Submissions open from 2021-02-25 08:00:00 to 2021-03-31 15:00:00
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Concept

Create a TEXT ADVENTURE game suitable for children with no prior experience.

Prizes include a Pi 400, a Pi 4, Pi Pico microcontrollers, bookazines, digital download keys, microcontrollers and a personalised T Shirt donated by the creator of the world's first text adventure game for home computers, Scott Adams.

(A Spanish version of the gamejam is being run concurrently here )

PODCAST FANS: The  Adventure Games Podcast Episode 104 is now live, in which the jam organiser discusses the jam,  as well as other text adventure related topics.

Treasures of Hollowhill by John Blythe (written in Adventuron)

Why?

Put any classic text adventure game in front of a young person and they will be mystified. 

The TALP (text adventure literacy project), launched in 2019, challenged authors to create a text adventure game that you would teach them how to play text adventure games, using a fun and interactive tutorial built into the game itself.

This jam encourages text adventure authors to write a fun game such that can guide children (age 8+) so they can play unassisted, or that younger children can play with a parent or trusted adult.

What Are Text Adventure Games?

A text adventure game (or parser game)  is a type of game where a situation is presented to the player in text with optional graphics then the player interacts with the game (usually) by typing or speaking commands.

Basic text adventure games expect commands in the form of VERB NOUN, such as GET LAMP, THROW ROPE, TALK WIZARD. 

VERB NOUN games tend to be faster paced and less error prone for players as they know the exact format of expected commands and commands are shorter to type. They are also easier to develop.

More sophisticated text adventure games can take complex sentences as commands however this jam is concerned with building a VERB NOUN game with commands being limited to a maximum of two words.


General Rules 

These rules are designed to (a) Limit technical ambition (b) Increase the pace of the game. (c) lower complexity for new players. 

This jam is organised by Adventuron, but any system may be used to a game that adheres to the rules.

If you have any questions, feel free to ask in the #gamejam channel in the Adventuron discord.

  1. Game to be developed using Adventuron or any other suitable text adventure authoring system in the English language. 
  2. VERB NOUN inputs only.  The game must not depend on or process a second noun or prepositions, except to re-state the two word limitation as a response. Filtering out non recognised words is permitted.
  3. Game must have a minimum of 6 puzzles. Your game should have a puzzle that is typically solved  very quickly immediately guided via the tutorial (a disposable puzzle).
  4. Location descriptions should be one sentence or two sentences (not including object lists and exit lists). Response/incidental messages should ideally be one but can also be two sentences. Two tutorial sentences are allowed (per turn) in addition to the response / incidental message, but they must not contain additional information beyond tutorial guidance.
  5. Diagonal location connections are not permitted (northeast, northwest, southeast, southwest). All location connections should be bidirectional (except for conditional barriers).
  6. The primary means of interaction of the game should be the keyboard, and not be multiple choice, additional touch or mouse or voice inputs are permitted but game must be completable with the keyboard alone.
  7. Multiple choice dialogs are accepted for certain actions in the game, but primary means of input will be keyboard, all multiple choices should be able to be selected via keyboard, even if mouse click or voice is available for selecting those options too.
  8. Sudden death is not permitted unless your game supports auto-save, and quick restore.
  9. If you support the SEARCH verb, it must be a synonym of EXAMINE and LOOK.
  10. Games will be rated on  TUTORIAL, STORY, PUZZLES, CHARACTERS, GRAPHICS (optional), CHEAT SHEET (optional), and ENJOYMENT (not an average of other scores). The ENJOYMENT score will be used for the purpose of declaring the winner. You don't have to aim for top marks in every category, but any game with an average tutorial rating of below 2.7 (out of 5)  is not eligible for the participation or placement prize draws.  Judging panel will be announced shortly.
  11. Must additionally adhere to the content rules and (if using Adventuron) the Adventuron specific rules.

Content Rules

  1. All games names (in Itch) should include (TALP) as a suffix. The purpose of this is to make the beginner level games discoverable via search engine / itch search.
  2. Games should be solvable with common sense alone and the general knowledge of a 9 year old. It's fine to reference (age appropriate) material that 9 year olds may not be aware of but don't make a puzzle dependent upon that knowledge.
  3. All games should be safe and fun to be played by young children with adult supervision. If your game targets younger children, then state the target audience on your game page. For this jam, all games should not have any foul language, violence, offensive, political, or explicit content even if the game is not targeting younger children. 
  4. All information required to solve the game should be available in the text of the game. No placing clues solely in the graphic.
  5. Do not use copyright assets or base your game upon copyright material. Public domain is ok.

Adventuron Specific Rules

  1. Game must use the "template = talp" setting (verb/noun, auto redescribe, concise object list, no diagonals, no one way directions, jingles on, search not permitted except as synonym of examine).  None of these settings (except the object list style) should be overridden.
  2. Game must have a "loading screen" piece of art.
  3. Games should use  the ": success,  and : fail" commands to convey player progress and reward children. Player will automatically be given option to disable sound effects by the engine itself.
  4. Recommended to use a custom theme / custom font.

In Game Tutorial Checklist

Your in game tutorial should  teach at least the following concepts and possibly more , you decide the order in which to teach these concepts. A reference implementation for a text adventure literacy project (TALP) tutorial can be found in the TALP version of Excalibur

  1. Getting an object
  2. Dropping an object
  3. Examining an object
  4. Checking inventory or pockets
  5. Navigating the map  - NORTH IS OPPOSITE OF SOUTH, EAST IS OPPOSITE OF WEST).
  6. The tutorial should also help (hint or give answers) the player solve at least two puzzles.

Additional Guidance

  1. All nouns should ideally have a custom response to an EXAMINE noun (action or custom text). 
  2. You can start working on your submission once the jam is announced, you do not have to wait for the "start date". You can only submit your entry between the start date and the end date of the jam (inclusive).
  3. Per location graphics are optional but strongly recommended , even if very simple and low resolution. There is no "pixel art only" requirement however no photos or photos converted to blocky pixels unless it is digitised hand drawn art.  Animations are fine if your engine supports it.
  4. (Adventuron only) If you want to use high resolution images, follow this guide - https://adventuron.io/documentation/cookbook.html#LinkingExternalMedia
  5. Sound effects + music + animations are permitted.
  6. Treasure hunts are permitted, but rules must be explained via tutorial.
  7. Player freedom should be limited to restrict putting the game into obvious unwinnable states (e.g. allowing the player to eat an apple that is required for a puzzle, without a way to re-acquire the apple).
  8. The game should optionally allow the player to switch off the tutorial. This is not a requirement.
  9. Games that have child-friendly scary (but not horror) elements should include a warning at the start of the game.
  10. (Optional) A cheat sheet containing coded puzzles to solutions is an optional extra. See the TWO page for an example of how this can work.
  11. (Optional) Feel free to create a play-guide or map to your game as a PDF document alongside your entry.
  12. Check out Excalibur as a reference implementation of TALP.
  13. Check out this opinionated article on text adventure game design: Text Adventure Game Design in 2020.


Coding with Adventuron Classroom

Getting Ready

NOTE: You are free to use other systems to make adventure games in this jam, but step 2 onward assume you are using Adventuron.

Step One - Play an Existing TALP implementation

It is strongly recommended that you play Excalibur (up until the point that you enter the castle), in order to learn how to play text adventure games.  Excalibur can be used as a reference TALP tutorial game, but do not copy the game outright.

Step Two - Make An Adventure Game without a TALP Tutorial (60 minute tutorial)

(Adventuron Only Step)

Click here to follow tutorial A (on how to create a text adventure).

The tutorial is built into the system, in the left hand panel, and it remembers your study progress. This tutorial takes three to four hours.

Step Three - Study The TALP Source Code

(Adventuron Only Step)

Check out the source code for Excalibur TALP (download at bottom of page).

Detailed Documentation

Detailed documentation for Adventuron can be found here .

Documentation for other authoring systems are not provided here. Other systems to consider are Inform 6 / 7, Puny Inform, DAAD / DAAD Ready, PAWS, TADS, TAB Adventure Creator, Lantern, or more.

Your games should ideally be playable in browser, but it is not a hard requirement.

Graphics

Recommended Graphic Specifications

Graphics / game art can be any style you wish, and does not have to be "pixel art / blocky" style.

Graphics should ideally be in super landscape format (16 : 5 aspect ratio). 

Sample resolutions (at this aspect ratio) are 1024 x 320 or 512 x 160, 256 x 80 pixels or 128 x 40 pixels, 64 x 20 or 32 x 10. 

Other resolutions are fine, and slightly different aspect ratios are fine, but the strong advice is to have your images to be much wider than they are tall - to leave space for text beneath the images.

Don't convert photos to "blocky photos". If you feel you can't make graphics for your game, then it's ok to submit a game without graphics. 

Processed photos are not permitted unless the photo is high resolution, and of hand-drawn art.

Incidental graphics can be in different aspect ratios.

Tools


The following tools are recommended for basic artists (for pixel art style);

Keeping it simple is the best approach, and not making too many "empty" locations in your game is also a good idea. You can also re-use graphics in multiple locations.

Fonts (Optional)

If you want to add a custom font, a guide exists here.

Note that modern fonts are supported by Adventuron, and games with a modern look and feel are very welcome. A guide for using Google Fonts is provided (not for beginners).

Scott's Choice Award

SAA1 - 1 x Signed T Shirt

Scott Adams is the legend in the text adventure community. The first person to create text adventure games for personal computers, and the founder of Adventure International, now the co-founder of Clopas.

Scott Adams will play the top 5 games (as rated by Itch placement), and gift an (optionally) signed and personalised  Adventureland XL T Shirt to the "Scott's Choice" award winner.

This is a very unique prize, blessed by the one of the Godfather's of the genre.

TERMS: Only large size is available. Unfortunately, this prize only applies to the English language competition. Specific personalization requests will be at the discretion of Scott.


Placement Prizes (PL)

There are currently one placement prize, and the winners of the jam by overall score (in order) will be able to select the placement prize unless there is a tie, and then a random draw will be made between the tied winners.

PL1 - Raspberry Pi 400.

The Raspberry Pi 400 is a standalone Linux desktop computer, with integrated keyboard, wifi, bluetooth, 4GB memory. 

Anonymous donor

Participation Prize Draw (PA)

Note that the participation prize draw is a shared between the English version of the gamejam, and the Spanish language version of the gamejam. There is only one set of participation prizes shared between the two jams.

PA1 - Raspberry Pi 4 2GB 

The fourth revision of the famous single board computer (2GB RAM version). Compatible with Adventuron Classroom.

Donated by Adventuron Software Limited

(Picture by Michael Henzler, Wikipedia Commons, License: CC BY-SA 4.0. NOTE: Pictured Raspberry Pi 4 is representative but may not be the 2GB model.)

PA2 - The Classic Adventurer - Special Edition (x 1)

Classic Adventurer - Special Edition - physical copy (donated by Mark Hardisty)

Classic Adventurer - Special Edition - physical copy (donated by Mark Hardisty)

Classic Adventurer is the premier text-adventure bookazine. Ideal for the coffee table of classic adventurers.

Features interviews with classic text adventure and new text adventure authors, beautiful layout and artwork, and interesting features on the subject of text adventure games.

Thanks again to author Mark Hardisty for this donation.

PA3 - Scott Adam's Adventureland XL (Digital Download) 

Adventureland XL is a 40th anniversary re-imagining of the original microcomputer based text adventure game. Complete with new graphics, sounds effects, and voiceovers.

<< IMAGE PENDING >>

Kindly donated by Scott Adams / Clopas.

PA4/ PA5  - Raspberry Pi Pico (x1)

The Raspberry Pi Pico is a powerful microcontroller, newly released in 2021.

Fun because there is 'only' 264 Kilobytes of RAM, and 'only' two 133Mhz ARM cores. Super useful for learning Python / C or for working with hardware projects.

Donated by Adventuron Software Limited

NOTE: This is two individual prizes of one RPi Pico each.

PA6/PA7/PA8 - Pico 8 License (x3)

PICO-8 is a fantasy console for making, sharing and playing tiny games and other computer programs. It feels like a regular console, but runs on Windows / Mac / Linux. When you turn it on, the machine greets you with a commandline, a suite of cartridge creation tools, and an online cartridge browser called SPLORE.

Donated by Lexaloffle Games


Many thanks to Lexaloffle Games for the donation of these keys.

Note: each prize is just one key.

Community

Call For Donors

If you would like to contribute prizes to the prize pool,  it would be much appreciated.  

Contact info@adventuron.io with subject "Prize Donation".

Prize Terms

  • Placement will be decided to in order of "OVERALL ENJOYMENT" score.
  • To be eligible to receive a prize, you must enter the jam with a game that meets all the rules posted for this jam.
  • Only entries scoring 2.7 or above in the tutorial category will be eligible for placement prize or prize draw.
  • There may be a delay between winning and receiving prizes if prize availability is low.
  • Placement prizes (PL prizes) will be offered in order of placement in the competition.
  • Where there is a tie, a random winner will be chosen to receive the prize. This process will be done using random draw, and details of the draw will be made public.
  • Placement prize winners may refuse to take a prize, and in that case, the prize will be offered to the next highest placed entrant, and the placement prize winner is eligible for the participation prize draw.
  • Participation prizes (PA prizes) will be drawn for entrants that have not won (or accepted) a placement prize.
  • Participation prizes may also be rejected by winners (if not wanted).
  • Winners of participation prizes, may, by mutual consent, trade their prizes prior to shipping.
  • If all participants have received a placement prize, then all participants are also eligible for the participation prize prize draw.
  • Some prizes may be substituted for other prizes (or cash) of similar value if import restrictions or tariffs make shipping unviable. 
  • Winners will be contacted or can contact info@adventuron.io themselves. If some prizes are left unclaimed 30 days after announcement, they will be rolled over to the next jam. Best efforts will be made to ensure everyone is treated fairly.

Jam Artwork

  • Banner image by Mark Harrison .
  • Jam Thumbnail adapted from artwork by Ricardo Oyon.