Searching for answers about the end (and return) of IF as a popular format

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David A. Cornelson

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Jan 31, 1999, 3:00:00 AM1/31/99
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R. Alan Monroe wrote in message <8Ert2.133$o7....@newsfeed.slurp.net>...
>In article
<whataguy-010...@51.new-york-28-29rs.ny.dial-access.att.net>,
whataguy@el*REMOVE*.net (Ben Schaffer) wrote:
>>Would it be possible, in other words, to successfully market a game with
>>the requisite status-quo fancy graphics which nonetheless takes as its
>>core the Infocom-derived game of discovery? A game, in other words, which


I'm going to side with Zarf on this one. Not to bash too many people at
once, a forte of mine, but most game-players nowadays are idiots. I think
you can count about 6 people in the world that have enough patience to play
IF. Half of our own authors here are more interested in 'writing' IF than
playing it, something I'm guilty of myself. I usually start every game, but
if the premise doesn't 'grab' me or isn't my 'type' of game, then I move on.
The last game I really liked was Babel from the 97 competition.

Heck, even people my age (35) are more interested in Tetris on a gameboy
than sitting down and reading a book, much less playing a text game.

As for complexity in graphical games, the artistic side of it is becoming
easier and less expensive (as Zarf pointed out) and that will allow
companies to spend more time on the content and less on the structure.

I depart from Zarf's assumption that only hobbyist's will get into the fray.
I think we'll see real quality logic, interaction, and graphical games
within the next few years. I also think that the first company to pull
together the graphical bang of Myst and the Infocom humor and puzzle quality
is going to make a lot of money.

Jarb

Ben Schaffer

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Feb 1, 1999, 3:00:00 AM2/1/99
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I've been looking at the little bits of history included on the
"Masterpieces of Infocom" CD...some strange things there indeed. I find it
particularly interesting to read about the details of Infocom planning its
next move when it was in a position of strength...when it WAS the computer
game industry. At the time, I was very disappointed by most of what was
happening with said industry, and the bright spot was made from games of
the Infocom heritage.

What I wanted to ask about was: why no more IF on the front page? I know,
graphics are important now. I know, other companies are in charge. But
today's games are not MORE than Infocom's. They do not take Infocom as a
starting point and continue. Yes, they have graphics (flash), but they
often lack the substance of Infocom. From my point of view, Tomb Raider is
not an improvement on Space Invaders. The premise: you shoot at things.
What's different? The graphics.

In 1982, people were pretty excited about video games. By 1985, they were
no longer excited. Why did video games fizzle? According to Douglas
Crockford, it was because nothing had really improved about them except
graphics. The games weren't any better. Consumers said, "That's it? That's
all we can expect?" and they moved on. Graphics weren't enough to hold
them indefinitely.

But in the current computer game world, people DO wait anxiously for the
same games with better graphics. Can this be a temporary resurgance of
this phenomenon?

Would it be possible, in other words, to successfully market a game with
the requisite status-quo fancy graphics which nonetheless takes as its
core the Infocom-derived game of discovery? A game, in other words, which

is to the normal industry game as Godard's "Two or Three Things I Know
About Her" is to "Star Wars Episode I". In other words, a game which is
designed for full humans, not full humans pretending to be simplified
consumers.

Another question might be: what is the attraction of these same-game
games? What is the attraction of these same-movie movies? As L. Cohen
says, why not ask for more?

Well, help me out here.

Ben Schaffer
Chief Designer, Metropotamia Inc. -- Your gateway to the Internet, ca. 1979

Andrew Plotkin

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Feb 1, 1999, 3:00:00 AM2/1/99
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Ben Schaffer (whataguy@el*REMOVE*.net) wrote:

> What I wanted to ask about was: why no more IF on the front page? I know,
> graphics are important now. I know, other companies are in charge. But
> today's games are not MORE than Infocom's.

Why are there pages and pages of movie ads in every newspaper, and only a
couple of mentions of best-seller novels, and nothing about poetry?

Because most people don't care.

> In 1982, people were pretty excited about video games. By 1985, they were
> no longer excited. Why did video games fizzle? According to Douglas
> Crockford, it was because nothing had really improved about them except
> graphics. The games weren't any better. Consumers said, "That's it? That's
> all we can expect?" and they moved on. Graphics weren't enough to hold
> them indefinitely.

That's absurd. Nothing improved about books either. Hell, nothing improved
more than fractionally about *cars*, but people still get excited over
those.

In 1982, computer users were a tiny, self-selected group -- economically
upscale, neophilic, and smart. In 1985, this was less true. In 1990,
forget it; that same group was a tiny minority of the computer-user world.
The trend continues exponentially.

> But in the current computer game world, people DO wait anxiously for the
> same games with better graphics. Can this be a temporary resurgance of
> this phenomenon?

No. Different people.

> Would it be possible, in other words, to successfully market a game with
> the requisite status-quo fancy graphics which nonetheless takes as its
> core the Infocom-derived game of discovery?

I think many -- even most -- graphical adventure games have tried. Some
have succeeded more than others. You can't look at the Tomb Raider genre;
it's the Myst clones that are taking the most interesting steps.

But most of them wind up fluff, for the same reason that most movies are
fluff. It's economically infeasible to spend two years and hundreds of
thousands of dollars on any product which won't be a smash popular hit.
Therefore, everything must be targetted to idiots. The exceptions
generally fail. (Look at _The Last Express_.)

As the cost of graphics declines, we'll start to see independent works --
stuff written by hobbyists in their basements -- that are experimental,
literate, interesting, and also visually stunning. But they'll never make
headlines, just as text IF will never make headlines.

--Z

--

"And Aholibamah bare Jeush, and Jaalam, and Korah: these were the
borogoves..."

Magnus Olsson

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Feb 1, 1999, 3:00:00 AM2/1/99
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In article <erkyrathF...@netcom.com>,

Andrew Plotkin <erky...@netcom.com> wrote:
>Ben Schaffer (whataguy@el*REMOVE*.net) wrote:
>
>> What I wanted to ask about was: why no more IF on the front page? I know,
>> graphics are important now. I know, other companies are in charge. But
>> today's games are not MORE than Infocom's.
>
>Why are there pages and pages of movie ads in every newspaper, and only a
>couple of mentions of best-seller novels, and nothing about poetry?
>
>Because most people don't care.

I don't disagree with the rest of your post, but I'm wondering if
you're not getting carried away by your own rethoric at this point.

Are you comparing the number of movie ads with the number of *ads* for
books and poetry? But these are very different markets; the reason you
don't see pages and pages of ads for new novels is not that people
don't care, but that novels usually aren't sold by placing ads at the
end of newspapers.

Or are you comparing movie ads with editorial content about books and
poetry? Then you're really comparing apples and oranges.

Just as a data point, I think most Swedish morning newspapers devote
considerably more space and energy to reviews of books than to reviews
of films. On the other hand, the tabloids and the gossip press writes
a lot about movie stars and almost nothing about book authors :-).


--
Magnus Olsson (m...@df.lth.se, zeb...@pobox.com)
------ http://www.pobox.com/~zebulon ------

Den of Iniquity

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Feb 1, 1999, 3:00:00 AM2/1/99
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On 1 Feb 1999, Ben Schaffer wrote:
> From my point of view, Tomb Raider is not an improvement on Space
> Invaders. The premise: you shoot at things.

Huh? I'll admit I've not seen much of Tomb Raider but from what I have
seen there's a lot of adventure in there - that is, exploring all over the
place (albeit more in a platform game kind of way) collecting stuff and
dealing with simple puzzles.

>What's different? The graphics.

Gameplay has come on a long way since Space Invaders. It has had to.
People don't have the attention any more, you keep having to throw new
stuff at them to keep them interested. There's more variation, more depth,
more ways to achieve a goal now than there has ever been in computer
games, thinking, of course of the best examples (there's always been crap)
and they will probably continue to grow more complex.

>In 1982, people were pretty excited about video games. By 1985, they were
>no longer excited. Why did video games fizzle?

Did they? In my experience, as a lad with an Atari VCS then a Commodore
64, games just got more and more interesting throughout the 1980's. People
always used to complain that the gameplay just wasn't there any more but I
think there's a steady increase in detail in games. I find it hard to go
back to such gameplay classics as Elite now because their gameplay really
has become dated. (Multi-player games don't suffer so much though.)

What happened from the media's point of view was that it all got a bit
boring and fashion-lovers turned away until more recently. Within the
computer industry itself, things were progressing nicely, thank-you very
much.

Text games haven't progressed anything like as much - but that's because
in terms of complexity, they were well ahead of their time, and Infocom
and rivals achieved an incredible amount in the eighties.

--
Den


Ben Schaffer

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Feb 1, 1999, 3:00:00 AM2/1/99
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In article <erkyrathF...@netcom.com>, erky...@netcom.com (Andrew
Plotkin) wrote:

> Why are there pages and pages of movie ads in every newspaper, and only a
> couple of mentions of best-seller novels, and nothing about poetry?

Currently, movies are a big deal. However, they were less popular (no ads
at all) in 1648. Some Internet folks propose that, similarly, there will
be new Internet-derived forms of popular entertainment in the future, and
because it is not yet popular (or in existence) is not to say that it will
not happen.

Do we not believe in the creation of future Internet-oriented popular
entertainment?

> > In 1982, people were pretty excited about video games. By 1985, they were

> > no longer excited. Why did video games fizzle? According to Douglas
> > Crockford, it was because nothing had really improved about them except
> > graphics. The games weren't any better. Consumers said, "That's it? That's
> > all we can expect?" and they moved on. Graphics weren't enough to hold
> > them indefinitely.
>
> That's absurd. Nothing improved about books either. Hell, nothing improved
> more than fractionally about *cars*, but people still get excited over
> those.

First of all, I'm not sure what you're calling absurd. If you look at the
video game industry -- not computers, but video games, for arcades and for
the home -- you will see that it's true that they had some soul-searching
times in the mid-eighties. It's not absurd, it's a historical fact. A
hugely popular market suddenly dried up. Now, in the long run, the market
did come back. My question is why.

As far as the (potentially absurd) explanation as to why people grew tired
of the products (that improved graphics weren't important enough) I guess
I was unclear. The supposition here is that nothing improved about books
in the period 1982-1985 because books were already good enough to have
permanent mass appeal. The same thing with cars in that period. However, I
think you will agree that in 1895 cars were "not good enough" for mass
appeal, and had to "improve" until the point that they had such appeal. In
1982, for example, video games were still very primitive. They became
popular due to the gee-whiz nature of new stuff, but they did not become
permanently successful, I am arguing, because they weren't "ready" yet. Is
this the absurd part? I don't think you can compare a first-generation
product with something that's been worked on by thousands of people for
decades.

I still think there's something important in all this somewhere. I'm not
suggesting a return of the Zork series, you understand, I'm suggesting a
return to literate, inventive, multithreaded exploratory works. Is that so
wrong? After all, it's what you folks seem to love.

Ben Schaffer
Metropotamia Inc. -- your dreams can come true in Harajuku

R. Alan Monroe

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Feb 2, 1999, 3:00:00 AM2/2/99
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In article <whataguy-010...@51.new-york-28-29rs.ny.dial-access.att.net>, whataguy@el*REMOVE*.net (Ben Schaffer) wrote:
>Would it be possible, in other words, to successfully market a game with
>the requisite status-quo fancy graphics which nonetheless takes as its
>core the Infocom-derived game of discovery? A game, in other words, which

This may not be strictly IF related but...

Metal Gear Solid for Playstation certainly impressed me with its
depth and storytelling. Sure it's cheesy in parts but it's
unbelievably absorbing. And even goes out of its way to
thrust itself into the real world...
SPOILERS BELOW!

When you fight Psycho Mantis, the game tells you that he won't
be able to anticpate your moves, if you use your other controller!
It's unnerving if you've never experienced it - the game referring
literally to what you're holding in your hand.
And it reads your memory card and comments on certain savegames
you have have from other Playstation titles.


Andrew Plotkin

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Feb 2, 1999, 3:00:00 AM2/2/99
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Magnus Olsson (m...@bartlet.df.lth.se) wrote:
> >> What I wanted to ask about was: why no more IF on the front page? I know,
> >> graphics are important now. I know, other companies are in charge. But
> >> today's games are not MORE than Infocom's.
> >
> >Why are there pages and pages of movie ads in every newspaper, and only a
> >couple of mentions of best-seller novels, and nothing about poetry?
> >
> >Because most people don't care.

> I don't disagree with the rest of your post, but I'm wondering if
> you're not getting carried away by your own rethoric at this point.

No. I may be *wrong*.

> Are you comparing the number of movie ads with the number of *ads* for
> books and poetry? But these are very different markets; the reason you
> don't see pages and pages of ads for new novels is not that people
> don't care, but that novels usually aren't sold by placing ads at the
> end of newspapers.

That's the symptom that *leads* me to say that most people don't care
about books. It's not worth advertising them to the general public.

> Or are you comparing movie ads with editorial content about books and
> poetry? Then you're really comparing apples and oranges.

I'm (also) comparing editorial content about movies to that about books.
Newspapers devoting half-page reviews to the latest explosion collage,
for example -- this is in addition to the paid advertising for it.

> Just as a data point, I think most Swedish morning newspapers devote
> considerably more space and energy to reviews of books than to reviews
> of films.

Then you live in a more sane culture than I do.

Andrew Plotkin

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Feb 2, 1999, 3:00:00 AM2/2/99
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Ben Schaffer (whataguy@el*Remove*.net) wrote:
> In article <erkyrathF...@netcom.com>, erky...@netcom.com (Andrew
> Plotkin) wrote:

> > Why are there pages and pages of movie ads in every newspaper, and only a
> > couple of mentions of best-seller novels, and nothing about poetry?

> Do we not believe in the creation of future Internet-oriented popular
> entertainment?

Yes. I don't understand what that question has to do with your original
question, or my reply, however.

> > > In 1982, people were pretty excited about video games. By 1985, they were
> > > no longer excited. Why did video games fizzle? According to Douglas
> > > Crockford, it was because nothing had really improved about them except
> > > graphics. The games weren't any better. Consumers said, "That's it? That's
> > > all we can expect?" and they moved on. Graphics weren't enough to hold
> > > them indefinitely.
> >
> > That's absurd. Nothing improved about books either. Hell, nothing improved
> > more than fractionally about *cars*, but people still get excited over
> > those.

> First of all, I'm not sure what you're calling absurd.

The attitude that Crockford imputes to video game consumers.

> If you look at the
> video game industry -- not computers, but video games, for arcades and for
> the home -- you will see that it's true that they had some soul-searching
> times in the mid-eighties. It's not absurd, it's a historical fact. A
> hugely popular market suddenly dried up. Now, in the long run, the market
> did come back. My question is why.

Ok. I'm really not very clued in about the video-game market (despite
_Sylenius Mysterium_. :-) I was reacting from the point of view of the
*adventure* game market, which was overhasty on my part.

> As far as the (potentially absurd) explanation as to why people grew tired
> of the products (that improved graphics weren't important enough) I guess
> I was unclear. The supposition here is that nothing improved about books
> in the period 1982-1985 because books were already good enough to have
> permanent mass appeal. The same thing with cars in that period. However, I
> think you will agree that in 1895 cars were "not good enough" for mass
> appeal, and had to "improve" until the point that they had such appeal. In
> 1982, for example, video games were still very primitive.

Compared to current games, yes, I agree.

I'm nervous, though, about using "primitive" and (the implied opposite)
"mature". It's easy to fall into a circular argument -- saying that cars
didn't improve because people were happy with them, and people were happy
with them because they weren't primitive.

> I still think there's something important in all this somewhere. I'm not
> suggesting a return of the Zork series, you understand, I'm suggesting a
> return to literate, inventive, multithreaded exploratory works. Is that so
> wrong?

I didn't say it was wrong. I didn't say anything about that suggestion at
all, I don't think.

I will now say that you're compressing horribly. I think that "literate",
"inventive", "multithreaded", and "exploratory" are wildly different
topics, each worth of discussion. I'm *probably* willing to grant that
*two* of them are necessary in games I want to play -- "literate" and
"inventive" -- but then I like to read a lot of books. And there's only
one of me, anyhow.

Steven Marsh

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Feb 2, 1999, 3:00:00 AM2/2/99
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<snip>

I feel the urge to post what may be a minority view, namely that, all
things being equal, I prefer a game -with- graphics over one without.
(Same thing with sound.) The Legend games, for example, are enhanced
considerably by their graphics (most notably the Gateway series, and
Timequest.) Likewise Arthur was quite fun (not a classic, but
definitely more enjoyable for the graphics). And it made Shogun
playable. :)

Steven Marsh
ma...@nettally.com

Ben Schaffer

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Feb 2, 1999, 3:00:00 AM2/2/99
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In article <erkyrathF...@netcom.com>, erky...@netcom.com (Andrew
Plotkin) wrote:

> > Do we not believe in the creation of future Internet-oriented popular
> > entertainment?
>
> Yes. I don't understand what that question has to do with your original
> question, or my reply, however.

I know I haven't been saying this properly, but my initial purpose in
starting this thread was to gather some information about why IF was once
popular, and therefore, why might it be popular again, in a new form. I
don't think that the elememnts that made IF important are dead and gone
from our future. I think people might be ready for them again some day
soon.

I didn't bring up the graphics point to argue whether or not graphics make
a game better. I brought it up to point out that a game is not about its
technology, but about its "gameness", about its story, its playability,
its fun. It's obvious, of course, to say that these things are important.
And yet somehow it's not obvious to say that the graphics aren't
important. But I somehow feel that they can't be, that the one-upping of
the video game industry in bit depth and processor speed is a dead end.

I probably didn't describe Crockford's beliefs very well, but he's one of
the most interesting theorists of the early video game era. His journals
from 1985, published a while ago on the Well, are unique as far as I know
in his discussions about a satisfying game experience. What I got from it
was that it was the connection with the story, not the flashiness of the
images, that people were left with. Also, they don't really want a
limitlessly interactive game, which seems to be a kind of VR holy grail.
They want a track, because they want to see everything. Maybe this is why
interactive CDs are often disappointing. I know mine are.

I'm always compressing, though. Who has time to say what they mean?

Ben Schaffer
Metropotamia Inc. -- where it's always 1 Jan 1900

Simon 'tufty' Stapleton

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Feb 2, 1999, 3:00:00 AM2/2/99
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whataguy@el*Remove*.net (Ben Schaffer) writes:


> As far as the (potentially absurd) explanation as to why people grew tired
> of the products (that improved graphics weren't important enough) I guess
> I was unclear. The supposition here is that nothing improved about books
> in the period 1982-1985 because books were already good enough to have
> permanent mass appeal. The same thing with cars in that period. However, I
> think you will agree that in 1895 cars were "not good enough" for mass
> appeal, and had to "improve" until the point that they had such appeal. In

> 1982, for example, video games were still very primitive. They became
> popular due to the gee-whiz nature of new stuff, but they did not become
> permanently successful, I am arguing, because they weren't "ready" yet. Is
> this the absurd part? I don't think you can compare a first-generation
> product with something that's been worked on by thousands of people for
> decades.

I would argue (probably wrongly, but hey, this is the internet and I'm
allowed to be wrong.) that video games had pretty much matured by the early
eighties. Graphically, they may have been quite primitive, but within those
bounds they were pretty damn good.

I've yet to find a video game that has the addictive qualities of 'Defender'
(released 1980), the ability to make me feed coin after coin after coin into
the slot, a game that you walk away from hyperventilating and shaking.

Most of the current video game genres had been done to some extent by the
mid eighties. Shoot-em-ups? We had 'em upwards, downwards, left and right
scrolling, in pseudo-3d, with aliens, with robots, with whatever. First
person shooters? Try 'Battlezone' from Atari (1980). Sports simulations?
'Track & Field' came out in 1983. About the only genre I can think of which
wasn't represented at that time is the beat-em-ups. 'Punch Out' is the first
one I can think of and that was released in 1984.

Anyway, what I'm trying to say is this. The reason I have spent less time in
arcades from the mid-late eighties is the lack of innovation. Fancy-pants
graphics couldn't make up for the fact that the games were just tired old
rehashes of the same old thing. There was no 'Tempest', no 'Qixx', no
'Q*bert'.

Computer video games had not matured. Remember typing in all those games
from magazines[1]? For the most part, poor-quality copies of arcade games
written in BASIC. Even the professionally written stuff was crude compared
to what was running in the arcades at the times, although playability was
sometimes better. I prefer 'Gridrunner' and especially its successor,
'Matrix', running on the VIC-20 to 'Centipede'.

That's all changed now. Arcade machines are using the same components as
your desktop PC. And they're all running the same tired old rehashes of
the same game (pretty much). There's precious little innovation going on,
Which is hardly surprising given the amount of money that can be won or
lot on the games market.

So I'll keep playing with inform, continuing with the dead medium until I've
had enough. And in my spare time, I might fire up MacMAME and get
myself all pumped up with adrenaline playing 'Defender'.

Simon

[1] That's how I learned to program - debugging [2] the crap they printed in
Computer and Video Games [3]
[2] And porting stuff across to my machine, of course... [4]
[3] UKoGBaNI computer games magazine. Still running, I believe.
[4] ...only to discover it was crap anyway, usually.
--
_______ _______
| ----- | Biased output from the demented brain of | ----- |
||MacOS|| Simon Stapleton. ||Linux||
|| 8.5 || || PPC ||
| ----- | sstaple AT liffe DoT com | ----- |
| -+-.| (if you can't figure it out...) | -+-.|
|洵洵洵洱 |洵洵洵洱
------- -------

Rotonoto

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Feb 2, 1999, 3:00:00 AM2/2/99
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> I also think that the first company to pull
together the graphical bang of Myst and the Infocom humor and puzzle
quality
is going to make a lot of money.

Well, did Activision make a lot of money on "Zork Grand Inquisitor," then?

Chris Carlson

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Feb 2, 1999, 3:00:00 AM2/2/99
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On 02 Feb 1999 10:57:53 +0000, nob...@no.bloody.where (Simon 'tufty'
Stapleton) wrote:

[big snip!]

>
>Computer video games had not matured. Remember typing in all those games
>from magazines[1]? For the most part, poor-quality copies of arcade games
>written in BASIC. Even the professionally written stuff was crude compared
>to what was running in the arcades at the times, although playability was
>sometimes better. I prefer 'Gridrunner' and especially its successor,
>'Matrix', running on the VIC-20 to 'Centipede'.

The first non-Zork text adventure I played was out of a 'Compute!'
magazine, and was presented in an obfuscated BASIC format. Horrible!


Or how about the stuff they printed in a format that looked an awful
lot like uuencoded binary files--you'd spend countless hours typing
hex pairs into the computer, retyping when the checksum at the end
didn't match, and eventually get a game out of the deal? I remember
one good game coming out of that mess--a Dig-Dug type game called
Firebug, I believe.

--- Chris

robb_s...@juno.com

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Feb 3, 1999, 3:00:00 AM2/3/99
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In article <whataguy-010...@51.new-york-28-29rs.ny.dial-
access.att.net>,

> Another question might be: what is the attraction of these same-game
> games? What is the attraction of these same-movie movies? As L. Cohen
> says, why not ask for more?
> Well, help me out here.
> Ben Schaffer
> Chief Designer, Metropotamia Inc. -- Your gateway to the Internet, ca. 1979

Hi Ben,

I think there are a few reasons why the first-person shooter genre has been so
pumped up.

The first reason, I believe, is because of the grandfather of the genre: the
first Doom. Shooters had been released before "Doom" but none of them provided
anything close to its shocking and intense experience. The goal of the game
("something happened on this moon of Mars; all your friends have been brutally
murdered. Get out." ) coupled with the slow pace of enemy revelation, dark
shadows, cruel tricks based upon assumption and level design led to an
absolutely nasty game that remained completely fair. Under no other medium
would something like "Doom" be possible -- you *have* to have a computer and a
copy of the game to get this experience. Furthermore, while it's possible to
get worked up about your cities in "Missile Command" or some other facet of a
classic arcade game, the reason the first Doom was so pure was because it
transcended mechanics. It was no longer "shoot things." It became, instead,
"survive."

Doom and Doom II included code that allowed humans to play against each other
on their own PCs in co-operative or against each other. Much for the same
reason that every year sports game sell extremely well people bought Doom and
Doom II to waste other players from all over the world. There isn't anything
like the feeling of wasting someone across the country so badly in deathmatch
that at the end of the game you just *know* he goes home and beats his kids.
I truly belief that the desire to compete exists in all of us and I've been
around a lot of geeky kids who couldn't throw a football or hit a baseball,
but get them on a LAN playing an aggressive game they have the skill-set down
for and they are just as competitive as Pete Rose or Mike Ditka. Pure
adrenaline.


A lot of today's shooters are so well-received because we (the people who buy
the new ones) are looking for similar highs. Many new games *do* offer
advances to the overall gameplay, however. The second mission of "Shogo:
Mobile Armour Division" has the player kickin' around the base looking for
his girlfriend. "Strife" offered numbered choices for the player's response
when he met different denizens, much like "Photopia" did in last year's IF
competition. And some games are just absolutely-drop-dead-Prom-Queen gorgeous
to look at (like "Unreal," for instance).


Sequels also play a huge part of it. I picked up "Blood" because it looked
like it would be gruesome. It was. "Blood" is an extremely sick and evil,
evil game capable of turning a room of otherwise chummy friends into twisted
shells of hate . I loved it. =) When "Blood II" came out I decided to throw
money at the developers because they have a track record that was completely
enjoyable. It's really become a sequel-based business.


The fact that shooter developers have managed to embrace the on-line
community and make heroes/legends/rock stars out of themselves have also
pushed this desire for their new product. For instance, let's say a bunch of
kids play a level of "Duke Nukem 3D" for three hours where they run about
blowing the living hell out of one another in a subway station. They realize,
fully, that the level design is absolutely *perfect*. They ask themselves,
"who did this level? It's amazing." While, years ago, Atari and other
companies did everything they could to make designers and programmers
completely anonymous it simply doesn't happen in 1999. Those kids who played
the level know that Richard Gray did the level they played for so long. They
learn (via on-line gaming sites) that he left 3D Realms and joined Ritual
Entertainment. They're going to be extremely psyched waiting for the new game
he was working on to arrive (happened to be "Sin," another game that was
eagerly awaited). Because you couldn't easily discover who the brainchild to,
say, "Pengo" was you couldn't get worked up about the dude's next game.

As to how this relates to IF: well.. it's not even a matter of "reading a
book versus seeing the movie" as much as it is "reading in the news about a
shoot- out vs. getting repeatedly shot at." That's not to say that a shooter
can't become as valid a form of art as a piece of IF, it's just much rarer
when it happens. I'd put the scene in "Unreal" where all the lights slowly
turn off and the player is savaged right up there with Floyd's death in
Planetfall (in terms of emotional response given by an affected player).
However, a text-based medium like IF (which also has the advantage of often
being the brainchild of a single individual) simply lends itself more easily
to creative, artistic and emotional content. But because IF is oftentimes a
solitary, silent experience to be enjoyed it does not get covered or hyped as
well as loud, colorful shooters that can be played with dozens of people all
over the world at the same time.

(And for what it's worth, I personally believe your average piece of IF is at
least twice as much fun as your average shooter.)

Robb Sherwin
robb_s...@juno.com
www.geocities.com/Area51/Nebula/1556


"How many crappy Billy Joes can one team start in a year? Who's up for week 8,
the lead singer for Green Day?" -- Brian Gramling on the New Orleans Saints

-----------== Posted via Deja News, The Discussion Network ==----------
http://www.dejanews.com/ Search, Read, Discuss, or Start Your Own

robb_s...@juno.com

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Feb 3, 1999, 3:00:00 AM2/3/99
to
In article <8Ert2.133$o7....@newsfeed.slurp.net>,

amo...@zoomnet.net (R. Alan Monroe) wrote:
> In article <whataguy-010...@51.new-york-28-29rs.ny.dial-
access.att.net>, whataguy@el*REMOVE*.net (Ben Schaffer) wrote:
> It's unnerving if you've never experienced it - the game referring
> literally to what you're holding in your hand.
> And it reads your memory card and comments on certain savegames
> you have have from other Playstation titles.


You're *kidding* me. That's absolutely awesome. That, alone, might make me run
out and buy a Playstation tomorrow. Freakin' unreal.


That's something that needs to be adapted for a text adventure.

=-=-=-
Skulking about in the background is a lean and hungry gentleman.
>thief, tell me about the garlic

'Not a chance, pervert,' the gentleman responds, 'I'm not talking to anyone
who's got Jenny McCarthy's entire Playboy shoot digitized under the
C:\ACDSEE\jpgs\blondes directory.' He steals your gold coffin and walks off.
=-=-=-

Bethesda's release from a few years ago named "Virus" used the player's BMP
and WAV files for display during the game, right? (I think that was the name
of it. It was some thing where you were trapped inside your own computer.)


Robb Sherwin
robb_s...@juno.com
www.geocities.com/Area51/Nebula/1556


"How many crappy Joes can one team start in a year? Who's up for week 8, the
lead singer for Green Day?" Brian Gramling on the New Orleans Saints

Andrew Plotkin

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Feb 3, 1999, 3:00:00 AM2/3/99
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robb_s...@juno.com wrote:

> The first reason, I believe, is because of the grandfather of the genre: the
> first Doom. Shooters had been released before "Doom" but none of them provided
> anything close to its shocking and intense experience. The goal of the game
> ("something happened on this moon of Mars; all your friends have been brutally
> murdered. Get out." )

Interestingly, I played around with Doom when it came out -- sure -- but I
had *no* idea that this was the goal. Or the plot.

(Mars?)

(You had friends?)

Heh.

David The CyberGuineaPig Jacobs

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Feb 3, 1999, 3:00:00 AM2/3/99
to
I used to be the editor for a user group a number of years back; I was
accused of "producing reams of opinionated drivel" by one reader.
Time to wade in with some more... #%o)

On Sun, 31 Jan 1999 23:21:10 -0600, "David A. Cornelson"
<dcorn...@placet.com> wrote:

>I'm going to side with Zarf on this one. Not to bash too many people at
>once, a forte of mine, but most game-players nowadays are idiots. I think

I'd go one further than that. I'd say most people these days are
idiots; game-players are just a subset of this phenomenon. (Sheesh,
I'm only 23, and already a cynical old misanthrope #%o)

Sometime in the early 80s, the emphasis shifted from supporting the
family/community/whatever to accumulating assets in an attempt to
"keep up with the Joneses". The amount of labour required to
facilitate this led to the a shift toward instant gratification as the
preferred type of entertainment; it simply wasn't feasible for many
families to spend alot of time in recreation.

This phenomenon carried down to many of the children, who saw this
type of entertainment as the _only_ one available to them.
Furthermore, the emphasis on monetary wealth left many youth who
didn't have access to it disaffected (you're reading the "opinionated
drivel" of one right now). The increase in media sensationalism and
(possible) increase of violent crime around the mid-to-late 80s led
many parents to become over-protective of their children; the
disaffected youth of the late 80s/early 90s were followed by the
disempowered youth of the mid-90s onward.

These disempowered youth carried all the baggage of their parents and
more; their gratification not only had to be near-instant, but had to
take a form which made them feel powerful[1]. (The terms "munchkin"
and "powergamer" are used in the roleplaying community to describe
these sorts of people.)

As the primary base of computer game consumers moved to this group,
more and more games relied on "window dressing" and attempted to cater
to the insecurity of this generation. The rapid improvement and
decreasing prices of home computer technology led to an increase in
the quality of the window dressing; the increasing minimum
requirements of these games pushed the consumer to either badger their
parents, or spend their hard-earned disposable income, in the case of
the older examples, to buy the necessary hardware. Like the
tail-eating serpent of Greek legend, the vicious cycle continues.

Will this trend run its course? Will IF enjoy a renaissance? It
seems unlikely. The slow demise of IF is merely a side effect of
larger, societal changes, and won't be remedied unless those changes
can be reversed. The computer industry will merely follow the
dollars, and the broader computing community will simply adapt[2].

Perhaps we need to change our education systems, to once again promote
creativity over "life skills" (many of which are useless outside
academia). Programmes to "make reading fun", I feel, will ultimately
fail, because they often don't instil respect and understanding of the
creative process. What we need is an increase in education funding
(and an increase in the efficiency of spending) to lower the
student-to-teacher ratio. With any luck, creative responses to
problems will be encouraged over rote learning.

I see analytical thinking programmes (such as lateral thinking and
CORTthinking) as a good start, but more definitely needs to be done.
Creativity (it can't be said to many times) is an essential part not
only of creation, but of appreciation as well. If we want more people
to read, and more people to play IF, it's something that's going to
have to be done at an RL level.

(Someone hand me a rag; I've vented spleen all over your nice, clean
monitor. #%o)

>you can count about 6 people in the world that have enough patience to play
>IF. Half of our own authors here are more interested in 'writing' IF than
>playing it, something I'm guilty of myself. I usually start every game, but

That's not such a bad thing. I know a few people who prefer writing
fiction to reading it (unfortunately not so many as have attention
spans short enough to prevent them reading. #%o( )

>Heck, even people my age (35) are more interested in Tetris on a gameboy
>than sitting down and reading a book, much less playing a text game.

Welcome to the world of idiots. _Most_ people in my age group (23)
fit into this category.

>As for complexity in graphical games, the artistic side of it is becoming
>easier and less expensive (as Zarf pointed out) and that will allow
>companies to spend more time on the content and less on the structure.

I sincerely wish I could agree with you on this point, I really do.
But it's just as likely to mean that the market is flooded with lots
of pretty games with no substance. It's the market at work here; true
artists are becoming fewer and further between.

I did the first year of a BAppSc (Computing) at university a couple of
years back. (Imagine the uni in "The Waterboy"; now add more alcohol,
more pot and more apathy. That's where I went.) I got all sorts of
funny looks from the other students when I told them that I regarded
myself as a software artisan, rather than a software engineer. I
tried to craft my code into something beautiful and elegant (in the
same way mad physicists and mathematicians set out their equations),
not just utilitarian. It simply didn't occur to them that a
programmer could have any other goal than making money.

Half the programmers, graphic artists and sound engineers these days
don't care about their projects. In fact, many would rather pull the
"prima donna" and play office politics to gain more money than sit
down, resolve problems and get on with the job.

There are certainly exceptions, but they're becoming fewer and fewer.
It's just another symptom of the changing society. People who
would've become lawyers and accountants and marketing executives ten
years ago are attempting to become programmers; the high wages and
falling requirements for technical ability encourage this. Tomorrow's
computing legends are going to look more like Bill Gates than Cliff
Stoll.

>I depart from Zarf's assumption that only hobbyist's will get into the fray.
>I think we'll see real quality logic, interaction, and graphical games

>within the next few years. I also think that the first company to pull

I hope you're right.

>together the graphical bang of Myst and the Infocom humor and puzzle quality
>is going to make a lot of money.

Assuming the market will bear a game that requires thinking. Many
reviewers I've read (and they're often reflections of the broader
game-playing community) are annoyed by games where they really have to
think. One particular reviewer comes to mind -- he gave Myst 3 out of
10, citing gameplay as the reason. It turns out that he never even
realised that you had to get off the first island, let alone how to do
it!

Often it's the reviews that sell the game.

(Please excuse me if any of this seems incoherent. It's after three
in the morning.)

---

1: This phenomenon extends not only to computer and roleplaying games,
but to other media as well, such as movies.

2: In 1995, an AOL subscriber could expect to be flamed off many
newsgroups; today, there is nary a whisper.

---

David "The CyberGuineaPig" Jacobs
-- dmja...@zipworld.com.au --
"You want to talk to me about God? God is dead,
baby. Wake up and smell the Nietzsche."

Branko Collin

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Feb 3, 1999, 3:00:00 AM2/3/99
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On 02 Feb 1999 10:57:53 +0000, nob...@no.bloody.where (Simon 'tufty'
Stapleton) wrote:

>[1] That's how I learned to program - debugging [2] the crap they printed in
> Computer and Video Games [3]

>[3] UKoGBaNI computer games magazine. Still running, I believe.

It does. And it had a great adventure section, IMHO.

--
branko
-- ik maak alles stuk

Avrom Faderman

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Feb 3, 1999, 3:00:00 AM2/3/99
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David "The CyberGuineaPig" Jacobs wrote in message
<36b85e28....@news.zipworld.com.au>...

>On Sun, 31 Jan 1999 23:21:10 -0600, "David A. Cornelson"
><dcorn...@placet.com> wrote:
>
>>I'm going to side with Zarf on this one. Not to bash too many people at
>>once, a forte of mine, but most game-players nowadays are idiots. I think
>
>I'd go one further than that. I'd say most people these days are
>idiots; game-players are just a subset of this phenomenon. (Sheesh,
>I'm only 23, and already a cynical old misanthrope #%o)


Hmmm...while I'm inclined to agree with that, I think "these days" is
redundant...I don't think this can be used to explain the downfall of
commercial I-F.

>Sometime in the early 80s, the emphasis shifted from supporting the

>family/community/whatever to accumulating assets in an attempt to
>"keep up with the Joneses". The amount of labour required to


YM "50s" HTH.

I mean, that's even when the expression "keeping up with the Joneses" comes
from, IIRC.

Maybe you should even say "20s." Read The Great Gatsby. Upward mobility
has been a big concern--to many, a bigger concern than community--for a
very, very long time.

>facilitate this led to the a shift toward instant gratification as the
>preferred type of entertainment; it simply wasn't feasible for many
>families to spend alot of time in recreation.


That's why I don't think acquisitiveness, and the corresponding decline in
free time, had much to do with the push towards instant gratification. I
think, rather, that it became more and more *feasible*. In the 20s, pretty
much the closes entertainment to instant gratification was radio and movies.
And radio didn't have pictures, and (I think?) movies didn't yet have
sound--so both of them required extensive imagination, and the latter wasn't
available all that often.

In the 50s, what was there? Well, really, really grainy and tiny TV. And
already you had people conking out in front of "I Love Lucy."

In the early 80s, there were big, colorful TVs...providing an almost
immersive--if not particularly enriching most of the time--experience. But
if people wanted something a bit more *interactive*?

Well, there was Frogger, and there was Zork.

*Neither* of these *really* provided instant gratification. Frogger was a
big comedown after the high-resolution of TV. And Zork required *thought*,
and had no eye-candy at all.

People who wanted interactivity had to choose between these. Most people
chose Frogger, but a sizeable minority chose Zork.

By the early 90s...well, there was Doom, or there was Beyond Zork. The
latter still required thought, with no eye-candy...but now the former had
bright graphics, and sound effects, and everything you might want from a
summer blockbuster movie...*plus* it was interactive.

Why do I think commercial IF didn't succeed? It *never* would have
succeeded (not this century, anyway) if Doom had been out there. The push
for instant gratification was always there, and now people can get it with
their computers.

>This phenomenon carried down to many of the children, who saw this
>type of entertainment as the _only_ one available to them.
>Furthermore, the emphasis on monetary wealth left many youth who
>didn't have access to it disaffected (you're reading the "opinionated
>drivel" of one right now). The increase in media sensationalism and
>(possible) increase of violent crime around the mid-to-late 80s led
>many parents to become over-protective of their children; the
>disaffected youth of the late 80s/early 90s were followed by the
>disempowered youth of the mid-90s onward.


Is there any evidence for this? Are parents substantially less free with
their kids than they were 10 or 20 years ago, let *alone* less free than
they were 40 or 50 years ago? (I grant they probably are less free than
they were 30 years ago, but that was an unusual time.)

>These disempowered youth carried all the baggage of their parents and
>more; their gratification not only had to be near-instant, but had to
>take a form which made them feel powerful[1]. (The terms "munchkin"
>and "powergamer" are used in the roleplaying community to describe
>these sorts of people.)


...and date from the late 70s/early 80s, I think.

>As the primary base of computer game consumers moved to this group,
>more and more games relied on "window dressing" and attempted to cater
>to the insecurity of this generation. The rapid improvement and


*This*, I think, begins to get relevant. Whatever you think about the
general population, the computer-using population has definitely shifted,
and probably gotten a bit dumber, for the simple reason that computers have
gotten easier to use.

>decreasing prices of home computer technology led to an increase in
>the quality of the window dressing; the increasing minimum


And this is *certainly* relevant, I agree (see above)...

>requirements of these games pushed the consumer to either badger their
>parents, or spend their hard-earned disposable income, in the case of
>the older examples, to buy the necessary hardware. Like the
>tail-eating serpent of Greek legend, the vicious cycle continues.


But this bit I don't understand. You're just saying it leads to an increase
in the consumer culture? Is a substantial amount of the consumer culture
really geared towards computing technology...I mean, enough to make a
difference?

>Will this trend run its course? Will IF enjoy a renaissance? It
>seems unlikely. The slow demise of IF is merely a side effect of
>larger, societal changes, and won't be remedied unless those changes
>can be reversed. The computer industry will merely follow the
>dollars, and the broader computing community will simply adapt[2].

>
>Perhaps we need to change our education systems, to once again promote
>creativity over "life skills" (many of which are useless outside
>academia). Programmes to "make reading fun", I feel, will ultimately
>fail, because they often don't instil respect and understanding of the
>creative process. What we need is an increase in education funding
>(and an increase in the efficiency of spending) to lower the
>student-to-teacher ratio. With any luck, creative responses to
>problems will be encouraged over rote learning.


I'm almost positive that emphasis on rote learning in primary and secondary
schools is at an all-time low...with the possible exception of brief
experiments with "open classrooms." I agree that education is in a mess,
but I don't think that's the mess it's in. I certainly agree that a better
student-to-teacher ration would be a good thing, but I don't think a "do
what you feel" approach is going to reverse the trends you talk about...it's
certainly not going to pull us away from instant gratification.

(Surely playing and appreciating good IF requires both creativity *and* what
you call "life skills," which I assume are things like history and
literature [so you can get references], math [so you can solve the
mathematical puzzles in games], basic physics, and reasoning ability [which
is emphatically *not* the same as creativity].)

That's all I can write now. Short attention span and all.

Best,
Avrom


Avrom Faderman

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Feb 3, 1999, 3:00:00 AM2/3/99
to

Oh, and I don't think anyone has mentioned this possible explanation for the
end of commercial IF (although I'm not sure it's right):

Infocom, by far, made the best commercial IF when it existed. The only
company since Infocom to make any at all has been CMP, and they've only
released one title, so it's far too early to tell whether they'll succeed
(and even if they don't, it won't mean much about the genre--any one company
has a fair chance of failing just because of luck).

What killed Infocom? Well, maybe it was the decline of IF as a commercially
viable genre. But maybe it was that they poured a lot of money into a
relational database program that nobody bought.

Avrom


okbl...@usa.net

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Feb 3, 1999, 3:00:00 AM2/3/99
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In article
<whataguy-010...@145.new-york-08-09rs.ny.dial-access.att.net>,

whataguy@el*Remove*.net (Ben Schaffer) wrote:
>
> I still think there's something important in all this somewhere. I'm not
> suggesting a return of the Zork series, you understand, I'm suggesting a
> return to literate, inventive, multithreaded exploratory works.

Like...?

[ok]

Andrew Plotkin

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Feb 3, 1999, 3:00:00 AM2/3/99
to
Avrom Faderman (Avrom_F...@email.msn.com) wrote:

> Oh, and I don't think anyone has mentioned this possible explanation for the
> end of commercial IF (although I'm not sure it's right):

> Infocom, by far, made the best commercial IF when it existed.

That's a stretch, and it's a further stretch to say that Infocom was *all*
of commercial IF around the time of its decline.

Magnetic Scrolls was going on (I don't know the dates there). Legend was
doing the Spellcasting series in '92-ish (Arthur-style illustrated text
IF). Heck, TADS games were shareware and commercial in the early 90's.

People *tried* to enter the niche, and they all fell out, walked out, or
changed their approach pretty quickly. It would be romantic to believe
that Infocom was a cluster of geniuses unequalled anywhere else in the
gaming industry -- but it's not very plausible. (Particularly since some
of the post-Infocom attempts *were* Infocom people, eg Meretzky.)

okbl...@usa.net

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Feb 3, 1999, 3:00:00 AM2/3/99
to
In article <36b67d6c...@news2.nettally.com>,

Oh, let's get it all out in the open:

--> I prefer "Rambo: First Blood, Part II" to "Saving Private Ryan".
--> I prefer MacDonald's to Sardi's.
--> I prefer Rock 'n' Roll to Mozart.
--> I prefer Stephen King to Henry James.
--> I prefer Cinemax to PBS.
--> I prefer American pop culture to English history.
--> I prefer Clinton to, uh, some politician who isn't glib, dishonest and
immoral. Uh.

;-)

[ok, who, thinking about it, has never played a graphical adventure game]

Avrom Faderman

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Feb 3, 1999, 3:00:00 AM2/3/99
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Andrew Plotkin wrote in message ...

>Avrom Faderman (Avrom_F...@email.msn.com) wrote:
>
>> Oh, and I don't think anyone has mentioned this possible explanation for
the
>> end of commercial IF (although I'm not sure it's right):
>
>> Infocom, by far, made the best commercial IF when it existed.
>
>That's a stretch, and it's a further stretch to say that Infocom was *all*
>of commercial IF around the time of its decline.
>
>Magnetic Scrolls was going on (I don't know the dates there). Legend was
>doing the Spellcasting series in '92-ish (Arthur-style illustrated text
>IF).

Hmm...I only played one each of these games (The Pawn, and Spellcasting
101). I can't remember being particularly impressed with either--the former
had vast numbers of missing responses, and the latter seemed kinda like LGoP
with all the charm systematically suctioned out (and yes, I do know it was
by the same author).

> Heck, TADS games were shareware and commercial in the early 90's.


Were there any real payware TADS games? Shareware is a very nice concept,
and it *sometimes* works, but I wonder how often it does if not combined
with severe crippling.

>People *tried* to enter the niche, and they all fell out, walked out, or
>changed their approach pretty quickly.

I'm curious--I know "IF"<>"All Text," but how many *did* try the all-text
payware niche? I remember The Pawn having really beautiful (but really
slow) graphics and generally pretty sparse text (with some really worthwhile
exceptions, but in general), and I remember Spellcasting 101 having even
sparser text, and a sub-Infocom parser (though maybe I'm misremembering).

> It would be romantic to believe
>that Infocom was a cluster of geniuses unequalled anywhere else in the
>gaming industry -- but it's not very plausible. (Particularly since some
>of the post-Infocom attempts *were* Infocom people, eg Meretzky.)


No, no, I certainly don't think that. But Infocom had a kind of *momentum*
going that I don't think anyone else doing what I'd call good commercial I-F
ever did. Though maybe my ignorance is showing.

Avrom


ji...@postmaster.co.uk

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Feb 4, 1999, 3:00:00 AM2/4/99
to
In article <uDLN9d7T#GA.182@upnetnews05>,

"Avrom Faderman" <Avrom_F...@email.msn.com> wrote:
>
> Oh, and I don't think anyone has mentioned this possible explanation for the
> end of commercial IF (although I'm not sure it's right):
>
> Infocom, by far, made the best commercial IF when it existed. The only
> company since Infocom to make any at all has been CMP, and they've only
> released one title, so it's far too early to tell whether they'll succeed
> (and even if they don't, it won't mean much about the genre--any one company
> has a fair chance of failing just because of luck).

Personaly I was a big fan of the games by Level 9 (Snowball, Worm in Paradise,
Knightorc, Return to Eden, etc.)

Jim

Lelah Conrad

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Feb 4, 1999, 3:00:00 AM2/4/99
to
On Wed, 3 Feb 1999 15:43:35 -0500, "Avrom Faderman"
<Avrom_F...@email.msn.com> wrote:

>David "The CyberGuineaPig" Jacobs wrote in message
><36b85e28....@news.zipworld.com.au>...

<...snip>


>>Perhaps we need to change our education systems, to once again promote
>>creativity over "life skills" (many of which are useless outside
>>academia). Programmes to "make reading fun", I feel, will ultimately
>>fail, because they often don't instil respect and understanding of the
>>creative process. What we need is an increase in education funding
>>(and an increase in the efficiency of spending) to lower the
>>student-to-teacher ratio. With any luck, creative responses to
>>problems will be encouraged over rote learning.
>
>

>... I agree that education is in a mess,


>but I don't think that's the mess it's in. I certainly agree that a better
>student-to-teacher ration would be a good thing, but I don't think a "do
>what you feel" approach is going to reverse the trends you talk about...it's
>certainly not going to pull us away from instant gratification.
>
>(Surely playing and appreciating good IF requires both creativity *and* what
>you call "life skills," which I assume are things like history and
>literature [so you can get references], math [so you can solve the
>mathematical puzzles in games], basic physics, and reasoning ability [which
>is emphatically *not* the same as creativity].)

Reading is a solitary activity (generally) unlike such things as video
games, TV, movies, and even graphical adventure-playing like Doom,
etc. You really have to appreciate this fact in order to understand
*why* reading (and, by analogy, IF) are not the primary choice of
entertainment for most children or adults. Visual entertainment lends
itself more easily to shared participation, or the perception of
shared participation at any rate.

The problems in education are immense, of course, but it would
definitely help if each kid in America had someone to read with every
day. This doesn't have to necessarily be a lower teacher-student
ratio (though that's nice) but could be just a sustained volunteer
effort. There are many many such programs underway around the
country. Reading individually with kids is just about the only way
(IMHO) more kids will become regular readers, I'm afraid. It's labor
intensive. There just aren't any shortcuts, and that's what makes
real progress in national reading achievement difficult.

Lelah
Reading Specialist/Title I Coordinator

okbl...@usa.net

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Feb 4, 1999, 3:00:00 AM2/4/99
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In article <36b85e28....@news.zipworld.com.au>,

dmja...@zipworld.com.au (David "The CyberGuineaPig" Jacobs) wrote:
> I used to be the editor for a user group a number of years back; I was
> accused of "producing reams of opinionated drivel" by one reader.
> Time to wade in with some more... #%o)

On that you have my full agreement. ;-)

Seriously, I'm going to wade in with my own opinionated drivel,

> I'd go one further than that. I'd say most people these days are
> idiots; game-players are just a subset of this phenomenon. (Sheesh,
> I'm only 23, and already a cynical old misanthrope #%o)

Indeed. There are many problems with this sentiment, depending on what
definition of the word "idiot" we use (to paraphrase the President). Nobody
uses the term in its psychological sense anymore (an adult with an IQ inferior
to a 2-year old) so I'm going to assume the common definition of "a stupid or
foolish person". (Even so, I like the etymology of the term "idiot", from the
Latin for "ignorant and common person", the Greek "a layman, ignorant person",
and finally and tellingly from idios "one's own".)

The main problem with this sentiment is that it evaluates the human race
based on one person's values (yours), while at the same time providing no
glimmer of definition for what is meant. It manages to be inflammatory and
unenlightening at the same time. (And I realize you didn't begin the
generalization.)

> Sometime in the early 80s, the emphasis shifted from supporting the
> family/community/whatever to accumulating assets in an attempt to
> "keep up with the Joneses".

The prhase "keep up with the Jonses" was quite popular (and apropos) in the
'50s. Many of the first adventure game programmers were children of this era.

> The amount of labour required to
> facilitate this led to the a shift toward instant gratification as the
> preferred type of entertainment; it simply wasn't feasible for many
> families to spend alot of time in recreation.

The lamentation regarding "instant gratification" was common in the '70s, and
while many people would probably place the introduction of television into the
home as the modern beginning of this shift (if it indeed exists), it could
probably just as easily be drawn during the advent of radio--or perhaps
anywhere in history a new form of entertainment cropped up, since Vaudeville
was an "instant gratification" experience in its day (as were other earlier,
forms of theater in their day).

And this idea of "instant gratification"--whatever the hell that means, come
to think of it--is hardly limited to mere "recreation", as rock 'n' roll is
the "instant gratification" music, for example. Dance--well, dance seems to
always be a kind of instant gratification.<g>

> This phenomenon carried down to many of the children, who saw this
> type of entertainment as the _only_ one available to them.

This doesn't follow at all. Or perhaps I just can't follow it. In your
scenario Bob, an opera lover, has no time to sit down for The Ring Cycle, so
he watches MTV. Bob Jr., not exposed to the majesty that is Wagner, thinks
his only option in music is MTV?

In real life, Bob isn't an opera lover, he likes rock 'n' roll. (Bob never
has been an opera lover. Sixty years ago, he liked Rudy Valli. A hundred
years ago he liked Stephen Foster. Etc.) In any case, Bob Jr. likes hip-hop.
Or swing. Or even opera. Probably anything but what his dad likes, or
possibly whatever drives his father the most nuts.

N.B. IF probably eats up less time than many other kinds of games.

> (possible) increase of violent crime around the mid-to-late 80s led
> many parents to become over-protective of their children; the
> disaffected youth of the late 80s/early 90s were followed by the
> disempowered youth of the mid-90s onward.

Crime has been on a steady decrease over the past five years in the City of
Angels (50% drop in crime over the past year, if I'm to believe a recent
newspaper article. This is probably not a relevant data point, since crime
and perception of crime are two different things.

However, I'm at a loss to figure out how parents without time for recreation
manage to disempower their children--a very time-consuming feat indeed, unless
one has a support network designed to disempower them. The mechanics of this
elude me, especially with all the fuss about latch-key kids.

In fact, I'm not even sure what you mean by "disempower". Keeping closer
tabs on children does not necessarily result in "disempowerment". In fact,
now that things like pagers and portable phones are relatively cheap,
parental paranoia may have decreased somewhat from the '80s.

> These disempowered youth carried all the baggage of their parents and
> more; their gratification not only had to be near-instant, but had to
> take a form which made them feel powerful[1].

I haven't actually met anyone who would admit to "feeling powerful" in any
way that carries over into real life based on what happens in a computer or
role-playing game. Of course, being GOOD at these things might, just as
playing baseball or having a wide knowledge of opera might.

Further, I don't see how games today differ from games 20 years ago, as far
as making one feel powerful. My reflex is to point out that girl-oriented
gratification doesn't seem to have changed much. Girls still play with
Barbie, but they do so using their computers, for example. But this leads me
inexorably to thinking that boy-oriented gratification hasn't really changed
that much. Does winning a game of Command & Conquer make one feel any more
"powerful" than winning a game of "Risk"? Or with little green army men?

The venues of interaction are different and that's about it, as far as I can
tell.

> As the primary base of computer game consumers moved to this group,
> more and more games relied on "window dressing" and attempted to cater
> to the insecurity of this generation.

Do you have some basis for making the statement that games rely more and more
on "window dressing"? Some kind of statistics you'd like to assemble showing
us which games were just window dressing and which games were not? I keep
hearing people complain about this exact phenomenon--usually with regard to
games that aren't very successful. ("Dominion" and "Space Bunnies Must Die",
seem to have passable-to-good graphics, but were put down for poor gameplay.
Not the best examples, maybe, but SBMD's failure is so complete that it's
selling for $10 with a $10 rebate at a local software store, and it surely
looks better than, say "Dark Forces", "Doom", "SimCity" and "Warcraft" which
all seem to be enjoying brisk sales still.)

Of course, people bitch about "Myst", too, but I've seen a lot of die-hard
text IF fans say they like "Myst", even if begrudgingly.

My observation: good graphics make a good first impression, but those effects
wear off without good gameplay.

Another observation: None of this necessarily relates to the alleged evil of
"instant gratification". People can spend hours and hours on a game with
"purdy pitchers" just to get more "purdy pitchers"--maybe even if they don't
*like*the*game*! (Gamer's masochism: A desire to beat the game when all
enjoyment of playing the game is gone.) That would sort of seem to be the
opposite of instant gratification.

> Like the tail-eating serpent of Greek legend, the vicious cycle continues.

I'm kind of fond of the cycle myself. (I wish we had a different dominant
OS-platform, but that's an unspeakable subject.) There *are* assembly-line
game producers out there, but I think a lot--maybe the majority of the
high-priced titles--are built by people who have a real *passion* for what
they're doing. Same with those who drive the hardware forward.

I see that less and less in the "business-oriented" end of technology.

> Will this trend run its course? Will IF enjoy a renaissance? It
> seems unlikely. The slow demise of IF is merely a side effect of
> larger, societal changes, and won't be remedied unless those changes
> can be reversed. The computer industry will merely follow the
> dollars, and the broader computing community will simply adapt[2].

Oh, where to begin.<g>

IF *has* enjoyed a renaissance. Will we see it in the stores? Not likely.
The stores no longer belong to the geeks, to paraphrase one of Zarf's points.
The awful, ugly truth to the matter is that most people don't enjoy text IF,
and aren't likely to, and not necessarily because they possess some
personality defect or because they are "idiots".

Reversing all of society's ills might or might not increase the audience for
IF.

> Perhaps we need to change our education systems, to once again promote
> creativity over "life skills" (many of which are useless outside
> academia).

Here in California, we have done exactly that, with some spectacular results!
Our school children can't tell you what two plus two equals, but they can tell
you how they *feel* about the number two! That's why the nation follows our
lead in all educational matters! <sarcasm>

> What we need is an increase in education funding
> (and an increase in the efficiency of spending) to lower the
> student-to-teacher ratio.

We've had that here, too. There has been absolutely no measurable improvement
in the education provided. One might speculate, heretically, that the problem
is not the quantity of teachers, but the quality.

> If we want more people to read, and more people to play IF, it's something
> that's going to have to be done at an RL level.

Granted. Literacy would be a good first step. However, the problems and flaws
of IF are well documented here. We could resolve those, too.

> >Heck, even people my age (35) are more interested in Tetris on a gameboy
> >than sitting down and reading a book, much less playing a text game.
>
> Welcome to the world of idiots. _Most_ people in my age group (23)
> fit into this category.

At what percentage of "playing Tetris" versus "reading a book" does a person
become an idiot? I mean, I've played some Tetris in my day, at times when,
yes <gasp> I could have been reading a book. Am I an idiot?

Does it matter what I read? Or what my comprehension level is? I mean, if
I'm reading trashy romance novels and longing for love, am I less of an idiot
than someone playing Tetris and longing for love? What if I'm struggling
through Proust and opt for taking a break to play Tetris? Am I part of the
problem in the latter case, and part of the solution in the former?

> >As for complexity in graphical games, the artistic side of it is becoming
> >easier and less expensive (as Zarf pointed out) and that will allow
> >companies to spend more time on the content and less on the structure.
>
> I sincerely wish I could agree with you on this point, I really do.
> But it's just as likely to mean that the market is flooded with lots
> of pretty games with no substance. It's the market at work here; true
> artists are becoming fewer and further between.

I'm reasonably sure that I've read a few positive reviews by Zarf of even the
current crop of "window dressing" graphical IF. As near as I can tell, the
graphical IF market is brutal.

> People who would've become lawyers and accountants and marketing executives
> ten years ago are attempting to become programmers; the high wages and
> falling requirements for technical ability encourage this.

Interestingly enough, there was a recent article in the paper on how
enrollment in computer sciences was down, despite the lure of big bucks. I
think the big turn-offs were that it was not considered a creative task
(false), that it was math heavy (false), and that it was non-social (true,
relative to many professions).

And, though not mentioned, I suspect there is yet a geek stigma.

> 2: In 1995, an AOL subscriber could expect to be flamed off many
> newsgroups; today, there is nary a whisper.

Statements like this, combined with classing people as idiots, suggest an
elitist mentality which is inherently alienating. There are AOL members here,
some long time contributors to the group, even. Do we flame them off based on
their AOL membership? What do we do about the sneaky ones, who use fake
addresses (e.g. Deja News or USA net) to hide their AOL membership?

I'd like to be so bold as to state that when IF gets better more people play
it. And point out that, historically, as IF *has* gotten better, more people
*have* played it.

I also suspect it does The Cause no good to label people as idiots for not
playing IF, even if the label is obliquely applied.

[ok]

okbl...@usa.net

unread,
Feb 4, 1999, 3:00:00 AM2/4/99
to
In article <798vs1$r6m$1...@nnrp1.dejanews.com>,
robb_s...@juno.com wrote:

> > Another question might be: what is the attraction of these same-game
> > games? What is the attraction of these same-movie movies? As L. Cohen
> > says, why not ask for more?

> I think there are a few reasons why the first-person shooter genre has been
> so pumped up.

I think you have some good reasons in there. Some of them don't apply to RTS
games, which I believe were the dominant "me, too" force last year.

But multi-player does help the attraction. A communal experience is
important. So important that many games released these days don't feature
solo play.

Name recognition does count. I suppose many Doom fans know exactly where
everyone who used to be part of id when Doom came out is now.

[ok]

Den of Iniquity

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Feb 4, 1999, 3:00:00 AM2/4/99
to
On Wed, 3 Feb 1999, Andrew Plotkin wrote:
> Interestingly, I played around with Doom when it came out -- sure --
> but I had *no* idea that this was the goal. Or the plot.
>
> (Mars?) (You had friends?)

Admittedly, it's not obvious from the shareware version (especially if
you're just after the WAD file). Like all too many games, it has a
peculiar subtext which is tacked on to the game as a short excerpt in the
manual.

--
Den


Den of Iniquity

unread,
Feb 4, 1999, 3:00:00 AM2/4/99
to
On Wed, 3 Feb 1999, David The CyberGuineaPig Jacobs wrote:

> I used to be the editor for a user group a number of years back; I was
> accused of "producing reams of opinionated drivel" by one reader.
> Time to wade in with some more... #%o)

Argh! Reams of opinionated drivel!

Well, it was after 3 in the morning. Anyway, it sounds like paranoid
drivel, a nightmarish picture of society that I sincerely hope is
extremely misguided. (I think it's very unfair to label people as idiots.
It's a very uppity thing to do.) The way _I_ see it is a bit less complex.

90% of everything, so they say, is crap. In plenty of media, editors weed
a lot of it out, to mix metaphors. In the home computer industry that
sprang up in the 80's, we had no such protection and there was a lot of
dross out there. But there were plenty of gems in there as well - the
remaining 10%. To sell a game, you either had to make it very good or you
had to make it look good. This latter case is where all the
no-originality, same-game-different-name stuff comes from as well as all
the dreadful movie-tie-ins and the flashy-graphics-no-gameplay syndrome.

Computer games have been, since those heady 80's, much the domain of
youth; their recent rise in popularity (games, not young people) stems
from the growing up of home-computing's kids combined with all the new
kids coming into the world and piggybacking on the decreasing price of
technology and computer-game culture.

Now. I-F.

> Will IF enjoy a renaissance? It seems unlikely. The slow demise of IF
> is merely a side effect of larger, societal changes

Huh? The market for I-F hasn't grown to match that of other computer
games, that's for sure. It may have something to do with lower
attention-spans. It may also be to do with the fact that the people who
are drawn to IF contain at their core many of the same people who would
have invested in a home computer in the 80's anyway. Certainly today's
internet-surfing, newsgroup-friendly i-f fans tend to fit that category.
So I-F peaked early, popularity-wise. The fact that it formed a relatively
large percentage of software choice also contributed - people who wouldn't
pick an i-f game off the shelf now might have done so in the past when the
choice of games wasn't so great. Consequently, against the background of
other forms of computer entertainment, it looks like it had a period of
massive popularity, followed by a dreadful slump into insignificance. I
believe most of that effect was merely the rocket-powered rise of other
game software. Are the numbers now so much lower than they were in
Infocom's heyday? Probably quite a bit, but with so much freeware and
shareware, it's difficult to tell. Slow demise? Nah.

It's found its niche, I think, and won't go downhill from here. Very much
underground, it isn't much noticed by computer gaming press nowadays,
which doesn't help. CMP might be able to revive a spark of extra interest.
I hope so. How else can we introduce the genre to the new generations of
gamesplayers who might otherwise not even know that it still exists?

--
Den


Stephen Granade

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Feb 4, 1999, 3:00:00 AM2/4/99
to
"Avrom Faderman" <Avrom_F...@email.msn.com> writes:

> Andrew Plotkin wrote in message ...

> > Heck, TADS games were shareware and commercial in the early 90's.
>
> Were there any real payware TADS games?

Yes. Several of the Adventions games (including "The Horror of
Rylvania") and Mike Roberts' own "Perdition's Flames."

Stephen

--
Stephen Granade | Interested in adventure games?
sgra...@phy.duke.edu | Visit Mining Co.'s IF Page
Duke University, Physics Dept | http://interactfiction.miningco.com

William Wicker

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Feb 5, 1999, 3:00:00 AM2/5/99
to
On Thu, 04 Feb 1999 03:14:36 GMT, l...@nu-world.com (Lelah Conrad)
wrote:

<snippage galore>

>The problems in education are immense, of course, but it would
>definitely help if each kid in America had someone to read with every
>day. This doesn't have to necessarily be a lower teacher-student
>ratio (though that's nice) but could be just a sustained volunteer
>effort. There are many many such programs underway around the
>country. Reading individually with kids is just about the only way
>(IMHO) more kids will become regular readers, I'm afraid. It's labor
>intensive. There just aren't any shortcuts, and that's what makes
>real progress in national reading achievement difficult.

uh.... Parents?

Conversation Beans

unread,
Feb 5, 1999, 3:00:00 AM2/5/99
to
okbl...@usa.net wrote:
> --> I prefer MacDonald's to Sardi's.
> --> I prefer Rock 'n' Roll to Mozart.

This is a rotten comparison for several reasons, but mostly because if you
think rock music is one unified thing a la Mozart's oeuvre or MacDonald's
menu, you're crazy.

aaron

"Ono can't even remain on key... ["John Sinclair"] probably will become a
million seller, but it is lacking Lennon's usual standards."
- from John Lennon's FBI file, declassified in 1983

Adam Cadre

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Feb 5, 1999, 3:00:00 AM2/5/99
to
OK Blacke wrote:
> Oh, let's get it all out in the open:
>
> --> I prefer "Rambo: First Blood, Part II" to "Saving Private Ryan".

Jonathan Rosenbaum would argue that there's little difference.

> --> I prefer MacDonald's to Sardi's.

I don't know what Sardi's is, but guessing from context that it's a
fancy restaurant of some sort, I'd point out that in my experience,
the graph of restaurant quality vs. price is parabolic. As it gets
more expensive, food gets better and better, until a certain point
is reached and it plummets rather precipitously.

At any rate, the very few times I've eaten at places where the entrees
were $30 or more, the food has been nearly inedible. Bleah.

> --> I prefer Rock 'n' Roll to Mozart.

I find the best of rock to be infinitely more powerful and moving than
the best of classical. Every time I listen to CELEBRITY SKIN I feel
like kicking Douglas Hofstadter in the face.

> --> I prefer Stephen King to Henry James.

I don't much care for either. King bores me by not making me think;
James just plain bores me.

> --> I prefer Cinemax to PBS.

Depends what's on. Right now I don't get either (I can only get VHF.)

> --> I prefer American pop culture to English history.

Considering that I spent most of this decade studying the former and
fleeing from schools whose DGSes who forced me into classes about the
latter, I'm certainly with you here.

> --> I prefer Clinton to, uh, some politician who isn't glib,
> dishonest and immoral. Uh.

So vote Green.

-----
Adam Cadre, Anaheim, CA
http://adamcadre.ac

Adam Cadre

unread,
Feb 5, 1999, 3:00:00 AM2/5/99
to
I wrote:
> > --> I prefer Clinton to, uh, some politician who isn't glib,
> > dishonest and immoral. Uh.
>
> So vote Green.

(Assuming you're being sarcastic here, of course.)

okbl...@usa.net

unread,
Feb 5, 1999, 3:00:00 AM2/5/99
to
In article <36BB55...@adamcadre.ac>,
ne...@adamcadre.ac wrote:
<stuff that I'm deciding whether or not I should respond to>

Rather than get too far off, I will state the obvious point that my message
was satirical. And the less obvious point that it was not necessarily or
entirely false, but not really indicative of any personal taste, beyond my
cravings for what some consider "junk".

> I don't know what Sardi's is, but guessing from context that it's a
> fancy restaurant of some sort, I'd point out that in my experience,
> the graph of restaurant quality vs. price is parabolic. As it gets
> more expensive, food gets better and better, until a certain point
> is reached and it plummets rather precipitously.

I had a tough time thinking of a famous fancy restaurant that I thought many
people would have heard of. I don't believe Sardi's exists any more (someone
from New York may correct me) but in its day it was famous for its patronage
of movers and shakers as The Brown Derby (defunct) was in Los Angeles.

> At any rate, the very few times I've eaten at places where the entrees
> were $30 or more, the food has been nearly inedible. Bleah.

Couldn't say. All I know is that some recipes from Sardi's survive and are
delicious.

> > --> I prefer Rock 'n' Roll to Mozart.
>
> I find the best of rock to be infinitely more powerful and moving than
> the best of classical. Every time I listen to CELEBRITY SKIN I feel
> like kicking Douglas Hofstadter in the face.

Heh. I need what I need when I need it.

> > --> I prefer American pop culture to English history.
>
> Considering that I spent most of this decade studying the former and
> fleeing from schools whose DGSes who forced me into classes about the
> latter, I'm certainly with you here.

I am about history as I am about music. When I want American Pop, that's what
I want. When I want English History, that's what I want.

> > --> I prefer Clinton to, uh, some politician who isn't glib,
> > dishonest and immoral. Uh.
>
> So vote Green.

In my observation, environmentalists tend to be glib about environmental
issues, exactly the way (uh) industrialists are, only with the opposite
viewpoint. Besides, anyone can be honest and moral *before* they obtain an
office (even if few are).

BabelFish

unread,
Feb 5, 1999, 3:00:00 AM2/5/99
to
okbl...@usa.net scribbled:

>But multi-player does help the attraction. A communal experience is
>important. So important that many games released these days don't feature
>solo play.

I wouldn't say that *many* don't feature it... there are only a few I
can think of, and I pride myself on keeping up-to-date on the computer
game scene (I *hope* to make a living in it, somehow). But multiplayer
is very important in any game. However, novels are still a popular
form of entertainment, and they don't offer multiplay. If interactive
fiction could provide the accessibility and ease of use of a novel,
I'd hardly be surprised if it gained mainstream popularity.

>Name recognition does count. I suppose many Doom fans know exactly where
>everyone who used to be part of id when Doom came out is now.

Mm, yes. Well, I've lost track of American McGee, but I think I could
still find everyone else. :)

-r


Lelah Conrad

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Feb 6, 1999, 3:00:00 AM2/6/99
to
On Fri, 05 Feb 1999 03:29:12 GMT, REMOVE....@nationwide.net
(William Wicker) wrote:

>On Thu, 04 Feb 1999 03:14:36 GMT, l...@nu-world.com (Lelah Conrad)
>wrote:

...


> Reading individually with kids is just about the only way
>>(IMHO) more kids will become regular readers, I'm afraid. It's labor

>>intensive....
>
>uh.... Parents?

She laughs maniacally, albeit somewhat hysterically, thinking of the
*endless* materials sent home to parents.... Wish that were the magic
bullet -- it isn't, unfortunately.

Lelah

R. Alan Monroe

unread,
Feb 6, 1999, 3:00:00 AM2/6/99
to
In article <36bb622c....@news.logical.net>, te...@planetquake.com.spam (BabelFish) wrote:
>form of entertainment, and they don't offer multiplay. If interactive
>fiction could provide the accessibility and ease of use of a novel,
>I'd hardly be surprised if it gained mainstream popularity.

Will I get smacked if I say "CYOA"? :^)

Have fun
Alan

BabelFish

unread,
Feb 6, 1999, 3:00:00 AM2/6/99
to
okbl...@usa.net scribbled:

>I had a tough time thinking of a famous fancy restaurant that I thought many
>people would have heard of. I don't believe Sardi's exists any more (someone
>from New York may correct me) but in its day it was famous for its patronage
>of movers and shakers as The Brown Derby (defunct) was in Los Angeles.

How about '21'? It's been around (since the 1920s, when it was a
speakeasy), it's still around (it's in NYC), and it's got the
patronage (it has one of the most remarkable styles of decor anywhere
- lots of little things hanging from the ceiling, and each one has
something to do with one of its famous patrons).

HTH.

-r


BabelFish

unread,
Feb 6, 1999, 3:00:00 AM2/6/99
to
amo...@zoomnet.net (R. Alan Monroe) scribbled:

*smack* :P

I'd hardly call CYOA on par with IF. I'm thinking a combination of the
Rocket E-Books with Microsoft's Speech API and Frotz. I've got a
friend working on adding the speech capability to WinFrotz just to see
how it works. I'll stick it up somewhere when it's finished. :)

-r


Matt Ackeret

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Feb 6, 1999, 3:00:00 AM2/6/99
to
In article <whataguy-010...@145.new-york-08-09rs.ny.dial-access.att.net>,
Ben Schaffer <whataguy@el*Remove*.net> wrote:
>permanent mass appeal. The same thing with cars in that period. However, I
>think you will agree that in 1895 cars were "not good enough" for mass
>appeal, and had to "improve" until the point that they had such appeal. In
>1982, for example, video games were still very primitive. They became

But they were (and are) a lot more *fun* to play. There are very very
few videogames made nowadays that are any fun (in my opinion, of course).
Most of them are just eye-candy but aren't actually fun to play for
the most part.

(I still go to arcades fairly regularly, and I'm 30.. I play pinball, and
sometimes older games. In this sense, I mean at least 3-4 years old. I don't
mean I'm playing them _because_ they're old, just that I haven't seen many
newer games that are fun.. Armageddon [no relation to the movie] is one of the
recent games I've played several times.. and the various Japanese import "fly
a plane and shoot everything that movies" [like Raiden] games are fun once in a
while.. and taking a break at work, for the past few weeks I've been playing
a level or so a day of Metal Gear Solid on a co-worker's Playstation. This
game has a lot of eye candy but actually has somewhat- interesting gameplay..
except for excruciatingly long movie scenes you have to sit through if you want
to know the plot.)
--
mat...@area.com

Matt Ackeret

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Feb 6, 1999, 3:00:00 AM2/6/99
to
In article <wzpv7t9...@davina.liffe.com>,
Simon 'tufty' Stapleton <nob...@no.bloody.where> wrote:
>'Track & Field' came out in 1983. About the only genre I can think of which
>wasn't represented at that time is the beat-em-ups. 'Punch Out' is the first
>one I can think of and that was released in 1984.

While "Punch Out" is a good example, aren't most of the "beat-em-ups"
vaguely karate/kung fu related? Then it would seem like Kung Fu Master
and/or Yie Ar Kung Fu would be more directly related to the current crop
of Mortal Kombat crapfests.

>Anyway, what I'm trying to say is this. The reason I have spent less time in
>arcades from the mid-late eighties is the lack of innovation. Fancy-pants

Try pinball.. I will completely admit that "gee whiz doohickeys" are
involved with some of my favorite pinball games (but there are ones that
I like that don't have them, and some that have them that I don't like)..
Such as Funhouse, Star Trek:The Next Generation, Attack From Mars,
and a very similar one in gameplay where you're in the middle ages.
--
mat...@area.com

Matt Ackeret

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Feb 6, 1999, 3:00:00 AM2/6/99
to
In article <36bb622c....@news.logical.net>,

BabelFish <te...@planetquake.com.spam> wrote:
>okbl...@usa.net scribbled:
>>But multi-player does help the attraction. A communal experience is
>>important. So important that many games released these days don't feature
>>solo play.
>
>I wouldn't say that *many* don't feature it... there are only a few I
>can think of, and I pride myself on keeping up-to-date on the computer
>game scene (I *hope* to make a living in it, somehow). But multiplayer
>is very important in any game. However, novels are still a popular
>form of entertainment, and they don't offer multiplay.

Isn't a movie version of a book sort of the 'multi play' version?

Also, some games that have multi-play and solo versions are completely
different -- such as Super Bomberman (the best multiple player game I've
ever seen. Only the first one.. Super Bomberman II and Bomberman 64 SUCK...
they fall into the "make it look cool but wreck the gameplay" trap)..
Anyhow.. The Bomberman games have a different 'solve the level's game for
solo players (or 2 players), as opposed to the "kill everyone else" for
the multiple player games.
--
mat...@area.com

WAk a duK

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Feb 7, 1999, 3:00:00 AM2/7/99
to
<<Would it be possible, in other words, to successfully market a game with
the requisite status-quo fancy graphics which nonetheless takes as its
core the Infocom-derived game of discovery?>>

I may be mistaken, but it seems that Douglas Adam's Starship Titanic is that,
or as close as you can, at the moment, get. I haven't yet played it myself (it
is still in the mail) but DNA claims a) it is somewhat revolutionary and b)
recaptures the good old days of infocom. These two are to some degree
contradictory in terms, but the amount of NPC interaction is supposedly equal
to that in the best of Adventure Games (think Once and Future.) So although it
may be a far call from Infocom, how can we go wrong with the creator of HHGTTG
and Bureacracy? :)

XOXOXO, Nellie C. Entity (stark raving mad)

Steven Marsh

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Feb 7, 1999, 3:00:00 AM2/7/99
to
On Sat, 06 Feb 1999 01:04:16 GMT, l...@nu-world.com (Lelah Conrad)
wrote:

>On Fri, 05 Feb 1999 03:29:12 GMT, REMOVE....@nationwide.net
>(William Wicker) wrote:
>
>>On Thu, 04 Feb 1999 03:14:36 GMT, l...@nu-world.com (Lelah Conrad)
>>wrote:
>...
>> Reading individually with kids is just about the only way
>>>(IMHO) more kids will become regular readers, I'm afraid. It's labor
>>>intensive....
>>
>>uh.... Parents?
>
>She laughs maniacally, albeit somewhat hysterically, thinking of the
>*endless* materials sent home to parents.... Wish that were the magic
>bullet -- it isn't, unfortunately.
>
>Lelah

As I understand it (and, having a SO in doctoral RhetComp classes,
I've heard more about the subject than I probably ever intended to :b
), by the time youngsters get into school, it's all but too late. The
"reading individually with kids" is ideally done from, say, birth-ish
up thru five (IIRC); by five, the brain's reading part of the brain
has pretty much wired itself for good. Upon learning this, we
discussed it with our circle of friends (honors students, all of us),
and learned that, without exception, we've all been reading since
three or four, and had been read to (and with) by parents before that.

It may not be a "magic bullet" per se, but it's close enough for -my-
purposes. Unfortunately, by the time endless materials are shipped
home to students, they've already been programmed into good little
Doom players.

(Or, as it's become vogue to do, I blame Seseme Street. :b )

Steven Marsh
ma...@nettally.com

Lelah Conrad

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Feb 7, 1999, 3:00:00 AM2/7/99
to
On Sun, 07 Feb 1999 06:09:39 GMT, ma...@nettally.com (Steven Marsh)
wrote:

>On Sat, 06 Feb 1999 01:04:16 GMT, l...@nu-world.com (Lelah Conrad)
>wrote:
>
>>On Fri, 05 Feb 1999 03:29:12 GMT, REMOVE....@nationwide.net
>>(William Wicker) wrote:
>>
>>>On Thu, 04 Feb 1999 03:14:36 GMT, l...@nu-world.com (Lelah Conrad)
>>>wrote:
>>...
>>> Reading individually with kids is just about the only way
>>>>(IMHO) more kids will become regular readers, I'm afraid. It's labor
>>>>intensive....
>>>
>>>uh.... Parents?
>>
>>She laughs maniacally, albeit somewhat hysterically, thinking of the
>>*endless* materials sent home to parents.... Wish that were the magic
>>bullet -- it isn't, unfortunately.
>>
>>Lelah
>
>As I understand it (and, having a SO in doctoral RhetComp classes,
>I've heard more about the subject than I probably ever intended to :b
>), by the time youngsters get into school, it's all but too late.

Nonsense. It is *never* to late to learn. You'd be surprised! I get
kids every year who cannot read at all/have not been read to, and with
lots of individual attention come along quite nicely.

>The
>"reading individually with kids" is ideally done from, say, birth-ish
>up thru five (IIRC); by five, the brain's reading part of the brain
>has pretty much wired itself for good. Upon learning this, we
>discussed it with our circle of friends (honors students, all of us),
>and learned that, without exception, we've all been reading since
>three or four, and had been read to (and with) by parents before that.
>
>It may not be a "magic bullet" per se, but it's close enough for -my-

>purposes. ...

I'm not talking about (nor do I work with) the children of "honors"
students! Such an elite group! Believe it or not, there are a lot of
other people in the world. :) I'm talking about the everyday working
parent, hardly making ends meet, who is nearly completely
stressed/pressed for time, and most often unable/unwilling to devote
the necessary time to reading to kids. You can lecture them time and
again, and they are not going to change. Even so, society (all of
*us*) have a strong interest in *all* kids being literate.

Individual kids can blossom with the attention and time of *any*
caring adult who reads with them/spends time with them. Parents would
be the best, but if we wait for *the best* we won't get there, ever.

I am really disturbed by the kind of attitude expressed in your post
(you have to get it young or you won't get it at all) -- it goes
against everything I and many others are working toward in the
schools, public or private. I do not agree that research supports
such conclusions. Nor probably would most adult literacy workers
agree with you.

Sincerely,

Lelah

Idealist, bleeding heart, etc. etc.

Jon Petersen

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Feb 7, 1999, 3:00:00 AM2/7/99
to
Matt Ackeret wrote:
> Attack From Mars

Yeah, Attack From Mars! GERRRMANY IS VICTORIOUS!

> and a very similar one in gameplay where you're in the middle ages.

Medieval Madness, maybe? I like that one too, except the rebounds are a
little harsh; the balls tend to shoot right down the center if I miss
that portcullis by a fraction.

Jon

TenthStone

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Feb 7, 1999, 3:00:00 AM2/7/99
to
Avrom Faderman thus inscribed this day of Wed, 3 Feb 1999 15:43:35 -0500:

>David "The CyberGuineaPig" Jacobs wrote:
>>Sometime in the early 80s, the emphasis shifted from supporting the
>>family/community/whatever to accumulating assets in an attempt to
>>"keep up with the Joneses". The amount of labour required to
>
>YM "50s" HTH.
>
>I mean, that's even when the expression "keeping up with the Joneses" comes
>from, IIRC.
>
>Maybe you should even say "20s." Read The Great Gatsby. Upward mobility
>has been a big concern--to many, a bigger concern than community--for a
>very, very long time.

Hmm. Let us examine these numbers.

20... 50... 80...

Strange, they seem to be 30 years from each other.

Let us now examine the human life. Early devlopment ends around 5, and
youth ends at around 20. At about 35, most people have pretty much
settled in to their life. At around 50, they have begun to plan for
retirement. At 65, they have essentially left the labor force.

Hmm. 15-year intervals. So each generation stays in each position for
about 15 years. Therefore, each 30-year gap contains two intervals.

Adolescent rebellion may be finished by the twentieth year, but it had
already established most of the viewpoints of the individual. Each
generation, then, more or less defines itself as diametrically opposed to
the passing one in an attempt to establish its own personality and ethic
(naturally, individual reactions cannot be predicted: not everyone feels
the pressure for rebellion as an aid towards self-definiton, but those
that do tend to be more vocal about it, and thereby make it count).

So my theory is a polarity between individualism and social conscience,
one which flips poles every fifteen years. Let us find evidence; be
warned that I have only just enough knowledge of American history
to support my arguments, and that there is no way I could possibly extend
the hypothesis to other nations. Keep in mind that this is a very general
theory.

Our first decade is the 1920s, but the commercialism of this era actually
started aslightly earlier. 1918 is a more reasonable guess, for obvious
reasons; the First World War had just concluded, and a boom was on.
In late 1929, the Great Depression begins; New Dealism is established as
a result. Again, fifteen years later at the end of a war (this time World
War II) another period of prosperity begins, but with the end of the
Korean War and the beginning of Vietnam many Americans have grown
sick of the conservatism on which they place the blame for the lack of
peace. This feeling continues until about 1975, at which point rising
technology, Russian antagonism, and Japanese economic threats refocus
attitudes onto competition.

In 1991, Russia falls and Iraq is defeated. Whether that was reallt the
end of a cycle is questionable, but I'm willing to bet that it was. That
would put us squarely in the midst of a rise in social conscience, and
given the recent rise in perception of the global economy that seems
correct.

-----------

The imperturbable TenthStone
tenth...@hotmail.com mcc...@erols.com mcc...@gsgis.k12.va.us

Steven Marsh

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Feb 7, 1999, 3:00:00 AM2/7/99
to
On Sun, 07 Feb 1999 07:44:42 GMT, l...@nu-world.com (Lelah Conrad)
wrote:
<snip>

>
>Nonsense. It is *never* to late to learn. You'd be surprised! I get
>kids every year who cannot read at all/have not been read to, and with
>lots of individual attention come along quite nicely.
>
Oh, I don't disagree with that (sorry if I sound that way). It -is-
never too late to learn. I -do- believe that it can be too late to
learn to learn; I'm coming from the school of thought/research that
believes the ability to read -drectly- forms higher thought skills
when younger. I mean, I hope you don't think that the brain -isn't-
"wiring" itself in those early years. ("Our son? Oh, he's being kept
in a closet now. We figure he'll be going into Kindergarden soon, so
he can start learning.").

>>The
>>"reading individually with kids" is ideally done from, say, birth-ish
>>up thru five (IIRC); by five, the brain's reading part of the brain
>>has pretty much wired itself for good. Upon learning this, we
>>discussed it with our circle of friends (honors students, all of us),
>>and learned that, without exception, we've all been reading since
>>three or four, and had been read to (and with) by parents before that.
>>
>>It may not be a "magic bullet" per se, but it's close enough for -my-
>>purposes. ...
>
>I'm not talking about (nor do I work with) the children of "honors"
>students! Such an elite group! Believe it or not, there are a lot of
>other people in the world. :)

Oh, agreed, agreed. OTOH, the cause/effect gets skewed here; although
I can't show (from my informal research) that reading to your kid when
they're 0-4 years old -will- make them an honor student, my imperical
evidence -has- shown that -not- reading to your kid is a fine way to
ensure that they -don't- become honor students.

>I'm talking about the everyday working
>parent, hardly making ends meet, who is nearly completely
>stressed/pressed for time, and most often unable/unwilling to devote
>the necessary time to reading to kids. You can lecture them time and
>again, and they are not going to change.

GAAAAAAAA! :)

It's 10 minutes a day, fer chrissakes! Miss the last third of
Suddenly Susan.

Besides, who sez everyone should bring kids into the world they don't
have any hope of supporting? (Yeah, we're getting into weird
territory here, but if my friend had no money, worked all day, and was
never home, and wanted to buy a dog, I'd ask them, "That's great, but
how are you going to afford to feed it? Won't it get lonely when
you're gone all the time? Who's going to take care of it?" But
society prevents me from saying the same things if folks "decide" to
have children.) As an era that grew up with TV dinners (remember when
it took longer than 10 minutes to eat?), we grow so accustomed to, I
dunno, someone else taking the responsibility.

>Even so, society (all of
>*us*) have a strong interest in *all* kids being literate.

Agreed, agreed 100%.


>
>Individual kids can blossom with the attention and time of *any*
>caring adult who reads with them/spends time with them. Parents would
>be the best, but if we wait for *the best* we won't get there, ever.
>

Agreed again, for the most part. OTOH, I -can- be an optimist and
hope that we will eventually get close. There's a series of public
service announcements out now that expresses the importance of
learning to read (or, more correctly, being exposed to reading) when
you're young, and, given enough time, I can pray it'll click. (Of
course, these ads are mostly on during daytime talk shows, but that's
a different post. :b ) It's happened before; look how much less drunk
driving & non-seatbelt wearing there is.

>I am really disturbed by the kind of attitude expressed in your post
>(you have to get it young or you won't get it at all) -- it goes
>against everything I and many others are working toward in the
>schools, public or private.

Sorry if it seemed that I advocated those who -weren't- read to be put
in a box and shipped to the moon. That wasn't my intent; you're
absolutely right that we humans have a remarkable gift of learning,
and can overcome many obstacles, with hard work and determination.
But that hard work and determination can (often) be avoided with
something releatively trivial to add to the mix of raising one's
child.

I also believe it's not merely a matter of learning to read, so much
as gaining an appreciation of reading. I know quite a few kids who
know darn well how to read, they just don't... they don't like it,
etc.

As such, I -am- curious how much those who learn to read later in the
game actually -like- to read. Any illumination from someone who's
been there first-hand, please?

>I do not agree that research supports
>such conclusions. Nor probably would most adult literacy workers
>agree with you.

Gee, a group of humanity that disagrees with me? Shocking. :)

But seriously, reading skills aren't that much different than, say,
speech skills. If you raised a child without speaking around them,
without exposing them to speech, without television/radio (where they
speak), that child darn-well won't learn how to speak, and is going to
be pretty messed up. Will they ever be able to learn to speak?
Probably, sure. But it's going to be a loooong road to travel. (As
an aside, I knew a couple that was mute and had a child. They took
extra steps, like hanging around talking friends, to expose the child
to speaking.) (As an aside aside, I've read that children raised
around those who are both mute "babble" with their hands; they make
common sign language patterns with their hands, as their brains try to
sort out this language thing. It boggles the mind.)

Same thing with reading. Although we'd never think to raise a child
from 0-5 without talking around them, a -lot- less folks would have a
problem with never reading around a child. My before-mentioned Grad
Student SO has had students (mind you, Freshmen English at a
university) proudly state that they've -never- read a book. They
-can- read (usually), but do so on a -very- limited level. These
folks have obviously never had reading instilled onto them, and were
(in all liklihood) not exposed to many books growing up.

Please don't think that I'm putting down what you do; quite the
contrary -- I'm -very- thankful there's folks like you with the skills
and passion to instill a very necessary and useful skill. But, in an
ideal world, we wouldn't need literacy workers -nearly- as much.
(Sort of like dentists.)


>
>Sincerely,
>
>Lelah
>
>Idealist, bleeding heart, etc. etc.
>

Steven Marsh
ma...@nettally.com
Hey, I've got it worse; I'm a cynical optimist! --
"Things are garbage now, but they might get better in the future."


BabelFish

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Feb 7, 1999, 3:00:00 AM2/7/99
to
mat...@area.com (Matt Ackeret) scribbled:

>Isn't a movie version of a book sort of the 'multi play' version?

I'd say movies are even less interactive than books, if anything.
Sure, you get more people watching at once, but who ever said you
can't read a novel out loud to a group? And at least when you're
reading, you supply the pictures in your head, and you have the
tangible feel of holding the book and turning the pages. The best
equivalent to that in a movie theatre is hefting an extra double large
pop and feeling the stickiness of the floor under your feet...

>solo players (or 2 players), as opposed to the "kill everyone else" for
>the multiple player games.

Nobody ever said that multiplay has to be "kill everyone else." Many
games feature cooperative mode - the new Lode Runner games, for
example.

-r


Adam Cadre

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Feb 7, 1999, 3:00:00 AM2/7/99
to
R. McCall wrote:
> Hmm. Let us examine these numbers.
>
> 20... 50... 80...
>
> Strange, they seem to be 30 years from each other.

[rest snipped]

I did my honors thesis on Howe and Strauss's generational theory. It was
documented much more thoroughly than yours, and a lot more effort went
into it.

It's still basically crap, though. This is the worst kind of pop
sociology, based purely on anecdotal "evidence" and meaningless
generalizations. Nothing useful can come of it -- it's just self-
gratification for people who like to believe that social phenomena fit a
neat little pattern which they can discern.

So, trust me -- you really don't want to go down this road. It may seem
promising, and you may think you're discovering stuff, but I've been down
this road before and there's nothing there.

Irene Callaci

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Feb 8, 1999, 3:00:00 AM2/8/99
to
On Sun, 07 Feb 1999 16:56:29 GMT, ma...@nettally.com (Steven Marsh)
wrote:

>I also believe it's not merely a matter of learning to read, so much


>as gaining an appreciation of reading. I know quite a few kids who
>know darn well how to read, they just don't... they don't like it,
>etc.
>
>As such, I -am- curious how much those who learn to read later in the
>game actually -like- to read. Any illumination from someone who's
>been there first-hand, please?

Hmmm...I'm curious about this too, but from a slightly different
angle. One of my earliest memories is that of my father reading
to me after supper every night. For the record, I am a voracious
reader. But although I've read to my granddaughter (who's 7 now
and has always lived with me) since she was a toddler, she does
not like to read. At all. She enjoys it when I read to her, but
she will *not* read anything herself except when forced (for
instance, at school). I'm not so sure anymore that reading to
a child will turn that child into a reader. I'll be interested
to see if she changes her mind about reading as she gets older.

irene


okbl...@usa.net

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Feb 8, 1999, 3:00:00 AM2/8/99