Interactive Fiction: An Introduction

I’m pretty passionate about interactive fiction. Some people find it boring, and they expect more from a game. Some people can’t appreciate books, art, good music, and poetry for the same reason.

As a programmer, there is an analogy I would make. If you code primarily in Java or Python, you will find coding in C/C++ difficult. The IDEs are less helpful, the error messages are BS, and everything seems antiquated. It’s even worse when you’re using an older language that lacks basic functionality. Forget today’s string support, libraries, classes, data structures – the conveniences we’re used to. In a way, it’s liberating. You’re not dependent on packaged ideas; someone else’s code that you’ve never seen before.

Admittedly, this is not the most accurate description of what it is really like. Just concede that it is difficult to work from tutorials on German forums, even with Google Translate.

Java makes you lazy. It spoils you a lot. Of course, Python also spoils you, but that’s what it’s made for. Reminder: C++ is a lot faster than both. Once upon a time, game developers coded in assembly language. (The thought gives me nightmares.) Back then, compilers spewed out unreliable and inefficient code. Eventually, assembly language game developers became mostly obsolete for obvious reasons (better compilers, but more likely, suicide). If things go “well”, in the vaguest sense of the word, C/C++ will also become obsolete for the same reasons.

Sometimes we don’t want to think, so we watch blockbuster movies. Sometimes we don’t want to do string multiplication because bignums don’t exist yet, so we use Java. However, burgeoning young programmers still learn languages like Visual Basic.

Point proven. Interactive fiction rocks, because there’s not much worse than stifling the imagination.

Note: When I say interactive fiction, I mean text adventures.
Also: A hat tip to Why Evolution Is True for compelling me to try out the Hemingway App. If my sentences sound strangely choppy in the middle, it’s because I started feeling very self-conscious.

– C

Advertisements