aka. Talk to joe (enters conversation mode)
=> Well my friends call me Joe. Still I think I prefer Francis
Joe: It's not really my name, but I always thought francis kind'a has a ring
Joe: Me? I'm a cartographer
Joe: Yup, I make maps
Of course it should also contain yorn commands
Joe: Would you like to see one?
respond => N
Joe: That's too bad
Joe: Good Journey's (exit conversation mode)
Much nicer then:
ask sue about ball.
sue looks confused
ask sue about sue
sue says, "I'm fine"
ask sue about cat
sue says, "Do you like my cat"
that was a retorical question
say yes to sue
you say "yes" to sue
ya you get my point, so change you're code, and I never wan't to see, "that
was a rhetorical question" again.
They don't. Why don't you look at some of the games on the IF Archive?
For instance: Varicella, Pytho's Mask, Chicken And Egg.
And quit abusing the poor apostrophe.
"My eyes say their prayers to her / Sailors ring her bell / Like a moth
mistakes a light bulb / For the moon and goes to hell." -- Tom Waits
Not everyone does. But it is a standard method of NPC communication that's
relatively easy to use through the current standard libraries. There are
probably a myriad of better or more suitable approaches for a particular game,
but not everyone wants to rewrite libraries just to accomplish the same end
effect through a unique interface. NPC coding is already pretty tricky work
even with a standard library on your side.
> aka. Talk to joe (enters conversation mode)
> => Well my friends call me Joe. Still I think I prefer Francis
> => francis
> Joe: It's not really my name, but I always thought francis kind'a has a ring
> to it.
> => Job
> Joe: Me? I'm a cartographer
> Much nicer then:
> ask sue about ball.
> sue looks confused
> ask sue about sue
> sue says, "I'm fine"
Having a separate conversation mode is an interesting approach. Still, it has
its own difficulties. What happens when a player starts typing out full
paragraphs into their "conversation", rather than single keywords? How does
the player get out of conversation mode? Of course there are easy solutions
to this, but they won't be "natural" solutions - you'll have to ask the player
to learn this new interface.
And really, what's the advantage? You're still only feeding the NPC keywords
to get responses to, only now you have to type an extra two commands to begin
and end a conversation.
If you haven't, play Galatea to see another way to solve the problem of a
clumsy NPC interface. The ">A XYZ" in place of ">ASK GALATEA ABOUT XYZ" would
probably gain your approval, although it wouldn't necessarily be the best
approach in all IF.
> ya you get my point, so change you're code, and I never wan't to see, "that
> was a rhetorical question" again.
We do get your point, but taking a demanding tone to authors isn't likely to
gain your viewpoint any more support. You're likely to get the "put up or
shut up" response - if you think it can be done better, then prove it by
writing a game.
- josh g.
This is, however, an interesting area of new development in IF and several
systems have been created to handle character conversations using either
Monkey Island style interfaces or alternate means of ask/tell. Many of the
newer games employ these methods. Still, the traditional method isn't bad,
if you aren't looking for too much interactivity with NPCs in a game.
> Why does everyone use the ask <entername> about <entreobject> speach method.
In general, it is probably a bad idea to launch into sweeping
generalizations like this when you are still acquainting yourself with the
body of available work. As others have pointed out, this is hardly the
only speech method in common use. I have tried, on my page on NPC design,
to summarize the various systems and discuss their advantages and
disadvantages: see http://emshort.home.mindspring.com/NPC3.htm#interface.
In point of fact, I'm not sure I see a vastly superior display of
personality in the first exchange over the second. Personality seems to
be a question more of writing than of interface anyway.
> ya you get my point, so change you're code, and I never wan't to see, "that
> was a rhetorical question" again.
This sort of thing only loses any authorial sympathy that might exist out
here. I don't mind a mannerly criticism of my work. Vague and peremptory
demands, however, make my hair stand on end and my eyes bug out in fury.
Until I am in your employ, you have no right to tell me what to do with my
code. But you may ask. Nicely. And preferably in grammatical English.
Well, I don't know about the rest of that post, but the rhetorical
question thing could do with a putting down. There's only so many ways
to handle an uninvited >yes, though. There's the "Yes! It's good to
maintain a positive outlook here in the sewers!!" way, there's the
"What?" angle... ehh.
Probably doesn't crack the top 50 list of your average Download.com
player's list of irritating IF nuances, but still.
I'd like to see such a list, actually. It wouldn't at all be
Let me start.
50. Complicated interfaces.
49. Interfaces that don't go far enough to handle what I want to do.
48. Standard, efficient, but cliche interfaces.
47. Sparse room descriptions. Boring.
46. Detailed room descriptions. I keep missing vital information.
45. Separate inventory windows. I can't keep track of all that.
44. Having to type i every time I want to see my inventory. C'mon, I
already know my inventory and see it at a glance.
43. What? I have to read a two paragraph "about"?
42. What? No advance information? Unless my character has amnesia, he
should know about the world in which he's living.
41. In-jokes tend to alienate. Remove them.
40. More in-jokes, please. In-jokes foster a sense of community. And
they're rarely mandatory in the story, they don't alienate anyone.
1. Buttafuoco, Buttafuoco, Buttafuoco.
Actually, the #1 complaint I seem to see is something along the lines of "ugh
this game sux dont downode it it sux it has no grafix it sux". While I do not
agree, I think you will see that many potential players are _entirely_ turned
off in the first ten seconds of starting up a game - even if it IS an all-time
great like the now-freely-available Zork I.
"Robotboy8" <robo...@aol.com> wrote in message
In article <tfjk1g9...@corp.supernews.com>, "TheCycoONE"
> Now you all believe I'm an arrogant ignoramus, I am quite sorry to hear
>that. Yes I have seen programs which use different conversational methods,
>though far too few, and none which seem to have received much credit from
>xyzzy for doing so. I've become quite agravated recently well [while] attempting to
>interact with characters in all of the five [probably better "all five of the"] programs I am currently playing
>and was hoping to do little more then [than] suggest improvement. It appears my
>comments were taken too harshly and for that I appologise.
> As for correcting my grammer, such an argument has never been launched
>against me before, but I have long defended thouse [those (so)] accussed. The art of
>communication involves getting ones ideas across so that they may be
>understanded [understood] by the target of the communication, in this case the reader. I
>feel that although it appears that my suggestion was taken harsher [to be more harsh] then [than] I
>meant it to be, my grammer was of high enough standard to be interpreted.
> I relise that it would be too much for every player to write their own
>libraries for every program, for what seems to be a minor issue to most of
>you. Perhaps then one person should create a conversational library of the
>sort [(to)] which I am refering and place it on the IF-archive for all programmers
>to use. I would nominate myself, but my programming [huh?] but I am just learning
>TADS, and am completely ignorant of z-code.
> Note that I have seen other conversation systems used in text adventures.
>All [ "All" ] was an over generalization used, apparently unappropriatly [inappropriatly], to.... what
>am I talking about, I wasn't thinking when I wrote that message, I finally
>had a chance to speak to the authors of these great IF games and I messed it
>all up by starting with a critism. Just ignore this thread and start over.
Okay, so, perhaps that was not in good taste, but, if you ever need your work
critiqued grammatically, I'm sure there are some of us with time and interest
to help you with it. Generally, I think that some authors here believe that
our day to day messages ought to reflect the same high grammatical standards
that we put into our games. Perhaps this is because Interactive Fiction has
it's roots in academia, though some of the games do not reflect a scholarly
As for ignoring the thread, it's kind of difficult now, as it's a matter of
public record, however, we can probably try to apply the methods we use to
enjoy playing Zork all over again, even though we know where everything is.
I'm not sure what my opinion about "ask man about rock" is, the conversation
mode approach is interesting to me, as well, but would seem to break down in a
situation like that found in some of the Infocom mystery games. In something
like that, you have several people in a room, and the whole idea is to ask
them about other people, items, times, and locations.
As for the yes/no response to a question posed by an NPC, my opinion is that,
if the author is going to allow the NPC to ask such a question, he ought to
provide a way to respond to that question, which fits whatever style of
conversation the program uses; and the NPC should be able to process that
response appropriately. Whether this can be dealt with in a library is
another matter entirely. I presume that it would really need to be handled on
a case-by-case basis in the NPC's conversation code; considering that the
NPC's code needs to know which question the answer refered to.
As for menu-based conversational systems, it somewhat depends on whether the
language you are writing in supports such menus. It may also depend on what
type of system the game was to be played on. If it's not a graphical game,
wher you use the mouse to pick the selection, then it does not add to the
game, in my opinion, to have something like this (assuming some form of
Sam: What would you like for breakfast, sir?
[ 1. Toast and jam. 2. Green eggs and ham. 3. Pickled ram. ]
Sam: Very well sir.
Sam heads off to the kitchen to prepare your pickled ram.
It may speed up the game a bit, but, it also limits experimentation and
immagination, on the part of the person playing the game. For some players,
it may even break mimisis (though, I don't really know what form of
conversational mode would not, at some point, break mimisis, considering we
really cannot implement a sentient artificial intelligence into our games,
So, in the end, it all comes down to how much work the author wishes to put
into the coding of conversation, his capabilities as a programmer, the
capabilities of the language he has chosen to work in; and his perceptions of
the effect on mimisis and it's role in the game he is writing. I would say
that, I encourage experimentation in this area, but I don't think that you
will see an end to the old ways of doing things, nor should we dictate to an
author which method to use.
I would note that: it's easy for someone, who does not fully understand the
problem, to come along and say to a programmer, "Here, this ought to be easy
to add to the program," knowing little or nothing about programming himself.
It's even tempting for one programmer to say that to another programmer,
without looking at the actual code that must be modified to make the change.
I know, I've asked those questions, myself.
Welcome to the club, and, good luck learning TADS.
Helios, AKA Paulos Kodon, AKA Paul E. Bell