an ode to the old web-based text adventures

being a young girl on the internet in the late 1990s, i found myself surrounded by a lot of horse-related media. as a girl in a southern city, i hadn't had much experience with horses before. owning horses was so foreign and fascinating to me, and i ate up all the barbie-branded horse video games, books, and movies i could get my hands on. it sounded romantic and lovely, part of idyllic, utopian ecosystem, completely self-contained, where trusting folks bartered for horse tack in a safe, small community.

i'm not sure how or when i exactly discovered it, but i found there were these static websites—text adventures, really: fictional, digital stables where the visitor roleplayed, using text links and images, to immerse in an interactive world that some webmaster built with fake towns, dialogue, different paths to take. some website owners even supplied low-resolution graphics you could put on your own website as proof you owned a horse from their website. you could buy your own horses through a series of links. missing a feed of your horse would prevent you from going further, but there wasn't scripting or programming required to maintain a wallet or inventory. it was all manual for an audience of people like me with machines loading 56kbps.

the stories might have been rudimentary or in-depth and winding, taking you through many paths. i grew from horses to other fictional worlds like harry potter, lord of the rings, and other medieval, fantasy choose-your-own-adventure fiction on these static webpages, built by hobbyists with a lot of care, thought, and creativity. some websites gave away badges for completing a certain storyline or achievements you completed during the interactivity.

i would lose myself for hours in these pages. these hobbyists crafted ways for me to escape and browse the web in the time of dial-up internet and inspired me to create my own website. my very first websites were an attempt at these text adventures and allowed me to discover the joy in coding. they hold a special place in my heart, the theme for 32-bit cafe's first community code jam in july 2023.

as an ode to the old web-based text adventures, i welcome you to the manor. this text adventure is not quite the same as the ones i grew up playing browsing on geocities and expage, but this is an interactive story with a mystery flavor. you'll choose your own adventure, and i hope you play detective in exploring the story of the manor. use your perspective and all tools at your disposal (including your cursor) to solve the mystery.

this page and the manor were started during the code jam. unfortunately, i wasn't able to complete my project on time as my story grew (as a writer is wont to do). however, i still plan on completing this project. i'm leaving it up as-is despite its infancy in the hopes that my incomplete project, a work in progress, helps show that you do not have to publish things when they're perfect; sometimes, it's genuinely best to submit and just be a part of it.

i hope you enjoy the story so far, and don't forget to come back when the story is complete. consider this a preview. whenever you're ready, enter the manor.

target completion date: september 10, 2023
Enter the Manor

archived websites

i am also looking for archives of these types of websites, so this page will be continually updated with links. if you know of any, feel free to say hello and let me know.