Interactivity vs. Puzzles

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burn...@cs.lafayette.edu

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Jul 5, 1999, 3:00:00 AM7/5/99
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Hello There!

I'm currently working a project that isn't fully designed yet but
there is a fear I have about it's design that I would like feadback
on.

I get the feeling that the game will be relatively "easy" to get to
the end. That is, just walking from place to place and doing some
fairly obvious detective work (the game is a kind of detective story)
should get you to the end and see all the dramatic scenes. So there
aren't really a lot of "puzzles" per se.

However, I do plan to have a lot of "interactability" built into the
story. Things like computer disks you can browse through for
information, suspects appartments you can search, a large topic
database with which to discuss with NPCs and so forth.

So in one sense I feel like my design is similar to those
bad "interactive movies" where you just keeping clicking until
the story advances but on the other hand I feel like my story
is highly interactive because of all the non-necessary things
you can do.

So is this design really flawed or is it really up to the execution?

Any feedback would be appreciated. Thanks.

Sincerely,
Jesse Burneko


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dwm...@my-deja.com

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Jul 5, 1999, 3:00:00 AM7/5/99
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In article <7lq4ee$hhn$1...@nnrp1.deja.com>,

What kind of game do you want to write? Are you happy with the
design of it? Understand as well that a game suitable for a 24
year old physics grad student isn't as suitable for a 9 year old,
and that a game that's easy to you might be quite a challenge to
a child. A game can have a lot of audiences, and not all of them
the expected ones.

I think it's more important to have a clear idea of the story in
mind and a determination to tell it well than to be bogged down
with whether it needs a puzzle here or there. If the story _is_
the puzzles then invest the time in them, make them shine, but
if the story is in the exploration, I think then the things you
find and discover should be worth the effort.

BrenBarn

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Jul 5, 1999, 3:00:00 AM7/5/99
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>So is this design really flawed or is it really up to the execution?
>
In my personal opinion, this is a great kind of game. Of course, I can't
speak for everyone (or even anyone), but I think that games with lots of
"extra" things to do make the game seem much more real to the player.
Although you probably already know this, I also feel obliged to warn you
to be wary of the difference between UNNECESSARY parts of a game and IRRELEVANT
parts of a game. A game with unnecessary parts can be phenomenal, but a game
in which the unnecessary parts have no relevance to the main story is no good.
But I'm sure this won't be problem :-).
Thanks for giving me a chance to spout off.

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

Lelah Conrad

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Jul 5, 1999, 3:00:00 AM7/5/99
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On Mon, 05 Jul 1999 11:20:51 GMT, burn...@cs.lafayette.edu wrote:

....


>So is this design really flawed or is it really up to the execution?
>

Sounds great. As long as the story part keeps things moving along,
I'm all for essentially puzzleless IF like Photopia. It's a good use
of the genre, not too much has been done in this area, and anyway,
some of us need a break from puzzles from time to time!

Lelah

David Brain

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Jul 6, 1999, 3:00:00 AM7/6/99
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In article <7lq4ee$hhn$1...@nnrp1.deja.com>, burn...@cs.lafayette.edu () wrote:

> So in one sense I feel like my design is similar to those
> bad "interactive movies" where you just keeping clicking until
> the story advances but on the other hand I feel like my story
> is highly interactive because of all the non-necessary things
> you can do.
>

> So is this design really flawed or is it really up to the execution?

Starship Titanic works a little like this; the conversations that you can have with the Bots
are almost totally irrelevant to the game (as is the information in the computers) but in
some ways they make the game a much more enjoyable experience than it should be.

So I say "go for it". Put lots and lots of background stuff in, but don't worry about
requiring the player to find it as part of the solution.

--
David Brain
London, UK

Daniel Barkalow

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Jul 6, 1999, 3:00:00 AM7/6/99
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On Mon, 5 Jul 1999 burn...@cs.lafayette.edu wrote:

> So is this design really flawed or is it really up to the execution?

I like IF where you don't get stuck when you don't figure something out.
I like it when you can understand more about what's going on if you do
more stuff. I like a scoring system that tells you how much of the game
you've seen (possibly in addition to the one that tells you how much plot
progress you've made).

I liked The Manhole (the first game by the makers of Myst, unless I've
got my history messed up). I would have liked to know how much of it I
actually managed to see, though.

I liked Myst, but it didn't like my video card.

I enjoyed Lurking Horror, but it left me wanting more information about
what was going on there.

I think it should be easy (if not automatic) to advance the plot. I think
things you do early in the game should be acknowledged (but not ruin the
game) later. I think the player should be able to miss a lot, and want to
go back to find out what else was going on.

In any case, go for it. Sounds like fun.

-Daniel
*This .sig left intentionally blank*

robb_s...@juno.com

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Jul 7, 1999, 3:00:00 AM7/7/99
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On Mon, 05 Jul 1999 11:20:51 GMT, burn...@cs.lafayette.edu wrote:
>So in one sense I feel like my design is similar to those bad
>"interactive movies" where you just keeping clicking until
> the story advances but on the other hand I feel like my story
>is highly interactive because of all the non-necessary things
> you can do. So is this design really flawed or is it really up to the
execution?
>=-=-=-=-=-

I don't think your design is flawed. One trick that might work is
"teaching" the player how to play your game by making him go through
some necessary steps so that later he will explore them on his own. For
instance, in Neil deMause's The Frenetic Five versus Sturm und Drang,
Neil requires you to activate most (all?) of your party's superpowers
just to get out of the suburbs. In a similar vein if you require the
player to search a database for something simple early on and really
make it interesting / entertaining / funny / sexy / shocking / etc.
while they are doing it you've then "conditioned" the player to want to
explore your game's setting later -- even when it's not required.

A Mind Forever Voyaging and The Circuit's Edge remind me of the type of
thing that seems to be going on in your game. In AMFV you can spend a
lot of time at the beginning of the game doing required (IIRC) but
mundane tasks like "watching TV." The thing is, it's so interesting to
read the author's take on the future that later in the game you *want*
to take your time and explore every detail in the hopes of interesting
payoffs like in the beginning.

Similarly, in The Circuit's Edge you must, at first, converse with a
few characters in order to find the one that advances the plot. In
doing so you talk to a couple denizens before getting the right one.
After the first "quest" you have some time to kill and have the
knowledge that you can strike up a conversation with any of the game's
characters you can see and, although it is not critical to the plot at
that point, doing so is a lot of fun.

>However, I do plan to have a lot of "interactability" built into the
>story. Things like computer disks you can browse through for
>information, suspects appartments you can search, a large topic
>database with which to discuss with NPCs and so forth.

>Any feedback would be appreciated. Thanks.
>Sincerely,
>Jesse Burneko

I think this is the real strength of IF, at least in comparison with
other genres of computer games. I love games where it seems like the
player is wandering about the imagination the game's author. So long as
the player knows that he *can* dig through it, I think he or she will.

Best of luck!


Robb Sherwin

--
"How many crappy Billy Joes can one team start in a year? Who's up for
week 8, the lead singer for Green Day? -- Brian Gramling

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