Tuesday, May 13, 2014

I miss text adventure games

One game genre that I loved back in the 80's was the text adventure. Sadly, this kind of game is basically completely dead, and nobody makes them anymore, which is a real pity. I miss those games so much.

Yes, I know perfectly well about so-called "interactive fiction" games, which are being done by hobbyists to this day. While they are close (they are text-based, and all input is done by writing commands like "go north" or "take apple"), these are not, however, the kind of text adventure I'm talking about.

No, I'm talking about graphical text adventures. Most typically the upper half of the screen is a picture of the place, and the lower half is dedicated to text. Every room has its own picture, and the graphics are not purely decorative, but actually convey information and can change. For example, there may be a tree in the picture, which is not mentioned in the default textual description of the room. You could then write "examine tree" and the game would give a description of the tree. There might be an apple on the tree (again, which might not have been described in the default room description text), and if you "take apple", it will disappear from the picture. If there's a door in the picture and you open it, the picture will change to have the door opened. And so on and so forth.

In many cases solving a puzzle actually involved examining the room's picture, so it was an integral part of the gameplay. Even when the picture was mostly just decorative, it still gave a sense of immersion. I do not get the same feeling from purely text-based "interactive fiction" games.

One could say that there's somewhat of an overlap with point-and-click games, except that the game is played from a "first-person perspective" (of sorts, given that each picture of each room is quite static) and all commands are inputted by writing text rather than the mouse. There was a charm to it that I miss.

This is not a kind of game that sells nowadays, however, as the average gamer has the attention span of a goldfish. Also, making a full-blown graphical text adventure requires too much work for hobbyists to bother (since it's so much easier to make just purely text-based games). There might be some fully-graphical text adventure out there, but I haven't found any.

Man, I miss them. Thinking about them makes me nostalgic.

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