A bill of players' rights

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Neil K. Guy

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May 19, 1993, 9:32:00 PM5/19/93
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Message-ID: <neilg.7...@sfu.ca>
Newsgroup: rec.arts.int-fiction
Organization: Simon Fraser University, Burnaby, B.C., Canada

gd...@cl.cam.ac.uk (G.D. Rees) writes:

> [...] But which of these games would you rather play:

> You are on the south side of a chasm.
> >north

> You plunge to your death.
> *** You have died ***

>or:

> You are on the south side of a chasm.
> >north
>
> You decide not to throw yourself to your death.

The former. The latter makes presumptuous assumptions. Maybe I *do*
want to kill myself for some obscure thanatoid reason. Then, if I'm
playing a well-written game that uses an UNDO feature like that built
into TADS, I simply undo the last move. No problem.

>I think Colossal Cave had the right idea: when you died, you were merely
>docked a few points and sent back to the start location.

This may be appropriate for fantasies like Colossal Cave, but is
frankly rather daft for games that are set in more (dare I say it?)
realistic worlds. IMHO.

- Neil K. (n_k...@sfu.ca)

silver Harloe

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May 28, 1993, 6:53:36 PM5/28/93
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In article <50.1014.67...@freddy.ampr.ab.ca>
neil.k#d#.g...@freddy.ampr.ab.ca (Neil K. Guy) writes:
> Message-ID: <neilg.7...@sfu.ca>

> gd...@cl.cam.ac.uk (G.D. Rees) writes:
> > [...] But which of these games would you rather play:
>
> > You are on the south side of a chasm.
> > >north
> > You plunge to your death.
> > *** You have died ***
> >or:
> > You are on the south side of a chasm.
> > >north
> > You decide not to throw yourself to your death.
>
> The former. The latter makes presumptuous assumptions. Maybe I *do*
> want to kill myself for some obscure thanatoid reason. Then, if I'm
> playing a well-written game that uses an UNDO feature like that built
> into TADS, I simply undo the last move. No problem.

Well, perhaps I'm in the wrong zone here, but I still think:

You are on the south side of a chasm

>north

Do you really wish to jump off the edge of the chasm?

is the optimal answer... it just kind of makes sense to me.
Just like I always thought in games where saving and restarting are an
option, it should occasionally prompt if you wish to save the game... like
in Ultima IV:

Use: Skull of Mondain
> save game? y/n:

(If for no other reason than the humor value).

For some reason, I never got into "undo"... even though it's equivalent to
save and restore... I dunno, I'm a little odd that way, I guess.
Maybe because save and restore usually (though not in the silly example I just
gave) requires you to pre-judge the potential danger of a situation...
Then again, there are many games where such pre-judgement is impossible, but I
consider that a writing error.

--silver--
sil...@metonymy.ots.utexas.edu
Maybe my opinions do reflect those of my organization, but I wouldn't
bet on it.

Clark Quinn

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May 30, 1993, 1:01:47 AM5/30/93
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In article <87...@ut-emx.uucp> sil...@metonymy.ots.utexas.edu (silver Harloe) writes:
>In article <50.1014.67...@freddy.ampr.ab.ca>
>neil.k#d#.g...@freddy.ampr.ab.ca (Neil K. Guy) writes:
>> gd...@cl.cam.ac.uk (G.D. Rees) writes:
>> > [...] But which of these games would you rather play:
>>
>> > You are on the south side of a chasm.
>> > >north
>> > You plunge to your death.
>> > *** You have died ***
>> >or:
>> > You are on the south side of a chasm.
>> > >north
>> > You decide not to throw yourself to your death.
>>
>> The former. The latter makes presumptuous assumptions. Maybe I *do*
>> want to kill myself for some obscure thanatoid reason. Then, if I'm
>> playing a well-written game that uses an UNDO feature like that built
>> into TADS, I simply undo the last move. No problem.
>
>Well, perhaps I'm in the wrong zone here, but I still think:
>
> You are on the south side of a chasm
> >north
>
> Do you really wish to jump off the edge of the chasm?
>
>is the optimal answer... it just kind of makes sense to me.

It makes more than sense. In interface design, we recognize that people
make mistakes. A key error (particularly if you have supported your
user by giving them single keystrokes for common commands) has some
finite probability. That's a mistake, intending to hit one key and
accidentally hitting another. There's also a mode error, where your user
thinks they're at some other location. Or a memory fault, where the
user has forgotten which direction was in the room description as the
way *away* from the !@#$% chasm. Oops. There are a variety of
different types of slips that could lead someone to indicate an action
that they don't want. Now, in most cases there aren't fatal
consequences, so we don't need to prompt for *every* action, just
dangerous ones. Remember, in the real world we seldom walk close enough
to a chasm edge that one mistake on our part puts us over the edge, we
usually give ourselves a margin of error (why do we put railings on
balconies and people creep on hands and knees to peer over the edge of
unguarded cliffs with unknown drops?).

Some systems also prompt *for dangerous and irreversible actions* (some
do more, and they're considered obnoxious). So it's not unreasonable for
there to be a query at a time that someone wants to do something that
would generally be considered foolhardy. If you *really* want to jump
over the cliff, you just answer in the positive, but if you've been
playing along and made a mistake or a slip that wasn't a bad decision
because of game info and your judgement but was one of the side-effects
of the cognitive architecture we've inherited you'd hate to pay *that*
price.

A few thoughts based upon _the psychology of everyday things_(1), -- Clark

(1) D. A. Norman "The Psychology of Everyday Things", Basic Books 1988
or "The Design of Everyday Things" in paperback.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------

_--_|\ Clark N. Quinn
/ \ School of Computer Science and Engineering +61-2-697-4034
\_.--._* The University of New South Wales Fax +61-2-313-7987
v PO Box 1 cnq...@cse.unsw.edu.au
Kensington, NSW C.Q...@unsw.edu.au
AUSTRALIA 2033

"A California Yankee in the Land of Oz"

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