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John Hartnup

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Nov 2, 1996, 3:00:00 AM11/2/96
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Patrick Kellum (pat...@otn.net) wrote:

: 1. Scoring - does it distract from the game or add to it? If you think
: scoring is a good thing, what type of events should be rewarded?
: Treasure colected, puzzles solved, anything else?

I find collecting treasure boring. Puzzles solved is good (I think)
because it gives you some sense of how you're getting on. "Life's not
like that" in A Change in the Weather, So Far etc. irritates me...
because life's not like IF in most cases anyway.

: 3. Game length - outside of the competition, how long should the average
: game last? Also, about how many locations are the average?

As many or as few as you like, as long as is necessary to fulfil your vision.
I'd think if there were a large number of locations, you'd have to either
make sure there were no puzzles which required moving a long way between
rooms - e.g. if there were a switch in one room which affected the other,
it would be irritating to have to go through 30 rooms to see the effect -
or you should provide some means of changing location quickly (cf the
artworks in Curses)

: 4. Ending - I've noticed that nearly every game I've played had only one
: ending (besides the many deaths), is there a reason for this?

Good point. Lots of otherwise excellent "plot" based games finish off as
"guess the ending" - the author has an ending in mind, you have to guess
what to do. Theatre and Christminster (loved them both btw) leap to
mind.

: 6. Eating and Sleeping - are these considered too anoying to use even if
: they are integrated into the story but not deadly? (i.e. no starving,
: no anoying messages)

As long as it's not a "you must eat every n turns" puzzle. Busted is the furthest
you can take this without irritating me. You start the game hungry and tired,
but once you've slept once and eaten once, you can safely forget it.

: 7. Undo - what was the overall opinion on this subject (I missed most of
: that thread) should they be allowed?

Essential (unless it encourages cheating. See the "WOK" competition entry.)

: 8. All - for verbs, see question 7.

Essential

John

--
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John Hartnup | You can drink your weak lemon drink
sl...@ladle.demon.co.uk| now, or you can save it 'til later.
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Joe Mason

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Nov 2, 1996, 3:00:00 AM11/2/96
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"Style questions", declared Patrick Kellum from the Vogon ship:

PK> 1. Scoring - does it distract from the game or add to it? If you
PK> think scoring is a good thing, what type of events should be
PK> rewarded? Treasure colected, puzzles solved, anything else?

Depends on the game. Scoring is certainly a good way to measure
progress, so if you think some sort of measure of this is important, by
all means leave it in. If you're trying to make the game as REALISTIC
as possible, to the extent that you don't want anything spoiling the
suspension of disbelief, scoring could get in the way. And if there's
something in the game that shows you in itself how far you're getting
(one of the competition entries experimented with this) you don't really
NEED scoring for anything - but in many games, scoring is much easier to
implement, and its not enough of a drawback that including it or not
will be a major point for or against your game.

If you do use scoring, base it on whatever the plot of the game is based
around. If the point is to collect as many treasures as possible, score
for players getting the treasures, and don't worry about scoring puzzles
- players will know solving puzzles is good, because it lets them get
treasures. If the point is to solve all the puzzles in order to reach
the end, score for puzzles solved. If the point is to explore as much
of the world as possible, score for finding new areas. Noticing what
makes the score go up will tell the player what exactly they're supposed
to be doing.

PK> 2. Puzzles - what is more important, a simple puzzle that fits
PK> into a game, or a hard puzzle that seems out of place?

Fits in. Every puzzle has to fit in.

PK> 3. Game length - outside of the competition, how long should the
PK> average game last? Also, about how many locations are the
PK> average?

Every game has a perfect length: "As long as it has to be, and no longer
then it needs to be." You'll have to estimate how long it can sustain
interest for.

In the end, it doesn't come down to how long the game should be, but
whether every part of the game works out. If you find part of it drags
on, cut it down. If you think one part needs expanding, expand it.
Take care of the parts, and the whole will take care of itself.
(Providing the parts fit together, of course.)

PK> 4. Ending - I've noticed that nearly every game I've played had
PK> only one ending (besides the many deaths), is there a reason for
PK> this?

Becaue it's easier that way? I think it comes from the fact that a lot
of games are "quest" games, you have a definite goal to accomplish, so
there are only two real endings - you succeed or you don't. But if you
want to expand this, please do!

PK> 5. Emotions and Morals - would puzzles based on emotions and morals
PK> be considered acceptable?

Definitely. Don't be afraid to experiment. In the end, it comes down
not to "is this puzzle acceptable?" but to "does this puzzle work?" And
in the end, you won't know if they work or not till you release the game
and get feedback on them.

PK> 6. Eating and Sleeping - are these considered too anoying to use
PK> even if they are integrated into the story but not deadly? (i.e.
PK> no starving, no anoying messages)

Ehhh.... I find them annoying myself, unless they really are a big part
of the story. If the story has to cover several days, sleeping is
definitely in. I find looking for food to be really annoying, unless of
course its a survival story, so if you put eating in either make a
source of food obvious from the beginning (like the kitchen machine in
Planetfall, or maybe a tavern where you can buy whatever you need) or
scatter it all over the place (like the fruit in Unkullia 2) - but I
find the second option really doesn't work for me (WHY is there fruit
lying around, anyway?)

PK> 7. Undo - what was the overall opinion on this subject (I missed
PK> most of that thread) should they be allowed?

Unless there's some reason you don't want the player to undo, sure. But
be aware that, in Inform 5.5 at least, its hard to turn off (maybe
harder then its worth).

PK> 8. All - for verbs, see question 7.

Don't see why not, unless you have a reason you don't want it.

PK> 9. Non-Traditional puzzles - How far could an author stray from the
PK> standard puzzles before it's no longer considered a puzzle or
PK> even interactive fiction?

Oh, very very far. I'm very lenient on this - I'd rather see games push
the envelope as much as possible.

Joe

joe....@tabb.com
Shad Valley Carleton '96

-- The 1996 Interactive Fiction Contest is now open! --
-- From Oct. 30 to Nov. 30, vote for the best of '96 --
-- ftp://ftp.gmd.de/if-archive/games/competition96 --


ş CMPQwk 1.42 9550 şInsomnia isn't anything to lose sleep over.

Joe Barlow

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Nov 3, 1996, 3:00:00 AM11/3/96
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pat...@otn.net (Patrick Kellum) wrote:

> 1. Scoring - does it distract from the game or add to it? If you think
> scoring is a good thing, what type of events should be rewarded?


> Treasure colected, puzzles solved, anything else?

I don't really think there's one all-encompassing answer for this
question. In an Adventure/Zork-type game, I think a score of some
type is pretty much expected, whether it be in the form of "X out of a
possible 400 points" or "You have obtained 3 shards of magical glass."
Some games don't really work well with a numeric score (mysteries, for
instance). "Moonmist" had a nice method, though: "You have met X
guests, and have found no evidence nor the secret treasure nor
identified the ghost." Arthur used a similar scoring system, though
of course that game was not a mystery. Speaking personally, I really
like having some indication of my progress, but it doesn't have to be
a numeric score.
(On a related note, does anyone else dislike how certain AGT games
tell you how many locations you've visited? ("Your score is 44 out of
100, and you have visited 18 of 41 possible locations.") I think this
really diminishes the feeling that the player is in a "world".)

> 2. Puzzles - what is more important, a simple puzzle that fits into a


> game, or a hard puzzle that seems out of place?

Puzzles that seem out of place, whether hard or not, have no business
in a game (unless you're going for a certain effect, etc.)

> 3. Game length - outside of the competition, how long should the average
> game last? Also, about how many locations are the average?

I'm probably in the minority here, but I really like LONG, LONG games
more than shorter games (and in fact, I prefer novels to short
stories). I like really getting immersed in a game and learning the
layout. I enjoy spending weeks playing through someone's creation!
Avalon has been touted as being really huge. If it ever comes out,
I'll be the first to obtain it. :)
But again, this isn't an all-encompassing answer. I have an old issue
of Family Computing magazine somewhere that contains an interview with
Michael Berlyn and Marc Blank of Infocom, where they were talking
about the new "Plus" system of games they were developing, such as
Trinity and A Mind Forever Voyaging. Berlyn said something along the
lines of (and this is not an exact quote): "We are looking forward to
developing games that take advantage of more locations and objects....
but it won't be a Zork with a glandular problem. We won't make a game
bigger just for the sake of making it bigger." This is absolutely
vital. Games like Jigsaw and Trinity kept me enthralled for many many
days because nearly every location was important to the storyline.
The occasional red herring is fine, as long as the game is not
excessively stacked with dead wood.

> 4. Ending - I've noticed that nearly every game I've played had only one
> ending (besides the many deaths), is there a reason for this?

Wishbringer handled this quite nicely. Many of the puzzles had
multiple solutions, depending on whether or not the player used
magick. I played through it twice, using each method (finishing with
94 out of 100 on the magick route and 100 out of 100 with the logic
route).

> 5. Emotions and Morals - would puzzles based on emotions and morals be
> considered acceptable?

In theory, yes. Depends on how heavy-handed the implementation is.

> 6. Eating and Sleeping - are these considered too anoying to use even if
> they are integrated into the story but not deadly? (i.e. no starving,
> no anoying messages)

I liked this effect in Enchanter, but it has driven me batty in other
games that use it too often.

> 7. Undo - what was the overall opinion on this subject (I missed most of


> that thread) should they be allowed?

I think so.

> 8. All - for verbs, see question 7.

For TAKE and DROP, certainly. I question whether GIVE should be
allowed. The first time I found the salesman in Leather Goddesses of
Phobos, I was able to figure out what to do by typing GIVE ALL TO
SALESMAN.

> 9. Non-Traditional puzzles - How far could an author stray from the

> standard puzzles before it's no longer considered a puzzle or even
> interactive fiction?

Another difficult one to answer, since there are many different
interpretations of your question. There has been much discussion of
one particular competition entry this year. While the game in
question is very innovative, I have to question whether it is
Interactive Fiction in the most basic sense of the term. After the
competition's voting period is over, I'm sure many folks will want to
answer this question a bit more indepth, possibly citing the game in
question in the process.

-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-
Joe Barlow (jba...@ipass.net)
"Zorkers do it under the rug..."


bout...@blade.wcc.govt.nz

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Nov 3, 1996, 3:00:00 AM11/3/96
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In article <2030.6875...@otn.net>, pat...@otn.net (Patrick Kellum) writes:
>
> Ok, what is everyones opinion about thes subjects:

>
> 1. Scoring - does it distract from the game or add to it? If you think
> scoring is a good thing, what type of events should be rewarded?
> Treasure colected, puzzles solved, anything else?

Treasures collected seems a good one for a score system. Other than that - it's
really up to you. Giving a score can also tell a player when he is on the right
track - which may or may not be something you want them to know (eg, you know
that the oil goes in the watering can and not the water because you get a point
for it)

> 2. Puzzles - what is more important, a simple puzzle that fits into a
> game, or a hard puzzle that seems out of place?

IMO - puzzles should use the elements created by the story - unless the story
itself has no thematic continuity ( a genre rarely seen these days). Easy or
tough more often depends on the player than on the puzzle.

> 3. Game length - outside of the competition, how long should the average
> game last? Also, about how many locations are the average?

It should last from beginning to end, and have as many locations as needed.
Truthfully - I don't think there's an answer to this question.

>
> 4. Ending - I've noticed that nearly every game I've played had only one
> ending (besides the many deaths), is there a reason for this?

So people know they've won? Personally, I find multiple endings a chore. I
don't enjoy going back into a game and repeating things, hoping to find one
different action that will give me a different ending.

>
> 5. Emotions and Morals - would puzzles based on emotions and morals be
> considered acceptable?

Sure - sounds like an interesting angle.

>
> 6. Eating and Sleeping - are these considered too anoying to use even if
> they are integrated into the story but not deadly? (i.e. no starving,
> no anoying messages)

I tend to find them annoying, but I wouldn't not play a game because of them.

>
> 7. Undo - what was the overall opinion on this subject (I missed most of
> that thread) should they be allowed?

I think they're pretty hard to stop.

>
> 8. All - for verbs, see question 7.

I don't have a problem with them. For some games with large numbers of objects
in them they're invaluable.

>
> 9. Non-Traditional puzzles - How far could an author stray from the
> standard puzzles before it's no longer considered a puzzle or even
> interactive fiction?

It won't be considered 'not IF' - it'll be cutting edge.

Gerry Kevin Wilson

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Nov 4, 1996, 3:00:00 AM11/4/96
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In article <55jas8$2...@news.ipass.net>, Joe Barlow <jba...@ipass.net> wrote:
>
> I don't really think there's one all-encompassing answer for this
>question. In an Adventure/Zork-type game, I think a score of some
>type is pretty much expected, whether it be in the form of "X out of a
>possible 400 points" or "You have obtained 3 shards of magical glass."
>Some games don't really work well with a numeric score (mysteries, for
>instance). "Moonmist" had a nice method, though: "You have met X
>guests, and have found no evidence nor the secret treasure nor
>identified the ghost." Arthur used a similar scoring system, though
>of course that game was not a mystery. Speaking personally, I really
>like having some indication of my progress, but it doesn't have to be
>a numeric score.

I've been using a Puzzles Unsolved: X format for score.

> I'm probably in the minority here, but I really like LONG, LONG games
>more than shorter games (and in fact, I prefer novels to short
>stories). I like really getting immersed in a game and learning the
>layout. I enjoy spending weeks playing through someone's creation!
>Avalon has been touted as being really huge. If it ever comes out,
>I'll be the first to obtain it. :)

Hmm, let me recall...about 30-40 NPCs. Around 270 locations. God only
knows how many items. The game occurs in several areas. The opening is
set apart and on its own. The next two areas are rather big, and can be
travelled between. There's a small area you need to figure out tied into
that. Then there's two more areas. Five major portions of the game in
all (not counting the tiny opening.) The two interconnected areas are
heavily atmospheric, which means that both have several areas of scenery,
and one, in an attempt to portray a truly alien area, has a lot of things
you can play around with but don't do anything (and it's usually pretty
obvious that they're there for fun.)

Another area is a historic recreation, and so has many items that exist
only for authenticity. A popular tourist attraction is also displayed in
some detail, based on what materials I've been able to get hold of.

As you can see, there are rules, and then there are reasons to break them.

> Wishbringer handled this quite nicely. Many of the puzzles had
>multiple solutions, depending on whether or not the player used
>magick. I played through it twice, using each method (finishing with
>94 out of 100 on the magick route and 100 out of 100 with the logic
>route).

I've built into Avalon a little binary counter (like 01011000) that will
allow me to do a number of endings depending on the players' past actions.
How much I'll take advantage of it is hard to say, but I suspect at least
8 endings would be doable, since it's only a matter of writing the
materials out.

> I think so.

Please leave undo in place, even after the player dies. Games are
supposed to be fun, not aggravating.

--
"Stress? WHO ME???!!! Never."

mathew

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Nov 4, 1996, 3:00:00 AM11/4/96
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In article <55jas8$2...@news.ipass.net>, Joe Barlow <jba...@ipass.net> wrote:
>The occasional red herring is fine, as long as the game is not
>excessively stacked with dead wood.

What if I don't have any red stain for my wooden herring?


mathew
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Greg Falcon

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Nov 4, 1996, 3:00:00 AM11/4/96
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jba...@ipass.net (Joe Barlow) wrote:

> (On a related note, does anyone else dislike how certain AGT games
>tell you how many locations you've visited? ("Your score is 44 out of
>100, and you have visited 18 of 41 possible locations.") I think this
>really diminishes the feeling that the player is in a "world".)

Actually, I hated that as a programmer. One of the AGT quirks that
eventually made me give it up years ago.

Having a room significantly change (say, fill with water, or something
like that) really required making another room. This meant that the
room counted as "two possible locations". Sheesh, I hated that.

Cheerfully digging up gripes from years ago,
Greg

-----

"It's a very modest game. When completed, it will have only about
fifty rooms, two significant NPCs, and only a couple of difficult
puzzles. However, with each programming setback I run into, I
wonder if it's going to become the next Avalon."
- Gregory Falcon
A quote about _Escape From Planet Thid_


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