Zork, meet Doom.

You may be a crackshot with a mouse or analog stick, but how good are you with just a keyboard?

How about without graphics?

In the late ’70s through the mid ’80s, text adventures were mainstays of computer gaming. In the ’90s through, well, today, the first person shooter -then known as the “Doom Clone,” usually with good reason- has been one of gamedom’s defining genres.  Programmer Eigen Lenk has now fused the two together in his surprisingly innovative (as in, “how has this not been done before?”) text-based multiplayer shooter, creatively entitled Text-based Multiplayer Shooter.

A loving tribute; old-timers and vintage enthusiasts will recognize the display bezel as that of the classic IBM 5151 monitor. The sticky note is a nice touch, too.

Worlds and generations collide in Text-based Multiplayer Shooter. Its command-line interface recalls text-based classics like Zork and Colossal Cave, while its premise, naturally, is to frag your opponents within the confines of an obstacle-laden 10×10 grid. Every step of this game is classic text-based goodness, and n00bs will make ample use of the the “help” command. You must first “log in” with a username and password that you can apparently just make up on the spot. You can then choose a game/server to join, as is the norm with modern online multiplayer games.  In true text adventure fashion, even this is accompanied with:

“You can hear screaming and guns being fired in the distance. The air is thick with tension. You hold onto your trusty firearm just a little tighter. No grues to be seen.”

You maneuver around with commands such as “go north” and “go east.” You can fire in the direction you are facing with the “fire” command. A map showing your position and any available items can be called up with “map.”  You can even chat to other players with the “say” command.

As was true with many of the classic text adventures, TbMS has a pretty unforgiving parser. All commands must be typed fully and correctly. And since this is a real-time frag-fest, you’d better be able to enter them quickly and accurately. There aren’t too many games anymore where a typo can get you killed, or where your most dangerous opponents could well include administrative assistants and data entry clerks. Hardcore gamers, eat your hearts out.

You can play Text-based Multiplayer Shooter here.

(c) 2012 Jeffery Koss


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