In theory, I want to write some new music. In theory, I love writing music. But when I sit down at the computer after dinner, I find that I don’t want to work that hard. I want to do something that’s goofy and fun.
The latest build of Inform 7 has just been released. So the other night I hauled out the notes for a game I dreamed up a few months back and started writing.
For those who are not in the loop, Inform 7 is a suite of tools with which one can author works of interactive fiction — text-based computer games, in other words. I remain somewhat uneasy about the odd programming paradigm served up by I7,but it has become very much a dominant force in the tiny community of interactive fiction (IF) authors, so I figure I ought to learn it just so I’ll know what’s going on.
That’s a poor reason to devote entire evenings to it, though. Learning the ins and outs of a software system, whatever its quirks, is definitely fun. That’s why I do it. Even more fun is being the God of a whimsical little universe.
I’ve entered a new game in the upcoming IF Comp 2008. I wrote that one using a system called TADS 3. I also used TADS 3 for my previous two efforts, “Lydia’s Heart” and “Mrs. Pepper’s Nasty Secret.” I quite like TADS 3. It’s structured like a traditional programming language. The syntax is very much like that of C++. Inform 7, in contrast, uses a “natural language” approach to writing a game. The author of the game writes, for the most part, recognizable English sentences, which the compiler translates into computer code. Some of the sentence structures that have to be used are amazingly clumsy, but it’s arguable that a complete novice could read the code and understand exactly what’s going on.
Before too long I may want to write a long post in which I dissect the strengths and weaknesses of this unusual paradigm. But whenever it’s practical to do so, I prefer to pontificate on the basis of knowledge rather than on the basis of ignorance. So I think I’ll wait a few days, until I gain a deeper knowledge of I7.