The Inventory Adventure Games

An elegant synthesis of adventure game websites.

Her Story... the 33rd Golden Joystick


Sam Barlow, well-known for the text adventure Aisle, is reaching new heights with the indie game Her Story.

 The game is a full-motion-video affair, where you have to unravel video footage to dissect the story.
 Mr Barlow clearly has done a stirling job, as the game has been nominated for several awards at the
 2015 Golden Joystick Awards, including best overall game. All I can say is good luck, and I hope you
 can win it.


80 Days - Jon Ingold

 With a super classy website, Inkle Software has propelled itself into the limelight

 of Interactive Fiction, helped undoubtedly by a write-up in Time magazine for 80 Days,
 a game well-suited for the mobile platforms.

Ice Bound is a 2014 IndieCade nominee - Aaron Reed, Sept 12, 2014

"I'm happy to report some good news on my latest ambitiously experimental interactive narrative (co-created with Jacob Garbe): Ice-Bound is an official selection for the 2014 IndieCade festival! You can watch our trailer here:

Ice-Bound combines a novel system for interactive storytelling with a nested, recursive story inspired by writers like Borges and books like Mark Danielewski's House of Leaves. The game begins with an iPad app, but can only be completed with the help of a printed book, the Ice-Bound Compendium. The player uses this 80-page art book (filled with story fragments, haunting images, and strange distorted transmissions) to communicate with a digital simulation of a long-dead author by choosing what pages to show him, and when.

Showing the iPad interacting with the printed book, Ice-Bound Compenidum, in the IndieCade finalist Ice-Bound

We're immensely proud of this project. One of my biggest challenges and motivations as a PhD student has been continuing to produce work that validates as literature and as game(or at least as "playable media"). So many cool academic projects exploring new models for interactive story don't get the exposure they deserve because of the difficulty finding the resources to finish, polish, and publicize within the university system. And on the other hand, there are incredible things happening in the world of indie storytelling games that are largely unknown and undiscussed among academics. We're glad, in our own small way, to help keep these two worlds talking to each other.

A screenshot of the interactive story in the IndieCade finalist iPad game Ice-Bound.

The project has also been a labor of love, born from a pitch to invent "the future of the book" that spun into an ambitious attempt to tell a story that required a physical book and a digital game working together: where neither was just a gimmick supported by the other. We think we've made an interesting stab at this goal. Ice-Bound is about the future of books, but also stories, sentience, and human rights. It marries hard sci-fi with historical fiction, tinged with fantasy and adventure. I'm really proud of it and can't wait to get it out into the world.

An image from the Ice-Bound Compendium, the printed book portion of the IndieCade finalist Ice-Bound.

Ice-Bound will be released early next year, but we'll have more big news before then, so stay tuned. You can keep tabs on the project by checking out the official Ice-Bound website, following us on Twitter or Facebook, subscribing to our RSS feed, or joining our mailing list (for major Ice-Bound announcements only)."

Inform 7 - new version

Inform 7 (Release 6L02)

Panel15A good deal of my IF-related time in the last couple of months has gone into Inform, and I’m pleased to say that the new build is available today for Windows and Mac (and other apps to follow shortly). There’s an introductory blog post here that gives an overview of what the new build does; there’s also a change log, which is absolutely mammoth, here.

There are loads of new things going on, but I’m particularly excited by Inform’s new adaptive text, which I see as a partial step towards making the system more capable of doing interesting things with procedurally generated text output. The adaptive text allows Inform to inflect verbs according to the current tense and viewpoint of the story, automatically turning “[We] [walk]” into “You walk” or “He walked” or “We will walk” according to the current settings.

But it goes considerably beyond this. The new example “Narrative Register” shows how to associate verbs with different actions, then have the narrator automatically describe what has just happened with a verb that is appropriate to a current “diction” setting. The “Relevant Relations” example associates verbs with relations as well, and shows a way of doing room descriptions in which the author tells Inform which relations ought to be described to the player, leaving the system to assign appropriate verbs and construct sentences around them.

These are all fairly early-days things; there’s a lot that would still need to be done in order to get from here to the kind of text generation I would one day like to see, including (especially) some code designed to do a good job of sorting and concatenating related sentences before printing them.

But Inform can now track the meaning of its output more deeply than it did before, and perform more grammatical functions automatically, and that’s a helpful step.

Inform 7

Inform is one of those tools, like Game Maker and Unity, which unlocks new creativity. It’s a programming system for creating text adventures in which you can write your stories using something resembling natural language. It’s more complicated than Twine, but also consequently more powerful. It is, basically, good enough that it makes you want to write interactive fiction, even if you’ve never considered that before.

It’s exciting then that a new version has been released, “three years in the making”, which expands the languages handling of procedural storytelling.

Inform is powerful in ways which sound small, but are actually magical. If you write “Bathroom is a room.” in your code, then Inform understands that the Bathroom is a location you can leave and enter. If you write “Hallway is east of Bathroom,” then Inform understands that Hallway is a new location and its relative position with the bathroom. If you write “The helmet is a wearable thing,” then Inform understands that the player can pick that thing up and wear it. It’s basically taking English and turning that into a simulation the player can reside within...

From update post, here’s the key set of changes in this new version:

It has the following main objectives: to clarify and better enforce the syntax of the language (which is now formally documented); to have much greater linguistic flexibility, enabling stories to be written in any person and tense, and paving the way for translation to non-English languages; to remove phrases and features which have been deprecated for some years; to remove procedural rules, which were little used or understood and incurred a significant speed cost at run-time, in favour of simpler ways to substitute rule behaviour; to remove assumptions about the kind of narrative being written (i.e., that Inform is always making a “game” which is “won” or “lost” and has a “score”); to reform the rules handling “blocked” actions, such as listening; to redesign the Index, the in-application documentation, and the extensions index; to reform the handling of text, unifying “text” and “indexed text”, and improving their performance; to introduce a simple but powerful system of “responses” allowing authors to change stock replies in the Standard Rules and other extensions, including third-party ones (and also to make it easy to translate these to non-English languages); and to implement full floating-point arithmetic in numerical kinds of value, at least on the Glulx virtual machine.

I like that it has ‘floating point arithmetic in the Glulx virtual machine’, because those are all fun words to say, but the really interesting bit is the changes to procedural rules...

If you’re interested, here’s the absurdly long changelist. But really, you should go download and have a play around with Inform 7 this weekend. It’s a fun time.


Interactive Fiction

Interactive fiction can be seen as a development of literature which has never really grown into a fully accepted commercial product, even though in its still limited form, it presents an experience unique. It encourages insight and creativity,  both in players and authors,and engages the reader/player in a way the traditional novel cannot. Personally, however, I still prefer the term "text adventure".

Even type-in games were produced which were presented with visually stimulated back stories, with mythological maps and drawings, as in the Island of Secrets.

 Island of Secrets can be played directly in an emulator from the tape image, rather than the original slog of typing it in... but probably better not to  )


At the high end of the market, Infocom presented their games in packs with all manner of interesting extras, called affectionately by members of the Interactive Fiction community as "feelies". Jason Scott tried to simulate this somewhat by including in his Get Lamp documentary a collector's item golden coin. It's also very interesting to see the contrast in artistic styles between the1980, 1990s and more contemporary cover art.


Infocom Games DOWNLOAD HERE:


The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy 

A point-and-click 2010 remake of Infocom's classic available for free download.

Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy Remake

"Anyone either mildly interested in Douglas Adams' brilliant and amazingly weird humour, or deeply obsessed with Infocom's classic Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy, could do much worse than wait for the release of H2G2 Remake. It is, you see, an incredibly promising attempt at remaking a classic text adventure into a proper and fully graphical point-and-click game, while simultaneously fiddling with genre conventions and even the original text. Having already played the demo I can assure you that H2G2 Remake is shaping up to be a more than intriguing and probably great AGS adventure, sporting excellent art, obviously great writing, some interesting takes at classic puzzles and a brilliant interface.

Here is what James Spanos, one of the game's two creators, had to say for the still unfinished project. A behind the scenes look at the development of a freeware indie offering, if you will:

As promised, I'm going to take some time and let you guys into the game's production stages and fun facts. Before I begin, it would be wiser to introduce you to the team of the game. First, it's me James Spanos (Dualnames), responsible for creating the art, interface and organizing the rest of the team to do those little chores for me. Then it's Kevin Haddley (Yukonhorror), who recruited myself and had this whole idea about remaking the text game into a graphical point and click. Then it's the team of tireless beta-testers: 1) Leon (who is keeping a site full of walkthroughs about AGS games []), Ghost (Bjorn Ludwig) and Jon.

So, why did we make the game for?

Because I really love the Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy, and from the very first moment I started coding and scripting, I wanted to make a game about the book. Kevin is a fan of the original game and sort of had the whole thing of turning the game into a point and click game in his mind, so he came in to the AGS forums asking for help, and I believed in his vision...he still hasn't paid me. :P


Well, of course the story is totally based on the original game. The main difference of the game we're making to the Infocom one is that (besides not having Douglas Adams in the team), since I'm a really big fan of almost every single quote of the book, and since the original game sported only minimal content from the book (most scenes seen on the book are not seen in the original game), we decided to use all those fun dialogs verbatim from the book. We've also added an introduction sequence that the original is lacking. The whole story/puzzle thing is based on a 100 page document written by Kevin Haddley, inside which the Hitchhiker's Guide on How to Make this Game is to be found... No, really!


Well, remaking a text game into a graphical one is really not as easy as it sounds. We've lately (just a month ago) [2009] gone into a total remake of a big number of sprites, due to my determination in making this game look better, and thanks to Shane Stevens , a wonderful guy from the AGS forums, who shared his knowledge on drawing. If you just take a look at the picture below you'll see how things originally were, and what they look like now.
H2G2 RemakeWe are apparently using pixel art drawn characters and Photoshop edited low-resolution background art. From left to right and in pairs you can see above just how the sprites evolved. Character art is drawn/painted on GIMP while background art (boy am I ashamed to say this) is drawn on MSPaint with a few small effects and finishing touches added on Photoshop.


That's definitely the hardest part for us to do. In the original game events happen in turns, whereas in our remake, they're happening in real-time, meaning there is actually a great number of timers going on. Some parts of the game were also very tricky at the initial stages of production. One is the GUIDE itself. We've created a lot of animations for this one, but also implemented a module to make it work like the original should be (links, hypertext). As for the gaming engine we're using, AGS is really very, well, useful and I'm happy to say that Chris Jones (the author) has really, really helped us on this matter. The interface of the game is a little similar to the Verb Coin that first appeared on CMI (Curse of Monkey Island), but the Verb Coin appears instantly and has two buttons for objects and three buttons for characters. Right click opens the inventory etc.

We basically tried to keep the interface as simple as possible, but in the same time allow for the players to have the same level of interactivity the original game offered. Players can even drop items, though the limit of items you can pick up is quite a bit more flexible (at least on normal difficulty) than in Infocom's original. Also, on normal difficulty most of the dead-end situations are tipped, meaning you get to be warned whenever something inappropriate is being done, and even some dead-end puzzles can actually be finished, though without awarding players any points. Generally the game is very newbie friendly and rather more tolerant than the original. On difficult setting, things appear to be definitely closer to the original's difficulty."

Play Infocom original in your Browser using JAVA.


Interactive Fiction - UK

The UK held an Adventurer's Convention every year, which was particularly associated with the old adventure fanzine Adventure Probe.


Swearing in Interactive Fiction

Monkeon celebrates the use of swearing in text adventures, and the occasional unusual responses...


A Mind Voyaging Into The Past

Believe it or not, a ZX Spectrum +3 can emulate Inform games by using John Elliott plus Gary Lancaster's excellent ZXZVM to load the Z Machine Virtual Environment into the Spectrum's memory. What this means is that not only can authentic version of Infocom's text adventures be played on the Spectrum (as well as Scott Adams' amongst others), but modern interactive fiction can be played on the humble Spectrum!


I've created .dsk images for various Inform games on the ZX Spectrum, including all the Infocom ones (with the exception of graphical Inform games).

Spectrum +3 DSK Image of A Mind Forever Voyaging.   All Infocom games as DSK files.

First load the file ZXZVM. Then insert disk and install ZXZVM to a:   Don't worry there is plenty room (if using the emulator Spectaculator use left-shift to generate the colon). Type the name of the game as it appears, for example, borderz.z5    Input isn't case sensitive, but the file extension suffix is necessary. Stick with size 32 and you won't have many problems. Save and Restore work in the games (but not Undo), and you can also save files as .z80s (not sure about .sna snapshot compatability). The nostalgia of keyboard entry is strangely soothing, as keys need a slightly harder depression, and then there is a little bit of a delay for the computer's response.

(Of course it's far easier just to install one of the modern Z-machine interpreters, such as Frotz, and play directly on your PC... but then where is the retro?!)

Going Ultra Retro:


   Hunt the Wumpus                     Adventure in Mythology

You can go very retro and play a retro-retro game (1972!) on a retro machine, Hunt the Wumpus, possibly the first ever adventure(ish) game. But expect it to be very crude. Adventure in Mythology seems a shamelessly harsh text adventure. The Java window emulates the Tandy CoCo, from which you can also play Madness and the Minotaur, which by all accounts is the most fiendish adventure ever written. (Probably best to use the map)




Before the advent of MMORPGs (Massive Multi Online Role Playing Games) there were the MUDs (or Multi User Dungeons).

There is a thriving interactive fiction community which meets virtually at the IF-MUD (Interactive Fiction MUD).
Completely textual, and at first bewildering, this MUD not only chats about interactive fiction games and game design, but also hosts a game once a week, at the moment on Saturdays at 7:00. Yes, a text adventure played by an online group of people! Many of the community have actually designed interactive fiction, so it always makes for interesting discussion.

Your first connection will be using connect guest guest.

Read  Jacq's FAQ for information on logging on, clients, etiquette, etc.


Smartgenes Handy Command List

Once connected type LOUNGE which is where everyone hangs out. First thing to know is the command SAY. Follow SAY with whatever you want to announce, for instance:

   say hello everybody!

A shortcut for SAY is "

   "hello everybody!

There are various channels which host conversations about different topics, though most conversation appears publicly in the lounge anyway.

To join a channel, for example the channel #clubfloyd (the channel where an IF game is usually played once per week)... Type:

   @joinc #clubfloyd

To list all the channels @listc or @listc -recent

How to read channel "messages" (these are different). If #adrift has 4 messages.. then bb #adrift 1, bb #adrift 2, etc. There is no bb #adrift 5!


Other speech

Once you have said something on a specific channel you can then use a semi-colon ; as shorthand for the say command, but this will only appear on the specific channel.

   ;hello everybody on the channel

Two full stops before the name of another member can be used to SAY specifically to a person, e.g.

   ..inky hello

This will be visible to everyone though.

A single full stop is a whisper (can also be typed w inky = can they hear us?)

   .davidw enough spoilers already!

 for emotion use emote

   emote dances on the table

Logon Messages
The most bizarre thing you will see are the messages that appear when a user logs in, which to the untrained eye appears to be a part of the general conversation. To not feel left out, you can use the following commands for your own entrance and log-off witticisms/maniacal creations

   @field me = connect : logs on, with magic in his eyes

   @field me = olounge : enters the lounge dressed like a chicken

   @field me = ohomemsg : presses off on her TV remote and gradually recedes into a dot

   @describe me = you see a good-looking pain-in-the-ass.

If like me you get disconnected often, you can @recap #lounge 200 or whichever channel you like.

Who are these users?

If listening to the conversation doesn't give enough info try the finger and examine commands.

Who is currently online? Click here (courtesy of Emily Short).


Who created the IF-MUD? Liza Daly.. but probably alongside a host of other people. Liza Daly's Website

Can I see all the rooms in the IF-MUD? Yes, as David Welbourn,the "Mapman" has mapped it all: Map of the IF-MUD

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