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[] Interactive Fiction Authorship FAQ (3/3)

( Part1 - Part2 - Part3 )
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Archive-name: games/interactive-fiction/authoring/part3
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        [] Interactive Fiction Authorship FAQ (3/3)
   Maintained by David Glasser (
   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: 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 ( "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
   Gerry Kevin Wilson ( 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 ( book "Computer Adventures, The Secret
   Art" is now available as "literary freeware" (at
   <>). 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   years out of date, the book contains much of interest to the aspiring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 ( paper, "A Plot Beyond A
   Line: New Ways to Be Nonlinear"
   <>) looks at the
   problems of linearity in interactive fiction, and suggests some
   possible solutions.
   David A. Graves's ( 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 (
   "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 ( 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 <>.
   Dancer's ( paper "'Smart' NPCs in Interactive
   Fiction" <> gives
   theoretical and practical advice on writing believable NPCs. [This
   link seems to be defunct. seems to exist, but is
   (See also: David Graves' "Bringing Character To Life" 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
   (See also: David Graves' "Second Generation Adventure Games" 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"
   by Bradley Rhodes ( and Pattie Maes
   (, considers plot control in a multiple player
   (See also: David Graves' "Plot Automation", and Michael St.
   Hippolyte's "A Plot Beyond A Line: New Ways to Be Nonlinear" in [ general?: 5.1] .)
  5.5: ...of the educational value of interactive fiction?
   Brendan Desilets' ( 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
   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 (,
   with a copy to his assistant David Kinder (,
   describing the purpose of your upload and what machines it works on.
   The ftp address for uploads is
   (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:
   <> (also http)
   <> (also http; ftp
   may not work from it with web browsers)
   <> (also http at www., fsp at fsp.)
   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. 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
   ( "Twisty Pages" or at the 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, 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 (<>), 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
          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 (
   Interactive Fiction at
   Interactive Fiction (IF) Authorship
          Maintainer Stephen Granade ( has gathered
          as many IF links as he could find, sorted them, organized them,
          and annotated each one. This 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
          This excellent page, maintained by Stephen van Egmond
          (, 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 archives.
          This page is also notable for the excellent browsable index of
          the IF-Archive which Stephen has created.
   John's Interactive Fiction Page
          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
          Scott Neal Reilly ( 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
          This page, maintained by Brendan Desilets
          (, has information on using
          interactive fiction in education, primarily for middle-school
   AGT Home Page
          This is the official Home Page for the AGT authoring system. It
          is maintained by the co-author of that system, Mark Welch
   The Alan Home Pages
          These pages contain an HTML version of the Alan programmer's
          manual, sample code fragments, and links to the Alan
   The IF Collaborator's List
          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
          ( 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
          > to fulfill the same purpose.
   Hugo - An Interactive Fiction Authoring System
          This page is maintained by the author of Hugo, Kent Tessman
          ( It contains information on the authoring
          system and links to relevant files.
   Hugo Homepage
          Maintained by Jerome T. Nichols (, 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
          Maintained by the author of Inform, Graham Nelson
          (, 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
          This page, maintained by Andrew Clover
          (, has a history of the Inform library,
          and the usual links to various files. Mike Phillips
          ( maintains a US mirror of the page.
          It is horribly out-dated.
          This home page, maintained by the system's author, Mike DeSanto
          ( has information about Rexx-Adventure and
          links to the downloadable files.
   The TADS Page
          This page, maintained by Neil K. Guy (, 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
          This site is very good.
   The TADS Programming Page
          This page is maintained by Magnus Olsson (
          and has info on and links to TADS stuff.
   WorldClass Programming Page
          Maintained by Magnus Olsson ( this page
          concerns WorldClass, a complete replacement library for TADS.
          There are links to the WorldClass manual and some modules.
   IF Dimension
          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, port 4000. Since
   May 1999, ifMUD has been located at
   ( 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
   The Interactive Fiction Hall of Shame (ifHOS) is a collection of
   photos of raif and ifMUD regulars. It can be found at
   ifMUD's website is at <>; 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, check out <> 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: <>.
   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
   <>. 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
   ( To subscribe send email to 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 with "subscribe z-machine
   <your email address>" (without the quotes) in the *body* of the
  6.7: Where can I find Infocom games?
   (This question is more appropriate for, 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
   However, the three "Zork" games are available for free download from
   the Activision website at
   "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy" is available for free
   Java-based play at
   <> 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,, 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,, 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 FAQ (occasionally posted to the newsgroup,
   otherwise available from the IF-Archive in the directory
   /if-archive/ ).
   The other group, it.comp.giochi.avventure.testuali, is for discussion
   of IF in Italian.

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