Indie Text Based Game Programming



  • For one of my projects in a computer science class, I elected to create my own customizable text based game engine. Well, the project is over, and putting aside the story about my tool partner who didn't do anywork whatsover and screwed me over, I still want to pursue the development of this engine.

    Now, I know the java based text based game engine market is a vicious and cuthroat one, but I still think this could result as a neat little entry on sf, or maybe something I could distrubute to other old fashioned game enthusiasts such as myself. However, I am only human and I only have so much time on my hands these days. Would anyone out there be interested in helping a little neophyte optimize if not improve his code?

    if any one sees my avatar before it changes,
    1. forgive me for not checking the quality of it
    2. it's from a tv show called Cowboy Bebop, which is very masculine and cool, despite appearances



  • Also, about text based games in general. In today's world of beautiful
    graphics, rich sound, and entirely unfun gameplay, does anyone else
    still seek the bastion of Zork or Moonmist? Or am I just a dork all
    alone in the darkness of terminal windows?



  • I think they have a small but intense fan base. For me, they have been something I like in theory, but not in practice. Too often in execution, they are exercises in beating your head against a wall until you hit it just right. Then, on to the next wall!

    However, I think a good one with good AI characters would be something to see.



  • @bohemeorange said:

    Also, about text based games in general. In today's world of beautiful
    graphics, rich sound, and entirely unfun gameplay, does anyone else
    still seek the bastion of Zork or Moonmist? Or am I just a dork all
    alone in the darkness of terminal windows?

    I'm trapped in a neverending quest for a MUD that doesn't suck.  I love the format, I just need to find one that isn't identical (warts and all) to 9,208 other MUDs.



  • Something the code I've written so far supports is other characters that aren't players that can move and interact independent of the player. I've got a couple of pimitive ones created, but nothing special. If I got someone who actually had some talent for this sort of thing to assist me in this, I'm sure I could create just that.

    And I agree. There are some games that are very annoying and feel like banging your head against a wall. It took me so long to figure out what to do in Zork II..... I kept blowing my self up with that brick out of frustration.

     This is something I was trying to avoid by making the engine support something a little looser. Instead of a highly structured series of steps you have to figure out, it's as open ended as you make it to be.

    The game I was creating with it to test it with is a "inside the computer box" sort of game, except without all the false metaphors that movies like TRON had. Your mission was to try and combat the corruption that has invaded your system, and all the while the npc's constituting the corruption are lurking around and doing things. So, instead of trying to find a key to open a chest to get a gem to open another door to throw a switch and so on, you can come up with original solutions to problems that may or may not work since the objects you can interact with are constantly changing, and you are so well equipped with objects to manipulate them with.

    So, yeah. Remind me to talk more about games themselves next post.



  • @Sgt. Zim said:

    @bohemeorange said:
    Also, about text based games in general. In today's world of beautiful
    graphics, rich sound, and entirely unfun gameplay, does anyone else
    still seek the bastion of Zork or Moonmist? Or am I just a dork all
    alone in the darkness of terminal windows?

    I'm trapped in a neverending quest for a MUD that doesn't suck.  I love the format, I just need to find one that isn't identical (warts and all) to 9,208 other MUDs.


    It's hard to find one that's fun and interestingly complex yet not so complex  or hard to get into that you need to learn Elvish or several books worth of made up history to understand it.



  • @Sgt. Zim said:

    @bohemeorange said:
    Also, about text based games in general. In today's world of beautiful
    graphics, rich sound, and entirely unfun gameplay, does anyone else
    still seek the bastion of Zork or Moonmist? Or am I just a dork all
    alone in the darkness of terminal windows?

    I'm trapped in a neverending quest for a MUD that doesn't suck.  I love the format, I just need to find one that isn't identical (warts and all) to 9,208 other MUDs.



    Have you ever heard of Avalon btw?



  • @bohemeorange said:

    Also, about text based games in general. In today's world of beautiful graphics, rich sound, and entirely unfun gameplay, does anyone else still seek the bastion of Zork or Moonmist? Or am I just a dork all alone in the darkness of terminal windows?

    I played some of the originals back when I was just a kid and still love the minimalism of it.  My wife still goes crazy for them...and recently she was playing "Dreamland: The Longest Journey" which was basically a text adventure game engine driving the tasks/goals with the 3d stuff on top of it, and a couple (only a couple) fights, and some cool puzzles...and it actually held together fairly well (mostly because the story remained interesting).  

    It was different from your standard "pixel hunt" adventure game, which was cool, but only worked because it had a well conceived story that worked well with the type of game engine they were using.

    -cw

     



  • @CodeWhisperer said:

    @bohemeorange said:

    Also, about text based games in general. In today's world of beautiful graphics, rich sound, and entirely unfun gameplay, does anyone else still seek the bastion of Zork or Moonmist? Or am I just a dork all alone in the darkness of terminal windows?

    I played some of the originals back when I was just a kid and still love the minimalism of it.  My wife still goes crazy for them...and recently she was playing "Dreamland: The Longest Journey" which was basically a text adventure game engine driving the tasks/goals with the 3d stuff on top of it, and a couple (only a couple) fights, and some cool puzzles...and it actually held together fairly well (mostly because the story remained interesting).  

    It was different from your standard "pixel hunt" adventure game, which was cool, but only worked because it had a well conceived story that worked well with the type of game engine they were using.

    -cw

     




    I've seen that game for years, but never found the time or overwhelming desire to get it and play it. Though I've read mixed reviews (and what do critics know anyways) it's recent;y been added to my list of things I've wanted to get into. If I ever find the time to do things other thank work again I'll check it out ^^.

    and this is a bit of a tangent but since some of us seem to be a different brand of game enthusiast than your average X-Box owner, does anyone miss the days when games that required imagination like Zork and Myst were popular? =/ I do.


  • @CodeWhisperer said:

    @bohemeorange said:

    Also, about text based games in general. In today's world of beautiful graphics, rich sound, and entirely unfun gameplay, does anyone else still seek the bastion of Zork or Moonmist? Or am I just a dork all alone in the darkness of terminal windows?

    I played some of the originals back when I was just a kid and still love the minimalism of it.  My wife still goes crazy for them...and recently she was playing "Dreamland: The Longest Journey" which was basically a text adventure game engine driving the tasks/goals with the 3d stuff on top of it, and a couple (only a couple) fights, and some cool puzzles...and it actually held together fairly well (mostly because the story remained interesting).  

    It was different from your standard "pixel hunt" adventure game, which was cool, but only worked because it had a well conceived story that worked well with the type of game engine they were using.

    -cw

     





    And I must say, your wife is very cool.


  • @bohemeorange said:

    I've seen that game for years, but never found the time or overwhelming desire to get it and play it.

    I think this was the sequel....

    @bohemeorange said:

    a different brand of game enthusiast than your average X-Box owner

    ...and on the xbox :)

    But yeah.  If you aren't a big fan of sports, racing or fighting/FPS games, the field narrows pretty quickly, and if I see another japanese RPG I'm going to throw up.  

    Oblivion is pretty interesting in a "wander around and look at all the cool things" sort of way, watch how the npcs interact and go through their routine.  I believe they call it the "Radiant AI"...I was doing something similar back in the 90s on MOOs with interacting NPCs that generated their own comedy...not 'entertainment' exactly, but it had a certain charm :)

    -cw



  • @CodeWhisperer said:

    @bohemeorange said:

    I've seen that game for years, but never found the time or overwhelming desire to get it and play it.

    I think this was the sequel....

    @bohemeorange said:

    a different brand of game enthusiast than your average X-Box owner

    ...and on the xbox :)

    But yeah.  If you aren't a big fan of sports, racing or fighting/FPS games, the field narrows pretty quickly, and if I see another japanese RPG I'm going to throw up.  

    Oblivion is pretty interesting in a "wander around and look at all the cool things" sort of way, watch how the npcs interact and go through their routine.  I believe they call it the "Radiant AI"...I was doing something similar back in the 90s on MOOs with interacting NPCs that generated their own comedy...not 'entertainment' exactly, but it had a certain charm :)

    -cw



    Forgive me for not being a compendium of everything video games ^^. I would argue the merits of my XBox comment but I just don't feel like it. But tell me more about what you mentioned, a "MOO"?


  • @bohemeorange said:

     But tell me more about what you mentioned, a "MOO"?

    It's a specific type of mud (Mud, Object Oriented) that was in use for a while...might still be.  I think Lambda (the first of the moos) is still around.   It had an object-oriented framework & language that was really fun to program in.  The MIT Media Lab ran one for media researchers/grad students, I met my wife there. :)

    -cw



  • Then I guess I've inadvertantly been making a MOO this whole time. Neat.

    And they say that guys who stare at monitors all day long never meet anyone of the opposite sex. How exactly did you meet her?



  • @bohemeorange said:

    How exactly did you meet her?

    I don't even know that I remember specifically; it was a good long time ago now.  MediaMoo ran a lot of group events, and you could hang out and play scrabble & such, I met a lot of interesting people but apparently she stuck out. :)  A year or so later we started travelling back and forth, moved in together a while later, got married about 8 years ago.  All the usual stuff.

    -cw



  • @CodeWhisperer said:

    @bohemeorange said:

    I've seen that game for years, but never found the time or overwhelming desire to get it and play it.

    I think this was the sequel....

    @bohemeorange said:

    a different brand of game enthusiast than your average X-Box owner

    ...and on the xbox :)

    But yeah.  If you aren't a big fan of sports, racing or fighting/FPS games, the field narrows pretty quickly, and if I see another japanese RPG I'm going to throw up.  

    Oblivion is pretty interesting in a "wander around and look at all the cool things" sort of way, watch how the npcs interact and go through their routine.  I believe they call it the "Radiant AI"...I was doing something similar back in the 90s on MOOs with interacting NPCs that generated their own comedy...not 'entertainment' exactly, but it had a certain charm :)

    -cw


    Oblivion was fun for a little while.
    I never did finish the original Zork , but I managed to get through the HHGTTG once. I don't mind Japanese RPGs, but haven't seen anything I just "had to have" in several years.

    What I really miss are some of the 2-d platformers - specifically, games like Super Metroid, and Castlevania, Symphony of the Night. Oh, and Moo2. I still play moo2, every few months.

    I still play my share of text-based games, too....

     ^^^^^
    ^^^@.^
    ^^..^^
    ^^.^^
    ...^
    ~^^^
     ^
    

    Not really what you meant, though.



  • Oh, hey, I forgot all about Nethack and Rogue.  I loved those games.  Dorky text graphics, randomly generated levels... 

    "Help!  I'm being attacked by a 'k'!".  

    -cw



  • @bohemeorange said:

    Now, I know the java based text based game engine market is a vicious and cuthroat one, but I still think this could result as a neat little entry on sf, or maybe something I could distrubute to other old fashioned game enthusiasts such as myself. However, I am only human and I only have so much time on my hands these days. Would anyone out there be interested in helping a little neophyte optimize if not improve his code?


    There is no point to what you propose.

    None whatsoever.

    Check TADS or Inform (especially Inform 7).  Platform independent, not Java, vastly better than anything you could hope to put together.

    For serious answers, check rec.arts.interactive-fiction

    Of course, if all you want to do is write a parser as an academic exercise, go for it.  But your time would be better spent learning a bit of inform and writing some useful libraries.

    Simon



  • @tufty said:



    For serious answers, check rec.arts.interactive-fiction



    That would be news://rec.arts.int-fiction (and it's counterpart rec.games.int-fiction).
    TADS can be found on http://www.tads.org/ and Inform on http://www.inform-fiction.org/
    For a comparison, see http://www.firthworks.com/roger/cloak/.

    Sorry I'm late. Good luck, bohemeorange!



  • @felix said:

    @tufty said:


    For serious answers, check rec.arts.interactive-fiction



    That would be news://rec.arts.int-fiction (and it's counterpart rec.games.int-fiction).


    Damn.  So it would.  Been a while since I've been out of the loop, my old brane has gone all fuzzy.



  • Like alot of things I do, I wasn't really looking to achieve anything that would stride godlike amongst all the other humble compilations of code floating around out there, but I was looking for a fun way to pass the time. I'm aware that this could be viewed as a "waste of time" however, I don't frankly care.


    and here's an italicized anecdote to prove my point:

    It's not the destination in life, it's the getting there.


    ^-^ mmm however thank you very much for those links, they're quite helpful



  • CodeWhisperer:

    Thank you for that email by the way. So nice of you to go out of your way and do that. I'll return the favor when I can.

    =D



  • @bohemeorange said:

    Like alot of things I do, I wasn't really looking to achieve anything that would stride godlike amongst all the other humble compilations of code floating around out there, but I was looking for a fun way to pass the time. I'm aware that this could be viewed as a "waste of time" however, I don't frankly care.


    Fair enough, then.  Go for it.  And have fun doing so.

    Here's a meaningful link:  http://nlp.stanford.edu/downloads/lex-parser.shtml

    Parsing is hard, but world physics is harder, which is why most systems provide a very basic implementation, generally supporting not much more than the concepts of containment and support; if you want to do something like the following it's generally down to the programmer:

    <font face="Courier New">> look
    There is a table here.  On the table is a ming vase.
    > x table
    The table looks sturdy enough to stand on.  I'd bet that if you were to move it, you'd be able to reach the air vent.
    > x vase
    It's a heavy ming dynasty vase with a narrow base.  Looks like it would be pretty easy to knock it over if you weren't careful.
    > move table
    You slide the table towards the air vent.  The vase wobbles dangerously.
    > move table
    You slide the table towards the air vent.  The vase wobbles, and as the table touches the wall, falls, smashing into a billion pieces.  The noise alerts the guards, who rush in and shoot you.
    *** YOU HAVE DIED ***
    </font>
    Of course, how much of that you'd want to be able to simulate is very much down to you.  Chris Crawford would argue "everything", others would argue the opposite.  Chris Crawford is always a good read, though.

    http://www.vancouver.wsu.edu/fac/peabody/game-book/Coverpage.html
    http://www.erasmatazz.com/

    Simon



  • I also used to play text adventures - anyone else remember the Time and Magik trilogy?
    I also intermittently work on my little php adventure engine :)
    Anyway, here's something to aim for: http://www.ifcomp.org/



  • @someone said:

    ADOM :)


    :D


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