Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Text-only adventures:

Do you remember Zork? Once upon a time MOST computer games were text-only games. You typed a command, the computer made a text response, and so on. A recent note at Slashdot explains that this genre still lives. The item begins "You are at the edge of a clearing with an impressive view of the mountains. A trail splits off toward some standing stones to the southwest, while the main road emerges from the forest to the east and continues westward down the hill, via a series of switchbacks." Slashdot's text suggests there are some diehards keeping an old, outdated thing going, but I found something quite different. I looked into some current text games, primarily because:
  • I figured they must (as ever) be easy to learn to play.
  • I've aways thought of this type of game as 'worksafe", easy to hide on your computer screen. Not that I would ever do such a thing.
Well I got a bit of a shock. The devotees of text-only games have been evolving the genre. There are several fancy engines that operate these games for you, and they look fairly snazzy onscreen, with quite a bit of graphic content. They almost look like computer games! Then I started reading the notes to one of these games, in which the author explained he had added some custom verbs, such as the ability to tell your character to 'think' in case your character knows more about a situation than you do. I looked at the overall interface and realized that text-only adventures have even stepped gingerly into the realm of computer games with steep learning curves! (But I would like to try one of these games if I ever have time.)
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