Pause Pet Peeves
July 13th, 2012 by Roody Yogurt

I just want to put something out there. More and more often, it seems, modern IF games use waiting-for-a-keypress pauses for dramatic effect. What many authors don’t realize, I think, is that not all interpreters (like Parchment, to pick a popular one) ¬†instruct the player that the game is waiting for a keypress. If things were my way, authors would avoid unnecessary pauses altogether (I believe these moments will still maintain the intended effect, if written well), and in those instances where there is¬†a pause, be sure to add some in-game “press a key” text so that all players on all interpreters know what’s up. Alternatively, you could give your game an optional no-pause mode so certain environments can avoid them altogether.


(This isn’t just an Inform thing, of course. This happens in several systems.)


Anyhow, I’ve been meaning to say something about this for a while. I’ll go back to yelling at the kids on my lawn now.

4 Responses  
  • Dannii writes:
    July 30th, 20127:53 amat

    I’m intending to add a notification to Parchment if it’s waiting for a keypress. Do you think a five second delay before showing it would be appropriate? Or maybe even longer?

  • Roody Yogurt writes:
    July 30th, 20121:52 pmat

    Huh, that’s an interesting approach. I’d think five seconds would be long enough. That’ll make a lot of existing games look better on Parchment, I imagine. Just the same, this isn’t something I’d completely want to dump on interpreter writer/maintainers. It still should be something authors should be aware of.

    (Out of curiosity, I went back to see how good Infocom was about providing “press a key” text. Zork Zero did it; Beyond Zork did not.)

  • Dannii writes:
    July 30th, 20128:48 pmat

    Games could well take the same approach – wait five seconds for a keypress, show a message, and then wait indefinitely.

  • Roody Yogurt writes:
    July 31st, 201212:37 amat

    True, but I also have simple ports in mind, where no timing is supported at all. In Hugo, I can write code to check to see if timer stuff is supported on the current interpreter and then have my game react accordingly. While it’s likely this is possible in Inform, I don’t know how prevalent this kind of code is.

    I do like the usage of timers to avoid pauses altogether, though. In Hugo, sometimes the screen can get a bit ugly if the window is resized. I wrote a routine to automatically clear and redraw the screen in such cases. I eventually decided to do away with my pause after the “” text and gave it a “”/2-second-wait combo instead. Plus, a keypress causes it to skip ahead if one doesn’t want to wait 2 seconds.

    So, you could always do a timed thing, too, and even allow the player to push space to actually pause things. Of course, this could also be used quite poorly, I imagine.

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