The magic of text adventure games

I have always adored interactive fiction (IF), at least in its fantasy form.  The vast MUDs of days before computer graphics always intrigued me.  One that caught my eye was Avalon.  I think it is always the sense of unending possibility that I love the most.  Your imagination always fills in the blanks, and there is always so much to explore.  The rich descriptions of places and things provide so much more for the mind to work on.  Somehow it always seems more real than the most lavish computer graphics today.

I guess what put me off the most about IF was the constant issue of getting lost in areas and the illusion busting interface of going cardinal geographic directions, north, south, east, west.  This doesn’t work well at all in outdoor areas.  I think there have been advances to doing this like providing more information in a map format or at least selecting from a more descriptive list of exits.  I also can’t get past the text parser as input, but that is just me.  I do think that there are some more innovative and user friendly ways to achieve the same thing and I don’t think there is such a need to always hide what you can do and interact with.  The reader will enjoy exploring and altering the experience just by making choices.  I am sure there is a way to hint or lead the reader to these choices without making them guess at what the author intended through a clunky text parser.

Regardless of these interface issues, IF is something that is great because it relies on your imagination.  I am hoping to capture some of this in AOS through textual descriptions of things and places.  I want to bring some of the richness and mood to the settings that only good prose can provide.  My struggle will be to not go too far with it such that it becomes cumbersome or boring.  I guess we will see how it turns out when I get further along.

Upon reminiscing about IF, I discovered and purchased the GET LAMP documentary by Jason Scott a few months ago.  I highly recommend it and thank all those IF loving donors who provided the seed money for it, and Jason for making such a great documentary.

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