Quest: Writing and Playing Text Adventure and Interactive Fiction

I recently stumbled upon Quest, software created and distributed under an open-source license by Alex Warren for individuals to write and play text adventure games and interactive fiction.  The platform is extremely flexible, allowing reading/playing in either a web browser, downloading to a PC for offline play, and even allowing the option for creating mobile application distributions.

Writing Quest Stories

Quest comes in two varieties for writing your own stories.  You can either download the open-source software for Microsoft Windows OS to create your masterpiece locally on your machine, or you can create a free account on the website to build your story online.  Key features include:

  • No programming skills needed
  • A full tutorial with illustrative examples
  • Write your story in any language
  • Ability to embed pictures, sound, and video
  • Encouragement to share your creation

Here’s an example of the web-editing interface:

Quest-Web-Editor

 

Reading/Playing Quest Stories

The homepage for Quest, http://textadventures.co.uk/, provides over 1,800 available games created by its community of contributors across genres like Sci-Fi, Mystery, Comedy and Romance.  A zero-to-five star rating system helps readers filter down the list of available stories.  A few that caught my attention include:


Survive the Five Year Olds (comedy) You decided to host the party of one of your friends’ kids for a little bit of extra cash. BAD DECISION!!! Can you survive a party of crazy, sugar-hyped five year olds? Play through this game book style choose your own adventure to find out if you can keep them happy until their parents come and take them home.


Mansion (mystery) You have just inherited your great aunt Agatha’s English mansion, Gharston Hall, a rambling monstrosity built in the 17th century. But as you start looking around your new home, a Mr. Brookes lets himself in, claiming that Agatha sold Gharston Hall to Perfidia Properties for the development of a hotel and leisure complex. He also insists that you pack up the last of Agatha’s things and vacate the place by midnight. Something fishy is going on, but what can you do about it?


High School Crush (romance) After a cute girl named Kelly joins Neil’s art class, he falls in love with her. Unknown to him though he’s about to get a lot closer to her…


 

Using Quest in an Educational Setting via ActiveLit

What’s most impressive about Quest to me is the application to an educational setting.  Alex Warren has partnered with Rachel Kelly to make available their ActiveLit service.  There, you have resources available to use Quest in a class our group setting to create and share games in a private sandbox environment.

Happy reading…err…playing!

Writing immersive interactive fiction using near field communication (NFC) tags

Talented fiction writers are skilled at drawing upon their readers’ five senses–sight, hearing, taste, smell and touch.  But what if a writer had a way to truly immerse their readers into an environment where one could literally smell the zeppoles from the carnival stand or feel the forceful rush of wind from a moving passenger train past the platform?  The technology exists—sort of—in the form of near field communication (NFC) tags paired with mobile smartphone and tablet technology.

NFC tags are a form of radio-frequency identification (RFID) chips that cost mere pennies and are often sold in the form of self-adhesive stickers.  Requiring no self-contained power, NFC tags are easily programmed from freely-available software.  And when an NFC tag is physically “tapped” by an NFC-enabled smartphone or tablet, the tag issues commands to the smartphone to take an action like setting an alarm, starting an application, or for the purpose of writing immersive interactive fiction, loading a webpage.

Near Field CommunicationImagine for a moment the creative blogger who writes a web-serial that is set—and targeted to an audience—physically located within a reasonable proximity to them.  Utilizing NFC tags strategically and discretely placed around town/campus, the story unfolds when the reader physically experiences a setting, and then taps their device to an NFC tag which then unlocks a new chapter of the story from the author’s blog.  The sights, sounds, and scents of the story are experienced, and the end of the chapter reveals to the reader the next physical location that unlocks the next chapter of the story.

This Geofiction concept, akin to Geocaching—real-world treasure hunts using GPS technology—probably isn’t for everybody.  It could work well in the city or suburbs, but probably not so well in the sprawling countryside.  The audience is clearly limited.  And, it’s probably more intriguing to a younger crowd of readers.  Though it’s not for me, I admit I’m intrigued by the concept.  What do you think?  Can you see yourself reading Geofiction?