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lists.z5
Requires a Z-Code interpreter. Visit IFWiki for download links.
lists.tar.Z
(Compressed with the Unix-style .tar.Z "tarball" format. Free unpacking tools are available for most platforms.)
lists.z5
as entered in 1996 competition
Requires a Z-Code interpreter. Visit IFWiki for download links.

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Lists and Lists

by Andrew Plotkin profile

Programming Language, Educational
1996

(based on 26 ratings)
4 reviews

About the Story

A tutorial in which a genie teaches you the basics of a simplified version of LISP.
[--blurb from The Z-Files Catalogue]


Game Details


Awards

11th Place - 2nd Annual Interactive Fiction Competition (1996)

Editorial Reviews

Baf's Guide


An introductory course in the Scheme programming language (a dialect of Lisp) presented as a text adventure - or, to put it another way, a Scheme interpreter with a wee scrap of text adventure wrapped around it. Since it's Z-code, and the first Z-code games were written in another Lisp variant, there's an odd circularity to it all. Not all of Scheme's syntax is represented, but it's still a good show-off piece. Hardly interactive fiction, though.

-- Carl Muckenhoupt

SPAG
Although "Lists" barely scratches the surface of Scheme's capabilities, I was surprised by how much functionality was crammed into such a small program, particularly with the ease-of-use features. Even if you complete all of the sample exercises within the two-hour time limit, there's plenty more to come back and investigate afterwards.
-- C.E. Forman
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>INVENTORY - Paul O'Brian writes about interactive fiction

I definitely look forward to sitting down with it for a longer period of time and working at learning what it has to teach. (I never thought a text adventure could help me build my resume!) However, after a certain point the problems stopped being fun and started being work — I’m already working at learning two languages; learning a third is definitely worthwhile, but not my idea of leisure time. And thus I discover a criteria I didn’t even know I had for the competition entries — I want them to be an escape from work, rather than (pun intended) “Return to Work”.
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Member Reviews

5 star:
(13)
4 star:
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3 star:
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Number of Reviews: 4
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Most Helpful Member Reviews


2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
As game, passable. As technical demo, wow!, January 14, 2024

From time to time, Andrew Plotkin has written works that are more about demonstrating what is possible from a technology standpoint than they are about delivering great stories. Lists and Lists is one of this type, and it certainly makes a deep impression when one finds oneself interacting with a Scheme interpreter instead of a normal command prompt.

The provided plot is the flimsiest excuse for presenting a test of programming skill in a language that few people are likely to be familiar with. The difficulty curve of the challenges is not linear, and it increases sharply toward the end of the series.

I don't normally recommend IF that is purely about the logic puzzles, but this piece is such a unique achievement that I think it's a must-see for anyone interested in IF as a whole. Arguably, at its core it is not so much IF as it is INF (Interactive Non-Fiction). Equally arguably, it is a stand-out example of puzzle design featuring a consistent, discoverable logical framework with very fair hinting and considerable challenge -- though I think any such argument would be disingenuous because none of Plotkin's genuine games are so derivative of the work of others. In any case, it is worth reviewing as a notable experiment, and as a bonus you'll learn something about an historically-significant programming language!

(Note: My scoring rubric implies that this work should earn a five-star score on the basis of its introduction an entirely new technique. However, although it was enjoyable and remarkable, I can't honestly say that it feels like a proper game to me, nor do I think it was truly intended to be thought of as one.)

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Good stuff!, April 10, 2022

Fun and challenging! Took me several hours, but I made it all the way through to the end. At which point I was rewarded with a tongue twister of truly epic proportions! I've downloaded Racket and will continue to fool around with LISP/Scheme. Thanks for this game/tutorial!

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An interactive LisP programming tutorial made into an IF piece, September 18, 2015
by mjhayes (Somewhere east of Garinham)

Programming tutorials tend to be boring, but not this time. First, play a few rounds of classic IF to wake a genie, and then he will decide to play the role of a teacher.

Internally, there isn't much to this piece, which is why the file size is relatively small. But trying your hand at introductory LisP programming and then having an NPC check the results each step of the way makes it surprisingly fun.

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(Created 24-Jul-2020) The purpose of this list is not to compete with the IFDB Top 100 but to provide an alternative view, which makes sense for some games. Philosophy: 1. If a game only has 5-star ratings, it is because the game hasn't...

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Some files were created as references to other IF at the time, or even as educational interactive tutorials. Here they get their own obscure place in the spotlight.

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Polls

The following polls include votes for Lists and Lists:

Solved without Hints by joncgoodwin
I'm very interested in hearing truthful accounts of at least somewhat difficult games (or games that don't solve themselves at least) solved completely without recourse to hints, walkthroughs, etc.

Most unique games by Jeremy Freese
Whatever else might be said about ___________, there's not another game like it.

Nontradiational Parser, Gamebook, IF and Systems by thecanvasrose
I'm making a list based on this poll as I play the elected games and can write snippets about them. See here: https://ifdb.org/viewlist?id=3n6rheokfkcsntf - - - - - - - - - I'm looking for games which are: 》Neither parser nor gamebook...

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This is version 6 of this page, edited by Paul O'Brian on 5 May 2022 at 12:36am. - View Update History - Edit This Page - Add a News Item - Delete This Page