Trying to get back into TADS 3. It’s an incredibly powerful language in which to write interactive fiction, but it’s not for the faint of heart. The first time I tried learning it, I found myself crying, “Classes and templates and macros, oh my!” By now I’ve written one long game in TADS, one shorter game, and one medium-sized game co-written with Eric Eve, who is not just a TADS expert but the TADS expert.

But that was last year. Now I’m trying to re-learn what I’ve forgotten and nail together what I never knew. Tonight I got hopelessly frustrated trying to create an odor. TADS has not one but two classes for the purpose — Odor and SimpleOdor. There’s quite a bit of documentation (written by Eric) on how to use them. And I still couldn’t figure it out.

Eventually I got it working, but I’m sure my code is very amateurish. I tend to use a ballpeen hammer for tightening screws.

Yesterday I was working out how to cause the player character to automatically sit down when the player types ‘get in car’. If you don’t take care of the posture change, TADS will report, “Okay, you’re now standing in the car.” But changing the PC’s posture can have side effects. That took an hour too.

Sometimes I wonder why I bother with this stuff. It’s as much work as building a ship in a bottle, and at the end of the day, what you have is about as useful as a ship in a bottle. But it beats the heck out of watching Jeopardy.

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