The Mailbag

The Trotting Krip Mailbag - Going Where No Mailbag Has Gone Before

I know this mailbag was supposed to be a weekly feature, but we stopped getting enough mail to justify it appearing that often(even before, the mailbag usually ended up being delayed for a week or two). Since we've received a fair amount of mail since the last 'bag many months ago, it was easy putting together this one. However, from now on the mailbag will be a very irregular feature, unless we start getting more mail, that is. A once a month update sounds pretty good to me.

If you're new to this section, let me explain: this is where Trotting Krip readers can ask IF related questions, rant and rave about scene oddities, or tell us how much we suck. And, erm...that's it. You can get printed in our mailbag by writing us(duh) at Make our day. Hell, make YOUR day. Make everybody's day. Just write! Alternatively, you could not write and just read the mailbag archives instead, you fat, lazy, pink pig.

Anyway, enjoy the mailbag this week. Live it - love it - revel in it. Bryan's replies are in italics and Robb's are in bold, and Ben's...ARE INVISIBLE! HAHA, JUST YOU GO AHEAD AND TRY TO READ THEM, CLEVER GUY!!!!


Dear Trotting Krips:

Ho, kind people. I am curious to learn more about several games recently released into the public domain that are now available for download from the GMD National Research Center for Information Technology's FTP server. The games, I understand, were produced by a group of English university students during the 80s, collectively under the name of "Topologika." Are these games worth downloading? Have they been uploaded to GMD for merely 'historic' purposes, or are they still playable now? I honestly hate dated garbage such as Scott Adams' early games, pioneering though everyone says they are. Please tell me more. Thanks,

-Christopher Murrow

Unfortunately, I don't have much more to tell you. I've never played any Topologika games before, and I haven't downloaded the DOS versions from GMD yet, though I do intend to as soon as the comp is over. I imagine some of them are quite dated, but people say there are at least a couple classics to be found among them, so I would say they are worth downloading if you're at all interested in the history of IF. Not that you would be, you Scott Adams-hating idiot. Oops, did I just insult the audience?

Funnily enough, since I answered this letter originally several months ago I have played a few of the Topologika games. My verdict: writing good, stories good, parser very bad, interface pretty dodgy. Probably not a great choice for Christopher, but I was right: they are fascinating for those poor people who are deeply interested in the history of IF. Personally, though, I think I'll stick to playing Tales of Phantasia for the time being...



Dear Trotting Krips:

Hello there. You guys run a great, entertaining site, and it's now the first place I go when looking for IF reviews. But...I was wondering if you or anybody else(you can put this in the mailbag if you want) knows whatever became of Baf? He ran the first IF review web site that I remember, sort of an opinionated index of the IF Archive games. His site was supposed to be back in November, but not only is it still missing in action now, Baf has also not posted any news either. Is it defunct?

I love Trotting Krips, but I really miss Baf. He just reviewed so many games that I could always go over to his site and find the game I wanted reviewed. It would be ideal if we only had Baf to write tons of small, serious reviews and Trotting Krips to provide the longer, funny ones.


-Andrei Kostis

Funnily enough, I just got an E-mail from Baf the other day. It was pretty threatening - he even included the following picture to let us know that he did not at all appreciate Reviews From Trotting Krips' recent surge in popularity. Check it out here. Who knew that Baf could wear makeup so well?

Seriously, though(not that that wasn't serious...), Baf had a good, extensive site that definitely helped originally inspire Reviews From Trotting Krips. It had some flaws, yeah, but I bet this site has a few, too. I have no idea whether the site is ever coming back(maybe in November, 2000?), but I do sincerely hope it will.

[Months later] Of course, now we all know that Baf's web site is bursting with life once again. Er, sort of...last update = four months ago? But you can visit it here if you want. It may well still be the best IF reviews site in existence, though those reviews are awful short...

[Baf is a god, and like most gods, his schedule is sometimes nigh incomprehensible to us mortals. But also, like a god, the fruit of his labor is quite sweet. -R.]

Dear Trotting Krips:

Hey guys...Iam really a big fan of the funny what's new entries, and i was just wondering, who writes them and where you got the idea to announce updates in such an original way. thanks, appreciate a response, keep it cool!

-sam g. from down under

Well, I wrote all the old What's New stuff, then Robb took over for the most part sometime last year, though I still personally announce my own new updates. I'm really not sure where the idea to do a "verbose" What's New page came from - maybe I was inspired by Seanbaby and/or Fruity Satsu's brilliant work over at rpgd.

Dear Trotting Krips:

Why isn't the mailbag updated anymore?


Because people like YOU don't write in more often. What are we supposed to do...just start talking to ourselves here? I was just barely able to prevent Robb from putting out a mailbag consisting entirely of letters from Al-Muntaqim and the Gaybot this week - next time around I may just cave in, especially if Doug Bitling and Urethra-Man are going to be involved.

[Exactly. And as Urethra-Man's friends call him Porkball, we will continue to call him Urethra-Man. --R.]

Dear Trotting Krips:

Season's greetings to Robb, Ben, and Bryan! I would like you to consider publishing and answering the following letter in your "Mailbag" section if it is to ever be updated again. I am truly interested in hearing each of your distinct viewpoints on this subject. Thank you!

I have come to the conclusion that there is exactly ONE thing which is preventing IF from achieving mass(or at the very least, much greater than it is as present) popularity among the worldwide community of computer game players. That thing is the incredibly confusing profusion of "tools" which are currently necessary to produce and play IF games. The newbie who wanders over to the IF archive just looking for some fun games to play is soon bewildered by the mass of choices he is presented with. I don't believe there is a person in the world who genuinely likes having to keep their text adventure collection divided based on development system; who on Earth really wants to have to keep half a dozen interpreters handy, especially when some development systems only have had one or two quality games written using them?

Wouldn't it be much better if the IF scene decided to collectively come together and rally around a single development system? Instead of having Inform, TADS, Hugo, Alan, AGT, Adrift, and god knows what else competing with each other, one development system could become the defacto standard - and the others could mercifully fade into nonexistence. Things would be better for everyone. For the players, life would be much less confusing as they would only need a single interpreter to play all the new games. The authors would no longer need to argue and ponder at great length over what development system to use to produce their games. And support would obviously be improved immensely, as there would be only one development system left to support - the developer(s) would be able to easily find skilled volunteers willing and able to assist with answering queries if they were too busy to handle it themselves.

(I would prefer to remain anonymous if possible.)

Well, personally, I like variety. I get bored if I play too many Inform games in a row - they all have the same "feel", y'know? It gets monotonous for me. So I really enjoy playing games written with different systems, and I would never support any movement to impose one particular development system on the IF community. If somebody just wants to play Inform or TADS games, nothing is stopping them. But why would YOU want to stop those people who want to write games in less popular languages/development systems from doing something they want to do? Diversity is a good thing - choice is a good thing.

[Going to a single IF interpreter also means that every author would need to be writing in a single language, which would be impossible to govern. Also, each language has their own strengths, which I shall briefly bring up now:

-- Inform: I am popular! And playing me is like playing Infocom games! You like Infocom games, don't ya?
-- TADS: You programmers that like C like me, don't ya? And I can do graphics and sound!
-- Hugo: I can make games like Magnetic Scrolls did! You like them, don'tcha? Ya also like MP3s and AVIs, right?
-- AGT: I'm all about being an easy, powerful language that non-programmers can find intuitive!
-- ADRIFT: I'm a new language that Robb doesn't know much about yet; the bastard.

Weaknesses I leave for another topic. As for keeping multiple 'terps on a system: with most operating systems, you only need to double-click on the story file and the game will launch its own interpreter. So keeping an active and updated set of executables isn't something you really have to do.

But really, the real casualty of losing the multiple platform system is that we'd no longer see the output of certain diseased and aggressive imaginations pop up on raif informing us all that the latest version of Generi-Terp crashes their system, deletes all their system files, and gives chylamidia to pets.

Nobody wants that particular avenue of entertainment obliterated, right? -- R.]