Philosophy and goals of Text Adventure Literacy Jam

I’m confused by some of the comments in this thread. I’ve been very busy the past year or so, so haven’t kept up with things, but the Text Adventure Literacy Project (TALP) and the associated Text Adventure Literacy Jam was originally designed to create text adventures suitable for beginners/new players (particularly children) who had no prior experience of text adventures.

[Edit: I’ve just noticed that Josh has already pointed this out earlier in the thread. As have others.]

Writing an adventure suitable for beginners is a very interesting challenge in itself. One that makes it more of a different sort of competition than others. If the focus moves away from that aspect then it just becomes yet another competition.


Harry, no offense, but you have this completely wrong. I suggest you read Chris Ainsley’s article on the Text Adventure Literacy Project, which is linked at the top of the competition’s home page. The first sentence of that article states:

The TALP project aims to provide a friction-less method of teaching the next generation how to play text adventure games.

Also, this is not an Adventuron game jam. It is a competition open to all parser-based authoring systems. Custom systems have featured in most (if not all) of the competitions. Adventuron games are probably popular because it is easy to learn, but, as we have discovered this year, it is not necessarily easy to write a good game in Adventuron without a lot of effort.

It warms my heart to hear this. That was Chris Ainsley’s goal all along. In fact, he tried very hard to get Adventuron into the education system as a learning tool. As a player, text adventures are a fantastic way of encouraging creative thinking, logical deduction, problem solving and reading skills. As an author, it also encourages creative writing and computer programming skills. I know that it has been used in some schools and universities with great success. Kids love writing and playing each other’s games.

I am taking note of all the useful suggestions and will certainly do something to make sure that potential authors know how to write a beginner-friendly game next year.


Actually, reading Chris Ainsley’s TALP description ( here ), I found this sentence :

" 2. To teach a new generation the skills required to play classic text adventure (interactive fiction games), and in doing so, encourage a new generation to create their own games."

So it should indirectly encourage game creation by the new generation.

Of course, the organizers can change the purpose going forward, learning from previous years and what motivates them. For instance, it seems that the focus on “a new generation” is less pronounced in later years, at least, we don’t have to aim for kids, just beginners.

My personal take is, that we can’t have a competition where it is not allowed that some entries are weaker than others. However, the winning game will usually be a good fit for beginners, I hope. I mean, it doesn’t matter if a game is extremely beginner friendly if it is no fun. And we should not underestimate the new player’s ability to solve puzzles, once they have learned the mechanics. So hard puzzles later in the game should be perfectly fine, as long as the player had a chance to learn the mechanics.

Finally, I guess it is important how new players find the games. If they look at competition entries on, I suppose they will probably play the best ranked games anyway(?)


Exactly. Chris’ point 2 that you quoted is the second bullet point in the introduction on the competition’s home page. The first step is to teach a new generation the skills required to play text adventures. Once you’ve grabbed their attention and got them hooked, then maybe some of them will be encouraged to write their own games. But you have to teach them those skills first and that is the goal of the TALJ.

Incidentally, “new generation” doesn’t necessarily mean children. The first TALJ was targetted at children, but this was relaxed for the second TALJ onwards.


Right, so it’s a secondary goal on one of three criteria. Clearly not primary.


Nothing wrong with aiming for secondary goal. Cancel culture much?

Please keep the discussion civil.

@ramstrong Suggestions are good, but constructive discussion is better. That’s why this thread was split. Threatening to take your ball and go home because people disagree is not constructive.

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This calls for an education 101 solution: mentoring.

Get experienced volunteers to agree to mentor one or two new authors in TALJ every year. Give those volunteers a toolkit, like a few games that are great examples of what the comp wants to pass on to their mentees, and the answers to all these basic questions. Mentors will be in contact via PM or email and will agree to playtest the new authors’ games and help them get more testers here. Mentors can direct more serious coding/design questions here and help newcomers understand conventions in getting help.

This would help more new authors finish projects. It would help those projects be more in line with the goals. And it would encourage those authors to be part of this community.


Also, someone should really write a stock tutorial room that people can just plug into their games like an extension. I’ve been meaning to do it forever but I just never have time, and also I suck at coding and no one should ever look at my code and think that it’s a good way to do things. Maybe have a little one-time comp/jam for this with a nice prize so that you’ll get some options.


Yeah, that would be great! But I fear that would be in Inform7 which is excellent for many people, but not for me…


In the old days you could stick an introductory game on the other side of the cassette tape to help newbies. :slight_smile: Even if your authoring system doesn’t give you access to “extensions”, I guess there’s nothing to stop you making a simple tutorial game and including it wherever you share your latest game.

I’ve just started including some brief introductory sections, with simple puzzles, in more recent games. They usually take the player through the basics, with some helpful prodding, and help set expectations of how I do things… such as having search and examine be different. :wink: Which is probably useful to know on a game by game basis, even for experienced adventures!


Ideally there could be a version in every major language that people are using for this, generic enough that people could adapt it for their stories. Introduce compass movement, EXAMINE, basic object manipulation, and any special mechanics for their individual game.

The way I’ve done it in my recent Inform games, it displays a little suggestion before the prompt, guiding you to the first command from a given list that the player hasn’t used yet. Then the introduction portion of the game is designed to require all the commands from that list. I think in Enigma of the Old Manor House it’s LOOK, EXAMINE, GO, OPEN, and PUSH, or something like that. Death on the Stormrider adds the game-specific command HIDE and adapts its guidance to where you currently are in the first puzzle.


1.) We hold a tiny comp right here. 10 people contribute $50 for a $500 prize, or $300 for 1st place, $200 for second place, or something like that. That should motivate people. We don’t need a website or itch or anything like that. Just a forum topic where people can post their code along with the playable demos.
2.) People write short, tight, well-coded, one or two room tutorials in whatever genre they like: funny, horror, sci-fi, whatever. And in whatever coding system they like.
3.) We vote. Someone wins. Any tutorials that need work can be amended after feedback. They’re all put open-source on GitHub or somewhere.
4.) Nice helpful people translate the 2 top tutorials into the major coding systems just because they’re great people.
5.) People use them at will and can alter them at will to fit their games.


Isn’t it like the IntroComp but for tutorial?

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IntroComp intros aren’t supposed to be generic, though; they’re supposed to have a clear idea of what’s coming after. I think the idea of these would be that they can be slotted into any game.

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By languages, you mean coding language/program/format/system, right? Not language language?

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Yes. I guess I should say “system” instead of language?

Edit: post edited to reflect that.

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you should prob edit 4) as well :stuck_out_tongue:

EDIT EDIT: could the IFTF offer some sort of grant for this? :thinking:

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In an essence, this is what the original Adventuron & TALP game jams were designed to produce… Fairly small and simple games that would teach newcomers the basics they’d need to pick up to go on to tackle regular text adventures and parser IF.


There must be some in previous TALP games that could be adapted? More than happy to share my (2-room) Adventuron tutorial from the talp game, with no claims to its particular efficacy or elegance. It’s fairly story-specific though. More robust now after several disobedient beta testers battered it.