Clothes and level of detail

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Magnus Olsson

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Apr 7, 2001, 9:40:03 AM4/7/01
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In article <3acece4a....@news.newsguy.com>,
Jason Melancon <afn5...@afn.org> wrote:
>On Fri, 6 Apr 2001 08:51:22 -0400, "J.D. Berry"
><jdb...@MailAndNews.com> wrote:

(About the protagonist in Emily Short's "Metamorphoses")

>>>Also there's the fact that she's apparently not wearing anything under
>>>the coarse dress - again, this doesn't send any sexual signals as it
>>>might in our world - but rather one of, well, spartanity, not caring
>>>much for comfort. Either she or her mysterious master doesn't treat
>>>her very well.
>>
>>Interesting, delayed reactions. This didn't hit me at the time I played
>>Meta, but I experienced the same effect as Magnus describes above when I was
>>playing. Hmmm... an impact without conscious awareness. Then again, I
>>usually need Cliff's notes to tell me the literary significance of anything
>>I read.

This is what makes it gratifying to be a critic (not that I really
*am* a critic, but I'm dabbling a bit in the field).

>Enh, seems to me a bunch of implemented underclothes and so on would
>have been distracting, red-herring-like.

Yes, it might have been simple economy of expression. But even in that
case, the resulting effect fits very well into the mood of the story.

>I guess there's a limit to
>the utility, or applicability, of simulationism after all.

This is a difficult question: which level of detail is right? Implement
too much detail, and it's distracting, or may send the wrong message;
implement too little, and things get too sketchy, or people may be
jump to conclusions that don't fit, like below:

In article <9am792$v2c$1...@news3.cadvision.com>,
KayCee <kcol...@cadvision.com> wrote:
>"Jake Wildstrom" <wil...@mit.edu> wrote in message
>news:3acd7b8f$0$1910$b45e...@senator-bedfellow.mit.edu...
>> Maybe we should assume all characters are nude unless clothing is
>> explicitly mentioned. It's an interesting visual for a lot of
>> games. Particularly hack-and-slash dungeon-type things.
>>
>In a similar vein, I must confess I was interested in "Masquerade" by the
>PC's self-description - "You are wearing a pair of shoes, a pair of
>stockings and a dress." I wasn't able to find any use for the shoes or
>stockings in the game, so couldn't help wondering why they were specifically
>mentioned when other garments weren't. It seemed to imply that there WERE
>no other garments, which felt rather...breezy.

Well, I think that if you ask someone to describe what they're
wearing, they usually just describe the garments that are visible to
an observer. It's not just a matter of underwear being
"unmentionables", it's more a matter of the image one wants to present.

In IF, I think that even if the game does implement underclothes, it
shouldn't list them in inventory listings unless they are visible (a
la Buffy the Vampire slayer) or have already been
mentioned. Constantly being reminded what underwear the PC wears does
feel a bit voyeuristic. "Thanks, but that's a wee bit more information
than I needed."

But the level of detail for clothes is problematic. In most adventure
games, it's simple: simply assume the player is wearing appropriate
clothes, and only implement additions to this, such as a raincoat that
can be donned if it's raining.

But if you need more detail than this, such as if you need to change
clothes, it gets problematic:

| Barracks
|
| The barracks are empty at this time of day; presumably, all the
| soldiers are out doing soldierly things like crawling in the mud. The
| beds are all meticulously made.
|
| A stormtrooper's dress uniform is lying on one bed.
|
| >i
| You are empty-handed.
|
| >wear uniform
| (first taking the uniform)
| You put on the uniform. The effect is quite nice: you look just
| like a lance corporal in the Imperial Marines. Or so you hope.

(later)

| >take off uniform.
| You take off the uniform. You now look your ordinary civilian self.

This troubles me a bit. To put on the uniform, the PC must take off
his civvies - so where did those clothes go? And did they just
miraculously appear again when he took off the uniform?

So puzzles that require changing clothes require implementing all
the clothes, not just the uniform. But implementing *all* clothes
means a lot of detail. Do you have to implement socks if the PC
changes shoes? If not, the player may wonder if the PC isn't very
uncomfortable wearing marching boots with no socks.

I think the answer is that it depends a lot on what the game looks
like. There is such a thing as too much detail; players don't expect
to be able to turn on and off the taps in the kitchen, the bathroom
and the scullery. But if you have a puzzle that requires the player
to get some water from the kitchen sink, he will wonder why the taps
don't work in the bathroom.


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

KayCee

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Apr 7, 2001, 1:57:15 PM4/7/01
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"Magnus Olsson" <m...@pobox.com> wrote in message
news:9an5bj$ck7$1...@news.lth.se...

> In article <9am792$v2c$1...@news3.cadvision.com>,
> KayCee <kcol...@cadvision.com> wrote:
> >In a similar vein, I must confess I was interested in "Masquerade" by the
> >PC's self-description - "You are wearing a pair of shoes, a pair of
> >stockings and a dress." I wasn't able to find any use for the shoes or
> >stockings in the game, so couldn't help wondering why they were
specifically
> >mentioned when other garments weren't. It seemed to imply that there
WERE
> >no other garments, which felt rather...breezy.
>
> Well, I think that if you ask someone to describe what they're
> wearing, they usually just describe the garments that are visible to
> an observer. It's not just a matter of underwear being
> "unmentionables", it's more a matter of the image one wants to present.

Perhaps that's what caught my attention: in the period during which
"Masquerade" is set, a lady's stockings would seldom be visible, and *never*
mentioned. The description would have felt complete if it had included only
the main garment. That it included more than the obvious placed unusual
emphasis on the accessories.

Also, the order of the description adds emphasis: not "...a dress, shoes
and stockings", but "shoes and stockings, and a dress". One tends to
mention the most significant article of apparel first, with accessories
trailing along behind. I'd be interested to know if Ms. Fischer had a
specific reason for this choice, or was just attracted by the rhythm of the
phrase.

Looking at the descriptions more closely, I'm reminded that the dress and
shoes are described as serviceable but aged, or improvised, whereas the
stockings are more lovingly described and show no signs of wear or mending.
(Yes, unlike nylon mesh hose, knit silk stockings could and would be
mended.) Perhaps this signals a small personal vanity for the heroine.

...KayCee


Brandon J. Van Every

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Apr 7, 2001, 5:04:40 PM4/7/01
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"Magnus Olsson" <m...@pobox.com> wrote in message
news:9an5bj$ck7$1...@news.lth.se...
>
> >I guess there's a limit to
> >the utility, or applicability, of simulationism after all.
>
> This is a difficult question: which level of detail is right?

IMO, and that of many screenwriters, the right level of detail is what is
needed to tell your story. If you don't have enough, if you are not
communicating important information to the viewer, then you haven't done
your job as a storyteller. On the other hand, realism and simulation are
not a priori goals of entertainment. They may be important if that is
explicitly what your work is about, but even then, it still begs a question
of whether your work is entertaining and fun. In screenplays "fun" may not
be the goal, what if you're trying to craft a hard-hitting documentary? But
even then, there's such a thing as audience attention span. You have to
keep the pace and extraneous detail gets in the way of the pace.

On gamedesign-l we are almost universally in agreement that realism and
simulation are not valid goals of game design for their own sake. The first
priority is Fun, and other things must be modified to make it Fun.

> Implement
> too much detail, and it's distracting, or may send the wrong message;
> implement too little, and things get too sketchy, or people may be
> jump to conclusions that don't fit, like below:

To summarize Postmodernism with a little computerese: you do not have
complete information about your audience. You do not know what is
previously stored in their brains, nor how they will act on their stored
information. When your story is juxtaposed with their stored information,
an unpredictable spectrum of reactions will occur. Thus there is no hard
line you can ever draw in authorship about what is "too much" detail or "too
little" detail. The sum total of detail is what your work reposits, plus
what the viewer reposits. It is a fundamentally insolulable problem.

Therefore, IMO, you should not cast the problem as though you're supposed to
find a solution for it. You are not. You should be including the level of
detail that feels right TO YOU. Include a test audience if you like. But
recognize that the test audience is fundamentally incomplete. It is not all
persons, it is not all reactions.

If you were to write while trying to please/fulfil all the possible bell
curve constraints out there, you would never be able to focus your work. In
attempting to communicate everything, you would communicate nothing. So my
take is you should endeavor to communicate SOMETHING, and leave it at that.
The SOMETHING is up to you, the author.

It can be 1 pair of socks, if you like.


--
Cheers, www.3DProgrammer.com Look, a troll, er,
Brandon Van Every Seattle, WA um, a witch! <|;-)

MFischer5

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Apr 7, 2001, 11:40:27 PM4/7/01
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>From: "KayCee" kcol...@cadvision.com
>Message-id: <9ankge$cfa$1...@news3.cadvision.com>

>"Magnus Olsson" <m...@pobox.com> wrote in message
>news:9an5bj$ck7$1...@news.lth.se...
>> In article <9am792$v2c$1...@news3.cadvision.com>,
>> KayCee <kcol...@cadvision.com> wrote:
>> >In a similar vein, I must confess I was interested in "Masquerade" by
>the
>> >PC's self-description - "You are wearing a pair of shoes, a pair of
>> >stockings and a dress." I wasn't able to find any use for the shoes
>or
>> >stockings in the game, so couldn't help wondering why they were
>specifically
>> >mentioned when other garments weren't. It seemed to imply that there
>WERE
>> >no other garments, which felt rather...breezy.

Poor PastPerfect, ever to languish on my hard drive, has a full suite of
Victorian undergarments... and overgarments, and just plain garments. Boy, that
generation sure knew how to dress!

Trust me, you didn't want to go there (either as player or an author -
especially if your game foolishly provides a mirror (as PastPerfect does.))

>> Well, I think that if you ask someone to describe what they're
>> wearing, they usually just describe the garments that are visible to
>> an observer. It's not just a matter of underwear being
>> "unmentionables", it's more a matter of the image one wants to present.

I felt that mentioning the "unmentionables" would have been out of character
for the game and extremely red-herringish.

>Perhaps that's what caught my attention: in the period during which
>"Masquerade" is set, a lady's stockings would seldom be visible, and *never*
>mentioned. The description would have felt complete if it had included
>only
>the main garment. That it included more than the obvious placed unusual
>emphasis on the accessories.

** See spoiler at the bottom

>Also, the order of the description adds emphasis: not "...a dress, shoes
>and stockings", but "shoes and stockings, and a dress". One tends to
>mention the most significant article of apparel first, with accessories
>trailing along behind. I'd be interested to know if Ms. Fischer had a
>specific reason for this choice, or was just attracted by the rhythm of
>the
>phrase.

The intellegent choice on my part would be to say one of the above is true,
which would be a complete lie. :) They are listed in that order because that
is the order I "dressed" the PC in (In code. Without the slightest thought on
my part.) And my inventory routine printed them out in that order. (note to
self: check garment ordering in future games)

>Looking at the descriptions more closely, I'm reminded that the dress and
>shoes are described as serviceable but aged, or improvised,

... at the end, your outfit is a bit nicer...

>whereas the
>stockings are more lovingly described and show no signs of wear or mending.
>(Yes, unlike nylon mesh hose, knit silk stockings could and would be
>mended.) Perhaps this signals a small personal vanity for the heroine.

Possibly. That certainly would have been a nice touch on my part. Of course, it
could be that the stockings were taken from a previous game. Your call. :)

(well, the endgame stockings were "fancy". The rest of the game had rather dull
stockings)

** SPOILERS FOR THE COVE & MASQUERADE
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
At one point, you can arrange things so that an ending of Masquerade leds
directly into the start of The Cove. I thought it rather cool to have the same
clothes on the PC at this point - which meant that the shoes & stockings needed
to be there. Of course, if I described them in one part of the game it would be
odd to not have them described in the rest.

Kathleen

--
-- Masquerade - ftp://ftp.gmd.de/if-archive/games/zcode/Mask.z5
-- The Cove - Best of Landscape, Interactive Fiction Art Show 2000
-- ftp://ftp.gmd.de/if-archive/games/zcode/Cove.z5
-- Excuse me while I dance a little jig of despair

J. Robinson Wheeler

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Apr 8, 2001, 3:11:01 AM4/8/01
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Brandon J. Van Every wrote:

> In screenplays "fun" may not be the goal, what if you're trying
> to craft a hard-hitting documentary? But even then, there's such
> a thing as audience attention span. You have to keep the pace and
> extraneous detail gets in the way of the pace.

Hmm. By definition, documentaries are non-fiction films, and
therefore are not based on screenplays. Perhaps you meant just
to say "In movies, 'fun' may not be the goal...", in which case,
I agree.


--
J. Robinson Wheeler Games - http://raddial.com/if/
whe...@jump.net Movie - http://thekroneexperiment.com

John Colagioia

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Apr 8, 2001, 9:05:11 AM4/8/01
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Magnus Olsson wrote:

> Well, I think that if you ask someone to describe what they're
> wearing, they usually just describe the garments that are visible to
> an observer. It's not just a matter of underwear being
> "unmentionables", it's more a matter of the image one wants to present.

Heh...Well I always give a complete discourse on not only my outer clothes, but my
underwear, the current state of such, and each sock of the pair described in
painstaking detail...


> In IF, I think that even if the game does implement underclothes, it
> shouldn't list them in inventory listings unless they are visible (a
> la Buffy the Vampire slayer) or have already been
> mentioned. Constantly being reminded what underwear the PC wears does
> feel a bit voyeuristic. "Thanks, but that's a wee bit more information
> than I needed."

But the gaming experience isn't complete unless I know if the PC's socks match!

(Disclaimer [in official announcer-voice]: This was a joke. Had this been an
actual burst of idiocy, you would have received instructions on where I could be
located for quick and efficient execution. This was only a joke.)


Brandon J. Van Every

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Apr 9, 2001, 12:45:18 AM4/9/01
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"J. Robinson Wheeler" <whe...@jump.net> wrote in message
news:3AD00F09...@jump.net...

> Brandon J. Van Every wrote:
>
> > In screenplays "fun" may not be the goal, what if you're trying
> > to craft a hard-hitting documentary? But even then, there's such
> > a thing as audience attention span. You have to keep the pace and
> > extraneous detail gets in the way of the pace.
>
> Hmm. By definition, documentaries are non-fiction films, and
> therefore are not based on screenplays. Perhaps you meant just
> to say "In movies, 'fun' may not be the goal...", in which case,
> I agree.

Certainly there are a lot of documentaries with a shooting script,
commentators, and other forms of narrative structuring. In fact, the
existence of such structuring is often a bone of contention to sociocultural
anthropologists. In any event, my comment on pace vs. some other tradeoff,
in this case maybe "authenticity," is still relevant.

J. Robinson Wheeler

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Apr 9, 2001, 3:50:47 AM4/9/01
to
Brandon J. Van Every wrote:
>
> J. Robinson Wheeler wrote:
> > Brandon J. Van Every wrote:
> >
> > > In screenplays "fun" may not be the goal, what if you're trying
> > > to craft a hard-hitting documentary? But even then, there's such
> > > a thing as audience attention span. You have to keep the pace and
> > > extraneous detail gets in the way of the pace.
> >
> > Hmm. By definition, documentaries are non-fiction films, and
> > therefore are not based on screenplays.
>
> Certainly there are a lot of documentaries with a shooting script,
> commentators, and other forms of narrative structuring.

I can't claim to be an expert on documentaries, although I can
claim that what I do know about them I learned from the faculty
of a film school devoted exclusively to teaching documentary
filmmaking (craft, history, analysis, production).

It is certainly true that documentaries use commentators and
other forms of narrative structuring. I must still disagree
with your statement that documentaries are made from screenplays,
or as you now put it, shooting scripts.

There is a lot of planning to do before one makes a documentary;
outlines are made, paperwork is done to make sure the crew knows
where to go and when; the producers and the director have a
definite idea about the subject, and how to get the material
that they will turn into a documentary. The structuring comes
during the editing, though.

Perhaps we're just using different definitions of "shooting
script," then. To me, that term has a specific meaning that
is incompatible with documentary filmmaking; I have never
heard of a documentary being made from one. Miles of raw
footage are shot, and then it is carefully trimmed down and
shaped into a more-or-less narrative form. If there is to be
voice-over narration, this has to be scripted and recorded;
but, to my knowledge, this is never done before the footage
is shot, but during post-production.


> In fact, the existence of such structuring is often a bone of
> contention to sociocultural anthropologists.

The structuring is a very hot topic all around. Documentary
filmmaking is quite controversial, because it purports to
"document", i.e., tell the unvarnished truth, and yet all
manner of gross and subtle manipulations have gone on in the
mere act of choosing what footage to put in the final cut.
Let alone sneaky things you can do in interviews, like lighting
people to make them look pock-marked (i.e., untrustworthy) or
choosing an angle that makes them seem shifty-eyed. Or vice-versa
for interviewees whom the filmmakers want to make seem saintly.


> In any event, my comment on pace vs. some other tradeoff,
> in this case maybe "authenticity," is still relevant.

It is. And I agree. In IF as well as movies.

Mercury

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May 1, 2001, 8:15:59 AM5/1/01
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Clothes....

Well for the most part I would avoid the presence of clothes entirely,
unless the existence of clothes factors into the story, setting or the
puzzles in some way.

If the clothes have some purpose, such as defining the character wearing
them, defining the time period and the setting, or defining a plot, then I
agree with the use of clothes.

However, if clothes are being included in a game for the sake of
completeness, or for the sake of random detailing, I would look down on that
kind of writing. Endless, meaningless detail does not make anything better
and it comes off as pretentious.

In many cases people define themselves through what they wear. Thus,
clothing could be an excellent way to describe characters without actually
saying "She has an obsessive personality" or "He is a very dominating man"

If you have a soldier in the game, there is no need to say he is wearing a
uniform. Everyone already knows that. Only mention the exceptional aspects
of a wardrobe.


"John Colagioia" <JCola...@csi.com> wrote in message
news:3AD06207...@csi.com...

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