Mobile Text Based Adventures


How many hours did you spend as a kid on text-based adventures? Was your family one of the millions that bought Infocom's Zork or Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy for the family Apple IIe or Commodore 64? Even now, 20+ years after they were introduced, they're still pretty absorbing. And that's why I think that they'd be pretty cool on my mobile phone!

I got this idea yesterday after reading Darren's post about a site which has collected all the original Infocom games and posted them online. It's a pretty great site, with all the games (the original "Z" files), emulators and links to walk-throughs and the history of Infocom. I spent several HOURS going through the site yesterday, just great stuff. If you're older than say, 20, you probably remember many hours sitting in front of one of these games, or remember the kick-ass packaging of the games in the games stores, etc.

Because one of the emulators is actually a open source Java Applet it struck me that with some effort, you could get these running under J2ME without any problems. You can check out the Applet running HH2G here. The game files themselves are a bit big - running around 150k, so these would definitely be useful only on the newer J2ME phones that have that type of memory available (like my 7650). There really isn't a lot of typing involved with this sort of game. Most commands can be done with only a few letters (n,s,e,w,i,l). And the rest wouldn't be a big deal to type if you were using T9.

As always, the thing that I think will take me just a few hours or a weekend to put together is taking a bit longer, but I'm starting now to see if I can get this working in J2ME. Maybe even with some additional features like a pull-down list of commands for less typing, etc.

I'm constantly trying to think of stuff that you can do on your phone while you're stuck waiting. Usually that means while on the bus, or in waiting rooms, or places like that. My crossword idea is like that, and now these games are similar again. One emulator/player, but with various game files that you download.

I chatted with Jim a bit about this yesterday, and he said, "What about MUDs?" That might be good, but the advantage of Text Based Adventures is that you can download them once, yet have hours (weeks?) of playing time without having to connect again, and also MUDs are partly about chatting and role-playing, and on a phone you can't type THAT much to make it that interesting. But it's an interesting thought. Maybe I'll look into that also.

I'm going to post a bit about licensing next, but that's a whole other topic...

Cool stuff!


P.S. By the way, Douglas Adams is my favorite author bar none. Just thought I'd mention that.

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