Creating a text adventure or a piece of interactive fiction might seem like an easy task. On paper, it certainly is, and I’m sure for some, also in practice. But how about making one “suitable for players with no prior experience”? Such is the challenge for participants of Text Adventure Literacy Jam – 2022, and something tells me this second iteration of the game jam will bring about plenty of goodness.
That’s the jam in a nutshell, anyway. There’s much more to it than that, so much in fact that I couldn’t possibly cover everything in this… well, it’s a news piece, and news pieces are brief, after all. Or they’re supposed to be. Mine rarely are.
Game design should focus on three key areas (1) Beginner onboarding to the genre. (2) Grabbing and holding attention span for players used to faster-paced games. (3) An amazing puzzle and/or story experience.
Juggling all three is no easy task.
But seriously, chances are you’ve played a parser-based game at some point – especially if you’re old enough to remember the Sierra classics. Police Quest, Space Quest, King’s Quest, and so on. Early entries were all, believe it or not, parser-based. Kinda. They were played with a mix of text commands and moving a character around on the screen; often at the same time, and with less-than-stellar elements of randomness involved. Does that mean they’re far removed from the kind of game suitable for Text Adventure Literacy Jam – 2022? Well, hard to say, really.
On one hand, they are parser titles, no doubt about that. Thing is though, I wouldn’t say any of them are suitable for beginners, even if none of their trials and tribulations are directly tied to the parser aspect in any way. No, the problem with these is that… it is very easy to trigger a fail state. Very easy. While I do believe that’s also the case with at least a few entirely text-based adventures among the classics, many of those suffer from an entirely different problem that, again, does not make them beginner-friendly: a rather restrictive set of accepted verb nouns (open door, flip table, throw axe, etc.).
These rules are designed to (a) Limit technical ambition (b) Increase the pace of the game. (c) lower complexity for new players.
Ah yes, there are rules for this particular game jam. Lots and lots of rules. Almost forgot, upon losing myself in that mini-rant just now. Prizes too. See, while you are free to use any text adventure authoring system or programming language, the end result must be in the English language, must have at least 6 puzzles, and… well, there’s a lot. Suffice to say, you’d do well to go over every last one prior to even considering participating in Text Adventure Literacy Jam – 2022. Better safe than sorry, after all.
Dates? Right! Those are kinda important: March 21st, 2022 to May 1st, 2022. Got all that? Still with me? Great Get to prepping, then!