What is it
Adventuron is a free web-based coding environment for creating text-based games.
The games created in Adventuron are similar to the classic Infocom text-based games such as Zork or Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. (My personal favorite from that era was “Infidel”)
Who is it for
The user needs to be able to read at a 3rd- or 4th-grade level to get much out of this. There is a fair bit of documentation, and the code itself requires accurate spelling.
Some adults will have fun with this as well.
What Kids Like
Kids always like making their own games, whether its coming up for new rules for ‘Tag’ or for a board game that’s missing half its pieces. Most programmers I know got their start and developed their initial interest in programming by making computer games. Unlike developing high-end console games, though, creating simple text-based adventures is easy enough that an entire (simple, but complete) game can be created in a few hours with Adventuron.
There are other game-making tools out there. PuzzleScript is one, that creates simple 8-bit style puzzle games. And MIT’s Scratch is another. As is Blocksworld
Choicescript is another interface for creating text-based games, but the coding for Choicescript is a bit more advanced and the games are more like interactive novels than text-based games.
What Parents Like
I like that this system teaches actual programming concepts. Most junior programming environments have a drag-and-drop interface, which is a fun and easy introduction to programming, but such an interface is limited in how much the child can do, and it doesn’t teach aspects of coding such as the importance of syntax.
In Adventuron, variable names have to be spelled correctly and a stray quotation mark, or missing semicolon can mess up everything – just like with real code.
I also like that the games created are not violent. The games require typing answers and so can not include the kind of violence seen in most computer games.
What the Critics Think
Adventuron came out in 2019 and there doesn’t seem to be much awareness of it yet.
A more thorough review and description of Adventuron is here
Some kids just won’t care for text-based games, so won’t have any interest in trying to create them. Modern games are so sophisticated compared to older ones and most kids I know are so used to sophisticated graphics that they just don’t have any interest in the 8-bit style.
The coding is potentially frustrating. Because the child writes actual code (mostly defining arrays and if-then conditionals) there is necessarily some debugging aspect. Introducing this kind of experience to a child before they are ready can backfire and they could end up thinking that writing code is just too hard for them. For a child with no coding experience, I would advise starting with Scratch or something similar and then graduating to Adventuron once they have a little mastery over writing code.
Who Made it/History
Adventuron Software Limited is based in the UK (Ireland, I believe) and has been developing the software since 2017
Where Can I Get it
Play some sample games:
The Beast of Torrack Moor (30th Anniversary)
Excalibur: Sword of Kings (TALP)
And try out the “Classroom” where you can get started.