How to Write a Great Game

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Dan Shiovitz

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Nov 20, 2004, 2:02:25 AM11/20/04
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Now that post-comp talk is dying down a bit, I thought I'd post
something I've been working on. It's an attempt to pull together
a description of everything authors need to think about if they want
to write a game that's actually great, not just okay. The essay in its
entirety is at http://www.drizzle.com/~dans/if/great-games.html,
but here's the first bit as a teaser. If people have comments or
thoughts on this, I'd like to hear them (this is crossposted, with
followups set to raif only).

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

A little while after the comp started this past year, somebody said
"You know, I should write down a score after playing a comp game for
two minutes and compare it to the one after two hours and see how
different they are." I didn't do that myself, but it kept coming to
mind as I was playing the games this year. Like last year and the year
before that, there were too many games where it was obvious from the
first few turns that they weren't going to be great.

This isn't really a problem confined to openings, either -- even the
ones that started out promising often fizzled as the game went on. I'm
not sure if this is because folks are purposely setting their sights
low (looking at you, Mr. Hill); or because they think they're writing
something great and just aren't; or because they want to write
something great and don't know how. People in the first category are
obviously happy with what they're doing and will presumably keep doing
it. This writeup is for people in the other two categories. I talk
about what specifically makes a game great, what to do and what to
avoid doing.

We start with the premise that any idea can be turned into a great
game. There are three kinds of problems that might keep this from
happening . failures of construction (that is, in the design of the
world), failures of interaction (that is, in how the player's
experience with the world is managed), and failures of concept (that
is, what world is created and what the underlying premise of the game
is).

--
Dan Shiovitz :: d...@cs.wisc.edu :: http://www.drizzle.com/~dans
"He settled down to dictate a letter to the Consolidated Nailfile and
Eyebrow Tweezer Corporation of Scranton, Pa., which would make them
realize that life is stern and earnest and Nailfile and Eyebrow Tweezer
Corporations are not put in this world for pleasure alone." -PGW

Papillon

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Nov 20, 2004, 8:56:44 AM11/20/04
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d...@cs.wisc.edu (Dan Shiovitz) wrote:

>----------------------------------------------------------------------
> It's important to have the right number of locations in the game; locations with no gameplay purpose should be deleted,
> and those with too many purposes should be split. "Because it exists in the world being modelled" is never sufficient
> reason to keep a room — ruthless pruning of locations will almost always make the world map tighter and better.

However, failure to include a location that clearly should exist in the
world being modeled can create a problem as well.

Common culprit - the bathroom. If for whatever reason you have need to visit
a living space within a game, there is almost certainly a bathroom around
there somewhere. If the entire game is not set in that living space, though,
the bathroom is probably unimportant. But if you don't include it, some
snarky bastard reviewer is going to complain about the inhuman plumbing of
the character in question. :)

A world that lacks internal logic or a sparse world that lacks anything not
completely necessary to the gameplay can be uninviting.

Hrm, maybe we should take a Toilet Poll!

1. No extraneous loos.
2. Mention it in the connecting room's description and prevent the player
from going there because it's not important. It's out of order, you don't
need to go, etc.
3. Stick a very nondescript room there that serves the basic purpose. And
remember to code the 'flush' verb.
4. Build a bathroom, and since you've got one, make it interesting. You can
hide all sorts of secret information about the characters by personalising
their bathrooms! It's not extraneous, it's part of the story!

VOTE!


---
Hanako Games
Anime Games and Screensavers To Download
http://www.hanakogames.com/

Jeff Nyman

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Nov 20, 2004, 9:35:28 AM11/20/04
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"Dan Shiovitz" <d...@cs.wisc.edu> wrote in message
news:cnmq61$q6r$1...@drizzle.com...

I am curious about this one part:

Quote: "It's important to have the right number of locations in the game;
locations with no gameplay purpose should be deleted,..."

I am wondering because in the game I am writing now, I have relatively few
locations (on a long-range spaceship) but some of them really serve no
purpose ... except to truly flesh out the game world. For example, a
spaceship on long-range missions is going to have bathrooms for the crew. To
me, it would seem odd for a ship not to have that -- even if no puzzles take
place in that room or it serves no other real function. In other words, I
believe some locations can serve just to build up a coherent world that
makes sense to the player. ("Oh, yes, I guess they would have to go to the
bathroom now and then.")

In the craft of writing in general they tell you that if you are building up
a world for your readers (or, in our case, players) you need to consider the
types of questions that a thoughtful reader (player) would ask of the world.
("Why the heck don't they have bathrooms on this spaceship?!")

I can see this advice of deleting rooms if the room serves no purpose to the
game *and* if it serves no purpose towards making the game world believable
and internally self-consistent. I agree that it can become cumbersome to
have too many rooms, particularly if nothing actually happens in them, but I
think there is also the balance of making sure that you have a believable
"world space" that answer reasonable questions the player might ask about
the game world.

I am curious to hear if this makes sense to anyone.


Papillon

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Nov 20, 2004, 9:47:36 AM11/20/04
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"Jeff Nyman" <cryptonomic_nospam@nospam_hotmail.com> wrote:

> For example, a
>spaceship on long-range missions is going to have bathrooms for the crew.

... see, the Bathroom Question really is a Burning Issue of IF Design! :)

Andrew Plotkin

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Nov 20, 2004, 9:58:35 AM11/20/04
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Here, Jeff Nyman <cryptonomic_nospam@nospam_hotmail.com> wrote:
> "Dan Shiovitz" <d...@cs.wisc.edu> wrote in message
> news:cnmq61$q6r$1...@drizzle.com...
>
> I am curious about this one part:
>
> Quote: "It's important to have the right number of locations in the game;
> locations with no gameplay purpose should be deleted,..."
>
> I am wondering because in the game I am writing now, I have relatively few
> locations (on a long-range spaceship) but some of them really serve no
> purpose ... except to truly flesh out the game world. For example, a
> spaceship on long-range missions is going to have bathrooms for the crew. To
> me, it would seem odd for a ship not to have that -- even if no puzzles take
> place in that room or it serves no other real function.

If the heads are truly irrelevant to gameplay, you could mention them
without creating an actual location. "You don't need to relieve
yourself" is a perfectly acceptable message if the player tries to go
in.

There's also a question of granularity. Maybe you should implement the
whole ship as just two or three locations, with each location standing
for an entire section or deck. Then the bathrooms are implicitly below
notice. This is probably more appropriate if the ship is a small part
of the game, as opposed to the whole setting -- but maybe not. Maybe
you want to write a two-or-three-room game. Consider these
possibilities.

--Z

"And Aholibamah bare Jeush, and Jaalam, and Korah: these were the borogoves..."
*
I'm still thinking about what to put in this space.

Jeff Nyman

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Nov 20, 2004, 3:42:14 PM11/20/04
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"Andrew Plotkin" <erky...@eblong.com> wrote in message
news:cnnm2r$8ku$2...@reader1.panix.com...

>
> If the heads are truly irrelevant to gameplay, you could mention them
> without creating an actual location. "You don't need to relieve
> yourself" is a perfectly acceptable message if the player tries to go
> in.

Okay, I can see that as being a good alternative. But other areas of
fleshing out the game world might be, say, a chapel and/or meditation area.
(Such a long-voyage spaceship might provide facilities to accomodate
religious beliefs and/or other spiritual practices of the crew.) There would
also be a common location to eat, most likely. There might be an exercise
arena. Now, let us assume that none of these locations is critical to the
game except that they flesh out the game world (consisting entirely of the
ship) so that it seems like a "real" ship, or, at least a believable one in
the context of the game.

Would a recommendation be that I should have stock messages for each such
room?

Bathrooms: "There is way too much going on to be worring about this right
now."
Chapel: "You are not very spiritual. No need to go there."
MessHall: "You are not hungry so no reason to go in there."
Exercise: "You are too busy to be thinking about exercising now."

Etc. Etc.

I can see the argument: do not include those rooms if you have to make so
many stock replies. But if I limit my hypothetical spaceship to only those
rooms that serve to further the story or provide locational puzzles, does
that not necessarily limit the idea of providing a believable world for the
player? I guess it boils down to what is more frustrating to the general
player of IF: is it more frustrating to have rooms that serve no purpose
except filler to make the game world more realistic or is it more
frustrating to be left with a series of responses saying why you cannot go
to various places? I can see arguments on both sides, and it probably
depends on the scope of the game and the general setting. (For example, if
you were writing your game about an airport, you would probably not include
fifty different terminals, when only one was actually relevant.)

(Just to be sure, I am keeping this thread on topic with Dan's original
posting because if the notion of writing a "great game" involves locations
and how many there are and what purpose they serve, I think we are still on
track and talking about the same thing: what is the balance to be sought in
building up a coherent and logical world for the players while realizing you
are not creating an absolute reflection of reality.)

> There's also a question of granularity. Maybe you should implement the
> whole ship as just two or three locations, with each location standing
> for an entire section or deck. Then the bathrooms are implicitly below
> notice. This is probably more appropriate if the ship is a small part
> of the game, as opposed to the whole setting -- but maybe not. Maybe
> you want to write a two-or-three-room game. Consider these
> possibilities.

That is a very interesting idea. In the game I am referring to here, the
spaceship is (almost) the entire setting for the game so I think I need to
break locations out. I appreciate the suggestion, however, as I can think of
other uses for this kind of solution. One might be that various areas of the
ship are, in fact, fleshed out with actual locations but the "non-important"
or "filler" locations are all part of one big "room" and if the player tries
to reference those elements ("chapel", exercise", etc) they are told (in
some game appropriate fashion) that those areas are not really relevant.

- Jeff


Reese Warner

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Nov 20, 2004, 3:42:50 PM11/20/04
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I implicitly voted for #1 below in The Great Xavio by creating a hotel
room without a (useless) bathroom. But at least one reviewer felt it
ruined the imitation. I'll probably go with #2 in the future.

Reese

Max

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Nov 20, 2004, 3:52:15 PM11/20/04
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"Jeff Nyman" <cryptonomic_nospam@nospam_hotmail.com> wrote in message
news:F_Nnd.432604$D%.102674@attbi_s51...
[Filler locations - sorry, don't know what to quote]

Maybe you could adapt Emily Short's advice on NPCs. Have some rooms which
are _obviously_ filler rooms (how to make it obvious?). Have others which
are _obviously_ significant rooms (should be easy). And have some which
could go either way. This makes your world seem more fleshed-out without
becoming long-winded. The third class of rooms makes the useful/useless line
slightly less ugly/narrow.

--Max


Jan Thorsby

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Nov 20, 2004, 4:01:09 PM11/20/04
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"Papillon" <papillo...@bigfoot.com> skrev i melding
news:3aiup0lo3p7rue4ib...@4ax.com...
> d...@cs.wisc.edu (Dan Shiovitz) wrote:

> 1. No extraneous loos.
> 2. Mention it in the connecting room's description and prevent the player
> from going there because it's not important. It's out of order, you don't
> need to go, etc.
> 3. Stick a very nondescript room there that serves the basic purpose. And
> remember to code the 'flush' verb.
> 4. Build a bathroom, and since you've got one, make it interesting. You
> can
> hide all sorts of secret information about the characters by personalising
> their bathrooms! It's not extraneous, it's part of the story!
>
> VOTE!

I hate IF bathrooms. I vote 2. Unless the game is about searching a
(realistic modern) building, then 2 would be frustating and I vote 3. But
you don't need a flush verb. When the player tries to interact with useless
stuff they should be told it is a useless thing, most of the time.


Poster

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Nov 20, 2004, 4:32:36 PM11/20/04
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My personal experience is that the purple prose content shoots mimesis
(sp?) in the foot. If the significant rooms mention these other rooms
and yet you're not allowed to go to them, that screams, "You're in a
game! You're in a game! You're in a game!" (Cue the evil chuckling
developer laughter.) The stock responses are best used minimally and to
tie in to the description of the room. It doesn't feel "fair" to the
player to be perpetually denied the opportunity to see these other
rooms. Sure, not all rooms will feature directly in the plot. But
including them creates the illusion that the player is there, and that
immersion is what makes IF work so well.

~Poster

Jeff Nyman

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Nov 20, 2004, 5:36:23 PM11/20/04
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"Poster" <pos...@aurora.cotse.net> wrote in message
news:xMWdnVlMmIJ...@giganews.com...

>
> My personal experience is that the purple prose content shoots mimesis
> (sp?) in the foot. If the significant rooms mention these other rooms and
> yet you're not allowed to go to them, that screams, "You're in a game!
> You're in a game! You're in a game!" (Cue the evil chuckling

I agree with this. At least, that is how I have been thinking of things in
crafting the game. After all, if all of these objects (rooms, whatever) are
so useless, why mention them in the first place? They are actually more
distracting in that case. However, not mentioning them at all comes at the
cost of not fleshing out the game world. (If the game world is not meant to
be a realistic setting, this is perhaps less of a problem.)

Papillion's post, I think, is spot on: "A world that lacks internal logic or

a sparse world that lacks anything not
completely necessary to the gameplay can be uninviting."

It seems to me you can get away with the "stock response" when you have a
location that is quite obviously large in scope, but mainly unnecessary for
the player to explore in its entirety. The airport example I gave in the
previous post might be a good example. There are lots of bathrooms in
airports but in real life I certainly do not seek them out, nor do I make a
point of visiting every terminal just because I can. So it is not likely I
would need to write up those locations in a game, since it would seem
internally consistent to a player (I believe) that simulating a full airport
was not the goal of the author. The same might be said of a game that takes
place in an office building (no need to code up all the rooms) or even on
one large floor of an office building (no need to code up all the cubicles).
However, in areas where the locations are more constrained because the game
space is smaller, it seems that it would suggest that more fleshing out of
the game world goes some ways towards making a "great game".

By way of historical example, I think of "A Mind Forever Voyaging". As I
remember it, many of the locations in that game were not critical at all to
the overall goal. Yet they were all there to flesh out, as realistically as
possible, a city of the future. That, to me, was an example of a game where
deleting the extraneous rooms would have (perhaps) been a bad move, only
because you would lose the sheer scale of the city and the notion that you
are exploring a real city. Or think of "Planetfall". After you escaped your
crashed pod, it had the underwater location, the crag, and then the balcony
plaque *then* the winding stairways and finally up to the courtyard, just to
west of which was the "west ring" ruins that, as I remember, were mainly
useless except as ambience and indicative of a ruined civilization. (Come to
think of it, this game also had the Sanitary Facilities.)

- Jeff


Jan Thorsby

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Nov 20, 2004, 6:16:47 PM11/20/04
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"Jeff Nyman" <cryptonomic_nospam@nospam_hotmail.com> skrev i melding
news:F_Nnd.432604$D%.102674@attbi_s51...

> "Andrew Plotkin" <erky...@eblong.com> wrote in message
> news:cnnm2r$8ku$2...@reader1.panix.com...

> Would a recommendation be that I should have stock messages for each such

> room?
>
> Bathrooms: "There is way too much going on to be worring about this right
> now."
> Chapel: "You are not very spiritual. No need to go there."
> MessHall: "You are not hungry so no reason to go in there."
> Exercise: "You are too busy to be thinking about exercising now."

It would seem less annoying to put it all in one exit. Like: "Down that
hallway is only the bathrooms, chapel, messhall and exercise room. Nothing
you need now."


samwyse

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Nov 20, 2004, 10:02:50 PM11/20/04
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On or about 11/20/2004 7:56 AM, Papillon did proclaim:

> Hrm, maybe we should take a Toilet Poll!
>
> 1. No extraneous loos.
> 2. Mention it in the connecting room's description and prevent the player
> from going there because it's not important. It's out of order, you don't
> need to go, etc.
> 3. Stick a very nondescript room there that serves the basic purpose. And
> remember to code the 'flush' verb.
> 4. Build a bathroom, and since you've got one, make it interesting. You can
> hide all sorts of secret information about the characters by personalising
> their bathrooms! It's not extraneous, it's part of the story!
>
> VOTE!

Eighteen months ago I visited a city in Siberia. It took me about five
minutes to figure out how to flush the toilet in my hotel room. So for
my current work-in-progress, Kemerovo, I've gone with option 4.

Glenn P.,

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Nov 21, 2004, 12:06:56 AM11/21/04
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On 21-Nov-04 at 3:02am -0000, <deja...@email.com> wrote:

> Eighteen months ago I visited a city in Siberia. It took me about five
> minutes to figure out how to flush the toilet in my hotel room.

I'll probably be very sorry I ever asked this -- but I'll bite (byte?)
anyway: "So, how exactly DOES one flush a toilet in a Siberian hotel?"

Jokingly asked, but seriously meant -- you've piqued my curiosity. Don't
leave us hanging! Give us the (pardon the pun) straight flush!

--_____ _____
{~._.~} * >> [ "Glenn P.," <C128UserD...@FVI.Net> ] << * {~._.~}
_( Y )_ /| ---------------------------------- |\ _( Y )_
(:_~*~_:) \| MORTICIA: "Darling, do you remember our honeymoon?" |/ (:_~*~_:)
(_)-(_) * GOMEZ: "Who could forget Death Valley?" * (_)-(_)

:: Take Note Of The Spam Block On My E-Mail Address! ::

Timofei Shatrov

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Nov 21, 2004, 2:19:32 AM11/21/04
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On Sun, 21 Nov 2004 00:06:56 -0500, "Glenn P.,"
<C128UserD...@FVI.Net> tried to confuse everyone with this
message:

>On 21-Nov-04 at 3:02am -0000, <deja...@email.com> wrote:
>
> > Eighteen months ago I visited a city in Siberia. It took me about five
> > minutes to figure out how to flush the toilet in my hotel room.
>
>I'll probably be very sorry I ever asked this -- but I'll bite (byte?)
>anyway: "So, how exactly DOES one flush a toilet in a Siberian hotel?"
>

But that would spoil the puzzle! Not that I know how to do that, we
Russians never flush our toilets :)

(resist joke about toilets flushing you)

--
|a\o/r|,-------------.,---------- Timofei Shatrov aka Grue ------------.
| m"a ||FC AMKAR PERM|| mail: grue at mail.ru http://grue3.tripod.com |
| k || PWNZ J00 || KoL:Grue3 NationStates:Holypunkeye |
`-----'`-------------'`-------------------------------------------[4*72]

Dan Shiovitz

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Nov 21, 2004, 3:31:22 AM11/21/04
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In article <HFPnd.123052$R05.53319@attbi_s53>,
Jeff Nyman <cryptonomic_nospam@nospam_hotmail.com> wrote:
[..]

>By way of historical example, I think of "A Mind Forever Voyaging". As I
>remember it, many of the locations in that game were not critical at all to
>the overall goal. Yet they were all there to flesh out, as realistically as
>possible, a city of the future. That, to me, was an example of a game where
>deleting the extraneous rooms would have (perhaps) been a bad move, only
>because you would lose the sheer scale of the city and the notion that you
>are exploring a real city. Or think of "Planetfall". After you escaped your
>crashed pod, it had the underwater location, the crag, and then the balcony
>plaque *then* the winding stairways and finally up to the courtyard, just to

I agree with most of what's been said in the thread so far, but I'd
like to point out I said "locations with no gameplay purpose should be
deleted" -- but being there to show that the area is really big is a
valid purpose, if it's important to the game that you're exploring a
really big area. The problem comes when the author says "oh, this area
happens to be really big, so I should model it with a lot of rooms,"
without considering whether it benefits the game at all for this area
to have a lot of rooms.

Similarly, elsewhere in the thread there was the question about
whether a game set on a spaceship should have a bathroom, chapel, or
mess hall just because a spaceship would have them. No, of course
not. But if it's important in the game to get the feel of being on a
spaceship across, and if part of that feel involves having access to
a space-bathroom and space-chapel and space-mess-hall, then sure,
stick them in (but ask yourself why, if they're so important to life
on the spaceship, why aren't they part of the plot?)

This may sound like hair-splitting, but I think it's a vital
distinction to make. The point of the elements in an IF game are to
make it a better game. This is the fundamental purpose and everything
else must submit. That means that it's perfectly fine to put something
in to increase the realism, if realism in turn makes the game
better. But increasing the realism purely for the sake of increasing
realism, without considering what effect this has on other parts of
the game, is a serious mistake. (And there's always an effect --
adding a location to the game means extra scenery objects for the
player to look at, an extra location to map, an extra turn of
navigation every time they walk through it -- so authors need to ask
if the added realism is worth the cost?)

Anyway, I hope it's clear that what I'm talking about in the essay are
mostly theoretical ideals and rules of thumb. I don't really expect
everyone to prune out every single location that might be possibly
gotten rid of, just like I don't expect people to release games which
are completely bug-free. But by *trying* for the ideal of a bug-free
game, the end product is better. Similarly, trying for the ideal of a
game with no useless locations and forcing locations to justify
themselves will lead to a tighter map and a better game.

>- Jeff

Jeff Nyman

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Nov 21, 2004, 8:50:07 AM11/21/04
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"Dan Shiovitz" <d...@cs.wisc.edu> wrote in message
news:cnpjoq$q9q$1...@drizzle.com...
> In article <HFPnd.123052$R05.53319@attbi_s53>,

>
> But if it's important in the game to get the feel of being on a
> spaceship across, and if part of that feel involves having access to
> a space-bathroom and space-chapel and space-mess-hall, then sure,
> stick them in (but ask yourself why, if they're so important to life
> on the spaceship, why aren't they part of the plot?)

That is what I was getting to: part of the plot (or not being such). What is
"gameplay purpose"? If, as you say, it can also be setting the mood and tone
and the general scope of the game (as opposed to just hosting some puzzles
or a needed item), then some rooms will not have a "gameplay purpose" other
than just being there. They are not "part of the plot" except insofar as
making the setting of the plot believable. So, to me, that would answer the
question of why they are not an *active* part of the plot. Maybe what it
boils down to is whether or not players of IF, on average, really require a
world model to be believable and consistent at all levels of approximation.
Obviously the answer to that is "no", since we are not truly modeling the
"real world." Yet, there must be some level of approximation (a balance, I
guess) where some things are included just for the sake of being realistic.
I know that if I am playing a game on a spaceship, for example, or reading a
book about one, then I wonder about ancillary things: do they have a
bathroom? what do they do for recreation? how do they stay in shape in
space? Those are (usually) ancillary questions to the plot but, for me, when
an author at least makes some token attempt to recognize that a thoughtful
reader may ask these questions, it makes the story that much more enjoyable.
If nothing else, it shows me the author thought about the characters and the
setting they are in and thought about me, the reader, who may ask these
questions.

> This may sound like hair-splitting, but I think it's a vital
> distinction to make. The point of the elements in an IF game are to
> make it a better game. This is the fundamental purpose and everything
> else must submit. That means that it's perfectly fine to put something
> in to increase the realism, if realism in turn makes the game
> better. But increasing the realism purely for the sake of increasing
> realism, without considering what effect this has on other parts of
> the game, is a serious mistake.

I agree with you about this being a very vital distinction, which is why I
have been harping on this concept of the balance between "gameplay purpose"
and realism (assuming the game requires a realistic setting). I think a lot
of this has to do with the game player, just as it would for a reader of a
novel. I know many readers who do not think about issues surrounding the
characters in a book or the settings in a book and do not wonder about why
certain things are not described or do not ask questions of the story beyond
the plot that is presented and I know many other readers who do like to ask
questions of the story and have a "model world" fleshed out, at least to
some degree. I am sure that same is true of players of Interactive Fiction.

I think the idea of "increasing realism, if realism in turn makes the game
better" is a crucial issue because what makes the game "better" is not
something that I can see being easily defined, since it depends a lot on
your players, their expectations as readers/players, and what satisfaction
they derive from how the model world they are playing in is described,
similar to how some readers of novels prefer in-depth explanation of
characters, settings, etc. Also, "what effect [realism] has on other parts
of the game" is another big issue, for me, regarding works of Interactive
Fiction. Assuming the game is set in a realistic setting (or at least one
that is not so fantastical that you can imagine it being possible in some
reality), how much "realism" is too much? (Again, probably depends on the
player and the general nature of the game.) Plus we can extend that to other
aspects of "realism" than just locations. For example, good story writing is
often about motivation. People are motivated to act in a certain way. Is it
worth trying to put that concept in works of Interactive Fiction? In good
good story writing, the characters are often changed in some way by the
events that have taken place. That is another aspect of realism.

Speaking as one game player (and hopeful) game author, a "great game" would
be one that did explore some of the traditional aspects of good story
writing and was able to showcase these elements of realism, at least to some
extent.

(By the way, lest it seem like I am unnecessarily bringing up a lot of
points, part of what I am doing is gathering information for a paper I would
like to write about how and to what extent the elements of traditional story
writing can be applied to works of Interactive Fiction and how successful
that is or is not.)

- Jeff


RootShell

unread,
Nov 21, 2004, 6:42:12 PM11/21/04
to
"Jeff Nyman" <cryptonomic_nospam@nospam_hotmail.com> escreveu na mensagem
news:QCInd.431645$D%.173646@attbi_s51...

> "Dan Shiovitz" <d...@cs.wisc.edu> wrote in message
> news:cnmq61$q6r$1...@drizzle.com...
>

[snip]

> I can see this advice of deleting rooms if the room serves no purpose to
the
> game *and* if it serves no purpose towards making the game world
believable
> and internally self-consistent. I agree that it can become cumbersome to
> have too many rooms, particularly if nothing actually happens in them, but
I
> think there is also the balance of making sure that you have a believable
> "world space" that answer reasonable questions the player might ask about
> the game world.
>
> I am curious to hear if this makes sense to anyone.

Since i didnt create any IF game (yet), i can only state what i expect when
im playing a IF game:

1) The mention of rooms in a IF game (worl) that afterwards give you a "You
can't" are one of the most annoying things i can think about in a IF game.
If you mention something you should allow it to be interactable/used.

2) The rooms where nothing happens in a game, have the same rightness to be
there as the other ones, since a house, has to have divisions/rooms, and one
would expect a kitcken/wc(bathroom)/bedroom/etc in it. So while not
exagerating i think that rooms (even without meaning to the story) should be
there to give realism/dimension to a location.

3) Say you where making a IF game based on a hotel, why would the hotel only
have 10 rooms (in which you actually have to do something) and not 15 rooms
(10 with something to do and 5 not nothing to do related to the story)? Of
couse that, on the opposite side, a IF game with like 200 total rooms while
only 10 are usable/part of the story, would be wrong. I think that the key
here is balance.

4) I recall that some early comercial IF games (not sure from which company,
although i think they were ZXSpectrum games) often mentioned/publicized
their games has having a huge number of rooms. I mention this has an example
of what not to do, when making a IF game, it's not the number of rooms that
makes the game a "big" one... it's his story.

5) My IF game, will have several locations that do not have anything to do
with the game plot, but contribute to the player ilusion that he is at a
specific location. Has does your bathroom/etc

Well just a few thoughts that, as always, might diverge from others members.

Regards,
RootShell


Michael Roy

unread,
Nov 22, 2004, 1:52:55 AM11/22/04
to
Jeff Nyman wrote:
> "Dan Shiovitz" <d...@cs.wisc.edu> wrote in message
> news:cnmq61$q6r$1...@drizzle.com...
>
> I am curious about this one part:
>
> Quote: "It's important to have the right number of locations in the game;
> locations with no gameplay purpose should be deleted,..."
>
> I am wondering because in the game I am writing now, I have relatively few
> locations (on a long-range spaceship) but some of them really serve no
> purpose ... except to truly flesh out the game world. For example, a
> spaceship on long-range missions is going to have bathrooms for the crew. To
> me, it would seem odd for a ship not to have that -- even if no puzzles take
> place in that room or it serves no other real function. In other words, I
> believe some locations can serve just to build up a coherent world that
> makes sense to the player. ("Oh, yes, I guess they would have to go to the
> bathroom now and then.")

In theory, I'd agree with this. However, I think it could become
cumbersome in application because an IF reader treats a location
differently than the reader of static fiction, or from an actual person
for that matter. In my life, I have the will power to enter a room, see
a closet, and NOT go explore it to see if it has something interesting
in it. In IF, I not only have to thoroughly explore it, I also have to
map it, to search through the pockets of the coats, etc. Ideally, there
should be some benefit for the six or eight moves I spend there other
than realizing that people need a place to hang up their jacket.

Unfortunately, there are so many games in which exploring seemly
irrelevant areas reveals something vital. (Very minor potential spoiler
for Anchorhead, ROT-13'd) Jura V svefg cynlrq Napubeurnq, V sbhaq zlfrys
va na hajvaanoyr cbfvgvba gbjneqf gur raq bs gur tnzr. V riraghnyyl
qvfpbirerq gung guvf jnf orpnhfr V unq artyrpgrq gb ybbx guebhtu gur
phcobneq va gur xvgpura, va juvpu gurer jnf n obbx bs zngpurf.
(Vapvqragnyyl, V qvq guvf orpnhfr gur fgbel zragvbarq gung zl punenpgre
jnf nsenvq bs svaqvat vg fgvyy fgbpxrq jvgu sbbq sebz gur sbezre bjare,
naq gur jevgvat npghnyyl birepnzr zl vaurerag VS-vadhvfvgvirarff.)

Conjecture: IF cannot model real-world phenomenon accurately because
players will interpret the possibility to explore something completely
mundane in the real-world as the obligation to do so "just in case."

> In the craft of writing in general they tell you that if you are building up
> a world for your readers (or, in our case, players) you need to consider the
> types of questions that a thoughtful reader (player) would ask of the world.
> ("Why the heck don't they have bathrooms on this spaceship?!")

Yes. But in static fiction, you can also direct the reader away from
things that aren't important to the world you're building. I'll agree
that being told "You can't go there" is perhaps the second most annoying
thing in the world (the first being "Futile" in response to throwing
something), but in some cases it may actually be in the player's best
interest. I don't think I would miss having a bathroom implemented
unless for some reason I actually decided to explore the ship with the
express purpose of finding one.

Spaceships are terribly complex things. There are probably a hundred
things that you're already putting in implicitly without realizing it.
Do you have an engine room, boiler room, artificially lit gardens,
corridor leading to the hatch for the manual override of the backup
oxygen tank? In my opinion, all of these and many others that I'm not
listing would be more interesting places to visit than a bathroom.

Locations don't have to be relevant, but they should be plausible and
interesting. There is a gameplay benefit to having unneeded rooms, so
that we don't all feel like mice in a maze, but it only works if they're
rooms that I'd actually like to explore.


> I can see this advice of deleting rooms if the room serves no purpose to the
> game *and* if it serves no purpose towards making the game world believable
> and internally self-consistent. I agree that it can become cumbersome to
> have too many rooms, particularly if nothing actually happens in them, but I
> think there is also the balance of making sure that you have a believable
> "world space" that answer reasonable questions the player might ask about
> the game world.

I agree completely. Except players rarely ask reasonable questions and
beta testers never do.

> I am curious to hear if this makes sense to anyone.

--
Michael

Paul Drallos

unread,
Nov 22, 2004, 1:11:01 PM11/22/04
to
samwyse wrote:

>
> Eighteen months ago I visited a city in Siberia. It took me about five
> minutes to figure out how to flush the toilet in my hotel room. So for
> my current work-in-progress, Kemerovo, I've gone with option 4.
>

Ever been to Japan? They have some really cool high-tech toilets there. Took me a long time to figure out all the buttons. There's a water temperature control, a water pressure control, a nozzle selector and angle of jet spray. And a flusher, of course. Most of the gadgets is for the spray that cleans your bottom (and front parts if you're a female).

Very luxurious. One of the things I missed the most when I came home.

Kevin Venzke

unread,
Nov 22, 2004, 6:32:57 PM11/22/04
to

"Michael Roy" <inv...@invalid.invalid> wrote in message
news:30dgo4F...@uni-berlin.de...

>I'll agree
> that being told "You can't go there" is perhaps the second most annoying
> thing in the world (the first being "Futile" in response to throwing
> something),

What do you think the default response to "throw (at)" should be?
Should it be customized for every projectile, or perhaps deleted as
a verb altogether?

Kevin Venzke


Michael Roy

unread,
Nov 23, 2004, 2:56:02 AM11/23/04
to

That's a very good question. Unfortunately, throwing something seems to
definitely be a game specific action, so I can't think of any default
response that would work well for all (or even most) games. Maybe "You
would achieve nothing by this." Sort of a misnomer, but it's already
used for a few other odd actions such as TIE.

In fact, Adventure is about the only game I can think of right now that
actually implements ThrowAt for anything useful and I've become
accustomed to not trying to throw things. Perhaps deleting it from the
core set would be a good idea. Any compulsive throwers out there to
defend the verb?

--
Michael

Frank Lane

unread,
Nov 23, 2004, 4:34:14 AM11/23/04
to
On Mon, 22 Nov 2004 23:56:02 -0800, Michael Roy
<inv...@invalid.invalid> wrote:

>In fact, Adventure is about the only game I can think of right now that
>actually implements ThrowAt for anything useful and I've become
>accustomed to not trying to throw things. Perhaps deleting it from the
>core set would be a good idea. Any compulsive throwers out there to
>defend the verb?

TADS 2 uses "You miss" as the default. A game tester used "throw
[item] at rats" as a means of feeding them so I have had to implement
the verb. I've substituted "Why would you want to do that?" for
throwing the food at anything else and left "You miss" for throwing
anything else.

Frank

___
Frank Lane
la...@eaglewing.org.uk
http://www.eaglewing.org.uk

samwyse

unread,
Nov 23, 2004, 8:05:56 AM11/23/04
to
On or about 11/20/2004 11:06 PM, Glenn P., did proclaim:

> On 21-Nov-04 at 3:02am -0000, <deja...@email.com> wrote:
>
> > Eighteen months ago I visited a city in Siberia. It took me about five
> > minutes to figure out how to flush the toilet in my hotel room.
>
> I'll probably be very sorry I ever asked this -- but I'll bite (byte?)
> anyway: "So, how exactly DOES one flush a toilet in a Siberian hotel?"
>
> Jokingly asked, but seriously meant -- you've piqued my curiosity. Don't
> leave us hanging! Give us the (pardon the pun) straight flush!

*** SPOILER ALERT FOR AN UNFINISHED GAME ***

The toilets that I'm *very* used to look like this:
http://www.yoe-inc.com/Hometech/Images/2pc-toilet.jpg
Note the lever on the side of the tank.

The toilets in my "Western-style" Moscow hotel were like the above, but
the ones in the rooms at the Hotel Tom in Kemerovo looked like this
(thank you, Google image serach!):
http://www.bananapancake.org/danielle/Russia/toilet.jpg

Note the absence of a lever on the side of the tank. In the image, it
is probably easy to figure out, but in the hotel there were several
items (including the roll of toilet paper) lying on top of the tank,
making the task of identifying the flushing mechanism a bit harder to
figure out. Plus, I had to figure out what to do with the thing: I
tried pushing it in various directions, then turning it, and even
pulling up on it. The latter was the correct thing to do, but probably
due to the lack of a lever arm, it took a bit of force to activate it
and so it took a few tries before I was willing to chance having it pop
off in my hand.

RootShell

unread,
Nov 23, 2004, 8:17:04 AM11/23/04
to
"Michael Roy" <inv...@invalid.invalid> escreveu na mensagem
news:30g8ojF...@uni-berlin.de...

> Kevin Venzke wrote:
> > "Michael Roy" <inv...@invalid.invalid> wrote in message
> > news:30dgo4F...@uni-berlin.de...
> >
[snip]

> In fact, Adventure is about the only game I can think of right now that
> actually implements ThrowAt for anything useful and I've become
> accustomed to not trying to throw things. Perhaps deleting it from the
> core set would be a good idea. Any compulsive throwers out there to
> defend the verb?
>
> --
> Michael

Well, is it taking a lot of space in the core? if so ">throw it away" if not
let it be... let it be... let it be... whisper words of whisdow... let it
be... (and on and on).

;)

RootShell


Carolyn Magruder

unread,
Nov 23, 2004, 11:17:43 AM11/23/04
to
Here's my two cents on the Great Bathroom Debate.

Include bathrooms if:
a) you want to,
b) it doesn't confuse the map overmuch,
c) it fits the tone of the piece, and
d) you are ready to implement the objects in the bathroom at least
at a cursory level.

It's funny that this subject is being discussed right now, because I'm
currently working on Final Fantasy VII and I can't remember ever
encountering any other game, graphical or otherwise, with so many
bathrooms. Out of curiosity, has anyone else noticed a game with a
particularly large number of bathrooms?

Carolyn

Adam Thornton

unread,
Nov 23, 2004, 11:38:05 AM11/23/04
to
In article <cnnm2r$8ku$2...@reader1.panix.com>,

Andrew Plotkin <erky...@eblong.com> wrote:
>If the heads are truly irrelevant to gameplay, you could mention them
>without creating an actual location.

Remember to code a response to KICK HEAD, because there's going to be
*some* smartass....

Adam

Mike Snyder

unread,
Nov 23, 2004, 11:33:15 AM11/23/04
to
"Carolyn Magruder" <carolyn...@yahoo.com> wrote in message
news:ad17d854.04112...@posting.google.com...

> It's funny that this subject is being discussed right now, because I'm
> currently working on Final Fantasy VII and I can't remember ever
> encountering any other game, graphical or otherwise, with so many
> bathrooms. Out of curiosity, has anyone else noticed a game with a
> particularly large number of bathrooms?

My wife and I are working through the prison found under the Historical
Society in Silent Hill 2, and to this point, we've come across quite a few
bathrooms. But it's not exactly IF, and in this game, it's very fitting.

---- Mike.


Michael Coyne

unread,
Nov 23, 2004, 12:10:42 PM11/23/04
to
On Tue, 23 Nov 2004 08:17:43 -0800, Carolyn Magruder said to the parser:

> It's funny that this subject is being discussed right now, because I'm
> currently working on Final Fantasy VII and I can't remember ever
> encountering any other game, graphical or otherwise, with so many
> bathrooms. Out of curiosity, has anyone else noticed a game with a
> particularly large number of bathrooms?

I seem to recall a lot of useless dorms and bathrooms (SanFacs) in
Planetfall/Stationfall. It wasn't a huge number, but far more than
necessary, especially considering not a single one of them was necessary.

Planetfall required you to eat and sleep on an annoyingly regular basis,
but at least it didn't require use of the bathroom.


Michael

Timofei Shatrov

unread,
Nov 23, 2004, 2:08:35 PM11/23/04
to
On Tue, 23 Nov 2004 13:05:56 GMT, samwyse <deja...@email.com> tried to

confuse everyone with this message:

>


>The toilets that I'm *very* used to look like this:
> http://www.yoe-inc.com/Hometech/Images/2pc-toilet.jpg
>Note the lever on the side of the tank.

Hmm... Never seen toilets like that...

Mike Roberts

unread,
Nov 23, 2004, 3:07:19 PM11/23/04
to
"Kevin Venzke" <step...@yahooo.frr> wrote:

> "Michael Roy" wrote:
>>I'll agree that being told "You can't go there" is perhaps
>>the second most annoying thing in the world (the first being
>>"Futile" in response to throwing something),
>
> What do you think the default response to "throw (at)" should
> be? Should it be customized for every projectile, or perhaps
> deleted as a verb altogether?

I take it that what you mean by "deleted altogether" is that the response
should be something more along the lines of "You don't need to use the verb
'throw' in this game"? I actually don't think you'll get a lot of takers
for that - but not because players are particularly attached to throwing
things; rather, because it subtly but significantly changes the user
experience.

"You don't need that verb" signals the player that "throw x at y" will
*never* be the solution to a puzzle in this game, while "You miss" or
"Futile" only convey that it's not the solution to *this* puzzle, leaving
open the possibility that it'll work for some other combination of objects.
There are pros and cons to both approaches; "you don't need that verb" is
friendlier to the player in a game-play sense, but parser messages like this
hurt the sense of immersion. Because of that harm to immersion, the trend
over the past decade or so of IF's evolution has been to provide in-story
reasons wherever possible to explain simulation limits. The easiest sort of
in-story excuse for a simulation limit is a motivational one, which is where
"Futile" comes from - it's saying "sure, that's *physically* possible, but
your character knows it wouldn't accomplish anything, so let's not even
bother."

If you want to keep "throw" as a verb, it's hard to come up with a much
better default response than "You miss" or "Futile." It's awfully hard to
write a general-purpose algorithm that calculates the realistic side effects
of throwing arbitrary object X at arbitrary object Y in arbitrary
surroundings. Partly it's just a hard problem, but it's even harder in IF
than it might be in other programs because the world model is so sparse -
the typical IF world model doesn't have details about the exact relative
positions, sizes, elasticity, materials strength, weight, or aerodynamic
profile of objects, so how can you tell if the projectile goes through any
windows on its way to its target, or it just flutters to the ground, or if
the target ought to shatter on impact, or get knocked off its pedestal, or
absorb the projectile into its gelatinous bulk? There just aren't basic
library properties for all of these things (and if there were, no one would
ever finish writing a game because it would take so long to fill in all the
properties).

For what it's worth, the tads 3 library tries a little harder than most to
simulate "throw" realistically. It at least figures out the projectile's
path in and out of containers on its way to the target, so that the
projectile stops if it hits an intermediate barrier and falls into a
suitable container of the barrier's or the final target's. But there's no
attempt to handle any of the other physics of the interactions. So, rather
than "Futile" or "You miss," the default message is something like "The ball
hits the fence without obvious effect and falls to the ground." It's
probably better than "Futile," but it's not as immune as "Futile" is to
blatant unrealism ("The cannonball bounces off the delicate Ming dynasty
vase without obvious effect, and falls onto the rice paper table"). So
authors are burdened with a little more customizing than they'd have to do
with "Futile."

--Mike
mjr underscore at hotmail dot com


Rikard Peterson

unread,
Nov 23, 2004, 3:55:21 PM11/23/04
to
Carolyn Magruder wrote in
news:ad17d854.04112...@posting.google.com:

> It's funny that this subject is being discussed right now, because
> I'm currently working on Final Fantasy VII and I can't remember
> ever encountering any other game, graphical or otherwise, with so
> many bathrooms. Out of curiosity, has anyone else noticed a game
> with a particularly large number of bathrooms?

Stupid Invaders, a graphical adventure known for its toilet humour.

Mark S. Cipolone

unread,
Nov 23, 2004, 3:57:39 PM11/23/04
to
Michael Roy <inv...@invalid.invalid> wrote in message news:<30g8ojF...@uni-berlin.de>...

> Kevin Venzke wrote:
> > What do you think the default response to "throw (at)" should be?
> > Should it be customized for every projectile, or perhaps deleted as
> > a verb altogether?
>
> That's a very good question. Unfortunately, throwing something seems to
> definitely be a game specific action, so I can't think of any default
> response that would work well for all (or even most) games. Maybe "You
> would achieve nothing by this." Sort of a misnomer, but it's already
> used for a few other odd actions such as TIE.

Usually when I'm throwing random objects I'm being silly or reckless,
so I'd prefer a response like Inform's default "Violence isn't the
answer to this one." response to HIT.

Of course, it never hurts to code more custom responses, as long as
they aren't misleading.

--
MSC

Michael Roy

unread,
Nov 23, 2004, 7:44:36 PM11/23/04
to
Mike Roberts wrote:
<clip>

> If you want to keep "throw" as a verb, it's hard to come up with a much
> better default response than "You miss" or "Futile." It's awfully hard to
> write a general-purpose algorithm that calculates the realistic side effects
> of throwing arbitrary object X at arbitrary object Y in arbitrary
> surroundings.

For that matter, I doubt that most people would want it to do that even
if it were easily codable. Things get complex enough without having to
anticipate that the library may start changing everything as the side
effect of a throw.

> For what it's worth, the tads 3 library tries a little harder than most to
> simulate "throw" realistically. It at least figures out the projectile's
> path in and out of containers on its way to the target, so that the
> projectile stops if it hits an intermediate barrier and falls into a
> suitable container of the barrier's or the final target's. But there's no
> attempt to handle any of the other physics of the interactions. So, rather
> than "Futile" or "You miss," the default message is something like "The ball
> hits the fence without obvious effect and falls to the ground." It's
> probably better than "Futile," but it's not as immune as "Futile" is to
> blatant unrealism ("The cannonball bounces off the delicate Ming dynasty
> vase without obvious effect, and falls onto the rice paper table"). So
> authors are burdened with a little more customizing than they'd have to do
> with "Futile."

I like that default message better. Somehow it's more psychologically
appeasing to perform the action and have no effect come from it than to
merely be told that it would be futile.

The cannonball sentence is a really great example of the problems with a
more active message. "The rock bounces off the sky" also comes to mind.
Nonetheless, if throwing things is going to come into play at some
point within a game, I think it'd be worthwhile to try to work it out
for consistency's sake.

For that matter, "You miss" is a bit unrealistic too, in the THROW
PEBBLE AT BARN case.

--
Michael

samwyse

unread,
Nov 23, 2004, 8:32:38 PM11/23/04
to
On or about 11/23/2004 10:17 AM, Carolyn Magruder did proclaim:

Duke Nukem 3-D, which not only has a number of bathrooms, but makes them
semi-usable.

samwyse

unread,
Nov 23, 2004, 8:46:08 PM11/23/04
to
On or about 11/23/2004 1:08 PM, Timofei Shatrov did proclaim:

> On Tue, 23 Nov 2004 13:05:56 GMT, samwyse <deja...@email.com> tried to
> confuse everyone with this message:
>
>>The toilets that I'm *very* used to look like this:
>> http://www.yoe-inc.com/Hometech/Images/2pc-toilet.jpg
>>Note the lever on the side of the tank.
>
> Hmm... Never seen toilets like that...

I was thinking about you (and Andrey Grankin, and Denis Gayev) as I was
writing all of that.

My experience is that it's the little differences that most make you
feel like you're in an alien world. For instance, the light switches
were placed a bit differently, but I'd been expecting that particular
form of the unexpected ever since I saw an episode of "Mr. Bean" where
there was a switch on the side of an electrical outlet.
http://community.webshots.com/photo/37200220/37236786XDisog


RootShell

unread,
Nov 24, 2004, 6:22:37 AM11/24/04
to

"samwyse" <deja...@email.com> escreveu na mensagem
news:WwRod.32588$bP2....@newssvr12.news.prodigy.com...

Well the allmighty Half-Life does this also (maybe HL2 will too?) ;)

RootShell


Graham Holden

unread,
Nov 24, 2004, 7:15:55 AM11/24/04
to
On 23 Nov 2004 08:17:43 -0800, carolyn...@yahoo.com (Carolyn Magruder)
wrote:

I seem to remember Breath of Fire I and/or II for the GBA being big on
mostly useless bathrooms.

Regards,
Graham Holden (g-holden AT dircon DOT co DOT uk)
--
There are 10 types of people in the world;
those that understand binary and those that don't.

osfameron

unread,
Nov 24, 2004, 11:03:50 AM11/24/04
to
Magnus Olsson wrote:
>>For that matter, "You miss" is a bit unrealistic too, in the THROW
>>PEBBLE AT BARN case.
>
> Or, even worse: THROW PEBBLE AT GROUND.

Comparing:

throw OBJECT at TARGET
throw OBJECT at PERSON
throw OBJECT to PERSON # give
throw OBJECT in/at/onto CONTAINER/FLOOR # put
throw BREAKABLE-OBJECT at SOMETHING-HARD # break

Only the first 2 options really warrant a "you miss" response.
I guess that, considering how complex the meanings of THROW are,
the only reason it's in the core library is because it can
elegantly support the separate Throw/ThrownAt actions?

--
osfameron

Magnus Olsson

unread,
Nov 24, 2004, 10:57:44 AM11/24/04
to
In article <30i3rnF...@uni-berlin.de>,

Michael Roy <inv...@invalid.invalid> wrote:
>For that matter, "You miss" is a bit unrealistic too, in the THROW
>PEBBLE AT BARN case.

Or, even worse: THROW PEBBLE AT GROUND.


--
Magnus Olsson (m...@df.lth.se)
PGP Public Key available at http://www.df.lth.se/~mol

Papillon

unread,
Nov 24, 2004, 10:55:26 AM11/24/04
to
mscip...@yahoo.com (Mark S. Cipolone) wrote:

>Michael Roy <inv...@invalid.invalid> wrote in message news:<30g8ojF...@uni-berlin.de>...
>> Kevin Venzke wrote:
>> > What do you think the default response to "throw (at)" should be?
>> > Should it be customized for every projectile, or perhaps deleted as
>> > a verb altogether?
>>
>> That's a very good question. Unfortunately, throwing something seems to
>> definitely be a game specific action, so I can't think of any default
>> response that would work well for all (or even most) games. Maybe "You
>> would achieve nothing by this." Sort of a misnomer, but it's already
>> used for a few other odd actions such as TIE.
>
>Usually when I'm throwing random objects I'm being silly or reckless,
>so I'd prefer a response like Inform's default "Violence isn't the
>answer to this one." response to HIT.

This would be my preference - especially one appropriate for the character.
Something that generically says you aren't actually throwing it, rather than
just claiming that you miss or too-tersely stopping you.

Your mother raised you never to throw anything away that might be useful
later!

Throwing is too intuitive a verb to take out of the codebase, even if it
doesn't tend to come up in a puzzle's real solution.
---
Hanako Games
Anime Games and Screensavers To Download
http://www.hanakogames.com/

Ross Presser

unread,
Nov 24, 2004, 1:11:49 PM11/24/04
to

There is a really bad, off-color joke about a high-tech toilet with
mysterious options. Need I quote it here?

Greg Ewing

unread,
Nov 24, 2004, 11:18:35 PM11/24/04
to
Magnus Olsson wrote:
> Michael Roy <inv...@invalid.invalid> wrote:
> > For that matter, "You miss" is a bit unrealistic too, in the THROW
> > PEBBLE AT BARN case.
> Or, even worse: THROW PEBBLE AT GROUND.

On the other hand, in a Douglas Adams adventure,

> THROW SELF AT GROUND
You miss.

might be the *solution* to a puzzle...

--
Greg Ewing, Computer Science Dept,
University of Canterbury,
Christchurch, New Zealand
http://www.cosc.canterbury.ac.nz/~greg

Kevin Venzke

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Nov 25, 2004, 12:12:04 AM11/25/04
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"Mike Roberts" <mj...@hotmail.com> wrote in message
news:XLMod.25737$6q2....@newssvr14.news.prodigy.com...

> "You don't need that verb" signals the player that "throw x at y" will
> *never* be the solution to a puzzle in this game, while "You miss" or
> "Futile" only convey that it's not the solution to *this* puzzle, leaving
> open the possibility that it'll work for some other combination of objects.

After reading this and other messages I am torn between:

option 1:
>THROW BOOK AT BED
You can accomplish nothing by throwing things at the bed.

I see this as a compromise. I am letting the player know that he'll
never have to throw things *at the bed*, and I'm not giving him a
potentially silly description of the act ("you missed again" or "the
book bounces off unremarkably").

option 2:
>THROW BOOK AT BED
The book lands somewhere you can't see (and is lost forever).

Not only do I find this funny, I have trouble imagining scenarios
where it's definitely implausible.

Kevin Venzke


Gene Wirchenko

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Nov 25, 2004, 4:01:08 PM11/25/04
to
"Kevin Venzke" <step...@yahooo.frr> wrote:

[snip]

>option 2:
>>THROW BOOK AT BED
>The book lands somewhere you can't see (and is lost forever).
>
>Not only do I find this funny, I have trouble imagining scenarios
>where it's definitely implausible.

Throw is a fancy drop. Items do not normally disappear when
dropped. As to it being funny, that would kill mimesis in most cases.

Sincerely,

Gene Wirchenko

Computerese Irregular Verb Conjugation:
I have preferences.
You have biases.
He/She has prejudices.

Gene Wirchenko

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Nov 25, 2004, 4:01:06 PM11/25/04
to
m...@df.lth.se (Magnus Olsson) wrote:

>In article <30i3rnF...@uni-berlin.de>,
>Michael Roy <inv...@invalid.invalid> wrote:
>>For that matter, "You miss" is a bit unrealistic too, in the THROW
>>PEBBLE AT BARN case.
>
>Or, even worse: THROW PEBBLE AT GROUND.

You miss and hit your foot.

Gene Wirchenko

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Nov 25, 2004, 4:01:07 PM11/25/04
to
Greg Ewing <gr...@cosc.canterbury.ac.nz> wrote:

>Magnus Olsson wrote:
>> Michael Roy <inv...@invalid.invalid> wrote:
>> > For that matter, "You miss" is a bit unrealistic too, in the THROW
>> > PEBBLE AT BARN case.
>> Or, even worse: THROW PEBBLE AT GROUND.
>
>On the other hand, in a Douglas Adams adventure,
>
> > THROW SELF AT GROUND
> You miss.
>
>might be the *solution* to a puzzle...

>throw self at handsome prince
The prince picks you up easily.

Michael Roy

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Nov 25, 2004, 5:26:54 PM11/25/04
to
osfameron wrote:

> Comparing:
>
> throw OBJECT at TARGET
> throw OBJECT at PERSON
> throw OBJECT to PERSON # give
> throw OBJECT in/at/onto CONTAINER/FLOOR # put
> throw BREAKABLE-OBJECT at SOMETHING-HARD # break
>
> Only the first 2 options really warrant a "you miss" response.

Why is this? If I can throw an object at a person and miss, I should be
just as likely to miss if I'm throwing the object to them. If you're
suggesting that the other cases should be redirected into a more
constructive equivalent action I'd agree with you for the sake of game
play, but "You miss" would be appropriate in response to, say, THROW
BASKETBALL INTO HOOP.

--
Michael

Frank Lane

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Nov 25, 2004, 5:59:56 PM11/25/04
to
On Thu, 25 Nov 2004 13:01:08 -0800, Gene Wirchenko
<ge...@mail.ocis.net> wrote:

>>Not only do I find this funny, I have trouble imagining scenarios
>>where it's definitely implausible.

In my house its totally plausible. In fact I only have to put
something down for it never to be seen again.

Frank

___
Frank Lane
la...@eaglewing.org.uk
http://www.eaglewing.org.uk

Frank Lane

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Nov 25, 2004, 6:05:23 PM11/25/04
to
On Thu, 25 Nov 2004 13:01:08 -0800, Gene Wirchenko
<ge...@mail.ocis.net> wrote:

> Throw is a fancy drop. Items do not normally disappear when
>dropped.

Speak for yourself! In my house they do it all the time!

Graham Holden

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Nov 26, 2004, 7:30:16 AM11/26/04
to
On Thu, 25 Nov 2004 14:26:54 -0800, Michael Roy <inv...@invalid.invalid>
wrote:

>osfameron wrote:
>
>> Comparing:
>>
>> throw OBJECT at TARGET
>> throw OBJECT at PERSON
>> throw OBJECT to PERSON # give
>> throw OBJECT in/at/onto CONTAINER/FLOOR # put
>> throw BREAKABLE-OBJECT at SOMETHING-HARD # break
>>
>> Only the first 2 options really warrant a "you miss" response.
>
>Why is this? If I can throw an object at a person and miss, I should be
>just as likely to miss if I'm throwing the object to them.

Except they're (probably) going to be actively trying to catch it, and can
accommodate some inaccuracy on your part. I suppose.

If you're
>suggesting that the other cases should be redirected into a more
>constructive equivalent action I'd agree with you for the sake of game
>play, but "You miss" would be appropriate in response to, say, THROW
>BASKETBALL INTO HOOP.

Andy M

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Nov 27, 2004, 2:00:48 PM11/27/04
to
> Hrm, maybe we should take a Toilet Poll!
>

I realize there are many who disagree, but I consider it a grave sin to
pretend a puzzle exists where it doesn't, or similarly to pretend a location
is interesting when it's not. Fake puzzles have no payoff, and setting up a
challenge with no resolution or reward is Item One in the game designer's
manual of What Not To Do. (Planetfall is the end-all be-all of
transgressers in this department.) The challenge-reward system isn't just
good game design, it IS game design. It is the core of gaming. Thus I vote
for coding the bathroom in a cursory fashion, making it obvious that it's
just there for show. This seems like a good middle ground, since you're not
breaking mimesis by leaving the bathroom out entirely or forbidding the
player to enter a location they should by all rights be able to enter, and
yet you're also not fooling them and wasting their time with fakery.

Andy


Tim Mann

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Nov 27, 2004, 2:58:18 PM11/27/04
to
On Sat, 27 Nov 2004 19:00:48 GMT, "Andy M" <andy...@hotmail.com> wrote:
> > Hrm, maybe we should take a Toilet Poll!
>
> I realize there are many who disagree, but I consider it a grave sin to
> pretend a puzzle exists where it doesn't, or similarly to pretend a location
> is interesting when it's not. Fake puzzles have no payoff, and setting up a
> challenge with no resolution or reward is Item One in the game designer's
> manual of What Not To Do. (Planetfall is the end-all be-all of
> transgressers in this department.) The challenge-reward system isn't just
> good game design, it IS game design. It is the core of gaming.

I'm with you up to this point.

> Thus I vote
> for coding the bathroom in a cursory fashion, making it obvious that it's
> just there for show. This seems like a good middle ground, since you're not
> breaking mimesis by leaving the bathroom out entirely or forbidding the
> player to enter a location they should by all rights be able to enter, and
> yet you're also not fooling them and wasting their time with fakery.

I don't think you go far enough here. Why have a bathroom at all?
Putting a "just for show" bathroom in your starship in order to
forestall objections that "the crew must need bathrooms" is silly. Games
normally are trying to tell a story and/or give the player some
interesting puzzles to solve, not trying to model a space in detail.
Was Zork fatally flawed because the white house didn't have a bathroom?
Did players even notice it was missing? Did they spend time searching
the woods for an outhouse?

If leaving something out of your game that must exist in real life
constitutes "breaking mimesis" and must be avoided at all costs, then
your starship had better also have enough cabins for all the crew, mess
hall, kitchen, sick bay, etc., and these rooms had better be equipped
with the necessary beds, closets, medical equipment, lighting, floor
coverings, etc. You'll have quite a job making all that interesting,
and eventually you'll have to stop anyway. Then some silly person may
object that you forgot the water purification plant.

"Why aren't there bathrooms on this starship?" is an interesting sort of
question to ask about interactive fiction, but the answer isn't "Oops,
sorry, there should be."

--
Tim Mann use...@tim-mann.org http://tim-mann.org/

Michael Roy

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Nov 27, 2004, 5:21:24 PM11/27/04
to
Tim Mann wrote:

>
> I don't think you go far enough here. Why have a bathroom at all?
> Putting a "just for show" bathroom in your starship in order to
> forestall objections that "the crew must need bathrooms" is silly. Games
> normally are trying to tell a story and/or give the player some
> interesting puzzles to solve, not trying to model a space in detail.
> Was Zork fatally flawed because the white house didn't have a bathroom?
> Did players even notice it was missing? Did they spend time searching
> the woods for an outhouse?
>
> If leaving something out of your game that must exist in real life
> constitutes "breaking mimesis" and must be avoided at all costs, then
> your starship had better also have enough cabins for all the crew, mess
> hall, kitchen, sick bay, etc., and these rooms had better be equipped
> with the necessary beds, closets, medical equipment, lighting, floor
> coverings, etc. You'll have quite a job making all that interesting,
> and eventually you'll have to stop anyway.

On the other hand, if you are going to have beds, tables, and so on, the
player should be able to lie on them, put things on them, and so on.
Not so much because it's essential for game play as because it's a thing
that a player could be reasonably expected to try. As a plus, in Inform
at least, it's extremely easy to code.

Closets, on the other hand, should be avoided by the plague.
_Detective_ set me against them forever.

--
Michael

Andy M

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Nov 27, 2004, 5:46:22 PM11/27/04
to
Very good points. I was thinking of a motel room rather than a spaceship,
though. It would bother me if a game had a motel room with no bathroom, or
prevented you from entering it with "You don't need to go in there". (I
can't stand when a game tells me what I don't need to do. I'm playing the
game, and I wanna go in the damn bathroom. At least invent some reason why
I can't enter.) A spaceship is probably large enough that you can pretend
non-essential rooms are elsewhere, and you're absolutely right that they're
best left out if you don't think anyone will notice. As for the white house
in Zork, I always assumed the outhouse had collapsed long before I got
there. :)

In any case, I didn't mean to imply that leaving out a bathroom is tragic.
Missing bathrooms and such are venial sins when they're sins at all. The
mortal sin is in the other direction. Putting in a bathroom and coding red
herrings into it (a detailed shower apparatus, a takeable roll of toilet
paper, a toilet where you can take the lid off the tank) is what authors
should really avoid.

Andy

"Tim Mann" <use...@tim-mann.org> wrote in message
news:20041127115...@giga.mumblefrotz.org...

Peer Schaefer

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Nov 27, 2004, 7:31:57 PM11/27/04
to
"Jeff Nyman" <cryptonomic_nospam@nospam_hotmail.com> wrote in message news:<F_Nnd.432604$D%.102674@attbi_s51>...
> many stock replies. But if I limit my hypothetical spaceship to only those
> rooms that serve to further the story or provide locational puzzles, does
> that not necessarily limit the idea of providing a believable world for the
> player? I guess it boils down to what is more frustrating to the general
> player of IF: is it more frustrating to have rooms that serve no purpose
> except filler to make the game world more realistic or is it more

Rooms that have no use and no function are a waste of time
and diskspace and annoy the player. But "empty" rooms are
probably not useless, and the do have a function. What I mean
is the following: If you are alone in a spaceship, lost in the
vast void of space, and there is a monster on board, then
every empty room is extremely scary. To have a ordinary
bathroom on such a ship is absolutely cool and a great idea.
The more realistic the rooms are, the more realistic is the
scenery, and the more realistic the scenery is, the more
scary is the monster... I would not only include a bathroom,
I would also make the tap (faucet) work and include a shower.

In other words: Yes, rooms with no purpose are dull and should
be deleted, but "no purpose" needs some explanation. Rooms
without puzzles are not automatically without purpose. The
"purpose" of a room can also lie in the atmosphere and feeling
it creates (e.g. lonelyness or realism).

--Peer

Michael Roy

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Nov 27, 2004, 8:44:24 PM11/27/04
to
Peer Schaefer wrote:

I might not go so far as implementing a shower (partially because I
doubt that any player being chased/chasing/doing whatever with a monster
would have the time to check if it worked unless they were planning on
undoing afterward and partially because dealing with the possibility of
clothing getting wet is a hassle), but I really like this example. The
standard of "one room = one puzzle" is still unfortunately still too valid.

As your example shows, rooms without puzzles can have purpose. I would
also argue the converse, that rooms with puzzles do not necessarily have
purpose. In my on-again-off-again writing, I've tried to avoid rigidly
locking puzzles and the map as a unit.

However, I wonder if purpose is actually what we should look for as a
qualifier of rooms. "Purpose" seems to convey "justification" and while
throwing rooms together with absolutely no thought as to justification
would result in a long sequence of dull rooms worthy of deletion, it's
hard to define what a good justification is. I could say that adding
1,000 closets to a work has the purpose of making it more realistic or
some similar argument, but I would almost certainly only be adding dead
weight. On the other hand, _Anchorhead_ created a whole town of
semi-useless (in terms of puzzle solving) rooms which greatly improved
the atmosphere of the game. Ultimately, I'm not sure that most authors
could objectively justify their rooms. The best solution I can think of
is this: think of the purpose of a room and then imagine a player that
totally misses that purpose. Will they still consider the room an
interesting and important part of the story's world?

--
Michael

Marno

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Nov 27, 2004, 8:45:10 PM11/27/04
to
carolyn...@yahoo.com (Carolyn Magruder) wrote in message news:<ad17d854.04112...@posting.google.com>...

>Out of curiosity, has anyone else noticed a game with a
> particularly large number of bathrooms?
>

Duke Nukem...

RootShell

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Nov 28, 2004, 9:18:43 AM11/28/04
to

"Marno" <ma...@juno.com> escreveu na mensagem
news:e1c5e860.04112...@posting.google.com...

Half Life


samwyse

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Nov 28, 2004, 10:32:36 PM11/28/04
to
On or about 11/27/2004 4:46 PM, Andy M did proclaim:

>
> In any case, I didn't mean to imply that leaving out a bathroom is tragic.
> Missing bathrooms and such are venial sins when they're sins at all. The
> mortal sin is in the other direction. Putting in a bathroom and coding red
> herrings into it (a detailed shower apparatus, a takeable roll of toilet
> paper, a toilet where you can take the lid off the tank) is what authors
> should really avoid.

Excuse me, I need to go eliminate a few hundred lines of code from my
game. ;-) Actually, KEMEROVO is almost puzzle-less; instead it strives
to simulate a trip to a remote part of the world. As such, the toilet
is fairly detailed, as is the hotel room's TV set, although neither have
anything to do with the task that you need to complete.

Raymond Martineau

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Nov 28, 2004, 11:04:36 PM11/28/04