[Game Idea] More than one PC?

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stup...@my-deja.com

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Jul 8, 1999, 3:00:00 AM7/8/99
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I've just had this slightly odd game idea. Basically, what I thought of doing
was to write a game (it could be any sort of game, the genre is immaterial)
in which, instead of having one player character solving the whole game (or
several PCs playing through a fixed and immobile story), I could implement
two (I think that's the ideal number, though a more courageous soul could try
three or four) characters who work through separate strands of a story
(however - this is part of the concept - what X does in Strand 1 may affect
Y's life in Strand 2, even if it's to an insignificant extent.) Of course,
each character could take turns being PC and NPC (so that after playing as X
for one 'stage', you could - playing as Y - actually interact with X. Sounds
weird, but I think it'll work). I need opinions on this, though. So far, I've
tried a static-story game with two PCs, and a single-PC game with multiple
threads (the latter still under extensive development), and if any of you
think this is a good idea (or, alternately, that it would make for confusing,
messy and warped IF), please let me know! :-) - Quentin.D.Thompson.


Sent via Deja.com http://www.deja.com/
Share what you know. Learn what you don't.

BrenBarn

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Jul 8, 1999, 3:00:00 AM7/8/99
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>Basically, what I thought of doing
>was to write a game (it could be any sort of game, the genre is immaterial)
>in which, instead of having one player character solving the whole game (or
>several PCs playing through a fixed and immobile story), I could implement
>two (I think that's the ideal number, though a more courageous soul could try
>three or four) characters who work through separate strands of a story
>(however - this is part of the concept - what X does in Strand 1 may affect
>Y's life in Strand 2, even if it's to an insignificant extent.)
Interesting idea, for sure. There have been games (not necessarily text
games) that did this -- like the original Maniac Mansion, and, to a lesser
extent, Day of the Tentacle.
This seems like it would require exceptional character development (which
is a good thing, albeit a difficult one). Adequate character development for
an NPC is different from adequate character development for a PC, because the
PC actually has to make the player want to live his/her life. Thus, the
designer would have to increase the sophistication of some of the NPCs, so that
the player would want to play as them. (This assumes that the potential PCs
act as NPCs and interact with the PC when they're not the PC; which you seemed
to indicate. But in Day of the Tentacle, for example, one PC never encounters
another, except during cut-scenes.)
Another consideration is the mechanics of it. Does the player get to
choose when to switch characters, or is he/she suddenly thrust into a different
body?
Thanks for letting me ramble. :-).

From,
Brendan B. B.
Bren...@aol.com
(Name in header has spam-blocker, use the address above instead.)

"Do not follow where the path may lead;
go, instead, where there is no path, and leave a trail."
--Author Unknown

Daryl McCullough

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Jul 8, 1999, 3:00:00 AM7/8/99
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>I've just had this slightly odd game idea. Basically, what I thought of doing

>was to write a game (it could be any sort of game, the genre is immaterial)
>in which, instead of having one player character solving the whole game (or
>several PCs playing through a fixed and immobile story), I could implement
>two (I think that's the ideal number, though a more courageous soul could try
>three or four) characters who work through separate strands of a story
>(however - this is part of the concept - what X does in Strand 1 may affect
>Y's life in Strand 2, even if it's to an insignificant extent.) Of course,
>each character could take turns being PC and NPC (so that after playing as X
>for one 'stage', you could - playing as Y - actually interact with X. Sounds
>weird, but I think it'll work). I need opinions on this, though.

Although it's not exactly interactive fiction, the Lucas Arts game
"Maniac Mansion" implemented this. You took a team of (I think three)
teenagers to the Mansion to rescue Sandy. You could only control one
at a time, but switching between them was easy (hitting a function key).

The Ultima games also gave you the ability to control several characters
at once.

Daryl McCullough
CoGenTex, Inc.
Ithaca, NY


Adam J. Thornton

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Jul 8, 1999, 3:00:00 AM7/8/99
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In article <7m2220$8i8$1...@nnrp1.deja.com>, <stup...@my-deja.com> wrote:
>I've just had this slightly odd game idea. Basically, what I thought of doing
>was to write a game (it could be any sort of game, the genre is immaterial)
>in which, instead of having one player character solving the whole game (or
>several PCs playing through a fixed and immobile story), I could implement
>two (I think that's the ideal number, though a more courageous soul could try
>three or four) characters who work through separate strands of a story
>(however - this is part of the concept - what X does in Strand 1 may affect
>Y's life in Strand 2, even if it's to an insignificant extent.) Of course,
>each character could take turns being PC and NPC (so that after playing as X
>for one 'stage', you could - playing as Y - actually interact with X. Sounds
>weird, but I think it'll work). I need opinions on this, though. So far, I've
>tried a static-story game with two PCs, and a single-PC game with multiple
>threads (the latter still under extensive development), and if any of you
>think this is a good idea (or, alternately, that it would make for confusing,
>messy and warped IF), please let me know! :-) - Quentin.D.Thompson.

I tried doing something similar for a Competition entry last year.

You may notice that I didn't enter anything.

It'd be really cool if it were done well, though. However, done poorly
it'd almost certainly lead to lots of unwinnable situations; it requires
very careful plotting and subtle contraints on PCs' actions.

Adam
--
ad...@princeton.edu
"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

John Elliott

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Jul 8, 1999, 3:00:00 AM7/8/99
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stup...@my-deja.com wrote:
>I've just had this slightly odd game idea. Basically, what I thought of doing
>was to write a game (it could be any sort of game, the genre is immaterial)
>in which, instead of having one player character solving the whole game (or
>several PCs playing through a fixed and immobile story), I could implement
>two (I think that's the ideal number, though a more courageous soul could try
>three or four) characters who work through separate strands of a story

The Melbourne House games of _Lord_Of_The_Rings_ did something similar. You
could play one of four hobbit characters (two in the second game), and swap
control at any time, with the "I AM" or "BECOME" commands. If your character
died, the game ended; but if one of the others died, it didn't.

------------- http://www.seasip.demon.co.uk/index.html --------------------
John Elliott |BLOODNOK: "But why have you got such a long face?"
|SEAGOON: "Heavy dentures, Sir!" - The Goon Show
:-------------------------------------------------------------------------)

tenth...@my-deja.com

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Jul 9, 1999, 3:00:00 AM7/9/99
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The Gabriel Knight series was similar to this.

There are two ways to do it: live-switch and
passive-switch. Live-switching means executing
some command like

>Become Jack.

and having the PC switch actively to Jack. There
are a few suboptions here: the game can control
the inactive PC, or that character can just stand
still and be ordered about.

Passive-switching means that one PC runs through
some parts, and the others run through the
others. One Gabriel Knight had both the
characters in the final scene. Usually, the two
PCs won't appear in the same player-active
scene.

The difficulty is with interaction between the
PCs and NPCs.

just...@home.com

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Jul 9, 1999, 3:00:00 AM7/9/99
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stup...@my-deja.com wrote:
>
> I've just had this slightly odd game idea. Basically, what I thought of doing
> was to write a game (it could be any sort of game, the genre is immaterial)
> in which, instead of having one player character solving the whole game (or
> several PCs playing through a fixed and immobile story), I could implement
> two (I think that's the ideal number, though a more courageous soul could try
> three or four) characters who work through separate strands of a story
> (however - this is part of the concept - what X does in Strand 1 may affect
> Y's life in Strand 2, even if it's to an insignificant extent.) Of course,
> each character could take turns being PC and NPC (so that after playing as X
> for one 'stage', you could - playing as Y - actually interact with X. Sounds
> weird, but I think it'll work). I need opinions on this, though. So far, I've
> tried a static-story game with two PCs, and a single-PC game with multiple
> threads (the latter still under extensive development), and if any of you
> think this is a good idea (or, alternately, that it would make for confusing,
> messy and warped IF), please let me know! :-) - Quentin.D.Thompson.
>
> Sent via Deja.com http://www.deja.com/
> Share what you know. Learn what you don't.

I think it's a fantastic idea! I've never seen this done as a text
adventure before. This is a suggestion, perhaps it's a menu driven
game, sort of like Border Zone, where at the beginning you decide
who you want to be, and maybe you can change your character
with a command like "Become (person)". Maybe the whole game
could take place in one common geography, like a park of an airport.
The characters are strangers and each have different personalities
and different adgendas. They don't know it but what they do
affects one another, not as if they are working as a team. But the
player knows this and can get them to do things that will lead
to the endgame. For example, one of the characters is a criminal,
a pickpocket, who can steal a wallet from someone unsuspecting.
Perhaps the player gets him to steal a wallet and hide it somewhere,
like in a tree, and then the player assumes another character and
finds the money they need to do something in a tree.

To make the game even more interesting, how about when a player
isn't controling a character, the uncontrolled characters do things
on their own, for instance, the pickpocket may rob the other character
of the wallet before this character can use the money in it. Even
better still, how about network if. It would be murder to implement,
you couldn't use any of the popular design systems. Bur several
people could each assume the role of a different character, all at
the same time. Or, sort of like a roleplaying game, they could generate
their own characters.

I have one last suggestion, how about a game of this type where
there are three or four characters to assume, which are animals.
Perhaps stray cats and dogs, or maybe penguins in the Antarctic.
Who are in the same sort of scenario.

Hope I was helpful!
Justin
just...@home.com

Phil Goetz

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Jul 10, 1999, 3:00:00 AM7/10/99
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In article <7m5hc1$i7f$1...@nnrp1.deja.com>, <tenth...@my-deja.com> wrote:
>The Gabriel Knight series was similar to this.
>
>There are two ways to do it: live-switch and
>passive-switch. Live-switching means executing
>some command like
>
> >Become Jack.
>
>and having the PC switch actively to Jack. There
>are a few suboptions here: the game can control
>the inactive PC, or that character can just stand
>still and be ordered about.

I was thinking more of multiple players, networked.
Technically like a MUD, but artistically different, because
there would be a fixed number of characters, and each character
would be presented different information, would have messages
for the same events printed differently, and so forth.

Phil Goetz

Stefan Blixt

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Jul 11, 1999, 3:00:00 AM7/11/99
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>>I've just had this slightly odd game idea. Basically, what I thought of doing
>>was to write a game (it could be any sort of game, the genre is immaterial)
>>in which, instead of having one player character solving the whole game (or
>>several PCs playing through a fixed and immobile story), I could implement
>>two (I think that's the ideal number, though a more courageous soul could try
>>three or four) characters who work through separate strands of a story
>>(however - this is part of the concept - what X does in Strand 1 may affect
>>Y's life in Strand 2, even if it's to an insignificant extent.) Of course,
>>each character could take turns being PC and NPC (so that after playing as X
>>for one 'stage', you could - playing as Y - actually interact with X. Sounds
>>weird, but I think it'll work). I need opinions on this, though.

>Although it's not exactly interactive fiction, the Lucas Arts game


>"Maniac Mansion" implemented this. You took a team of (I think three)
>teenagers to the Mansion to rescue Sandy. You could only control one
>at a time, but switching between them was easy (hitting a function key).

>The Ultima games also gave you the ability to control several characters
>at once.

There have been games throughout the history
(although perhaps mostly non-IF) that let you control several cooperating
PCs: Head over Heels, Everyone's a Wally (I just *loved* those Wally games),
Hired Guns etc. Lord of the Rings is the only text IF game I can think of. As
far as I can remember, in that game you could become one of the main PCs,
but the ones that you didn't control carried on with their lives, doing things
on their own.

Instead of this slightly spooky approach, what I think would be cool is
a game where the switching between characters is part of the plot,
like if you're buried deep below the Earth's surface and control
four robots on the surface with different capabilities. Perhaps being able to
program them to do things when you are not controlling them etc.

I would still of course like to see a game like Quentin suggests (which
doesn't sound like a Lord of the Rings approach anyway).

/Blixt


Nick C.

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Jul 11, 1999, 3:00:00 AM7/11/99
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On 11 Jul 1999 23:14:40 +0200, Stefan Blixt wrote:
>Instead of this slightly spooky approach, what I think would be cool is
>a game where the switching between characters is part of the plot,
>like if you're buried deep below the Earth's surface and control
>four robots on the surface with different capabilities. Perhaps being able to
>program them to do things when you are not controlling them etc.

I haven't been following this thread, but what you describe sounds a heck
of a lot like Suspended. Has anyone mentioned it? In case you've never played
it, you play a Central Mentality who controls six different robots, each with
different sensing abilities (e.g. Auda who can hear but not see, Iris who
can see but not hear, Waldo who has sonar and multiple arms but can't see
or hear, etc.)

--
Nick C. -- E-Mail address contains a spamblock - remove IFRICKINHATESPAM
<nic...@IFRICKINHATESPAMio.com>

Stefan Blixt

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Jul 14, 1999, 3:00:00 AM7/14/99
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Nick C. wrote:
>I haven't been following this thread, but what you describe sounds a heck
>of a lot like Suspended. Has anyone mentioned it? In case you've never played
>it, you play a Central Mentality who controls six different robots, each with
>different sensing abilities (e.g. Auda who can hear but not see, Iris who
>can see but not hear, Waldo who has sonar and multiple arms but can't see
>or hear, etc.)

Sounds really interesting! No, I haven't played it, but I see it being
mentioned here now and then. I have a tendency not to want to know
too much about an IF game (or a book, or a movie, or any such thing) before I
play it, so I haven't sought out more information about Infocom games that
I haven't played. I need to get my thumbs out of my ass (sorry, Swedish
saying) and get me a copy of Masterpieces soon.

/Blixt


tenth...@hotmail.com

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Jul 15, 1999, 3:00:00 AM7/15/99
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In article <7m67h7$lh4$1...@prometheus.acsu.buffalo.edu>,

go...@cse.buffalo.edu (Phil Goetz) wrote:
> I was thinking more of multiple players, networked.
> Technically like a MUD, but artistically different, because
> there would be a fixed number of characters, and each character
> would be presented different information, would have messages
> for the same events printed differently, and so forth.

Oh, okay.

Alright, let's assume that all the technical issues could be completely
bypassed. In a large part, this would be an RPG in the pure sense --
players who, before, would have been likely to amass an enormous number
of objects would suddenly have to learn to play in a more cooperative
sense -- or a more insidious sense. Puzzles would have to be written
to be less reliant on specific objects, or players would be capable of
completely screwing over each other on accident.

NPCs would require even more work than normal.

Beyond that, thought, I can see some great advantages in this system.
If the players' roles were well-defined (at least, in terms of each
other) and they "behaved", such a game would be very interesting, to
say the least.

One point, however: event timing would really have to be real-time.
Any other thing would make very little sense (in the absense of a
turn-based setup). This might be irritating to some players.

There is great potential for this sort of thing; of course, it might
be hard to get a sufficient set of people together and willing to
devote a couple of hours to doing the one thing.

Still.

Eldad

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Jul 18, 1999, 3:00:00 AM7/18/99
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The Sinclair Spectrum, with its 48KB of memory, had several of those.
Tartan software's titles (The Gordello Incident, and the aptly named
Double Agent) spring to mind, as does that questprobe/fantastic four
adventure where you 'became' both Thing and Torch.

Like those fighting games, each of the characters has their own
strengths; with a two PC game, it's almost always a brain/brawn team.

BTW: the second part of The Gordello Incident had both clones respond
to the same commands, but one of them was defective and did the
opposite of what it was told (when the actions _had_ opposites!). Can
you imagine programming anything like that? And I think the authoring
system for the games was home-brewn too.

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