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Classic Games (Games) Entertainment Games

A History of Early Text Adventure Games 130

Posted by Soulskill
from the still-waiting-on-mod-10 dept.
HFKap writes "The earliest computer games were pure text and were passed around freely on the ARPANET, culminating in the 'cave crawls' Adventure and Dungeon. The advent of the home computer opened up a commercial market for text adventure games, though the limited resources of these machines presented significant technical problems. Many companies vied for success in this market, but the best-remembered today is Infocom, founded by a group from MIT. Infocom's virtual memory and virtual machine innovations enabled them to design extremely ambitious and creative games, which they dubbed Interactive Fiction (IF). Ultimately the text game lost its paying customers to the lure of graphical games, such as those produced by Sierra On-Line. This article is a dialogue between Harry Kaplan and Jimmy Maher, editor of the modern IF community's pre-eminent e-zine SPAG."
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A History of Early Text Adventure Games

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday July 16, 2009 @11:21PM (#28726073)

    You are likely to be eaten by a grue.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by dkleinsc (563838)

      Which makes this almost obligatory:

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4nigRT2KmCE [youtube.com]

      From everyone's favorite nerdcore rapper, MC Frontalot.

  • by santax (1541065) on Thursday July 16, 2009 @11:24PM (#28726083)
    Whenever I go to foxnews I am happy to see there are still many, many very creative people releasing this interactive fiction, complete with hyperlinks to make it interactive leading you to even more fiction. I would say if there is one genre that really stood the test of time. It is IF. Horay!
    • How is that fiction interactive? I can't go and punch some corrupt politician into the mid of next week (and if I do, all I accomplish is that I need a new TV).

    • by Sandbags (964742)

      Thank you for brightening my day! That is one of the funniest true statements I've heard in weeks!

    • by Elbowgeek (633324)

      I think the most entertaining and creative IF, for me, was Leather Goddesses of Phobos. Just like reading a book, one made the scene in one's head, which was far more vivid than any of the best graphics cards of today. Also, every player would have his or her own vision of the scene, completely different from anyone else's.

      I distinctly recall it had a "boss key" (whatever happened to those?) which would bring up a Lotus 123-style spreadsheet. But on that sheet were a list of kinky sex objects - hilarious

    • Foxnew's fair and balanced coverage may seem like fiction my friends, but I can assure you it's 100% facts. In fact, today only, our pals are offering free implants to boost cognitive function. Join us, friends, and help stop the secular liberal progressive homosexual socialist object oriented movement!
  • by notnAP (846325) on Thursday July 16, 2009 @11:33PM (#28726135)

    "Oh look! A rainbow!"
    "You are at the fountain."

  • Best of Memories (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday July 16, 2009 @11:38PM (#28726161)

    I must be getting old. I remember "flashbulb" memories and genuine excitement about Adventure whenever a huge block of text would scroll into the screen, indicating a new area or a puzzle solved. We used a rotary dial phone into a 300 baud acoustic coupled modem on a dumb terminal in 1977. Ah, fond memories of my first exposure to computers.

    Long Live Plugh!!!

  • by bertoelcon (1557907) <berto.el.conNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Thursday July 16, 2009 @11:42PM (#28726173)
    This should stand as proof that graphics should not be in the forefront of the entire gaming industry, they had graphics then and did much better giving a fully descriptive story as was needed. I really want to see some level of text based gaming come back. Hell it might be a great way to market a Wii Keyboard.
    • Yes and no... (Score:5, Informative)

      by Bragador (1036480) on Friday July 17, 2009 @12:19AM (#28726351)

      Back in the days, and I don't speak from experience, computers were not for everyone so the market was different. Today, most gamers don't have the patience to read a book, even less to think while doing so like you do in an interactive fiction game. Actually, the whole society is like that. So, shiny graphics ARE important today. I showed some Infocom games to some friends since I thought text adventures were a nice idea and when they saw there was no graphics they simply shrugged them off. Well, one did try Zork, and after a few minutes, he thanked me for showing him something he didn't know and never touched these kind of games after that.

      Like Roberta Williams said in 1999:

      Back when I got started, which sounds like ancient history, back then the demographics of people who were into computer games, was totally different, in my opinion, than they are today. Back then, computers were more expensive, which made them more exclusive to people who were maybe at a certain income level, or education level. So the people that played computer games 15 years ago were that type of person. They probably didn't watch television as much, and the instant gratification era hadn't quite grown the way it has lately. I think in the last 5 or 6 years, the demographics have really changed, now this is my opinion, because computers are less expensive so more people can afford them. More "average" people now feel they should own one.

      • I would give you that graphics are important now, and it would be as hard to sell a text game as it would to have sell a pure CLI OS. but I really see no reason that should define major gaming. However, I also still think HD video is not half as good as people think it is.
        • by Bragador (1036480)
          Oh, I do agree that the graphics are not necessary, but people need them for some strange reason. It's the same thing with movies. People will want to watch the movie version of a book instead of reading it, even though the book has more details. Also, people will rent the latest remake instead of watching the old black and white classics.
      • Re: (Score:1, Offtopic)

        by solafide (845228)
        Dwarf Fortress [bay12games.com] -- a modern ASCII-graphics game.
      • I disagree (Score:4, Insightful)

        by aepervius (535155) on Friday July 17, 2009 @01:32AM (#28726619)
        I used to belong to that demographic long long ago. But with age I simply lost patience and reading too much from a computer screen is tiring. We were young. Now we are at best middle aged, at worst seniors. Most of us do not want or cannot waste as much time on tiring task. Even if the new demographic of young people was coming in, we a bit older would not want to go through that again and again. The myth that now people only accept instant gratification is just a myth. Many of those I.F. were simply cumbersome and unforgivable but since this is all we had, we accepted it. Most people would not willingly eat stale moldy rotten bread if fresh bread is available. You do it only when there is no fresh bread available and you are starving. Same for the first graphic+novel type of adventure like KQ's. We will not willingly go again in that especially eating the cake right off the start breaking down the game.

        Maybe they can revive I.F. as type of ebook. But I doubt it.
        • by hattig (47930)

          Are there interactive eBooks yet of the old Ian Livingstone (and others) pick your own adventure books?

          That might be a nice project actually. The choices are limited, there's no parser hassle, but it's interactive within a story thread.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Gulthek (12570)

          Who said it needs reviving? The best IF games have come out in the last few years! Playable on anything digital that even remotely makes sense: from a computer (any reasonable OS) to an iPhone.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Beetle B. (516615)

          Many of those I.F. were simply cumbersome and unforgivable but since this is all we had, we accepted it.

          You may not know this, but by today's IF standards, the Infocom games are considered to be quite poor in quality (although few will utter such blasphemy without a lot of modifiers...).

          Everyone agrees that they did have great prose and suspension of disbelief was not at all difficult. That's to their credit.

          But game design? Mediocre at best (again, by today's standards). Each Infocom game I played had a dungeon/maze element that was quite tedious. I suppose it's because I never had the manuals.

          Each Infocom g

        • by Hatta (162192) *

          reading too much from a computer screen is tiring

          And yet people will read forums for hours.

        • To my delight, I recently discovered that the iLiad series of e-book readers will run Gargoyle, which plays many popular IF formats. So you can finally play your interactive fiction on your ebook reader, and the circle is complete.

          Little synchronicities like that are making are harder for me to resist laying out the cash for one of those things. Even if they are cripplingly expensive.

        • by Restil (31903)

          There might be no going back, but honestly, I couldn't get enough of the Sierra "Quest" games at the time. I was even trying to use what limited programming skill I had at the time to make my own. I LOVED those games and I kept playing them years after they were obsolete. I was also playing DOOM and DOOM 2 well into the current decade. I wouldn't expect a younger gamer to want to play the older games, no more than I would want to play Pong. However, I think the love and appreciation for the games that

      • by Hatta (162192) *

        But the literate gamer has not gone away. Yes there are fewer of them in proportion to mainstream gamers, but in reality the numbers are the same, or even greater. The market is out there for these games, someone just needs to take advantage of it.

    • by John Miles (108215) on Friday July 17, 2009 @02:23AM (#28726781) Homepage Journal

      I really want to see some level of text based gaming come back.

      Text gaming didn't leave, it just went indie. Some of the best works since the Infocom days have appeared in the annual rec.arts.int-fiction competition [ifcomp.org], the 15th of which is in progress now.

      Someone below mentioned Photopia, and that's a good place to start (it took first place in the IF competition nine or ten years ago).

    • by crazybit (918023)
      "Have you ever wanted to jump into a book and live inside that world? Here is your chance."

      medievia.com [medievia.com] is still up and running, you might like that community.
      • Re: (Score:1, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Don't support that game.

        The developer stole the DikuMUD code and started "accepting donations" for it, which is not allowed under the Diku license.

        Everything about that game is a farce. Illegal and unjust.

        google medthievia for more information.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by westlake (615356)

      This should stand as proof that graphics should not be in the forefront of the entire gaming industry, they had graphics then and did much better giving a fully descriptive story as was needed

      The dialog and descriptions were not always as good as you remember them.

      The more important lesson to be learned from Infocom - and the best graphical adventures - is that they were willing to explore and exploit any environment and any popular fictional genre.

      Detective story, police procedural. Lovecraftian horror. T

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Quirkz (1206400)

      This should stand as proof that graphics should not be in the forefront of the entire gaming industry, they had graphics then and did much better giving a fully descriptive story as was needed. I really want to see some level of text based gaming come back.

      Text-based gaming isn't completely dead. There are niche markets, particularly with browser-based games.

      One of my favorites, and one I've been playing for more than three years, is Kingdom of Loathing (http://www.kingdomofloathing.com). Yes, they do have images, but they're stick figures, static GIFs, so it's essentially text-based with a little accent. Humorous writing, complicated puzzles ... all that stuff is alive and well in this fantasy RPG. They're maybe halfway between pure text and an RPG like B

    • by sowth (748135) *

      Inexpensive / easy to make video games are very bad for video game companies. This means any independent joker can create a game and publish it. Much like what is happening with the music "industry" since computers have made it cheap and easy to record and mix music, and the internet has made it easy to distribute, so any joker with a guitar can potentially become a hit.

      Video game companies are protected by producing one-off games whose material is thrown away and rebuilt constantly. The models and artwor

  • by keeboo (724305) on Thursday July 16, 2009 @11:52PM (#28726217)
    I was a kid and I had a bare knowledge of English language as 2nd language, so it went like:

    "You start off with your parachute snagged on a branch of a mangrove tree, leaving you helplessly dangling high above the jungle floor."
    > north
    > go north
    > down
    > go down
    > climb tree
    > look tree
    > look at tree
    > look parachute
    > objects
    > inventory
    > help
    > shit
    ...
    > untie parachute

    Yeah, sorry if I don't share the same enthusiasm for such games.
    • Re: (Score:2, Redundant)

      by Niris (1443675)
      In the immortal words of many MUDs that are still played today,

      > What?
    • by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 17, 2009 @12:15AM (#28726323)

      I shared your pain with some games, even though English is allegedly my first language. I particularly remember one game where you had to use a vacuum cleaner to get rid of a ghost that was blocking a doorway... I was about 11 at the time, had never even heard of ghostbusters, and didn't realise that people in the US called vacuum cleaners "vacuums" which, according to my dictionary, was something with no air in it. I eventually got past that particular hurdle by pausing the game (it was in basic), reading over the code (I was a nerd) in search of relevant keywords and guessing combinations involving everything I could pick up.

      On reflection I suspect reverse engineering this game was more fun than the game itself...

      • I had similiar pain with a game called Hugo's House of Horrors (not text based, but the same text input pain). In one of the rooms in the mansion, you open a cupboard to find a funny looking sprite on the ground. I must have tried a 100 different things to figure out what that sprite was. Eventually I looked in the game directory to see a file called "mask.gif". Pick Up Mask. It was a wonderful thing when the click based adventure game (such as lucas arts games), was introduced.
      • by Nimey (114278)

        What's the literal translation for your country's term for "vacuum cleaner"? Just curious.

    • by omglolbah (731566)
      The game sucked if it was that specific on how to get the hell down.

      Knowing the language is quite important when it comes to playing a MUD but most get by fine.

      I would attribute some of my knowledge of the language (English is my second language, Norwegian my first) to my use of computers and especially text games. I've clocked close to 18000 hours on a particular mud (lensmoor.org 3500) and enjoy it just as much as I enjoy some graphic intensive games.

      It is all about what you are looking for. Text lends it
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by K. S. Kyosuke (729550)

      > shit ... > untie parachute

      At least you landed into something soft and didn't break your legs, right?

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by hattig (47930)

        Most adventure games I played would let you survive the parachute fall, but you would then die whatever you did due to a proliferation of lions, tigers, grues, pits with spikes, native savages and ghosts in the immediate vicinity. Naturally the next 23 times you played the game, you'd try and avoid these, instead of "weave parachute into hangglider using tree branches" "glide to remote golden beach that I missed the description of because I didn't 'look into distance'", etc.

        Others would give you immediate r

    • by hey! (33014)

      Well, you'd have to compare these games to the most primitive sort of graphical games to be perfectly fair.

      It may well be that the end of commercial text game development meant that better formulas and design principles appropriate to the medium were never developed. There's no way the limits of language as a game medium have ever been approached by software. What are tabletop RPGs such as Dungeons and Dragons but language based adventure games with a few visual aids?

      I think the problem with text games w

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by shippo (166521)

      That looks like Espionage Island from Artic Computing. It was released initially for the ZX81, then ported to the larger memory ZX Spectrum with no changes - same limited text descriptions in upper case text, limited vocabulary, white text on a black background and so on. Their whole series of games were fairly limited plot-wise, and extremely linear - i.e. just one puzzle to solve at a time for most of the game. So if you got stuck on one puzzle there was no point exploring the rest of the game.

      The only a

  • Documentary (Score:5, Informative)

    by Pilferer (311795) on Friday July 17, 2009 @12:05AM (#28726277)

    I am looking forward to this upcoming documentary:

    http://www.getlamp.com/ [getlamp.com]

    by the guy who did "BBS: The Documentary"

  • by beatbox32 (325106) on Friday July 17, 2009 @12:08AM (#28726293) Homepage
    That's the one I remember playing a lot on my C64.. "You wake up. The room is spinning very gently round your head. Or at least it would be if you could see it which you can't." For those interested, you can play it online here: http://www.heavygames.com/hitchhikersguidetothegalaxy/gameframe.asp [heavygames.com]
    • by smchris (464899)

      The one I remember _not_ playing a lot because I never got anywhere. Finished Planetfall.

      • H2G2 was a game that you had to play with the hint book in your hand. There were a few places where you ended up in the dark and it would say something like 'you can not see, hear, smell, taste or feel anything'. I have no idea how you were meant to work out that you were meant to keep looking until it changed to something like 'you can not see, hear, smell, or feel anything' at which point you had to 'taste dark' and then continue (or use some other sense, if that was the one that disappeared from the li

  • I'd heartily recommend Adam Cadre's "Photopia". It's one of the most affecting pieces of fiction of any time I've ever read. http://adamcadre.ac/if.html [adamcadre.ac]
  • by mark-t (151149) <markt@@@lynx...bc...ca> on Friday July 17, 2009 @12:14AM (#28726321) Journal
    south. east. open window. in. west. get lamp and sword. east. up. light lamp. get all. douse lamp. down. west. move rug. open trapdoor. down. light lamp. north. attack troll with sword. again. again. again. again. get axe.
    • I always get the egg from the nest up in the tree outside the house first.

    • by Psychotria (953670) on Friday July 17, 2009 @01:33AM (#28726623)

      south. east. open window. in. west. get lamp and sword. east. up. light lamp. get all. douse lamp. down. west. move rug. open trapdoor. down. light lamp. north. attack troll with sword. again. again. again. again. get axe

      Damn you! I've been trying to do this for 20 years and now you've shown me how. You could at least have mentioned "Spoiler Alert".

    • pretty much all the first person shooting games have this at their core.

      The basics of gaming hasn't changed in over 30 years. Shortcuts, Mindless violence and the feeling of victory when you eventually "win" - which lasts all of 20 seconds until it gives way to the hollow feeling of "well, what now?"

      Yes, there are graphics - which, like any addiction is never enough, is a total money sink and means you're always searching for the next high-point. And sound and vibration feedback and networks. Although th

      • pretty much all the first person shooting games have this at their core.

        The basics of gaming hasn't changed in over 30 years. Shortcuts, Mindless violence and the feeling of victory when you eventually "win" - which lasts all of 20 seconds until it gives way to the hollow feeling of "well, what now?"

        You really should have picked a better example for your rant, I'm afraid. Just because somebody can do a speed run of Zork doesn't mean that's how you play. First off, Zork is by no means a violent gorefest. It's a game of exploration and treasure hunting. If you play using this minimal set of moves, you've neither truly played the game nor have you achieved a remotely good score.

        The truth is that games have changed considerably in the past 30 years. Sure, there were lousy games back then, just as there are now, but they were an entirely different kind of lousy. Usually they were, in my opinion, of the insanely difficult and un-fun type of lousy. There's a lot less of those these days since insane levels of difficulty cause most gamers to do a 180 right quick.

        • by petes_PoV (912422)
          They're still (mostly) about killing things, destroying things, shooting things. in that respect they have not developed past the basic premise. You vs. things that are out to kill you, unless you kill them first. Sure, there are games like The Sims and sports games which I agree are different and are popular - but the overwhelming majority (not all, just most) of the best-sellers are shoot, chop, kill, gore, weapons, enemies, destruction, targets, fire, explosions ..... and so it goes on. The only thing th
    • I've been playing that on my iPhone recently. Now I know how to scare of the grue that ate me, thank.
  • by adolf (21054) <flodadolf@gmail.com> on Friday July 17, 2009 @12:17AM (#28726335) Journal

    If there's an English major in the house: What is it called when an interview consists of one small question, followed by many paragraphs of detailed answer, followed by an unrelated question?

    In other words: Is there any sort of descriptive term for "interview by email" which I can learn, so that I can more aptly describe these non-conversations in the future?

    They have about as much interaction as an interview might if it were conducted by parcel post. While the monologues contained therein may (or may not be) interesting, the whole thing lacks so much spontaneity and fluidity that I might as well be reading a book.

  • Virtual archeology (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Mathinker (909784) on Friday July 17, 2009 @02:42AM (#28726869) Journal

    There's a guy, Russel Dalenberg, who deals with the "archeology" of the original Adventure game [mipmip.org].

    Besides the fact that he had had a great userid ("ged" [wikipedia.org]) when he first emailed me for info about a then-unknown version, I always thought he had the ultimately geeky hobby.

  • by Dare (18856)

    As a newbie sysadmin, I feel I'm living in an Infocom adventure for some reason. Here's [users.utu.fi] a write-up of my work day about a week ago.

  • I'd urge everyone to give Parchment a try :-http://code.google.com/p/parchment/

    Parchment is a project dedicated to running IF games in your browser, and it does so wonderfully. You can even SAVE your progress, and it gives you a bookmarkable URL you can use to resume your game at a later date. That page tells you how to get any Zcode game playable on Parchment, and the page below has links to loads of IF games that have already been made available.

    I'd recommend giving Curses a go, although maybe not if you are completely new to IF.

    http://parchment.toolness.com/ [toolness.com]

  • by Viol8 (599362) on Friday July 17, 2009 @05:22AM (#28727483)

    All that discussion and not a single mention of MUDs, MOOs or any online multiuser text based adventures! Does the fact that they're running on a remote server and have multiple users somehow exclude them from being designated as text based IF? I think not. If anything they're far more imaginative and far longer player commitment than most single user adventures running on the local machine.

    • In that case, let me mention the Discworld MUD: http://discworld.atuin.net/lpc/ [atuin.net] A strange place where for over 15 years many, many people have been wandering around on the back of a giant turtle.
  • Here in the UK. (Score:5, Informative)

    by shippo (166521) on Friday July 17, 2009 @05:28AM (#28727513)

    Here in the UK there were a good number of such games published during the 8-bit micro boom of the early 1980s.

    The first game to really start things going was Melbourne House's The Hobbit which, on some platforms, included crude graphics for some of the locations. The parser for this game was quite complex, allowing the player to pass instructions on to other characters. The other characters in the game also had some form of artificial intelligence, granting them the ability to wader around at random and move things around. Consequentially no two games were ever the same.

    Another significant developer was Level 9 who created huge games using text compression. These were sold for a huge range of platforms.

    Another major development was when Gilsoft developed The Quill, a an adventure game construction kit. This allowed virtually anyone to create a game based around a standard runtime environment. Many games were then released to the market, some so cleverly constructed that major software publishers could pass them on at full price. Later add-ons were created that allowed in-game graphics, basic sound effects and other features. Text compression was eventually added, too.

    • by hattig (47930)

      Graphic Adventure Creator was my text adventure creator drug of choice. Quite a few commercial games were made using it as well.

      Lots of people preferred PAW though, when that came out.

    • by wjousts (1529427)
      I remember Level 9, they made some great games. I remember Knight Orc quite well. It came with a novella that filled in the background to the story.
    • by ZipR (584654)
      Level 9 was great. The Snowball series was one of the most vivid/memorable games I've played -- ever. I'm still trying to run away from those Nightingales. I used to order them direct from the UK for my Atari 8-bit, and they'd come in a DVD-type case, though they were on cassette.
      • by Dr Bip (601304)
        And the people at the company were really friendly. Colossal Adventure was a real eye-opener, and was tough enough me to grind out some oily doggeral that pleaded for help (snip: "Into colossal cavern stepped I, if only for my luck to try..."), and post it off. Look, I was only 13. A hand-written note came back within a week along with a photocopied crib-sheet, and a signed greetings card (if memory serves). When, 20+ years later, I visited Mammoth Caves, it was very strange to actually be in a place th
    • by Spit (23158)

      There were many great commercial games which were written in BASIC too: Ket trilogy was enjoyable as was The Pen and The Dark by the late, great Keith Campbell.

  • I'm now in the latter half of my thirties and my girlfriend is in her mid-twenties and I was just rambling on about text adventure games. She looked at me like I had three heads and never heard of such a thing.

    I distinctly remember a trip to a business with computers (and data stored on punch cards) when I was 10-ish and seeing the opening lines from Zork

    A year or two later we bought a TRS-80 Colour Computer (with Extended Basic!) and I learnt to type by spending days and days and days with Pyramid 2000

    • by Culture20 (968837)

      It's a shame these sort of interactive fictions passed away after the advent of the CD-ROM and Myst.

      Not true, I bought most of the infocom selection on CD.

      • The Lost Treasures of Infocomm boxed sets were great. A big box with a few disks (later CDs), a big printed book of all of the manuals, another big book of all of the hint books, and fold-out maps for all of the games. Unfortunately, the one I bought was on floppy disk, and I haven't owned a floppy drive for several years, so I can't get at them anymore. I should probably get a USB floppy drive and see how many of my old floppies still work.
        • I do remember that box set, though I'm not sure it was ever released for System 7 or OS 8 on the Mac. One of the marvellous things about emulators is playing all these games in the browser and recapturing a little bit of how we used to interact with computers.
          • It was released for DOS, but you just needed an Infocom interpreter to use it on your platform of choice. I used the game files on my Psion Series 3.
    • by grub (11606)

      I'm now in the latter half of my thirties and my girlfriend is in her mid-twenties and I was just rambling on about text adventure games. She looked at me like I had three heads and never heard of such a thing.

      I guess you have to fill the time when waiting for the Viagra to kick in. :)

      .
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Hobophile (602318)

      It's a shame these sort of interactive fictions passed away after the advent of the CD-ROM and Myst.

      You should look into some of the newer, highly rated works at IFDB [tads.org]. There is a small but active community still developing these games, and each year sees one or two new gems that rival or surpass the most popular efforts of the Infocom era. The best days of the format may well be ahead of us.

  • Anyone every play the MUD 3-Kingdoms? For it's time it was a great game, had seperate Sci-Fi, Chaos, and Fantasy areas for variety. I used to play a Necromancer.
  • Pun alert (Score:3, Funny)

    by gidds (56397) <slashdot.gidds@me@uk> on Friday July 17, 2009 @07:28AM (#28728093) Homepage

    "The advent [wikipedia.org] of the home computer..."

    Very good, very good...

  • Circa 1991, a friend of mine would sit at the same computer and take turns controlling the UI for a game that must have been the one of first to add a UI to the text adventure format as it was such a simple wrapper for an obvious text adventure engine. It's DnD-ish in storyline allowing you to roll up characters with a handful of classes. The UI memorably showed a representation of your direction options like a mouse maze. I can't recall much about details, but you start out with your party in a slave pe
  • Zyll was my first foray into text adventure games. I remember spending hours at my dad's IBM Sr. Partner staring at the black and green screen trying to figure out where the three items were. I still keep a copy of DOSBox around just in case I want to fire up Zyll again. Such a great game.
  • I do believe that point and click is what really killed adventure games. They simplified the game play down to a handful of verbs (get, look at, push, pull, use) which meant that if you got stuck all you had to do is try every verb on every object you could click on (including inventory) until something happened. As a result the games became way too easy. Some games don't even bother with a handful of verbs and instead you just click on stuff and something happens or not.

    I mean, I loved the new Sam & Ma

    • I have not tried any of the TellTale games, but from what I've seen, they look very entertaining.

      One of my favorite point-and-click games of this style was "Day of the Tentacle". Even though the actions were limited, you still had a lot of combinations when doing a trial-and-error approach to solving the puzzles. Even though the interface is point-and-click, you still need to hold object X and apply it to other object Y. X times Y can lead to tons of things to try.

      • by wjousts (1529427)

        I've only played the two seasons of Sam and Max and they were entertaining, just too short and too easy. I loved the games, but it seems like a lot of money to drop for only a few hours of entertainment.

        Also, I agree on DotT. That was a really good game and I remember it had some really interesting puzzles using the time travel aspects.

    • The downside of text games is when the puzzles devolve into Guess The Verb. I remember using a hex-reader to scan the code to find the ascii text literals in games when I got tired of trying to guess what obscure verb the programmer had come up with.
      • by wjousts (1529427)
        Well, exactly, but some of the later games had much more expressive parsers so it was less of a problem. But, the point is the puzzles were harder because you couldn't just say use X with Y (as you do in most point-and-clicks), you had to actually know how X and Y would be used together.
  • Still getting over Floyd. :'(
    • by Specter (11099)

      Hey, I've got an access card exactly like that one!

      Wanna play hucka-bucka beanstalk?

  • Inform (Score:2, Informative)

    by PegamooseG (991448)

    There is an excellent tool for writing IF that a friend brought to my attention a while back. It's called Inform 7 [inform-fiction.org].

    I have tinkered with it a little bit, and it makes writing IF much easier. It takes out most of the programming skills, and focuses on a pseudo-natrual English way of writing the game.

  • by whitroth (9367)

    Nobody ever remembers the RadShack CoCo. I had one that I bought around '80 or '81, and found a text adventure game - I don't remember the name - where one started out in a town at a market. The best thing to buy there was a shovel: you could dig for treasure... and beat off bandits on the road, lions in the jungle, sharks and pirates in the ocean, and, if you got to the end, meteors in outer space....

                mark

  • When Advent was ported to the iTunes application store a while back I first discovered the magic of text adventures. Eventually I graduated to Frotz and since then I have spent the majority of my time during business meetings playing it nonstop! It's good fun and at the same time so insanely frustrating that it makes me want to kill my co-workers (even more than usual that is) which as we all know are the typical signs of any great iPhone application! Check it out here: http://itunes.apple.com/WebObject [apple.com]
  • As one who has spent many MANY hours, mostly wasted, playing text adventures (also mostly on the TRS80), I have to say I am happy of the evolution text adventures have taken. Sierra did their thing, but there are now really huge browser based games now like UrbanLegions.net and KoL. I just wonder if any chronological documentaries will mention these or not.

It was kinda like stuffing the wrong card in a computer, when you're stickin' those artificial stimulants in your arm. -- Dion, noted computer scientist

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