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PostPosted: Sun Jan 30, 2005 12:08 pm
by KFAdrift
This thread will contain some lists of frequently asked ADRIFT questions.

So far I have added the following FAQs to this thread

* General FAQ - ADRIFT and interactive fiction.
* ALR FAQ - ADRIFT Language Resource Files
* Variables FAQ
* Problems FAQ - attempting to help when things go wrong.

Please come forward with any questions and I (hopefully with the support of others) will attempt to answer them and add them here.

PostPosted: Sun Jan 30, 2005 12:20 pm
by KFAdrift
General FAQ

* What is an FAQ?
* What is ADRIFT?
* What is interactive fiction?
* Why should I use ADRIFT?
* Where can I find ADRIFT games to play?
* Where can I get help with an ADRIFT problem?
* What documentation is available for ADRIFT?

For more detailed help check the specific FAQs

This section has dealt with general questions about ADRIFT, I will be adding more specific authoring sections.

What is an FAQ?
An FAQ is simply someones attempts to answer all those questions that are asked by new users.

What is ADRIFT?
ADRIFT is a Microsoft Windows based system for creating and playing interactive fiction. The system was created and is still supported by Campbell Wild using Visual Basic. There are two programmes, helpfully called generator and runner, which do as their names suggest.

The runner is free, the generator is shareware with a fee of about $19 payable to create anything more than a demo. (If you do not register ADRIFT 4.0 it is limited to: 10 rooms; 25 objects; 25 tasks; 5 events; 3 characters; 2 roomgroups; 10 synonyms; 5 variables). The previous version 3.90 is still available and is completely free.

What is interactive fiction?
This is really the new name for what used to be called adventure games. They are largely text based, although graphics and sound are often used, and as the name suggests vary from ordinary fiction because they allow the reader to be a player and interact with them.

Interaction can be limited to examining objects, talking to characters (often called NPC - non player character) with the story. You will also find that you can be involved in fighting, though not normally to the extent of a role-playing game.

Why should I use ADRIFT?
Not a question that is easily answered as it depends on what you want to do.

ADRIFT is designed to make it straightforward for someone new to it to start writing straight away. The graphical interface gives immediate access to the vast majority of features. For the greater amount of time an ADRIFT game is built up by simply filling in boxes and selecting menu options.

Most though not all other IF systems are specialised programming languages meaning there is a much steeper learning curve, although in time many find them less limiting. Examples of programming langauges are INFORM, TADS, HUGO, and ALAN.

Where can I find ADRIFT games to play?
You should be able to get hold of ADRIFT games from the main ADRIFT site where most people will load their latest projects. You will find that the games have descriptions, marks and reviews associated to guide you to what to try.

Where can I get help with an ADRIFT problem?
The first port of call, after checking in the manual, for getting help with a problem should be the Forum (here) where Drifters tend to gather.

Take a look through past posts as your question may well have been answered. If you don't find the answer post and you will probably get a reply within a day or two.

If your problem is a bug with the program go to the bugs reporting page where there is a form you can complete. The same form can also be used to put forward an enhancement.

What documentation is available for ADRIFT?
Currently the major work of documentation for ADRIFT is the ADRIFT Version 4.0 Manual, which is available from the main ADRIFT site at

Recently Mystery has brought out the ADRIFT Beginner's guide. This is intended to walk the new user through the steps required to produce a simple game.

PostPosted: Sun Jan 30, 2005 1:20 pm
by KFAdrift
Common problems FAQ

The questions are here are the ones that I have heard once or twice with, hopefully, helpful responses to them.

* I got an error message and ADRIFT closed down, what can I do?
* I have had to re-install ADRIFT/load it on another PC and need to reset registration

I got an error message and ADRIFT closed down, what can I do?
If you are lucky, and you have ADRIFT set to make a backup, you will find in the directory you saved the file is a file with the same name, but .bak as an extension. This is the file save before the last one, so in this case you will have most of your work. In this case you should rename the file, changing the extension to .taf and, if you are fortunate, you will have a working version of your game.

If you don't have this backup, you should go to the menu File>Settings and make sure that Automatically create backup copies of TAF files is ticked, to help in the future.

An alternative is, with version 4.0, to export the game as a module (File>Export>Module), load it back into a new file with File>Import>Module and see what you have. You should note that this will not be a complete export of your game, and will almost certainly require some work to return it to it's original state.

Remember, if all else fails, send a copy of your file to Campbell Wild ( who can take a more detailed look at it. If you do this, please give as much detail as you can of the error message and what you did.

I have had to re-install ADRIFT/load it on another PC and need to reset registration
With ADRIFT 4.0 the registration code expires in about one week so after that you have to obtain a new one.
Assuming you have access to it, look up the registration details from your normal copy (or check the email if you still have it). Then go to the page and enter those details and you will be sent a new key. (This needs checking following changes to ADRIFT website)

Enter those details on your newly installed copy of ADRIFT and you should be registered.

PostPosted: Sun Jan 30, 2005 1:25 pm
by KFAdrift
Variables FAQ

* What is a variable?
* How do I display a variable in my game?
* What can I use variables for?
* How do I manipulate the variables?
* So what is an expression?

What is a variable?
In ADRIFT you can simply create a variable which is then set to an initial value. From the Create menu select advanced and click on the variables tap at the top of the new window.

As you can see your variable can either be an integer or text. You now fill in your start value for the varible, which can be changed by tasks as the game runs.

These are not the only variables that are in your game as there are quite a few system variables, such as %turns% for the number of game turns have gone.

Additionally in the game tasks create references such as %object% for the object referenced in a task.

How do I display a variable in my game?
You can insert the value of a variable into your game in any of the text areas by enclosing it with percentage symbols, ie %money%. For smaller values they can be converted to text with %tmoney%.

What can I use variables for?
That is a question that is impossible to answer as they are so useful, although many are scared off by the thought of mathematics. What you need to know is that a low level of mathematical knowledge is needed to get the most out of them.

How do I manipulate the variables?
Once a variable has been created it will need to be accessed and changed. Task restrictions can check the values of variables, so that a task will only execute if a variable is greater than two and less than seven for example.

You can then use task actions to actually manipulate the values of the variables. They can be set to an exact value, increased or decreased by an exact value, to a random number between two values, change by a random number or, scarily, to the value of an expression.

So what is an expression?
It is a mathematical calculation and in ADRIFT is used to assign a new value to a variable.

This could be as simple as change [variable][to expression][5].

The bonus with expressions is that you can use them to handle other variable. So for a game where you might buy something, you could have:

change [money][to expression][%money%-%ObjectPrice%]

which would take the price of the object being bought from your money.

PostPosted: Sun Jan 30, 2005 1:30 pm
by KFAdrift

* What is the ALR people keep talking about?
* What is in your ALR file?
* Using variables with the ALR
* How do I give a different character description in each room?

What is the ALR people keep talking about?
The ADRIFT Language Resource file is a simple device that allows you to, in effect, use search and replace on the text output on the screen.

A simple example would be to change the word apple to banana. So your program says "Lying on the floor is a banana", then you create a text file with the following line:


When the file has been imported and the file saved the line would now appear as "Lying on the floor is a banana".

While this is a silly example, the ALR file is a more powerful tool than just doing plain text replacements.

What is in your ALR file?
The file is a plain text file, created in your favourite text editor, that is very simple in format.

Any comment line is preceeded with a # symbol, as in:

# This line is ignored by ADRIFT

The other lines in the file will have 2 parts. First comes the original text that is to be replaced, this is then followed by a | symbol as a separator, and then the text to be put in. The form is therefore:

original text|new text to add in

Using variables with the ALR
This is where this technique really comes into its own, as it allows great variety to be added simply to the game.

A neat way of improving your game is to vary the text displayed in your game when something isn't understood. This can be done quite simply by:

1. First add a variable %what%
2. Change the text in the Adventure > Options screen to WHAT{%what%}.
3. Add a task that runs every turn and alters the value of the variable what to a random number between 0 and 3. (Make sure the task is repeatable and can execute in all rooms)
4. Create an event that runs every turn and executes your new task.
5. Make your ALR file with the text your require:
WHAT{0}|Not quite sure what you mean
WHAT{1}|That's not very understandable
WHAT{2}|Can you re-phrase that please?
WHAT{3}|You've lost me now, I can't make head or tail of that

6. Save the file as something sensible eg main.alr

7. From file menu select import > ADRIFT Language Resorce and navigate to your file.
8. Click run and save your file.

How do I give a different character description in each room?
If, for example, you have a maid that you want to be described as doing different this in a room you can use the ALR along with the %room% system variable.

In the character movement tab change the What to show when character is in room to [Maid%room%], this means that the text [MaidBathroom] would be displayed.

If you then put the following in the ALR

[MaidBathroom]|The maid is working hard polishing the bath taps.
[MaidKitchen]|Your maid is on her knees polishing the floor.

You will get appropriate descriptions for the room. Of course you need to add one description for each room the character could be in.