Creating your First TADS 3 Project
a. Installing the compiler
If you're using Windows, there's almost nothing to this - just download the TADS 3 Author's Kit, which consists of a single .EXE file that installs everything. Open the installer executable (by double-clicking on it from wherever you downloaded it to), and step through the install screens. Everything should be self-explanatory. When the install is finished, you're all set.
For Macintosh and Unix systems, refer to the README file that comes with your system's download package for instructions (for Macintosh see also section b.ii below).
b. Creating the new project
i) Creating a project with Workbench
If you're using Windows, run TADS 3 Workbench (by selecting it from the "Start" menu group you selected during the installation process).
- By default, Workbench will show you a "welcome" dialog asking you if you want to open an existing game or create a new one. Click on the button for creating a new game.
- If you've turned off the "welcome" dialog, then select "New Project" from the Workbench "File" menu.
In either case, this will display the New Project Wizard. Just step through the wizard screens to tell Workbench the name and location for your new project files. Workbench will automatically create all of the necessary files for your project, and it'll even compile it for you right away.
The steps you’d typically follow once the wizard is launched would be:
- Click the ‘Browse’ button on the first page of the Wizard.
- Use the file dialog that appears to create a new folder (e.g. ‘MyNewGame’) under your TADS 3 folder.
- Navigate to the new directory you have just created and enter a filename for your new game (e.g. ‘MyNewGame’) into the File Name field of the dialog, and then click the ‘Save’ button.
- Click the ‘Next’ button on the wizard.
- Click the ‘Next’ button again. On the next page of the wizard select the ‘Advanced’ radio button (for the purposes of this Guide you don’t want the ‘Introductory’ option).
- Click the ‘Next’ button again. On the next page of the wizard leave the ‘Standard’ radio button selected (the WebUI is a topic beyond the scope of this Guide).
- Fill in the four fields on the next page of the Wizard. Under ‘Story Title’ put the full name of your game (‘My New Game’ or whatever you want to call it; later on in this Guide it will ‘The Further Adventures of Heidi’ for example). Then fill in the next two fields with your own name and email address. The final field can be used to give a brief description of the game (e.g. ‘This is simply a tutorial game I’m using to learn TADS 3 with’ or ‘Heidi has further adventures in the forest and makes some new friends’).
- Click ‘Next’ and then click ‘Finish’.
- Wait until TADS 3 Workbench has finished created and compiling the new skeleton game (you should see a message saying ‘Build successfully completed' followed by the date and time). In the left-hand pane of Workbench (headed ‘Project’) look for the section (near the top) that says ‘Source Files’ and double-click on the icon representing the file you asked the Wizard to create at Step 3 above (e.g. ‘MyNewGame.t’); it should be the third one down. You will then see your new game source file open in the Workbench editing window.
- To compile the project again when you’ve made changes to it, just press the F7 key. (You can also select the "Compile for Debugging" command on the "Build" menu, or click the equivalent toolbar button.)
ii) Creating a project manually (for non-Windows Users)
If you're not using Workbench (which at this stage should only be because you're not using Windows), you'll have to create your project files manually. Fortunately, this isn't very hard - you just need to create two files and one subdirectory.
Jim Aikin suggests the following steps for setting up TADS 3 and creating a project on a Macintosh (these should also work for other non-Windows systems with a little adaptation):
- Download FrobTADS, double-click on the .dmg file, and run the installer.
- Create a directory to hold your projects, and a subdirectory within it to hold your first project. For example, in Documents, create TADS. In TADS, create a MyGame folder.
- In the folder for your first project, create a folder called obj. This will hold the object files created by the compiler while it's running. You won't need to be concerned about anything in this folder; it will take care of itself.
Using a text editor, create a .t3m file. For convenience, give the .t3m file the same name as the project, perhaps MyGame.t3m. Copy the following text into your new .t3m file and save the file to the project folder:
-D LANGUAGE=en_us -D MESSAGESTYLE=neu -Fy obj -Fo obj -o MyGame.t3 -lib system -lib adv3/adv3 -source MyGameReplace "MyGame" in the code above with the name of your actual game, if it's different.
- Open a Terminal window. The Terminal program is located in Applications > Utilities. You may want to make an alias for it and drag it into your Dock.
- Create a starter game file, again as a text file, and save it to the MyGame directory. Your starter game should look more or less like this:
#include <adv3.h> #include <en_us.h> gameMain: GameMainDef initialPlayerChar = me ; versionInfo: GameID name = 'My First Game' byline = 'by Bob Author' authorEmail = 'Bob Author <firstname.lastname@example.org>' desc = 'This is an example of how to start a new game project. ' version = '1' IFID = 'b8563851-6257-77c3-04ee-278ceaeb48ac' ; firstRoom: Room 'Starting Room' "This is the boring starting room." ; +me: Actor ;Fill in those quoted parts under the line reading "versionInfo:GameID" with your own information. Everything should beself-explanatory, except that last line that starts "IFID =". That long, random-looking string of letters and numbers is exactly what it appears to be - a long, random string of letters and numbers. Well, almost: it's actually composed of random "hexadecimal", or base-16, digits, i.e. 0 to 9 plus A to F. The purpose of this random number is to serve as a unique identifier for your game when you upload it to the IF Archive. The format is important, but the individual digits should simply be chosen randomly. For your convenience, tads.org provides an on-line IFID generator at http://www.tads.org/ifidgen/ifidgen.
- In the Terminal, use the cd (change directory) command to navigate to the folder where your game files are stored. For instance, you might type 'cd Documents/TADS/MyGame' and then hit Return.
- While the Terminal is logged into this directory, you can compile your game using this command:
t3make -d -f MyGameIf all goes well, you should see a string of messages in the Terminal window, and a new file (MyGame.t3) will appear in the MyGame directory. This is your compiled game file. If you've installed an interpreter program that can run TADS games, you'll be able to double-click the .t3 file and launch the game to test your work.
Alternatively, you can run the game directly in the Terminal by typing 'frob MyGame.t3' and hitting Return.
- Instead of typing the t3make command every time you want to compile your game, you can create a .command file in your project folder and then double-click this file. Double-clicking the .command file will launch Terminal and pass the text in the .command file to Terminal.
However, when you try this, the Macintosh is quite likely to object that you don't have permission to execute the .command file. There seems to be no way to fix this using the Info box (which is opened using Cmd-I). You'll have to do it from the Terminal. Navigate, as before, to the directory where your .command file is located, and type this into the Terminal:
chmod +x MyGame.commandAgain, substitute the name of your actual .command file. The chmod instruction with a +x flag will make the .command file executable. Now you can double-click it to compile your game, but only if Terminal is already logged into the game's directory. If no Terminal window is open, that won't be the case. To remedy this problem, add the cd line to the beginning of the .command file, so that the .command file looks something like this (substituting the name of your directory and game file):
cd Documents/TADS/MyGame t3make -d -f MyGame
c. Running your game
If you're running Workbench, once again, this is easy - press the F5 key (or select the "Go" command on the "Debug" menu, or click the equivalent toolbar button).
If you're not running Workbench, at your system command prompt, type
But you should check the README file that came with your system's download package - the program name might not be the same everywhere.
If you want more advanced instructions, or you’d like a fuller explanation of what everything means, please read the article on Creating Your First TADS 3 Project in the TADS 3 Technical Manual. When you come to create a larger project you might want to split it over several source files, which is explained in the article on separate compilation in the Technical Manual, but this is not something you need worry about for the purposes of this Guide.