Liza Daly has written an article on choosing a language for Interactive Fiction for O'Reilly's ONLamp.com site. The article is aimed at newcomers to IF authorship, starting with "what is an interactive fiction language?", then narrowing the field of language choices to Inform or TADS.
Ever since the first adventure games, there have been toolkits and languages with which to build them. Early commercial attempts, aimed at non-programmers, were generally too primitive to produce quality output. Hobbyists have since gone much further, recognizing that IF games of merit will always have a certain degree of complexity and that the languages will need to reflect that complexity.