Are we wasting our time?

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Phil Goetz

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Apr 20, 1998, 3:00:00 AM4/20/98
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This group concerns itself with interactive fiction. Brenda Laurel
(_Computers as Theatre_) divides interactive fiction into two classes:
interactive drama, and interactive narrative.

Interactive drama is what I would call the more primitive of the forms.
The word "drama" tells you it is about spectacles that provide dramatic
experiences. No head pieces by Jorge Luis Borges here; these are classic
stories about the conflict of a protagonist the reader identifies with.
Drama happens in real time, is acted out, and has a unity of action
(by which I mean that the viewer doesn't suddenly jump from one
time or place to another).

Interactive narrative is what we're doing with TADS, Inform, Hugo, AGT, etc.
Narratives can switch between multiple simultaneous stories, can give us
voice-over commentary, can span years in a single sentence, or can expand
one moment in time to an entire paragraph. I think of it as an art form
that allows annotation of life.

Movies partake of both forms. They usually go for the visceral
immersion of drama, because visual presentation is so effective at that,
but they use cut scenes and some time dilation from narrative.

Text is still viable, though, even though we have movies. It does some
things better. Text sacrifices gut-wrenching immersion for more annotative
devices that movies don't do well, like presenting a person's thoughts.

I have for a long time thought of interactive drama and interactive
narrative as different, equally valid forms of interactive fiction.
Interactive drama is what videogames try to provide. Interactive narrative
is the headier stuff of Infocom.

But if you agree with the statements above about drama vs. narrative,
it seems that all the advantages narrative has over drama are advantages
that interactive narrative cannot use. Presenting a person's thoughts
doesn't work if it's not the viewpoint character, and if it is the
viewpoint character, you're forcing opinions on the player.
Cut scenes and time dilation disorient the player and remove any sense of
control. That leaves us with commentary, which in drama can be provided
by other characters.

So, once the technical problems are overcome (as they will be, most
perhaps within ten years), and we can write textless 3D interactive dramas
with voice input, will there be any reason to still have text-only
interactive fiction?

Is this inability of anything interactive to use the advantages of narrative
the reason why interactive narrative is, outside of this newsgroup, dead?

Phil Go...@zoesis.com

Andrew Plotkin

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Apr 20, 1998, 3:00:00 AM4/20/98
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Phil Goetz (go...@cs.buffalo.edu) wrote:

> But if you agree with the statements above about drama vs. narrative,
> it seems that all the advantages narrative has over drama are advantages
> that interactive narrative cannot use. Presenting a person's thoughts
> doesn't work if it's not the viewpoint character, and if it is the
> viewpoint character, you're forcing opinions on the player.
> Cut scenes and time dilation disorient the player and remove any sense of
> control. That leaves us with commentary, which in drama can be provided
> by other characters.

> So, once the technical problems are overcome (as they will be, most
> perhaps within ten years), and we can write textless 3D interactive dramas
> with voice input, will there be any reason to still have text-only
> interactive fiction?

Yes.

One: Interactive narrative can use any technique that static narrative can
use. I don't know why you're ruling out presenting the viewpoint
character's thoughts; it's been done often enough. For that matter, I
don't know why you're ruling out cut scenes and time dilation. I think
it's easy to use them badly, but that doesn't mean they're categorically
inapplicable.

Two: Text will always be easier to produce than other formats.

--Z

--

"And Aholibamah bare Jeush, and Jaalam, and Korah: these were the
borogoves..."

Adam J. Thornton

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Apr 21, 1998, 3:00:00 AM4/21/98
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In article <6hgkh2$3em$1...@prometheus.acsu.buffalo.edu>,

Phil Goetz <go...@cs.buffalo.edu> wrote:
>Is this inability of anything interactive to use the advantages of narrative
>the reason why interactive narrative is, outside of this newsgroup, dead?

Hardly.

One can use the player's actions to reveal a lot about the character
without being preachy; the structure of the IF narrative allows constraint
of choices to prevent the game from being utterly free-form.

A primitive example of this can be found in the skink puzzle in Trinity.
*I* felt bad about killing it, but I had no choice.

I-0 is a slightly more interesting example; Tracy Valencia can be played as
a) a murderous, resourceful hussy (if, for example, you hitchhike, kill
Jack, and then go make out with the Taco Cabana girl), or b) a whiny
spoiled rich Daddy's Girl (if you cross the road, cry for the cop, and cry
for the tow truck guy (Earl?))

I think the reason the field is dead is that text adventures are not
visually appealing and no longer have a mass market, and maybe that's
because there are very few people out there who can both code well enough
and have a good enough prose style to make art with a form that is "a
crossword puzzle at war with a narrative." Graham, Zarf, Lucian, maybe a
dozen others. It's *hard* to find people with both halves of their brains
working that well.

And so what if IF is dead as a commercial enterprise? (I happen to believe
it isn't. Text adventures probably are, though. But I think the text
adventure is not the only legitimate form of IF). Not too many people make
money off of needlepoint, but lots of people like doing it and admiring the
results.

Adam
--
ad...@princeton.edu Cynical and drunk and boring someone in some dark cafe

Joe Mason

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Apr 21, 1998, 3:00:00 AM4/21/98
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In article <6hgkh2$3em$1...@prometheus.acsu.buffalo.edu>,
Phil Goetz <go...@cs.buffalo.edu> wrote:
>
>But if you agree with the statements above about drama vs. narrative,
>it seems that all the advantages narrative has over drama are advantages
>that interactive narrative cannot use. Presenting a person's thoughts
>doesn't work if it's not the viewpoint character, and if it is the
>viewpoint character, you're forcing opinions on the player.
>Cut scenes and time dilation disorient the player and remove any sense of
>control. That leaves us with commentary, which in drama can be provided
>by other characters.

Ah. Over-intellectualization. How can you compress the world's literature
into "narrative can do the following things:"? This is about ART, not
relentless logic!

Joe (who wrote an exam a few days ago on the Enlightenment tradition. Ick)

Adam Cadre

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Apr 21, 1998, 3:00:00 AM4/21/98
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Phil Goetz wrote:
> Presenting a person's thoughts doesn't work if it's not the viewpoint
> character,

IF doesn't necessarily have to have a "viewpoint character." There are
other ways to interact with a story than to play one of the roles.

> and if it is the viewpoint character, you're forcing opinions on the player.

Eeeagh! An alternative tack: you're letting the player know who she's
playing. And after all, there is no "objective" way of describing
something: every description implies a selection of details, with some
intelligence doing the selecting. If I include the fact that a certain
object is blue but not that it weighs ten pounds, am I "forcing upon the
player the opinion" that the weight of that object isn't important but
its color is? Or am I simply giving the player a cue as to what the
narrator and/or filter character find important in this particular case?

> Cut scenes and time dilation disorient the player

What disorients one person may not disorient another.

> and remove any sense of control.

This is rather strong wording considering it's just an assertion.

-----
Adam Cadre, Anaheim, CA
http://www.retina.net/~grignr

John-Paul Townsend

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Apr 21, 1998, 3:00:00 AM4/21/98
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Adam J. Thornton wrote:

> In article <6hgkh2$3em$1...@prometheus.acsu.buffalo.edu>,
> Phil Goetz <go...@cs.buffalo.edu> wrote:

I think you are right, Adam. Text IF is just not visually appealing to the
majority of the software purchasing masses. I think the problem stems deeper
than just adequate writing, though. Our computer culture has changed on the
whole by leaps and bounds since the 70's and 80's. Where text IF was a vieable
commercial enterprise in the days of the Commodore and Apple II, today's retail
game market it about MMX and CD sound.

I think the problem also runs on an intellectual, or rather attention-span, level
too. Today's generation (mostly) is the generation of MTV and Duke Nukem. To
your average high schooler (unfortunately) a text game is, simply put, boring.
For the most part they would rather run through the halls of DooM and blast
mutants than put treasures in the case in the living room of their white house or
escape an interstellar construction zone.

Before the young contributers out there start sending me flames, let me say I
know there are a few out there, because I am one. I'm only 19 years old, but I
was fortunate enough that when 80-484 IBM processors were getting big on the
market I was looking for a computer, but found a Commodore at a garage sale
instead. They practically begged me to take it, so I did. It had tons of old
software with it. Some were CGA graphic games and some were text IF. I got
hooked on Zork then. When I found the Zork Trilogy on CD a few years back, I was
drawn back into the whole experience that I loved so much. Then just a few
months ago, I was looking for an old game, Leather Goddess of Phoebes, and found
R.A.IF and R.G.IF. Now I'm writting and playing more IF games.

I don't think though, that since marketers and software manufacturers have
learned to capitalize on the whole graphic crazy, that they can go back. Or want
to for that matter. If I had experienced VGA graphics before text, I don't know
that I ever would have found the values of text IF. The same as I can't get some
of my friends that interested in it. It's an attention-span thing.

Maybe some ladies and gentlemen from this newsgroup should get some financial
backing and start a worldwide campaign to re-initiate text IF into the
mainstream. Kind of the Barnes and Nobles of the game world. Maybe we can
appeal to those of us who prefer the book to the movie, or maybe we just need to
pass it on to our kids so the tradition never dies.

Oh well, I've rambled far long enough. These are just some points to ponder.
Thanks for listening to my drivvel.
John-Paul


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Dennis....@delta-air.com

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Apr 21, 1998, 3:00:00 AM4/21/98
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In article <6hgkh2$3em$1...@prometheus.acsu.buffalo.edu>#1/1,
go...@cs.buffalo.edu (Phil Goetz) wrote:
>>snip<<

> So, once the technical problems are overcome (as they will be, most
> perhaps within ten years), and we can write textless 3D interactive dramas
> with voice input, will there be any reason to still have text-only
> interactive fiction?
>

Absolutely.

I play much of the IF I do nowdays on my Cassiopeia palmtop. I can play it
on a plane flying cross country or while waiting in a lounge. I've even run a
game while sitting through a boring presentation. A "3D interactive drama
with voice input" would be completely inappropriate in any of those places.

Sometimes I watch TV. Sometimes I read a book. The fact that one exists
does not invalidate the other.


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Brock Kevin Nambo

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Apr 21, 1998, 3:00:00 AM4/21/98
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Phil Goetz wrote in message <6hgkh2$3em$1...@prometheus.acsu.buffalo.edu>...

>Presenting a person's thoughts
>doesn't work if it's not the viewpoint character, and if it is the

>viewpoint character, you're forcing opinions on the player.

If I am in a play, I have my script, and it says I have to ad lib a little,
that does not mean I act myself there, especially if how I would act and
react is contrary to my/the director/the playwright's opinion of who the
character is.

If I am playing IF, I have my story, and I am given somewhat free rein--but
I do not play as myself, especially if how I would act and react is contrary
to my or the author's opinion of who the character is.

Some people enjoy acting. Some people enjoy IF.

Both of them, as forms of role-playing [in the literal sense], indicate that
I give up some of myself to allow another character to exist.

If I resist it, I won't have fun. To paraphrase somebody or other, "A bad
work of IF is a work in whose player character we find a person we are
unwilling to become." We can only be sympathetic to the work if we are
sympathetic to our role.

Or not.

>>BKNambo
--
Sunflash...@msn.com
World Domination through Trivia!
[ chatquiz | onGames | MarsMission ]


Mary K. Kuhner

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Apr 21, 1998, 3:00:00 AM4/21/98
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In article <6hgkh2$3em$1...@prometheus.acsu.buffalo.edu>,
Phil Goetz <go...@cs.buffalo.edu> wrote:

>But if you agree with the statements above about drama vs. narrative,
>it seems that all the advantages narrative has over drama are advantages

>that interactive narrative cannot use. Presenting a person's thoughts


>doesn't work if it's not the viewpoint character, and if it is the
>viewpoint character, you're forcing opinions on the player.

>Cut scenes and time dilation disorient the player and remove any sense of
>control. That leaves us with commentary, which in drama can be provided
>by other characters.

Umph. It seems to me that every single one of your "can't be done"
statements has a stunning counterexample (or three) in the IF
archives. "Spider and Web" and "Babel" between them cover most of
the bases already, and both have been extremely successful games.

"Presenting a person's thoughts doesn't work if it's not the

viewpoint character" strikes me as particularly odd: it's a standard
tactic in one form of roleplaying for each player to provide a
certain amount of commentary on their character's thoughts and
feelings for the benefit of the other players, as audience.

This same kind of argument comes up on the roleplaying-theory
newsgroup rec.games.frp.advocacy pretty regularly, and is always
met by a resounding chorus of "It may not work in *your* games,
but it works fine in mine." (I did a two-session arc in the
middle of a longer campaign where the players were playing both
their usual characters and those characters' magically-corrupted
doubles. Worked beautifully, more credit to the players than to
me--I hardly had to do anything but sit back and watch.)

Mary Kuhner mkku...@genetics.washington.edu

Brad O`Donnell

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Apr 21, 1998, 3:00:00 AM4/21/98
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This is too much fun. I gotta get in on this :)


Of course we're wasting our time! Next question...

Phil Goetz wrote:

[description of interactive drama and interactive narrative snipped.]


[I'm going to move his last question up to the front, too.]

>
> Is this inability of anything interactive to use the advantages of narrative
> the reason why interactive narrative is, outside of this newsgroup, dead?
>

No. IF is boring to most people, and it's an HCI nightmare. That's
why it's "dead" to the "real world". People don't see the fun, the enjoyment,
in it.

>
> I have for a long time thought of interactive drama and interactive
> narrative as different, equally valid forms of interactive fiction.
> Interactive drama is what videogames try to provide. Interactive narrative
> is the headier stuff of Infocom.

Video games provide the user with control over the progression of a metaphor.
The moves of the player change the game's state: feedback and response,
constant, even when the activity is meaningless. (For instance, when stuck in
a videogame, you can still play around with its state: walk your character around,
jump, and duck and stuff, and see an immediate effect. In a well-done graphic
adventure (although I haven't played any lately) you can click on just about
anything and get some response. This helps keep players interested while they're
stuck. )

As for Infocom-style IF, there are only a few (I-0 pops to mind) where you
can properly play with your resources. Normally, I can't eat the apple, because
I might have to give it to the troll. I can't shoot the salesman, because I might
need to buy something from him later. The usual IF game turns into a resource
management problem--like a game of DooM where every bullet counts. This encourages
"lack of playfulness" in the player. And I think it turns a lot of people off IF.

> Cut scenes and time dilation disorient the player and remove any sense of
> control.

Time dilation happens constantly in IF. It takes the same amount of "time"
from the player's POV, to pick a rag up from the floor as it does to climb
all the way up a tree. If you want to measure time in terms of reading (a
dubious practice, to be sure) then the IF protagonist spends most of his time
looking at things.

>
> So, once the technical problems are overcome (as they will be, most
> perhaps within ten years), and we can write textless 3D interactive dramas
> with voice input, will there be any reason to still have text-only
> interactive fiction?

First, that's a loaded question: If everyone could sculpt animated, life-like,
3-d figures of infinite resolution with the same speed that we could type
"Her brown hair caught the railing as she descended, and she scrunched her
neck to pull it loose.", then what you say is true. If you accept the initial
conditions, the rest of the argument follows. Remove the alien telepathic
technology, and then you're back here in the the real world.

Second, I've heard for years and years that "interactive drama" was ten
years away...it's been well over twelve years, and I'm still waiting.

Third,
Is there any reson to have text-only IF now? No. But we do. Such is the
way of things. People still draw with pencils and paint with brushes, even
though digital means exist. Why, then, would we give up our amber-on-black
fantasies for high-resolution 3-d graphics?

Does IF need a reason to be?

--
Brad O'Donnell
"A story is a string of moments, held together by memory."

George Caswell

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Apr 21, 1998, 3:00:00 AM4/21/98
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On Tue, 21 Apr 1998, Brad O`Donnell wrote:

> Is there any reson to have text-only IF now? No. But we do. Such is the
> way of things. People still draw with pencils and paint with brushes, even
> though digital means exist. Why, then, would we give up our amber-on-black
> fantasies for high-resolution 3-d graphics?
>

Now you can have both! <ta-da!> AAlib!!

AAlib Quake is quite the novel experience. :)
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JC

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Apr 21, 1998, 3:00:00 AM4/21/98
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On 21 Apr 1998 00:17:05 GMT, ad...@princeton.edu (Adam J. Thornton) wrote:

[...]

>I think the reason the field is dead is that text adventures are not
>visually appealing and no longer have a mass market,

Novels aren't visually appealing, in the same way, either, yet there's a
mass market for them. I really don't think the problem is with the text.
From my point of view, the main reason is that most people find the
Infocom-like style of Interactive Fiction very frustrating.

>And so what if IF is dead as a commercial enterprise? (I happen to believe
>it isn't.

Same here.

>Text adventures probably are, though. But I think the text
>adventure is not the only legitimate form of IF). Not too many people make
>money off of needlepoint, but lots of people like doing it and admiring the
>results.


';';James';';

David Glasser

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Apr 21, 1998, 3:00:00 AM4/21/98
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Brock Kevin Nambo <newsm...@earthling.net> wrote:

> If I resist it, I won't have fun. To paraphrase somebody or other, "A bad
> work of IF is a work in whose player character we find a person we are
> unwilling to become." We can only be sympathetic to the work if we are
> sympathetic to our role.

Hmm...I don't know. A nice idea for a piece of IF is to have the
protagonist be quite loathable (and I don't mean Bad Guys-style). The
game might start fine and end with a horrible taste in your mouth
(shades of Zero Sum Game?) or vice versa (the specious bad guy; sorta
like Clockwork Orange (he's ultra-violent, but we can't help to admire
him in some odd way)).

> Or not.

Oh.

--David Glasser
gla...@NOSPAMuscom.com
Check out my new unfinished website at http://onramp.uscom.com/~glasser
It is better than my two-year-old unfinished website at
http://www.geocities.com/SoHo/6028/

Bradd W. Szonye

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Apr 21, 1998, 3:00:00 AM4/21/98
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Adam J. Thornton wrote:
>
> I think the reason the field is dead is that text adventures are not
> visually appealing and no longer have a mass market...

I think 'visually appealing' is the wrong phrase. It's darn hard to read
from a screen for long periods of time. There's a serious usability
problem with large quantities of on-screen text; see the Alertbox
columns at http://www.useit.com for more information.

By the way, this relates to a problem I have with part of the Blorb
spec. In the comments at the end of the spec, it says:

If a user sets his monitor to smaller pixels, it's because he
wants a given image to be smaller. He also wants his text to be
smaller, and his windows. That's the way web browsers work...
and that's damn well good enough for the Z-machine.

This is just WRONG. I do not set my monitor to "smaller pixels" to get
more screen real-estate, but to get HIGHER RESOLUTION. One useful
side-effect of higher resolution is that I can put more on the screen
when I want to. But the main reason I do it is so that I get more detail
in fonts, making them more readable. It's not unusual for me to crank up
the font size to 18pts or more on my 1280x1024 display. And it REALLY
annoys me that browsers and other software don't scale other images to
go with my large text.

I wish there were some setting that lets me say roughly, "Don't decrease
the size of on-screen data, just consider the pixel density to be
higher! Scale my images so that they're larger too, to match my huge
text settings!" What I want is for "normal" 10pt or 12pt fonts to be the
same size at my higher resolution; I want them more detailed, not
smaller.

Some software is better about this than others, but most sucks.
--
Bradd W. Szonye
bra...@concentric.net
http://www.concentric.net/~Bradds

My reply address is correct as-is. The courtesy of providing a correct
reply address is more important to me than time spent deleting spam.

Jason C Penney

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Apr 22, 1998, 3:00:00 AM4/22/98
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Bradd W. Szonye (bra...@concentric.net) wrote:
: By the way, this relates to a problem I have with part of the Blorb

: spec. In the comments at the end of the spec, it says:

: If a user sets his monitor to smaller pixels, it's because he
: wants a given image to be smaller. He also wants his text to be
: smaller, and his windows. That's the way web browsers work...
: and that's damn well good enough for the Z-machine.

: This is just WRONG. I do not set my monitor to "smaller pixels" to get

: more screen real-estate [snip]

I do. This is 90% of the reason for me.

Back to Blorb. I think that this is taken slightly out of context.
Blorb does support image scaling, does it not? Wait a sec, I'd better
go look...

Yeah, Blorb supports image scaling if you give it a prefered
resolution chunk and give the images scaling limits. The above
passage just states that it is ok for an interpreter to not scale, I
think. Mr. Plotkin? Am I reading this right?

: My reply address is correct as-is. The courtesy of providing a correct


: reply address is more important to me than time spent deleting spam.

I appreciate it!

Later,
Jay

----
Jason C Penney (jpe...@cs.uml.edu) Xarton Dragon -=<UDIC>=-
<http://www.cs.uml.edu/~jpenney/>
"The trouble with computers of course, is that they're very
sophisticated idiots." -- The Doctor

Matt Kimball

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Apr 22, 1998, 3:00:00 AM4/22/98
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Bradd W. Szonye <bra...@concentric.net> wrote:
: By the way, this relates to a problem I have with part of the Blorb
: spec. In the comments at the end of the spec, it says:

: If a user sets his monitor to smaller pixels, it's because he
: wants a given image to be smaller. He also wants his text to be
: smaller, and his windows. That's the way web browsers work...
: and that's damn well good enough for the Z-machine.

: This is just WRONG. I do not set my monitor to "smaller pixels" to get

: more screen real-estate, but to get HIGHER RESOLUTION. One useful


: side-effect of higher resolution is that I can put more on the screen
: when I want to. But the main reason I do it is so that I get more detail
: in fonts, making them more readable. It's not unusual for me to crank up
: the font size to 18pts or more on my 1280x1024 display. And it REALLY
: annoys me that browsers and other software don't scale other images to
: go with my large text.

With respect to the Blorb spec, I think you are being a bit harsh. If
require scaling, it is just one more thing a Blorb interpreter writer
needs to do. All the little things add up. The easier it is for
interpreter writers to create interpreters, the sooner we will see
quality Blorb interpreters.

<soapbox>
In general, I very much agree with you. It bothers me when I talk to
people with the attitude that we won't every see video cards capable
of resolutions much higher than 1600x1200 (or whatever high-end video
cards are doing currently). Their argument is that we would need huge
screens to take advantage of it. This is wrong-headed. It would be
much better for lots of things if we had higher resolutions at the
same monitor sizes, just with text and images rendered to match the
higher resolution rather than made smaller.

It would be nice if we started to think about our monitor/video card
combinations as a size and dpi measurement, rather than as a size and
pixel count. In this context, it makes sense to increase the dpi.
Just because some broken GUI interfaces and applications get smaller
instead of scaling properly doesn't mean we shouldn't work toward it.
</soapbox>

--
Matt Kimball
mkim...@xmission.com

Matt Ackeret

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Apr 22, 1998, 3:00:00 AM4/22/98
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In article <353d25dc...@news.netspace.net.au>,
JC <jrc...@netspace.net.au> wrote:

>On 21 Apr 1998 00:17:05 GMT, ad...@princeton.edu (Adam J. Thornton) wrote:
>>I think the reason the field is dead is that text adventures are not
>>visually appealing and no longer have a mass market,
>
>Novels aren't visually appealing, in the same way, either, yet there's a
>mass market for them. I really don't think the problem is with the text.

But is the market smaller than it used to be? I don't even mean before
movies or TV.. But in the last 20 years or so.

While the people reading this are most likely more "geeky" and tend to read
more, does the general public read much? Note I am referring to reading
books.

I actually read books less than I used to (though I still keep a list of
things to buy.. and buy a couple every once in a while.. I'm now reading
"For God, Country, and Coca Cola".. a cool history of Coca Cola).. but I
read a lot of Usenet, and at least 3 days of newspapers thoroughly through
the week.
--
mat...@area.com

Lelah Conrad

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Apr 22, 1998, 3:00:00 AM4/22/98
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On 20 Apr 1998 23:08:18 GMT, go...@cs.buffalo.edu (Phil Goetz) wrote:

>Interactive drama is what I would call the more primitive of the forms.
>The word "drama" tells you it is about spectacles that provide dramatic
>experiences.

<...>


>Drama happens in real time, is acted out, and has a unity of action
>(by which I mean that the viewer doesn't suddenly jump from one
>time or place to another).

<...>


>Narratives can switch between multiple simultaneous stories, can give us
>voice-over commentary, can span years in a single sentence, or can expand
>one moment in time to an entire paragraph.

I can't figure out what you're talking about here in your definition.
You are not using the word drama as used by the great dramatists of
the stage. Many great plays have narrative portions, time jumps,
multiple points of view, etc. -- or are you not calling theater
drama? (At which point, I admit, you've really lost me.)



>But if you agree with the statements above about drama vs. narrative,

Well, I don't. The distinction just doesn't make any sense to me.
IF seems to me to contain all of the same types of devices you listed
above as plays and movies do.

Lelah Conrad

( I think there IS definitely a difference between primarily
graphical communication and communication in words. I would even
guess that different parts of the brain are used for the two
modalities. IF can be either, so the distinction to me is between
graphical and textual IF, and not (aritificially) between "dramatic"
and "narrative" forms of it.)

Brock Kevin Nambo

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Apr 22, 1998, 3:00:00 AM4/22/98
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Bradd W. Szonye wrote in message <353D335B...@concentric.net>...

>Adam J. Thornton wrote:
>>
>> I think the reason the field is dead is that text adventures are not
>> visually appealing and no longer have a mass market...
>
>I think 'visually appealing' is the wrong phrase. It's darn hard to read
>from a screen for long periods of time.

Especially when you do it all day. [Sign of the chat/Usenet addict]

>By the way, this relates to a problem I have with part of the Blorb
>spec. In the comments at the end of the spec, it says:
>
> If a user sets his monitor to smaller pixels, it's because he
> wants a given image to be smaller. He also wants his text to be
> smaller, and his windows. That's the way web browsers work...
> and that's damn well good enough for the Z-machine.
>
>This is just WRONG. I do not set my monitor to "smaller pixels" to get
>more screen real-estate, but to get HIGHER RESOLUTION.

AMEN!

>One useful
>side-effect of higher resolution is that I can put more on the screen
>when I want to.

AMEN too!

>But the main reason I do it is so that I get more detail
>in fonts, making them more readable.

AMEN! Fonts forever!

>It's not unusual for me to crank up
>the font size to 18pts or more on my 1280x1024 display.

I LOVE big text. Even Times New Roman [ick] looks nice past 14... Of
course, I have yet to find a size in which Arial looks attractive <g>.

>And it REALLY
>annoys me that browsers and other software don't scale other images to
>go with my large text.


That's why I like CSS in HTML... it lets you set image size in percentage of
the screen. Of course Netscape, not being HTML4.0, doesn't support it, but
IE does. When my webpage is updated (general note: my webpage is added to
very often, except when it is being 'updated', when it goes without change
for months on end) (general note #2: http://come.to/brocks.place no IF page,
the update hit before I could write it, and I realized I forgot to put the
CSS in the <NOSCRIPT> so it looks bad if Javascript is off) (general note
#3: I have a hard time keeping on topic. does it show?) it will have all
that neat stuff.

>I wish there were some setting that lets me say roughly, "Don't decrease
>the size of on-screen data, just consider the pixel density to be
>higher! Scale my images so that they're larger too, to match my huge
>text settings!" What I want is for "normal" 10pt or 12pt fonts to be the
>same size at my higher resolution; I want them more detailed, not
>smaller.


yes, yes, yes, a thousand times yes. Some of my fonts are really closely
formed and small screen is murder on my nearsightedness (can you say
nose-to-the-screen? I knew you could..)

>Some software is better about this than others, but most sucks.

Netscape has charisma but lacks all the cool features like image resize on
percent (in CSS anyway).
IE has NO charisma (the stench of M$) but has all the features. :(

Bradd W. Szonye

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Apr 22, 1998, 3:00:00 AM4/22/98
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Matt Kimball wrote:

[I trashed on a minor point in Blorb.]

> With respect to the Blorb spec, I think you are being a bit harsh.

Sorry, I didn't mean to come across that way. I do have a couple issues
with Blorb (like MODs and the possibility that Blorb may not be very
extensible), but overall I think Blorb is a good spec.

Glad that you got my main point, though.

My reply address is correct as-is. The courtesy of providing a correct

Bradd W. Szonye

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Apr 22, 1998, 3:00:00 AM4/22/98
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> Bradd W. Szonye (bra...@concentric.net) wrote:
> : By the way, this relates to a problem I have with part of the Blorb

> : spec. In the comments at the end of the spec, it says:
>
> : If a user sets his monitor to smaller pixels, it's because he
> : wants a given image to be smaller. He also wants his text to be
> : smaller, and his windows. That's the way web browsers work...
> : and that's damn well good enough for the Z-machine.

> : This is just WRONG. I do not set my monitor to "smaller pixels" to

> : get more screen real-estate [snip]


>
Jason C Penney wrote:
>
> I do. This is 90% of the reason for me.

I guess it's about 50-50 for me. When I'm working in a lot of windows, I
like to be able to save screen real estate. When I'm working (or
playing) at one thing--especially when my eyes are tired--I like to see
things full-size but at a higher resolution.

One thing I liked about Word was the ability to scale the display
regardless of what Windows considered the "standard" font size to be.
100% sized fonts at 10pt (how I like to print) is far too small for me
to read comfortablly at 1280x1024, but Word lets you scale that up to
"full page width" which fills the whole screen. Then my fonts print at
10pt but show onscreen at what Windows would call "18pt" or so. Useful
and readable.

I wish more software did this, even with bitmapped graphics. On a
high-resolution, high-color display, there are excellent anti-aliasing
techniques that leave the images looking just as good at 177% as they do
at 100%.

And by the way, sorry to slam Blorb. I was just picking a nit--I don't
like the rationalization the above paragraph makes.

> : My reply address is correct as-is. The courtesy of providing a


> : correct reply address is more important to me than time spent
> : deleting spam.
>

> I appreciate it!

Amen. I've seen too many chuckleheads recently with downright bad email
munges--stuff that forwards your mail to your sysadmin, or some random
other site, if you are stupid enough to actually use the "reply" button
for its intended use. Bounces are bad enough--misdirected mail is worse,
and getting more common.

HarryH

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Apr 22, 1998, 3:00:00 AM4/22/98
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In article <6hgoi1$7gf$1...@cnn.Princeton.EDU>, ad...@princeton.edu says...

>I think the reason the field is dead is that text adventures are not
>visually appealing and no longer have a mass market, and maybe that's
>because there are very few people out there who can both code well enough
>and have a good enough prose style to make art with a form that is "a
>crossword puzzle at war with a narrative." Graham, Zarf, Lucian, maybe a
>dozen others. It's *hard* to find people with both halves of their brains
>working that well.

Text adventures will never die. Sure it does not have a big a market as it
used to, but then newspapers are having trouble keeping up also. When the
current generation prefer to WATCH, rather than READ, of course text
adventures are going to suffer.

The biggest problem I see is that current IF are boring. Not that they're not
artistic, but rather they do not engage the mind. I.e. trying to come up with
Star Wars, but end up with Buck Rogers.

When it comes to the point that people can actually relate to IF elements in
REAL LIFE (just as Cyberpunk and Virtual Reality spill over to real life),
then IF will be popular once again. Ask yourself this question: Which one is
better: Art that imitates life, or life that imitates art?

Yeah, I know. My first game does nothing like this. The next one will be
better, though. I've got the ideas down pat. Just have to find the time to
actually do it.

-------------------------------------------------------
Of course I'll work on weekends without pay!
- successful applicant


Andrew Plotkin

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Apr 22, 1998, 3:00:00 AM4/22/98
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Jason C Penney (jpe...@cs.uml.edu) wrote:
> Bradd W. Szonye (bra...@concentric.net) wrote:
> : By the way, this relates to a problem I have with part of the Blorb
> : spec. In the comments at the end of the spec, it says:

> : If a user sets his monitor to smaller pixels, it's because he
> : wants a given image to be smaller. He also wants his text to be
> : smaller, and his windows. That's the way web browsers work...
> : and that's damn well good enough for the Z-machine.

> : This is just WRONG. I do not set my monitor to "smaller pixels" to get
> : more screen real-estate [snip]

> I do. This is 90% of the reason for me.

> Back to Blorb. I think that this is taken slightly out of context.


> Blorb does support image scaling, does it not? Wait a sec, I'd better
> go look...

> Yeah, Blorb supports image scaling if you give it a prefered
> resolution chunk and give the images scaling limits. The above
> passage just states that it is ok for an interpreter to not scale, I
> think. Mr. Plotkin? Am I reading this right?

Anything, so long as you stop calling me "Mr. Plotkin..."

The Blorb policy is a result of rather a lot of headachiness, which came
from trying to accomodate all of (1) Infocom V6 games, (2) what I think
Infocom intended V6 to do, and (3) what modern authors want V6 to do.

I wrote the spec that way because, while fonts can be scaled to any size
(assuming a decent set of installed fonts), images can't be. You can
change your 12-point font to a 14-point font and it'll look nicer, but if
you take a 48-by-48-pixel image and scale it up to 56-by-56, it'll look
just as crappy. (Not more detailed, and, in my experience, not less.) (I
*hate* games that reset my monitor to 640x480 pixels on the theory that
this will make their art look better.)

The image scaling rules in the Blorb spec aren't really about display
size; they're about the author laying out his UI in an imaginary screen
space.

However, see the note further down: The interpreter is Allowed. If the
interpreter scales every image and font by 1.2, or 2.0, the game won't
even know it. It's the interpreter's decision.

Andrew Plotkin

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Apr 22, 1998, 3:00:00 AM4/22/98
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Lelah Conrad (l...@nu-world.com) wrote:

> ( I think there IS definitely a difference between primarily
> graphical communication and communication in words. I would even
> guess that different parts of the brain are used for the two
> modalities. IF can be either, so the distinction to me is between
> graphical and textual IF, and not (aritificially) between "dramatic"
> and "narrative" forms of it.)

In Greg Egan's terrific science fiction stories about the Diaspora --
civilizations of post-humans living as software, running in silicon
instead of organic bodies -- he postulates two basic informational senses
which the well-developed citizen uses to deal with his virtual world.
They're called "linear" and "gestalt", and the correspond roughly to
hearing and sight. Linear information comes in a sequence, and you
concentrate on one sequence at a time; gestalt information comes in a
splat, although you filter it with various filters of attention and
processing.

There are a few other important differences for our poor organic brains,
of course. (For one thing, when we read words, it's much closer to
"linear" hearing than it is to seeing a scene, even though the eyes are
the sensory path. But I trust that's obvious. :-)

Words are learned and low-bandwidth; they rely on associated symbols
already in your brain. Sight is *partially* learned, but also relies on a
whole lot of hardwired processing.

I don't have any particular point.

Magnus Olsson

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Apr 22, 1998, 3:00:00 AM4/22/98
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In article <6hgkh2$3em$1...@prometheus.acsu.buffalo.edu>,
Phil Goetz <go...@cs.buffalo.edu> wrote:
>This group concerns itself with interactive fiction. Brenda Laurel
>(_Computers as Theatre_) divides interactive fiction into two classes:
>interactive drama, and interactive narrative.
>
>Interactive drama is what I would call the more primitive of the forms.
>The word "drama" tells you it is about spectacles that provide dramatic
>experiences. No head pieces by Jorge Luis Borges here; these are classic
>stories about the conflict of a protagonist the reader identifies with.
>Drama happens in real time, is acted out, and has a unity of action
>(by which I mean that the viewer doesn't suddenly jump from one
>time or place to another).
>
>Interactive narrative is what we're doing with TADS, Inform, Hugo, AGT, etc.
>Narratives can switch between multiple simultaneous stories, can give us
>voice-over commentary, can span years in a single sentence, or can expand
>one moment in time to an entire paragraph. I think of it as an art form
>that allows annotation of life.

(...)

>I have for a long time thought of interactive drama and interactive
>narrative as different, equally valid forms of interactive fiction.
>Interactive drama is what videogames try to provide. Interactive narrative
>is the headier stuff of Infocom.
>

>But if you agree with the statements above about drama vs. narrative,

I don't. Reality isn't as simple as that. Art isn't as simple as that.
You can't just divide everything into two compartments with a
watertight partition in between.

>it seems that all the advantages narrative has over drama are advantages
>that interactive narrative cannot use. Presenting a person's thoughts
>doesn't work if it's not the viewpoint character,

Why?

>and if it is the
>viewpoint character, you're forcing opinions on the player.

This is precisely why I don't think the binary distinction between "drama"
and "narrative" isn't valid. By placing the player inside the head of a
more or less well-defined character, rather than just a characterless
dummy, you're not "forcing opinions on the player", you're making the
player play a part. Which makes the game takes on the aspects of a drama,
rather than straight narrative.

A game like "I-0" can be thought of as "interactive theatre", rather
than an interactive short story. You're put in (or outside of :-))
Tracy Valencia's clothes.

>Cut scenes and time dilation disorient the player and remove any sense of
>control.

They *can* do, if they are used ineptly. They don't *have* to.

>So, once the technical problems are overcome (as they will be, most
>perhaps within ten years), and we can write textless 3D interactive dramas
>with voice input, will there be any reason to still have text-only
>interactive fiction?

Now that we have cars, is there any reason to still have bicycles?

>Is this inability of anything interactive to use the advantages of narrative

I think this is a non sequitur, resulting from confusing the map with
the terrain: you have a theoretical model that says that interactive
works of art can't "use the advantages of narrative", and from that
you draw far-reaching conclusions about the validity of an art
form. Go ask the audience instead: do they appreciate playing IF? If
not, why?

>the reason why interactive narrative is, outside of this newsgroup, dead?

I think this has quite other reasons. And, besides, graphical
adventure games continue to sell, despite being just as much
"interactive narrative" as text IF.

--
Magnus Olsson (m...@df.lth.se, zeb...@pobox.com)
------ http://www.pobox.com/~zebulon ------

Magnus Olsson

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Apr 22, 1998, 3:00:00 AM4/22/98
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In article <Kle%.721$qV1.5...@news1.atlantic.net>,

HarryH <har...@iu.net.idiotic.com.skip.idiotic.com> wrote:
>The biggest problem I see is that current IF are boring. Not that they're not
>artistic, but rather they do not engage the mind.

"Losing your Grip" doesn't engage the mind? "So Far" doesn't engage
the mind? What colour is the sky in your world?

OK, I can respect if these games bore you. But in what way don't they
engage your mind, except by being boring?

>I.e. trying to come up with
>Star Wars, but end up with Buck Rogers.

A rather curious comparison, when put in the same paragraph as
"engaging the mind" and "artistic".

>When it comes to the point that people can actually relate to IF elements in
>REAL LIFE (just as Cyberpunk and Virtual Reality spill over to real life),
>then IF will be popular once again. Ask yourself this question: Which one is
>better: Art that imitates life, or life that imitates art?

Are you saying that you want IF that deals with real-life problems, rather
than strange dream-worlds or D&D-type fantasy?

Magnus Olsson

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Apr 22, 1998, 3:00:00 AM4/22/98
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In article <6hkecp$1bb$1...@bartlet.df.lth.se>,

Magnus Olsson <m...@bartlet.df.lth.se> wrote:
>This is precisely why I don't think the binary distinction between "drama"
>and "narrative" isn't valid.

Oops! Of course I meant "don't think ... *is* valid".

Let me add that I think the concepts themselves are valid; it's the
binary "either-or" that I'm opposing. As I see it, IF has a little of
both - it's mostly "narrative", but not pure "narrative". Had it been
pure "narrative", Phil'spoints may have had more validity; but it
isn't, and it's the element of "drama" that makes IF interesting.

David A. Cornelson

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Apr 22, 1998, 3:00:00 AM4/22/98
to

People keep trying to compare and contrast interactive fiction with other
mediums and to me, it's very simple.

There are a handful of people that just happen to have the odd passion of
reading/writing stories and solving and creating puzzles and really love the
idea of combining these things.

Outside of those combined passions, many of us have other interests that
include music, writing (as in books), gaming (as in D&D), video gaming,
teaching, programming, business, art, and a myriad of other hobbies.

I fail to see the need to compare any of our other hobbies to interactive
fiction. It is an odd combination of these hobbies that a very small group
of people share.

The fact that Infocom was popular in the eighties is likely more related to
the fact that Infocom was just another way to interact with a computer, not
necessarily play a game and not specifically an interactive fiction game. I
know rabid Infocom fans that have foresaken IF and now believe the Doom
series is the greatest thing in the world. With the proliferation of other
methods of computer interaction, including fairly sophisticated graphicly
oriented games, e-mail, and chat rooms, Infocom, and it's unique brand of
computer interaction has receded to it's natural habitat....

A few scragglers that just happen to be crazy in the same way.

If you want a hobby with a lot of harsh criticism and a very eccentric
audience, then this is where you belong!

If you think there are better ways to entertain or communicate with people
than IF, you're probably right.

So what?

I like IF exactly the way it is right now and I hope when I'm 80 years old
that Andrew Plotkin will still be writing games that piss me off to no end
because I can't get past the damned red line.

IMHO.

David A. Cornelson

If there is no point then I'm probably just crabby and venting. Forgive me.

macu...@gloria.cord.edu

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Apr 22, 1998, 3:00:00 AM4/22/98
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In article <6hkeo0$2a9$1...@bartlet.df.lth.se>,

m...@bartlet.df.lth.se (Magnus Olsson) wrote:
>
> >I.e. trying to come up with
> >Star Wars, but end up with Buck Rogers.
>
> A rather curious comparison, when put in the same paragraph as
> "engaging the mind" and "artistic".

Genre does not necessarily impose limits upon artistic value, and that
is the point here: "Star Wars" is engaging and artistic on a very basic
human level, which I believe was responsible for its high popularity.
"Buck Rogers" would be an example of something that while perhaps
exciting, does not communicate on that human level.

>>When it comes to the point that people can actually relate to IF elements in
>>REAL LIFE (just as Cyberpunk and Virtual Reality spill over to real life),
>>then IF will be popular once again. Ask yourself this question: Which one is
>>better: Art that imitates life, or life that imitates art?
>
> Are you saying that you want IF that deals with real-life problems, rather
> than strange dream-worlds or D&D-type fantasy?

Art connects human experience with the ineffable. The problem isn't
that art exists, but rather:

1) The artist fails to establish that connection,
-or-
2) The viewer refuses to see it, e.g. it is 'boring,' or the wrong
format or genre (I am a studio arts barbarian myself =)
-or-
3) The viewer is uncomfortable with what such art evokes.

At its most basic level, this can manifest itself in a sense of wonder:
this was undoubtedly evoked by Buck Rogers when it played as serials in
the theaters, as well as by playing Zork or Advent for the first time
as a unique gaming experience. It takes a very special kind of person
to be captivated by the style of playing interactive fiction alone
today, as others have pointed out: it needs to go beyond that.

This was precisely the case with "Star Wars;" not only did it provide
the standard science fiction-y kind of wonder (which had been around for
a while but was still effective) but it also went beyond itself by
invoking archetypes common to the whole of human art and literature.

Moviemaking has gotten better over the years at creating cheap thrills
(special effects, etc.), but the book remains--it's capability for
exalting the human spirit has by no means been exhausted.

So to answer the original question =), no, we are not wasting our time
here. This is a means of producing art, at times effective (although
very young). The fact that it has a small potential audience does not
negate the power that is contained in it.

-Michael

(Speaking as one working on a translation of the Inform libraries
into Latin =)

HarryH

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Apr 23, 1998, 3:00:00 AM4/23/98
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In article <6hkeo0$2a9$1...@bartlet.df.lth.se>, m...@bartlet.df.lth.se says...

>"Losing your Grip" doesn't engage the mind? "So Far" doesn't engage
>the mind? What colour is the sky in your world?
>
>OK, I can respect if these games bore you. But in what way don't they
>engage your mind, except by being boring?

I don't understand about the color of the sky comment. My sky's color depends
on the time of day. Doesn't everybody's? :)

Haven't played those games in depth, so I can't comment. In fact, I haven't
touched Grip. Sorry. I'll make a note to check them out, though. Thanks.

Anyway, I can't very well explain why a boring thing WILL engage my mind (or
anybody's mind, for that matter). Will someone who doesn't find these games
boring explain why these games DO engage the mind?

>Are you saying that you want IF that deals with real-life problems, rather
>than strange dream-worlds or D&D-type fantasy?

You know, I didn't think about it that way. But probably that's what I want.
Do you know any existing IF that does that? I-O does that quite well, I
think.

I'm not saying that D&D styles are bad. I'm just saying that D&D with real
world applications (such as Robert Asprin's Myth series) are more engaging
than some strange dream world.

Magnus Olsson

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Apr 23, 1998, 3:00:00 AM4/23/98
to

In article <6hjnfr$jq5$1...@nixon.area.com>,

Matt Ackeret <mat...@area.com> wrote:
>In article <353d25dc...@news.netspace.net.au>,
>JC <jrc...@netspace.net.au> wrote:
>>On 21 Apr 1998 00:17:05 GMT, ad...@princeton.edu (Adam J. Thornton) wrote:
>>>I think the reason the field is dead is that text adventures are not
>>>visually appealing and no longer have a mass market,
>>
>>Novels aren't visually appealing, in the same way, either, yet there's a
>>mass market for them. I really don't think the problem is with the text.
>
>But is the market smaller than it used to be? I don't even mean before
>movies or TV.. But in the last 20 years or so.
>
>While the people reading this are most likely more "geeky" and tend to read
>more, does the general public read much? Note I am referring to reading
>books.
>

This subject comes up regularly in the writing groups (for
non-interactive writing), and the answer by those in the know is
generally this:

Book salesare increasing, atleast in the US. However, the book market
is changing, with more emphasis on bestesellers and TV tie-ins, and
less on the so-called "midlist".

Magnus Olsson

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Apr 23, 1998, 3:00:00 AM4/23/98
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In article <6hlq0e$n8b$1...@nnrp1.dejanews.com>,

<macu...@gloria.cord.edu> wrote:
>In article <6hkeo0$2a9$1...@bartlet.df.lth.se>,
> m...@bartlet.df.lth.se (Magnus Olsson) wrote:
>>
>> >I.e. trying to come up with
>> >Star Wars, but end up with Buck Rogers.
>>
>> A rather curious comparison, when put in the same paragraph as
>> "engaging the mind" and "artistic".
>
>Genre does not necessarily impose limits upon artistic value,

Friend, you're talking to a life-long SF fan here. No need to bash
in open doors.

> and that
>is the point here:

Is it? If you think that I'm looking down my nose on "Star Wars" because
it's space opera, then you're very very wrong.

> "Star Wars" is engaging and artistic on a very basic
>human level, which I believe was responsible for its high popularity.

Engaging, yes. *Emotionally* engaging. Great fun. Etc, etc. But
"engaging the mind"? To me, part of the attraction of films like "Star
Wars" is that I can *disengage* my mind and just enjoy it, without
having to think about difficult moral issues or who's *really* the
good guys.

As for "artistic", well, "Star Wars" makes no pretense at being Great
Art. I flatly refuse being drawn into a flame war of whether it is
anyway.

>"Buck Rogers" would be an example of something that while perhaps
>exciting, does not communicate on that human level.

I think we can agree on the relative merits of "Star Wars" and "Buck
Rogers".

>This was precisely the case with "Star Wars;" not only did it provide
>the standard science fiction-y kind of wonder (which had been around for
>a while but was still effective) but it also went beyond itself by
>invoking archetypes common to the whole of human art and literature.

Not that I'm slamming "Star Wars" or anything (I think it's a great
film, if you take it for what it is, and don't try to read great
depths that simply aren't there into it), but "invoking archetypes" is
standard Hollywood practice. Scriptwriters are full of Jung up to
their ears. "Star Wars" just happens to be good at it.

Magnus Olsson

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Apr 23, 1998, 3:00:00 AM4/23/98
to

In article <353d25dc...@news.netspace.net.au>,
JC <jrc...@netspace.net.au> wrote:
>On 21 Apr 1998 00:17:05 GMT, ad...@princeton.edu (Adam J. Thornton) wrote:
>
>[...]

>
>>I think the reason the field is dead is that text adventures are not
>>visually appealing and no longer have a mass market,
>
>Novels aren't visually appealing, in the same way, either, yet there's a
>mass market for them. I really don't think the problem is with the text.
>From my point of view, the main reason is that most people find the
>Infocom-like style of Interactive Fiction very frustrating.

But there are graphical adventures that are every bit as frustrating as
text adventures (though for different reasons), yet people buy them
anyway.

I think the text-only medium has everything to do with it. People
simply *expect* computer games to be flashy and nice to look at. I
think we shouldn't make the analogy "text games == novels, graphic
games == movies", but "text games == B&W movies, graphic games ==
colour movies".

David Brain

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Apr 23, 1998, 3:00:00 AM4/23/98
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In article <6hmuqc$f8k$1...@bartlet.df.lth.se>, m...@bartlet.df.lth.se (Magnus
Olsson) wrote:

I think it's more Joseph Campbell that they are full up to their ears in.
Some of them might have then gone back to primary sources (or even just as
far as The Golden Bough), but most of them are probably perfectly happy
sticking with The Hero With A Thousand Faces.

David Brain
London, UK

David Brain

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Apr 23, 1998, 3:00:00 AM4/23/98
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In article <6hms2g$ajn$1...@bartlet.df.lth.se>, m...@bartlet.df.lth.se (Magnus
Olsson) wrote:

> Book sales are increasing, at least in the US. However, the book market


> is changing, with more emphasis on bestesellers and TV tie-ins, and
> less on the so-called "midlist".

But the real killer is for new writers to make it into the "best-sellers"
category. If there is no "midlist" for them to start in, how will they
get published (short of marrying the publisher and thus guaranteeing a
major publicity push)?

David Brain
London, UK

Magnus Olsson

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Apr 23, 1998, 3:00:00 AM4/23/98
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In article <memo.199804...@atlan.cix.co.uk>,

David Brain <da...@atlan.cix.co.uk> wrote:
>In article <6hms2g$ajn$1...@bartlet.df.lth.se>, m...@bartlet.df.lth.se (Magnus
>Olsson) wrote:
>
>> Book sales are increasing, at least in the US. However, the book market
>> is changing, with more emphasis on bestesellers and TV tie-ins, and
>> less on the so-called "midlist".
>
>But the real killer is for new writers to make it into the "best-sellers"
>category. If there is no "midlist" for them to start in, how will they
>get published

According to the people in the know, the problem is not so much for
new writers (the midlist still exists, and in addition a new writer
doesn't have to get into the midlist immediately tobe publishable),
but for the established-bu-not-bestselling writers who are trying to
make a living out of the midlist.

>(short of marrying the publisher and thus guaranteeing a
>major publicity push)?

That's of course a way. Met any nice publishers lately? :-)

But this is getting off-topic for r.a.if.

Zaphod1342

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Apr 24, 1998, 3:00:00 AM4/24/98
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>>I think the reason the field is dead is that text adventures are not
>>visually appealing and no longer have a mass market,
>
>Novels aren't visually appealing, in the same way, either, yet there's a
>mass market for them. I really don't think the problem is with the text.
>From my point of view, the main reason is that most people find the
>Infocom-like style of Interactive Fiction very frustrating.

I'd like to advance a theory as to why text adventures are not mass-marketable:
The mass market can't spell. That's what's so frustrating about a text game:
you have to have perfect spelling. Conversely, there are benefits that spring
from this: I learned to spell by playing games that required text input (and
they weren't all text games either, Space Quest and King's Quest were quite
picky as well). It cuts both ways.

--> <----> <----> <--
Name: Nat Budin
Email: budi...@DELETECAPSANDNUMBERSgeocities.com
ICQ: 9020946
--> <----> <----> <--

Gunther Schmidl

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Apr 24, 1998, 3:00:00 AM4/24/98
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>I learned to spell by playing games that required text input (and
>they weren't all text games either, Space Quest and King's Quest were quite
>picky as well). It cuts both ways.

I learned a lot of my *English* that way :-)
Also, SQ2 was the first game I *ever* played (on a PC, in a time when the
"computer for the masses" over here was the C64!). Kind of explains my
"fixation" :-)

--
+------------------------+----------------------------------------------+
+ Gunther Schmidl + "I want a Blorb compatible interpreter. Now. +
+ Ferd.-Markl-Str. 39/16 + Please. Come on. Do it. Now." -- myself +
+ A-4040 LINZ +----------------------------------------------+
+ Tel: 0732 25 28 57 + http://gschmidl.home.ml.org - new & improved +
+------------------------+---+------------------------------------------+
+ sothoth (at) usa (dot) net + please remove the "xxx." before replying +
+----------------------------+------------------------------------------+


Ola Sverre Bauge

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Apr 24, 1998, 3:00:00 AM4/24/98
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HarryH wrote...

>Ask yourself this question: Which one is
>better: Art that imitates life, or life that imitates art?

Art that mutilates life, definitely.

(Couldn't resist that one, sorry)
Ola Sverre Bauge
o...@bu.telia.no
http://w1.2327.telia.com/~u232700165

Chris Klimas

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Apr 24, 1998, 3:00:00 AM4/24/98
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In article <1d7uker.8qi...@usol-phl-pa-028.uscom.com>,
gla...@NOSPAMuscom.com (David Glasser) wrote:

> Hmm...I don't know. A nice idea for a piece of IF is to have the
> protagonist be quite loathable (and I don't mean Bad Guys-style). The
> game might start fine and end with a horrible taste in your mouth
> (shades of Zero Sum Game?) or vice versa (the specious bad guy; sorta
> like Clockwork Orange (he's ultra-violent, but we can't help to admire
> him in some odd way)).

This is mostly self-serving, but:

No one has said much about the fact that in Mercy, you play someone who
kills several people daily, and's even paid for doing so. He doesn't
really feel remorse about it, either.

I thought this would cause more waves than it did. (This may have
something to do with overall quality -- I was still figuring out the
vagaries of Inform as I was coding it.)

Chris Klimas
http://cobweb.washcoll.edu/student.pages/chris.klimas/index.html
_______
You do know to take the spork out, don't you?

HarryH

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Apr 24, 1998, 3:00:00 AM4/24/98
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In article <3540c...@d2o201.telia.com>, o...@bu.telia.no says...

ROTFL.

I never did understand why a bunch of naked, decapitated persons would make
good art.

wo...@one.net

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Apr 25, 1998, 3:00:00 AM4/25/98
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Hi All,

Time to stick my nose in the fire. :) IF is nothing less (to me) than
the computer equivalent of building a ship in a bottle. Is it art?
Well <shrug> art is in the mind of the contemplator.

But it is satisfying, in a way I'm not sure I can describe. The sense
of wonder, yes, the sense of being alone in a new world, of seeing
things no one else has ever seen...

In *spite* of the fact it's being played by thousands of others, those
others are *elsewhere* and unreal, and so don't count. :)

Just my two cents.

Respectfully,

Wolf

"The world is my home, it's just that some rooms are draftier than
others". -- Wolf

JC

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Apr 26, 1998, 3:00:00 AM4/26/98
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On 22 Apr 1998 03:17:15 GMT, mat...@area.com (Matt Ackeret) wrote:

>In article <353d25dc...@news.netspace.net.au>,
>JC <jrc...@netspace.net.au> wrote:
>>On 21 Apr 1998 00:17:05 GMT, ad...@princeton.edu (Adam J. Thornton) wrote:

>>>I think the reason the field is dead is that text adventures are not
>>>visually appealing and no longer have a mass market,
>>
>>Novels aren't visually appealing, in the same way, either, yet there's a
>>mass market for them. I really don't think the problem is with the text.
>

>But is the market smaller than it used to be? I don't even mean before
>movies or TV.. But in the last 20 years or so.

Even if it is, it is still far, far, larger than the Infocom-like IF
market.

>While the people reading this are most likely more "geeky" and tend to read
>more, does the general public read much? Note I am referring to reading
>books.

Yes. The novel maket _roughly_ fits into the general public.

';';James';';

Marsha3433

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Apr 28, 1998, 3:00:00 AM4/28/98
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After silently following this fascinating group for sometime, I would like
to say that I feel there is a huge market for IF out there. Marketing it
to the correct people is the key. Look at the over 60 crowd who are
retired and all over the internet. Also very voracious readers. My
parents spend loads of time on the internet and playing puzzel games on the pc.
Graphic violent blowup and shootup games do not interest them in the least. I
recently gave my mom some of the activision sets and she loves them. Widen
the scope you view the market through. Send a game to Oprah!

Marsha Berdan

Andrew Brault

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Apr 28, 1998, 3:00:00 AM4/28/98
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> After silently following this fascinating group for sometime, I would like
>to say that I feel there is a huge market for IF out there. Marketing it
>to the correct people is the key. Look at the over 60 crowd who are

[...]

Interactive fiction games (especially Inform-based) are also
extremely popular with the PDA/palmtop crowd, especially HP200LX
and Pilot owners (and Windows CE to a lesser extent). I think
very few of them know about this newsgroup or the IF-archive.

---
Andrew Brault <a...@tiac.net>
To get through my spam-filter, ensure your e-mail's subject contains
none of the following words: business, marketing, opportunity, $$$,
legal, !!!, bulk, cash, or promotion. Sorry for any inconvenience.

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