ILLOGICAL GAMES

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Ashley Price

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Jul 18, 1999, 3:00:00 AM7/18/99
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Hi All

I have played many an adventure game in my time, so of them great, some okay
and some awful.

The main thing that bugs me is illogical answers to problems. This happens
in commercial games as well as amateur (and I use the word amateur simply to
denote those that are commercially released and those that are passed
through the internet, etc.).

The worse one I have so far come across was for Discworld. Okay, I realise
that it is based on Terry Pratchett's books, etc., etc., but let me give you
an example of one problem:

<MINOR SPOILER FOR PC DISCWORLD>
>
>
>
>
>
You need to get into the monk's union. How do you do this? Well, you need to
get the monk's habit. So you have to catch a butterfly, release it under a
street lamp, this will then make it rain over the monk who will hang his
habit on a washing line.
This is the problem at it's most simplest, I haven't mentioned that you had
to go back and forward through time as well.
>
>
>
>
>
Would you have guessed that? This wasn't the only time they were illogical,
I needed the walkthrough from one of the magazines and it left me feeling
cheated and disappointed.

I am not saying that adventures should be easy but they surely don't have to
be so illogical that the player would never think of them.

This problem crops up often in fantasy games. Because the author has
constructed the world himself he knows the ins and outs of it, but the
player is alien to this world and at the very least should be given a few
pointers as to how the world works. Could we really expect an alien to this
plant to know that a key opens a door and not a blade of grass attached to a
stick inserted in the ground next to the oak tree (okay a little
exaggeration there, but you get my drift).

What do others think?

Ashley

~~~~

He's a little man, that's his trouble. Never trust a man with short legs -
brains too near their bottoms.

Noel Coward


Ashley Price

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Jul 18, 1999, 3:00:00 AM7/18/99
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>Could we really expect an alien to this
> plant to know that a key opens a door and not a blade of grass attached to
a
> stick inserted in the ground next to the oak tree (okay a little
> exaggeration there, but you get my drift).

Or even 'an alien to this planet'

Ashley

burn...@cs.lafayette.edu

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Jul 18, 1999, 3:00:00 AM7/18/99
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In article <7ms6ke$1ivu$1...@grind.server.pavilion.net>,

"Ashley Price" <ash...@pavilion.co.uk> wrote:
> <MINOR SPOILER FOR PC DISCWORLD>
> >
> >
> >
> >
> >
> You need to get into the monk's union. How do you do this? Well, you
need to
> get the monk's habit. So you have to catch a butterfly, release it
under a
> street lamp, this will then make it rain over the monk who will hang
his
> habit on a washing line.

Well this sounds like a joke on the very common example that people
give to explain Chaos Theory in mathematics. "A butterfly flaps its
wings in Rio and it rains in New York" or something to that effect. So,
yes, I might have guessed that. Were there any other allusions to
Chaos Theory or mathematics or anything else related to this quote?

Jesse


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

Craxton

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Jul 18, 1999, 3:00:00 AM7/18/99
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Ashley Price wrote:
>
> Hi All
>
> I have played many an adventure game in my time, so of them great, some okay
> and some awful.
>
> The main thing that bugs me is illogical answers to problems. This happens
> in commercial games as well as amateur (and I use the word amateur simply to
> denote those that are commercially released and those that are passed
> through the internet, etc.).
>
> The worse one I have so far come across was for Discworld. Okay, I realise
> that it is based on Terry Pratchett's books, etc., etc., but let me give you
> an example of one problem:
>
> <MINOR SPOILER FOR PC DISCWORLD>
> >
> >
> >
> >
> >
> You need to get into the monk's union. How do you do this? Well, you need to
> get the monk's habit. So you have to catch a butterfly, release it under a
> street lamp, this will then make it rain over the monk who will hang his
> habit on a washing line.
> This is the problem at it's most simplest, I haven't mentioned that you had
> to go back and forward through time as well.
> >
> >
> >
> >
> >
> Would you have guessed that? This wasn't the only time they were illogical,
> I needed the walkthrough from one of the magazines and it left me feeling
> cheated and disappointed.
>
> I am not saying that adventures should be easy but they surely don't have to
> be so illogical that the player would never think of them.
>
> This problem crops up often in fantasy games. Because the author has
> constructed the world himself he knows the ins and outs of it, but the
> player is alien to this world and at the very least should be given a few
> pointers as to how the world works. Could we really expect an alien to this

> plant to know that a key opens a door and not a blade of grass attached to a
> stick inserted in the ground next to the oak tree (okay a little
> exaggeration there, but you get my drift).
>
> What do others think?
>
> Ashley
>

Yeah, Discworld has the problem of having too many obscure puzzles. In
addition, since most of Prachett's writing has a basis of humor through
ludicrous illogic, you have to think in puns and gags to solve many of
the puzzles- but therin lies the game's essential appeal, i.e. the
humor. Discworld II clears up the problems of illogical puzzles but
loses the humor of the first game. The trick, I think, is to not be
ashamed of using the walkthrough. Games are meant to be fun, not
ego-shattering.

-Craxton
--
"All men are sexual. You'd better get used to it." -May Club
Long Live the Hentai Game!

Ashley Price

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Jul 18, 1999, 3:00:00 AM7/18/99
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Dear Jesse

I take your point...to a point.

As I said in the earlier mail I was keeping the problem simple. The well
known chaos theory example does not take into account that (in the game) the
butterfly flapping its wings makes it rain the night BEFORE you have
released it!?

This is not, in my opinion, a good solution to a problem. We do not live in
the fantasy world, therefore, it is difficult - if not impossible - for us
to understand the way things work. I feel that you still need to have some
of 'our world' logic to have any chance of playing it well.

Ashley

Ashley Price

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Jul 18, 1999, 3:00:00 AM7/18/99
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Hi Craxton

No offence but I don't agree. A problem that you cannot solve is not funny
or humourous. Imagine hearing a joke and the teller stops before the
punchline, is that joke still funny? The only time I think a problem is
funny is if I find I have been stupid in not thinking the correct way to
solve the problem and it was possibly staring me in the face (although you
could say it is your inability to solve the puzzle that you find funny
rather than the puzzle itself).

For instance, a game I was playing had a pool cue that was actually a blow
pipe and I also had some poison darts, but I could not work out how to get
the darts into the blow pipe. Finally, I just tried "blow dart" and it
work. It was so simple, but I had not thought of it.

There is no shame in using a walkthrough. However, if you have to use a
walkthrough because you realise there is no possible way you will solve the
adventure otherwise, then rather than shame you feel annoyance,
dissappointment and the feeling of being cheated.

The writers must realise that some people are going to find this hard,
therefore, why not enclose a walkthrough (in a separate sealed envelope if
they feel it necessary)?

Ashley

Craxton

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Jul 18, 1999, 3:00:00 AM7/18/99
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Ashley Price wrote:

<snip>

> There is no shame in using a walkthrough. However, if you have to use a
> walkthrough because you realise there is no possible way you will solve the
> adventure otherwise, then rather than shame you feel annoyance,
> dissappointment and the feeling of being cheated.

Then, no flame, maybe the problem is with your state of mind. See, we've
gotten so used to games organized around goals and challenges that a
passive gaming experience, i.e. one in which you basically sit back and
move the action forward at set points, is completely alien to us, and
often comes off as boring. This is one of the main reasons "Interactive
Movies" bombed so horribly.



> The writers must realise that some people are going to find this hard,
> therefore, why not enclose a walkthrough (in a separate sealed envelope if
> they feel it necessary)?
>

Not necessary. There are almost always walkthroughs out on the net after
a few weeks. And also, what seems easy to the author might not always be
obvious to the player. Wasn't there a discussion in this vein centered
around "Cattus Atrox" a few weeks ago?

Craxton

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Jul 18, 1999, 3:00:00 AM7/18/99
to
Muke wrote:

>
> "Ashley Price" <ash...@pavilion.co.uk> wrote:
> > <MINOR SPOILER FOR PC DISCWORLD>
> > >
> > >
> > >
> > >
> > >
> > You need to get into the monk's union. How do you do this? Well, you
> > need to get the monk's habit. So you have to catch a butterfly,
> > release it under a street lamp, this will then make it rain over the
> > monk who will hang his habit on a washing line.
> > This is the problem at it's most simplest, I haven't mentioned that
> > you had to go back and forward through time as well.
> > >
> > >
> > >
> > >
> > >
> > Would you have guessed that? This wasn't the only time they were
> > illogical, I needed the walkthrough from one of the magazines and it
> > left me feeling cheated and disappointed.
>
> Well, I haven't played the game. But I do know about the chaos
> butterflies, because I'd read the books. What I don't understand is why
> the rain would make the monk take his habit off. Or the bit about the
> streetlamp, unless the monk is standing under it (it looks like he is
> from your description of the problem, but I'm not entirely sure.)
>

It works like this- You have to get the habit from a monk standing on a
street corner yelling out rubbish prophecies (which are rather funny
BTW.) To do this, you use a time gate to go back to the previous
evening, snatch the butterfly, and release it over the same corner,
which by some insane logic causes a freak rainstorm to burst right over
the monk's head in the present. His habit gets soaked, and he hangs it
on a nearby clothesline to dry, where you can cladestinely swipe it.

Jim Aikin

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Jul 18, 1999, 3:00:00 AM7/18/99
to
I've also run into (or, more accurately, banged my nose against) a
number of puzzles in IF that are annoyingly difficult. I _never_ would
have solved the opening sequence in Christminster without a walkthrough.

The difficulty for the IF author is that a puzzle that's cake for one
player will be a bed of nails for another. I included a math-based
puzzle in my new game, for instance, and it totally flummoxed some of my
testers -- but two of the testers happened to be math majors, and it was
instantly obvious to them how to reach the solution.

If we write for a player who finds all of the puzzles easy, the game is
likely to be dull. Ideally, one would like to include a variety of
puzzles, some easy and some hard. Hopefully, it will all balance out.
But there's probably no way to avoid the appearance that some puzzles
are unfair, or require specialized knowledge that you, the individual
player, don't happen to possess.

> The writers must realise that some people are going to find this hard,
> therefore, why not enclose a walkthrough (in a separate sealed envelope if
> they feel it necessary)?

My game includes a complete walkthrough built into the software, as well
as InvisiClues-style hints for each of the individual puzzles. There is
no way you can get stuck playing this game! The downside of this is, you
can be as lazy as you'd like. If you use the hints extensively the game
will be (I believe) a lot less fun. To compensate, I built a
score-reduction mechanism into the game. As you ask for more hints, the
top score you can earn will drop, and drop, and drop. If you go so far
as to read the answer to a given puzzle rather than just asking for a
hint, you'll get no points for that puzzle at all.

This setup was a LOT of extra trouble to code, so I hope players will
appreciate it.

When it comes to what constitutes a FAIR puzzle, or how to write IF in
such a way that only fair puzzles will be included, I'm as mystified as
anybody. Here's why: IF thrives on whimsy, and whimsy is by definition
capricious, and caprice is by definition unfair. Ergo, the puzzles in IF
are inherently going to be unfair. Q.E.D.

--Jim Aikin

Vincent Lynch

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Jul 19, 1999, 3:00:00 AM7/19/99
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burn...@cs.lafayette.edu wrote in message
<7mshcn$1v9$1...@nnrp1.deja.com>...
>In article <7ms6ke$1ivu$1...@grind.server.pavilion.net>,

> "Ashley Price" <ash...@pavilion.co.uk> wrote:
>> <MINOR SPOILER FOR PC DISCWORLD>
>> >
>> >
>> >
>> >
>> >
>> You need to get into the monk's union. How do you do this? Well,
>>you need to get the monk's habit. So you have to catch a butterfly,
>>release it under a street lamp, this will then make it rain over the
>>monk who will hang his habit on a washing line.
>
>Well this sounds like a joke on the very common example that people
>give to explain Chaos Theory in mathematics. "A butterfly flaps its
>wings in Rio and it rains in New York" or something to that effect.
So,
>yes, I might have guessed that. Were there any other allusions to
>Chaos Theory or mathematics or anything else related to this quote?

I think so, but certainly nothing suggesting any connection between
butterflys and monks' habits. In other words, you can solve the
problem by trying things with the butterfly you happen to be carrying,
but if you just try to find a way to obtain a monk's habit, you'll
never solve it.

This is a feature of the vast majority of IF, though; there's almost
always a problem which you can't solve just by thinking about it
logically, because you have to solve another problem first to get the
object or information you require.

-Vincent


Muke

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Jul 19, 1999, 3:00:00 AM7/19/99
to
"Ashley Price" <ash...@pavilion.co.uk> wrote:
> Imagine hearing a joke and the teller stops before the punchline, is
> that joke still funny?

Well, let's try it.

"So this seal walks into this club..."

(No, that doesn't count.)

"A priest, a rabbi, and a minister walk into a bar..."

Hmmm.. okay, that actually _is_ funny, but you don't think of it much
because joke priests rabbis and ministers are always walking into bars.

Uh, nevermind, forget I said anything.

*Muke!
--
Muke, turtle.

My webpage: http://i.am/muke
ICQ: 1936556

Muke

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Jul 19, 1999, 3:00:00 AM7/19/99
to
"Ashley Price" <ash...@pavilion.co.uk> wrote:
> <MINOR SPOILER FOR PC DISCWORLD>
> >
> >
> >
> >
> >
> You need to get into the monk's union. How do you do this? Well, you
> need to get the monk's habit. So you have to catch a butterfly,
> release it under a street lamp, this will then make it rain over the
> monk who will hang his habit on a washing line.
> This is the problem at it's most simplest, I haven't mentioned that
> you had to go back and forward through time as well.
> >
> >
> >
> >
> >
> Would you have guessed that? This wasn't the only time they were
> illogical, I needed the walkthrough from one of the magazines and it
> left me feeling cheated and disappointed.

Well, I haven't played the game. But I do know about the chaos
butterflies, because I'd read the books. What I don't understand is why
the rain would make the monk take his habit off. Or the bit about the
streetlamp, unless the monk is standing under it (it looks like he is
from your description of the problem, but I'm not entirely sure.)

*Muke!

David Glasser

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Jul 19, 1999, 3:00:00 AM7/19/99
to
Ashley Price <ash...@pavilion.co.uk> wrote:

> Dear Jesse
>
> I take your point...to a point.
>
> As I said in the earlier mail I was keeping the problem simple. The well
> known chaos theory example does not take into account that (in the game) the
> butterfly flapping its wings makes it rain the night BEFORE you have
> released it!?

I believe that the Discworld books, specifically INTERESTING TIMES, have
a Quantum Butterfly or some such as a key plot point that does just
about what you described.

Still, unless there was good clueing, it sounds like a bad puzzle.

Oh, and causing the rain has been done, in DAY OF THE TENTACLE.

> This is not, in my opinion, a good solution to a problem. We do not live in
> the fantasy world, therefore, it is difficult - if not impossible - for us
> to understand the way things work. I feel that you still need to have some
> of 'our world' logic to have any chance of playing it well.

I agree; however, if the butterfly's description said "This is a Quantum
Butterfly that creates rain", it might be somewhat fair, if a little
silly.

--
David Glasser: gla...@iname.com | http://www.uscom.com/~glasser/
DGlasser@ifMUD:orange.res.cmu.edu 4001 | raif FAQ http://come.to/raiffaq
"Maybe Glulxification will cause people to start using Scheme for IF. Or
maybe not. Anyhow, I just like saying 'Glulxification'." -andyf on ifMUD

Gunther Schmidl

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Jul 19, 1999, 3:00:00 AM7/19/99
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> It works like this- You have to get the habit from a monk standing on a
> street corner yelling out rubbish prophecies (which are rather funny
> BTW.) To do this, you use a time gate to go back to the previous
> evening, snatch the butterfly, and release it over the same corner,
> which by some insane logic causes a freak rainstorm to burst right over
> the monk's head in the present. His habit gets soaked, and he hangs it
> on a nearby clothesline to dry, where you can cladestinely swipe it.

Hmmm... ISTR this puzzle clued well enough I could figure it out. I think
the butterfly causes a small rainstorm w/lightning to appear over Rincewind;
also, there's talk about the Chaos theory (y'know, butterfly here causes
thunderstorm there, etc. etc.)

And if you've read any of his books (and isn't that the reason to even _buy_
this game?), it may be a dead giveaway, since the game is based on several
of his books.

--
+-----------------+---------------+------------------------------+
| Gunther Schmidl | ICQ: 22447430 | IF: http://sgu.home.dhs.org/ |
|-----------------+----------+----+------------------------------|
| gschmidl (at) gmx (dot) at | please remove the "xxx." to reply |
+----------------------------+-----------------------------------+

Ashley Price

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Jul 19, 1999, 3:00:00 AM7/19/99
to
Hi David

> Still, unless there was good clueing, it sounds like a bad puzzle.
>
> Oh, and causing the rain has been done, in DAY OF THE TENTACLE.
>
> > This is not, in my opinion, a good solution to a problem. We do not live
in
> > the fantasy world, therefore, it is difficult - if not impossible - for
us
> > to understand the way things work. I feel that you still need to have
some
> > of 'our world' logic to have any chance of playing it well.
>
> I agree; however, if the butterfly's description said "This is a Quantum
> Butterfly that creates rain", it might be somewhat fair, if a little
> silly.

The Discworld game I'm referring to was a graphical adventure (as they all
seem to be nowadays, with Grim Fandango, etc.) and as far as I can remember
there was not actually the ability to 'examine' objects.

Of course, this also leads to a separate discussion about how closely should
adventures follow books. When I bought Discworld I had only read the first
four books. Having a game based heavily on a set of books where you need to
read most if not all the collection is not a good idea. If clues for the
game are in the later books then how is someone like me supposed to solve
them?

Ashley

Ashley Price

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Jul 19, 1999, 3:00:00 AM7/19/99
to
Hi Vincent

> This is a feature of the vast majority of IF, though; there's almost
> always a problem which you can't solve just by thinking about it
> logically, because you have to solve another problem first to get the
> object or information you require.

The point you raise is good but different. Having to solve one puzzle before
solving another is fine. But I find in a lot of adventures at some point or
other I seem to reach a complete dead-end. I have solved all the puzzles
except one and after hours of searching, going through the previous
locations, trying different object combinations, etc., I am no nearer
solving it.

My original point though was the fact that some games make the solution so
obscure that it becomes too frustrating to be bothered.

I am playing one game at the moment, and I don't even know what or where the
puzzle is! I just seem to be wandering round several different locations for
no reason.

Which brings me to another topic - mazes. Do others agree with me that
putting an illogical maze in a game is a bad thing?

I have played a number of games whereby, for instance, you go east to a
location and the computer says 'you are in a construction site with exits in
all directions'. You try north and you get the same again. But if you
retrace your steps you do NOT get back to the location before entering the
maze. This, in my opinion, is both bad programming and shows a certain sense
of laziness.


Ashley

Ashley Price

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Jul 19, 1999, 3:00:00 AM7/19/99
to
Hi Craxton


> Then, no flame, maybe the problem is with your state of mind. See, we've
> gotten so used to games organized around goals and challenges that a
> passive gaming experience, i.e. one in which you basically sit back and
> move the action forward at set points, is completely alien to us, and
> often comes off as boring. This is one of the main reasons "Interactive
> Movies" bombed so horribly.
>

I'm sorry and no offence but I don't quite understand your thinking. I am
talking about games with goals and challenges, but that are too illogical
for you to work them out. I am not talking about passive games which I do
find boring (this isn't to say they *are*, just that I find them that way).

Ashley

Ashley Price

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Jul 19, 1999, 3:00:00 AM7/19/99
to
Hi Gunther


> And if you've read any of his books (and isn't that the reason to even
_buy_
> this game?), it may be a dead giveaway, since the game is based on several
> of his books.
>

Okay, when I bought the game I was relatively new to the Discworld books, I
had only read four. In David's post (further up the thread) he said about
the butterfly being in 'Interesting Times'. Great if you have read that far.
But if you have to read all (or a great number) of the books before hoping
to complete the game perhaps the publishers should provide a discount off
the series :)

Ashley

Ashley Price

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Jul 19, 1999, 3:00:00 AM7/19/99
to
Hi Barbara

>For example, if something is hidden under a rug and the player has not
>figured this out from whatever clues were meant to suggest the
>possibility, that needn't be a problem if "push table" yields "You can
>only push the table a short way before it gets stuck against, the rug.
>A corner of the rug is lifted slightly from the floor." And "X ceiling"
>gives "Very dull. Even looking at the floor might be more interesting

Yes this is a good idea if the author has included these sorts of clues.
However, some authors seem to cop out of this. If you type 'x ceiling' you
often get the response 'you can't do that' or 'I don't know the word
ceiling' or (even worse) 'you cannot see the ceiling'. This is not much
help.

Again, this leads to another topic. Another thing that does bug me is when
the description mentions an object then if you try anything with it the
computers responds with 'You can't see <object>'.

For instance, in one of my games the description says 'the walls are covered
with fungus and mold'. If you type 'x mold' or 'x fungus' everything is
fine. However, if you type 'x walls' the computer responds with 'I cannot
see any walls'.

Surely it is better not to mention something at all if the player can do
nothing with it (not even examine)? Okay, the walls may have nothing to do
with the solution to the game but 'the walls are covered with mould and
fungus', would have been a better response than 'I cannot see the walls'.

What do others think? If something is mentioned in the general room
description should the player at least be able to examine it even if that
does not reveal anything of use?

I suppose you could use a standard response of 'It is not important' - but
then why mention it?

Ashley

S.Challands

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Jul 19, 1999, 3:00:00 AM7/19/99
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On Sun, 18 Jul 1999, Craxton wrote:

> Ashley Price wrote:
>
> <snip>


>
> > The writers must realise that some people are going to find this hard,
> > therefore, why not enclose a walkthrough (in a separate sealed envelope if
> > they feel it necessary)?
>

> Not necessary. There are almost always walkthroughs out on the net after
> a few weeks. And also, what seems easy to the author might not always be
> obvious to the player. Wasn't there a discussion in this vein centered
> around "Cattus Atrox" a few weeks ago?

I think you'll find that there are far more players who don't have any
Internet access than those who do. What do you suggest for them? I've
noticed that people on the Internet often assume that everyone else does,
a dangerous trap.

Being able to send off for a walkthrough might not be such a bad idea,
though, since it's something you are less likely to do on the spur of the
moment when you get particularly stuck on a problem.

Simon Challands


dwmyers

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Jul 19, 1999, 3:00:00 AM7/19/99
to
> When it comes to what constitutes a FAIR puzzle, or how to
> write IF in such a way that only fair puzzles will be
> included, I'm as mystified as anybody. Here's why: IF
> thrives on whimsy, and whimsy is by definition capricious,
> and caprice is by definition unfair. Ergo, the puzzles in
> IF are inherently going to be unfair. Q.E.D.

Well, Ashley has pointed out a couple things he dislikes,
one of which are games that require a thorough knowledge of
an author's works in order to be solvable in the first
place. And I think it is fair to consider a game as a self
contained unit, and that clues should be imbedded into the
structure of the game in order to aid in the solution of
puzzles in the first place. A game based on an author's
works shouldn't assume a thorough readership. Ideally, a
game based on an author's works would slake the taste of a
reader for the works and have them wanting to read more of
the books, rather than cursing a game author for playing
intellectual footnotes with the material.

As far as the place of whimsy in IF, didn't those early
games generally kill the players when they didn't act as the
author wanted (or simply outright kill them)? That isn't
whimsy, that's egoistic and arbitrary in the extreme. Here,
I am an author, play my game, it is my divine right to make
you miserable, mua ha ha.

And in response I add that readers can be equally whimsical.
They can take your game when it has a bad or misplaced
puzzle and throw the media that contains it across the room,
or burn it, or never play it again. And I want to emphasize
that word misplaced. If the reader is wanting to get on with
the story and you've stuck a puzzle in his path when he's
not wanting it, it's all the more reason to get out of the
game and press the delete button.

I think it was Stephen Hawking who alluded to the old
publishing saw that every equation added to a book cut its
sales in half. And in that vein I'll add a corrolary, a rule
that I believe is at least qualitatively accurate:

Every bad puzzle you put in a game cuts your potential
audience in half.

I'll let the rest of you decide what is 'bad'.

David.

Sent from RemarQ http://www.remarq.com/?z The Internet's Discussion Network
The fastest and easiest way to search and participate in Usenet - Free!

BrenBarn

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Jul 19, 1999, 3:00:00 AM7/19/99
to
Sorry to jump in at this late stage, but I just wanted to say that I agree
with what Ashley Price is saying about illogical puzzles. One of my "pet
peeves" is puzzles that do not make sense, and require some arbitrary,
specific, and nonsensical solution to solve them. And I will add my voice to
those I have heard saying: "The environment should provide hints." (As in the
example of pushing the table at the rug, or looking at the ceiling, etc.)
Another issue addressed here was the improper placing of puzzles. This, I
feel, detracts from a game immensely. The most annoying examples of this (in
my opinion) are those infernal puzzles which take place inside locked rooms or
other confined areas. You must solve that single puzzle before you can do
anything else.
Yet another issue that was discussed was that of puzzles requiring
special, esoteric knowledge. Closely associated with these are puzzles that
indeed require knowledge, but the knowledge required is common (for example,
simple math puzzles). One the most irritating things to me as a player is to
suddenly come across a puzzle which is based on math. More often than not,
these puzzles require grunt-work such as listing all permutations or
rearranging balls, knobs, buttons, etc. to find the right solution. Puzzles
like these, which are so obviously PUZZLES, and not even remotely integrated
into the storyline, are aggravating.
Once again, I apologize for bursting into the discussion at this late
stage -- but I just couldn't contain myself because it was so though-provoking!
:-)

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

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

Ashley Price

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Jul 19, 1999, 3:00:00 AM7/19/99
to
Hi Barbara

I agree but I think what my point was that at least if you have something in
the main description you should not then write a response that says "You
cannot see the <object>" or "I cannot see...". By definition the player (or
program) can see it because it was mentioned in the description.

Ashley

Ashley Price

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Jul 19, 1999, 3:00:00 AM7/19/99
to
Hi all

I am a little concerned over people's understanding of my use of author. I
realise author is meant to be for books but I also use it for writing IF - I
suppose I should use programmer or at least writer.

I don't simply mean games based on someone's books when I use the term the
author's world.

Let me give you an example so everyone is clear on this.

I write an adventure based around the planet Wuzzle that is frequented by
aliens. The object for you - the player - is to get the Great Wuzzle Tree
back from the Zwassocks. Before you get anywhere though you have to leave
your house. To leave your house you need to open your front door. How do you
do it? You've searched the whole house from top to bottom and not found a
key or anything that seems to work on the door. So what now?
.
.
.
.
.
SOLUTION
To open your front door you have to press your nose with your finger, hop on
one foot and sing the Great Wuzzle Anthem, only then will the front door
open.

That's obvious to me because I created the planet Wuzzle and the physics
within. However, as an alien to the planet how would you ever be expected to
know that unless clues are embedded in the game?

This is the sort of thing that annoys me. I get the feeling when playing
some games that the writer/author expects you to know how things work in his
world without help or gentle taps (sometimes with a 14 pound sledge hammer)
in the right direction and I don't think it's necessary.

It can't be too difficult to have a fantasy world with at least some of our
physics in.

Ashley

Ashley Price

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Jul 19, 1999, 3:00:00 AM7/19/99
to
Hi Simon

I didn't necessarily mean send off for a walk through otherwise the
publishers would be spending all their time on that rather that publishing
more games. What I meant was to have a walkthrough included with the game
but, for instance, in a sealed envelope. That way you are less tempted to
just open the walk through and complete the game (although some will no
matter what you do).

At least this way you will be safe in the knowledge that should all else
fail you have got the solution there. And for me this actually acts like
reverse psychology. If I know that I have the solution to hand it would
actually make me feel worse to use it than to try and solve the problem.

Ashley


Craxton

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Jul 19, 1999, 3:00:00 AM7/19/99
to

If the goals are illogical, then clearly, regardless of design
philosophy, the game can't be played from a goal perspective, for that
will make it nigh impossible. Therefore a passive approach is necessary
to get enjoyment out of the game. Even then, if the story is dumb or
unappealing, the game can be unenjoyable.

What I'm trying to say is that there's more then one way to have fun
with a game.

Craxton

unread,
Jul 19, 1999, 3:00:00 AM7/19/99
to

You're making a flawed assumption. You're asuming that it's the author's
responsability to make a game which you consider fun. Untrue. The
author's responsibility is to make the game he wants to, and to do so to
the best of his ability. If you buy the game, and like it, cool. If you
buy the game, and hate it, well sorry, hope you'll like the next one.
Take Photopia, for example: You could play it and say it's a masterfully
written, emotionally charged piece of I-F, or you could say it was
ultra-linear with simple puzzles and a restrictive conversational
system. Either statement would be true.

Likewise with Discworld- you could harp on the ridiculous, backwards
puzzles, or you could swallow your pride, play it with the walkthrough,
and say it's amusing and humorous. >:===8)

Dennis C.

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Jul 19, 1999, 3:00:00 AM7/19/99
to

Ashley Price wrote in message <7mvidc$1oon$1...@grind.server.pavilion.net>...

I agree, Ashley. What you describe is jarring, and always subtracts at
least a little 'realism' from the game. I don't think it matters at all how
many times it's done in games (and how used you get to seeing it), or
whether you know why it happens (extra work for the author) -- it always
comes across as laziness to the player and detracts from enjoying the game.
I think the minimum an author should try and do is at least have "> x wall"
respond with "You find nothing unusual about the wall."
Perhaps part of the problem is that authors sometimes depend too much on
extraneous elements / objects in their descriptions, because that seems the
easiest way to build up atmosphere and a sense of realism.

Dennis


Ashley Price

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Jul 20, 1999, 3:00:00 AM7/20/99
to
Hi Craxton

I agree to a certain extent, but surely the author has to take the players
into consideration? After all why take the time to write a game if no one
will play it.

As for using a walk through I feel it is a waste of money to pay (in the
case of Discworld) a lot of money for a game only to have to complete it
with the aid of a walk through because of the obscurity of the puzzles.

Let me tell you about how I tend to use a walk through then maybe you can
see where I am coming from.

I am one of those rare breeds that does not use a walk through in its
entirity - not at first anyway. If I am completely stuck on a problem then I
get the walk through look up that solution and then carry on from there.

If I feel that I would have solved the puzzle if I had worked at it enough I
would feel bad at myself for not trying harder to solve it. This will then
spur me on to try harder with the up and coming puzzles.

However, if I look at the solution and find that there would have been no
way I could have solved it because *in my opinion* the solution was very
obscure then I feel cheated and annoyed with the game. In this instance I
find the game less amusing and humorous.

Taking Discworld (and other games) specifically, it comes back to the
question that should games based on a series of books have solutions in them
that will only be solvable (for instance, the quantum butterfly is in
'Interesting Times', I had not read that far with the books) if the player
has read the vast majority of the series? What about those, like myself, who
bought the game after only reading the first four? Should there be a note on
the packaging about this?

Ashley


Ashley Price

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Jul 20, 1999, 3:00:00 AM7/20/99
to
Dear All

Another thing that really bugs me in games (and I mentioned this in one of
the posts but I don't think many saw it) is illogical mazes.

For instance, in a game you type 'E' and you get, "You are in a construction
site. Exits are in all directions." You type 'N'. The response is "You are
in a construction site. Exits are in all directions." You type 'W' and the
response is "You are in a construction site. Exits are in all directions."

However, if you now retrace your steps ('E', 'S', 'W') you do NOT get back
to where you started, in fact you probably get the response "You are in a
construction site. Exits are in all directions."

This is an illogical maze - and a puzzle in itself. Do others feel that this
is just laziness on the part of the author? Rather than doing a proper maze
they prefer to do a random one and leaving us to try and 'find' our way
round the maze without even the hope of retracing our steps to the start.

Would it not be better to either program a proper maze or, perhaps, leaving
it out completely?

Ashley

~~~~~~~~~

"Your book is both funny and original. Unfortunately the part that is
original is not funny and the part that is funny is not original."

Unknown.

Dylan O'Donnell

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Jul 20, 1999, 3:00:00 AM7/20/99
to
"Ashley Price" <ash...@pavilion.co.uk> writes:
> Dear All
>
> Another thing that really bugs me in games (and I mentioned this in one of
> the posts but I don't think many saw it) is illogical mazes.

[snip example of identical-description, non-retracable maze]

> Would it not be better to either program a proper maze or, perhaps, leaving
> it out completely?

Which is exactly what's happening. How many games have you seen with
mazes recently? I can't think of any of those few that _did_ include
mazes, in the last several years, that required you to solve them
the hard way; all of them had gimmicks that were the real puzzle.
("Fifteen" may be an exception.) Authors have realised that mazes for
mazes' sakes aren't popular with the punters.

(Why's this discussion on raif rather than rgif, anyway?)

--
Dylan O'Donnell : "Peek-a-boo, I can't see you, everything must
Demon Internet Ltd : be grand; / Boo-ka-pee, you can't see me,
Resident, Forgotten Office : as long as I've got me head in t'sand..."
http://www.fysh.org/~psmith/ : -- Michael Flanders, "The Ostrich"

Knight37

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Jul 20, 1999, 3:00:00 AM7/20/99
to

Ashley Price <ash...@pavilion.co.uk> wrote

> Hi David
>
> > Still, unless there was good clueing, it sounds like a bad puzzle.
> >
> > Oh, and causing the rain has been done, in DAY OF THE TENTACLE.
> >
> > > This is not, in my opinion, a good solution to a problem. We do not live
> in
> > > the fantasy world, therefore, it is difficult - if not impossible - for
> us
> > > to understand the way things work. I feel that you still need to have
> some
> > > of 'our world' logic to have any chance of playing it well.
> >
> > I agree; however, if the butterfly's description said "This is a Quantum
> > Butterfly that creates rain", it might be somewhat fair, if a little
> > silly.
>
> The Discworld game I'm referring to was a graphical adventure (as they all
> seem to be nowadays, with Grim Fandango, etc.) and as far as I can remember
> there was not actually the ability to 'examine' objects.

Yes you could. Rincewind (think that's his name) would always have some kind
of witty comment about anything you examined, also.

> Of course, this also leads to a separate discussion about how closely should
> adventures follow books. When I bought Discworld I had only read the first
> four books. Having a game based heavily on a set of books where you need to
> read most if not all the collection is not a good idea. If clues for the
> game are in the later books then how is someone like me supposed to solve
> them?

I disagree. I think the name "Discworld" in the title of the game is
sufficient hint to the buyer that it's a game for fans of the Discworld
series of books. I agree that previous reading should not be mandantory,
but I do think that as long as there are a few clues in the game, it's
certainly fair game to have scenes, characters, and puzzles based on
things in the books. I don't remember this part of Discworld very well,
but I would hope there were some clues for this puzzle in the game. Maybe
I'll try it out again and see what I can find that might be a clue.

Just so you know, I am not defending games that intentionally or even
unintentionally make their puzzles solvable only by people who have read
a book (be it hint book or novel), but perhaps the clues were there, and
they just were not quite sufficient? I would imagine that writing a
game based on novels is difficult to balance for the number of in-game
clues that should be given. If too much is given away, it won't be any
fun for people who have read the books. If not enough is given, then
they risk frustrating the player who has not read the right book or books.
I don't think they would intentionally make a puzzle that required having
read the novel that the game is based on, though.

Of course, I think it would also be very fair to have a game that
advertised "previous reading of XYZ book(s) required", which would give
the real fans of the author a chance to kind of test their memory of
the books they've read. I'm not sure that's a great marketing move, but
I think it would be fun for the fans of the books. Of course, whoever
does this had better pick a series of books that are extremely popular.
Maybe Piers Anthony's Xanth series would be a good choice for this, or
Stephen King books, or Zelazny's Amber series. Oh yes! I'd LOVE to have
a great adventure game based on the Amber series. Talk about some great
material for cool NPCs! :)

Knight37


Andrew Plotkin

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Jul 20, 1999, 3:00:00 AM7/20/99
to
Ashley Price <ash...@pavilion.co.uk> wrote:
>
> Another thing that really bugs me in games (and I mentioned this in one of
> the posts but I don't think many saw it) is illogical mazes.
>
> For instance, in a game you type 'E' and you get, "You are in a construction
> site. Exits are in all directions." You type 'N'. The response is "You are
> in a construction site. Exits are in all directions." You type 'W' and the
> response is "You are in a construction site. Exits are in all directions."
>
> However, if you now retrace your steps ('E', 'S', 'W') you do NOT get back
> to where you started, in fact you probably get the response "You are in a
> construction site. Exits are in all directions."
>
> This is an illogical maze - and a puzzle in itself.

I expect that's why. Did you think it was an accident?

> Do others feel that this
> is just laziness on the part of the author?

No, not even in early IF. (Note that the very first mazes, in Colossal
Cave and Zork, *were* of this type.)

It's certainly not random; such things are usually carefully designed.
Look at the larger maze in Zork 1. It has several features to make it hard
to get to the Cyclops Room. (Details are left as an exercise for the
reader.)

No, it's just that a maze of twisty tunnels *is* confusing, and tunnels
bend, and you can't always tell which way you're facing. If you want to
make an IF maze harder, it is realistic -- mimetic -- to implement this by
means of bending paths.

If you want to complain that you don't *like* mazes of this sort, well,
not many people do. That's why authors have mostly stopped writing them.

--Z

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

Ashley Price

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Jul 20, 1999, 3:00:00 AM7/20/99
to
Hi Dylan

The reason I put this on this group is because we are writing or have
written adventures.

I am hoping to inform those people currently - or who are about to start -
writing an IF that not all of us like these things (and I surely can't be
that different to every one else and be the only one in the world that hates
these things).

I'm not suggesting having a maze for it's own sake but if there is a reason
for having one (for instance to hide an object or location) could it not at
least be retraceable?

Ashley

Matthew T. Russotto

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Jul 20, 1999, 3:00:00 AM7/20/99
to
In article <7n2165$1th3$1...@grind.server.pavilion.net>,

It seems reasonable that you should always be able to leave the way
you came in (aside from one-way doors and such.), but beyond that, I
don't think nonretraceability is unreasonable. If you're in a cave
with many similar-looking tunnels, are you really going to be able to
remember which one you came through five rooms back?

--
Matthew T. Russotto russ...@pond.com
"Extremism in defense of liberty is no vice, and moderation in pursuit
of justice is no virtue."

Ashley Price

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Jul 20, 1999, 3:00:00 AM7/20/99
to
Hi Andrew

I agree with your points.

What I would say though is that if you were really in a maze of twisting
tunnels you could (to a certain extent) retrace your steps.

For example: if you went through a tunnel that pointed north and came out
the other end facing, for instance, east, your back would be to the tunnel
you have just left - therefore you could at the very least retrace the last
step you made.

A game that tries to emulate this maze would need to take that into
consideration.

The mazes I talk about are the ones that are just completely illogical and
seem to have complete randomness.

One thing I would like to make clear is that I am *not* saying these things
are wrong as such. What I am doing is expressing *my* opinion and very much
enjoying the resulting debate we are all having.

Ashley

Adam J. Thornton

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Jul 20, 1999, 3:00:00 AM7/20/99
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In article <7n24ut$1tnr$1...@grind.server.pavilion.net>,

Ashley Price <ash...@pavilion.co.uk> wrote:
>What I would say though is that if you were really in a maze of twisting
>tunnels you could (to a certain extent) retrace your steps.
>
>For example: if you went through a tunnel that pointed north and came out
>the other end facing, for instance, east, your back would be to the tunnel
>you have just left - therefore you could at the very least retrace the last
>step you made.

Remember that these games ultimately derive from Colossal Cave, which was
in the beginning a cave simulator.

When caving, it is not always easy to tell which of the holes in the rock
you have just come out of, by the time you get yourself turned around to
look at it. Caves are confusing. The mazes in Colossal Cave were not too
far from crawling through a maze of twisty little passages, all alike.

However, Zork and followers were written by people who didn't (as far as I
know) cave, and for whom, I suspect, MIT's steam tunnels were their closest
experience to caving, and so unretraceable mazes don't make nearly as much
sense in that context.

Adam
--
ad...@princeton.edu
"My eyes say their prayers to her / Sailors ring her bell / Like a moth
mistakes a light bulb / For the moon and goes to hell." -- Tom Waits

Knight37

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Jul 20, 1999, 3:00:00 AM7/20/99
to
<SPOILERS FOR ZORK BELOW>


(This space intentionally left blank....

for those, oh, 2 or 3 people in here who haven't played it yet)


Ashley Price <ash...@pavilion.co.uk> wrote

> Another thing that really bugs me in games (and I mentioned this in one of
> the posts but I don't think many saw it) is illogical mazes.
>
> For instance, in a game you type 'E' and you get, "You are in a construction
> site. Exits are in all directions." You type 'N'. The response is "You are
> in a construction site. Exits are in all directions." You type 'W' and the
> response is "You are in a construction site. Exits are in all directions."
>
> However, if you now retrace your steps ('E', 'S', 'W') you do NOT get back
> to where you started, in fact you probably get the response "You are in a
> construction site. Exits are in all directions."
>

> This is an illogical maze - and a puzzle in itself. Do others feel that this
> is just laziness on the part of the author? Rather than doing a proper maze
> they prefer to do a random one and leaving us to try and 'find' our way
> round the maze without even the hope of retracing our steps to the start.

This is the classic "Zorkian" maze (dubbed this by me, since Zork is the
first game that I played that had this kind of maze, and since my world
revolves around me, I call it "Zorkian". :)

It almost helps to be a programmer to understand the "logic" of these
kinds of mazes. If you think of the maze as a bunch of "pointers" and
"nodes" it becomes a lot easier to map it out. For someone who doesn't
know about linked lists or trees (programming terms), it can become
difficult to think about these. And if you try to approach these mazes
from a traditional "real world mapping" perspective, you can't solve
it, since the physical "space" that these "rooms" take up are not
related to the compass directions relative to each other.

This kind of maze is solved by dropping items and keeping track of which
items were dropped in each room. It is a severe pain in the arse to solve,
but you don't have to wander around aimlessly to solve it. In Zork it was
made doubly difficult by the Thief, which would sometimes pick up your
items and either run off with them or drop them in another nearby room,
totally screwing up your map. :) Having a limited inventory does not
make it any easier since Zork does not reward you or even allow you to
hang on to every item you might find in the game.

In fact, in Zork it's a really BAD idea to spend a lot of turns wandering
around aimlessly in the maze, because you also happen to have a limited
life battery in your lantern. These are two of the biggest reasons why
Zork is so difficult to solve on the first try through, without hints or
a map or something. The random interactions of the Thief and random
combat make Zork potentially unsolvable even for someone who has
already beaten the game before. It certainly makes it a challenge to
get an optimal score.

> Would it not be better to either program a proper maze or, perhaps, leaving
> it out completely?

I think any new games should not have mazes that you MUST solve the hard
way. I mean, mazes as the puzzle have been there, done that, not gunna do
it again, wouldn't be prudent, etc. Some newer games have something that
LOOKS like a maze at first, but has an "escape" puzzle that defeats the
maze without solving it. This is getting kind of cliche, but I wouldn't
be put off too much by it. In fact, whenever I encounter mazes in more
modern games, I immediately start looking for an "escape" puzzle rather
than attempt to solve the maze.

Mazes, though, have been a staple of adventure games since the "good ol'
days" and I imagine you'll see them pop up from time to time in games
that try to be reminescent of games from the past.

Knight37


Matthew T. Russotto

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Jul 20, 1999, 3:00:00 AM7/20/99
to
In article <KY0l3.251$of....@news.flash.net>, Knight37 <goo...@blue.net> wrote:
}
}It almost helps to be a programmer to understand the "logic" of these
}kinds of mazes. If you think of the maze as a bunch of "pointers" and
}"nodes" it becomes a lot easier to map it out. For someone who doesn't
}know about linked lists or trees (programming terms), it can become
}difficult to think about these. And if you try to approach these mazes
}from a traditional "real world mapping" perspective, you can't solve
}it, since the physical "space" that these "rooms" take up are not
}related to the compass directions relative to each other.

I consider them directed graphs, and I "map" them not with a diagram,
but with a connection chart.

Kathleen M. Fischer

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Jul 20, 1999, 3:00:00 AM7/20/99
to
Knight37 wrote:
> I think any new games should not have mazes that you MUST solve the hard
> way. I mean, mazes as the puzzle have been there, done that, not gunna do
> it again, wouldn't be prudent, etc. Some newer games have something that
> LOOKS like a maze at first, but has an "escape" puzzle that defeats the
> maze without solving it. This is getting kind of cliche, but I wouldn't
> be put off too much by it. In fact, whenever I encounter mazes in more
> modern games, I immediately start looking for an "escape" puzzle rather
> than attempt to solve the maze.
>
> Mazes, though, have been a staple of adventure games since the "good ol'
> days" and I imagine you'll see them pop up from time to time in games
> that try to be reminescent of games from the past.

It would be a shame to lose mazes just because they've been done before.
So have locked doors and limited light sources and I seriously doubt
those are going to be abandoned any time so.

Real life is full of mazes - I got lost driving around Oakland a
while back, talk about a maze of twisty passages! I could SEE the
freeway, I just couldn't seem to get ON it. All off ramps, no on
ramps. Road construction everywhere <shudder>. Then there was that
day in the department store. I think the whole place was mirrored.
Round racks of clearance clothes filled the aisles, obscuring any
view not already blocked by large banners proclaiming how great it
was to shop there. I finally took the escalator (working under the
theory that it was kind of like climbing a tree - get a lay
of the land...) but it disappeared into a tunnel half-way up (yup,
lined with more mirrors.)

Oh, the point? I think a well done maze - one that augments the game
instead of distracting from it - can be a lot of fun to solve
and I hope they don't become extinct just because we've "been there".

Kathleen (who, of course, is probably the worlds WORSE maze solver.)
--
*******************************************************************
* Kathleen M. Fischer *
* kfis...@greenhouse.nospam.gov (nospam = l l n l) *
** "Don't stop to stomp ants while the elephants are stampeding" **

Ben Sharvy

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Jul 20, 1999, 3:00:00 AM7/20/99
to
In article <KY0l3.251$of....@news.flash.net>, "Knight37" <goo...@blue.net>
wrote:

>Ashley Price <ash...@pavilion.co.uk> wrote


>
>> Another thing that really bugs me in games (and I mentioned this in one of
>> the posts but I don't think many saw it) is illogical mazes.
>>
>> For instance, in a game you type 'E' and you get, "You are in a construction
>> site. Exits are in all directions." You type 'N'. The response is "You are
>> in a construction site. Exits are in all directions." You type 'W' and the
>> response is "You are in a construction site. Exits are in all directions."
>>
>> However, if you now retrace your steps ('E', 'S', 'W') you do NOT get back
>> to where you started, in fact you probably get the response "You are in a
>> construction site. Exits are in all directions."
>>
>> This is an illogical maze - and a puzzle in itself. Do others feel that this
>> is just laziness on the part of the author? Rather than doing a proper maze
>> they prefer to do a random one and leaving us to try and 'find' our way
>> round the maze without even the hope of retracing our steps to the start.
>
>This is the classic "Zorkian" maze (dubbed this by me, since Zork is the
>first game that I played that had this kind of maze, and since my world
>revolves around me, I call it "Zorkian". :)

It's a maze of *twisty* passages (all the same, all different, etc.). The
point is that the passages twist. It doesn't mean the maze is illogical;
it means the passages aren't necesarily straight lines. It's not a grid.

Craxton

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Jul 20, 1999, 3:00:00 AM7/20/99
to
Ashley Price wrote:
>
> Hi Craxton
>
> I agree to a certain extent, but surely the author has to take the players
> into consideration? After all why take the time to write a game if no one
> will play it.

The author certainly has that option, of course. But altering the
concept to be more commercially viable, while not morally or ethically
problematical (at least unless it's influenced by people other then the
author), is by no means a necessity.

> As for using a walk through I feel it is a waste of money to pay (in the
> case of Discworld) a lot of money for a game only to have to complete it
> with the aid of a walk through because of the obscurity of the puzzles.

Well, I don't. I play games to be entertained. Sometimes the mental
challenges do this, other times the entertainment can be found in other
aspects.



> Let me tell you about how I tend to use a walk through then maybe you can
> see where I am coming from.

*nods*



> I am one of those rare breeds that does not use a walk through in its
> entirity - not at first anyway. If I am completely stuck on a problem then I
> get the walk through look up that solution and then carry on from there.

Me too. But I don't necessarily wait until I'm completely stuck. Instead
I go for the walkthrough the second the puzzle stops being an enjoyable
challenge and starts being an annoying obstacle, the reason being that
an annoying obstacle contradicts the first and formost rule of games:
"The game must be fun." Sometimes I will pursue the problem longer then
that out of pride, but this typically buys me nothing but frustration.



> If I feel that I would have solved the puzzle if I had worked at it enough I
> would feel bad at myself for not trying harder to solve it. This will then
> spur me on to try harder with the up and coming puzzles.

No offence, but, it seems to me that you may have a small problem with
pride. If you choose the hard route from the beginning of the game to
the end, and succeed, more power to you. But don't complain of poor
design, because the easy route is always open to you.

> However, if I look at the solution and find that there would have been no
> way I could have solved it because *in my opinion* the solution was very
> obscure then I feel cheated and annoyed with the game.

Why?

> Taking Discworld (and other games) specifically, it comes back to the
> question that should games based on a series of books have solutions in them
> that will only be solvable (for instance, the quantum butterfly is in
> 'Interesting Times', I had not read that far with the books) if the player
> has read the vast majority of the series? What about those, like myself, who
> bought the game after only reading the first four? Should there be a note on
> the packaging about this?
>

No. I've played Discworld 1 and 2, completed them both, and enjoyed them
both, without any prior knowledge of the books. Therefore the game
accomplishes it's primary goal as a game (i.e. to be fun), and there is
no need for the player to have prior knowledge of the books. Mind-set
may be a problem, but that can hardly be called the author's fault.

Giles Boutel

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Jul 21, 1999, 3:00:00 AM7/21/99
to

Ashley Price <ash...@pavilion.co.uk> wrote in message
news:7mulqb$1n7g$1...@grind.server.pavilion.net...
> Hi David
> 'David' presumably wrote...

> >
> > I agree; however, if the butterfly's description said "This is a Quantum
> > Butterfly that creates rain", it might be somewhat fair, if a little
> > silly.
>
> The Discworld game I'm referring to was a graphical adventure (as they all
> seem to be nowadays, with Grim Fandango, etc.) and as far as I can
remember
> there was not actually the ability to 'examine' objects.
>
> Of course, this also leads to a separate discussion about how closely
should
> adventures follow books. When I bought Discworld I had only read the first
> four books. Having a game based heavily on a set of books where you need
to
> read most if not all the collection is not a good idea. If clues for the
> game are in the later books then how is someone like me supposed to solve
> them?

To be fair, the example of the butterfly flapping its wings and causing bad
weather exists outside the discworld books in countless layman's guides to
chaos theory and the 'New Physics', while the Chaos Butterfly, complete with
description, is one of Pratchett's longer running jokes.

-Giles

Ashley Price

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Jul 21, 1999, 3:00:00 AM7/21/99
to
Hi Craxton

Okay, it looks like it's time to hold my hand up and shout "I've too much
pride for my own good."

You made very valid points there. One small thing when I said "completely
stuck on a problem" I did actually mean I had tried everything I could think
of and it hadn't worked and I was getting frustrated with it.

Maybe I expect too much from games and this discussion has had some very
positive effects on me. For instance I am currently playing an adventure
that has seemed illogical to me, but after reading what everyone has said I
have tried and tried and guess what? I got past the problem!!

Thanks for that. Sometimes we go into things with a certain mind-set and
should open up more, me especially.

From all of this you probably wouldn't believe that I run my own business
and have been doing rather well if I can't even get very far in an
adventure.

If you write (or have written) any IFs, let me know I'll give them my best
shot (and probably fail - but there you are.

Ashley

Ashley Price

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Jul 21, 1999, 3:00:00 AM7/21/99
to
Hi Ben

| It's a maze of *twisty* passages (all the same, all different, etc.). The
| point is that the passages twist. It doesn't mean the maze is illogical;
| it means the passages aren't necesarily straight lines. It's not a grid.

Yes and no. Just because the passage itself twists does not mean that it
becomes illogical.

Let me give an example:

You type 'N' and enter a passage. As you come out the other end, two things
need to be remembered:

1. Your back will be facing the passage you have just left. This is so no
matter how many times the passage itself twisted

and

2. If you then go back down that passage you will get back to your last
destination again no matter how many times the passage twists. The passage
may twist but it will not *move*.

With these two points you can retrace your steps at least once.

Ashley

Jonadab the Unsightly One

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Jul 21, 1999, 3:00:00 AM7/21/99
to
"Knight37" <goo...@blue.net> wrote:

> <SPOILERS FOR ZORK BELOW>
>
>
> (This space intentionally left blank....
>
> for those, oh, 2 or 3 people in here who haven't played it yet)
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>

> This kind of maze is solved by dropping items and keeping track of which


> items were dropped in each room.


Then there's the maze in Curses...

-- jonadab

I've given up spamblocking; it wasn't working all that
well anyway; my email address is now correct in the headers.

S.Challands

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Jul 21, 1999, 3:00:00 AM7/21/99
to
On Tue, 20 Jul 1999, Ben Sharvy wrote:

> In article <KY0l3.251$of....@news.flash.net>, "Knight37" <goo...@blue.net>
> wrote:
>
> >Ashley Price <ash...@pavilion.co.uk> wrote
> >
> >> Another thing that really bugs me in games (and I mentioned this in one of
> >> the posts but I don't think many saw it) is illogical mazes.
> >>
> >> For instance, in a game you type 'E' and you get, "You are in a construction
> >> site. Exits are in all directions." You type 'N'. The response is "You are
> >> in a construction site. Exits are in all directions." You type 'W' and the
> >> response is "You are in a construction site. Exits are in all directions."
> >>
> >> However, if you now retrace your steps ('E', 'S', 'W') you do NOT get back
> >> to where you started, in fact you probably get the response "You are in a
> >> construction site. Exits are in all directions."
> >>
> >> This is an illogical maze - and a puzzle in itself. Do others feel that this
> >> is just laziness on the part of the author? Rather than doing a proper maze
> >> they prefer to do a random one and leaving us to try and 'find' our way
> >> round the maze without even the hope of retracing our steps to the start.
> >
> >This is the classic "Zorkian" maze (dubbed this by me, since Zork is the
> >first game that I played that had this kind of maze, and since my world
> >revolves around me, I call it "Zorkian". :)
>

> It's a maze of *twisty* passages (all the same, all different, etc.). The
> point is that the passages twist. It doesn't mean the maze is illogical;
> it means the passages aren't necesarily straight lines. It's not a grid.

But it's still rather unfair. The way I believe these mazes are supposed
to work are that you go north and perhaps emerge facing east. So if you go
west you should go back to where you came from. But if you've got a good
enough sense of direction to know which way north is in the first place
you should be able to know to go back west to return. So you should be
able to retrace your steps and map the whole thing out without much
trouble. Of course it would all be too easy then. :-)

Simon Challands


Andrew Plotkin

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Jul 21, 1999, 3:00:00 AM7/21/99
to
S.Challands <fr95...@ecs.pc.cranfield.ac.uk> wrote:
>> It's a maze of *twisty* passages (all the same, all different, etc.). The
>> point is that the passages twist. It doesn't mean the maze is illogical;
>> it means the passages aren't necesarily straight lines. It's not a grid.
>
> But it's still rather unfair. The way I believe these mazes are supposed
> to work are that you go north and perhaps emerge facing east. So if you go
> west you should go back to where you came from. But if you've got a good
> enough sense of direction to know which way north is in the first place
> you should be able to know to go back west to return. So you should be
> able to retrace your steps and map the whole thing out without much
> trouble.

Ever try it?

(I'm serious -- I haven't been spelunking, and I don't have a good idea
what it's like.)

People have tried writing games where the directions are "left", "right",
"ahead", and "back". And the directions change depending on what direction
you're facing, or what direction you entered a room. However, this
interferes with playability a lot. And it's an interface-level
interference; it doesn't feel like you're lost, it feels like you're
having trouble talking to a computer program. I don't recommend it.

The N/S/E/W convention isn't really about having a magic compass, though
it may appear so. It's an adequate way to give a unique and constant label
to each exit, and tell you what their relative positions are, while
allowing very quick commands to *use* them. (Compare first-person
graphical adventures, which almost never have a compass. It's because
they've *already* achieved those goals, by illustrating the room and using
mouse-clicks to move.)

In a maze, twisty passages and failing to distinguish where you entered is
not a *literal* way to implement being lost. It's an -- again, adequate --
way to represent that effect in the conventions of the game world. Perhaps
you should consider it as the Swiss Cheese Room effect; there are dozens
of passages all around, and although you know you came from an easterly
one, you don't really know which it is.

Alternatively, you could add a message to each room saying "You entered
from the west" (or whatever.) This could work. On the other hand, it
doesn't let you retrace your path more than one step! It would be silly to
add messages showing your *whole* path out, because that would represent
having an eidetic memory, and the whole point is that you're *lost*.

(Again, let me add that I'm not discussing whether there *should* be mazes
in IF games. That's a separate decision.)

Fraser Wilson

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Jul 21, 1999, 3:00:00 AM7/21/99
to
In article <3794D03D...@greenhouse.nospam.gov>,

Kathleen M. Fischer <kfis...@greenhouse.nospam.gov> wrote:

>Real life is full of mazes - I got lost driving around Oakland a
>while back, talk about a maze of twisty passages! I could SEE the
>freeway, I just couldn't seem to get ON it. All off ramps, no on
>ramps. Road construction everywhere <shudder>.

I know what you mean -- I get lost every single time I go to Oakland. And
the analogy with mazes is even stronger than that: when you take 580 west
from the bay bridge, you're also on 80 _east_, and not only that, but you're
travelling north.

Sure, there's good high-level reasons for having these labels, but when
you're driving around desperate for a loo, it can get a little confusing.

I still think mazes suck, though.

Fraser.
(Counter-examples to sucky mazes: HHGTTG, that game with the multi-layered
virtual reality thing, Sins Against Mimesis -- but none of these are really
mazes so there)

BrenBarn

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Jul 21, 1999, 3:00:00 AM7/21/99
to
Wow! This discussion is going wild, and it's great! I'll just jump in
with some of my own opinions about mazes:
I have never played a game in which a "true" maze did not affect my
opinion of the game in a negative way. (I'm using the phrase "true" maze to
mean a maze where you really have to map it out to solve it -- there's no trick
solution.)
I think the main reason this is so is that I, personally, derive whatever
pleasure I do derive from computer games from filling in the parts of the
experience that the computer does not -- and COULD not. Thus, for me, a maze
is a bummer, as is a math puzzle, a sliding-tile puzzle, a "tactile" puzzle
(involving manipulating levers, switches, blocks, etc.), or anything like that.
I could, conceivably, write a computer program to generate all possible
combinations in those kinds of puzzles.
Of course, I could probably also write a computer program to generate all
possible combinations of using any object with any other object -- and yet I
like those puzzles. So there's something else at work inside me.
Ultimately, I like a puzzle to "make sense" but not "be logical". I use
these two terms separately because I use the work "logic" to describe things
like mathematical equations. I don't want a game puzzle to be like that. But,
on the other hand, I don't want it to be a nonsensical gyration with an
arbitrary solution.
So, on my quest to discover exactly what makes me like or dislike a
puzzle, I find out that I like puzzles that: A) Can be solved using a method
other than pure logic; B) Cannot be solved using pure logic; and C) Can be
solved without needing to know a specific fact from a source outside the game.
Or, to generalize it even further, I like puzzles that: A) Can be solved by a
human; B) Cannot be solved by anyone other than a human; and C) Can be solved
by any human who possesses that library of facts we call "common knowledge".
Thanks for letting me ramble! :-D

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

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

stan...@slu.edu

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Jul 21, 1999, 3:00:00 AM7/21/99
to
In article <7mvidf$1oon$2...@grind.server.pavilion.net>,
"Ashley Price" <ash...@pavilion.co.uk> wrote:
> Hi all
>
> I am a little concerned over people's understanding of my use of
> author. I realise author is meant to be for books but I also use
> it for writing IF - I suppose I should use programmer or at least
> writer.

I think the point here is that Pratchett is both, and the game is
adapted from one of his books. There wouldn't have been as much of an
argument if this were a standalone game.

> I don't simply mean games based on someone's books when I use the
> term the author's world.
>
> Let me give you an example so everyone is clear on this.
>
> I write an adventure based around the planet Wuzzle that is
> frequented by aliens. The object for you - the player - is to
> get the Great Wuzzle Tree back from the Zwassocks. Before you
> get anywhere though you have to leave your house. To leave your
> house you need to open your front door. How do you do it?

If it requires anything other than typing "OPEN THE FRONT DOOR" and
possibly acquiring the requisite object ("You can't open the door
because you forgot your hat," or some such), then it is illogical, but
not because it requires knowledge of the author's world. The problem is
that the character ought to know how to open his/her/its own door
without prompting from the player. Unfortunately, the following sort
of exchange is all too common:

>OPEN DOOR
It is locked.

>I
You are carrying a flashlight, a silver key, a pair of elvish scissors,
and a purple feather.

>UNLOCK DOOR
With what?

I should think it pretty obvious what I want to use, but...

[...]
> SOLUTION
> To open your front door you have to press your nose with your finger,
> hop on one foot and sing the Great Wuzzle Anthem, only then will the
> front door open.

Now, the character ought to do this automatically when I type "OPEN
DOOR". Of course, it probably shouldn't be described this way, it
should just say, "Unlocked and opened," but that's a matter of writing
rather than puzzle design...


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

Tim Mann

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Jul 21, 1999, 3:00:00 AM7/21/99
to
Ashley Price wrote:
> >What I would say though is that if you were really in a maze of twisting
> >tunnels you could (to a certain extent) retrace your steps.
> >
> >For example: if you went through a tunnel that pointed north and came out
> >the other end facing, for instance, east, your back would be to the tunnel
> >you have just left - therefore you could at the very least retrace the last
> >step you made.

Adam Thornton wrote:
> Remember that these games ultimately derive from Colossal Cave, which was
> in the beginning a cave simulator.
>
> When caving, it is not always easy to tell which of the holes in the rock
> you have just come out of, by the time you get yourself turned around to
> look at it. Caves are confusing. The mazes in Colossal Cave were not too
> far from crawling through a maze of twisty little passages, all alike.

Colossal Cave has a "back" command, and it works even in the mazes. However,
you can only go back one room. I remember this from when I first played
the game on a PDP-10, and checking against the Microsoft TRS-80 port (which
I think is essentially Don Woods's Fortran source pushed through Microsoft
Fortran), it's still present in that version.

I've always missed this feature in later games, for exactly the reason
Ashley states. Couldn't be too hard to code in Inform or TADS... :-)

> However, Zork and followers were written by people who didn't (as far as I
> know) cave, and for whom, I suspect, MIT's steam tunnels were their closest
> experience to caving, and so unretraceable mazes don't make nearly as much
> sense in that context.

The original Zork (well, maybe I mean Dungeon, I might never have played
the MDL version) is actually worse about having unretraceable mazes.
There are plenty of places where going north, then south, does not get
you back to where you started, and there is no "back" command. In fact,
the game prints a smart remark if you say "back". I wonder whether that
was done out of conviction or laziness.

Tim Mann <ma...@pa.dec.com> Compaq Systems Research Center
http://www.research.digital.com/SRC/personal/Tim_Mann/

Craxton

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Jul 21, 1999, 3:00:00 AM7/21/99
to
Ashley Price wrote:
>
> Hi Craxton
>
> Okay, it looks like it's time to hold my hand up and shout "I've too much
> pride for my own good."
>
> You made very valid points there. One small thing when I said "completely
> stuck on a problem" I did actually mean I had tried everything I could think
> of and it hadn't worked and I was getting frustrated with it.
>
> Maybe I expect too much from games and this discussion has had some very
> positive effects on me. For instance I am currently playing an adventure
> that has seemed illogical to me, but after reading what everyone has said I
> have tried and tried and guess what? I got past the problem!!
>
> Thanks for that. Sometimes we go into things with a certain mind-set and
> should open up more, me especially.

My pleasure, Ashley. Always willing to have a nice philosophical
argument. (Even if I am a bit of a sore loser sometimes. >:===8)

Jonadab the Unsightly One

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Jul 22, 1999, 3:00:00 AM7/22/99
to
Andrew Plotkin <erky...@netcom.com> wrote:

> > But it's still rather unfair. The way I believe these mazes are supposed
> > to work are that you go north and perhaps emerge facing east. So if you go
> > west you should go back to where you came from. But if you've got a good
> > enough sense of direction to know which way north is in the first place
> > you should be able to know to go back west to return. So you should be
> > able to retrace your steps and map the whole thing out without much
> > trouble.
>
> Ever try it?

I agree that it's not hard to retrace your steps and get back exactly
where you came from -- unless you have no light source or no memory
or aren't paying attention.

> (I'm serious -- I haven't been spelunking, and I don't have a good idea
> what it's like.)

I haven't been caving in the nobody's-been-here-before sense, but
I've been in caves, even very large ones, and they're not nearly as
utterly confusing as people like to let on. Assuming you have a
good light source they're only perhaps twice as hard to find your
way around in as a typical deciduous forest.

> People have tried writing games where the directions are "left", "right",
> "ahead", and "back". And the directions change depending on what direction
> you're facing, or what direction you entered a room. However, this
> interferes with playability a lot. And it's an interface-level
> interference; it doesn't feel like you're lost, it feels like you're
> having trouble talking to a computer program. I don't recommend it.

Exactly. If you have a serious philosophical problem with the player
always knowing which way is north (and while not everyone is
equipped with a sense of direction quite that excellent some
people are actually rather close) give the player a compass.

> Alternatively, you could add a message to each room saying "You entered
> from the west" (or whatever.) This could work. On the other hand, it
> doesn't let you retrace your path more than one step! It would be silly to
> add messages showing your *whole* path out, because that would represent
> having an eidetic memory, and the whole point is that you're *lost*.

You could do the equivalent of this:

---

Cave
You are in a twisty cave with multiple passages
heading in various directions.

> East

You trudge along eastward for a while, but the passage
curves around to the north.

Cave
You are in a twisty cave with multiple passages
heading in various directions.

> East

Cave
You are in a twisty cave with multiple passages
heading in various directions.

You trudge along eastward for a while, but the passage
curves around to the south.

> East

Cave
You are in a twisty cave with multiple passages
heading in various directions.

There really isn't a passage in that particular direction.

> North

You trudge north until you come to a junction.

Cave
You are in a twisty cave with multiple passages
heading in various directions.

> East

As you trudge eastward, the passage climbs more
and more steeply until you finally heave yourself
out of a hole in the floor.

---

The upshot here is that the player is left to his own
devices for remembering the path back, but it is possible.
Most players will quickly get lost if they don't sit
down and meticulously draw a map.

> (Again, let me add that I'm not discussing whether there *should* be mazes
> in IF games. That's a separate decision.)

Quite.

Just ask yourself what purpose the maze exists to serve.
It should relate to the plot somehow.

David Brain

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Jul 22, 1999, 3:00:00 AM7/22/99
to
In article <19990721165018...@ng-fm1.aol.com>,
bren...@aol.comRemove (BrenBarn) wrote:

> Or, to generalize it even further, I like puzzles that:
> A) Can be solved by a human;
> B) Cannot be solved by anyone other than a human; and
> C) Can be solved by any human who possesses that library of facts we call "common
> knowledge".

On the whole I would go along with that, except for the drawback of "common
knowledge", since this is frequently the wildly variable factor - do the rules and
terminology of Baseball (to pluck an example from the air ;-) count as "common
knowledge"?

--
David Brain
London, UK

Aris Katsaris

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Jul 22, 1999, 3:00:00 AM7/22/99
to

David Brain <da...@atlan.cix.co.uk> wrote in message
news:memo.19990722...@atlan.cix.co.uk...

Only for Americans I'd guess. I'd certainly fail any puzzle that included
Baseball rules while I could possibly solve one that involved
quantum-mechanics or something similar...

Aris Katsaris

BrenBarn

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Jul 22, 1999, 3:00:00 AM7/22/99
to
>> > Or, to generalize it even further, I like puzzles that:
>> > A) Can be solved by a human;
>> > B) Cannot be solved by anyone other than a human; and
>> > C) Can be solved by any human who possesses that library of facts we
>call "common
>> > knowledge".
>>
>> On the whole I would go along with that, except for the drawback of
>"common
>> knowledge", since this is frequently the wildly variable factor - do the
>rules and
>> terminology of Baseball (to pluck an example from the air ;-) count as
>"common
>> knowledge"?
>
>Only for Americans I'd guess. I'd certainly fail any puzzle that included
>Baseball rules while I could possibly solve one that involved
>quantum-mechanics or something similar...
Yep. It seems that every definition I encounter (or propose) spawns
innumerable sub-definitions. In this particular case, however, I would err on
the side of caution. If there is doubt about whether a fact is "common
knowledge", then it isn't, for this purpose, common knowledge. (So neither
baseball nor quantum mechanics fits in.) The only things that remain
definitely "common knowledge" are things that you know so thoroughly that you
don't even consider them things you "know". For example, even small babies
quickly learn that things fall down; thus, gravity is common knowledge. (And I
don't mean the physics of gravity, I mean "the idea that things fall down if
there's nothing blocking them.") Likewise, the VAST majority of people know
that chairs are things you sit on, that wheels roll, that wrenches twist things
and that guns are for hurting things. This is what I mean by "common
knowledge". All facts that aren't part of "common knowledge" (such as the
rules of baseball, or of blackjack, or what a sheep-shank is) should be
explained in the framework of the game.
Still, on second thought, I'd like to modify append to rule C: "C) Can be
solved. . ."common knowledge", and who possesses the intellectual capacity to
apply his or her knowledge." Because, obviously, even though a baby knows that
things fall down doesn't mean he knows how to apply that knowledge in an
unfamiliar situation.
Thanks again for putting up with this nonsense. :-)
Message has been deleted

Ashley Price

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Jul 23, 1999, 3:00:00 AM7/23/99
to
|Likewise, the VAST majority of people know
| that chairs are things you sit on, that wheels roll, that wrenches twist
things
| and that guns are for hurting things.

Darn, so that's what chairs are for!! :)


Ashley

Philip W. Darnowsky

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Jul 23, 1999, 3:00:00 AM7/23/99
to
David Brain (da...@atlan.cix.co.uk) wrote:
: In article <19990721165018...@ng-fm1.aol.com>,
: bren...@aol.comRemove (BrenBarn) wrote:

: > Or, to generalize it even further, I like puzzles that:

: > A) Can be solved by a human;
: > B) Cannot be solved by anyone other than a human; and
: > C) Can be solved by any human who possesses that library of facts we call "common
: > knowledge".

: On the whole I would go along with that, except for the drawback of "common
: knowledge", since this is frequently the wildly variable factor - do the rules and
: terminology of Baseball (to pluck an example from the air ;-) count as "common
: knowledge"?

As my 9th grade history teacher put it, "One student said it was common
knowledge that Cuba was a U.S. state."

--
----------------------------------------------------
Phil Darnowsky pdar...@spameggsbaconandspam.qis.net
Remove spam, eggs, bacon, spam, and dot to reply.

The human brain is a remarkable organ: it begins
working the moment you wake up, and does not stop
until you get to the office.

Jonas Persson

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Jul 23, 1999, 3:00:00 AM7/23/99