Strange Loop

Intro to Modeling Worlds in Text with Inform 7

An intro to, and case study of, a language designed to be used by writers to make interactive worlds.

Inform is a domain-specific language for creating interactive fiction with a freeform parser, a.k.a text adventures. (Examples of the medium include classics like "Adventure" and "Zork," but also more recent masterpieces like "Blue Lacuna" and "Counterfeit Monkey.") The seventh major version of Inform takes an approach to story creation that is radically different from its predecessors: unlike in earlier versions, Inform 7's interactions are determined by a system of interlocking rules of varying levels of specificity and its world model is based on properties of and relations between story entities. It also has an endearing natural language syntax. Here's an example of valid Inform 7 code: "After taking an expensive artifact while in the museum: now every security guard employed by the museum is watchful."

Attendees are not expected to have any prior experience with interactive fiction. We'll go through the major language constructs of Inform 7, instantiating things and building up rules, and we'll dive a bit further into a handful of details, like teaching the parser new vocabulary and making suggestions about what the player is trying to do. Throughout, we'll see the ways in which Inform 7's guiding design goal -- to be a programming language for writers -- plays out in everything from the syntax to the world model.

Come for the goofy syntax, stay for the expressive power of the rules system and the ease of building immersive interactive worlds.

Lea Albaugh

Lea Albaugh

Lea builds things in a wide variety of digital and physical media. She is current in residence at the STUDIO for Creative Inquiry, Carnegie Mellon University's anti-disciplinary laboratory for new media arts, culture, and technology.