Quest 5.0 is now available! Download it now.
A brand new system for creating text adventures
Quest 5 is more than just an upgrade from Quest 4 – it is a completely new system, rewritten from scratch. I started work on it around April 2009, and the first preview version was released in February 2010. In October 2010, I announced that the system was to be free and open source. And in April 2011, I decided to increase the pace of development – quitting my job to work on Quest full-time.
Easy to use, powerful, flexible
Compared to Quest 4, the new system is much more powerful, flexible and robust – and I believe it’s even easier to use. The standard game behaviour is written in Quest itself, which means it is completely customisable. New features include support for “undo” when playing games (and also undo/redo in the Editor), expressions, local variables, lists and dictionaries – if you used Quest 4 you’ll want to check out the Upgrade Notes.
Compared to other systems, I had several objectives. Many of these are the same objectives I’ve always had for Quest, but the rewrite has made it possible for me to finally do them properly:
- Easy to create games. It’s easy to get started creating games with Quest 5. The visual editor is designed to be intuitive – everything is shown in plain English, and the aim is that features are easy to find by exploring the menus and tabs. You don’t need to learn programming syntax, or spend time trying to get the system to understand you. I believe that no other system is as easy to get started with.
- Easy to play games. I would guess that the vast majority of people in the world have never played a text adventure game. Quest is designed so that new players should be able to easily figure out how to play – see my earlier blog post on Eliminating “Guess the Verb”.
- Powerful. Behind the visual editor is a fully featured programming language. This means that although Quest is easy to learn, it doesn’t restrict what is possible. See my earlier blog post about the design of the Script Editor.
- Shareable. It’s fairly pointless making games if other people don’t play them. Quest makes it easy to download and play games with its integrated game browser – there’s no need to visit a separate site, as you can easily download games directly inside the application. When you create a game and upload it to textadventures.co.uk, other people can play online in their web browser – there is no need for them to download any software, so they can play a game on Windows, Mac and Linux – even iPhone, iPad and Android, though there is still some work to be done to make the site easy to use with those devices. No other system makes it this easy for you to share your creations.
- Flexible. Quest is fully open source, and under a fairly permissive licence (Ms-PL, which is similar to the MIT licence). This means you can use and adapt Quest for use in closed source applications, to create desktop games or to power websites. No other system lets you do this.
- International. Quest 5 supports multiple languages. Out of the box, you can create games in English, French, German, Spanish or Dutch. Quest’s standard text comes from one file, meaning it is straightforward to create your own translation.
This is just the beginning
There are many more things I want to add to Quest, but “shipping is also a feature” as they say – I thought it was important to get something of release quality “out there” as soon as I could. The Issue Tracker will give you some idea of what is coming up – there are currently a large number of features assigned to a future “Quest 5.1” release, though this is quite a long list at the moment so I would expect a lot of those features to be pushed back to later releases.
In addition to the features listed on the Issue Tracker, there are some other Quest projects in the pipeline:
- Linux and OS X versions of the desktop Player (and eventually, the Editor)
- iPhone- and iPad-friendly versions of the web Player – maybe also native applications
- “Simple mode” for the Editor, to make it even easier (particularly for children) to create games with Quest
- Possibly a web-based Editor
- Improvements to the textadventures.co.uk site – better profiles, editing existing game listings, improvements to categories, easier embedding of games in other websites, game analytics (e.g. what percentage of people complete your game), non-public games (i.e. not listed in the categories but you can still share the game via a link)
- Integration of Quest with e-learning systems such as Moodle
You can help
I quit my job to make Quest but I don’t really have a business plan – my primary motivation is really just that I want the software to exist. If it brings opportunities my way, that’s marvellous (and if not, it’s all good for my CV/resumé – I’m not completely nuts). So if you have a particular project in mind, please get in touch. Maybe you’d like me to do some custom development for you? Maybe you’ve seen a feature on the Issue Tracker you would like to sponsor?
Or if you would simply like to express your gratitude, if you think this software which I am giving away is worth something, I am of course happy to accept donations too, large or small.
If you don’t want to contribute money, there are other ways to show your appreciation – get involved! Quest isn’t just “my” project any more – as it’s open source, I’m happy to accept code contributions and translations. All feedback is very useful, so please report any bugs you find using the Issue Tracker, make suggestions at Uservoice, and join in the forums. You can also email me at email@example.com or tweet me @alexwarren.
Many thanks to everybody who has made suggestions, posted bug reports, contributed features and translations. I don’t even know some of your real names. In no particular order, thanks to Stephen Hart, Jhames, Pertex, Jonathan Dobson, ThePixie, Xordevoreaux, Lina Anna, Guillaume Poulain, and anyone else I’ve forgotten!
Keep up to date
To keep up to date:
- Join the mailing list for release announcements
- Follow @TextAdv on Twitter for Quest announcements and game releases
- Follow @alexwarren on Twitter for Quest announcements and other thoughts