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7

Text Adventure Untexted (But with text)

I'm sorry, I do not understand the phrase 'Have sex with monk'.

Ironically over-convoluted headline out of the way, this follows neatly on from the Text In Games feature. Especially because Mike Rubins dropped me a line about Vespers 3D because of it. It even ties into my note in the comments thread that it’d be interested if more developers looked for Interactive Fiction for more inspiration of story and structure. Because that’s exactly what Vespers 3D is.

IF aficionado will recall Vespers as winner of the 2005 IFComp as well as receiving multiple awards at the XYZZY ceremonies. What Mike and his team is doing is adapting the game for the most serious attempt at a text-adventure/First-person shooter hybrid since the immortal Typing Of The Dead.

Okay, Facade was probably closer to what we’re talking about but this really appears to be considerably separated from that. Basically, takes the games setting – a monastry mystery ala Cadfael with extra EEEVVVILLL – and presents it in a first-person/text adventure hybrid. So you move around as you would in any other game, but you interact with the world and its characters via a text interface. Here’s a little footage from the website, demonstrating talking with a lovely man doing something or another with a chicken. And chicken based-interaction is a sure way to garner RPS’ favour.

Lots more footage on its website. It’s worth noting that marrying a more graphical world and a text interface isn’t exactly new. The original Sierra graphic adventures – Leisure Suit Larry et al – featured a graphical world you navigated (and so immersed yourself in) and a text interface for playing around with stuff. That you may think that died out doesn’t necessarily make Vespers 3D misguided. Text interfaces disappeared before games could render true immersive 3D worlds, and there’s a sense of environment that viewpoint gives which simply isn’t there in a side-viewed screen based game. Marry that with the playful, boundless form of interaction that a text adventure allows, and you could have something.

Is it a good idea? Can this sort of free movement and text-based interaction actually work? God Knows. As Mike says in an interview he did last year “I’m still not sure if it’s a good match, to be honest; that’s what we’re looking to find out with this experiment”. Point being, it’s an experimental game. If you know if it’s going to work before you do it, by definition, it’s not experimental.

Their next waypoint is a demo, containing the first 20% of the game. Mike’s hoping to get it done in a few months time, but even now – from our position as the audience, as a purely conceptual thing – it’s worth thinking point.

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Kieron Gillen

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Kieron Gillen is robo-crazy.

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