Graphic Enhancement to Traditional IF

The Interactive Fiction I grew up on (starting with the Scott Adams text adventures that I got in cassette form for my TI 99/4A computer) was all text based. No graphics at all; just two-word phrases that eventually turned into more sophisticated Infocom game sentences, but still words only. In fact, one of my favorite computer game ads was the Infocom print ad that said something to the effect of “We stick our graphics where the sun don’t shine,” and then there was a picture of the human brain. Pretty clever, and you can see it here.

One of the characteristics that makes Inform 7 so appealing as an IF development environment is that it allows a person to rapidly put together an IF game in the form of those old Infocom games: a pretty robost parser that allowed for sentence input. However, Inform 7 has made a number of improvements to the output it produces, compared to the earlier Infocom games. One of those improvements is the ability to integrate graphic images into the Inform code for display when someone plays the game.

I’ve decided to take advantage of this feature during development of the Historical Williamsburg Living Narrative. I’ll be using the photographs I have taken of Williamsburg, and I’ll have the photographs changed into a more comic-like illustration. Below is a sample of the Capitol Building already having gone through the image processing.

Capitol Comic

As you can see, the photograph has been altered to appear as more of an illustration. I’ll do this for all of the photographs to be used in the game. Please share your thoughts: do you like this approach to Interactive Fiction? Or does IF need to be more “old school”?

  1. January 9, 2016 at 1:26 pm

    That is “old school” for me, because as well as growing up on Infocom etc. from 1980 onwards I grew up on Magnetic Scrolls games in the mid 1980s. That was a UK text adventure company, which included high quality illustrations with their games. Very similar to the style you have above. Examples included Guild of Thieves and the Pawn. Level 9 was another British company which had graphics at the same time, though not of the same high standard.

    So basically I approve! Anything that helps people – and remember many players will not have been to the location – to visualise what they are seeing is a good thing in my book.

    I’m impressed by how well your photograph has “processed” into a good quality art image format. And encouraged that you have many photos to draw on.

  2. January 9, 2016 at 7:35 pm

    I think you should use the images…. It will enhance the experience. Don’t worry about being too “new school.” Some of the newer Inform7 games incorporates imagery too.

  3. January 9, 2016 at 7:39 pm

    So two yes votes on the images. I agree with you both; I think the images will not detract at all from the experience. I’ve partnered with a fine digital artists, Anthony Sims, and he’s the one doing the image processing. More should be coming soon.


  4. January 16, 2016 at 12:36 pm

    I’m also impressed with how well your photo processed into the image for the game. It looks like those will definitely enhance the game play.

    • January 16, 2016 at 11:12 pm

      Thanks, Tim. I have hundreds of photographs taken at different times during the year, and many of them I took in the morning hours before there was much tourist activity to obstruct the views. I have been very fortunate in having so many photo opportunities there!


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