Tag Archives: iphone

“First Times” – a horror text adventure for iPhone, iPad, Android

The horror text adventure First Times, by Hero Robb, is now available as a free app.

FirstTimes-Ballpoint

You awaken in a morgue with no memory of how you arrived. Journey deeper into your fears, regrets, and doubts as you explore the ruins of what appears to be a hospital. Can you survive a psychological trip through a nightmarish dreamscape? But then again, dying is a far cry from the most frightening thing that you will face.

There are four endings. These are your first times. Open your eyes…

Here’s what some players have said so far…

First Times is a fantastic deviation from the classic Text Adventure genre. It utilizes both sound and game timers to give the player the most horrific experience possible. The game play and in-game descriptions are both shocking and intense. It’s amazing what Hero Robb accomplishes in his Text Adventure debut. Fans of classic gaming, horror, or anyone looking to experience something strange and different should definitely play First Times. I truly can’t wait to see what Hero Robb comes out with next. I don’t care what it is, I’m playing it.” – Cody Robinson

You do horrible things, because if you don’t, you can’t progress, which makes the inevitable terribleness feel more like your fault. The use of sound is perfect, and specifically the ‘ritual room’ is one of the most harrowing places I’ve ever managed to be. Further, the green eyed doll, despite being rendered purely in text (or possibly even because of it, and having to use my imagination) is the single most disturbing and unnerving thing I’ve ever had to deal with in a game.” – Krissy

THE CHILD DOLL OH GOD, THE CHILD DOLL. Executing something like that in text form doesn’t seem easy but you make it scary as hell. The foreshadowing in the red book was awesome as well. Holy shit. And the game is really Silent Hill-esque, especially with the rust, disturbing imagery and the particular type of puzzle solving.” – Vincent

This game truly scared the hell outta me” – John Hernandez

If you dare, download the app now for iOS or Android – it’s free, and you might just survive.

Spanish adaptation of Scott Adams text adventure for iPhone, iPad, Android

The latest Quest-powered app “Aventura Pirata” is now available from the App Store and Google Play, for smartphones and tablets.

Aventura Pirata is a version of Scott Adams’s 1978 game Pirate Adventure, translated into Spanish and adapted for the Quest platform by Mauricio Díaz García.

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The game supports the usual hyperlinks and tabs to reduce typing. Selecting an object produces a list of verbs, and exits are visible on the Exits tab (Salidas).

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I think this game would be a useful and fun aid for anybody teaching or learning Spanish – it would be great to hear from anybody using it in this way.

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In other news, Escape From Byron Bay is now available for Android as well as iOS.

If you’re interested in writing your own text adventure app, please take a look at the Apps page on the site. Any Quest game can be converted into an app, and it’s great to start making a range of different titles available. More are coming soon, but more are needed, so please get in touch!

Apple have recently introduced a new appstore.com domain, which makes it very easy to find all the Quest text adventure apps for iOS: appstore.com/textadventures. The equivalent page for Android is here.

"Escape from Byron Bay" now available for iPhone and iPad

The text adventure game Escape From Byron Bay is now on the App Store.

Available on the App Store

The game is written by Allen Heard, a teacher from Wales who wrote the game as an introduction to interactive fiction for his Year 8 class.

It’s the game I’ve been using when running Quest workshops – it can be completed within about half an hour by children who have never played any kind of text-based game before.

It will run on any iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch running iOS 4.3 or later.

This is the second Quest-powered iOS app, the first being The Things That Go Bump In The Night which was released last year. Over the next few months I’ll be releasing even more games into the App Store, and Android versions too, so look out for more games coming soon!

Text Adventures on Tablets

This is the first text adventure app I’ve released that resizes properly to fit the iPad screen, and I think it works nicely. With hyperlinks and a dismissable on-screen keyboard, the tablet is the natural home for interactive fiction – it makes the idea of playing a text adventure on a desktop computer or laptop feel like the kind of niche activity it has always been, until now.

Interested in writing your own game?

Any game written with Quest can be turned into an app – see the Quest Apps Guide for more information. I really want to bring more high quality games to the app stores, so please contact me if you have any questions or if there’s anything I can do to help.

"The Things That Go Bump In The Night" now available for iOS and Android

The Things That Go Bump In The Night is now available for iOS (iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad) and Android devices.

In this game, written by Tim Hamilton, you are a security guard settling down to a quiet night shift, when things start to go wrong. You must make your way around the compound, solving puzzles and dispatching mysterious beasts.

Available on the App Store

androidmarket

This is the first Quest game to appear for smartphones, and I believe it is the first text adventure to be specifically designed for a pocket-sized touch screen – you can play the entire game without typing, instead using the hyperlinks and tabs to navigate and interact with the game world.

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You can find out more about how the game was made in my earlier blog post. The game is fairly difficult – if you get stuck, check out the comments on the original textadventures.co.uk game page for some tips! Also check out the Twitter hashtag #ttgbitn.

More games will be released soon. Maybe you’d like to write one? Any game written for Quest 5 can now be converted into an app, so if you’re interested, please get in touch!

"The Things That Go Bump In The Night" coming to iPhone and Android

The first Quest-powered smartphone app will be released soon. It is an updated version of Tim Hamilton’s The Things That Go Bump In The Night, currently one of the top-rated games on textadventures.co.uk, and will be available for both iPhone/iPod Touch and Android devices.

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This is the first time that a Quest game has been converted into a native application. As I’ve explained in a previous blog post, the way it works is by using a tool which I’ve built to convert Quest games into pure Javascript. Using Phonegap, this HTML/JS is then wrapped into a cross-platform app.

That’s the theory, but it has taken a bit longer than I initially expected to get this first app ready for release, for reasons which I’ll go into below. The good news is that subsequent conversions should now be much quicker and easier.

Two Conversions

The first step was actually a pre-conversion – the app converter works with games written for Quest 5, but Tim’s game was written for Quest 4, which is effectively a completely different system (although sharing some of the same design). So the first thing to do was convert a Quest 4 game into a Quest 5 game.

I wrote a converter application which converts most of a game correctly, although there were still a few manual tweaks to do – even some Quest 4 bugs to emulate! What really helped was to have a complete walkthrough for the game – Quest 4 has a “transcript” feature which is similar to Quest 5’s walkthrough feature. This meant I could have Quest 4 and 5 automatically play the game through to completion, and compare the output, fixing things as I went along.

I then sent Tim the converted Quest 5 game, and he made a few more tweaks and corrections. He also adapted the game to make better use of hyperlinks – something which is really important for the smartphone version of the game. Tim’s enhancements mean it is possible to play the game through in its entirety, without having to type anything.

By the way, now that I have an internal Quest 4 to Quest 5 conversion tool, please get in touch if you have an old game you’d like to convert. The conversion isn’t perfect (which is why this won’t become part of Quest itself), but it can get you most of the way.

Re-engineering Quest

The next step was to convert Tim’s enhanced Q5 version of the game to Javascript, using the converter which I announced back in September. I’d thought the converter was 90% done, but as is the case with so much in the software world, the last 10% took far longer than the first 90%.

The main difficulty has been threading. Javascript is single-threaded, which means you can’t pause a running thread while you wait for some user input. This meant I needed to re-work all of Quest’s functions for displaying menus, waiting for keypresses, asking questions etc. The result of this is new asynchronous versions of various functions, which are implemented in Quest 5.1 and used by the Core Library, as the old synchronous versions of the functions cannot be converted to Javascript.

Being unable to block the thread to display a menu meant that I had to rewrite the parser, as this often needs to display menus to resolve the typed-in object names. I drew myself the diagram below and almost descended into insanity in the process:

So, that was annoying, but it’s actually a better design for the future (especially when playing a game via the web, as the server will no longer need to keep a thread hanging around if it’s waiting for the user to respond to a menu).

Eventually I had a pure HTML/JS version of the game which could be played in any web browser. I implemented the walkthrough feature to verify the game was working correctly, and again I sent it to Tim so he could check for any “off-walkthrough” problems.

Performance

Now the game was working in HTML/JS, it was straightforward to wrap it in Phonegap and create a functioning app. Even here there were unexpected problems – although the app ran at a respectable speed on my iPhone 4, when I ran it on my old iPhone 3G I was horrified to find that it would sometimes take 10 seconds to respond to a command. The fix was again some re-engineering of Quest 5 and the Core Library, this time adding the ability to cache regular expressions, and improving the performance of the scope functions.

Saving

The desktop/web version of Quest 5 saves games by writing out the entire game state. The JS app version takes a different approach, saving a delta instead – only changed attributes are saved to local storage. This is quicker, requires much less local storage, and also means that the app can be safely updated without breaking existing games. The delta is automatically saved after each turn. Again I found some performance issues here, so it took a bit of time to get this right. With a Phonegap app on the iPhone, you get no warning if your app is going to be terminated, so I had to make saving robust enough that it wouldn’t break things horribly if the game started saving but never finished (instead, there are effectively two save slots that are used alternately, so the worst that can happen is you lose one turn).

Android

By now I had the game working pretty well on iOS, and sent it to a few beta testers using TestFlight, which I highly recommend as it takes much of the pain out of ad-hoc distribution on the iPhone. I thought it would be a good idea to get it working on Android too, and I was pretty pleased when only two days after I took delivery of the cheap but surprisingly capable Samsung Galaxy Ace, I had a version that worked on that too.

The Android version looks pretty similar to the iOS version. There is no NativeControls plugin for Android, and Android doesn’t “do” iOS-style tabs at the bottom of the screen anyway, but it didn’t take long to create a native menu which can be used to switch between screens instead. When tapping an object link, I had to create a Javascript menu to display the verbs, but that was only a small amount of work too, made relatively easily using a jQuery UI dialog.

I was pleased with the overall Android development experience – it seems so much more developer-friendly than iOS. The documentation is laid out in a way that a mortal can understand, and it’s so much easier to send a build to beta testers – just email an APK file. Much more pleasant than dealing with certificates and distribution profiles on iOS.

Ready

So it is now ready – the first Quest-powered iOS and Android app, which is also my own first app for these platforms. The iOS version has been submitted to Apple, and I’ll submit the Android version as soon as it’s approved, so both versions will be available on the same day – watch this space!

Using Quest to create text adventures for iPhone, iPad, Android

You can already use Quest to create text adventure games for desktop PCs and web browsers. But the big area of growth for games (and indeed software of all types) in recent years has been smartphones, and I’m pleased to report that I am making good progress in bringing Quest games to the iPhone. The way it works is a tool which I am developing to convert Quest games into pure Javascript. By taking the output of this tool and combining it with PhoneGap, it is possible to create native applications for iPhone, iPad, Android, Blackberry and more, which we can then submit to the App Stores. So far, I’ve created an iPhone UI which uses a combination of HTML and the NativeControls PhoneGap plugin for added iPhone-native slickness (there is still some way to go before pure HTML UIs are really good enough). I’m pretty happy with the results – by using Quest’s existing hyperlink support to cut down on the amount of typing required, I think I have come up with a design which makes text adventures work nicely on a mobile phone. First, here’s a screenshot showing the start of an example game. Objects and exits have hyperlinks, and there is a clearly marked textbox for typing in commands. There are tabs at the bottom of the screen for Inventory, Objects, Exits and “More”. IMG_1007 Tapping a hyperlink brings up a standard style iPhone menu. In this screenshot, we’ve just tapped the “glovebox” object link, and we see the display verbs: IMG_1008 If we tap “open”, the “open glovebox” command is inserted, complete with another hyperlink to make it easier to perform further actions on the same object. IMG_1009 Tapping the gun in the output above again gives a pop-up menu. It’s a different set of options this time- in a Quest game, each object can have its own set of “display verbs”, and I think it is especially important for the mobile phone version of a game that each object has relevant display verbs. IMG_1010 If we tap “take”, we’re now carrying the gun. If we switch to the Inventory tab, we can now see it listed. IMG_1011 If we tap the gun in the inventory, we again get a list of verbs. This time it’s Quest’s “inventory verbs” that are used, so we get a different list of relevant actions now that we’re carrying the gun. IMG_1015 The Objects tab is laid out in a similar fashion to the Inventory tab, and shows the objects in the current location. IMG_1012 The compass tab shows the familiar Quest compass, with available exits highlighted. You can tap an exit to move in that direction. You could also simply tap the exit’s hyperlink on the Game tab. IMG_1013 Images are resized to fit the screen. In this example, looking at the car triggers a script to show a picture and print a message. IMG_1014

[Car picture by skrotmumrik, CC licence]

So far, this only works on iPhone, but an obvious next step is to make the UI work nicely for iPad too – which is the perfect excuse for me to go out and buy one! Because I’m using PhoneGap, it will be straightforward to create similar apps for Android too – although the UI would need to be developed for that platform. PhoneGap also supports Blackberry, WebOS, Symbian and soon Windows Phone, so it would be possible to bring Quest games to those platforms too – although it makes more sense to focus on iOS and Android as the main ones. Let’s make it happen If we’re going to find new audiences for text adventure games, we need to make them easy to find, install, and play. Right now, App Stores are a great way of making that happen. I believe they also provide a realistic opportunity to make money from text adventure games – for the first time in years. Think of how many people are happy to buy games for their smartphone, who may never purchase software for their desktop PC. With a few tweaks to the conventional parser-based interface, I hope I’ve shown that text adventures can work well on a mobile phone. I think they’re a great fit for mobile gaming – you can play a text adventure game at your own pace, for a few minutes at a time, whenever it suits you.