+=3: My inveitable comments

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David Baggett

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Nov 21, 1994, 9:34:27 PM11/21/94
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In article <rbryanCz...@netcom.com>,
The Essential Addition <rbr...@netcom.com> wrote:

>Just so you know, "examine me" did not identify me as a clothed human. It
>identified me as "The adventurer from Zork who was too polite to open
>someone else's mailbox."

By default, don't you assume that you're a person unless told otherwise?
Likewise, if you'd been naked, don't you think the game would have told you
so? If you're a bear, or a hobbit, or a dog, or naked, etc. then you
expect that game will tell you so. This is perfectly standard for
adventure games.

Obviously if I'd had "x me" report that "You are a clothed human" it would
have made it a lot easier. Of course, we were specifically trying to make
a difficult puzzle, and felt absolutely no compunction about not giving you
a blatant hint about your clothes.

>This means that there are 0 hints towards the solution. There is not
>even a suggestion of it within the game. So the experiment has
>successfully proven that most players are not psychic.

What do you mean? If you're standing on a bridge, and the troll wants
something, and you don't have anything, what do you do? The solution makes
perfect sense. It is completely logical. For this solution not to work
would be illogical. (Of course, there are plenty of other logical
solutions that don'r work.)

The puzzle is targeted at experienced text adventure players, who make all
kinds of assumptions that novices might not.

And I guess this means Adam is psychic? He solved it by direct means. If
anything, that argues that we didn't even make the puzzle hard enough.

>I'm sure everyone who has played Dave Bagget's game will agree that there
>is a wide gap between this puzzle which some of you were complaining
>about and the puzzle from +=3, which is dependant on objects which exist
>in code only.

Of course there is! Our puzzle is absurd, and exists only to make a point,
which is that logical puzzles are not always solvable by most (if any)
people.

You claimed we couldn't make a logical puzzle that would stump you. Now
that we've done exactly that, you're playing semantic games to try to
weasel out of the jaws of defeat.

Dave Baggett
__
d...@ai.mit.edu "Your ruse; your cunning attempt to trick me." -- Clerks
MIT AI Lab ADVENTIONS: Kuul text adventures! Email for a catalog of releases

David Baggett

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Nov 21, 1994, 9:36:52 PM11/21/94
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In article <rbryanCz...@netcom.com>,
The Essential Addition <rbr...@netcom.com> wrote:

>If I had suggested that no one could write a game that could disgust me,
>I suppose you would have handed me a detailed, interactive sausage's eye
>view of a leper's digestive system from withering mouth to septic decay.

Actually, this sounds pretty cool. Adam, I think it's about time you
started work on that alt.tasteless game you've been itching to write all
these years...

Carl de Marcken

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Nov 21, 1994, 9:43:55 PM11/21/94
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> This means that there are 0 hints towards the solution. There is not
> even a suggestion of it within the game. So the experiment has
> successfully proven that most players are not psychic.

> Understand that as far as I'm concerned, "hints from the game" means that
> NOTHING can be assumed, and since my game NEVER told me that I was a clothed
> human, my assessment is that the challenge has not yet been met.

This is silly tripe. We make a thousand assumptions when we play games.
We assume we have feet that less us walk North and eyes that let us "x all".
We assume a door can be opened without the game saying

"There is a door, which will open if you type OPEN DOOR."

If I'd asked you whether or not you were wearing clothes in +=3, you would have
responded "Probably" or "of course". If I told you to picture the
scenario, a person on a bridge with nothing but a calculator, and a troll
that seems to want something, and told you to try giving the troll the
shirt off your back, you wouldn't have said "But I might be naked."

Indeed, had you not played adventure games before and been limited in your
thinking by their constraints, giving the troll the shirt off your back
might have been the first thing to your mind.

There are many popular games that offer no "hint" towards a solution.
In Zork, there is no "hint" that you should look under the carpet. You
look under the carpet because you come from a culture that associates
carpets with trapdoors. Certainly this culture associates clothes with
people as much or more so.

It seems that what we have here is someone who is defining a logical
puzzle to be one he can solve.

My Mirriam-Webster's 10th Collegiate defines "logical" to mean, essentially,
something that follows according to some laws of deduction. Certainly
the solution to +=3 meets this criterion, SO LONG AS ONE ADMITS THE
NECESSARY PREMISES, namely that people have clothes. Now, the game
doesn't explicitly mention that you do, but the game doesn't explicitly
mention that you have hands that can press calculator buttons either.

So, given that +=3 is essentially unsolvable (or could be made so by
including an Akmi Sez in your posessions), the obvious truth that some
people still can't seem to grasp, is that our brains (and in particular
R. Bryan's brain) are not general-purpose reasoning engines that can
solve any problem. The writers of adventure game puzzles, if they wish
their puzzles to be solved, must provide more than just a "logical"
chain of events- they must provide one that is very likely to be explored
by a player. +=3 doesn't do that, deliberately. Zork, with the
trapdoor, did.

Note that many people find adventure games very confusing, because
their minds are not following the constrained paths of addicted players.
They say "Well, why can't I push the troll off the bridge". Or "Why can't
I just give him my shirt". They are confused and disgusted when somebody
answers "It's just an adventure game- the author wants you to play with
the calculator: that's why he put it in your inventory."

I suggest that the definition of "logical" you want is "It's a logical
puzzle if I can guess what the author wanted me to do using a very simple
model of the author." Then Balances is "logical": you have to cast a
make dangerous spell because the author only made it possible because
he wanted you to cast it. But it makes most interesting puzzles, and
most that require real creativity, illogical.

Carl

The Essential Addition

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Nov 21, 1994, 8:16:06 PM11/21/94
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Logical, eh?

I'm not familiar with many games that hinge on items which you don't
necessarily know that your own, but I'm glad that this is the only one
I've ever come across. Just so you know, "examine me" did not identify

me as a clothed human. It identified me as "The adventurer from Zork
who was too polite to open someone else's mailbox."

This means that there are 0 hints towards the solution. There is not

even a suggestion of it within the game. So the experiment has
successfully proven that most players are not psychic.

I applaud Mr. Thornton for abandoning all thought and typing random verbs.

Now, I'm not going to go long on this, but I will remind Dave Bagget that
the thread from which this dicussion was born was related to the Marie
Swelldon puzzle in Curses, for which there are three identifiable hints.
In Balances, there are six or seven possible spells which can be used,
providing a limited search in order to find the dangerous object cube. I
will point out that that is about the third thing I tried when I played,
but then again I'm a creative person. However, Balances does have this
going for it: 1) there are a limited number of spells. 2) the only thing
one can do with a spell is cast it. 3) since there is only one spell
that can be cast on another spell, anyone who enjoys the slightest amount
of experimentation will try that spell on the other six, and then will
see what results. I don't think that's asking too much of the player.

I'm sure everyone who has played Dave Bagget's game will agree that there
is a wide gap between this puzzle which some of you were complaining
about and the puzzle from +=3, which is dependant on objects which exist
in code only.

Bottom line: I'm not sure what you were trying to prove with this game,
Dave, but you have successfully created the one puzzle which I can call
truly call arbitrary. I have never seen a puzzle of its like, so you did
prove that such a puzzle COULD be created. However, you must realize that
none of the works which you have criticized come close to that level of
arbitrariness. Anyway, you always were and advocate for "proof through
extremes."

If I had suggested that no one could write a game that could disgust me,
I suppose you would have handed me a detailed, interactive sausage's eye
view of a leper's digestive system from withering mouth to septic decay.

Anyway, take that "logical" game off of GMD so newbies don't get
discouraged from interactive fiction forever. I will admit that Dave
successfully answered my challenge when he defines "logical using hints
from the game" (his words and mine within the challenge) in such a way to
justify that +=3 meets these requirements. Understand that as far as I'm

concerned, "hints from the game" means that NOTHING can be assumed, and
since my game NEVER told me that I was a clothed human, my assessment is
that the challenge has not yet been met.


--
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netcom.com | ..... | ...... | ...|..| .... |.... .... | The Essential
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Damien P. Neil

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Nov 22, 1994, 12:32:19 AM11/22/94
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In article <3arlbj...@life.ai.mit.edu>,
David Baggett <d...@ai.mit.edu> wrote:

>You claimed we couldn't make a logical puzzle that would stump you. Now
>that we've done exactly that, you're playing semantic games to try to
>weasel out of the jaws of defeat.

There is one problem, however. For a person to solve += 3 requires that
she realize that the game interface is not what it seems to be. += 3
appears to be a standard text adventure of the format used by Infocom,
Adventions, Graham Nelson, and many others. It isn't, of course. A
constant of all these interfaces is that any manipulable items that
the player is carrying or wearing will appear in the inventory. This
is how one determines, for example, whether the player is wearing shoes,
socks, pants, glasses, and underwear, or kid slippers, a linen chemise,
and a cotton frock.

The solution to += 3 is `logical' in the sense that it is a valid `real-
world' solution. In a role playing game, administered by a human, it
would make sense. However, it does not in the context += 3 operates in.

I feel that it is logical for a player of += 3 to assume that typing `i'
will list all objects in her character's inventory.

If += 3's character was wearing a blouse, skirt, stockings, clogs, and
underwear, would you still consider the game to be logical? If so, then
by what mechanism can the player logically determine what the character
is wearing? If not, then the solving the game requires that the player
have some knowledge of the context that adventure games operate in. (Most
games, especially those written by men, have been written with male
protagonists.) However, at the same time the player must abandon other
knowledge of adventure games. (Clothes, if manipulable, appear in the
inventory.)

I'm not complaining that += 3 is insolvable -- you gave fair warning of
that. Nor am I disputing the point you set out to make. (That there
are logical puzzles that people cannot reasonably be expected to solve.)
I just don't think that += 3 has a logical solution.

- Damien

DBlaheta

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Nov 22, 1994, 7:35:11 AM11/22/94
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I've gathered from previous posts that the solution involves giving the
troll your clothing. Could someone post the relevant lines of transcript?
Specifically, I want to see Baggett's "hint".

Don Blaheta
dbla...@aol.com

Carl de Marcken

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Nov 22, 1994, 1:36:49 AM11/22/94
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> There is one problem, however. For a person to solve += 3 requires that
> she realize that the game interface is not what it seems to be. += 3
> appears to be a standard text adventure of the format used by Infocom,
> Adventions, Graham Nelson, and many others. It isn't, of course. A
> constant of all these interfaces is that any manipulable items that
> the player is carrying or wearing will appear in the inventory.

Damien has a good and valid point here, but one must be careful. Play almost
any adventure game and you'll say to yourself sometime during it

"Hmm, it actually let me do that."

In other words, there's no list of exactly what commands one should expect a
game to take. Games often include detailed descriptions of things that can not
be examined but require the player to examine something barely mentioned in the
text. We did of course choose the clothing problem in +=3 precisely because we
knew people wouldn't try it, but I don't particularly think it was any more
unreasonable an action to expect than those in other games, and I suspect that
if we had not put the calculator in the game, people would have tried it fairly
quickly and not been upset.

Another way to look at it is this. Imagine a game told you that your side
itched. No game before has made reference to your side, or to scratching it,
and "scratching" is not part of the adventure-player's "type random command"
arsenal. When you type "x me", you do not expect to see "You have a
(non-itching) side". But when the game says "Your side itches" you might well
type in "Scratch side" and think nothing of it when your score goes up. In +=3
we were merely a bit more subtle than this hypothetical game, and said that the
troll has his hand out instead of "The troll is eyeing your shirt with a
wistful countenance".

Hi Damien.

Carl

Felix Lee

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Nov 22, 1994, 2:56:23 PM11/22/94
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I wouldn't have solved it; I only solved it after reading an indirect
clue in this newsgroup.

Part of the problem was I had tried "listen to me" during my
exploring-the-boundaries phase. This gives the nonsensical answer,
"You sound like a colorless green idea", which led me to abandon the
correct line of thought. I forgot this was an unfair puzzle. :)

I think I lost track of the original point behind all this. People
seem to be arguing in three or four different directions..
--

Adam Justin Thornton

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Nov 21, 1994, 10:06:30 PM11/21/94
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Spoiler ahead, like you're really going to keep playing +=3.


> If I had suggested that no one could write a game that could disgust me, I
> suppose you would have handed me a detailed, interactive sausage's eye view
> of a leper's digestive system from withering mouth to septic decay.

Actually, that's quite a good idea for a subplot within the alt.tasteless
IF I keep promising I'm going to write.

And hey, don't you think the game would've told you if you were _NAKED_?

Adam
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"Double integral is also the shape of lovers curled asleep" : Pynchon
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You can have my PGP passphrase when you pry it from my cold, dead brain.

The Essential Addition

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Nov 24, 1994, 11:32:16 AM11/24/94
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Whatever. I could throw a couple of comments back. Carl, we look under
the rug because many of us keep keys under doormats, and through the
media we've seen many objects hidden under rugs. I've never seen a troll
who needed my shirt. But hell, it's your analogy.

Carl also said that logical (according to his dictionary) means to come
to a conclusion through deductive reasoning. Random search is not
deductive reasoning. It is called brute force. +=3 said in MANY
instances that it could "only be solved through exhaustive search."

Whatever. One thing I do know is that Dave and Carl are too assured of
their own opinions and intelligence to ever actually listen to an argument.
I've never seen Dave back down from anything, and I've never seen him
admit that he's wrong.

So go ahead -- tell me why exhaustive search is actually deductive reasoning.
I'm sure you'll find some way to do it.

Just for the hell of it, I will say this: In your mind, with your
definitions, you succeeded in the challenge. For your reality, that's
all it takes.

(Oooh... more "semantic blathering," perhaps?)

David Librik

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Nov 24, 1994, 2:00:17 PM11/24/94
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rbr...@netcom.com (The Essential Addition) writes:
>Carl also said that logical (according to his dictionary) means to come
>to a conclusion through deductive reasoning. Random search is not
>deductive reasoning. It is called brute force. +=3 said in MANY
>instances that it could "only be solved through exhaustive search."

Look, I didn't play the game, but I've been reading the notes and it
seems like you guys are missing one important point:

The purpose of this little demo was to show the difference between a
logical *solution* to a puzzle, and the logical *solving* of one. The
first is static, the second a process. Using "it's too tough, using
standard adventure-game solving techniques, to find the answer" is not
a refutation -- they KNEW that when they wrote the game.

Which is why Dave Baggett is right, when you remember what he's talking
about: it's about THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE GAME WRITER'S AND GAME
PLAYER'S POINT OF VIEW. Lots of writers -- myself included, I have to
admit -- view our puzzles from a "static" point of view: we think "is
this a logical solution?" _rather than_ "will logic lead the player to this
solution?"

The solution to +=3 (which didn't require any particular kind of "exhaustive
search," so I don't know why you're upset about that) can be described in
one sentence to any intelligent human being, who will certainly then say
that that sounds like a perfectly sensible, logical solution. _After the
fact_. _Not having played the game_. It's not, inherently, any trickier
than many of the puzzles in Hitch-Hiker's Guide To The Galaxy -- it's
just that you are _misled by the game_ into not thinking in the right way.

But THAT has nothing -- and everything -- to do with the point of +=3, and
the design of adventure game puzzles. Just because I can come up with a
puzzle whose solution is "logical" doesn't mean even the most intelligent
players will be able to find it; not because they're weak & worthless, but
because "well, the answer is perfectly reasonable" isn't in itself enough.

- David Librik
lib...@cs.Berkeley.edu

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