Review: Lord Bellwater's Secret
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New Book on Inform 7


Interactive Fiction author Aaron Reed has just published a comprehensive 400 page book aptly titled "Creating Interactive Fiction with Inform 7."  For those who have been looking for a more gentle guide to creating IF than the standard reference manuals, this book will be a welcome resource. The list price is $40 though it sells on Amazon for $ around 26.  But even at full price, it's a good deal and well worth the money.

Reed starts out with an introduction to the Inform 7 IDE and then leads into the development of a full-blown story. You begin by constructing rooms, linking them together, adding objects, properties, relations, then rules and actions. He also focuses the reader on understanding how the game will be played, dealing with synonyms, disambiguation and parser errors.  At every stage you have a playable game, though it may be quite simple.  Later on, Reed introduces conditional logic and non-player characters. Finally, Reed covers topics that will improve the overall playability including testing & debugging, scoring etc.  

Reed is no stranger to the IF community having written what may well be the largest game ever "Blue Lacuna" a full novel-sized story that was several years in the making. Reed has also published a new game "Sand-Dancer" (including source code) which is used as the basis of examples in his book.  You can play the game online or download it from IFDB.

I'm not quite a hundred pages into it, and so far the book is excellent.  Reed makes a point of introducing topics on a "need to know basis" so you can apply what you're learning as you go.  I'll follow up with a more detailed review in the coming weeks. 

If you're heading to Amazon you might also want to pick up Nick Montfort's scholarly tome Twisty Little Passages that describes the history and evolution of IF as a medium.

Creating Interactive Fiction with Inform 7 is now available in electronic format for the Kindle Edition and other eBook reader devices.  On Amazon, the Kindle edition is $23.75, slightly less than the printed version and with instant delivery. 

And here's a link to a more detailed review by Andrew Plotkin at Gameshelf.


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