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The 500 Meter Hurdles In Being Wrong About Something
February 15th, 2011 by Ice Cream Jonsey


Aric did the heavy lifting
here. The original interview was on PC Gamer, here.

PC Gamer interviewed game developer Jonathan Blow about his upcoming game, and this came to light:

Adventure games are all confusion. If it’s text, it’s “Why doesn’t the parser understand me still?” So the core gameplay of adventure games is actually fumbling through something, right? And that’s true with modern [versions]. All the episodic stuff that’s coming out. And there’s a whole community that makes modern interactive fiction games and all this stuff. And it’s true for all these games.

This is inane and offensive.

There’s something about text adventures that makes everyone feel like a expert historian. You can be given a backpack full of weapons in a first person shooter and be unable to get past a locked door — everyone is OK with that. Reduce the entirety of NFL football to a rating for foot speed and the same three offensive players, and millions of people will buy it at $60, every year.

But type “WIN THE GAME” as your first move in a text adventure, and people can’t keen loudly enough that the illusion is broken. Ha ha ha, look at these idiots! While giving more possibilities for meaningful interaction than all other genres of game and entertainment combined, text game authors haven’t finished the job and created parsers that can pass the Turing Test! Morons!!

But no, the modern day text adventure isn’t about struggling with fucking parser confusion. This would be immediately obvious to anyone who has played a decent modern-day game. I am obligated at this point to prove it, so here’s Narcolepsy. That is the most immersive game of all-time, which maintained mimesis successfully until the last move. It was developed by a wizard of his craft who hated the I CAN’T SEE THE YOU shit that everyone else did. There’s at least two dozen people as talented as Adam who have made similar strides, but Adam basically wrote two complete text adventures depending on the player’s actions at the beginning, thus taking the issue of reacting to player decisions and rocking its world.

I’ve probably read 90% of the reviews and comments on GET LAMP. I miss a few that would appear in Google Alerts because not everyone can spell “lamp.” I would like to note that while people are constantly referencing the limitations of text games, as they pertained to 1979′s Zork, another group of people whine about all the “new guys” in the documentary, and how unwelcome they are. The people that are advancing the art form far beyond what the forefathers ever did, to help stop text games from being a punchline have their work ignored and visages unwelcome. I don’t make text games for the fame and recognition, but good grief.

I was going to write more, but the ‘painting on the ledge’ puzzle in Braid is worse than almost anything I can think of in the whole history of text adventures. There were absolutely no clues that a completely new mechanic was necessary, and the game mechanic involved wasn’t used anywhere else in the game. The thought of anyone seriously discussing what’s wrong with other genres and then brightening at the inclusion of “amnesia” is hilarious, and we all should have known the guy wasn’t speaking with any authority on text games when it was announced that he’s naming his new game The Witness. Jesus Christ, dude.

Anyway, I figured out how to save platformers, gameplay is going to center around rings coming out of people, and I shall call it Major Havoc.

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Jolt Country is presented by Ice Cream Jonsey.
Twitter: @icecreamjonsey


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