IF in real-time

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Al Terer

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Jul 2, 2003, 10:17:42 PM7/2/03
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Hello. I've been lurking around this newsgroup, and the IF community
in general, for some time now, and I've decided that it's about time
for me to write a game. Perhaps its not the greatest idea for a
newbie, but I've been wondering about the pros and cons of a real-time
approach.
The only real-time games I know of are Infocom's "Border Zone" and
Graham Nelson's example game, "Time and Dwarves". Unfortunately, I
can't imagine where I'd find a copy of "Border Zone" and, while "Time
and Dwarves" is a good example of the technical details involved, it
really isn't meant to demonstrate how an entire game might work in
real-time.
Does anyone know of any real-time games, preferably ones that worked?
Would there be any IF language that would work better in real-time? I
have limited experience in Inform, which I suppose translates into
slightly less experience in Glulx Inform, but I'd be willing to learn
TADS or Hugo. And, perhaps most importantly of all, would anyone want
to play a real-time game? I've read some old postings about this, and
the general consensus seems to be that although there are a lot of
problems with this approach, with the right system and the right game
it just might work.

Thanks,

Albert Terer

Gene Wirchenko

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Jul 2, 2003, 11:11:35 PM7/2/03
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Al Terer <ter...@yahoo.com> wrote:

>Hello. I've been lurking around this newsgroup, and the IF community
>in general, for some time now, and I've decided that it's about time
>for me to write a game. Perhaps its not the greatest idea for a
>newbie, but I've been wondering about the pros and cons of a real-time
>approach.

To clarify, you are misusing the term "real-time". A real-time
IF would be one where things continue to happen as you sat thinking
what to type next. I think you want a different term.

[snip]

Sincerely,

Gene Wirchenko

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

Andrew Plotkin

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Jul 3, 2003, 12:56:18 AM7/3/03
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Here, Gene Wirchenko <ge...@mail.ocis.net> wrote:
> Al Terer <ter...@yahoo.com> wrote:

>>Hello. I've been lurking around this newsgroup, and the IF community
>>in general, for some time now, and I've decided that it's about time
>>for me to write a game. Perhaps its not the greatest idea for a
>>newbie, but I've been wondering about the pros and cons of a real-time
>>approach.

> To clarify, you are misusing the term "real-time". A real-time
> IF would be one where things continue to happen as you sat thinking
> what to type next. I think you want a different term.

No, that's exactly what he's asking about. He gives Infocom's _Border
Zone_ as an example. _Border Zone_ is a real-time game.

I won't get into the technical stuff: you can do it in Z-code or
Glulx, and it's a relatively self-contained nuisance either way.
Adam Cadre has some brief code samples on his web site.

The pros and cons are pretty straightforward. Pro: adds an element of
tension which is impossible in turn-based games. Con: that element is
perceived differently by everyone, because everyone types, reads, and
thinks at different speeds.

Tuning the timing is going to be really difficult; it may be
impossible. It will certainly involve a lot of beta-testing.

--Z

"And Aholibamah bare Jeush, and Jaalam, and Korah: these were the borogoves..."
*
* Make your vote count. Get your vote counted.

Al Terer

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Jul 3, 2003, 1:00:12 AM7/3/03
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On Thu, 03 Jul 2003 03:11:35 GMT, ge...@mail.ocis.net (Gene Wirchenko)
wrote:

> To clarify, you are misusing the term "real-time". A real-time
>IF would be one where things continue to happen as you sat thinking
>what to type next. I think you want a different term.

Actually, that's the sort of thing I'm looking at. Sorry for any
confusion.

- Al Terer

Staffan V

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Jul 3, 2003, 4:37:21 AM7/3/03
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Al Terer <ter...@yahoo.com> wrote in message news:<1k37gv8jkltlc41dt...@4ax.com>...

> Does anyone know of any real-time games, preferably ones that worked?

Do you need source? Some that springs to mind is Sherlock and some
others from Melbourne House and also Heureka! from Domark had a few
real-time elements in some locations.

Sophie Fruehling

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Jul 3, 2003, 5:11:02 AM7/3/03
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On Wed, 02 Jul 2003 21:17:42 -0500, Al Terer <ter...@yahoo.com>
wrote:

<snip>

>Does anyone know of any real-time games, preferably ones that worked?

I'm not sure how exactly a real-time game would "work". I personally
used to be very sceptical about real-time IF, and I thought something
like "eeagh", when I read the description of "Border Zone", but then
I played the first part and I really liked it. Of course I haven't
tried the other two parts, and I think the first part is less tightly
timed than the rest, so maybe I just didn't mind the real-time
stuff because I hardly noticed it. What helped, I think, is that
the world you are in is pretty small and there is not that much you
can do, so you don't get overwhelmed with options.

One problem with real-time is that people read at a different pace.
I am a pretty slow reader, as you can see when you play that TADS
game that was released some time ago, "There was a man named Bill"
or something like that, which went a little too fast for me. (Maybe
you could time a paragraph at the beginning of the game to see how
fast the player reads, and set the speed accordingly?)

>Would there be any IF language that would work better in real-time? I
>have limited experience in Inform, which I suppose translates into
>slightly less experience in Glulx Inform, but I'd be willing to learn
>TADS or Hugo.

I don't know about Hugo, but obviously you can do it in TADS and
Inform. (Probably Hugo too, since there is a Tetris game, so timed
events must be possible.)

>And, perhaps most importantly of all, would anyone want
>to play a real-time game?

I'm not sure what real-time buys you over a tightly timed turn-based
puzzle, especially if you have to replay it a few times to solve it,
and don't read most of the text anyway on the fifth playthrough. But
then, I probably just can't come up with the right ideas for such a
game. I'd definitely be curious to see your approach.

--
Sophie Frühling

"El arte no viste pantalones."
-- Rubén Darío

Joe Mason

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Jul 3, 2003, 12:59:28 PM7/3/03
to

The intro to _And the Waves Choke the Wind_ (atwtct.z5 on the
if-archive) mentions that it has real-time portions, but I haven't
played far enough to find out what they are.

Joe

Nikos Chantziaras

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Jul 3, 2003, 4:40:09 PM7/3/03
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Sophie Fruehling wrote:
>
> On Wed, 02 Jul 2003 21:17:42 -0500, Al Terer <ter...@yahoo.com>
> wrote:
> > <snip>
> > Does anyone know of any real-time games, preferably ones that
> > worked?
> [...]

> One problem with real-time is that people read at a different
> pace. I am a pretty slow reader, as you can see when you play
> that TADS game that was released some time ago, "There was a man
> named Bill" or something like that, which went a little too fast
> for me. (Maybe you could time a paragraph at the beginning of the
> game to see how fast the player reads, and set the speed
> accordingly?)

A PAUSE command (or equivalent) can be very useful here. It's standard in
Tads 3, where real-time games are supported natively by the library.


-- Niko <realnc--(AT)--lycos--(DOT)--de>
http://members.lycos.co.uk/realnc


Søren J. Løvborg

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Jul 3, 2003, 5:30:34 PM7/3/03
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> Hello. I've been lurking around this newsgroup, and the IF community
> in general, for some time now, and I've decided that it's about time
> for me to write a game. Perhaps its not the greatest idea for a
> newbie, but I've been wondering about the pros and cons of a real-time
> approach.

There are different kinds of realtime games.
You may want to avoid an actual "action" game, where typing fast and
skimming room descriptions is required to win, the novely wears off very
quickly.
Though, it could be suitable for small sequences in the game. (In which case
you'll want to make the whole game real-time, but only require fast
typing/thinking in certain parts.)

In any case, a game where events take place based on the number of minutes
(not seconds) passed, instead of turns, could certainly be interesting. (But
would it then actually affect the gameplay?)

Of course, it can be difficult to handle trivial cases, like the player
walking a distance of 500 meters, properly.
Should you put a delay into the game? Or skip the real-time clock ahead, in
which case you're back to something resembling turn based IF?
(I sure don't have the answers.)

> Would there be any IF language that would work better in real-time?

TADS 3 have built-in support for real-time events. You may want to take a
look at the Rat in Control source code (available on the IF archive).

> I've read some old postings about this, and
> the general consensus seems to be that although there are a lot of
> problems with this approach, with the right system and the right game
> it just might work.

I certainly agree with that.

--
Søren J. Løvborg
k...@it.dk


Joe Mason

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Jul 3, 2003, 7:55:20 PM7/3/03
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In article <be274h$16r4$1...@news.cybercity.dk>, Søren J. Løvborg wrote:
>> Hello. I've been lurking around this newsgroup, and the IF community
>> in general, for some time now, and I've decided that it's about time
>> for me to write a game. Perhaps its not the greatest idea for a
>> newbie, but I've been wondering about the pros and cons of a real-time
>> approach.
>
> There are different kinds of realtime games.
> You may want to avoid an actual "action" game, where typing fast and
> skimming room descriptions is required to win, the novely wears off very
> quickly.
> Though, it could be suitable for small sequences in the game. (In which case
> you'll want to make the whole game real-time, but only require fast
> typing/thinking in certain parts.)
>
> In any case, a game where events take place based on the number of minutes
> (not seconds) passed, instead of turns, could certainly be interesting. (But
> would it then actually affect the gameplay?)

I considered making _A Stop For the Night_ realtime, so that the weather
and scenery would change minute by minute instead of after a few turns,
but I ran out of time to test it.

Even if it has no effect on the actual gameplay, it would still affect
the atmosphere.

Joe

Chuck Morris

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Jul 3, 2003, 10:49:08 PM7/3/03
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Al Terer <ter...@yahoo.com> wrote in message
news:1k37gv8jkltlc41dt...@4ax.com...

> Does anyone know of any real-time games, preferably ones that worked?

Since everyone else seems to be able to recall at least one "real time" game
in response to your question, I thought I'd toss in another "classic" (he
said with tongue planted firmly in cheek) that nobody has mentioned yet.
That would be the Inform gem entitled:

Journey to Alpha Centauri (In Real Time)

This was written by Julian Fleetwood at the tender age of 16. I haven't
actually completed the game myself, so the suspense of finding out what the
endgame looks like is killing me.


Gene Wirchenko

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Jul 4, 2003, 2:07:07 AM7/4/03
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"Chuck Morris" <nos...@nospam.net> wrote:

Does he allow for relativistic effects?

Sincerely,

Gene Wircheno

Chuck Morris

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Jul 4, 2003, 2:47:50 AM7/4/03
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Gene Wirchenko <ge...@mail.ocis.net> wrote in message
news:3f051970...@news.ocis.net...

>
> Does he allow for relativistic effects?
>

Other than relative boredom, it would appear not. ;-)


J. J. Guest

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Jul 4, 2003, 6:18:03 AM7/4/03
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Joe Mason <j...@notcharles.ca> wrote in message news:<slrnbg9gj...@gate.notcharles.ca>...

The only 'real-time' game I can remember playing was 'Sadim Castle' by
MP Software for the Acorn Electron. This game featured a ghost that
would materialise at intervals and slit the PC's throat if you weren't
prepared for it with a copy of the Bible, so the 'real-time' element
tended to induce a permanent sense of panic and meant that I was more
prone to making typos as I struggled to type in the commands as
quickly as possible. I suspect that a real-time element will also make
the player less tolerant of 'guess the verb', the need to disambiguate
and other parser-related difficulties.

Al Terer

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Jul 4, 2003, 3:14:08 PM7/4/03
to
First of all, thanks for all of your help.

Andrew Plotkin <erky...@eblong.com> wrote:
<snip>


>I won't get into the technical stuff: you can do it in Z-code or
>Glulx, and it's a relatively self-contained nuisance either way.
>Adam Cadre has some brief code samples on his web site.

It looks like the code there should be very helpful if I decide to do
the game with Glulx, which I'm leaning toward now. I'd like to see how
it's done in T3, but I'm not sure the documentation is down to my
level yet. Does anyone know when the Author's Manual for T3 will be
available?

"Søren J. Løvborg" <email_...@message.body> wrote:

>There are different kinds of realtime games.
>You may want to avoid an actual "action" game, where typing fast and
>skimming room descriptions is required to win, the novely wears off very
>quickly.
>Though, it could be suitable for small sequences in the game. (In which case
>you'll want to make the whole game real-time, but only require fast
>typing/thinking in certain parts.)
>
>In any case, a game where events take place based on the number of minutes
>(not seconds) passed, instead of turns, could certainly be interesting. (But
>would it then actually affect the gameplay?)

The game would certainly be more realistic. I hope to implement six or
seven NPCS, who converse with each other quite often, and this way
they can carry on their own conversations without the player having to
type "z" constantly. In a turn-based game, no one does anything
without the player doing something first, but in a real-time game, the
player has to also respond to the game.

However, I agree that there are also a lot of faults to real-time
games - mainly, that reading and typing extremely fast is almost no
one's idea of fun - and I like the idea of keeping the pacing fairly
lenient except for a few parts. Maybe, if the player dies in one of
the "faster" sections, he should be given the opportunity to try
again.

Sophie Fruehling <sfrue...@LOVELY-SPAM.aon.at> wrote:
<snip>


>I thought something
>like "eeagh", when I read the description of "Border Zone", but then
>I played the first part and I really liked it.

<snip>


>What helped, I think, is that
>the world you are in is pretty small and there is not that much you
>can do, so you don't get overwhelmed with options.
>

>One problem with real-time is that people read at a different pace.
>I am a pretty slow reader, as you can see when you play that TADS
>game that was released some time ago, "There was a man named Bill"
>or something like that, which went a little too fast for me. (Maybe
>you could time a paragraph at the beginning of the game to see how
>fast the player reads, and set the speed accordingly?)

My game would take place almost entirely in a forest, with quite a
small inventory and not a lot of complicated puzzles. This is one of
the reasons that I thought it might be suited for a real-time
approach.

I like the paragraph idea. Or maybe the player could adjust the speed
of the game, within a certain range.

"Nikos Chantziaras" <for....@manager.de> wrote:
<snip>


>A PAUSE command (or equivalent) can be very useful here. It's standard in
>Tads 3, where real-time games are supported natively by the library.

The only problem with a PAUSE command would be that the player could
simply pause and un-pause to make the game act almost like a
turn-based game. Perhaps I could make a PAUSE command available
throughout the more relaxed parts of the game, and disable it during
the short bits when things are moving quickly. That might just get
annoying, though. It would, however, allow the player to go off and
get a cup of coffee every once and a while.

One question - does anyone know of any games where, when your
character dies, one of the NPCs becomes the player character? Do you
think this is a good idea?

- Al Terer


Nikos Chantziaras

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Jul 4, 2003, 5:24:35 PM7/4/03
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Al Terer wrote
> [...]

> It looks like the code there should be very helpful if I decide to do
> the game with Glulx, which I'm leaning toward now. I'd like to see
> how it's done in T3, but I'm not sure the documentation is down to my
> level yet. Does anyone know when the Author's Manual for T3 will be
> available?

According to Mike Roberts, work on it hasn't even started yet.


> "Nikos Chantziaras" <for....@manager.de> wrote:
> <snip>
> > A PAUSE command (or equivalent) can be very useful here. It's
> > standard in Tads 3, where real-time games are supported natively by
> > the library.
>
> The only problem with a PAUSE command would be that the player could
> simply pause and un-pause to make the game act almost like a
> turn-based game.

I think that's up to the player to decide.


> One question - does anyone know of any games where, when your
> character dies, one of the NPCs becomes the player character? Do you
> think this is a good idea?

In RPGs, this is quite common. In a text adventure? Hmm, I never saw one
that does this.

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