Curious firsts from 1970s text adventures

Renga in Blue is a deep-divin' blog about old text adventures. Author Jason Dyer writes up his thoughts on adventure games from the 1970s, having completed all of them.

curious firsts:

– First defined player character: Aldebaran III– First use of choice-based interaction in a parser game: Stuga– First dynamic compass interface: Spelunker– First dynamic puzzle generation: Mines– First free-text conversation in an adventure context: Local Call for Death– First adventure game comedy: Mystery Fun House

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You can play the Hitchhiker's Guide game right now

Yesterday, March 11, was Douglas Adams' birthday. Did you know you can celebrate by playing the 1984 Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy game in your browser at work this instant?

Although games made with a text parser -- you know, where you type commands like TURN ON LIGHT or LOOK IN POCKET or S to travel "south" through described space -- are increasingly a lost art, the Hitchhiker's Guide game, made by Adams and Infocom's Steve Meretzky, was radically accessible for its time. The game playfully teaches you how to succeed at its opening circumstance by letting you die repeatedly in ways that quickly acclimate you to its sense of time, space, and humor.

The frustrating thing (or the beautiful thing, if you're like me) about old text games is the limitations of what they can understand. But the Hitchhiker's Guide game was downright literary for its time, empathetic to uncommon commands, skilled at understanding what the player wanted to do. It holds up well even today.

Give it a try. Maybe help each other out in the comments?

You can also emulate it a little more neatly with help from this crucial abandonware repository and an emulator like DOXBox or similar. Read the rest

Interactive fiction revival?

Interactive fiction is a thriving genre, but its commercial heyday is long gone. Here's Leigh Alexander on how Kickstarter could usher in text adventures' long-overdue renaissance: "There's more than just nostalgia contributing to a potential revival for interactive stories. A broader gaming audience means appetites for game forms we might have once called "casual" in another time -- and furthermore, the popularity of tablets and e-readers means there's a real appetite for game forms that take advantage of a culture now habituated to reading on luminous screens in ways prior generations were widely not. [Gamasutra] Read the rest