requiring food, water, etc. in games?

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Adam Myrow

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Dec 5, 2000, 3:00:00 AM12/5/00
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As some who helped me with my Inform problems last week know, I am
starting an IF piece on survival of a plane crash. I had originally
planned one of the major puzzles to be the player having to find food,
water, shelter, etc. In fact, a lot of the game would revolve around
that plus helping an NPC. My question is this, I have noticed a tendency
to frown on requiring such activities as eating in games even if they are
realistic. I can see both sides of the story. Using two Infocom games
as examples, eating and sleeping seemed natural in Planetfalll as you
were stranded and the main point of the story is survival. In Enchanter,
eating and sleeping seemed totally pointless given that your main quest
is to defeat Krill. Adding dreams to give hints was a nice touch, but
the eating and drinking seemed annoying in that context.

So, my question on the subject is this. Is there a good time to
implement taking care of one's physical needs? Or should this never be
part of an IF piece. I just want opinions on the matter so I can get a
feel for what most people like.

Another totally unrelated question, what is the easiest way to get
another character to follow the player in Inform? Has this even been
done before? Basically, the NPC in the game will be another surviver and
will play a crucial role. Realistically, the player and the other
character would usually stick together. So, what's an efficient way to
implement this?

pblock

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Dec 6, 2000, 12:32:36 AM12/6/00
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"Adam Myrow" <my...@eskimo.com> wrote in message
news:MPG.14977176a...@eskinews.eskimo.com...

> As some who helped me with my Inform problems last week know, I am
> So, my question on the subject is this. Is there a good time to
> implement taking care of one's physical needs? Or should this never be
> part of an IF piece.

How often have you seen James Bond use the bathroom?

Seriously, though, like most things in regular fiction, if it isn't
important, why have it?

In your suggested game, where it's about survival, eating is probably very
important and should definately be in there. In a completely different
piece where you arrive at the count's castle and he has a banquet laid out
for you, eating should be alright then, too.

The problem with eating & sleeping most have probably comes from RPGs, or,
more accurately CRPGs, computer role playing games like Final Fantasy where
you get into random fights and eat a bit of food to regain hit point and
sleep in the inn to gain full hit points.

It's silly in the CRPGs, it's sillier in IF, I think.


Mary K. Kuhner

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Dec 6, 2000, 12:58:56 AM12/6/00
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Adam Myrow <my...@eskimo.com> wrote:

>So, my question on the subject is this. Is there a good time to
>implement taking care of one's physical needs? Or should this never be

>part of an IF piece. I just want opinions on the matter so I can get a
>feel for what most people like.

I think you can make eating/drinking puzzles work, despite how
jaded people are with them, but you'll have to implement them
carefully. Some things I'd want as a player:

1) realistic time-tables! This is a big deal. Most games that
have hunger have you starving to death in hours, or at most
a day or two, which is a long way from what actually happens.
(They also have you feeling more and more hungry, with more
and more annoying messages, which is not what happens either;
after the first day of a fast one generally doesn't feel
particularly hungry for a while.)

2) make it clear that the food *is* a major puzzle, not just a
way of enforcing a time limit. You want to avoid the feeling
that the food issue is extraneous, a distraction from the
*real* stuff in the game, or it will be perceived as annoying.

Make sure that the steps needed to get the food are interesting
*every time the player has to do them*. Don't require the
player to do a repetitious boring action to get fed again. In
fact, I would suggest having the food puzzle appear only once,
and perhaps having the driving force be "You can't set out
across the mountains until you have secured a food supply" rather
than "You are starving."

3) as with all puzzles, don't have the obstacles between PC
and food be stupid ones. A comp-winning game a while back
(Edifice) had a hunt-and-eat puzzle which was interesting
and challenging; no one that I recall complained about the
fact that it involved eating. On the other hand, the one from
"Coming Home" where (despite apparently being an adult) you
couldn't open the fridge and would starve to death unless
you could get your mother to do it....

>Another totally unrelated question, what is the easiest way to get
>another character to follow the player in Inform? Has this even been
>done before? Basically, the NPC in the game will be another surviver and
>will play a crucial role. Realistically, the player and the other
>character would usually stick together. So, what's an efficient way to
>implement this?

I'd probably give the NPC a daemon or react_after that teleported him
to the PC's new location. (You don't need to make the NPC move
like a player, and probably don't want to.)

You may also want to check out the follower.h library add-on on
GMD: it implements the verb "follow" and lets the PC follow the
NPC if he wants. I missed this badly in several of the Comp00
games, particularly one where the NPC said "Follow me!" but
"follow" didn't work....

Mary Kuhner mkku...@eskimo.com

Robb Sherwin

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Dec 6, 2000, 1:59:02 AM12/6/00
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On Tue, 5 Dec 2000 21:46:19 -0700, Adam Myrow <my...@eskimo.com>

wrote:
>So, my question on the subject is this. Is there a good time to
>implement taking care of one's physical needs? Or should this never be
>part of an IF piece. I just want opinions on the matter so I can get a
>feel for what most people like.

Your example regarding the plane crash survivor is one of the few
instances I can think of where taking care of those physical needs
would still fall under the "fun" category. In most cases, the problem
in IF (when it comes to eating, drinking, etc) is two-fold -- the
player character has "unrealistic" responses to "realistic" game
features (e.g. the PC in Enchanter outright DIES if he goes a day
without ingesting bread and water) and there's usually no real payoff,
in terms of The Cool Factor, if you solve the problem of his/her
hunger and thirst. Most times, nothing really special happens when
your PC eats or drinks, you simply jump through those hoops... and get
to play a little longer.

Robb


=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=
Robb Sherwin, Fort Collins CO
Reviews From Trotting Krips: http://ifiction.tsx.org
Knight Orc Home Page: www.geocities.com/~knightorc

Knight37

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Dec 6, 2000, 3:00:00 AM12/6/00
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Quoting mkku...@eskimo.com (Mary K. Kuhner) from Wed, 06 Dec 2000
05:58:56 GMT:

>Make sure that the steps needed to get the food are interesting
>*every time the player has to do them*. Don't require the
>player to do a repetitious boring action to get fed again. In
>fact, I would suggest having the food puzzle appear only once,
>and perhaps having the driving force be "You can't set out
>across the mountains until you have secured a food supply" rather
>than "You are starving."

I don't know, I think in an airplane crash survival game, it should be more
of the "you need to eat something" variety. Of course, one of the available
options of what to eat are the corspes of fellow passengers. And each time
you eat one, the game should tell a little story about that particular
corpse... heheh.
(sick puppy, I know)

--

Knight37

"I had great expectation on this group. But you all
f_cking people have only big mouse."
-- Sokwoo Lee, csipg.strategic

Andrew MacKinnon

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Dec 6, 2000, 3:00:00 AM12/6/00
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Adam Myrow wrote:
>
> As some who helped me with my Inform problems last week know, I am
> starting an IF piece on survival of a plane crash. I had originally
> planned one of the major puzzles to be the player having to find food,
> water, shelter, etc. In fact, a lot of the game would revolve around
> that plus helping an NPC. My question is this, I have noticed a tendency
> to frown on requiring such activities as eating in games even if they are
> realistic. I can see both sides of the story. Using two Infocom games
> as examples, eating and sleeping seemed natural in Planetfalll as you
> were stranded and the main point of the story is survival. In Enchanter,
> eating and sleeping seemed totally pointless given that your main quest
> is to defeat Krill. Adding dreams to give hints was a nice touch, but
> the eating and drinking seemed annoying in that context.

You can implement it like this with a daemon:

Object FoodDrinkSleep "(food, drink, sleep daemon)"
with food_left 200,
drink_left 200,
sleep_left 500,
daemon
[; switch(self.food_left--)
{100,90,80,70: "You are hungry.";
60,50,40,30: "You are very hungry.";
20,15,10,8,6: "You are starving to death.";
5,4,3,2,1: "You are starving so much you are really weak.";
0: deadflag=1; "You starve so much that you are dying.";
}
.......
];

You get the idea. When you eat, drink, or sleep, the corresponding
variable is reset to a reasonable number of turns left to
eat/drink/sleep. You also have to replace and define SleepSub for
sleeping. Although think about realism (you can survive without food for
several weeks after eating and filling your stomach, but you won't
survive long without water. Of course you start discomfort messages long
before you actually die. And remember to StartDaemon the daemon where it
will first start applying.

--
Andrew MacKinnon
http://www.geocities.com/andrew_mackinnon_2000/
(Please remove NOSPAM from e-mail address above)

David Kinder

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Dec 6, 2000, 3:00:00 AM12/6/00
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> Using two Infocom games as examples, eating and sleeping seemed natural
> in Planetfall as you were stranded and the main point of the story is

> survival. In Enchanter, eating and sleeping seemed totally pointless
> given that your main quest is to defeat Krill.

It's been a long time since I've played either of these games, but I recall
that my major objection to the food puzzles was not realism; it was simply
that the solution required no thought but considerable effort. All you had
to do in either case was go to a particular location every so often, which
rapidly becomes *very* irritating. When I solve a puzzle I want to feel I've
just been really clever, and I certainly don't want to have to do the same
thing all over again.

The above isn't to say that a food puzzle is necessarily a bad idea. For it
to work, you've got to do something original with it. After all, all game
puzzles usually boil down to the same few categories. Great games find ways
to give old puzzles a new spin.

David


Gadget

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Dec 6, 2000, 3:00:00 AM12/6/00
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On Tue, 5 Dec 2000 21:46:19 -0700, Adam Myrow <my...@eskimo.com> made
the world a better place by saying:


>So, my question on the subject is this. Is there a good time to
>implement taking care of one's physical needs? Or should this never be
>part of an IF piece. I just want opinions on the matter so I can get a
>feel for what most people like.
>

Do you want to write a simulation or a game?

A simulation takes into account all of the details and rules of
physics to recreate a consistent, realistic world.

A game creates a consistent, seemingly realistic world to give the
player a good time.

I think a puzzle to find food can be great, both in a puzzle sense and
as a way to give the player an *ilusion* of realism. One or two
instances of having to find food would be nice, given the setting.

As long as they are tools to tell the story or enhance
gameplay/puzzles it would be fun. If it is for realism's sake, I think
IF is not the apropriate medium.

--
"So... you've compiled your own Kernel... Your skills are now complete..."
-----------------
It's a bird
It's a plane
No it's... Gadget?

Village Magazine: http://www.villagemagazine.nl
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John West McKenna

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Dec 7, 2000, 3:00:00 AM12/7/00
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"David Kinder" <D.Ki...@btinter-remove-to-reply-net.com> writes:

>It's been a long time since I've played either of these games, but I recall
>that my major objection to the food puzzles was not realism; it was simply
>that the solution required no thought but considerable effort.

I haven't played those games either, but I think a big problem with food in
most games is that it's a puzzle that isn't part of the story. If solving
a puzzle doesn't give the player a sense of advancing the story, it becomes
an irritating distraction.

But in the case of the plane crash game, starvation could (and probably
should) be part of the story. Food puzzles would probably work. They'd
have to be done well, but that's true of anything.

John

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