Shamus Does IF

If you’re into RPGs (the tabletop or computer variety), or video games in general, you’re probably already familiar with Shamus Young and his blog, Twenty Sided. You’re probably also familiar with his excellent webcomic series, DM of the Rings. You certainly should be.

But, if you’re more of an interactive fiction person than an RPG or FPS person, maybe not.

Shamus does a great job with his blog, and I really enjoy his writing. There are only a handful of blogs I enjoy following because of the writing, and his is one of them. Whether it’s a skillful disemboweling of a popular AAA title, a recounting of his role-playing experiences, or his tireless raging against the evils of DRM, it’s always an enjoyable read with the right mixture of insight and humor.

I’ve always suspected he had a soft spot for text games. He’s spent some time getting to know Inform, one of the programming languages for IF that uses a more “natural language” approach to coding. And although he found it maddening at first, it seems like he’s seen the light.  He’s even gone so far as to make a game with it, and now he’s put it out there for anyone to download and play. (Be warned, however, the page contains a Java applet to play the game that may piss off your browser when it loads.)

It’s a text representation of a standard Sci-Fi first-person shooter, with a few puzzles thrown in. Some of the puzzles are straightforward, and some are a bit out of left field. There are a few guess-the-verb situations, a number of verb-noun combinations that you think should work but don’t, and a lot of objects that probably should be implemented but aren’t. He makes liberal use of the USE <noun> command, something many IF authors tend to shy away from. And plenty of typos, room description glitches, and other minor issues, all of which can be easily corrected. But there’s also plenty of his trademark writing and humor, like when you try to TAKE something that wouldn’t normally be taken.

All in all, a reasonably good effort for a first try. It’s not completed yet, but I’m sure he would appreciate some additional eyes taking a look at it. If you’re interested, give it a shot. Pun only slightly intended.

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  1. Posted January 19, 2010 at 4:11 PM | Permalink

    I just finished a game that will probably piss off IF enthusiasts. It’s running on a loud, obnoxious page with an ironic looping midi file, the game itself (written in inform) tends to push you around, is full of potty humour, has a hit-point based fighting system that exposes the points to the player (ew), and has ‘puzzles’ so easy that you usually just have to wait around a while to let them solve themselves.

    The whole thing was made as a joke, though. And it’s directed to people who don’t usually play IF, or have never even heard of it. The whole thing is was made to go along with a friend’s series of web-shorts, one of which is about to play at this year’s Sundance Film festival.

    Here’s the game:
    and here’s the shorts it accompanies:

  2. wtrmute
    Posted January 19, 2010 at 8:17 PM | Permalink

    While I agree that IF authors should generally shy away from overusing USE, in this case, since FPSs generally involve a generic “use” button to push buttons, open doors, &c., it is warranted here. Anyway, good for him!

  3. Posted January 22, 2010 at 4:55 PM | Permalink

    Good point. Plus, it’s supposed to be a parody of FPS games, so why not?

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