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Worst Case Scenario

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Worst Case Scenario

Postby David Whyld » Mon Nov 20, 2017 5:00 pm

I was going to post this in the other thread about Campbell and the future of ADRIFT, but figured I might as well make another one. Hey, it’s not like we’re drowning in new threads these days, is it?

Let’s imagine the worst case scenario: Campbell has gone and isn't coming back. There isn't going to be a new version of ADRIFT, bugs present are going to be here for all eternity and the website, at some future point in time, is going to go kaput. Which means goodbye to all the games and the reviews and every single forum post. Including this one.

Now, there's no guarantee that any of that is likely to happen. Campbell might very well return while I'm typing this post and announce that he’s been feverishly working on v6 and it’ll be released next week and take the IF world by storm. ADRIFT’s glory days are back!

But, realistically, that isn't very likely to happen. Even if he’s not given up on ADRIFT, Campbell visits the forum very rarely (the last time was two months ago and he’s only posted three times this year) and updates to ADRIFT have slowed to a crawl (the last update was in July 2016, before that it was November 2015 and before that May 2015) and as he’s the driving force behind ADRIFT, without him it’s pretty much dead in the water (pardon the pun).

So what can we, the community, do about it?

With ADRIFT not being open source, there's probably not a whole lot that can be done about the program itself. There are a few forum members I know of with the coding skills to be able to update ADRIFT and / or fix bugs, but as a non-programmer myself, I'm not sure how easy it would be to do any of that (even if they were willing) with the program not being open source. I know Saabie is working on his own version of the v5 Runner – which hopefully will be a godsend because I've never liked the v5 Runner – but could he also work on the new versions of the Generator if he was so minded?

The website itself is hopefully something that we can handle, though. Funnily enough, the games themselves aren’t that much of an issue – Rotter has them archived on his Delron site and I'm guessing the majority are available on the IFArchive, and any missing ones I'm sure we have on our hard drives somewhere – but the forum itself is a problem. If it goes offline tomorrow, that’s 15 years of posts gone up in smoke. That would be bad. I remember being annoyed when the old forum disappeared after Campbell migrated ADRIFT to this one and I’d only been a member of the old forum for about a year. Losing 15 years of posts would be a tragedy.

So, to the technical folk among us, is there a way of migrating this forum to a different website? Basically taking all the old posts, user logins, etc and moving them to another website in the event of this forum going down? I'm sure there is software that can do that sort of thing, but I don’t know of it myself. Assuming the software exists, is it something only Campbell would be able to use (being the admin here – in which case we’re probably screwed anyway), or could any of the moderators handle it?

While I'm brainstorming, moving to a new website would also allow us – i.e. someone with the necessary web design skills – to bring the main site kicking and screaming into the modern age. Get rid of the old drab design people have been complaining about for years and give it a nice new look which actually might encourage newcomers to stick around. Personally I’d be in favour of integrating the website and the forum into one as there's a bit of disconnect between them at the moment. Games get posted on the website but there's no corresponding announcement on the forum unless the author specifically makes a thread, which most of them don’t seem to do. Integrating the sites – having a separate, but very visible, location on the forum for games – would solve that problem.

At this stage, most of the above is just food for thought. Even if Campbell never comes back, I doubt he'd just let the forum and website go down without some warning to the people here, but in the event the unthinkable happens, it makes sense to at least have a plan in place. After all, I'm sure no one wants to try to log into the forum tomorrow to find that it’s gone.
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Re: Worst Case Scenario

Postby Lumin » Mon Nov 20, 2017 6:57 pm

I mentioned this the other day but unless we have someone who knows the first thing about web design and is willing to put in the effort to keep it all updated, I think a wiki style setup is the way to go. It's easy and simple and clean to look at, and there are a ton of organization methods that come with the package.

An integrated forum takes more doing, but a forum itself as a standalone thing isn't hard to toss up if needed.

If anyone has any particular threads they're fond of, not a bad idea to archive it with the Wayback Machine. And I'm assuming Google might have some things cached?

And in event of sudden catastrophic forum failure, not to keep shilling for chooseyourstory.com, but I'll still be there and we could find some little refugee tents for you guys to huddle in or something while we figure this out. (There's actually another site called Infinite Story this all brings to mind. One of the current CYS admins was one of the more prominent members there and it was a tiny zombie community like this one I was also a part of...it coasted along for YEARS with no word from the owner, until one day he shows up saying he's going to be updating te place, pushes a few small design changes through...then Old Yellar's the forum and vanishes without a word. LOL.)

Anyway, a dedicated Adrift IRC channel made in advance might also not be a bad idea. (Note I am presuming here we're all too old for figuring out Discord or Skype.)
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Re: Worst Case Scenario

Postby rotter » Mon Nov 20, 2017 9:54 pm

Yes, David is right my Delron site has every ADRIFT game, review and walkthrough I could every lay my hands on. For some daft reason I've kept it up-to-date as well. Probably has a better games list than this site and is far easier to search through - The Delron ADRIFT Games List. Can't help with the forum stuff though.
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Re: Worst Case Scenario

Postby Lumin » Mon Nov 20, 2017 10:18 pm

rotter wrote:Yes, David is right my Delron site has every ADRIFT game, review and walkthrough I could every lay my hands on. For some daft reason I've kept it up-to-date as well. Probably has a better games list than this site and is far easier to search through - The Delron ADRIFT Games List. Can't help with the forum stuff though.


Nice, wasn't sure if it was still being updated. I used to use that list quite a bit, it's more comfortable to grab games from than the main games page here tbh even if it doesn't have the descriptions.
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Re: Worst Case Scenario

Postby ralphmerridew » Mon Nov 20, 2017 10:42 pm

Well, I have the ADRIFT 4 source code. (Certainly the Runner source, and I think the Generator source.)
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Re: Worst Case Scenario

Postby saabie » Tue Nov 21, 2017 5:20 am

David Whyld wrote:I know saabie is working on his own version of the v5 Runner – which hopefully will be a godsend because I've never liked the v5 Runner – but could he also work on the new versions of the Generator if he was so minded?
The generator would actually be a lot simpler than the runner as it would re-use a lot of the same code and the rest is just a whole lot of dialog boxes with a couple of lines of code for each edit box.
Lumin wrote:I'd donate cash money even now to see some real focus put on that. Maybe someone who knows about programming could correct me if I'm wrong, but how hard would it be really to have the v5 runner include a 'v4 mode', that simply ran these very simple games without breaking them?
v3.9/v4 would only need the addition of code to load the different file format in my runner, and a few minor tweaks.
It would certainly be possible to do a new generator and even expand the runner to run all the other IF formats as well as all the ADRIFT versions (and as a bonus have it run on every OS and CPU type if I did it with Free-Pascal), but that would be a full-time job.
It's all really just a matter of time. I can't afford to spend as much time on ADRIFT programming as I would like to, as I need to spend most of my time on writing software that will earn me a living.
Lumin wrote:If it's possible to literally make over $1000 a month writing porn games with ADRIFT, I definitely do think the guy making the program should be able to earn at least a modest amount.
To work on a project like ADRIFT full time would cost me about $300/month for basic living expenses, but those games also contain a lot of 3-D images so you would need a good artist to help with your fund-raising idea :)
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Re: Worst Case Scenario

Postby Lumin » Tue Nov 21, 2017 4:18 pm

Is ADRIFT still popular with AIF writers? Because yeah, unfortunately the easiest way to bring people out of the woodwork with their $$$ probably would be to market the whole thing as an AIF writing tool and reinforce the idea with some surprise guest appearances by anime titties. :/

Anyway saabie, how's that runner coming along, anyhow? You still think you're on track for the end of the year? I couldn't say for sure right how much I could personally commit to in a Patreon (just moved and there are a few other factors, so waiting to see how that all shakes out...) but I promise Santa will leave something nice in your PayPal account if you really can straighten out backwards compatibility issues for the runner. :) That would be such a huge thing just in itself (and being able to run other IF games to would be fantastic...).

I know something like swapping runner versions out doesn't seem like a big deal for us, but we're at the point where downloading and using one at all is pretty foreign to most casual players, and any added complication just creates more of a hurdle they may not be interested in jumping for an obscure program on an ugly website they're not at all invested in yet.
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Re: Worst Case Scenario

Postby David Whyld » Tue Nov 21, 2017 7:26 pm

This is quite positive to hear. The games are all backed up, people have access to the v4 source code and it's possible to make a Runner which would run both v4 and v5 games (which kind of begs the question: why hasn't Campbell done this before now?). Meaning ADRIFT could well survive without Campbell if needs be.

Saabie, about your v5 Runner: how does it differ from the official one? I posted a list of possible Runner improvements - http://forum.adrift.co/viewtopic.php?f=14&t=11656 - a while back in the hope that Campbell might consider implementing some of them. He didn't, or even respond to the thread - heck, maybe he's not even seen it - but it'd be nice to see at least a few of them in your Runner.

As for migrating the forum, I did a few Google searches on the subject and it's definitely possible, though by the look of things only someone with admin privileges would be able to do it. Which I guess means either Campbell (absent for most of this year) or KFAdrift (absent for two years), which isn't much use right now.
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Re: Worst Case Scenario

Postby Lumin » Tue Nov 21, 2017 11:07 pm

David Whyld wrote:Saabie, about your v5 Runner: how does it differ from the official one? I posted a list of possible Runner improvements - http://forum.adrift.co/viewtopic.php?f=14&t=11656 - a while back in the hope that Campbell might consider implementing some of them. He didn't, or even respond to the thread - heck, maybe he's not even seen it - but it'd be nice to see at least a few of them in your Runner.


Looking at that list, add a yes please to the direct copy and pasting of text, as well as the ability to type multiple commands. (Not something I ever really did, but it would be useful for testing purposes and I'd consider it a pretty standard feature on a modern runner.)
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Re: Worst Case Scenario

Postby Denk » Wed Nov 22, 2017 12:57 am

Regarding multiple commands on one line: If that is implemented, I would say that it is important that commands are separated with ".", not "," just as INFORM games, since ADRIFT should allow for the conversation format "John, hello" etc. (ADRIFT 5 currently allows for that but if you use "," as separator between multiple commands it will not work)

Though Saabie might have entirely different ambitions with his runner(?), what I regard as the most important thing is that we end up with an online runner so that games can be played online, otherwise no one are going to play our games these days. And when playing online, the save-feature should be similar to Quixe. The current method Campbell has made for ADRIFT is too troublesome: You have to note down a 16 digit(? - at least very long) filename (can't remember the details - online play has not been working for a year or so). Also the online player map is not good. I think the map should either be improved or discarded in online play, or the ability to hide the map. We need an appearance as good as INFORM to be competitive.
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Re: Worst Case Scenario

Postby saabie » Wed Nov 22, 2017 9:36 am

Here is what my runner looks like at the moment, but the look of it can easily be changed to whatever layout most people prefer. I can make all the colors, button sizes, and possibly the layout customisable if needed.
This shows the debug page as I wrote that first to use for debugging the program itself.
Debug.JPG
Debug.JPG (141.5 KiB) Viewed 254 times

The main page uses a full HTML display component and separate panels for map and pictures the same way ADRIFT layouts work.
Different Ctrl/Fx key functions:
Easy - All the control and function keys can be made fully customisable.
Compatibility
The first release will only run recent ADRIFT 5.0 releases, then I will have to add support for the various things that Campbell has changed during development so I can support older v5 games.
V3/V4 will need a whole new file loader and other changes so it is a fair bit of work.
Map
Will be a 2-D map, so to view separate levels you can move up and down with a slider, so I will need to display up/down arrows like v4.
It will still use the predefined v5 layout rather than being regenerated each turn.
I could make the symbols used customisable so you can have U/D, pointing hands or arrows.
I will probably also allow you to add an icon to each location, change the color, and other options.
Multiple commands on one line
Should be pretty easy to do.
Text entry bar
Auto-resize is easy. It should also be possible to put the input prompt inside the main text window for those that prefer it.
Shortcuts
Adding extra commands like INC FONT and DEC FONT is easy, I could even let you define your own.
Edit mode
Easy.
Online Play
Free-Pascal has components for creating web servers easily, so this should be doable.
Other IF systems
I had a look at some other systems like z-code and they look a lot more complex than I was expecting, so it would be quite a bit of extra work (It might be easier to splice in somebody else's existing source code or have my program start the appropriate interpreter and switch to it)
Schedule
1. Release runner compatible with ADRIFT 5 games made in the last couple of years - Aiming for Christmas.
2. Get my own game finished in time for spring thing.
3. Blorb file loader.
4. Fix compatibility with earlier ADRIFT 5 releases.
5. Write a loader for v3/v4 games.
6. Maybe a z-code interpreter module. Maybe an ADRIFT generator if Campbell does not return.
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Re: Worst Case Scenario

Postby Po. Prune » Wed Nov 22, 2017 10:56 am

Dang! :bravo:
I damned well hope Campbell sees this.
Great job, Saabie :thanks:
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Re: Worst Case Scenario

Postby ralphmerridew » Wed Nov 22, 2017 12:16 pm

If you want to include Zcode, you should start by reading the zmachine specification ( http://inform-fiction.org/zmachine/stan ... index.html )
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Re: Worst Case Scenario

Postby Lumin » Wed Nov 22, 2017 12:22 pm

Aside from backwards compatibility I'm with Deno on seeing improved online play as the most important thing. Never cared for it myself but if the goal is to bring in new blood it's a necessity.

Been a lot of doom and gloom around here for quite awhile now, but saabie's post cheered me right up. That looks fantastic, I'm seriously impressed. :D
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Re: Worst Case Scenario

Postby David Whyld » Wed Nov 22, 2017 6:15 pm

Saabie, that's actually a lot better than I was expecting. Multiple commands on the same line is something I've been hoping for in v5 for years now but despite frequent requests for it, nothing's ever happened. I have no idea why. v4 had it and it was a godsend for testing games, so I can't understand why it was never implemented in v5.

A map with clear indicators of which way you can go is also a godsend. The one in v5 is next to useless when you have locations on different levels because you can only see the locations by dragging and dropping the map around the screen.

Being able to play v4 and v5 games in the same Runner? That's probably the best news right there. There's really no reason to have separate Runners for each version of ADRIFT and this will solve that nasty issue of players using the v5 Runner to play v4 games, and running into auto-update issues, which has plagued ADRIFT for years.

The other stuff is just icing on a very nice cake.

For the first time in years, I'm actually excited about ADRIFT again and feel it really could have a future after all.
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