Interactive Fiction so much sexier than…

Let’s face it, ‘Interactive Fiction’ sounds  so much sexier than… text based adventures. Interactive fiction, often abbreviated as IF, describes simulating environments in which players use text commands to control characters and influence the environment, not that dissimilar to the gamebook adventures or CYOA titles (choose you own adventures) in which the reader’s choices determine the main character’s actions and the plot’s outcome.

My initial, fleeted experiments with classic text  based adventure ZORK last December really surprised. I was taken aback by just how engaged these Year 11 Xbox and Playstation junkies were with N, S, E, W and open, look type commands and simple black and white text interface. We searched online for help, maps and all manner of Zork information.

I had original scheduled time this summer to create a unit of work around text based adventures when I read about INFORM7

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.

Impressed? Further research highlighted another product, ADRIFT4 (5 in BETA)

ADRIFT Generator is a program written for Windows 95/98/NT/2K/ME/XP which allows you to create your own Text Adventures. Instead of having to learn a new adventure programming language, ADRIFT Generator takes all the difficulty away leaving you with a simple, yet powerful game designer. Adventures are built up by adding rooms, objects, tasks, events and characters. All you have to do is type in the descriptions, and select how everything interacts with each other from pull down menus and lists.

as well as a massive ‘underworld’ of IF advocates, games and tutorials.

So, Zork was interesting but INFORM7 and ADRIFT4/5 takes IF / text based adventures one almighty step forward, putting the student in the driving seat authoring the stories rather than reading / playing them.

After reviewing forum debates outlining the virtues of both platforms, I decided to first explore INFORM7 simply because there were education focused, age appropriate resources. So are you ready for adventure? Join me, download the FREE INFORM7 software and write your first IF adventure.

Note – at this point I had not yet discovered Quest 5.

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Kristian Still

About Kristian Still

Proud father, husband & VP. Motto 'Challenge & Inspire.' PE, ICT, English & IF. Leading TL, data for learning, progress & achievement. XBox literacy explorer.

2 Comments

  1. Great blog post Kristian. I tried out some software called Quest in a cross-curricular day this year, although it was pretty good, some students struggled to get to grips with it. Will be interesting to try INFORM7. Let me know how you get on!

    • Kristian Still
      Kristian Still

      Spent some time researching and learning over the past 24hrs. There is an extensive IF community, aligned with text based adventures and CYOA type reading tasks. Then there is another category, gamebook adventures whichs typically uses dice to add game play, however in this modern iOS world it is integrated into the experience and I expect that the genre will take full advantage of the iOS platform. There is a FREE FROTZ / Z-intrepreter http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/frotz/id287653015?mt=8 which offers a range of titles (These idevices do seem to have a lot to offer). The reading is important but I am more interested in the writing. So, that brings us to INFORM7.

      Initial thoughts are that INFORM7 seems accessible and one would expect a ‘real’ cross curriculum opportunity for ICT and English, however I am coming at it from the English angle this time. That said, INFORM7 is essential a form of programming and therefore ICT is right in there.

      I emailed INFORM7 contacts today and received a very helpful and support response. Its seems IF is a very supportive community generally, so I am very positive. The second post to part written and will follow towards the end of the week, hopefully. I will defintely work towards a SoW and share.

      PS – Kodu was a lot of fun and with new graphics cards in the PCs for next year its on the curriuculum.

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