Is a GTA style game good for text adventures?

Hello, I’m Caleb Keim. I’m 13 years old and love making games in Inform 7. And I was wondering if a GTA style game would be good as an Interactive fiction? And if it’s good for text adventures, I was wondering what would be a good way to do it? Have a nice day.


If you’re talking about open world games, most Inform games can be described as GTA style.

But because specifically GTA is horribly overpacked with game mechanics, let’s see…

  • open world that you can drive/fly around - Rideable Vehicles by Graham Nelson - The Inform 7 Extensions Library
  • time tracking - basic, every Inform action takes 1 minute
  • attacking NPCs - basic
  • cutscenes - basic
  • randomly generated NPCs - nope, you’re on your own here
  • randomly generated NPCs with their own walking paths and problems - nope, and this is not something that you can do in your first game
  • popping up even more NPCs for the “wanted level” - oh no, this is beyond the last stop
  • dynamic weather - you’re on your own but this is much easier
  • save points - no extension but shouldn’t be a big problem
  • in-game emails and phones - Computers by Emily Short - The Inform 7 Extensions Library
  • currency - 9.4. Money and any menu extension for the shops
    …and so on.

For your first game, just do something static in the style that you want and then expand the simulation. Technical limitations are good because you don’t want to spend two weeks just coding a working elevator.


Thanks man, I’ll see what I can do.

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Hi Caleb!

I don’t see why not. But as Oreolek said, you’d probably not want to go too big and complicated at first.

You can make sure you have a cool city to drive and run through for starters. Have a few interesting buildings like a bank (to rob for money), a hospital (to get healed), a garage (to pimp out your ride), a 4-story car park (to steal new cars).

When you’ve got this basic, static city-network of locations, you can start adding all the exciting things happening in your city-streets. (Pedestrians, other drivers, road blocks at certain times,…)

Even before adding the busy bustling street traffic, I would probably write at least one straightforward adventure for your player character. One linear mission like “Get a car from the garage and rob the bank.” That would be great for the player to explore your city and for you to think of puzzles and obstacles.

You can always re-use and expand the basic city and add more weird and exciting stuff happening in part 2, 3, 4,…, just like GTA does.

Just my thoughts. (EDIT: a revision of my thoughts 3 posts down.)

Have fun!


Certainly in the “olden days” the first games many teenagers made with the adventure creation utilities were sprawling, recreations of real-world locations where you just mostly wandered around.

The setting tended to be their local town and the school they went to; featuring their teachers and friends. So, I guess, most teenagers’ first text adventures were Bully rather than GTA. :slight_smile:


I think they are a good topic for text adventures, and you are at a good age to realize such a vision - because i think it will take a lot of modern technology to make such a large scope game large and dynamic enough to feel alive and non empty.

The flip side is that I think that most existing engines are not designed for such large and dynamic simulations. You’ll have to build your own eventually.

In the interim my advice would be to learn what kind of puzzles or stories you want to tell without the burden of scale or dynamism.

It’s important to walk before you run. That might just be one game, before focusing on your larger creative vision.

Your first game could be amazing or it could be poor, but something with a smaller scope will be completed if you have a passion for it.

Everyone here I’m sure supports newcomers, so reach out for help along the way but make sure whatever you decide to do is something that makes you smile.

You have all the time in the world to disrupt things, and we want things to be disrupted, especially by younger authors. Learning the basics first however is always a good idea :slight_smile:


I just realized we’re telling Caleb to take it slow, start small,…

Caleb, ignore us old farts.

Run! Lunge headfirst into the challenge! Make whatever you feel like. Create the greatest GTA-inspired IF the world will ever see.

If you need technical or storytelling advice, there’s bound to be more than a few people here who can help. But don’t listen to us telling you to limit the scope of your vision.

(Everyone else: Yes, I know starting with a smaller, more manageable project is wise advice. Shorter time to completion - feeling of accomplishment - less chance of petering out - easier learning curve, yadda yadda blabla… Let’s dial down the wisdom and support Caleb’s enthousiasm with whatever help we can give.)


Of course we don’t want to quash enthusiasm, but it’s a common misstep-by-enthusiasm when learning a system - I learn how I want to make characters, so I spend weeks building 1000 character profiles to inhabit a world that doesn’t exist before I learn how to move them around or how to build the world.

The term for this is “scope” - the parameters of what you want to accomplish with any given game. The scope of GTA is massive - there’s a physical world consisting of miles of drivable road, multiple vehicles, hundreds of random and important NPCs, a combat system with lots of weapons, quests that are interlocking parts of a main story-arc, timed events, and more. Just a combat system with one weapon can be the focus of an entire game.

In general, if you’re just starting with tools you want to avoid anything large-scale at first. Prototyping is good. If you can make a small experience work, you’re on the path to making a larger one.

This just comes from experience. When I started with Inform7 I mapped out an epic grand-scale text adventure that I didn’t know how to implement, and it’s as of today (over a decade later) still unrealized. Since then, I’ve made several smaller games, a couple of larger ones, and then switched engines to a choice-narrative system to make even larger games when I realized Inform 7 didn’t give me the tools and control I wanted. That’s not to say Inform 7 isn’t great, it’s just the process of seeing several games through from beginning to end helped me make more specific choices about the best way to accomplish an entire game the way I wanted to do it.

You’ve got plenty of time, so play with the tools however you want, but don’t be afraid to make a working small prototype - with say one street, one car, one character, one weapon, and one building - as a step toward creating the larger game. When you know how everything works (and how you want it to work and the necessary effort involved) you’ll have a better grasp on how to expand the scope for a larger game. You may ultimately discover the story you want to tell doesn’t need a world as enormous as GTA and save yourself a lot of time that you’d have spent making 1000 characters you decide you don’t need.


You are right.

I want to give a bit of pushback against the very sensible, very predictable step-by-step advice and add a bit of Gung-Ho attitude to the thread.


Now pushback is true
$sensibility decreased to 6
$predictability decreased to 5
$GungHoAttitude increased from 2 to 3


Thank you! Sorry for not answering sooner. I’ve been in bed, but have a great day! :slight_smile:

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Oh my gosh! I used to LOVE Bully (the game) At one point in my life (When I was about 7. Lol) I would play bully on the ps2 for SO LONG my eyes were blood shot red. Probably shouldn’t have played for that amount of time! :slight_smile:


Thanks dude! I really appreciate it :slight_smile:

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How about a crossover? I think GTA: Mos Eisley could be a lot of fun. And that way you get to make up the location, since in the movie all that’s really nailed down is the Cantina and the Space Port.

The really great thing about text games is that you can set them anywhere you like, since describing an Aztec pyramid, a space station or Bladerunner style grungy alleyways are all at the same level of difficulty. So no reason to set it in as your local neighborhood unless you want to do that. Pick somewhere you’d really, really like to go, start at the place that most interests you and work outwards, describing the places as you go. (Don’t forget that in IF you have to tell the player which way roads/paths/tunnels go, so that they can get from one location to the next.)

Keep a notepad open by your pc as you work, so you can write down ideas for missions as you think of them.

Have fun!

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Reminds me that I’ve never played Westfront PC. I hear it’s a very large game with missions, but it doesn’t use procedural generation at all. Just a passion project that the author tinkered with for years and years, adding new stuff to it and releasing new versions. Over a thousand rooms, all written in BASIC, if you can believe it, so lots to explore, but some reviews say the mechanics are a bit clunky.


I’m not sure if we’ve got our wires crossed or not, but just to be clear: I wasn’t suggesting the OP use procedural generation for his game. I was only suggesting a way of working that would let him think about and organize the landscape as he wrote it room by room.

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