Old-school computer games by voice?

Once again, bare-bones might prove superior to flashy GUI when it comes to interfacing with assistive technology.  Around 1990 or so, a neighbor of mine had a Tandy computer running some version of DOS.  I’d go over and watch him play computer games — King’s Quest (To Err Is Human), Space Quest, and Moonmist.  All of these were activated by the keyboard and typing simple language — “open door,” “get key,” etc. The Quest games had graphics, whereas Moonmist was an interactive fiction game — entirely textbased.  That one was my favorite, because it resembled the “choose your own adventure books” my neighbor also lent me when I had nothing to read.  I would sit next to him at the computer reading the paragraphs, and when I had to talk to a character or move around the castle, I would tell him what to say and he would type it for me.  (Incidentally, the game also provided me with some of the shorthand I use in Writer now — Z means “wait,” G means “again,” and X means “look,” but I use it for “looking at” because it saves more keystrokes.)


I can type to a limited extent now, but don’t know if I’d have the stamina for that game anymore.  But I was thinking — they have some of the Infocom games updated to run as CD-ROM, including Moonmist.  Since the game is not timed and runs on words, I’m thinking that as long as I could still run Dragon in the background, I may be able to give the game commands by voice and alternate with typing.  I actually did try that using a version of Moonmist that someone had put on a 3 1/2 inch floppy using a WinFrotz machine interpreter, and it worked to some extent except that when I wanted to say “press enter” I had to repeat myself for the command to go through.  Maybe Dragon will interact better with something that was designed to run on XP.  You think?  I don’t know why I want to waste my breath or my remaining hand strength playing stupid little games, unless it’s to occupy myself on the long days waiting for a prospective employer to call me back, ha ha.  I’m talking more out of nostalgia than anything, I think.  Because I just realized they discontinued it anyway.  Dang.  I still wonder though, especially for the Quest games where it mattered how fast you typed before the wizard came or the alien blew your head off.

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One Response to Old-school computer games by voice?

  1. etj says:

    If you’re interested in text adventures, you should check out some of the more modern developments. http://ifdb.tads.org is a good place to start.

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