Back in 1996 I played Curses, an extremely good text adventure game. I also read the inspiring documentation for Inform 3, the programming language Curses was written in, and found it extremely elegant. (The game, the programming language and its documentation were all the work of one Graham Nelson.) I had vague plans for writing my own game in Inform, but never got round to it. Instead I went through various interesting upheavals in my life (mainly involving women and the resulting children) that pretty much catapulted me out of geekdom, certainly as far as gaming was concerned.
Now, inspired by the Colossal Cave paper I linked to the other day, I googled “graham nelson inform”. And boy have he and his associates been busy!
Inform is now at version 7. It has transformed into a natural English compiler for interactive fiction. Inform 7 source code can look like this:
Martha is a woman in the Vineyard.
The cask is either customs sealed, liable to tax or stolen goods.
The prevailing wind is a direction that varies.
The Old Ice House overlooks the Garden.
A container is bursting if the total weight of things in it is greater than its breaking strain.
This incredible-sounding piece of software is a free download available for Win, Mac and Linux. Book-length documentation is included. I’ve got to check out what kind of text adventures / interactive fiction people are writing these days with tools like that!