Score for Games

Text-based games are not, by their very nature, multimedia-rich experiences. The developers of various game authoring systems have added, over the years, a few limited bits of media support. Authors can, for instance, clear the screen and show a still image. Or rather, we can do it in the game code, but we’re at the mercy of the end user’s interpreter software, which may or may not be able to display the image.

Macintosh users who want to play games written in TADS have been at a particular disadvantage. But CocoaTADS is a new and viable interpreter for TADS games on the Mac, which is good news indeed.

Better yet, CocoaTADS implements audio fadeins and fadeouts. According to a message posted today by developer Charles Srstka on the newsgroup, this is “by popular demand.” I had to chuckle, because as far as I’m aware, all of the popular demand is coming from me.

I’ve been beating the drum (so to speak) for audio fadeouts in TADS for a year or two now, principally because I’m also a musician and composer. If an author wants to include some background music that will play while the player is in a particular room, I feel it’s essential that the music be faded out smoothly when the player leaves that room. Abrupt cutoffs are jarring and amateurish, but not being able to cut off the music when the player leaves the Flower-Bedecked Garden and enters the Dank Crypt would be far worse.

The problem for me is this: Now I don’t have any excuses. I’ve asked for a fairly slick modern feature, and the developers (Mike Roberts and Charles) have done the necessary work — so maybe I ought to write a game that uses music, hunh?

Now all I need to do is think of a story that would benefit from music.

This entry was posted in Interactive Fiction, music, technology and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Score for Games

  1. CharlesS says:

    You may have been 100% of the people asking for that feature, but you’re also 50% of the people who’ve asked for anything so far, so therefore it ranks near the top of the list. 😛

    As for game ideas, I’m not really much into gaming these days (ironic since I made this project), but I think it would be a natural fit if you did some sort of historical drama type thing set in the 18th or 19th century, and included samples of chamber music by composers like Haydn, Schubert, Brahms, etc. in the background. Perhaps in a few of the samples, we could get to hear your cello playing. 🙂

    I dunno, just an idea.

    • prophet-5 says:

      Recording chamber music is way complicated. To start with, you need some excellent musicians! If I played with a quartet every week, it would be borderline feasible.

      Composing new synthesizer music directly in the computer is much, much more practical, but that would call for an entirely different story. Robyn Miller’s music for Myst was all synthesizers, and my mind keeps drifting back to that. One wants a story that involves a variety of settings, each with its own strong mood.

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