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Interactive Fiction and Text Adventure Games

Introducing "Interactive Fiction"

Playing and writing text adventure games (now commonly referred to as "Interactive Fiction") is a fascinating hobby. There is a thriving community of "IF" enthusiasts on the Internet. Some Interactive Fiction websites with useful information for beginners:
'Brass Lantern' | Nick Montfort's 'IF FAQ' | The IF Wiki | Baf's Guide | The IF Archive

Writing Interactive Fiction

There are a few world-class programming systems for creating interactive fiction games. The leading systems are 'Inform 7' and 'TADS 3'. And many people still use their older versions -- Inform 6 and TADS 2. There's also Hugo and Adrift. But I think the system most suitable for absolute beginners is 'ALAN'.

The ALAN Adventure Language is a programming system for writing and playing text adventure games. The ALAN system, written by Thomas Nilsson, is a freeware project.

I've written some introductory ALAN coding samples to help new ALAN game-writers get a grasp on using the language and the standard coding library that comes with it.

My review webpage on choosing a text editor for programming your own ALAN interactive fiction games includes instructions on setting up your computer so you can write your own interactive fiction game.

text adventure screenshot

Note: the rest of this page contains information not updated since 2003! I will remove stuff from below this line as I update it or replace it with up-to-date information. In the meantime, it remains for the benefit of the few historical weblinks that point to it.

Interactive Fiction and Text Adventure Games

Outdated Site Contents
  • Writing Interactive Fiction with "ALAN" and Microsoft Windows
  • The ALAN Development Environment for Windows (Free Software!)
  • ALAN and Windows Setup Guide (A Tips Page)
  • ALAN player software for "BeOS" (Freeware)
  • The Interactive Fiction World (WWW Links)
  • Interactive Fiction written by New Zealanders
  • Beginners' Guide to playing IF on a Windows PC

  • Writing Interactive Fiction with "ALAN" and Microsoft Windows

    The Alan Development Environment for Windows
    The ALAN Adventure Language is a programming system for writing text adventure games (or 'interactive fiction'.) ALAN is a one of the simplest 'IF' systems to work with. I've written "The Alan Development Environment for Windows" (ADE/W) to make it even easier for Windows users to get started writing Alan games. ADE/W is a Windows menu program which brings together all the Alan software and manuals into one self-installing download.


    ADE/W makes using ALAN easier in two ways
  • Firstly, by making ALAN easy to set up by bringing together all the various bits and pieces of software and documentation that a beginner needs into a single download which installs and configures itself on your PC.
  • Secondly, by providing a convenient Windows graphical user interface to all the MSDOS-based ALAN software and utilities so that users do not have to master the strange world of the MSDOS commandline to write games with the ALAN system.
  • ADE/W runs on Microsoft's "32-bit" PC operating systems -- eg: Windows 95, 98, SE and ME; Windows NT4 and Windows 2000

  • Screenshots of ADE/W
  • Download
  • The complete ADE/W setup program (4MB) is a free download available from the Interactive Fiction Archive. ADE/W includes the ALAN game compiler software and game playing software; ALAN programming manual and beginner's tutorial; and the PFE programmer's text editor. (All included component software is freeware and included in ADE/W with their respective authors' permission.)
  • An alternative ADE/W Shell Only (500KB) download is available for existing users of ALAN or others who are interested in taking a look at the ADE/W programming environment but don't want to download the whole collection of ALAN software and documentation. "ADE/W Shell" includes just the ADE/W environment and help files. To be actually useful you would have to download the ALAN compiler and player software and programming manuals separately yourself. So for most users I recommend downloading the full 4MB version.

  • ALAN setup guide for MS Windows
    Before I wrote ADE/W I put together a page of tips for people who wanted to set up ALAN on their Windows PC themselves. If you don't want to download and install ADE/W, or even if you do, then you may find there's some useful information in my ALAN setup guide for Windows 95 and 98 to get you started writing interactive fiction.

    ALAN Player for BeOS

    BeOS Homepage

    ALAN software is available for many different types of computers - eg: Windows, Macintosh, Linux, MSDOS, Amiga. I recently made a small contribution to that list by compiling a version of the ALAN 'runtime interpreter' (i.e. - the software to play ALAN games) for the BeOS operating system. You can download it from BeBits, the IF Archive or the Alan Home Pages.

    'My' BeOS interpreter is a simple port. It runs in a BeOS Terminal window. But it works! Here's a screenshot for those interested. BeOS software for Hugo and Inform/Infocom format games are also available from BeBits.

    The Interactive Fiction World

    Explore these links for information about playing "IF" and about the specialised programming languages and authoring systems available for creating text-based interactive fiction (or "text adventure games".)

    Essential Interactive Fiction Links
    'Brass Lantern' | rai-f FAQ | Twisty Pages | Jonadab's Guide | Baf's Guide | IF Archive & HTML 'Mirror'

    Interactive Fiction Authoring Systems
    Inform | Alan | TADS | Hugo | AGT & Magx | Quest

    Comparing IF Authoring Systems
    The 'Cloak of Darkness' samples | The 'Whichsys' FAQ & TADS / ALAN updates

    IF 'Usenet' Newsgroups
    Writing IF: (Web-based access at Google Groups)
    Playing IF: (Web-based access at Google Groups)

    Interactive Fiction by New Zealanders

    I'm forever making lists. At work I have a list of all the tasks I haven't done yet. At home I have an even longer list of undone stuff. And here on the web I now have my first list - a list of text adventures written by New Zealanders. (If you know of any more NZ "IF" please let me know.)

    I started this list for no particular reason but the result is a bunch of very interesting and mostly good quality games. Now I think I should play all these games some time - another item for my to-do list! There's some very good games here. Probably the most highly regarded games in this list would be Theatre (a classic early Inform game); Glowgrass (a short SF game); Downtown Tokyo and YAGWAD (humourous short games) and Nevermore (which I think is a "horror" game, I haven't tried it yet.)

    NZ Interactive Fiction
    (Note: the following links marked with asterisks (*) are "binary format" files. So don't just click on the links - to ensure uncorrupted downloads, right-click on the links and select "Save Target As" from the pop-up menu.)

    Last update 20th July 2003
    Please email any comments or corrections to Stephen Griffiths (stephen.griffiths "AT"