Get Lamp: An Interactive Review

Every now and then, I have my moments of brilliance. They’re getting further apart the older I get, but on occasion, just the right synapse fires off and I impress (or rather surprise) myself.

While watching Jason Scott’s Get Lamp, his new documentary about text adventures (Interactive Fiction), it hit me — what better way to review a film about text adventures than with a text adventure? And so, here is my review:

Get Lamp: An Interactive Review

If you happen to get stuck in the adventure, I will be posting a complete walk-thru to the adventure as a response to this post.

Additional Information.

This project was more difficult than I had originally thought it would be. Robb Sherwin only recently turned me on to Inform, a scripting language used to program text adventures. There are multiple other languages designed for the programming of text adventures (including Hugo and TADS), but I chose Inform because there are interpreters (the programs used to play text adventures) for almost every platform you can think of. Not only can you play Inform games on Windows, Macintoshes and Linux machines, but there are interpreters for the Sony PSP, Nintendo DS, and tons of other random devices. There’s also a web-based interpreter called Parchment that lets you play Inform games right in your browser, and that’s ultimately why I chose to go with Inform. While the process of installing and configuring a parser isn’t all that complicated, I suspect it’s more energy than the average person who isn’t all that interested in playing a single text adventure is willing to exude. Browser-based is browser-based; there’s a very low “cost of admission” (just click the link) and it runs on multiple platforms so you have an extremely wide install base. Maybe not for all projects, but for this one, it seemed to be the way to go.

What proved equally difficult was writing the review in the form of a text adventure. I’ve written hundreds of reviews, but never one in the text adventure format. This involved first writing the review, and then pulling parts of it back out and putting them in different areas. For example, Get Lamp comes with a collectible coin. I could have just told you about the coin in the review, but I thought it would be much more interesting to make the player manually pick up the coin and examine it. It is interactive fiction, after all.

Thanks to Robb Sherwin for pointing me toward Inform, thanks to Dad for buying those Scott Adams adventures for our TRS-80 III all those years ago, and thanks to Jason for Get Lamp.

(Public Notice: Jason Scott sells copies of my book Commodork: Sordid Tales from a BBS Junkie bundled with his BBS Documentary, so technically we have a business relationship. This relationship did not influence my review in any way.)

Not every one of my projects are original, but I do believe this is the first review of a text adventure documentary created in the form of a text adventure. And that makes me smile. :)

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