thinBasic Adventure Builder (TAB)

Text Adventure Tutorial


Part One: What is a Text Adventure?

This tutorial is supplied in text format in the TAB Download.
Perhaps today, thousands of people across the length and breadth of the country will enter alternate worlds. Here they may do battle with vicious, alien entities, converse with elves and gnomes, hunt for buried treasure, solve a murder, rescue a princess or save the world from total annihilation...

How is it possible for them to do this? Quite simply through the medium of computer adventures or interactive fiction stories...
In the privacy of their own homes, at some appointed hour, they will be in front of their PC monitor, switch on and load up their current favourite adventure game.

But just exactly what is a text adventure?

Well, basically its a program, written by one or more persons, that has a plot - a storyline, a theme.
It can be text only or may have additional graphics and sound. As with a book or film, it has a beginning, a middle and an end. Usually there is a quest to complete, a destination to be reached or a mystery to be solved.

The computer adventure differs to the book or film in that it is INTERACTIVE. The player actually participates in the game and affects its outcome. The player decides how the game will progress and has some control over the way the game unfolds.

The player will normally assume the role of the main character hero, who must be guided through a series of places, locations, exploring scenery, examining and searching things and collecting items and weapons which may be needed to use in various ways to overcome obstacles, solve problems, score points or make progress. The player may encounter other characters on his/her travels through the adventure world who may be friendly or hostile. Interaction with them may be essential to completing the quest. Some may provide a hint or clue on how to proceed in return for a gift or favour. Others may be downright deadly and have to be disposed of cleverly.

Interaction is accomplished via the keyboard. The player types in the commands and instructions in simple English words and sentences. These are then carried out by the program, and the results or consequences of the player`s input is then displayed on the screen. The player can then see how his/her actions have affected the current state of play and what, if anything has changed or altered.

As in the real world, the player is called upon to make decisions, choose paths to follow, weigh up alternatives and consider taking chances or risks. A wrong decision may result in loss of points, death or the necessity to restart the game.

The author of the adventure may have included 'red herrings' which might confuse, thwart or sidetrack the player from the main object of the quest. As with crosswords, cunning, logic, and lateral thinking may need to be employed in solving some of the more 'trickier' puzzles. There is the reward and satisfaction to be gained from completing tasks, making headway and discovering new areas of the game.

A good adventure will be well written, have an exciting, intriguing and memorable plot, unforgettable characters and challenging problems to contend with, and ultimately a satisfactory conclusion. It should be user friendly, have a large vocabulary and cater for the many responses and inputs a player might make.

Unlike its frenetic, joystick waggling space invader, shoot' em up, arcade game cousins, the text adventure is an altogether more different type of beast. More sedate, more laid back, cerebral and intellectual, it allows the player to move at his own speed, in his own time and ponder a planned course of action. It exercises his innate mental abilities, rather than his digital dexterity on a push button joypad.

Some games can be solved in a couple of hours or less, others take longer, maybe a week or two. A really complex one may require MONTHS, depending on the players skill or expertise.

If you have never played one before, I urge you to try a few. You might be pleasantly surprised. They can be a welcome diversion from the stresses and strains of modern day living. After playing some you may decide to have a go at making your own using an adventure construction program such as INFORM, HUGO, TADS or ADRIFT. Alternatively you can check out the ThinBasic Adventure Builder which is being developed with the thinBASIC script automation language.

Typical standard adventure commands used in most adventures:

north, south east, west, northeast, northwest, southeast, southwest, up, down, in ,out
and abbreviations:

n, s, e, w, ne, nw, se, sw, u, d, in, out
>go north
>go out

get, drop, wear, remove, examine, search, open, kill, eat, read, etc.
>get the knife
>drop all except the rope
>wear the red hat
>remove the hat
>examine a long rope
>search the cupboard
>climb tree
>drink water
>tie the rope to the tree
>light the lamp with the candle
>attack the giant
>open the ornate door
>unlock the chest with the silver key
>jump over hole

>talk to the ogre
>look under the bench
>press green button
>take everything but the gold pin out of the metallic box
>drop the pencil into the box
>look inside the bag
>follow the witch
>stop following

In many cases synonyms for verbs, nouns and prepositions will be understood.

System commands:
inventory or i - list objects carried and worn
score - display score and turns taken
wait/z - wait a turn
look - redescribe location

load - load a saved game position file
save - save current state of game
quit - quit game
restart - restart game from scratch
time - display time and date
again/g - repeat previous command
help - may or may not supply a hint/clue, or give a list of acceptable commands.


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