Irrevocable mistakes

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Martin DeMello

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Jun 11, 1997, 3:00:00 AM6/11/97
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I'm writing a TA in which one of the problems can be solved by killing
the obstructing NPC; however, this proves to be an irrevocable mistake
which is only discovered much later in the game. Since this is rather
off-putting (not to mention unfair) to the player, I am looking for an
alternative.

Options so far include :
(i) Rearranging the game sequence so that the mistake, while still
nonobvious (after all NPCs get killed all the time in most games)
takes less time to be revealed. However, does this type of thing tend
to 'linearize' adventures? As in how does 'don't kill NPC in scene
n --> solve scene n+1' differ from 'find key in scene n --> open lock
in scene n+1 itself'?
(ii) Altering the kill routine for that particular character so that
it takes two attempts to kill off completely (with a sympathy-inducing
or 'you don't really want to do that' type reaction/message between so
that the player can reconsider).
(iii) Letting the player know his mistake immediately *after* the
killing, but in some suitably subtle way (any ideas?) so that at least
he can *immediately* reload game n-1.
(iv) Leaving the sequence as is, but tainted with the stigma of
'unfairness' (with which I would tend to agree).

Hoping for some advice from the more experienced/ inventive/
just-plain-opinionated.

Thanks.
Martin.

Lucian Paul Smith

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Jun 12, 1997, 3:00:00 AM6/12/97
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Martin DeMello (vi...@emirates.net.ae) wrote:
: I'm writing a TA in which one of the problems can be solved by killing

: the obstructing NPC; however, this proves to be an irrevocable mistake
: which is only discovered much later in the game. Since this is rather
: off-putting (not to mention unfair) to the player, I am looking for an
: alternative.

One possibility, which involves a lot more work on your part, but might
be worth it, is to provide a harder, alternate solution to the second
puzzle (which otherwise would have needed the NPC). If you want the
player to do it the first way, just give them less points for doing it
the second way--most people will replay, trying to maximize their score.

-Lucian "Lucian" Smith

Mary K. Kuhner

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Jun 12, 1997, 3:00:00 AM6/12/97
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In article <339f3111...@news.emirates.net.ae> vi...@emirates.net.ae (Martin DeMello) writes:
>I'm writing a TA in which one of the problems can be solved by killing
>the obstructing NPC; however, this proves to be an irrevocable mistake
>which is only discovered much later in the game. Since this is rather
>off-putting (not to mention unfair) to the player, I am looking for an
>alternative.

[(i) make the mistake obvious right away]

I agree that this might make the adventure seem more linear, but
really it *is* linear already; kill the NPC in scene n, fail to
progress in scene n+10. I think this is a good idea if it can be
done gracefully.

>(ii) Altering the kill routine for that particular character so that
>it takes two attempts to kill off completely (with a sympathy-inducing
>or 'you don't really want to do that' type reaction/message between so
>that the player can reconsider).

I find these mildly annoying, though not as annoying as a mistake
which takes thousands of moves to be revealed. I particularly dislike
"You don't want to do that" unless there was some way the character
could know: i.e. "you don't want to do that" is a fine response to
walking over a cliff or into a fire, but not to doing something that
the character might reasonably want to do.

>(iii) Letting the player know his mistake immediately *after* the
>killing, but in some suitably subtle way (any ideas?) so that at least
>he can *immediately* reload game n-1.

This would generally be my choice. Many games I've played simply lay
out for the player what is going to have to happen now--in Enchanter
the game explains, once you let the Terror out, what your future will
be like--and then kill you. Pushy, but guarantees the player won't
struggle along with a no-win situation. You want to avoid doing
this often, though, or the game will seem *very* linear ("every time
I deviate the game kills me" complaints).

>(iv) Leaving the sequence as is, but tainted with the stigma of
>'unfairness' (with which I would tend to agree).

A certain proportion of players will abandon your game completely,
because they are not willing to go all the way back. I might well
be one of them. I ended up replaying 75% of Jigsaw, once, to escape
such an error, but would not have done it twice.

Mary Kuhner mkku...@genetics.washington.edu

Adam Cadre

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Jun 12, 1997, 3:00:00 AM6/12/97
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Martin DeMello wrote:
> I'm writing a TA in which one of the problems can be solved by killing
> the obstructing NPC; however, this proves to be an irrevocable mistake
> which is only discovered much later in the game. Since this is rather
> off-putting (not to mention unfair) to the player, I am looking for an
> alternative.

I can think of at least a couple:

1) Make it possible to kill the NPC and still win -- just make it
much, much harder to do so if the NPC in question's dead.

2) Signal to the player more or less immediately that killing the
NPC may have been a bad idea, while not ending the game. I don't
know the context of your game, but I'm thinking of something along
the lines of occasional phone calls from the police saying you're
a prime suspect and they'll be coming to pick you up as soon as
they gather enough evidence. The game still goes on, but the
player may get the hint that it's time to restore.

-----
Adam Cadre, Durham, NC
Now you can play I-0, the "jailbait on the interstate" game, online!
Find it at http://www.duke.edu/~adamc -- still open while I redecorate.

Brian Lane

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Jun 13, 1997, 3:00:00 AM6/13/97
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On Wed, 11 Jun 1997 23:39:16 GMT, vi...@emirates.net.ae (Martin
DeMello) wrote:

>I'm writing a TA in which one of the problems can be solved by killing
>the obstructing NPC; however, this proves to be an irrevocable mistake
>which is only discovered much later in the game. Since this is rather
>off-putting (not to mention unfair) to the player, I am looking for an
>alternative.

Don't let the player's first attempt to kill the NPC succeed. Put in
something like:

"Your sunday-school teacher always told you that killing an NPC was
a sure ticket to hell"

Or something to that effect. Or, just after they kill the NPC report
that they are overcome by a sudden feeling of remorse or guilt.

Brian


----------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Brian C. Lane http://www.eskimo.com/~nexus KC7TYU
------------------ 96B9 C123 5C90 BECC 6A1F 7DC6 4F2B A26E --------------------

Alan Shutko

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Jun 13, 1997, 3:00:00 AM6/13/97
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>>>>> "Adam" == Adam Cadre <ad...@acpub.duke.edu> writes:

Adam> don't know the context of your game, but I'm thinking of
Adam> something along the lines of occasional phone calls from the
Adam> police saying you're a prime suspect and they'll be coming to
Adam> pick you up as soon as they gather enough evidence. The game
Adam> still goes on, but the player may get the hint that it's time to
Adam> restore.

Actually, I think many people on this newsgroup would see that as a
challenge and try to win anyway.

Though, you could say they deserve what they get. 8^)

--
Alan Shutko <a...@hubert.wustl.edu> - By consent of the corrupted
Cloning is the sincerest form of flattery.

Lonesome Cowboy Brian

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Jun 13, 1997, 3:00:00 AM6/13/97
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In article <33a4a119...@news.eskimo.com> ne...@eskimo.com (Brian Lane) writes:
> Don't let the player's first attempt to kill the NPC succeed. Put in
>something like:
>
> "Your sunday-school teacher always told you that killing an NPC was
>a sure ticket to hell"
>
> Or something to that effect. Or, just after they kill the NPC report
>that they are overcome by a sudden feeling of remorse or guilt.
>
In a martial arts game I am currently working on I used the box feature
to display "Guiding Principle Number Five: A Warrior of Kresh shall
restrain his physical abilities through spiritual attainment."
-----------
I think that that is a nice IC way to prevent ego from offing an NPC KC7TYU

No wonder I'm so lonesome...
I keep shooting peopl...@academic.truman.edu

Philip B. Riley

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Jun 13, 1997, 3:00:00 AM6/13/97
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In article <5np5fu$c4v$1...@joe.rice.edu>,
Lucian Paul Smith <lps...@rice.edu> wrote:

>Martin DeMello (vi...@emirates.net.ae) wrote:
>: I'm writing a TA in which one of the problems can be solved by killing
>: the obstructing NPC; however, this proves to be an irrevocable mistake
>: which is only discovered much later in the game. Since this is rather
>: off-putting (not to mention unfair) to the player, I am looking for an
>: alternative.
>
>One possibility, which involves a lot more work on your part, but might
>be worth it, is to provide a harder, alternate solution to the second
>puzzle (which otherwise would have needed the NPC). If you want the
>player to do it the first way, just give them less points for doing it
>the second way--most people will replay, trying to maximize their score.
>
>-Lucian "Lucian" Smith

Why not penalize the player for killing the NPC but still leave the game
winnable? It seems like a reasonable thing to do, more so than, say, the
50 point penalty in Curses for doing something less obviously bad.

--
--------------------------------------------------------
Philip Riley pri...@math.duke.edu Duke Math Department
--------------------------------------------------------


Joe Mason

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Jun 14, 1997, 3:00:00 AM6/14/97
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"Irrevocable mistakes", declared Martin DeMello from the Vogon ship:

MD>(iii) Letting the player know his mistake immediately *after* the
MD>killing, but in some suitably subtle way (any ideas?) so that at
MD>least he can *immediately* reload game n-1.

I definitely like this idea best. Without knowing more details of the
situation, though, I can't give you any details.

Joe

ş CMPQwk 1.42 9550 şSuicidal twin kills brother by mistake. Details at 11:00

B. Chalmers

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Jun 15, 1997, 3:00:00 AM6/15/97
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In article <339f3111...@news.emirates.net.ae>,

Martin DeMello <vi...@emirates.net.ae> wrote:
>I'm writing a TA in which one of the problems can be solved by killing
>the obstructing NPC; however, this proves to be an irrevocable mistake
>which is only discovered much later in the game. Since this is rather
>off-putting (not to mention unfair) to the player, I am looking for an
>alternative.

Doesn't the answer to this depend very much on the idea of the game? I
would suggest, if you are writing a game where it is normal to go around
killing people, and only this particular person is going to cause
problems, then the puzzle is highly unfair no matter what you do. If, on
the other hand you are writing a deeply moral game, where the character is
constantly told that they are a saint in waiting and shouldn't touch
another living thing it might be correct to allow the person to die and
leave the story unsolvable (not to mention throwing a big guilt trip on
the player)

Do what fits the story, not what fits one person's idea of 'fairness'

Ben

--
Ben Chalmers (BOFH in training) INFJ
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