My text adventure

(I’m still messing with that title graphic.)

I’ve been working on a text adventure using Inform 7 since 2018 and have been afraid to talk about it.

I’m not really sure why exactly, but it’s somewhere in the mix of: a) I was afraid to announce it and then ultimately not follow through; b) I wanted to make some big splash with a finished game coming seemingly from nowhere; and c) this started as a joke project about a licensed property.

I have only been able to work on the game in my spare time and yet, I’ve been steadily spending my evenings and weekends for the last four years with no less enthusiasm than when I started. I’ve puttered with making plenty of video games in the past (hello, point-and-click adventure game that I swear will see the light of day…), but this one… for some reason this one has really stuck with me.

The idea of making a huge splash is silly. It’s a dang text adventure, dude, and it’s a big game that will take a couple hours to play through. From the jump, the possible audience for this game is teeny tiny. But, then again, is it such a sin to wish for people to actually play the thing after so much work and after so much time?

Nevertheless, I’ve reached the point where working on this game is just friggin fun. I don’t know if it’s any good, but thankfully I now don’t care. I genuinely look forward to the rare times when I get to work on it, and after four years there’s something special in that.

I’ll write a post explaining how I got here in conjunction with the launch of the game, but I’m creating a text adventure about the superhero team, the X-Men. I’m calling it Murderworld, and it’s designed in tribute to the not-very-good Commodore 64 game for which I’m the world’s foremost leading expert.

The game is broken up into easy-to-consume chapters which I hope will help folks play through the whole thing. As someone who has very little free time, it was important to me to design a game that was easy to play in lunch break chunks because that’s something I would personally appreciate.

397,758 word count, 88 rooms, and 357 things. That's all??

I’ve got about 70% of the game done? I’ve just finished the character Storm’s chapter, and whew, that really hung me up for a long while. I had hoped to release this game by January 2023, but I “had” to throw out the entirety of Storm’s section and redesign it, and that knocked me off my made-up timeline quite a bit. I’m already rambling a lot with this post, so as a separate post I’ll break out my thoughts on Storm as a character and why she’s a conundrum to write (and why I’m definitely not the first person to encounter this issue with her).

Besides a big final chapter, I’ve got Wolverine’s chapter left, and, uh-oh, I’m not loving the design I wrote a few years ago. That’s definitely a major problem of working on a big project like this for such a long time. I change as a game designer and as a person, and suddenly looking back everything I’ve done is trite trash. Hopefully I can salvage some good bits from that design and I can move into implementation quickly.

I don’t know where I was ultimately going with this post, but since my professional life is entering a period of major change it feels good to write about my work so far on this game.

If you have any interest in play-testing the latest build of the game, I would be very appreciative. As mentioned above, since the game split into chapters it’s actually quite playable, even in its current unfinished form. You can learn more here.