CIRCA:Text Adventure


Revision as of 23:26, 11 January 2013 by SimeonBlimke (Talk | contribs)
(diff) ← Older revision | Current revision (diff) | Newer revision → (diff)
Jump to: navigation, search

CIRCA:Media Commons - a project of the Institute for the Future of the Book


What is a Text Adventure?

A Text Adventure is a type of nteractive fiction where the reader takes a more active role in the story besides just reading. A text adventure is a computer game based only on text where the player tells the computer what they want to do and the computer describes the results.


Text Adventures were among the first computer games invented and became a major hit in the 1080’s. One of the first Text Adventures written was ADVENTURE in 1972. ADVENTURE was created by Will Crowther and enhanced by Don Woods. It was written on PDP-10 which only had a six-bit character storage causing the file name to be ADVENT instead of Adventure. ADVENTURE is known as the father of text adventure and many text adventures can trace its lineage back to this game. In response to this game, some students at MIT thought that they could do better and developed Dungeon in 1977. After the creation of Dungeon, which they renamed to Zork, the students formed the company Infocom Inc., and began to explore game design for home computers. Infocom found that their game was too big for the memory. This problem was solved when they split the game among three disks.

In 1978 Scott Adams became a legend in the world of text adventure with his release of Adventureland, the first text adventure for the home computer. In Adventureland Scott performed amazing tricks in programming to get his game to fit in a small space.

Although they were a big hit in the 1980’s and many companies emerged, by the late 80’s they were phased out as new graphic games using more sophisticated sounds and animated graphics came along. Now, there is only a small fan based community who still create new text adventures on the internet. This community continues to play text adventure games not only for nostalgic reasons, but for the story itself: “there's a lot more to IF than fond memories of classic games on antique computers. Many of us see text-based interactive fiction as a uniquely expressive story-telling medium. To us, text is not the same as really lame graphics - it's an altogether different medium with altogether different capabilities, and it didn't become obsolete when graphical games came along any more than books became obsolete when television was invented.”


Zork Text Adventure

When you load up a text adventure there will be some introductory text describing the surrounding area. This text usually contains two parts; the location and a description of the surrounding area and items seen. In the description there may be some items that you can act on or you may have to come back to these items at a later time in the game to complete the action. In order to move around and complete actions the player must issue a command to the computer. Commands can be tricky since they are in a specific format that the computer can understand and you may or may not be able to perform that action. For example if you are in a forest and want to travel where there is no path the computer will respond with “You can’t go that way” or will tell you why the command cannot be executed. All of these commands are in the imperative and tell your player what to do. There are six types of commands: one-word actions; action and direct object; action, direct object and indirect object; order to another character; communicating with another character; and special commands.

  • One word actions are command like LOOK, JUMP and do not act on an object.
  • Action and direct object are command that act on something such as TAKE BOOK, OPEN DOOR
  • Action, direct object and indirect object are commands that act on two things such as ATTACK TROLL WITH SWORD
  • In an order to another character you can tell other characters to do something such as BOB, GIVE ME THE BOTTLE.
  • Communicating with another character is similar to the third example where you can ask, tell or show other characters something. TELL BOB ABOUT THE TROLL.
  • Special commands do something outside of the game such as SAVE, which saves the game, and RESTORE, which restores the game to a previous point.

Common Commands

This is a list of some of the more common commands used in text adventures. There are many more commands available.

  • Go (north, east, south, west, up, down)
  • Take (item)
  • Drop (item)
  • Examine (location, item)
  • Read (item)
  • Look (item, or can be used alone)
  • Attack (with item)
  • Enter (location)
  • Inventory
  • Open/close (item)

Links to games - Infocom games – Super Mario


Personal tools