The place to discuss the ADRIFT Interactive Fiction toolkit

Advice for new authors

This forum is the place to discuss the older ADRIFT versions 3.9 and 4.0.

Please refer to the ADRIFT 4 Manual for more information.

Postby KFAdrift » Sun Jan 30, 2005 3:48 pm

Who am I and why should you take my advice?
Fair point as I have no completed works out there, and am not a great writer by any means. Listen to me because I have been a member of the ADRIFT community for over five years, am a moderator on the ADRIFT Forum, webmaster of the KF ADRIFT on the Web website, organiser of three ADRIFT game competitions per year, and editor of the InsideADRIFT newsletter.

Most of the points I am making will be fairly obvious, but have been distilled over time from the lively discussions on the forum.

Some suggested rules and advice for the new author.

Why ADRIFT? ADRIFT is a Windows based adventure creation tool from Campbell Wild. As it uses a graphical interface, rather than a programming environment, it is considered suitable for the novice non-programmer. If you are going to be diving deeply into interactive fiction (IF) then take the trouble to look at TADS, INFORM, ALAN, HUGO etc. They are IF programming languages that may be less restrictive in the longer term, ADRIFT will allow you to produce something that is interactive fiction quite quickly, and without a conventional programming language.

Try to plan you game out in advance. At the very least you want to have an outline of what is to happen, characters and plotlines. Even better have a detailed plan, backed up by research, before you start. Most start with rough idea of how it works, and are prepared to change things as the game develops.

Do not expect to produce a masterpiece first time out. Do not go charging off thinking that you are going to produce a great work straight off, most first time efforts are pretty poor as the author doesn't know the tool. That said all the time you spend working is time well spent as you are improving your knowledge of the medium.

Take your time. Do not think that you should produce a game in a week, ADRIFT is easier than most systems, but there is a lot of effort required to get a bit of quality into the game. I know what I am talking about as I am yet to put out a completed game, but am working away on a couple of projects

Make sure that, if you mention something in the text, things are there. People expect that if something is mentioned in the text, it is there to be interacted with. Many games frustrate the user when, for example, a tree is mentioned in the room description and cannot be examined at least. If it is in the description add an object so that the game has greater depth.

Take the time to get to know the ADRIFT community. Take a good look through the posts on the ADRIFT Forum (, and try to look back a few months to get a flavour of things and reduce the need to repeat a previously asked question. Pinned at the top of the General Discussions forum is a document giving a list of hopefully useful sites for new (and old) users. Hopefully you will get to find those Drifters who try to assist new users, don't be afraid to ask for help, but don't be overly discouraged if some are less helpful.

Make sure when you finish your game, that you have it tested. This means getting someone else, preferably several others, who doesn't know the game, to play test it and give you feedback on the errors and suggestions on improvements. There is nothing more likely to make people upset than to have a game where the first page is riddled with simple errors. Spelling and grammatical errors can be a huge frustration to the average player as interactive fiction (the current name for text adventures) is a branch of literature. While it is understood that many may be writing in something other than their mother tongue, only a little allowance will be given.

NEVER put up a new game with words like "I'm new to ADRIFT and this is my first game" as it puts immediate fear into the experienced user. If you add a game to the ADRIFT downloads page then tell people what the game is about, and leave it up to them to decide if it is a great game or a dud. Do not let bad reviews put you off, read them dispassionately and see how you could improve the game.

If you use these points as a guide when developing you game I would hope that you will produce a game of a decent standard, although it will never be perfect. The more time that you spend, after you feel it is complete, working on rounding the game off, the better the game will be. At some point though you will have to decide that you have done the best job that you can - now you can release it.

When you come to release a game, do not rule out the idea of entering your game in a competition as it is a good way of getting feedback. I would though say please don't go straight into the Annual Interactive Fiction Competition, it is not ideal for new authors.

Edited By KFAdrift on 1125897005
Staring harder at the screen doesn't give any more inspiration
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