it
       has a built-in tetris game and screensaver: what more do you want?
     * Configuration files for TADS and ALAN by Stephen Griffiths are on
       the IF-Archive at /if-archive/programming/editors/alan.fed and
       /if-archive/programming/editors/tads.fed .
     * Author: American Cybernetics
     * <>
     * Availability: $199 commercial
     * Multi-Edit is a powerful text editor designed for use in multiple
       languages. It is able to determine which of its customized tools
       to use based on the language of your file. It integrates well with
       other programming tools including version control. It has a
       powerful extension language with the ability to call any DLL
       function including the Win32 API. It also contains many more
       powerful text-editing features. The $199 price includes a printed
       manual; you can also just download the executables from $129.
       Douglas Harter's Hugo template can be found on the IF-Archive at
       /if-archive/programming/editors/hugo.tpt .
     * Author: ?
     * <> (see below)
     * Platforms: MS-DOS
     * Availability: freeware, probably
     * UED (not to be confused with UltraEdit) is a simple yet powerful
       text editor for DOS. It is distributed with Online Bible (which is
       freeware and available from the above URL). Since OB is freely
       redistributable, the author of this article assumes that UED is
       also; anyone who wants a copy can get it by emailing, the author of this article, if they do not
       wish to download Online Bible. It is small: under 35K when
       compressed by ZIP. It has no IF-specific features, but its nice
       features include the ability to word-wrap; configure the margin;
       its speed (loads in no time flat even on an 8088); fairly smart
       paragraph reformatting (treats the first line of paragraph
       differently) that can be invoked on the current paragraph; the
       ability to cut/copy/paste groups of lines, standard ranges, or
       even rectangular blocks (very useful); loads up to nine files at
       once and can switch between them easily; can put two files on
       screen at once if desired. Its main limitation is that it can only
       handle about sixty-thousand lines of text at any one time. It does
       not come with any documentation, but (in the opinion of the author
       of this article), it does not need any, as it has a two minute
       learning curve and has no complicated commands.
     Microsoft Visual C++
     * Author: Microsoft
     * <>
     * Availability: expensive
     * Microsoft Visual C++ is an expensive Integrated Development
       Environment (IDE) for C++. It contains, among many other things,
       an excellent programmer's text editor. However, I would never
       recommend purchasing it solely for the text editor, as it is far
       too expensive; if you already own a copy, however, you should give
       it a try as an IF editor.
     * Author: Microsoft
     * <>
     * Availability: $299 commercial
     * CodeWright is a commercial Windows text editor with many features.
       Though designed for editing text, it includes many powerful
       automation features such as autocompletion and template languages.
       Its features are mostly customizable.
     * Author: Loginov Software
     * <>
     * Availability: $79 commercial
     * ScopeEdit is a unique text editor: it lets you structure your code
       into descriptive folding trees. In addition, it has syntax
       highlighting and a powerful macro language.
     Windows Notepad and DOS Edit
     * Author: Microsoft
     * Availability: comes with DOS/Windows
     * Windows Notepad and DOS Edit should be preinstalled on your
       DOS/Windows computer. They're usable, but a true programmer's
       editor is much better.
     * ALAN
     * Starter for ALAN
     * Author: Tony Houlbrooke
     * /if-archive/programming/alan/Starter.hqx
     * Starter for ALAN is a Hypercard application that can help lay out
       your location map and objects and then generate Alan source code
       from it. It is not a real editor, though, and you need to edit the
       code with an editor after creating a skeleton with this.
     * TADS Template
     * Author: Jared L. Reisinger
     * /if-archive/programming/tads/utils/tads-template-0.9.sit.hqx
     * TADS Template is a Hypercard application that can help lay out
       your location map and objects and then generate TADS source code
       from it. It is not a real editor, though, and you need to edit the
       code with an editor after creating a skeleton with this.
     * MPW (Macintosh Programmer's Workshop)
     * Author: Apple Computer
     * <>
     * MPW has syntax-coloring support for Inform. It's a rather nice
       editor in its own right, and because it's also a Unix-like shell
       environment, it's (almost) totally customizable.
     * Author: Pete Keleher
     * <>
     * Availability: $30 shareware
     * The Alpha editor is a very powerful Mac editor that uses the Tcl
       language for customization. It has an emacs-like feel, but it is
       not an emacs port and uses Tcl instead of LISP. An Inform "mode"
       can be found at
     BBEdit and BBEdit Lite
     * Author: Bare Bones Software
     * <>
     * Availability: $117 commercial (with some other deals); Lite
       version free
     * BBEdit is a powerful, easy to use Mac text editor. It has many
       features that make it easy to edit text, especially for
       programming and writing HTML. The full version is commercial; a
       fully functional "Lite" version is available for free and is an
       excellent text editor in its own right (this article is being
       written in BBEdit Lite). BBEdit Lite does not have as many
       advanced features as the full BBEdit, though. (Do not confuse
       BBEdit Lite, which can be found on Bare Bones' "Free Stuff" page,
       with the BBEdit Demo, which is a crippled version of the full
       BBEdit and should only be used to try out the full BBEdit's
       features for free.)
     * General (see also FED under Windows)
     * emacs (GNU emacs and XEmacs)
     * <>
     * Platforms: Unix, Windows; others (such as Mac) in old versions
     * Availability: GPL
     * emacs shares with vi the dubious distinction of being the most
       (in)famous UNIX text editor around. This reviewer doesn't know the
       differences between GNU Emacs (the "official" Emacs, if such a
       title can be claimed) and XEmacs off-hand, but XEmacs has most of
       the features of GNU Emacs with possibly a few more. Some of the
       features that make the various emacsen useful for writing IF are
       color syntax highlighting; the fact that it is completely
       user-configureable using the programming language Lisp; the
       available emacs editing "modes" for TADS and Inform, which can be
       found in the programming/editors directory of the IF Archive; and
       many more features related to general text editing and programming
       such as the ability to open multiple files and auto-indent, but
       listing all of emacs' features would make this review far too
       long. Suffice it to say that if you want it, emacs can probably do
       it. And if you have a need that hasn't already been thought of,
       you can take care of it yourself by writing some Lisp code. Though
       Lisp's detractors (this reviewer among them) claim that Lisp
       stands for "Lots of Irritating Superfluous Parentheses" and find
       it hard to read at best, some people (who must have masochistic
       tendencies) like Lisp. If you happen to be one of them, great, and
       please don't flame your humble reviewer too hard... :-) Seriously,
       though, you don't have to know a thing about Lisp to *use* emacs,
       just to expand its capabilities. You will probably find that emacs
       has all the features you need. emacs works fine in text mode (aka
       console mode); you can also use XEmacs in X Windows. emacs comes
       with complete documentation. Rupert Lane's emacs mode for Inform
       can be found at /if-archive/programming/editors/inform-mode.el ;
       Stephen Granade's emacs mode for TADS is at
       /if-archive/programming/editors/tads-mode.el .
     vi and offspring
     * <> for vim
     * <> for elvis
     * Platforms: many
     * Availability: varies
     * vi is the original visual editor for Unix. There are many clones
       and extensions of it, such as elvis and vim. It will do Inform
       syntax hilighting. Amir Karger's syntax file for TADS is available
       from <>.
     Acorn RiscOS
     * General
     * !Zap
     * Availability: Open Source
     * <>
     * !Zap is the text editor of choice of Graham Nelson, the author of
       Inform. It is highly configurable and editable. Graham has written
       a syntax coloring file for Inform for it.
     * General
     * GoldED
     * Author: Dietmar Eilert
     * <>
     * The GoldED Studio editor core offers all the functions you can
       expect from a modern editor. You get unlimited configurable undo
       and redo, configurable syntax highlighting, templates, folding,
       automatic backup creation, macro recording and support for a
       script language (Rexx). Block functions include support for
       columnar blocks. Advanced layout fuctions provide constant
       reformatting and word wrap while you are typing. Drag and Drop is
       supported, so text can be moved with the mouse. Scrolling is
       exceptionally fast even on slow Amigas. Optional input aids
       include IntelliSense (context-sensitive completion of words) and
       AutoCase (automatic case correction). At the end of a day, you can
       use the session management functions to save the current state of
       your work.
  4.9: What tools and utilities are available?
          Bjorn Gustavsson ( has written this Perl
          script which converts the old Scott Adams games to Inform
          source (you compile this with the Inform compiler and then play
          the resulting gamefile on any `Z-machine' interpreter).
          John Elliott's ( utility will
          "disassemble" Spectrum snapshots (.SNA) of games written with
          The Quill. Available as C source and executables for DOS and
          This package, maintained by Matthew T. Russotto
          (, comprises several tools,
          including a disassembler, for manipulating games in the
          `Z-machine' format as used by Infocom and produced by Inform.
          They are quite useful. There are ports to many platforms.
          Jeremy A. Smith's program takes output data from TXD and
          INFODUMP (two components of Ztools; see above), mangles it up,
          and outputs it in an Inform-like way. It makes disassembly of
          Z-machine code a *lot* more readable. It doesn't (yet) create
          completely compilable code, and is by no means the same as what
          was written, but is higher level than ZMachine assembly.
  4.10: Wouldn't a visual system be great for writing IF in?
   This has been discussed a lot.
   The general consensus seemed to be that they would be helpful, but
   only if they allowed the writer to get at the bare Inform or TADS code
   underneath and not use only high-level editing.
   Also, it was realized that such tools currently don't exist because
   the people with the skills to write them generally don't need them.
   There is an Inform IDE (Integrated Development Environment) or three
   in the works, and TADS comes with Visual Workbench, but IDEs are not
   what is usually meant by "visual".
   However, if you want to write a visual IF editing tool, great. Show us
   the results. Just don't wander in and ask somebody else to write one
   for you.
   The Quest system [System:Quest] includes QDK, a visual development
   tool. However, Quest isn't quite as advanced as Inform or TADS,
   requiring you to code just about everything from scratch. SUDS
   [System:SUDS] is quite visual; however, the games it creates do not
   have a parser and are more like a point-and-click game.
  4.11: What support does Inform offer for graphics and sounds?
   The ZMachine's V6 format supports graphics, and Inform can compile to
   it quite well. Jason Penney has written a library called V6Lib,
   available at the IF-Archive, that allows you to use a high-level
   window system (instead of having to do the ZMachine opcodes by hand).
   However (and this is a big however), almost all current V6 ZMachine
   interpreters (and not all ZMachine interpreters will do V6) only
   supports display of horrible graphics format used by Infocom in some
   of their later games. It is horrible because it is proprietary (no
   tools exist to write to it) and has many technical problems, such as
   the fact that you can only use a *very* limited amount of colors (14,
   I think).
   The Blorb format is a new way of getting images (in PNG or JPEG
   format) and other 'resources' to interface with ZMachine interpreters.
   Now, when I say "new", I mean it was proposed a few years ago. Barely
   any interpreters support it yet. Because of this, no games have been
   written that use Blorb. Because of this, barely any interpreters
   support Blorb. Because of this...
   And so on goes the vicious circle. A similar situation exists for
   sounds: there are ZMachine opcodes for sound playing, but Blorb is
   required to make it work well.
   Inform Glk [What is Glk?: 4.5] support would be useful; there exists
   at least two ZMachine interpreters that uses Glk (Evin Robertson's
   Nitfol and GlkZip), but there is no way to access the Glk functions
   from Inform: the Glk support of these interpreters allows the
   *interpreters* to be easily ported, but not access to Glk from within
   the game.
   glulx solves all these problems and more. glulx is a virtual machine
   designed by Andrew "Zarf" Plotkin that is like the ZMachine, but
   without its limits. An alternate version of Inform can compile to it.
   Once Glulx Inform (currently at version 6.21(G0.30)) is fully tested,
   it will become part of the main Inform distribution. Glulx uses Glk as
   its native interface, so all of Glk's IO abilities will be usable from
   it. For now, look at <>.
  4.12: What support does TADS offer for graphics and sounds?
   Early in 1998, a new version of TADS called HTML-TADS was released by
   Mike Roberts, the author of TADS. It is the same as TADS, except that
   it allows formatted output. The format can control text and background
   color, images, sounds, and other cool things. The format is controlled
   by use of a limited form of HTML (the language used on the web).
   HTML-TADS has nothing to do with the Internet or the Web or Java; it
   simply uses tags like <IMG> and <B> and <A HREF>.
   The only platforms that (as of April 1999) the HTML-TADS runtime has
   been ported to are Windows 95/98/NT and Macintosh. The compiler,
   though, is the same as a normal TADS compiler.
   Neil K. Guy's TADS site has more information about HTML-TADS:
   Several games have been created that take advantage of HTML-TADS,
   including Neil K. Guy's "The Golden Skull" and "The Landing"; Stephen
   Granade's "The Arrival"; and Mike Roberts' "The Plant". As of late
   1999, HTML-TADS is probably the best way to do a relatively portable
   graphical game.
  4.13: What support does Hugo offer for graphics and sounds?
   Hugo provides support for a bunch of different graphics and sound
   formats. Graphics and sounds only are on the Windows 95/98/NT, DOS,
   BeOS, and X Windows ports, though, but that includes most computers
   except Macs. The picture placement commands do not allow too much
   precision, unless you mess around with tricky window creation
   commands. Simple stuff works well, but more complicated stuff is
   harder, though possible.
   More information on this subject can be found at
   <>. This
   article by Stephen Granade also contains links to articles about
   graphics and sound in Inform and TADS.
  4.14: Which IF system should I use?
   This is probably the most frequently asked question on Every answer has been different.
   The truth of the matter is that there isn't much that TADS can do but
   Inform can't or vice versa, and Hugo is just about as good as the top
   two; it is just that some things require a bit more work than others
   on some systems. ALAN is also not a bad choice; it is not as powerful
   as the other three but some have found it easier to use.
   It has been commented that the most difficult thing to learn in any IF
   language is not the syntax of the language but its world model.
   Knowing the peculiarities of the language is easy compared to
   understanding the interactions between the objects of your game world.
   If you can write IF at all, then you can certainly master any of the
   major languages. Many have.
   If you are still concerned about the syntax of the various languages,
   you can check out Roger Firth's "Cloak of Darkness" at
   <>. This project has the
   source code for a simple game in many of the main IF languages,
   complete with comments on how it works. You can look at it to see a
   sample of how each language works.
  4.15: How do I create a standalone executable program out of an IF game?
   Often, authors want to create an executable version of their game for
   a particular platform so that players do not need to download a
   separate interpreter program. While this is not a bad idea, one does
   need to remember that the whole reason that most IF systems need
   interpreters is so that the game files can be played on just about
   every type of computer without the author needing to compile a Windows
   version, a Mac version, a Unix version, an Amiga version, etc of every
   single game. Also, because interpreters are not bundled with every
   single TADS, ZMachine, or whatever game on the IF-Archive, the game
   files are much smaller. A Windows executable (for example) is
   completely useless to a Mac user, and doubly so when at heart the
   executable contains a file that could be run on the Mac if available
   separately. So an author really should make sure that the
   platform-independent game file is available even if she makes a
   standalone version.
   That said, there are several ways to make standalone executables. On
   Windows, ZMachine (that is, Inform) games can be made executable with
   jzexe, a tool packaged with jzip, and the TADS Workbench comes with a
   tool that not only puts TADS games into executable files but even
   gives them customizable installers. You can also use maketrx, which is
   included with TADS, on DOS for games that don't require Windows, but
   the full TADS workbench is probably preferable for recent computers.
   On Macs, MaxZip (for Inform ZMachine), MaxTADS, and MacGlk Hugo all
   allow easy creation of standalone games. Andrew Plotkin, author of the
   Max interpreters, has offered to create a Mac executable of any TADS,
   Inform, or Hugo game for authors who don't have access to a Mac; he
   will even upload it to a popular Mac ftp site and make it a pretty
   icon. (The default TADS runtime also can be binded to a game, but it's
   better to use MaxTADS.)
   On some versions of Unix, jzexe has been reported to work. However, if
   you're on Unix, you're probably smart enough to read a README and
   download the proper interpreter.

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