One of the guys I was talking to at that first party on Saturday night said a few things about Interactive Fiction, i.e. Text Adventures. He just sent me a mail I thought you might enjoy - (CW)TB
Hey, this is Kevin, AKA Knifey, from the party on Saturday. We were talking about interactive fiction (IF) a bit, and I thought I’d send you a few links to check out if you’re interested in it at all. The whole IF scene is quite different from most types of games, and not just because of the text-based interface. Since there’s more or less zero market pressure, and a single person can quite reasonably expect to finish a game on his or her own, there’s some really creative stuff going on in IF that would never happen when you have to actually sell a game to people.
The 1up.com article is here. It’s a pretty massive piece of writing, but it’s full of information and links to good IF games (and things that aren’t really games). I’d barely played IF before reading the article, and in the couple months since then I’ve downloaded dozens of games and started learning how to write my own, so I think it’s pretty good stuff. The site that has pretty much all modern-day IF on it is wurb.com/if/ . The heavily Lovecraft-inspired game I mentioned is called Anchorhead, and can be found there. Some other Lovecraftian games I didn’t like quite as much are Theatre and The Awakening, plus an Infocom classic called The Lurking Horror (which is still under copyright but I believe The Underdogs has it if you don’t mind downloading something that you can’t really buy anywhere). Other good games, to toss a few names out, are Slouching Towards Bedlam, Photopia, Shrapnel, Varicella, 9:05, Narcolepsy, Galatea, Shade, and Vicious Cycles. A lot of those are mentioned in the 1up.com article as well. Also, Infocom’s A Mind Forever Voyaging is really good, and The Underdogs should have it as well but there’s that whole copyright thing again. I sort of suspect whoever owns the rights to Infocom’s games now doesn’t care that much though, since they’re available on a number of sites and no one seems to have done anything about it.
I’ve found it really rewarding to play through a lot of the IF I’ve tried, and fortunately the games are generally no more than a couple hours long, though that depends on how much you look at the hints if there are puzzles. Anyway, I hope this is all useful. If nothing else, it’s interesting to see what games can be like when all the financial pressure is off and the developer approaches it completely as an art.