TADS 2 game in production

My father and I are starting a sort of two-person studio called “Slow Turtle Interactive.”
We are currently develeping a game called “The Tower.”
My father is largly responsible for the plot, while I implement and map.
I would like to get ideas for plot, that I can process. If anyone feels like giving me ideas, please e-mail me at "jfcwilson@yahoo.com".
The protaganist is a museum curator, who is ordered by the board of directors to look into a sudden unhearthing of artifacts, old and new, artful and scientific, and find it’s source.
The setting is a fictional country in south america, starting in a port town bordering the edge of the atlantic ocean. Beyond the town is a dense rainforest, with a small river flowing through it. Deep in the jungle lies an immense lake, never before seen. In the middle is a island, and on the island is a tall, square tower, almost 500 feet tall. The lake is an obscure reference to El Dorado, the myth.
The time is present.

As the game is freeware, you will not gain any compensation.


I don’t really understand what you want. You seem to have made a lot of decisions concerning the plot already, so what kind of ideas would you like to hear?

I mean, I could say something like: “Make it a game that seems to be an old-school treasure hunt when you begin, but in fact turns out to be about the disastrous living conditions in rural South-America and how this is the result of exactly the kind of capitalist sentiments that the treasure hunt exemplifies!”, but that might not be the kind of suggestion you are looking for.

Also, you have only given us some relatively unimportant details–where it is set, when it is set, that kind of thing. Tell me more about the protagonist: what kind of person is she? What are her dreams and fears? Has she done something of which is she ashamed and which will come back to haunt her when she is far from civilization in the rain forest?

Or tell me more about the theme of your story. Are you going the “Heart of Darkness” way, using a remote location deep in the Andes as a metaphor for the savage heart of mankind? Or do you want to use the ruins of El Dorado as symbols of how not even the greatest works of men can stand against the test of time? Do you want to make it a morality tale, in which the treasures of El Dorado are not in fact gold, but wisdom / love / whatever you believe to be of the greatest importance to our lives?

In sum – tell us more, because right now you have given us only the most external facts about your tale, and none of the really interesting stuff that you want to do with it.

Also, what kind of gameplay do you envision?

Not sure if this comment will be much help to you, but to my mind one of the crucial first choices when writing this kind of game is to decide on a “voice” - a style of language in which the game will interact with the player. Since “IF” is a kind of extended conversation, rather than a broadcast in the radio or TV sense, the voice in which you speak to the player dictates the whole mood and tone of the game.

In another room I mentioned writing a TADS game a few years back where the primary setting was a stranded pirate ship. Regardless of the puzzles or plot trajectories, the primary hook of the game was that every description, every response to a player instruction, came in a thick Long John Silverrrrr drawl which (I hoped) would keep the player amused even when he was making little actual progress. The voice dictated many of the objects and situations I wove into the story.

So to your own project I’d say, pick your metier and hook it onto a film type. Are you writing an Indiana Jones style story? A “Heart of Darkness” story? A “Mosquito Coast”? Once you can see it in those terms a voice will probably suggest itself to you. The trick (and I’m certainly no expert in this genre, just an interested outsider) is only half what happens in your story - what the player sees and does. The other half is how those things are told to him. A lot of “IF” is very bland and generic, precisely because it lacks an individualised voice.

An SF game where the narrator is a Dalek, or Yoda, or Spock, will be far more entertaining than any standardised “you are in”, “you can see” line of commentary.

Just my two pence worth (but they still buy more than two cents).

I agree that voice can be important, though it’s not usually elevated to the level of crucial. In fact, many IF games are quite content to leave the default, neutral second person voice in place.

You have only to look at Yon Astounding Castle! to see that a distinctive voice can be a significant barrier for many players. Done poorly, it can compound the frustration of dealing with the parser: not only do you not know what to do next, you can’t even be sure that responses are meaningful and not a clever joke at your expense.

Shelter from the Storm presents the player with a choice of voices, in what I thought was a fairly successful way. To an extent, this also argues against prioritizing voice as a concern: because the game works even without a consistent voice, it suggests that its merits lie elsewhere.