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<h1 class="page-header">A player's guide to IFComp file formats</h1>
<p>IFComp authors create their games using any tools they wish to use. As a result, the games during a given comp year will involve a wide variety of file formats. This short guide gives you, the IFComp player, a quick rundown of the most common formats and how to play them.</p>
<p>Most of these game formats will work on any modern computer, but some require additional software to run. You can identify the &#8220;flavor&#8221; of an IFComp game (and know what else you need to play it) by its main file&#8217;s extension, as described below.</p>
<h3 id="inform">Glulx and Z-Code games</h3>
<p><strong>File extensions:</strong> <code>.gblorb</code>, <code>.zblorb</code>, <code>.ulx</code>, <code>.z5</code>, <code>.z8</code></p>
<p>There are two ways to play these games, which are created using the <a href="">Inform</a> IF authoring tool:</p>
<li><p><a href="">Download an appropriate interpreter for your operating system</a>, and have it load the game file that (since you&#8217;re reading this) you&#8217;ve already downloaded.</p></li>
<li><p><a href="/comp/">Play the game on the website</a> by locating its entry in the game list and clicking its &#8220;Play Online&#8221; button or link.</p></li>
<div class="alert alert-info">
<p><strong>Special note for Mac users this year:</strong> The most recent version of macOS, Sierra, has demonstrated incompatibilities with several older interpreters, including Zoom, Spatterlight, and Gargoyle. If you have trouble running these programs, consider <a href="">Lectrote</a>, a new interpreter by Andrew Plotkin. You can also try playing the games in a web browser, as described above.</p>
<p>Note that games in this format are usually <a href="">parser-based IF</a>, in the mode of Infocom&#8217;s classic text adventures, the ones where you have to type in commands like <strong>GET LAMP</strong> and <strong>KILL TROLL WITH SWORD</strong> and <strong>ASK ZOE ABOUT QUANTUM PHYSICS</strong> and so on. Playing these games as intended requires knowledge of (and comfort with) parser conventions. </p>
<p>Some games contain some basic instructions if you e.g. type <strong>HELP</strong> as your first command. You can also find <a href="">links to parser primers and tutorial games</a> on the website.</p>
<h3 id="web">Web games</h3>
<p><strong>File extension:</strong> <code>.html</code></p>
<p>Nowadays the most common single format for IFComp entries is HTML, meant to run in most any modern web browser. Just locate and open the game&#8217;s <code>.html</code> file, and your browser of choice should take it from there. (If the game is made of many HTML files, look for one named <code>index.html</code>, unless a README file in that game&#8217;s folder directs you otherwise.)</p>
<p>In most cases, you can play a web-based entry during the competition by tapping its "Play Online" button, too.</p>
<p>You will probably need JavaScript enabled in your browser to let games work properly. (If you aren&#8217;t sure whether or not you have JavaScript enabled, then you probably do; it&#8217;s almost always on by default.)</p>
<p>Some web-based games work completely offline, with everything you need to play in their respective download directories, but others are hosted online and require an internet connection to play.</p>
<h3 id="tads">TADS games</h3>
<p><strong>File extensions:</strong> <code>.gam</code>, <code>.t3</code></p>
<p><a href="">TADS</a> is another popular system for creating parser IF. As with Inform, it offers <a href="">its own variety of free, cross-platform interpreters</a> you can use to load and play games created with it.</p>
<p>We strongly recommend using a <a href="">TADS-specific interpeter</a> to play IFComp entries created with TADS, rather than a more general multi-format IF interpreter. They tend to be much more capable at properly loading and displaying all types of TADS-based work, including those using the newer "HTML TADS" format.</p>
<p>As TADS games are also usually parser-based, the above links and advice regarding parser-play also apply here.</p>
<h3 id="quest">Quest games</h3>
<p><strong>File extension:</strong> <code>.quest</code></p>
<p>Quest is another popular IF system, albeit one whose downloadable titles work only on Windows. <a href="">You can download its interpreter for free from its website.</a> Quest games are often (but not always) parser-based, as well.</p>
<h3 id="quest">Alan games</h3>
<p><strong>File extension:</strong> <code>.a3c</code></p>
<p><a href="">Alan</a> is another system for creating parser-based IF. Like TADS and Inform, playing its games requires the use of <a href="">a separate interpreter program</a>, available for Windows, Mac, and Linux.</p>
<h3 id="adrift">ADRIFT games</h3>
<p><strong>File extensions:</strong> <code>.taf</code>, <code>.blorb</code></p>
<p><a href="">ADRIFT</a> is another system for creating parser-based IF. Like TADS and Inform, playing its games requires the use of <a href="">a separate interpreter ("runner") program</a>, available for Windows.</p>
<p>You can also play ADRIFT games on Android using the <a href="">Fabularium</a> interpreter.</p>
<p>Note that games made with ADRIFT can have a "blorb" file extension, just like <a href="#inform">games made with Inform</a>, but they don't work with Lectrote, Gargoyle, or other popular IF interpreters.</p>
<p>(Confused? <a href="">Blorb is an open file format for IF games.</a> Of IF-creation platforms that output blorb files, Inform is far and away the most commonly used, but other platforms -- such as ADRIFT -- can use this format as well.)</p>
<h3 id="windows">Windows executables</h3>
<p><strong>File extension:</strong> <code>.exe</code></p>
<p>Games with the file extension <code>.exe</code> are native Windows programs. If you&#8217;re running Windows, just run them like any other program.</p>
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