Learning and reviewing Inform 7

January 29, 2021

This is a series of blog posts written for the Digital Games course at OCAD University as a way to document my game research/making process. To see all blog posts related to this, filter by ‘games’ on the main journal page. 

One of the first assignments in my game design elective is to create a game sketch based on a personal experience. Game-making tools such as ︎︎︎Twine are great for making low-fidelity sketches because the platform is free and easy to learn. Upon researching Twine, I stumbled across Inform 7. ︎︎︎Inform 7 (or I7) is a text-based interactive fiction building tool. It reads very much like a play or a novel, and someone mentioned it could be good for *cough* fanfiction *cough*. It's a fairly lean app, taking only 82MB of storage and is available for free for both Mac and PC.

The interesting thing about this tool is that you communicate in English sentences. So there’s no programming language, but you need to know how to structure your sentences so that the program recognizes what you're trying to do. Here's a diagram I made that displays what the game elements are:

I watched ︎︎︎ Clint Hobson's tutorial on creating a super simple Lord of the Rings game. I recorded a short demo to show you what the coding and testing experience is like, and what happens when you have an error in your code. I spent about 40 minutes learning the language and the program and haven't even cracked open the Documentation books yet, let alone thinking of the gameplay/possible ways to win in this game. So there's a lot to explore!

In terms of pros and cons, I can only attest to my experience of it so far. I'm not familiar with game design terms and only have a basic understanding of coding (HTML), so if you do give Inform a try please email me and let me know what I can add.

I could see this being a useful prototype tool in my other courses. I could definitely make some low-to-high fidelity prototypes of empathy games and test with users.
Additional Resources
︎︎︎ Inform 7 for the Fiction Author
︎︎︎ Try a game: Academic Pursuits