Text-based games!(?)
from brewbellyblueberry@sopuli.xyz to retrogaming@lemmy.world on 06 Aug 2023 19:41

Even though we got a computer in the mid to late 90’s, a shitty DOS-box that no-one kind of really knew how to do anything with, I was infinitely interested in anything to do with it. I remember playing Guerrilla Wars and some dungeon crawlers on it and such, but I feel like I almost entirely missed out on text-based games. I vaguely remember playing two, but I guess I was just excited about computer graphics or something that I didn’t really care for them or the ones I tried just sucked.

I’m sure there’s people here that have more experience with them so I ask you to bring forth all your favorite text-based adventures, regardless of genre. What classics should I go for?


threaded - newest

30021190@lemmy.cloud.aboutcher.co.uk on 06 Aug 2023 19:52 next collapse

Checkout Zork, it runs Zcode games. There’s loads of games at IfArchive with some packs listed on intfiction.

REWB@kbin.social on 06 Aug 2023 20:03 next collapse


If you like a cyberpunk theme, give CyberCode Online a try


Scrof@sopuli.xyz on 06 Aug 2023 20:04 next collapse

I feel like early Legend Entertainment games are a perfect gateway to interactive fiction since they do have some graphics and interface while still being primarily text-driven. My personal favourite is Frederik Pohl’s Gateway series (books are amazing too), but you could check out Spellcasting 101 and Eric the Unready which are available on GOG.

And if we’re talking classics I’d recommend Babel for starters, it uses very modern game design without softlocks and unfair fail states, almost entirely narrative driven with simple and satisfying puzzles sprinkled in.

Otherwise I’m a huge fan of anything by Andrew Plotkin.

Not a huge fan of Zork, it’s so rough to play these days without a guide. Maybe other Infocom games should be played first, like Planetfall, it’s relatively not so player hostile.

xyzzy@lemm.ee on 07 Aug 2023 06:17 collapse

Yes, text adventure games go beyond Infocom, although they won the era. There’s Magnetic Scrolls, Melbourne House, Level 9, and (yes) Legend, which shares DNA with Infocom in the form of prolific alum Steve Meretzky. Back in the day, everyone was getting in on text adventures; even Electronic Arts published one.

That said, I would go with an Infocom game for your first, as the later ones especially were very well-designed and tended to be fairly forgiving. A Mind Forever Voyaging or Planetfall are good choices. Planetfall has a sequel, if that makes it more interesting to you. I would avoid Zork to start; it’s a good game, but there was a lot of evolution after 1977.

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy is one of the medium’s crowning achievements and you should probably wait to savor that one.

InvertedParallax@lemm.ee on 06 Aug 2023 20:04 next collapse

FredMUD, almost exactly what they built everquest off of.

_bug0ut@lemmy.world on 06 Aug 2023 20:05 next collapse

If you’ve never tried a MUD, there are still a few out there that are alive and kickin’. Funny enough, I’ve been scratching that itch over the last few days and seeing whats out there. They’re something like a pre-cursor to MMOs - online, text-based games. If you get really deep into stuff like PVP, you’ll like wind up writing scripts that trigger actions based on what’s happening since its quicker than typing out commands when things get hot and heavy.

If I had to guess, I’d say Aardwolf is probably the most populated and has the most users online at any given time. I have an old char on there that I occasionally log into and run some quests on:


I just created a character in Alter Aeon and it’s alright so far, but I haven’t spent more than about an hour logged in:

Alter Aeon

I don’t know how people generally feel about Iron Realms Entertainment. Some or all of their MUDs end up with you kind of having to spend some money if you get super engaged, but I’m pretty sure most of their games are perfectly fine without paying for casual players. They have a handful of MUDs that cover different themes (classic fantasy, vampire stuff, etc). I actually tried out Starmourn recently which is a sci-fi themed one, but I think they’re no longer developing it actively - the servers remain up (for now, at least, I guess). Regardless, all of their games seem pretty polished and thoughtfully made.

Iron Realms Entertainment main site


The cool thing about IRE is that their games are all playable in a browser and the browser-based apps include some QoL UI stuff like maps and stuff. The others generally require a (free) MUD client like Mudlet. Aardwolf has a highly customized version of Mudlet that has frames/windows within the client that show you your characters stats, maps, a chat window, and some other stuff.

floppy@rabbitea.rs on 06 Aug 2023 20:42 next collapse

Talking of MUDs reminded me that some years back I discovered Shades (used to be on Micronet/Prestel in the 1980s) was still running. It took me quite a bit of searching to find a random comment, which said Shades is still running (a few years ago) on telnet://games.world.co.uk I just tried it and it’s still there!

alnilam@lemmy.world on 06 Aug 2023 20:51 next collapse

Ohhh… This brings me back to my LPMud days in the '90s. Albion MUD, I think it was called.

CassowaryTom@lemmy.one on 06 Aug 2023 20:52 next collapse

I lived on www.mudconnect.com for awhile back in the day, just trying out new ones. Looks like it still lists 683 of them.

_bug0ut@lemmy.world on 06 Aug 2023 21:42 collapse

Same, back when I played a lot more. There was a period of time where I felt completely unfulfilled and unappreciated at work. I was a Linux admin at the time so I spent 90% of my time in a text environment. One day, I installed TinTin++ which has a non-GUI version and I’d just keep one ssh connection opened to a VPS I pay for and would just MUD throughout the day (mainly just running quests over and over). This was years before “quiet quitting” was cool lol

oddspinnaker@lemm.ee on 06 Aug 2023 23:28 next collapse

I played Alter Aeon a lot in high school a long time ago! It had a lot of depth 25 years ago and it’s only grown since then.

I picked it back up a year ago and played for a bit. It’s still really fun! Highly recommended.

skulblaka@kbin.social on 07 Aug 2023 00:53 next collapse

Confirmed Starmourn has been recently moonlighted to a "legacy" game. It's still playable and you can still make new characters and interact with everything in the game but it's no longer under active development.

Which is a shame, really, because Starmourn was cool as hell. It just apparently wasn't all that popular compared to some of the others, so it's being put on a back burner to preserve resources at Iron Realms, which is understandable.

I am a fan of Iron Realms MUDs personally though if only because of their Nexus user interface. I find it a lot more approachable and well put together than others I've tried (namely, Aardwolf, in fact). Very clear and concise and nearly infinitely customizable with user scripts. I haven't been invested enough into MUDs long enough to speak for end game though, so someone else will have to speak on that. But introductions and it would seem up through at least mid game on most iron realms games (which could consist of hundreds of hours, frankly, to even reach midgame sometimes) are totally fine and fun.

_bug0ut@lemmy.world on 07 Aug 2023 00:59 collapse

Yeah, they all definitely seem quite polished. Sometimes I get the itch to play a MUD, find one or return to one I’ve played before, and get hooked for a few months. Other times, I’m done after a few days… they’ll always be an option for me though. IRE games are just fine for my purposes in that regard.

oktux@lemmy.world on 07 Aug 2023 02:03 collapse

Another that’s been around forever and still has an active community: GemStone IV

Cabeza2000@lemm.ee on 06 Aug 2023 20:06 next collapse

Warsim: The Realm of Aslona

I played this one last year and enjoyed my time with it.

krash@lemmy.ml on 06 Aug 2023 20:19 collapse

YES! Quite entertaining kingdom-sim with lots of weirdness and fun.

throw4w4y5@sh.itjust.works on 06 Aug 2023 20:07 next collapse

emacs has got a built in text based adventure “Dunnet” built in

ccf@lemmy.world on 06 Aug 2023 20:28 collapse

I never knew this in my time using Emacs! thanks for sharing!

krash@lemmy.ml on 06 Aug 2023 20:21 next collapse

If you like roguelikes, you’re in for a treat. Check out Brogue and DCSS.

And if you want to witness some TUI eyecandy without it being a game, ssh git.charm.sh.

FlyingSquid@lemmy.world on 06 Aug 2023 20:29 next collapse

Infocom was the king of text-based adventure games and you will not go wrong with any of them. Douglas Adams wrote two- an adaptation of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy and a really hard game called Bureaucracy.

ZagamTheVile@lemmy.world on 06 Aug 2023 20:31 next collapse

Hitch Hikers Guide to the Galaxy was and still is a favorite. Not easy, even if you know the source material, but fun.

HipPriest@kbin.social on 06 Aug 2023 21:32 next collapse

This was going to be my recommendation! A lot of fun and definitely a lot of Adams trolling the player going on...

The BBC put up a complete version free to play on its website: https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/articles/1z6wqcbQx8V5bpfltD5PQBg/how-to-play

ace_garp@lemmy.world on 07 Aug 2023 14:21 collapse

Beware: A Babel fish is a slippery mf.

morganth@discuss.tchncs.de on 06 Aug 2023 21:51 next collapse

I recently discovered Photopia, a beautiful little text adventure. It’s not long, but it is very clever and uses narrative voice in a really interesting way.

EF5C_EF5C@lemmy.world on 06 Aug 2023 22:07 next collapse

I loved several Infocom games back in the day (the Zorks, Enchanter & Sorcerer, Hitchhikers, etc). Before that I was a Scott Adams (not the Dilbert guy) fan. I especially remember Mission Impossible Adventure.

For a different genre entirely, maybe check out Rogue (see where all the Rogue-like/lite chatter comes from) or NetHack (The Dev Team Thinks of Everything).

brewbellyblueberry@sopuli.xyz on 06 Aug 2023 23:02 next collapse

Oh I love and loved Nethack and traditional roguelikes, kind of in the middle of a year-two spanning revisit. It’s amazing how far the genre has gone and while I love ASCII graphics, it’s great to see even that side evolve. I’m currently (after like an almost two decade break from) delving into Cataclysm and ToME and I love Cataclysm already, with ASCII, it was a bit, much, at first, but I really feel like a kid again with it. Meaning to get back to Nethack, but Cataclysm just keeps holding me back. Haven’t played the OG Rogue yet, but will definitely get to it one day.

Thanks for the other recommendations

pacoboyd@lemm.ee on 07 Aug 2023 01:17 collapse

Second for Zork series. Sunk so much time into those as a kid. I really have a big love for them.

JBloodthorn@kbin.social on 06 Aug 2023 22:07 next collapse

My favourite text based game is still Fallthru


dreamon86@lemm.ee on 06 Aug 2023 23:59 next collapse

I remember the Questprobe games.

Questprobe was a trilogy of graphical adventure video games featuring Marvel Comics characters.

Questprobe Featuring The Hulk

Questprobe featuring The Human Torch and The Thing

Questprobe featuring Spider-Man

Give them a try if you are familiar with using DosBox.

PipedLinkBot@feddit.rocks on 06 Aug 2023 23:59 collapse

Here is an alternative Piped link(s): piped.video/watch?v=2WAlzD3c3UA



Piped is a privacy-respecting open-source alternative frontend to YouTube.

I’m open-source, check me out at GitHub.

suprjami@lemmy.sdf.org on 07 Aug 2023 00:47 next collapse




A humorous post-apocalyptic roguelike starring Elvis and Donald Trump (the 90s version).

I worked with the creator Jeff to release the original source code, and it’s seen a little bit more recognition in roguelike circles recently


suprjami@lemmy.sdf.org on 07 Aug 2023 00:50 next collapse

McMurphy’s Mansion


A puzzle solving text adventure where you go around your relative’s estate trying to uncover 12 gold bars. I have fond memories of playing this as a child with my Scottish grandmother.

lingh0e@lemmy.film on 07 Aug 2023 01:46 collapse

Holy shit this is my first “Reddit Moment” on Lemmy, where I go to post something and someone else has already posted it.

So many parts of that damn game are somehow burned into my psyche.

“Arum Sub Est”.

n3cr0@lemmy.world on 07 Aug 2023 09:05 collapse

MUDs (Multi User Dungeons - The massive multiplayer text adventure RPGs that came before the term “MMORPG” has been invented) may be your friend. Games like unitopia.de. All you need is a telnet client (built-in in almost all operating systems).