Wednesday, 15 August 2018

New Island of Secrets review on IFDB

I've posted a review of the 1984 Usborne type-in game/book Island of Secrets on IFDB. This was a game I tried to type in as a kid, then, when I ran it, I found I was unable to leave the first location. Obviously I'd made a typo somewhere critical amongst the nine pages of program listing. I couldn't face re-typing the whole thing, so I (unintentionally) waited thirty-something years before seriously revisiting the game.

Island of Secrets book cover

Usborne have made the PDF of the Island of Secrets book and many of their other superb computing titles from the same era freely available on their site.

I especially recommend Write Your Own Adventure Programs For Your Microcomputer. That book got my parser adventure game-making ball rolling when I was a teen, resulting in:


Then I wrote a few Eamon adventures, then I didn't make any more text adventure games until IFComp 2010.

Monday, 2 July 2018

Time Warp extension rejigged, CC licence added

Thanks to a suggestion by Robert Patten, I've put a proper Creative Commons licence in my Time Warp Inform extension's documentation. This way, anyone who wants to add it to their project knows where they stand. I'm using the most accommodating licence that exists, the Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0) licence:

"Summarily this licence allows users to distribute, remix and build upon a work, and create Derivative Works – even for commercial use – provided they credit the original creator/s (and any other nominated parties)." (full details in the extension docs)

I also polished the extension itself, and the demo project, so I'm calling them both version 2.

Time Warp runs in Glulx projects and Z8 projects, and has been tested in all Informs from 6G60 to 6M62 (which is the current one as I type this). The code is simple so I expect it to not break easily, to be easy to fix if it does in future, and also that it might work in older versions of Inform 7, though I offer no guarantees.

If you don't know what I'm talking about because you missed my Time Warp plug post, click here to go to it. Basically, Time Warp could be an easter egg in your game! And it requires almost zilch effort to add it in. The demo project shows you how and the extension itself explains how. Click here to try or download Time Warp / the demo project / the extension.

Time Warp's thrilling title screen. There are still more intrigues here than in the court of the Medicis.

Thursday, 21 June 2018

itch.io's Summer Sale is on. Leadlight Gamma sale is on.

Leadlight Gamma desktop screenshot (click to enlarge)

itch.io's June 19 – June 26 Summer Sale is on now. If you're ready to try to apprehend a variety of games that make Steam's offerings look like the ultimate in white bread, take a gander at what's on itch's front page, then click the View All Games on Sale link. There are 708 as I type this. (Honestly, because there's no list view, and you have to scroll and scroll and scroll, it's not the best presentation. Come to think of it, I should make a suggestion to itch about this.)

Of course, as per my previous post, I'm here to remind you that the Leadlight Gamma + Bandcamp Soundtrack deal is part of itch's sale. You get the game plus the Bandcamp soundtrack for US$1.67, until the end of this week.

Leadlight Gamma ios screenshot (click to enlarge)

Saturday, 16 June 2018

Plug 3 of 2: Leadlight Gamma + Bandcamp Soundtrack sale pending on itch.io, June 20-27

itch.io's summer sales loom, and thus so does my Leadlight Gamma + Bandcamp Soundtrack sale. (You can bookmark that link for when the sale period starts.)

Here is the deal. Between June 20 and June 27 (of 2018) on itch.io:

* You get 75% off text-adventure-survival horror-CRPG Leadlight Gamma
* You get a free coupon for the soundtrack on Bandcamp

So you get both items for US$1.67, which is a $10 saving or 85% off. (Regular minimum cost of the game (US$6.66) plus the Bandcamp soundtrack (US$5) = $11.66).

Leadlight Gamma is a substantial piece of Inform tech featuring a zoomable automap, an artwork gallery, a free-running soundtrack in an out-of-world player, and two layers of unlockables: one for when you first clear the game, and one for when you clear it with a perfect score. If you're playing on a PC, the game offers a thorough accessibility mode catering to screen-reading software. The game runs on MacOS – PCs (Windows, Linux) – iPads and iPhones (iOS) via iFrotz

Read / see much more about Leadlight Gamma (and the original Leadlight) on the game's homepage and its itch.io page


Thursday, 14 June 2018

Plug 2 of 2 - Time Warp

Back in 2014, I put an easter egg inside Leadlight Gamma (By the way, don't buy that game right now, it'll be on sale in about a week). The easter egg consisted of a second game: Time Warp, a CYOA I programmed on the Apple II when I was eleven or twelve. I included it verbatim, complete with spelling mistakes and in its original all caps presentation:

Time Warp's thrilling title screen. There are more intrigues here than in the court of the Medicis.

Time Warp is a self-contained Inform 7 extension. That means you can hook it into it any other Inform game with almost no effort, and without affecting the code of that game. Going into Time Warp, staying there for any duration of play, and then leaving it, takes a single Inform turn. Or no turns if you know how to suppress the advance of time using the Variable Time Control extension or its ilk.

As far as I know, Time Warp is the only technically non-intrusive whole-game-in-one-extension out there so far.

Therefore my very serious proposal is this: If it suits you to do so, why not put Time Warp in YOUR next Inform 7 game?

Whether Time Warp turns out to be an actual feature of your game, appearing on a playable computer, console, arcade cabinet or tablet of the glowing future, or whether you bury access to it in some ridiculous nook or cranny, or whether you make its appearance conditional on the use of an especially unpopular command phrase – it's a whole game! And you could do much worse.

Let's face it, easter-egging XYZZY is pretty old hat these days, and you can't put Zork in your game without breaking a bunch of copyright laws. Plus it's probably really hard to put Zork inside your own game, just from a technical standpoint.

Personally I think it'd be great if Time Warp could become the Wilhelm Scream of Inform games.

If I can't convince you to brandish Time Warp, how about you make your own easter egg game, bottle it in an extension, and increase the inventory of this particular app space to two? That would be neat. In the meantime, consider Time Warp. After all, it considers you.

Where are the links to Time Warp, you ask? In the spirit of easter eggdom, I've made it so that to get to the Time Warp page from this one, you have to find the easter egg entity in this post and click on it.

Tuesday, 12 June 2018

Plug 1 of 2 - Captain Piedaterre's Blunders

As I mobilise myself to the idea of self-promotion for itch.io's annual summer sale (first traditional mental hurdle – it's not summer where I live, it's winter) I'm casting my eyes back over the last few IF things I've made. My assessment is that two of them have been under-patronised.

1. Captain Piedaterre's Blunders

This comic game is a CYOA spin-off I made from a popular game (Captain Verdaterre's Plunder by Ryan Veeder) by a popular author (... Ryan Veeder) that's been pronounced to be canonical by that author. Plus I drew the cover art on paper with my hands, and I'm pretty chuffed with that cover art. Alright, I coloured the art in the computer after scanning the paper, but I drew the black and white lines using my hands.



Piedaterre's is also a CYOA made with Inform, not most people's first engine of fancy when they think CYOA, and under the hood it's running an unnecessarily powerful (for this game) WIP extension of mine that lets you to play it by clicking links, or by pressing keys, or by using one method or the other method or a mixture of both methods. It's mixing the world model and choices, a la Andrew Plotkin's Unified Glulx Input. It was originally a demo module for my extension.

In spite of all this exciting provenance, the game's been rated three times on IFDB in total and reviewed zero times. The most recent rating was 1 out of 5.

I reckon this game's a good, if un-major, entertainment for folks who've played Plunder, therefore I encourage you to try it, especially if you've played Plunder.

* Here's the online playable version of Captain Piedaterre's Blunders
* Here's its IFDB page

I'll talk about the next thing of mine you've probably under-patronised in the next post.

Sunday, 28 January 2018

Eamon keeps on chugging in Eamon Remastered

Keith Dechant recently released Eamon Remastered:

"Eamon is a classic interactive fiction game with RPG elements, written for the Apple 2 in 1980. Eamon Remastered is a remake of the classic game for the modern web. Play Eamon adventures in your browser without needing an emulator."

The Lair of the Minotaur in Eamon Remastered

I’ve tried Eamon Remastered, and it’s very good, graceful work, though still with a few light bugs and features to come that are being tweaked out. Eamon Remastered provides a mechanically faithful port of Eamon’s Main Hall, the place where you make your characters, plus a collection of classic Eamon adventures you can try in any order you choose. Characters are stored locally on your computer, so all you need to play is a web browser. There are twenty adventures on the site so far. The starting selection appears to be a curated one, a mix of the historically famous (in Eamon circles), the good, and the reasonable/sensible. I mean reasonable in the sense that the player won’t be killed in such adventures, instantly and repeatedly, by deathtraps and supermonsters. The 250+ adventures made for Eamon during its heyday vary massively in their difficulty level, quality and setting because they were all written by different people, and weren’t subject to any oversight or master plan. Keith’s choice of adventures to port to Eamon Remastered so far looks to spare random visitors from the threat of wack difficulty, and also from the conundrum of having too many adventures to choose from.

(If you’d like to read more about the harsh nature of the challenge presented by some old school Eamons, see my reviews of The Tomb of Y’Golonac and The Pyramind of Anharos on IFDB.)

Keith’s work builds on an MS-DOS port of Eamon called Eamon Deluxe, by Frank Black, a previous (and indefinitely ongoing? Or is it now definitely not-going?) project that had one of the same aims as Eamon Remastered: to make Eamon more easily playable by more people. Eamon Deluxe sought to achieve this via the ubiquity of the DosBOX emulator and by enhancing screen reader compatibility, but when I recently retried Eamon Deluxe on a High Sierra Mac, it was a bit tetchy.

Eamon’s history has enough spread and divergence that it’s as fascinating a one to wander as that of its more cerebral antecedent, Crowther and Woods’s Adventure. You can follow Jason Dyer’s exhaustive attempts to catalogue differences across early versions of Adventure over in his Renga in Blue blog. Eamon was born in a similarly accessible/hackable programming environment, and so from it grew a tree of numerous cousins, offshoots and ports, some with minor tweaks, some with major. Some of them were to other systems and some to languages other than English. Just over the past few years, more thought-to-be-lost adventures on old floppies have turned up and been added to the general library, or to the PC Eamon Museum.

Matt Clark’s intermittently updated blog The Eamon Adventurers Guild tracks all of these finds and updates. It's a good read if you want to see what Eamon stuff has been going on between 2004 and the present. A couple of my favourite posts include the tour of the historical promo disk for an envisioned (read: now vaporware) Apple IIGS-specific version of Eamon and the review of a sneaky commercial version of Eamon called Load’N’Go Beginners Cave.

A ton of heavy Eamon lifting was done post-heyday by Frank Black with Eamon Deluxe. As I understand it, another of its goals was an exhaustive one: to eventually port every Eamon adventure to Eamon Deluxe. It seems unlikely that will ever happen, but Eamon Deluxe already sports a solid catalogue of adventures, including some original ones for the system. It also contains a reorganised Eamon adventure tree with vacant branches in it ready to receive the yet-to-be-ported games. I was chuffed to see there’s even a slot in there for my game Leadlight.

Another neat feature of Eamon Deluxe is that it holds reviews for many of the adventures in the app itself. That’s to say that you can read them from the same interface in which you browse the adventures. This approach gives Eamon Deluxe the potential to be the Ultimate All-In-One Eamon Box, though I think it will remain a potential.

To read more about the earliest days of Eamon (from a recent perspective) you can also check out Jimmy Maher’s posts about it in The Digital Antiquarian.