From IFWiki

Balances small cover.jpg
Author(s) Graham Nelson
Publisher(s) n/a
Release date(s) 1994
Authoring system Inform 5 and Inform 6
Platform(s) Z-code 5 and Glulx
Language(s) English and Spanish
License(s) Freeware
Color effects none
Graphics only in Glulx version
Sound/Music none
Cruelty scale Cruelty to be determined

How It Begins

You are an Enchanter, that is, a magic user, carrying your spell book, a silver coin, and a magic burin. You don't quite remember how you arrived outside this ramshackle hut, but you think it has something to do with your colleague Helistar, another Enchanter who was investigating some dark magic and hasn't been seen lately. You're rather vague on the details. Perhaps you should explore and see what you can discover.

Notable Features

  • Set in Zork, this game reincorporates the basic magic system from Infocom's Enchanter trilogy including some of the more common spells and the featureless white cubes first seen in Spellbreaker.
  • This game works as a small practical example of the Inform language's versatility. For example:
    • Similar sets of items, such as the coins, scrolls, spells, and cubes are implemented using classes. Similar items are also reported together in a group when part of the PC's inventory or located in the same location.
    • Identical objects are possible and can be refered to with numeric qualifiers, such as "three gold coins".
    • It is possible for the PC to write a small arbitrary word on a cube, making it distinctive. The player can then refer to that cube by the word written on that cube.
    • The lottery tickets are an example of how to create a large number of nearly-identical objects without actually coding each one separately.
    • The barker provides a simple example of ask-tell conversation.
    • The cave provides an example of a darkness puzzle.
  • The game understands commands of the form WHO IS topic or WHAT IS topic for a handful of possible topics.


Note: Releases 1 to 3 were written in Inform 5. Release 4 was the first version in Inform 6.

Release 1 (Original release)

Release 2 (Updated release)

  • Balances (Graham Nelson; 06-Oct-1994; Z-code 5).

Release 3 (Modernised release)

  • Balances (Graham Nelson; 11-Dec-1995; Z-code 5).

Release 3 with Adaptive Hints

  • Balances (author: Graham Nelson, hints by: Mike Phillips; 17-Apr-1996; Z-code 5).
    • Release 3 / Serial number 951220 / Inform v1502 Library 5/12
    • IFID: ZCODE-3-951220-C702
      IFID links: IFDB
    • Download ah_balances.z5 from the IF Archive. The story file.

This version uses the Adaptive Hints library by Mike Phillips as an example of its use. It requires Inform 5.5, library 5/12 or later to compile.

Additional files specific to this version:

Release 4 (Inform 6 port)

  • Balances (Graham Nelson; 08-May-1996; Z-code 5).
    • (These details pertain to the version supplied on the cover CD of Acorn User issue 170, July 1996.)
    • Release 4 / Serial number 960508 / Inform v6.03 Library 6/1
    • IFID: ZCODE-4-960508-14D4
      IFID links: IFDB.
    • Download Balances-r4.z5 from the IF Archive.

Release 5 (Minor bug fixes version)

Spanish translation

  • (game title to be determined) (translators: Sirrus and Zak; c. 2000; Spanish).
    • Premios Hispanos 2000: Zak and Sirrus were awarded a Premio especial (Special prize) for their collaboration in the translation of Balances by Graham Nelson.

More info about this version is wanted, particularly a download link.

Release 5 (Glulx port)

Screenshot of the beginning of the game using Windows Glulxe.

This version has "GUI enhancements". Inventory items are displayed on the left (initially, these are the spell book, silver coin, and magic burin). Along the bottom are the spells that you currently have memorised (the writing hand icon is the GNUSTO spell). Clicking any of these icons will insert the name of that item into the current command.


General info