LEADLIGHT GAMMA FAQ
- 1 ___ Why is Leadlight Gamma called Leadlight Gamma?
- 2 ___ If Leadlight Gamma is the ‘new’ version, what was the old version?
- 3 ___ How did Leadlight do in the Interactive Fiction Competition?
- 4 ___ How is it I can play Leadlight Gamma on my iPhone or iPad when the game's not in the iTunes store? How do I download it in Frotz and start it up?
- 5 ___ Why isn't Leadlight Gamma in the iTunes store? Will it ever be?
- 6 ___ Why isn't the game available for Android OS? Will it ever be?
- 7 ___ Why doesn't the game run on macOS Sierra?
- 8 ___ Why doesn't screen reader mode work on Macs?
- 9 ___ Why are there so many ‘You see nothing special’ messages in this game?
The original game’s title is Leadlight. One of the reasons I added the ‘Gamma’ to distinguish this version of it that we get our English letter G from the Greek letter gamma, and one of the things the G can stand for here is Glulx, the virtual machine which runs this port of Leadlight. Plus I like how it looks and sounds.
The original game is Leadlight, which I released in 2010 via the Interactive Fiction Competition. However, I released it for a computer which came out in 1986, the 8/16-bit Apple IIGS. I did this because I grew up with the Apple II series of computers (they established Apple’s fortunes before there were Macintoshes and iDevices) and I’d always wanted to make a horror game for the Apple II. I just didn’t get around to it until the 2000s. The game is set in 2010 and draws heavily on the console survival horror game aesthetic, even though it’s a text adventure.
Thanks to the existence of emulation software which can put a virtual Apple IIGS in anyone’s web browser window, I was able to deliver the game to players who’d never heard of an Apple II before. It was still a difficult proposition, though, and one of my main reasons for developing Leadlight Gamma was to make the original game accessible to a wider audience.
If you download the ActiveGS emulation plugin for your web browser, you can play the original Apple II version of Leadlight online on this site. Go to the Apple II page to get started.
By public voting, Leadlight came 14th out of 26 entries in the 2010 Interactive Fiction Competition, or IFComp as it’s often called. I was very pleased with this result. Leadlight passed almost half the field in spite of being an 8-bit game mixing modern and old school sensibilities, extreme violence, randomised combat, and which asked players to download an Apple IIGS emulation plugin for their web browser in order to be able to play it in the first place.
Leadlight also won an IFComp award called ‘The Golden Banana of Discord’, which is given to the game in each competition with the highest standard deviation in voting. Finally, the game was nominated for the inaugural Best Supplemental Materials award at the 2010 XYZZYs. (What’s a XYZZY? From wikipedia: “The XYZZY Awards are an event to recognize extraordinary interactive fiction, serving a similar role to the Academy Awards or Grammy Awards but for a far smaller community.”)
There's an excellent free app available from the iTunes store, called Frotz, which runs Leadlight Gamma as well as thousands of other interactive fiction games written in the Glulx and Z-Machine formats. (In fact, Frotz comes preloaded with dozens of other games.)
Frotz doesn’t support Leadlight Gamma’s audio or top status window colour change features yet, but still delivers the game with a great deal of style, as you can see on the screenshots page.
So the way to play Leadlight Gamma on your iDevice is this: You download the free Frotz app from the iTunes store, purchase Leadlight Gamma, then proceed as per the iOS Users instructions on the itch download page when you get to it. I'll reproduce those same instructions below:
( 1 ) _ ON YOUR DEVICE, open the game files download page in Safari (if you just bought the game, you might be on that page already)
( 2 ) _ Tap the DOWNLOAD button next to the file LEADLIGHT-GAMMA-M.GBLORB on this page (The M stands for 'mobile')
( 3 ) _ After a short pause, Safari will show an icon for the file under a link saying Open in "Frotz". Tap on Open in "Frotz"
( 4 ) _ Frotz will download the game then start it. In future, just open Frotz to play
( 5 ) _ You can also store a PDF of the hint sheet on your iDevice using the iBooks app. Tap the DOWNLOAD button next to the file LEADLIGHT-HINTS.PDF on the itch downloads page. When the sheet appears for the first time, tap near the top of the document in the browser window and choose Open in iBooks. The document will be saved there.
I investigated the possibility of releasing Leadlight Gamma as a standalone app for iOS, but the various delivery frameworks which would have enabled that – generously made available by Andrew Plotkin, aka Zarf – didn't support any graphics or audio at the time. The framework tech has advanced since 2015 but it's still without audio, and its graphics support is incompatible with Leadlight Gamma. If a framework appears in the future that can properly run the game, that's when I'll consider turning it into an iOS app.
An Android release won't be technically feasible until an interpreter of Glulx games for Androids exists which is both user-friendly enough and sufficiently advanced in tech.
2016's macOS Sierra contained enough under-the-hood changes to the Mac's operating system that it broke some Mac software, including Gargoyle, the major long-term Glulx IF interpreter for the Mac. Gargoyle's since been patched to get most games going again but it hangs on Leadlight Gamma's graphics. The most up-to-date Mac interpreter, Lectrote, has no audio and also hangs on two of Leadlight Gamma's graphics features, the image gallery and the full screen map. So for now, the depressing situation is that there's no Mac IF interpreter that can run Leadlight Gamma in macOS Sierra.
Unfortunately there isn't a Glulx game interpreter for Macs available at this time which supports screen readers. As soon as there is, this game will work with it, as it already does on Windows.
I decided that Leadlight Gamma would be entirely faithful – in core content, prose and game mechanics – to the original Apple II Leadlight. The Apple II game had to run in 64kB of RAM, and there wasn’t enough space in there to add extra look-at descriptions to all of the game content, the way you can (and usually would) today. So if a person or thing doesn’t have an extra description in the Apple II version, it doesn’t have one in Leadlight Gamma. And if you try examining a noun that the Apple II game doesn’t know, that also prompts a ‘You see nothing special,’ so the same is true in Leadlight Gamma.