Quest 4.1.5 is now available

10 May 2011

Quest 4.1.5 is now available.

This is a small bug-fix and performance release:

  • Loading QSG (save game) files is now faster.
  • Fixed a QDK bug with the "create corresponding exit" checkbox, which would become re-checked if it was turned off.

You can download the update from

New Quest and websites

28 April 2011

I have reworked the website - it still works in much the same way as before, but it’s now got a fresh new look. Please take a look and let me know what you think, and if anything’s broken!

I’ve also moved the Quest pages over to - I’ve set up redirects so all the old links should continue to work.

The blog has also been moved to

There’s nothing much new yet, but now the site is fully powered by WordPress it will be much easier for me to expand and update, as we add new sections for Quest 5 etc. Exciting times ahead!

Quest 5.0 WebPlayer Demos

19 March 2011

I put together a couple of demonstrations of Quest 5.0 WebPlayer features for last weekend’s IF Demo Fair at PAX East in Boston. One of the themes was “innovative user interfaces for text/story-based games”, so the demos briefly show a few things that the Javascript interface makes possible:

  • hyperlinks in a game for interacting with objects
  • embedding a YouTube video
  • creating a whole new UI, such as a split-screen text adventure

You can see the demos here, along with some background on why I think web browsers are going to be the standard way to interact with text adventure games in the future.

Emily Short has written an overview of all the interface demos at the fair, and I think it’s clear that web browsers have a lot of potential for creating intuitive, interesting and innovative games of this type. I do believe that modern browser-based games could even return text adventures to some level of mainstream popularity. So I’m feeling quite optimistic right now about the future of Quest 5.0, which puts the web browser right at its core - but of course there’s still a lot of work to do!

Try, try again

14 March 2011

Is this becoming a habit? My greatest weakness, boredom, has reared its head rather rapidly again, and I’ve found myself working through a notice period for the second time in less than twelve months.

How did I manage to find myself in the same situation again? I left my previous employer at the end of July last year, and wrote at the time that I wanted to mix things up a bit, alternating between contracting and working on my own software business.

Well, now I’m going to have a second try at making that plan work. I’m not going to rush into job hunting like I did last time - in fact, I’m not even going to look for a job at all for a while. I want to devote my time to my own business, Axe Software, and see where it takes me.

The seemingly insane thing about my plan is that Axe Software is currently making much less money than ever - I’ve recently stopped charging for my text adventure game engine, Quest, and I’m working on the new version 5.0 as free open-source software.

That sounds mad - “giving up your job to work on software that you’re just going to give away? What the fuck is wrong with you? I’m OUT!” Well, I think it makes much more sense in the long term. Read my blog post on making the switch to open source for full details, but basically the software has to be free to compete with the other systems that are out there - not only are pretty much all of Quest’s competitors free, but historically they’ve been more powerful too.

By making Quest both free (done) and totally kick-ass (to do), I’m hoping to make it appeal to many more users. So, perhaps this means in future there may be more opportunities for me to do paid-for customisations, for example. Perhaps there are ways of making money from other services that fit around Quest. Whatever, it doesn’t actually matter - even if I never make a penny from it directly, I think it will be a great demonstration of the kind of work that I do - something that will make me stand out in the next round of job applications. Having all the code easily viewable on CodePlex means future employers will have the ability to examine my work in considerable detail - every aspect of a large software project that I have designed, architected, coded, delivered, and is actually enjoyed by people who choose to use it. If an employer is not interested in that, it’s unlikely I’m interested in working for them.

But most importantly, it’s what I want to do. I really want to build this software, and I have the opportunity - I have enough savings that I don’t need to worry about earning a salary for a (little) while, and it seems almost irresponsible not to make the most of that. Does that make me sound like a colossal wanker? I hope not.

My employment comes to an end at the beginning of April, and I’m looking forward to it. Am I going to put my feet up and relax with my new-found freedom? Fuck, no. I’m going to be working - hard, much harder than I have ever worked before, to create some great software.

[Photo credit: “Please Try Again <3” by Smath.]

New "Play Online" beta at

12 February 2011

I have rewritten the “Play Online” feature of

It is now running WebPlayer, which is the open source online player component of Quest 5.0.

Things to be aware of or excited about…

  • It is much faster than the old "play online" feature
  • It no longer uses Flash - instead it's using AJAX. This means that it works on iPhone and iPad etc. But note that the current layout is not very iPhone-friendly. Also it didn't work on the Android browser I tried for some reason.
  • It is free and open source, so if you wanted to host your own WebPlayer in your own design, you can.
  • It supports games for all Quest versions - both "classic" Quest (4.x and earlier) and "new" Quest (5.0).
  • It works properly - if it works in Quest, it should work in WebPlayer too. The old "play online" feature doesn't show embedded CAS resources for example - WebPlayer does.

To use the new WebPlayer, you must first log in to You will then see a “Try the new beta online player” under the usual “Play online” link. (There’s no technical reason for requiring a login, it’s just that I don’t want every casual player on the site hitting the new WebPlayer until I know it works properly).

Note that the very latest games added to won’t be available on WebPlayer yet, as I haven’t set up the service that grabs new game files on the new server.

Please, please, please give me your feedback and report any errors you see.

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