Text adventures have provided some of the most iconic moments in gaming -- the "you are likely to be eaten by a grue" line popularized by MC Frontalot, for example, is familiar to even people who have never played Zork. But due to their lack of graphics, they're seen as a somewhat "hardcore" pastime -- particularly since the whole text adventure and interactive fiction movements went underground (no pun intended). We haven't seen a commercially available text adventure for many years, and that's probably understandable -- it likely wouldn't sell.
Developer Alex Warren believes that the time is ripe for the genre to make a comeback, however, and he believes that titles such as Angry Birds and Dance Central have a part to play in this. Angry Birds and Dance Central are not text adventures, obviously, but they have played a huge role in the growth of gaming's mainstream acceptance, and Warren argues that text adventures have the potential to appeal to the same market.
"Games are increasingly part of everyday life for ordinary people," writes Warren in a blog post on Gamasutra. "It's not all about the latest graphics, speed, explosions and things to impress teenage boys any more. More people are playing more types of games, on more devices, more often."
Warren believes that a modern take on the text adventure doesn't have to be purely text based -- it can incorporate pictures, sound and video, but most importantly, it should be delivered through the web browser. The use of hyperlinks, he says, will help prevent "guess the verb" situations, where the player knows what they want to do but not how to tell the game.
So strongly does Warren feel about the subject that he quit his job and spent the last few months working full time on a rewrite of his text adventure development system known as Quest. Quest is freely downloadable and open source, and can even be used to create closed source games and applications. Warren's designed it to be easy to use for beginners, but powerful for experienced users. He's looking for feedback on the product and also for further ideas on resurrecting the genre.
If you want to get involved, you can start by downloading a copy of Quest and trying your hand at making an adventure for yourself.
This article originally appeared on GamePro.com as Open Source 'Quest' Project Aims to Reinvent Text Adventures for the Modern Web