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Last Update 08-Sep-2017

All text and images copyright Gil Williamson 1997-2016

 Text Adventures

Just in case you don't already know about text adventures, I'll try to put it in a nutshell. Text Adventures are to Computer Video games as books are to movies. Most of us net-surfers are the kind of people who like books, so it's not surprising that text adventures are very much alive on the Internet.

In a text adventure, the game explains the scene or situation to the player in words, just like a book, and the player replies in sentences with his instructions. In the game, he may use various objects that he finds, and may move from location to location. With that simple introduction, you'll see exactly what I mean if I just roll out an example.

You can download Sir Ramic Hobbs and the High Level Gorilla by clicking here.
The file is 164 Kb in size.

You can download Sir Ramic Hobbs and the Oriental Walk by clicking here.
The file is 225 Kb in size.

Save the hobbszip.exe file in a directory of your choice, then open Windows Explorer in that directory, double-click hobbszip.exe or wokzip.exe to unpack the game, and then double-click hobbs.bat or wok.bat to run it.

In the latest Windows issues - (Win 7, Vista and beyond) it gets a bit more complicated. You have to instal DOSBox, which also has versions for MAC, Unix etc.

Then select a directory to use as DOSBox's home, and download and run hobbszip.exe from the Windows directory. First, it complains that the zip is unlicenced, but you can ignore that and unpack it to your chosen directory. Then startup DosBox, 'mount' the chosen directory and then type HOBBS or WOK on the command line in DOSBox.

There's a walkthrough file in the WOK package to help you if you get stuck. It's called WOK.WLK. This is a text file with just the barest instructions to help you through the game. With HOBBS, you're on your own.

These are small games, intended to be playable in a single session - yet there are more than 20,000 words of text in each, in addition to the map and puzzle logic. The example is a brief extract from Sir Ramic Hobbs and the Oriental Walk.

You can buy the book which tells you how to write these adventures by mailing me at gil@amazonsystems.co.uk. It costs £5.40 including postage in the UK, and £7.40 including postage worldwide (approx. $10.00). You can pay by Paypal if you have a valid email address and a Paypal account or credit card:

Buy a copy of Computer Adventures - The Secret Art via Paypal at £5.40 including UK post and packing
Buy a copy of Computer Adventures - The Secret Art via Paypal at £7.40 including International post and packing

There's a shortened version of the book here, though much of the detailed text, and all the illustrations are missing, so that you'll find it convenient and pleasant to buy the book instead..

 Book Cover

If you want more, a good link to try is This very friendly Interactive Fiction site., which will point you at many other sites.

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An Extract from an Adventure

In this game, you take the part of Sir Ramic Hobbs, who is on a quest of uncertain objective. The game addresses Sir Ramic, describing the scene, and commenting on his actions. This is a chatty, satirical adventure. Many are much more serious.

We join the action in mid-adventure.

This first piece of text only appears the first time you arrive at this location: This is the Great Wall of China. It is more than a wall. It is a fortified rampart some six meters (that's twenty feet, Sir Ramic - (Twenty? That's all your fingers and all your toes)) in height, with a pavement on top wide enough to carry a horse and cart. It has been built without regard for geographical difficulties, tends to run along high ground to give a good field of view and fire, and it extends a very, very long way, branching from time to time.

(A very long way, Sir Ramic? Well, it's further than you'd want to walk, so it's a good job this is a magical version of the wall, which you can complete in five steps, PROVIDED that you figure out the right way at each junction. And you're going to need Old Moong's Almanac to do that.)

This section is repeated every time you return to this location: You are at a junction of the wall here. A large letter I is carved on the pavement, and the wall stretches off in all four directions, snaking over valleys and up ridges till it disappears.

There's a cool breeze, but it's bright and sunny.

Then all the items here are listed:

There is a comfy armchair here.

There's a blue book here.

Then there's a prompt. Let's suppose you want to examine the armchair, then you would type: Examine armchair, and the game gives a full description.

What Now? EXAMINE ARMCHAIR

The armchair appears very comfortable. It is made of leather, stuffed, presumably, with something soft. It seems stuck to the floor, or, at any rate, far too heavy for you to lift.

Something in the back of your mind is screaming "OH NO ! NOT THE COMFY ARMCHAIR !" But it's probably alcoholic poisoning.

Then you could look at the book, and read it. It plainly isn't the Old Moong's Almanac you need right now.

Note also that the game understands "Read It" as "Read the Book", as that was the object of the previous sentence.

What Now? EXAMINE BOOK

The blue book only has the word "man" on its cover. One is left wondering what aspect of man is about to be considered. Perhaps we should read it?

What Now? READ IT

It is hard to read the book, because Baron Doar has been decorating it with his coloured pencils, and tearing pages out for who knows what purposes.

What remains, Sir Ramic, appears to be a set of instructions for the handling of a golden liquid used for "Alterations", whatever they are. Apparently, the subject is to DRINK the LIQUID, and then within a very few seconds to say one of the Magic Words thus:

GREP COMPRESS VI

AWK BIFF PWD

The effects of so behaving were printed on the half of the page that the Baron has torn out and, presumably, destroyed.

LOGOUT appears to reverse the effect of each alteration, which is, in any event, temporary

It would, presumably, be wise to try these out where their effect could be observed.

There are many more magic words, very few of them comprehensible, but all have been scribbled out of legibility.

Perhaps you're carrying the almanac. You can find out what you are carrying by using the word "Inventory".

Aha! The almanac!

And so we progress. What happens in the adventure depends very much on where we go, and what we ask. That is why text adventures are sometimes given the name "interactive fiction".

What Now? INVENTORY

You are carrying:

Old Moong's Almanac

You are wearing:

a Suit of Armour

a Steel Helmet

So, let's try to use the almanac for advice here.

We know from hints given earlier in the game that there is some kind of word puzzle in the almanac. The player is meant to find the words North, South, East or West buried in the text in some way, as his guide.

What Now? EXAMINE ALMANAC

It's Old Moong's Almanac, whose prestigious title is somewhat belied by the fact that it is printed in a rather runny typeface on the reverse side of a single sheet of low grade paper.

It is said to be an invaluable guide to the ever-changing topography of The Wall, though you wouldn't guess it from the tone of the contents.

However, it is also known to be totally misleading when consulted outwith the environment of The Wall.

What Now? READ ALMANAC

When Lee Kim San, a 40 year old shopkeeper, opened his grocery minimarket in Kowloon last weekend, he was horrified to discover a 17 inch dragon in the spices department. Every time he tried to expel the mythical creature, it swallowed another packet of Vencatchellum's HOT Madras curry powder and breathed flames at him, scorching the freeze-dried Chow Min With Bamboo Shoots. Several attempts to dampen the chimera's ardour with a fire extinguisher having failed, it finally succumbed to a cocktail of menthol cigarettes and breath freshener that it plundered from the non-food section, and was pursued from the premises by Lee's cat. The authorities in Kowloon deny the incident, saying that dragons are extremely rare in the area, that they should never be approached, that they do not exist at all, that the last authenticated materialisation occurred in 1932 in a fireworks factory, with disastrous consequences, that the police are instituting all proper precautions against these creatures which are, in any event, totally imaginary, and that the dragon in question was actually extremely small and probably harmless, so that's all right, then.

In this case, the initial letters of each sentence spell out the word WEST.

We therefore go West, and a new scene greets the eyes.

What Now? WEST

You are at a junction of the wall here. The symbol II is carved on the pavement, and the wall starts off in all four directions, soon disappearing into the light ground mist. Further away, it appears through the mist, curving over the ridges.

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