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How to Play a Text Adventure, Part 1, Page 3

by Stephen Granade

For now there's nothing we can do about the metallic object, so let's go exploring. Most text adventures use compass directions to get around. You move by typing directions like NORTH and SOUTHEAST. These directions can be abbreviated to one or two letters. N means NORTH, S means SOUTH, NW means NORTHWEST, and so on. Room descriptions give clues about which directions we can go. Look at the room's description again. If it's not on screen, either scroll back up or type L.

This appears to be some kind of courtyard in the centre of an Ancient dwelling. The building itself swings around to the north and west, terminating in a crumbling retaining wall due south. A smaller domed construction opens to the northeast, through a wide metal door (closed). To the east is a flat space that could bear further exploring.

We can't go north or west because the building's in the way, and we can't go south because of the wall we can't climb. What about that door to the northeast?

You'll have to open the northeast door first.

>open door
The door appears to be locked, using a simple ferromagnetic latch from the middle Ancient period. It's a pity you don't have any of your equipment; some of the Institute's devices could really help here.

>examine door
The door is wide, around three metres across, and twice as tall as yourself. It's constructed of some Ancient metal alloy, probably tungsten or aluminium. It's closed, and locked.

>x door
The door is wide, around three metres across, and twice as tall as yourself. It's constructed of some Ancient metal alloy, probably tungsten or aluminium. It's closed, and locked.

We can't go northeast until we open the door, and we can't open the door because it's locked. (Notice that I abbreviated EXAMINE as X the second time around, just for demonstration purposes. You'll use EXAMINE a lot, so you'll probably want to abbreviate it once you get used to using it.) What if we try to unlock it?

>unlock door
(with the jungle vegetation)
I don't know how to unlock anything with the jungle vegetation.

Surprised? Here's what happened. The game expected you to tell it what to unlock the door with -- a key, or something like that. But you didn't tell the game what to use. So it tried to guess what you wanted to use. The bit in parentheses is the game telling you what it guessed you wanted to use. Sometimes that's very helpful, since good text adventures can often guess what you want to use. This time it was just a bit silly.

Maybe we already have something we can unlock the door with. To find out what you're carrying, use the INVENTORY command.

You are empty-handed.

That answers that question. Since we're not carrying anything, let's go somewhere else. The only direction left to us is east.

You're standing in a square area of neatly trimmed green lawn, shimmering faintly in the afternoon light. To the west, the lawn gives way to courtyard, and beyond it to the west and north are buildings. An odd, paved rectangular depression in the ground leads down to the southeast; the encroaching jungle vegetation further back is kept at bay by a barrier of translucent sheeting.

Something about the scene gives you a sudden tingle of recognition, a surge of awe. As if you're walking into a legend.

By now you should be getting a little more comfortable with room descriptions. This room is the Lawn. The objects which catch my eye are grass, the depression, vegetation, and the translucent sheeting. Of all of it, the sheeting looks the most important. We can go back to the west, where we just were, or travel further to the southeast. Oh, and this somehow looks familiar to our character.

I'm going to stop here for now, and continue on in a later article. Before we stop, I'll show you how to save your game so you can restore it later, using the commands SAVE and RESTORE. You can normally just type in SAVE and let the game ask you for a filename, but I'm going to use a specific filename:

>save "example.sav"


Do you really want to quit? (YES or NO) > y

Thank you for playing Glowgrass!

That saved our game to a file called "example.sav", and then quit the game. At the start of the next article, I'll have us restore the game using RESTORE "example.sav".

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