Announcing Text Adventure Literacy Jam 2024

Now that IF Comp 2023 is over, it’s time to announce Text Adventure Literacy Jam 2024. We’re getting in early this year, as there are a few important changes.

What is it?

This is the fourth Text Adventure Literacy Jam and is again being hosted by @Warrigal and @pinkunz. This is an annual event that supports the Text Adventure Literacy Project (TALP) by encouraging new text adventures (or parser-based interactive fiction) suitable for beginners to the genre. As such, the games encourage best practice in parser-based interactive fiction, like no guess-the-verb, no sudden death and polite to moderate on the cruelty scale. Games must also include an in-game tutorial to teach new players how to play this style of game. There have been some great games in the first three years of the competition and we’re hoping for more this year.

Changes this year

The rules are pretty much the same as last year, except that we have clarified a few things related to the use of AI content, ability to submit a finished IntroComp game and the need to include a downloadable version of the game for offline play and submission to the IF Archive. The rationale and further explanation of all the rules are cross-referenced in the guidelines.

This year, we have an optional theme. The theme is ‘Fairy tale’. Who doesn’t like a fairy tale, right? You are not obligated to use the theme, but, if you do, the competition’s home page provides a few ideas for you to mull over.

Most importantly, the competition has been pulled forward a month to minimise overlaps with other comps. This overlaps with the end of Spring Thing, but avoids the overlap with ParserComp. Authoring and judging periods may overlap with various comps, but that can’t be helped.

See the competition’s home page (link above) for full details and join the Discord server for general news and chit chat.


Submissions open: Friday, 1 March 2024
Submissions close: Tuesday, 30 April 2024
Voting opens: Wednesday, 1 May 2024
Voting closes: Friday, 31 May 2024
Results announced: Saturday, 1 June 2024

So, what are you waiting for? We’ve given you plenty of notice, so get those thinking caps on and start planning your TALJ game.


As an extra incentive, there will be some great prizes. There are already prizes worth around US$400 (which is more than last year) and we are actively soliciting for more. If you can donate something, please contact @Warrigal or @pinkunz. Prizes do not have to be cash. They may be T-shirts, books, computer games, vouchers or anything else that is likely to appeal to text adventure authors. See the IF Comp and Spring Thing prize contributions if you’re looking for ideas.


Question about eligible games:

Can a game that was written for another competition, be re-written to fit the theme of THIS competition, with other changes made to better fit the other rules, like a tutorial opening, and five puzzles, etc.

Say (completely hypothetically) (but not at all hypothetically) that I wrote a horror story for EctoComp 2023, but I can easily adapt it as a Fairy Tale for this competition, and if I do so I understand I will have to add some puzzles and add a more friendly help section, as well as an opening tutorial, etc?



From the competition rules…

  1. The game must be an original work that has not previously been published or is a finished version of a game that was previously entered in IntroComp. The game can be made public 24 hours before submissions close.

…so if your game was an IntroComp only submission, you’re good.

Edit: Oh, I think I see what you’re getting at. If the story and puzzles are pretty much unrecognizable from your previous entry, I’d imagine it would be fine. If it parallels your previous entry too much, I’d say it wouldn’t be considered an original work that has not been previously published.


I asked a specific qualifying question and quoting the rules that I already read back at me is not of help.

It would be an adaptation of an existing story changed to fit new criteria. The skeleton of the story would remain but all detail changed.

Would that fit within the rules?

Didn’t mean to ruffle any feathers. See my edit that was posted before your reply.


That’s really hard to say without seeing it. I’d say that if a player recognises it as being the same as a previously published game, then we would have to disqualify it. If you keep the overall structure and change the map, room descriptions, objects, NPCs, puzzles etc., you should be good, as it’s essentially a new game. For example, if your earlier game was a horror game where you had to kill gremlins and you changed it to a fairy tale where you had to help fairies, that would be okay.

We certainly don’t want to discourage entrants. The more the merrier.


Apologies for getting ruffled. I didn’t see your edit until now.

Given I have like 2 puzzles in the current game and it is horror, changing it to a lighter fantasy game and adding more puzzles to get up to or past the 5 puzzle minimum, I would consider it a whole new game. Even if the skeleton of the story is similar.

I was wondering it the rules would also consider it a new game.

Thanks for the clarifying edit.


It’s all good, man. My original post was being ignorant to what you were really asking. You saw it. I obviously saw it too and had to edit it. Sorry about that.

And thank you for bringing up the 5 puzzle rule! I completely missed that. Seriously. You might have just saved my bacon! I owe you big time!

  • Develop a game inspired by an existing fairy tale. In this case, you can take the characters, setting or general storyline and develop a new fairy tale so that the outcome is not known in advance. You may also consider a ‘fractured fairy tale’ where you twist or distort the original fairy tale like they did in The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show and various Looney Tunes.

That fractured fairy tale phrase reminds me of Bronze by Emily Short: Bronze - Details ( and there are three other games tagges as such (apparently a series).


Woohoo! I don’t think I’ll ever enter TALJ, but I’ve enjoyed judging the previous installments. I encourage others who haven’t, or didn’t, to give it a look. The games are generally way more approachable than your average text adventure, but there’ve still been some really sophisticated ones!

And seriously, if you just want to judge or write reviews for a comp and have never done so, here’s a great place to start.

  1. The game must have at least five puzzles, not including any ‘give-away’ puzzles in the tutorial.

What constitutes a puzzle? Like, what’s a bare minimum example of a puzzle?


This was a similar question someone asked during last year’s Comp. I think we answered it fairly well:

Q: The rules state that the game “must have at least five puzzles”. This might be a bit philosophical, but what actually is a puzzle?

A: If you asked this question to 100 different people, you’d probably get 100 different answers. For the sake of this competition, let’s say that a puzzle is an obstacle that you must overcome or something that makes you think. If you were faced by a closed door and you merely had to open it, then the door is not really a puzzle as you didn’t have to think about it. If it was a locked door and the key was found hanging on a hook next to the door, then that is not really a puzzle either, as everything you need is presented to you and you don’t have to think about it. However, if the key to the door is hanging around the neck of an ogre and you have to do something to get the key from the ogre, by fair means or foul, then that would be a puzzle. Don’t get too hung up by the number of puzzles. If your game only has four puzzles, but you have made an obvious effort to satisfy all the other rules, then we’re certainly not going to disqualify you.


I generally think of text adventures as exploration, examination and manipulation of your environment.

Exploration is just wandering around, drawing a map and finding things, so that doesn’t constitute a puzzle. However, if you come across a barrier or obstacle that prevents further exploration, then getting past that barrier or obstacle will constitute a puzzle.

Examination is just examining the things you find to get more detail, so that is not a puzzle, although it may reveal something new that is needed to solve a puzzle.

Manipulation is any action that changes the environment, other than picking up and dropping things. This is where most of your mechanical puzzles will take place.

Some puzzles will be logical (codes, ciphers, riddles etc.) and some will be mechanical (pushing/pulling, inserting/removing, opening/closing, locking/unlocking etc.) The best puzzles have multiple elements, but I think we can say that the minimum puzzle is for two or more actions on two or more objects that result in a change of state in the world model in order to overcome an obstacle or get closer to a successful solution to the game.


As a side note, I want to point out that I liberally used a “we” above and, while we certainly both answered questions, I should be clear that Garry was the one to thoughtfully pen that reply.

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Thanks, Garry!

If I finish this game, it will be my first one. When I first read Text Adventure Literacy Jam, thought it might be for first time authors. However, it’s probably good for novice authors because I think the goal is to keep it engaging, yet easy enough for newcomers. Anyway, I appreciate both yours and Pinkunz’s advice direct plagiarizing. :wink:

My game might be an exercise in the blind leading the blind… or maybe my novice perspective will be my greatest strength?! Woah… :crazy_face:


Ahem, that would be admitted direct plagiarizing, thank you very much! :grin:

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We’ve had quite a few first-time authors in the past and most of their games were very good. In fact, a few have been exceptional. I’m thinking of @Grizel’s debut games Sentient Beings and Reflections that came 1st and 3rd respectively in TALJ 2001. Check them out if you haven’t done so. Both written in Adventuron.


There is just one month until Text Adventure Literacy Jam 2024 officially starts, so I thought a reminder was in order.

You can start your game at any time, you don’t have to wait until the official starting date. There is a suggested theme this year, which is ‘Fairy tale’. You are not obligated to use the theme, but I hope some people do.

37 people have joined the jam so far. A lot of these people are unknown in the interactive fiction community. I hope this means that they are first-time authors. First timers are more than welcome and are encouraged, but, in all honesty, I do not expect most of these to submit anything.

I’m really looking forward to see what everyone comes up with for this year’s competition, as writing a game with a tutorial suitable for beginners is not easy.


It’s time to bump this thread to remind everyone that Text Adventure Literacy Jam 2024 is well and truly underway and there’s just one month left to finish your games. Don’t forget that there are some very generous prizes up for grabs.

For authors, submissions close on 30 April 2024. For players/judges, games become available for playing/voting on 1 May 2024 and voting closes on 31 May 2024. Good luck everyone.