Good stuff. More generally, if you want a short (<1hr) and amusing example of IF, try this:
ZIL is basically a domain-specific language on top of MDL, the Lisp-like language that was used to write the original mainframe Zork. The developers went on to start Infocom and split Zork into three parts that were small enough to run on home computers, creating ZIL and the Z-machine in the process.
The source code for mainframe Zork is still available, but the subset of MDL implemented by ZILF isn't complete enough to play it. Matthew T. Russotto has written a MDL interpreter to do just that: http://www.ifarchive.org/indexes/if-archiveXprogrammingXmdlX...
The same author has also written many great blog posts walking through the history of interactive fiction
His article about Ultima IV got 97 comments the last time it was submitted here:
For example, I think coverage around the announcement of a new tax plan should adjust to the given user (ex. "Under Clinton's plan, your taxes will increase by 5%, to $14,000 annually."). Unfortunately, there just don't seem to be many good tools for allowing non-programmers to encode manipulable facts into their narratives.
When news is just breaking there would obviously be lots of dead ends, but perhaps if people kept inputting the same sort of question it would get flagged and become more important as the story develops. For example in the case of the plane crash, after hearing the initial reports of the pilot being locked out my immediate thoughts were:
- What is the lock mechanism like? Can the door be opened with force?
- How is the lock controlled?
- How is the altitude for autopilot set? Is it easy to set 96 feet instead of 9600 feet?
- Is there any record of the copilot's vitals before the crash?
- Why wasn't there another person in the cabin while the pilot stepped out?
What would be great is if I could see a list of topics, select one, and then either highlight sections/tags to follow up on, submit a question, or follow a link to an existing question. The UX here would be a very interesting study I think.
Inform> Scream expletives at reporter
That's not a verb I recognize.
The simplest way to do this would probably be to get a team of interns to trawl the net looking for what people are talking about after a story breaks (such as top voted Reddit comments), rephrasing them as necessary, and then turning them into tags which people reading the story can then subscribe to. Readers could select existing ones or see them fuzzy completed as they input their own questions. Hmmm.
Interestingly, I actually think where the innovation is needed is on the input side. It's possible to produce a structured and personalizable story today, but it requires long programming lead times. We need to create systems which make it possible to build such stories at the speed of news.
(Shameless plug, but if anyone is interesting in this problem space I'm currently hiring. Email firstname.lastname@example.org if interested.)
While it provides an okay experience on the reader side, it's jut not usable on the writer side—in terms of composition, it's not much better than any other JS framework.
What I really need is a way of letting non-technical writers create interactive stories. Probably the most successful example of this is Excel.
There's a huge community of IF fans and producers which really runs more out of love than profit. There's also an archive where you can download a lot of games (or even play them on-line). Check out http://www.ifarchive.org/.
It's always interesting to me when I hear people say this, because I can't understand it at all. If you ask me to close my eyes and visualize a car, I don't actually see anything. I can recall what a car or a specific car looks like, but I don't actually "see" it in any sense. Same with reading - I don't (can't) actually visualize the characters, settings, etc. I'm always momentarily confused when someone complains about a film/TV adaptation with "such and such actor is really good, but that character is supposed to have GREEN eyes!". To me it's an incidental fact, whereas to some people it's central to their conception of the character (as if a real-life person had suddenly changed eye color for no apparent reason).
I've always wondered whether my condition is the norm, or if most people are capable of visual recall.
The referenced paper can be found here: http://psychclassics.yorku.ca/Galton/imagery.htm
Now I feel handicapped, although I suppose that maybe if I could conjure up these mental images, I wouldn't be so good at symbolic processing. I guess this is why I have always preferred text to diagrams and such...
By the way, what I can do is hear music in my mind - and yes, this comes with pitch, volume, timbre, polyphony and everything. In fact if I'm at a place with a constant background noise - as in a plane, or near an air conditioning machine - I sometimes think I'm actually hearing it in reality (although I have learned that I'm not). I wonder if other people also experience this.
I remember when I was a kid I told my older brother I could play music in my head just like if I had pressed play in a tape deck. He was really puzzled.
I still can do it and it is definitely accurate. I lack perfect pitch recognition but for some reason when I play music in my head it's played in its original pitch. I use this to my advantage to replace perfect pitch: I just play a song with a known pitch in my head and use that imagined pitch as a relative. This works wonders for interval identification too (e.g. the first two notes in The Simpsons are a tritone apart).
I still have a fondness for books that I might not otherwise have. Some movies seem to be plucked right out of my mental images (The Hobbit and LoTR movies) but others are really disappointing (Ender's Game was way better as visualized in my head).
To be honest, I'm not entirely sure I understand what other people mean when they say mental pictures. If I close my eyes and try to imagine an elephant, I find myself describing the elephant essentially with words. There's nothing like an "image" in my mind, though I do sometimes have mental ideas without sentences (for example, I could easily imagine a flow chart right now).
Do other people see actual images when they imagine something?
In my case the image is not very clear around the edges, but it's very sharp where my mind eye is directly looking at. The rest is a bit blurry and fluid, but the general spatial structure is still clear. I do see color too.
It doesn't actually feel like literally seeing. It feels more like the post-processing your brain does after the real sight is processed. I can even mind-see with my eyes open and it feels different, which suggests they're separate mechanisms. It feels kind of like a projection in the back of my mind.
I'd compare it more to remembering sight, with the ability to mix those memories and imagining them (e.g. I've never seen a pink elephant but I can mix elephant and pink color).
For more intricate shapes like people's faces everything is fluid and not very sharp though. I get the rough shape of their heads and obvious details like the hair and then I can focus on specific parts of their face but not the whole picture. I've never been very good at remembering faces, but I'm very good at recognizing faces (even strangers which I just happen to cross on the street), which also suggests those are different brain mechanisms too.
Memorable faces like Angelina Jolie's are easier to picture as a whole, but common faces are harder to picture, no matter how much I've seen them (it's easier to picture Jolie than my own mother).
I've started with drawing a dot on the piece of white paper, and was closing my eyes for a few seconds, trying to imagine it.
After that - moved onto simple shapes and colors. Then practiced imagining cars or people's faces. Sometimes you can take a car and "rotate" it in your imagination, or change colors and details.
Or walk down the street and mentally replace buildings with a nuclear wasteland or a jungle with dinosaurs =)
Now I can close my eyes and imagine flying around a city, or enact some cool action scenes, car chases, anything.
I strongly suspect that it's not a limit, Tesla wrote in his autobiography that he could imagine things so vividly that they were like hallucinations, and invented/simulated whole mechanisms in his mind.
I have a very active imagination and can easily come up with entire stories, cities, and ideas in my mind. They're just encoded textually.
Can you draw pictures of things without consulting a present example? (If only slightly or very abstractly, have you ever tried improving this skill?)
If I were to ask you what's the color of Santa Claus's outfit, I suspect you could answer. Is that simply because you remember written or verbal communication naming that color? Do any other aspects of Santa's usual depiction come to mind at the same time, simply as a side effect of being asked about the outfit color?
On a scale of 1-10, my drawing ability is, generously, a 1.
> If only slightly or very abstractly, have you ever tried improving this skill?
"Improve drawing ability" is sort of on my back burner of things I should do - think, "I should buy a boat" cat meme. Even if I were consulting a present example, though, my ability to draw something would be very poor, so maybe it's just lack of training?
> If I were to ask you what's the color of Santa Claus's outfit, I suspect you could answer. Is that simply because you remember written or verbal communication naming that color?
I know it's red, but it's a purely verbal phenomenon. Thinking about it now it does sound strange - I know red when I see it, but I honestly cannot conjure up an image of "red", or any other color besides black, if I close my eyes.
> Do any other aspects of Santa's usual depiction come to mind at the same time, simply as a side effect of being asked about the outfit color?
Not unbidden, but if I think about it - grandfatherly, big white beard, ruddy cheeks, white-fur fringed red suit, black boots, portly. It's not necessarily from remembering written or spoken descriptions, though - it's more like my visual memories get encoded verbally.
FWIW I've always done exceptionally well on tests of verbal ability (perfect score on SAT and GRE verbal sections, for example) so maybe the part of my brain that should be doing visualizations is doing word stuff instead? Or, maybe since I lack that component I've had to make up for it by becoming better at language? I'm not sure.
One last thing I wonder may be correlated: do you have a good sense of direction/navigation?
If someone gives me spoken directions, or I read them ahead of time and then don't reference them, I generally do fine. But if I walk around in an unfamiliar area I tend to get turned around.
What would it mean to wire inform up to arbitrary hardware as a primary user interface?
Indeed. When you read IF coded in Inform it all seems to make sense, but when you have to program it you realize you're just learning a very difficult and idiosyncratic syntax.
The lady is in the lake,
The lady is holding her breath...
When the lady is sad and the window is plaid
Then end the game in death.
Inform is a design system for interactive fiction based on natural language. It is a radical reinvention of the way interactive fiction is designed, guided by contemporary work in semantics and by the practical experience of some of the world's best-known writers of IF.
Inform's source reads like English sentences, making it uniquely accessible to non-programmers. It's very easy to get started. Watch a screencast.
Also of interest:
Inform's first website was a single hand-coded HTML page in the primitive, 10,000-site Web of 1995. Today the Web has a hundred million sites, and we're larger and better too.
It doesn't need hosting as your files will be hosted by GitHub and you can write your interactive fiction stories directly form the web.
I wrote a little introduction at Ludum Dare's blog and I will use it to write a text adventure for the AdventureJam starting next week!
Note: I took inspiration form Twine and bl.ocks.org for the initial development of the tool.
I've been looking at this for a few hours, and I am floored.
Am I missing something in existing IDE's?