Great Free Online Book On Eary Computer Games: Let’s Tell a Story Together

I’ve always wondered how long it would take to create a text adventure/graphical text adventure engine for Flash.   I *know* the marketability of text adventures is not great, and I know the audience is limited, but for someone like me who played the original Infocom and Scott Adams adventurs games for 100’s of hours, the idea is sometimes hard to get past.

Anyway, this free online book named Let’s Tell A Story Together written in 2006 is making even harder for me to resist the temptation once again.  Jimmy Maher’s work is a very well researched and detailed account that reaches from Eliza in 1966 to modern games made in the 21st Century.

The text is filled with interesting tid-bits on game design.  For example, in Ch.3 Scott Adams describes how he wrote his first text adventure game:

“I didn’t try and take the existing program and put it into 16K, but sat down and wrote an adventure language of my own for the machine – an interpreter – and proceeded from there to write an adventure in that language. As a system programmer I know how to write tools. The first tool was the adventure language, the second was the interpreter to understand the language and the third tool allowed me to develop a database for the interpreter to understand’ (Kidd). “

With notes and in-line images, this online book clocks-in at just over 235 pages.  That’s not a bad read for a subject that should be fascinating to anyone intersted in the design and history of early computer games.

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