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How Retro Text Adventure Games Are Put Together

How Retro Text Adventure Games are Put Together

The main thing that stands out with text adventure games is that they usually have no graphics. The game world is made up of many locations which are described using words, although a few text adventure games will display images of the location along with the description. Playing the game involves typing instructions to inform the game what you want to do. For example typing “go north” to move to another location or “get lamp” to pick up a lamp if there is one at your current location.

The object of the adventure game is to solve a quest. This could be to slay a dragon, rescue a princess, recover an object, or solve a mystery. The game acts as your eyes, ears and touch – describing what is visible in your current location along with any objects you can pick up. As you travel through the game world you will come across various puzzles that need to be solved before you proceed, along with any dangers to overcome. สล็อต xo

Here is an example of a text adventure game in action.

You are in a forest. A long winding road leads to the north and a small cottage stands to the south. To the east, in the distance, is a large cave.

There is a lamp here.

What do you want to do?

>get lamp

You now have the lamp.

>light lamp

There is no oil in the lamp.

So you know you are in a forest where you can see a road, a cottage and a cave. You can choose to go to one of the described areas by typing something like “n”, “north” or “go north”. There is also a lamp at this location that you can pick up but if you want to light it then you need to find some oil. This is a puzzle you need to solve because you will need the lamp to go into the cave, otherwise it will be too dark to see.
Now let us see how text adventure games are put together.


Like books, text adventure games usually start with a single idea. Imagine a village where people are dying because a wicked witch has put a curse on them. The locations in your game world would consist mainly of villages, castles, forests and caves. Now let’s say that your quest is to reach the witch’s castle and kill her so the curse will be lifted. Her castle would be your final destination in the game. Maybe the cursed village could be your starting location. Now you can make a list of the locations in the game which would include something like: village1, village2, river, lake, cave1, cave2, clearing, mountain1, mountain2, village tavern, forest and so on.

If a location covers a larger area or is a building then you can spilt it into sub-locations such as east of forest, west of forest, front of cave, middle of cave, back of cave, tavern kitchen, tavern bar etc… You also need to ensure a location is in sight before you mention it in your location description. For example you can’t see the tavern kitchen unless you enter the tavern first. Of course this is obvious but it is possible to make such mistakes.


In order for the player to move around your game world you need to connect your locations together. For example: if you are in the cursed village and there is a tavern you want them to visit then you need to tell them which direction it is in. You move around the game world using compass directions which are north, south, east, west, northeast, northwest, southeast and southwest. Some games even allow up and down.

So in order to connect the locations you need to decide what we can see from your current location. In a village you would see a tavern, shops, a school and a church. Now decide what direction they are in. So let’s say the tavern is to the north, the school is to the south, shops to the east and the church to the west. Each location in your game will have a number and your list of connections would look something like this.

Location 01 – Cursed Village

North=Location 01, South=Location 02, West=Location 03, East=Location 04

Location 02 – Tavern

North=Location 05, South=Location 01

Notice there is a connection back to location 01? Always make sure you can get back to the previous location by using the opposite of the direction you used to get there… North to get there and South to get back. East to get there and West to get back.
Some locations can’t be accessed until you solve a puzzle. In the earlier example there is a cave which is going to be dark. Therefore you need to get the lamp first, find some oil and then light it before you can enter the cave. Other locations may be guarded so you need some way of getting rid of, or getting past the guard. Creating puzzles to get to some locations makes your game more interesting rather than allowing the player to get places easily.


Objects are items that can be used, eaten or worn. Their purpose is to aid you in your quest and to solve certain puzzles. Sometimes objects have to be combined with each other: such as the oil and the lamp to work. Objects are usually found in locations waiting to be picked up. Some objects are hidden ones until they are uncovered in the game. For example, a crystal ball might be locked in a trunk and will only appear in the current location when the trunk has been opened.

Imagine you wanted to get into some building and the guard stops you. Maybe you can find some money and bribe him. Or maybe you can find a disguise to wear that will allow you to get past him. Objects can be used in unlimited ways to add puzzles to your game and make them much more challenging to the player.

One thing to remember: Don’t make an object too big or too heavy for the player to carry and limit the amount of items they can carry. Adventure games also allow the player to drop items they are carrying so they can pick others up. Some adventure games give the objects a weight so how many objects you can carry depends on the weight.


Imagine entering a cave and coming face to face with a huge grizzly bear who wants to eat you. You can’t explore that cave as the bear is blocking your way so you need to overcome it somehow. Events come in three flavours: High Priority, Low Priority, and Local.

High Priority: These events happen as soon as the player enters a location before they get the chance to input any commands. For example the bear could kill you as soon as you enter the cave so you need to do something before you enter such as have a weapon handy or be wearing Armour.

Five Tips for Hosting a Murder Mystery Party Game

If you’ve not hosted a murder mystery party game before, the experience can appear to be a bit daunting. It really isn’t as difficult as it may first appear – murder mystery games are very easy to host. But until you’ve got a one or two under your belt, these few tips should make your life a bit easier.

#1 Getting Started

Take your time. The games themselves are quite wordy and require some time to absorb. You don’t need to memorise everything, but it certainly helps to know where everything is. So take your time. Print everything out and read it at leisure. You don’t need to understand everything immediately – so skip over anything you find confusing and come back to it later.

At some point you’ll need to start preparing the game. You’ll need envelopes for each character, into which you will put the character background and whatever rules are required. That’s usually two or three sheets of paper, plus possibly some item and ability cards. I usually re-read the characters as I stuff the envelopes – it reminds me of who they are and what clues and abilities they start with.

You’ll probably find it useful to have a full set of the game notes to hand as well. So having stuffed the packets, you’ll need to print out another set in case you need to refer to something during the game itself.

I like to have everything complete (envelopes stuffed and packed, invitations sent) at least a week in advance of the party. That reduces the likelihood of last minute rushes. They still happen, but with most of the preparations already complete, I find that last minute rushes are easier to deal with.

#2 Casting

There are two ways to cast a murder mystery party game. You can either cast in advance, or do it on the day. Both have their strengths and weaknesses.

The big advantage of casting in advance is that your guests can prepare for the role. They can find appropriate costumes and props and help contribute to the atmosphere of the game. The main disadvantage is that if someone that you have given a critical character to (say, the murderer) cancels at the last minute, then you need to recast. And that may mean that someone has a quite inappropriate costume for his or her new part.

If you decide to cast on the day, you should encourage your guests to dress in an appropriate style. This may mean that you lose a little atmosphere, but does mean you’re not relying on anyone particular.

A third option is to combine both. Tell some people in advance which characters they will be playing, and leave some to the last minute to cover all eventualities.

Then there’s casting itself – how do you actually decide who gets which character? There’s no hard and fast rule for this as nobody knows your friends the way you do. I have both cast characters on an entirely random basis and according to who was turning up. Both seem to work.

(You could of course ask your guests what sort of character they would like – but then you run the risk of someone being disappointed when you can’t, for whatever reason, cast them in their preferred role.)

I don’t recommend sending out the whole character background in advance. If you do that, you run the risk that your guests (particularly close friends and partners) may actually start playing before the evening! They may well accidentally give away secrets – and unintentionally spoil the evening. You also have an even bigger problem if someone drops out – you can’t give their character to someone else (because they know things about their first character) so you would need to try and find an extra person from somewhere.

#3 Catering

First things first – while some murder mystery parties are designed around a sit-down meal, some are not. Instead, the players need the freedom to move around the room, to skulk in corners and to talk privately with one another. They can’t do that if they are sitting down having a three-course meal.

If you do want to provide a meal, you really have two options. The first is to provide the meal in advance. Invite your guests early, feed them and then (during coffee) hand out their characters. The problem with this is that dinner parties I’ve been to drag on into the evening. And I’ve rarely wanted to do anything other than digest afterwards. Having a sit-down meal in the middle of a mystery game doesn’t work either – it breaks the atmosphere and forces someone into the kitchen and away from the game.

The second option is to provide finger food – slices of pizza, a cold buffet, sandwiches or whatever takes your fancy. Finger food is ideal – it can be prepared in advance (with minimal effort in most cases) and the guests can “graze” at their leisure. You could also ask your guests to contribute to the meal to help you with the workload. สล็อต xo

Drink is another matter altogether. It’s absolutely essential to provide enough soft drinks or water. Murder mystery games are conversational, and your guests will pretty soon become very thirsty. So stock up on soda, water, coffee or juice or whatever you think people will want to drink.

Whether you serve alcohol or not is a matter of personal preference. Too much alcohol almost always ruins a game, so it needs to be moderated carefully. A little alcohol can sometimes overcome players’ inhibitions and start the game rolling.

#4 Atmosphere

Murder mystery games are much improved if you make just a few efforts to generate the right atmosphere. An appropriate atmosphere helps everyone with their character, and can turn an entertaining evening into a truly memorable one.

Here, then, are a few tips on creating a good atmosphere.

Costumes: Perhaps the strongest way of creating a great atmosphere is to encourage your guests to wear an appropriate costume. (Costumes look great in photographs as well.) If your guests are finding it hard to find a costume (not everyone has the time or money to search out a good costume), a token effort – perhaps a hat, or coat – can also work wonders.

A Sense of Space: Where you hold the murder mystery game can affect the atmosphere. If you’re lucky, you’ll be able to find a location suitable for the game. However, murder mystery games are rarely so lucky and are usually held in homes. With a little bit of planning, however, you can create a sense of space.

Anachronisms: For period games you might want to conceal or remove anachronistic items. Computers, lava lamps and other lightweight can be moved to a spare room. As for furniture and heavy appliances such as televisions and stereo systems, try concealing them with a cloth or blanket.

Props: Some murder mystery games involve items such as items up for auction or books for sale. As far as the game is concerned, these are usually represented by slips of card or paper – however, if you have access to suitable props, why not use them? Two caveats. First, if it’s important to the mystery that nobody knows who has a certain item, it might be better keeping it as a slip of card rather than a bulky prop. Second, and I can’t stress this highly enough, never use props for weapons. Period. It’s just too dangerous – anyone passing may not realise that you’re just playing a game and if they see someone brandishing a weapon they will call the police. It’s really not worth the risk.

Sound: Period music or sound effects can be used to create an atmosphere. Large libraries often have a music section, with a wide selection of sound effects.

Food: If you are preparing food you might want to provide something appropriate to the setting.

#5 Handling Questions

As written, the murder mystery games cannot answer every eventuality. Your guests are likely to be highly imaginative people. They will have ideas that nobody else has thought of – and there’s only one person they can turn to: you.

Unfortunately, that means you’re going to be asked questions during the evening. You can’t predict some of the things that you’re going be asked – so I don’t even try. My motto: expect the unexpected.

I tend to use three simple rules when it comes to answering player questions.

Is it fun? Often when a player asks something, they already have an answer in mind. If it sounds fun (which often means dramatic) then I’m likely to say yes.

Is it fair? In trying to get an advantage over another character and achieve their goals, players sometimes come up with suggestions that would upset the game for everyone else. In this case I either say no, or add enough requirements so as to make it very difficult to succeed. And then I’ll give the other players plenty of opportunity to make it fail.

Make it up. Your guests haven’t seen the full murder mystery document. They don’t know if the game is supposed to go in a particular direction or not. The games generally go in whichever direction the players take them – but that’s okay. As the players don’t know that there isn’t a “correct” way to run a murder mystery game (they are always different), I can therefore invent anything I think is reasonable. And so can you – your guests won’t know the difference.