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Writing a compact text-adventure engine I was thinking about possible commands a player could use. For each location i have special commands described in the text but what about generic commands like

  • examine
  • open / close
  • trigger
  • ...

So here are my questions concerning this:

  1. Is there anywhere a good enumeration of commands which should be mandatory? If no, what commands would you expect in such game?
  2. Concerning usability, should I suppose that the player knows the commands so he can try to use them from the beginning or should I implement tutorial-like explanations which unlock the usage of those commands?
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You can find a good list of commands in many places in the IF community. You could try downloading Inform 7, TADS 3, ADRIFT, QUEST, and so on and looking at their default commands. There's a less comprehensive list in this guide, http://inform7.com/if/anth/IntroductionToIF.pdf .

Your second question is much less clear-cut. Some IF games successfully implement an optional tutorial mode for beginners. Just make sure an experienced player can turn these hints off.

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Concerning your second question: Definitely add a tutorial!

Assume that none of your players has ever touched an IF game before, then make sure that they can still play yours. In my opinion this is particularly important for command line IF games because of their unintuitive user interface. If you don't add a tutorial, your audience will be limited to players with prior IF experience, and -- if you're lucky -- a couple of nerds with a high threshold for frustration.

Here are two videos that provide good insights on how to design good tutorials: http://extra-credits.net/?s=tutorial

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