Modern flagship games leverage huge amounts of money and manpower to create an immersive, cinematic experience. With titles like Skyrim and Grand Theft Auto continuing the dominate the popular conception of what a video game is supposed to be, it can be easy to take the very presence of narrative for granted.
Of course, this wasn’t always the case. The image above is a capture from what is generally considered to be one of the first true video games, 1958’s Tennis For Two. Created for experimental purposes, Tennis For Two is a forebear of the kind of video games that would start appearing in arcades and living rooms over the following two decades: simple, reaction-time based ‘twitch’ games that simulated sports, shooting, and the like (think Pong and Space Invaders).
Technological constraints are an obvious factor in the relative simplicity of these early games. When developing games for extremely limited computing platforms, anything beyond ensuring that a game was visually stimulating and playable was considered superficial, if not unnecessary.
In the 1970s, the growing popularity of Dungeons & Dragons sparked a revolutionary idea – why not leave everything up to the imagination? In 1976, a pair of American computer programmers created Colossal Cave Adventure, an entirely text-based game where players could explore and interact by typing simple commands. What CCA lacked in visual flair, it made up for in sheer depth.
It was the first video game to place an emphasis on storytelling and interaction, and it spawned a wildly successful genre that became a gaming fixture well into the 1990s – probably reaching its zenith in the incredibly popular Myst games, which took the text adventure principles into a graphically enhanced environment.
Celtx Gem is designed to make writing interactive narratives easy and intuitive. Throughout our early adoption program, our clients were asking for a way to test the interactive elements of their scripts – sort of a ‘dry run’ approach that would allow them to get a sense of how their story is flowing, and to ensure that the choices that they’re presenting to the player make sense.
To accomplish this, we looked to text-based games like CCA for inspiration. As of this post, Gem features a new tool that will bring your scripts to life with a single click.
The first iteration of the Playthrough feature instantly converts your Gem script into an animated, color-coded, text-adventure style preview of your entire storymap, allowing you to experience the world you’re building and explore where different decisions will take you. It’s an easy and engaging way to proof and present your interactive narratives.
To read more articles about Gem’s development and features, click on the GEM tag at the bottom of this article. If you’d like to take a deeper look (or request a demo), be sure to check out the official Celtx Gem page.