How long is too long?

I’m in the process of planning/writing my first work of Interactive Fiction now, and after planning it out a bit I realised it would have 105 rooms. Now my question is, what’s the average number of rooms for an IF? Is this too big? Should I downscale it a bit since this my first IF project?

It really depends what you’re doing in the rooms and how long that takes, whether visiting all the rooms is necessary, whether your game is exploratory or puzzley, whether each room is chock full of content or relatively terse…

All that said, 105 does seem like a big number.

One answer: If you make good use of 105 rooms, it’s the right number for you.

Another answer: For a first IF, 105 sounds like a ton of rooms. A huge amount of work to do. By current trends, it’s also a lot of rooms (IE most games atm don’t have anywhere near that.) I would go smaller, unless there’s lot of walking through empty but atmospheric rooms in your game.

As others already have said, this is a question with several possible answers.

105 rooms does seem like a lot.

Maybe the game you have in mind is really huge. In that case, it might be a good idea to do something smaller first. That’s the conventional wisdom, because for most people that means a larger chance of actually finishing the thing. But maybe you’re the kind of person for which a huge project is a better fit than something small. (I’m not really a small project person myself. Each project I’ve started has taken years to finish.)

But when I read that you wrote “105 rooms”, my first thought was that your game probably will be better if you cut most of those. There are better ways to give a feeling of distance or space than including lots of rooms. Especially if they are (mostly) empty. That’s likely to bore the player. But then again, you may have an excellent reason for all those rooms to exist. Just don’t do it without thinking about it.

I think the problem isn’t the number of rooms but if they’re interesting or not.

To add to the chorus: the average number of rooms for an IF is not a useful or valuable number for determining quality or making design decisions.

A work should have the number of rooms that it needs to remain awesome.

Density is the crucial metric here. Even if your desired setting is somewhere where a lot of trudging around would happen in real life, consider making some player shortcuts. For example, after the first time traversing ten “rooms” of open field to get between the farm house and the post office, simply print something like “(After walking for an hour, you reach…) The Post Office,” increment the turn counter accordingly, and move on. Unless your goal is actually to punish your player for forgetting some item back at the post office, in which case you probably still want to have a hard look at whether that’s helping you achieve your ludological or narrative goals.

As an aside, Zork I has 110 rooms - but there are quite a few ‘pseudo’ rooms, or rooms with little content. The mazes come to mind.

I’m working on my first IF game and I’m at 37 rooms currently. And man, I feel like I have a lot of work ahead of me to make what I’ve got interesting. I think I’m somewhere around 25% complete in terms of the total game, but from a room perspective, maybe 2/3 of the way there. If I get over 50 rooms, it’s probably too many for me. All that scenery to create… all those descriptions… and how do I make them interesting?

If you can do it in less, do it in less. It’ll be easier to implement and more interesting for the player.


It’s funny, this thread made me go check the room count on my WIP. I’ve been working on it for about 6 months and I expect it to take at least another 6 months to be really finished. It’s hard to guess how big it will be for players but I’m guessing it will be too big for IFComp. It has all of 14 rooms and I keep debating whether to get rid of two of them…


On the game I am working on I have over 70 rooms and that is just the opening act and bits of pieces without even getting to the “main” dungeon.

Yes a group of them work as a maze (only nine) and the other form part of a landscape to give the illusion of depth if you stray off the main pathways.

Other then that, they are paths, forests, some buildings, a temple, a pub, a cliff (not Richard) and a few other bits and pieces.

I was thinking the final total was going to come in about 300 or so. Perhaps I need to step back a bit. :ugeek:

In my world there is easter eggs ( actually a selection of eggs ) and so much daftness to find, that it just needs so many rooms.

How deeply are your rooms implemented? If you have implemented 70 rooms with the kind of depth that is usual in modern IF, I am impressed. If not – if they are mainly just names with perhaps one or two lines of description and few or no objects – then you should definitely think about your design. I certainly believe that a “many rooms, sparse implementation”-approach can work for some games, but you will have to convince your players (and yourself) that your game belongs to that category.

Obviously, if you have put all your rooms full of fun stuff, there is nothing to worry about. But if there are fifteen rooms called “Road” that the player has to traverse whenever he wishes to go from A to B, you might be in for some tough reviews.

What games, or what kind of games?

Certain types of dungeon crawl. A game where travelling through expansive landscapes is an important part of the experience (an IF version of Shadow of the Colossus?). Probably many more, but I cannot do an exhaustive brainstorm of unmapped artistic territory.

Damn you, you have got me sat here seriously thinking now on what should I do…

:bulb: :bulb: :bulb:

…more flesh on the bones on perhaps less bones to cover?

You could of course try what you have now on one or more alpha testers, and see what they think of it. Perhaps what you have is perfect – there is certainly no hard rule valid for all works.