Lets make a Commodore 64 Text Adventure Game!

A simple tutorial by John Christian Lonningdal


So you want to make text adventure games eh? Those booring games with lots of text where you actually have to use the keyboard for something and where the game cant be solved with a joystick and a fire button. Well then you have come to the right article! In spite of it being past 2010, there are still a number of us who still enjoy the old text adventure games. And they dont have to be large complicated things with lots of fancy graphics although that might add to the atmosphere. Historically adventure games were fairly popular in the beginning of the 1980s and many were created even within very small memory limits like the Vic20. Scott Adams was one of the first ones to make it into a commercial business and if you havent played text adventures before I recommend you try out Adventureland.

The early text adventures didnt have any form of graphics at all and relied on the player filling out the blanks with his imagination. Depending on what kind of person you were, some felt like being transported to another world, just like they did in the Dungeons and Dragons pen and paper sessions with friends. D&D is basically the inspiration for many adventure game creators although "complicated" rules were replaced with simple puzzles in the form of VERB and NOUN combinations. Like a D&D game there were locations to be explored by moving around in different directions as well as examining objects, picking things up and using them at certain locations to progress in the story. The first games used the simple VERB and NOUN sentence structure for the commands while later games used more complicated grammar parsers. While the added grammar made it more correct languagewise one might ask the necessity for adding the THE in TAKE THE KEY. The simple VERB NOUN structure also made playing them a bit faster, and basically the most used verbs would be shortened so you could write N instead of GO NORTH and EXA CAB instead of EXAMINE CABIN.

In this article series I will explore adventure games from a programmers viewpoint and enable you to create your own text adventures to share with others. Depending on how far you go into the articles your skills should be simple BASIC programming or ASSEMBLY much later in the series. But mostly you need to develop your creative skills to find those interesting stories and puzzles to make the game fun. So why another tutorial on this you say, after all there are a ton of books and articles on this field... well, just because its fun to write it and you can be part of it as it develops. At any point, please feel free to comment and make suggestions as the articles are written by emailing me.

- John Christian

Other articles

Helpful links

All images and text are Copyrighted by John Christian Lønningdal 2007-2015 unless indicated.
Until Microsoft bothers to implement the standards this site will look best on Firefox, Opera or Chrome.