Entries from March 2009 ↓

Making of Blue Lacuna

The latest issue of IF magazine SPAG is now out, including a piece by Aaron Reed on the making of Blue Lacuna and his experiences using Inform 7.

Jim Aikin: Teaching Inform to ages 11-14

Jim Aikin has been working with homeschooled students aged 11-14 who were learning to write IF with Inform 7 — he writes up the experience here.

Nels Bergquist: Inform and Eighth-Grade English

Nels Bergquist’s eighth-grade English class uses Inform in a creative writing exercise: students work together to produce complete, winnable games.

Mr. Bergquist’s assignment includes detailed instructions on how to prepare a game design document, including both story and game elements. To develop story, students write paragraphs describing the setting and at least three characters to be incorporated in the narrative, as well as a synopsis of the major challenge the player character will face. To develop the game structure, students create detailed maps, listing the characters and objects to be found in each place. Each game must feature at least three game endings, of which at least one must be a victory condition.

Programming begins only after this preliminary work. Mr. Bergquist provides in-class guidance on coding development, introducing new code concepts at regular intervals. The sample code is collected into an example code sheet, available as a resource for everyone. Some students delve further into the manual, and contribute their own solutions to the example sheet.

Results of the assignment are evaluated in terms of their ideas and content, organization, and prose style.

Mr. Bergquist has kindly shared with us a video of his students at work.

Aaron Reed: Blue Lacuna released

blue-lacuna-cover-art-300

Aaron Reed’s recently-released Blue Lacuna is the largest Inform game yet created. Aaron writes:

Blue Lacuna is among the largest text-based interactive stories ever produced, a full-length novel/adventure game that explores the themes and characters introduced in blueful. As a wayfarer, you will find new worlds to explore, complex characters to befriend or anger, choices to make that affect the fate of worlds, and a story whose ultimate meaning and resolution is defined by you.

You may have played interactive fiction or text adventures before… but you’ve never played one like this.

Update: In a substantial feat of literate programming, the entire massive source code of Blue Lacuna is now available — as a bound text.

Mark Engelberg: IF for home-schooled students

First, a bit about myself. I used to be a professional adventure game programmer and designer at Sierra On-line. Ten years ago, when my first child was born, I decided to stop working and become a stay-at-home dad. To keep busy, I signed up to teach classes about things I was passionate about (mainly games, puzzles, math, and programming) at a public school resource center for homeschoolers. I enjoyed working with homeschoolers so much, that several years later when my own kids turned school age, I decided to homeschool my own children.

One of the first classes I taught was an interactive fiction class using TADS 2. Really, the goal was to teach an introduction to object-oriented programming — the “interactive fiction” component was a secondary goal. I merely chose interactive fiction because I thought it would give the kids something fun to program, and excite kids who wouldn’t ordinarily be interested in programming.

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