Inform 7 (Interactive Fiction Design Tool)
Though not intended to be, Inform 7, Graham Nelson and Emily Short’s interactive fiction development tool, represents an important step in bringing computer simulation design tools into the hands of non-programmers. As a teacher and simulation designer, I have kept my eye out for opportunities to let students take control and design their own historical simulation games. My senior elective on designing historical simulations is intended to help students become more fully engaged in a historical issue by researching and attempting to recreate that issue in simulation form. The course has overwhelmingly focused on tabletop simulation design, mostly because it takes a fair amount of programming knowledge to design even very rudimentary simulation games.
Until now. Inform 7, an interactive fiction design tool, was developed last year. Inform allows users to create text based games where players type commands and receive text updates of the game world.The revolutionary nature of Inform 7 is that the programming language takes the form of natural English. The English follows rigorous guidelines but conforms to gramatically correct and complete sentence structure. This means students with no programming experience can jump into Inform and begin creating worlds immediately. The initial simplicity, however, should not mislead; Inform 7 is a powerful programming language with a great deal of depth and sophistication.