Thursday, 14 June 2007


I stumbled across SoulFu on Free Gamer and from the screenshots alone, it looks like a quality piece of work. Turns out it is by the same guy who wrote Egoboo.

As a 3D hack and slash type game, it has a lot of depth. These are the sort of features which it has:

  • Minimap (as seen in the screenshot above).
  • Chests you can either use a key on, or bash open.
  • Pets or henchmen which follow you around and fight alongside you.
  • Objects and animals you can ride around.
  • Food dropping from slaughtered monsters.
  • Chests which are actually monsters (mimics!).
  • Traps.
There are all sorts of nice little touches. It gives you the feeling that once you have the solid base for a game, building on top of it and fleshing it out is a pleasure rather than a chore. And it reminds me of Dungeon Master in a way - it has that same sort of enjoyable to play, immersive and believable feeling which Dungeon Master had when it came out.

From what I have read, the author of SoulFu took four years to develop the game. And that is not surprising, especially looking at it at the source code level. Built on SDL and OpenGL, Aaron Bishop wrote his own scripting language (indentation based like Python), drew all the graphics, built in his own room and model editors. Also a editor for the font and even a music tracker! You can access these developer features by downloading the DevTool version from his website (linked above).

Looking at it for what it is, a one man effort, from the graphics to the music and programming, it reminds me of the programmers back in the day of the C64 or the ZX Spectrum. You can read diaries kept by some of the programmers back in the day documenting their efforts, which were published in Zzap!64 magazine. The collection section on this page features diaries, especially the one by Martin Walker.

Monday, 11 June 2007 Explaining Inform 7

Link: Explaining Inform 7.

Occasionally in the newsgroup, between the requests for help with the syntax of the different interactive fiction interpreters, other interesting things are posted. I particularly enjoyed reading the thread I link to here.

Jeff Nyman:

In the thread "I7 Philosophical Distinctions" I had brought up some of the conceptual difficulties some classes I was teaching had with Inform 7. I was in danger of carrying that thread too far off topic, so I figured I'd post a follow-up here for those interested.
Jeff goes on to describe his findings in using the Inform 7 manual to teach the language to classes of both programmers and writers, and proceeds to discuss it with Emily Short, Graham Nelson and a few others.

Jeff Nyman:
Rather than have a manual broken up by conceptual topics (Relations, Actions, Advanced Actions) you'd have a conceptual chapter based on what storytellers (and game writers) do: i.e., represent characters. Within that chapter you'd talk about the means by which that can be achieved with Inform 7. (After all, they're reading about Inform 7; they're going to try this in Inform 7; you're trying to convince them Inform 7 is a good tool for doing so; --- you can't really separate the implementation too much from the ideas because then it becomes too theoretical, which would be the kiss of death for some people.)
Emily Short:
Now this is something that I can begin to imagine the shape of. Off the top of my head, I'm imagining things like:
Emily goes on to break down a very detailed hierarchy.

Jeff Nyman:
I think what you put there is definitely the closest I've seen to where this has all been leading me. I really like it.
This is some selective quoting of a small part of the thread. The thread goes into a lot more detail of course, and there is a lot I was not willing to extract quotes from because it would have meant I would have felt that I was summarising the thread rather than just highlighting its presence.

Update: Emily Short has posted about it on her blog.