Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Classic Games (Games) Handhelds Portables (Games) Games

Interactive Text Adventures Come To the Kindle 84

Posted by Soulskill
from the you-are-likely-to-eat-some-glue dept.
dotarray writes with news that Amazon's Kindle will now play text-based adventure games, such as Zork. From the article: "... And it makes a ridiculous amount of sense: text is gorgeous and easily-readable on the e-ink screens, the lack of color isn’t a problem, and – let’s face it – the sort of people who are likely to buy an e-reader are exactly the sort of people who are likely to love vintage games. ... The developers have also integrated a save-game feature so you can pick up where you left off, using Amazon’s Whispernet feature – and promise that they are looking to put more modern Z-machine games into the system, too. (Squee!) Unfortunately, it’s not perfect. The Zork family of games are notoriously frustrating (even when you’re not eaten by a Grue), and the Kindle’s text entry system doesn’t help with that, especially when entering numbers. A full keyboard would make things more fluid, but – really – if you want that, why not just play on your PC?"
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Interactive Text Adventures Come To the Kindle

Comments Filter:
  • Inventory (Score:5, Funny)

    by Lissajous (989738) on Saturday October 09, 2010 @03:00AM (#33843806)

    You have:
    First Post

  • But... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday October 09, 2010 @03:02AM (#33843814)

    I wish it were nethack.

  • by VincenzoRomano (881055) on Saturday October 09, 2010 @03:18AM (#33843858) Homepage Journal
    For Infocom.
  • by assemblerex (1275164) on Saturday October 09, 2010 @03:18AM (#33843860)
    "Interactive Tax Adventures"
  • From TFS (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday October 09, 2010 @03:19AM (#33843866)

    And it makes a ridiculous amount of sense

    No, ridiculous sense is not sensible enough! We need to be more sensible! Prepare brains for.... LUDICROUS SENSE.

  • didn't get bored of that in the 80's

    • Re:oh boy zork (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Wordplay (54438) <geo@snarksoft.com> on Saturday October 09, 2010 @04:19AM (#33843986)

      Which obvious response do you want? The one about there still being an active group of IF fans who'll want this, or the one about an entire generation of people who were never exposed to it to begin with?

      • by Osgeld (1900440)

        the only ones worried about this generation being exposed to it are IF fans with a touch of nostalgia

        in response to your question neither, I want the response of "zork was great but yea its time to get some fresh material if anyone wants to see this come alive again"

  • They mention Whispernet as a way of saving the games. That's 24/7 internet access that runs over the Sprint network. Why is that needed to save games?

    Instead, it should be used to enable telnet access for MUDs and SSH for system admins. Or is there no ability for Amazon to monetize what would be made free by a telnet/ssh client?

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by bartyboy (99076)

      And to complete the MUD experience, the Kindle has a refresh rate equivalent to a 1200 baud modem. You know, where you can read faster than text can appear on the screen.

    • by harrkev (623093)

      I also wondered why they need Whispernet. Really, Frotz would be perfect on something like a Kindle or Nook (I requested that they add it in a future version of Nook firmware, but I am not holding my breath).

      Really, the Z-machine should not be that hard to implement, and storing Z-code and save games locally makes a LOT more sense that having to shuttle data over the cell network.

    • You need Whispernet because if you look closely, you'll see that this "game" runs in the web browser. That's right, it's just a website that has a display layout for the Kindle. You can point any web browser to their site and play Zork.
  • by bhcompy (1877290) on Saturday October 09, 2010 @03:57AM (#33843950)
    If you want to go to the castle, put in SD card 2.
    If you want to go to the dungeon, put in SD card 3.
    • If you want to go to the castle, put in SD card 2. If you want to go to the dungeon, put in SD card 3.

      Whoa! That's the same combination I have on my BDSM stash!

  • The kindle of course has a keyboard, making this possible.

    I am still deciding on getting either one for thanksgiving. This put another in the Kindle's column. Then again, I do like Nook's support for epub.
    • Re: (Score:1, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward
      FYI, the nook's touchscreen can double as a keyboard.
  • Inform 7 (Score:4, Informative)

    by Securityemo (1407943) on Saturday October 09, 2010 @04:54AM (#33844084) Journal
    For those who felt a creative urge when hearing this, take a look at http://inform7.com./ [inform7.com.] It's easy to use, but it helps if you're a programmer since the way the "english langauge" and grammar gets translated to objects and relations have some gotchas.
    • Re:Inform 7 (Score:4, Interesting)

      by SteeldrivingJon (842919) on Saturday October 09, 2010 @05:16AM (#33844120) Homepage Journal

      If nothing else, try the IDE. It's really quite well done. When you click 'Go' it turns the source code into a game, starts the game in one pane of the IDE, generates a map of locations you've defined, etc. There is extensive documentation and examples, including a recipe book of code snippets.

      It's available free (as in beer) for Mac, Windows, and (I think) Gnome.

      Also, there's a recently-published book about writing games with Inform 7, "Creating Interactive Fiction With Inform 7" [amazon.com]

      • by Angostura (703910)

        Thank you both for this. Inform 7 actually looks like it could be a really fun way for kids to get the basic ideas behind programming and get an immediate buzz from creating something that their friends could have fun with. I'm going to investigate, but I suspect my 8 year old daughter could have a lot of fun with this. (Once I've learned how to use it :-) )

        • Remember to look up the syntax for expressing things by choosing "index" -> "phrasebook" in the right pane. It's a bit hidden, and it's bloody hell to try to remember the correct grammar for relations especially. Remember that the syntax is strict. Also, dynamic objects doesn't exist, but aren't really needed - you need to slash someones head off? Declare that a head is part of every person, and move it off the person when it's sliced off, declaring a rule for printing the name of heads that it mentions
      • by pugugly (152978)

        I keep thinking I'd like something that combined text adventures with SVG, For something like the "Knight Orc" or "Amber" experience.

        Heck I'd still like to finish a few games from my Atari ST - {G};

        Pug

    • by grikdog (697841)
      Eh! Anything Inform 7 can do, C can do better in 1/20th the time to program and 1/10000th the time to execute. Inform 7 is vastly overrated. Inform 6 was fun to explore (a little more intuitive), but aside from a few precieaux (like Galatea), nothing of interest has ever been written in it.
      • Do you mean in pure C or using a framework? And wich one, in that case? I found that writing in Inform 7 is unituitive at first, but it becomes extremely easy and flowing once you have memorized the syntax and structure. As in, you only have to think about the behaviour of the model world you are constructing, not the layout and management of code and data objects.
        • by grikdog (697841)
          Strict ANSI C with the standard libraries works fine, although C++ may be a bit quicker. However, the narrative requirements of text adventure are so uncomplicated that even MFC adds nothing to the process, and little more than bulk to the final product. Remember that Crowther and Woods crafted their entire original game in FORTRAN, f'cryin' out loud. It takes longer to unpack EBCDIC from an array than it does to emulate an entire subterranean carousel.
          • Not all text adventures have narrative simplicity - the model that Inform 7 uses, with object types/inheritance allows you to build up a detailed "model world" with logical relationships easily, not just a progressive "if/then" scenario.
          • Inform implements a lot of rules for the behavior of things in the world that you'd have to implement and debug from scratch. That's not trivial, especially since many of these things are expected by players.

            Inform lets you focus on the story, and making sure that players can interact with the world in ways they expect. For instance, it makes it quick and easy to specify multiple ways of referring to an item. When it comes to game play, not having to play 'guess the noun/verb/adjective' is worth a lot more

            • by grikdog (697841)
              Goes without saying, of course, that a good programmer implements well, and an experienced C programmer thinks well. Why assume badly written C, just because the bagatelle at hand is trivial? It's still art, in its way. That's like assuming a piece of T'ang celadon (a pot, to you) is junk because it's hand-made and fired in an "inefficient" reducing atmosphere. Back to real life...
      • Yeah I just love allocating all my memory, and processing input one character at a time. C's so efficient I haven't used it since college.
  • by Mr_Silver (213637) on Saturday October 09, 2010 @06:17AM (#33844220)

    For those of you who want to read Slashdot on your Kindle, I've been told by a couple of people that AvantSlash [fourteenminutes.com] renders it reasonably well. One day the flaws in the mobile version of Slashcode will be addressed and we won't need to use something like this to read Slashdot on the go.

    As soon as I get my hands on a Kindle, then I'll make any updates to get it to look better but that won't be probably until after Christmas. Patches always welcome though.

    • by mrmeval (662166)

      Was banned for a bit, seems it's ok for now.
      http://www.derekville.net/2005/slashdot-bans-avantslash/ [derekville.net]

    • by mattack2 (1165421)

      Umm, slashdot works fine on my iPhone. I'm not trying to troll, but your sig says "Read Slashdot formatted correctly for your PDA or smartphone", and my smartphone already works fine with the regular slashdot. (I use "classic" layout, however.)

      • by Mr_Silver (213637)

        No offence taken. When AvantSlash was written the PDA version of the website was dire and rendered very poorly on mobile phones, hence why it was developed.

        Can you do me a favour? Try using this [statisticallyaverage.com] public version of AvantSlash on your iPhone for a week and afterwards let me know whether you think that it is a better experience to that of using the classic version.

        • by mattack2 (1165421)

          But again, I'm not using "the PDA version of the web site". I'm reading the FULL version of the web site on my phone. I just checked again, I'm not using the mobile version.

          • by Mr_Silver (213637)

            I understood exactly what configuration you were using the first time, I was just telling you the history of how the project started.

            I'd still be interested to see if you prefer browsing using the classic lite version of the site over the link I gave you. It may be that the experience is "good enough" not to need AvantSlash any more.

  • by CODiNE (27417) on Saturday October 09, 2010 @08:16AM (#33844482) Homepage

    "Now we go ZORK man!! Z O R K!! Wuddayagonnado?? Wudyagunndoooo???"

    Zork [apple.com]

    "Damn".

    • by Culture20 (968837)
      Frotz is available for iphone? I thought interpreters were a no-no. Apparently z-code is limited enough that it's okay?
      • by CODiNE (27417)

        There's also a Commodore emulator that has a BASIC interpreter.

        As I understand it, interpreters are allowed if the code is wholly contained in the app and it doesn't download code from elsewhere. This also allows game engines such as Unreal and Unity.

        • by mean pun (717227)

          As I understand it, interpreters are allowed if the code is wholly contained in the app and it doesn't download code from elsewhere. This also allows game engines such as Unreal and Unity.

          Correct. That's why Frotz for the iPhone at a certain moment removed the download option, but instead came with a raft-load of adventures pre-installed.

          As far as I know, the new rules that were introduced a few weeks ago would allow the download option again.

      • by avatar139 (918375) *

        Frotz is available for iphone? I thought interpreters were a no-no. Apparently z-code is limited enough that it's okay?

        Believe it!

        I'd never played Text adventures before as I'm afraid they were a bit before my time, but Frotz sounded interesting enough for me to give it a try (http://goo.gl/I3ja) so I started up and unlike a lot of the other applications I've purchased it has remained loaded on my iPhone for several years now as my game of choice when on the go!

        While I understand Amazon's reasoning for wanting to add to the amount of available content unless they offer the ability to load adventures from other sources

  • by SlothDead (1251206) on Saturday October 09, 2010 @08:25AM (#33844506)

    I still have hope that one day, one of the star authors (Stephen King, Ken Follett etc.) will write a "Choose your own Adventure" book, or a text adventure. I mean, the concept is so great, but all we get are "You are the hero fighting the evil wizard" style books.

    • by waferhead (557795)

      I still have hope that one day, one of the star authors (Stephen King, Ken Follett etc.) will write a "Choose your own Adventure" book, or a text adventure. I mean, the concept is so great, but all we get are "You are the hero fighting the evil wizard" style books.

      I agree, we totally need more "Evil Wizard kicks everyones ass and takes over the world" books/games ;-)

      (Love the idea of a King et. al. text adventure)

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      So you're ignorant of the great literary IF works, such as those by Emily Short. You really should check out the modern IF scene.
      The annual competition [ifcomp.org] is going on right now, and although there's a lot of crap, there's some gold in there too.

    • Re: (Score:1, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      I still have hope that one day, one of the star authors (Stephen King, Ken Follett etc.) will write a "Choose your own Adventure" book, or a text adventure. I mean, the concept is so great, but all we get are "You are the hero fighting the evil wizard" style books.

      Just take a look at the Interactive Fiction Archive. It's full of well written games. http://www.ifarchive.org
      Btw, Stephen King is really funny to read but not an extradinary writer by any means.

    • Although it's not quite the same, you might enjoy MS Paint Adventures [mspaintadventures.com], along with the fan adventures in the forum, and other similar things around the net. They've mostly given up on actual branching stories, but they're essentially CYOA stories drawn a panel at a time based on user input.

      If you have the time to read through it all, Problem Sleuth [mspaintadventures.com] is an excellent example, if not one of the best.

    • I'm not sure that'd turn out well. Stephen King or Follet would probably have a hard time adjusting to the very different medium, and would probably turn out something that is insufficiently game-like and too much of a railroad.

      It's a different medium, and a different approach is needed.

      The science fiction author Thomas Disch created a game for EA in 1986, "Amnesia [vintagegaming.org]". It suffered shortcomings as noted above.

      I do wonder what a younger, early-career writer might do. One who grew up with computers and games. A

    • "I mean, the concept is so great, but all we get are "You are the hero fighting the evil wizard" style books."

      Try 'Violet' by Jeremy Freese. [jayisgames.com]

      You're a grad student working on your dissertation, but have been stuck for months. You have only 1000 words left to write. Your Ausralian girlfriend Violet, who provide the narrative voice, has threatened to leave you if you don't finish today.

      It's a one-room game. The only 'evil wizard' you need to defeat is your own tendency to procrastinate.

  • by kyz (225372) on Saturday October 09, 2010 @11:10AM (#33845292) Homepage

    Zork is somewhat overrated; it's from a time when adventure games were a grab-bag of fantasy cliches and "zany" objects. The past two decades have been spent retconning it into something grander than it actually was.

    However, there's some amazing interactive fiction out there; atmospheric, tight writing. Totally immersive story. Brain-wrenching puzzles. It'd be great to read / play these on a Kindle. Some of my favourites:

    • Spider and Web by Andrew Plotkin [eblong.com] - possibly the most unreliable narrator ever. See how long it takes you to work out what's really happening.
    • Varicella by Adam Cadre [adamcadre.ac] - renaissance period intrigue.
    • Anchorhead by Michael S. Gentry [wikipedia.org] - Lovecraftian horror.
    • A Bear's Night Out by David Dyle [ifwiki.org] - adorable kid's story

    Other couple I like are A Day for Soft Food [tads.org] (have you ever wanted to roleplay as a cat?) and Trinity [wikipedia.org] (a mix of high fantasy and nuclear history)

    • by abigor (540274)

      Andrew Plotkin's stuff is great. Never played Spider and Web though, thanks for the recommendation.

    • "The past two decades have been spent retconning it into something grander than it actually was."

      I suppose so, but IMHO there's just something about the authorial voice and tone of Infocom's games.

    • Zork is somewhat overrated; it's from a time when adventure games were a grab-bag of fantasy cliches and "zany" objects. The past two decades have been spent retconning it into something grander than it actually was.

      I dunno about that...the Zork series was the first set of computer games I ever played (back on an old IBM PCJr, no less), and I had hours and hours (and hours more) of fun playing through them. For the time, they truly were excellent. I really don't think that they've been retconned into something grander than they were; they simply WERE grand, for their time.

      Trinity [wikipedia.org] (a mix of high fantasy and nuclear history)

      I loved Trinity, too, and one could make the argument that Trinity wouldn't have been possible without Zork.

  • Not Zork, surely. The only difficult passage I can remember is a push-block puzzle in the third part. And the IFArchive.org is chockablock with text games, most of them familiar on Mac or Kaypro or Osborne or even (*chak*) (*gag*) MS-Dos. The high water mark was not Zork, but a 770 pt. version of Crowther and Wood's Adventure, still available (and playable on this Dell Inspiron under Ubuntu using Frotz or Gargoyle.)

    Infocom's z-machine games, of which Zork is three, were so easily pirated and passed ar
    • Actually, it might be fun to see Amazon implement dunnet on the Kindle:

      Dead end
      You are at a dead end of a dirt road. The road goes to the east.
      In the distance you can see that it will eventually fork off. The
      trees here are very tall royal palms, and they are spaced equidistant
      from each other.
      There is a shovel here.
      >
    • by mattack2 (1165421)

      "resorted to extras"? Why do you claim that those were only done for piracy reasons?

  • Awww, just a portable Z-machine interpreter. I was hoping this was a new commercial publication channel for text adventures. You know, TextFire [archive.org] all over again?

    That said, text adventures are pretty fun on portable platforms. I used to play some text adventures on Frobnitz [sourceforge.net] (for PalmOS) back in the day, and it was awesome even without keyboard. Didn't really play it that much though...

    • Actually, there is an outfit trying to do this. They're calling themselves TextFyre, probably in a knowing reference to what you describe.

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

      I think they use their own system for IF, not a Z-Machine-compatible format, or TADS.

  • Legend of the Red Dragon FTW.

Bus error -- please leave by the rear door.

Working...