QuestComp 2013

13 March 2013

questcomp-2013

Update 18th March - now with prize money!

It’s officially the first unofficial Quest competition!

Over on the forums, various people have got together to organise QuestComp 2013 - a competition to use Quest to create a text adventure game around the theme of “Plague”.

Evan Williams a.k.a TriangleGames is organising the competition, and there are no prizes except for the glory of winning thanks to Phillip Zolla for sponsoring a first prize of £100.

If you intend to enter, please email Evan by March 31st - full details on the rules, competition timetable and how to enter are at the QuestComp 2013 page.

Thanks also to Scott Greig for the interesting logo, which I hope I’ve got the right way up.


"First Times" - a horror text adventure for iPhone, iPad, Android

13 March 2013

The horror text adventure First Times, by Hero Robb, is now available as a free app.

FirstTimes-Ballpoint

You awaken in a morgue with no memory of how you arrived. Journey deeper into your fears, regrets, and doubts as you explore the ruins of what appears to be a hospital. Can you survive a psychological trip through a nightmarish dreamscape? But then again, dying is a far cry from the most frightening thing that you will face.

There are four endings. These are your first times. Open your eyes...

Here’s what some players have said so far…

First Times is a fantastic deviation from the classic Text Adventure genre. It utilizes both sound and game timers to give the player the most horrific experience possible. The game play and in-game descriptions are both shocking and intense. It’s amazing what Hero Robb accomplishes in his Text Adventure debut. Fans of classic gaming, horror, or anyone looking to experience something strange and different should definitely play First Times. I truly can’t wait to see what Hero Robb comes out with next. I don’t care what it is, I’m playing it.” - Cody Robinson

You do horrible things, because if you don’t, you can’t progress, which makes the inevitable terribleness feel more like your fault. The use of sound is perfect, and specifically the ‘ritual room’ is one of the most harrowing places I’ve ever managed to be. Further, the green eyed doll, despite being rendered purely in text (or possibly even because of it, and having to use my imagination) is the single most disturbing and unnerving thing I’ve ever had to deal with in a game.” - Krissy

THE CHILD DOLL OH GOD, THE CHILD DOLL. Executing something like that in text form doesn’t seem easy but you make it scary as hell. The foreshadowing in the red book was awesome as well. Holy shit. And the game is really Silent Hill-esque, especially with the rust, disturbing imagery and the particular type of puzzle solving.” - Vincent

This game truly scared the hell outta me” - John Hernandez

If you dare, download the app now for iOS or Android - it’s free, and you might just survive.


Quest 5.4 Beta is out now

28 February 2013

Quest 5.4 is now in beta. You can download the Windows version from the Quest download pageThe web version will be ready within the next few days. Update 5th March: Quest 5.4 is also now live on the web version too!

Here’s a quick overview of what’s new:

  • the new text processor makes it much easier to create dynamic text and links
  • gamebooks can now use scripts
  • the script editor now has a code view
  • menus are now shown within the game text
  • object and exit hyperlinks activate and deactivate according to what's in the current visible scope
  • list and dictionary attribute types can now hold any type of attribute value, so you can now create lists of lists, dictionaries of dictionaries, and all kinds of combinations
  • there's a simpler syntax for calling JavaScript within your ASL - instead of using the RunScript request, you can now use a more natural-looking syntax with "JS." followed by your function call. For example, JS.alert("Hello world")
  • new Portuguese (Brazilian) translation, contributed by Ramon Dellaqia
  • new Romanian translation, contributed by Catalin Catz
  • option to speak all text via SAPI
  • when adding a duplicate object name, instead of giving you an error message, a unique object name is generated and the name you entered is used as its alias - so it's now easier to add multiple objects that appear to have the same name.

If you’re using libraries created for Quest 5.3 and earlier, please note that some XML attribute names have changed - please see the Upgrade Notes on the wiki for details. (Game files loaded in the editor will be automatically upgraded to use the new 5.4 attribute names when they are saved, so this shouldn’t cause a problem if you’re only using the standard libraries.)

Please try out the new version and let me know if anything breaks!


Slicker hyperlinks in Quest 5.4

28 February 2013

Hyperlinks were introduced in Quest 5.0, and I think they’re a great way of navigating a text adventure game - without using any additional UI elements, you can always see what objects you can interact with, and you only see a relevant list of actions for each object.

In Quest 5.4, I have made hyperlinks a bit smarter. Previously, once a hyperlink for an object was displayed, it would remain on screen. So, if Quest told you that you could see “a book”, that book link would remain selectable even if you moved somewhere else, set fire to it, etc.

Furthermore, once a hyperlink was displayed, it would always show the same list of verbs. In the book example, the verbs might be the standard set of “Look at” and “Take”. But if you picked up the book, the hyperlink would still show you that same set of verbs - even though a more relevant verb set may now be “Read” and “Drop”.

Quest 5.4 features what I call live hyperlinks. Now, as you move through the game, all hyperlinks activate or deactivating according to what the player can see. Also, clicking a hyperlink now always gives you the current verbs list for the object, even if you select an “old” link.

Let’s see it in action. Here’s a room with a newspaper that the player can pick up, as well as some other objects:

Object links 1

Now if the player takes the newspaper and moves east, the other hyperlinks are deactivated. The player can still click the “old” newspaper link though, and interact with it using the current set of inventory verbs:

Object links 2

Notice also that the exit hyperlinks “east” and “west” are also activated or deactivated according to whether they’re available.

I have also improved how menus are displayed. Quest has a “disambiguation” menu which appears whenever the player isn’t specific enough about which object they’re referring to - for example, if the player abbreviates an object name, and there are multiple objects that start with the same letters.

Previously, this disambiguation menu was a modal pop-up. Now, I think modal pop-ups are ugly and they don’t work very well on smartphones. They also stop the player from scrolling back through the game text - they are forced to choose from the menu before they can continue.

So, in Quest 5.4 I have changed menus so they are shown in-line with the rest of the game text. Like this:

New menu

The player can now click the link or type “1” or “2” to make a selection. The menu uses a simple jQuery animation to slide away, and the game continues.

New menu 2

Alternatively, the player could just do something else - if they type another command or interact with a different object, the menu slides away and the game continues.


Bringing more power to gamebook mode in Quest 5.4

27 February 2013

Quest started out as a text adventure system. Many people call text adventures “interactive fiction”, but to me this is a fairly broad term, encompassing kinds of games that are not text adventures in the traditional sense. The “Choose Your Own Adventure” books are also a type of interactive fiction, but they are not text adventures - to me, anyway.

Systems like Twine and Inkle are starting to become more popular, bringing interactive fiction to a wider audience. These games follow the “Choose Your Own Adventure” model of branching narratives, so they are “interactive fiction” but not “text adventures” by my definition, as there is no simulation of the objects in the game world in the background. However, some people do refer to these games as text adventures, so it seems pretty hard to pin down the terminology.

It was the rising popularity of Twine, Inkle etc., which inspired me about a year ago to add gamebook mode to Quest 5.2. My vision is for Quest to be a platform for all kinds of interactive fiction - whether that’s the rich world model of a text adventure, or the simpler multiple choice of the CYOA style gamebook. And, indeed, why shouldn’t one game be able to combine the two approaches?

The initial implementation of gamebook mode was really simple - multiple choice games were all it could handle. You could create pages, with links between the pages. That was it - nothing dynamically generated, no scripts, no game state of any kind except the page the player is currently on. This is fine if you want to create pure CYOA, but it’s a bit limiting if you want to do anything more complicated, like emulate dice rolls within a game, or make small changes to a page’s text depending on the path the player has taken to get there.

But it was fine for an initial attempt, to see if people would even use gamebook mode in the first place. Happily, they are - which makes sense, as it’s a much simpler way to flesh out a quick interactive story than creating the world for a text adventure.

So, in Quest 5.4, I have made a number of improvements to the capabilities of gamebook mode. These have actually been pretty straightforward to implement, as gamebook mode always sat on top of the same platform as the text adventure mode - it was still using Quest’s scripting engine underneath. The changes I have made simply expose some more of that power.

Gamebook Scripts

There is a new page type, “Script”. When the player visits a script page, the script runs. The script can do anything - it may dynamically print out some text with some hyperlinks, or it might just send the player immediately to another text page, chosen according to some condition.

It can also run a “get input” command to get the player to type something, then maybe store that in an attribute, or send the player to a page based on what they typed in.

The Script Editor is the same as in text adventure mode, although the commands that can be added are slightly different. Many text adventure script commands relate to objects, and these are not relevant in gamebook mode and so are not displayed. This means that the Script Editor is a bit simpler in gamebook mode, though it still has access to “if”, calling functions, running JavaScript and so on.

Text Processor

The new Text Processor I described in an earlier blog post is also available in gamebook mode. A similar set of codes is available, so you can conditionally print text even without using a script page.

For example, you can take advantage of the fact that pages have attributes like “visited”, to write some text only if the user has visited a particular page. If you have a page called “cake” which the player may visit if they choose to eat a cake, you could write this on a later page:

Your mother stares at you. {if cake.visited:"You have chocolate all over your face," she says.}

You can also include links to other pages directly within the page text (instead of having them underneath), and it’s also finally easy to add images wherever you want them in the text using the {img} code.

Future

This release brings gamebook mode closer to text adventure mode, by opening up a lot of functionality to both. Now in gamebook mode, things can happen “behind the scenes” with richer state tracking, instead of the game being forced to have a pure branching structure.

For a future release I would like to further bring the two together, with the ability to add gamebook pages to a text adventure game. This will be useful for conversation trees for example, or maybe you just want to have a game that features both kinds of interaction in different sections. You could do this already to some extent - in the text adventure mode you can add custom commands, custom hyperlinks, and turn the command bar on and off as required, but it’s my job to make it easy for you to create the kinds of interactive fiction you want to write. So please do let me know what you’re up to with Quest and how I can help you!

I’ve only got a few more things to do before the beta version of Quest 5.4 is ready, so this should be available for you to play with in the next few days. Or as always, the nightly build is available for the brave and impatient.


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