The game is playing on this page in an applet (so you may need to click on the game window before entering your commands). If you'd rather play it locally on your computer, you can download the platform-independent gamefile and an interpreter for your platform (Windows, MacOS, Linux, or something else). The advantage of downloading is a somewhat faster response time, cleaner UI, and being able to save your game and resume it later, but it is also perfectly playable as an applet on this page.
INTERACTIVE FICTION -- GETTING STARTED
"Okay, so what's this ? thingy?"
Good question. The ? prompt appears whenever it is your turn to tell
the game what you want to do. Simply type in an imperative statement,
like OPEN THE DOOR, or EAT THE SANDWICH, and press the Enter key. Also,
articles aren't necessary: OPEN DOOR or EAT SANDWICH will work just as
well. Occasionally, the game will ask you to clarify a command you've
typed. For instance, if you type EAT SANDWICH, and there is more than
one sandwich in your immediate vicinity, the game may respond, "Which
sandwich do you mean, the ham sandwich or the bologna sandwich?" It
is not usually necessary to retype your command -- simply answering the
question is fine (HAM is a sufficient reply, for example.) Of course,
you don't have to answer the question if you don't want to; if you're a
vegetarian and don't want to eat either sandwich, you can type OPEN DOOR
and the game will treat it as an all-new command.
Generally once you're past the introduction and the game has begun,
you'll want to find out if the author has any special instructions for
the game -- try typing HELP or ABOUT if a command hasn't been recommended
explicitly by the game.
No matter how enthralling your initial location is, chances are you'll
eventually want to go somewhere else. To do so, simply type the
direction you want to go: GO NORTH is a perfectly acceptable command,
but N will do the same thing, and is much easier to type. Most text
adventures understand twelve directions: the four cardinal directions
(N, S, E, W), four diagonals (NE, NW, SE, SW), UP and DOWN (which may be
abbreviated U and D), and IN and OUT. (These last two may not be
appropriate in many places: IN makes sense if you're standing next to a
car, for instance, but not if you're standing all alone in a meadow.)
Pronouns such as IT are useful, but can be tricky. Usually, IT refers to
the last object you used as a direct object of a command: if you type
EXAMINE RHODODENDRON and the description is appealing enough that the
rhododendron must be yours, TAKE IT is sufficient. Be careful, though,
or you'll fall into the following trap:
> EXAMINE FLOWER
Which flower do you mean, the rhododendron or the chrysanthemum?
It's awful purdy.
> TAKE IT
> PUT IT IN BACKPACK
> CLOSE IT
You can't close a rhododendron!
ALL is another useful word for when you want to PUT ALL IN BACKPACK or
TAKE ALL FROM CUPBOARD; you can even go so far as to DROP ALL EXCEPT
RHODODENDRON AND SANDWICH if you like.
Most interactive fiction these days has a reasonably impressive vocabulary;
some words you might want to try are:
ATTACH GIVE PUT
CLIMB JUMP REMOVE
CLOSE LOOK SEARCH
DROP OPEN TOUCH
EAT PULL TURN
EXAMINE PUSH WEAR
You can also combine many of these verbs with prepositions: in addition
to LOOK, you can LOOK AT, LOOK INSIDE, LOOK UNDER, LOOK THROUGH, and so
There are also a number of special commands and abbreviations you should
be aware of. In addition to the compass directions mentioned above, they
G: short for AGAIN, this repeats the last command.
I: short for INVENTORY, this produces a list of what you're carrying.
L: short for LOOK, this describes your surroundings.
X: short for EXAMINE, this provides a description of an object.
Z: short for WAIT, this causes a turn to pass without an action being
SCORE: this tells how you're doing (sometimes)
QUIT: ends the game.
RESTART: restarts the game from the beginning.
RESTORE: restores a saved game (not available online.)
SAVE: saves your position in the game (not available online.)
This is only the beginning of what you can do in a piece of interactive
fiction. Every game will provide additional verbs, rules and capabilities
unique to that game. Feel your way around, try things as they occur to
you, and most of all, have fun!
[Adapted from a document by Adam Cadre, at http://adamcadre.ac/content/if.txt]