Free Software Games
Written by Robert Wayne Atkins, P.E.
What are Text Adventure Games?
Software games can be divided into a multitude of categories. One of those categories is called role-playing games. In a role-playing game, you assume the identity of the main character, and then you try to accomplish all the objectives designed into the game by its creators.
Role-playing games were further sub-divided in the early 1990's into two groups: arcade style games and text adventure games. Let's take a close look at text adventure games.
A text adventure game is like a good book. Using nothing but words, a text adventure creates a fictional environment in which you become the hero or heroine. However, it is different from a book because the ending will depend on how well you use common sense and logic.
In general, text adventure games appeal to people who enjoy using their brains instead of their reflexes.
The first text adventure games were displayed on your screen just like a page in a book. You read down the page to find out where you were, what items were present nearby, and where you could go next. The pages were continually updated as you played the game. For example, if you walked out of your house into an open field, new text would appear on your screen to tell you where you were, and the old text would scroll off the top of your screen.
To play a text adventure game, you enter your commands in ordinary, plain English. For example, if the description of your immediate surroundings tells you there is a "gold coin" lying on the ground, then you could type "pick up the gold coin" or "take the coin" or "get coin." The computer would obey your command and transfer the coin from the ground to your pockets, so you could carry it with you to the next area (where you might need it to pay for something).
When I first started writing text adventure games in 1988, I used a number of new concepts that were very innovative for that period of time. For example, let's examine "The Lost Crown of Queen Anne."
As I continued to write games, I added additional features, such as:
- Windows: It was the first text adventure game to divide the video screen into a set of logically organized windows. Each window took up about one-eighth of the video screen. For example, a description of where you are appears in one window. Another window lists the items present in your immediate area. Another windows lists the items you are carrying around with you. And so on. All the windows were visible all the time (they were side-by-side, not overlayed one on top of the other).
- Dictionary: It provided an on-screen list of all the verbs in its dictionary (no more wasted moves trying to figure out the correct verb synonym).
- Help: It provided on-screen help if the player needed assistance in solving any of the game puzzles.
- Auto-Mapping: It introduced the concept of auto-mapping. The computer automatically drew a map for the player on the video screen in a special Map window. All previous text adventure games had required the player to draw their own map on a separate piece of paper. Auto-mapping eliminated a task many players found to be boring and time consuming.
- Player Status Line: It was the first text adventure game to feature a player status line on the bottom of the video screen (score, moves, etc.).
When I first started writing my games, I designed them primarily for entertainment purposes. However, in addition to their entertainment value, my games have been used in educational programs around the country for a variety of different reasons.
- Multiple Versions: Each new game featured three different versions of the game on the disk. When a player completed the first game, the computer automatically changed significant aspects of the game so they could play it again and face different challenges.
- Gender Option: If the game included interaction with other people it would begin by asking the player to identify themselves as male or female. They could then interact with the game characters using a strategy they felt would be appropriate for their particular sex.
- Auto-Input: Auto-Input was created to aid players who were slow typists. When a player selected Auto-Input mode, the computer would finish typing most of the words for the player after they entered the first one or two letters.
- Death Traps: Arcade style death traps were added to two of the games: "The Temple of Death" and "Future Quest." When a player encounters a death trap, they have exactly two minutes in which to escape.
- Reading Speed: They help young people improve their reading skills. A student's reading ability improves faster if they are reading something of interest to them (disguised as a computer game).
- Comprehension: They can help anyone improve their ability to comprehend and understand what they have read.
- Spelling: They help young people learn how to spell. (If you wish, you can disable the Auto-Input mode in all of my games so they can be used as a learning tool for younger children.)
- Logic: They help students of all ages develop the ability to think logically.
- Typing: They can help anyone become familiar with the location of the alphabet keys on a standard computer keyboard. They get to practice their typing skills while enjoying an interesting computer game.
The first software game I wrote was "The Lost Crown of Queen Anne" in 1988. The last software game I wrote was "Future Quest" in 1992.
I am currently in the process of updating all my software games and I will be releasing each game FREE on this web site as I complete the update. A list of the currently available free game downloads is elsewhere on this web site.
If you already have a copy of one of my games and you need a "hint" to help you finish the game, then you may send me an e-mail using the link below (specify the name of the game and where you need help), and I will reply to your email with the solution you require. This e-mail help is free and there is no charge for this service.
Free Software Game Index
Send e-mail to RobertWayneAtkins@grandpappy.info