I’ve been working on a text-based game for a programming competition at moosader.com. It’s advancing nicely and results should appear soon, meanwhile I’m just getting some insights.
I’m generally quite skeptical about text-based games. I think that even if graphics are a bit overrated in modern commercial games, they’re still very important. Also, I’ve seen many games with bad graphics over the years and unlike what one might think, there doesn’t seem to be a correlation between bad graphics and good gameplay. People who don’t work on getting good graphics often don’t invest the extra time in improving gameplay, but instead I feel a correlation the other way around – bad gameplay and bad graphics are both characteristic of inexperienced, unprofessional developers.
However, there does seem to be a little difference with purely text-based. The difference between bad graphics and no graphics turned out to be very serious – Here I’m not making a game with one feature removed, but instead I make myself find completely different mechanics – I can try things that simply won’t work (or will seem very out of place) in a graphical game. Hopefully my game for the competition will provide a little example of that. Maybe I should start trying some other people’s text-based games. I remember hearing about a serious text adventure community somewhere out there. Not to mention Nethack.
That said, this stuff also makes me think about combined graphical / textual adventure games. They had a few good years long ago with games like Quest for Glory 1 & 2, Police Quest 1 & 2, and some King’s Quests and Space Quests, but then they were gone, and mouse mechanics took over. This is disappointing not only because they were great games (especially Quest for Glory), but because with modern improvements in natural language processing, we could make something really great. Here’s another item to the list of games I should make someday.
 Purely anecdotal of course, I did not study it.
 Myself included, I don’t deny. But I’m working on it.