Text adventure games are still new
Alex Warren is the creator of the Quest text adventure game system, a free and open source authoring tool for text adventures. You don’t need any programming experience to get started with it, and it can run entirely in a web browser so you don’t even need to download anything. The system is open and hackable, with a core library written in Quest itself which defines the default behaviour – so you can change fundamental things about how the system works, even without going into the source code. Tablets and smartphones are the natural home for interactive fiction – and it’s only in the last few years that these devices are in everybody’s pockets. People are used to taking their phone out of their pockets to play with something for a few minutes, and text adventures can perfectly fill that need. Apps can bring text adventures where they belong – in front of people who want to read, wherever they are.
Quest is built upon web technologies, so games can run anywhere, or be packaged with Phonegap and be turned into offline apps. Hyperlinks mean that “guess the verb” is a thing of the past – if you want to, that is, because authors can disable hyperlinks if they choose.
And HTML5 opens up a lot of possibilities for experimenting… What about other technologies and APIs we could get a game to tap into? How could we use geolocation within a game? The ability for players to take photos and record sounds? How can we have players interacting over the internet?
There is so much unexplored potential for text-based games. With new devices and technologies, we are really only just getting started. I think we need a new generation of authors to come along, unhindered by 1980s expectations of what a text adventure should look like, and in the spirit of sheer ignorance, create games that will excite and inspire us all.