News on Avalon, help needed.

8 views
Skip to first unread message

Gerry Kevin Wilson

unread,
Apr 1, 1994, 10:28:59 PM4/1/94
to
Howdy all. It seems that Avalon may be getting delayed. I'm not
certain at this point. Right now I'm having memory allocation errors when I
try compiling, even with the newest version of TADS. I dunno if it's my game
or not. In the meantime I've just been designing the rest of the game. I
hope I'll still meet my self-inflicted deadline of Early-Mid May, but it's
going to be close if at all. I dunno what'll happen if I can't get it out on
the Internet before I go home for the summer. Maybe I'll get a Compuserve
account and upload it from there. In any event, things don't look good at
this point, since I was hoping to get a lot done over Spring Break, which is
pretty much over now. Is there any way that anyone out there knows of to
avoid these allocation errors w/o waiting for the next version of TADS?
Oh yes. I was also interested in getting a bit of info on the Oz
project. Also any group working in interactive fiction that emphasizes the
writing side over the technical side. Thanks.
Last thing. I've been thinking about different methods of writing
games. Well, not literally about writing them, just artistic techniques
within the games themselves. I've been pondering upon the age old puzzle
dilemma. So far I've heard two schools of thought on puzzles. One that says
you can't live w/o 'em, one saying you can't live w/ 'em. So, my pondering
mind rambled on awhile and thought to itself, "Say, in literature, the hero is
inevitably confronted with problems. These are basically puzzles for them to
decipher. So either you're creating with an eye towards literature, in which
conflict plays a role, and hence puzzles or combat, or you're taking the
tour approach, and simply enjoying the scenery." So, I sez to meself, since
I want conflict in all of my games, not caring for flight simulators or
virtual touring 'games', that means I need some sort of puzzles. The thing
wrong with using the word puzzle is that it conjures up contrived and
unrealistic situations in which the player is doing a Tower of Hanoi puzzle
or something similar. So, I shall use the term conflict from here on in this
post. Now, sez I, lets us expands ours horizons. So sezing, I begins to
cogitate seriously on da matta at hand. Then, suddenly divesting myself of
the corny mafia accent, I came up with a few tings, err...things.

1. There are two kinds of conflict. Internal, and external.
2. External conflict has been heavily explored, including discussions on
conversation, puzzles, combat, and atmosphere.
3. Internal conflict is rather difficult to simulate.

Conclusion: I decided to come here and see what yous thought. How can we
tackle this confusing and delicate thing in IF?
--
<~~~~~E~~~G~~~~~~~~~~~HEINLEIN~~~~~~~~~~~DOYLE~~~~~~~~~~~~~SPAM~~|~~~~~~~>
< V R I O Software. We bring words to life! | ~~\ >
< T | /~\ | >
<_WATCH for Avalon in early MAY!____wh...@uclink.berkeley.edu_|_\__/__>

Russell Wallace

unread,
Apr 3, 1994, 9:33:29 AM4/3/94
to
(remarks about the need to have puzzles in IF deleted...)

I personally thoroughly dislike the kind of puzzles IF authors put into
their games, would much prefer to have none at all, and these days
usually only play the intro to a game and give up when I hit the first
puzzle rather than waste hours solving it.

However, this is not so much an objection to puzzles per se as to the
kind of ones IF authors usually put in:

- IF puzzles usually only have *one* possible solution; there should be
many alternatives.

- IF puzzles usually have to be tackled in sequence, so if you run into
one and are not able to solve it, you're stuck.

- With IF puzzles, if you get it wrong, usually you might as well be
dead, and you have to restore a saved position and try again.

- IF puzzles usually require very many iterations of trying, failing,
restoring where necessary, before eventually succeeding.

None of these characteristics is true of either real life or good
literature. I would like puzzles that admit of many possible solutions,
perhaps depending on my character's attributes (a strong character might
break down a door, a dexterous one might try to pick the lock, an
intuitive one might find the key hidden under the doormat), that don't
totally prevent progress in the game if you get stuck on them, and in
which failure is something you will need to compensate for later rather
than requiring a restore (e.g. failing to find the key at point A should
make the locked door at point B more difficult to get past, but not
impossible).

(Of course, not *all* IF has the negative qualities listed above; this
in my opinion is one of the main things distinguishing good IF from
bad.)

--
"To summarize the summary of the summary: people are a problem"
Russell Wallace, Trinity College, Dublin
rwal...@cs.tcd.ie

The Grim Reaper

unread,
Apr 3, 1994, 8:13:21 PM4/3/94
to
In article <1994Apr3.1...@cs.tcd.ie>,

Russell Wallace <rwal...@cs.tcd.ie> wrote:
>(remarks about the need to have puzzles in IF deleted...)
>
>I personally thoroughly dislike the kind of puzzles IF authors put into
>their games, would much prefer to have none at all, and these days
>usually only play the intro to a game and give up when I hit the first
>puzzle rather than waste hours solving it.

At first glance, all this says to me is you have no desire to play i-f, and
would rather just read a book.

>However, this is not so much an objection to puzzles per se as to the
>kind of ones IF authors usually put in:

Okay, this is better.

>- IF puzzles usually only have *one* possible solution; there should be
> many alternatives.

Not always. Besides making far more work for the game writer, sometimes I
*want* the player to have to puzzle out a puzzle, or figure out a riddle or
whatever. If I have a puzzle door that needs to have the pieces slid around
correctly to open, I don't want you to be able to skip the puzzle. I put
in the work, and you can damn well solve it ;P Seriously, I'd say always
putting in extra solutions is more bother than it's worth. However,
*occasionally* having extra solutions is a good thing, I agree.

>- IF puzzles usually have to be tackled in sequence, so if you run into
> one and are not able to solve it, you're stuck.

This is more a matter of general game philosophy. I'm personally in favor
of a more free-form sort of game where you can go down several paths, and
alternate between them, but more linear games can be extremely playable (see
Enhanced, for instance).

>- With IF puzzles, if you get it wrong, usually you might as well be
> dead, and you have to restore a saved position and try again.

Again, a matter of game philosophy. Do you want a game where you can't die,
and can't get into a permanent losing position, or do you want a game where
it is possible to fail? Just individual taste.

>- IF puzzles usually require very many iterations of trying, failing,
> restoring where necessary, before eventually succeeding.

Yes. But it's so *satisfying* to solve it, once you do succeed!

>None of these characteristics is true of either real life or good
>literature. I would like puzzles that admit of many possible solutions,

Ooh, that's a rather broad statement. Literature is very linear, isn't it?
The characters never decide to leave the dragon's lair, and go and try and
enter the head villian's fortress for a while, before heading back to the
lair. Real life... If I wanted to write a real-life game, I wouldn't be the
sort of person that wanted to write i-f ;P

>perhaps depending on my character's attributes (a strong character might
>break down a door, a dexterous one might try to pick the lock, an
>intuitive one might find the key hidden under the doormat), that don't

Hmm. This is another interesting point of game philosophy (my, we're just
racking up those points today ;P). It is possible to write a game geared
towards characters that can be different, but it asks quite a bit more of the
writer. Also, this opens up the role-playing someone else vs playing yourself
argument, too. I like to play me in games, albeit a modified me that fits into
the story line, not a person entirely different from me. (See next post)

>totally prevent progress in the game if you get stuck on them, and in
>which failure is something you will need to compensate for later rather
>than requiring a restore (e.g. failing to find the key at point A should
>make the locked door at point B more difficult to get past, but not
>impossible).

The problem with this is that eventually, you have to make a puzzle that
must be solved, or the player will just drift past all the puzzles, not really
trying any of them. If you don't want to write a puzzle game, fine. That's
a different argument. But I like puzzles, and I don't mind being forced to
do them to move the game on. However, I also don't really like fatal puzzles
either. Is there some sort of midground we could reach?

>(Of course, not *all* IF has the negative qualities listed above; this
>in my opinion is one of the main things distinguishing good IF from
>bad.)
>--
>"To summarize the summary of the summary: people are a problem"
>Russell Wallace, Trinity College, Dublin
>rwal...@cs.tcd.ie

+----------------------------------------------------------+
| One .sig to rule them all, one .sig to find them... |
| One .sig to bring them all and in the darkness bind them |
+----------------------------------------------------------+
| The Grim Reaper (Reaper of Souls, Stealer of .sigs) |
| scy...@u.washington.edu |
+----------------------------------------------------------+


Joel Finch

unread,
Apr 5, 1994, 3:10:45 AM4/5/94
to
> 1. There are two kinds of conflict.
> Internal, and external.
> 2. External conflict has been heavily
> explored, including discussions on
> conversation, puzzles, combat, and atmosphere.
> 3. Internal conflict is rather difficult
> to simulate.
>
> Conclusion: I decided to come here and see
> what yous thought. How can we tackle this
> confusing and delicate thing in IF?

I think the problem with internal conflicts in IF
is that it is hard to TELL people what they are
feeling. It's simple to say:
"You fill the cup with water",
but hard (impossible?) to say:
"You are in anguish over the death of your cat"
because the *player* decides how they feel about
such things. (They might have hated the cat.)

Internal conflicts such as disability
(blindness, as I see whizzard is working on) are
really external conflicts in IF because they are
separate from the mind playing the game. The mind
in IF really has to be an atom, ie. indivisible,
or the game starts doing things that the player
didn't instruct their character to do, and becomes
frustrating. Unless the premise of the game includes
schizophrenia or something, which in turn quickyly
becomes an external problem, a puzzle to find a
solution to.

The problem with IF and trying to remove the focus
from puzzles, is that by its nature, IF draws
attention to them. In real life, I wouldn't think
twice about selecting the right key to open a door,
but in an IF environment, you have to pay attention,
because the text is all you've got. Perhaps we need
an all new interface to be able to simulate internal
conflicts. Plain text has limits.
(Electrodes, anyone?)

Seeya, Joel :)
(jfi...@ozemail.com.au)


Reply all
Reply to author
Forward
0 new messages