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§25.7. The Joy of Feelies

"Feelie" is a slang word, again going back to the early days of IF, for something tactile included with commercially sold copies of IF games. For instance, Infocom's "Wishbringer" was not just a diskette in a pretty box: the box also contained a map, a letter, an envelope, a magic stone (well, a stone) and a booklet. Most of this was purely for fun, and to flesh out background to the story, but there would usually be clues sneaked into the text or artwork as well.

Today's IF is usually not supplied in physical packaging, and not accompanied by physical objects. But authors do sometimes want to include extraneous matter, whether it's a simple read-me file of instructions or a multimedia extravaganza. Inform does not provide facilities to make artwork, movies, soundscapes, booklets, etc.: there are plenty of programs out there to do all of that already.

But Inform does help with the collation and packaging-together. For instance, by placing the following sentence in the source text:

Release along with a file of "Collegio magazine" called "Collegio.pdf" and a file of "The mating call of the green wyvern" called "Mating Wyverns.mp3".

...we tell Inform that we will also be providing two additional files. Note that in each case we supply a brief description and a filename. The filename should always have a standard file extension for a well-known and thoroughly standardised file format - ".pdf" and ".mp3" are pretty safe: so for instance are ".txt", ".png", ".jpg", ".html". The filename should not include punctuation marks other than the full stop dividing name from extension, and should not exceed 30 characters in length.

It is also possible to supply a feelie which is not a single file, but is a mini-website: that is, a collection of interlinked HTML (and perhaps other) files. The convention here would be:

Release along with a file of "Baltrazar's Guide to Magic" called "Guide".

The absence of a file extension on the filename "Guide" tells Inform that the feelie in question is a mini-website: it is expected to sit inside a folder called "Guide", with its home page being "Guide/index.html". However, a mini-website like this must be created by hand: Inform does not copy it into place, it only creates links to the place where it ought to be put.

We have seen that Inform takes the story file, which is analogous to the pages of a book, and places it into a Blorb archive, analogous to the binding. These new additional files are not placed in the Blorb, because that would make the Blorb archive rather large (and would hide them from the player, which defeats the purpose). But references to them do appear in the Blorb, so that any interpreter playing the Blorb would be able to tell that there are supposed to be additional files available. Similarly, references are entered onto the library card.

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