by syaffolee

Eh, Who Needs Programming?

So I’ve taken up a new hobby for whatever free time I can squeeze out on the weekends. No, no, this time it’s for real. I’m going to attempt to make a text adventure game using a story I’ve had in my head for a while. I once tried to make it into an interactive hypertext story, but HTML has its own limitations. The appeal of a text adventure game (alternatively known as interactive fiction or IF) is that as the player, you are the character in the story. As a writer, it’s a way for me not to spoonfeed a story to the reader. The reader becomes the participant.

Anyways, making an IF game requires programming skills–skills that I sadly lack. Perhaps I should have voluntarily exposed myself to it when I was younger by reading my father’s computer programming manuals, but the most I’d done was to pick up an “Internet Yellowpages” when I was bored. But I did teach myself HTML and some CSS (I know, internet stuff is totally different than C++, but please bear with me) so how hard could it be?

Most IF games, or at least the IF games I like playing, are authored in first tier systems that can be ported in many different platforms. So I figured I could learn Inform or TADS and set about reading the different online manuals for those systems. The problem, however, was that they assumed that the novice already knew something about programming. I knew nothing. In practice. In theory, I know what people are talking about when they’re “compiling” or “debugging” but I wouldn’t know how to execute those commands even if you held a flaming pitchfork to my neck.

So those are out, or rather temporarily until I learn the basics of basics (hopefully). In the mean time, I’ve been fiddling around with a second tier system (SUDS) which is very easy to implement (it’s point and click idiot-proof) but not very popular or as flexible as one of the first tier systems. Nonetheless, there are some interesting things you can do with it, if you can warp your mind to think “logically” about it.

I just wish there was an easier way to do this. Are there programs where I can easily convert a game in one authoring system to another? Are there interpreters that can open games in different systems? Can I get someone else to write all the code while I can concentrate on the story?

And if making a text adventure game for fun doesn’t make me an uber-geek, nothing will.