The new textadventures.co.uk

20 April 2013

Meet the new textadventures.co.uk

New website

I have completely redeveloped the website from scratch. I’ve kept the design fairly minimal - the idea is to let the games stand out, make it easy to browse them, and make the site more accessible to smartphone and tablet devices. The large game tiles make the most of games with cover art, and the more easily browsable and tappable category badges hopefully make different kinds of games more discoverable.

The site uses a responsive layout, which means it adjusts depending on the width of your browser. There is no separate mobile version of the site - instead, the content is adjusted so it looks great whether you’re browsing from a phone, tablet or larger laptop/desktop screen.

A few other changes and new features:

  • You may notice the ranking of games has changed. This is because we're now using a Bayesian ranking instead of a simple average. What this means is that the ranking should now be more accurate - a game with just a couple of 5 star reviews no longer goes straight to the top of the list, as the number of reviews is also now taken into account.
  • There are now multiple ways of signing in. In addition to Facebook, you can now log in with a Google or Microsoft account, and you can attach multiple sign-on methods to the same account.
  • A new "Activity" view in your "Create" area shows the latest reviews and comments for all of your games in one place.
  • You can now delete games from the online editor, as long as you've not published them.
  • You can now download your game code from the online editor, so you can switch to using the offline desktop version - or just keep your own backup of your game.

Note that for the first time, usernames must be unique on the site. In the case of username clashes, you’ll find a number has been added to the end of your name - if you want to change your username then just let me know.

Hopefully all bookmarks and links should still work and redirect where appropriate - but please let me know if you spot anything that’s broken.

The new site should be visible for most people now, but if you get a “Back soon” message, you may have to wait a little longer for the DNS change to propagate to you.

This is just the beginning for improvements to the site - the new site architecture will make it much easier to implement some rather nice features I’m planning, so stay tuned!


textadventures.co.uk migration - scheduled downtime on 20th April

10 April 2013

The new-look textadventures.co.uk website is launching soon! I’m just putting the finishing touches together and doing some more testing, and the site should be ready to launch on Saturday 20th April.

In addition to a new look and feel, the entire back-end has been rewritten as well. I’m moving away from a hacked together collection of PHP scripts and WordPress, and to a new site built on .NET and hosted on the Azure cloud platform.

There are a number of things I’ve wanted to add for a while now, but the old site architecture made it difficult for me to change things. On the new website it will be much easier for me to implement new functionality - so watch this space for announcements! There are already a number of nice little changes on the new site to look forward to, and I’ll write a blog post about these soon.

The need to migrate data from the old site to the new site means there will be some downtime - hopefully only a few hours. The migration of user accounts takes a while, so I’ll be doing those first while keeping the site online. The currently planned migration timetable is:

Friday 19th April, 12.00 British Time (11.00 UTC/GMT, 07.00 EST) : New user account sign-up disabled - site remains online and existing users can log in and use the site as normal.

Saturday 20th April, 10.00 British Time (09.00 UTC/GMT, 05.00 EST): Site offline for data migration. This should hopefully be completed within a few hours, and then the new site will be available. You will then be able to create new user accounts and use all site functionality.

During the migration, the blog and forums will continue to be available, and you’ll still be able to download the Windows desktop version of Quest via this direct link: http://files.textadventures.co.uk/quest540.exe

Any questions or concerns then please let me know - [email protected].


QuestComp 2013

7 April 2013

The QuestComp organiser is Evan Williams. The competition is being set up and can be discussed in the QuestComp forum thread.

To declare your intent to enter or to submit an entry, please email Evan directly.

Update 18th March 2013: £££ Prize Money! £££ Many thanks to Phillip Zolla for sponsoring a first prize of £100.

Now over to Evan to explain the rules…


questcomp-2013

Welcome to QuestComp 2013, the very first Quest exclusive IF competition! With v5.4 (beta) up and running, Quest has more to offer designers than ever, like scripts for gamebooks, a new text processor, and script specific code viewing. So, join the adventure, and be a Questing hero!

Competition Overview

The primary goal of authors entering the competition (aside from making a quality game) is to use the features and capabilities of Quest in exciting and innovative ways.

Since IF is a text-based game medium, good writing is key to a good game. So, there is also a creative theme (Plague), to inspire and challenge your writing skills. Details are in the “Rules For Entrants And Submissions” section, below.

Like the classic hero, your reward will be honor, respect and glory. Fortune smiles upon thee! There is also no entrance fee.

Dates

March 31: Deadline for declaring intent to enter
I also ask that anyone interested in judging please volunteer by this date, as I will be using the ratio of entrants to judges in finalizing both the game length and judging period, should they need to be changed.
May 31: Deadline for submitting finished games
June 31: Date for completion of judging
This date may be extended after entrants and judges have been counted.
NOTE: To allow for time-zone differences, exact cut-off for deadlines is 12 noon GMT (8am EDT) of the following day.

Rules For Entrants And Submissions

With the exception of beta testing (which is strongly encouraged), entrants are not to discuss the contents of their game with anyone until after judging is completed and a winner is announced.

  • All entrants must declare their intent to compete no later than March 31.
  • Each entrant will submit one(1) game only, no later than May 31.
  • The creative theme is Plague. You are encouraged to use the theme in any way you like, and you may stretch your personal interpretation as far as it is still recognizable. Just for reference purposes: Dictionary.com: Plague
  • Each submission is to focus on 1 to 3 specific features of Quest selected from the following list. MAKE SURE to state which feature(s) you selected when you submit your game.

Features

  • Auto-mapping
  • POV switching
  • Light/Darkness
  • Multimedia content (use it well, not profusely, IF is text based)
  • Inserted links within main text body ("ObjectLink" "ExitLink" etc)
  • Panes and/or UI customization -NEW/IMPROVED IN QUEST 5.4
  • Direct html text processor
  • Gamebook scripts
  • Scope controlled object/exit hyperlink activity
  • Enhanced list and dictionary attribute types
  • Submissions must be made using Quest 5.3 or 5.4 beta. Your use of Quest's features will be judged individually based on the feature(s) you selected.
  • EXTRA CHALLENGE BONUS: Include "reviving Bob with the defibrillator" from the Quest tutorial game. As long as the person's name is a derivative of Bob or Robert, this idea may be reinterpreted however necessary to suit the genre you are working in (i.e. a spell named defibrillaticus, or a steam-punk device similar to a defibrillator).

It is recommended that you test how well your game works when played online - you can upload a game to the site and set visibility to “unlisted” for testing.

Rules For Judges

  • Judges are encouraged to play each game as long as they want and try to finish each one. However, they are not required to finish before voting (especially if the game takes more than about 1-1/2 to 2 hours). There is no minimum time length that must be spent on each game.
  • There is currently no minimum number of games which must be played to qualify the judges' votes.
  • Anyone may judge. Please volunteer early, so we know how many judges vs games we have.
  • Games should be scored on a 1 to 10 scale, 10 being best.
  • Judges may discuss the games during the judging period, but should clearly mark posts/topics, for the benefit of those who want to avoid spoilers.
  • Beta-testers are allowed to vote on the entries they beta-tested.

All rules, dates, terms, and conditions are subject to change with the exception of the creative theme and feature choices. All changes will be clearly noted here, and entrants will be directly notified of any changes made after March 31.

Legal

  • While "freeware" multimedia is permissible, entrants assume personal responsibility for the contents of their games and may be disqualified if any copyrighted material is used without permission.
  • Entrants grant the competition and textadventures.co.uk the non-exclusive right to distribute your game for free.

Experimenting with stories and text

7 April 2013

Continuing the theme of text adventure games are still new, a couple of excellent thought-provoking blog posts from the last week:

First, Jimmy Maher’s look at Infocom’s 1983 game Infidel raises questions which are very much still relevant today:

When you boot an adventure are you effectively still yourself, reacting as you would if transported into that world? Or is an adventure really a form of improvisatory theater, in which you put yourself into the shoes of a protagonist who is not you and try to play the role and experience that person’s story in good faith? Or consider a related question: is an adventure game a way of creating your own story or simply an unusually immersive, interactive way of experiencing a story?

And Emily Short finds herself ranting about text:

Text is not just cheap. It’s not just the medium you use when you have no resources and no high-end software. It’s a very powerful medium for communicating nuance, viewpoint, interiority, motivation, the experience of the outsider. It’s an artistic medium with its own beauties. ... Sometimes people assume text games must be ugly and have low production values. That isn’t true either. It is possible for text games to be visual feasts.

Emily’s post links to a number of experiments that people have done, which show that an interactive text-based game can take on many forms.

Myself, I feel more than ever a need to do some more experimentation of my own. So far I’ve created a prototype split-screen text adventure, but that was a couple of years ago now and it’s clear to me that I need to work on something bigger to try out some more ideas. Something is taking shape in my head (and on various scraps of paper) … but very slowly. I’ve always seen myself as a programmer, not an author, so it’s hard work and involves stepping outside my comfort zone, but that can only be a good thing whatever happens.

As I keep saying, none of us has any idea what the text adventures of the future will look like, and the only way we’ll find out will be by trying things out and being prepared to fail.


Quest 5.4 released

28 March 2013

Quest 5.4 has now been released, and you can download it now or use it in your browser.

The major new features in this version are the text processor, gamebook scripts and script editor code view. For a full list, see last month’s beta announcement.

Since the beta there have been a few minor enhancements, most notably to the gamebook scripts. There is a new “Text + Script” page type which lets you run a script before displaying the normal gamebook text and options, so you’re not forced to display text and options manually. There are new functions for moving the player between pages, and for adding and removing links.

Also:

  • In gamebook mode, when playing a sound there is a new option for the sound to continue playing after the player moves to a different page
  • You can now turn off the automatically generated display verbs list on a per-object basis (contributed by Pertex)
  • New {rndalt} text processor code displays a randomly chosen name from an object's alt list (contributed by Ivor Levicki)
  • With the new-style menus, restored the option to force the player to make a choice from the menu before continuing. (Note this is a breaking change - previously compiled games for Quest 5.4 Beta will continue to work, but to compile against the new library you will need to set the value for the new parameter)
  • New function to output text without a line break at the end

As always, if you have any questions or problems, please let me know - you can email me [email protected] and you can find me on Twitter @alexwarren.


All Posts