Playing in the terminal

I’m not even a retro gamer, but I have often enjoyed playing IF in a command-line-based interpreter environment. Right now, the only interpreter I have installed on the only non-mobile desktop system that I currently have set up for my personal use, is the glulxe terminal program.

I don’t work in the terminal for my day job, or even often as a hobby, but it feels nicely minimalist.

I hoping it’ll help me choose what to play by narrowing the choice set to those that work in the specific interpreter environment.


I suppose it does, but you’ll find you still have plenty of choices!

They’re arranged by theme, not format, but Mathbrush’s lists on IFDB are a great place to find things you might be interested in.

You’ve got a lot of great games ahead, have fun!


I don’t know. If standard Twine and ChoiceScript games work in Lynx, and they well might, then, given that most parser games do run in the terminal, the majority of IF can be run in the terminal with little hassle. So not much narrowing would occur.


Ink and dendry games are playable in a terminal too !


Most text-mode browsers (lynx, w3m, (e)links), as generally shipped, don’t support Javascript. So no Twine and (now I check) no ChoiceScript.


I’ve played many games in the terminal. Not just because it’s retro/minimalist, but it’s convenient too - I can keep it running on a Linux machine (currently my office computer at work) and just SSH into it from wherever (home computer, laptop, phone) and keep playing where I left off.

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If you like the look of the game in the terminal, then you’re all set up.

But many (or at least some) interpreters, specifically Gargoyle, do more than just display the text and a prompt. They are meant to format the text in a nice way, including anti-aliasing and line spacing.

So if you’re planning on spending some hours staring at a window, then you might want to at least check out some of those other interpreters. I know that I am rather thankful for the reduced eye strain. In the end, it’s a compromise between that “original” feeling and a more aesthetically pleasing experience.

Don’t most modern terminals allow text formatting like that? Mine has antialiasing (that seems pretty basic) and I can change the line spacing etc.

Not sure if many support different “profiles” so you can eg. easily switch back to monospaced font for regular terminal work instead of doing it manually each time though.

I use Frotz along with lynx (and even Gargoyle) on my Raspberry Pi. A great experience in a minimal and not so minimal way on the RPi 4 with 4 gb.


That’s a good point. Gargoyle also has ligatures (I believe) and some other minor additional features, but those are just decoration and don’t do much with regard to visual comfort.

Both iTerm 2 and Terminal for Mac support ligatures, as well as Terminal for Windows. On Linux the KDE terminal Konsole supports it, as well as some cutting-edge terminals (kitty, for example).

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