Archive for the ‘games’ Category


Jeff Lait is kind of my hero.

Have you seen a hundred people gathered in one spot? A hundred people
is a lot of people! If you, as one person, can make something a
hundred people enjoy, is that not an amazing achievement in itself?
Especially, as often in roguelikes, that the hundred people aren’t
just friends and relations pressured into “enjoying it”, but instead
random individuals with theoretically better things to do.


I would never advocate intentionally limiting your audience. You had
expressed dismay that a game had only reached 10,000 people, however.
While we can all likely agree it would be better to reach 100,000, it
isn’t necessary. And one shouldn’t feel dismay.

Turn it around – there are only so many games *you* can play in your
life. So how many people can expect to have you be a player of their
game? In some ways it would be tragic if all games hit 1 million
players, for that would mean there would only be a few thousand
games! Us humans are way too diverse to limit ourselves that way.

Playing text games on the web

Of course purists will say, ‘playing text games in the web browser’. Only in the last year or two have web clients for muds and interactive fiction really started to gain momentum. As far as I can tell there hasn’t been a single source that attempts to note them all in one place, so that’s what I’ll try to do here. I’ll treat IF and muds separately (though in many ways the use case isn’t that different).

Interactive Fiction:

Traditionally IF in the browser used java applets or java web start. Zplet and Zag are java interpreters for the z-machine and glulx, respectively, the former using applets and the latter web start. ZMPP is in this category as well.

While web start launches a new window, applets typically run within the browser window. For example, Jetty, a TADS 2 applet, looks like this:

But you also can style applets how you like within the page; for example, contrast the above with this game:

Over the last few years it seems like JavaScript has been superseding Java for many web applications, but JavaScript has been around for IF for a while.

That’s from Aunts and Butlers, a 2006 JavaScript IFComp game.

Of special note is that the IFDB offers plugins so that it’ll start a game automatically (using an interpreter on your local computer). In essence this is like using Java web start, but with a much greater variety of game formats available.

The IFDB is not only the IF site where you can play games; the IFwiki has a good list of sites with various web-based interpreters.

A lesser known z-machine/glulx interpreter is iffy. It’s a CGI application, so it needs a web host to run from (rather than running completely on the player’s computer).

To be honest, though, all of this is a lead up for the new generation of IF interpreters, the standard bearer of which is the z-machine’s Parchment.

The Parchment development site links to instructions on how an author can get their game running. Because Parchment uses the Google app engine, all the author needs to do is put their game file on a publically accessible computer somewhere. Of course, an author can download the Parchment package to their own host as well.

Parchment isn’t the only representative of this new breed of interpreters. Quixe is a work in progress to emulate Parchment for glulx games (not yet released). Leaflet was developed by Jay Is Games for playing IF at their site. Another Flash z-code interpreter is Flaxo.

Other interpreters in this class include ifrotz, written in Ruby and C:


As well as SilverGlulxe, a glulx interpreter in Silverlight:

Of special note here is Guncho, essentially a mud server written with Inform 7. As a mud server, you can connect to it with mud clients. Guncho hosts a java client on its homepage, and these work a lot like the applet and web start interpreters shown above.

Well, since I’m talking about mud servers, that’s our bridge to jump over to…


Web clients for muds got their start with the java applets and java web start clients just mentioned. Since many of these were made for specific games, and were an attempt in some way to compete with native clients (such as mushclient, Zmud, and so on), they often look a little fancier than comparable IF interpreters.

Also due to the server-based nature of muds, they more often have employed socket-based Flash clients for players;

That’s a souped up example of Fmud, available for free (but not open source) from the developer. Fmud is not the only Flash mud client out there, but it’s simply harder to track down these clients (compared to IF clients), and Fmud is probably the most feature complete and polished one you’ll find. Of note is Soiled, a haXe client (which compiles to Flash).

Similarly with the progression in IF from Java to JavaScript, lately there has been a progression in muds from Java and Flash toward JavaScript clients. The jMud client is mostly JavaScript with a Flash socket connection. MUDBrowser is a JavaScript based subscription service to play muds in a web browser.

There are also generic telnet clients such as anyterm that use AJAX. I even found a Firefox plugin to do a similar thing (though I couldn’t get that to work for muds very well — I think it was designed for BBSes).

The PHuDBase client is a very new php-based platform (which currently requires Google Chrome to try out).

This represents my current knowledge of what’s available; with a little more digging I know I can find more clients particular to specific muds, but I don’t think they progress beyond the examples shown here. Any other references are of course very welcome.

What can I take away from the survey? Personally I like that IF interpreters are moving toward open web standard frameworks such as JavaScript, HTML and CSS.

It’ll be interesting to see how muds approach this; by their nature muds are a little more ‘custom’ than IF games, so using platforms such as Java and Flash may make more sense, but as web services begin to integrate more and more, mobile devices proliferate, and JavaScript gets faster and easier to use, it may be the case that muds would do better going a similar route as IF. On the other hand Java and Flash are not going away anytime soon, and they do offer a richer set of options for mud client developers out of the box.

One topic I haven’t touched here is hypertext, web-based gamebooks and CYOA, boutique systems such as Twine and Twee, or the range of digital poetry and literature ‘playable’ in the browser. There obviously is a lot more to talk about when talking about ‘playing text games on the web’, and something I’d like to get to in future posts. I feel that all of these genres could learn something from the technology that each presents itself with.

Python game devs agglomerating

I found a neat little site for game development in Python, PyedPyers. Apparently it’s been around for more than a year (and this is the first time I’ve heard of it). The neat thing about it is it has some additional resources besides just a forum, such as a spot to host projects. It’s rather small at the moment and very quiet, but perhaps with a core group of some active people there some interesting stuff could happen. Check it out!

code name: Waddington

The IGF cometh

The IGF main competition entries are up, bigger by a third than last year (which was bigger by a third than the year before apparently). Will it be bigger and badder though? Such remains to be seen, but there definitely were some that caught my eye:

7 Nights: “”7 Nights” shows that a quality AAA-style 3D first person shooter can be deployed on the web and could be created in about 7 MB.

This is also the first videogame in the world that was created and tested while on public transportation (Seattle Sound Transit Routes 545 & 577)”. Represent!

78641: “Saluton!! GZ Storm is now proudly to present – 78641 – the classic Esperanto-language adventure game now playing first time in Language English!!!”

A Slow Year: “A Slow Year is a collection of four games, one for each season, about the expereince of observing things. Played on the Atari Video Computer System (aka Atari 2600), the game invites sedate observation and methodical action.

A Slow Year is a kind of videogame chapbook, a set of “game poems” that attempt to embrace maximum expressive constraint and representational condensation. The game will be available for PC and Mac in a custom Atari emulator, and for Atari as a limited edition cartridge and poetry set.”

Achron: “Achron is the first “meta-time strategy” game. It is a real-time strategy game where all players can simultaneously travel through time, change the past, preview the future, and send their forces through time to when they are needed.”

ARGH: Augmented Reality Ghost Hunter: “ARGH is an augmented reality game that lets you use your Ghost Goggles to discover ghosts in your actual environment.

Players collect different ghosts located in physical locations all over the world. Explore the REAL WORLD and experiment with the time of day and time of year to discover the phantoms that share our space.”

Good lord I’m not even out of the a’s.

edit: Too bad, no parser IF this year. Looks like a few games you could call IF though.

pong #2


PyWeek just wrapped up and with it my second game, open. There are some amazing looking entries there. Between this and Ludum Dare I’m probably set until 2010.

People say that when you start making games you should make games with the scope of Pong or perhaps Tetris. I feel that’s where I’m at right now with these last two (well, probably not to Tetris yet). I’m happy though not to have made an actual Pong or Tetris (OK, I have made Pong, but it was basically a type-in). I feel like I’ve learned a lot making abandon and open, that I wouldn’t really have learned making a clone of some existing game. So, make your Pong and your Tetris, just understand what that means for you.

who dares, plays

abandon_screen011Last weekend I participated in Ludum Dare #14. Forty-eight hours later my first game was born. While it was a great time I didn’t really get everything into the game that I wanted to, it was more of a prototype of the concept. I had worked about 16 hours on the game altogether but also got a normal night’s sleep on Saturday, which probably was a good thing.

Too busy to both start playing the other (121!) entries and do a post-compo release, I chose to start playing games, and worked only about an hour on the game during the week. However last night after another eight hours or so I got things to a point where I was ready, and this morning I managed to bundle some executables.

So here it is. I can’t say I’ve cut the umbilical cord or washed off the amniotic fluids. There aren’t really any instructions. I had an idea and I hope I expressed it in the game. The theme of LD #14, by the way, was Advancing Wall of Doom.

the post-compo release

recommended (Windows .exe in tar.gz, about 4MB)

the post-compo release (Windows .exe in .zip, about 9MB)

the post-compo release (.zip, you will need Python and pyglet installed, about 1 MB)

the original compo release (.zip, you will need Python and pyglet installed, about 1MB)

what am I getting myself into

sheer folly

sheer folly