Sunday, February 24, 2013

Credit Where it's Due

Since writing that last blog post, there have been several instances where I've been reminded about the crazy advances we've had in IF over the last bunch of years (so yeah, the exact opposite of the last post's point). Truth be told, while I occasionally harbor certain frustrations towards how I perceive the IF community's stances on things to be, I can't say always say where the root of my frustrations lie.

Recently, Emily Short announced Versu, an IF platform with extensive state-tracking, where NPC-emotions are especially acknowledged. Beyond that, no input from the PC is especially required, so it's entirely possible to sit in with two NPCs and just watch them gab. It might sound like something out of The Sims (except not in Simlish, or whatever they call it), which makes sense, since some Sims 3 guy was also a collaborator.

Now, I'm not personally interested in such a system (which is just as well, as it is currently just on iOS devices), but to me, it kind of sounds like the actualization as the ideal presented by "Storytron" some years ago, a system by Chris Crawford that also placed a big emphasis on character emotions.

When one thinks about it, we have seen a lot of idea actualization over the last several years. You've got Guncho's multiplayer worlds (or TADS 3's capabilities). You've got dynamic object creation in several languages. You've got beautiful-looking GUIs. Emily Short's latest game, Counterfeit Monkey, has a word-letter-dropping mechanic that actually indexes every word's letters, like Hugo's string arrays except on steroids (as far as I understand it).

In a way, it's no wonder that there are Inform 7 games that run sluggishly in browsers and low-end computers, considering all the things they are doing. I mean, sure, part of me thinks that effort should have been spent making sure status lines defaulted to something pretty so all of the low-end games look nice, too, but you can't say that the Inform folks aren't doing lofty things.

Recently, I played Spellcasting 101 for the first time. I was struck with how much the Legend Entertainment interface is a continuation of the Z6 design ideal (it's kind of an obvious observation- I don't know why it took me so long to notice). The thing is, to pursue it, the Legend guys totally dropped the portability of the z-machine. The result is, we have nearly a decade of Legend games that can't be run by cross-system interpreters. It both softens the blow that Infocom guys also gave up on that dream and is encouraging that Inform development is getting to the point where we can succeed where they failed. Juhana Leinonen's Vorple system might be able to do just that.

Now, while I can only barely imagine myself ever getting comfortable with Inform 7 syntax, I doubt even more that I'd learn enough javascript to be comfortable with Vorple. Still, it's just one of the things where it seems like the world will be better for it.

I still haven't gone around the graphic adventure systems to see how the tools those communities have created compare to ours. It might be a real eye-opener.

Anyhow, maybe after this and the last post, I can get back to just worrying about my own games again.

No comments:

Post a Comment