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What is Inform 7?

Ken Black
Ken Black

In the past, to write interactive fiction, it required the producer to not only have a talent for creative writing but also extensive knowledge of computer programming language. With the advent of Inform 7, all that has changed. Inform 7 makes it possible for the everyday creative writer, with very little knowledge of programming, to design a compelling, interactive fiction adventure.

Interactive fiction began in the early 1970s, with the trailblazing games ADVENT and Colossal Cave. Following up quickly was the Zork trilogy, which required the user to navigate through a labyrinth of both underground and above ground scenarios. Interactive fiction allows the user to determine the course of the game, the movements and actions of the central character. Typically, the central character is the user him or herself, making it a totally immersive, interactive experience.

Woman doing a handstand with a computer
Woman doing a handstand with a computer

Inform 7 creates a new interface in which to write interactive fiction. A panel in the program acts as the writing medium. Writers can then use natural language to describe what they are trying to accomplish through the story. The Inform 7 program will then transfer the story to another panel, at the writer's command, and also automatically check the work for any errors. Revisions are also easy, as Inform 7 will help the writer clear up any inconsistencies that come from rewriting earlier portions of the work.

The nice thing about Inform 7, at least for the aspiring interactive fiction writer, is the cost of the program. It is totally free. Stories designed using it can be distributed free of charge or for profit. The creators of Inform 7 put no restrictions on the works designed using it. Stories designed using the program can be run on a number of different operating systems, including Windows and Macintosh systems.

Inform 7 is the latest version of the program, released in 2006. The previous version was known as Inform 6. However, programmers felt the newest version was such a dramatic upgrade from the original version that at first they did not call it Inform 7. Instead, it was originally called Natural Inform. The program can be downloaded both for Windows-based systems and Macintosh operating systems.

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      Woman doing a handstand with a computer