Great program for those who are looking to create their own games.

Remember those great text-adventure games (also called interactive fiction) like Zork made by Infocom in the 80's? Well, anyone who's played them has probably wanted to make their own. Of course, it's fairly difficult to learn all you need to in a programming language to make one of any merit. This is what Adrift is for.

Adrift is very intuitive. All you do it click, type, and click. Start out with the basics. Create a room (right click and select "add room." It's that easy), give it's name. Now create a character. Give him some dialogue and a description. Now create a second room. You've got your own adventure game.

In just half an hour, you can have a decent game created. I've tried a couple of these type of programs, but Adrift is by far the easiest. After only having it for a couple of days, I keep finding all the great features. It's even got a battle system so you can create full fleged RPGs (and have multiple-character parties).

Download it at www.adrift.org.uk

It should also be noted that the player character is *not* a character in the "characters" window. To create the player character go to menu option "Adventure : Player...". All other characters can be programmed with responses to particular keywords, and can have a "walk" set on them, which causes them to move in a certain pattern at certain times. When battle mode is enabled, characters can be set as "ally", "neutral", or "enemy", and in addition to the standard strength, defense, stamina settings, an attack speed, measured in turns, can be set. My favorite walk setting for enemy characters is "Follow Player : 20 : {L}" which means that every 20 turns, an enemy shows up in the same room with the player. The {L} indicates that it is a looped action, so that instead of happening only after the first 20 turns, it happens every 20 turns thereafter, as well.(Of course, I only have one type of enemy in my game, so it works great...)

Objects really don't need much explaining. You name it (dresser), you give it a description (This is an antique chest of drawers.), you give it some characteristics by using a list of checkboxes (can be opened/closed, can put things on top of, is a container and can hold x objects), and you tell it what room it belongs in. Objects can also be defined as static or dynamic, meaning, is it furniture, or can you take it with you? Dynamic objects can have starting points on or in other objects or characters. (Peril-Sensitive sunglasses : begins worn by character Zeta)

Tasks can also be created to give more flexibility in commands. When prompted to do so by either the player, or another instruction in the game (such as the death of an enemy character), the task executes a series of commands and reports on them, if desired. Commands executed by tasks range from moving objects and players to adjusting variables, and even ending the game.

Events can be defined to add a particular feel to a setting. For instance if your player is on a boat, an event could be defined so that as long as the player is on the boat, every three turns the game prints "The boat rocks, making you seasick." or some such thing. Events can be used in combination with tasks to produce effects like XP based levelups. (The game does not actually track XP, I wrote some tasks to do it.) Event levup1 triggered by killmouse1 executes task levup1 which cannot execute until XP=5, but raises Stamina, Strength, and Defense by 1. I'm trying to figure out how to give it an equation to compare the XP value to so that I won't have to write one of these freaky loops for every level.

Adrift theoretically allows sound and graphics in games, but I haven't played with that function yet.

The Many Problems of Adrift, or Why Not to Use Adrift as your Text Adventuring System

While the Adrift text adventuring system is one of the easiest systems for creating text based games on the market today, it has many drawbacks that will prevent it from being a serious tool of any author of text adventures.

Backward Compatibility

One of the more serious problems with the Adrift system is that it lacks backward compatibility. A good interactive fiction game is like a good book, it can last forever and should be playable down the ages. Most inform games are good examples of what I'm talking about; even though they were written in the 80s they are still widely known and often played today.

Unfortunately, games written in Adrift do not have this long lasting quality, as it seems every new version of adrift is unable to play games developed for an older version of the program. This means that in 1 or 2 years all of an authors hard work will be unplayable by the general community.

Portability

Another area that Adrift is found sadly lacking in is portability. Most of the better and more widely used text adventuring systems have ports to many other operating systems, allowing people with all types of computers to play games written for them. However, as far as I know Adrift will only run under the windows operating system. This limits an authors audience drastically, as many (if not most) players of interactive fiction are using a UNIX variant.

Ease of Use

Yes, surprisingly, this can be a drawback as much as a feature. It is so easy to jump into programming an adventure game from within adrift, that many users seem to skip the design stage. If you think about it, a good design is almost as important, if not more important, to interactive fiction as is good code. Writing interactive fiction is a lot like writing a book, as you must have a basic plot in mind, as well as several puzzles for the user, and an over all goal. You can no more sit down and start to program a text adventure than you could sit down and start to write a novel.

shareware

The last, and most serious problem with Adrift is that it is proprietary shareware. You could easily argue that this problem is the one that leads to all the others. As nobody knows how the Adrift format works, nobody can port it to another operating system, and the Adrift developers are a small enough company that they do not have enough time and money to do the work required. As well, many authors will decide to use one of the free open source text adventuring systems rather than purchasing a second rate system to write games on. Thus, adrift will, despite being extremely easy to use, be doomed to take a back seat in the world of interactive fiction.

I am boarding some days, gathering my things, shuffling
pleasant memories, dissembling the strength of arms
that so recently wrapped around me, like roots, mining
the last acre of skin for the strength to move on.

Through the next cavernous hallway, with the echoes
of muffled footsteps on the carpet, like the sound
of tiny meteors burying themselves in snow. A new country
will not approach timidly, it will pull at your memory like riptide.

At every destination I find people who look like people I knew.

In such ways do I build a past on the lost present
of jet lag, on hours stolen by time zones. In such ways
do I organize jettisoned thoughts, circling around
mental images like the corkscrew of inbound planes

waiting for their runways. Touch too succumbs
to nostalgia. When I rub my necklace I can feel
her skin through the plastic, when I hold the
leather notebook, I can feel the strength
of his handshake. New friends are measured

against the high water marks, shifting
in the mercury of mood. Friends remembered
shed their flaws in the negative space
of old photographs. Love remembered grows
in the empty space between bad jokes.

To be born again, do not forget anything.
To be born again, make fossils of your memory,
chisel away the debris and set the bones,
in the shape of a creature so terrifying
the mind is forced to extinguish it, and place
its skeleton behind the velvet ropes
of language.

The storytellers are reborn with each audience.
The story folds the air like origami, the words
weave themselves into the almost colors
of dreams. All stories travel, they move in the telling
and the remembering. They collect themselves

in the same instant that a small rock descends
into the snows of a quiet world, and that rock,
a shard from our dead world, in a holding
pattern of heartbeats will unfold
this story in the palm of a strange hand

and as these words untangle themselves
from the Earth’s debris, a stranger
will begin to look like me.

A*drift" (#), adv. & a. [Pref. a- (for on) + drift.]

Floating at random; in a drifting condition; at the mercy of wind and waves. Also fig.

So on the sea shall be set adrift. Dryden.

Were from their daily labor turned adrift. Wordsworth.

 

© Webster 1913.

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