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PunyInform

PunyInform is a library written in Inform 6 which allows people to create text adventure games / interactive fiction using the Z-machine virtual machine, to be played on 8-bit computers as well as newer platforms. It provides a parser, implementations of common verbs, as well as a framework for writing text adventures.

PunyInform is based on the Inform 6 library, developed by Graham Nelson. We are trying to make it easy for authors used to writing in Inform 6 to start using PunyInform. There is a manual describing the differences.

Games using PunyInform can be compiled to z3, z5 and z8 format. Compared to the Inform 6 library, this means we lack support for Glulx, but we have support for z3 (which the Inform 6 library lacks).

To compile games using PunyInform, we recommend the official Inform 6 compiler maintained by David Kinder, at https://github.com/DavidKinder/Inform6. Binaries can be found at the IF-Archive. PunyInform requires Inform v6.36.

You can also use borogove.app to write PunyInform code and play the resulting game in your browser. Just select PunyInform from the dropdown menu under Inform 6 and press the arrow next to it. It's meant for desktop use only though, so don't expect to do development work on your phone.

A minimal game in PunyInform

Motivation

The main goal of PunyInform is to allow for games which are fast and have a small memory footprint. This should make the games run well on older architectures, such as the 8-bit computers of the 1980s. Our main target is to make it suitable for games on the Commodore 64 using Ozmoo.

Status

PunyInform is fully working and has been used for multiple games. We carefully add and change features and fix bugs as they are found. Please check releasenotes.txt for more details.

If you are interested in our progress, please star or follow the project here on Github. Announcements are made on https://twitter.com/FRamsberg and on https://intfiction.org/c/authoring/inform-6/66

You can read the manual on our wiki. It is also included as a PDF when you download PunyInform.

There is also a Game Author's Guide (under Documentation) with various tips for authors writing a game using PunyInform. It's not intended to teach the entire library, but more to give some tips you may find useful when you have a working knowledge of the library and you've started developing a game which you think you will release.

You can see what tasks we're currently working on, tasks we've done and tasks coming up on our Trello board: https://trello.com/b/mfGVsB4H/punyinform

Learning PunyInform

There are two manuals you need to know about: DM4 and the PunyInform manual. Read on to learn how to use them and where to find them. Alternatively, you can start learning PunyInform by following the tutorials under Articles.

Writing a game with PunyInform is very similar to writing a game with the Inform 6 standard library - almost everything works the same. If you want to learn PunyInform by reading manuals, you first need to read the official documentation for the Inform 6 standard library, called The Inform Designer's Manual, 4th Edition, or DM4 for short (see links above). You can assume that everything in it also goes for PunyInform (but read the short list stating the biggest differences just below the next paragraph!).

As you start trying out examples, or start writing your own game, and there's something which you don't get to work, you should check the PunyInform manual, which describes everything that is different from the standard library (see links above).

The biggest differences between the standard library and PunyInform are:

  • The files you need to include, and what goes where in your source code. Start your project by copying minimal.inf in the root directory and you're good to go.

  • Parts of the PunyInform library are optional. I.e. if you want to use the directions northwest, southwest, northeast and southeast, you need to define the constant OPTIONAL_FULL_DIRECTIONS. If you want just about all the verbs and actions available in the standard library to work in PunyInform, you need to define OPTIONAL_EXTENDED_VERBSET. See Customizing the library in the PunyInform manual.

  • Directions are handled quite differently. See Direction handling in the PunyInform manual.

  • Changing library messages (like the message "Taken." that is printed when the player takes something) is done differently. See Library messages and customization in the PunyInform manual.

  • PunyInform doesn't support identical objects. You can have very similar objects like a small green book and a small red book, but the player must be able to say which one (s)he means.

  • PunyInform doesn't have the versatile routine WriteListFrom, for printing what's in a location or in/on an object. Instead, it has a simpler routine called PrintContents. See Printing the contents of an object in the PunyInform manual.

Tools

  • To work with source code you may want a text editor which has a syntax colouring mode for Inform 6. Some popular choices include Visual Studio Code and Atom, both available for Windows, Mac and Linux.

  • To quickly build a game for play on Commodore 64, 128, Plus/4 or MEGA65, you can use Ozmoo Online.

  • To build a game for 25 different platforms at once, you can use the Puddle BuildTools. This tool set can be installed on Linux. Windows users can create a virtual machine running Linux.

Games Using PunyInform

These games are known to use PunyInform:

There were also nine new PunyInform games submitted to PunyJam #1:

And three PunyInform games were submitted to PunyJam #2:

All of these games can be downloaded from the links above. Many of them are also available at Ozmoo Online where you can create disk images for Commodore C64, C128 or Plus/4.

Articles

Fredrik Ramsberg has written a few articles describing PunyInform for beginners:

Fredrik has also written a comparison of PunyInform and the standard Inform 6 library.

Community

If you want to ask questions about PunyInform, these are good places to go:

There are also categories/channels in the above forums where you can discuss plot, story, puzzles etc, and posts requests for beta-testers for your game.

Translations

  • PunyInformFr is a translation of the PunyInform library to French, by auraes.

Credits

PunyInform was conceived and designed by Johan Berntsson and Fredrik Ramsberg. Coding by Johan Berntsson, Fredrik Ramsberg, Pablo Martinez and Tomas Öberg. Includes code from the Inform 6 standard library, by Graham Nelson. Thanks to Stefan Vogt, Jason Compton, John Wilson, Hugo Labrande, Richard Fairweather, Adam Sommerfield, auraes and Hannesss for issue reporting, advice, testing, code contributions and promotion. Thanks to David Kinder and Andrew Plotkin for helping out with compiler issues and sharing their deep knowledge of the compiler. Huge thanks to Graham Nelson for creating the Inform 6 compiler and library in the first place.

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A fast and compact library for writing text adventure games for the Z-machine running on 8-bit computers as well as other platforms.

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