Previous month:
March 2011
Next month:
May 2011

April 2011

Alpha Feedback & Awards


I've been doing some alpha testing of my game The Z-Machine Matter while I continue to work on it on weekends.  It's maybe 25% complete at this point with 56,000 lines of Inform7 code, 44 rooms and 174 objects.  Progress is slow, but when I get feedback from my testers, that gives me the encouragement to keep at it.  Thanks to all my Alpha testers who have taken the time to give me comments.  Special thanks to Colin from Munich who sent me several detailed SCRIPT transcriptions and also wrote:

First of all, let me say that I really dig what you're working on there. I just played through the first couple of rooms, but that film noir/Marlowe atmosphere is right there and I'm really excited to be able to help in producing such a nice and elaborate game. That manual and the "box shots" are really awesome. I started the game up after reading the manual and was immediately inside the game, taking notes, examining everything. 

As a first time author working alone, feedback like this makes it all worthwhile!  Colin also provided details on commands that didn't work and some suggestions to improve the pacing.  Keep it coming, guys!

In order to properly reward my valiant alpha testers, I've managed to pick up a few 1970s facsimile reprints of the Dennis Wheatley Crime Dossier books (which inspired the packaging for Infocom's Deadline game, as well as everything that followed).  I'll be giving those away as prizes for best Alpha feedback.  And for anyone who wants to do a bit of an Inform7 code review, I'm going to up the ante by donating a couple of original 1930s first editions of Dennis Wheatley's "Murder off Miami" (also published in the US as "File on Bolitho Blane."  But if you're too busy working on your own IF, no problem.  I'll continue to donate some Dennis Wheatly Crime Dossiers to SpringThing, IF Comp etc.

My goal is to keep working on The Z-Machine Matter and enter it into IntroComp in June and then finish it sometime in the fall. So if anyone else wants to test The Z-Machine Matter before then, let me know.  You can reach me by clicking on the About link in the upper right hand corner of the blog, post a comment with your email address below or send me email ZUrlocker via hotmail etc.

And kudos to Colin as well as the Alpha testers from the San Francisco IF meetup group.

Robert Goddard: Best Mystery Writer Ever?


This past year I discovered the best known secret in mysteries: Robbert Goddard.  While extremely prolific and well-known in the UK, he's virtually unknown in the US.  Still, his works are tremendous.  Stephen King considers him one of the best mystery writers ever.  I've read half a dozen of his books with five more piled up on my bookshelf for the coming months.  My modus operandi is that if I see a Robert Goddard book in a store, I just buy it and put it aside for a special occasion.

Goddard is one of those rare writers who delivers exquisitely written prose, compelling characters and a plot with enough twists & turns to make you feel like you're headed down a mountain pass in the alps.  Admittedly, there is a certain structural similarity in many of his books: past deeds newly discovered by a ne'er do-well character who wants to redeem himself, but darn it, it works.  

If you're intrigued I recommend starting with "Into the Blue," part of three free-standing books centered around Harry Barnett, or "Beyond Recall".  Or "Sight Unseen."   They are all excellent, filled with kidnapping, murder, family tragedy, blackmail, remorse and all set in dramatic English settings.  Several titles are available as eBooks on Kindle.

Goddard gets compared to Daphnie Dumaurier and later stage John LeCarre, but I think he stands alone for the sophistication of his plots.  If you like mysteries, you owe it to yourself to pick up one of his works.  And perhaps he will inspire your own creative writing efforts in IF.

iPad Frotz 1.5.1 with Improved Glulx Support


Craig Smith has updated iPad Frotz 1.5.1 incorporating several new fixes in the support of Glulx games.  While Glulx support is still beta, it works much better now, enabling the use of Aaron Reed's keyword interface in its full glory.  (The prior version would occasionally cause normal text to occasionally be displayed in keyword colors.)

Great work Craig!  Much appreciated.  Best of all, Frotz is free on the iPad, iPhone and many other platforms.  You can download it from iTunes.

Now if only someone would create a Glulx or even a Z-code interpreter for the Kindle.  That would be cool!  Heck if someone wants to do a kickstarter there, I would gladly kick in money.  (again)