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§12.5. Glulx Multimedia Effects

Glulx is one of the two basic story file formats to which Inform can work. It is the more powerful of the two, and modern-day Inform uses it by default. At one time it was a less universally playable format, but today players rarely have any trouble getting it to work.

Among its powers are the ability to display images, play back sound effects, and read and write external files to the disc. With care and a certain amount of fuss, this can even give a playing story file limited Internet connectivity, although it should be stressed that this can only be done if the player sets up his computer just right and runs an auxiliary program beside the story itself. That will mostly be too much to ask, if the player is playing offline, but when the story file is being run on an interpreter running at a server - so that the player simply sends commands to it and sees responses back on a web page - one could easily imagine setting up the server to provide these auxiliary programs, without any extra difficulty for the player.

Many of the more advanced multimedia abilities of Glulx are best unlocked using extensions available from the Inform website or the Public Library. As of this writing, extensions exist to help authors create complex multi-windowed displays (including per-location pictures, visual status bars, and even limited animations and gradually-revealed maps).

There is also work in progress on sound-management to allow the author to play sounds in multiple channels at once, to change sound volumes, and to create fade-in and fade-out effects.

Without extensions, all these abilities are within reach for an author who is willing to do some fairly advanced programming.

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***ExampleFlathead News Network
Using external files, together with a simple Unix script running in the background, to provide live news headlines inside a story file.