Monday, December 22, 2008

Adventures with Interactive Fiction

Wikipedia defines Interactive Fiction as "software simulating environments in which players use text commands to control characters and influence the environment."

I played Adventure, the Colossal Cave and numerous Scott Adams adventures. I looked at currently available systems used to create interactive fiction. There are a variety of mature systems that allow easy creation of complex adventures. I read through the user manuals and much of the technical documentation on several different systems. Then I read the IF Authoring System Developer's Guide by Peer Schaefer. I then decided to try and create my own adventure system. Peer Schaefer recommended, "So, you want to write an Interactive Fiction authoring system? Ok, here's my advice: don't do it." That is interesting advice. Peer Schaefer mentioned two authoring systems that used XML as their base: AAS and Aiee. I have a tremendous amount of experience with XML. It appears both AAS and Aiee are abandoned. No one has done any work with either since 2004. I contacted one of the authors. The authors of AAS never released the source code. It appears that the original source code for AAS may be lost. I tried to contact the author of Aiee. I received no response.

Of the two, AAS and Aiee, AAS had better documentation. AAS also has a development environment. I tried creating a game with AAS. I immediately ran into problems. AAS did not fully implement all the documented functionality. For example, the test to see if a container is open does not work. Fortunately there are eleven AAS games available. After reading through the XML sources I was able to figure a work around. I used AAS to create an entry into the One Room Game Competition 2008.