Creating with Trizbort and Quest

Trizbort is a map-making program specifically designed for text adventures, first developed by genstein, and now maintained by JasonLautzenheiser. It is partly for players to be able to map a game as they play through, but also for designers. It has been around for a few years, but recently the ability to export a map to Quest has been added.

You can find it here:

There is a discussion here, with more instructions and images too.


So how would you use it?

The first thing to realise is that this is a one way trip. You start creating with Trizbort, then export to Quest, and then create with Quest. You cannot go back to Trizbort once you have started to make changes in Quest.

So with that in mind, the way to approach it is to design the geography in Trizbort, then turn that into a game in Quest.

Trizbort is available as a .zip file, and should be extracted into a folder called “trizbort”. You can then double click the app to start it. You will be presented with a blank page.



Press “R” to create a room. When a room is selected you can drag it to move it, or select it and then drag its square handles to change its size. Double click on the room to change its properties. Here you can type in a description. You can tick it as dark too.

You should make sure one room is flagged as the start room so the exporter will create a player object there.

Rooms can be named any way you like. When exported, it will be given a name that is made up of just letters and numbers and underscores, but it will also get an alias that is just as you typed it.

Rooms in Quest have to have unique names; it is a good idea to select Validation – Rooms must have a unique name, so Trizbort will warn you if that is not the case.

Note that Subtitle, Regions and Room shapes will not be exported to Quest.



To create an exit, make sure no room is selected (just click outside a room). Now if you hover your cursor over a room the circular exit ports will appear. Drag the port from one room to another. Ports line up to the normal compass directions. Trizbort actually supports sixteen compass directions; I am not aware of _any_ text adventure that uses that many and Quest certainly does not. Jst use the standard eight (you might want to use the others for up/down and in/out).

Double click on a link to change it. You can do this to make it up/down or in/out (otherwise it will use compass directions as you would expect), or one way. One way exits will have arrows to indicate the direction. For up/down and in/out, the exit will be labelled. The label indicates what the player in the room will see. If it says “Down” at that end of the link, then the room has a “Down” exit.

You can make other changes too, but nothing that will get exported into Quest.



You can add objects to rooms. Double click the room to open the properties box, and go to the _Objects_ tab. It is a simple list; one object per line. Each object can be flagged to be of a certain type, the flags should go inside square brackets. The following are supported:

s scenery
f female
m male
! proper-named (only with f or m)
c container
2 plural named (singular is by default)

Other flags will not be exported.

In this example, the room will have a sofa, which is scenery, a named, female called Mary, and curtains, flagged as both scenery and plural.


Objects will be given names and aliases in the same way as rooms, however two objects can have the same name; they will get modified on export so the alias is the same, but not the name. Objects must NOT have the same names as rooms – Trizbort does not check, you need to ensure this yourself.

This is a great way to ensure everything mentioned in the room description gets implemented.

Note that position just determines where the list appears in Trizbort, and is not exported to Quest.


Map Settings

Go to Tools – Settings to see general setting. Here you can give your game a title, add yourself as the author and add a description. This is just as easily done in Quest, and you may prefer to do it there.

None of the other settings will be included in your Quest game.



Before exporting, check: Do you have a start room (it will have a yellow glow around it; Trizbort will not let you have more than one)? Do you have any objects/rooms with the same names?

You do not have to, but it is probably best to follow the Quest convention, and to create a new folder for your game inside the “Quest Games” folder.

Once you have completed your map, go to File – Export to export your game, and select Quest. Navigate to the folder, and click “Save”. The exported file is your new Quest game.


In Quest

You should now be able to open your game in Quest.

Remember to give all those objects a description. If any can be picked up, you will need to tick the box for that. Note that if you have rooms flagged as dark, you will need to turn the feature on in the Display tab of the game object.


Quest Maps

You will need to go to the Interface tab of the game object to turn the map on, if you want to have a map.

Quest handles maps very differently to Trizbort. Quest tries to guess where each room is in relation to each other, whilst Trozbort is a drawing package, and allows rooms to go anywhere. Quest uses exits and Trizbort uses links. The upshot is that map itself does not export from Trizbort. The only values that are exported are the colours and size of the room.

Alternatively, export the Trizbort map to an image, and add that to your game.



If you want to create a game in a language other than English, you just need to add the language file to your game. Go to Tools – Code view. You will see the code behind your game. It will start like this:

<!–Saved by Quest 5.7.6597.24702–>
<asl version=”550″>
<include ref=”English.aslx” />
<include ref=”Core.aslx” />

You need to add a line to add your language, after English, and before Core. This example is for French.

<!–Saved by Quest 5.7.6597.24702–>
<asl version=”550″>
<include ref=”English.aslx” />
<include ref=”Francais.aslx” />
<include ref=”Core.aslx” />

Go to Tools – Code view to go back to the normal view.


Adding to an existing game

Another way to use Trizbort is to create a new region in an existing game. You will need to be careful to make sure every room and object has a unique room, as Trizbort will not be able to check against rooms and objects already in your game. I recommend backing up your Quest game before doing this!

After creating the new region, go to File – Export to export your game, and select Quest to clipboard (no header). All the new rooms and objects will be copied to the clipboard. In Quest, go to Tools – Code view. You will see the code behind your game. Right at the bottom, you will see this line:


Put in a couple of blank lines above that line, and then do Edit – Paste to add all those new rooms.

Go to Tools – Code view to go back to the normal view.


Get creating!

Now it is even easier to create games in Quest, so get creating!



Quest Group Project

We are experimenting with creating a large game as a group project. This was started on the forum, and has now moved to Github, where the basic ideas are being thrashed out.

The basic idea is that the player starts at a hub location, and can travel from there to numerous dimensions, with each author creating their own dimension (or two?). We have a framework to handle this, which allows each author to work on their game starting from a simple template, and when we are ready to go live, each game will be sent in, converted to a library and added to the master version. This means people can join the project at any time (even after it has been released potentially), and it can keep going if one person drops out – and in fact it would be quite easy to convert your game to a standalone game, if the whole thing ends up going nowhere.

The project wiki is here:

And there is a forum thread here:

It looks like it will be a science-fiction/fantasy romp across time and space in a classic, old school style. If you want to get involved and to have a say in how the game will develop, now is the time to join, before it all gets set in stone!

Quest 5.7

At long last, Quest 5.7 is officially out. It has been on the web server for a couple of days, and beta-testers have had access to the desktop version for some time, but as of now it is officially here!

Alex has been developing Quest since 1998, and this is the first release since he handed over the reins, so firstly I want to wish Alex well, and to thank him for bringing Quest to this point. I would also like to thank him for help over the last few months with getting Quest 5.7 ready.

I would also like to thank Luis for his work on the server; I know this has been a learning experience for him, as it has me, and I appreciate the effort.

I have tried to achieve a number of objectives in this version, and as a result there are a lot of difference. That said, it is just Quest, so all existing games should run fine, and any game you are currently creating can be opened in the new version – you will just find there are new options available.

One thing I wanted to do is make it easier to customise the user interface. Up to now that has required some technical expertise, and for users on the web version has been very limited. Now there are numerous extra options in the GUI, new functions (JS.setCss, JS.setCommands, JS.setCustomStatus and JS.setPanes) for the more adventurous, and for the expert the inituserinterface script can be accessed by both web and desktop users

There is now a comprehensive system for handling clothing. Money has been implemented similar to health and score, but with options for how to display it. Objects can be given a price, facilitating an economy in games. Text can be added to an exit; this will get printed when the exit is used, so now you can easily describe the player’s trip from one location to another.

Many more changes are described here:

If you have looked at the Quest documentation recently, you may have noticed changed there too. This is a work in progress, driven in part by the types of questions people ask on the forum. There is a huge amount you can do with Quest, which is one of its great strengths, but does mean a huge amount of documentation to cover it, and that then leads to issues with how to find it! Hopefully we are getting there.


The Pixie

The website have now messaging system

We have been working for several weeks on an internal messaging system so that users can exchange messages and solve doubts in a faster way than the forum.

Now, any registered user can send a message to another user easily and intuitively from the profile page of the user to whom you want to send the message.

We hope that this improvement will help you to have more closeness with the rest of the community of users!

Thanks for all the suggestions we have received!

Meet the new team

I announced last month that I was handing over and Quest. Many thanks to everybody who got in touch to volunteer to help. I was really pleased that so many people want to see these projects continue into the future. I am now happy to announce that we have a new team in place!

Luis Felipe Morales will be taking over the and ActiveLit websites, and also Squiffy. A programmer since the 1980s, Luis has been involved with the Spanish interactive fiction community since he was young. He has maintained and created several internet portals and now works as a freelancer.

Jay Nabonne and Andy a.k.a The Pixie will be taking over development of Quest. Both have been very active members of the forums for a long time. Jay is a lifelong programmer and game player who is interested in not only creating games but helping others to do the same. A California native, he now lives with his wife in the UK. Andy has been playing and creating text adventure games since the Eighties, has been using Quest for over five years and has written various guides and libraries for the system.

Greg Fenton and Nathan Clive Gerard will each be running servers for Quest’s WebPlayer and WebEditor. Greg is a developer who wrote his first text adventure in dBase III on an IBM PC back in the very late 1980s shortly after leaving high school. Nathan is a regular player of text adventures from the UK (currently living in the USA), who spends his days setting up and looking after web servers in the cloud.

I’ll be working with each of them over the coming months to ensure a smooth transition. Please welcome them aboard!

Developers needed for and Quest

This is a follow up to Looking for a new owner for and Quest.

Thanks to all of you who have got in touch so far. A lot of people have asked about what would be involved in taking over and running and/or Quest, so this post is to go into a bit more detail about how things are set up and how the work might be split up across different people.

For a smooth transition, I need to find people to fill these four roles:

  • One or more .NET web developers for and/or ActiveLit, familiar with Azure and ASP.NET MVC and with front-end development using JavaScript and Bootstrap.
  • One or more JavaScript developers for Quest 6, Squiffy and/or QuestKit. Ideally familiar with back-end and front-end web development, and desktop development using Electron.
  • One or more .NET developers familiar with both desktop and web development for Quest 5. Ideally familiar with both C# and VB.NET.
  • A server admin to keep the current browser version of Quest alive (both the Player and the Editor). Needs to know how to run a Windows server. This is currently running on a VPS at OVH. (This is just for the online player and editor – running itself will require a developer familiar with Azure. Eventually if both the Quest Player and Editor are rewritten to use JavaScript, the server admin role becomes redundant).

Of course any of these roles can be combined – after all, they’ve all been done by me up until now. and ActiveLit sites and ActiveLit run on the Azure App Service (formerly known as Azure Websites). Data is stored in Azure SQL and in Azure blob and table storage.

The web-accessible blobs (for game downloads, cover art etc.) are behind a Cloudflare CDN.

The code uses C# and ASP.NET MVC. The front-end uses Bootstrap, JQuery and a little bit of React.

ActiveLit runs alongside on the same Azure infrastructure and talks to the same database.

Quest 5 & 6

There are two parts to Quest – the Player and the Editor. There are also two ways of using Quest – via the web, and via a downloadable Windows desktop application.

The current version is Quest 5, and I also made a start on Quest 6 which is architected quite differently. The new version rewrites the Player back-end to use JavaScript, which means the web version requires no server component (making it much faster, infinitely scalable, distributable on any website, and an end to time-outs while playing), and the desktop version will be cross-platform for the first time (packaged using Electron for Windows, Mac and Linux).

To take on Quest 6, I’m looking for a developer who has experience using the modern JavaScript ecosystem (npm, TypeScript, gulp, webpack and all of that kind of thing). I will work with this person to help get Quest 6 shipped. (It doesn’t make sense for me to continue working on this project without somebody to hand it over to, because it will of course need to be maintained after it is shipped). Quest 6 lives in the v6 branch on GitHub.

After Quest 6 is shipped, rewriting the Editor to use JavaScript would also be really useful. That would be a project for the new Quest 6 maintainer, or maybe even someone else. If Quest could be taken to the point where both the Player and the Editor were shipping as 100% JavaScript applications, that would be a massive simplification of the Quest architecture.

Quest’s long-term future lies with Quest 6, but it would be good if we can find somebody to maintain Quest 5 for the time being, not least because even if/when Quest 6 ships, it will still be using the same .NET-based Editor that Quest 5 uses.

I’ve updated the Developers documentation page on the Quest docs site to describe how the various projects that make up Quest 5 together. It is not an easy thing to pick up – there’s a lot of code there, and a mixture of languages and technologies reflecting my changing tastes and experience over time. It’s stable though, and it shouldn’t require big changes because if the Player and Editor both get rewritten using JavaScript then all of it will become obsolete.


If you’re interested in taking on one or more of these roles, please email me at

To reiterate, I am not looking for money. I want to hand these over to somebody (or a group of people) with a passion for IF and a vision for where these products could go in the future. That vision doesn’t necessarily have to agree with my vision (that’s what stepping back is about) – this is a massive opportunity for somebody to take over running a popular website and IF development system. is the place people come when they search for text adventures on the web, so it’s a big gateway to the world of interactive fiction. Taking on the website doesn’t have to be about taking on Quest.

I’ve only got Alexa rankings to prove it (so take them with a pinch of salt) but the site appears to be bigger than other IF sites like IFDB, and Choice of Games. It’s how a lot of people start out making text adventures – in fact, it’s introduced a lot of people to programming in the first place. It’s used by schools to get children into coding and creative writing.

Thanks again for responses so far. If you can’t help out yourself, please help spread the word to somebody who might be able to take this on and ensure it has a future.

Looking for a new owner for and Quest

I have been developing Quest and for a long time. It started off as a summer coding project when I was a teenager and wanted to send stupid text adventure games to a friend. Over the last couple of decades it has turned into something far bigger than I could have imagined.

It has alternated between hobby and full-time job, and tinkering with it all these years has taught me huge amounts about writing software, helping turn me into the developer that I am today.

I’m proud of what I’ve built – various open source projects that have enabled hundreds of thousands of people to build games for the first time, and a website that has become the top hit on Google for “text adventures” and attracts 3,500 users per day, a number which continues to increase.

The software and community around it are in great shape, and I think they have a great future. But the time has come for somebody else to take charge – I want to focus my energy on new projects, and hand over what I’ve built to somebody else who has the passion to drive things forward.

I am looking for people interested in taking this on. There are quite a lot of different bits, and these wouldn’t all necessarily need to go to the same person or company – things could be split up if that looks like the best option. I am open to all suggestions and proposals – my main concern above all else is finding the best home (or homes) for the long-term future for these projects. I am not looking for money and I’m happy to do everything I can to ensure a smooth handover.

If you’re interested, please email me at

What if new owners can’t be found?

I really hope that people from the interactive fiction community will want to see Quest and continue, so if you can possibly help then please get in touch. Do you want to keep alive for the community that loves it? Could you take it forward to bigger and better things?

If no suitable new owners come forward by 28th February 2017, then sadly I will have to start the process of shutting down the website and forums. Initially they will become read-only, and I will look to export the data elsewhere (the IF Archive or the Internet Archive) before closing the sites completely.

Quest and Squiffy will remain accessible on GitHub but there will be no further updates. The software will still be able to be downloaded for offline use, but the online web-based versions would no longer be available. The GitHub repositories themselves would probably be transferred to the IFTF.

The different bits

  • Quest
  • Squiffy
  • QuestKit
    • The site itself, where people can upload games (not just Quest and Squiffy games, but Inklewriter, Twine and Inform games too) and post reviews and comments
    • The forums
    • Online player and editor for Quest games
    • Online editor for Squiffy
  • ActiveLit
  • Social media accounts:
  • Various domain names:

Some numbers according to Google Analytics:

  • ~3,500 unique visitors/day
  • 83,986 unique visitors in November 2016 (a 14% increase on November 2015)
  • 428,119 page views in November 2016 (18% increase on November 2015)
  • Average session duration 03m 41s
  • 66% of sessions are from new users, 34% returning


  • 161,203 registered users (115,038 with confirmed email addresses)
  • In November 2016, new sign-ups from 4,746 users (3,190 with confirmed email addresses)


  • 13,582 games (8,216 are public) of which:
    • Quest games: 9,892
    • HTML (Twine, Squiffy etc.) and Inform games: 1,621
    • Inklewriter games: 1,321
    • External links (game listings from IFDB, Choice of Games etc): 757
  • In November 2016, 394 new games (136 are public)
  • 8,317 reviews and 13,414 comments
  • In November 2016, 197 new reviews and 336 new comments
  • 94,575 games started in Quest’s online editor

Social Media:

  • @TextAdv on Twitter: 921 followers
  • textadventures on Facebook: 1076 likes

Income and Expenses:

AdSense earns about £50/month for the limited advertising which is currently on the site.

The main costs are for Azure at ~£70/month, and the VPS (hosted by OVH) which runs the Quest online player and editor at £13.59/month ex VAT.

(On Azure, I’ve been getting a £65/month free credit, so the actual amount billed averages only about £5. This means the total cost for running the site has been about £20/month, which has been entirely offset from the Adsense income.)

Squiffy 5 – an improved editing experience

Squiffy 5 is now available – you can use it in your web browser, or download it for Windows, OS X and Linux.

This release makes various enhancements to the Squiffy Editor. The number one request by far has been to add an option to change the font size – so that is now done!

There’s also improved syntax highlighting. Section and passage headers are now highlighted, and in-line JavaScript code gets its own highlighting.

It’s now easier to work on larger games. You can collapse sections and passages, so it’s easier to focus on just the one you’re currently editing. The section and passage lists at the top of the screen are now searchable.

You’ll find shortcuts to collapse and uncollapse all sections and passages on the new Tools tab. This also features new shortcut buttons allowing you to easily add new sections and passages. Let’s say you’ve written a paragraph of text and want to add a link to it. Now you can simply select the text you want to link, hit “Add section” or “Add passage”, and a new section or passage of that name will be created, with the text linked to it.

Squiffy 5

Try it out… Squiffy works in your web browser without downloading anything, or you can download versions for Windows, OS X and Linux.

Squiffy is free and open source, and you can find both the compiler and editor on GitHub:

Squiffy 4 – interactive fiction editor for Windows, OS X and Linux

Squiffy 4 is now available. This release brings the editor to Windows, OS X and Linux, so you can now create and edit games offline.

Squiffy for OS X

Squiffy is a simple system for writing multiple-choice interactive fiction. It publishes to HTML so you can upload your game anywhere. The quickest way to see it in action is to check out the documentation, which has a load of live examples – you can see the code and the results in the same place, and play around by editing the examples in the ScratchPad.

With this release, you now have three options for using Squiffy:

The new desktop version of the Squiffy editor takes the web-based editor (created for Squiffy 3) and wraps it up using Electron. It’s exactly the same code, so all future improvements will be available in both the web and desktop versions.

What sort of future improvements? Well, we’re nearly at the end of my Squiffy Roadmap now, but this is just the beginning. Now we have a fairly simple editor across all platforms for what is still a fairly simple system, we can start to flesh out the features a bit. I’d like to add a graphical view showing how a game’s sections and passages connect to each other, and I’ve got various ideas for how the editor could assist you with building a game – making it a one-click operation to add new sections and passages, showing you which sections and passages are empty or missing, etc.

Both the Squiffy Compiler and Squiffy Editor are open source on GitHub:

All feedback, suggestions and pull requests are welcome!

Inform hosting on

You can now upload games created with Inform directly to

Previously, you could upload an HTML game created using Inform’s “Release along with an interpreter” option, but now it’s even easier – you can now upload a .z5, .z8, .ulx, .zblorb or .gblorb file directly.

Just head to the “Submit a Game” link and submit your file. After uploading the file, enter a few basic details and hit Publish. That’s it! Your game’s listing page is created, where it can be played online (using Parchment) or downloaded.

When publishing a game, you can also choose to keep your game unlisted, which means only people you give the link to will have access.

If you upload a blorb file that includes cover art, that will be automatically added to your game listing.