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Infocom Text Adventures

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I just read an article on Infocom. They rocked in the early days of adventure games. I bought them for the C128 in the day and loved them.

If this company could be resurrected today, what would their games look like? Could text only games sell well at all today?

And above all,  do you have. Favorite a info on game? Mine is Beyond Zork.

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I have never played an Infocom game or really gotten into a 100% text adventure game. The closest thing would be games like Gateway and similar offerings from Legend. Been wanting to try A Mind Forever Voyaging for ages though. Is that a good one to start with? Can you recommend others (that are easily gettable)?

Thanks!

     

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A Mind Forever Voyaging Is a good choice. So is The Lurking Horror. I would say, you are in for a treat, these games are so much fun. Also consider Beyond Zork too.

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Adv_Lvr - 06 March 2021 05:43 PM

If this company could be resurrected today, what would their games look like? Could text only games sell well at all today?

I think they could. Pixel games looking like they’re from the 80s still sell - Papers Please, RPGs and roguelikes, Wadjet Eye games. They’d have to innovate of course, but that’s no barrier - there’s really enormous room for innovation in IF, as evidenced by all the great freeware that’s come out since the 90s.

Which leaves another question - why do you want them to sell? They’re doing just fine driven by passion, and I don’t see the $$ incentive improving anything in terms of quality.

 

     
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Baron_Blubba - 06 March 2021 09:54 PM

I have never played an Infocom game or really gotten into a 100% text adventure game. The closest thing would be games like Gateway and similar offerings from Legend. Been wanting to try A Mind Forever Voyaging for ages though. Is that a good one to start with? Can you recommend others (that are easily gettable)?

Maybe not the greatest games ever, but all Dorothy Millard games are freeware now. She is also famous for writing walkthroughs for hundreds of text adventures.

http://members.optusnet.com.au/dorothyirene1/adv.html

I recently (as in within last six months) played The Million Dollar Great Jewel Heist, and puzzles in the game are relatively logical and you can’t die in the game.
(There is some information that you could get stuck in ZX Spectrum because of a bug, I don’t if that’s true. There are also a couple of potential dead-end situations.)

So perhaps that could serve as a nice introduction to the subgenre - legally available, not too difficult, more than one ways to finish it, the fastest route actually takes very little effort. And there are many walkthroughs for the game, including one by the developer.

I have also written my own walkthrough for the game, which is actually even more complete than that of the developer, because it has floor maps to help navigating in the game.

I also wrote a review of the game, in case you want to learn more about that. I was/am planning to write about other text adventures too, but for the past few months I didn’t find time for that.

Luhr28 - 07 March 2021 05:45 AM

Which leaves another question - why do you want them to sell? They’re doing just fine driven by passion, and I don’t see the $$ incentive improving anything in terms of quality.

That depends on how you want to spend the money. If you put some serious language technology behind the game, you could have multiple ways of expressing what you want, not just few selected key words and synonyms chosen by the developer.
Basically an ideal parser would be like a reversed Turing test. Whatever you type in, the computer understands. Developing something like that takes years and lots of money. I don’t see much commercial potential for that in text-only games, of course if it’s a module that can be attached to any kind of game, like some artificial physics modules, it could work then perhaps.

But if you spend more money, and choose wisely how to spend it, that would produce better adventures, even if it’s text adventures.

     
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Adv_Lvr - 06 March 2021 05:43 PM

Could text only games sell well at all today?

No. It’s been tried. Fairly recent examples: Hadean Lands by Andrew Plotkin, who is a big name in the Interactive Fiction community, and Thaumistry: In Charm’s Way by Bob Bates, who made great games for Infocom and Legend Entertainment. Both games were Kickstarter projects, supported by IF-fans like me. Both had excellent modern parsers.

And above al, do you have. Favorite a info on game? Mine is Beyond Zork.

I’m one of the few people here who still play text adventures. My favorite authors are Adam Cadre, Jon Ingold, Bob Bates, and the great storyteller Brian Moriarty, the author of your beloved Beyond Zork.

Some of my favorite games:
Trinity (Brian Moriarty, Infocom) - hard
A Mind Forever Voyaging (Steve Meretzky, Infocom) - very easy
All Roads (Jon Ingold) - easy
Make It Good (Jon Ingold) - very hard
Anchorhead (Mike Gentry) - medium difficulty
Spider and Web (Andrew Plotkin) - medium difficulty
Varicella (Adam Cadre) - quite hard
Photopia - (Adam Cadre) - no puzzles, very easy
Endless, Nameless (Adam Cadre) - hard
Lost Pig (Admiral Jota) - easy
Time Quest (Bob Bates, Legend Entertainment) - hard
Curses! (Graham Nelson) - very hard
Wishbringer (Brian Moriarty, Infocom) - easy
Toby’s Nose (Chandler Groover) - easy
Jigsaw (Graham Nelson) - very hard

PS: An updated, modernised version of Anchorhead with pics is available on Steam. I haven’t bought it, so I don’t know anything else about it.

     

You’re out of milk. Your pants are chafing you. And you’re going to totemize every magic creature in the Empire.  - Lucy Flathead, Zork Grand Inquisitor

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Thanks for that list Karlok. I had a real hard time picking just one favorite, thinking I’d forgotten some games. Then I saw Timequest. No doubt there have been text adventurers more clever, better written, funnier or more epic - but I think this is the one I enjoyed the most.

     
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post deleted. who the hell cares, don’t know why I still bother.

     

You’re out of milk. Your pants are chafing you. And you’re going to totemize every magic creature in the Empire.  - Lucy Flathead, Zork Grand Inquisitor

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I got into text adventures when I got my C128. They took advantage of the C128 strengths. I loved them and the feelies that came in the box.

Too.bad the Amiga 500 came out and I sold my C128 for an Amiga hard drive. I’ve got to replay these games.
Trinity was my first and after that, I was hooked. On my replay list big time, especially Beyond Zork, my favorite game on the C128.

The Amiga 500 years later suffered the same fate as the C128, it was traded away for a Power PC Mac computer.


Cording to the article, what did Infocom in was not the games, which sold well, they tried developing a database program that didn’t sell at all.

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I enjoy playing adventure games on handheld systems- PS VITA, Nintendo DS and ipad mini.

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Karlok - 07 March 2021 08:31 AM

post deleted. who the hell cares, don’t know why I still bother.

Post it again. I think there’s something wrong with my post markers, sometimes it doesn’t show up when I have new posts to read. And I don’t get notifications (by choice).

     
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Adv_Lvr - 08 March 2021 08:00 PM

I got into text adventures when I got my C128. They took advantage of the C128 strengths. I loved them and the feelies that came in the box.

Can you tell more about them?
AFAIK, there were hardly any Commodore 128 games at all, even less adventure games.

If there are some Commodore 128 adventures, I have never seen them.

If you mean playing C64 adventures on C128, I don’t think there was any benefit from having extra power on the hardware, as the games were run on C64 mode anyway.

I guess running those few CP/M games in addition to all Commodore games was a benefit of course.

     
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The C128 had an 80 column mode. The C64 was only 40 columns.

This made a big difference when playing text adventures.

  Heart

     

I enjoy playing adventure games on handheld systems- PS VITA, Nintendo DS and ipad mini.

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Luhr28 - 08 March 2021 10:56 PM
Karlok - 07 March 2021 08:31 AM

post deleted. who the hell cares, don’t know why I still bother.

Post it again. I think there’s something wrong with my post markers, sometimes it doesn’t show up when I have new posts to read. And I don’t get notifications (by choice).

It’s okay, thanks. Nothing to do with you. I couldn’t resist recommending text adventures to the Blubba poster.

Sitting on my hands is always best, but now that I’ve posted anyway I’m going to respond to Gatekeeper.

GateKeeper - 07 March 2021 06:16 AM

Maybe not the greatest games ever, but all Dorothy Millard games are freeware now. She is also famous for writing walkthroughs for hundreds of text adventures.

That’s real bad advice. If I had never played a text adventure in my life and followed your advice I would never play another one. Maybe you don’t know any good text adventures.

 

     

You’re out of milk. Your pants are chafing you. And you’re going to totemize every magic creature in the Empire.  - Lucy Flathead, Zork Grand Inquisitor

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Karlok - 07 March 2021 08:31 AM

post deleted. who the hell cares, don’t know why I still bother.

I have no idea what you posted, but this post sounds so dejected I just want to offer you a hug and a bosom to rest your weary head upon.

     

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Karlok - 09 March 2021 06:36 AM
GateKeeper - 07 March 2021 06:16 AM

Maybe not the greatest games ever, but all Dorothy Millard games are freeware now. She is also famous for writing walkthroughs for hundreds of text adventures.

That’s real bad advice. If I had never played a text adventure in my life and followed your advice I would never play another one. Maybe you don’t know any good text adventures.

“Maybe not the greatest games ever” should be more than enough to let people know that there are better games out there.

I am standing behind that recommendation though. The game is relatively easy, you don’t even need to access more than 1/3 of the locations to go through it somehow, not with the best possible score obviously. There are no timers or deaths in the game, the few dead-ends are kind of rare to encounter (with one notable exception), so a newbie can relatively easily get familiar with parser and everything.

And there are tons of text adventures out there, but the ones that I linked to are not only legally available, unlike most of the 80s/90s games, but also freeware so they can be downloaded and tried with nothing to lose. If you don’t like them, just delete them, you didn’t pay any money for them.

Obviously there are tons of newer games, there are probably some HTML5-based games online too, but I got the feeling that the point of the question was to ask games that give the feeling of traditional text adventures, which in some way leaves out everything that has been made on this side of the millennium border.

My suggestion uses The Quill engine as the base, so if something in the game mechanics seems unattractive, then about thousand other games will probably feel that way too. If on the other hand, it feels good, there are those thousand other games based on that to try out later.

But if it makes you happy, then let’s say Beyond the Titanic as a better game. And yes, a disclaimer here that there are probably better games out there as well, but it has Titanic, so there you go.
It’s not very newbie-friendly though, and while it is available all over the net, it’s not available undeniably legally AFAIK.

     
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Baron_Blubba - 09 March 2021 11:56 AM
Karlok - 07 March 2021 08:31 AM

post deleted. who the hell cares, don’t know why I still bother.

I have no idea what you posted, but this post sounds so dejected I just want to offer you a hug and a bosom to rest your weary head upon.

Smile

Here’s the post I deleted.

Baron_Blubba - 06 March 2021 09:54 PM

I have never played an Infocom game or really gotten into a 100% text adventure game. The closest thing would be games like Gateway and similar offerings from Legend.

Gateway and other Legend games are not the closest thing, they are the real thing. They had pictures, some even with clickable “hotspots”, and extra features like long lists of words you could choose from. (I always prefer typing.) But they were text adventures pur sang.

Been wanting to try A Mind Forever Voyaging for ages though. Is that a good one to start with?

Text adventures are just as diverse as graphical adventures and there’s a thriving IF community. You can do anything with text, no limits. So it all depends on what kind of games and genres you like. Comedy? Horror? Fantasy? Hard or easy? I agree with the OP that AMFV is a great game, but you should be aware that it’s similar to a “walking sim”: exploration and story, no puzzles to speak of.

Can you recommend others (that are easily gettable)?

Lost Pig is a very funny, easy, short adventure. We had several community playthroughs of text adventures and Lost Pig was one of them. See Text Adventure Tangos in https://adventuregamers.com/forums/viewthread/2112/

If you haven’t played it already I recommend Legend’s Eric the Unready . Fun and not very hard. Anchorhead is a classic horror game.

The old commercial text adventures from Legend and Infocom are officially not free of course. But Lost Pig, Anchorhead, and 9 other games on the list in my previous post can be played online or downloaded at the Interactive Fiction Database: ifdb.org

PS: Everybody still interested in IF should play Spider and Web. You too, Luhr. Smile

 

     

You’re out of milk. Your pants are chafing you. And you’re going to totemize every magic creature in the Empire.  - Lucy Flathead, Zork Grand Inquisitor

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