How does everyone feel about the idea of having an ASCII map of each room like roguelikes and some MUDs do? If you were playing an adventure game do you think it would add to or detract from the enjoyment of the game? What if you were playing an IF game centered more around people?

If you’re in favor, would you rather have the map before or after the description of the room, and would you want it to reappear each time you type “look” or just each time you walk into the room, or would you rather have two commands, one to get the text description and one to see the layout of the room?

Just curious how people feel about this kind of thing.

If you can do it well, go for it. The Glulx version of ToaSK has two different ASCII maps summoned by player command, which is my player preference (the maps don’t appear automatically at all, the player has to call them up) … the ToaSK ones are, sadly, simplistic and non-dynamic. If I had more chops and more time I’d love to make them fancier, and I’m very happy about the idea of more games having more ASCII fun (maps or otherwise).

It’s pretty darn easy to create a .png file with the Draw program in OpenOffice, and I’m sure most IF development systems can embed .png files. This would be more elegant than ASCII.

I think that depends on one’s personal aesthetics of elegance. :wink:

Preach it :slight_smile:

It Depends.

  • Are the maps mechanically important (that is, do they deliver important information or enable interaction that isn’t given in the text) or are they just flavour?
  • Are you doing ASCII maps because you think they’re the best aesthetic fit for your game, or because it’s easier than doing them another way?

It seems that you’ve got a fairly specific vision in mind, but I’m not quite clear what that is: why would it be make a difference if the game was centred more around people? Does the exact position of a person in a room matter for your purposes, and how?

If you were making a game about being a person in a roguelike, maps like that would be incredibly appropriate. They would be awesome. Go do that.

Nothwithstanding my general predilection for keeping things “old school” in the IF world, I tend to agree with Jim that if you’re going to include some sort of map, there are better ways to do it than simulating a graphic with ASCII characters. The fact that ASCII was basically the only thing available thirty years ago is not, to my mind, itself a reason to use an approach which is, to my mind, pretty cumbersome all around.

The more important issue, however, is the use of maps in the first place. I can certainly see that there might be specific situations where such a thing actually does add to the overall player experience (although I might suggest that even in those situations, a “feelie” map might be an alternative to consider). However, having a map for each room as a matter of standard operating procedure (i.e., without a specific reason) almost seems to be moving away from the whole point of what we used to call “text adventures” – namely, the fact that a lot of the fun comes from reading words on a page and using your own imagination to translate those words into a mental picture of the world in which you find yourself.

Robert Rothman

I’m all for maps. Whatever sort of maps. There’s a beautiful Automap extension for I7 that I dearly wish was more used.


The Blind House had a nice graphical map for every room. It was still schematic enough that I didn’t think it interfered with my imagination.

Mister Robert Rothman, I am responding to your post: I don’t mean any disrespect but I think it’s a little funny that you’re worried about ASCII maps interfering with IF players’ imagining their environments. Players of roguelikes have had to imagine that a > is a staircase and that a } is a pool of lava; they have learned to recoil in fear from a capital D. Playing IF with ASCII maps would be different, but the difference is one of degrees.

Anyway I really wanted to mock this up.

You are in a room or whatever. Let's say a bedroom. A hotel room. Sure.

There's one exit over there. Up in the corner over there is a dresser.


> x me

I guess you're a cowboy.

> x dresser

It's made out of wood, some kind of wood, and it has drawers. Wait, I don't feel like implementing a bunch of different doors. It has one drawer.

> open drawer

You walk over to the dresser.


All of a sudden the door behind you clicks! Hairs raise on the back of your neck. Could it be...

"Hold it right there, buster."


That voice... Yes! It's Dastardly Dan, the dastardly villain! Goodness!

In the drawer is a gun.

>take gun


"I said hold it, pardner! And I didn't mean hold whatever that is you're holding! Just turn around, real slow..."

>shoot dastardly, the dastardly villain

I only understood you as far as wanting to shoot Dastardly Dan.

>shoot dastardly dan

You spin around to aim the six-shooter squarely at Dastardly Dan.

You hear something like a thunderclap; you see a cloud of smoke.


        *** But Daniel was hot ***
      *** He drew first and shot ***
*** And Rocky collapsed in the corner. ***
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That reminds me of an extension for I7… it showed each room like a roguelike. Movement around the room became cumbersome, though. I once daydreamed about modifying that extension to allow arrow keys to work as NSEW, but it was beyond my skill… It’d have been IF with a Roguelike look. Could be useful for, say, chase scenes… the extension even included an example in which the room changed size, getting smaller and smaller, in a reflection of the PC’s state of mind - which is rather brilliant, methinks.

You could also alter how much of the room showed based on the light available, thiugh that would mean changing descriptions based on position in the room, which may be a bit much.

Yeah, that feels like overkill, though it COULD be relevant for a puzzle or two. Mind you, if I were going to mess about with light levels, I’d probably discard ASCII and take a shot at Glimmr.

Maps of any sort are awesome.* In-game maps, out-of-game maps, maps in color, maps in pen, maps on napkins, maps in ASCII. I like my maps to be next to the text, and not mess with it - a separate window or block of screen devoted to them. Dedicated space prevents all kinds of interpreter shenanigans, especially for folks to have to use smaller screens that developers anticipate.

It also makes updating decisions easy: when the PC moves, the map changes.

I don’t mind ASCII per se, but you have to be sure that that’s the aesthetic you want. Drawing your own stuff, if you’ve never done it before, can be a pretty significant timesink (and nigh impossible if you want something super-professional looking). But there’s other options - getting someone else to draw it, or using an open source tileset/map spring to mind, and I’m sure I’m missing stuff. But if ASCII suits the game and your style, that’s awesome.

Yay, maps.

  • Okay, I confess that I don’t really like the “this is the room schematic” maps because I suspect shortly I’ll have to solve a nigh-impossible puzzle with the information, but that’s probably just lingering trauma from my childhood.

This might be a good time to mention that Trizbort is a wonderful application that I always use when my IF can make transcripts and refreshes them real-time. Having the screen split in the middle (my monitor is wide enough for that) and the game on the left and Trizbort on the right, dynamically updating as I go along, and with such an easy way to make notes on a room… it’s as good as an automap.

On second thoughts, this might not have been such a good time to go so far off-topic. But hey.

Despite the fact that I have written a tool to allow authors to add auto-generated maps to their games, I would prefer that no one ever do that. Let interpreters handle automapping. Authors have a chance to use their maps to express something about their game and its world, and I would love to see more authors take that chance.

I also don’t think feelies are a very good choice any longer, given modern distribution channels. As a player–especially on a mobile device–I don’t want to open one or more separate files to see your lovingly crafted maps, brochures, newspapers, whatever; I don’t want to have to flip between them, and I definitely don’t want to print them out. Please, include them in the game! There are lots of ways to do it, and Vorple is making it possible to do even with web-playable z-code games.

For those of you who are interested in bringing roguelike elements or just grid-based navigation to text games, please consider contacting Basti50 (Sebastian Rahn) to offer him some help testing his in-progress extension. He posted here a few weeks ago and got no responses, but his extension makes it pretty easy to do everything people have mentioned. The extension is a bit odd for someone who’s used to I7’s rule-based programming–Basti definitely isn’t interested in the “I7 way”–but it doesn’t take too long to get used to. The extension can be used in a variety of ways:

  1. Output your map (with independent actors) using a graphical tileset, using Glimmr as a front end;
  2. Output your map as an ASCII grid, either in a grid window or a standard text-buffer window;
  3. Don’t present your map graphically at all, using it only to organize the game world.

You can create maps using “drawing” phrases, e.g. “draw a rectangle of 12 x 12 tiles of bottomless pit”, or simply by importing an ASCII map (like the one Afterward drew above) from an external text file. Basti’s code examples include arrow-key based navigation, and as part of my testing I threw together an example that lets you move with arrow keys, but also type commands. (You can also shoot arrows and an NPC chases you around.) I may post that later tonight when I’m at home.

The lesson we should take, not only from this thread, but from life.

Here’s the roguelike example I mentioned:

Move with arrow keys or numpad keys (I think–don’t have a numpad to test). You can also use numbers: 1,3,7,9 serve as diagonals. Type “attack” or “a” to shoot an arrow. The blue elf will follow you around, and eventually catch you, if you’re not careful about using diagonals. Neither this or the arrows have any actual effects :wink: