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.


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.


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.