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Garry Francis

A member registered Aug 31, 2019 · View creator page →

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I added that, as well, as it's a pretty obvious thing for the player to try. FWIW, 'look under' is actually one of the supported verb phrases in the Inform 6 standard library, but it's not in PunyInform. Keep that in mind if you ever need to port a game from the standard library to PunyInform or vice versa. The only other significant difference I came across was certain uses of 'climb', but that will be in the next release.

I ended up having a lot of things in the closet. As I would think of a puzzle somewhere else, I would find another use for the closet.

Only 8 of the 10 are Adventuron games. Caleb's game was written in Inform 7 and plays in a browser using Vorple and some custom code. ilBarbogio's game is written using a custom JavaScript engine.

I'm also using Firefox 87.0 for 64-bit and both games work fine for me. However, I'm using Windows 7, so I'm guessing that it must be something to do with the Linux version of Firefox or the Lubuntu operating system.

I like the title. Very clever.

I've sketched out the basic storyline. I know the plot, the objective, the characters, the start game and end game, but I've got a complete blank for the middle game. I want this to be very puzzly, but nothing springs to mind. I would normally spend weeks or months dwelling on the details before I start coding. Only one day in and I'm already in a panic.

I've been testing your game and have an extensive test report that I'll send you on the Discord server.

The submission merely points to your game page, so if you replaced the original file with the new one, anyone that plays the game will get the latest version. If it's been cached by the browser, I think they may get the old version, depending on the browser's caching strategy.

" which the I discusses..."? Tsk, tsk.

Thanks. Very helpful.

You might be right. I can only speak for myself. Keep doing your videos. If there's people that enjoy them, I'm sure they'll keep coming back and watching them. For me, I don't have the bandwidth to watch 5 hours or so of someone else playing a video game. I'd rather just play it myself.

It's helpful to watch someone playing your own game, but live play-throughs are downright boring and they give too many spoilers. Of the ones I've seen, they tend to make the player look like an idiot. More importantly, they make the game look bad. For anyone not familiar with text adventures, these videos would really put them off. We should be promoting the genre and making people want to play the games, not making them look bad.

I'm rewriting my earlier Adventuron games to take advantage of the new features and thinking of putting the source code on GitLab or GitHub. I've got accounts on both, but tend to favour GitLab, for no particular reason. Does anyone have any experience with using these as a source code repository? What are the pros and cons of each?

Thanks for the feedback. My gut feeling is that it would probably take about two hours to play the game. I think you could divide it into two phases - an information gathering phase and a puzzle-solving phase. If you dropped out early, then you missed all the neat puzzles in the puzzle-solving phase. This game is a lot richer than what you'd be used to in old-school adventures that only present what you need to solve puzzles and nothing else. The game is all about exploration and discovery. Once you know what you have to do and what materials you need, everything else falls into place.

The list: There is only one list. It lists the ten chores you have to do and serves as a memory jogger so that you can see what you have to do and what you've completed. It's colour-coded and updated dynamically.  Each chore has three states as described when you examine the list.

The text book: The text book has a long list of topics. This is for realism, as Santa's workshop makes more toys than just the ones you have to make. You can read all the topics, but you don't need to unless you want to. Its better just to concentrate on the chores that Santa gave you. Of course, if you haven't worked that out yet...

Inventory: Eldrid is a young elf, not a Mack truck, so a ten-item limit is quite generous and you can increase that by taking advantage of the containers, although that's not really necessary. There are over 20 items in supplies alone. You probably fell into the old trap of picking up everything in existence, including objects that you don't need. Call them red herrings, if you like. This was by design. If you flounder about, you will certainly waste time and energy. Inventory management is an essential skill in any adventurer's arsenal. Bottom line? Ignore the items you don't need.

Supplies: There are four supply stores and each can provide you with around five or six materials. You can ask about the materials, but you don't need to if you don't want to. This is just for colour and backs up what you can read about in the text book. You only need to ask for what you need. It sounds like you made the mistake of asking for everything, whether you needed it or not. For each store, just ask for what you need, then GET ALL. You can do this in as few as two moves per store. For example, ASK FOR LINEN AND COTTON AND FABRIC. GET ALL.

Elves' name and location: You don't have to memorise the elves' names, as the ones you need are on the list. You also don't need to memorise the locations, as you don't know where those locations are until you've found them and once you've found them, you've found the elves. Simple.

Similar locations: The hallways are necessary to provide access to other rooms. There's not that many (two upstairs and four downstairs), they all look different and have different descriptions and different exits. Draw a map! (The layout is actually very logical and straight forward. Living quarters upstairs, workshop facilities downstairs, outdoor locations surround the workshop.)

Directions in descriptions: If this was an Inform game, I would provide directions in the descriptions, but this isn't an Inform game. Obvious exits are listed separately. If each direction tells you where it goes, then this reduces the sense of discovery when you discover a new room. For example, if the description says, 'There's a kitchen to the east', then it just bloats the description and you don't feel like you've discovered anything when you first enter the kitchen.

Font size: That is useful feedback. It sounds like you may have played it in full-screen mode. Adventuron has really weird scaling and the font is really large at full screen. If you play it in a window and resize the window to a comfortable size, the font gets smaller and you don't have to do as much scrolling. It's really hard to know what font size to use so that it works in all situations, including mobile. If I make it too small, it gets hard to read in small window sizes and on mobile.

One chore to start with: Hmm, that's an interesting idea, but it would require a major redesign. The aim of the game is to complete the ten chores on the list. By presenting you with ten chores up front, you can do multiple things in any order. Giving you one chore at the start or one chore at a time would make it too linear.

Sorry for the long rant, but come back and give it another play after the jam is over. There are numerous ways to play the game, for example:

  • aim to do the elves' chores first, then make the toys
  • aim to make the toys first, then do the elves' chores
  • when making the toys, gather the materials for one toy at a time, then make that toy
  • when making the toys, gather all the materials for all the toys, then make all the toys
  • aim to do everything upstairs, then downstairs
  • aim to do all the inside chores, then the outside chores
  • aim to do all the outside chores, then the inside chores
  • and so on

Realistically, you will need some combination of the above.

For anyone else reading this, I was recently writing up a solution and found that a good approach was to firstly work out what you have to do. (That goes without saying.) Collect all the materials you need from supplies and drop them in the assembly area. From this point on, there's nothing but puzzle solving. Collect the remaining materials you need from indoors and drop them in the assembly area. Collect the remaining materials you need from outdoors and drop them in the assembly area. Make all the toys and put them on the sleigh. Do the two elves' chores along the way.

Once again, thanks for the feedback. It's much appreciated.

Personally, I hate in-game tutorials, as it's disruptive to the flow of the game but I'm not a beginner. What about the instructions? It's not 'in-game', but does that count? Anyone that's read my instructions won't need a tutorial, but there's also in-game help as a reminder.

If you're using a public repository like GitLab or GitHub, you could create an Assets folder and put all the psd and png images in there. Don't bother about the base64, as that requires an extra step to decode it and it's in the source code anyway.

If you're not using a public repository, you could put the psd files in one zip file and the png files in another zip file and make those available somewhere, such as the downloads on your game page.

I think it's entirely up to the author. If you're proud of it or you're doing something clever or unusual and you think others could learn from it, then by all means share the source code.  If you're embarrassed by it or your source code is a mess or you're worried about someone ripping it off, it's probably better that you don't share it.

Remember that Adventuron source code may only compile for the version of Adventuron that it was written for, due to all the ongoing changes, hidden features and experimental stuff that a lot of us rely on. So, make sure you state the expected version of Adventuron somewhere.

I am currently rewriting some of my old games and you'd be amazed at the amount of re-engineering required.

I would have thought that if the game has a de facto in game tutorial via in-game hints, that's essentially the same thing. For example, if you examine a letter and it says "Why don't you read it?", that is far more effective than popping up a seemingly random message that says, "Hey, bozo. Read the letter."

Thanks Dee. It looks like that gingerbread puzzle was too hard. There were a few subtle hints, but they were clearly too subtle. I don't want to change the puzzle mechanic, but I'll see if I can think of a better hint when using the hint system. I'll check those inconspicuous items, too. I must have missed a couple.

Regarding the toys in the storeroom, that's yet another example of my never-ending quest to eliminate scoping issues in Adventuron. I had a response for examining the toys in the storeroom, but Adventuron was ignoring it. I also had 'toys' defined as a synonym for 'dump' because the latter referred to 'reject toys'. For some obscure reason that I still don't understand, Adventuron decided that 'toys' referred to the dump, even though it was out of scope. Anyway, I've fixed the problem and done a quick update to version 0.0.8. Thanks again for finding this.

Testers are your best friends. The developers at work don't understand that.

Ha, ha. Me too. I am self taught and have no formal qualifications in technical writing. I failed English in the School Certificate, probably because it was all drama and poetry and Shakespeare and all that other rubbish that has very little to do with writing skills - the ability to express yourself, spelling, grammar, punctuation and capitalisation. I think I learnt from writing reports at work, some vocational training and writing for fun - writing bushwalking reports, editing an Atari user group newsletter and writing about adventures for a UK computer magazine.

After failing English in 4th form (or year 10, as it's called nowadays), I went on to get a distinction in technical communications at uni and a couple of prizes for most popular article in those computer newsletters/magazines.

Nowadays, most kids (and adults) can't even string a sentence together. I blame the education system and social media for that.

Oh, I'm a trainer, too. I like teaching people. Hence the desire to break things down into small understandable chunks, put things in the right sequence and make things as clear as possible.

The source code is clean and well organised, but it's not commented. That's why I feel some external explanation is necessary.

In my day job, I am the technical writer (amongst other things) for the biggest and best traffic management system in the world. I write user manuals, online help, specifications and so on. In doing so, I have to delve into every nook and cranny of that software. I find bugs. Lots of bugs. Bugs that the testers haven't found. I raise bug reports. When you are writing bug reports on a safety critical system, you can't afford to mince words. People's lives and property could depend on that bug being fixed. This is probably why I may seem pedantic.

Some people at work call me a perfectionist. I take offence at that term. Perfection is something that you strive for. It can never be achieved. I prefer to think of it as attention to detail. Get the little things right and the big things will fall into place.

That's a great article, Chris. I think I'll forward it to my work colleagues.

That's a good question. I don't mind making the source code available, but the advanced stuff might scare some people off. Let me give it some thought and I might release it when I release version 1.0.0. I would just need to work out where to release it. I have accounts on (obviously), GitLab and GitHub, so maybe one of those.

The rationale behind some of the source code would need an explanation, especially the hacks to workaround Adventuron restrictions. I'm not sure where best to explain it. Perhaps a blog somewhere? I imagine this being part tutorial, part reference and part hints and tips, somewhat like an expanded version of the Adventuron cookbook. Anyway, that's just an idea.

I should also say that there is nothing wrong with a verb/noun game. It's just that I come from an Inform 6 world and I'm used to designing games with containers, multi-word input and out-of-scope topics (such as in the book and the character interaction). If I had known what I was getting myself in for, I would never have designed this game. I set out to do something bigger than my past Adventuron games and ended up with something completely different. It is very rich in content. There is lots to explore and discover and it's fun to play, but the information gathering at the beginning is very repetitive. Sorry about that. I guess I got a bit carried away.

I have done the penultimate update for 'Santa's Trainee Elf'. It is now version 0.0.7. I believe this is probably the most technically sophisticated Adventuron game that's ever been written. It's been quite a frustrating experience, as I have been on the bleeding edge and things did not go as smoothly as I would have liked. I must thank Chris for attending to my endless bug reports and, more importantly, fixing most of those bugs. The multi-word input and the scoping is now fairly sophisticated and nearing that of Inform, TADS and so on.

The latest version has lots of responses to non-important commands, fully-implemented containers, a hint system and a list of amusing things to try when you finish the game. There are no significant changes to the puzzles, so don't feel compelled to replay it if you've already finished it. For anyone that hasn't tried it yet, please give it a burl and feel free to send feedback if you find any bugs or you tried something that didn't work that you think should have worked.

The only thing left to do now is to tidy up the graphics, but that's not important to the gameplay, so I might leave that until the jam is over.

My game is still a beta version. Although I've done a number of updates to incorporate feedback and Adventuron bug fixes, it's still not finished due to oustanding Adventuron issues. As I've spent so much time chasing these down, testing, writing up test cases and filing bug reports, I haven't had time to play any of the other games.

That's okay. Covid-19 is an important event in world history. It should not be ignored and it should not be forgotten. I would hope that future generations will learn from the lessons of this pandemic. Apart from which, it explains why Santa's workshop is short of supplies.

Now that the games have been submitted and judging is well under way, I can't help wondering what the theme for the next jam will be. Vampires, pirates, fairy tales, sci fi, time travel, horror, humour, detective mystery, fantasy or archaeology. These are all the classic themes, but what about something a bit more imaginative? How about something based in ancient China, myths and legends of a foreign land, something based on a historical event or a Bible story, Australian bushrangers, the stone age, something set in the Arctic or Antarctica, a war story or a search for outlaws in the Wild West. It could be just a word, like 'pumpkin'. The things to keep in mind are the time period, the geographic location and the goal. Whatever the theme, it should allow a lot of variety in the submitted games. Any ideas?

Thanks for the feedback. You're the first one to comment on the repetitive nature of the information gathering exercise at the beginning. That was something I was a bit concerned about.

This is still a beta version. I've extended the number of verbs and responses and I'm trying to track down a number of Adventuron issues that are causing me some grief. I've added a hint system and a list of amusing things to try at the end and I still intend to tweak the graphics.

You might be right, but how would you know for sure? Maybe two identical games, one with crude bit-mapped cover art and one with polished cover art and see which one gets the most hits.

FWIW, I've had 119 views, 7 downloads, 63 browser plays and it's been very quiet over the last week or so. Your game is far outperforming mine in teams of analytics. I haven't done any promotion yet, because I haven't uploaded the final version.

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My comments on the Android apps were based on reviews. Actually, the mobile web site isn't too bad, so maybe we don't need a mobile app. There are some things that you can't do on the web site that you can do with the desktop app, most notably, the ability to download an html app (this is quite handy) and the ability to keep an index of downloaded apps that can be updated automatically.

I just did a search for '' on Google Play and found four apps called Companion, - Companion (same developer), Insights and Dashboard. I haven't installed any of them, so I don't know whether they're any good.

Is there any chance of developing a version of the desktop app to run on mobile devices such as mobile phones. I'm specifically interested in Android, but I'm sure the Apple folks would like to see an iOS version.

There are a few third-party apps on Google Play, but these don't have all the same features and have irritating in-app advertising.

OMG. I give up. You're obsessed with the twine. Your code still doesn't work. I keep telling you, when I READ ABOUT BALL, its supposed to say, "It says you only need rubber to make a ball." Instead, it says, "There's no topic on that."

You still don't get it. I want twine to be the primary noun for the twine. When I READ ABOUT BALL in the book, I don't want it to refer to the twine. I want it to refer to the topic on the rubber ball in the book.

Thanks. The graphics aren't finished yet. I need to add some details and tidy up the stray pixels.

It's in the code snippet. The ball is NOT an object. It's a topic in the book. When you READ ABOUT BALL, you're supposed to get told about the rubber ball. Instead, you get told about the twine. I didn't ASK ABOUT TWINE. How can I possibly make it any clearer?

I don't think you understand. I don't want twine to be recognised at all when it's not in scope. The ball you read about in the book is a completely different ball. It's a rubber ball. It's NOT the ball of twine. You cannot read about the ball of twine in the book.

I know what it does. I worked that out for myself, but what it does is wrong. I ASK ABOUT BALL, not twine. Why does noun1 return twine, when the primary noun for twine is 'twine' and the primary noun for ball is 'ball'. It simply doesn't make sense.

When both objects are in scope, 'ball' is a better match for ball, than ball of twine. When only the ball is in scope, 'ball' is the only match for ball. When only the ball of twine is in scope, 'twine' is the only match for ball.

It strikes me that it stops processing as soon as it finds the first match for 'ball' and that happens to be the ball of twine. It does not continue processing to see that there is a better match later on. In the real game, the ball of twine is not even in scope, yet it still returns 'twine'. I've got a feeling that if I was to define an object for ball BEFORE the twine (even though there is no such object), then it would find the ball first and use that, even if it's not in scope. And then I wouldn't be able to refer to the ball of twine as 'ball'.

So how do I work around these shortcomings?

I seem to recall asking this in one of the early jams and I think you're interpretation is correct. How well does it respond to the things you try. See what Chris has to say.