Saturday, 1 February 2014

AIF Player's Guide

The somewhat peculiar vocabulary and syntax understood by the text parser has its origins in the commercial text adventures of the early 80s. These games were designed to run on as little as 16k of memory, so unsurprisingly they were only able to understand a limited number of words. Things have improved since, and today's text parsers are able to recognise comparatively complex sentences. However, the core vocabulary has remained the same and most AIF games assume that the player is already familiar with it. Obviously that isn't going to be the case for people new to AIF, which is why this guide has been written. 

After the game's introduction has appeared on the screen, you will get a prompt. It will probably look like this:


This means that your character (the PC or Player Character) is waiting for you to tell him what to do. You do this by typing in a command, and then pressing Enter. In this guide, all commands that are intended to be typed into the parser are in italic all caps.

Most commands will be in the form of 'verb' or 'verb object'. You can use the definite (or indefinite) article if you want (eg. 'verb the object'), but that is usually not necessary. If there are two objects of the same basic type (eg. balls of different colours), you will need to specify which one you mean (eg. 'verb adjective object'). 

Read me! 
Before you start playing the game you should cast your eye over the readme file (if there is one for the game you're playing). While it probably won't tell you how to play AIF in general, it will tell you if there are any unusual commands in this particular game.

The information in the readme file is sometimes also accessible in the game via the help command. Some authors implement quite detailed help files, but at the very least you'll be able to get a list of the basic commands understood by the interpreter. 

Moving around 
By convention, interactive fiction uses compass directions, such as north, southwest, and so on. These directions can be abbreviated as n, sw, and so on, the same as you would see on a compass rosette. Because games are set in three dimensions, you can sometimes move up or down (abbreviated as u or d). Depending on the room, in and out might be viable directions as well.

When you enter a new location, you will see a description of it which should also describe the exits from that location. For example, if the description says "Your bedroom is to the east" you could type east (or simply e) to go to your bedroom. By default, most interpreters only display this description the first time you enter a location. However, you can use the verbose command to make it so that the description is shown every time you enter a location (this can be set back to brief). You can also look (which can be abbreviated to l) to redisplay the room description at any time.

Occasionally, you will want to stay in one location to observe something that is happening. However, you are not going to be able to make time pass without entering a command, in this case wait (which can be abbreviated to z). Each time you wait time will advance by one turn (an abstract length of time equivalent to performing one action).

Sometimes you will not be able to go in a particular direction because there is something blocking your path, such as a door. Generally, you can just open door (and some interpreters will do this automatically when you move). You can also close a door. However, much like in real life, some doors are locked. In those cases you can unlock the door if you have the correct key (if you have more than one key, you may need to specify which one you are using, for example unlock door with gold key). You can also lock a door.

north (n)
northeast (ne)
up (u)
east (e)
northwest (nw)
down (d)
south (s)
southeast (se)
look (l)
west (w)
southwest (sw)
wait (z)

Looking around 
examine (usually abbreviated as x) is the traditional command to look at an object. For example, if you typed x bed you should be provided with a description of the bed. In some cases you can also examine specific features of an object. For example, if there is a girl present, you should be able to x breasts to get a description of her breasts. If there is more than one girl present, you will have to specify whose breasts you're looking at (eg. x anne's breasts).

Sight is the most commonly used sense in AIF, but depending on the game you might be able to use the PC's other senses. For example, smell panties or listen to radio or taste wine.

It's quite common in interactive fiction for objects to be concealed by other objects. This description you get by just examining a bed won't tell you if there is anything in the bed (concealed by the covers perhaps), under the bed, or behind it. You would use search bed to find out if there was anything it in, look under bed to find out if there was anything under it, and look behind bed to find out if there was anything behind it. You might also be able to open an object if it's a container like a chest or a refrigerator. This works the same as doors, so you can close the object if it's open, and unlock it if you have the right key. In some cases you might also be able to look through keyhole.

So you've found an object hidden under the bed, and you've examined it. What now? Well you can pick up the object by typing get object (most interpreters also accept take, but get is one letter shorter). You're now carrying the object. Are you carrying anything else? To find out, type inventory (or just i). This will give you a list of all the objects your character is carrying. Note that some of these objects might be containers in their own right, such as backpacks, and you will have to OPEN them to see if there is anything inside. If you want to get rid of something, you can just drop it.

Your inventory will probably also list what your character is wearing. Most interactive fiction doesn't have to deal with characters getting undressed, but AIF does so it's invented various commands for it. Unfortunately, these commands aren't nearly as standardised. Depending on the author of the game, you might be able to strip or remove clothes in order to get undressed in a hurry. But you might also have to remove each piece of clothing individually: remove shirt, remove pants, and so on. Clothing can be layered, so once you've removed your shirt and pants, you might discover you also have to remove underwear. To get dressed again after you've finished whatever you were doing, you can usually just wear clothes (although you might have to wear underwear, wear pants, and wear shirt).
examine (x)
look under
inventory (i)
look behind

look through

AIF typically includes one or more computer controlled characters (known as NPCs, which is short for Non-Player Characters) that the PC can have sex with. However, before the PC can do that it's normally necessary to talk to them first.

The exact command to use will depend on the game. Some games allow you to simply talk to another character and receive a description of the conversation. Others might allow you to ask about a specific topic, or even tell the NPC about something. If there is more than one NPC present, you will have to specify who you are talking to (eg. ask betty about anne). In most cases the topics you can talk about will not be spelled out and you will have to look at what they say and the plot of the game to work out what they might respond to.

If you're feeling generous you could give an object to an NPC (eg. give dildo to anne). Alternatively, you could just show the object to the NPC to see how they react.

You can also give orders to NPCs, who will obey them if they're so inclined. Unfortunately, this is one of the few cases where the command differs between interpreters. For TADS, Inform and ADRIFT 5 it's betty, remove panties. For older versions of ADRIFT it's betty remove panties (without the comma).

talk to
ask about

tell about

All around 
By this time you might be wondering if you can combine commands. For example, instead of typing get bra and get panties could you type get bra and panties? Yes, you can. In fact you can pick up any accessible object by typing get all. You could also x all, search all, and so on.

Some authors disable the use of all because it makes things too easy. For example, you could search all and find something inside an object that you never suspected of hiding something. 

Playing around 
If you have to stop playing for some reason, you can save your game (some interpreters allow you to do this via a menu, but most will require you to type the command into the parser). To pick up where you left off, you should restore (and pick the appropriate save game file). Note that there is no compatibility between saves from different versions of the same game.

You can also restart to go back to the start of the game, or quit (abbreviated to q) to leave the game entirely. Alternatively, if you only want to go back one step you can undo your last action. In fact you can undo multiple actions, although there is a limit to how many actions the game remembers. This is useful if you make a mistake, or if you simply want to do something different and don't have a convenient saved game to go back to. Conversely, you can use again (abbreviated to g) to repeat the last thing you did.

quit (q)
again (g)

Fucking around 
Finally we get to the most important part of AIF. This is the one area that is likely to be specifically documented in the game's readme file, so remember to check there.

However, sexual commands are more or less standardised in AIF today, so here is a brief overview. fuck is the most common command, although it may be necessary to warm-up with other actions first. fuck girl will default to vaginal sex, but you could also fuck tits, fuck mouth or fuck ass depending on the proclivities of the girl in question. Likewise, kiss girl (probably a more suitable starting point) defaults to the mouth, but you can also kiss (or lick or suck) other bodyparts, just as with fucking. Finally, you can also rub (or stroke or touch) those bodyparts.

However, you don't have to do all the work. For example, you could type anne, suck cock to receive oral sex, or betty, rub tits to watch her stimulating herself. If there's more than one girl present, you might be able to get them to interact with each other. For example, anne, lick betty's pussy.

Note that most sexual actions have more than one response, so they can be repeated. In fact, many games use an arousal mechanic, where each action adds up until they produce an orgasm. So you might repeat rub pussy until the girl orgasms, then move on to lick pussy until you get the same result, and then finally fuck pussy.


Everything else 
This is by no means an exhaustive list of all the commands used in AIF, which are limited only by what the author is willing to implement. In most cases it should be self-evident how to interact with something. For example, you could push a button, or pull a rope. Unfortunately, in some cases you might not pick the same verb as the author. Situations like this, where the author has implemented one verb but not any of its synonyms, are referred to as "guess the verb" and are one of the main things that put off new players.

One other command you might encounter is xyzzy, which was a magic word in "Colossal Cave" (the original text adventure). It is sometimes implemented in more recent games as a tribute (usually with a humorous response), although this is becoming less common.

For a more user-friendly version of the above information (without the AIF specific commands) see the Play IF Card at the People's Republic of IF.

Creative Commons License
AIF Player's Guide by Deus ExLibris is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.


  1. I can't help but notice you forgot to include a mention of the 'help' command. Tends to be a very useful tool for getting info on the specifics of the game in my experience.

  2. Can this text be included when delivering a game? It would probably be much easier for the player than c&p a link from the readme or help command that might even be dead a couple of years from now...

    1. Maybe you could provide a downloadable version which includes your copyright, if it is ok with you that this text gets republished...

    2. My gut feeling is that at nearly 2200 words, the above is too bulky to be packaged with a game and something like the Play IF Card would be better (although non-AIF specific). However, if anyone wishes to do so, they can.

  3. There should probably be a small bit about the xyzzy command, and maybe add a brief history of the command on the faq page. I'm not sure how many players of the community remember it's roots, but a few authors still sneak it in. I still try it on the few games I get time to play now days.

    1. I went through the guide and added that, along with a bunch of other things I'd somehow missed.