history and influences - games and otherwise

i’m curious what games or other influences got you into making interactive fiction.

for me, that’s stuff like indiana jones and the fate of atlantis, and pajama sam, and spyfox and all of that stuff - the point and click games… which all started when I got a free SpyFox game with some cereal.

Point and click adventuring games got me to CYOA books on the recommendation of a friend in college who had the same likes, which i knew when she drew Putt-Putt on her books.

and that eventually got me into the app Text Fiction when I was sick at home for a week… which showed me the wonderous adventure of Tracy Valentia… yes my first IF was Interstate Zero…

and that got me here!

what was your road?

I came across Colossal Cave Adventure on some game compilation site several years ago. I played as far as I could before getting stuck, which was not very far, then did some research on the game. That led me to finding out about Infocom, playing several of those games, which led to researching the Z-Machine, then Glulx, then Inform 6, then Inform 7…

Ah, wow, memory lane. :slight_smile:


MaxiJogos, ERBE. A collection of games, each game (floppy disk version always) accompanied by an A4 booklet with information about the game, the manual, and often the walkthrough.

This was the first I actually knew of adventure games. I saw the Indy 3 one, the one which went “What would YOU do if you were Indiana Jones?”. As it happens, my mother did have an IBM PC at the time, and I was enough of a pest even as a kid to get it bought for me. I thought it was a film, at first. I was NOT disappointed when I found out what it actually was.

At least 50% of that collection was adventure games, and the really good stuff. Alongside Lotus and Links and Zool and Trolls you had Monkey Island 1, King’s Quest 5, Police Quest 3, Larry 1, Maniac Mansion, Loom, even the ones like Operation Stealth and Future Wars and Cruise For A Corpse.

Beautiful stuff. I played all of them with the walkthrough, I thought that WAS how you played it. The only thing I regret about it all is having had lots of games spoiled for me. But, it got me thinking in “adventure game” ways without any frustration, so hey!

Crazy days. I could spend up to an hour fiddling with the configuration, trying very hard to get the mouse AND the soundblaster working (under DOS, most of these games. Even if there WERE win versions available they looked better under DOS). It was a triumph to hear that soundtrack blasting away! But I still remember, way too vividly, the theme of Indy 3 and Monkey Island 1 in the PC Speaker… and I loved it!

Once my love for adventure games was well and truly underway, I bought the Roberta Williams Anthology, and had my first contact with the parser. Or maybe it was with the Police Quest anthology?.. the Space Quest one?.. the Leisure Suit Larry one?.. I forget. BUT, It was the coolest thing I’d ever seen! An interface that allowed for so much more versatility than the mouse!

Then there were some Shareware CDs floating around, some of them with adventure games. Doppy and Pru, Crypt, T-Zero… ah, the memories.

I was blown away when I got The Zork Anthology (I’m big on anthologies) and played the first Zork game. It was a magnitude of quality I’d never seen before. It got me involved the way no other text adventure had.

My first real experience with a text aventure game, maybe even before Zork, was an “adventure starter pack” that included Theater, Kissing the Budha’s Feet, The Lesson of the Tortoise, and some others. I remember playing Babel around this time too, but that one blew me away more than Zork so I think it came after.

Mind, all of this was before I was 13. Then there was a cycle of playing different genres, a decade where I didn’t touch IF but gorged on graphical adventures, and right now I still play the occasional graphic adventure but I’m mostly over-saturated (in a good way!) with IF.

Ah, nostalgia. :slight_smile:

EDIT - All the MaxiJogos games that COULD be in Spanish WERE in Spanish. I’d almost forgotten about that. It was ages before I found out what “sin embargo” meant.

EDIT 2 - Eeek. I remember I actually printed out all the feelies that came with Zork Zero. There was one that was supposed to be a scrap of parchment; I printed it out, then proceeded to thrash it and burn it at the edges and rub it with coffee until it looked as old as it should look.

This thread is an unholy Pandora’s Box.

EDIT 3 - For anyone who’s been trying to read this, I’m done editing and adding (eddinting?)

It’s my sister’s fault. :wink: She introduced me to BASIC and a little game she made. Years later I found some text games online. There was a short game about a phoenix being reborn, by Ambrosine. (Was that a tutorial game?) I also tried Humbug, and Supernova, and Photopia, and Glowgrass, and Worlds Apart, and one of the Sir Ramic Hobbs games. A few years after that, Thy Dungeonman showed up on homestarrunner.com and reminded me of the existence of text adventures, and a few years ago I had some free time and decided to try to learn Inform 7.

I came here via graphical adventures too. Except that’s just a fragment of the story.

Years ago, I only had a crappy laptop and an even crappier computer, so when I first started playing computer games I was limited to (a) certain indie titles and (b) old games that often predated me.

Indie games interested me first – small curious ones like gravity bone et al. I was never particularly fond of action games and the like, having done them to death round friends’ houses. So I purposely searched out something different. And to be honest the more story-heavy stuff I’d played on consoles, such as Fallout 3, I found far more impressive.

Anyway, while rummaging through the web for indie games I came across Gemini Rue. I found it incredible (likely because I had not seen anything similar). Then from there on it was GOG and all the adventure games it sold. As well as any abandonware ones I could find that looked not to be awful and unpayable.

Now here’s the interesting bit. My friend knew I had this somewhat peculiar interest, and introduced me to this obscure, ostensibly-retro iOS app he had found. It was Frotz.

The idea seemed so novel! Games with only words?

I recognised Zork, naturally, but it was the other games that really made me curious. I remember, quite vividly in fact, sitting in the school common room one lunch and browsing through Frotz on my now-defunct iPod Touch. I tried Spider and Web first. Of course I could barely play the game, but my goodness did it fascinate me. I must have spent the whole afternoon just testing the game and seeing what I could do and how verbs worked and becoming ecstatic at any sign of progress.

Then I pretty much went through most of the well-regarded IF works over a year or so. At some point, however, twine became a thing. And I didn’t like it. I thought it lacked interactivity, that it was centred more around narrow social issues and politics than game design and innovation, and so on.

But seeing stuff like Horse Master shifted my opinion somewhat and I started to dabble with Twine myself – though after having abortively dabbled with Inform 7, even reading from front to back Aaron Reed’s book, but never managing to finish a single Inform project.

Then I made a few games in jams, learnt a few things, and here I am.

Well, that was all rather fun to remember

I started out with text adventures, actually.

My dad introduced me to Colossal Cave Adventure when I was 5. (Honest to goodness. I used to carry a printout of the source code to daycare.) He also used to write small text adventures to entertain me as a kid. My parents were opposed to commercial video games, but I still got my hands on Wishbringer when I was 8 and Zork when I was 11. I thought text adventures were just the best ever.

Fast forward to 1996, and I discovered the multiplayer text game GemStone III via AOL. I went from constant player to volunteer customer service rep (GameHost) and then to dedicated employee (GameMaster). We had between 500 - 2,000 players online at any given time, and my primary duties were to design quests, build quest areas, and run live events, particularly ones promoting roleplay. Needless to say, I loved my job.

Around 2003 or so, I remembered about single player text adventures, and I started poking around the Internet. I don’t recall what inspired me exactly, but I suspect I was looking for the (fake/third-party) sequel to Colossal Cave Adventure that I’d glimpsed on Northwestern’s servers a decade before. I didn’t find the game I was looking for, but I did find r.a.i.f and the term “interactive fiction”.

Somewhere, I found a list of recommended games, and I dove in. Shade was the first modern era game that I played, followed by Shrapnel, 9:05, Spider and Web, Firebird, and the Djinni Chronicles, all back to back. And, of course, I discovered the existence of Inform 6 - which meant that I could make single-player text adventures, too.

It felt like I was coming home. I think I’ve never stopped feeling that way.

The first text adventure I remember playing was Scott Adams’s Pirate Adventure on my TI-99/4A when I was 11 or 12. I feel like I knew about text adventures and Infocom even before then, though-- perhaps from magazine articles/ads, maybe in Dragon magazine? The first Infocom game I played was Deadline on my friend’s Apple //c, and later Zork 3 and Suspended on a different friend’s Commodore 64. I had an Atari 800 in high school and it was pretty hard to find Infocom games for the Atari by then (mid-'80s) but I did eventually find a copy of Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. I never did finish it-- I got pretty far into it only to discover that I couldn’t win because I had discarded the pocket fluff near the beginning, and I didn’t want to start all over!

I had a small paperback book about how to write text adventures for the TI-99/4A, which I think came with a type-in adventure in BASIC, some sort of detective thing I think (I remember you were searching someone’s office, and it had a blank notepad that you could make a rubbing of to determine the password that someone had written on a sheet that had been removed). There was also a type-in adventure game in COMPUTE! magazine for the Atari 800, set in a circus (probably a Ballyhoo derivative). Anyway, I had plenty of exposure to the idea of writing text adventure games, but I never quite got as far as writing my own-- I never had any game ideas detailed enough to turn into a working game. At one point I started trying to convert a D&D adventure from Polyhedron magazine into a text adventure, but I didn’t get past a few pages of written notes.

In college I discovered MUDs, which were described to me as “like multi-player Zork”. Yes please! I built a few things here and there on various MUDs and MOOs through the '90s, including recreating the infamous key-in-keyhole-on-the-other-side-of-the-door puzzle (which I first encountered in the Wonderland game by Magnetic Scrolls). I always liked the idea of making a multi-player puzzle, and I even started a short-lived mailing list for MPIF (multi-player interactive fiction), but I never actually made one (again, lack of detailed ideas).

In 2009, my friend Kevin Jackson-Mead started participating in Interactive Fiction Writing Month, and organized a couple meetups for Boston-area people who were also participating. I felt too busy at the time to give IFWM a try, but I tagged along to the meetups anyway. That soon morphed into a monthly general-interest IF meetup, which was later christened the People’s Republic of Interactive Fiction (PR-IF). It was at one of those meetups that Kevin brought up the idea of entering multiple games into IF Comp 2011 that were secretly connected as a meta-puzzle, and I volunteered to write one of the games. Which is how I finally ended up writing my first IF game, almost 30 years after playing Pirate Adventure…

My first adventure game was The Hobbit (Melbourne House - ebay.com/itm/The-Hobbit-Melb … 1c51b8ab47), that was included among other arcade titles in a C-60 cassette a neighbor of mine copied for me around 1984, when my ZX Spectrum had been already ordered and was expected to get to my hand within days.

I had read The Hobbit book for the first time recently, so once I got my compiter the game trapped me, despite my english was terribly poor by that time, so I was playing with a english-spanish dictionary beside the computer.

Some years ago I bought a copy of that game and it’s now in my collection (no more pirate hobbit playing). I still had to buy it from ebay UK, cause the game, as most 80s english adventure games, was never sold in Spain. Despìte of that, all my IF knowledge came from the UK scene, and later the spanish scene, and was never influenced by Infocom games, that I started to know in mid 90s and I have to admit I have never player (yeah, none of them)

The first computer games I remember playing were Mystery House and Wizard & The Princess, with my dad, on the Apple II+ when I was about 6. Those were the first two parser adventure games with graphics.

Through the 1980s as a kid/teen I encountered a mix of Scott Adams games, all kinds of Apple II graphic adventures (Lucifer’s Realm, Masquerade, Borrowed Time, et al) and a few Infocom games. I made a few parser text adventures of my own in BASIC. I didn’t get to try an Eamon game until the 1990s, and then I made a few Eamons.

Then I didn’t have anything more to do with puzzly adventure games for a long time, except occasionally playing Apple II ones. Like, about 20 years. Then I made a horror Eamon game in 2010, found IFComp, put it in IFComp, and here(?) I am.


For me it was some of the Scott Adams’ games in the late 70’s. They were on cassette tape which was almost an adventure in itself to get them loaded into my Exidy Scorcerer. Then a few of the magazines had some type-in adventures (BASIC) that not only required good eyesight to read the text but also a lot of perseverance to debug my typos as well as a few in the programs themselves.
Later I got a disk drive with CP/M and that was when I first played ZORK.

Then real life took over and several years later, I came across “The Lost Treasures of Infocom” & “Classic Text Adventure Masterpieces” both of which I still have.
It wasn’t until the late 90’s that I came across a 4 part article in a British magazine - PC Plus that showed how to use Inform 6 to create your own text adventure. I checked out the link provided and the rest, they say, is history.

I don’t write my own stories but “translate / port” some of the early BASIC games into the modern languages. I also have most of the Usborne series of books and a few old mags - Creative Computing & Byte that had articles about adventures. I have a copy of “The Captain 80 Book of BASIC Adventures” from which I still get some of the one I dabble with in Inform, Adrift & Quest. I still prefer to call them adventures even though Interactive Fiction does seem more appropriate. I suppose it is just an age thing relating to my introduction to the genre.

I think somewhere along the way my kids picked up some CYOA books in the local library but I never got into them much. Maybe I should try to port something to Twine or Squiffy. - Another retirement project. Later retirement - as I am still too busy to spend much time with these yet having only been retired for a month.

I also remember someone showing me the Space Quest & Police Quest series along with the Leisure Suit Larry games. I played these and have just recently come across the Broken Sword series. Not sure if I prefer the text only over the graphical ones - possibly I will still play both as they each have their own appeals.

For me, it was Zork (I think 1982). I was obsessed with it. There was a game store near my father’s office, and he’d bring home each Infocom game when it came out. At the end of high school, he bought me the set so I could have my own copies to take to college. A few years ago, I moved to playing IF on the iPad via Frotz. So it’s been more than 30 years of games.

My whole life, I’ve been trying to find other people who liked interactive fiction as much as I did. And then I found this forum. Blew my mind.

I also came here from point and click adventure games. I don’t know how I discovered IF, but it was probably due to a cross post between the IF usenet groups and comp.sys.ibm.pc.games.adventure which was one of the first places I found when I got internet access. Csipga was the first web forum where I was a regular (even though it wasn’t technically part of the web). The Augmented Fourth was the first IF I played, which was a very good thing. I love that game.

I never got into making IF though, as I don’t have the required skills, so I’ll just stick to being a player. (And make point and click adventures. I’ve only made one of those, but I’ve not completely given up on making another yet.)

I was always into computers as a kid, mostly the kind that were basically keyboards that plugged into your TV. I had a TRS-80, an Atari 400, a Timex Sinclair, and eventually a Commodore-128. I have vague memories of typing in code from old magazines like Rainbow, and eventually sometime before high-school writing my own text parser.

I remember playing Hitchhiker’s Guide in the school computer lab in 1989 or 1990. I remember playing Return to Zork and Leather Goddesses of Phobos. But mostly, I liked figuring out how to code, treating it like a puzzle, figuring out what worked and didn’t.

When I discovered TADS 2 through raif I spent months working on ridiculous projects of unimaginable scope until they ran into memory issues, then dropping them for an equally overly ambitious project. I didn’t even really care if I finished anything (I never did), I just like coming up with new solutions and ways to optimize complex (to me) simulations.

I’m probably forgetting a lot.

I read and liked CYOA as a kid, but preferred less gimmicky books. The story could easily have ended there for me, but it all changed this year.

In the midst of my increasingly-desperate attempts to make money from writing fiction (I write novels - the first is coming out in 2016), a friend sent me to Choice of Games. The first game I read was “The Last Monster Maker”, then “Choice of Broadsides”, then “Choice of Robots” (really really good). And I wrote my own steampunk game, learning ChoiceScript as I wrote. I’m not particularly good with computer stuff, but I loved ChoiceScript at once, which opened up a whole new world for me. So I fell in love with IF and with IF engines at the same time… although the engines hurt my brain more than the choices do.

I’m drowning in new knowledge and new possibilities and in the vast unknown (to me) world of IF. I’ve looked at Twine a little, and I think Inklewriter is next on the agenda. From a dead stop, I’ve written two ChoiceScript games (one’s in my signature…if I even did my signature properly) and outlined a third. I’m currently working on a steampunk game for the Warhammer Prize, then I’ll write…I don’t even know yet… for the IF Comp. After a few minutes looking at Twine I started a game there, but I’m not sure I’ll finish that one. I like the depth of ChoiceScript, and the novel-ish-ness. To me it feels like writing a book that’s been written specifically for my mood. If I can just get IF on my (ancient, Australian) kindle the world will be a shiny happy place.

I’m surprised noone’s mentioned Joe Dever’s Lone Wolf series. I was obsessed with them as a kid and even now I’ll still replay them when I’m feeling nostalgic and in the mood for something uber-campy. The whole series is available for free online at projectaon.org/ if anyone’s interested, btw.

I never got the Lone Wolf, but I played the HECK out of Fighting Fantasy! I had the whole set, at least as far as I know - at least I had all the ones I could find (in Portuguese) and they were a complete set.

They were my adventure games for when I didn’t have a computer.