The unending game... Is Winning A Necessity?

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Gadget

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Jan 24, 2003, 7:23:26 PM1/24/03
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Imagine a game where the player is free to roam around an play with
the environment. Now imagine that *this is it*.

So far, IF has mostly been a linear affair.(I'm not putting this down,
I don't really object... This is just an observation) No matter how
many branches the plot has, it still requires the player to go from
the beginning towards the end by solving puzzles. With 'puzzles' I
also mean the commands you type in a 'puzzleless IF'.

I was wondering if this is the only way to create an interesting
player experience.

What about creating a small world with interesting objects and NPC's
with which the player can toy around and have fun. Maybe some
chemicals or magical objects that can interact with each other and
generate strange outcomes... Maybe a kind of monster raising game,
where the combination of different types of creatures leads to
different species which could be trained. Maybe something AI-like,
with an NPC 'child' which the player can teach things to.

And what about the equivalent of the countless puzzle games with no
other goal then to achieve a high score... Maybe a game with an
abstract environment with randomized puzzles which must be solved in
the fastest time or with the fewest moves. Tetris or Bubble Bobble
types of puzzles... (And no, I don't mean Tetris as IF, I mean
abstract puzzles which *could* work in a text-only game... )

(Insert your 'You are a brick. You can go down' jokes here ;-)

And then there is the combination of all of the above... A
'communication game' like Animal Forest on the Gamecube. A town for
the player to roam around in, play mini games, and where other players
can also interact via the game (also like in Animal Forrest... Player
one writes a note in his house and drops it off at the other player's
house. Then when player two starts up the game and restores the save,
he will find the note in his mailbox)

I'm basically just throwing around ideas... Maybe I make no sense, but
it is late ;-)

I don't know if any of them would work in IF, but it might be nice to
see at least some attempts at making the Unending, Unwinnable piece of
IF.
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Mike Roberts

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Jan 24, 2003, 8:21:29 PM1/24/03
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"Gadget" <gad...@SPAMBLOCKhaha.demon.nl> wrote:
> Imagine a game where the player is free to roam around an
> play with the environment. Now imagine that *this is it*.

There are plenty of games like that - all of the simulation-style games (Sim
City, The Sims, RollerCoaster Tycoon, Flight Simulator) are pretty much
open-ended.

> So far, IF has mostly been a linear affair. [...] I was wondering


> if this is the only way to create an interesting player experience.

Clearly not - see above. But I take it you're talking about building an
open-ended game with the traditional IF user interface (command-line input
and text descriptions). People have been kicking around ideas about this
kind of thing for years; I think I first ran into it at a talk by David
Graves on automatic plot generation in 1990 or so. You can find extensive
past raif discussion with some of these search strings on groups.google.com:

group:rec.arts.int-fiction non-linear
group:rec.arts.int-fiction open-ended
group:rec.arts.int-fiction "plot generation"
erasmatron

Here's a capsule summary of my own thinking on the subject. If you take the
story-telling part out of IF, I think all you have left is an extremely
unwieldy user interface; I certainly wouldn't want to play RollerCoaster
Tycoon as a text game, for example. For games that are primarily
story-telling, though, text is a uniquely powerful UI. The thing is that
story-telling requires human-level intelligence, because the whole function
of narrative is to fit events into a coherent framework. For now and for
the foreseeable future, "human-level" intelligence means *human*
intelligence. If a human has to design the full narrative of a game in
advance, it's inherently a closed-ended game; I mean, you could leave it
open-ended and let players keep walking around the landscape as long as they
wanted, but my claim is that a text-style game remains interesting only as
long as there's more (pre-written, human-written) narrative to explore. So
the text UI and closed-ended seem to go hand-in-hand for now.

There are plenty of people more optimistic than I am about the possibilities
of automatic plot generation and the like, which you should be able to see
by running the searches I suggested above.

--Mike
mjr underscore at hotmail dot com

Quintin Stone

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Jan 24, 2003, 11:58:51 PM1/24/03
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On Sat, 25 Jan 2003, Gadget wrote:

> Imagine a game where the player is free to roam around an play with the
> environment. Now imagine that *this is it*.

What you describe is kind of how the graphical RPG Morrowind is pitched.
A large world that you can roam at your leisure... taking on NPC quests,
or not. There is no Goal that I've found so far.

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Jon Ingold

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Jan 25, 2003, 9:19:17 AM1/25/03
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> Imagine a game where the player is free to roam around an play with
> the environment. Now imagine that *this is it*.

See "Ribbons" by J.D. Berry.

Jon


Seebs

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Jan 25, 2003, 11:33:53 AM1/25/03
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In article <Pine.LNX.4.44.030124...@yes.rps.net>,

Quintin Stone <st...@rps.net> wrote:
>What you describe is kind of how the graphical RPG Morrowind is pitched.
>A large world that you can roam at your leisure... taking on NPC quests,
>or not. There is no Goal that I've found so far.

There is a "real plot", but I actually gave up and uninstalled the game;
it just didn't seem interesting, and there were too many design decisions
that struck me as cripplingly poor. (e.g., if you want to fire a bow,
you, the player, must decide how much above your target to aim based on
range. This violates the entire point of having a skill system.)

-s
--
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Joe Mason

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Jan 25, 2003, 1:18:19 PM1/25/03
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In article <smh33v8vmlc0m2dat...@4ax.com>, Gadget wrote:
> Imagine a game where the player is free to roam around an play with
> the environment. Now imagine that *this is it*.

You might be interested in In The End, which was a bit of a play on
this. You might also be frustrated by it.

(The cure for such frustration is the much superior - well, at least
much funnier - In The End 2, which unfortunately has a goal.)

Joe

katie did.

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Jan 25, 2003, 4:00:31 PM1/25/03
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Gadget <gad...@SPAMBLOCKhaha.demon.nl> wrote in message news:<smh33v8vmlc0m2dat...@4ax.com>...

> Imagine a game where the player is free to roam around an play with
> the environment. Now imagine that *this is it*.
>
> So far, IF has mostly been a linear affair.(I'm not putting this down,
> I don't really object... This is just an observation) No matter how
> many branches the plot has, it still requires the player to go from
> the beginning towards the end by solving puzzles. With 'puzzles' I
> also mean the commands you type in a 'puzzleless IF'.
>
> I was wondering if this is the only way to create an interesting
> player experience.
>
> What about creating a small world with interesting objects and NPC's
> with which the player can toy around and have fun. Maybe some
> chemicals or magical objects that can interact with each other and
> generate strange outcomes... Maybe a kind of monster raising game,
> where the combination of different types of creatures leads to
> different species which could be trained. Maybe something AI-like,
> with an NPC 'child' which the player can teach things to.
>
> And what about the equivalent of the countless puzzle games with no
> other goal then to achieve a high score... Maybe a game with an
> abstract environment with randomized puzzles which must be solved in
> the fastest time or with the fewest moves. Tetris or Bubble Bobble
> types of puzzles... (And no, I don't mean Tetris as IF, I mean
> abstract puzzles which *could* work in a text-only game... )

Of course, there *is* Tetris in Inform 5.5 (and I have a port to
Inform 6.21, BTW). :)

>
> (Insert your 'You are a brick. You can go down' jokes here ;-)
>
> And then there is the combination of all of the above... A
> 'communication game' like Animal Forest on the Gamecube. A town for
> the player to roam around in, play mini games, and where other players
> can also interact via the game (also like in Animal Forrest... Player
> one writes a note in his house and drops it off at the other player's
> house. Then when player two starts up the game and restores the save,
> he will find the note in his mailbox)
>
> I'm basically just throwing around ideas... Maybe I make no sense, but
> it is late ;-)

;)

Have you looked at Trinity? I'm not sure, but I think it may have
ventured into that direction.

I couldn't get past the H-bomb going off, so...

>
> I don't know if any of them would work in IF, but it might be nice to
> see at least some attempts at making the Unending, Unwinnable piece of
> IF.
> -------------
> It's a bird...
> It's a plane...
> No, it's... Gadget?
> -------------------
> To send mail remove SPAMBLOCK from adress.

You never know...

-kd.

Eric Smith

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Jan 25, 2003, 5:20:02 PM1/25/03
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Gadget <gad...@SPAMBLOCKhaha.demon.nl> writes:
> Imagine a game where the player is free to roam around an play with
> the environment. Now imagine that *this is it*.
[..]

> What about creating a small world with interesting objects and NPC's
> with which the player can toy around and have fun.

You're in a small cubicle with a desk and a computer.

> Examine computer

The computer has a 17-inch monitor and a 101-key keyboard. The
system unit is under the desk. The computer appears to be turned off.

> Examine system unit

The system unit is a minitower case with floppy drive and a CD-ROM
drive. There is a power button and a reset button.

> Press power button

The computer beeps, and a fan starts whirring, but nothing is visible on the
monitor.

> Examine monitor

The monitor is turned off.

> Turn on monitor

The monitor takes a few seconds to warm up. It displays "%" as a prompt.

> Type "ls" and press return

The monitor displays "game" then another "%" prompt.

> Type "./game" and press return

The monitor displays "You're in a small cubicle with a desk and a computer.",
and a ">" prompt.

> Type "Examine computer" and press return

...

Mark W

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Jan 25, 2003, 9:56:25 PM1/25/03
to
Quintin Stone <st...@rps.net> wrote in
news:Pine.LNX.4.44.030124...@yes.rps.net:

> What you describe is kind of how the graphical RPG Morrowind is
> pitched. A large world that you can roam at your leisure... taking on
> NPC quests, or not. There is no Goal that I've found so far.

You're describing the ancient Atari 8-bit game Alternate Reality. The
series was never completed, and the publishers demanded a game early, so
there is no "goal" in the first game, and the 2nd has relatively little
quest for quite a bit of gameplay.

This is, you understand, my favorite game of all time. One part RPG, one
part "The Sims".

Regards,
Mark
--
http://www.marktaw.com/

Adam Thornton

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Jan 26, 2003, 1:47:49 AM1/26/03
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In article <slrnb35l...@gate.notcharles.ca>,

Aw, shucks.

Adam

Eric F.

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Jan 26, 2003, 5:20:18 AM1/26/03
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I remember a game called Armaeth. When I see the first versions of it
(it was before internet and such, or before it was accessible for all),
it looked like old sierra games, and it was written the game was the
first using AI and tere is no goal, you just have to go around etc.
I saw later (on internet) a game with "improved" graphics, "Armaeth: The
Lost Kingdom", I don't know if it's the same, but it seems there is less
artificial intelligence. I haven't played enough with it to find it out,
at the moment I don't see any quest or goal at all :)

About this in IF games, your ideas are welcome ! (ex : "Maybe some


chemicals or magical objects that can interact with each other and

generate strange outcomes")
I've started a new IF game, this time it will be in a "heroic fantasy"
universe, and I'd like (if I can) include such things. I like the idea
of giving nice parts of "adventure" to the player, even if it's not for
"finishing the quest". Btw this game I'm working on won't have any end,
probably a goal, but it won't be finished (there will probably be
several chapters on the other hand). I don't think I can call this
artificial intelligence but there will be several random things in it,
and several parallel stories.
I've seen some IF authors have done such a thing. You should look at
this one : http://www.igs.net/~tril/worlds/
it sounds interesting.


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Benjamin Fan

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Jan 26, 2003, 12:16:37 PM1/26/03
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I am not sure about an "unending" game, but one type
of "unwinnable" game might be a time-constrained
game with freedom of movement.

For an example, let's say a state fair scenario.
There are scheduled events that occur at different
places at different times. There are things to look
at, games to play, and food to buy and eat, all at
the discretion of the player. The player gets to
decide what to do. Look at farm animals but miss the
tractor pull? Sure. Go on rides all day? Sure. Go
to the 2:00 concert but miss the 2:00 pig race?
That's up to you.

The player can quit ("go home") at any time and
can partake of the activities that they desire (or
they could just look at prize vegetables all day, if
they wish). This isn't really an "unending" game
since the fair closes at a certain hour (the time
constraint). But, it is an "unwinnable" game (really,
it's an "unlosable"game). Actually, it's more of a
"simulation" than a "game".

Ben


Gadget <gad...@SPAMBLOCKhaha.demon.nl> wrote:
> I don't know if any of them would work in IF, but it might be nice to
> see at least some attempts at making the Unending, Unwinnable piece of
> IF.

--
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It will look a lot like: xxxxxxxx_yyy_zzzzz @ yahoo . com

Neil deMause

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Jan 26, 2003, 1:48:33 PM1/26/03
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Benjamin Fan <junkaccou...@yahoo.com> wrote:
> I am not sure about an "unending" game, but one type
> of "unwinnable" game might be a time-constrained
> game with freedom of movement.

In the extreme case, you just described Aisle.

Neil

Quintin Stone

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Jan 26, 2003, 10:19:24 PM1/26/03
to
On Sun, 26 Jan 2003, Mark W wrote:

> You're describing the ancient Atari 8-bit game Alternate Reality. The
> series was never completed, and the publishers demanded a game early, so
> there is no "goal" in the first game, and the 2nd has relatively little
> quest for quite a bit of gameplay.

True, The City was very much this way... though the 8-bit addition really
had very little you could actually *do*. The Dungeon was much better in
this respect. And of course there was the main goal you eventually
discovered, restoring the staff and entering the final levels.

> This is, you understand, my favorite game of all time. One part RPG, one
> part "The Sims".

I played through The Dungeon again a few years back on my Atari 800
emulator. Great game.

Mark 'Kamikaze' Hughes

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Jan 26, 2003, 10:47:19 PM1/26/03
to
Sun, 26 Jan 2003 22:19:24 -0500, Quintin Stone <st...@rps.net>:

> On Sun, 26 Jan 2003, Mark W wrote:
>> You're describing the ancient Atari 8-bit game Alternate Reality. The
>> series was never completed, and the publishers demanded a game early, so
>> there is no "goal" in the first game, and the 2nd has relatively little
>> quest for quite a bit of gameplay.
> True, The City was very much this way... though the 8-bit addition really
> had very little you could actually *do*. The Dungeon was much better in
> this respect. And of course there was the main goal you eventually
> discovered, restoring the staff and entering the final levels.
>> This is, you understand, my favorite game of all time. One part RPG, one
>> part "The Sims".
> I played through The Dungeon again a few years back on my Atari 800
> emulator. Great game.

I loved Alternate Reality.

The only major complaint I had was it using pop-up wandering monsters,
rather than showing NPCs and monsters at a distance. I'd have loved to
have AR with Dungeon Master or Doom technology.

There's an interesting interview, a couple years old, with Philip
Price at <http://www.dadgum.com/halcyon/BOOK/PRICE.HTM>.

He was making Alternate Reality Online, but it fell off the Web, dunno
what happened.

AR was hugely influential on my Umbra CRPG:
<http://kuoi.asui.uidaho.edu/~kamikaze/Umbra/>

--
<a href="http://kuoi.asui.uidaho.edu/~kamikaze/"> Mark Hughes </a>
"We remain convinced that this is the best defensive posture to adopt in
order to minimize casualties when the Great Old Ones return from beyond
the stars to eat our brains." -Charlie Stross, _The Concrete Jungle_

Mark W

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Jan 27, 2003, 3:19:38 AM1/27/03
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Check out the mailing list:

http://www.avatardesign.net/alternatereality/

Phil Price, last time we heard from him, is still working on the next
version of AR, but only in his spare time. The company that was backing him
dropped the game, so he's developing independantly now, which is cool. He
wrote the original Alternate Reality in a shack in Hawaii, running his
Atari off of a Jeep battery.

I never minded not seeing monsters in the distance... Games that I've
played where you do see monsters in the distance (and don't have distant
weapons) like Moraff's World, were annoying to me. I much preferred the "go
about your business withing thinking about that monster in the distance"
feel. I think it went a long way towards allowing me to imagine the world,
rather than it being shoved in my face.

Mark 'Kamikaze' Hughes

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Jan 27, 2003, 3:32:20 AM1/27/03
to
Mon, 27 Jan 2003 08:19:38 GMT, Mark W <sp...@marktaw.mailshell.com>:

> I never minded not seeing monsters in the distance... Games that I've
> played where you do see monsters in the distance (and don't have distant
> weapons) like Moraff's World, were annoying to me. I much preferred the "go
> about your business withing thinking about that monster in the distance"
> feel. I think it went a long way towards allowing me to imagine the world,
> rather than it being shoved in my face.

If you put the monsters on the map, you waste a lot of CPU time on AI
for a creature the player may never see (though you can just have things
move if they're in range). But NPCs don't need so much complex AI, and
it was very weird wandering the empty streets of the City of Xebec's
Demise, to suddenly have a beggar or guard leap up in front of me.

Neil Cerutti

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Jan 27, 2003, 9:20:22 AM1/27/03
to
In article <3e32bc71$0$37690$3c09...@news.plethora.net>, Seebs wrote:
> In article <Pine.LNX.4.44.030124...@yes.rps.net>,
> Quintin Stone <st...@rps.net> wrote:
>>What you describe is kind of how the graphical RPG Morrowind is pitched.
>>A large world that you can roam at your leisure... taking on NPC quests,
>>or not. There is no Goal that I've found so far. >
>
> There is a "real plot", but I actually gave up and uninstalled
> the game; it just didn't seem interesting, and there were too
> many design decisions that struck me as cripplingly poor.
> (e.g., if you want to fire a bow, you, the player, must decide
> how much above your target to aim based on range. This
> violates the entire point of having a skill system.)

I got bored with it in about 2 hours, too, but partly it's
because it was too much like the first two versions of the game,
which I'd managed to get bored with already after 50-70 hours.

And yeah, the combat controls are really irritating.

--
Neil Cerutti <cer...@trans-video.net>

Mark W

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Jan 27, 2003, 1:09:07 PM1/27/03
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kami...@kuoi.asui.uidaho.edu (Mark 'Kamikaze' Hughes) wrote in
news:slrnb39rkj....@kuoi.asui.uidaho.edu:

> If you put the monsters on the map, you waste a lot of CPU time on AI
> for a creature the player may never see (though you can just have things
> move if they're in range). But NPCs don't need so much complex AI, and
> it was very weird wandering the empty streets of the City of Xebec's
> Demise, to suddenly have a beggar or guard leap up in front of me.

Sure, I see where you're coming from. If the City was teeming with life,
you wanted to see all the creatures that were wandering it. For me, on the
other hand, it emphasized the feeling of loneliness you were supposed to
have as a captive from your homeworld put in this alien city.

David Jackson

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Jan 30, 2003, 2:32:15 AM1/30/03
to
Mike,

That is extremely limited and short-sighted. And it certainly denies
the belief that any IF we have is capable of producing a living,
breathing world.

Think of all of the resources necessary to represent the world in a
graphical interface. Thousands upon thousands of sounds, pictures, and
then the code to drive their interactions, and the method by which we
graphically represent inacting those interactions.

Then consider text, where anything can be done to anything, and the only
limitation is your ability communicate that goal.

With far less resources, I can create a town, complete with functional
elements in every building of that town. I can populate this town with
characters of all sorts, and I can stock the town with every imagineable
device. And all of these devices can (if I am industrious enough)
interact with one another in unique ways.

The best part is that I can do this by myself, without the aid of
graphics designers, sound designers, or marketing people. And that's
what makes interactive fiction in this day and age wonderful.

I am ashamed to think that someone would squash the ambitious notions of
another so quickly and easily.

David Jackson

David Jackson

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Jan 30, 2003, 2:34:50 AM1/30/03
to
Mark W wrote:
>
> Phil Price, last time we heard from him, is still working on the next
> version of AR, but only in his spare time. The company that was backing him
> dropped the game, so he's developing independantly now, which is cool. He
> wrote the original Alternate Reality in a shack in Hawaii, running his
> Atari off of a Jeep battery.
<SNIP>
>
> Regards,
> Mark

That has got to be the coolest game development story I've ever heard.
Is this retold somewhere else on the web?

David Jackson


David Jackson

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Jan 30, 2003, 2:36:06 AM1/30/03
to
Mark W wrote:

<SNIP>


> Sure, I see where you're coming from. If the City was teeming with life,
> you wanted to see all the creatures that were wandering it. For me, on the
> other hand, it emphasized the feeling of loneliness you were supposed to
> have as a captive from your homeworld put in this alien city.
>
> Regards,
> Mark

I kind of dig those feelings of loneliness. To me, wandering NPCs that
were moving altogether too robot-like were distracting from the immersion.

David Jackson


Mark 'Kamikaze' Hughes

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Jan 30, 2003, 3:44:07 AM1/30/03
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Thu, 30 Jan 2003 02:34:50 -0500, David Jackson <ata...@yahoo.com>:

> Mark W wrote:
>> Phil Price, last time we heard from him, is still working on the next
>> version of AR, but only in his spare time. The company that was backing him
>> dropped the game, so he's developing independantly now, which is cool. He
>> wrote the original Alternate Reality in a shack in Hawaii, running his
>> Atari off of a Jeep battery.
> That has got to be the coolest game development story I've ever heard.
> Is this retold somewhere else on the web?

Actually, that's where he developed _Tail of Beta Lyrae_, not
_Alternate Reality: The City_. See that interview I linked to:
<http://www.dadgum.com/halcyon/BOOK/PRICE.HTM>

I believe Philip lived in L.A. by the time he did AR.

HC

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Jan 30, 2003, 4:26:37 AM1/30/03
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"David Jackson" <ata...@yahoo.com> wrote in message
news:_d5_9.3708$%12....@news.bellsouth.net...

I always thought the wandering-through-an-empty-world feel that Zork and its
ilk had was quite interesting. It's definitely not the only way to write a
game, and I'm sure the reasons for it were primarily to avoid writing too
many NPCs, but it was still oddly compelling. You're standing in somebody's
house. They can't have been gone too long, considering there's a lunch on
the table. But you're reasonably sure nobody's going to come back for it.
It's as though all the people in the world were just sucked out of it.
There are tourist brochures in the dam lobby, and there's an inflatable raft
just sitting there. Very complacent in a creepy sort of fashion. It made
the appearance of the thief all the more menacing. Here's something in the
world that is not your doing. He acts on his own and interferes with your
careful planning.

That feeling is utilized really well in Lurking Horror. 2nd scariest game
I've ever played, right behind the They Hunger mod for Half Life.

When I was younger and heard that someone wanted to make a Zork movie, I was
hoping they would cultivate that sort of lonely, empty feel the game gave
me. Later I realized that it would be quite unlikely for the director to
have even played the game, much less enjoyed it on that strange abstract
level. Even later I realized that it was even more unlikely for a movie
inspired by a text-based video game to even get made.

HC

Mike Roberts

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Jan 30, 2003, 2:07:47 PM1/30/03
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"David Jackson" <ata...@yahoo.com> wrote:
> mjr:

> > Here's a capsule summary of my own thinking on the
> > subject. [...]

>
> That is extremely limited and short-sighted. And it certainly
> denies the belief that any IF we have is capable of producing
> a living, breathing world.

I'm not sure what posting of mine you thought you read; I wasn't denying
anything of the sort. I said that text-based IF is best suited to games
with strong narratives, that constructing narrative algorithmically appears
to be beyond the present state of the art, and that text-based IF is
therefore likely to be closed-ended until algorithmic story generation is
achievable.

In case there's some confusion over the terms, "IF is closed-ended" doesn't
mean "IF is a dead end" or "IF is no good"; it means that a given work of IF
will have a finite amount of interesting exploration that's possible, and
once you've explored that range, the work becomes qualitatively less
interesting. This is in contrast to "open-ended" games, the best present
examples of which I think are simulation-style games, which exploit
combinatorics to create essentially infinite game play.

I don't claim it's impossible to create a simulation-style game in a text
UI; on the contrary, the mapping is obvious. My point is that it's
uninteresting to do this. I think text UI's are uniquely suited for games
in which there's considerable novelty - that is, where a given action can
present a unique response. Text games that are all boilerplate responses
get boring pretty quickly; natural language text just isn't a great medium
for presenting that kind of information.

> I am ashamed to think that someone would squash the
> ambitious notions of another so quickly and easily.

Sorry, but I have to roll my eyes a bit here. You might have noticed that I
included a couple of pointers to past conversations on the subject; in what
way does that fit into this agenda of squashing notions? You might also
note a couple of qualifying remarks that framed my comments:

>>Here's a capsule summary of my own thinking [...]
>>There are plenty of people more optimistic than I am [...]

If those ambitions I was supposedly squashing were so fragile that they were
unable to withstand a mere airing of opinion that was quite plainly offered
as such, then I can't imagine how they could even begin to confront the much
harsher challenge of implementation. How useful would the discourse here be
if it were limited to people posting their ideas, and a smattering of polite
applause in response?

Mark W

unread,
Jan 30, 2003, 5:16:19 PM1/30/03
to
I think "The Others" has a lonely feeling, similar to what I would expect
from a Zork movie.

"Lonely exploration" is a unique and fascinating mood, and particularly
captivating for computer games, especially text games. Adding immediate
danger is a completely different mood.

Quintin Stone

unread,
Feb 3, 2003, 10:09:25 AM2/3/03
to
On Mon, 27 Jan 2003, Mark W wrote:

> I never minded not seeing monsters in the distance... Games that I've
> played where you do see monsters in the distance (and don't have distant
> weapons) like Moraff's World, were annoying to me. I much preferred the
> "go about your business withing thinking about that monster in the
> distance" feel. I think it went a long way towards allowing me to
> imagine the world, rather than it being shoved in my face.

Pop-up monsters really were the standard at the time in 1st person games.
Dungeon Master, AFAIK, came after Alternate Reality, and was written for a
much hardier system. The 8-bit Atari was so scant on memory that there
simpy wasn't enough to spare on keeping track of actual wandering
monsters. I was thrilled enough that dropped items stayed where they were
dropped! Keep in mind that the whole point of the Devourer was to reclaim
memory by eating up the player's items when the inventory list got too
long. And which meant that the best way to avoid him was to keep your
inventory as trim as possible.

Mark W

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Feb 3, 2003, 1:13:50 PM2/3/03
to
Quintin Stone <st...@rps.net> wrote in
news:Pine.LNX.4.44.030203...@yes.rps.net:

> Pop-up monsters really were the standard at the time in 1st person
> games. Dungeon Master, AFAIK, came after Alternate Reality, and was
> written for a much hardier system. The 8-bit Atari was so scant on
> memory that there simpy wasn't enough to spare on keeping track of
> actual wandering monsters. I was thrilled enough that dropped items
> stayed where they were dropped! Keep in mind that the whole point of
> the Devourer was to reclaim memory by eating up the player's items
> when the inventory list got too long. And which meant that the best
> way to avoid him was to keep your inventory as trim as possible.

Yes, items in your inventory were actually small programs. The more complex
items you had, the more likely it was that the Devourer would come to get
you.

LizM7

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Feb 3, 2003, 3:37:38 PM2/3/03
to
"HC" <DJHipp...@yahREMOVEoo.com> wrote:
> That feeling is utilized really well in Lurking Horror. 2nd scariest game
> I've ever played, right behind the They Hunger mod for Half Life.

The one game that really freaked me out was "Eye of the Beholder".
First CRPG I ever played. The giant spiders terrified me. I fell
down this hole -- injuring most of my party -- and I hear this
clicking noise and by the time I turn around, one member of my party
is dead and another is dying.

I panicked. I got up and ran and hid for a few minutes before finally
going back and restoring a saved game.

It's funny. I've played lots of CRPGs over the years, but "Eye of the
Beholder" is really one of the few that I have exceptionally vivid
memories of.

- Liz

Neil Cerutti

unread,
Feb 3, 2003, 4:04:48 PM2/3/03
to
In article <d89b4999.03020...@posting.google.com>, LizM7 wrote:
> "HC" <DJHipp...@yahREMOVEoo.com> wrote:
>> That feeling is utilized really well in Lurking Horror. 2nd scariest game
>> I've ever played, right behind the They Hunger mod for Half Life.
>
> The one game that really freaked me out was "Eye of the
> Beholder". First CRPG I ever played. The giant spiders
> terrified me. I fell down this hole -- injuring most of my
> party -- and I hear this clicking noise and by the time I turn
> around, one member of my party is dead and another is dying.

I remember that. It was startling.

> I panicked. I got up and ran and hid for a few minutes before
> finally going back and restoring a saved game.
>
> It's funny. I've played lots of CRPGs over the years, but "Eye
> of the Beholder" is really one of the few that I have
> exceptionally vivid memories of.

The game would've impressed me more if I hadn't already wasted
countless hours not winning _Dungeon Master_ on my Amiga.

Speaking of which, whoever invented the "rock-pile" monster has
got a long stay in purgatory ahead of him or her. Then again,
maybe the damn things had a weakness I never discovered. Rock
pile monsters were very hard to kill (30 or 40 hits) and could
kill the hardiest character in 3 hits. The only way I ever found
to kill them was the dreaded and boring smack-it-and-back-away
strategy that was also very useful in _Eye of the Beholder_ (it
never felt terribly heroic, though). Unfortunately, the stupid
things were very slow moving except when they were close enough
to attack you, so it took forever to kill them, if you were
lucky.

--
Neil Cerutti <cer...@trans-video.net>

Quintin Stone

unread,
Feb 3, 2003, 4:40:37 PM2/3/03
to
On 3 Feb 2003, Neil Cerutti wrote:

> Speaking of which, whoever invented the "rock-pile" monster has got a
> long stay in purgatory ahead of him or her. Then again, maybe the damn
> things had a weakness I never discovered. Rock pile monsters were very
> hard to kill (30 or 40 hits) and could kill the hardiest character in 3
> hits. The only way I ever found to kill them was the dreaded and boring
> smack-it-and-back-away strategy that was also very useful in _Eye of the
> Beholder_ (it never felt terribly heroic, though). Unfortunately, the
> stupid things were very slow moving except when they were close enough
> to attack you, so it took forever to kill them, if you were lucky.

Drop a door on its head. Granted, you'll need to wait a little bit while
it thump thump thumps to death, but it works if you can survive its
attacks in the meantime (which, if I recall correctly, are also
poisonous?). My strategy for DM has always been: never use magic or ninja
attacks against monsters in the early levels. Always do hand-to-hand and
alternate your characters (yes, even get your wizards & healers doing
melee combat). Magic and Ninja skills can be raised by practicing spells
against walls, doors, empty corridors, etc. Raising Fighter levels are
the best way to raise your HP enough to withstand the magic-resistant rock
monsters and knights.

Seebs

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Feb 3, 2003, 5:42:45 PM2/3/03
to
In article <Pine.LNX.4.44.030203...@yes.rps.net>,

Quintin Stone <st...@rps.net> wrote:
>Drop a door on its head. Granted, you'll need to wait a little bit while
>it thump thump thumps to death, but it works if you can survive its
>attacks in the meantime (which, if I recall correctly, are also
>poisonous?). My strategy for DM has always been: never use magic or ninja
>attacks against monsters in the early levels. Always do hand-to-hand and
>alternate your characters (yes, even get your wizards & healers doing
>melee combat). Magic and Ninja skills can be raised by practicing spells
>against walls, doors, empty corridors, etc. Raising Fighter levels are
>the best way to raise your HP enough to withstand the magic-resistant rock
>monsters and knights.

My strategy, which I pursued at some length, was this:

1. Select the 4 strongest characters - yes, including the guys with no mana
at all.
2. Reincarnate, rather than resurrecting; the higher stats pay off.
3. At the start of the game, you end up with two characters who can cast
very low level priest spells, and that's it. Never let their mana bars get
full; cast spells a syllable at a time, and practice constantly. Once they
have 5 points, you can start doing LO FUL and getting some light.
4. The golden moment is when you get a mana-boosting device; give it to the
guys with no mana, and they can start acquiring mana, and thus spells.
5. Rotate everyone constantly.

I can win the game without consuming a single piece of food I didn't
get from killing monsters. The only point in the game where you
have to take damage, if you're careful, is getting the rope. I
asked the designers, and they discussed this, but decided that it
was fair, because, after all, you can always pick the guy who starts
with a rope.

I generally stack every item from the entire dungeon in the room
by the stairs down on the giant rat level, including every food
item found in the dungeon.

And yes, I'm a bit obsessive.

-s
--
Copyright 2002, all wrongs reversed. Peter Seebach / se...@plethora.net
$ chmod a+x /bin/laden Please do not feed or harbor the terrorists.
C/Unix wizard, Pro-commerce radical, Spam fighter. Boycott Spamazon!
Consulting, computers, web hosting, and shell access: http://www.plethora.net/

Christos Dimitrakakis

unread,
Feb 4, 2003, 7:57:25 AM2/4/03
to
> Drop a door on its head. Granted, you'll need to wait a little bit while
> it thump thump thumps to death, but it works if you can survive its
> attacks in the meantime (which, if I recall correctly, are also
> poisonous?).

Yes, I think so. But it was not so bad. In fact the best strategy would be
to use a door and use a poisonous cloud on them, since they are so slow.
They would always go away from the cloud but then the door would be closed
and you'd be safe.

> My strategy for DM has always been: never use magic or ninja
> attacks against monsters in the early levels. Always do hand-to-hand and
> alternate your characters (yes, even get your wizards & healers doing
> melee combat). Magic and Ninja skills can be raised by practicing spells

True enough. However I never resurrected characters but reincarnated them,
thus they had no levels in any skill.

This created a much much faster skill advance for some reason.

Still, I managed to finish DM, but not DMII. The weird clouds scene always
messed me up.

--
Olethros
http://olethros.dmusic.com
http://www.idiap.ch/~dimitrak/main.html

Quintin Stone

unread,
Feb 4, 2003, 9:23:17 AM2/4/03
to
On Tue, 4 Feb 2003, Christos Dimitrakakis wrote:

> True enough. However I never resurrected characters but reincarnated
> them, thus they had no levels in any skill.

Same here.

> Still, I managed to finish DM, but not DMII. The weird clouds scene
> always messed me up.

Dungeon Master 2 or Dungeon Master: Chaos Strike Back? Two very different
games. The latter was basically DM in a new dungeon (I never did finish
it, as I got stuck in one of the areas with no apparent way out). The
former was crap. Utter tripe. Wasn't even related. Interplay was merely
trying to cash in on the nostalgiac factor of an old name. Grrrrrr, still
makes me angry.

Seebs

unread,
Feb 4, 2003, 2:43:41 PM2/4/03
to
In article <Pine.GSO.4.31.0302041353410.10339-100000@barasson>,

Christos Dimitrakakis <oleth...@oohay.com> wrote:
>Still, I managed to finish DM, but not DMII. The weird clouds scene always
>messed me up.

Never quite finished it; I keep planning to, but since I only have Mac and
Sega CD versions, it may be difficult. :)

Seebs

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Feb 4, 2003, 2:45:06 PM2/4/03
to
In article <Pine.LNX.4.44.030204...@yes.rps.net>,

Quintin Stone <st...@rps.net> wrote:
>Dungeon Master 2 or Dungeon Master: Chaos Strike Back? Two very different
>games. The latter was basically DM in a new dungeon (I never did finish
>it, as I got stuck in one of the areas with no apparent way out).

I think it was possible to get stuck in CSB; they had some cleverness to
set up a few things pseudo-randomly, and it may have had bugs. I know it had
an inventory management bug. I wish they'd done the interface from CSB
("click on a wall to test for illusion") and the bug-free nature of DM.

>The
>former was crap. Utter tripe. Wasn't even related. Interplay was merely
>trying to cash in on the nostalgiac factor of an old name. Grrrrrr, still
>makes me angry.

I seem to recall that several of the original FTL people were involved. I
actually enjoyed it, although it wasn't as well-done a game as the original
DM - level design wasn't as good. Still, it was a decent game.

Quintin Stone

unread,
Feb 4, 2003, 4:50:09 PM2/4/03
to
On 4 Feb 2003, Seebs wrote:

> I seem to recall that several of the original FTL people were involved.
> I actually enjoyed it, although it wasn't as well-done a game as the
> original DM - level design wasn't as good. Still, it was a decent game.

There were a couple of things that irritated me strongly. First was the
graphics. DM had great graphics for the time. DM2, even though it came
out years later, took a big step backwards by giving all of its monsters a
silly, cartoony appearance. Things weren't scary; they were just goofy.
Then they went and added this mix of fantasy and sci-fi that had nothing
to do with the original games. I just had such high hopes and found
myself extremely disappointed.

Mantar

unread,
Feb 5, 2003, 3:08:25 AM2/5/03
to
On Thu, 30 Jan 2003 02:26:37 -0700, HC wrote:

> That feeling is utilized really well in Lurking Horror. 2nd scariest game
> I've ever played, right behind the They Hunger mod for Half Life.

I played They Hunger. It's fine, but I think the pistol-weilding
helicopter-flying zombies ruined the scariness for me.
Now Thief:The Dark Project, THAT is a scary game. System shock 2, and Thief
2 were both unsettling as well. SS2 managed the kind of
jump-out-and-grab-you scares of They Hunger or Aliens vs. Predator pretty
well, but those three Looking Glass games (T2, SS2, and esp. T1) also
manage a level of atmosphere that I don't find much outside intfic. I
mean, I was scared occassionally in AvsP, but I never found myself
stopping the progress of the game because I didn't want to go back into
some room because I was frozen with dread. Sometimes even if I was sure
there was nothing left there that could hurt me, it was just the room.
THAT'S atmosphere. :)
Mind you, I haven't played Anchorhead yet. I keep meaning to, but I know
how Lovecraft stuff gets to me. Heck, I backed off the central quest in
Morrowind just becuase the Sixth House henchmen were extras who got cut
from the Mythos. LOL.

Christos Dimitrakakis

unread,
Feb 5, 2003, 8:24:53 AM2/5/03
to
I was referring to DMII. It was a bit different. It also had less times
where you had to think.

I think that the best 3 cardinal-direction First-Person-Perspective games
are:

Captive
Dungeon Master (Interplay, 1989?)
Hired Guns (DMA Design/Psygnosis, 1992?)

Reviews on the Amiga Games DataBase:

http://www.angusm.demon.co.uk/AGDB/DBA1/Capt.html
http://www.angusm.demon.co.uk/AGDB/DBA1/DungMas.html
http://www.angusm.demon.co.uk/AGDB/DBA1/HGuns.html

I am not sure if Captive and Hired Guns were ever available on other
platforms. Anyway, HGuns was markely different because it was MULTIPLAYER
ACTION *MWUAHAHAHAHAHA* - ahem. And it had some very TENSE moments.
Captive was extremely interesting as well.

Christos Dimitrakakis

unread,
Feb 5, 2003, 8:37:45 AM2/5/03
to
> an inventory management bug. I wish they'd done the interface from CSB
> ("click on a wall to test for illusion") and the bug-free nature of DM.

Hm, on my A500, DM I crashed A LOT.

Quintin Stone

unread,
Feb 5, 2003, 9:26:30 AM2/5/03
to
On Wed, 5 Feb 2003, Mantar wrote:

> Now Thief:The Dark Project, THAT is a scary game. System shock 2, and
> Thief 2 were both unsettling as well. SS2 managed the kind of
> jump-out-and-grab-you scares of They Hunger or Aliens vs. Predator
> pretty well, but those three Looking Glass games (T2, SS2, and esp. T1)
> also manage a level of atmosphere that I don't find much outside intfic.
> I mean, I was scared occassionally in AvsP, but I never found myself
> stopping the progress of the game because I didn't want to go back into
> some room because I was frozen with dread. Sometimes even if I was sure
> there was nothing left there that could hurt me, it was just the room.
> THAT'S atmosphere. :)

Agreed. There was just something so creepy about the robots. Knowing
that they were corrupted humans combined with their eerie monologues and
their good firepower.... I hope you're looking forward to Thief 3 as much
as I am. Here's hoping it's not just vaporware.

> Mind you, I haven't played Anchorhead yet. I keep meaning to, but I
> know how Lovecraft stuff gets to me. Heck, I backed off the central
> quest in Morrowind just becuase the Sixth House henchmen were extras who
> got cut from the Mythos. LOL.

I just started Morrowind recently. No more spoilers! (Kidding ;)

Mantar

unread,
Feb 5, 2003, 2:31:25 PM2/5/03
to
On Wed, 05 Feb 2003 09:26:30 -0500, Quintin Stone wrote:

>
> Agreed. There was just something so creepy about the robots. Knowing
> that they were corrupted humans combined with their eerie monologues and
> their good firepower.... I hope you're looking forward to Thief 3 as much
> as I am. Here's hoping it's not just vaporware.

It's supposedly "in heavy development." I hear you can see expressions on
the guards faces already, to see how they've reacted. Oooh.


>> know how Lovecraft stuff gets to me. Heck, I backed off the central
>> quest in Morrowind just becuase the Sixth House henchmen were extras who
>> got cut from the Mythos. LOL.
>
> I just started Morrowind recently. No more spoilers! (Kidding ;)

BTW: If you want to skate through, you need an Orc warrior. A Khajiit
thief does alright, but gets in trouble with some of the nastier combats.
Check out the plugins on www.rpgplanet.com/morrowind -- the game that
shipped can be improved quite a bit. I recommend Sri's alchemy, Balor's
herbalism, and the seyda neen NPC replacement project, which replaces all
the generic no-personality NPCs with pretty good ones. Other plugins are
working on the rest of the island. Not quite Galatea, but pretty good, and
miles better than the soulless number-boxes that shipped.

Quintin Stone

unread,
Feb 6, 2003, 9:18:08 AM2/6/03
to
On Wed, 5 Feb 2003, Mantar wrote:

> BTW: If you want to skate through, you need an Orc warrior. A Khajiit
> thief does alright, but gets in trouble with some of the nastier
> combats.

I've noticed (about the Khajiit thief, that is; that's what I'm playing).

> Check out the plugins on www.rpgplanet.com/morrowind -- the game that
> shipped can be improved quite a bit. I recommend Sri's alchemy, Balor's
> herbalism, and the seyda neen NPC replacement project, which replaces
> all the generic no-personality NPCs with pretty good ones. Other plugins
> are working on the rest of the island. Not quite Galatea, but pretty
> good, and miles better than the soulless number-boxes that shipped.

Interesting. Thanks for the info!

Seebs

unread,
Feb 6, 2003, 3:47:23 PM2/6/03
to
In article <Pine.GSO.4.31.0302051437150.10339-100000@barasson>,

Christos Dimitrakakis <oleth...@oohay.com> wrote:
>> an inventory management bug. I wish they'd done the interface from CSB
>> ("click on a wall to test for illusion") and the bug-free nature of DM.

>Hm, on my A500, DM I crashed A LOT.

Weird. I don't think I ever managed to crash it.

Andrew Pearce

unread,
Feb 8, 2003, 9:11:25 AM2/8/03
to
"Mantar" <man...@2xtreme.net> wrote in message
news:pan.2003.02.05....@2xtreme.net...

The first scary game I played was... 3D Monster Maze on the ZX81! Of course,
I was pretty young then. Even though it only had ASCII graphics, it kept
giving you messages about how the enemy (a T-Rex) was moving about, and was
close by and so on. "This isn't scary," I thought, as I blundered about
looking for an exit, not realising I was gradually becoming more tense as
the messages kept popping up. Then all of a sudden it popped up right in
front of me - my heart nearly stopped.

Andrew


Jdyer41

unread,
Feb 15, 2003, 11:46:20 PM2/15/03
to
>The 8-bit Atari was so scant on memory that there
>simpy wasn't enough to spare on keeping track of actual wandering
>monsters.

Dungeons of Daggorath (1982) managed on a Tandy CoCo.

(There's a couple pages dedicated to it, try a Google search.)

Jason Dyer
jdy...@aol.com

Adam Thornton

unread,
Feb 16, 2003, 1:53:53 PM2/16/03
to
In article <Y8P3a.366392$pDv.1...@news04.bloor.is.net.cable.rogers.com>,
Ugly <baba...@drlauramail.com> wrote:
>On 16 Feb 2003 04:46:20 GMT, Jdyer41 babbled on about Re: The unending
>game... Is Winning
>A Necessity? proclaiming:
>Speaking of 8-bit Atari, there WAS an exception. That was the game
>"Adventure" on the VCS,
>which later came to be known by its model number, 2600. These
>"monsters" were named
>"dragons" that looked sort of like ducks actually. Four of them. Yellow,
>Green, Red, and
>Black if I'm not mistaken.

Three. Yellow, Green, and Red, named Yorgle, Grundle, and Rhindle.

>And a goofy bat that kept taking items. Mind
>you, the dragons,
>come to think of it did NOT usually wander far from their domain but there were
>exceptions, and the bat flew all over, anywhere it wanted to, snatching
>almost any object
>(except yourself, represented by a little square). So while the monsters
>didn't actually
>wander very far usually, they did in the highest level where everything
>was randomly
>placed. Impressive really, for that antique game machine. Mind you, if
>you were EATEN by
>a dragon, it no longer went anywhere unless the bat grabbed it then you
>flew all over the
>place until it let you go or you reset the game.
>There's a replica of the game for Windows out there somewhere. I thought
>it was rather
>neat.

It's an amazing feat. First Easter Egg in a home videogame, too. With
the Secret Dot, you could get into the Secret Room and see the Secret
words, "Created By Warren Robinett".

All this, mind you, in 4K of ROM and 128 bytes of RAM.

Adam

Quintin Stone

unread,
Feb 17, 2003, 3:20:03 PM2/17/03
to
On 16 Feb 2003 04:46:20 GMT, Jdyer41 babbled on about Re: The unending game... Is Winning
A Necessity? proclaiming:

>>The 8-bit Atari was so scant on memory that there

Not quite a comparison. AR: The Dungeon had dozens of different monsters,
a massive labyrinth to walk through (where each section of the level has
its own design style and graphics), about a hundred inventory items,
guilds, spells, and nifty graphics to boot. (Well, nifty for the time.)
After all that, there just wasn't enough memory left for wandering
monsters!

Matthew F Funke

unread,
Feb 20, 2003, 10:59:36 AM2/20/03
to
Ugly <baba...@drlauramail.com> wrote:
>Speaking of 8-bit Atari, there WAS an exception. That was the game
>"Adventure" on the VCS, which later came to be known by its model number,
>2600.
<snip>

>There's a replica of the game for Windows out there somewhere. I thought
>it was rather neat.

"Indenture". You can get it at Underdogs, I believe.
An impressive programming feat given the hardware. (You ever try
programming graphics for a 2600? Pixel positions are handled in a one-
dimensional raster. If you want to place pixels on top of each other
(vertically), you need to calculate the spacing necessary so that the
pixels will be turned on in the right position -- separated by the number
of empty pixels represented by a full horizontal scan. A bit of a pain
in the neck, that.)
--
-- With Best Regards,
Matthew Funke (m...@hopper.unh.edu)

Mark W

unread,
Feb 24, 2003, 2:43:56 AM2/24/03
to
"Andrew Pearce" <mox...@zoom.co.uk> wrote in
news:3e451d26$0$12376$afc38c87@vipnews:

> Then all of a sudden it popped up right in
> front of me - my heart nearly stopped.

Ah... brings back memories of Rescue on Fractulus / Behind Jaggi Lines. I
miss those old Lucasart games.

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