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The forgotten sequel

Posted: Sat Nov 11, 2006 4:38 am
by DiamondGenerator
No, this is not a topic about Activision coming out with a sequel to ZGI, because, as far as we know, they aren't. Sorry.

But it is about a hypothetical one--better than nothing!
If, one fine day in a world with no copyright laws, you got so tired of wondering if they were going to do it that you decided to create a next installment yourself, what would be in it? Where might it take place, who would you want to appear, and what kind of story would it have?

Personally, without (yet?) telling the whole story I've been imagining while playing ZGI, I would include someone like the wizard in Zork 2 who can cast spells on you rather than you alone doing most of the game's magic. Imagine what a character like Dalboz would say about some of the wackier spells from that...

Re: The forgotten sequel

Posted: Sat Nov 11, 2006 1:54 pm
by James_Juno
I want to visit the ZN world in full 3D.  I want to learn more about the relationship between General Kaine and his son.  I want to know more about the conquests of Duncanthrax the Bellicose and I want to learn about the tactics used to secure Irondune.  I want to know where the General came up with enough dementia to build his terrible dungeon.  He seems like such a reasonable man in the video clips ...

Then I want to visit the other three realms, although I'll need a stiff drink before I step into the Doctor's asylum ...

ZN has so much under-story running through it, another dozen games could be made from it alone.

After that dark period, I want to lighten things up by jumping into the ZGI world.  I'll begin by learning about the crazy hicks living in Port Foozle ...

Re: The forgotten sequel

Posted: Sun Nov 12, 2006 3:49 am
by Siriusstar
Excellent topic! I wrote up mine that I've been mulling over for years, but it turned out to be 550 words. I'll see if I can trim it without losing the essence and post it later.

Re: The forgotten sequel

Posted: Sun Nov 12, 2006 5:40 am
by DiamondGenerator
I knew to expect a whole story from you! I may well write down the story I myself have been mulling over later, though "story" isn't quite the word--it's only the beginning of one, more of a premise, but still something.

Re: The forgotten sequel

Posted: Mon Nov 13, 2006 4:16 am
by Siriusstar
You should write it down and post it. I, for one, love seeing new ideas for this universe. :)

This is actually the first time I wrote this part out. It's far from complete, but I can see where I want it to go from here.

My game would start several years after Z:GI, during the 4th DM's reign. Things have been going quite well for the new DM, and with a few exceptions, mostly peaceful. Of course this doesn't last very long and reports start coming in of brutal attacks on magical people and creatures in the Westlands, especially in Mithicus. Grues are blamed, and when a young enchanter is murdered in broad daylight the populace begins to panic that the grues are mutating into killers that no light or magic can stop. (Although no one saw the attack happen.)

The game would begin with letters from the Queen and the Mithican Guildmaster asking for help.

The DM goes to the aid of the Guildmaster, but finds only a hastily scrawled note proclaiming the doom of the Westlands 'unless the holy blade can be found and reunited with its rightful owner.' (Or something to that effect.) The 'holy blade' is Grueslayer, but when the DM finds a Grues' den with several murdered Grues and finds a nearly illegible letter addressed to the DM begging for help, the DM realizes the threat is not from grues.  (Although this carnage is from a violent disagreement over who should send the letter. Grues are grues, after all.)

The initial motivator of the game would take the DM on a quest to find Grueslayer and discover the nature of these 'phantom killers' in order to neutralize them. I imagine the game to be played with two parts; the first set in present-day Quendor amid long-hidden ruins and caves filled with artifacts and encoded books of history and powerful magic. As the DM progresses in the story a tragic history begins to unfold of a powerful and glorious people- the ancient Mithicans who vanished centuries before Entharion- and the magic that would prove to be their doom. That magic lurked in the ruins of its creators/victims for many ages, waiting for its chance to strike again.

The second part involves the sword Grueslayer, which is much greater than even Entharion guessed. I am not certain exactly how yet; be it a portal, magic stone or a series of visions, but part of the game would be played in the era of the Mithicans, and that the DM would witness (or perhaps take part in) parts of what befell them, including the forging of the 'Holy Blade.'

There's a LOT more, of course, but this long enough. I would like a cast of interesting characters to interact with- From Vobar the Hermit who lives beneath the toenail of the Great Brogmoid, to the sad and beautiful Mithican diviner/prophet Althamel who foretells his people's doom to deaf ears. There may be a few fights, but the game would be solved primarily by brainpower. I would also want to blend humor with the serious stuff.

If you’re going to dream, you might as well dream big, I say. ;)

Re: The forgotten sequel

Posted: Fri Nov 17, 2006 8:54 am
by DrPaul
James and Siriusstar-

You both have described fairly ambitious storylines.  So ambitious, it seems unlikely that these could be produced as 3D graphic adventures without the resources of a well-funded production company/game developer.

It seems to me, in order to bring these ideas to life you have three choices:
1. Sell your idea to ActiVision.
2. Write is as fan fic.
3. Produce it as a text adventure.
3 1/2. Make a slide-show game (like the original Myst)

Admittedly, my TAP game was terrible and probably gave text adventures a bad reputation.  Let me try to explain why it was so bad before you say 'No more text adventures.'

First of all, TAP wasn't my story.  It was supposed to be a prequel for a graphic game and set the stage for where the graphic game begins.  The only 'story' I had to work with was a description of some events that happened hundreds of years before my game takes place (a prequel to the prequel) and the only story-line for my game was 'Get the amulet from the Demon and throw it into the sea.'  Pretty thin.  So my game was not plot-driven at all.  It was purely puzzle-driven.  A one-line plot with lots of puzzle-barriers to get in the way.

However, as text-adventures go, TAP had some pretty sophisticated and IMHO ground-breaking, InfoCom-like features in the programming.  For instance, the DarkWorld environment and the anti-maze (path of no return).  Not to mention some pretty interactive NPC characters.

But what the game really suffered from was poor writing.

My point here is that we, as a group of unfunded amatures, are unlikely to be able to produce something that is technologically stunning in a 3D graphic game.  But if we operate within the text-adventure genre we can do something that is truly outstanding.

So, if it's a *game* you want, think about doing it in text.  Inform produces Z-code the same as the original Zork text games.  The basic stuff, like room and object descriptions, location connections, basic verbs like look, get, drop, examine, etc., are very easy to program.  Plus, Inform is object oriented, so it is easy to break it up into manageable pieces for different people to work on.  Even if you have no previous programming experience, you can do it.  A simple templet will show you almost everything you need to do.

Features that require more-sophisticated programming can be delegated to me or anyone else that has more Inform programming experience.

It would sure be nice to create a new Zork text adventure that has a decent plot.  It's the only way that seems practical to me to bring your story ideas to life as a game.

Siriusstar, I know you like text adventures. One way you could do this is to write your story as if it were a game transcript.  You are both player and computer.  You type the commands the player would enter and then write the descriptions or responses that the computer would make and work your way through the story like that.  That would make programming the first draft pretty simple.  Then we go over it a few more times to handle wrong or alternate things the player might do.  Alternate paths, add a few more puzzles, etc.  Wouldn't be hard.

Re: The forgotten sequel

Posted: Fri Nov 17, 2006 12:00 pm
by James_Juno
Thanks DrPaul.  I've never considered this seriously, but I suppose we could put together a pretty decent text adventure.  I'm not adverse to the idea.  I gave a sizeable portion of my life to coding and playing a MUD in the early 90s and loved it thoroughly.  My main problem now is time.  As an independent software contractor, time is a rare commodity for me these days.

I actually coded up a simple 3D model of the entrance to the GUE in OpenGL a few years ago as an exercise for some other work I was doing on a 3D geomatics project.  But you are certainly correct, that route for a Zork pre- or sequel would be far too much for a small volunteer group.

If others are willing to work on a new text adventure, I would happily contribute.

Re: The forgotten sequel

Posted: Fri Nov 17, 2006 9:31 pm
by DiamondGenerator
Awesome idea. In fact...I've been trying to find the time to shorten my own crazily "ambitious" storyline so it would fit in a single post(!). I wonder if it would be significantly more difficult than just a plain text game to include the occasional non-animated, simple graphic in, say, the corner of the screen to tell where you are (think Zork 0).

If we all wanted to make a text game, we could all post parts of the story in a topic.

Re: The forgotten sequel

Posted: Sat Nov 18, 2006 3:30 am
by Siriusstar
Thank you for the ideas, Dr. Paul. I imagined it as a story first, then a text game and only recently as a graphic game. It would be just as pleasing for me to write it as a text game. Do you have any recommendations as to a site with basic Inform programming instructions for utter beginners? I have zero experience there, but I'm willing to learn.

I do have the time to take on a project since I can even work on it while working. (I'm a pet sitter.) I have to 'finish' the story I'm writing now, but after that I'll be ready for something new to work on for awhile. I have a short story that could make a fun mini game. I know the story I wrote about earlier is likely too ambitious to start with.

I'd certainly like to work on any project that came about here, too.

Re: The forgotten sequel

Posted: Sat Nov 18, 2006 10:36 am
by DataAngel
Sirrus the story sounds good, sounds ambitious. I like the premise.

Re: The forgotten sequel

Posted: Tue Nov 21, 2006 10:39 pm
by DrPaul
Do you have any recommendations as to a site with basic Inform programming instructions for utter beginners?
There are several websites that have tutorials for beginning Inform.  Probably the best beginner's guide is "The Inform Beginners Guide" by Roger Firth and Sonya Kesserich.  It is a PDF file that can be downloaded from here:

Another way to get started is to look at some code snippets and use it as a templet to start building your virtual world.  I could give you some sample code that produces two connected locations with a few objects in each location.  You will immediately see how easy it is to expand on that to build as large and complex world as you can imagine.  

Once you see how locations and objects are created and how they are linked together, you can do do quite a bit.  

The main Inform website (where you can download everything you need) is here:
This is the site for Inform 7.  There is also a link to the Inform 6 site.  Inform 7 is relatively new and I have never used it.  I have only used Inform 6.

Re: The forgotten sequel

Posted: Sat Nov 25, 2006 2:01 am
by Siriusstar
Thanks for the info! I looked around at those sites. It does not look too complicated to learn. I would be interested in seeing the sample code, too.

I'll hope to start working on this around the first of the year.  

Re: The forgotten sequel

Posted: Sat Nov 25, 2006 3:45 pm
by DrPaul
Here is some sample code that shows how to build three locations, how to connect them to each other, light them and place objects.  

You can build a substantial world with just these features.  You can wander around, explore, take and examine objects and drop them if you like.  Later, we'll talk about doors, locks, containers, supporters, custom verbs, actions, and interactivity.  

Save this code as test.inf file.  Compile it and then run it with Frotz.  See next note for tips on compiling.

!VI This source code was created by
!VI      DrPaul
!VI      on Saturday, November 35, 2006
Constant Story            "TEST";
Constant Headline
    "^This is a tiny program to demonstrate location construction";
Serial "061125";
Release 0;
Include "Parser.h";
Include "Verblib";
Include "Grammar.h";

Object test_room "test room"
   with  description "Write your description of the location here.  
         It can be as short or long as you like. The entire
         description must be within the quotes.  Line feeds or
         carrage returns are ignored.  Use a caret ^for a new
         line.  You might want to mention possible exits, in
         this case, east and west.",
         e_to eastRoom,
         w_to westRoom,
  has    light static;

Object -> anvil "anvil"!the -> means this belongs to test_room
   with  name 'anvil',
         description "The rusty anvil appears to be bolted to
         the floor.",
   has   static;  !static means the object can't be taken.

Object -> object2 "note"
   with name 'note',
        description "Go West young man and seek your fortune.";

Object eastRoom "The East Room"
   with description "Fallen rocks litter this cavern everywhere.
        The only way out is west.",
        w_to test_room,
        cant_go "Huge bolders block the way in that direction.",
   has  light static;

Object westRoom "The West Room"
   with description "This room has no distinguishing features
        except for a passage east.",
        e_to test_room,
   has  light static;
Object -> blueBall "blue ball"  
   with name 'blue''ball', !words player can refer to object with
        description "On close examination, your determine that
        the blue ball is a huge blue sapphire about the size of
        your fist.";

[ Initialise;
location = test_room;  !sets the starting location
print "^^^^^Testing, one, two, three.  Testing...^^";


Re: The forgotten sequel

Posted: Sat Nov 25, 2006 3:54 pm
by DrPaul
The absolutely easiest way to set up you compiler is this:  
Create a directory where you want to work.  In that directory put the compiler (infrmw32.exe) and the library files (English.h, Grammar.h, linklpa.h, linklv.h, Parser.h, parserm.h, Verblib.h, verblibm.h) in the same directory.
It's also a good idea to copy a command prompt (CMD.EXE) to the directory.  
Create a new text file and name it MyCode.inf.  The inf file is where you write your code.
To compile, open the command prompt and type
infrmw32 MyCode

If all goes well, a new file called MyCode.z5 will be produced.  That's the game file and you can run it with Frotz.

I should mention that this is assuming you are using Inform 6.  I haven't tried Inform 7 yet, so I don't know if anything is different.

Re: The forgotten sequel

Posted: Tue Nov 28, 2006 4:25 pm
by Siriusstar
Thank you! That doesn't look too complicated to start with. I have the code saved to work on later. I'll be back for more info soon. :)