It’s always fun when LD time comes around. I stop what I’m doing and start looking at all the various new languages and frameworks out there, and of course I feel the tug. Clojure had its womanly grasp on me for a while. Then I was heart-struck by a Monkey. CoffeeScript beckoned with its smooth curves and warmness.
But I was pissed this time because I didn’t finish my last entry for Tiny Worlds. And I had a great idea for that theme, with an interactive fiction about an experiment with nano bots. If you didn’t get the experiment under control, it would lead to the destruction of the whole planet. But I just couldn’t get to the finish line with TADS 3, or at least with my knowledge of it. Spent too much time just trying to figure out how to do things and looking stuff up.
So for this compo I was determined to create the decent interactive fiction game I couldn’t last time. So I went back to a language I was familiar with, Inform 7, the language I had used to make a crappy fiction game maybe 4-5 competitions ago. This time the week before I read and worked through the only book available on the subject, Creating Interactive Fiction with Inform 7. In retrospect, that worked out well, because though you can build things with just knowing pieces of a language, it is really helpful to at least know about all of the parts of a language.
For instance, Inform 7 had this concept of scenes that the book really didn’t touch on until the end, but it was a critical part of my game and allowed me to make it much more narrative than it would have been otherwise. There are separate chapters in my game and the state of things changes heavily between them, creating a tight narrative focus.
So to make a long story short I felt Erebus and the Terror came out pretty well. It was my best IF by far. I knew how to add the synonyms to keep people from getting too frustrated and I wrote in enough actions that people were surprised how well the parser could follow them.
It was not perfect though. After I laid out all of the rooms, I got sidetracked with implementing ship directions, ie, port, starboard, etc. But I ran into a bug with it and finally I realized I was as confused as heck with the directions and so would everyone else probably. So I just tossed the concept and I’m sooo glad I did.
I would definitely use Inform 7 again. In fact, I might go back and port what I have of my Tiny Worlds entry to see if I can finish it.
If you like survival horror or science fiction, you might want to give it a try.
I wanted to mention one more thing because I think I glossed over the most important thing I gleaned from this LD. That is that out of failure can come success. My failure to finish the IF game in ld23 was direct motivation for my success in ld24. I switched back to a language I had more success with, and I was determined to be more prepared so I invested in the purchase of a book and I spent a week working through that book before the ld. There’s no way my entry would have been as well done without having taken these steps of preparation. And there’s no way I would have bothered to do that if I had not failed at ld23. So take note in that, and if you failed in ld24, use that as motivation for ld25. Carry that failure with you and I guarantee that you will be more prepared and have more success as I did. I think it’s true that we really learn the most from our failures, if we open ourselves up to them and embrace them.