The long-awaited version of Inform 7 finally popped up a few weeks ago (June 12, to be precise), after more than a year of development. It soon appeared that there were Problems. So on July 1, a maintenance update was released. That would be version 6E72.
Tonight I downloaded 6E72 onto my MacBook Pro. Surprise — it doesn’t run at all. The IDE is broken. This has been the state of affairs for almost a week now. I’m sure Andrew Hunter is scrambling around trying to find the problem. Or at least, I hope he’s scrambling around trying to find the problem. According to the bug tracker, it doesn’t show up under 10.6, so if he has upgraded his Mac to the latest OS (as all good computer geeks do), his options for testing and debugging may be somewhat limited.
Here I was, contemplating (with only mild misgivings) the idea of sitting down and really learning I7. Not just the basic authoring code, which I can hack my way through already, but what’s going on under the hood, what are the cool extensions, all that.
Talk about letting the air out of your tires.
It will run slowly in a browser window. The response is very noticeably sluggish. And the game certainly won’t look as nice as it would in Zoom on the Mac. But if those were the only problems, I’d still be pretty happy, because putting a game on a website is a nice way to introduce more people to IF, and to your own work.
Ah, but those aren’t the only problems. “A Flustered Duck” happens to have a longish intro. Not extremely long — it’s eleven short, punchy paragraphs. Trouble is, when the game runs in Quixe, the intro scrolls up off of the top of the window before you get a chance to read it. Yes, you can scroll back, the text is still there, but one doesn’t want the software to blip right past the opening of the story.
Plus, when I run the game in Microsoft Internet Explorer 8, every time I go from one location to another I get a stream of dialog boxes that say, “Stop running this script?” IE thinks the script has been running for too long, so it repeatedly asks the user if the user wants to bail out. This is a known problem, but apparently it’s peculiar to IE; other browsers don’t complain, they’re just sluggish. So even with Quixe, which is designed to let people play IF in a broswer, my game is unplayable in the most popular browser.
Can somebody please explain to me how we’re making great strides here? I’m getting a little mixed up.
I do understand that Inform is free software, and that all of the developers are unpaid volunteers. But even with free software, you’d hope to see a little more testing prior to release.
Okay, people can download Opera or Firefox or Chrome. Quixe is genuinely useful (or would be, if it didn’t scroll past the intro). But still … It’s all very well to bash Microsoft. I’m sure there are all sorts of bad, corporate reasons why IE is so lame. But I don’t think that matters to the game player. Millions of people use IE, so how much sense does it make to write a big, complicated app that won’t work in IE?
Yeah, I think I’ll suggest to Andrew that he add an alert message. It would be a courtesy to players.