Saturday, January 31, 2009

Interactive Fiction, Declarative Domain Specific Languages, and Web Frameworks: Introduction

This is the first part--just the introduction, really--to what I intend to be a small series.

I've liked interactive fiction pretty well since I was a child. If "interactive fiction" doesn't mean anything to you, you might be familiar with the old Infocom games of the 1980s: Zork, Planetfall, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, Leather Goddesses of Phobos, and so on. That's interactive fiction.

Even though interactive fiction hasn't had much of a commercial impact since the 1980s, the genre has been alive and well, and actually doing amazing things, ever since. Shareware and freeware drive it now.

If you're willing to give it a try, Emily Short is considered one of the current masters. Galatea, for instance, might be an eye-opener: free, only 10 minutes long to play, and not a puzzle per se, but pretty amazing. Give it a try. You also might enjoy checking out the experience of blueful. I intend to try out Lost Pig with my five year old, playing it with him. There are also plenty of long fantasy, sci-fi and mystery games out there to be found, still usually free; and free software to play the games for Windows, Mac, Linux, Palm, iPhone (search the Appstore for Frotz), and plenty of others. This is really cool stuff.

So how do you write interactive fiction? Well, that's cool too. What's going on there right now fascinates me, both because it inspires me to want to give it a try, and because it has a different perspective on similar issues that I've been observing with web frameworks.

Later in this series: Inform 7 versus TADS, domain specific languages and design, pondering declarative goal-directed programming for web applications, RoR and Hobo, and various other things that I will make up as I go along.

No comments: