Monthly Archives: April 2013

The new textadventures.co.uk

Meet the new textadventures.co.uk

New website

I have completely redeveloped the website from scratch. I’ve kept the design fairly minimal – the idea is to let the games stand out, make it easy to browse them, and make the site more accessible to smartphone and tablet devices. The large game tiles make the most of games with cover art, and the more easily browsable and tappable category badges hopefully make different kinds of games more discoverable.

The site uses a responsive layout, which means it adjusts depending on the width of your browser. There is no separate mobile version of the site – instead, the content is adjusted so it looks great whether you’re browsing from a phone, tablet or larger laptop/desktop screen.

A few other changes and new features:

  • You may notice the ranking of games has changed. This is because we’re now using a Bayesian ranking instead of a simple average. What this means is that the ranking should now be more accurate – a game with just a couple of 5 star reviews no longer goes straight to the top of the list, as the number of reviews is also now taken into account.
  • There are now multiple ways of signing in. In addition to Facebook, you can now log in with a Google or Microsoft account, and you can attach multiple sign-on methods to the same account.
  • A new “Activity” view in your “Create” area shows the latest reviews and comments for all of your games in one place.
  • You can now delete games from the online editor, as long as you’ve not published them.
  • You can now download your game code from the online editor, so you can switch to using the offline desktop version – or just keep your own backup of your game.

Note that for the first time, usernames must be unique on the site. In the case of username clashes, you’ll find a number has been added to the end of your name – if you want to change your username then just let me know.

Hopefully all bookmarks and links should still work and redirect where appropriate – but please let me know if you spot anything that’s broken.

The new site should be visible for most people now, but if you get a “Back soon” message, you may have to wait a little longer for the DNS change to propagate to you.

This is just the beginning for improvements to the site – the new site architecture will make it much easier to implement some rather nice features I’m planning, so stay tuned!

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textadventures.co.uk migration – scheduled downtime on 20th April

The new-look textadventures.co.uk website is launching soon! I’m just putting the finishing touches together and doing some more testing, and the site should be ready to launch on Saturday 20th April.

In addition to a new look and feel, the entire back-end has been rewritten as well. I’m moving away from a hacked together collection of PHP scripts and WordPress, and to a new site built on .NET and hosted on the Azure cloud platform.

There are a number of things I’ve wanted to add for a while now, but the old site architecture made it difficult for me to change things. On the new website it will be much easier for me to implement new functionality – so watch this space for announcements! There are already a number of nice little changes on the new site to look forward to, and I’ll write a blog post about these soon.

The need to migrate data from the old site to the new site means there will be some downtime – hopefully only a few hours. The migration of user accounts takes a while, so I’ll be doing those first while keeping the site online. The currently planned migration timetable is:

Friday 19th April, 12.00 British Time (11.00 UTC/GMT, 07.00 EST) : New user account sign-up disabled – site remains online and existing users can log in and use the site as normal.

Saturday 20th April, 10.00 British Time (09.00 UTC/GMT, 05.00 EST): Site offline for data migration. This should hopefully be completed within a few hours, and then the new site will be available. You will then be able to create new user accounts and use all site functionality.

During the migration, the blog and forums will continue to be available, and you’ll still be able to download the Windows desktop version of Quest via this direct link: http://files.textadventures.co.uk/quest540.exe

Any questions or concerns then please let me know – alex@textadventures.co.uk.

Experimenting with stories and text

Continuing the theme of text adventure games are still new, a couple of excellent thought-provoking blog posts from the last week:

First, Jimmy Maher’s look at Infocom’s 1983 game Infidel raises questions which are very much still relevant today:

When you boot an adventure are you effectively still yourself, reacting as you would if transported into that world? Or is an adventure really a form of improvisatory theater, in which you put yourself into the shoes of a protagonist who is not you and try to play the role and experience that person’s story in good faith? Or consider a related question: is an adventure game a way of creating your own story or simply an unusually immersive, interactive way of experiencing a story?

And Emily Short finds herself ranting about text:

Text is not just cheap. It’s not just the medium you use when you have no resources and no high-end software. It’s a very powerful medium for communicating nuance, viewpoint, interiority, motivation, the experience of the outsider. It’s an artistic medium with its own beauties. … Sometimes people assume text games must be ugly and have low production values. That isn’t true either. It is possible for text games to be visual feasts.

Emily’s post links to a number of experiments that people have done, which show that an interactive text-based game can take on many forms.

Myself, I feel more than ever a need to do some more experimentation of my own. So far I’ve created a prototype split-screen text adventure, but that was a couple of years ago now and it’s clear to me that I need to work on something bigger to try out some more ideas. Something is taking shape in my head (and on various scraps of paper) … but very slowly. I’ve always seen myself as a programmer, not an author, so it’s hard work and involves stepping outside my comfort zone, but that can only be a good thing whatever happens.

As I keep saying, none of us has any idea what the text adventures of the future will look like, and the only way we’ll find out will be by trying things out and being prepared to fail.