I’m wrestling with my “new to IF” instructions for the Comp. Frankly, I’ve never seen a new player be helped much by instructions in a game; it seems to take guidance by a more experienced player to get them going.
I’m posting them here in hopes someone with more experience writing games can tell me whether or not these are adequate.
Parser-based Interactive Fiction, like this game, is played by reading the story and typing responses. Generally, you begin by examining objects around you, examining yourself, and seeing what, if anything, you are carrying. To examine an object, type ‘examine hat’ or simply ‘x hat.’ To examine yourself, type ‘x me.’
You almost never have to type the full object description. For instance, if the game tells you there is a shiny white diamond here, you can type ‘x shiny,’ or ‘x white,’ or ‘x diamond.’ As long as there aren’t any other diamonds, or shiny objects, or white objects, the game will know that you mean the diamond.
In most games, you can ‘take’ or ‘get’ objects, and type ‘i’ for ‘inventory’ to see what you are carrying. In this game, however, you cannot take anything and you will have no inventory.
You can move in the directions the game indicates by typing directions like ‘n’ for ‘north,’ or ‘u’ for ‘up’, etc.
In most games, you can use other verbs, and you may need to experiment to know what works in each game, like ‘open box,’ ‘close door’, ‘listen,’ ‘talk to princess,’ etc. Very few standard verbs will work in this game other than ‘examine’, ‘look’ (to see the full room description again), and directional commands. The game will teach you what verbs you can use, and you can always type VERBS to see what verbs you currently know how to use.
Playing through an IF game usually requires careful reading and attention to detail. Examine everything, make a map of the game, and experiment to find out what you can and cannot do.
A very good primer for playing IF can be found at
The game asks at the beginning if you are new to IF (y/n) and brings this up. Is that annoying to the target audience of more experienced players?
Anything unclear or poorly phrased here for new players? Is anything important missing? I ran it by a few people who are totally unwilling to play IF at all (almost everyone I know), and they weren’t very helpful since they aren’t going to play the game.
If you like these instructions, feel free to take and modify them.