Object Searching

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Joao Mendes

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Jul 19, 2002, 12:53:07 AM7/19/02
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Hi, :)

Ok, here's another one for the 'arguable content' bonfire:

The setup is that I have a pen hidden in a sofa. But I do not want a player
that goes randomly searching and looking everything to find it. Rather, I
want to define a command 'look for'. Something like this:

>look under sofa
At first glance, there is nothing under the sofa.

>search sofa
At first glance, the sofa hides nothing.

>look for pen
Aha! You find a pen among the sofa's cushions.

Further, I want to redefine the 'search' verb. As thusly (same setup):

>search sofa
The sofa is right there in plain view.

>search pen
Aha! You find a pen among the sofa's cushions.

This would also work:

>search for pen
Aha! You find a pen among the sofa's cushions.

Two questions: a) how heretical am I being (i.e. would you scuttle such a
game); b) how would I clue my non-standard verb usage?

Cheers,

J.

Tim Mann

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Jul 19, 2002, 2:53:35 AM7/19/02
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On Fri, 19 Jul 2002 04:53:07 +0000 (UTC), Joao Mendes
<public...@anywhere.invalid> wrote:
> Hi, :)
>
> Ok, here's another one for the 'arguable content' bonfire:
>
> The setup is that I have a pen hidden in a sofa. But I do not want a
> player that goes randomly searching and looking everything to find it.
> Rather, I want to define a command 'look for'. Something like this:
>
> >look under sofa
> At first glance, there is nothing under the sofa.
>
> >search sofa
> At first glance, the sofa hides nothing.
>
> >look for pen
> Aha! You find a pen among the sofa's cushions.

Interesting idea. I hope your players will figure out what they're
supposed to do.

> Further, I want to redefine the 'search' verb. As thusly (same setup):
>
> >search sofa
> The sofa is right there in plain view.
>
> >search pen
> Aha! You find a pen among the sofa's cushions.

Please don't -- such a definition of "search" would not be correct
English. In English, "search blah" never means "search for blah"; it
always means "search in blah [for whatever may be there]". I imagine
some other languages are different, though, because I've noticed this is
a frequently made error among non-native speakers posting to the net in
English. You can "seek", "look for", or "search for" an object that you
don't have and want to find, but you can't "search" it.

> This would also work:
>
> >search for pen
> Aha! You find a pen among the sofa's cushions.

That's a correct phrasing.

> Two questions: a) how heretical am I being (i.e. would you scuttle
> such a game); b) how would I clue my non-standard verb usage?

I know some games understand "find pen" (meaning "try to find pen" --
same thing as "search for pen"), but the response is usually "I don't
know where that is" or something equally unhelpful, so players get
trained not to do that. So however you clue it, it will need to be
clear. Unfortunately I don't have a suggestion for you.


--
Tim Mann use...@tim-mann.org http://www.tim-mann.org/

Christiane Schwind

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Jul 19, 2002, 3:17:58 AM7/19/02
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On Fri, 19 Jul 2002 04:53:07 +0000 (UTC), Joao Mendes wrote:

> Further, I want to redefine the 'search' verb. As thusly (same setup):
>
> >search sofa
> The sofa is right there in plain view.
>
> >search pen
> Aha! You find a pen among the sofa's cushions.
>
> This would also work:
>
> >search for pen
> Aha! You find a pen among the sofa's cushions.
>
> Two questions: a) how heretical am I being (i.e. would you scuttle such a
> game); b) how would I clue my non-standard verb usage?

Heretical: not at all, you're not trying to topple things over but rather
to add a nice feature. But "search x" means "look in x to find anything
that might be there", not "look for x" and "search pen" sounds as if you
were looking for something inside the pen.
And even if it were correct English, I think that if you work
*against* such basics as the conventional use of verbs, chances are
that players will get annoyed. How about building up on tradition
instead and extending "search" verb, like

>search sofa
At first glance, the sofa hides nothing.

>search sofa for pen
Aha! You find a pen among the sofa'a cushions.

(Not just "search for pen" - you want to make sure the player is
looking for it in the sofa.)

You can inform the player about this option in an ABOUT, and perhaps
in the game itself as well:

>search sofa
At first glance, the sofa hides nothing. Maybe if you knew what you
were looking for...

This would tell the player where it makes sense to use the extended
syntax, so they won't have to go through every object twice instead of
once (with both "search" and "search for").

Christiane

Joao Mendes

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Jul 19, 2002, 4:29:14 AM7/19/02
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Hi, there, :)

Christiane Schwind <c_sc...@gmx.net> wrote in
news:MPG.17a1db8c...@News.CIS.DFN.DE:

Good stuff. Thanks for pointers. Request for clarification, though:

> *against* such basics as the conventional use of verbs, chances are
> that players will get annoyed. How about building up on tradition
> instead and extending "search" verb, like
>
>>search sofa
> At first glance, the sofa hides nothing.
>
>>search sofa for pen
> Aha! You find a pen among the sofa'a cushions.

I like this. This makes sense.

> (Not just "search for pen" - you want to make sure the player is
> looking for it in the sofa.)

What about 'look for', then. Does this mean that you would recommend
against the following:

>look for pen


Aha! You find a pen among the sofa'a cushions.

... on the grounds that the player is not specifically looking in the sofa,
i.e. would you recommend the following instead:

>look for pen
What do you want to look in?

>look for pen in sofa


Aha! You find a pen among the sofa'a cushions.

> You can inform the player about this option in an ABOUT, and perhaps
> in the game itself as well:
>
>>search sofa
> At first glance, the sofa hides nothing. Maybe if you knew what you
> were looking for...

This I like very much. Makes lots of sense.

Thanks,

J.

JJK

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Jul 19, 2002, 7:28:46 AM7/19/02
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Joao Mendes wrote:
> Hi, :)
>
> Ok, here's another one for the 'arguable content' bonfire:
>
> The setup is that I have a pen hidden in a sofa. But I do not want a player
> that goes randomly searching and looking everything to find it. Rather, I
> want to define a command 'look for'. Something like this:
>
>
>>look under sofa

FWIW, in general I get frustrated by games that require precise use of
language. For instance, if the the pen was under the cushions on the
sofa, and "search sofa" doesn't find it, it detracts from mimesis.
Habing searched the sofa and found nothing, I wouldn't normally think to
lift the cushions. After all, what kind of nincompoop wouldn't think to
lift the cushions if told to search the sofa. Worse, if I find out by
accident, I feel that I must repeat such specificity for every single
object in the game, leading to a very boring evening.

I think in this case you should contemplate what effect such precision
has on the everything else in the game.

If whzt you want is for someone to not be able to find something until
they know what they are looking for, you can hide it amidst clutter and
clue it by something like "Documents, pens, pencils, garbage are
scattered about. You examine them briefly, but can't discern any
meaning. If only you knew exactly what you were looking for. ..

-Jim

Christiane Schwind

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Jul 19, 2002, 9:49:12 AM7/19/02
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On Fri, 19 Jul 2002 08:29:14 +0000 (UTC), Joao Mendes wrote:

> What about 'look for', then. Does this mean that you would recommend
> against the following:
>
> >look for pen
> Aha! You find a pen among the sofa'a cushions.
>
> ... on the grounds that the player is not specifically looking in the sofa,
> i.e. would you recommend the following instead:
>
> >look for pen
> What do you want to look in?
>
> >look for pen in sofa
> Aha! You find a pen among the sofa'a cushions.


Yes, I think that's basically fine, only if you want to create a
standard answer, I wouldn't include a preposition. "What do you want
to look in?" suggests to the player that (in the game-world) the pen
is "in" something (a drawer, perhaps) while in fact it may be lying on
a desk. No great problem, it just may feel wrong. How about "Where do
you want to look for that?"


>> >search sofa
>> At first glance, the sofa hides nothing. Maybe if you knew what you
>> were looking for...

> This I like very much. Makes lots of sense.

Come to think of it now, I don't like it so much anymore. I see JJK
has commented on this point already and I agree: it's unnatural and
spoils mimesis. Common sense tells me that if I "search" a sofa with a
pen in it, I should be able to find it. The trick would work with a
workbench or a storage area which is cluttered with stuff but not with
a more or less tidy object like a sofa. I have no idea right now how
to keep the player from finding the pen in a sofa without knowing what
he is looking for... You could of course prevent him from searching
the sofa at all if he doesn't mention the pen ("Why should you mess
with the sofa? Are you looking for anything in particular?") but then
again, searching an object is such a natural action that I'd probably
feel a bit annoyed if I couldn't do it.

Christiane

L. Ross Raszewski

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Jul 19, 2002, 10:21:17 AM7/19/02
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On Fri, 19 Jul 2002 07:28:46 -0400, JJK <jj...@warwick.net> wrote:
>FWIW, in general I get frustrated by games that require precise use of
>language. For instance, if the the pen was under the cushions on the
>sofa, and "search sofa" doesn't find it, it detracts from mimesis.

It's perfectly reasonable not to like this proposed syntax. But please
don't try to confuse the issue by shouting "It Breaks Mimesis".

Christos Dimitrakakis

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Jul 19, 2002, 10:25:37 AM7/19/02
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<SNIP>

>
>
> >> >search sofa
> >> At first glance, the sofa hides nothing. Maybe if you knew what you
> >> were looking for...
>
> > This I like very much. Makes lots of sense.
>
> Come to think of it now, I don't like it so much anymore. I see JJK
> has commented on this point already and I agree: it's unnatural and
> spoils mimesis. Common sense tells me that if I "search" a sofa with a
> pen in it, I should be able to find it. The trick would work with a
> workbench or a storage area which is cluttered with stuff but not with
> a more or less tidy object like a sofa. I have no idea right now how
> to keep the player from finding the pen in a sofa without knowing what
> he is looking for... You could of course prevent him from searching
> the sofa at all if he doesn't mention the pen ("Why should you mess
> with the sofa? Are you looking for anything in particular?") but then
> again, searching an object is such a natural action that I'd probably
> feel a bit annoyed if I couldn't do it.
>

I must second Christiane on that - the following premise must be taken
into account when limiting player's actions:

There should be only two reasons to limit the player:

1. There is an external factor that the player cannot overcome in order to
peform the action.
2. There is an internal factor that the player cannot overcome: i.e. The
command entered is not in-character with the PC's motives etc

Now, spefically for the search example:
Imagine that the player is looking for a pen, but in fact there are some
coins, a lighter and a condom (used) under the cushions.

The player should be able to find these objects, even if he is looking for
the pen...

The final point I want to make is on design principles. If you want to
keep the player from accidentally discovering something.... it is bad.
That suggests that you are following a very linear plot. Why not let the
player discover the object X, even if he is not actively seeking it? Are
you afraid that the player might put in some non-imaginable uses??

If this is the problem, then I suggest limiting the object's usefulness in
some way. Apparently the pen will not be very useful if you dont need to
write anything... but you could perhaps use it to reach into some small
hole. By making the pen 'fragile' you render it useless for such an
application...

In the end, beta-testing will help you resolve many of these problems.

Georgina Bensley

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Jul 19, 2002, 11:11:17 AM7/19/02
to

Well, it's more that it's two separate complaints. Both "I don't like that
syntax" and "It's not realistic for me to be making the effort of
searching the sofa and still not be able to find the pen unless I'm
looking for it specifically."

As someone else pointed out, having to look for a specific thing only
really makes sense if:

1. There are so many unimportant items in the space you're searching that
you can't find anything useful without knowing what you're looking for
(the clutter effect)

or

2. The thing that you're looking for is so innately hard to find that a
non-specific search wouldn't turn it up. If we were playing a spy game and
the room was bugged, it might make sense that you'd have to specifically
search for bugs on/around/under the sofa in order to find them, because if
you don't know what you're looking for, you won't know it when you see it.

Andrew Plotkin

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Jul 19, 2002, 11:19:33 AM7/19/02
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Here, Joao Mendes <public...@anywhere.invalid> wrote:
> Christiane Schwind <c_sc...@gmx.net> wrote in
> news:MPG.17a1db8c...@News.CIS.DFN.DE:

> Good stuff. Thanks for pointers. Request for clarification, though:

>> *against* such basics as the conventional use of verbs, chances are
>> that players will get annoyed. How about building up on tradition
>> instead and extending "search" verb, like
>>
>>>search sofa
>> At first glance, the sofa hides nothing.
>>
>>>search sofa for pen
>> Aha! You find a pen among the sofa'a cushions.

> I like this. This makes sense.

>> (Not just "search for pen" - you want to make sure the player is
>> looking for it in the sofa.)

My problem with this is, what does the game do if I type "search sofa
for the lost sword Excalibur"?

If the game says "No luck, but you found a pen!" then the whole
exercise is obviously silly. You might as well just accept "search
sofa".

If the game says "You didn't find anything," or even "You didn't find
any sword", then you're putting the player in a confusing, non-mimetic
situation. The protagonist knows that he saw a pen, two quarters, and
the Amulet of Werdna underneath the cushions, but he's not telling
*you* that. One of the common conventions of IF is that the player
will at least notice everything the protagonist sees, if it's
game-relevant -- not just everything he *knows* he needs, but
everything he might need *later*.

(After all, the player might have just reloaded an earlier save file,
having played ahead in the game, and he *knows* that he'll need a pen
later.)

The only situations I know that violate this convention are situations
where you have a very large collection of stuff, and you are
explicitly told that it's too big to list it all. For example, the
encyclopedia in Zork Zero. The protagonist is unwilling to
methodically list out every entry in the index, so you have to type
"look up WORD in book".

(And even then, I find it sort of unmimetic and frustrating. I *do*
flip through encyclopedias, reading entries at random or in order.
When I was a kid, I did it for hours.)

A sofa isn't going to fall into this category, unless it's a magical
or otherwise nontraditional sofa. I could see it working for a room
full of junk:

--------------
ROOM OF JUNK

The only reason you're not waist-deep in junk is that some of the
larger subsurface items support your weight. Electrical components,
broken furniture, bits of clockwork and bits of hyperdrive controller
are mounded up the walls. You can escape to the south, if you're
careful opening the door.

> SEARCH JUNK
There's too much here. You'll have to say what you're searching for.

> SEARCH JUNK FOR 23-OHM BEDISTOR
You root through junk for several minutes, picking up bedistors and
casting them aside, until you find one with the necessary black-red-
black-purple-grey stripes.
-------------

--Z

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

Dan Schmidt

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Jul 19, 2002, 11:31:00 AM7/19/02
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He didn't shout.

| "It Breaks Mimesis".

He didn't say 'breaks'.

Plus, I agree with him. After playing dozens of IF games, I expect
'search sofa' to reveal everything hidden in the sofa. If it doesn't,
then the world is not working as I expect it to [1], and it pulls me out
of the game.

Dan

[1] Roger Giner-Sorolla's original article, which is what I assume
people are referring to when they talk about mimesis, states that "a
crime against mimesis is any aspect of an IF game that breaks the
coherence of its fictional world as a representation of reality."

--
http://www.dfan.org

L. Ross Raszewski

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Jul 19, 2002, 12:15:04 PM7/19/02
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On 19 Jul 2002 11:31:00 -0400, Dan Schmidt <df...@dfan.org> wrote:
>He didn't say 'breaks'.
>
>Plus, I agree with him. After playing dozens of IF games, I expect
>'search sofa' to reveal everything hidden in the sofa. If it doesn't,
>then the world is not working as I expect it to [1], and it pulls me out
>of the game.
>
>Dan
>
>[1] Roger Giner-Sorolla's original article, which is what I assume
>people are referring to when they talk about mimesis, states that "a
>crime against mimesis is any aspect of an IF game that breaks the
>coherence of its fictional world as a representation of reality."

See, this is the thing. People around here have tended to throw the
word 'mimesis' around a lot, and do it incorrectly. I felt that in
this case, 'it hurts mimesis' was used not to mean "it damages the
coherence of the fictional world" but rather "it breaks the gamely
convention" -- these aren't the same thing, even if the gamely
convention is something that aids your personal immersion in the
story. There's a meaningful difference between "this makes the game
simulate a coherent world less well" and "this steps outside expected
IF practice." The fact that something disrupts your relationship with
the model world in this way isn't an artefact of the game world being
less mimetic, but of your relationship with the model world being
based on IF convention, and I think it's a mistake to conflate the
two.

Note that I'm not saying that IF convention is 'bad' or 'should be
challenged' -- I think it's pretty good, and I don't think this
particular example of challenging it has a beneficial effect. I just
don't think we should confuse mimesis with IF convention.

Lucian P. Smith

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Jul 19, 2002, 12:34:24 PM7/19/02
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Joao Mendes <public...@anywhere.invalid> wrote in <Xns92503B45C9869j...@194.65.14.158>:

:>search sofa


: At first glance, the sofa hides nothing.

:>look for pen
: Aha! You find a pen among the sofa's cushions.

: Two questions: a) how heretical am I being (i.e. would you scuttle such a

: game); b) how would I clue my non-standard verb usage?

I think what you need to do is take a step back and accomplish this in a
slightly different way. As others have pointed out, if I search a sofa
for a penny, I am going to find the pen (in real life). If I don't (in
the game), and later find out there's a pen in the sofa, I am going to be
annoyed.

The point you want to make in the game is that you want the player to
realize they need a pen, and then go look for it. *So*, I think the
correct response is to *move the pen* while the player isn't looking.
Who's in charge of this universe, anyway?

>SEARCH COUCH

You find nothing in the couch.

[The standard response, but the game here makes a note: the couch has
already been searched.]

>SEARCH TV

You find nothing behind the TV.

[Game: TV searched.]

>SEARCH COFFEE TABLE

There's nothing on the coffee table.

[Game: Coffe table searched. Maybe the game also notes that you're
looking a lot of places, and tells you:]

You seem to be looking for something. Perhaps you'd have better luck if
you searched for it specifically?

[Maybe a few other places, too, then:]

>SEARCH BOOKSHELVES

A quick scan of the bookshelves reveals no book that you haven't already
read several times.

[Game: Well, this was my last hiding place, so I'll distract the player
by talking about what you would normally search a bookshelf for. But
then...]

>SEARCH FOR PEN

Wait--you were using a pen last week when filling out the crossword puzzle
in the Times. You put the paper on the bookshelves... Aha! It fell
behind the books. Reaching behind 'Pride and Prejudice', you extract the
pen from its hiding place. Now if only you could find a six-letter word
for 'diamond'.

>SEARCH FOR SIX-LETTER WORD FOR 'DIAMOND'

Carbon! Too bad you threw away the paper yesterday.

----

Now, if the first thing the player did was type 'SEARCH FOR PEN', they'd
have found it in the couch. Likewise, if they had searched the
bookshelves and the couch first, they'd find it behind the TV. And if the
player typed SEARCH FOR PEN in another room, they'd get the message "You
can't find a pen in this room, but you seem to remember using one in the
living room. Maybe when you were sitting on the couch?" and (and this is
important) move the pen to the couch, so that *now* if the player types
'SEARCH COUCH' they'll find the pen. Or if they type 'SEARCH FOR PEN'
again, of course.

If you really want to get fancy, move the player to the living room and
give them the pen when they type 'SEARCH FOR PEN'. Or have a unique
hiding spot in each room. The point is that the puzzle you want is for
the player to make the conceptual leap that they need a pen, and need to
search for it. The actual process of searching a room full of furniture
is not exciting, and should be elided as much as possible. (This is also
why you want library-default reponses for simply searching the furniture.
Train the player by boring them that they should not use that approach.)

-Lucian

Andrew Plotkin

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Jul 19, 2002, 12:40:45 PM7/19/02
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So, I see everything in my long post in this thread has already been
said by other people. :) I guess the're a strong common opinion there.

But also:

Here, L. Ross Raszewski <lrasz...@loyola.edu> wrote:
> See, this is the thing. People around here have tended to throw the
> word 'mimesis' around a lot, and do it incorrectly. I felt that in
> this case, 'it hurts mimesis' was used not to mean "it damages the
> coherence of the fictional world" but rather "it breaks the gamely
> convention"

Surely you can never separate those completely.

In this case, part of the fictional world -- the protagonist -- is
behaving unrealistically: he's ignoring the existence of an item
which, in normal circumstances, he would notice. The way you can tell
he's ignoring it, is by interpreting the words on the screen according
to the common conventions.

Dan Schmidt

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Jul 19, 2002, 12:43:07 PM7/19/02
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lrasz...@loyola.edu (L. Ross Raszewski) writes:

| On 19 Jul 2002 11:31:00 -0400, Dan Schmidt <df...@dfan.org> wrote:
|
| >After playing dozens of IF games, I expect 'search sofa' to reveal
| >everything hidden in the sofa. If it doesn't, then the world is
| >not working as I expect it to [1], and it pulls me out of the game.
| >

| >[1] Roger Giner-Sorolla's original article, which is what I assume
| >people are referring to when they talk about mimesis, states that "a
| >crime against mimesis is any aspect of an IF game that breaks the
| >coherence of its fictional world as a representation of reality."
|
| See, this is the thing. People around here have tended to throw the
| word 'mimesis' around a lot, and do it incorrectly. I felt that in
| this case, 'it hurts mimesis' was used not to mean "it damages the
| coherence of the fictional world" but rather "it breaks the gamely
| convention" -- these aren't the same thing, even if the gamely
| convention is something that aids your personal immersion in the
| story.

Fair enough. But I still believe that for 'search sofa' to not reveal
an object that does turn up if you 'search sofa for pen' damages the
coherence of the fictional world, and so I think that the invocation
of mimesis is well-grounded.

Dan

--
http://www.dfan.org

OKB (not okblacke)

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Jul 19, 2002, 1:14:04 PM7/19/02
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Andrew Plotkin wrote:

> My problem with this is, what does the game do if I type "search sofa
> for the lost sword Excalibur"?
>
> If the game says "No luck, but you found a pen!" then the whole
> exercise is obviously silly. You might as well just accept "search
> sofa".

In this particular example, you, as the player, should be
satisfied, since you've acquired a weapon even more valuable than the
one you sought. :-)

--
--OKB (not okblacke)
"Do not follow where the path may lead. Go, instead, where there is
no path, and leave a trail."
--author unknown

atholbrose

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Jul 19, 2002, 1:20:54 PM7/19/02
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On Fri, 19 Jul 2002 11:11:17 -0400, Georgina Bensley <ge...@duke.edu> wrote:
>2. The thing that you're looking for is so innately hard to find that a
>non-specific search wouldn't turn it up. If we were playing a spy game and
>the room was bugged, it might make sense that you'd have to specifically
>search for bugs on/around/under the sofa in order to find them, because if
>you don't know what you're looking for, you won't know it when you see it.

On the other hand, if you're playing a spy game, it wouldn't be unreasonable
to assume that you, as a spy, have had training of some sort and would be
more likely to notice bugging equipment if you happened to see it, even if
you were searching for something else.

Gregory W. Kulczycki

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Jul 19, 2002, 10:36:37 PM7/19/02
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On Fri, 19 Jul 2002 12:40:45 -0400, Andrew Plotkin wrote:

> Here, L. Ross Raszewski <lrasz...@loyola.edu> wrote:
>> See, this is the thing. People around here have tended to throw the
>> word 'mimesis' around a lot, and do it incorrectly. I felt that in this
>> case, 'it hurts mimesis' was used not to mean "it damages the coherence
>> of the fictional world" but rather "it breaks the gamely convention"
>
> Surely you can never separate those completely.
>
> In this case, part of the fictional world -- the protagonist -- is
> behaving unrealistically: he's ignoring the existence of an item which,
> in normal circumstances, he would notice. The way you can tell he's
> ignoring it, is by interpreting the words on the screen according to the
> common conventions.

[ Minor spoiler for Common Ground...]

In Stephen Granade's game Common Ground, I (as protagonist) was wandering
around waiting for my friend to come pick me up. I went into the kitchen.
There was a table there, so I looked under it. I was't looking for anything
in particular, I just did it out of adventure gaming habit. I got a
response that said something like 'You don't see anything out of the
ordinary.' A little later I was wandering around upstairs and the
narrative said: "Your billfold! You could use more money for tonight. It
better still be in the kitchen where you left it after school."

So I went back to the kitchen, looked around a little and tried looking
under the table again. This time I got something like: 'There's that
stupid billfold. You can't believe you didn't see it the first time you
looked under here.'

This little sidetrack fit the mood of the game perfectly. Here I was this
teenage girl, bored, wandering around aimlessly, checking things out for
no reason in particular, looking under the table cause there was nothing
else to do, but perhaps I even subconsciously knew I left my wallet
around there somewhere. When I remember the wallet, of course I look
under the table again! In real life when I misplace my keys sometimes
I'll look on the coffee table 3 or 4 times before I see the dang things.

Anyway, just thought I'd throw this out as a well done example that fit
the story and reflected real life but does not necessarily agree with
what traditional adventure gamers might expect from the 'search' command.

Cheers,
Greg K.

ems...@mindspring.com

unread,
Jul 19, 2002, 11:39:23 PM7/19/02
to
Andrew Plotkin <erky...@eblong.com> wrote in message news:<ah9am5$ra5$1...@reader3.panix.com>...

> If the game says "You didn't find anything," or even "You didn't find
> any sword", then you're putting the player in a confusing, non-mimetic
> situation. The protagonist knows that he saw a pen, two quarters, and
> the Amulet of Werdna underneath the cushions, but he's not telling
> *you* that. One of the common conventions of IF is that the player
> will at least notice everything the protagonist sees, if it's
> game-relevant -- not just everything he *knows* he needs, but
> everything he might need *later*.

One game that I think did do a convincing job of showing the PC things
selectively while not feeling like it was cheating (in your
unmentioned-amulet-of-werdna way) is Gilles Duchesne's "Nothing More,
Nothing Less." But I think that succeeds for two reasons: first, it's
always fairly clear in the descriptions that there is other Stuff
present which is not at the moment being described because it has no
relevance; and second, the environment (a typical apartment) is so
essentially familiar that one generally knows where to go look for a
given type of thing.

ES

Joao Mendes

unread,
Jul 20, 2002, 7:28:45 AM7/20/02
to
Hello, all, :)

This turned out to be a much more interesting discussion than I ever
thought. :) I have about eight posts I want to reply to, so for simplicity,
I'm just gonna dump everyting here...

I'll begin by clarifying the original setup.

>> The setup is that I have a pen hidden in a sofa. But I do not want a
>> player that goes randomly searching and looking everything to find
>> it. Rather, I want to define a command 'look for'.

The complete setup is that, at some point, it will become obvious that the
player needs a pen. It will also become eventually obvious where the player
might expect to find a pen. What I want is for the player _at that point_
to come to that place and look for it. And I do not want the player to find
it by chance before that. (Yes, I _am_ a newbie author... ;)

The place where the pen is to be found is a neat and rather simply
furnished waiting room, where there hapens to be a couch. But the couch is
coincidental. The pen is what is important.

Where am I coming up with this? Basically, from Shelby's Addendum, by C. A.
McArthy. There was so much stuff that could be found that I eventually just
typed x all, search all, x all in every room. And I really hate that. (Even
though I loved Shelby, basically because the story _rocks_!)

Here, someone is bound to suggest that I disable 'all' for the search verb,
but that doesn't work because there really is only one searcheable thing.
As such, if you go in and type 'search', you'll find the pen. Yuck! And no,
I _don't_ want to create more searcheable stuff in this particular room.

Now to more specific replies:

JJK <jj...@warwick.net> wrote in news:3d37f7ee$1...@news1.warwick.net:

> If whzt you want is for someone to not be able to find something until
> they know what they are looking for, you can hide it amidst clutter
> and clue it by something like "Documents, pens, pencils, garbage are
> scattered about. You examine them briefly, but can't discern any
> meaning. If only you knew exactly what you were looking for. ..

Unfortunately, the place I am thinking of is not clutterable...

Christiane Schwind <c_sc...@gmx.net> wrote in

news:MPG.17a2372a4...@News.CIS.DFN.DE:

> Come to think of it now, I don't like it so much anymore. I see JJK
> has commented on this point already and I agree: it's unnatural and
> spoils mimesis. Common sense tells me that if I "search" a sofa with a
> pen in it, I should be able to find it. The trick would work with a

Yes. The keyword here is _if_ you search the sofa. But a sane person really
wouldn't... I think...

> workbench or a storage area which is cluttered with stuff but not with
> a more or less tidy object like a sofa. I have no idea right now how
> to keep the player from finding the pen in a sofa without knowing what
> he is looking for... You could of course prevent him from searching
> the sofa at all if he doesn't mention the pen ("Why should you mess
> with the sofa? Are you looking for anything in particular?") but then

I like this alternative. I think I'll go with it.

> again, searching an object is such a natural action that I'd probably
> feel a bit annoyed if I couldn't do it.

Really? When was the last time you looked under the cushions in, say, your
doctor's waiting room?

Christos Dimitrakakis <oleth...@oohay.com> wrote in
news:Pine.GSO.4.31.0207191614470.3901-100000@barasson:

> There should be only two reasons to limit the player:
>
> 1. There is an external factor that the player cannot overcome in
> order to peform the action.
> 2. There is an internal factor that the player cannot overcome: i.e.
> The command entered is not in-character with the PC's motives etc

#2 is the crux of the matter, I believe...

> Now, spefically for the search example:
> Imagine that the player is looking for a pen, but in fact there are
> some coins, a lighter and a condom (used) under the cushions.
>
> The player should be able to find these objects, even if he is looking
> for the pen...

Absolutely true. But they won't be there... :) And if the player tries to
search for them, he will either get "the word 'lighter' isn't necessary in
this story" or "what would you need a lighter for?", depending on wether or
not I ever need to put in a lighter...

> The final point I want to make is on design principles. If you want to
> keep the player from accidentally discovering something.... it is bad.
> That suggests that you are following a very linear plot. Why not let

Linear plots are neither bad nor good, they are linear. It's a question of
wether or not they will feel contrived, and that, IMHO, is a matter of
writing skill. One word: Photopia.

> the player discover the object X, even if he is not actively seeking
> it? Are you afraid that the player might put in some non-imaginable
> uses??

Non-sequitur, as the pen will remain with the player for the remainder of
the game, unless he opts to scuttle it...

Georgina Bensley <ge...@duke.edu> wrote in
news:Pine.GSO.4.44.020719...@godzilla4.acpub.duke.edu:

> Well, it's more that it's two separate complaints. Both "I don't like
> that syntax" and "It's not realistic for me to be making the effort of
> searching the sofa and still not be able to find the pen unless I'm
> looking for it specifically."

Actually, it's not realistic to search the sofa at all...

Andrew Plotkin <erky...@eblong.com> wrote in

news:ah9am5$ra5$1...@reader3.panix.com:

> My problem with this is, what does the game do if I type "search sofa
> for the lost sword Excalibur"?

The syntax I was originally looking to implement was simply 'look for pen',
not 'search sofa for pen'. In either case, this will just get you "the word
'lost' is not necessary in this story".

> If the game says "No luck, but you found a pen!" then the whole
> exercise is obviously silly. You might as well just accept "search
> sofa".

Agreed wholeheartedly. (Plus, I like to type 'wholeheartedly'...;)

> If the game says "You didn't find anything," or even "You didn't find
> any sword", then you're putting the player in a confusing, non-mimetic
> situation. The protagonist knows that he saw a pen, two quarters, and
> the Amulet of Werdna underneath the cushions, but he's not telling

Also agreed. But what I want is to say "you didn't search the sofa" or a
variant thereof. I really, really want to avoid the 'search all' syndrome.

> *you* that. One of the common conventions of IF is that the player
> will at least notice everything the protagonist sees, if it's
> game-relevant -- not just everything he *knows* he needs, but
> everything he might need *later*.

Also agreed.

> (And even then, I find it sort of unmimetic and frustrating. I *do*
> flip through encyclopedias, reading entries at random or in order.
> When I was a kid, I did it for hours.)

Yes, but when was the last time you randomly perused sofa cushions?

>> SEARCH JUNK FOR 23-OHM BEDISTOR
> You root through junk for several minutes, picking up bedistors and
> casting them aside, until you find one with the necessary black-red-
> black-purple-grey stripes.

Heh. Did you look this up or do you actually have the resistor color coding
down by heart? ;)

Dan Schmidt <df...@dfan.org> wrote in news:ur8hzb...@dfan.thecia.net:

> Plus, I agree with him. After playing dozens of IF games, I expect


> 'search sofa' to reveal everything hidden in the sofa. If it doesn't,
> then the world is not working as I expect it to [1], and it pulls me out
> of the game.

This is just my problem. After playing an albeit small number of IF games,
I find myself slapping my forehead for forgetting to 'search foo', even
though nowhere was it clued that foo should be searched. I _don't_ want the
players to feel that searching everything is a legitimate way to find
puzzle solutions...

"Lucian P. Smith" <lps...@rice.edu> wrote in
news:ah9f2g$auc$1...@joe.rice.edu:

> The point you want to make in the game is that you want the player to
> realize they need a pen, and then go look for it. *So*, I think the
> correct response is to *move the pen* while the player isn't looking.
> Who's in charge of this universe, anyway?

I don't want to go down that path in this particular instance, for reasons
mentioned above.

In conclusion:

I was trying to find out how to legitimately prevent the user from randomly
typing 'search sofa' at the wrong time. I'm going to go with Christos and
Christiane (similar names thoroughly coincidental). To quote:

> 2. There is an internal factor that the player cannot overcome: i.e.
> The command entered is not in-character with the PC's motives etc

and

> "Why should you mess
> with the sofa? Are you looking for anything in particular?"

I was also trying to assert how legitimate it would be to actually change
the meaning of the search verb. I have decided against that.

I'm sure the above has given even further food for thought. Flames expected
and welcome. :)

Phew. Cheers,

J.

John Colagioia

unread,
Jul 20, 2002, 8:35:50 AM7/20/02
to
Joao Mendes <public...@anywhere.invalid> wrote:
>Hi, :)
>Ok, here's another one for the 'arguable content' bonfire:
>The setup is that I have a pen hidden in a sofa. But I do not want a player
>that goes randomly searching and looking everything to find it. Rather, I
>want to define a command 'look for'. Something like this:

How about a slightly different approach?

Let's say I'm playing "IF: The Home Edition." I'm wandering
my house, picking up anything that's not nailed down, trying
to ask my cat questions about the novel I found on the
coffee table, and trying to figure out which !@#$%^& verb I
need to check my e-mail (the guy who implemented my house
wasn't very good, apparently). I decide, because I'm that
kind of guy, to search the sofa.

How do I probably do this? I might move it, if I'm feeling
all energetic. I'll probably check behind/under the
cushions. Without a specific goal, though, I'm probably
not going to reach down the crevices, or lift the couch and
check inside the lining.

This, I think, is the key. I won't accept a game that
basically tells me, "you don't see anything now, but if you
come back later, maybe this'll change without good reason."
I will, however, naturally accept a (literal) response of,
"A quick search turns up nothing, but without any sort of
goal in mind, you could probably spend days taking the sofa
apart to look for 'clues.'"

Here's the problem, though. Looking for your pen will be
the same kind of effort as, say, looking for some spare
change, which means that you should be reasonably prepared
to accept other small objects as "look forable," with a
"you didn't find any insects, but there's a nifty pen in
here."

*Or*, you could actually fill the couch with useless junk,
and present it to the player whenever he searches for
something else:

] search sofa for change

Whoa! There's a lot of junk down here. No change at
first, but you stop when you find some rusted 'D'
batteries.

[Note the gentle push that (a) searching some more
will be fruitful, and (b) searching at random will not
produce a useful result]

] again

Whoa! There's a lot of junk down here. No change at
first, but you stop when you find a moldy cracker.

] search sofa for pen

Hey, look! There is a pen in there. Neat.

[...]

Jim Aikin

unread,
Jul 20, 2002, 10:26:56 PM7/20/02
to

> I'm sure the above has given even further food for thought. Flames expected
> and welcome. :)


Not a flame, just trying to zoom back and take the long view of this
problem. Seems to me you're trying to (a) create a puzzle and then (b)
control how or when your player solves the puzzle. In my opinion, that's
naughty. IF is inherently nonlinear. It's the nature of the medium that
the player can do things in any allowed order, unless you create a clear
in-game reason (such as a locked door) why the action can't be executed.

If you want to prevent the pen from being available until a certain
point in the game, then put an NPC on the sofa, show him/her writing in
a notebook, and then later have him/her not be there anymore. Or put a
plastic cover on the sofa, and have a neatnik receptionist/nurse rush
out and hit the player with a rolled-up umbrella when he/she tries to
remove the plastic cover. You can turn this into a second puzzle: how to
distract the nurse.

The question remains -- why do you *care* when the player finds the pen?
If it makes no difference to the scenario, then you're jumping through
hoops that you don't need to jump through. If it makes a difference, I
recommend creating an in-game reason, NOT trying to monkey with the verb
syntax.

Speaking for myself, I never type 'search all' or 'take all'. Very
unsportsmanlike. But conversely, if I type 'search sofa', I durn well
expect either (a) to find whatever is in the sofa, or else (b) to get a
clear hint that I need to search again later (perhaps after I've found
the flashlight and the rubber gloves).

--Jim Aikin


Dave

unread,
Jul 21, 2002, 1:26:18 AM7/21/02
to

Perhaps you can't do an adequate job of searching the sofa without taking
the cushions off[1]. The receptionist obviously won't let you do that
when present and will probably call security on you if you try.


[1]

> SEARCH CUSHION

Trying to avoid attracting the receptionists attention, you slip a
hand between the cushions. You find and take a pen. You also feel a
corner of something large and flat, but it won't budge.

> STAND

You are now on your feet.

[Somehow we get rid of the receptionist]

> MOVE CUSHIONS

The cushions of the sofa are now on the floor.

> EXAMINE SOFA

A large manilla envelope is caught between the bottom and back of the
sofa. No wonder you couldn't pull it out earlier.

> GET ENVELOPE

Taken.


--
David Griffith
dgr...@cs.csubak.edu

Joao Mendes

unread,
Jul 21, 2002, 10:46:20 AM7/21/02
to
Hi, :)

"John Colagioia" <JCola...@csi.com> wrote in
news:3d39...@excalibur.gbmtech.net:

> Joao Mendes <public...@anywhere.invalid> wrote:

>>The setup is that I have a pen hidden in a sofa. But I do not want a
>>player that goes randomly searching and looking everything to find it.

> Let's say I'm playing "IF: The Home Edition." I'm wandering

Not applicable to what I'm trying to do. I'm putting the player in an
unfamiliar environment.

> my house, picking up anything that's not nailed down, trying
> to ask my cat questions about the novel I found on the

That's just the thing. You might even do that to your cat, but what about
someone else's' ;)

> coffee table, and trying to figure out which !@#$%^& verb I
> need to check my e-mail (the guy who implemented my house
> wasn't very good, apparently). I decide, because I'm that
> kind of guy, to search the sofa.

Again, it's your sofa. But how many times have you done this while in your
bank, waiting to be called?

> This, I think, is the key. I won't accept a game that
> basically tells me, "you don't see anything now, but if you
> come back later, maybe this'll change without good reason."
> I will, however, naturally accept a (literal) response of,
> "A quick search turns up nothing, but without any sort of
> goal in mind, you could probably spend days taking the sofa
> apart to look for 'clues.'"

Yes, I think this is the key too.

> Here's the problem, though. Looking for your pen will be
> the same kind of effort as, say, looking for some spare
> change, which means that you should be reasonably prepared
> to accept other small objects as "look forable," with a
> "you didn't find any insects, but there's a nifty pen in
> here."

Yes, but the player would have absolutely _no_ reason to look for change
and/or insects, but the pen will be clued. I would have no problem with a
reply like "the word 'change' is not necessary in this story" in that
situation.

> *Or*, you could actually fill the couch with useless junk,
> and present it to the player whenever he searches for
> something else:

Eh... No, there is nothing else in the couch. :)


>] search sofa for change
>
> Whoa! There's a lot of junk down here. No change at
> first, but you stop when you find some rusted 'D'
> batteries.
>
> [Note the gentle push that (a) searching some more
> will be fruitful, and (b) searching at random will not
> produce a useful result]
>
>] again
>
> Whoa! There's a lot of junk down here. No change at
> first, but you stop when you find a moldy cracker.
>
>] search sofa for pen
>
> Hey, look! There is a pen in there. Neat.

I do like this little exchange, though, and I might use it in a different
setup, sometime.:)

Cheers,

J.

Joao Mendes

unread,
Jul 21, 2002, 10:57:28 AM7/21/02
to
Hullo, :)

Jim Aikin <kill_spammers@kill_spammers.org> wrote in
news:3D3A1C0C.9020307@kill_spammers.org:

> Not a flame, just trying to zoom back and take the long view of this
> problem. Seems to me you're trying to (a) create a puzzle and then (b)
> control how or when your player solves the puzzle. In my opinion,

Actually, not when. Just how.

> that's naughty. IF is inherently nonlinear. It's the nature of the

Photopia. Linearity and noninearity are only as good or bad as your writing
skill will allow.

> medium that the player can do things in any allowed order, unless you
> create a clear in-game reason (such as a locked door) why the action
> can't be executed.

"It's not your sofa. You wouldn't want to do that unless you're looking for
something specific." is, I hope, an in-game reason... :)

> If you want to prevent the pen from being available until a certain
> point in the game, then put an NPC on the sofa, show him/her writing
> in a notebook, and then later have him/her not be there anymore. Or

Hmm... Like someone else said, the player may be restarting the game and
may already know that there is a pen in there and that it will be needed.
As such, I don't want to prevent the pen from being available. I just want
to prevent random searching.

> The question remains -- why do you *care* when the player finds the

I don't. But I do care *how*.

> pen? If it makes no difference to the scenario, then you're jumping
> through hoops that you don't need to jump through. If it makes a
> difference, I recommend creating an in-game reason, NOT trying to
> monkey with the verb syntax.

This is true. But how would you distinguish between a random searcher and a
player that is actually trying to find a pen? And note that, since I don't
care about *when*, I _don't_ want to make the player actually go and find
the pen clue before successfully searching the sofa.

> Speaking for myself, I never type 'search all' or 'take all'. Very

Still, that's how I eventually solved Shelby's Addendum...

> unsportsmanlike. But conversely, if I type 'search sofa', I durn well
> expect either (a) to find whatever is in the sofa, or else (b) to get
> a clear hint that I need to search again later (perhaps after I've

In your opinion, would the in-game reason above be a good enough hint?

Cheers,

J.

Bennett Standeven

unread,
Jul 21, 2002, 2:35:46 PM7/21/02
to
Joao Mendes <public...@anywhere.invalid> wrote in message news:<Xns92517F7CB755Aj...@194.65.14.158>...

> >
> > The final point I want to make is on design principles. If you want to
> > keep the player from accidentally discovering something.... it is bad.
> > That suggests that you are following a very linear plot. Why not let
>
> Linear plots are neither bad nor good, they are linear. It's a question of
> wether or not they will feel contrived, and that, IMHO, is a matter of
> writing skill. One word: Photopia.
>
> > the player discover the object X, even if he is not actively seeking
> > it? Are you afraid that the player might put in some non-imaginable
> > uses??
>
> Non-sequitur, as the pen will remain with the player for the remainder of
> the game, unless he opts to scuttle it...
>

For another data point, consider Serpent Isle, an unusally linear
game:

Towards the end of the game, you learn that a pirate has hidden his
treasure in a hollow tree stump in a particular forest. However, the
forest is accessible from the beginning of the game, and the game
tends to reward searching every hollow tree stump in sight; thus there
is a good chance that the player will have found the treasure already,
and forgotten about it. (At least, that's what happened to me.)
Fortunately, it doesn't mess things up too badly to have the treasure
ahead of schedule, IIRC.

Jayzee

unread,
Jul 21, 2002, 7:52:16 PM7/21/02
to
On Fri, 19 Jul 2002 08:29:14 +0000 (UTC), Joao Mendes
<public...@anywhere.invalid> wrote:

If I were allowed to use "Search for Pen" in a game, I would assume
(unless the ABOUT said differently, of course) that
search for pen = search all the objects in the current room/location
for the pen.
This would be good - it cuts down on the player having to tediously
type "search armchair" "search cupboard" etc, which is just boring. I
would also expect this search to fail to mention any *other* objects
hidden in the room (okay maybe scene setting stuff like "you find a
lot of dust, and a half-sucked boiled sweet, but no <object>").
In other words this shifts the puzzle from knowing *where* to look, to
knowing *what* to look for. Neat. I like it.

Jayzee

JJK

unread,
Jul 21, 2002, 11:02:39 PM7/21/02
to
L. Ross Raszewski wrote:

> See, this is the thing. People around here have tended to throw the
> word 'mimesis' around a lot, and do it incorrectly. I felt that in
> this case, 'it hurts mimesis' was used not to mean "it damages the
> coherence of the fictional world" but rather "it breaks the gamely
> convention" -- these aren't the same thing, even if the gamely
> convention is something that aids your personal immersion in the
> story. There's a meaningful difference between "this makes the game
> simulate a coherent world less well" and "this steps outside expected
> IF practice."

Although I agree with the intent of your last sentence, I can assure you
I meant what I said, that when I have to perform an arbitrary and
unexpected action in order to accomplish what I consider a
straightforward task, it pulls me out of the game world, and makes me
all too aware that there was an author typing away at a keyboard.

Of course, I don't pretend to be the official keeper of the word
_mimesis_, but that seems to match my understanding of the word, and yours.

-Jim

L. Ross Raszewski

unread,
Jul 21, 2002, 11:18:05 PM7/21/02
to
On Sun, 21 Jul 2002 23:02:39 -0400, JJK <jj...@warwick.net> wrote:
>Although I agree with the intent of your last sentence, I can assure you
> I meant what I said, that when I have to perform an arbitrary and
>unexpected action in order to accomplish what I consider a
>straightforward task, it pulls me out of the game world, and makes me
>all too aware that there was an author typing away at a keyboard.
>

Probably. I took the complaint to be more like "I don't expect IF to
work like this" instead of "I don't expect life to work like this"

(ANd indeed, this is because I do find in real life that if I search
my couch, I typically won't find anything worth noting, unless I'm
looking for something in particular. But, of course, I think this is
one niggle of real life that doesn't translate well to the
sensory-deprived world of IF)

JJK

unread,
Jul 21, 2002, 11:22:49 PM7/21/02
to
This did turn out to be an interesting topic. Thanks for bringing it up.

Two things:
You mentioned Photopia twice as a _defense_ of linearity. But Photopia
is essentially puzzleless. I don't think that is entirely unrelated to
its success.

I also get the impression there is something you are not telling us,
perhaps because you don't want to give away too much about a WIP. But
you mentioned at least twice that it wouldn't be _natural_ for the
portagonist to search the sofa at that point. It is entirely acceptable
to me to say something like _You are too depressed to go prying around
at this time_ or _Pay attention to the flaming head on the desk!_ If
that answer is used for a bunch of non-sequitar type actions, it
preserves the ability to allow such investigations at a later date, and
doesn't give anything away.

On the other hand, most people playing your game will be IF veterans,
and many will search any dang thing they come across, and many of those
will be really ticked off when you first told them there was nothing
there and later said there was, assuming the person stuck around long
enough to try again. If this were a comp game, and it happened in the
first few scenes, I'm guessing quite a number would give it a 4 and move
on to the next game on the list at that point.

-Jim

Jim Aikin

unread,
Jul 22, 2002, 1:08:23 AM7/22/02
to

> Photopia. Linearity and noninearity are only as good or bad as your
writing
> skill will allow.

Photopia always gets trotted out in this type of discussion. That's an
isolated case. IF is _inherently_ nonlinear, Photopia notwithstanding.
Photopia is not a good example of IF, it's just a story that happens to
use IF as a delivery medium. And writing skill has nothing to do with
linearity/nonlinearity.

> "It's not your sofa. You wouldn't want to do that unless you're
looking for
> something specific." is, I hope, an in-game reason... :)

> In your opinion, would the in-game reason above be a good enough hint?

Since you asked, no. That isn't an in-game reason. It's the parser
bopping the player on the head with a rolled-up newspaper and refusing
to cooperate with a perfectly reasonable request.

For an example of in-game reasons, look at Varicella. There are numerous
things that Varicella the character won't do because they're unseemly.
If you can establish a player character so strongly that it's plausible
he has a phobia about couches or something, then it's an in-game reason.
Otherwise, it's arbitrary.

--JA

Joao Mendes

unread,
Jul 22, 2002, 1:20:50 AM7/22/02
to
Hey, :)

JJK <jj...@warwick.net> wrote in news:3d3b7a89$1...@news1.warwick.net:

> This did turn out to be an interesting topic. Thanks for bringing it up.

And I never did expected it, too. :) Thxs.

> You mentioned Photopia twice as a _defense_ of linearity. But Photopia
> is essentially puzzleless. I don't think that is entirely unrelated to
> its success.

Granted. I am aiming for a game whose puzzleness varies, with a prologue
that feels linear and puzzleless, a wide, highly non-linear mid-game, and
an end-game... undecided, at this point. :) Probably back to linear and
puzzleless.

The setup in question is for the prologue.

> I also get the impression there is something you are not telling us,
> perhaps because you don't want to give away too much about a WIP. But

Well, I don't want to spoil my own game. :) Then again, if you guys feel
like more info would help to shed light, I will provide.

> you mentioned at least twice that it wouldn't be _natural_ for the
> portagonist to search the sofa at that point. It is entirely acceptable

I really feel that it would be unnatural for _anyone_ to go searching any
couch at random, unless they are actually looking for something...

> to me to say something like _You are too depressed to go prying around
> at this time_ or _Pay attention to the flaming head on the desk!_ If

None of these apply. Actually, the whole situation is much more bland. It's
a visitor's room. It has a carpet, a couch and some chairs. That's it...

> that answer is used for a bunch of non-sequitar type actions, it
> preserves the ability to allow such investigations at a later date, and
> doesn't give anything away.
>
> On the other hand, most people playing your game will be IF veterans,
> and many will search any dang thing they come across, and many of those

And this is why I get stumped all too often playing IF. As a person, I
_don't_ have a habit of searching 'any dang thing', and... well, I don't
want to shout mimesis, but... you get the picture... ;)

> will be really ticked off when you first told them there was nothing
> there and later said there was, assuming the person stuck around long

Yes, I have gathered as much. The trick here is to show the search action
as not having been performed at all, rather than as having had no result.

> enough to try again. If this were a comp game, and it happened in the
> first few scenes, I'm guessing quite a number would give it a 4 and move
> on to the next game on the list at that point.

Hmm... A comp game... Well, I haven't decided on that, yet... Mainly
because I have _no_ clue as to how long it will reasonably take to solve
the game, it being my first one and all...

Cheers,

J.

Joao Mendes

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Jul 22, 2002, 6:57:43 AM7/22/02
to
Hello, :)

Jim Aikin <kill_spammers@kill_spammers.org> wrote in

news:3D3B9364.9080502@kill_spammers.org:

> > Photopia

> Photopia always gets trotted out in this type of discussion. That's an
> isolated case. IF is _inherently_ nonlinear, Photopia notwithstanding.

In retrospect, I am inclined to agree with you that my argument was
inadequate...

> > "It's not your sofa. You wouldn't want to do that unless you're
> > looking for something specific."

> > In your opinion, would the in-game reason above be a good enough hint?

> Since you asked, no. That isn't an in-game reason. It's the parser

<snip>


> If you can establish a player character so strongly that it's plausible
> he has a phobia about couches or something, then it's an in-game reason.

Well, I was trying to word it so that it shows that random shuffling
through other people's belongings is disrespectful, even if the PC is alone
and can't possibly be caught. Suggestions on better wordings would be
appreciated. (And no, I don't want to create an extra puzzle that someone
has to be distracted, and I don't want to have someone sitting on the sofa
that later misteriously goes away. This is not a timing problem am I
having.)

Unless, of course, you contend that a phobia is a valid in-game reason
while respect is not, in which case, we'll have to agree to disagree...
Although I would ask you why...:)

Note: 'Yes, but if [the PC] respects [them] enough to not search [the sofa]
at first, why would he later look for the pen there at all?' Because: a) he
will have a clear purpuose in mind, strong enough to override this respect
(after all, it isn't a phobia...;); and b) he will have been clued to do so
(by one of [them], even...)

There, I've spilled a bit of spoilers in there... No biggie, I suppose. :)

Cheers,

J.

John Colagioia

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Jul 22, 2002, 9:34:38 AM7/22/02
to
Joao Mendes <public...@anywhere.invalid> wrote:
>Hi, :)
>"John Colagioia" <JCola...@csi.com> wrote in
>news:3d39...@excalibur.gbmtech.net:
>> Joao Mendes <public...@anywhere.invalid> wrote:
>>>The setup is that I have a pen hidden in a sofa. But I do not want a
>>>player that goes randomly searching and looking everything to find it.
>> Let's say I'm playing "IF: The Home Edition." I'm wandering
>Not applicable to what I'm trying to do. I'm putting the player in an
>unfamiliar environment.

I meant the mindset; move me to the doctor's office, the
local high school, or a friend's house.

>> my house, picking up anything that's not nailed down, trying
>> to ask my cat questions about the novel I found on the
>That's just the thing. You might even do that to your cat, but what about
>someone else's' ;)

Again, I meant that I'm following the "standard IFer"
mindset, where you show everything you've found to
anything that looks remotely animate.

But, to answer your question, if a cat shows some
interest in something I have, I will present it and
ask the cat what it thinks; the cat probably won't
understand English, but a gentle voice goes a pretty
long way with animals...

>> coffee table, and trying to figure out which !@#$%^& verb I
>> need to check my e-mail (the guy who implemented my house
>> wasn't very good, apparently). I decide, because I'm that
>> kind of guy, to search the sofa.
>Again, it's your sofa. But how many times have you done this while in your
>bank, waiting to be called?

Honestly? I don't bother to search *my* sofa, either,
unless I've got something to look for. And if I'm on
someone else's sofa, and have something to look for
(which I suspect to be in the sofa), I'll *probably* be
nice and not make a big deal (tossing cushions across
the room), but I may stoop to the floor and look under
those same cushions.

Heck, in the bank, I'd probably go all out; I have
little respect for my local bankers...

Now, I see your point. However, my preference is for a
game to let me make a fool out of myself and be a jerk,
rather than to be Jiminy Cricket ("my conscience," for
anyone missing the reference) as well as the narrator.
If another *character* stops me, or if I go through with
the action, and there are *consequences*, that's fine--
wonderful, even.

But I've never liked, to move to a different, though
similar, example, "Violence isn't the answer to this
one," when violence certainly *could* darn well be an
answer.

[...]


>Yes, but the player would have absolutely _no_ reason to look for change
>and/or insects, but the pen will be clued. I would have no problem with a
>reply like "the word 'change' is not necessary in this story" in that
>situation.

If there's a sofa, there's a reason to look for change.
It's an unspoken rule of the universe...like lost socks
in the dryer.

>> *Or*, you could actually fill the couch with useless junk,
>> and present it to the player whenever he searches for
>> something else:
>Eh... No, there is nothing else in the couch. :)

They don't have to be actual "things," but just names of
things that get discarded immediately.

I was actually only being semi-serious. My point is that
stopping the player's action (in my very biased opinion)
is OK at the level of the game world ("The receptionist
asks you what the hell you're doing to the sofa, and
threatens to call security"), acceptable at the level of
the parser ("I don't know the word 'search'"), but an
awful thing to do at the "metaphysical" level ("You're
not that kind of person").

This last stinks of "here, just type in the commands in
this walkthrough, and save us both some trouble." While
I'm sure it can be done well, I haven't seen it.

And, yes, before you ask, I've played "Photopia." I'll
probably make enemies (from those darn Imperial IFers, of
course) by saying this, but I didn't really care for it;
I found it more...what's the word I'm looking for? I
found it to be more sentimental than emotional, and more
manipulative than interactive. It also came off as (not
to be confused with it being this way) pretentiously
"artsy," to me. It's something that worked OK as an
experiment, but not something I'd like to see consistently
emulated in general.

[Note, incidentally, that I think this is the only bit of
Mr. Cadre's work that I've disliked.]

[...]


>I do like this little exchange, though, and I might use it in a different
>setup, sometime.:)

Heh. It's all yours...

Will Grzanich

unread,
Jul 22, 2002, 2:46:46 PM7/22/02
to
Hi, Joao!

Joao Mendes <public...@anywhere.invalid> wrote in message news:<Xns92537A36998FEj...@194.65.14.158>...

[snip]

> Well, I was trying to word it so that it shows that random shuffling
> through other people's belongings is disrespectful, even if the PC is alone
> and can't possibly be caught. Suggestions on better wordings would be
> appreciated. (And no, I don't want to create an extra puzzle that someone
> has to be distracted, and I don't want to have someone sitting on the sofa
> that later misteriously goes away. This is not a timing problem am I
> having.)

[snip]

> Note: 'Yes, but if [the PC] respects [them] enough to not search [the sofa]
> at first, why would he later look for the pen there at all?' Because: a) he
> will have a clear purpuose in mind, strong enough to override this respect
> (after all, it isn't a phobia...;); and b) he will have been clued to do so
> (by one of [them], even...)

Okay, here's what I'd suggest.

> SEARCH SOFA
You've got better things to do than go nosing through other people's
furniture right now.

Something like that - basically a "You can't do that" message with a
subtle hint that the command might work later on. Then, at some point
in the game, the player finds out he needs a pen, and the game sets a
flag somewhere. When the player comes back to the sofa...

> SEARCH SOFA
You pull the cushions off the sofa to reveal a ball-point pen.
Perfect!

Or something like that. :) This seems a bit more natural and less
irritating than requiring the player to type "SEARCH SOFA FOR PEN,"
given that it wouldn't diverge from IF convention and you wouldn't
have to worry about the "SEARCH SOFA FOR SOME-NON-PEN-OBJECT" problem.

(Another option that just occurred to me would be to have a patient
sitting on the sofa who doesn't get up and move until the player needs
a pen. That might be too obvious, though, or just inappropriate for
your scenario.)

Just my two cents,

-Will

Joao Mendes

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Jul 22, 2002, 7:06:03 PM7/22/02
to
Hey, :)

grza...@excite.com (Will Grzanich) wrote in
news:6907bfc.02072...@posting.google.com:

> > SEARCH SOFA
> You've got better things to do than go nosing through other people's
> furniture right now.

Niceness. Thanks.

> Something like that - basically a "You can't do that" message with a
> subtle hint that the command might work later on. Then, at some point
> in the game, the player finds out he needs a pen, and the game sets a
> flag somewhere. When the player comes back to the sofa...
>
> > SEARCH SOFA
> You pull the cushions off the sofa to reveal a ball-point pen.

Eh... No. That would make this a timing problem, which, as someone else
suggested, is rather a bore if, say, you're restarting and you already know
you'll need the pen.

My whole purpuose with this whole exchange was to figure out a legitimate
way of shifting to focus from _where_ to look to what to look _for_.
Unfortunately, many people seem to be against the idea, although a few did
comment that it is an interesting concept.

> Or something like that. :) This seems a bit more natural and less
> irritating than requiring the player to type "SEARCH SOFA FOR PEN,"
> given that it wouldn't diverge from IF convention and you wouldn't
> have to worry about the "SEARCH SOFA FOR SOME-NON-PEN-OBJECT" problem.

Agreed. My preferred syntax is simply 'look for pen', requiring the player
to be in the correct location (which will be clued), but not requiring that
the player necessarily identify the actual concealment spot.

If this proves to be too easy, I might then go into the more contrived
(IMHO) syntax of 'look for pen in sofa'. To me, though, this option is more
guess-the-verby than the previous one...

Cheers,

J.

Daniel Barkalow

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Jul 23, 2002, 2:06:53 AM7/23/02
to
On Sat, 20 Jul 2002, Joao Mendes wrote:

> The complete setup is that, at some point, it will become obvious that the
> player needs a pen. It will also become eventually obvious where the player
> might expect to find a pen. What I want is for the player _at that point_
> to come to that place and look for it. And I do not want the player to find
> it by chance before that. (Yes, I _am_ a newbie author... ;)
>
> The place where the pen is to be found is a neat and rather simply
> furnished waiting room, where there hapens to be a couch. But the couch is
> coincidental. The pen is what is important.

SEARCH SOFA

There is nothing on the sofa.

...

(it becomes obvious that there's a pen under the cushions)

SEARCH SOFA (or any of the other things mentioned so far)

Under the cushions you find the pen.

Something in the narrative in the middle has made the fact that there's
something worthwhile under the cushions. Up to that point, politeness
dictates that the PC, when searching the sofa, will not remove the
cushions; afterward, the PC knows better. It's not a matter of the player
typing something different, it's a matter of trying it with information
the PC doesn't get until later.

I think you'll be fine if you make it clear that the PC didn't actually
lift up the cushions the first time; if the player wants to lift the
cushions, say it wouldn't be in character. That way, when the PC finds out
there's an important pen in the sofa, the player doesn't think the sofa
has already been searched in a way which would have revealed the pen.

-Iabervon
*This .sig unintentionally changed*

Craig Thomson

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Jul 23, 2002, 3:54:09 AM7/23/02
to

On Sun, 21 Jul 2002 14:46:20 +0000 (UTC), Joao Mendes
<public...@anywhere.invalid> wrote:

>> my house, picking up anything that's not nailed down, trying
>> to ask my cat questions about the novel I found on the
>
>That's just the thing. You might even do that to your cat, but what about
>someone else's' ;)

This seems to be one of the key points. You are creating the games
with the thought of what *you* would do, but people will play the game
in the way that *they* play the game.

Based on many of the responses here, if you do create your game the
way you say you will, many of the players will not enjoy it and may
get annoyed at it,

For all that it is *your* game, so you may create it how you will.

Craig

Sean T Barrett

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Jul 23, 2002, 3:56:08 AM7/23/02
to
L. Ross Raszewski wrote:
> See, this is the thing. People around here have tended to throw the
> word 'mimesis' around a lot, and do it incorrectly.

Well, sure. It's an invented jargon word that does not
seem to map very well onto the problem domain, in my mind,
and certainly different people seem to think it means
different things.

Most of the time people want to use it, they could just
say "this breaks immersion"--which of course only talks
about the effect on the player without explaining *why*--but
for some reason people seem to love their 'mimesis', although
I rarely if ever see it used in a context where what it
communicates beyond "this breaks immersion" is important.

In article <3d3b75d0$1...@news1.warwick.net>, JJK <jj...@warwick.net> wrote:
>Although I agree with the intent of your last sentence, I can assure you
>I meant what I said, that when I have to perform an arbitrary and
>unexpected action in order to accomplish what I consider a
>straightforward task, it pulls me out of the game world, and makes me
>all too aware that there was an author typing away at a keyboard.
>
>Of course, I don't pretend to be the official keeper of the word
>_mimesis_, but that seems to match my understanding of the word, and yours.

"It pulls me out of the game world and makes me all too aware that
there was an author typing away at a keyboard" is pretty much a
textbook definition of 'breaking immersion'. 'Immersion' being
the interactive (or VR) equivalent to 'suspension of disbelief'.

SeanB

Joao Mendes

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Jul 23, 2002, 4:54:44 AM7/23/02
to
Hi, :)

Craig Thomson <cr...@spam.free> wrote in
news:tl2qju04e3nprkga3...@4ax.com:

> On Sun, 21 Jul 2002 14:46:20 +0000 (UTC), Joao Mendes
> <public...@anywhere.invalid> wrote:

>>That's just the thing. You might even do that to your cat, but what
>>about someone else's' ;)

> This seems to be one of the key points. You are creating the games
> with the thought of what *you* would do, but people will play the game
> in the way that *they* play the game.

I see your point and it his valid. However, I would like to point out that
your asterisks may be on the wrong words. Here is my revision:

This seems to be one of the key points. You are creating the games

with the thought of what you *would do*, but people will play the game
in the way that they *play the game*.

And indeed, this, to me, is the main point. Then again, maybe I'm just
trying to be oversimulationist... Or maybe, this usage is not even
appropriate for this word... :/

> Based on many of the responses here, if you do create your game the
> way you say you will, many of the players will not enjoy it and may
> get annoyed at it,

Hence this discussion. :)

> For all that it is *your* game, so you may create it how you will.

Ultimately, that may well be true, but since this will be my first major
piece of IF (not totally first anymore [1]), I wanted to make sure I
collected as many thoughts as are available out there...

Cheers,

J.

[1] I recently discovered a MSWord file containing a short story I wrote in
late high-school, early college (I forget). It's the only decent story I
ever wrote and I have always been fond of it. Finding the file suddenly
made me want to see if I could rewrite it as IF. Hopefully, it won't suck.
:) I have given this project priority over my major WIP.

Michel Nizette

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Jul 24, 2002, 8:44:58 AM7/24/02
to
Joao Mendes wrote:

> > If you want to prevent the pen from being available until a certain
> > point in the game, then put an NPC on the sofa, show him/her writing
> > in a notebook, and then later have him/her not be there anymore. Or
>
> Hmm... Like someone else said, the player may be restarting the game and
> may already know that there is a pen in there and that it will be needed.
> As such, I don't want to prevent the pen from being available. I just want
> to prevent random searching.

Perhaps an NPC sitting on the sofa won't be reluctant to stand up and let the
PC search the sofa if asked to. But the PC him/herself might hesitate to
disturb the NPC without any clear idea of what to search for.

This way, the pen is accessible all the time, yet the reason for the parser's
refusal to perform a random search is stronger than the simple fact that you
wouldn't bother to do it in real life.

--Michel

John W. Kennedy

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Jul 23, 2002, 11:29:49 PM7/23/02
to
Sean T Barrett wrote:
> L. Ross Raszewski wrote:
>
>>See, this is the thing. People around here have tended to throw the
>>word 'mimesis' around a lot, and do it incorrectly.
>
>
> Well, sure. It's an invented jargon word

No it isn't.

--
John W. Kennedy
Read the remains of Shakespeare's lost play, now annotated!
http://pws.prserv.net/jwkennedy/Double%20Falshood.html

Jonathan Penton

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Jul 24, 2002, 6:21:41 PM7/24/02
to
"John W. Kennedy" <jwk...@attglobal.net> wrote in message
news:3D3E1F2D...@attglobal.net...

> Sean T Barrett wrote:
> > L. Ross Raszewski wrote:
> >
> >>See, this is the thing. People around here have tended to throw the
> >>word 'mimesis' around a lot, and do it incorrectly.
> >
> >
> > Well, sure. It's an invented jargon word
>
> No it isn't.

All words are invented, and when "jargon" is used as an adjective (a
questionable practice) its meaning surely becomes subjective.

--
Jonathan Penton
http://www.unlikelystories.org

Graham Holden

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Jul 30, 2002, 6:21:22 AM7/30/02
to
On Fri, 19 Jul 2002 15:19:33 +0000 (UTC), Andrew Plotkin
<erky...@eblong.com> wrote:

<pedantic snip>

>
>> SEARCH JUNK FOR 23-OHM BEDISTOR
>You root through junk for several minutes, picking up bedistors and
>casting them aside, until you find one with the necessary black-red-
>black-purple-grey stripes.

>-------------
>

This would of course be "the necessary red-orange-black stripes" (plus
maybe another band for the tolerance (gold=5%)).

There again, 23 ohms isn't a standard resistor value -- you'd have to
settle for 22 ohms (red-red-black) unless you found a speciality
source or got them custom made.

(I know, us one-time electronic engineers are sad...)


Getting a bit more on-topic and adding my tuppence-worth:

I'm quite open to the approach:

>search sofa
At first glance, the sofa hides nothing.

>search sofa for pen
Aha! You find a pen among the sofa'a cushions

providing (as others have noted):

a. There is some reasonable clue that while "search sofa" doesn't
work, something else might.

b. If there *were* other (significant) bits stuck down the sofa,
these should almost certainly be discovered (unless there was a
*VERY* good reason not to -- the 'bug' example might just be
enough). Probably the best/easiest is to ensure there's never too
much in one sofa.

Christos Dimitrakakis <oleth...@oohay.com> wrote:

>The final point I want to make is on design principles. If you want to
>keep the player from accidentally discovering something.... it is bad.

>That suggests that you are following a very linear plot. Why not let the


>player discover the object X, even if he is not actively seeking it? Are
>you afraid that the player might put in some non-imaginable uses??

I can see both sides of this argument (should you not let a player
find something 'by accident'). Of course, as with much of this (and
other discussions) there's rarely a clear-cut black/white yes/no
answer; a lot of it depends on the situation.

On one hand; yes, not allowing the player to find "object-to-solve-
puzzle-N" until they've solved "puzzle N-1" is going to lead to a very
linear "get this. do that. get the other. do something else" story.

Conversely, I feel something lacking in a game where you stumble
across all sorts of weird objects, that are "obviously-going-to-have-
a-use-later". You stuff your sack-object full off them, and when you
run into the right situation, you just whip it out and use it. To
some extent you can get around this by not leaving objects around too
early, but then you're in danger of getting into the very linear model
above.

Possibly the key phrase above is "weird objects". For weird objects,
that probably only have one use, you've either got to find it first,
and later come across where you use it; or you come across the "I
really need an 'Acme(TM) Flange Alignment Tool' situation", then
stumble across the tool soon after.

For more common objects, some compromise between the two could work:

>look
Your in your office; the desk is strewn with the normal detritus of
your working life.

>search desk
You pull out your diary that you left behind last night, but there's
nothing else special of note.

...
Later in the story (in a place that probably shouldn't be too far
away), you realise you need a pen for some reason. One possible
solution would be:
...

You return to your office and its messy desk.

>search desk for pen
You rummage around your top drawer and amongst all the other junk, you
extract that cheap promotional pen for WonderGlaze Windows that you
got from the trade-show last month.

In this case, if the player had typed "search desk for pen" the first
time, they should still get the pen (it's a reasonable action to take,
even if you don't know you will need it later, so it doesn't (to me)
heavily break the "you [the avatar] can't know to do this even though
the player [from a previous playing] knows" boundary). However, it
has the advantage that the player isn't just going on a stuff-the-sack
mission: they have to (at least the first time) realise that they
need a pen, then think 'where can I get a pen form -- oh yes, there'll
be one in my office desk'.

Of course, it would be quite reasonable to also have a corner shop
outside the office that (among other things) sells pens. But then the
player would have to have found that 50p piece left in the coin-reject
tray of the coffee machine...

Similarly, from another post, I too would dislike something like:

>search sofa
You don't find anything.

>look under cushions
You find a pen.

Except in vary rare cases (such as the 'bug' example mentioned), this
would at best be very inconvenient for the player (having to
explicitly list every nook and cranny to search in -- surely the
avatar has some common-sense), and usually very un-intuitive -- if
"search sofa" is accepted as above, many players will not even think
to try looking under the cushions, since they would assume this had
been included in the search.

One solution (not immensely elegant, but I think preferable to the
above two exchanges) would be to not let the search command work (or
at least not let it appear to work) -- respond with something that
boils down to "You'll have to tell me how".

I personally don't often use "search", at least as a first resort,
because of this: many authors (fairly reasonably) take the view that
"search xxx" is too powerful a command (cf. "use xxx"). Of course, in
the case of a sofa, it's probably unreasonable to not let the search
command work (but, it's less unreasonable than to let the player
*think* it worked as above).

I think one of the things I'm trying to say (as I feel is the case in
many discussions on r.a.i-f) is that there isn't really a "right" or
"wrong" answer. The trick is to decide what's appropriate in
different circumstances -- when it's reasonable, "search/look under"
should both work (as in the sofa). When it's not appropriate -- as
the author, you're effectively saying "you don't think you can solve
this that easily" -- the trick is to paraphrase this in a believable
way ("There are too many drawers, compartments and shelves in the
electronic component stores to just start searching at random."). Of
course, if you [the author] can't come up with a believable reason why
the player *can't* just type "search xxx"; you're possibly just being
awkward for the sake of it, and should probably redesign the puzzle.

This of course is all part of the fun of being an IF author (speaking
as someone who hasn't yet got as far as a WIP and is only fleshing out
some ideas).

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


Regards,
Graham Holden

To reply by email, replace DASH and DOT as appropriate.

Matthew Russotto

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Jul 30, 2002, 11:25:51 AM7/30/02
to
In article <pflcku4v32ri2fuv0...@4ax.com>,

Graham Holden <gDASH...@dirconDOTco.uk> wrote:
>On Fri, 19 Jul 2002 15:19:33 +0000 (UTC), Andrew Plotkin
><erky...@eblong.com> wrote:
>
><pedantic snip>
>
>>
>>> SEARCH JUNK FOR 23-OHM BEDISTOR
>>You root through junk for several minutes, picking up bedistors and
>>casting them aside, until you find one with the necessary black-red-
>>black-purple-grey stripes.
>>-------------
>>
>
>This would of course be "the necessary red-orange-black stripes" (plus
>maybe another band for the tolerance (gold=5%)).

It's a bedistor, not a resistor. Totally different color scheme.

>There again, 23 ohms isn't a standard resistor value -- you'd have to
>settle for 22 ohms (red-red-black) unless you found a speciality
>source or got them custom made.

A web search reveals that 23 ohm resistors are standard, though perhaps
not ordinary carbon film resistors. 23 ohm bedistors are probably
reasonably common, or you wouldn't find them in a junk pile.

--
Matthew T. Russotto mrus...@speakeasy.net
=====
Every time you buy a CD, a programmer is kicked in the teeth.
Every time you buy or rent a DVD, a programmer is kicked where it counts.
Every time they kick a programmer, 1000 users are kicked too, and harder.
A proposed US law called the CBDTPA would ban the PC as we know it.
This is not a joke, not an exaggeration. This is real.
http://www.cryptome.org/broadbandits.htm

Andrew Plotkin

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Jul 30, 2002, 12:42:32 PM7/30/02
to
Here, Graham Holden <gDASH...@dircondotco.uk> wrote:
> On Fri, 19 Jul 2002 15:19:33 +0000 (UTC), Andrew Plotkin
> <erky...@eblong.com> wrote:

> <pedantic snip>

>>
>>> SEARCH JUNK FOR 23-OHM BEDISTOR
>>You root through junk for several minutes, picking up bedistors and
>>casting them aside, until you find one with the necessary black-red-
>>black-purple-grey stripes.

> This would of course be "the necessary red-orange-black stripes" (plus


> maybe another band for the tolerance (gold=5%)).

> There again, 23 ohms isn't a standard resistor value -- you'd have to
> settle for 22 ohms (red-red-black) unless you found a speciality
> source or got them custom made.

Sigh. A veritable Gondwanaland of Infocom in-jokes and references,
cruelly torn apart.

Carl Muckenhoupt

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Aug 2, 2002, 4:15:17 PM8/2/02
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In article <3d39...@excalibur.gbmtech.net>, JCola...@csi.com says...

>
> *Or*, you could actually fill the couch with useless junk,
> and present it to the player whenever he searches for
> something else:

This is essentially how the Infocom mysteries treated the SEARCH command.
SEARCH <noun> would turn up one hidden item at a time, but the player
would have no control over what turned up. SEARCH <noun> FOR <noun>
would limit the search.

In this model, you would eventually get the pen just by typing SEARCH
SOFA repeatedly, so it wouldn't make much difference to gameplay unless
there were timed events. As was, of course, the case in Infocom's
mysteries.

Joao Mendes

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Aug 2, 2002, 11:54:46 PM8/2/02
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Hey, :)

Carl Muckenhoupt <ca...@wurb.com> wrote in
news:MPG.17b4b2618...@News.CIS.DFN.DE:

> This is essentially how the Infocom mysteries treated the SEARCH
> command. SEARCH <noun> would turn up one hidden item at a time, but
> the player would have no control over what turned up. SEARCH <noun>
> FOR <noun> would limit the search.

Personally, I dislike this. I consider it to be an example of AGAIN abuse,
of which more was spoken on another thread.

I don't mind so much if a search turns up everything important but you have
to search again if you want to solve optionals. However, having to search
everything to exhaustion leads to an automatic "gee, I found stuff... let's
search again", which is only a tad less agravating than "gee, an
implemented fixture... let's search it".

Basically, I don't like to assume that players have automated reactions...
But I have noticed that my position is far from unanimous... :)

Cheers,

J.

John Colagioia

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Aug 3, 2002, 5:24:30 PM8/3/02
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Joao Mendes <public...@anywhere.invalid> wrote:
>Hey, :)
>Carl Muckenhoupt <ca...@wurb.com> wrote in
>news:MPG.17b4b2618...@News.CIS.DFN.DE:
>> This is essentially how the Infocom mysteries treated the SEARCH
>> command. SEARCH <noun> would turn up one hidden item at a time, but
>> the player would have no control over what turned up. SEARCH <noun>
>> FOR <noun> would limit the search.
>Personally, I dislike this. I consider it to be an example of AGAIN abuse,
>of which more was spoken on another thread.

I agree that, if you find *actual things*, then this
amounts to dirty pool.

If they're not actual game objects, though, you're doing
two things: First, you're indicating to the player that
he's doing something useless. Second, you're giving the
persistent player something extra to read. These are
both good features, in my opinion.

[...]


>Basically, I don't like to assume that players have automated reactions...
>But I have noticed that my position is far from unanimous... :)

It all depends on how you lead the player. You can
probably get a typical player to repeat actions five or
six times, at least once in the game, provided that the
game is good, and that the repetition is cued in an
interesting way.

A simple example. You, the hero, have concluded (by your
own investigation) that the city below is in danger of
flooding. You follow the trickling flow of water up the
hill, and...

You finally trace the stream of water back to its source,
where it springs forth from a tiny hole in the wall.
] cover hole

Which hole do you mean, the hole in the ground, or the
hole in the dike?

] dike
You slide your finger into the hole, effectively plugging
up the spouting water. Your moment to savor your victory
is cut short, though, as a second hole forms, allowing
water to leak out once more.

] cover hole in dike
Another clever patching job, using a finger from your
other hand. Unfortunately, there appears to be a trend,
as a third hole forms just barely beyond your reach!

] again
You shift your foot around to cover the hole, but...

and so it goes...

I also loved the time(s) it was used in the Infocom game
that I won't name to limit spoilers...

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