Back to Main List
Back to Book List

Notes and Reflections on Books and Media

by Hannah Leitheiser

30 Years of Interactive Fiction

Writing with Inform




Finished the manual for Inform7, which is a programming language for writing interactive fiction (or text-based adventures). I'd played some from the heyday -- the 1980's -- and one of the questions on my mind was: how much has interactive fiction technology evolved in the last 30 years?

Answer: not a lot. Obviously, graphics and sound have been big additions to gaming (and interactive fiction is what a book is to a movie), IDE's and extensions let authors get their stories out faster, but at the basic level control over story and characters is about the same.

But I suppose if you add much more than basic algorithms to the interaction -- characters you can talk to naturally, plots that evolve in ways not coded by the author -- you begin to create systems where computers write the story, which would require a level of artificial intelligence I've not seen.