Interactive Fiction Program - TADS

TADS is a set of programming tools specially designed for writing adventure games.

TADS consists of:

• A programming language, which resembles C and Java. TADS is a powerful object-oriented language with high-level string and list datatypes and syntax specially designed to make adventure game object definitions concise and readable.

• A compiler, which reads a set of source files written in the TADS programming language and produces a portable binary game file. Once you compile your game, you need only give players the compiled binary file; you don't need to distribute your source files to let people play your game. A compiled game file is completely portable - you can simply copy the file to any computer that has a TADS interpreter and run it.

• A library, which provides a set of generic adventure game definitions. The library is written in the TADS language, so you can change it or even completely replace it if you want to go outside the usual conventions. The library provides a large set of object class definitions for the kinds of things that often appear in IF games, and you can use the library classes directly or use them as building blocks to create more customized object types.

• On some systems, an interactive debugger, which lets you examine your program's execution in order to find and fix programming errors. The debugger lets you step through your source code a line at a time, examine variables, set "breakpoints" to stop execution at particular points in the code, and monitor variables to catch specific value changes. The debugger gives you a direct view of the inner workings of your program as it executes, making it much easier to track down logic errors, or just to understand how a piece of code works.

• An interpreter, which a player uses to run your game. TADS interpreters exist for many operating systems, and each version has been customized to conform to the look and feel of its operating system. Since the interpreter provides the human interface, and each interpreter is customized for its system, a TADS game automatically adopts the correct local look and feel for each system it runs on.

TADS can be used to create pure text games, as well as games that mix text, graphics, and sound. TADS uses HTML to specify formatting - this gives the ability to display JPEG and PNG graphics; control text fonts, styles, colors, sizes, alignment, and layout; play WAV, MIDI, and MP3 sounds; divide the screen into "frame"-like areas; and create clickable hyperlinks that allow players to enter commands with the mouse.

The multimedia features are fully supported on Windows and Macintosh, and the TADS approach to multimedia ensures "graceful degradation" on other platforms that only offer text-only interpreters - in other words, even if you use the full multimedia features of TADS, your game will still work on text-only interpreters, just without the graphics and sounds and fancy text formatting. The adjustment to a text-only environment is largely automatic; in many cases, you won't have to pay any attention at all to the differences between the text and multimedia interpreters when writing a game (in other words, you won't have to write lots of conditional code for text vs. multimedia)

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