Beginner Wants Advice on Best Text Adventure Program Adventuron-Style

Hello all,

I’m having difficulty finding an engine that would be user friendly enough to fit the kind of games I want to make and what I’d need it to do.

I want to program text adventure games, the sort which you type out commands in - open door, look at bed, etc. But I also want it to display picture art that I make for it, which will basically be actual photographs run through 8 bit or 16 bit color simplification and made to look pixelated and allow the top half of the screen to display the scene picture and the text to unfold below. I really would like something that could play music and sounds on command, like when you enter certain rooms or collect something.

I don’t know why it’s been so hard to find something that fits this simple format, Adventuron is the closest thing I’ve found on the internet that checks the boxes (and it does a great job), but I cannot download it and I don’t think it does sound (yet). I’ve tried a couple others but nothing seems to provide an engine for building the simple 1980s ZX Spectrum style text game, like this one HERE
Otherwise I’d have to build an engine from scratch and I’m just not that guy, ya know.

I haven’t programmed games since I was probably 14, and much of it is lost on me. What can you recommend? I’d appreciate any help, I want to make some dark atmosphere noir mystery type stuff!

Best!

PS does anybody remember a program called CIA (Creative Interactive Adventure) for windows from a long while back? impossible to find on the internet these days.

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Welcome to the forums, scotch. :slight_smile:

Adventuron runs in a web browser but it doesn’t require a constant Internet connection, so once it’s loaded you can happily work with it as though you had downloaded it. It really is the easiest solution if you want to make a ZX Spectrum-style text adventure with sound and graphics. (It does do sound). I’ve used it for a lot of adventures.

If you really want to make ZX Spectrum-style games then there are lots of actual ZX Spectrum adventure authoring systems that you can use to make real ZX Spectrum games such as PAWs (use Inpaws and VScode to develop on a PC) and DAAD. I use both of these all the time. It doesn’t sound like you want to target actually retro systems, though.

However, there is also ngPAWS which is a PAWs-like system producing browser-based games.

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You can certainly do what you want to do with Adventuron. There are essentially two versions to consider.

Adventuron classroom (version 1.0.0 Beta 68j) is the stable version. You would normally use this online, but a snapshot has been saved at the Internet Archive. You can download this and use it offline.

Adventuron betabeta (currently version 1.0.0 Beta 75h) is the cutting edge version. This is undergoing constant development, so you cannot download this.

In both cases, you can select 8-Bit Compatible from the menu button and this will force restrictions on you so that you can export your code to the Spectrum Next. The process is a little cumbersome (it’s described in the documentation). Personally, I wouldn’t bother unless you really want to restrict your audience. After all, even Spectrum users have a web browser, right?

If you choose to go with Adventuron, you really need to join the Adventuron Discord server. The folk on there are very knowledgeable and helpful.

Incidentally, if you are writing a game to play in a browser, I’d strongly recommend a more restrictive layout for your graphics so that it can be played on mobile with a virtual keyboard. Something like 256 x 80 (for Spectrum ZX) or 320 x 100 pixels works well.

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You asked about the CIA engine…

Create Interactive Adventures!
Squid Productions v. 1.0
Rick Lundrigan/Brian Bentley
1998
Shareware/Giftware

Works fine in a DOS environment.

This one works fine in DOSBox. Compiles
to DOS executable.

Comes with the games “Mayberry Mansion” and “A return to Adventure.”

Limitations:

35 rooms
35 characters
105 inventory items (max 3 in each room)
175 player response routines (max 5 in each room)
block any or all exits in a room
scoring system, kill player routine and etc.

I enjoy playing around with obsolete and minimalist systems.
This one is one of my favorites. The game is authored using
info screens. I have the zip file (ciapro.zip) if anyone is interested.

John

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Just to second (or third) what the other have said: Adventuron is ideally suited, really, to what you’re trying to do. It’s easy to learn and integrates graphics and sound relatively painlessly. It also benefits from a fairly large and active user community. Join the Discord server and have a look through the collection of Adventuron games on itch to see the sorts of games that people have made with it.

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I’m also hoping to use photographs to generate game images for my IF projects.

Please do post your experiences of doing this. Modern cameras give you a lot of detail in the image, so reducing all that information to something structurally simple but still artistically appropriate is an interesting challenge in itself.

Thanks everyone for the quick replies. I guess I will join the Adventuron forum and figure out how to make sound files activate. Does this mean it will be able to trigger mp3s for example or anything that isn’t an internal speaker beep?

Also thank you @johnsim03, unbelievable that you have the zip file for CIA. I would definitely download it if you can post it here, just for old times sake.

It is not a complex editor, but it is very user friendly to build simple text find-item-and-use games. Such a hoot back in the day.

It’s in the Internet Archive too, CIA Create Interactive Adventures pro v1.0 (DOS) : Squid Productions : Free Download, Borrow, and Streaming : Internet Archive

(As an aside, some of their other systems are there too…

Rpg-Pro! (RpgGame) : Squid Productions : Free Download, Borrow, and Streaming : Internet Archive )

Apropos of this point, but also @scotch-legg’s general ambitions, it might be worth taking a look at Off-Season at the Dream Factory from last year’s Comp (IFDB link, postmortem link). It’s a very well-done game that uses processed photos as graphics, and between the detailed postmortem and the publicly-available source code (see the IFDB link) I suspect it could be helpful for an Adventuron newbie to check out!

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CIA Pro

About 218 KBs in size
DOS only

The tips file is a dos executable within the zip file.
I’ll leave it up on my web site for a month or so…

John

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Yes, you can play mp3s and other sound files in Adventuron! Quite a few of us have done games with soundtracks now. Come join us on the Discord (Adventuron) for lots of in-depth chat and advice.

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It’s possible and mostly works for backgrounds. Try to keep the content simple as possible. retouch the image first and heavily de-noise. Then try things like “poster-lines” and the “oil painting” filters.

There are a lot of arty/drawing filters in the QMIC set, which i think can plug into GIMP.

Here’s one i just tried;

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In the postmortem for Off-Season, I think I said that pixelating the images was my way to solve this. It removes some unnecessary details and feels aesthetically appropriate for Adventuron.

It took a lot of fooling around on my end, though, to get it right. Part of the trick is to compose good and simple pictures, as has been suggested. Then I had a whole workflow of blurring and denoising and pixelating.

Today, I’d highly recommend the apps Pixel Art Camera (top photo) and Retrospecs (bottom photo). Pixel Art Camera has a bunch of settings you can tweak (I’d recommend smoother, less noisier images for Adventuron); Retrospecs aims to give accurate color palettes from a variety of older systems. But I think either could help solve the “too much detail” problem.

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Hi Scott,
Another option - but it’s Windows Only - is my offline, downloadable, parser driven text adventure creator that allows gfx,sfx,and music.

Regards,
catventure.

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A few more options for anyone going down this path:

  • GIMP can also pixelate / reduce the palette. You’re looking for the “dither” filter, or the “indexed color” mode with dithering applied. You will probably need to do a fair bit of experimentation to get a result you like.

  • For the programming-inclined, imagemagick also does a good job of this. The main advantage of imagemagick is that you can come up with one command to crop/resize/dither/quantize an image and apply it to a whole folder of files, saving quite a lot of manual work if you have lots of images. But you do need to know some scripting.

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Looks interesting, but I’m on Linux these days. Do you think you might sometime be able to release a version for *nix?

Hello tundish,
Not sure if you’re referring to my post. If you are in the technical thread regarding this creator a member stated that it worked on Linux under emulation with Wine 5.0.3.
catventure.

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Someone asked to let me know how the photograph conversion goes for my game. Really all I am doing is using this program ZX PaintBrush which mimics the look of the ZX Spectrum to a t, currently only using stock pics I find online and running them through the program. The result looks like this:
street

With enough messing around with the aspects, the contrast and brightness, the limitations of the fixed color pallette will give you something very stylized like this. This pleased me greatly.

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Maybe a bit of a coincidence; I’m starting to watch a number of Youtube clips on ‘Book Cover Photography’.
The techniques and composition are very different from model or architectural photography.

Lots of negative space, compressed colour palettes. It’s intentional, but incorporates ambiguity.
Seems to be a good approach when generating illustrations for multimedia fiction.