I don’t remember any dead ends in Zork. There might have been, but my instinct is to say that isn’t possible. However, there is a game score, and I believe it’s possible to finish the game without getting the maximum score. You can die, however, there are many ways to accomplish that. Infocom did some pretty amazing testing on their games, and they are well made. The parser improved over time though. I think my favorite Zork was Zork III, or maybe the throwback mini-adventure they made called Zork: The Undiscovered Underground. But you really have to play them in order, there are a lot of humorous references which only make sense when you have played the previous games.
I got that one, and was very excited about it. But the text adventure component, while fun at first, and with a little bit of an “AI” feel to it, wasn’t as good as I was hoping for. It’s a first person 3D adventure, with the text portion being your interaction with a sentient computer, revealing more and more of the story as you go along (I think you start out not really remembering how you got there…)
As I write this, I am thinking about checking it out again, maybe I didn’t give it enough of a chance.
I didn’t know of Thaumistry, unfortunately. I’ve seen that they even had an interesting Kickstarter stretch goal that wasn’t reached: a soundtrack by Chris Huelsback, which I would have loved to listen to.
I have perceived Event more as an exploration game in a 3D world, where the interactions with the text terminal are limited. But I might be wrong about that.
Can anyone suggest a very short interactive fiction? I would like to test some of them but without investing a lot of time.
Well for starters there is this site where you can try out all the classics like Colossal Cave Adventure or Zork for free:
Then there is Tin Man Games who specialise in digital remakes of the classic Steve Jackson Games playbooks like Forest Of Doom or Caverns Of The Snow Witch
And if you´re looking for something REALLY short but fun. You might as well check out this:
I was tempted to link one of those sites in my first post but it turns out that several of those games are not in the public domain. There is still a copyright on them and a few of them are still sold (even on GOG and Steam).
Thanks! I’ll have a look at them for sure.
They are both free, fairly short, and some of the best I’ve played. You will need to download a Z-code interpreter client, like Glulx, or Gargoyle, to play them. (or I think there’s an online player on the pages for these games, though I tend not to like those).
I’ve read that Spellbreaker is one of the best.
I didn’t know! I didn’t even know about TWP at 2-3 months from the release
I suspect text adventures would be more popular if they worked with clicks instead of forcing the user to type. After all, there are a lot of people who read novels. So, people have no problems reading. But they have problems typing. It seems to me a very naive assumption, that whoever is willing to read is also willing to type.
It’s too bad that the only ones who, to my knowledge, tried to do clickable text adventures (i.e. Legend) chose a UI where you need to click the verb first, which is so uncomfortable that it defeats the purpose.
Am I the only one who likes the typing part?
Maybe it’s because my first experience of adventure gaming was Space Quest (which I loved - sorry Ron). I think I liked the freedom of trying whatever I wanted, regardless of whether it worked.
I’d buy and play a modern adventure game if it took my fancy. I played Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy last year and enjoyed that. It’s tricky keeping track of progress without the visual memories but on the other hand it’s fun using imagination.
I liked text adv games before MM. But now… no, I’m not a fan.
Hehe, I also love Space Quest, but that’s because it was one of the first games I played.
I enjoyed playing with the text parser, but I will admit that when Space Quest IV came out with a point-and-click interface, I never looked back!* I really enjoy the icon interface in Leisure Suit Larry and the later Space Quests best.
(* Actually, it’s not quite true that I never looked back. I play all Space Quests once in a while. I just like the icon UI in the later ones more.)
And just to be sure, as much as I am a fan of Sierra games, I can’t help but feel that they would be even better had they been designed by LucasFilms. I don’t like the insta-deaths, illogical puzzles, and save-restore mechanics.
I have no doubt that simplifying the interface would make textual adventures a bit more popular but I still think that they would remain a niche genre. One of the reasons is that images will always be processed by the human brain more easily (and faster) than texts.
I like to type stuff and text adventures have a special charm for me.
I think that the process could be enriched (and simplified) by drawing objects, maps and hints on paper.
This applies to novels too, so it can’t be all the story… What do you think are the other reasons?
It does not apply in the same way or at the same level. Books are not interactive, and the defining characteristic of interactive fiction is not reading, but interactivity.
Throughout the history of adventure games and interactive fiction, it appears that the genre has always been of interest to a niche audience. It’s just that during the formative years of personal computing, there was a strong intersection between computer users and early adopters and those who enjoy reading, know how to type, and are keen to explore interactive fiction as a new genre.
As the world of computing expanded and reached the mainstream, that alignment became less and less pronounced, and the limitations of the genre’s reach became more and more obvious.
Take a look at the Digital Antiquarian for an in-depth exploration on the subject.
I would focus on the specific audience: gamers. Maybe they prefer images to text.
Generally, reading text does require more energy and people prefer to do other things:
Daily average time spent reading in US in weekends and holidays: 0.35 hours
Daily average time spent watching TV in US in weekends and holidays: 3.29 hours
Confession: This is my first graphical adventure game, at the age of 42. I’ve played a lot of text adventures, and sometimes still do. I actually found out about Thimbleweed Park from a podcast dedicated to Infocom games (Eaten by a Grue).
Though I don’t have time to follow it closely, I think the state of the art in modern IF is amazing, and shows no real sign of dying off.
This is very interesting. Which IF characteristics make this genre your favourite kind of adventure games? How does it compare to a graphical adventure game, from your point of view?
(this is the first time that I have to specify “graphical” when referring to an adventure game )
The problem is you don’t always know that you’ll need to come back to something, and I wouldn’t enjoy it I had to draw absolutely everything just in case. It’s a bit easier to recall visual things, and easier to go back than trawling through text. But I guess they’re designed a bit differently for that reason.