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Adrift 5.0 Vs Inform 7

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Re: Adrift 5.0 Vs Inform 7

Postby BlueMaxima » Thu Jul 07, 2011 2:43 am

David Whyld wrote:
Dejaduo wrote:3. ADRIFT uses a special file format that only it can read. If you ever have a strange bug stomp on your game or a hard disk issue, you could lose weeks of work because you can't easily retrieve your file. You have to make regular backups.


I would hope that people would use a bit of common sense and regularly back up what they do in order to avoid this sort of thing*. ADRIFT also makes a back up copy of your game file so in the event you don't immediately save over it with the corrupted version, you can still (hopefully) retrieve your masterpiece in the making.

*And I'm aware even as I type this of a game I wrote a few years back of which the latter half had to be re-written because of a hard drive error. Saying that, I'm still more than willing to point the finger at other people who don't follow the advice I didn't follow myself :haha:


Wouldn't hard drive failures or corruption affect Inform source code as well? This point is moot.
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Re: Adrift 5.0 Vs Inform 7

Postby David Whyld » Thu Jul 07, 2011 6:06 am

By backup, I meant in the sense of a backup not necessarily on the same hard drive. I used to backup my works in progress on my website, or e-mail them to myself via Gmail or on a separate drive.
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Re: Adrift 5.0 Vs Inform 7

Postby Campbell » Thu Jul 07, 2011 8:02 am

Interesting comparisons. :) My responses to these points:
Dejaduo wrote:2. I've also used Quest 4.5 and Quest 5 as well as ADRIFT 4 and ADRIFT 5, and a major issue with form-based programming is organization. You're looking for x text but you have to navigate through a dozen windows to find the proper place to update it? In inform you have a single text window (or several if you wish to include libraries) so it can be easier to search for any given text.

Winner: Inform.
ADRIFT 5 allows folders within folders, giving you full flexibility to organise the way you want to. I think this allows for much more flexibility than text within a file or files. In addition, the search now searches all text. I would actually think ADRIFT is superior to Inform when it comes to organisation.

3. ADRIFT uses a special file format that only it can read. If you ever have a strange bug stomp on your game or a hard disk issue, you could lose weeks of work because you can't easily retrieve your file. You have to make regular backups.

Inform games are text files before you compile them and can be retrieved more easily if there's an issue. The actual game code is not affected by compiling the game to a runnable state.

Winner: Inform.
ADRIFT files can also be exported as Modules, which contains the full definition of the adventure. That aside, I'm not aware of any corruptions in any games in the last few releases - The format of v5 is much more stable than v4.

4. The learning curve for Inform 7 and ADRIFT 4 is similar. You can produce a new, working game with either product relatively quickly, but complex tasks do take some learning to accomplish. For really advanced programming I suppose the learning curve for Inform 7 might be slightly more, but it's heavily documented and there is a sizable support community. There is not substantial documentation for ADRIFT 5 yet, it's wholly new.

Winner: Tie.
I would dispute this. You probably have programming experience, so for you, both are relatively easy to pick up. Give both applications to a complete non-programmer and see which they find easier.

5. ADRIFT costs for the full version. Inform 7 is free.

Winner: Inform.
As discussed previously, ADRIFT 5 will be free from the next release.

6. Every once in a while there are specific things you want to do and maybe ADRIFT doesn't do it, or it seems overly difficult to accomplish. Inform is extremely flexible. In fact, the standard library for Inform 7 is written in Inform 7, if you want to go and look at the code so you can easily override certain behaviors, that's really simple to do. Oh, a nod to Quest 5 on this, they are doing the same thing.

Winner: Inform.
The Standard Library in ADRIFT 5 is written using ADRIFT Tasks also, giving full flexibility. Granted, there is still some work to do, but it is leaps and bounds ahead of ADRIFT 4.

7. Want to write your game on a Mac? Linux? Windows? You can in Inform. Want to run your game online so anyone can see it without downloading a runner? You can in inform using Parchment or other products. Campbell has promised a linux version of ADRIFT 5 but the only web runners for ADRIFT games in the past have been written by third parties. Inform's included Parchment is very elegant. To me the ability to run the game in a browser is the killer app. In fact the only reason I tried Quest is they've had that ability since 2007, and the new beta of Quest 5 even lets you embed media files within the browser-based game. I hope Inform adds that soon.

Winner: Inform for coding on multiple platforms, but honorable mention to Quest for having a cross-platform web runner.
ADRIFT 5 Runner now works on Linux, and almost on the Mac. I also have intentions in the not too distant future to work on a Web version of Runner, which will allow games to run on any web platform.

8. Community. I know this is a stupid reason, but games written in Inform are just overall more accepted than games written in ADRIFT or Quest. Sure you can get ADRIFT users to play your ADRIFT games, but a lot of people out there are playing games on their linux or mac boxes and won't try to jump through hoops to play your games. Not to mention a lot of people hear the word "ADRIFT" and think about guess-the-verb games from the older version.

Winner: Inform has a wider potential audience
Ok, this comes with time. The registration fee was a huge stunt to growth. Let's see what happens in the next 12 months.

But, as ever, people are free to make their own minds up. :angel:
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Re: Adrift 5.0 Vs Inform 7

Postby ralphmerridew » Thu Jul 07, 2011 7:33 pm

Campbell wrote:Interesting comparisons. :) My responses to these points:
DejaDuo wrote:6. Every once in a while there are specific things you want to do and maybe ADRIFT doesn't do it, or it seems overly difficult to accomplish. Inform is extremely flexible. In fact, the standard library for Inform 7 is written in Inform 7, if you want to go and look at the code so you can easily override certain behaviors, that's really simple to do. Oh, a nod to Quest 5 on this, they are doing the same thing.

Winner: Inform.
The Standard Library in ADRIFT 5 is written using ADRIFT Tasks also, giving full flexibility. Granted, there is still some work to do, but it is leaps and bounds ahead of ADRIFT 4.


Insert (ADRIFT 5 standard library)
Insert (Inform 7 standard library)

ADRIFT's "full flexibility" means that an author can change what syntaxes trigger a particular action (adding support for "DROP %objects% INTO %object%" would be simple), and can add additional restrictions. An author can't create new kinds of restrictions, or create new kinds of functions like %TheObjects[%objects%]%.

For example, take the "Object1 (must be / must not be) inside Object2" restriction.
Imagine putting a purse into a bag, then put the bag into a box. Is the purse inside the box? (ADRIFT goes by the convention that it is, to prevent "PUT BOX IN PURSE" from working. I'm not sure offhand what it decides if the bag is closed.)

Or consider when you're testing whether the player is holding a hammer that is in the player's backpack. What should the result be?
- "Fred said it was okay if you used his tools, but under no circumstances were they to leave the workshop." This error makes sense; an object nested to any degree within in the player should set off the error.
- "You try to climb up the rope, but you just can't get a good grip on it while you're holding the hammer." This error doesn't make sense. In this case, the test should fail; only objects directly held should trigger the message.

In Inform, an author can define additional conditions like these. Silly example: Insecurity Area

Left area, NW exit is handled by a stupid guard. He'll stop you if you're directly holding a banned object, but won't notice if it's hidden in any way.
Left area, N / NE / U / D exit is handled by a slightly smarter guard. He'll stop you if he can see a banned object, but he won't see an object in a closed opaque container. (This is handled by a number of different ways.) The exact output text varies; for example, if you're carrying an empty box and a gun in an open bag, going NE will have him complain about the gun; going N will have him complain about the bag; under no circumstances will he complain about the box. If you go up, he'll list all problematic objects. (He's probably closest to what ADRIFT does.)

Right area, NW exit uses a metal detector. It can see through any closed container, but doesn't exactly detect dangerous objects.
Right area, N / NE exit is handled by a mild-mannered reporter. He has X-ray vision, and can see through most closed containers, but not through a lead box. Again, the exact methods / text printed depend on which exit you use.
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Re: Adrift 5.0 Vs Inform 7

Postby Dejaduo » Sat Jul 09, 2011 8:42 pm

These are all interesting comparisons. I'm not going to nitpick each of my own personal observations. As for Quest, I never used previous versions, so before the current release and new beta, I can't remark on it.

And Campbell, sorry if anything I said about adrift was plain inaccurate.
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Re: Adrift 5.0 Vs Inform 7

Postby Campbell » Sat Jul 09, 2011 11:43 pm

No problem at all. Was good to hear your thoughts, especially as you'd put some consideration into it.
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Re: Adrift 5.0 Vs Inform 7

Postby ralphmerridew » Sun Jul 10, 2011 4:01 am

Re point 7: The Inform distribution format (zcode, glulx) is decoupled from the develeopment format (Inform). Old games will run the same on new interpreters; new games, if they don't depend on interpreter features added in the middle, will run the same on old interpreters.

ADRIFT is written in a way that is prone to incompatibilities.

As to Quest, its web interpreter is written in a very different way from most others. Zplet, Parchment, Jetty, jAsea were all written so that everything is run on the client computer; after downloading the page, you can disconnect the computer from the internet and it'll still work. Quest's web interpreter holds all logic on the server.

Also, I think that all zcode / glulx runners have been written by third parties; AFAIK, Graham only wrote the compiler.
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Re: Adrift 5.0 Vs Inform 7

Postby Dejaduo » Sat Jul 16, 2011 7:24 pm

I did want to mention, as far as me mentioning learning curve and creating simple games by a beginner.

I believe both Inform 7 and ADRIFT, when following the documented tutorials, a new user can create a simple one-room game with a few simple objects with similar ease.

In either system there is significant learning curve in creating complex worlds. I do not hinge this statement on programming knowledge, but I believe Inform 7 does have the edge for people who do have programming knowledge. But again I am not saying Inform is inaccessible to non-programmers.

When I talked earlier about organization, it drives me nuts to use form-based interfaces in a complex game. I actually like being able to scroll through a window of code (can you tell I am an old-school web developer?) and reading exactly what's going on, as opposed to navigating through tabs of checkboxes and so on. I also like that you can assign titles within your inform code like "Volume", "Book", "Chapter", "Section" and "Table".

Both ADRIFT and Inform 7 have the capability of creating reusable code in the form of extensions in inform and modules. That wasn't what I was referring to when I mentioned organization.

I may have given ADRIFT 5 the shaft a bit, but in the version I tried there were some windows that gave me errors and I got the sense of incompleteness. I did not want to invest time into a game if I thought I wouldn't be able to accomplish my ideas.
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Re: Adrift 5.0 Vs Inform 7

Postby rotter » Sat Jul 16, 2011 9:33 pm

Campbell wrote:
4. The learning curve for Inform 7 and ADRIFT 4 is similar. You can produce a new, working game with either product relatively quickly, but complex tasks do take some learning to accomplish. For really advanced programming I suppose the learning curve for Inform 7 might be slightly more, but it's heavily documented and there is a sizable support community. There is not substantial documentation for ADRIFT 5 yet, it's wholly new.

Winner: Tie.
I would dispute this. You probably have programming experience, so for you, both are relatively easy to pick up. Give both applications to a complete non-programmer and see which they find easier.


If we are talking about ADRIFT 4 I would side with Campbell on this one. Before I typed this I had a look at the first game I released - Ticket to No Where. From my notes it took me around six months to complete and is fairly complex using variables and the ALR (although it could do with a rewrite!). My new I7 game has been in production for over a year so far and is not ready yet for beta testing. I'm a non-programmer so I understand these things and although I7 is fairly straight forward, easy it is not.

ADRIFT really is easier for the non-programmer.
Currently working on "The Blank Wall" in ADRIFT 5 and "Again and Again" in Inform 7.
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Re: Adrift 5.0 Vs Inform 7

Postby ralphmerridew » Sun Jul 17, 2011 7:50 pm

How complex is Again and Again compared to Ticket to No Where? How much help did you get from the various forums on the two projects?
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Re: Adrift 5.0 Vs Inform 7

Postby Dejaduo » Mon Jul 18, 2011 6:02 am

OK I have to admit, I thought the included documentation with Inform had a simple step-by-step tutorial, but it really doesn't. However, there is a relatively straightforward one here http://brasslantern.org/writers/howto/i7tutorial.html and there are several other good sites as well.

So I will give you that in the absence of documentation, ADRIFT is more obvious for creating a brand new, simple and workable game.
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Re: Adrift 5.0 Vs Inform 7

Postby rotter » Wed Jul 20, 2011 7:18 am

ralphmerridew wrote:How complex is Again and Again compared to Ticket to No Where? How much help did you get from the various forums on the two projects?


Yeh, I understand what you are getting at. Am I comparing Apples with Apples? Probably not, Again and Again is a pretty complex game originally started in ADRIFT 4. I have always found ADRIFT easy to do most of the things I wanted to do, you only have variables, tasks, events and the ALR. I've probably not asked for help that much but I have nicked ideas from other games. For example the working structure behind my game Target was taken from Snakes And Ladders by good ole KF. I've used the same technique with I7 and also posted several questions (nearly always answered). I still come up against more show stoppers in I7 which take me a lot of working out. Not sure I ever came up against anything in ADRIFT I couldn't work out. But, that said I do like I7 it certainly produces a more solid product than ADRIFT (it only it will compile!).
Currently working on "The Blank Wall" in ADRIFT 5 and "Again and Again" in Inform 7.
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Re: Adrift 5.0 Vs Inform 7

Postby ralphmerridew » Wed Jul 20, 2011 6:26 pm

Dejaduo: What exactly do you mean by "in the absence of documentation"? Considering that one of the big draws of I7 is that the documentation is extensive and well-integrated into the IDE (400 plus examples which can be run at the press of a button), I consider evaluating I7 without its documentation to be equivalent to evaluating a sprinter without his right leg.

rotter: Well, are the showstoppers in I7 things that you could handle in ADRIFT, or would they be showstoppers there as well? Are the games you wrote in ADRIFT things you could do in I7 or not?

(Also, part of it may be that you need to unlearn habits from ADRIFT; Target for one seemed to be something that was much more complex than it would be in Inform or TADS.)
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Re: Adrift 5.0 Vs Inform 7

Postby Campbell » Wed Jul 20, 2011 9:21 pm

I think it would be really good to see a new "Cloak of Darkness" - something a bit bigger, with a wider range of functionality.
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Re: Adrift 5.0 Vs Inform 7

Postby ElliotM » Thu Jul 21, 2011 4:06 am

I second that, a good game cross-ported to several platforms would make for a great comparison.
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