Copyright: (c) 1999 David Glasser
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[rec.arts.int-fiction] Interactive Fiction Authorship FAQ (3/3) Maintained by David Glasser (firstname.lastname@example.org) This chunk contains parts 5 and 6 of the raif FAQ. _________________________________________________________________ Part 5: Writing IF _________________________________________________________________ This part of the FAQ answers the question "What has been written on the subject...". _________________________________________________________________ 5.1: ...in general? Several papers on IF design and theory are available from the IF-Archive [What is the IF-Archive?: 6.1] , in /if-archive/info/ . These are mostly available as ASCII files, although some also exist in other formats. Graham Nelson's (email@example.com) "The Craft of Adventure" (available from the IF-Archive) is a treatise on writing interactive fiction. This is currently in its 2nd edition and is also available as TeX source. HTML versions are available from "The TADS Page" and <http://www.gnelson.demon.co.uk/craft/>. Gerry Kevin Wilson (firstname.lastname@example.org) has thoughtfully published his views on designing and writing interactive fiction in "Whizzard's Guide to Text Adventure Authorship" (available from the IF-Archive). There are also two supplementary updates to this document. Gil Williamson's (email@example.com) book "Computer Adventures, The Secret Art" is now available as "literary freeware" (at <http://www.cix.co.uk/~gil/data/ca-tsa.htm>). This is primarily a "how to..." manual, and although many of the technical details are several years out of date, the book contains much of interest to the aspiring interactive fiction author. The Oz Project, directed by Joseph Bates at the Carnegie-Mellon School of Computer Science, is developing technology for high quality interactive fiction. Focusing on the simulations behind the interface (which they call the deep structure of virtual reality) their goal is to provide users with the experience of living in a dramatically interesting simulated world populated with simulated people. Michael St. Hippolyte's (firstname.lastname@example.org) paper, "A Plot Beyond A Line: New Ways to Be Nonlinear" <http://www.users.interport.net/~mash/nonlin.html>) looks at the problems of linearity in interactive fiction, and suggests some possible solutions. David A. Graves's (email@example.com) three papers, "Second Generation Adventure Games" (which focuses on the physical world model, parsing, text generation, and simple agent planning), "Bringing Characters to Life" (a summary of the progress in Artificial Personality during the 70's and 80's), and "Plot Automation" based on his presentation at the Computer Game Developer's Conference in 1991. All of his papers are available from the IF-Archive. Authoring system manuals may be of interest, even if you do not use the particular system. Look for these in the IF-Archive, in the directory /if-archive/programming/<authoring system name>/manual/, where <authoring system name> is, for example, tads. Also, there is online documentation available for several authoring systems, as noted under "[Online Documentation]" in the authoring system records [What authoring systems are available?: 4.4] . The TADS Manual contains useful advice on designing an interactive fiction game (chapter 6), some of which is TADS-specific, and some honest information on the limitations of the text adventure format (appendix B). The Inform "Designer's Manual" details the step-by-step implementation of a small game as a tutorial throughout the manual (this is, of course, Inform-specific). For further references try Stephen Granade's (firstname.lastname@example.org) "Interactive Fiction Bibliography" (1997), available from the IF-Archive in /if-archive/info/if-bibliography.txt . _________________________________________________________________ 5.2: ...of the art of writing NPCs? Phil Goetz (email@example.com) has made available two of his papers: his overview of computerized interactive fiction (in DVI, LaTeX, or HTML) and his notes on using SNePS (Semantic Network Processing System, a knowledge representation and reasoning system). Both can be found on his web page <http://www.cs.buffalo.edu/~goetz/>. Dancer's (firstname.lastname@example.org) paper "'Smart' NPCs in Interactive Fiction" <http://www.brisnet.org.au/~dancer/smartnpc.html> gives theoretical and practical advice on writing believable NPCs. [This link seems to be defunct. dancer.brisnet.org.au seems to exist, but is unreachable.] (See also: David Graves' "Bringing Character To Life" in [ ...in general?: 5.1] .) _________________________________________________________________ 5.3: ...of parsing? John Holder's "Parser Talk" gives some basics on how a good parser should work. You can get it at <http://www.frii.com/~jholder/intfiction/parser.html>. (See also: David Graves' "Second Generation Adventure Games" in [ ...in general?: 5.1] .) _________________________________________________________________ 5.4: ...of plot/story in interactive fiction? Paul Munn's senior project paper "The Application of Directed Acyclic Graphs to First Generation Interactive Fiction" (available from the IF-Archive) contains ideas on the use of DAGs in interactive fiction and a TADS implementation of this, as well as information on the evolution of IF, past and future. "The Stage as a Character: Automatic Creation of Acts of God for Dramatic Effect" <http://rhodes.www.media.mit.edu/people/rhodes/Papers/aaai95.html>), by Bradley Rhodes (email@example.com) and Pattie Maes (firstname.lastname@example.org), considers plot control in a multiple player environment. (See also: David Graves' "Plot Automation", and Michael St. Hippolyte's "A Plot Beyond A Line: New Ways to Be Nonlinear" in [ ...in general?: 5.1] .) _________________________________________________________________ 5.5: ...of the educational value of interactive fiction? Brendan Desilets' (email@example.com) series of articles on interactive fiction as a teaching aid for middle school pupils is available from his Web page, "Teaching With Interactive Fiction: A Home Page for Educators and Other Readers." (See [What is available on the World Wide Web?: 6.3] .) _________________________________________________________________ Part 6: Internet Index _________________________________________________________________ _________________________________________________________________ 6.1: What is the IF-Archive? The IF-Archive is the world's largest and most comprehensive repository of interactive fiction-related material, including authoring systems, tools, utilities, papers, references, reprints of magazine articles, and of course games. The URL is <ftp://ftp.gmd.de/if-archive/> Remember this URL well. Every file in the IF-Archive, together with a short description, is listed in the (text) file "Master-Index". Uploads of new material are encouraged. Please send an e-mail to the maintainer of the archive, Volker Blasius (Volker.Blasius@gmd.de), with a copy to his assistant David Kinder (firstname.lastname@example.org), describing the purpose of your upload and what machines it works on. The ftp address for uploads is <ftp://ftp.gmd.de/incoming/if-archive/>. (Please note the directory. It is *not* /if-archive/incoming/ nor is it /incoming/. Files uploaded to the wrong place will probably die in obscurity. Well, /if-archive/incoming now works, but it's not the canonical name.) The IF-Archive (though not the incoming directory) is mirrored at the following sites, which may be closer to you and thus faster and easier to reach: <ftp://wuarchive.wustl.edu/doc/misc/if-archive/> (also http) <ftp://ftp.nodomainname.net/pub/mirrors/if-archive/> (also http; ftp may not work from it with web browsers) <ftp://ftp.funet.fi/pub/misc/if-archive/> <http://mirror.aarnet.edu.au/pub/if-archive/> <ftp://ftp.firedrake.org/if-archive/> (also http at www., fsp at fsp.) <http://www.ifarchive.org/> The last is no standard ftp mirror; it translates the structure of the archive to HTML pages and displays the text from the Index files together with the file names. ftp.gmd.de no longer requires "reverse DNS lookup", as it had for years, so everyone should be able to connect to it. Many files in the IF-Archive can also be fetched via links on the Web, and a complete browsable index can be found on Stephen van Egmond's (email@example.com) "Twisty Pages" or at the ifarchive.org web-based mirror. (See [What is available on the World Wide Web?: 6.3] .) If you cannot find a particular file in the location stated in this FAQ or elsewhere, be sure to also look in the incoming directory, as well as /if-archive/unprocessed/ , as it may not yet have reached its permanent home. This is particularly true for recent additions. Volker and David make a monthly post to several newsgroups, including rec.arts.int-fiction, detailing all recent additions to the IF-Archive. Any files added since the last post are in a file called /if-archive/new-since-last-post . _________________________________________________________________ 6.2: What is available via FTP? Well, as has been mentioned above, the IF-Archive, or one of its mirrors, is the place to go if you want to download interactive fiction software. Really, if you can't find what you want there, you probably won't find it anywhere. The occasional file, especially games, may turn up at some of the larger platform-specific FTP sites, or on a relevant BBS. _________________________________________________________________ 6.3: What is available on the World Wide Web? There are in fact a large number of Web pages devoted to, or at least relevant to, interactive fiction; too many to all be mentioned here. A near-comprehensive list can be obtained by searching a Web search engine, such as Yahoo (<http://www.yahoo.com/>), for the string "interactive fiction". Following is a short list of some of the best general interactive fiction Web pages and various authoring system-specific pages. Most of the pages mentioned will contain links to other associated pages. Pages concerned with playing interactive fiction as opposed to authoring, or the history of a particular company (such as Infocom) or game (such as "Adventure") have not been included. (This section is poorly organized and aging and is in need of a revamp.) _________________________________________________________________ Interactive Fiction <http://www.cre.canon.co.uk/~neilb/intfiction/> Description On this page are links to articles on game design, information about several authoring systems, a history of interactive fiction, and a taxonomy of plot devices. The page is maintained by Neil Bowers (firstname.lastname@example.org). _________________________________________________________________ Interactive Fiction at about.com <http://interactfiction.about.com/> Interactive Fiction (IF) Authorship <http://www.duke.edu/~srg3/IFAuthorship.html> Description Maintainer Stephen Granade (email@example.com) has gathered as many IF links as he could find, sorted them, organized them, and annotated each one. This About.com site also includes a weekly column and a Q&A section. As well as links to various articles on interactive fiction design and the TADS and Inform authoring systems, his second page has a number of useful TADS modules. _________________________________________________________________ Twisty Pages/Interactive Fiction Criticism and Authorship <http://bang.dhs.org/if-index.html> Description This excellent page, maintained by Stephen van Egmond (firstname.lastname@example.org), is an attempt to gather together many resources (papers, news articles, reviews, etc.) relevant to interactive fiction authorship and criticism in one place. There are also fully linked HTML versions of every article in the rec.arts.int-fiction archives. This page is also notable for the excellent browsable index of the IF-Archive which Stephen has created. _________________________________________________________________ John's Interactive Fiction Page <http://www.frii.com/~jholder/intfiction/> Description This site is the home of the Jzip web page, The Encyclopedia Frobozzica, a discussion on parsers, and a link to a homemade search engine that is loaded with IF links. _________________________________________________________________ Oz Project Home Page <http://www.cs.cmu.edu/Groups/oz/> Description Scott Neal Reilly (email@example.com) maintains this page. Details of the Oz Project, including a summary of its aims and links to several Oz papers (gzipped postscript) are here. _________________________________________________________________ Teaching with Interactive Fiction <http://k12s.phast.umass.edu/~desilets/> Description This page, maintained by Brendan Desilets (firstname.lastname@example.org), has information on using interactive fiction in education, primarily for middle-school pupils. _________________________________________________________________ AGT Home Page <http://www.markwelch.com/agt.htm> Description This is the official Home Page for the AGT authoring system. It is maintained by the co-author of that system, Mark Welch (email@example.com). _________________________________________________________________ The Alan Home Pages <http://www.pp.softlab.se/thomas.nilsson/alan/> Description These pages contain an HTML version of the Alan programmer's manual, sample code fragments, and links to the Alan executables. _________________________________________________________________ The IF Collaborator's List <http://www.geocities.com/SiliconValley/Haven/1227/> Description As is evident, authoring interactive fiction requires a certain level of competence in two main disciplines-- namely, computer programming and (prose) writing. If you do not feel happy with your ability in either one of these areas then the IF Collaborator's List, maintained by Nicholas Daley (firstname.lastname@example.org) may be of interest. It is a little out of date, and some files were destroyed in a cracker's attack. The original Collaborator's List has been having technical difficulties for some time, so Tom Raymond is running an IF Assistance List at <http://www.geocities.com/Athens/Delphi/7442/if/assistlist.html > to fulfill the same purpose. _________________________________________________________________ Hugo - An Interactive Fiction Authoring System <http://www.geocities.com/Hollywood/Academy/5976/hugo.html> Description This page is maintained by the author of Hugo, Kent Tessman (email@example.com). It contains information on the authoring system and links to relevant files. _________________________________________________________________ Hugo Homepage <http://cub.kcnet.org/~jnichols/hugo/> Description Maintained by Jerome T. Nichols (firstname.lastname@example.org), this page has information and links of interest to the Hugo programmer, as well as an on-line manual. _________________________________________________________________ Inform 6: A Compiler For Interactive Fiction <http://www.gnelson.demon.co.uk/inform.html> Description Maintained by the author of Inform, Graham Nelson (email@example.com), this page has all the latest information on all aspects of Inform, including HTML versions of associated manuals and other documentation, such as the "Inform Designer's Manual," and the "Z-Machine Standards Document." As of April 1999, it is somewhat out of date, not completely mentioning the latest versions. _________________________________________________________________ Inform Programming <http://www.doggysoft.co.uk/inform/> Description This page, maintained by Andrew Clover (firstname.lastname@example.org), has a history of the Inform library, and the usual links to various files. Mike Phillips (email@example.com) maintains a US mirror of the page. It is horribly out-dated. _________________________________________________________________ Rexx-Adventure <http://www.io.com/~desantom/rad.html> Description This home page, maintained by the system's author, Mike DeSanto (firstname.lastname@example.org) has information about Rexx-Adventure and links to the downloadable files. _________________________________________________________________ The TADS Page <http://www.tela.bc.ca/tela/tads/> Description This page, maintained by Neil K. Guy (email@example.com), is an attempt to create a central starting point for people interested in TADS. Of particular note is the HTML version of the TADS manual, including the 2.2 updates at <http://www.tela.bc.ca/tela/tads-manual/>. This site is very good. _________________________________________________________________ The TADS Programming Page <http://www.df.lth.se/~mol/progtads.html> Description This page is maintained by Magnus Olsson (firstname.lastname@example.org) and has info on and links to TADS stuff. _________________________________________________________________ WorldClass Programming Page <http://www.df.lth.se/~mol/progtadsworldclass.html> Description Maintained by Magnus Olsson (email@example.com) this page concerns WorldClass, a complete replacement library for TADS. There are links to the WorldClass manual and some modules. _________________________________________________________________ IF Dimension <http://www.tip.net.au/~mfleetwo/if.html> Description Julian Fleetwood's page contains a variety of IF substance. _________________________________________________________________ 6.4: Are there any IF-related chat spaces? You know, there is! It's called ifMUD. Basically, regulars from the IF newsgroups sit around talking about things ranging from IF writing to hints on games to general computer stuff to music to monkeys, alpacas, and corn. It's fun. A sense of humor is required. You probably shouldn't refer to it as a chat space, though. You can connect by telnetting to ifmud.port4000.com, port 4000. Since May 1999, ifMUD has been located at 184.108.40.206 (genesis.epicverse.com) and is maintained by Mark Musante. This may or may not change, so the port4000 address is the safest. Log in as "Guest" with password "guest" and ask a wizard (the list of wizards can be seen by typing '@users wizards') for help with getting a character. If you are totally lost, type '@holler HELP ME!'. More information on ifMUD is in the ifMUD FAQ at <http://www.ministryofpeace.com/text/ifMUD/faq.html>. The Interactive Fiction Hall of Shame (ifHOS) is a collection of photos of raif and ifMUD regulars. It can be found at <http://www.davidglasser.net/ifhos/>. ifMUD's website is at <http://ifmud.port4000.com:4001/>; it contains two web-based clients for ifMUD, though neither of them are as good as a decent MUD client. You can also sign up for a character on the website, though there is nearly always a wizard on the MUD to create one for you. While at port4000.com, check out <http://www.port4000.com/> for Sadie Hawkins, a band formed of IF people. It is the official band of this FAQ, by the way. _________________________________________________________________ 6.5: What 'zines exist? "XYZZYnews", available in Adobe Acrobat format (.PDF) and plain text, appears sporadically and usually contains two or three articles on IF design, as well as sneak previews of upcoming games, spoilers/hints for specific games, and the occasional game review. Each issue is available from the XYZZYnews Home Page: <http://www.xyzzynews.com/>. It is edited by Eileen Mullin. "SPAG" appears irregularly (approximately bi-monthly). Each issue is chock-full of reviews of interactive fictions, both old and new. See also the "SPAG mailing list" entry in [Are there any interactive fiction-related mailing lists?: 6.6] . SPAG's web page is at <http://www.sparkynet.com/spag/>. It is edited by Paul O'Brian. A couple of old 'zines can also be found at the IF-Archive, in the /if-archive/magazines/ directory. _________________________________________________________________ 6.6: Are there any interactive fiction-related mailing lists? SPAG mailing list This list distributes SPAG magazine. The list is intended only for distribution of SPAG and announcements from the editor. Submissions should be sent directly to the editor, Paul O'Brian (firstname.lastname@example.org). To subscribe send email to email@example.com with "subscribe <your email address>" (without the quotes) in the *body* of the message. _________________________________________________________________ Z-machine mailing list Intended for discussion of the Z-machine, an abstract machine designed by Infocom to run their text adventures, topics on this list include details of Z-machine operation, its interpreters (ZIP, Frotz, etc.), and compilers producing Z-machine code (i.e., Inform). To subscribe send email to firstname.lastname@example.org with "subscribe z-machine <your email address>" (without the quotes) in the *body* of the message. _________________________________________________________________ 6.7: Where can I find Infocom games? (This question is more appropriate for rec.games.int-fiction, but is answered for your information here anyway.) Most of the Infocom games ("The Lurking Horror", "Planetfall", etc.) are *not* legally available on the Internet. They are still under copyright and may be bought in various collections from Activision. "Masterpieces of Infocom" contains all the Infocom games except "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy" and "Shogun". There are other out of print collections such as the "Comedy Collection" and the "Sci-Fi Collection". Many Infocom games can be found on auction sites such as <http://www.ebay.com/>. However, the three "Zork" games are available for free download from the Activision website at <http://www4.activision.com/games/zgi/atrium/gameroom/main2.html>. "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy" is available for free Java-based play at <http://www.douglasadams.com/creations/infocomjava.html> and it is simple for one to find the ZCode file on that site. _________________________________________________________________ 6.8: What are those interactive fiction newsgroups again? There are three newsgroups dedicated to interactive fiction. The group to which this document applies, rec.arts.int-fiction, is a discussion group for those interested in artistic or technical aspects of interactive fiction, primarily the processes of and problems posed by methods of design and implementation of interactive fiction, including planning, plotting, programming, and writing. For further information see part 2 (Introduction to the Newsgroup). The second group, rec.games.int-fiction, is primarily for players of extant interactive fiction games. Posters ask for help with or spoilers for particular games, post reviews, and ask for information about games, companies, and people. For further information see the rec.games.int-fiction FAQ (occasionally posted to the newsgroup, otherwise available from the IF-Archive in the directory /if-archive/rec.games.int-fiction/ ). The other group, it.comp.giochi.avventure.testuali, is for discussion of IF in Italian.