I’d like to announce my first game on this site, CipherText. It is a science fiction game taking place at a university (which some of you may easily recognize…) in which you have just started a job, and for your first responsibility you must decipher a message that your new boss and a friend of his have intercepted. It’s a medium to large size game, and could take several days to play end to end.

Now for the really interesting bit. I’ve written this completely from scratch, starting at main(), with my own game engine. I’ve always wanted to write one, for the sake of the challenge, and this game runs in this engine. It is very similar in feel to Parchment. Some things will be different, such as I do not do “undo”, if you load or save, there is a single checkpoint slot, not a menu to make saved games, and there’s no “hint” system. On the other hand, you can play as a guest, or you can create a username, in which case your current and checkpointed games are re-accessible, even from logging in from other computers weeks later. If you finish the game, playing with a username, there is a Hall of Fame which shows people who completed games, sortable by first completion, and least number of moves.
I’m finishing work on a downloadable version, which works on Linux and Mac, but has issues on Winderz.

I can post more info in the other forums about the game engine, if there’s interest.

Also now on the IFDB.

For now, please enjoy the game, and let me know what you think.

Looks interesting! I’ll be checking this out when I have time, but a quick question first. If I understand your post correctly it’s a long game, with no undo and a single save slot. So I’d like to know if the game can be put in an unwinnable state without alerting the player? Thanks.

Thanks for this game! I’m starting to play around with it. My initial technical feedback: it lacks some of the ‘conventional’ shortcut commands (z for wait, g for again). More importantly, though, I see that if you ‘checkpoint restore’ while it may restore your gamestate it doesn’t seem to restore your score. Is this a deliberate penalty for saving, or bug? :slight_smile: (Oh yeah, I’m playing as a guest for now).

UPDATE: Hm. I did a restore after coming back to the website and hitting ‘PLAY’ again and got a 0/200 (I’d been at 5/200). However, after playing for a bit, saving a new checkpoint, playing more and then restoring without leaving the site, I am back at 5/200.

UPDATE UPDATE: I have some feedback (proofreading stuff, some feedback on situations, etc.). Should I post it here, or would you like me to email it to you somewhere? If you don’t want to post an email address here, you can let me know at - cheers.

It is possible to put the game in an unwinnable state, thus the Zarf “Cruel” rating. Several are obvious, but one is a challenge because you can use one consumable item to do more than one thing, and you have to decide which is right, and how to go about solving the other puzzle.

You will probably find the one point in the game when you’re going to “make your final run” and you’ll want to make sure you have everything – it’s a good checkpoint spot.

It’s possible it didn’t update the score on the screen, but the game engine still has your correct score stored. I’ll look into that, thank you. There’s no checkpoint penalty!

I expect “verbose” to mean “look every time you change rooms”.

Personally I think taking the standard text adventure and rewriting it so that you have to log into a central server in order to access your saved games, is a huge downgrade. The only reason I can think of to do something like this is to achieve multiplayer capabilities and it doesn’t seem like your system does this. Can you explain why I should view saving my games on the server, requiring that I maintain a user account with you in order to play your game(s), as some kind of feature, instead of a rearrangement of the classic developer/user power structure so that way less power goes to the user and way more to the developer?

Once I am logged in, you can surveil my activity and ban me for capricious reasons. Why should I allow you that power? Give me a good reason.

I mean no offence, and it’s quite impressive (if perhaps a bit also-ran) that you have designed your own system. I hope it helps you to achieve your personal goals. But since you are coming here asking for users, perhaps you should explain why the changes you have made will benefit the user. (Like Tron – I fight for the user.)

I am reminded of Simcity’s recent, embarrassing debacle over pretending that server-restricted play is necessary for the user, because multiplayer was allegedly so integrated into the game, when it turned out that hackers showed the game is entirely playable without the server and basically it was all an excuse to enable DRM. This is a very bad point in history to be proposing that we all start logging into central servers in order to save our games, for apparently no reason at all other than that the developer wants our info.

At the very least, multiplayer features should be an absolutely inseparable requirement of the game in order for a login to be required to save my progress.

Thanks for your questions, Laroquod. You don’t have to create an account to play, you can just press the PLAY button and play like everyone does with Parchment. The creation of an account is only so you could come back to an in-progress game later from another machine, or if something happened to your browser cookies. People can pick if they want to make use of that feature or not. A login is NOT required. That is the improvement you asked about.

I’ve got an offline version to download and play, and it works on Mac and Linux, but it’s got a problem on Windows that I’m trying to solve. It was always my intention to also allow people to play the game on their own machine if they wanted. I’m not a great Windows debugger, and it may take some time to solve what’s going on there, and I thought people could still play online while I debug.

Thanks for explaining further, but just to clarify that explanation – one can play the game and have full access to save functionality without logging in? Those who log in are at no advantage in actually solving the puzzles, over those who don’t? (Both in the web and the downloadable versions?)

Right, when you go to the site and just press PLAY without creating an account, you can still save and restore your games. As long as you keep the browser cookie that identifies your session, you can play and restore all you want. The “account creation” function just gives you the ability to come back from another machine to your current or saved game, or if for some reason you lose your browser cookies. While playing in an account, you can literally stop typing commands (without even saving), go to another computer, log into the account again, and resume your game at the same point.

The gameplay within the game is identical whether you use an account or not. If you use an account and finish the game, it will list your account name in the Hall of Fame page, as a fun little reward.

The downloadable game will save to your own computer; it pops up the generic window to let you pick a directory and filename on your disk where to put a saved game file, and you can save as many as you want on your harddrive. The saved game files are transferrable to other computers, there’s nothing in them that locks them to one computer like iTunes tries to do. You can save your game state, reboot the machine, whatever, and resume play where you left off.


Thanks Mark! I will try it.