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create text adventure gameThese days, the push for the cutting edge in video games is all about graphics, artificial intelligence, and physics. You’ve got beautiful 3D games that have the potential to look like real-life photography (I’m looking at you, Crysis 4 Free Game Benchmarks That Will Make Your PC Scream 4 Free Game Benchmarks That Will Make Your PC Scream Graphical quality is still a big deal in the PC gaming world. The newest computer components have raw power and taking advantage of that power can be difficult. Fortunately, there are some game demos that... Read More ). But what about games before the graphical revolution? Does anyone remember text-based games?

Indeed, long ago games used to be all text and imagination. You may know them as interactive fiction 5 Great Interactive Fiction Games You Can Play Online Right Now 5 Great Interactive Fiction Games You Can Play Online Right Now Read More . When interactive fiction moved to the Internet and allowed multiple players to play in the same text world, they were called MUDs (multi-user dungeons). Sadly, text-based games are a niche today.

If you’re still interested in the text adventure genre, though, there are a handful of resources out there that will help you get your fix of verbose quests. Want to create your own text adventure game? You’re in luck because there are some great programs out there for you.


create text adventure game

My first taste of interactive fiction was a game called Legends of Terris and it was hosted in the UK. I don’t know what it is about that area of the world, but they’re fantastic when it comes to text adventure. There is a UK-based text adventure community (open to all people, though, not just UK players) where you can create, share, and play through these word-based quests.

This community provides a program called Quest that you can use to create these games. It only runs on Windows, which is a bummer for those of you who have moved on to other operating systems, but it’s entirely free and pretty robust. It comes with a full tutorial to help you get started so you can download the program and be devising your first text quest right away.

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Once you’re done, you can upload it to the website and other people can play it. There are over a dozen categories for these adventures (Comedy, Educational, Fantasy, Horror, Romance, etc) and the community is still alive. Give it a shot!


create text adventure game

TADS is a more serious creator for interactive fiction. It has a much steeper learning curve than other “point-and-click” editors because it’s built with its own scripting language that resembles the C family of programming languages. But because of this added level of complexity, text adventures created with TADS can have sounds, graphics, and other advanced features.

The TADS community is alive and kicking with community news updates on a regular (almost daily) basis. There’s an annual interactive fiction competition using TADS as their engine of choice. Additionally, people can submit their TADS-created adventures to the Interactive Fiction Database, which is the central repository for the community.

TADS comes with all the tools you’ll need to script your text adventures from start to finish. It even has a full-featured development environment The Top 3 Browser-Based IDE's To Code In The Cloud The Top 3 Browser-Based IDE's To Code In The Cloud Read More . Best of all, it’s free and available on Windows, Mac, and various distributions of Linux.


ADRIFT is a self-dubbed interactive fiction toolkit. Out of all the text adventure systems out there, ADRIFT may actually be the easiest to learn and use. It has a graphical interface that lets you point-and-click your way to the completion of your text adventures. The best part is that if you’re not a developer and you only want to play text adventures, you can do that, too.

ADRIFT is divided into two programs: Developer (for creation) and Runner (for playing). Developer is only available on Windows, but Runner can play these text adventure games on both Windows and Linux. Both Developer and Runner are completely free. Want to see how easy it is to use this program? Check out the video above.

The ADRIFT community is not very big nor is it very lively, but it’s not dead, either. There are forum discussions going on and people still upload their games to the games database.


You would think that creating a text adventure game is easy, right? After all, it’s just a bunch of… text. But getting all of the logic and connections set up can be hard work, especially if you don’t have a background in programming. If that’s the case, Quest and ADRIFT will get you started without too much of a hitch. On the other hand, if you’re experienced with coding, you may want to dive right into TADS’s powerful engine.

  1. Finn
    March 27, 2016 at 7:50 am

    Of the three of them I can recommend Adrift, if you don't have the time of stomach for learning code. It's very easy to use and you're able to create qquite complex games with both graphic and sound.

  2. Killword
    December 22, 2015 at 10:54 pm

    INSTEAD uses a compiler that Android can read in native. Another to look at is PAWS NG, it makes online use of QUILL's next generations of little brothers, PAWS and SINTAC. It is both in English and Spanish (evidently Spanish speaking countries LOVE text adventures)...

  3. Rod Lockwood
    September 23, 2015 at 4:43 am

    Nice article, Inform’s community is alive, but they use the Interactive Fiction Forums which is a community that is for all interactive fiction platforms. Mostly it is connected with the Intereactive Fiction Archives which is the world’s repository for all interactive fiction games of any platform and operating system.

    I have used the Adventure Game Toolkit which is no longer supported and is only able to run under DOS or Windows. The Windows version had some features cut (mostly the ability to use graphics and audio) and designed for 95 or 98. I have run it successfully up to Windows XP.

    Currently I have been trying Inform 7, the latest version of Inform. It is not for the novice, it is a professional level game creation system which is heavily rule-based. While it can create very complex games, I find it rather cumbersome to use. It also does not handle UTF-8 very well as it has a tendency to choke when even real quotes are used. Old AGT never had that problem.

    Which is why I am here, I have been looking around for an alternative. I guess the Agility system, which was the successor to AGT, is no longer used either. My OS is Linux now, so it looks as if TADS will be the best choice for me. Although, I do have a virtual Windows 7 on Linux. So I could use ADRIFT.

    The nice thing is there is Gargoyle which is a universal system that can play almost all platforms. (This is what they claim, but I don’t know of any platform that cannot be played using Gargoyle. Okay, Quest is not on their list.) It even will play Hugo games, but I understand that Hugo is non-free. I have no experience with Hugo, so I cannot comment about it. Gargoyle was created from the coöperative spirit of all the IF gaming platforms and authors. I seem to remember something about a Babel agreement between the different platforms. You can find more information about it here which will lead to a download page:

  4. Brad
    January 20, 2015 at 12:22 am

    I also want to mention here that Quest now has a browser-based version on their website. You can register for an account then save your games either privately or publically on their server. This is great if you cannot install Quest on your PC (maybe you don't have Windows) or you prefer file portability via cloud. I have noticed however that it is not quite fully featured however, and for some features you will have to download and import your file into the desktop version, but it is pretty close.

  5. ZTAB
    September 9, 2013 at 7:12 pm

    Hello, does anyone know or use ZTAB ? (

  6. TheGameMaster
    April 28, 2013 at 7:16 pm

    I'll mention my IF engine here if that's ok:
    It's all web-based with nothing to download or install. Free to create and/or play. Enjoy!

    • Joel Lee
      May 1, 2013 at 1:12 am

      Thanks for sharing. Good to know that IF is still alive!

  7. Vampie C.
    March 20, 2013 at 6:34 pm

    do you happen to know such a tool to use on an android phone?

    thank you.

    • Joel Lee
      March 22, 2013 at 3:52 pm

      I haven't ever heard of a text adventure creator for Android. If one exists, I'm not aware of it. Sorry!

  8. Lisa Santika Onggrid
    March 20, 2013 at 12:59 pm

    Interested in Quest. Seems like a no-hassle, straightforward engine.

  9. jameydee
    March 19, 2013 at 3:14 pm

    I'm shocked - no mention of Inform?

    • Joel Lee
      March 22, 2013 at 3:53 pm

      Due to length limitations, I had to cut down to 3 choices. The 3 in the article seemed to be the most well-recognized in the IF realm, plus they had the most active communities from what I could see. Forgive me if I was wrong to leave out Inform!

  10. justinpot
    March 19, 2013 at 2:35 pm

    I did not know there was a fellow IF enthusiast among us. I tried to learn Inform once. Still really want to create a game, just need to make the time.

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