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ProcGen Interactive Fiction Game - intent to participate #89
This is only loosely a novel, (that doesn't seem to be stopping anybody else!), but I'm going to write some code (probably in python, maybe? to take advantage of pycorpora) that generates a valid Inform7 game. (That is, a text adventure, ala Zork, Hitchhiker's Guide, etc.)
This project includes a few technologies for me that I've only played around a bit with in the past, (inform and python just for starters!) ...so that's fun. I'll definitely post progress here as I make some.
I did create a public repo here: https://github.com/mgrider/inform-gen
My original idea was to get randomized corpora categories, and then get randomized values from those categories, but the problem is that corpora categories aren't standardized, and have n depths. So given a randomized category, I don't know how to get its end-result values. And in some cases, ("winners", for example, which contains a woefully inadequate amount of data), it doesn't even really make sense to get a single value from the category. I've ended up just picking and choosing my own pieces of corpora to use. I'll just have to get over the feeling that that's cheating.
Made some significant progress tonight, and got the thing more or less working to my original first version / initial concept / mvp. Basically there is a grid of rooms (size is configurable at the top of the script), and each room has a piece of fruit, an item, and a container. I won't spoil it, but it is possible to "win". (Although you have very little incentive for doing so.) Some of the room names and descriptions have been pretty funny though. I added some examples of the script output (and a playthrough or two) here: https://github.com/mgrider/inform-gen/tree/master/output
Yes, definitely extremely readable. It can be really frustrating though when things don't work. The error messages are really verbose, and not always the most helpful. Additionally, there is no syntax highlighting in the editor, and with all the magic keywords, (and the ability to create your own!) it can be really hard to understand what is what in your "story". (Also, although there is a pretty decent seeming community around Inform, and IF in general, development of the tool seems more or less dead.)
Post-mortem / wrap-up post:
Also worth noting that version with 25 items doesn't always work. I went ahead and pushed an example of this output as
Additionally, I'm pretty sure the game as-is at the moment of this writing isn't that fun to play. There isn't enough randomization of the puzzles. Essentially, each room has the same fetch quest. (If you'd never played it before, and went into it without my spoiling it for you –which I'm not going to do here– it's possible it would take you a bit to figure out, but once you did, you'd know how to solve every other room, and it would grow tedious pretty quick. I think the version with 4 rooms (in a 2x2 grid) is probably the best way to play. There is some novelty in the randomized room names and descriptions which can sometimes be pretty surprising. It might be fun up to 12 or 16, but again, it would get old pretty fast in its current incarnation.
Another failure, I could argue, was my goal of learning Inform7, but I'll write more about that in a bit.
Because I wasn't really happy enough with the output of this script to post it anywhere, I also didn't submit it to ProcJam. That was/is also definitely a fail.
I learned quite a bit about writing Inform7! Unfortunately, that's about the best I can say about it. Inform got harder and harder to work with, and was generally the opposite of my experience with python. My take-away from Inform is that you want to write one sentence at a time, compiling after every one. Every new thing you try and do will require searching through the documentation for an example you can copy/paste. There were dozens of times when I would modify even just one word from an example and then scratch my head about why that changed caused it to stop working. And debugging was always a nightmare. The error messages sometimes contain (sometimes hilariously) a bit of randomization themselves. This seems interesting/funny the first few times you see the same error and the text is different, but the 3rd or 4th time, when you are at wit's end, it's no longer funny. Here's an example of an inform error (but not one with randomized text, I don't think):
In general, my take-away is that Inform7 syntax is a great big can of worms. It would probably take me a month of working full-time to really understand the entire system and how it all works together, and feeling competent in it would probably take much longer. (This was obviously not that month!)
Wishlist / TODO list