How to Create the Ultimate Text Adventure

Text adventures usually are cool right up intil the point where they suck. This point is usually when they say a clever form of “You can’t do that here.”

The most delightful part of text adventures is when you try to do something crazy: “Put chicken in bartender.” and it responds to you in a funny way.

So it occurs to me: Why not build the ultimate text adventure by just crowdsourcing?

Step 1: Do the usual stuff: Write the best story you can using any number of interstory tools. Take as long as you can and be a good writer.

Step 2. Again, pretty par per course: Beta test it offline with as many fans as you can. Find actions people do and objects people use do that you haven’t accounted for yet. Fill in as many gaps as possible.

Step 3. Put the engine online

Step 4. Whenever the parser fails, e-mail the author. The author has simple tool to address the failure and come up with a funny response to any edge-case textual situations.

Step 4.5. If you want to get really crazy, open it up to the audience — or some creative segement of the audience. If the parser fails, let them suggest a response. The author can then moderate.

Eventually every possible situation will be covered.

Why hasn’t this been done yet? 

[hastily adding to list of other crazy things I’ll never get around to like finishing my dozens of abandoned short stories, doing something deliberate with my finances, or finding the spirit within in India.]


3 thoughts on “How to Create the Ultimate Text Adventure

  1. Do it!! I miss text adventure games. If only you could do this and then also have it bundled with fluff or some other doodad like the Infocom games of old…

  2. Excellent idea, David. Last year at Project Horseshoe I was in a workgroup with text adventure luminaries Bob Bates and Brian Moriarity where we discussed how to modernize the mechanics of the text adventure. We had some excellent ideas, not all of which made it into the report (e-mail me I’ll clue you in).

    Sounds like what you’re proposing is basically a hybrid of a wiki and a text adventure… I think the concept is intriguing. What of the ideas I had for modernizing text adventures was to present them as blogs: each post is a “room” or “event” in the adventure and the player interacts with the game by posting comments.

  3. See Emily Short’s Alabaster project from a couple weeks ago. She had people suggest conversational responses when the conversation parser failed.

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