Cone of Silence: The Text Adventure

Cone of Silence

Cone of Silence is an experiment in combining politics with interactive fiction. The piece is short and makes use of humor similar to that of a political cartoon.

The game is inspired by the recent nationally televised Saddleback Civil Forum. The format of the forum was supposed to be that Pastor Rick Warren would ask questions of one candidate while, the other candidate was placed into a “cone of silence.” When the first candidate was done, the other candidate would come out and answer the same line of questioning.

Senator Barack Obama went first, decided by the toss of a coin. During this time, Senator John McCain was supposedly placed into this so-called cone of silence. However, several media outlets are now reporting that John McCain was not in the cone for the first thirty minutes.

This doesn’t necessarily mean that McCain used this time outside of the cone to learn of the questions prior to his on-stage interview. Though if the media’s assertions are true, then the Saddleback Civil Forum was clearly compromised by John McCain and raises justifiable doubts about the validity of event. Which is really a shame because I really enjoyed the less aggressive nature of this kind of format. I guess it wouldn’t be politics if things didn’t get ugly.

To play “Cone of Silence,” you’ll need to download this and a z-machine interpreter. I recommend the Z-Machine Preservation Project. Written with Inform 7.

>examine interactive fiction

Yesterday, I blogged about my first foray into the world of Interactive Fiction. While searching the web last night, two things in particular grabbed my attention.

The first is a blog post at Dorophone titled “On Inform 7, Natural Language Programming and the Principle of Least Surprise.” The article is clearly written from the viewpoint of a coder. The author does an excellent job of examining the “natural” qualities of Inform 7’s syntax, discusses many of the positives and negatives of programming in such an environment, and compares it to other languages such Inform 6 and python.

The other site is Emily Short’s Interactive Fiction. Emily Short writes both interactive fiction and about interactive fiction. After briefly browsing her articles, which I plan to revisit in the near future, I was left with the impression she has developed a mastery of the medium. The information found here is invaluable to anyone interested in interactive fiction, including novices, veterens, and everything in between. I discovered this site thanks to @christophernies, who recommended Galatea, an IF written by Emily Short.

Writing Interactive Fiction with Inform 7

I’m learning Inform 7, a programming language designed to create interactive works of fiction for the same Z-Machine used for many text classics such and Zork and Planetfall. My inspiration comes from Adam Parrish‘s >frotzophone, “an interface for making music with interactive fiction”.

So far, I’ve put in about three hours. Within this time frame, I’ve already been successful at creating some very rudimentary, yet interactive environments. The syntax of Inform is by far the highest level language I’ve personally ever encountered; Coding requires the use of real english language. That fascinates me, and at the same time, hard for me to wrap my brain around.

Below is the in-game action of a demo I wrote to learn the language, followed by the actual code used to create the work.

The Hack-o-torium
An Interactive Fiction by Jacob Joaquin
Release 1 / Serial number 080815 / Inform 7 build 5T18 (I6/v6.31 lib 6/12N) SD

This room looks like an astromech spewed its guts all over place, as each nook and cranny is filled with odd electrical devices, wires, resistors, etc. You hear the busy street traffic below.

A simple but well crafted wooden staircase is here.

A large wooden table resides near the giant windows.

On The large wooden table is a bottle (closed) (in which is a clear brown liquid).

>climb stairs
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