Command line comfort

I’m working on a game - no, strike that, I’m working on the engine for a game. The gist of it is a hacking game - hack into a secure network, uncovering facts and secrets as you go, and so on. The majority of the game will be spent at the command line, thus this poll.
Note that it won’t require any hacking skills; probably some neat extras if you know where to look, but otherwise, the game should help you through the commands and syntax.

I used to be comfortable with the DOS command line, years ago, when I used DOS …

Not sure where that fits in the poll. Maybe it puts me at the “cheat-sheet” level, since I only remember about half of the commands I used regularly in those days.

Never used the command line much, other than for navigation, really. a: to switch to the floppy, setup.bat or install.exe, then c:, cd sierra, cd PQ1, pq1.bat to start the game. cd\ for getting back to c:, dir and dir*.* and dir/p for directory listings… the most arcane commands I used were “view” and “edit”.

I was always, and still am, perfectly comfortable with it (in fact, I need to use it to de-blorb some games so I can play them on ZaxMidlet). I guess I used it at the most basic level, but never needed a cheat sheet, othen than when I was learning.

Oh, and let’s not forget memmkr. My life revolved around MemMaker for some of those games. As well as loading the mouse driver, and sometimes the sound driver, and…

…man, what a hassle THAT was.

I used the command line a while ago, and these days I use it very occasionally – I have a couple Java applications that run through .jar files that open the Terminal window (this doesn’t count, since I don’t have to use it myself) and I have occasionally used it to telnet into a server to play SLASH’EM. And I used it a bit to try out that one TADS interpreter. Also I played Dunnet in the Terminal for a bit, until I got to the point where you have to, well, use the command line.

As far as the game goes, I put myself in the “I’ll try it if you help me through” category. Dunnet and Virtuality (from the JayIsGames comp) felt too much like work. I can do command-line stuff if you tell me what I need to be doing, but I don’t much enjoy being tossed into it willy-nilly. This applies to my actual computer as well as IF; when I hear “You can do such-and-so for Mac, but you have to run it from the command line,” that usually leads me not to do such-and-so.

I use the CLI a lot, but only on Linux and Mac OS X. With both, I prefer the CLI for file management, searching and such. The Windows CLI is a nightmare to use, I stay away from it. It’s very crude and extremely user unfriendly.

I voted for #1, since there’s no middle ground between #1 and #2. I do own a mouse, and I like GUIs. I use them a lot. But also like the CLI.

I remember a little about using one - mostly navigational stuff. But it’s been years and years now.

I’d be interested in the game as long as I could feel like a hacker - a cheat sheet may not cut it, since if I’m always referencing one, that’s not really hacker-y. (On the other hand, it would take me back to the days when I had cheat sheets taped to my monitor. Good times.)

Oooooooh, I used to use ARJ for zipping and unzipping and fitting games into my floppies, all in DOS. THAT one had a lot of cheat sheets.

Ah, the memories.

I used DOS way-back-when. I missed it as everything started switching to Windows. I still remember the old commands (installed DOSbox a while ago, for some old software). I used a little VMS back in college.

But I never got the hang of unix or linux, and doing anything with accounts or privs (I assume an important part of a hacking game!) is pretty foreign to me. In general, my computer / math skills, beyond everyday stuff, are rusty from 15 years of disuse.

Sounds like a cool game concept. Let me know if you need any late-stage Beta testers. If I can get through it, probably most of your players can.


Most likely, my game would have a HELP command much like is already in Windows - “HELP DIR” would show you how to use the “DIR” command, something like:

DIR [path][filename] Given a path and filename, displays information about the specific file. Given only a path, lists files in the given directory. Given no filename or path, lists files in current directory.
The commands themselves would be simplified Windows and Linux commands, probably without many switches (that is, as useful as dir /ah is, I’d probably only implement dir). I’m also trying to implement a smart tab-completion, so you can type (for example) “who” and hit tab, and it auto-completes to “whoami”.

I’m hoping that the commands themselves will be simple enough that players will be able to use them without difficulty, but that there are enough commands with enough uses that it’s not boring - spending an hour cd’ing through directories and listing files is not my idea of fun. Though, at this point, 99% of my time has gone into creating the parser, with only some scribbled notes on the actual plot… but, I want to get it right before I worry about actually putting plot-related information in it.

Though, plot-wise, I’m not intending the hacking to be hardcore - no drafting buffer overflows to break into web sessions, for instance. It’ll mostly be like real hacking - using default passwords, or finding usernames and passwords left laying around, with only the occasional (and well hinted, to be sure) port scanning or IP-changing. Though I will throw in some interesting easter eggs for the more advanced players…

conradcook - sweet! Beta testing probably won’t happen for a while yet, but I’ll happily put your name down for when it does!

Is there a huge difference between command line interface and IF in general? I thought the latter was really just a simplified version of the former.

Well, command line interface works with such obscure commands as “dir /p”, “cd”, and such conventions as “X: to access drive X”.

IF works with such commands as “look”, “take”, “inventory”, “ask john about the fire”.

Command line interface allows you to navigate and interact with the contents of your computer.

IF allows you to navigate and interact with a modelled virtual world.

You COULD try navigating a command line interface with “go north”, but I’m not sure you’d go far.

Also: apparently there were some versions of DOS where “xyzzy” actually had a response.

I think you could argue either way; put succinctly: the command line interface is simpler in its implementation, while the IF interface is simpler in its ease-of-use. I’m hoping to use tab-completion and broad hints to make using my command line easier than dropping someone into a full command line…but, we shall see.

I seem to remember there was a game for the Amiga 500 (Yes I AM that old :wink: )
I believe it was called “The fourth protocol” It was a bit like the game you’re creating.
In this game, as I remember, you had to hack your way through various system gathering information or something like that.
It was a challenging game and I remember spending countless hours on it.
If your game is anything like it, I’m looking forward to play it.
Good luck

I’m confortable with *nix shells, particularly bash. Are the puzzles meant to be solved via shell scripts? :wink:

Merlin, in a command line you type cryptic commands for the machine to do something, in a IF parser you type commands resembling natural language for the player character to do something.

They’re not cryptic. They’re well documented. They are only cryptic to someone who can’t be bothered to RTFM :stuck_out_tongue:

There are several games you may want to check out: Uplink and the Hacker Evolution series. Both have the model of hacking into a server, stealing info, selling it, etc. They may give ideas for what to do or not do in your engine.

Another game that definitely should be mentioned here is the classic old AGT text adventure, CosmoServe by Judith Pintar. I played a little of it a long time ago. It’s sort of a simulation of the ancient command-line Internet (specifically CompuServe). And that description may be totally wrong, because the CosmoServe was written the same year I was born, and I don’t claim to understand how online communities worked back then, before the web.

I’m almost sure it was (at least also) for the C64. There is where i bashed my head countless hours.

[rant]The Fourth Protocol was a game from a book by Frederick Forsyth with the same name. Also there is a movie with Pierce Brosnan, iirc, playing the russian spy.[/rant]

Supposedly, the Wachovskies’ Matrix sequel tie-in game, Enter the Matrix, had a sequence like this, too. But I never got more than 5 minutes into that game.

I don’t think the documentation, or lack thereof, is what makes them cryptic. Memorability makes a big difference. If you forget “z” you can type “wait” - but if you forget the switches and options you need for “zip,” or the options available on the current platform’s version of “find,” you have to look them up again. Then there’s the test command and loop syntaxes, which vary between bash and c-shell varieties…

Actually, I wouldn’t call the Linux command line “well documented.” Man pages are written for people who already know the commands and want to use them more effectively, not for people who don’t even know which command to use.

I went for option #2 because OS X, FreeBSD and Linux are all pretty much the same OS from the perspective of the command line. I don’t remember Apple II+, C64, Atari 800, Acorn or VMS command line, and I have to struggle with Windows, although I use it at work.