Help with Text Adventures

This page will try to help with any questions you have about his web site and how to play the games you will find here. The purpose of these games is to have fun, and the info here should help you have fun playing the games.

Table of Contents

  1. What the games are all about
  2. Saving the game
  3. Accounts

What the games are all about

There is a player moving around and doing things in a game world, and you are controlling their actions. You type in commands and the player does them. Think of it like you have a walkie talkie and you're telling the player what to do. Your commands are usually a few words, and the first word is a verb, like get, or open or jump. Things in the world have names like the big red box and you can refer to them by any clear name like the box or the red box. If something is unclear, the game may ask you to clarify, like Which box do you mean, the red box or the blue box? and you will have to type the command again with the extra words needed to make it clear which box you mean. The player won't answer questions, so you can't ask anything with a question mark, everything must be a command.

Most games have a storyline and an overall goal you're trying to achieve. Along the way you'll have to do things and solve puzzles to get to that goal. Some accomplishments will score points for you, and there is a score tracker in the upper right corner of the screen showing what your score is now, and what the maximum score for the game is.

Time

The games are entirely turn based. You type in a command, the game executes that command, and then the game waits for your next command. Nothing will go on in the game world while you're thinking about your next command. Some things within the game may move or act on their own, but it is still entirely turn based. So a fuse on a bomb will only burn down some after each of your commands, bad dogs will only try to bite you after each of your commands, no matter how long you take to think or type. There is a turn counter in the upper right corner showing how many turns you've taken so far. Each of your commands that successfully runs counts as one turn. If there is a problem like the game doesn't understand your command or there is an ambiguity about what object you're refering to, the game turn does not advance.

Moving around

The game world is divided into areas, and your player is always in one of these areas. The name of that area is always shown in the upper left corner of the screen. When you first enter a new area the game will tell you the name of the area and give you a description of what the player sees. If there are any objects lying around on the ground, the game will also tell you about them with a sentence like There is a hammer and a saw here. You can always tell the player to describe the area again with the look around command, or just look for short.

The areas are laid out in the world so that you can go one to another by going in the four directions north, south, east, and west, or in the four half directions northeast, southeast, southwest, and northwest, and sometimes even up and down. You can tell the player to move in one of those directions with a command like go north or simply north, or even the very short abbreviation n. You can not always go in every direction from every area. When the player looks around and describes a room, there will be hints about which ways you can go, like "There is a doorway to the north", or "The living room is to the east" or "There is a ladder up and a staircase down from here." Some areas aren't in one of the normal directions but are still accessible with other unique commands. For example if you are on a ledge you might be able to "jump down", or if you are near a lake you could "swim in the water". And remember, the games take place in an imaginary world, so it's not absolutely required that the layout of the world makes sense. It could be that if you go north from one place and then immediately go south again, you may not always be back where you started!

Things you find

As mentioned before, there are things in the world that you can interact with. Keys, books, signs, and all sorts of other things. Not all things that you can interact with are explicitly mentioned in the "There is a thing here" statement. You should carefully read the room descriptions to see if other things are mentioned. For example if you are in a concert hall and it says you hear music playing, you might be able to give a command like "listen to the music" even though the game doesn't explicitly say "There is music here."

You can have the player pick up and leave things with the get and drop commands. Things that are in the area are usually not in a specific spot in the area, they are just "on the ground" and you can interact with them. Nearly everything can be examined more closely with the examine command, also called describe, such as examine the hat. This can often give further clues about what uses an object may have. Most things have their own unique actions that you can perform on them, like wearing a hat, lighting a match, reading a book, or opening doors. Sometimes your player will need to be holding the object, so you will need to get it first, and other times you can just interact with it where it lies.

What you're carrying

You can always get a list of what the player is holding with the inventory command. This command is very useful, and a reminder of whether or not you've brought something along, and for this reason it does not take a turn to execute it. When you give this command, the turn counter does not advance, and the things in the game world like fuses and monsters and hourglasses do not advance. In some games, your player has a limited carrying capacity, so you will not be able to drag around everything you find that isn't nailed down. You'll have to pick and choose what you bring along.

Changing how chatty the game is

The game can be told to be more or less verbose than it is by default. Normally when you walk into an area for the first time, the game tells you the name of the area and does an automatic "look around" for you. If you go back to the area later on, the game will only tell you the name of the area but not the entire description. Also, the game by default updates the turn number in the upper right corner every turn. In some situations, such as when playing the game with a speech synthesizer, these chatty updates can be annoying. For this reason, the game engine has a verbose command to modify how chatty the game is. The verbosity is controlled by three flags, called roomName,roomInventory, and turn. Each of these flags can be set to values of never, often, or always. The verbose command by itself will tell what the flags are set to. The flags can be changed with a command like verbose turn=never. The roomName and roomInventory control saying the name of the area you are in and the description and contents. If you are using a speech synthesizer and you are hearing the room name twice, set roomName=never. The turn flag controls updating the turn number on the screen.

Remembering things in the game

There may be times when the game gives you some fact or facts that you are going to need much later in the game, and you need to remember it. This fact may change each time you play the game, such as a book title, a roll of the dice, or anything, and it may be difficult in any given game to keep track of what you need to remember. Rather than write these things down, the game Player has a "memory" where you can stuff facts. With the remember command you can put facts into the Player's memory. What you write into the Player's memory is completely up to you. Because the game engine normally tries to interpret the words in your commands, it is best if you put your facts in double quotes. For example remember "the dice rolled 8".

Later in the game, you can recall all the facts you've remember'd with the recall command. It will print out all the facts in a list, in the order you remembered them. If for some reason you have inserted a lot of facts into the Player's memory, you can give a word or a few words after the recall command to only show facts that contain those words. For example recall or even recall "the dice".

If some fact in memory is wrong, no longer useful, you may use the forget command to purge it out of the Player's memory. You must put a word or two with the forget command to say what fact to forget, such as forget \"the book title\". Any facts with those words will be erased from memory. The special words "forget all" or "forget everything" can be given to erase the whole memory.

Common commands
Here are some typical commands you can use during the game:
Interacting with the environment:
look to describe the area you're in
examine something to describe a nearby object
get something to pick something up
drop something to drop something you're holding
inventory list what you're holding (shortcut: i)
open something open doors, boxes, bags, etc
look under something see if something's hidden somewhere
put something in something some objects can be a container for other objects
wait let a turn pass without doing anything
checkpoint load or save the state of your game
Moving around to other places:
go north, north walk to the next area to the north of here
n, s, e, w shortcuts for the 4 main directions
nw, ne, se, sw some places have diagonals too
up, down, u, d some places have ways to go up or down
enter, exit some rooms you can enter or leave
Change how chatty the game is:
verbose list out the flags that can be set to control how much the game talks
verbose turn=never tell the game not to update the turn number counter anymore The flag values are: never, often, and always
End of the game

Most games have no limit on how many turns can be played. There is an end goal that you are trying to achieve, and the game continues until you reach that goal. You can often tell how close to the end you are by how close your score is to the game's maximum score in the upper right corner of the screen. The game will eventually announce that you have finished the game, hopefully with much fanfare, and give your final score and number of moves. At that point the command box will disappear and you can press your browser's BACK button to return to the front page and breathe a sigh of relief.

There are, of course some other scenarios that end the game. Depending on the game, you might manage to kill the player by one means or another, sometimes in surprising ways. At that point the game will tell you that you have died and give your final score. As mentioned above, the command box will disappear and you can press your browser's BACK button to return to the front page and plan your next strategy before starting a new game over from the beginning.

One other scenario worth mentioning is that there can be situations in the games where a critical piece of the game got screwed up and the game can no longer be finished. It may be that you were supposed to give the potion to the princess but you drank it instead, or you cut the skeleton key with the axe instead of using it to open the vault door. You can do the wrong thing in the game and make it impossible to win. The game isn't going to come out and say you made a mistake, but it often becomes obvious later. If you really think you're in that boat, all you can do is quit that run of the game and start over, and try again without making the crucial mistake you made. There is a "quit" command for this. It will erase your current game state, so when you start again from the front page, you'll be back at Turn 1.

Saving the game

Normally when you are playing, the game is saved after every turn, so you can leave and come back to it later. If you have logged in with an account you've created, you can even come back from a different computer and resume your game. But sometimes you want to save a particular point in your game so that you can come back to it later. Often this is because you've made a lot of progress and you don't want to have to start over later and replay all the moves to get to this point, but yes, it's also useful right before you test if you really can beat the dragon in combat with a rusty soup spoon, or you really want to know how long is the fuse on that stick of dynamite that's glued to your hand.

The command for saving games is checkpoint. You have to give a confirmation by typing the command checkpoint yes to save the current state of the game. You can later return to your checkpoint with the command checkpoint restore. Each player can only have one checkpoint per game title. That means if this site has 3 different games for you to play, you can have one checkpoint in each of them. When you save a checkpoint, it will overwrite any previously saved checkpoint. When you restore back to your saved checkpoint, the current state of your game is lost, and the state of the checkpoint is loaded over it. You can restore back to your checkpoint as many times as you want.

Accounts

The site offers accounts only as a way to save your game and come back to it later. With a username and password, you can identify yourself so the site knows which saved games are yours. The games you play get saved after every turn, so even if you leave and come back later days later, or go to other web sites and come back, or even come to the site from a different computer, the state of your game is not lost. You can keep 1 saved copy of each different game that is available on the site.

You can play the games as a guest but it means not all of these benefits can be kept. If you start a game, go to another web site, then come back, your browser still has your cookies that tell which guest you are, so your game can be resumed. But if you come back from another computer, you won't have your guest cookies in that browser, so your game cannot be resumed from that new computer. There's also the matter of sheer disk space and storage. The site can't keep saved games for everyone who comes through for a moment and plays a few turns as a guest, so guest accounts and games will be cleaned from the system if they've been sitting for more than 24 hrs.

I hope the games are fun and challenging for you, good luck!