I have final grades, an annual report, and a video project for a publisher to finish before I unleash my inner nerd and install the latest Inform7 update. (Inform7 is a free programming language and development environment for writing command-line computer games in the spirit of Zork and Colossal Cave Adventure.)
This release is a major reform of a now-mature language which is widely used, and it has been over three years in the making. It has the following main objectives: to clarify and better enforce the syntax of the language (which is now formally documented); to have much greater linguistic flexibility, enabling stories to be written in any person and tense, and paving the way for translation to non-English languages; to remove phrases and features which have been deprecated for some years; to remove procedural rules, which were little used or understood and incurred a significant speed cost at run-time, in favour of simpler ways to substitute rule behaviour; to remove assumptions about the kind of narrative being written (i.e., that Inform is always making a “game” which is “won” or “lost” and has a “score”); to reform the rules handling “blocked” actions, such as listening; to redesign the Index, the in-application documentation, and the extensions index; to reform the handling of text, unifying “text” and “indexed text”, and improving their performance; to introduce a simple but powerful system of “responses” allowing authors to change stock replies in the Standard Rules and other extensions, including third-party ones (and also to make it easy to translate these to non-English languages); and to implement full floating-point arithmetic in numerical kinds of value, at least on the Glulx virtual machine. —News about Inform 7 — Inform News.