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Catventure's thinBlog

Interactive Fiction - What is it?

Rating: 4 votes, 5.00 average.
Welcome to my first blog post.

I will blog mainly about interactive fiction (text adventures) and in particular the TAB - "thinBasic Adventure Builder" program being made for Windows 98/2000/ME/XP/Vista/7 platform using the thinbasic programming language.

Firstly, an introduction to interactive fiction. Exactly what is it?

Interactive fiction like normal creative writing fiction usually has a plot - a storyline, a theme.
As with a book or film, it has a beginning, a middle and an end. Usually there is a quest to complete, a destination to be reached or a mystery to be solved. It differs, however, to the book or film in that it is "INTERACTIVE". The player actually participates in the story and affects its outcome and decides, to some extent, how the game will progress and with some control over the way the game unfolds...

The player will normally assume the role of the main character hero, who must be guided through a series of places, locations, exploring scenery, examining and searching things and collecting items and weapons which may be needed to use in various ways to overcome obstacles, solve problems, score points or make progress. The player may encounter other characters on his/her travels through the adventure world who may be friendly or hostile. Interaction with them may be essential to completing the quest. Some may provide a hint or clue on how to proceed in return for a gift or favour. Others may be downright deadly and have to be disposed of cleverly.

Interaction is accomplished via the keyboard. The player types in the commands and instructions in simple English words and sentences. These are then carried out by the program, and the results or consequences of the player`s input is then displayed on the screen. The player can then see how his/her actions have affected the current state of play and what, if anything has changed or altered.

As in the real world, the player is called upon to make decisions, choose paths to follow, weigh up alternatives and consider taking chances or risks. A wrong decision may result in loss of points, death or the necessity to restart the game.

The author of the adventure may have included 'red herrings' which might confuse, thwart or sidetrack the player from the main object of the quest. As with crosswords - cunning, logic, and lateral thinking may need to be employed in solving some of the more 'trickier' puzzles. This aspect will certainly appeal to those of a particular type of mindset, offering the reward and satisfaction to be gained from completing tasks, making headway and discovering new areas of the game.

A good adventure will be well written, have an exciting, intriguing and memorable plot, unforgettable characters and challenging problems to contend with, and ultimately lead to a satisfactory conclusion. It should be user friendly, have a large vocabulary and cater for the many and varied responses and inputs a player might make.

Planning the puzzles, events and scenarios in an IF game can be a rewarding and gratifying experience for the imaginative author who may relish the creative task of envisioning and then constructing their personal fantasy world so that others can visit, immerse themselves and get involved... Thus it may be set in an alternate world or timeline and involve battling alien entities, conversing with elves and gnomes, hunting for buried treasure, solving a murder, rescuing a princess or saving the world from total annihilation!

Unlike its sometimes frenetic shoot 'em up, arcade game neighbours, the interactive fiction adventure is an altogether more different type of animal. More sedate, more laid back, cerebral and intellectual. It allows players to move at their own speed, in their own time and ponder a planned course of action. It exercises innate mental abilities rather than digital dexterity on a push-button joypad. Some games can be built to be solved easily or in a couple of hours or less; others will take longer, maybe a week or two. A really complex and ingenious one may require MONTHS. For those who have never played one before, I urge them to try a few of the recommended ones. They can be pleasantly surprising and also a welcome hobby or diversion from the stresses and strains of modern day living.

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  1. Michael Hartlef's Avatar
    Great blog. Can you recomment a game for a newbie like me?
  2. ErosOlmi's Avatar
    Another great first blog entry. 5 stars for me.
  3. catventure's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Hartlef
    Great blog. Can you recommend a game for a newbie like me?
    Hi Mike,

    Here is a good video made about the genre:

    Some latest examples from this and past years competition entries are accessible from this site:

    Some recommended works of I.F. here:

    - catventure
  4. Michael Hartlef's Avatar
    Thanks Catventure for the links. Are there any related to T.A.B.?