It's getting hard to make a living as a mercenary adventuress these days. You can't even kill a couple of royal guards without being dragged before the king and charged to commit three epic labours. You've to end the Trojan War, kill something called the Bicyclops, and rescue a couple of souls from Hades. Well, you hear Troy is nice at this time of year; this Bicyclops hardly sounds like an innocent victim; and you might not get another chance to visit Hades – at least, hopefully not.
The Xylophoniad is an interactive story set in (an interpretation of) ancient and mythological Greece, in which you lead the warrior-woman Xylophone – four syllables – through an adventure across ancient Europe, interacting with various strange people, monsters, and puzzles.
How to play
(This is about how to interact with the game. For hints on the puzzles and story, see the hints page.)
This is a work of interactive fiction, or a text adventure. Unlike graphical games, which are limited by hardware and software capabilities, these games use a technology of unsurpassed advancement - natural language - to project the images directly into your imagination.
The game gives you a description of where you are and what is going on, and you tell it what you want to do by typing a simple English sentence at the prompt at the bottom of the screen, then pressing Enter. Including an exhaustive list of words the game understands would spoil your enjoyment of playing, but some of the commands are:
north, east, south, west, in, out, up, down
Walk in the specified direction. You can abbreviate the compass directions to the letters n/e/s/w. In places there are also secondary directions like northeast [ne].
Inside certain vehicles, the directions become fore, aft, port and starboard (or f, aft, p and sb.)
look Repeat the description of the room (or other location) you are in. By default, these will be printed automatically every time you enter a room. If you only want to see the descriptions the first time you enter a room, type terse. To return to the default behaviour, type verbose.
You can also look at (or x for examine) particular objects, characters, or parts of the scenery.
talk to (character)
Find out what one of the other characters in the game has to say. If you want to get more specific, you can ask them about specific topics, e.g. ask Diogenes about his barrel.
take (object), drop (object)
Pick up or put down an object. To pick up everything you can see, or drop everything you are carrying, use take all or drop all.
inventory (or i)
Show a list of what you are carrying.
give (object) to (character)
Find out how a character reacts to a particular object, e.g. give cheese to cat. If only one character is present, you can just use give (object).
wait (or z)
Do nothing this turn – sometimes you might just want to stand still and let events unfold.
save (filename), load (filename)
This saves your game to a small local file so that you can restore from this point later with load. It's recommended that you do this before trying anything risky or irreversible! dir shows you a list of saved games.
This uses local storage, so by using this feature you are consenting to this webpage keeping a small amount of information on your computer. It isn't used for anything else except saving and restoring games.
Undoes your previous action. You can do this several times in a row.
The game understands many more commands and finding out what they are is part of the fun. Experiment!
About The Xylophoniad
The "box cover" art is also mine.
The game uses the free-for-noncommercial-use font "SteinAntik" by Manfred Klein, available at dafont.
Massive thanks and hugs to Eve for being awesome and supportive through the whole creative process, and for introducing me to the astonishing world of Greek myth.
Thanks to Ovid, whose Metamorphoses is still a great read and wonderfully bonkers two thousand years after it was written.
Thanks to everyone who tested the game: Adri, Chandler Groover, Luke Jones, Eve Morris, Andrew Schultz, Alex Shaw, Teaspoon, Jennifer Thompson, verityvirtue and anybody I've forgotten. They found some clunkers of bugs and the game is much better for their time and effort.
- Robin Johnson