IF conventions and constraints [a bit verbose]

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ferd...@my-deja.com

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Sep 7, 2000, 9:38:36 AM9/7/00
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I'd just like to hear what IF authors, would-be authors, or players
like myself have to say about the conventions of the genre.
There is nothing really new in the issues I address here, and i found
on Deja several interesting threads related to these points, but i'd
like to know the current consensus on those.

To sum up, any work that deviates from these conventions is labelled as
'experimental' :

* single viewpoint : most (non-interactive) fiction does not adopt the
viewpoint of a single character, and books written
in the first person are accordingly a minority.
Why should all IF (with the exception of Photopia, and maybe others I
don't know) try to put you *exactly* in the shoes of one character ?
Even the option of having a 'third-person' view would be nice, for
instance the 'omniscient player' viewpoint.

* interaction with things : most of the interaction in IF is with
objects. Again this is not something common generally in fiction. In
IF, characters are little more than talking things (again, some
exceptions i.e. Galatea). For me, the most important type of
interaction would be with the plot :
the ability to significantly modify the plot.
Most of the times, players actions affect only the pacing of the story,
but not its outcome.
The emphasis on puzzles is part of adventure gaming, but should it
define IF ? In IF, the story could (should) be the puzzle in itself.
As an aside, I think Spider and Web, for instance, is a brilliant
utilisation of puzzles to tell a story, as well as a reflection on the
constraints of the genre.

* emphasis on winning : most of the times the plot is linear because
you have to win. Why isn't there the IF equivalent of a 'software toy',
that would allow the player to explore different branches in a story,
perhaps pre-written options, perhaps by creating them on the spot
according to a set of rules ?

My intention is not to criticize adventure games, and i'm impressed by
the dedication of IF authors. I'm just a bit surprised
by the narrowing of the genre, and I wonder if it's due to technical
limitations, historical reasons, or both.


Sent via Deja.com http://www.deja.com/
Before you buy.

Nick Montfort

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Sep 7, 2000, 12:47:33 PM9/7/00
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> i'd like to know the current consensus on those.

It almost certainly has nothing to do with what I think, but here's
what I think:

> Why should all IF (with the exception of Photopia, and maybe others I
> don't know) try to put you *exactly* in the shoes of one character ?

Suspended is one that doesn't. Although it claims to by inventing
a "you" who is physically helpless, frozen inside a cylinder, as a sort
of excuse for a central controlling consciousness within the story.

> Even the option of having a 'third-person' view would be nice, for
> instance the 'omniscient player' viewpoint.

Winchester's Nightmare is written in the third person, but it does put
the player "*exactly* in the shoes of one character." How many
characters one has control over and whether the writing is in the
first, second, or third person are not the same thing.

> * interaction with things : most of the interaction in IF is with
> objects. Again this is not something common generally in fiction. In
> IF, characters are little more than talking things (again, some
> exceptions i.e. Galatea).

This is discussed in a chapter of Espen Aarseth's "Cybertext" which
treats the rather autistic nature of interaction. Yes, this is a
potentially ill bias for IF to have, although I'm not sure that is the
main thing constraining IF from becoming something great and different.

> For me, the most important type of
> interaction would be with the plot :
> the ability to significantly modify the plot.

Why privilege plot? It is a story element, whereas objects aren't, but
there are plenty of other elements the play might influence or control.
Cf. SimCity, where, to strain story terms onto something that isn't a
story, 'setting' is under the player's control. Plot's a good idea, but
a rather conventional one (cf. CYOA books) and not the only one.

> Most of the times, players actions affect only the pacing of the
> story, but not its outcome.

Not just pacing, but the order in which events occur, and often the
particular whys (for puzzles with multiple solutions) that those events
do occur. Not having control over plot doesn't mean you can't be
creative, or even be a sort of author. Look at what Greek tragedians
did with plots that were already established beforehand, for instance.

> The emphasis on puzzles is part of adventure gaming, but should it
> define IF ?

Perhaps not. If not, what other structural and formal was of regulating
the player's progress through a narrative can be used? Despite several
worthwhile works that are truly puzzle-less (e.g., Exhibiton) I think
this questions needs an answer before puzzle-less possibilities will
really open up.

> In IF, the story could (should) be the puzzle in itself.

That doesn't conflict with the presence of smaller puzzles within an IF
work, does it? In fact, until we find something other than the puzzle
to make the structuring of an IF work possible in a way that players
enjoy, ripping out the smaller puzzles could make this harder, not
easier.

> * emphasis on winning : most of the times the plot is linear

There are no plots that are not linear. Plot is always linear. You can
have a 'multi-linear' plot (I-0, where the player's commands cause
different events that cause different narrative situations) or a 'uni-
linear' plot (consider Wishbringer, where the same plot is played
through in any concluded game), but once things happen and the plot
takes form as a plot, it is linear.

> because
> you have to win. Why isn't there the IF equivalent of a 'software
> toy', that would allow the player to explore different branches in a
> story, perhaps pre-written options, perhaps by creating them on the
> spot according to a set of rules ?

Hmm, I'm not sure exactly what you mean, but it sounds interesting.
Maybe you could write this IF work for us so we'd know what it is?
Although discussion of IF is very important, in this case, I bet even
trying and failing to write the system you propose would be more
instructive than discussing it. And I don't mean to suggest you'd fail.
It would be even better to have something like this as a new sort of IF
work, of course.

> My intention is not to criticize adventure games

You, and all of us, should definitely be criticizing the IF form in the
sense of thinking critically about it and trying to improve it.

> I'm just a bit surprised
> by the narrowing of the genre, and I wonder if it's due to technical
> limitations, historical reasons, or both.

Technical limitations are what makes art possible. Photography is an
art, in part, because there is a frame confining and limiting the light-
graven image the photograph captures to a certain rectangle. However,
the specific software used for IF also predisposes the form to certain
types of IF. Inform is very well-adapted for treasure-romps and the
sort of IF where you command one character to do certain well-known
classes of physical action. It's fairly poor for free-form typed
conversation, as opposed to even a simple (but well-adapted) tool like
Janet Murray's Character Builder. But IF authors have less interest in
free-form typed conversation.

-Nick M.

BrenBarn

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Sep 8, 2000, 7:30:10 PM9/8/00
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ferd...@my-deja.com wrote:
>* interaction with things : most of the interaction in IF is with
>objects. Again this is not something common generally in fiction. In
>IF, characters are little more than talking things (again, some
>exceptions i.e. Galatea). For me, the most important type of
>interaction would be with the plot :
>the ability to significantly modify the plot.

This is something I think about a lot. I've found that the games I like
best do not involve extensive physical manipulation of game objects in the game
world; rather, they involve interaction with characters, or even simply passive
absorption of a story.

My first game, Lomalow, was a (fairly bad) attempt at a different
approach. The game was almost all about the two NPCs, but the banal way in
which you had to communicate with these characters made it just as monotonous
as "PICK UP THIS. DROP THAT. PUT THIS ON THAT. ETC."

My Comp2000 game, The Big Mama, is (or will be) another attempt. It's
definitely better than Lomalow (in my opinion), but whether it's really a
meaningful, substantial attempt remains to be seen.

>Most of the times, players actions affect only the pacing of the story,
>but not its outcome.
>The emphasis on puzzles is part of adventure gaming, but should it
>define IF ? In IF, the story could (should) be the puzzle in itself.

Yay! This sounds like me. :-) Honestly, I love games where the player
really can change what happens in substantial ways. However, as someone else
mentioned (and as has been mentioned many times before), this kind of game is
tough to program because of the "combinatorial explosion". (Writing lots of
storylines takes lots of time.)

The issue (for me) is: where do you draw the line beyond which the player
has no power to alter the storyline? In most traditional IF, the player has
essentially no such power at all. In more modern IF, the player has more
power. Ideally, I'd like to make games where the player has such immense
control over the game world that that control is not apparent to him.

>* emphasis on winning : most of the times the plot is linear because
>you have to win. Why isn't there the IF equivalent of a 'software toy',
>that would allow the player to explore different branches in a story,
>perhaps pre-written options, perhaps by creating them on the spot
>according to a set of rules ?

An interesting idea. It seems, though, that this would entail the player
becoming the author, at least for the "different branches" you refer to. Or
else the author would have to plan ahead, and create his own rules for what
happens when the player does X, which would be cool, but, again, would involve
lots and lots of time.
--BrenBarn (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

BrenBarn

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Sep 8, 2000, 7:37:07 PM9/8/00
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Nick Montfort nickmo...@my-deja.com wrote:
>> The emphasis on puzzles is part of adventure gaming, but should it
>> define IF ?
>
>Perhaps not. If not, what other structural and formal was of regulating
>the player's progress through a narrative can be used? Despite several
>worthwhile works that are truly puzzle-less (e.g., Exhibiton) I think
>this questions needs an answer before puzzle-less possibilities will
>really open up.

I think puzzleless IF could also "open up" under other circumstances. One
would be if the PLAYERS (not the authors) develop a different attitude toward
the game, playing the game to experience it rather than to win or to reach a
conclusion. Another would be if someone creates a game where the "regulation"
of the player's progress is so slight as to be invisible to the player.

I'm a firm believer, though, that "structural and formal" constructs
aren't necessary in IF (except as far as hardware limitations, and the
practical limitations of, say, game vocabulary). They may be necessary for a
given player to enjoy the game, but (and here I go out on a limb :-) that's not
necessarily my objective as a writer. (I speak only for myself here.)

>Technical limitations are what makes art possible.

With this I must disagree. But since this is really a thread about IF and
not about the nature of art, I'll leave it at that. :-)

BrenBarn

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Sep 8, 2000, 7:38:40 PM9/8/00
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>On the other hand, a big game that's really wide could take only 2 hours
>to play through any given path... :)

Heh, look for a short .Z8 game in Comp2000. Heh heh heh. . . :-)

Konnrad / T Taylor

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Sep 9, 2000, 10:41:24 AM9/9/00
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> Technical limitations are what makes art possible.


Art is a snapshot of picture, or thought, or emotion, or idea...

The limitations are what good art hides to make you think you are
seeing something more.


TOM


ferd...@my-deja.com

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Sep 9, 2000, 1:15:37 PM9/9/00
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> How many
> characters one has control over and whether the writing is in the
> first, second, or third person are not the same thing.

True, it's independent.

< lots of good points snipped >

> There are no plots that are not linear. Plot is always linear.

Once a plot is , well, plotted it is linear, true.
But an IF work could have many potential plots inside.
Putting aside problems of branching, one could imagine
going backwards in the plot, changing something, and then forward
again for instance.

> Hmm, I'm not sure exactly what you mean, but it sounds interesting.
> Maybe you could write this IF work for us so we'd know what it is?

You mentioned earlier Sim City. The Sims proves that there is interest
in a limited form of interactive fiction (it's the fiction that's
limited here). I was thinking of something along the line of
Chris Crawford's work, although I think he's approaching the problem
the hard way. You can't just mix colourful characters together and
expect a plot to emerge.
I think Marco Maiocchi tried to do something closer to what
could interested IF players, by automating the plot of small
stories, according to Vladimir Propp's structural analysis
of Russian folk stories.

If I could design something, it would have to start there.

> It's fairly poor for free-form typed
> conversation, as opposed to even a simple (but well-adapted) tool like
> Janet Murray's Character Builder. But IF authors have less interest in
> free-form typed conversation.

As a player, i have little interest in it too.

ferd...@my-deja.com

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Sep 9, 2000, 1:25:09 PM9/9/00
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> Honestly, I love games where the player
> really can change what happens in substantial ways.
...

>(Writing lots of
> storylines takes lots of time.)
>
True, but say you have two IF works, one is a lenghty story
and what the player does just allows him to skip to the next scene.
The other one is a short story, but players actions have significant
effects.
The length of the two stories is more or less equal.
Which one is best suited to IF ? For me the second.
And the player will spend as long in one or the other, since he can
replay the short story and try different things.


> An interesting idea. It seems, though, that this would entail
>the player becoming the author, at least for the "different branches"
>you refer to. Or else the author would have to plan ahead, and create
> his own rules for what happens when the player does X, which would be
> cool, but, again, would involve lots and lots of time.

Well, the player would create his own paths, and the author would supply
the setting and rules.
And yes, it would involve lots and lots of time. But it could maybe
be done on a small scale ?

Daniel Barkalow

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Sep 9, 2000, 9:17:21 PM9/9/00
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On Sat, 9 Sep 2000 ferd...@my-deja.com wrote:

>
> > Honestly, I love games where the player
> > really can change what happens in substantial ways.
> ...
> >(Writing lots of
> > storylines takes lots of time.)
> >
> True, but say you have two IF works, one is a lenghty story
> and what the player does just allows him to skip to the next scene.
> The other one is a short story, but players actions have significant
> effects.
> The length of the two stories is more or less equal.
> Which one is best suited to IF ? For me the second.
> And the player will spend as long in one or the other, since he can
> replay the short story and try different things.

I've decided to try to write a game based on having multiple paths. It's
going to be simple, story-wise; just a bunch of exploration with a
conclusion based on what you've managed to explore, but some actions
prevent seeing some parts, such that there's no way you can do everything
in a single run (and thus no way to get a perfect score). I'm curious as
to whether it will end up too brief to be very interesting. I'm not going
to have very much description of what is happening (which is hard to reuse
between paths), aside from environmental things which happen no matter
what, so I hope to have a somewhat minimal expansion of text.

> > An interesting idea. It seems, though, that this would entail
> >the player becoming the author, at least for the "different branches"
> >you refer to. Or else the author would have to plan ahead, and create
> > his own rules for what happens when the player does X, which would be
> > cool, but, again, would involve lots and lots of time.
>
> Well, the player would create his own paths, and the author would supply
> the setting and rules.
> And yes, it would involve lots and lots of time. But it could maybe
> be done on a small scale ?

It might be doable if you kept the bits from interacting too much. If you
left the interpretation of the way things got left to the player, and
coded rules of how the world worked in general ways (if anyone else drives
off in the car, John can't use it to get to the dentist, etc.), it might
work. Then again, it might be too hard to get a balence such that your
actions have effects, but it doesn't become impossible to advance in most
player's favorite stories.

-Iabervon
*This .sig unintentionally changed*

BrenBarn

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Sep 9, 2000, 11:07:18 PM9/9/00
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Daniel Barkalow iabe...@iabervon.org wrote:
>If you
>left the interpretation of the way things got left to the player, and
>coded rules of how the world worked in general ways (if anyone else drives
>off in the car, John can't use it to get to the dentist, etc.), it might
>work.

True. You mentioned earlier in your post that your multi-path game was
going to be "simple, story-wise", and I think that this is why. The first step
is to simply do a game with multiple paths, to explore the territory and
understand the possibilities. In other words, look at the "interactive" part
of it. Then, when you begin to get ideas about how to use the multi-path
format, you can begin to make games with "fiction" involved too.

Actually, I'm taking it even slower than that; I'm starting with games
(actually, A game) where the multiple paths are essentially non-overlapping
(i.e., once you start down a given path, forever will it dominate your destiny
:-). Later, I hope to make games with more "crossroads", so the player can
switch between various paths at various points. After increasing the number of
crossroads substantially, to probe the possibilities, the next step is to take
a deep breath and do my best to make the entire game one big crossroads --
everything the player does has the potential to switch his path.

Finally, I yearn to add to this "all-crossroad" game the magic,
indefinable quality that will make the player unaware of the alterations he is
making in his path. Then, and only, then, a Jedi will I be. :-)

Daryl McCullough

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Sep 11, 2000, 9:10:12 AM9/11/00
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ferd...@my-deja.com says...
>...say you have two IF works, one is a lengthy story

>and what the player does just allows him to skip to the next scene.
>The other one is a short story, but players actions have significant
>effects.

>The length of the two stories is more or less equal.
>Which one is best suited to IF ? For me the second.
>And the player will spend as long in one or the other, since he can
>replay the short story and try different things.

I think that there are different kinds of experience
associated with the two types of works you describe.
In the case of a simple story with many opportunities
for the player to affect the plot, the player has the
sort of fun that comes from playing with a new toy.
On the other hand, a longer work with fewer plot branches
may give a more satisfying "literary" experience.

I think that it is very difficult, if not impossible,
to have *both* great player freedom to affect the plot
*and* a compelling story. You can have a lot of interactivity
inside a compelling world, with a compelling background
story, but I think that it's beyond current technology
to turn a player's choices into a story that is as rich
and interesting as a good novel.

A computer game like SimCity or (at a sillier level) Lemmings
allows the player to pretty much control what happens (within
the constraints of the game's world model). But these games
are more simulations than fictions. Not that there's anything
wrong with that...

Daryl McCullough
CoGenTex, Inc.
Ithaca, NY

Daniel Barkalow

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Sep 11, 2000, 4:11:15 PM9/11/00
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On 10 Sep 2000, BrenBarn wrote:

> Daniel Barkalow iabe...@iabervon.org wrote:
> >If you
> >left the interpretation of the way things got left to the player, and
> >coded rules of how the world worked in general ways (if anyone else drives
> >off in the car, John can't use it to get to the dentist, etc.), it might
> >work.
>
> True. You mentioned earlier in your post that your multi-path game was
> going to be "simple, story-wise", and I think that this is why. The first step
> is to simply do a game with multiple paths, to explore the territory and
> understand the possibilities. In other words, look at the "interactive" part
> of it. Then, when you begin to get ideas about how to use the multi-path
> format, you can begin to make games with "fiction" involved too.
>
> Actually, I'm taking it even slower than that; I'm starting with games
> (actually, A game) where the multiple paths are essentially non-overlapping
> (i.e., once you start down a given path, forever will it dominate your destiny
> :-).

This seems to me to be a step you could skip actually writing, since it's
essentially just two (or more) separate games which share a beginning
("You are standing...") in the same file. On the other hand, if you're
trying to share locations and descriptions and such, it could be an
interesting exercise.

> Later, I hope to make games with more "crossroads", so the player can
> switch between various paths at various points. After increasing the number of
> crossroads substantially, to probe the possibilities, the next step is to take
> a deep breath and do my best to make the entire game one big crossroads --
> everything the player does has the potential to switch his path.

I think this is qualitatively different from the software toy idea. In
that, the author doesn't consider all combinations of choices, but leaves
some of the interactions to general rules. Instead of considering each
possible path, and determining how that path should proceed through a
given scene, the author lets paths with a certain feature proceed in one
way, with a different feature in another way, and so on. Paths with more
than one have a choice here, paths with none just get stuck (if the
features don't make this impossible).

> Finally, I yearn to add to this "all-crossroad" game the magic,
> indefinable quality that will make the player unaware of the alterations he is
> making in his path. Then, and only, then, a Jedi will I be. :-)

That, of course, is the real goal. Replaying it makes that difficult,
though.

Daryl McCullough

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Sep 11, 2000, 5:41:08 PM9/11/00
to
Daniel says...

>I think this is qualitatively different from the software toy idea. In
>that, the author doesn't consider all combinations of choices, but leaves
>some of the interactions to general rules. Instead of considering each
>possible path, and determining how that path should proceed through a
>given scene, the author lets paths with a certain feature proceed in one
>way, with a different feature in another way, and so on. Paths with more
>than one have a choice here, paths with none just get stuck (if the
>features don't make this impossible).

My favorite example of a computer game that leaves all interactions
to general rules is "Lemmings".

J.D. Berry

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Sep 12, 2000, 8:53:25 AM9/12/00
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In article <8pjjhk$h...@edrn.newsguy.com>,

da...@cogentex.com (Daryl McCullough) wrote:
>>
>> My favorite example of a computer game that leaves all interactions
>> to general rules is "Lemmings".
>>

As a Lemmings fan myself, I thought a sample IF transcript would be in
order.

>exit starting area

The lemmings have already poured onto the playing field and have put
the game into an unwinnable state.

>restart

I thought so.

>make lemming a blocker

Which lemming did you mean, lemming 1, lemming 2... or lemming 37?

>26... no, no, I mean 27

Too late, as 10 lemmings have already gone past him and to their doom.

>undo

Bwahaha!

>restart

I thought so.

>make 1 a stair builder, then make 2 a diagonal digger, then as 3 is
just getting to the cliff make 4 a paratrooper.

Oh... you just missed assigning 4 a paratrooper in time. *SPLAT*

>quit

You have scored 22%. You needed a score of 55%. You suck.


Jim

Mel

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Sep 13, 2000, 3:00:00 AM9/13/00
to
brenbarn:

> > > Honestly, I love games where the player
> > > really can change what happens in substantial ways.
> > ...
> > >(Writing lots of
> > > storylines takes lots of time.)

Ferdinand:


> > True, but say you have two IF works, one is a lenghty story
> > and what the player does just allows him to skip to the next scene.
> > The other one is a short story, but players actions have significant
> > effects.
> > The length of the two stories is more or less equal.
> > Which one is best suited to IF ? For me the second.
> > And the player will spend as long in one or the other, since he can
> > replay the short story and try different things.

To me, this is the advantage of CYOA books, the player's actions can
take the story in a completely different direction... There can be lots
of (good) endings, (at least in the good ones.)

It is a format that lends itself to lots of story-changing options
because the author need not account for the way changes in the story
effect elements common to all it's variants (unless there's a lot of
crossover, and even then, every variant can be read before it's
released.)

The disadvantage, of course, is that the number of options is rather
limited, often not giving you the option you really want to take. The
format doesn't lend itself to letting you follow your own initiative,
and as a result, is rather lacking for puzzles too.

I've long thought the best format for CYOA-type stuff would be on the
computer. Some sort of hypertext with conditional flags based on
choices you made earlier on, so that there would be no need for things
like "did you pick up the sword? - turn to page 299" thereby not only
eliminating the need for spoilers like that, but also allowing for more
(apparently) fiddly conditions that would be dull to bother the player
with.

But this thread got me thinking... I've seen standard CYOA, with
multiple-choice options in a text adventure system, But what about CYOA
in the usual style of a text adventure, where you use standard verbs,
and move around a map, and various kinds of commands might be those that
change your options?

Daniel Barkalow wrote:
> I've decided to try to write a game based on having multiple paths. It's
> going to be simple, story-wise; just a bunch of exploration with a
> conclusion based on what you've managed to explore, but some actions
> prevent seeing some parts, such that there's no way you can do everything
> in a single run (and thus no way to get a perfect score). I'm curious as
> to whether it will end up too brief to be very interesting. I'm not going
> to have very much description of what is happening (which is hard to reuse
> between paths), aside from environmental things which happen no matter
> what, so I hope to have a somewhat minimal expansion of text.

That sounds like what I'm talking about.

> It might be doable if you kept the bits from interacting too much. If you
> left the interpretation of the way things got left to the player, and
> coded rules of how the world worked in general ways (if anyone else drives
> off in the car, John can't use it to get to the dentist, etc.), it might
> work. Then again, it might be too hard to get a balence such that your
> actions have effects, but it doesn't become impossible to advance in most
> player's favorite stories.

I think keeping the bits from interacting too much would make it work.
You could have your actions drastically change the options, so that
there isn't so much interference. Say you type in "get rose" or
something and your options change, maybe the rose fairy interrupts your
current doings, sending the story suddenly in a different direction.
Or maybe a flag is stealthily set to show that the rose has been picked,
so that later on your options can be changed. Maybe with enough stuff
you could have Brenbarn's game of crossroads.

Mel

(remove the exclamation of horror to reply)

Philipp Lenssen

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Sep 13, 2000, 10:11:03 PM9/13/00
to
Mel <brittech@Eeaagh_SPAMamerica.net> schrieb in im Newsbeitrag:
39C0295B.605DE9A2@Eeaagh_SPAMamerica.net...
>..

> I've long thought the best format for CYOA-type stuff would be on the
> computer. Some sort of hypertext with conditional flags based on
> choices you made earlier on, so that there would be no need for things
> like "did you pick up the sword? - turn to page 299" thereby not only
> eliminating the need for spoilers like that, but also allowing for more
> (apparently) fiddly conditions that would be dull to bother the player
> with.
>..

You might want to check out QML (Quest Markup Language). It's exactly that -
a system for hypertext CYOA with flags.
http://www.hitnet.rwth-aachen.de/~lenssen/goodies/qml.htm

Example of a simple station:

<station id="room">
<text>You're in a room.
</text>
<choice station="door1">You pick door 1</choice>
<choice station="door2">You go through door 2</choice>
</station>

Example of an else/ if station:

<station id="treasure">
<if state="has gold">
<text>You open the treasure, but it's empty.
</text>
<choice station="back">You go back</choice>
</if>
<else>
<text>You open the treasure and find some gold.
</text>
<set state="has gold" />
<choice station="back">You go back</choice>
</else>
</station>

There's also chance for text inputs, boolean and/ or to combine several
flags, and the chance for randomness. Flags and text input are exactly what
gave me a hard time writing CYOA on paper. You could not ask for a keyword
for example (like a solution to a riddle) without giving away the word.

The format is standard XML, so theoretically anyone could write an
interpreter.


indigolem

unread,
Sep 13, 2000, 10:42:10 PM9/13/00
to
>But this thread got me thinking... I've seen standard CYOA, with
>multiple-choice options in a text adventure system, But what about CYOA
>in the usual style of a text adventure, where you use standard verbs,
>and move around a map, and various kinds of commands might be those that
>change your options?

The game "I-0" has several endings that depend on whether you
use your head or not. Some of them are deaths, some end in jail,
etc. There's only one real way to "win," even though there are
several ways to get there. Does Inform allow for multiple winning
endings so that it doesn't say "you have died"?

---
Indigolem ||[ http://octoberzone.port5.com/ ]||

Jon Ingold

unread,
Sep 14, 2000, 3:00:00 AM9/14/00
to
> I've long thought the best format for CYOA-type stuff would be on the
> computer. Some sort of hypertext with conditional flags based on
> choices you made earlier on, so that there would be no need for things
> like "did you pick up the sword? - turn to page 299" thereby not only
> eliminating the need for spoilers like that, but also allowing for more
> (apparently) fiddly conditions that would be dull to bother the player
> with.

There's an interface for this sort of thing on my web-site

http://www.ingold.co.uk/

In the Visual Basic programs section (it really is time I reorganised that
page). This can handle object picking up and down - though doesn't use
verbs for interaction - and options which appear if certain conditions are
met. It's got an inbult help.

It'll need the VB6 runtime to work, which you may not have. If not, you can
get that from the site too.

Jon

Daryl McCullough

unread,
Sep 14, 2000, 3:00:00 AM9/14/00
to
I have another question: Is a fantasy role-playing game interactive fiction?
It seems to me that there is a sense in which IF games are like role-playing
games in which the "dungeon master" is a computer program. I know that there
is usually more of an emphasis on battles and treasure in FRP games, but that
doesn't seem necessary to me.

I wonder how well it would work to "perform" a work of IF live, with
a human interpreting commands instead of the computer.

ferd...@my-deja.com

unread,
Sep 14, 2000, 3:00:00 AM9/14/00
to

> I have another question: Is a fantasy role-playing game interactive
> fiction?

I would say yes, the audience has some control over the story told by
the author.

But it doesn't have to be the other way round, IF is not 'just' role-
playing.

Matthew Murray

unread,
Sep 14, 2000, 3:00:00 AM9/14/00
to
On Thu, 14 Sep 2000, indigolem wrote:

> The game "I-0" has several endings that depend on whether you
> use your head or not. Some of them are deaths, some end in jail,
> etc. There's only one real way to "win," even though there are
> several ways to get there. Does Inform allow for multiple winning
> endings so that it doesn't say "you have died"?

Given Galatea, I'd have to say yes.

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------
I always wanted to see the lights of Broadway,
And I was told if I look too close I just might go blind...
...If the lights of Broadway blind me,
I won't mind!

-Michael John LaChiusa, from The Wild Party
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Matthew A. Murray - mmu...@cc.wwu.edu - http://www.wwu.edu/~mmurray
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------


Carl Muckenhoupt

unread,
Sep 14, 2000, 3:00:00 AM9/14/00
to
In article <39c03a41...@news.evcom.net>,
octob...@yahoo.calm (indigolem) wrote:

> The game "I-0" has several endings that depend on whether you
> use your head or not. Some of them are deaths, some end in jail,
> etc. There's only one real way to "win," even though there are
> several ways to get there. Does Inform allow for multiple winning
> endings so that it doesn't say "you have died"?

Yes. To be specific, the standard Inform library uses a global
variable called DEADFLAG. Every turn, after the game is finished
processing the player's actions (and probably timers and daemons as
well, but I'm not sure of the ordering), it checks the value of
deadflag. Zero (the default value) keeps the game going for one more
turn, 1 means death, 2 means victory, and any other value signifies a
nonstandard ending that the author is expected to define. In other
words, the game author can set deadflag to 2 at any point in any
routine and expect the standard "*** You have won ***" message, with
attendant score reporting and post-game options, at the end of the turn.

Carl Muckenhoupt

unread,
Sep 14, 2000, 3:00:00 AM9/14/00
to
In article <8pqklf$1d...@edrn.newsguy.com>,

da...@cogentex.com (Daryl McCullough) wrote:
> I wonder how well it would work to "perform" a work of IF live, with
> a human interpreting commands instead of the computer.

I seem to recall a description of an "interactive play" done at an
office party at Infocom. You could probably find the report somewhere
in ftp://ftp.gmd.de/if-archive/infocom/NZT+TSL

Mel

unread,
Sep 15, 2000, 3:00:00 AM9/15/00
to
Daryl McCullough wrote:

> I have another question: Is a fantasy role-playing game interactive fiction?

Now that you mention is, yes.

> It seems to me that there is a sense in which IF games are like role-playing
> games in which the "dungeon master" is a computer program. I know that there


This is basically where I come from (though I started playing text
adventures at about the same time and don't actually know which I did
first, though I took a long hiatus from both, (for different reasons))
I'm a long time "gamer". Anyway, this is exactly how I tend to see it.

> is usually more of an emphasis on battles and treasure in FRP games, but that
> doesn't seem necessary to me.

It's not. Especially not in my favorites.

> I wonder how well it would work to "perform" a work of IF live, with
> a human interpreting commands instead of the computer.

Well, as a role-playing game, it would work just fine as long as the
game master doesn't mind taking it in a completly different direction,
and the players don't get stuck. :)

Mel

Jonadab the Unsightly One

unread,
Sep 24, 2000, 3:00:00 AM9/24/00
to
J.D. Berry <jdb...@my-deja.com> wrote:

> As a Lemmings fan myself, I thought a sample IF transcript would be in
> order.

[snip]

That was funny!


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