VERSION 2.03                                     
Player and Developer Editions  NOW AVAILABLE 
Version 1.5 Is Still Available As Well

After a 5 year hiatus, I'm back, and so is PAWS! Here's the newest version fresh off the presses, now available in Player's Edition! I urge everyone to provide feedback. Speak now or forever hold your least until the next version! :) I welcome any and all feedback concerning bugs, missing features, missing documentation, etc. By all means feel free to email me!

Download links are at the bottom of this page.

What Is PAWS?

PAWS stands for Python Adventure Writing System. PAWS lets you write (or simply play) interactive fiction. Interactive fiction is largely a forgotten art form these days, however in the early days of personal computers (1976 - 1990) it was cutting-edge gaming.

Originally called text adventures these games are interactive stories where the player becomes the main character. The game starts with the computer showing the beginning of the story. The computer then waits for the player to type a response which it uses to advance the story. Famous games in this genre include Zork, Adventure, Colossal Cave, Police Story, Leather-Clad Goddesses of Phobos, Trinity, and many others. Click here if you want to see the Wikipedia article on interactive fiction.

The latest version of PAWS has two editions. One is for game authors, those who create new games. The other is for game players, those who simply want to play the games created by others. 

Which Version Do You Need?

If You Have At Least Windows 95, OS X Tiger, Ubuntu or Red Hat Linux

You want version 2.0 of PAWS, either the Developer Edition or Player Edition.

If You Have Anything Else

You want PAWS version 1.5. This earlier version runs on over 20 different operating systems, including DOS, Windows 3.1, OS X Panther (or earlier), BeOS, several PDAs, even a few mainframe computers. As long as you can find Python 2.5.1 for your computer, you can run PAWS version 1.5. This version is equivalent to the Developer Edition of version 2.0. 

Versions 1.5 and 2.0 are 99.999% compatible with each other, literally only two lines in a game need to be changed to convert games written in one to run on the other.

Which Edition Do You Need?

If You Are A Player (Windows 9x/2000/XP/Vista Only)

If all you want to do is play a game written in PAWS then download the Player's Edition. This zip file contains the PAWS terminal, a 4 page PDF file telling you how to install and run PAWS (basically unzip the downloaded file into an empty folder and double-click LoadTerminal.exe).

PLEASE NOTE: The Player's Edition is currently available only for Windows! Linux and OS X versions will appear shortly. Players who don't want to wait can download the Developer's Edition instead.

If You Are A Game Author Or A Player Using OS X or Linux

If you want to write interactive fiction in PAWS, or if you're a player who doesn't use a Windows computer you'll need to download the Developer's Edition, as well as Python and wxPython

The Developer's Edition consists of the game engine, world library, and PAWS terminal. It also has three PDF documents that explain how to use it, the first a technical manual for hard-core code-heads :) the second a detailed tutorial for new game authors to create games with. The last is a short write-my-game-right-now manual called PAWS: The Mittens Come Off!

You'll need Python and wxPython as well, just follow the links below. You must install Python and wxPython when logged in as Administrator (Windows) or root (Linux). You will need to know your Administrator password in OS X as the computer will ask you for it.

Three sample games are included. The first two are both Roger Firth's Cloak Of Darkness, text adventure's version of the Rosetta stone. Thanks to Neil Cerutti for the implementation and Roger Firth for the original game. I've taken the liberty of updating COD to reflect the PAWS style guidelines in version 2.0. The first version of Cloak ( has a lot of comments for game authors to study. The second version is called, it has minimal comments so you can see the bare bones of the program. This is the same version you'll find annotated on Roger Firth's Cloak of Darkness website.

That website allows you to compare the PAWS version of Cloak of Darkness against versions in other game authoring languages, to see if PAWS fits your writing style. A score of versions of COD in different languages are available on Roger Firth's site. Check it out! :)

The second sample game Thief's Quest is much larger, but alas currently incomplete. As time permits I intend to finish this game and release it, so if you like TQ don't despair! It will be finished!

What's New In Version 2.03?

Version 2.03 is in some ways a major release but in other ways little has changed. Listed below are the major changes.

Bug Fixes Since 2.0

  1. OS X and Linux versions now work properly.

  2. Play Game menu item has been renamed to Pick Game on the File menu.

  3. Pick Game command now dims after loading game.

  4. Scrolling issues are now fixed in all 3 OSes.

  5. Save files now binary (half the original size) and obfuscated.

  6. Word 2000 documentation now included in Developer Edition.

  7. Player-selected font face is kept after Title style marker is used, instead of reverting to the default system font.

  8. Canceling the Change Font dialog leaves the screen completely unchanged.

  9. Change Font now works before you pick a game.

Known Issues To Be Resolved

  1. Player-changeable foreground/background color will not be implemented at this time. A test implementation showed there are a great number of design issues to be overcome. This feature hasn't been ruled out as part of a major upgrade, however. 

Features No Longer Available

  1. Version 2.0 has dropped support for all terminals supported by version 1.5. This includes the Glass TTY, Curses Terminal, WConio Terminal, and Tkinter Terminal. Before you have a heart-attack, yes, there's a new terminal that replaces all the old ones. It's much better and it works cross-platform, unlike the Tkinter Terminal it replaces.

  2. The requirement to have a separate batch file (or shell script) to run each game has been removed.

  3. Version 2.0 does not support any command line arguments.

  4. Version 2.0 removes the ability to run on character-only platforms, Version 2.0 now requires the operating system have a GUI and support wxPython.

  5. Version 2.0's terminal lacks cursor control and the More pausing feature.

New Features

  1. The new terminal loads before you choose the game to run. The terminal has a menu command to let you choose which PAWS game to play, using the standard Open File dialog. 

  2. The new terminal supports every font on your system. This support is cross platform and works on every system PAWS will run on.

  3. Except for More and cursor control, the new terminal supports the same features the Tkinter Terminal did, including bold, italic, text color and background color, font pitch changes (including enlarged Title font), and font face changes.

  4. The status line is now on the bottom as you'd expect from modern GUI programs.

  5. The terminal may be freely sized, text wrapping is automatic, that's why the more pause feature and cursor control aren't needed.

  6. Unless you as the game author deliberately clear the screen during your game, the entire session is kept in terminal memory. All you have to do is use Ctrl-A to select the entire contents, and you can then paste it into a text editor and save it for later analysis. However the Transcribe and Debug features still work just as they did in Version 1.5.

  7. Because the entire game transcript is kept in the terminal memory, you may scroll back at will to review your game history.

  8. PAWS now runs inside the terminal, instead of the terminal running inside PAWS.

  9. All PAWS code (except for the terminal launcher and games) is now located in the PAWS sub-folder, located within your game folder (Developer Edition only)

  10. The Player's Edition keeps all needed files (including games) in a single folder, with no sub-folders needed.

  11. Version 2.0 is self-contained, it doesn't matter which folder contains your games, terminal, and the PAWS sub-folder, it will work just fine.

  12. You now double-click LoadTerminal directly, a big usability improvement.

Backward Compatibility With Version 1.5

You will have to change 2 individual lines before your version 1.5 games will run in version 2.0 (or vice versa). You must replace the old "import" statements:

from PAWS import *                    # PAWS 1.5
from Universe import *                # PAWS 1.5

to the new lines:

from PAWS.Core import *            # PAWS 2.0
from PAWS.Universe import *    # PAWS 2.0

The changed characters appear in bold text. Your game will work just as it did in the other version--no other changes are needed.

Version 1.5 still available

Unlike previous releases of PAWS, version 1.5 will still be available along side 2.0. The reason for this is two-fold. First, PAWS 1.5 games are 99.999% compatible with 2.0 (and vice-versa) so converting between the two versions is trivial. Second, because PAWS 1.5 supports character based environments like DOS that 2.0 does not I thought it was important not to cut PAWS developers off from the large number of operating systems 2.0 won't support.

PAWS 2.0 will support Windows 95 and above, OS X (Panther and above), Red Hat and Ubuntu Linux (and their derivatives). PAWS 1.5 will support any OS that Python 2.5.1 will support: Windows 3.1 and above, BeOS, DOS, several PDAs, several mainframes, early versions of OS X, Mac OS 7 and above,  several Unix versions, and more.

If you have any complaints, bugs, or wish list items email me 

Licensing For Commercial Use

Someone asked me about licensing PAWS for commercial usage. In other words they wanted to know if they could use PAWS to create a game or other program and then sell it, and what my licensing terms would be.

Basically my licensing terms are the same for any usage of PAWS/Universe, commercial or not. They boil down to these points:

  1. Anyone can use PAWS for any purpose they deem fit, without paying me any royalties or other financial considerations. In other words, do what you like--using PAWS won't cost you a dime. HOWEVER, there are a few (minor) restrictions for commercial usage.
  2. You can't claim you wrote PAWS or the documentation that comes with them. For the privilege of using PAWS all I ask is that you credit me as the creator of PAWS and its documentation somewhere in your own documentation. A mention in your introduction would be sufficient.
  3. You must include a copy of the unmodified PAWS Developer Edition with your commercial product. A copy of the  ZIP file you downloaded is acceptable. If you want to modify PAWS for your game/program/product feel free. Likewise if you want to distribute only the compiled PYC versions of your modified copy of PAWS, go right ahead. However you must also include a complete unmodified copy of the Developer Edition as well.
  4. You may not sell PAWS by itself, nor charge a fee for media, although you are free to sell any software you develop yourself that runs under PAWS. In other words, you can't charge for a CD containing PAWS alone, but you can sell a CD containing PAWS and your own program(s). You may also place PAWS on a CD containing a compilation of different programs and charge for that. Again, it must be an unmodified copy of the PAWS Developer Edition, containing everything that came in the original ZIP file.
  5. Game authors who have no intention of selling their games (placing them in the IF-Fiction archive for example) do NOT have to include a copy of the PAWS Developer Edition with their game, that would be silly.

My intent is not to profit from PAWS nor even to prevent others from profiting from it. I merely want to receive credit for having created PAWS and to keep PAWS itself completely free to anyone who wants to use it--for whatever purpose they want to use it for!

So if you want to develop and sell a commercial product with PAWS be my guest. Use of PAWS for ANY purpose is royalty free and, except for the conditions noted above, otherwise unrestricted.



PAWS 2.03 Player Edition

This is the only thing players need to run PAWS games. Two games (Cloak of Darkness and Thief's Quest) are included as well.

PAWS 2.03 Player Edition  (16MB)

PAWS 2.03 Developer Edition

Game authors will also need to download Python and wxPython (links listed below).

PAWS 2.03 Developer Edition  (424K)
PAWS Developer Documentation In PDF (Acrobat) Format (1.62MB) 
Notepad++ Customizations (15K)

Python Web Site
(To get Python version 2.5.1)
wxPython (You want the Unicode version for your OS)

PAWS 1.5 Files

PAWS 1.5  (168K)
PAWS Documentation In PDF (Acrobat) Format (737K)
Notepad++ Customizations (15K)

Python Web Site
(To get Python version 2.5.1)
wxPython (You want the Unicode version for your OS)

Notepad++ Site (Windows Only)

Notepad++ Web Site (To get Notepad++ Text Editor - Windows Only)

Roger Firth's Site

This site contains links to both the Cloak Of Darkness comparison game and his Parsifal page, a massive set of useful links to all kinds of IF resources!

Roger Firth's Home Page

Text Adventure Archive

Here's a link to the Interactive Fiction archive containing a huge array of text adventure games and other adventure development tools.

Interfactive Fiction Archive

Email Wolf about PAWS

This page last updated 03/23/2008