How can I increase the pace and intensity of a text based game as a GM?

Well long story short I have been running text based TTRPG’s via Roll20 and Discord for a while now. I prefer them because they encourage roleplaying and describing your characters actions rather than rollplaying which I have been exposed to a lot during my time when doing voice based or IRL games.

Though text based games can slow down quite a bit especially when it comes to combat (But it happens in other areas as well) which deducts from my players investments with some outright playing games in the background. So what I wish to ask is how can I make my games more fast paced and with higher player investment?

Things I have tried so far.

Give each player a thing to do separately to improve the situation.

  • The face talks to people and gathers information from bars.
  • The rogue scouts the area.
  • the soldier helps peasant levies train so that they have basic discipline.

This one has had a mixed success as some players simply don’t enjoy being in the spotlight and things got a bit hard to track.

Hurry things along when players hit a dead end.

  • As players are stuck at what to do they hear a creak.
  • After being unable to find the criminals hideout they run into criminals intimidating someone.
  • The evil things awakening gives the priest a tingle.

This felt really railroady.