Tuesday, 6 July 2010

I'm in a forest. I see trees.

Have been picking up some interesting links this week from Geoff Manaugh's BLDGBLOG including an interview where Manaugh discusses the architectural side of J G Ballard's novels and a history of text-only adventure games, the link to which I'm afraid I can't now track down.

I was a big fan of this type of game in the 1980s and still find the idea of them, the language they used and the atmosphere they evoked to be quite mesmerizing. There seems to be a fair bit of commentary out there should you wish to know more but a talk given by one of the key game designers - Scott Adams - would be a good place to start.

One thing Manaugh observes in Ballard's work is how the settings are defined more by the lack of detail they contain than the quantity - or specificity - of it... and I think this applies equally to the world in which text adventures take place, where often very little is said and your imagination is allowed a greater liberty to invent than is the case, for example, in traditional descriptive prose.

Another good link I got from BLDGBLOG was to the Archigram Archival Project - organised under the auspices of the University of Westminster.

Now I had it firmly (and obviously erroneously) in my mind that Archigram hated architectural drawing, distrusting it's sinister charms and establishment wiles, whereas infact they were bloody good at it and created some wonderful images with their Rotring pens, and even some quite buildable looking curvy brutalism...Take this Ron Herron project, for example. Mondial House actually looked a bit like this.


  1. It's a shame you can't track down the text adventure link because I'd love to read it. I was obsessed with those games when I was younger, far more than I ever have been with any 'graphic adventures'.

    I did download an emulator and play some of those games again, and it was funny to see that a game like 'Planet of Death' only had around 15 locations and very little description, and yet it seemed to portray an entire planet!

  2. Hi Adam. It's a shame but I still can't track the link down I'm afraid.

    The Scott Adams article is pretty interesting though - extremely rambling! Did you check that out?

    The best graphic adventure I've ever seen (which I've been playing recently) is Fasco-CS's White Room. Worth a look if you haven't already tried it.