New game released!

This entry was posted by on Friday, 2 October, 2009 at

What did I do with my summer?

Answer: helped a friend write a new text adventure game. After extensive beta-testing on our friends, we’ve released it to the public this week and submitted it to the yearly Interactive Fiction Competition to compete against twenty-something other new games.

The whole experience was really fun. Jack normally writes brilliant D&D adventures, and bunches of us travel the country to gather once a year and play them for a day. This year Jack decided to write the adventure as a solo text-adventure concept. Emily Short has written quite a lot about methodologies for writing a text adventure, and Jack used the “transcript fully” method: he started the entire process by emailing me a complete script — that is, a hypothetical start-to-finish transcript of what the entire game would look like to somebody playing it. The plot and puzzles were fantastic, so I got excited and volunteered to help him code it.

Over the next few months, I did help with some coding, but I mostly played ‘product manager’ and ‘editor’ roles. Jack has huge ideas, and I helped him edit them down, sculpt the shape of the plot, sanity-check puzzles and assumptions, manage beta-testers. As my buddy Andre would say, “everybody needs a friend who can be an ass-filter.” I also forced us to use standard software engineering tools and discipline: a real bug tracker, version control, tagging, etc. (Writing interactive fiction is traditionally a solo sport, so I think the whole experience of applying traditional collaborative software-development processes was particularly interesting.) All of our collaboration took place (of course) on this Google Code Project. We’ve released the source to the public under a Creative Commons license; however, I don’t recommend you start reading through it until you’ve played the game first. Spoilers, you know. 🙂

To play the game:

If you’ve never played a text-adventure before, it takes a little while to get used to the paradigm and limited parser-syntax. The IFComp website has some great pointers which introduce the genre, but here are my nutshell tips:

  1. Always type commands in the imperative: “look at dog”, rather than “I want to look at the dog”. Your best bet is the form verb noun.
  2. Examine everything to get a better understanding of your surroundings and objects available to you (abbreviation is “x”, as in “x chair”)
  3. In this particular game, you can learn a lot of backstory by typing remember THING.
  4. If you’re stuck, try typing “help”.
  5. Save your game often (“save”), so you can resume progress whenever you wish (“restore”).

4 Comments to New game released!

  1. bittersweet.sage says:

    October 2nd, 2009 at 10:52 pm

    Oh you sneaky so-and-sos. (I would call you sneaky bastards, but I know your mothers, and they’re all good girls.)

  2. John Cowan says:

    October 15th, 2009 at 11:34 pm

    The current version of Gargoyle can’t run this .gblorb file; it says “This Glulx file is too new a version to execute”.

  3. Ben Collins-Sussman says:

    October 16th, 2009 at 10:11 am

    Please get a newer Gargoyle. It works perfectly for me on my own Gargoyle.

  4. 1st Place in the Interactive Fiction Competition @ iBanjo says:

    November 18th, 2009 at 11:33 am

    […] and I are giddy with glee, as our recently released text adventure just won 1st place in the 2009 Interactive Fiction Competition. As someone who’s been […]