Text-based game

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A text game or text-based game is an electronic game that uses a text-based user interface, that is, the user interface employs a set of encodable characters, such as ASCII, instead of bitmap or vector graphics.


All text-based games have been well documented since at least the 1960s, when teleprinters were interlaced with mainframe computers as a form of input, where the output was printed on paper. With that, notable titles were developed for those computers using the sprinter in the 1960s and 1970s and more numerous game titles have been developed for our video terminals since at least the mid-1970s, having reached their peak popularity in that decade and the 1980s, and continued as early online games into the mid-1990s.

Although generally replaced in favor of video games that use non-textual graphics, text-based games continue to be written by independent developers. They have been the basis of instigating genres of video gaming, especially adventure and role-playing video games.


Strictly speaking, text-based means employing an encoding system of characters designed to be printable as text data. [1] :54 As most computers only read binary code, encoding formats are typically written in such, where a bit is the smallest unit of data that has two possible values and each combination of bits represents a byte. [1] :52 That said, a text-based game is any electronic game whereby information is conveyed as encoded text in the user interface.

Although technically graphical when displayed on a computer monitor, text data is sometimes contrasted with graphics as the former is text-only; data representation conveyed via an output device is restricted to a given set of encodable characters and the total number thereof, as well as graphical capabilities. For example, ASCII uses 96 printable characters in its set of 128, [2] :27 whereas ANSI uses both ASCII and 128 additional characters from extended ASCII and allows the text to be variously colored, allowing for further possibilities. [2] :19 Text data also has the advantage of requiring small processing power and minimal graphical capabilities by modern standards, [3] as well as significantly reducing production costs compared to graphical data. [4]


Text-based games trace as far back as teleprinters in the 1960s, when they were installed on early mainframe computers as an input-and-output form. At that time, video terminals were expensive and being experimented as "glass teletypes", [5] and the user would submit commands via the teleprinter interfaced with the mainframe, the output being printed on paper. Notable early mainframe games include The Sumerian Game , Lunar Lander , The Oregon Trail , and Star Trek . [6]

In the mid-1970s, when video terminals became the cheapest means for multiple users to interact with mainframes, [5] text-based games were designed in universities for mainframes partly as an experiment on artificial intelligence, the majority of these games being either based on the 1974 role-playing game Dungeons and Dragons or inspired by J. R. R. Tolkien's works. [7] [8] As with other games, they often lacked functionalities such as saving. Proposed reasons for the absence of the ability to save included the fact that early computer games were often simple and gaming sessions were brief, as well as hardware limitations and costs. This may partly explain why earlier computer games were developed instead under the episodic structure, but such computer games whose source code could be accessed by anyone could be modified, and as designers wrote larger game worlds, gaming sessions lengthened, and the need to resume where left off became inevitable. This started in 1977 with Don Woods' revision of the 1976 text-based adventure game Colossal Cave Adventure (later renamed to Adventure), which saw expanded gameplay and story and, notably, the ability to save. [9]

Text-based games were also early forerunners to online gaming. From the late-1970s [3] :79 until the worldwide dominance of the Internet in the mid-1990s, home computer users could still interact remotely with other computers by using dial-up modems, connecting them via telephone wires. These computers were often directed via text-based terminal emulators [10] to hobbyist-run bulletin board systems (BBSes), which tended to be accessible—often freely—by area codes to cut costs from more distant communications. [11] Without a graphical program for clients, most online computer games could only run using textual graphics, [10] and where the user did have such a program, the often limited bandwidth of the modem made downloading graphics much slower than text. [3] :79 Online games designed for BBSes initially used ASCII as the character set, but since the late-1980s, most BBSes employed colored ANSI art as the graphical standard. [3] :79 These online games became known as "BBS door games", as connecting to a BBS opened the "door" between the client and the games on the BBS. [10]

However, terminal emulators are still in use today, and people continue playing MUDs (multi-user dungeon) and exploring interactive fiction.[ citation needed ] The Interactive Fiction Competition was established in 1995 to encourage development of and explore independent interactive fiction titles, and has since held annual competitions for who can develop the best such game. [12]


Although text-based games are not limited to any specific genre, [4] several notable genres started as and were popularized by text-based games.

Text adventure

Text adventures (sometimes synonymously referred to as interactive fiction) are text-based games wherein worlds are described in the narrative and the player submits typically simple commands to interact with the worlds. [13] Colossal Cave Adventure is considered to be the first adventure game, and indeed the name of the genre adventure game is derived from the title. [14] :13 As text-based adventure games reached their peak in popularity in the late 1970s and 1980s, [13] notable text-based adventure titles were released by various developers, including Zork [14] :15 and The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Infocom. [14] :17


An MUD (originally Multi-User Dungeon, with later variants Multi-User Dimension and Multi-User Domain), [15] [16] is a multi-user real-time online virtual world. Most MUDs are represented entirely in text, but graphical MUDs are not unknown. [17] MUDs combine elements of role-playing games, hack and slash, interactive fiction, and online chat. Players can read or view depictions of rooms, objects, other players, non-player characters, and actions performed in the virtual world. Players typically interact with each other and the world by typing commands that resemble a natural language.


A procedurally generated dungeon in Rogue, a 1980 text-based video game that spawned the roguelike genre Rogue Screen Shot CAR.PNG
A procedurally generated dungeon in Rogue, a 1980 text-based video game that spawned the roguelike genre

The roguelike is a subgenre of role-playing video games, characterized by randomization for replayability, permanent death, and turn-based movement. Many early roguelikes featured ASCII graphics. Games are typically dungeon crawls, with many monsters, items, and environmental features. Computer roguelikes usually employ the majority of the keyboard to facilitate interaction with items and the environment. The name of the genre comes from the 1980 game Rogue . [18]

Some of Text Game Engine

They are alot of game engines to choose from but here we gonna just mention 4

See also

Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">ASCII art</span> Computer art form using text characters

ASCII art is a graphic design technique that uses computers for presentation and consists of pictures pieced together from the 95 printable characters defined by the ASCII Standard from 1963 and ASCII compliant character sets with proprietary extended characters. The term is also loosely used to refer to text-based visual art in general. ASCII art can be created with any text editor, and is often used with free-form languages. Most examples of ASCII art require a fixed-width font such as Courier for presentation.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Bulletin board system</span> Computer server

A bulletin board system (BBS), also called computer bulletin board service (CBBS), is a computer server running software that allows users to connect to the system using a terminal program. Once logged in, the user can perform functions such as uploading and downloading software and data, reading news and bulletins, and exchanging messages with other users through public message boards and sometimes via direct chatting. In the early 1980s, message networks such as FidoNet were developed to provide services such as NetMail, which is similar to internet-based email.

A MUD is a multiplayer real-time virtual world, usually text-based or storyboarded. MUDs combine elements of role-playing games, hack and slash, player versus player, interactive fiction, and online chat. Players can read or view descriptions of rooms, objects, other players, non-player characters, and actions performed in the virtual world. Players typically interact with each other and the world by typing commands that resemble a natural language.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Roguelike</span> Subgenre of role-playing video games

Roguelike is a subgenre of role-playing computer games traditionally characterized by a dungeon crawl through procedurally generated levels, turn-based gameplay, grid-based movement, and permanent death of the player character. Most roguelikes are based on a high fantasy narrative, reflecting their influence from tabletop role playing games such as Dungeons & Dragons.

<i>Rogue</i> (video game) 1980 video game

Rogue is a dungeon crawling video game by Michael Toy and Glenn Wichman with later contributions by Ken Arnold. Rogue was originally developed around 1980 for Unix-based minicomputer systems as a freely distributed executable. It was later included in the official Berkeley Software Distribution 4.2 operating system (4.2BSD). Commercial ports of the game for a range of personal computers were made by Toy, Wichman, and Jon Lane under the company A.I. Design and financially supported by the Epyx software publishers. Additional ports to modern systems have been made since by other parties using the game's now-open source code.

<i>Colossal Cave Adventure</i> 1976 video game

Colossal Cave Adventure is a text-based adventure game, released in 1976 by developer Will Crowther for the PDP-10 mainframe computer. It was expanded upon in 1977 by Don Woods. In the game, the player explores a cave system rumored to be filled with treasure and gold. The game is composed of dozens of locations, and the player moves between these locations and interacts with objects in them by typing one- or two-word commands which are interpreted by the game's natural language input system. The program acts as a narrator, describing the player's location and the results of the player's attempted actions. It is the first well-known example of interactive fiction, as well as the first well-known adventure game, for which it was also the namesake.

The computer art scene, or simply artscene, is the community interested and active in the creation of computer-based artwork.

In a bulletin board system (BBS), a door is an interface between the BBS software and an external application. The term is also used to refer to the external application, a computer program that runs outside of the main bulletin board program. Sometimes called external programs, doors are the most common way to add games, utilities, and other extensions to BBSes. Because BBSes typically depended on the telephone system, BBSes and door programs tended to be local in nature, unlike modern Internet games and applications.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Lunar Lander (video game genre)</span> Moon landing simulation games

Lunar Lander is a genre of video games loosely based on the 1969 landing of the Apollo Lunar Module on the Moon. In Lunar Lander games, players generally control a spacecraft as it falls toward the surface of the Moon or other astronomical body, using thrusters to slow the ship's descent and control its horizontal motion to reach a safe landing area. Crashing into obstacles, hitting the surface at too high a velocity, or running out of fuel all result in failure. In some games in the genre, the ship's orientation must be adjusted as well as its horizontal and vertical velocities.

ANSI art is a computer art form that was widely used at one time on bulletin board systems. It is similar to ASCII art, but constructed from a larger set of 256 letters, numbers, and symbols — all codes found in IBM code page 437, often referred to as extended ASCII and used in MS-DOS and Unix environments. ANSI art also contains special ANSI escape sequences that color text with the 16 foreground and 8 background colours offered by ANSI.SYS, an MS-DOS device driver loosely based upon the ANSI X3.64 standard for text terminals. Some ANSI artists take advantage of the cursor control sequences within ANSI X3.64 in order to create animations, commonly referred to as ANSImations. ANSI art and text files which incorporate ANSI codes carry the de facto.ANS file extension.

<i>Kroz</i> 1987 video game

Kroz is a series of Roguelike video games created by Scott Miller for IBM PC compatibles. The first episode in the series, Kingdom of Kroz, was released in 1987 as Apogee Software's first game. It was also published on Big Blue Disk #20. Kroz introduced the scheme of the first episode being free and charging money for additional episodes; a technique which defined the business model for Apogee and was adopted by other MS-DOS shareware publishers.

<i>Mystery House</i> 1980 video game

Mystery House is an adventure game released by On-Line Systems in 1980. It was designed, written and illustrated by Roberta Williams, and programmed by Ken Williams for the Apple II. Mystery House is the first graphical adventure game and the first game produced by On-Line Systems, the company which would evolve into Sierra On-Line. It is one of the earliest horror video games.

Dungeon was one of the earliest role-playing video games, running on PDP-10 mainframe computers manufactured by Digital Equipment Corporation.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Kelton Flinn</span> American computer game designer

Kelton Flinn is an American computer game designer who is a major pioneer in online games. He is a co-founder of the seminal online game company Kesmai, which they began in 1982. His best known title is the first graphical multi-player online game offered by a major service, Air Warrior (1987).

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Multiseat configuration</span>

A multiseat, multi-station or multiterminal system is a single computer which supports multiple independent local users at the same time.

Island of Kesmai was an early commercial online game in the multi-user dungeon (MUD) genre, innovative in its use of roguelike pseudo-graphics. It is considered a major forerunner of modern massively multiplayer online role-playing games (MMORPGs).

The history of massively multiplayer online games spans over thirty years and hundreds of massively multiplayer online games (MMOG) titles. The origin and influence on MMO games stems from MUDs, Dungeons & Dragons (D&D) and earlier social games.

Online games are video games played over a computer network. The evolution of these games parallels the evolution of computers and computer networking, with new technologies improving the essential functionality needed for playing video games on a remote server. Many video games have an online component, allowing players to play against or cooperatively with players across a network around the world.

A variety of computer graphic techniques have been used to display video game content throughout the history of video games. The predominance of individual techniques have evolved over time, primarily due to hardware advances and restrictions such as the processing power of central or graphics processing units.

Western role-playing video games are role-playing video games developed in the Western world, including The Americas and Europe. They originated on mainframe university computer systems in the 1970s, were later popularized by titles such as Ultima and Wizardry in the early- to mid-1980s, and continue to be produced for modern home computer and video game console systems. The genre's "Golden Age" occurred in the mid- to late-1980s, and its popularity suffered a downturn in the mid-1990s as developers struggled to keep up with changing fashion, hardware evolution and increasing development costs. A later series of isometric role-playing games, published by Interplay Productions and Blizzard Entertainment, was developed over a longer time period and set new standards of production quality.


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