Speaking of text adventures…

This entry was posted by on Thursday, 6 September, 2007 at

Back in my prior post, I was advertising a new text adventure I wrote for a contest. Wow, what a learning experience that was. My original goal was to learn the Inform programming language in a week, which was accomplished. But despite five friends beta-testing the game over a day or two, the game ended up being way too frustrating for most other players and judges.

Moral of the story? Learning the language doesn’t make you a good game designer, not any more than learning to chop vegetables makes you a good cook. I made all the classic newbie mistakes that first time text-adventure writers make. I’m busy working to clean them up and make the game more playable. I’ll do a new release at some point!

Text adventures really have gotten a bad rap among most gamers, though. It’s not really about “oh noes, where are my graphics?” — rather, it’s that most people aren’t aware of what the parser can and cannot understand. People who write (or play) the games have got the whole vocabulary ingrained, but not the general public. My friend Chris has a nice portrayal of his experience with text adventures:

The terrifying monster runs toward you!


What do you want to shoot the gun at?


What about the monster?


I'm sorry, I didn't understand you.
The monster is getting closer!


What did you want to shoot the monster with?


What do you want to do with the gun?


With a quick swoop, the monster scoops you up in his jaws.
*You have died*
Too bad, you should have shot the monster with your gun!

One Response to “Speaking of text adventures…”

  1. eric h

    writing an IRC bot — which I’m doing (and you should be grateful that I haven’t unleashed it on #svn) — is similar.