Good games for beginners?

I was just thinking, maybe we ought to try and compile a list of ‘newbie-friendly’ games, so that anyone coming here will have an idea of where to start.

I believe the first IF game I played was HGttG, which in hindsight I would not recommend to someone just starting out. (That babelfish puzzle is murder, though luckily I stumbled across the rest of the IF Community while looking for a solution. :slight_smile:)

Off the top of my head, I can think of Dreamhold and City of Secrets as being good for newbies, but of course not everyone likes fantasy, so, what else? Maybe Photopia? Any other ideas?

Normally I’d go with somehting like Luminous Horizon, my fave game of the past few years, but as it’s the third and final game in a trilogy, it’s probably not a good one to start with.

I’d go with The Baron. It’s impossible to render it unwinnable, and has a lot of room for replay. You don’t exactly have to interact with anything to even complete the game.

Four games I usually recommend:

Wearing The Claw by Paul O’Brian
Photopia by Adam Cadre
Aayela by Magnus Olsson
My Angel by Jon Ingold

Story driven games with easy puzzles to work on.

We’ll probably get into this more in September, when the “official” discussion begins, but I wouldn’t recommend “The Baron” to an IF beginner. Granted, it’s easy to win with so many choices covered, but the subject matter is kind of dark as an initiation for first-timers. It’s more the kind of thing you’d recommend to somebody who’s already familiar with the various forms of IF and stories that can be told.

On a tangent, I was thinking the other day about a “puzzle gauge” type of game. Something with difficult puzzles that initially require things like “search” or “look under table”, but get gradually easier the longer it takes to solve. I have no idea how to design something like this, but in theory, it could be a benchmark as to how “skilled” a player’s puzzle-solving is. Somebody could play the game, and then get a score (or ranking) as to their puzzle-solving ability, perhaps ranging from “able to read the author’s mind” at the high end, to “able to solve difficult puzzles”, to “able to solve well-clued puzzles”, to maybe “totally incapable of solving puzzles” at the low end.

I guess it would still be hard toclassify existing games based on the “level” of player it’s intended for, even if you could identify the player’s skill level.

I must be missing out on the IF scene. I’ve only played one of those and didn’t like it much.

EDIT: just noticed the italics are working in that post. Have they been fixed then?

I think a good beginner game would be “The Oracle” located in the IF archive to introduce the community, or they could dive right into Zork with the help from a walkthru. Everyone knows you can’t solve Zork without one.

To this day, I’ve played maybe the first screen of Zork. Perhaps not even that much – I might have just seen the initial text someplace. And here I call myself an IF enthusiast. Pshaa!!

I missed the whole Zork thing back in the days when it was first released and in fact never played it until a few years ago. Never liked it much either. Maybe it was a product of its time (i.e. you had to be there to appreciate its genius) but I just never warmed to it.

Yeah I was there for Zork, whereas Adventure was ahead of me by a moons throw. But even during Zork years, I was spending more time playing Wizardry and Karateka on a Franklin Ace.

My very first text adventure was “High School Adventure” which I solved which was very rewarding to me at the time.

I don’t remember the first text adventure I played but one of my early ones was The Hobbit. I’d like to recommend that… but it’s not a game for beginners, even if they’re fans of the retro scene. There are a few retro games I can recommend like The Big Sleaze and Mordon’s Quest as being relatively newbie-friendly, but again they’re retro games and what was considered perfectly acceptable in a retro game isn’t these days.

Ditto on that. The Baron might be easy to finish but I seriously doubt it would make for a good ‘first impression’ of IF. (I’ll wait to elaborate until the discussion in September too.)

I think I’m going to go ahead and recommend ‘Gourmet’ here. There are puzzles, but none of them are exactly hard, (I didn’t once have to resort to hints, and that’s almost unheard of for me…) and it’s just a fun game all around.

There are in fact at least three people for whom The Baron was the first piece of IF they ever played, and they all appreciated it. In general, I foresee no problems with the piece if the reader is a person who is acquainted with and appreciates dark/shocking narratives. Having played a lot of IF has little to do with it, being able to watch Requiem for a Dream to the very end perhaps more.

The reason that the piece may nevertheless not be a good starting point for beginners is that it is not much of a starting point. I could make a list of games that you may like if you like The Baron, but it will not be a very long list. (It would contain pieces like Shade and Slouching towards Bedlam.) The piece is, after all, rather atypical.

(My italics seem not to work?)

Not just yours. I don’t know what it is about this version, but it does that to everybody. Sometimes it will work, but I don’t know why. This is a beta version. I don’t know if Rioshin has checked into updating it yet, or if there even is an update.

Even though this is not a recent thread I’d like to add mine:

A Bear’s Night Out
Winter Wonderland
The ‘Earth & Sky’ games
My Angel
The ‘Frenetic Five’ games

These are all fun, straightforward, enjoyable adventure games, with some puzzles, some story, high quality writing, and satisfying endings. If I had to pick one and only one out of all of those, I’d go with Earth & Sky for sure.

To me, just because we’re talking about newcomers to IF doesn’t mean you need to go puzzle-less. People are smart. I would rather go with middle-of-the-road, fun games which show the possibilities of the medium in both story and gameplay without getting hung up on experimentation and pushing the envelope too much.

I would hesitate to introduce someone with Baron, Shade, Bedlam, Vespers, Kaged, Roads, or any of the philosophical / heavy games -unless- I already know that they enjoy that kind of reading.

There are exceptions of course (Hey, I learned IF on Infocom’s ‘Suspect’ and ‘StarCross’ which my dad misguidedly bought me, they are pretty much the most hopelessly difficult pieces of IF you will -ever- find -anywhere-, I have never solved one single puzzle in either one, but I still had a blast and turned out alright IF-wise :slight_smile: ) In the end it comes down similar to recommending a book to a friend: you have to know what they like. But if in doubt, these games are representative of typical -good- pieces of IF.

–Edit: Also, all these games have something which is critical for newcomers, I think: Pacing and goal-orientation. From the very beginning you are told, ‘This is your goal. That’s where you gotta go do it. Go.’ Instead of, ‘You wake up in your room. … Now what?’ Which can be really frustrating for a first-time player. Not to say some of the ‘heavy’ games don’t have good pacing, but in general.

:question: I dowloaded and installed gargoyle for windows. I think I did I right. I played wearing the claw a few years back. I absolutely loved it. I am so addicted to these types of games. How do I get them- Where? And, I need for you to be specific. I’m somewhat computer eliterate. Not totally but somewhat. I’d appreciate any help you could give me. I am presently playing TADS. I’d like to branch out. Thanks :mrgreen: GEES

Your best bet’s to check out Baf’s Guide:

All the games in the IFArchive are neatly catalogued on there, and they’re a lot easier to find than trying to navigate your way through the Archive itself.

I’ve made a game just for newbies. Check out my website.

it’s called as Text Adventure Tutorial

I mostly agree with Tropico.

Here’s what I generally recommend to novices: short, fun, straightforward engaging games with a fair bit more puzzles rather than huge maps or, indeed, prose. The Dreamhold is a truly lovely game, but I think there’s a bit too much prose to it, even as it try hard to guide the player and be as helpful as, well, a tutorial game. Didn’t quite work for me as a tutorial, but then I’m not a novice…

here’s a few of my picks:
9:05, by Adam Cadre. You wake up late and the boss is shouting at the phone. Very, very short but worth a replay. :slight_smile: I think it’s the prototypical novice game for being so short and at the same time covering a good deal of IF mechanics. More so than Photopia, which has dense prose and may seem to be a very, very long game… :slight_smile:

Aisle, by Sam Barlow. A one-turn “game” that represents moments in the life of a man. Is it possible not to just love this work and the backstory? Short and yet very deep and engaging.

Shade, by Andrew Plotkin. Like Aisle, it’s a great one-room “game” but offers a more diverse range of action within its claustrophobic constraints. I thought of adding Spider and Web instead, because as well as being a very solid game it’s also very novice-friendly because of the way how it’s narrated. Either way, 2 mind-expanding zarf games…

Balances, is a small gem by Graham Nelson, originally only intended as a demo for Inform. Holds up quite well as a surreal fantasy game itself, inspired by Spellbreaker. Possibly one of the most difficult of the lot: fair, logic contextual puzzles that demand a bit of attention, though.

All Things Devours, by half sick of shadows. A dark and somber game that is still pretty straightforward and fun to play. You’re set to enter a military base to seek to destroy a dangerous prototype.

FailSafe, By Jon Ingold. This is engaging because of the way it addresses the dichotomy player-player character: you as the player is contacted by the player character which is the sole survivor of a spaceship crash. Your mission: to help him by radio to regain control of the ship before it crashes on a nearby moon.

Metamorphoses, by Emily Short. I think it’s kinda sad that she doesn’t list this early work among her works in her blog, because early or not, it’s still possibly one of her best novice-geared games. Featuring poetic concise prose describing fantasy settings and delicious puzzles, it’s a sure bet more for novices more so than the denser City of Secrets and I guess more engaging as a game than the dialogue with Galatea.

too bad only zcode so far has gone web, which is a shame because I have lots of TADS recommendations and a few HUGO too… anyway, I think someone is much better off looking for recomentations at: