Your Imagination is the Best Illustrator -?-

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Bob Newell

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Jul 16, 2003, 12:56:05 PM7/16/03
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So, there have been a few postings recently, and many throughout time,
about the idea that in text games your imagination provides the best
illustrations, and no graphics are needed.

Obviously as a text game devotee I buy into a lot of this. But on the other
hand, I have played some graphical games in which the graphics are
stunning and imaginative, and provide views and concepts that my imagination
never would have created --- they stem from different and original thinking.
This is lost in a pure text game. So I'm of (at least) two minds about
the question.

Bob Newell
Santa Fe, New Mexico

Shard

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Jul 16, 2003, 1:59:06 PM7/16/03
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"Bob Newell" <bne...@linux.chungkuo.org> wrote in message
news:slrnbhb0t6....@linux.chungkuo.org...

Along the same lines as books really eh?
I remember reading a book which got turned into a film, I went to see the
film with friends who hadn't read the book. They loved the film, but I
didn't, 'whats wrong?' they asked, 'the films wrong' I said, 'all the
characters are wrong, they look nothing like they do in the book!'

Daz.

David Thornley

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Jul 16, 2003, 4:16:10 PM7/16/03
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In article <slrnbhb0t6....@linux.chungkuo.org>,

Bob Newell <bne...@linux.chungkuo.org> wrote:
>So, there have been a few postings recently, and many throughout time,
>about the idea that in text games your imagination provides the best
>illustrations, and no graphics are needed.
>
Sometimes that's true. I don't think there's any real difference
between IF and real books in that regard. Some things benefit from
being left vague: I really don't think an illustrated Lovecraft
story is likely to work very well. Other times the illustrator
simply has different ideas from the author, and so they clash.
Sometimes, they seem to go together very well, such as the Tenniel
illustrations in Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass,
or Terry Pratchett's "The Last Hero".

If we're dealing with real or historical things, like 1893, the
pictures are almost necessary. If we're dealing with games inspired
by pictures, then it may be a very good idea to include the pictures.
Sometimes the pictures match the story well (consider Stephen
Granade's "Arrival"). Sometimes they may be the reason for the game
(see the Adult IF archives). However, lots of the time I don't
think they'll improve the game.


--
David H. Thornley | If you want my opinion, ask.
da...@thornley.net | If you don't, flee.
http://www.thornley.net/~thornley/david/ | O-

Rexx Magnus

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Jul 16, 2003, 5:31:54 PM7/16/03
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On Wed, 16 Jul 2003 16:56:05 GMT, Bob Newell scrawled:

> Obviously as a text game devotee I buy into a lot of this. But on the
> other hand, I have played some graphical games in which the graphics are
> stunning and imaginative, and provide views and concepts that my
> imagination never would have created --- they stem from different and
> original thinking. This is lost in a pure text game. So I'm of (at
> least) two minds about the question.
>

There are things that can be done with film and video that can't be done
with books and text - making you jump, for one - or having the ambience
dictated to you by the music/sound effects used - another thing that is
quite difficult to do in writing without using 'visual' cues, if you see
what I mean.

Much of what is written relies on the reader recognising known elements,
and being able to assimilate and assemble them into the form that the
author wants. It's actually easier to do this in film - the trouble is, a
lot of things that exist purely in the narrative of a book are often not
possible to put into a film or game in an unobtrusive manner.

So yes, I think you're right by being in two minds - neither one medium is
better than the other at its core, simply your preference of which one you
like the most.

--
UO & AC Herbal - http://www.rexx.co.uk/herbal

To email me, visit the site.

Jim Aikin

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Jul 16, 2003, 8:33:18 PM7/16/03
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Rexx Magnus wrote:

> So yes, I think you're right by being in two minds - neither one medium is
> better than the other at its core, simply your preference of which one you
> like the most.

Or, if you're an artist, which one you find most rewarding (and have the
budget for). I can do special effects in a paragraph that would cost
millions if done in a film, which is a decided advantage. On the other
hand, I'm relying on the reader's brain to connect the dots.

I've read one novel whose whole plot revolved around a stunning special
effect that could not POSSIBLY have been filmed, not for any amount of
money or with any amount of digital trickery. It's called "The Family
Tree," it's by Sheri S. Tepper, and the effect is explained following the
spoiler space below.

S

P

O

I

L

E

R

...

S

P

A

C

E

During the first half of the novel, a variety of characters are introduced.
They converse with one another, live in houses, go on a quest, and so on.
There's a fair amount of rather puzzling discussion about how different
races of people specialize in certain careers, such as cooking, guarding,
or politics, and the descriptions of the characters are a bit on the vague
side -- almost to the point of being annoying, but not quite. We learn that
they're living on the Earth at some point in the distant future, and that
they aren't 100% clear about the origin of their various races, because all
of the photos from the 20th Century have disappeared.

In the middle of the book, a group of these people find themselves in a
time machine and travel back to the 20th Century. Whereupon the reader
learns with a shock that they're talking animals! The race of guards is of
course the dogs, the raccoons are good at cooking, and so on. The princess,
who has been described as chubby, turns out to be a pig.

It's not a great book, but it's a great effect, and you couldn't do it in a
movie, that's for sure.

--JA

Mike Roberts

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Jul 16, 2003, 9:04:14 PM7/16/03
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"Jim Aikin" <darn_those_spammers@end_of_spam.org> wrote:
> I've read one novel whose whole plot revolved around a stunning
> special effect that could not POSSIBLY have been filmed, not for
> any amount of money or with any amount of digital trickery. It's
> called "The Family Tree," it's by Sheri S. Tepper, and the effect is
> [deleted]

You couldn't reproduce that *exact* effect in a visual medium, but ever seen
The Sixth Sense, or Fight Club? It's almost exactly the same idea, and has
the same effect on the viewer. And I can think of a couple of epidodes of
The Twilight Zone that were based on very much the same trick.

--Mike
mjr underscore at hotmail dot com

Jim Aikin

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Jul 16, 2003, 10:29:08 PM7/16/03
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> You couldn't reproduce that *exact* effect in a visual medium, but ever seen
> The Sixth Sense, or Fight Club?

No. I miss a lot of great movies, sad to say.

> And I can think of a couple of episodes of


> The Twilight Zone that were based on very much the same trick.

The one where the short-order cook takes off his hat at the end and you
find out he's a Martian because he has a third eye in the middle of his
forehead?

There are lots of variations. Agatha Christie's "The Murder of Roger
Ackroyd," if memory serves, relies on the reader's misreading one crucial
(and intentionally vague) sentence. What's interesting about Tepper's novel
is that she sustains the effect for a couple of hundred pages.

--JA

L. Ross Raszewski

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Jul 16, 2003, 11:35:55 PM7/16/03
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On Thu, 17 Jul 2003 02:29:08 GMT, Jim Aikin
<darn_those_spammers@end_of_spam.org> wrote:
>
>> And I can think of a couple of episodes of
>> The Twilight Zone that were based on very much the same trick.
>
>The one where the short-order cook takes off his hat at the end and you
>find out he's a Martian because he has a third eye in the middle of his
>forehead?
>
>
The one I would think would be most obvious would be 'Eye of the
Beholder', in which they avoid showing us what the local standards of
"beauty" were until the climax.

Damien Neil

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Jul 17, 2003, 4:05:56 AM7/17/03
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> So, there have been a few postings recently, and many throughout time,
> about the idea that in text games your imagination provides the best
> illustrations, and no graphics are needed.

There has never been nor will there ever be a film that captures Lotus
Cloud's grin from _Bridge of Birds_. There never has been nor will
there ever be a book which captures the smile of the Mona Lisa. Words
and pictures are different mediums. Art can be created in either, and
neither is poorer for failing to include the other.


Games--both text and graphical--are best when they play to the
strengths of their medium. One area where many text games fail to do
this is in room and item descriptions. A thousand words can be worth
far less than a single picture. For example:

The Living-Room
This room is ornate, its walls adorned with numerous maritime oil
paintings. A large rectangular window, draped with heavy blue
curtains, is in the east wall. A writing bureau stands beneath the
window. Three heavy leather chairs are arranged in a half-circle
around a rather grandiose marble fireplace set into the southern
wall. The fireplace is adorned by an elaborate mosaic. A huge,
worn-out, area rug covers the oak boards of the floor. An archway in
the northwestern corner of this room leads deeper into the complex,
and the entryway lies behind you to the south.

>examine fireplace
They don't build them like this anymore. On the front of the
fireplace you see an elaborate mosaic consisting of thousands of
small pieces of differently colored glass. It depicts the biblical
fable of Jonah and the Whale. The whale's eye looks rather strange.

(_The Light - Shelby's Addendum_)

Nine lines of description, requiring careful attention. A single
picture will convey the same information and more in an instant. As
importantly, the manner in which a picture will convey the information
is much more friendly: A quick glance will reveal a room with
paintings, a window, a fireplace. Focus on a particular area--the
fireplace, the paintings, the window--and detail will become clear.
Scan the room for exits, and they will be apparent in an instant. In
contrast, the player needs to read this entire paragraph to be certain
of finding all the exits from the room, and will have to type in
additional commands to find more detail about the contents of the room.

A better approach to a text game is to avoid excess clutter. The
occasional detailed object is well and good, but the player should
spend her time playing the game--not reading room and item
descriptions. Rather than flooding the player with lengthy passages of
visual description, focus on providing detail. Encompass senses as
well as sight--words have no more difficulty at conveying smell, taste,
and feel than they do appearance.


An example of description which works with the medium, rather than
against it:

Abandoned Road
The sky is almost violet, infinitely distant -- you've never seen
such a sky, and without the haze of metallic heat that summer should
have. But the wind is sharp and chilly, and the trees nearby are a
quilt of orange, red, and gold.

Beneath you the road is old, filled with weeds and ragged moss; dirt
shows only in patches. To the south, the track is choked with trees,
as it runs into the fringes of an autumn forest. It continues the
other way, though, towards an immense stone wall that hems the
northern horizon.

>x moss
Weeds are pushing in from the sides of the road, and a smooth, dark
olive moss covers most of what remains. Very smooth, in fact. The few
patches of bare dirt are more eroded.

>smell moss
The roadside plants have no particular odor, but the moss has just a
trace of spicy scent, particularly where you've walked.

>get moss
You yank a weed; but your unbotanical eye hasn't the look of it, and
you toss it aside. The moss is more tenacious. You can't tear even a
bit of it off the mat.

(_So Far_)

The initial room description has as many lines of text as the living
room, but room exits are carefully placed in the second paragraph for
easy access. The text goes beyond simple cataloging of physical
features--in particular, the phrase "without the haze of metallic heat
that summer should have" conveys interesting information about the
protagonist. Drilling down into the contents of the room (such as the
moss) produces short, clear descriptions.

The description of the moss is especially worthy of note. With a
careful economy of words, the author implies that the moss is in fact
the remains of a biological asphalt. This is the sort of thing which
is somewhere between difficult to impossible to pull off in a visual
medium.


So, are graphics needed? Not at all. There's certainly nothing
*wrong* with graphical games, but a text game need not simply be a
graphical one without pictures, any more than a book is a movie without
a camera.

- Damien

Rexx Magnus

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Jul 17, 2003, 5:24:29 AM7/17/03
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On Thu, 17 Jul 2003 08:05:56 GMT, Damien Neil scrawled:

> There has never been nor will there ever be a film that captures Lotus
> Cloud's grin from _Bridge of Birds_. There never has been nor will
> there ever be a book which captures the smile of the Mona Lisa. Words
> and pictures are different mediums. Art can be created in either, and
> neither is poorer for failing to include the other.

That is just *so* well said!

Bernhard

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Jul 17, 2003, 5:59:50 AM7/17/03
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Rexx Magnus wrote:

> On Thu, 17 Jul 2003 08:05:56 GMT, Damien Neil scrawled:
>
> > There has never been nor will there ever be a film that captures Lotus
> > Cloud's grin from _Bridge of Birds_. There never has been nor will
> > there ever be a book which captures the smile of the Mona Lisa. Words
> > and pictures are different mediums. Art can be created in either, and
> > neither is poorer for failing to include the other.
>
> That is just *so* well said!

This is just *dogmatic*. Forgot all the artbooks containing Mona Lisa
graphics plus text ?-)
Obviously, Mona Lisa has something which makes explanatory words
not quite superfluous.

Another point where I think IF techniques could improve graphic
adventures are the annoying conversation systems in the click through all
branches manner. I.e. where speech is dominant over vision.

Cheers,
Bernhard

Rexx Magnus

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Jul 17, 2003, 6:13:42 AM7/17/03
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On Thu, 17 Jul 2003 09:59:50 GMT, Bernhard scrawled:

> This is just *dogmatic*. Forgot all the artbooks containing Mona Lisa
> graphics plus text ?-)
> Obviously, Mona Lisa has something which makes explanatory words
> not quite superfluous.
>

Yes, but the Mona Lisa doesn't have descriptive text tagged onto it. :)
Of course, there's no denying that text and pictures go together well.

Mike Roberts

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Jul 17, 2003, 3:09:07 PM7/17/03
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"L. Ross Raszewski" <lrasz...@loyola.edu> wrote:
> >> And I can think of a couple of episodes of
> >> The Twilight Zone that were based on very much the same
> >> trick.
> >
> >The one where the short-order cook takes off his hat at the
> >end and you find out he's a Martian because he has a third eye
> >in the middle of his forehead?
> >
> The one I would think would be most obvious would be 'Eye of
> the Beholder', in which they avoid showing us what the local
> standards of "beauty" were until the climax.

That's the top one I had in mind.

Jim Aikin wrote:
> What's interesting about Tepper's novel is that she sustains the
> effect for a couple of hundred pages.

The sustained effect you're talking about is that the reader doesn't realize
that anything's weird until the surprise twist is revealed, late in the
game? Same thing with 'Eye of the Beholder,' Sixth Sense, Fight Club. And
I don't know about Tepper's book, but in these film/TV examples, the twist,
when revealed, has the highly satisfying quality of epiphany - it suddenly
explains all of the nagging, edge-of-awareness weirdness of what went
before, rather than being a random reversal out of nowhere.

[Somewhat vague spoilers about the preceding follow...]


S
P
O
I
L
E
R

S
P
A
C
E
.
.
.
.
.

The lesson I take from these examples is that, in a visual medium, you can
make the surprise revelation as visual as you want (as in 'Eye of the
Beholder'), but it has to be subjective to the point-of-view character. The
trick is that the story is told with strict attention to point of view up
until the revelation: since the POV character doesn't see anything unusual,
the viewer doesn't see anything unusual. Once the secret is revealed, the
viewer is shown the bigger picture, where what the viewer took for granted
as *looking* normal is revealed to be something other than what we thought
all along. In 'Eye of the Beholder,' the revelation involves the definition
of normal; in Sixth Sense, and Fight Club, it's more tied up in what's not
shown, and in how what's shown is shown. It sounds like Sixth Sense and
Fight Club are very parallel in structure to Tepper's trick, actually, in
that the secret is hidden in plain view by careful avoidance of certain
descriptive text in the book (according to your description - I haven't read
the book myself), and by careful manipulation of visual grammar conventions
in these movies.

Rexx Magnus

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Jul 17, 2003, 5:38:31 PM7/17/03
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On Thu, 17 Jul 2003 19:09:07 GMT, Mike Roberts scrawled:

> The sustained effect you're talking about is that the reader doesn't
> realize that anything's weird until the surprise twist is revealed, late
> in the game? Same thing with 'Eye of the Beholder,' Sixth Sense, Fight
> Club. And I don't know about Tepper's book, but in these film/TV
> examples, the twist, when revealed, has the highly satisfying quality of
> epiphany - it suddenly explains all of the nagging, edge-of-awareness
> weirdness of what went before, rather than being a random reversal out
> of nowhere.

To cite a somewhat overused example, maybe - a particularly good example
of this is Glowgrass. Nice small game, good twist at the end, provided you
read all of the reading material found in the game.

James Glover

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Jul 19, 2003, 9:21:05 AM7/19/03
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On Wed, 16 Jul 2003 18:59:06 +0100, Shard
<shardar@NOSPAM@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@ntlworld.com> wrote:

>
> "Bob Newell" <bne...@linux.chungkuo.org> wrote in message
> news:slrnbhb0t6....@linux.chungkuo.org...

> Along the same lines as books really eh?


> I remember reading a book which got turned into a film, I went to see the
> film with friends who hadn't read the book. They loved the film, but I
> didn't, 'whats wrong?' they asked, 'the films wrong' I said, 'all the
> characters are wrong, they look nothing like they do in the book!'
>
> Daz.

When watching the recent 'Lord of the Rings' films, there was naturaly
quite a bit of discussion afterwards, most of which went along the lines
of...

"I thought they got Moria perfect, It was exactly like I imagined it..."
"What? Noooo. But Rivendell..."
"They got that completely wrong! The balconys were at the Hobbits waist!"
"There were in Hobbit sized rooms! It says so in the book..."
"Where? Anyway Gladriel should have been far more beautiful..."
"Definately."


Oddly. Everyone who has read the book supposes gladriel to be very
beautiful, although it never actually says so in so many words. Indeed,
when I re-read the book recently I was hard put to find any particular line
that lead me to believe that she was especialy beautiful, beyond that
naturaly held by elves.

Out of interest, am I the only person that imagians fictional locations
closely based on those I've seen in real life. It can be quite
disconcerting when it describes another feature which is totaly out of
place with you previous setting.

--
James Glover
E-mail: ja...@jaspsplace.co.uk
Web: http://www.jaspsplace.co.uk
MSN: ja...@jaspsplace.co.uk
ICQ: 75440795

Gene Wirchenko

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Jul 20, 2003, 3:53:36 AM7/20/03
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James Glover <jasp...@hotmail.com> wrote:

[snip]

>Oddly. Everyone who has read the book supposes gladriel to be very
>beautiful, although it never actually says so in so many words. Indeed,
>when I re-read the book recently I was hard put to find any particular line
>that lead me to believe that she was especialy beautiful, beyond that
>naturaly held by elves.

III:306:
'You shall judge,' said Éomer. 'For there are certain rash words
concerning the Lady in the Golden Wood that lie still between us. And
now I have seen her with my eyes.'
'Well, lord,' said Gimli, 'and what say you now?'
'Alas!' said Éomer. 'I will not say that she is the fairest lady
that lives.'
'Then I must go for my axe,' said Gimli.

Éomer then goes on to rate Galadriel as second only to Arwen.

[snip]

Sincerely,

Gene Wirchenko

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

Daniel Dawson

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Jul 20, 2003, 3:54:55 AM7/20/03
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Perhaps I shouldn't say anything here. It's perhaps straying a bit OT, but I
want to say something, as I've just been reading LotR myself.

You pick up and read article <oprsj7dff2i5ezju@localhost>, written by

James Glover <jasps...@jaspsplace.co.uk>. It says:
>"I thought they got Moria perfect, It was exactly like I imagined it..."
>"What? Noooo. But Rivendell..."
>"They got that completely wrong! The balconys were at the Hobbits waist!"
>"There were in Hobbit sized rooms! It says so in the book..."
>"Where? Anyway Gladriel should have been far more beautiful..."
>"Definately."

Sounds like someone was confused too, since the hobbit-sized rooms were at the
Prancing Pony, not the house of Elrond. I know, I'm commenting on something
someone else said, and they probably won'r read this, and I'm sure you know all
this anyway.

>Oddly. Everyone who has read the book supposes gladriel to be very
>beautiful, although it never actually says so in so many words. Indeed,
>when I re-read the book recently I was hard put to find any particular line
>that lead me to believe that she was especialy beautiful, beyond that
>naturaly held by elves.

What about Gimli? Didn't he say she was fairest and that he would fight a
certain man of Rohan who had spoken against her if, after seeing her, he did
not agree. (Now, exactly where was that?)

--
| Email: Daniel Dawson <ddawson at icehouse.net> ifMUD: DanDawson |
| Web: http://www.icehouse.net/ddawson/ X-Blank: intentionally blank |


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James Glover

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Jul 20, 2003, 8:53:08 AM7/20/03
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On Sun, 20 Jul 2003 07:53:36 GMT, Gene Wirchenko <ge...@mail.ocis.net>
wrote:

> James Glover <jasp...@hotmail.com> wrote:
>
> [snip]
>
>> Oddly. Everyone who has read the book supposes gladriel to be very
>> beautiful, although it never actually says so in so many words. Indeed,
>> when I re-read the book recently I was hard put to find any particular
>> line that lead me to believe that she was especialy beautiful, beyond
>> that naturaly held by elves.
>
> III:306:
> 'You shall judge,' said Éomer. 'For there are certain rash words
> concerning the Lady in the Golden Wood that lie still between us. And
> now I have seen her with my eyes.'
> 'Well, lord,' said Gimli, 'and what say you now?'
> 'Alas!' said Éomer. 'I will not say that she is the fairest lady
> that lives.'
> 'Then I must go for my axe,' said Gimli.
>
> Éomer then goes on to rate Galadriel as second only to Arwen.


Ahhh. Thank-you. I thought it must have been in there somewhere, although I
was concentration on fellowship where I didn't actualy see it mentioned.

Mark Borok

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Jul 26, 2003, 11:23:48 AM7/26/03
to

For whatever reason, I've never yet played an IF game that left me with
a clear idea of what the game world looked like. I can't close my eyes
and picture the caverns of "Zork," for instance.

I really like the idea of combination text/graphics games. For one
thing, when a room contains clues, it's much more fun to discover them
for yourself visually. For instance, it's more startling and exciting
to see a skull on a mantelpiece than to read "There is a skull on the
mantelpiece." The text also guides you to important objects, instead of
allowing you to discover them for yourself. Certain puzzles are too
easy to solve when all the elements are helpfully described.

Jaap van der Velde

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Jul 27, 2003, 3:52:20 AM7/27/03
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On Sat, 26 Jul 2003 11:23:48 -0400, Mark Borok <mbo...@mindspring.com>
wrote:

>In article <slrnbhb0t6....@linux.chungkuo.org>, Bob Newell
><bne...@linux.chungkuo.org> wrote:
>> Obviously as a text game devotee I buy into a lot of this. But on the other
>> hand, I have played some graphical games in which the graphics are
>> stunning and imaginative, and provide views and concepts that my imagination
>> never would have created --- they stem from different and original thinking.
>> This is lost in a pure text game. So I'm of (at least) two minds about
>> the question.
>
>For whatever reason, I've never yet played an IF game that left me with
>a clear idea of what the game world looked like. I can't close my eyes
>and picture the caverns of "Zork," for instance.
>
>I really like the idea of combination text/graphics games. For one
>thing, when a room contains clues, it's much more fun to discover them
>for yourself visually. For instance, it's more startling and exciting
>to see a skull on a mantelpiece than to read "There is a skull on the
>mantelpiece."

It just goes to show there is a sliding scale for visualisation of
written (or spoken) text. When I read that (as a matter of fact, when
I read your "to see a skull on a mantelpiece") I imagined a scene,
myself standing slightly to the left of the mantelpiece, of a
brickstone mantelpiece, no fire burning, in a slightly darkened
surroundings, with a weathered, yellowish skull, without jawbone. All
this in just a flash, but the details I'm describing did present
themselves in that first image. (which I may or may not have picked up
in a movie or picture)

>The text also guides you to important objects, instead of allowing you to
>discover them for yourself. Certain puzzles are too easy to solve when all
>the elements are helpfully described.

On the first point, I was with you: people differ strongly in their
imaginations and as Bob Newell pointed out, the visualisation an
artist offers almost certainly differs from what you (are able to)
imagine.

But on this second point I have to disagree. If the description
mentions a TV, but mentions no on/off switch, I still assume it
is there.

You see a television here.
> turn tv on

You turn the knob and the tv comes to life.
> watch program

It is some kind of western.
> x cowboy

They're chasing indians.
etc.

In this example, the player keeps referring to objects that haven't
been mentioned in the text. Often, thinking about what the description
evokes -is- the puzzle.

I have to admit that, as a very strongly visually oriented person, I
don't have a clue what it is -you- imagine when you read a book. I can
only imagine images and sounds as I read one. The kind of IF you like
to read -has- to differ strongly from the kind I like.

Grtz,
JAAP.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------
"Did you know that black paint is an excellent stain remover?"
-- Dogbert

henrik

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Jul 27, 2003, 5:58:30 AM7/27/03
to
> Obviously as a text game devotee I buy into a lot of this. But on the other
> hand, I have played some graphical games in which the graphics are
> stunning and imaginative, and provide views and concepts that my imagination
> never would have created --- they stem from different and original thinking.
> This is lost in a pure text game. So I'm of (at least) two minds about
> the question.

I think it's wrong to even think of comparing text and graphical games
because that would be similar than trying to compare movies and music.
Text adventures are great because they are without graphics. Text
always gives more space to the designers and brings out gaming ideas
that would be impossible to make as graphical games. And not to
mention the fact that the programming is a lot simpler so more people
with ideas can make them.

But then again, graphical games are good also. I'd have to say that
from all adventure games out there, Myst and the sequel Riven are my
ultimate favourites. And what's important, those games couldn't be
made as text games. When designing a game, I think the first question
should be, Do I need graphics. Is there a reason for not to make it a
text only. If there is substancial non-commercial reason, then you can
do the graphics.

When I found text games, I said all to my friends how text adventures
have the best possible graphics. They laughed.

Torquemada

unread,
Aug 11, 2003, 6:51:27 PM8/11/03
to
> So, there have been a few postings recently, and many throughout time,
> about the idea that in text games your imagination provides the best
> illustrations, and no graphics are needed.

I have no time for this point of view at all. When I read a book I don't
think "this book is great but it has gaps in it and I have to fill those in
with my imagination". A book is a book is a book. If it's self-contained and
complete then it doesn't lack pictures - it doesn't need pictures. When I
buy a book I am paying for the use of someone else's imagination. I am not
paying for a half-construction that I have to complete with my own
imagination. The whole point of paying the other guy is that they have a
better imagination than me and reading their book allows me to take
advantage of it. And of course the same goes for interactive fiction.

What's really going on is this: literature (and writing in general) is seen
as more intellectual than other art forms in many cultures - particularly
those of Northern European descent (consider things ranging from the
whitewashing of cathedrals and the preference of subtitles to dubbing in
those cultures). As is well known, those who consider themselves
intellectuals tend to be snobbish and look down on non-intellectuals. Saying
"your imagination provides the best illustrations" is a back handed way of
accusing those who don't read books (or play IF) of lacking imagination and
being inferior.
--
Torque

.


Harry

unread,
Aug 11, 2003, 7:05:44 PM8/11/03
to
On Mon, 11 Aug 2003 22:51:27 GMT, "Torquemada"
<torqu...@nospam.sigfpe.com> made the world a better place by
saying:

No, it was a marketing line at a time when computers weren't capable
of creating the flashy stuff like Lara's boobs. Pictures were crude
back then, even those with boobs. So Infocom invented this slogan to
sell their wares. Not everything is about elitism around here. In
fact, hardly anything is. And if you disagree I'll sick the Cabal on
you.

Harry
-------------------------
"Hey, aren't you Gadget?"
"I was."

http://www.haha.demon.nl
(To send e-mail, remove SPAMBLOCK from address)

Torquemada

unread,
Aug 11, 2003, 7:33:30 PM8/11/03
to
> So Infocom invented this slogan to sell their wares.

Probably true. These points of view are not incompatible. Infocom took
advantage of the values shared by the target audience in the prevailing
culture.

I love text for text's sake. I also like pictures. It bothers me a lot when
people describe text as a kind of low-res picture :-)
--
Torque


Harry

unread,
Aug 11, 2003, 7:41:32 PM8/11/03
to
On Mon, 11 Aug 2003 23:33:30 GMT, "Torquemada"

<torqu...@nospam.sigfpe.com> made the world a better place by
saying:

>> So Infocom invented this slogan to sell their wares.

You must really hate ASCII graphics...

Torquemada

unread,
Aug 11, 2003, 9:12:59 PM8/11/03
to
I've nothing against low-res pictures. Just when good text is treated like
low-res graphics. Of course if someone had some good text that also
functioned as low-res art I'd probably get confused.
--
Torque


Andrew Plotkin

unread,
Aug 11, 2003, 10:18:11 PM8/11/03
to
Here, Torquemada <torqu...@nospam.sigfpe.com> wrote:
> As is well known, those who consider themselves
> intellectuals tend to be snobbish and look down on
> non-intellectuals.

Fortunately, those of us who just suck at graphics and illustration
get to retain our excuse.

--Z

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

Paul Drallos

unread,
Aug 12, 2003, 1:21:36 AM8/12/03
to
Torquemada wrote:
> Saying
> "your imagination provides the best illustrations" is a back handed way of
> accusing those who don't read books (or play IF) of lacking imagination and
> being inferior.
>

I think that, when someone says 'your imagination provides the best
illustrations', he/she really mean something else.

The author is still the one who provides the illustrations. It's
just that, sometimes the author paints an illustration with words
instead of pixels. And if the author is good at painting with
words, then his illustrations are indeed better than or as good as
than they might be with pixels.

When I read a book, my imagination does indeed play a role in what
I invision, but the responsibility still falls most heavily on the
author's imagination and his ability to set his vision into words.

Adrien Beau

unread,
Aug 12, 2003, 5:48:42 AM8/12/03
to

Have a nice confusion! :-)

http://www.cndp.fr/magarts/dessin1/images/bouteille2.gif
http://www.cndp.fr/magarts/dessin1/images/bouteille3.gif
(both from http://www.cndp.fr/magarts/dessin1/lettres.htm)

http://www.ubu.com/historical/app/app4.html
http://www.ubu.com/historical/app/app5.html
(and others, at http://www.ubu.com/historical/app/app.html)

If you're interested, you can look up other calligrammes on
Google: http://www.google.com/search?q=calligrammes

(I don't know the English word for "calligramme".)

--
spam....@free.fr
You have my name and my hostname: you can mail me.
(Put a period between my first and last names).

Richard Bos

unread,
Aug 12, 2003, 9:21:37 AM8/12/03
to
Adrien Beau <spam....@free.fr> wrote:

> If you're interested, you can look up other calligrammes on
> Google: http://www.google.com/search?q=calligrammes
>
> (I don't know the English word for "calligramme".)

Calligram :-) Unfortunately, a Google search for that word doesn't turn
up much; or rather, it finds too much noise.
One of the most famous English calligrams is, of course, the one found
here: <http://bootless.net/mouse.html>.

Richard

John McCallum

unread,
Aug 12, 2003, 12:57:48 PM8/12/03
to
Adrien Beau wrote:

> (I don't know the English word for "calligramme".)

Sounds to me somewhat similar to Concrete Poetry. You might want to look at:

http://www.frieze.co.uk/column_single.asp?c=110

Cheers,
John McCallum


Charles A. Smith

unread,
Aug 12, 2003, 12:53:38 PM8/12/03
to
"Paul Drallos" <pdra...@tir.com> wrote in message
news:vtqcnQ72doX...@comcast.com...
Good point, I believe. I recently read an IF where the author referred often
to the actor's feelings and motives. For example (not from the IF).

Look at mountain.
You see a majestic snowcapped mountain. You are overwhelmed by it's beauty
and feel in awe of its quiet majesty.

My thought is to refrain from any reference to the emotions, reactions, and
motives in the text unless the player clearly chose an action that implies
some inner state (like "kneeling" before the mountain). Even then, I think
it's best to allow the actor to draw his or her own emtional conclusions. I
don't like it when someone in real life tells me how I feel and what I
think. I don't like that when I identify with a character in IF either.

I think writers include this stuff because they don't have confidence that
their descriptions of environments and characters produce an emotional
response in the reader who is guiding the protagonist. It's like laughing
too hard at your own joke.

Other comments?

Chuck Smith


Quintin Stone

unread,
Aug 12, 2003, 1:57:51 PM8/12/03
to
On Tue, 12 Aug 2003, Charles A. Smith wrote:

> My thought is to refrain from any reference to the emotions, reactions,
> and motives in the text unless the player clearly chose an action that
> implies some inner state (like "kneeling" before the mountain). Even
> then, I think it's best to allow the actor to draw his or her own
> emtional conclusions. I don't like it when someone in real life tells me
> how I feel and what I think. I don't like that when I identify with a
> character in IF either.
>
> I think writers include this stuff because they don't have confidence
> that their descriptions of environments and characters produce an
> emotional response in the reader who is guiding the protagonist. It's
> like laughing too hard at your own joke.

It depends on the character you are playing and who defines that
character. When the PC is a strongly defined character with a personality
and history clearly defined by the story (as in Christminster), then it's
entirely appropriate, because the game is telling you what your CHARACTER
feels, not how you feel. Now of course, such a PC can be harder to
identify with, but that's a known drawback of using a strongly defined
player character.

/====================================================================\
|| Quintin Stone O- > "You speak of necessary evil? One ||
|| Code Monkey < of those necessities is that if ||
|| Rebel Programmers Society > innocents must suffer, the guilty must ||
|| st...@rps.net < suffer more." -- Mackenzie Calhoun ||
|| http://www.rps.net/ > "Once Burned" by Peter David ||
\====================================================================/

Rob Steggles

unread,
Aug 12, 2003, 2:04:47 PM8/12/03
to

"Charles A. Smith" <cas...@ksu.edu> wrote in message
news:bhb605$f16$1...@cnn.cns.ksu.edu...

> I think writers include this stuff because they don't have confidence that
> their descriptions of environments and characters produce an emotional
> response in the reader who is guiding the protagonist. It's like laughing
> too hard at your own joke.

Side issue: I was always told not to use exclamation marks in writing as it
smacked of the same thing, ie if a joke is funny the person will laugh, the
exclamation mark kind of say "laugh here", proving that the joke isn't funny
enough. I think this comes from Gowers' Plain English.

Two points.
1. This rule works fine with 'english as mother tongue' speakers, but not so
well with others. I find myself using a lot of exclamation marks when
writing to non-english language folks simply to make sure they understand
I'm joking (and don't take offence).
2. The informailty of e-mail, newsgroup and other postings has given new
life to exclamation marks and has also given birth to emoticons for the same
reason - to make sure you are not misunderstood.

Does this increased use of exclamation marks/emoticons mean that writing is
getting sloppy? Or does it mean that reading is getting sloppy due to
lackof attention/soundbite TV/lack of knowledgeof the language?

For IF particularly, I think some degree of 'direction' from the author is
allowed : 'interactive' means the author and player are allowed to talk to
each othert, the author is not *just* a passive observer and respondent to
the author's actions. But, as with all these things, a light touch is
required to ensure the player does not take offence, enjoys the experience
and carries on inthe right vein...

Rob Steggles

Adam Thornton

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Aug 12, 2003, 11:14:31 PM8/12/03
to
In article <728gjvg7i203alada...@4ax.com>,

Harry <gad...@SPAMBLOCKhaha.demon.nl> wrote:
>Pictures were crude back then, even those with boobs.

They still are. They're just higher resolution, with more color depth.

>And if you disagree I'll sick the Cabal on you.

Look, do you want to see your hamster again or not? If you do, then you
should be aware that mentioning the Cabal as if it were fact, when it of
course does not exist, might not be the best way of achieving that goal.

Adam

Harry

unread,
Aug 13, 2003, 4:54:09 AM8/13/03
to
On Wed, 13 Aug 2003 03:14:31 +0000 (UTC), ad...@fsf.net (Adam Thornton)

made the world a better place by saying:

>In article <728gjvg7i203alada...@4ax.com>,

Hammy! NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Gene Wirchenko

unread,
Aug 13, 2003, 3:29:47 PM8/13/03
to
ad...@fsf.net (Adam Thornton) wrote:

The Cabal can not exist, at least, not for long.

The reason is that it is^Wwould be using the same model as many
of the failed dot-coms did: burn through the investors' money without
making a dime (or more than a few).

A successful Cabal would be considering its income sources
carefully. I have not seen the obvious suggestion of ransom for
Bowser and Fluffy and whatever you call a hamster.

There are expenses. The petfood and animal boarding does not
come free.

The problems about existence could be dealt with using a front
organisation.

I do not know what they are teaching kids in school these days,
but it sure does not include how to competently run a
secret^Wnon-existent organisation.

Torquemada

unread,
Aug 13, 2003, 9:11:18 PM8/13/03
to
> recently read an IF where the author referred often
> to the actor's feelings and motives. For example (not from the IF).

Interesting. I think one of the fun things about written fiction is that you
can describe inner states or motives, even those that nobody is aware of
including the subject of discussion. Written fiction allows you to do
impossible things like this. And even more fun, you can do these things
ironically too. If writing is nothing but a description of a scene that
could be presented pictorially then it isn't taking full advantage of the
medium is it?
--
Torque


Franco

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Aug 13, 2003, 11:03:19 PM8/13/03
to
Mark Borok <mbo...@mindspring.com> wrote in message news:<260720031123482459%mbo...@mindspring.com>...


I hardly ever post here, but this reminds me of a thread about
visualizing the game scene that went on several years ago.

I do not visualize what is happening when I play or read or do
anything literary. I feel the emotions the story elicits - love,
danger, fear - but there is no intermediate visualization. It's like
the words themselves cause the feelings. This is true playing I/F,
reading, listening to old radio shows, whatever. I don't really
visualize the scene in my mind, unless I deliberately choose to do so.
But I derive a lot of enjoyment from literary works, in fact, I am
always reading something.

I can force myself to visualize, and of course - especially when
playing games - it's necessary, but it isn't something that comes
naturally to me without conscious effort.

I am a very verbal/literary kind of person, rather than graphic. So,
that probably helps explain it.

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