I believe Quest 5.0 has the potential to be a great system. I’ve put a lot of thought into the design and I think it’s shaping up to be a far more powerful, robust and flexible system than its predecessor.
But while it’s nice to have software that is good on a technical level, it doesn’t mean very much if it doesn’t have very many users.
The previous approach
Quest 4.x is sold on a “try before you buy” model, at least for people who want to create games. If you only want to play games, there is no need to pay – just download Quest and away you go. If you want to create your own games though, that costs money. Earlier versions had a 30-day trial of QDK, the game editor, although in v4.0 that restriction was removed in favour of a cut-down “lite” version that lets you create smallish games. So in the current system, if you want to create a bigger game, you have to pay.
While this approach is not entirely unsuccessful, I think it puts many people off. Even if they may never create a big game with Quest, the mere possibility that they might have to pay at some point probably puts some people off from even making a small game. So they go and take a look at other systems, even if they may have found that they would prefer Quest’s approach if they’d just given it a chance. Who knows, maybe the other systems don’t work out for them, and they abandon the idea of making a text adventure entirely?
Making it free
This wouldn’t bother me too much if the user base for Quest was huge anyway. But writing your own text adventure games is a niche hobby, and there are a number of excellent free alternatives to Quest, most notably Inform.
So, I’ve decided to unleash Quest from the shackles of directly trying to make money from its users. I would be so much happier to have created a free system with a large number of users, than to be in charge of a system with a small following that brings in only a small fraction of my overall income.
Becoming more open
Quest 5.0 was already designed with the idea of making its innards more open. Whereas previous versions hard-coded a lot of the standard game logic, in Quest 5.0 much more of the system is written using ASLX, the same format that the games themselves are written in.
Making Quest 5.0 fully open-source seems a logical progression, tying in nicely with both the free-of-charge aspect, and in making the system more open and customisable.
So, I’m pleased to announce that Quest 5.0 is now free open source software.
It is released under the Microsoft Public License (Ms-PL), which is similar to the MIT License. This means you are free to use the source code, even in commercial closed-source projects.
You can find the Quest 5.0 project at CodePlex: http://quest.codeplex.com
I’m not expecting an overnight miracle, but in the longer term I hope that by being open source, people will join in with this project – the aim of which is to create a powerful, robust and flexible platform for the future of text adventure games/interactive fiction, which people can write games for easily, without having to know how to program.
So I’m looking for people to join in with me – we need C# and VB.NET developers, and also people to contribute to the Core.aslx library, which is written in Quest itself. We also need people to translate Quest into other languages.
I’m really excited about the new direction for Quest. I’ve not run an open source project before, so please don’t be afraid of joining in if this is new to you too. I believe that together we can achieve more, and turn Quest 5.0 into a totally awesome system. All questions and feedback are much appreciated!
Get the code from CodePlex: http://quest.codeplex.com
Documentation is on the wiki: http://quest5.net