For teachers

Adventurelib was created in response to requests from teachers for more resources to help teach programming concepts. However, many text-based adventure game frameworks impose preconceptions about how a text-based adventure game should work. They often assume items and inventories, rooms and items, non-player characters (known as NPCs) or more, and producing a game using these “engines” becomes less a matter of programming and more of producing the content.

Adventurelib deliberately provides only limited support for rooms, items and so on, as I believe it is more instructive to learn how to create these structures oneself.

Programming with adventurelib seems to bring up very different material to programming graphical games. The challenges are partly in the domain of computer science - how to model game state and produce business logic - and partly in the domain of English - such as how to construct grammatical sentences from fragments.

These topics must be tackled:

  • Naming/identity - the difference between an object and a name that may be used to refer to that object.
  • References - how an object may hold references to other objects, or to itself, and how traversal and manipulation of these references is the essence of producing game logic.
  • Sets - Bags are sets of items, so membership in a set, set intersection, union and difference, are very useful.
  • Parts of speech such as pronouns and articles; pluralisation; sentence case.
  • Writing imaginative, engaging content.

I think of these as somewhat more difficult topics than those that come up in writing graphical games, and I would therefore suggest teaching Pygame Zero or some other graphical games library earlier.

If you have feedback to offer having taught with adventurelib, please submit this using the Github issues page.

Non-English speakers

Adventurelib was written by an English speaker. One might ask, “Can adventurelib be used in other languages?”

We need to be careful to distinguish between the language of the API, and the language of the games created using the API. The API will always be English, and learners should be encouraged to embrace this; for better or worse, the vast majority of programming languages, APIs, documentation, and global conferences are in English.

But for writing games in other languages, some conventions employed by adventurelib will be anglophone. Here are the issues I can think of:

  • @when() matches on the basis of words - ie. splits on spaces and matches word-by-word. This may not work for most ideographic/logographic languages.
  • The uppercase/lowercase of @when('take ITEM') will not be usable in languages without a concept of letter case.
  • north, south, east and west are built into the Rooms system, though it is possible to add your own directions. Strictly, these are identifiers, and could be used with non-English commands, but the results of functions like room.exits() would need translation before display to the user.
  • No attention has been paid to RTL languages. For example the say() function may be broken for RTL languages, and the @when pattern matching is left-to-right greedy, so therefore appears ungreedy when considered right-to-left.

Under these limitations, adventurelib would be suitable for most European languages, but perhaps less suitable for languages from the rest of the world.

I would welcome feedback about using adventurelib in other languages; as always the correct place for this is the Github issues page.