- Hardcover: 576 pages
- Publisher: Dan Sanderson (1 Mar 2006)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0971311935
- ISBN-13: 978-0971311930
- Product Dimensions: 22.9 x 3.6 x 15.2 cm
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,724,790 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Well those games were called Interactive Fiction, and in the mid-eighties, ruled the software sales charts. Soon enough though, graphicical games took their place in popularity and Interactive Fiction seemed to have disappeared from the landscape.
Then in the early 90's, a couple of developers revived the genre with a couple of compilers, one of them called Inform. Appropriately, Inform creates games files that run against the exact same virtual machine that was used by Infocom, called the Z-Machine.
Inform is a complete language, compiler, and set of library extensions that lets an author/programmer create the same type of Interactive Fiction that was so popular in past times.
The Inform Designer's Manual: 4th Edition is the technical manual for the Inform compiler and includes an entire section on the history of the artform.
This is one of the best technical books you could ever hope for and if you have any interest in the Interactive Genre, it's a must-have for your collection.
As a professional games developer, with several titles on the PC and XBox under my belt, I can say that Nelson's 4th Edition Inform Designers Manual is easily the most friendly read of all game development technical books. Presenting a clear "how to" style, while exposing the power of his interactive fiction development system in a logical and easy to follow manner, this book will have you running around a few rooms of your own design within an hour. Within days, any reasonable person, developer or not, will have the tools at their disposal to create complex puzzles, environments, and characters in their own text adventure.
An added bonus is the Craft Of Adventure section, which provides a brief history of Interactive Fiction, as well as design notes on what makes good puzzles; how to layout flow, pacing, and plot; what players love and what they hate (i.e. Mazes); and how to create a game that is polished, compelling, and enveloping.
This is the only book I would recommend to a young teenager interested in games development. Not only is Interactive Fiction one of the few types of games that can still be developed by a single person, but the introduction to object oriented coding, game state management, and the complexity of game development offered by Inform are invaluable lessons for anyone considering a career in games development. In fact, I wish more professional game developers read this book (especially the "Craft" section) and developed Interactive Fiction in their spare time to hone their skills and better understand the roots of their discipline.