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these eyes haunt my dreams

these eyes haunt my dreams

So I spent a whole bunch of time last night trying to really get real with the Inform 7 manual, even referring to the website @type_ins on twitter gave me (intfiction.com) but I kept getting stuck on one stupid little thing.

I guess I should back up a little. I’ve been trying to make this game where you get stuck in a laboratory (see my previous post) and I’ve made it to the second scene where you wake up with your hands tied behind your back. Great. No problems yet. Now, to set the stage, I put a table in the corner with a box on it. Inside the box (if you examine it) are shards of a key. You will eventually (after some more reading on my part) be able to use that key to cut the nylon ropes that tie your arms together. For some stupid reason, I thought this would be THE EASIEST THING IN THE WORLD to program but, somehow, it was so, so complicated.

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So I’ve been playing with Inform 7 now for a few days. I will say one thing, the level of frustration I’ve achieved is probably only matched by the last time I was trying to learn code (JavaScript). I consider this to be a good thing, if only because it means that it’s a frustration that I’m sure to encounter time and time again as I learn other languages.

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“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 interactive fiction.”

A little while ago I posted my first experience with some software called Twine, an interactive fiction engine. It’s a great tool, one where you can explore a lot of space in a very aesthetically pleasing way. Since then, however, I’ve come across a program called Inform 7 (thanks to the new “Clash of the Type-Ins” podcast starring Video Game Taco’s Jenni Polodna). This program outputs something a lot less pretty than Twine does, but I’m finding that the options are a lot more diverse.

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So I downloaded the demo of Photoshop thinking “it can’t really be that hard, right?” It seems like nowadays everyone knows how to Photoshop things–which, interestingly, seems to have created a deep drop in how much people trust pictures they find on the internet. I figured I would quickly pick up things like “airbrushing” and “stamping,” but it was definitely not that easy.

A basic starting interface for a new Photoshop project.

A basic starting interface for a new Photoshop project.

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Making music is something I’ve done for a long time: ever since I was in junior high I’ve played an instrument (even earlier if you count the recorder in elementary school music class). I’ve played the trombone, the trumpet (a little), the piano, guitar, and bass guitar. I’ve got a harmonica and a melodica too, but I haven’t really had time to practice too much on those. I understand the basics of music theory and, given enough time, can decipher almost any piece of standard notation. I’m saying this so you’ll understand where I was at when I first dove into FLStudio 10.

Typical FLS Step Sequencer View

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twine logo

A new tool has emerged that empowers just about anyone to create a game.”

Carolyn Petit, Gamespot

Having wanted to get into video game development over the last few years, I’ve been having a hard time figuring out where to start. A lot of people seem to disagree as to what is the best way to dive in to this industry. Some people say that you should put your nose to the grindstone and just learn a few languages like C++ and what not. Others say that you should explore different engines/IDEs before settling in and committing to making a game.

Neither of these options seem appealing to me, which is probably why I latched on so strongly to something I heard on a recent Idle Thumbs podcast. While reading an email from a listener that was basically going through the same thing as me (lots of writing experience/no game making experience), they suggested that he try a program called Twine. Having read about so many different engines and development tools over the last year, I felt the same level of fear and wariness when they mentioned Twine, but as they kept going, I started to feel my fear back down a bit and be replaced with excitement.

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