Difference between revisions of "FAQ"

From IFWiki
Jump to: navigation, search
 
(109 intermediate revisions by 38 users not shown)
Line 1: Line 1:
''The Interactive Fiction FAQ from ifwiki was created to contain succinct, up-to-date information about interactive fiction for those who are new to IF or to the IF community. The FAQ is intended to give brief, helpful answers to those questions that do actually come up frequently, and to direct readers to the most important online resources on the topic. While it is meant to be a useful part of ifwiki and to have current, useful links, this FAQ also should serve well as a stand-alone document that someone might read offline or print out. Another resource for newcomers that is helpful (although it hasn't been updated recently) is Roger Firth's [http://www.plover.net/~textfire/raiffaq/ifaq/ Ifaq].''
+
''The ifwiki Interactive Fiction FAQ offers succinct and current information for newcomers to IF and the IF community. It answers those questions that come up frequently and directs readers to the most important online resources. While the FAQ is meant to be a useful part of ifwiki, it also should serve well read offline or printed out.''
 +
 
 +
 
  
 
==What is "interactive fiction"?==
 
==What is "interactive fiction"?==
  
In brief, "interactive fiction" indicates programs (sometimes called "games" or, less often, "works") that let you type commands to a character. This character wanders around in a simulated world of some sort, usually one that is described in text. "Text adventure" and "text game" have been used to mean pretty much the same thing. Examples include ''[[Adventure]]'', ''[[Zork]]'', ''[[Deadline]]'', ''[[Planetfall]]'', ''[[The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy]]'', ''[[The Hobbit]]'', and ''[[Curses]]''. Some people include graphical adventure games such as Myst when they use the term, but those sorts of games aren't the focus of this FAQ or of the [[IF Community]]. The ifwiki offers a formal definition of [[interactive fiction]]; there is a [http://www.plover.net/~textfire/raiffaq/FAQ.htm#whatisif longer discussion of the topic in the '''rec.arts.int-fiction''' FAQ]; and other definitions can be found in various essays and books.
+
In the past the term referred mainly to [[parser]]-based programs (usually called "games" or, less often, "works") that let you type commands to a character. This character wanders around in a simulated world of some sort, typically one that is described in text. These [[parser]]-based games are sometimes called "text adventures." Examples include ''[[Adventure]]'', ''[[Zork]]'', ''[[Deadline]]'', ''[[Planetfall]]'', ''[[The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy]]'', ''[[The Hobbit]]'', and ''[[Curses]]''.
  
==What happened to [[Infocom]] ([[Magnetic Scrolls]], [[Level 9]], [[:Category:IF publisher|etc.]])?==
+
More recently, the IF community has expanded its definition of interactive fiction to include [[Choose_your_own_adventure|choice-based]] works (also called [[Choose_your_own_adventure|CYOA]]) as well. In [[Choose_your_own_adventure|choice-based]] IF, players navigate through the story by selecting hyperlinks, or by periodically choosing from a list of options to determine how the story will progress.
  
None of the companies that produced IF during the 1980s are still around and producing IF. Infocom was acquired by Activision in 1989, for instance, and is now a (not very active) "label" of that company. Interactive fiction from this era is often hard to find outside of abandonware sites and online auction sites, although some of it has been made available to the public by the company that produced it. Plenty of people are still creating IF, however, and there are hundreds of free new games that have been developed since the "commercial era" of interactive fiction.
+
Some people include [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gamebook gamebooks] and graphical adventure games such as [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Myst ''Myst''] when they use the term interactive fiction, but those sorts of works aren't the focus of this FAQ, nor the main concern of the [[IF community]].  
  
==How can I download and play IF?==
+
The ifwiki offers a formal definition of [[interactive fiction]]; there is a [http://www.plover.net/~textfire/raiffaq/FAQ.htm#whatisif longer discussion of the topic in the '''rec.arts.int-fiction''' FAQ]; and other definitions can be found in various works, such as the book [[Twisty Little Passages | ''Twisty Little Passages'']].
  
The [http://ifarchive.org IF Archive] is the major repository for free interactive fiction, and includes hundreds of recent games, games in many different languages, and many historic games. You'll probably want to download games from there, using the friendly interface provided by Baf's Guide to the IF Archive.
+
==What happened to [[Infocom]] ([[Magnetic Scrolls]], [[Level 9]], [[:Category:Publishers|etc.]])?==
  
Authors have made some game available for you to play on the Web or download in stand-alone form. But you will usually need to download both an [[interpreter]] for your particular platform (a sort of "reader" or "player") and the particular game's "[[story file]]" (the data file that is read by the interpreter).
+
None of the companies that produced IF during the 1980s are still around and producing IF. Infocom was acquired by Activision in 1986, for instance, and is now a (not very active) "label" of that company. Activision abandoned the Infocom trademark around 2002 (though not the copyright to the games); Pete Hottelet of Omni Consumer Products LLC [http://gameshelf.jmac.org/2010/02/that-new-official-infocom-web.html acquired the trademark] in 2007.
  
If you use Windows and want to run the zcode file curses.z5, for instance, you need a Windows zcode interpreter. Windows Frotz is a popular one. One you have installed Windows Frotz, you will be able to play any zcode interactive fiction just by downloading and opening the file, which usually will end with .z5 or .z8.
+
Interactive fiction from the Infocom era is often hard to find outside of abandonware sites and online auction sites, although some of it has been made available to the public by the company that produced it.  
  
You can find a popular interpreter for your platform and IF format in the following table:
+
==How can I download and play IF?==
  
{| border="1" cellpadding="2"
+
The Boston IF group The [[People's Republic of Interactive Fiction]] [http://pr-if.org/play/ maintains a page of IF titles playable in your browser] if you just want to get started quickly.  
!
+
!Zcode
+
!TADS
+
!Glulx
+
!Hugo
+
!Adrift
+
|-
+
!Story File Extension
+
|.z5,.z8,.z3 (other .z# or .dat, rarely)
+
|.gam, .t3
+
|.ulx
+
|.hex
+
|.taf
+
|-
+
!Windows
+
|[http://mirror.ifarchive.org/if-archive/infocom/interpreters/frotz/WindowsFrotz2002.zip Windows Frotz 2002]
+
|[http://mirror.ifarchive.org/if-archive/interpreters-tads/htads_playkit_259.exe HTML TADS Playkit]
+
|[http://mirror.ifarchive.org/if-archive/programming/glulx/interpreters/git/wingit-1.0.6.zip Git], [http://mirror.ifarchive.org/if-archive/programming/glulx/interpreters/zag/zag-1.05.tar.gz Zag]
+
|[http://mirror.ifarchive.org/if-archive/interpreters-other/hugo/executables/hugov31_win32.exe Hugo Multimedia Interpreter]
+
|[http://www.adrift.org.uk/ftp/ADRIFT40r.zip ADRIFT Runner]
+
|-
+
!Linux
+
|[http://mirror.ifarchive.org/if-archive/interpreters-infocom-zcode/frotz/frotz-2.43-3.i386.rpm Frotz (redhat binary RPM)]
+
|[http://qtads.sourceforge.net/#Download QTads]
+
|[http://mirror.ifarchive.org/if-archive/programming/glulx/interpreters/zag/zag-1.05.tar.gz Zag]
+
|[http://mirror.ifarchive.org/if-archive/interpreters-other/hugo/executables/hugov31_wxwin_linux.tar.gz Hugo Windows]
+
|[http://mirror.ifarchive.org/if-archive/interpreters-other/adrift/scare-1.3.2_linux.tgz SCARE]
+
|-
+
!Mac OS X
+
|[http://www.logicalshift.demon.co.uk/mac/zoom.html Zoom]
+
|[http://www.hypertads.org/downloads/HyperTADS-140.sit HyperTADS]
+
|[http://mirror.ifarchive.org/if-archive/programming/glulx/interpreters/zag/zag-1.05.tar.gz Zag]
+
|[http://mirror.ifarchive.org/if-archive/programming/hugo/executables/hugov31_macos.sit Hugo Mac]
+
|[http://mirror.ifarchive.org/if-archive/programming/adrift/MacScare-GUI.zip SCARE]
+
|-
+
!Mac System 9
+
|[http://mirror.ifarchive.org/if-archive/infocom/interpreters/nitfol/Nitfol-05.hqx Nitfol], [http://mirror.ifarchive.org/if-archive/infocom/interpreters/zip/MaxZip-178.hqx Zip]
+
|[http://www.hypertads.org/downloads/HyperTADS-140.sit HyperTADS]
+
|[http://mirror.ifarchive.org/if-archive/programming/glulx/interpreters/glulxe/Glulxe-034.hqx Glulxe for Mac]
+
|[http://mirror.ifarchive.org/if-archive/interpreters-other/hugo/executables/hugov31_macos.sit Hugo Mac]
+
|(none)
+
|-
+
!Palm
+
|[http://mirror.ifarchive.org/if-archive/interpreters-infocom-zcode/frobnitz/frob10.zip Frobnitz]
+
|(none)
+
|(none)
+
|[http://mirror.ifarchive.org/if-archive/interpreters-other/hugo/executables/hugov31_palm.zip Hugo Palm]
+
|(none)
+
|-
+
!PocketPC
+
|[http://mirror.ifarchive.org/if-archive/interpreters-infocom-zcode/frotz/pocketfrotz_04b.zip Pocket Frotz]
+
|[http://mirror.ifarchive.org/if-archive/interpreters-tads/PocketTADS-01.zip Pocket TADS]
+
|[http://mirror.ifarchive.org/if-archive/programming/glulx/interpreters/git/pGit-0.5.zip Git PocketPC]
+
|[http://mirror.ifarchive.org/if-archive/interpreters-other/hugo/executables/hugov31_wince.zip Hugo WinCE]
+
|(none)
+
|-
+
!DOS
+
|[http://mirror.ifarchive.org/if-archive/interpreters-infocom-zcode/frotz/DJGPPFrotz240.zip DOS Frotz]
+
|[http://mirror.ifarchive.org/if-archive/interpreters-tads/tadsexe_259.zip DOS TADS]
+
|[http://mirror.ifarchive.org/if-archive/programming/glulx/interpreters/git/dosgit-1.0.4.zip Git for Dos]
+
|[http://mirror.ifarchive.org/if-archive/interpreters-other/hugo/executables/hugov31_dos16bit.zip Hugo DOS (16 bit)]
+
|[http://mirror.ifarchive.org/if-archive/interpreters-other/adrift/scare-1.3.2_dos.zip SCARE DOS]
+
|}
+
  
These are not all the interpreters available, just some of the most popular ones from the most popular platforms. The IF Archive has a fairly comprehensive, if not exactly friendly, list of interpreters that you can download:
+
Many IF systems let you play in a web browser, and nearly all games are free to download. The [[IFDB | Interactive Fiction Database]] is a community-edited IF catalog of thousands of free games available to play online and download, and includes ratings, reviews, and many other features to make finding and playing games easier.
  
* http://mirror.ifarchive.org/if-archive/interpreters-infocom-zcode/
+
In addition to the game itself (commonly called the '[[story file]]') you usually will need to download an [[interpreter]]. Just like you need a player for music or video files, most IF games require an interpreter to run. The IFDB can help you download the correct interpreter, or you can choose one yourself; [[Gargoyle]] works well on Windows, Linux, and Mac. Other popular interpreters are [[Zoom]] for Mac and Linux and [[Spatterlight]] for Mac. You can play many games written with [[Inform]] on iOS, Android, and other mobile devices using interpreters written especially for those platforms.
* http://mirror.ifarchive.org/if-archive/interpreters-other/
+
 
* http://mirror.ifarchive.org/if-archive/interpreters-tads/
+
One of the conveniences of Gargoyle and Spatterlight is that they can play IF created in multiple [[:Category:Authoring system | authoring systems]]. However, to see all the features of some games you may want a system-specific player; [[QTads]] is an example of a player created for a specific authoring system, [[TADS]], and [[Interpreter | many other interpreters are available for specific combinations of systems and platforms]].
 +
 
 +
Most of the games in the [[IFDB]] are hosted by the [http://ifarchive.org IF Archive], the main repository for free [[interactive fiction]]. It includes not only many games, but walkthroughs, interpreters, authoring systems, and more.
  
 
==Where can I find out what games I might enjoy?==
 
==Where can I find out what games I might enjoy?==
  
* [http://wurb.com/if Baf's Guide] is a complete listing of the games on the [[Archive | IF Archive]]. Most games have mini-reviews, and there are powerful search tools, but like the Archive itself it might be overwhelming to trawl through.
+
In addition to the [[IFDB]], we recommend:
* The Usenet group '''rec.games.int-fiction''' is a good place to ask, particularly if you have specific tastes.
+
 
* [http://www.carouselchain.com/if/ Interactive Fiction Ratings] is a site that lets anyone give IF games ratings out of 10, and publishes a list of (among other things) the highest-scoring games. This gives some idea of which games enjoy the most popularity in the community, although it shouldn't be considered the final word on the quality of games.
+
* Looking back through past [[XYZZY_Awards | XYZZY]] winners or games that did well in the [[IF_Comp | IF Competition]].
* Looking back through past [[XYZZY_Awards | XYZZY]] winners or games that did well in the [[IF_Comp | IF Competition]] can also give you some idea of which games are (or were) highly thought of.
+
* Perusing the [[Reviews | IF review sites]]. One of the best is [http://www.spagmag.org SPAG].
* There are several sites that collect and publish reviews: [http://www.sparkynet.com/spag SPAG], [http://www.brasslantern.org/ Brass Lantern], and [http://www.ministryofpeace.com/if-review/ IF-Review] are the most prominent of these.
+
* Several members of the community have extensive collections of their personal recommendations, for instance, [http://emshort.wordpress.com/how-to-play/reading-if/ Emily Short].
* Several members of the community have extenstive collections of their personal reccomendations: [http://emshort.home.mindspring.com/literacy.htm Emily Short] and [http://diden.net/~maga/intfiction.htm Sam Kibo Ashwell], for example.
+
  
 
==What can I do when I get stuck?==
 
==What can I do when I get stuck?==
  
Some games have in-game hints. For others, hints or a walkthrough (a list of commands that will win the game, sometimes annotated) may be available on the IF Archive or elsewhere on the Web. If Baf's Guide doesn't list any files for the game you're playing, search the Web for the name of that game and the term "walkthrough" or "solution." You can also ask fellow players for a hint on rec.games.int-fiction. Just be sure to include a spoiler warning and spoiler space before you reveal any details of the game, so you don't ruin the game for others by giving away some of its surprises.
+
If you've never played IF before, the [[People's Republic of Interactive Fiction]] created a {{link|url=http://pr-if.org/doc/play-if-card/|archive=http://web.archive.org/web/20110228041717/http://pr-if.org:80/doc/play-if-card/|beginner's postcard guide to IF}}.
 +
 
 +
Some games have in-game hints; try typing 'help', 'hint', 'hints', 'about', or 'think'. For others, hints or a walkthrough (a list of commands that will win the game, sometimes annotated) may be available on the IFDB, IF Archive or elsewhere on the Web. You can also ask fellow players for a hint on IF community sites (see below). Just be sure to include a spoiler warning and spoiler space before you reveal any details of the game, so you don't ruin the game for others by giving away some of its surprises.
  
 
==How can I post a review of a game I've finished?==
 
==How can I post a review of a game I've finished?==
  
If you like, you can simply post a review to rec.games.int-fiction, as many people traditionally do with the Comp game after the Comp has ended. You can also submit your review to [http://www.sparkynet.com/spag/ SPAG] or [http://www.ministryofpeace.com/if-review/ IF Review], or post it on your own site or blog.
+
You can simply post a review to one of the community forums (see below), as many people traditionally do with IF Comp games. You can also submit your review to [http://www.spagmag.org SPAG], put it on the [[IFDB]], or post it on your own site or blog.
  
 
==What is this "IF Comp"?==
 
==What is this "IF Comp"?==
  
The IF Competition is an annual, Internet-wide competition for short games (ones you can complete in less than two hours), started in 1996 and currently run by Stephen Granade. Anyone who is online can vote in the competition. Having played and rated five games is the only qualification necessary for judges. In recent years there have been dozens of entries and hundreds who voted: The 2004 Comp had 38 games voted on by 174 judges.
+
[[The Annual IF Competition]] is an Internet-wide competition for short games (ones you can complete in less than two hours), started in 1996 and currently run by [[Jason McIntosh]]. Anyone who is online can vote in the competition. Having played and rated five games is the only qualification necessary for judges. Recent years have seen dozens of entries and hundreds of judges: The [[IF Comp 2011|2011 Comp]] had 38 games voted on by 109 judges.
  
 
==How can I write my own game?==
 
==How can I write my own game?==
  
Although some people try to develop IF from scratch in general-purpose languages, winners of the IF Comp and developers of successful longer games have shows that it can be a good idea to use one of the highly capable and free interactive fiction development systems. [[Inform]], [[TADS]], and [[Hugo]] are the most powerful and cross-platform of the options, but there are others. You can seek help from fellow developers on rec.arts.int-fiction as you work, and avail yourself of some of the extensive documentation, tutorial material, and sample code that is online.
+
Although some people develop IF from scratch in general-purpose programming languages, using one of the highly capable and free interactive fiction development systems will save you a lot of the grunt work involved in reinventing the wheel.  
  
==Which development system is best?==
+
Popular systems include [[Inform]], [[TADS]], [[Hugo]], [[Adrift]], and [[Quest (Language) | Quest]], but [[:Category:Authoring system|there are others]]. In recent years other choice-based systems such as [[Undum]] and [[ChoiceScript]] have attracted authors as well.
  
No one knows for sure, but a safe way for you to decide for yourself is to review all of them at [http://www.firthworks.com/roger/cloak/index.html Roger Firth's Cloak of Darkness page]. You should also consider the development communities for different systems, what sample code and tutorial and reference information is available for each, the whole range of these systems' capabilities (including multimedia capaibilities, if these are important to you), and whether interpreters are available on the platforms you care about.
+
==Which development system is best?==
  
==Why not create my own IF development system?==
+
There really isn't a way to say which IF system you should use; what you should do is take a look at all of them and see which one fits you best. One way for you to decide is to review many of them at [[Roger Firth]]'s [http://www.firthworks.com/roger/cloak/index.html Cloak of Darkness page]. Another might be to play a range of games in the IFDB and see what style of game you like the most. You should also consider the development communities for different systems, what reference information is available for each, the system's capabilities (including multimedia, if that's important to you), and whether interpreters are available on the platforms you care about.
 
+
You're welcome to, and we're all very glad that people such as Graham Nelson (creator of Inform) and Mike Roberts (creator of TADS) have done this. There are sometimes discussions about how to create IF development systems on rec.arts.int-fiction and on [[ifMUD]]'s #craft channel; you can also check ifwiki's [[Building a New Interactive Fiction System]]. While some people will be glad to offer reactions and advice, many people on raif and #craft do prefer to discuss writing games, and almost all of them now are effectively using some existing system such as [[Inform]], [[TADS]], or [[Hugo]]. If you're developing a new system, it will certainly help to be very familiar with how all of these existing systems work, so you can imitate their better features and avoid imitating anything you think is a mistake.
+
  
 
==How do I get people to test my game?==
 
==How do I get people to test my game?==
  
Very good question. It's very important to have others test and review your game before releasing it. [http://www.plover.net/~textfire/beta.html The IF Beta Site Info Page] has information about [[beta-testing]], including links to several articles about how to helpfully test games, and it also provides a way for you to sign up as a tester and submit your game to be tested. There are several other ways to find testers. If you've tested someone else's game, you might ask them to reciprocate. You can also politely ask for testers on rec.arts.int-fiction or on [[ifMUD]].
+
You can ask for testers on one of the community sites (see below). Often you'll have an easier time finding testers if you test a few games yourself.
  
 
==How do I get people to play my game?==
 
==How do I get people to play my game?==
  
Releasing it in the IF Comp can be a very effective way, if it fits the bill by being a two-hour game that is not based on previous copyrighted work. There are other competitions at other points in the year which are less popular but still provide good ways to release a game. If you don't release your game as part of a competition, you should announce your game on rec.games.int-fiction. Although the editors of IF review sites will learn about it from rgif, it's fine to politely bring your work to their attention by email if it hasn't been reviewed after a while.
+
Releasing it in the [[The Annual IF Competition | IF Comp]] can be a very effective way, if it fits the bill by being a two-hour game that is not based on previous copyrighted work. There are [[:Category:Competitions | other IF competitions]] at other points in the year which are less popular but still provide good ways to release a game. If you don't release your game as part of a competition, you should announce your game on the IF community sites (see below).  
  
You may also want to publicize your game outside the IF community, if there are other groups who might be interested in it: e.g., Latin teachers, if your game is in Latin; the Electronic Literature Organization, if your game is written for a literary audience; the Keeler Society, if your game is an adaptation of a Harry Stephen Keeler novel.
+
You may also want to publicize your game outside the IF community, if there are other groups who might be interested in it. For example, the [[Electronic Literature Organization]], if your work is written for a literary audience, or [http://forums.tigsource.com/ TIGSource], if your IF might appeal to the general indie games community. Outside the IF community there are increasingly more competition venues and forums for games such as IF, and the ELO and TIGSource are good places to start looking.
 +
 
 +
==Where can I talk with other people who are into IF?==
 +
 
 +
The [[IF community]] started in the early 1990s on two [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Usenet Usenet] newsgroups: "raif" ([news:rec.arts.int-fiction rec.arts.int-fiction]), for authoring, programming, craft, and theory ([http://groups-beta.google.com/group/rec.arts.int-fiction raif on Google Groups], and see the [http://www.plover.net/~textfire/raiffaq/FAQ.htm raif FAQ] and [[past raif topics]]), and "rgif" ([news:rec.games.int-fiction rec.games.int-fiction]), devoted to playing games ([http://groups-beta.google.com/group/rec.games.int-fiction rgif on Google Groups]). The term '''r*if''' refers to both raif and rgif.
 +
 
 +
For real-time interaction, IFers founded the [[ifmud]] in 1997 and it's still actively used today. There is an annual awards ceremony on ifMUD for the [[XYZZY Awards]], the Oscars of interactive fiction (see the [http://xyzzyawards.org/transcripts/xyzzys2013.html transcript from the 2013 XYZZY Awards here]).
 +
 
 +
IFers created [http://intfiction.org/forum Intfiction.org] in 2007, another web-based forum whose community overlaps with raif, and in 2008 [[Planet IF]], a blog aggregator that follows many IF-related blogs and RSS feeds.
 +
 
 +
2009 saw the formation of the first IF meetup group, the Boston-based [[People's Republic of Interactive Fiction]], and since then more groups have formed in [[Seattle IF Group | Seattle]], [[Chicago Interactive Fiction Group | Chicago]], and the [[SF Bay Area Interactive Fiction Group | San Francisco Bay area]]. The PR-IF hosted the first 'IF summit' at the games expo [[PAX East 2010 | PAX EAST]] in 2010.
 +
 
 +
==How can I keep up with IF news and events?==
 +
 
 +
Besides following [[Planet IF]] and [[:Category:Communities|community forums]], you can also check the [[Main_Page|front page of ifwiki]] for [[Competition news|competition news]]. There is increasingly more IF discussion outside the community proper on [http://twitter.com/#search?q=%22interactive%20fiction%22 social sites such as Twitter].
 +
 
 +
 
 +
<big><big>''Welcome to the IF community!''</big></big>
  
 
==Major Resources==
 
==Major Resources==
  
* [http://www.wurb.com/if/ Baf's Guide to the IF Archive], a friendly interface to the IF Archive, with capsule reviews and powerful search features.
+
* [http://ifdb.tads.org IFDB], a catalog of games, with capsule reviews and powerful search features.
 
* [http://www.ifarchive.org/ The IF Archive], the main repository for games, interpreters, and development systems.
 
* [http://www.ifarchive.org/ The IF Archive], the main repository for games, interpreters, and development systems.
* [http://www.sparkynet.com/spag/ SPAG (Society for the Promotion of Adventure Games], an email newsletter also available on the Web.
+
* [http://planet-if.com Planet IF], a collection of IF blogs.
* [http://www.brasslantern.org/ Brass Lantern], "the adventure game website," with information for beginners, and numerous reviews, articles, and other resources
+
* [https://intfiction.org/ Intfiction.org: the Interactive Fiction Community Forum]
* [http://www.xyzzynews.com/ XYZZY News], "the magazine for interactive fiction enthusiasts," with a wealth of older articles about IF.
+
* [http://www.spagmag.org SPAG (Society for the Promotion of Adventure Games)], an online magazine. (Last updated August 2016.)
 +
* [http://www.brasslantern.org/ Brass Lantern], "the adventure game website," with information for beginners, and numerous reviews, articles, and other resources. (No longer updated.)
 +
 
 +
==License==
 +
 
 +
<!-- Creative Commons License -->
 +
[[Image:Somerights20.gif]]
 +
 
 +
This work is licensed under a [http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/ Creative Commons License.]
 +
<!-- /Creative Commons License -->
 +
 
 +
 
 +
<!--
 +
 
 +
<rdf:RDF xmlns="http://web.resource.org/cc/"
 +
    xmlns:dc="http://purl.org/dc/elements/1.1/"
 +
    xmlns:rdf="http://www.w3.org/1999/02/22-rdf-syntax-ns#">
 +
<Work rdf:about="">
 +
  <dc:type rdf:resource="http://purl.org/dc/dcmitype/Text" />
 +
  <license rdf:resource="http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/" />
 +
</Work>
 +
 
 +
<License rdf:about="http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/">
 +
  <permits rdf:resource="http://web.resource.org/cc/Reproduction" />
 +
  <permits rdf:resource="http://web.resource.org/cc/Distribution" />
 +
  <requires rdf:resource="http://web.resource.org/cc/Notice" />
 +
  <requires rdf:resource="http://web.resource.org/cc/Attribution" />
 +
  <permits rdf:resource="http://web.resource.org/cc/DerivativeWorks" />
 +
  <requires rdf:resource="http://web.resource.org/cc/ShareAlike" />
 +
</License>
 +
 
 +
</rdf:RDF>
  
==Newsgroups, Chatter, Events==
+
-->
  
* '''rec.art.int-fiction''', the Usenet newsgroup known as "raif" and devoted to discussing of authoring interactive fiction. The right place to discuss programming, craft, and theory. [http://groups-beta.google.com/group/rec.arts.int-fiction raif on Google Groups], [http://www.plover.net/~textfire/raiffaq/FAQ.htm raif FAQ]
+
[[Category:Basics]]
* '''rec.games.int-fiction''', the Usenet newsgroup known as "rgif" and devoted to playing games. Annoucements of new games, requests for hints, and reviews go here. [http://groups-beta.google.com/group/rec.games.int-fiction rgif on Google Groups]
+
* '''r*if''' is a term used to refer to both raif and rgif.
+
* [http://ifmud.port4000.com ifMUD], A MUD where members of the IF community hang out and chat.
+
* There is an annual awards ceremony on ifMUD for the [[XYZZY Awards]], the Oscars of interactive fiction. [http://www.xyzzynews.com/2003transcript.html Transcript from the 2003 XYZZY Awards, February 28, 2004]
+

Latest revision as of 04:48, 20 August 2020

The ifwiki Interactive Fiction FAQ offers succinct and current information for newcomers to IF and the IF community. It answers those questions that come up frequently and directs readers to the most important online resources. While the FAQ is meant to be a useful part of ifwiki, it also should serve well read offline or printed out.


What is "interactive fiction"?

In the past the term referred mainly to parser-based programs (usually called "games" or, less often, "works") that let you type commands to a character. This character wanders around in a simulated world of some sort, typically one that is described in text. These parser-based games are sometimes called "text adventures." Examples include Adventure, Zork, Deadline, Planetfall, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, The Hobbit, and Curses.

More recently, the IF community has expanded its definition of interactive fiction to include choice-based works (also called CYOA) as well. In choice-based IF, players navigate through the story by selecting hyperlinks, or by periodically choosing from a list of options to determine how the story will progress.

Some people include gamebooks and graphical adventure games such as Myst when they use the term interactive fiction, but those sorts of works aren't the focus of this FAQ, nor the main concern of the IF community.

The ifwiki offers a formal definition of interactive fiction; there is a longer discussion of the topic in the rec.arts.int-fiction FAQ; and other definitions can be found in various works, such as the book Twisty Little Passages.

What happened to Infocom (Magnetic Scrolls, Level 9, etc.)?

None of the companies that produced IF during the 1980s are still around and producing IF. Infocom was acquired by Activision in 1986, for instance, and is now a (not very active) "label" of that company. Activision abandoned the Infocom trademark around 2002 (though not the copyright to the games); Pete Hottelet of Omni Consumer Products LLC acquired the trademark in 2007.

Interactive fiction from the Infocom era is often hard to find outside of abandonware sites and online auction sites, although some of it has been made available to the public by the company that produced it.

How can I download and play IF?

The Boston IF group The People's Republic of Interactive Fiction maintains a page of IF titles playable in your browser if you just want to get started quickly.

Many IF systems let you play in a web browser, and nearly all games are free to download. The Interactive Fiction Database is a community-edited IF catalog of thousands of free games available to play online and download, and includes ratings, reviews, and many other features to make finding and playing games easier.

In addition to the game itself (commonly called the 'story file') you usually will need to download an interpreter. Just like you need a player for music or video files, most IF games require an interpreter to run. The IFDB can help you download the correct interpreter, or you can choose one yourself; Gargoyle works well on Windows, Linux, and Mac. Other popular interpreters are Zoom for Mac and Linux and Spatterlight for Mac. You can play many games written with Inform on iOS, Android, and other mobile devices using interpreters written especially for those platforms.

One of the conveniences of Gargoyle and Spatterlight is that they can play IF created in multiple authoring systems. However, to see all the features of some games you may want a system-specific player; QTads is an example of a player created for a specific authoring system, TADS, and many other interpreters are available for specific combinations of systems and platforms.

Most of the games in the IFDB are hosted by the IF Archive, the main repository for free interactive fiction. It includes not only many games, but walkthroughs, interpreters, authoring systems, and more.

Where can I find out what games I might enjoy?

In addition to the IFDB, we recommend:

  • Looking back through past XYZZY winners or games that did well in the IF Competition.
  • Perusing the IF review sites. One of the best is SPAG.
  • Several members of the community have extensive collections of their personal recommendations, for instance, Emily Short.

What can I do when I get stuck?

If you've never played IF before, the People's Republic of Interactive Fiction created a beginner's postcard guide to IF.

Some games have in-game hints; try typing 'help', 'hint', 'hints', 'about', or 'think'. For others, hints or a walkthrough (a list of commands that will win the game, sometimes annotated) may be available on the IFDB, IF Archive or elsewhere on the Web. You can also ask fellow players for a hint on IF community sites (see below). Just be sure to include a spoiler warning and spoiler space before you reveal any details of the game, so you don't ruin the game for others by giving away some of its surprises.

How can I post a review of a game I've finished?

You can simply post a review to one of the community forums (see below), as many people traditionally do with IF Comp games. You can also submit your review to SPAG, put it on the IFDB, or post it on your own site or blog.

What is this "IF Comp"?

The Annual IF Competition is an Internet-wide competition for short games (ones you can complete in less than two hours), started in 1996 and currently run by Jason McIntosh. Anyone who is online can vote in the competition. Having played and rated five games is the only qualification necessary for judges. Recent years have seen dozens of entries and hundreds of judges: The 2011 Comp had 38 games voted on by 109 judges.

How can I write my own game?

Although some people develop IF from scratch in general-purpose programming languages, using one of the highly capable and free interactive fiction development systems will save you a lot of the grunt work involved in reinventing the wheel.

Popular systems include Inform, TADS, Hugo, Adrift, and Quest, but there are others. In recent years other choice-based systems such as Undum and ChoiceScript have attracted authors as well.

Which development system is best?

There really isn't a way to say which IF system you should use; what you should do is take a look at all of them and see which one fits you best. One way for you to decide is to review many of them at Roger Firth's Cloak of Darkness page. Another might be to play a range of games in the IFDB and see what style of game you like the most. You should also consider the development communities for different systems, what reference information is available for each, the system's capabilities (including multimedia, if that's important to you), and whether interpreters are available on the platforms you care about.

How do I get people to test my game?

You can ask for testers on one of the community sites (see below). Often you'll have an easier time finding testers if you test a few games yourself.

How do I get people to play my game?

Releasing it in the IF Comp can be a very effective way, if it fits the bill by being a two-hour game that is not based on previous copyrighted work. There are other IF competitions at other points in the year which are less popular but still provide good ways to release a game. If you don't release your game as part of a competition, you should announce your game on the IF community sites (see below).

You may also want to publicize your game outside the IF community, if there are other groups who might be interested in it. For example, the Electronic Literature Organization, if your work is written for a literary audience, or TIGSource, if your IF might appeal to the general indie games community. Outside the IF community there are increasingly more competition venues and forums for games such as IF, and the ELO and TIGSource are good places to start looking.

Where can I talk with other people who are into IF?

The IF community started in the early 1990s on two Usenet newsgroups: "raif" (rec.arts.int-fiction), for authoring, programming, craft, and theory (raif on Google Groups, and see the raif FAQ and past raif topics), and "rgif" (rec.games.int-fiction), devoted to playing games (rgif on Google Groups). The term r*if refers to both raif and rgif.

For real-time interaction, IFers founded the ifmud in 1997 and it's still actively used today. There is an annual awards ceremony on ifMUD for the XYZZY Awards, the Oscars of interactive fiction (see the transcript from the 2013 XYZZY Awards here).

IFers created Intfiction.org in 2007, another web-based forum whose community overlaps with raif, and in 2008 Planet IF, a blog aggregator that follows many IF-related blogs and RSS feeds.

2009 saw the formation of the first IF meetup group, the Boston-based People's Republic of Interactive Fiction, and since then more groups have formed in Seattle, Chicago, and the San Francisco Bay area. The PR-IF hosted the first 'IF summit' at the games expo PAX EAST in 2010.

How can I keep up with IF news and events?

Besides following Planet IF and community forums, you can also check the front page of ifwiki for competition news. There is increasingly more IF discussion outside the community proper on social sites such as Twitter.


Welcome to the IF community!

Major Resources

License

Somerights20.gif

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.