• May 6th 2017

    Towards a Theory of Parserless Parser Interfaces

    With the release of Vorple for Glulx, now is a great time to think about what I'm calling parseless parser games: Text games that use the world model and mechanical tradition of parser games, but don't actually have a parser interface. The most prominent recent example would be Robin Johnson's Detectiveland.

    This is sort of a theoretical exploration of how to build interfaces to interact with the traditional parser world model (rooms, point of view character, and of course "medium-sized dry goods" as interactive objects). Most of this involves looking at the history of graphical adventure games, which diverged pretty directly from parser interfaces and into point-and-click ones. I'm trying to produce a taxonomy of how those interfaces operate and what their pros and cons are, for people who are looking at building on Vorple to produce extensions or games that use this sort of interaction.

  • May 5th 2017

    Astonishingly Rapid Game Prototyping with Inform 7

    Emily Short recently wrote a post about what reasons there are for writing a parser game in AD 2017. In the comments, I added:

    For me there’s another reason to make parser games, and specifically for using Inform 7: It’s a fantastic platform for experimental games. if I just have an idea that I want to explore or play around with, as long as it’s narrative and turn-based, I’m very likely to reach for I7 as a tool.

    Using I7 cuts away 90% of the boilerplate labor associated with game development: You don’t have to think about or make UI (it’s text input), UX (it’s bad), assets (there are none). You write almost no boilerplate code; everything you write is doing work in defining mechanics, narrative, or environment. I really think more game designers should learn I7 because of its value in that role; even if the thing you make using it isn’t the final form of what you’re making. The 0 to 60 on it is just incredible compared to any other engine or game development tool.

    Inform 7, if you're unfamiliar, is a system for writing parser interactive fiction that uses a purpose-built domain-specific language that somewhat resembles natural English. It's probably my favourite game development environment to work on, for a lot of reasons.