The Initial State: A Text Adventure by Matt Barton

Matt Barton's picture

It's definitely no secret that I've been working on a text adventure game. At least, it hasn't been a secret to anyone around here, what with so few of my friends actually seeing the front of my face after a summer spent coding! Though my primary task was to learn C++ by creating a simple text adventure engine, I also put quite a bit of work into actually crafting a game with this engine. The name of this game is "Initial State," and I'm making it available for download.

In brief, the game is a sort of "dark," dystopian science fiction tale of a deeply psychological nature. The gist is that your avatar has awakened on a spaceship, with no memory whatsoever of how he got there or what the heck he's going to do about it. Though it'd be foolish for me to give away too much of the plot (since discovering the story is the key part of the game), suffice it to say that most of the "action" here unfolds as you gradually learn how he ended up in this predicament. Of course, I couldn't help but load it up with social commentary and depressing insights about the human psyche, but you'll have to judge its literary worth on your own. Though it's not especially vulgar or profane, I wouldn't recommend it for kids. Then again, I wouldn't recommend Teletubbies for kids either, but so it goes.

Although I am saving the official release of my new text adventure game for the upcoming 8th issue of Armchair Arcade (along with an extended commentary about its development), I wanted to give the loyal members here a chance to try out the game first. Although my co-editors and friends have been beta-testing this game, I realized it'd probably be wiser to put it up for AA members, some of whom I know are expert text adventurers. Please, if you type a command or do anything that results in the game crashing, please send a description to me of what happened.

At this time, I'm not really interested in giving away hints to the game, and I will likely delete any that I see here. Suffice it to say, there are three decks to the ship that you can explore, and YES, there IS a definite ending to the game (some have thought that it was designed otherwise to make a point). Furthermore, you really do need to examine everything you come across. Sometimes you have to read a description of an object to see what else about that object can be manipulated. It's not difficult at all for me, but, then again, it's always easier for the designer than the player, eh? Besides, I think the real fun of the game is reading those descriptions.

At any rate, please do give it a spin if you feel so inclined. I hope it's obvious that I'm not trying to compete with classics like Zork or Planetfall. If you haven't ever played a text adventure before, I'd recommend starting there. However, if you just want to kill a few hours and spend some time dealing with a twisted imagination, perhaps you'll actually enjoy yourself. Let me know how it goes!

AttachmentSize
Initial_State.zip142.85 KB

Comments

jefffulton
Offline
Joined: 08/27/2006
Initial State

I have been trying out some of the older Scott Adams adventures via emulation the last few weeks and this one fits right in. I haven't have time to play through it much, but the parser is solid and the story pretty well thought out. I was thinking it sort of seems like a text version of System Shock II. Nice work. I remember learing C++ by building a dos version of Yahtzee (with lots of extra features) back in 1995. Making a game is one of the best ways to learn a new programming language.

Jeff Fulton
www.8bitrocket.com

n/a
Matt Barton
Matt Barton's picture
Offline
Joined: 01/16/2006
Thanks, Ed

I've updated a new version that fixed a small (but pesky) bug found by Ed. If you've already downloaded the game, you might want to download this version. Only one file has changed--"fixed_objects." If you don't, then the pressure hatch on the engineering deck will go funky when you try to examine it.

Thanks, Ed!

By the way, it looks like Ed will probably be the first person to complete the game. :-)

n/a
Ed Salisbury
Ed Salisbury's picture
Offline
Joined: 07/23/2006
The Initial State

Thanks for the game, Matt - I had fun playing it, brought back lots of memories from back in the day. I only wished the game was bigger :) Maybe I'll have to find one in my emulation project to quench my thirst. Hmm, perhaps I should try to actually finish Zork I...

Matt Barton
Matt Barton's picture
Offline
Joined: 01/16/2006
You're welcome

Thanks very much, Ed. I'm already having lots of ideas for other games, though I don't know if I want to keep making text adventures or try my hand at something with graphics. My wife is majoring in graphics design, but so far she hasn't taken any courses that would lend themselves to helping out with games. :-)

I have this dream about making a Myst-like game based on this really great old building on my college campus. It's just screaming to be the basis of an adventure game. Probably built back in the 30s or 40s and has served a variety of purposes...Bunch of trapdoors, creepy old corridors, hidden staircases, old machinery. Definitely has potential!

n/a
Bill Loguidice
Bill Loguidice's picture
Offline
Joined: 12/31/1969
One way around the art

One way around the art problem, particularly for an adventure game, is simply to use photographs. There's even stitching software so you could do panoramas. You could also use short video pans and then just drop to still photos for each section. Lots of neat possibilities...

=================================
Bill Loguidice, Managing Director
Armchair Arcade, Inc.
[ My collection ]
[ http://www.MythCore.com ]

n/a
Rowdy Rob
Rowdy Rob's picture
Offline
Joined: 09/04/2006
Played it!

Cool, involving concept. Well-written, intriguing prose! And.... aparently no save game feature? AAARRRGGGHHH! ;-)

Yes, I know, it's not finished, so of course a save feature will be added later (unless it's already there and I missed it!). As it stands, it (so far) appears to be a very worthy addition to the underplayed text adventure genre.

It's great to see you back with AA, btw. Your unique perspective was missed (by me, anyway).

Bill Loguidice
Bill Loguidice's picture
Offline
Joined: 12/31/1969
Saved games!

You know, I playtested briefly when Matt first completed it and I didn't think of a save feature. Perhaps Matt intended this to be played through in one sitting?

=================================
Bill Loguidice, Managing Director
Armchair Arcade, Inc.
[ My collection ]
[ http://www.MythCore.com ]

n/a
Matt Barton
Matt Barton's picture
Offline
Joined: 01/16/2006
Save Feature

Wow, thanks Rowdy Rob! Your kind words are deeply and sincerely appreciated.

I had thought about a save game feature, and probably would implement one if I wanted to do a longer game. However, as Bill guessed, I wanted to make a game that you could play through in an hour or two. There's also no way to get the game into an unwinnable state, so don't worry about experimenting.

BTW, it's really great that you guys are willing to beta test this game for me. Please let me know where you're getting stuck or if the game crashes.

One thing that seems to be getting people (and this is my fault) is the placement of direct and indirect objects. For instance, "USE GUN ON ALIEN" will work whereas "SHOOT ALIEN WITH GUN" doesn't work (yet, at any rate). I intend to add this functionality later...But for now, just remember to always put the object you want to use first in the command. And no, there are no guns or aliens in this game. ;-)

Also, don't forget to read descriptions of things very closely. Sometimes there will be other things you can examine that are mentioned in the descriptions.

n/a

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.