Text adventures - be honest now

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  • hulahoops 28 Sep 2004 20:42:46 2,311 posts
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    Perhaps with a decent interface and writer, someone could make a really great one.
  • quantumsheep 28 Sep 2004 20:50:34 3,127 posts
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    Otto,
    I think that we loved text adventures mainly because we had to fill in the blanks imho.

    Without the huge graphical power of todays machines, they really required a lot of imagination. And we could imagine far greater things than what was available on the screen.

    I think the blinking cursor waiting for you to type something is a huge contributing factor. True, most input needed to be very specific, but the fact that there's an empty space there that you fill in with your words, your imagination was quite staggering. Made it feel quite open ended.
    I remember when I typed 'say yoho' on a hunch in Adventure Island on the Vic 20 and being staggered to be transported to a new location.

    I was a huge fan of text adventures back in the day, tried to write a few on the Speccy using an adventure writer (can't remember what it was - probably PAW I think) and went back to the genre when writing my mobile phone games.
  • Nuttah 28 Sep 2004 20:52:27 1,840 posts
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    Played quite a few text adventures in my time, the hardest being THGTTG, which conisted of me not getting pass the bulldozer (second or was it third room/scene). However that was when I was around 8 years old or so. I tried the game again recently and got much much further (about 5 or 6 scenes later trying to get the babel fish out).

    My favourite adventure ish game was actually Rogue (ok ok it wasnt text but it was ascii!). I spent hours moving my @ sign around tiny rooms in search or treasure's and killing multiple S, K, R, (pretty much every letter was an enemy i believe). Now that was an adventure.

    Zork however, I never played (or its precurser), considering I was about 3 or 4 at the time it was released.

    oh and i'm firmly on the side of " these games were great!" side, never to be swayed.

    edit: missed a T out of the acroynm, the shame!

    Edited by Nuttah at 19:53:58 28-09-2004
  • quantumsheep 28 Sep 2004 20:55:57 3,127 posts
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    I finished a few, the Hobbit being my fave mainly due to some graphics and the characters which at the time seemed to be quite real. Though Thorin sitting down and singing about gold got a little old after several hours!

    It also encouraged me to read the book, if only to glean some insight into what I had to do :)
  • mal 28 Sep 2004 20:56:25 22,727 posts
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    The text recognition has always been a bit ropey. Even when they made 'massive' advances in the 90s, you could still only do basic stuff.

    Still, as good as Zork et al were, I think then variety has increased greatly while possibly even improving on the writing. I enjoyed BSE and was only stumpted by the inclusion of a maze. Both Christmister and Curses started off very promisingly, but I got bored. Still, judging by the reviews on that site, it might be worth persevering, possibly with the help of a solution!

    Cubby didn't know how to turn off sigs!

  • Nuttah 28 Sep 2004 21:02:42 1,840 posts
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    rhythm wrote:
    I loved text adventures to bits and I also loved "choose your own adventure" and "fighting fantasy" books too. For me it was a superb amalgamation of reading and gaming.

    That said, I don't miss them one little bit.

    I was such a severe cheater in those fighting fantasy books (ian livingstone no?). I had a about 5 including the fabulous "Deathtrap Dungeon". I dont think I did any properly.
  • quantumsheep 28 Sep 2004 21:11:59 3,127 posts
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    ditto Nuttah :)
  • sunjumper 28 Sep 2004 21:33:28 3,205 posts
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    Oh come on, there where some really great text adventures out there. I loved the Lurking Horror to bits, many of the old Infocom adventures where great when Planet Fall and Stationfall where great. One of these days I will have to play A Mind Forever Voyaging, but everyone seems to think that it is classic.

    I have played a contemporary text adventure named Gourment a couple of weeks ago and it was most amusing. (OK I also ad a walkthrough, I am not the patient type...) and there is another one named SLouching Towards Bedlam that seem rather promising...


    Here have a look at this page:here
    and here
  • sam_spade 28 Sep 2004 22:52:01 15,745 posts
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    Otto, you should download Zoom for your Mac and pop off to the if-archive. There's some really interesting and atmospheric stuff being written today.

    I think I said I played Anchorage, a HP Lovecraft inspired game, and it was really good. Also, I think you'll find that text adventures are the only games where you get to have a bit of smutty fun.

    When I was a lad and on my Amiga I used to love those text adventures but I think Deja Vu was really the time that I jumped off ship for more graphical delights.

    I still haven't found any of the Magnetic Scrolls games. I'd like to give those a go again.
  • Machiavel 28 Sep 2004 22:55:49 5,964 posts
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    Big Infocom fan - taught me to type (if there was a speed record for typing "Attack troll with the sword"...) improved my obscure vocabulary and thoroughly entertained me.

    Enchanter was perhaps my favourite: superb atmosphere, great jokes. I still remember that Zork-inspired Adventurer you summon wandering around, sprouting in-jokes, just generally being inspired. And that deathtrap room with a purple lettered sign hovering in mid air: "Fat Chance."

    Leather Goddesses was sniggeringly good; Lurking Horror was fun; Zork remains an inspired classic (especially after discovering its riches after the Scott Adams "Hyperventilate" series).

    And that altered time puzzle in Sorcerer...

    /wallows in teary-eyed nostalgia of days long past
  • Machiavel 28 Sep 2004 22:58:03 5,964 posts
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    Ooh - the "present a paradox" puzzle in Hitchiker's Guide. Deserves it's own mention.

    /takes no tea.
  • salamando 28 Sep 2004 23:23:04 215 posts
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    Ahhh text adventures, you can't really compare them with modern games and expect to reach a conclusion, I'd say they're as different when it comes to the medium they use as books are to movies. For someone to complain they're not much fun to _play_ is akin to picking up a book and wondering why it doesn't have surround sound.

    Yes, the text parser mostly sucked and the majority of them didn't hold a candle to either books or later games when it came down to plot progression and entertainment value, but to put them all in the same basket might be a bit harsh.

    I can't be accused of being nostalgic because by the time the original zork came out I was a few months old at best, but I did play them all when I was old enough to know better, and at the expense of flashier games that were around at the time. And you mostly have fun as long as you don't forget not to set your expectations too high.

    To me, the finest example of a text adventure is Deadline, and that one, I can say for sure, does match a good book.

    In the end I don't think they're either overrated or underrated, they're just.. different.
  • malloc 28 Sep 2004 23:31:13 2,361 posts
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    Text adventures were more like reading, than playing I'd say. So probably if you like reading then you'd like TA's.

    I kinda liked them, remember playing on a Commodore 16 I think it was that my Dad bought home from work and playing as a pirate collecting dabloons and getting in fights with other pirates, great stuff.

    Some though just got too large and too difficult. You would have to go north about 7 or 8 times before you got anywhere, and chances of trying to keep a mental picture were slim. Also interacting with your inventory I could never master, ever. I would walk around and be told that I'm hungry, and I would type 'i' for inventory and notice I had some bread. So I'd type 'eat bread' = 'don't understand', ok I thought, 'eat bread', no luck. I'd move on, and eventually starve to death cos I didn't know how to eat some bread in my satchel. The actual command was generally something silly like 'swallow thy food mercifully' or whatever. Aslong as TA's didn't go too in depth then you were OK.

    As a laugh me and a mate decided to make our own in QBasic, a bit of a piss-take of school life, pretty good it was too.

    For me though, adventure/RPG's reached their prime when they graduated to graphics, like Day of the Tentacle, Sam and Max, Full Throttle, Monkey Island etc. Point and click with graphics, also it helped that LucasArts were great at those types of games. Shame they aren't really around much more these days as I really think that they were great fun and I'd spend hours on them, certainly more than I've spent on the majority of games I've got in the last 5 years or so.
  • Retroid Moderator 29 Sep 2004 01:07:52 45,097 posts
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    malloc wrote:
    I kinda liked them, remember playing on a Commodore 16 I think it was that my Dad bought home from work and playing as a pirate collecting dabloons and getting in fights with other pirates, great stuff.
    /Speechless

    I REMEMBER THAT!

    I also had another C16 text adventure called, I think, Jerusalem. Never got very far with that one but liked it.

    Atmospheric slight-of-hand hid a lot of the limitations of the day (especially with 16K of RAM...!) and yes, teh parsers were frequently crap, but I used to love them.

    One of the Z-machine (Infocom's script language) interpreters has been ported to a hell of a lot of machines ranging from PPC/HPCs and even the Dreamcast so there's a lot of ways to enjoy both old and new.

    /Has meant to get around to playing some of the highly-rated new IFs that've been written.

    Oh, and the HHGTTG adventure was an utter twat, by far the hardest I've ever played.
  • Marcus 29 Sep 2004 01:18:11 1,646 posts
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    Retroid wrote:
    Oh, and the HHGTTG adventure was an utter twat, by far the hardest I've ever played.
    Too true... don't forget your towel ;o)
  • sam_spade 29 Sep 2004 08:46:56 15,745 posts
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    otto wrote:
    I fully agree that the whole interactive text element of it all was tremendously exciting and stimulating to the imagination, but at the end of the day you realised you were simply trying to find the right trigger to take you further down a decision tree which consisted of a few slightly differently drafted paragraphs.

    Well isn't that what the point-n-click games were about? All you had was a series of verbs that you had to click on and then click on a picture. And then you had to find the right point in the picture to click the right verb on to allow you to look at a different picture.
  • Clive_Dunn 29 Sep 2004 10:06:45 4,782 posts
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    I was a huge fan of those old Scott Adams text adventures in the late 70's, early 80's. I think they worked because the graphics at the time where so poor that imagination was a much more powerful tool. In fact when I started thinking back to some of those old games I can almost smell "the musty old room" at the start of some long forgotten game.

    I think they were products of their time though, in a day where you can have photo realistic graphics I think things need to be more immediate now. Text adventures would just bore 90% of people.

    A shame really, another long lost tradition with little hope of revival. I fondly remember those old Fighting Fantasy / Choose you own adventure books. Best of the bunch was the Avenger series imo.
  • Decoded 29 Sep 2004 10:30:26 4,426 posts
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    The closest thing to "choose your own adventure" stories are Japanese bishojo anime games, like this and this. They consist of still images and complex branching plots through choosing different options. Sales indicate they are of little interest to most people, even anime fans.

    Edited by Decoded at 09:32:12 29-09-2004
  • warlockuk 29 Sep 2004 10:34:03 19,197 posts
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    Machiavel wrote:
    Big Infocom fan - taught me to type (if there was a speed record for typing "Attack troll with the sword"...) improved my obscure vocabulary and thoroughly entertained me.
    *snip*
    /wallows in teary-eyed nostalgia of days long past

    Seconded! They did some great stuff when I was a kid.
    Who was it who did "Bored of the Rings"? That game was very... wrong.

    Gah, now I'm getting flashbacks of coding text adventures at 8 or 9 and later using GAK... *shudders*

    I'm a grumpy bastard.

  • Phreedh 29 Sep 2004 10:39:57 683 posts
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    I played a bunch of text adventures on my speccy, especially Twin Kingdom Valley... ok, it had graphics too but those were just illustrations. =) My mom grew tired of all my stupid questions such as "What's a cuddly sheep?" and got me a big fat swedish/english/swedish dictionary for my 11th birthday. Still have it, and I still think of my old Spectrum whenever I see it. =)

    Can't remember wether I bought The Hobbit for the spectrum or my c128. Played that one really far. But yeah, text adventures were da shiznit back then.

    On the amiga I played alot of different Infocom adventures and eventually I bought the "Lost treasures of Infocom" collector's box. Big mistake. You don't really need 25 or so different high class text adventures... it means you won't finish any of them.

    The magnetic scrolls games were great too. The Pawn was the one I played the most... cause that's the only one I had bought.

    You guys remember the rather gory horror adventures starring Frankenstein's monster, some werewolf guy etc?
  • Ginger 29 Sep 2004 10:59:28 6,879 posts
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    I posted this in the hitchhikers guide thread, but figured it was good enough to point it out again in this thread, since it's exceptionally pertinent

    I played it as a kid and remember it being an absolute nightmare. Halfway through, something oyu didn't do at the start would cause utter, pointless death.

    I loved it :)

    London open taekwondo champion

  • kalel 29 Sep 2004 11:09:19 88,511 posts
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    Anybody remember Gnome Ranger and Ingrid's back? The latter is still one of my most fondly remebered games.
  • MetalDog 29 Sep 2004 11:45:47 23,778 posts
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    Phreedh wrote:
    You guys remember the rather gory horror adventures starring Frankenstein's monster, some werewolf guy etc?

    (Metaldog in 'remembers horror related thing shocker')

    Yes, I had those =) I spent bloody /ages/ trying not to eat the guy crossing the bridge. It took me forever to realise that 'close eyes' was all I had to do to master the urge to chew his guts out.

    Who was the guy who did those... they were all sold as 'so and so's Dracula etc. He was like the bastard child of Sid Meier and Stephen King or something. Ron... Rod... something.

    Otto: I kind of agree with you. The syntax thing was always what made them a pain, but Level 9 did a fairly decent job with theirs. The potential was always the draw of the things =) Probably why I still MUSH, which is like multiplayer text adventuring on acid.

    Harry: Don't underestimate the Eurogamers ;) Haven't read all 20 mind, I find the Diana stuff too depressing at the moment to continue.

    -- boobs do nothing for me, I want moustaches and chest hair.

  • krudster 29 Sep 2004 11:49:18 597 posts
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    Otto, I agree with you up to a point, but I played dozens of the bloody things and finished loads of them. My favs being the likes of Dracula, The Hobbit (needed a tips book for that one, bloody Gollum maze), Kentilla, some Level 9 classics like Red Moon, and even The Rats, which I've just re-bought off ebay. I count stuff like Alter Ego in there too. Top stuff. Some absolute shite too, but that's to be expected.

    I think the idea was just beginning to mature when everyone went point and click. I imagine these days they could do some very sophisticated parsers. I found some of the narrative styles excellent - something you just can't get from modern videogames. It was, to me, a great way of combining the vividness you get with a book with the interactivity of a game. I personally loved them.
  • Tiger_Walts 29 Sep 2004 11:59:30 16,607 posts
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    Instant Deaths: Suck
    Time/Turn Limited events leading to Instant Death: Suck
    Obscure Puzzles that lead to Instant Death if you fail: Suck
    Parsers that use up one turn even if the command is not recognised: Suck

    Give me a text adventure that doesn't do any of that and I'll be happy.

    Hmm, maybe I could write a multiple path adventure. Get a puzzle wrong or don't react quickly and you'll get a different story. A lot like Mr Livingstone's books.

    IT Monkey and StickyPiston Minecraft Hosting Support

  • eviltobz  29 Sep 2004 12:56:01 2,609 posts
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    i never enjoyed text andventures, and quickly got turned off from those that i tried. as people have mentioned it was all about the text parser, i just found it abundantly obvious that i had to guess what the correct way to type something in would be to progress so found it to be more of a chore than an entertainment experience. tried giving zork a go a year or two back and still flet the same.

    that's probably one of the things that made the lucasarts adventures so enjoyable. having your verbs and inventory meant that you only had to focus on the puzzle and not hope you've got the answer to a puzzle whilst you spend a couple of hours typing in different permutations of the same words until something works. as otto was saying though, a totally modern engine which maps things out with you, has a huge vocabulary to cope with all kinds of ways of expressing the same actions and stuff could be pretty interesting. i'd like to see some sort of palette similar to the old lucasarts stuff as well to let you know what options you have available.

    and pretty much everything that tiger said.
  • ssuellid 29 Sep 2004 15:03:01 19,141 posts
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    Saw this the other day which made me giggle. Its a 404 error page in a text adventure style: -

    http://www.thesistersofmercy.com/error404page.html

    Might only be funny to those that have heard of the band or know what Andrew Eldritch dresses like.
  • lost_soul 29 Sep 2004 15:08:57 9,369 posts
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    Ah the Sisters, will they ever release that album?
  • krudster 29 Sep 2004 15:13:37 597 posts
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    MetalDog: Rod Pike was his name. He did Dracula, Frankenstein and Wolfman. After that I've no idea... Published by the often terrible CRL, and sold with age ratings - possibly the first ever IIRC...

  • mal 29 Sep 2004 15:33:58 22,727 posts
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    krudster wrote:
    I think the idea was just beginning to mature when everyone went point and click. I imagine these days they could do some very sophisticated parsers.
    Did you see my earlier post? Since the days of the great text adventure houses, Graham Nelson wrote the Inform system which writes out infocom games. Those three games I linked to are all Inform games which use an improved parser.

    That said, the parsers are all still relatively primitive, only really handling compound sentences well. They do now tend to have a hell of a lot of synonyms in them though, which was always the main bug-bear of playing these games for me.

    Cubby didn't know how to turn off sigs!

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