You can now download Quest 5.3 Beta for Windows. This release features a number of enhancements - improvements to the look and feel of games, a few new things you can do in games, some additional script functions, and general improvements to make Quest just that little bit easier to use. And of course, quite a few bug fixes.
If you’re a user of the web browser version of Quest,
stay tuned - you’ll be able to use Quest 5.3 Beta in your browser soon. Update 5th Dec: The web version of Quest is now running v5.3, so try it out!
Read on for all the details about what’s new, or download Quest 5.3 Beta now.
One of the things that’s been annoying me lately is a prevailing attitude that somehow text adventure games are just a retro thing, that the way a text-based game should look is as though it comes from a mid-80’s DOS prompt. Well, I think the future of interactive story games is much richer than simply displaying a load of black-and-white text with a command prompt underneath - we have barely begun exploring the user interface for this kind of game. They are still new! The oldest text adventure game was released less than 40 years ago. We had not discovered everything there is to know about film making by 1940 either, and their growth was somewhat more rapid, without the whole being-pretty-much-forgotten-about thing to stymie development. The power that HTML gives us in every computer, tablet and smartphone is immense, and this is something text-based games should be tapping into and experimenting with.
So let’s forget the “ZOMG text adventures that’s so retro LOL!” nonsense and start to build something other people will actually give a crap about.
Furthermore, the desktop version of Quest is no longer dependent on the version of Internet Explorer that is currently installed. Instead, Quest bundles an embedded version of the Chromium browser. This is the browser that underpins Google Chrome, and is based on WebKit (which is also behind Safari and the default Android browser). This means you now get access to the Chrome Developer Tools directly within Quest - so you can play around and see the effects of tweaking HTML while a game is running.
Chrome Developer Tools in Quest
Quest 5.3 starts us down the road towards doing more innovative and exciting things within a predominately text-based medium. Of course we’re not fully where I want to be yet, and one of my focuses for Quest 5.4 is to extend the customisability of the UI even more, to make it even easier to try out interesting ideas. Keep on eye on the blog, as I’ll be documenting any experiments there, and please do contact me if you have any ideas!
Other new improvements to look and feel include:
Grid-based map example
Displaying cover art in the game browser
Showing hyperlinks for a command that has been entered
It feels like I’ve been sitting on some of these enhancements for quite a long time, so it’s good to finally get Quest 5.3 out, even if it’s only in beta form at the moment. I’ve been busy for the last few months doing some contract work, which has now finished, so hopefully the frequency of updates will increase - until my money runs out again, that is!
Many thanks to Phillip Zolla, Pertex, James Gregory, Aleksandar Hummel and Jay Nabonne for code and contributions towards this release.
Please download Quest 5.3 Beta, and let me know what you think - and of course report any bugs you find! You can email me at [email protected], ask questions in the forum or you can find me on Twitter: Follow @alexwarren
I’ll be at AdventureX 2012 in London on the weekend of 15-16 December - a free event for everybody interested in adventure games and game design.
The full schedule will be released at the beginning of December. I’m going to be doing a talk on the Sunday - probably a demo of Quest, and maybe some thoughts on the future of text-based games. There will also be talks from Jon Ingold, Dave Gilbert, Stephen Marley, Götz Heinrich and more to be announced.
It’s free to attend and you don’t need a ticket - just turn up! Hope to see you there.
I’ll be running several Quest workshops at GameCity 7 in Nottingham, UK on 22, 23 and 24 October.
For more details and tickets please see the festival schedule. Suitable for all ages from 8 to ∞.
These will be similar to the workshops I ran at Games Britannia - so no prior knowledge of text adventures or programming required. In the space of two hours we’ll be looking at what text adventures are, how to play, and then creating our own. Tickets are free so all you need to bring is your imagination!
I am the guest on episode six of Robert Pratten’s Transmedia Podcast. We had a good chat about the past, present and future of text adventure games, building interactive stories, expanding the “niche” for text based games, getting kids into game making and more.
It was great fun, though I inexplicably got the name of the first ever text adventure game wrong. So if you can forgive me for that, and the number of times I say “erm”, you should hopefully enjoy the podcast!
Quest 5.3 adds support for a game to use multiple player objects. The game is still a single-player game, but you can now switch between different characters at any time.
This means you can now create a game where the player can explore from different points of view, or perhaps simply choose a pre-defined character when starting the game.
Previous versions of Quest simply had one object called “player”, which stored the player’s location, inventory, and any other attributes. As of Quest 5.3, any object can “be” the player, and it is easy to switch between them at any time using the new ChangePOV function (available on the script editor as “Change player object”).
So you could change the POV after asking a question in the game start script, in response to a command, or maybe after successfully solving a puzzle.
Each player object gets its own inventory and attributes. This includes status attributes, so each player could have their own health or stats, and these will be updated on-screen as the player switches between characters. For status attributes which apply across the entire game (perhaps “score” for example), you can still set these on the “game” object itself and they will be displayed whichever object is the player.
Objects can behave differently depending on whether they are the player or not. For example, if you have two player objects “Dave” and “Bob” in a game, and it is possible for them to be together in the same room at the same time, you will want different responses for “look at dave” and “look at bob” depending on whether the player is currently Dave or Bob.
To handle this, options that were previously only available for the single “player” object are now available for all objects. The object’s Options tab has a new “Player” section. If “Can be a player” is selected, new options appear where you can set an override “look at” description to display when this object is the player.
This new feature is part of Quest 5.3, which will hopefully be in beta around the end of October. In the meantime, you can download the nightly build from CodePlex.
Thanks to Phillip Zolla for sponsoring this work. If you’ve got an idea for a feature you’d really like to see in the next version of Quest, please consider sponsoring it as a way of making it happen - contact me for more details.