I have played anything like that for many years! A little different I think, but I remember playing depths of mordor or something like that maybe 10 years ago and it ate some serious hours!
I think if you are going to invest some time into development, make it purely to suit your tastes rather than pleasing anyone else! I dont know how it all works, but if ASCII is more work, then screw that. Get the game concepts etc up and running and go from there. (its amazing how much easier it is to dish out advice about something you have know idea about after a few beers