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The state of IF worlds today
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Lysander



Joined: 08 Jul 2003
Posts: 1694
Location: East Bay, California.

PostPosted: Tue Dec 26, 2006 6:04 pm    Post subject: The state of IF worlds today Reply with quote

When I first discovered Interactive Fiction I was blown away by the possibilities--that you could tell the computer what to do, and it would understand what you meant, and something would happen. The sky felt like the limmit.

I was, then, very quickly disappointed when I went into Border Zone, chapter three, and typed things like "Guards, there is an assassination plot!" and got really really confused error messages.

Of course, now I understand the limmits of the medium and that it was ridiculous of me to expect them to implament things like that, especially with other NPCs. But that didn't stop me from hoping. Now I know the medium, I know the limmits, and I know that almost no authors try to stretch them.

Not to say that IF isn't innovative. Many of my favorit games play with the norm for an IF game, many do it as a matter of course just because the level of sofistication for those authors is set way high. Spider and Web plays with the unreliable narrator (in a way that, frankly, can be mimmicked in straight pros), Failsafe plays with the input format, Narcolepsi plays with the... output format, Common Ground plays with NPC interaction--but someone who's not an IF enthusiast has no real reason to care. Not about the games, but what's being done that us IF efficionatos pick up on as being so zomg revolutionary. (the medium is what, 30 years old and none of the games I just mentioned are more than 15 years old, Come on.) Galatea and I-0 are the only real games that use interactivity itself as the central gimmic, and neither of them, frankly, have very engaging storylines. Again, I am not knocking the games themselves. I respect them for what they are. But I do think that the community, as a whole, is too metaclever for its own good. I admit that I'm metaclever myself in lots of places--the mist room, for instance--but it's all for a reason, and it all drives the story along. And I fear that people who just write well, who do nothing but create worlds, are being passed over because SPAG reviewers don't think it's original.

The bottom line is, if I mention that there are trees, the player should be able to examine the trees, have the player character examine the trees, and report back to the player about what she sees. Similarly, if the player is in her car, she has no reason to talk to the player about her radiator, so it won't be mentioned in the room description. But it's still part of the car, as the player knows having been in a car that has one, so if the player for whatever reason decides that he wants a glance at the radiator, she should be able to glance at the radiator and talk for a while about it. The author of the game isn't just writing a story, he's creating a game world that the player should be able to walk around in and modify; if it's in character for the player character to do it, and there's nothing stopping the player character from doing it, the player character should do it, no matter what reaction that inevitably causes and, as a corilary, how much coding the author then needs to do to extend the illusion of a full world.

On the other hand, you then get fucking jackass players who for whatever reason decide to say "Oh! You have a real world full of vibrant scenery that can be interacted with in all sorts of logical ways for no reason, eh? Well, we'll see about that! >Climb tre, and then jump out of tree! Mwahahahahaaaha!" I have 0 sympathy for someone who goes around deliberately trying to break the game, so I don't feel particularly bad about putting "you dont' need to refer to that" messages everywhere, allah Andy Phillips; the alternative is to then program in lots of objects that have no purpose, wasting the author's time and the player's who is trained to expect that every object should have some sort of function when life just doesn't work that way.

My original death message for a player going east from the church was basically "What the hell is wrong with you? Did you expect that you were going to do battle, Godzilla-style, with the monster that's trying to kill you? Seriously, what could possibly have been going through your mind when you decided to do that? Look--you die. Okay? Christ. Moron." and only took it out at the behest of my coder, who was insisting that this fourth-wall break would absolutely kill the emersion. Similar to Planetfall when the player pushes the button on the elevator twice, or in PUTPBAA when the player pushes the phone booth. If the player tries something that should willfully get him killed just to see if we'll kill him, we should kill him. Plane and simple.

Here's an interesting debate to get in on, though. In my game, the player character starts out in one area, with several important objects in her inventory. In about four or five moves, she leaves that area... forever. She has absolutely no reason whatsoever to drop any of these objects, and if she does, then she has no way to get them back. The question: should I let the player willfully start dropping things for no reason (inventory management is something I don't bother with and there's nothing to pick up there anyway) and let the player put the game in an unwinnable state, or should I block the action with some lame excuse like "But it'll get covered in dirt if you do that!"? Myself, I would prefer the former. IF players, however, are trained to expect the latter. Why?

Why should I be forced to coddle the player from doing a pointless action that obviously could make the game unwinnable (there's not really a warning that you CAN'T come back to the area, but the PC has no reason *to* ever go back there, too, or for her to start littering the introduction area with her starting inventory.) Any halfway decent Player, upon dropping something for no reason, should blame himself, not the game, when the game calls for the item that he was given by the game God and not needed until now. There is no reason why the player character can't drop something, and expecting the world to just fold out of the way for the player in an effort to make everything 'fair' does more, in my opinion, to break realism than allowing the player to make the game unwinnable than forcing him to backtrack would.
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PostPosted: Tue Dec 26, 2006 6:32 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Isn't the trick to add a layer of realism that can't be touched? Lord of the Rings, Miyazaki, and any decent fantasy/fiction based work adds enough details and descriptions to entice and allow an exploration of the world without actually delving into the backstory; ancient monoliths, carvings, scattered debries of a civilization lost to eternity, yet the impacts are still felt because their influence can be traced in what is explicitly happening Right Now.

Adding an object or detail that isn't part of the story (the radiator) can also, from the perspective of the player (and Necrotic Drift is a perfect example of this) is derived from the character being played; its a detail they'd notice.

Didn't you complain about Andy Philips (author of Jade) allowing the game to become unwinnable because of either not allowing the player to backtrack for items they dropped because their importance wasn't made clear, and that their use and value wasn't even hinted at later on? Your rant above begins from the standpoint of a player at "Hey... We can talk to characters however I want!" then delves into the bitter Creator when you begin to talk of giving up your artistic license to accomodate the thoughts and whims of the player in the exact way you described how you played IF before the thought dawned on you that "There are limits" and you stopped touching them.

Should every object gravitate around the central theme, the narration, instead of delving what the player cannot touch? I-0 seemed to say "Everything is. Your welcome to explore it though" while Necrotic Drift or A Mind Forever Voyaging began and ended with the personalities of the characters coloring every little detail and shaping the world around themselves based on the actions of the player as they were put into the middle of the scenario, and every reaction, choice, available was based on the actions of the character. It'd be simple to divide games into types and narration styles as well, except would the poltergeist in the mall still be throwing chairs even if they weren't confronted? Would they have bashed the ghoul over the face if left to its own devices? Their is the viewpoint of the character and their is the limits of the medium, except they are limits on the thought and options the player can take, trying to narrow down the number of choices based on the direction the author wants to take them, and most likely the perception and thoughts available to the author themselves.

Haven't you tried to play Myst and became slightly annoyed when the logic process of a puzzle had to be duplicated, as opposed to solved? Or isn't that the trick? That puzzles and situations end best when many options are considered and the ambiguity of them becomes apparent? In solving a problem in life, because in actuality, life keeps moving on regardless of how the problem was solved. How is a stick of gum required to defuse a bomb? Can't tape be substitued? Or isn't it possible to just run away or change the complete direction of a life? Of course, compared to puzzles and games, there isn't a direction, which is the difficulity in trying to form a "Victory Condition" that is led up to; its a single direction that has to be framed and slowly built towards, and the medium encourages one point of conflict and one point of resolution.

Imagine the twelve or so endings of Chrono Trigger being messed into one incoherent plot line and that is the difference between life and a video game.

The idea is, that games are directed and some authors try to break apart that mess (which seems possible. Its a matter of thinking and knowing what is allowed or isn't, because its rare for someone to do something that explicitly isn't possible, and never done if its been accepted as completely impossible and not even considered).

Life and games. Its just a flow. The possibilities are endless, just don't try to harrange and get pissy at the player for choosing a way or form that you haven't considered because you've learned from your own expierence it isn't allowed and obviously then, it isn't possible.
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PostPosted: Tue Dec 26, 2006 6:42 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

As two examples, Necrotic Drift and I-0 use different input patterns; Necrotic Drift gives a multi-choice menu while I-0 leaves it to the player to figure out what to type. I-0 would be an example of someone being forced to follow the logic puzzles and try to change their thinking to the game, and Robb has said that he would never add that kind of free form (and seemingly impossible to fully implement) freedom of choice sort of deal.

Necrotic Drift gives a list of detailed actions that have been predecided and arguably, more favor the directed approach of the story because they are detailed line items that are presented to the player as opposed to created by them.

Can a game include every possible verbal and written command for every single object that may or may not be in the game, though it appears to be so because of the setting? Of course, the setting isn't really a setting and is instead a planned course by the author, because the buildings only exist in the mind, and the narration and every explicit command has to considered and generated.

Were creating a world, and we have to create the context of that world, and so, we are forced to engineer every concievable action within that world.

And ya, maybe thats why the multi-choice approach is even conceivable; it narrows the options and expectations of the player?

Don't know. Just all of this sounds to a sort of long sheet about validating the "DESIGN CHOICES!!!" of whoever implented whatever I described because...

THATS ALL I KNOW
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Lysander



Joined: 08 Jul 2003
Posts: 1694
Location: East Bay, California.

PostPosted: Tue Dec 26, 2006 7:51 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Excellent points, Anne Mouse!

Anonymous wrote:
Isn't the trick to add a layer of realism that can't be touched? Lord of the Rings, Miyazaki, and any decent fantasy/fiction based work adds enough details and descriptions to entice and allow an exploration of the world without actually delving into the backstory; ancient monoliths, carvings, scattered debries of a civilization lost to eternity, yet the impacts are still felt because their influence can be traced in what is explicitly happening Right Now.


LOTR is straight fiction, not IF. Which is the difference; when you're reading a story, the author has a whole lot more control over his world and what he chooses to tell you and how he chooses to tell you; the whole draw of IF is that hte player has much more control over the story. Actually, what woudl be a truly great work of IF would be one where the player is allowed to tell his own story while the author simply creates one world, but that sort of thing is obviously far beyond both artificial and human limmits. (Although i think that _Spore_ is trying out something similar to that.) IF works that compare are to what you're saying would be Zork III, The Edifice, and So Far; and all three of those games have extremely different ways of dealing with that. In Zork III (the first infocom game I ever played by the way) it serves as a backdrop to the action that's going on. You never really deal with it, but you also aren't quite allowed to forget it, either; it all ties into the ending about hwo the world is fading because of the Dungeon Master's age. (Well, that's how I interpreted it, anyway. I haven't played in a looong time, maybe I just got that wrong. Moving on.) In So Far, you are forced to interact with this world--several different ones really--that are completely different from any that we players are used to. So nobody really knows what you are *supposed* to do. And in the end, nothign is resolved--it's a romp of puzzles with stunning descriptions and vivid imagery... that adds up to, in the end, nothing. Which is why I dont' like it; its purposeful obtooseness gave me, as a player, no reason to want to complete it. The Edifice, on the other hand, combines both interaction with the environment with vivid descriptions of it, in an actually intriguing storyline. But that was the entire point. Scenery is background in every game, and in order for it to be convincing, it needs to be fully flushed out and given a realistic amount of detail. What we have in most works of IF today is the IF equivvilent of greenscreen actors doing all of their scene on a superimposed wireframe blueprint of the actual background that's supposed to be there. While you can tell what it's *supposed* to look like, you can see that it doesn't actually look that way.

blank wrote:
Adding an object or detail that isn't part of the story (the radiator) can also, from the perspective of the player (and Necrotic Drift is a perfect example of this) is derived from the character being played; its a detail they'd notice.


Why? Do you make a comment about the radio every time you start your car? How about the heater vents? oF course you don't. But that doesn't mean that they aren't there. The car has to have a gass pedal, for instance, and yet you dont' notice that every time you get in the car. For a very good reason: you have no reason to. And the player, similarly, has no reason to notice it, either. But, if for whatever reason, he decides to type >examine gass pedal, what are we supposed to do? Pretend like the car doesn't have one, and that that's realistic?

Anonamous COWARD! wrote:
Didn't you complain about Andy Philips (author of Jade) allowing the game to become unwinnable because of either not allowing the player to backtrack for items they dropped because their importance wasn't made clear, and that their use and value wasn't even hinted at later on?



Yes, for several reasons. (And we're talking about TACTAE, specifically here--obviously, every situation is differently handled for every game. This is how it should be. I just think that Andy did it wrong here, and understood that, which is why in Heist you start out with the bag. But now i'm rambling.)

A: You didn't start out with these objects in your inventory. You had to pick them up--and, in some cases, find them. more on this later.
B: The objects you were picking up were seemingly useless--a button from somebody's shirt? A piece of chewing gum? In the "real world", a PC would not think that he had any use for these items. You just have to take them because as a player you expect that everydamnthing has to have some value in it.
C: you were able to leave scenes not just without necessary items in your inventory, but in fact without even having found these necessary items at all, or having any idea that they existed in the first place. You only mess with the drinks machine because you as an adventurer are a natural scavenger, and there's absolutely no reason to think of taking a pipe from the ceiling of the bathroom.
D: You have an inventory limit. The bag you get from the toilet only holds three items, and you yourself can only hold about 6 I think. As such, the *instant* you have no use for an item, you have to drop it--and there's no way of telling when your use for that item is "done" in that game because some items have multiple uses and some don't.

In the case I'm talking about, you already have the items in question, you don't have an inventory limit (you start out with a holdall), you have nothing to pick up that could disturb this nonexistent inventory limit, and the objects you would drop are obviously useful (gun, ring of keys.) So you have no reason to drop them and several reasons not to, yet if a player decides to follow his masochistic streak and drop items he obviosuly will need to complete the game, why as IF authors should we feel obligated to save them from their own acts of needless selfdistruction?

Mr. Mystery Man wrote:
Should every object gravitate around the central theme, the narration, instead of delving what the player cannot touch? I-0 seemed to say "Everything is. Your welcome to explore it though" while Necrotic Drift or A Mind Forever Voyaging began and ended with the personalities of the characters coloring every little detail and shaping the world around themselves based on the actions of the player as they were put into the middle of the scenario, and every reaction, choice, available was based on the actions of the character.


A Mind Forever Voyaging is worth bringing up, actually, because it too attempts to create a world. It fails, though, for two big reasons. Firstly because you don't *do* anything there (except record scenes and, occasionally, perform mundane actions) and secondly because the scenery objects are very badly implamented. Actually, problem A is the same complaint I have with I-0. You dont' do anything except try and get home. Again--I shouldn't say it's a problem with the game itself because it's not--why should Adam superimpose some sort of superheroin chase story to give it a plot? Just because i want him to? Bolox. I'm just stating reasons why the potential of what you can do in IF has not, as yet, been fully realized. As for ND, the scenery *is* pretty well realized--but it's a small set of locations. You're stuck in a mall, the whole point of hte game is to get out of hte mall. That way Robb can spend time on coloring a small number of rooms with full details. I-0 and AMFV, though, are trying to create the illusion of walking around a cityscape (and so is my game), so things get dicier.

Quote:
It'd be simple to divide games into types and narration styles as well, except would the poltergeist in the mall still be throwing chairs even if they weren't confronted? Would they have bashed the ghoul over the face if left to its own devices?


In an ideal world? Yes. Characters should be going around and interacting completely without the intervention of the player. But, at hte same time, Robb limmited the characters to wandering about certain areas only, specifically to avoid this problem; and that's a way to do it that doesn't break realism, so that's fine.

Quote:
Their is the viewpoint of the character and their is the limits of the medium, except they are limits on the thought and options the player can take, trying to narrow down the number of choices based on the direction the author wants to take them, and most likely the perception and thoughts available to the author themselves.


Yes, but then it depends on what world you are in. If you are in a closed-down mall with no characters except hte wandering dead, there are very few things you can do. That's even more limmited with a "moral" PC, who wouldn't go around breaking display cases and stealing things. However, if you are playing a more unscrupulous player character and are wandering around the deserted streets of downtown Las Vegas, by deffinition there are much more reasonable choices that the player character could reasonably decide to take, and as a player I feel cheated if the author didn't decide to implament them.

Quote:
Haven't you tried to play Myst and became slightly annoyed when the logic process of a puzzle had to be duplicated, as opposed to solved?


No.

Quote:
How is a stick of gum required to defuse a bomb? Can't tape be substitued? Or isn't it possible to just run away or change the complete direction of a life?


Well, sure, if tape is in the game, or if the player CAN run away. Same with static fiction; if the main character is McGivering some sort of solution out of chewing gum and floss when there's a roll of tape in the drawer to the left or, even more annoyingly, a door outo f hte building and no reason to stay--I get irritated. But puzzles shouldn't be single-choice just because the author needs it to be solved that way, and it shouldn't be multiple-solved just because the author doesn't want people to complain that one solution was too difficult to think of. If realism is getting in the way of your story, you have two options: change the world you're in, or change your story. Usually changing the story is easier. What's NOT okay, though, is to just ignore it.

Quote:
Of course, compared to puzzles and games, there isn't a direction, which is the difficulity in trying to form a "Victory Condition" that is led up to; its a single direction that has to be framed and slowly built towards, and the medium encourages one point of conflict and one point of resolution.


No it doesn't. Static fiction encourages--almost demands this. But IF doesn't. Which is the whole draw of the medium. It's much more wide open, with much more possibilities--*if* the author chooses to utalize them.

Quote:
Imagine the twelve or so endings of Chrono Trigger being messed into one incoherent plot line and that is the difference between life and a video game.


Why? Life has one ending, but also one path. I haven't played Chrono Trigger, but i imagine you get one of those endings because of choices you make throughout the game. Just like life.
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Lysander



Joined: 08 Jul 2003
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PostPosted: Tue Dec 26, 2006 8:02 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Anonymous wrote:
As two examples, Necrotic Drift and I-0 use different input patterns; Necrotic Drift gives a multi-choice menu while I-0 leaves it to the player to figure out what to type. I-0 would be an example of someone being forced to follow the logic puzzles and try to change their thinking to the game, and Robb has said that he would never add that kind of free form (and seemingly impossible to fully implement) freedom of choice sort of deal.

Necrotic Drift gives a list of detailed actions that have been predecided and arguably, more favor the directed approach of the story because they are detailed line items that are presented to the player as opposed to created by them.

Can a game include every possible verbal and written command for every single object that may or may not be in the game, though it appears to be so because of the setting? Of course, the setting isn't really a setting and is instead a planned course by the author, because the buildings only exist in the mind, and the narration and every explicit command has to considered and generated.

Were creating a world, and we have to create the context of that world, and so, we are forced to engineer every concievable action within that world.

And ya, maybe thats why the multi-choice approach is even conceivable; it narrows the options and expectations of the player?

Don't know. Just all of this sounds to a sort of long sheet about validating the "DESIGN CHOICES!!!" of whoever implented whatever I described because...

THATS ALL I KNOW


Again--an excellent point oyu have here. The main difference, though, is that you're confusing a player character's interactions with the scenery (I-0) and that player character's conversation with non-player characters (Nechrotic Drift). Let me mae that clear. I use, in Riverside, a menu-based conversation; I-0 doesn't. I use that because I feel like we have not reached, and likely will never reach, the ability to create NPCs that can respond realistically to any and all conversational gammits that a player could realistically want to try. People dont' really talk like "Tell me about the <object>. Go north. Do you konw anything about me?" Similarly, players do not realistically respond to repeated questioning with repeated answers. These are constraints of the medium; there will always be these problems of NPC interaction. THere are three ways you can overcome it. You can eliminate the problem completely (most games; they don't have NPCs at all), do your best to eliminate the problem (Galatea; it's all about the NPC, nothing else, and it's a Z8 game that pushes the Z-machine limits and is therefore infeasible for most games), or you can just admit that the fact that there will always be a menu of options to pick from and a canned list of NPC responses is unavoidable and just be upfront and honest about it (menu-based conversation, which also allows for much more realistic-looking *conversation*.) Using ask/tell and character, do blah inputs is, however, in my humble opinion, ignoring the problem and putting the onus on the player to solvve it, which seems unfair. I've never felt comfortable with the ask/tell conversation system as a player becasue as a player I quickly run out of things to ask/tell about, and then I dont' feel like a character in a story, I feel like myself, playing a game and then I'm no longer immersed, i'm annoyed. Most often than not I'm reduced to simply ask/tell-ing the NPCs about every-damn-thing just to try and evoke some sort of different response. That's not fun. That's annoying. Come on. We can do better than that.
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PostPosted: Tue Dec 26, 2006 8:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

What are we trying to compare and contrast IF with?

What are we trying to compare and contrast anything with?

Life. And how does life work? It doesn't; are the plots and intrigue that one views on the news an adventure with world shaking proportions that if left unsolved, will doom the entire planet and mankind to a brief and arguably horrible existance?

No.

This is where story telling comes in; trying to create a sense of urgency or importance around a fleeting aspect that would otherwise be unaccounted; which is how the news and human conflict works to a certain extent (any sort of political intrigue or argument (abortion, republican vs. democrat, "insert issue of the day here")) while the world and the universe, just goes on moving.

Creating conflict and a sense of importance?
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PostPosted: Tue Dec 26, 2006 8:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

deep maaan
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PostPosted: Tue Dec 26, 2006 8:38 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Lysander wrote:
Again--an excellent point you have here. The main difference, though, is that you're confusing a player character's interactions with the scenery (I-0) and that player character's conversation with non-player characters (Nechrotic Drift).


Where do the multi-choice dialogue options come from? From the abstract "ART IS PERFECT!!!!!!" point, its from the perspective of the character or whatever the author thinks up; there isn't a difference between the scenery and the dialogue options because its thought from the same source. With that sort of approach, its dealing less with the "what will the player do?" and with the narration. There is still the point of trying to direct the player into picking and choosing the correct objects and descriptions; though its more limited.

The options for interacting with the scenery and the dialogue are being drawn from the author as part of the narration, as opposed to the player, and then its the same hand guiding whoever is doing the typing instead of one balancing and playing with the other.

Lysander wrote:
Let me make that clear. I use, in Riverside, a menu-based conversation; I-0 doesn't. I use that because I feel like we have not reached, and likely will never reach, the ability to create NPCs that can respond realistically to any and all conversational gammits that a player could realistically want to try. People dont' really talk like "Tell me about the <object>. Go north. Do you konw anything about me?" Similarly, players do not realistically respond to repeated questioning with repeated answers. These are constraints of the medium; there will always be these problems of NPC interaction.


Then how do people interact with eachother? You've said "the medium I have to play with, isn't able to accurately simulate the reality" and this is true to an extent, except instead of working within an enviroment (IF would be an enviroment, I mean every scene and action within that scene has to be described, as said with Robb's use of small, limited locations), your saying the enviroment runs you and so your not able to accurately describe how two people talk.

How much information is needed to advance in a story? If I walked from my home to a McDonalds ten miles away, how would I find my way there if I didn't have a map, and I was forced to ask random people for directions? Saying that the only way to progress is the repeated question approach, and thats unnatural, is saying that movies are forced to adhere to a certain plot line based on the genre of the film; using examples from within the medium (in this case, IF) to describe what is possible, only limits the options that are apparent. You have control over how the characters work and progress so try something different instead of lamenting how other games approach the same problem as the limitations your forced to work within.

Lysander wrote:
THere are three ways you can overcome it. You can eliminate the problem completely (most games; they don't have NPCs at all), do your best to eliminate the problem (Galatea; it's all about the NPC, nothing else, and it's a Z8 game that pushes the Z-machine limits and is therefore infeasible for most games), or you can just admit that the fact that there will always be a menu of options to pick from and a canned list of NPC responses is unavoidable and just be upfront and honest about it (menu-based conversation, which also allows for much more realistic-looking *conversation*.)


Realistic *Looking* conversation.

Then try to determine how the flow of a conversation will go; if were in a video rental palace, will we constantly harrange the clerk with questions? Maybe. Were also trying to get a movie and get out, and creating a situation where that is done in a way that doesn't feel fake or drawn out is difficult. Where the "canned responses" come in; trying to draw dialogue to direct the flow and manner of the scene.

The narrator would have a much better grasp of the context and the location than the player, which is also an added benefit; the player would not know how to react to the scene because they arn't involved in it. Then however, the dialogue and narration are from the same exact source, and serve to describe the situation than allow exploration and differentiating dialogue and narration.

Lysander wrote:
Using ask/tell and character, do blah inputs is, however, in my humble opinion, ignoring the problem and putting the onus on the player to solvve it, which seems unfair. I've never felt comfortable with the ask/tell conversation system as a player becasue as a player I quickly run out of things to ask/tell about, and then I dont' feel like a character in a story, I feel like myself, playing a game and then I'm no longer immersed, i'm annoyed. Most often than not I'm reduced to simply ask/tell-ing the NPCs about every-damn-thing just to try and evoke some sort of different response. That's not fun. That's annoying. Come on. We can do better than that.


Maybe its about allowing the character to find there own progression within a certain context? If I'm caught in a group running away from a mob of police, would I stop and run back to fight them? If its a story, maybe. Arguably, our responses arn't what the story is interest in; its their own and trying to reach some sort of point later on.

The idea of trying to mold games in a certain way, then being amazed by the results we've ourselves created (which in truth, arn't really any results but just us being dazzled by our own voices) has been the bad end for many people who stop trying to explore and critque themselves and just repeat the same mistakes; the ideal IF, the great and glamorous goal (if there is one), would be to mold the whole game in the same way a problem changes within a person; it becomes an exploration as opposed to a predetermined end.

Discovering new facets and focuses along the way, and growth in how the problem is attacked and how its fraught and how its structured, would be the solution to the problem were both describing.

To explain, a chair is not a chair; maybe its just a collection of wood cut a certain way. Or maybe a set of molecules formed in a certain pattern. Except the chair exists as whatever it is, with or withour or intervention; humans just serve to give a certain use and label to this collection of quarks.

And when I talk about exploring a problem, that is what I mean; the problem, as trying to describe the chair, changes constantly because it doesn't exist; were just trying to define it. How we approach and deal with that problem is a sign of growth and change from one direction to another, a new way of trying to solve and comprehend a set of information.

Which is what IF is doing, and the ultimate game (as I've said before and as it can be described a game) would be a platform to evolve and change a problem around the actions and input of the player, which is something narration can't do, and the player can't accomplish, without both forming a mutual basis of creation and evolution around eachother.
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PostPosted: Tue Dec 26, 2006 8:50 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Lysander wrote:
deep maaan


No? Trying to describe "art" which ends up being; whatever we want it to be. There are multiple definitions, multiple ways of looking at the exact same item or instance; these are all interpretations.

In trying to take one idea and define every kind of created medium within it, the only point becomes that there is no point? Or that by the same thought, by applying any idea to it we lose the idea?

Overbearing notions that are created to apply to everything.

Isn't this what movies, games, books, etc, etc, are? Forms and functions that try to show importance around a set of arbitrary instances? My quest to find a mcdonald's ten miles away, is only a quest because I'm intent on focusing on a set of predefined circumstances and limitations which form a sort of quest; more than likely, I'll find a dairy queen on the way, decide I'd rather have a candy bar, get to the store and discover an ice cream booth, run into an old friend, then head over to their place to watch a movie.

The whole idea is to create a sort of sphere of instances that seem important, right? And then, trying to apply one idea to every instance, loses the point of there being no sort of point because its trying to make these actions seem important in a certain context (of being un-important).

So... We'll do what we do. Regardless of what it is we do.
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PostPosted: Tue Dec 26, 2006 9:30 pm    Post subject: drew crap Reply with quote

Anonymous wrote:
Where do the multi-choice dialogue options come from? From the abstract "ART IS PERFECT!!!!!!" point, its from the perspective of the character or whatever the author thinks up; there isn't a difference between the scenery and the dialogue options because its thought from the same source. With that sort of approach, its dealing less with the "what will the player do?" and with the narration. There is still the point of trying to direct the player into picking and choosing the correct objects and descriptions; though its more limited.


The player doesn't have to advance the story. If he wants to he can wander around looking at things forever. The options come from the PC's mind, directly; "what would the player character think to say at this moment?" The scenery, however, comes from teh author's mind. What teh PC thinks about the scenery and thus what is described, however, comes from the PC's mind. There's the difference.


Quote:
The options for interacting with the scenery and the dialogue are being drawn from the author as part of the narration, as opposed to the player, and then its the same hand guiding whoever is doing the typing instead of one balancing and playing with the other.


Yes, well. I suppose that that's a genre thing. In Zork, nobody cares about what the PC thinks; he's a cyphre, with no real thoughts or emotions. In my game, though, it's entirely based upon how the PC--who is hte narator, in some form--views the world, so it's all filtered through that lens. So it depends on the game, again. Point taken, however.

Then how do people interact with eachother?[/quote]

Through a menu of conversations. Which is, again, why I like the conversation menu, because I feel like it has a more realistic format of how people actually think and choose to formulate statements and responses to statements by the other peson in that conversation. I don't agree with actually picking from a list of scripted *sentences*, per se, but what I do in Riverside is say something general like "Why are oyu still doing that?" or "What is wrong with you?" in the menu. The former is questioning the character'NPC's choice, while the latter makes a judgement about htat choice. The player decides which action he believes the PC should choose. Then the PC says something that's completely different, but which follows that basic line of emotion. It's a choice at all because both reactions are within character for the PC to make--if there's only one choice to make, then the PC should just say it--or say nothign at all, which is always choice 0.

Quote:
How much information is needed to advance in a story? If I walked from my home to a McDonalds ten miles away, how would I find my way there if I didn't have a map, and I was forced to ask random people for directions?



In which case you can >t stranger and have the character automatically ask for directions, because that's the only thing that the PC would legitimately want to ask that stranger about. The menu-based system covers all bases more thoroughly than ask/tell, IMO, and that was my point. Not htat it's totally perfect or natural; just hta it's more so.

Quote:
You have control over how the characters work and progress so try something different instead of lamenting how other games approach the same problem as the limitations your forced to work within.


Why? THe menu system works well enough for my purposes; why should I try and come up with some sort of AI to give each character?

Quote:
Realistic *Looking* conversation.


Well, yes. THa't the whole point of *all* forms of literature, isn't it? BOoks, movies, IF, games--it's all made to *look* real. We all konw it *isn't*, but we're trying to make peopel think that it *could* be.

Quote:
The narrator would have a much better grasp of the context and the location than the player, which is also an added benefit; the player would not know how to react to the scene because they arn't involved in it. Then however, the dialogue and narration are from the same exact source, and serve to describe the situation than allow exploration and differentiating dialogue and narration.


So the narator tells the player that hte PC is renting a movie. Or that "you are in teh video palace", which should suffice well enough. What's your point here?

Quote:
Maybe its about allowing the character to find there own progression within a certain context? If I'm caught in a group running away from a mob of police, would I stop and run back to fight them? If its a story, maybe. Arguably, our responses arn't what the story is interest in; its their own and trying to reach some sort of point later on.


Well, that's the idea--if the player decides that the PC shoudl run back and try to fight, and the PC would try and do that, than the author should write a scene of the player fighting the cops (and, most likely, losing and dying as that helps his story and is a plausible way to handle that choice.)
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Ice Cream Jonsey



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PostPosted: Tue Dec 26, 2006 9:34 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

It is nice to see people chatting about IF. I'll chime in ASAP.
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Ice Cream Jonsey



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PostPosted: Sat Dec 30, 2006 12:49 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Lysander wrote:
In Zork III (the first infocom game I ever played by the way) it serves as a backdrop to the action that's going on.


Damn, that is a doozy to be your first. I'm thrilled you stuck with it. To this day I still have not gone very far in that one. The ability to play even though, through random acts, your game can not be completed is a huge turn off.
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PostPosted: Sat Dec 30, 2006 2:23 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Anonymous wrote:
Don't know. Just all of this sounds to a sort of long sheet about validating the "DESIGN CHOICES!!!" of whoever implented whatever I described because... THATS ALL I KNOW


Here's my current issue. Hopefully I find some good solutions to this problem.

I would like to put the player in an environment where a few reasonable choices would allow them to get out of the bad situation their character is in. For instance, let's say that I code up the following:

- Lead the player on so that they realize that they have a glass eye and can throw it at somebody and freak them out.

- Let the player hide somewhere

Most players are going to pick on the second bit. Encouraging them to yank their eye out takes a lot of work and talent. And there will always be those people who say, "The game simply didn't let me hide, that sucks."

I'm all wrapped up in coding solutions that I suspect that 90% of the players won't try. But man, is a game boring if you don't give your players a chance to implement inventive solutions, you know?
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PostPosted: Sat Dec 30, 2006 2:26 pm    Post subject: Re: drew crap Reply with quote

Lysander wrote:
Through a menu of conversations. Which is, again, why I like the conversation menu, because I feel like it has a more realistic format of how people actually think and choose to formulate statements and responses to statements by the other peson in that conversation.


I am trying a different system in my current work in progress. Let me say that I miss the ease of the conversational menu. I know a lot of people are turned off by it, though. (Probably nobody here because, hey, if you hate the system you probably have not played many of my games and therefore why would you be so intrigued to come here in the first place. Or second place. Whichever, I'm coo.)

Whether this is because the conversational menu became easy for me to implement and anticipate because I used it in 5 games, I dunno. Hopefully people like the new system.

And I remain quite jealous that a certain poster here went with PONCY ON and PONCY OFF because that is one of the funniest meta commands ever. I salute him for his genius.
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PostPosted: Sat Dec 30, 2006 4:35 pm    Post subject: Re: drew crap Reply with quote

Ice Cream Jonsey wrote:
Whether this is because the conversational menu became easy for me to implement and anticipate because I used it in 5 games, I dunno. Hopefully people like the new system.


Robb Sherwin text adventures are more narration and getting the player to feel fucked over by the character than "Hey, you are the character!" because as its been said before, the choices presented are all based on the characters personality.

Or, eh...
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PostPosted: Sat Dec 30, 2006 4:39 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

And conversation options make more sense in that, they are what the character would say (getting a clear conversation tone over to the player is a bitch, because they are outside the context of the game and don't know exactly what the programmer allows. In other words, typing in a full sentence wouldn't make any sense, and the conversation option gives it more depth).

Of course, the only point to express the reason behind anything, is a pathetic attempt at trying to make sense of something that already is and is beyond my power to change. This is also the only fact gleamed from over fifty units of history classes.
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Lysander



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PostPosted: Wed Jan 03, 2007 3:00 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ice Cream Jonsey wrote:
I'm all wrapped up in coding solutions that I suspect that 90% of the players won't try. But man, is a game boring if you don't give your players a chance to implement inventive solutions, you know?


Indeed. Like I said earlier--if there's one solution that, by all accounts, SHOULD work, but didn't work because i'm smarter than the author and the author didn't think of it or did think of it but just didn't want to code it, I feel cheated. Why should i put the effort into thinking through the author's uzzles to solve them if the author didn't put in the same effort to code them? As far as the former, I'm okay if, when the author finds out about this possible solution from alpha/beta testers, he implaments it in a subsequent release. If he knows but just doesn't want to deal with it, fuck him. I'm even okay with him implamenting the solution and saying "you can't do that becasue blah blah random lame reason #8662" as long as that reason is plausible; jsut that he thought of it is all I ask.

(FTR, just because Zork III was the first game (besides shitty PC-only IF that nobody's heard of) does not mean it was the first one I complete. That was Border Zone, but only because of the invisiclues; teh first one I completed completely on my own was Moonmist. Then I beat Seastalker in the course of one afternoon, except for teh last lousy three points because I could never find the damn snark. But since those two games don't count, I'm pretty sure that the one I got farthest in was Planetfall. I kept going after the red harings in the rad-labv and when I found out by reading walkthroughs that I wasn't supposed to do that I got rather upset. But I actually got to the rad-lock without help, which was nice. The other one I got farthest on without help was Trinity, I managed to complete basically all of the sidequests without realizing what the hell I was supposed to be doing, without ever figuring out the gnomon puzzle and thus unable to get anywhere because the shadow kept moving. After I igured thegnomon out a whooole lot of things started making sense and I got all the way to the Trinity sight almost completely without help (this was when I was 14, or so, I think. God, I can't remember. Anyway, now i"m rambling and i'll shut up.))
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PostPosted: Wed Jan 03, 2007 3:22 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Lysander wrote:
Ice Cream Jonsey wrote:
I'm all wrapped up in coding solutions that I suspect that 90% of the players won't try. But man, is a game boring if you don't give your players a chance to implement inventive solutions, you know?


Indeed. Like I said earlier--if there's one solution that, by all accounts, SHOULD work, but didn't work because i'm smarter than the author and the author didn't think of it or did think of it but just didn't want to code it, I feel cheated. Why should i put the effort into thinking through the author's uzzles to solve them if the author didn't put in the same effort to code them? As far as the former, I'm okay if, when the author finds out about this possible solution from alpha/beta testers, he implaments it in a subsequent release. If he knows but just doesn't want to deal with it, fuck him. I'm even okay with him implamenting the solution and saying "you can't do that becasue blah blah random lame reason #8662" as long as that reason is plausible; jsut that he thought of it is all I ask.


Talking about how the game communicates with the player or how the player communicates with the game (or another absurdly stupid academicly inclined translation of the blindingly obvious)?

Discussing the menu options is the bane of the style of books; what and how the book reveals the story to the reader. I talked about how menu options took the context away from the player and directed them with full on dialogue options that are presented as nothing more than a "choose your own adventure" story book, and thats how it goes; what and how do we reveal the possible avenues of interest to the player?

Its all about information and slowly pulling back the curtain one foot at a time to show a little more, except if this process is treated with any sort of structure or expectation, the author ends up fucking himself over because he's trying to be something he isn't and following a form that doesn't make due to him.

And is that where IF is stuck? Trying to find a way to accurately and presently make the player as closely apart of the story as possible while doing it in the context of the author having to engineer every single machination of the world they inhabit?

That Chris guy from infocom that is working on Storytron appeared to be trying to solve this problem and had the idea, except he's just become starry eyed at his own bullshit while forgetting that alot of talk doesn't amount to anything. Really though, menu options, story structure, game mechanics, is just a bunch of lies called up to try and explain the idea of how people do what they do, and the style surrounding how they do what they do.

Ya... Right.
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PostPosted: Wed Jan 03, 2007 7:57 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I've also encountered two or three puzzles in regular video games that presented an entirely feasible alternate solution, and instead required me to find a switch.

Why is IF special in this regard? Or are we bitching about how video games are one off worlds formed by the machinations of a guy being worked sixty hours a week, instead of the end result of the player who ends up being the audience the game caters to?

Somewhere, I ended with talking about how the player has a magical proportion of being influencial to the game, and forgot that the game is created with a style and a regard by the author to become what it is.

I'll shut up now.
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bruce



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PostPosted: Wed Jan 03, 2007 10:52 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Anonymous wrote:
That Chris guy from infocom that is working on Storytron


Not from Infocom.

From Atari, once upon a time.

More recently, from Batshitville, which is in the province of Insania.

Bruce
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