Talking about Inform games in the age of Glulx

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bryanb
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Talking about Inform games in the age of Glulx

Post by bryanb » Mon Oct 07, 2019 5:50 am

The big list of this year's games on the IF comp website doesn't mention the word "Inform" by design. Instead, it lists a variety of Inform games it indicates as being either Z-code or Glulx games. That makes sense considering you may need to know whether an Inform game uses the Z-machine or the Glulx VM to know what interpreter to use to play it, but as a reviewer I find this classification somewhat unsatisfying for a couple of semantic reasons. For one thing, we've been calling Inform games Inform games for decades at this point, and it would feel strange to have to say an old Inform game is a Z-code game considering they were all Z-code games. Shocker: there was no Glulx category at the 1995 competition! Plus, there's the fact that not all Z-code games are Inform games. If we get a new ZIL game or a long lost Infocom game entered in the competition, I don't think they should necessarily be lumped in together with Inform Z-code games even if you could use the same interpreter to play all three.

What I tend to do in my mind is call Z-code Inform games just Inform games and call Glulx Inform games just Glulx games. No one deeply involved in the Inform world other than hardcore Z-code devotees would probably like that naming system, but it works for me. I think for RFTK I'll list them respectively as Inform and Inform (Glulx) for the Game Type, and then just refer to them as Inform games in the body of the review where needed unless I have something specific to say about Glulx (that's unlikely since I hate using the word Glulx). What classification system do you use?

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Re: Talking about Inform games in the age of Glulx

Post by Flack » Mon Oct 07, 2019 7:52 am

I refer to them by what language they were written in rather than the interpreter required to play them. If they're going to call them Glulx games they might as well call the ones you can play online Browser games.
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Re: Talking about Inform games in the age of Glulx

Post by Tdarcos » Mon Oct 07, 2019 12:17 pm

I djinni, when someone says "glulx" it makes me think of what you have to do to seal an envelope for mailing.
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Re: Talking about Inform games in the age of Glulx

Post by pinback » Mon Oct 07, 2019 2:17 pm

Holy crap, I actually laughed at that. Nothing makes sense anymore.
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Re: Talking about Inform games in the age of Glulx

Post by AArdvark » Mon Oct 07, 2019 3:45 pm

He is at his funniest when he's not really trying

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Re: Talking about Inform games in the age of Glulx

Post by bryanb » Tue Oct 08, 2019 4:20 am

Flack wrote:
Mon Oct 07, 2019 7:52 am
I refer to them by what language they were written in rather than the interpreter required to play them. If they're going to call them Glulx games they might as well call the ones you can play online Browser games.
IFComp basically does do that with the CYOA browser games -- they're listed as "Choice-based" and "Web-based" but not as Twine, Choicescript, etc games. I feel like there should at least be some kind of warning for the Texture games because Texture is so weird...but maybe there aren't actually any Texture games entered this year. It might be true the CYOA players don't generally care that much about the software behind the web games they play. As long as they can click or tap on something, they're happy. Meanwhile, parser IF players act like it's a big deal to download another interpreter so they can play an Alan or Hugo game. At least we've got Juhana's HugoJS now which enables a select number of Hugo games to be played online, but I still think Paul should revive his Hugo online project personally.

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Re: Talking about Inform games in the age of Glulx

Post by Tdarcos » Tue Oct 08, 2019 5:38 am

bryanb wrote:
Tue Oct 08, 2019 4:20 am
IFComp basically does do that with the CYOA browser games -- they're listed as "Choice-based" and "Web-based" but not as Twine, Choicescript, etc games.
I guess they want to avoid liability, thus they call them CYOA: Cover Your Own Ass.
bryanb wrote:
Tue Oct 08, 2019 4:20 am
I feel like there should at least be some kind of warning for the Texture games because Texture is so weird..
At first I thought you were saying "Torture games," and I was thinking those would definitely be weird.
bryanb wrote:
Tue Oct 08, 2019 4:20 am
Meanwhile, parser IF players act like it's a big deal to download another interpreter so they can play an Alan or Hugo game.
I've pointed this out before, this is a bit of an issue, sometimes it gets to be a bit much to have to install something else just to play a game. It was like I pointed out I'm interested in looking at programming, so I decided to do what is needed once, and instead of just installing the one SCM client I needed to download that project, I installed all three (git, mercurial, and subversion) so I'd not have to bother again. I might not have bothered installing them if I did not have a significant interest in the first place, enough to overcome the trouble to do another install of yet another (group of) application(s).

I can explain installation fatigue in my own case. While most Android apps cost nothing I am getting sick of every place having a perfectly good website strongly recommending I install their (always crappy and less functional) app. I reserve apps for things where it does something better than a website does. Like Unicode Pad, an app that finds different Unicode characters. This is faster to look them up than to do a Google search. That is when an app makes more sense: when it provides better functionality than a web browser (or in the case of a game, is not available on a web browser)
bryanb wrote:
Tue Oct 08, 2019 4:20 am
At least we've got Juhana's HugoJS now which enables a select number of Hugo games to be played online, but I still think Paul should revive his Hugo online project personally.
My original plan was to turn a game into an array and then run the interpreter as a PHP program referencing the game as a pre-loaded array. I had not thought of doing a JavaScript library. So I really don't see what I could offer that would be an improvement.

If I was going to do anything, I'd convert whichever in the best interpreter for Hugo to use the Android C/C++ compiler so these games could run on Android (other than in a web browser). Or perhaps also getting the compiler to work on Android so Hugo games could be developed on Android. Of course that brings up interesting conditions as the vast majority of Android devices are not 10" tablets like I'm using right now to write this, they're 6" or 7" cell phones. This means text games are not a problem, but graphical ones might be.
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Re: Talking about Inform games in the age of Glulx

Post by Ice Cream Jonsey » Tue Oct 08, 2019 6:03 am

Tdarcos wrote:
Tue Oct 08, 2019 5:38 am
bryanb wrote:
Tue Oct 08, 2019 4:20 am
IFComp basically does do that with the CYOA browser games -- they're listed as "Choice-based" and "Web-based" but not as Twine, Choicescript, etc games.
I guess they want to avoid liability, thus they call them CYOA: Cover Your Own Ass.
[/quote]

I'll say it - Tdarcos has made two good zingers this week and is well on his way to being this year's Most Valuable Poster.

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Re: Talking about Inform games in the age of Glulx

Post by Ice Cream Jonsey » Tue Oct 08, 2019 6:06 am

Tdarcos wrote:
Tue Oct 08, 2019 5:38 am
I can explain installation fatigue in my own case. While most Android apps cost nothing I am getting sick of every place having a perfectly good website strongly recommending I install their (always crappy and less functional) app. I reserve apps for things where it does something better than a website does. Like Unicode Pad, an app that finds different Unicode characters. This is faster to look them up than to do a Google search. That is when an app makes more sense: when it provides better functionality than a web browser (or in the case of a game, is not available on a web browser)
Totally with you on that - Steam has also made people reluctant to install new "launchers." The Epic Megagames Store is shitty software, but the argument you see online that goes, "Wha, is every game going to have its OWN LAUNCHER NOW ...." yeah, they used to.

I will say that it's a zillion times easier to know how to run Hugo games than games in Inform right now. For Hugo - download Hugor for your platform, off you go. For Inform/Zcode/Glulx I honestly could not speak to the "right" interpreter for a given platform, I'd have to do research and look. I am okay with that because as a text game veteran it's a good thing that we are spoiled for choice. But still, this is one of those cases where Hugo's on top for ease of use right now.
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Re: Talking about Inform games in the age of Glulx

Post by Tdarcos » Wed Oct 09, 2019 6:51 pm

Ice Cream Jonsey wrote:
Tue Oct 08, 2019 6:06 am
For Hugo - download Hugor for your platform…For Inform/Zcode/Glulx I honestly could not speak to the "right" interpreter… I am okay with that… it's a good thing that we are spoiled for choice. But still, this is one of those cases where Hugo's on top for ease of use right now.
And I'd add for ease of progrsmmmg too. I don't know if you remember when I was trying a different IF authoring language — at the moment I can't remember which one but I think it was TADS orTADS3[*] — and decided it wasn't very good. I really didn't "get" how keyword processing and event handling — event" being an action the player did or that happened to them. I think the learning curve for writing games using Hugo is much less than other IF systems and the "payoff" in terms of the capability for the amount of time put into learning the language is much greater.

— — — —
[*] I did a search here. It was TADS3 in December 2016 and I just couldn't get the hang of it.
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Re: Talking about Inform games in the age of Glulx

Post by RealNC » Wed Oct 09, 2019 10:28 pm

It doesn't look like it's important to know what language something was written in. Do you care for example if the browser you're using is written in C++ or Rust? Or whether the forum you're looking at right now is written in Ruby or PHP?

However, it is important to know what kind of interpreter is needed to run the game (Glulx, TADS, Hugo, etc.)

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Re: Talking about Inform games in the age of Glulx

Post by Jizaboz » Wed Oct 09, 2019 10:35 pm

RealNC wrote:
Wed Oct 09, 2019 10:28 pm
It doesn't look like it's important to know what language something was written in. Do you care for example if the browser you're using is written in C++ or Rust? Or whether the forum you're looking at right now is written in Ruby or PHP?
You are asking the wrong crowd about this one. Have you forgotten there are NERDS here? Heh-heh

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