Via the Raspberry Pi blog, game developer Andrew Gillett explains how to make a simple text adventure in Python — and what pitfalls to avoid while doing so — in the latest issue of Wireframe magazine, out now.
The first game I ever wrote was named Pooh. It had nothing to do with the bear. In September 1982, I was four years old, and the ZX Spectrum home computer had just been released. It was incredible enough that the Spectrum let you play games on the TV, but like most home computers of the time, it also came with a built-in language called BASIC, and a manual which explained how to program it. In my first game, Pooh (the title was a misspelling), the player controlled a baby, represented by a pound sign, and had to guide it to a potty, represented by the letter O. There were no obstacles, no enemies, and if you tried to walk off the screen, the program would stop with an error message.
Instead of graphical games, Andrew focused on writing text adventures, where the game describes scenes to the player (“You are in a comfortable, tunnel-like hall. You can see a door,” from 1982’s The Hobbit) and the player enters commands such as “Go through door” or “Kill goblin with sword.”
Although this type of game is comparatively easy to write, I implemented it in the worst way possible. The code was essentially a huge list of IF statements. Each room had its own set of code, which would print out a description of the room and then check to see what the player typed. This ‘hard-coding’ led to the code being much longer than necessary, and more difficult to maintain.
Modern text adventure games in Python
The code shows how to implement the beginnings of a text adventure game in Python. Instead of numeric IDs and arrays, the code uses string IDs and dictionary data structures, where each piece of data is associated with an ID or ‘key’.
See how to implement these classic games in Python for computers such as the Raspberry Pi via Andrew’s information on the blog post.