RIP Text Parser 1970’s – 200x
I am regrettably forced to announce the death of the text parser. It is a death that I suffer with great sadness and fond memories of its life. I am not sure exactly when it died.
During its relatively short lifespan, the text parser gave players and designers an opportunity to talk one-on-one. If you got to know my game, my world, my potential, and you asked an NPC about something, I rewarded you for it. There was a genuine connection there. I may even have been love. You were forced to work for what you wanted. Answers were never given to you in a . . .
- Pick this answer
- No, this one
- How about this one
. . . format. I respected your intelligence, and you respected mine.
Then, there came that binge. Instead of clever dialogue, the text parser became the conveyor of cutscenes too expensive to actually make. Pile after pile of text flowed out. Worlds filled with books to convey backstory that no one really needed, at least not in bulk form. You couldn’t stop, text parser, and you drove everyone frigging crazy, and they forgot what you used to be like when you were young and sharp and sleek. Remember, “go west”?
Eventually, you got barred from all the good places in town, and all the cool designers were creating new means of having conversations. Consoles yanked their keyboards and made “typing” anything so painful that only the most masochistic designer with a bankruptcy wish would dare include a text parser as a feature in their game. It was over even before people started in on the gestural interfaces.
Meanwhile, the terms “texting” and “tweet” and “twittering” entered our lexicon. Phones came with plans for unlimited text, and each line was theoretically meaningful to both recipient and sender. No one dared imagine a menu of pre-scripted choices from which to gather canned replies. But you missed the boat, you blew it, and now the results of your earlier excess have left you on life support.
And so, it’s tempting to think that you’ll make a comeback, that maybe all these “texters” and “tweeters” will tolerate you again. Your family, those of us who were with you in the good times, stand by you. We love you. We understand who you are and what you can do. But today’s player? They don’t see you as a gateway to discovery. Instead, you’re an annoying blank wall, a roadblock, a frustration to what could be and should be a letsgoletsgoletsgo game experience. They say, “What the hell am I supposed to type here?” and “WTF, does this game want me to type?” You’ve lost your touch. You’re taking your last breath. The world moved on, Text Parser. It moved on.
So, unfortunately, that’s it. We will bury you with your keyboard next to the equally beloved C:\ prompt. Rest in Peace, dear Text Parser. Rest in Peace.