IF "minimalism"

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Jason B Dyer

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Feb 3, 1997, 3:00:00 AM2/3/97
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I fear an offhand comment I made got some people confused, so here is an
elaboration.

I certainly don't condone going back to 500 rooms per game, but some IF is
packed so unrealistically to lose atmosphere. In The End is a case in
point; there just aren't enough places to go for it to be interesting.

Jigsaw has instances of both too compact and just right; the Moon and
Titanic had wonderful atmosphere, along with a few "useless" rooms, while
I can't even remember where the Penicillin scene was located.

I-0 took about five minutes to play, and nothing in the game was
compelling enough for me to go back and play other variations.

The granddaddy of them all, Adventure, would have been quite boring if it
didn't have so much to explore.

For short games, it certainly is possible for every room to have meaning.
But some games like Maiden in the Moonlight benefit from a few "useless"
rooms.

Jason Dyer
jd...@u.arizona.edu

Magnus Olsson

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Feb 3, 1997, 3:00:00 AM2/3/97
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In article <5d3q6c$k...@news.ccit.arizona.edu>,

Jason B Dyer <jd...@mustique.u.arizona.edu> wrote:
>I-0 took about five minutes to play, and nothing in the game was
>compelling enough for me to go back and play other variations.

I'd say you were unlucky in finding the correct solution directly. I
was stuck for sufficiently long time in different places to realize
that the purpose of the game was exploration, not so much of physical
space, as of plot space. Basically, there are lots of things to do,
but you only have to do a very small subset of them to complete the
game.

--
Magnus Olsson (m...@df.lth.se, zeb...@pobox.com)

Florian Beck

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Feb 3, 1997, 3:00:00 AM2/3/97
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jd...@mustique.u.arizona.edu (Jason B Dyer) writes:

> I certainly don't condone going back to 500 rooms per game, but some IF is
> packed so unrealistically to lose atmosphere. In The End is a case in
> point; there just aren't enough places to go for it to be interesting.

The few rooms was one thing I liked about In The End. It is a short game,
but it had all the places that fit in. Perhaps the whole game should
have been longer - but that's another point. Nothing would have been
gained by adding useless rooms or buildings you could wander
about, as the ITE character is *not* an adventurer.

A common technique is to split the locations into sub locations. That
would have spoiled ITE's ease of navigation. It wouldn't achieve
anything, either. Interactive fiction is not a simulation, it's a
story (or better: a kind of a play).

> Jigsaw has instances of both too compact and just right; the Moon and
> Titanic had wonderful atmosphere, along with a few "useless" rooms, while
> I can't even remember where the Penicillin scene was located.
>

> I-0 took about five minutes to play, and nothing in the game was
> compelling enough for me to go back and play other variations.
>

> The granddaddy of them all, Adventure, would have been quite boring if it
> didn't have so much to explore.

That is a good point. But Adventure is *about* exploring a world (or a
cave), that is it's "plot". Exploring the world might be a sub plot in
some games (the fantasy genre comes to mind). Even then, map drawing
and running about in a large world will become tiresome if the world
is not designed and described *really* well.

> For short games, it certainly is possible for every room to have meaning.
> But some games like Maiden in the Moonlight benefit from a few "useless"
> rooms.

Other large games, Christminster for example, have a minimalistic
setting (concerning the rooms). And it works well.

Large worlds which the player has to map with many "useless" rooms is
one of the things IF will have to move away from in the future. While
it works fine for some games, there are just too many stories which
can't be told this way. There's a matter of taste hidden here, of
course, but it's not "Minimalism or not?". It's what kind of story you
like.

--
Flo


Jason B Dyer

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Feb 5, 1997, 3:00:00 AM2/5/97
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Florian Beck (f...@ue801di.lrz-muenchen.de) wrote:
: Large worlds which the player has to map with many "useless" rooms is

: one of the things IF will have to move away from in the future. While
: it works fine for some games, there are just too many stories which
: can't be told this way. There's a matter of taste hidden here, of
: course, but it's not "Minimalism or not?". It's what kind of story you
: like.

We will be moving away from the likes of Trinity, Curses, and A Mind
Forever Voyaging? Those three have aspects that are simply atmosphere.

Even Christminster had some locations that were "unimportant".

As I said before, I don't condone back to going to 500 rooms ("many"
useless rooms), but a few extra wouldn't hurt anything either.

Jason Dyer
jd...@u.arizona.edu

Andrew Plotkin

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Feb 5, 1997, 3:00:00 AM2/5/97
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Jason B Dyer (jd...@nevis.u.arizona.edu) wrote:
> Florian Beck (f...@ue801di.lrz-muenchen.de) wrote:
> : Large worlds which the player has to map with many "useless" rooms is
> : one of the things IF will have to move away from in the future.

> We will be moving away from the likes of Trinity, Curses, and A Mind


> Forever Voyaging? Those three have aspects that are simply atmosphere.

*Some* IF will move this way. (And some already has.) Not all.

The day we all agree on what *all* IF is going to do, IF will be a
corpse.

> : While


> : it works fine for some games, there are just too many stories which
> : can't be told this way. There's a matter of taste hidden here, of
> : course, but it's not "Minimalism or not?". It's what kind of story you
> : like.

Exactly.

--Z

--

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

Linards Ticmanis

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Feb 6, 1997, 3:00:00 AM2/6/97
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Jason B Dyer wrote:
...

> We will be moving away from the likes of Trinity, Curses, and A Mind
> Forever Voyaging? Those three have aspects that are simply atmosphere.
>
> Even Christminster had some locations that were "unimportant".
>
> As I said before, I don't condone back to going to 500 rooms ("many"
> useless rooms), but a few extra wouldn't hurt anything either.

Well, AMFV (even though it is rightly considered one of the best
computer games ever made) had a few to many rooms that seemed quite
dead. I guess that since it was the first Z4 game (256 K), it already
seemed quite large, but I think a .z8 (or TADS) remake reylly would do
the game a lot of good. Too bad this isn't going to happen (Who knows?
Maybe when "The Space Bar" sells really well, Meretzky will be doing
something that makes sense again...)

Linards Ticmanis

The Master said, "The business of laying on the colors follows the
preparation of the plain ground."

Gerry Kevin Wilson

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Feb 6, 1997, 3:00:00 AM2/6/97
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I can't remember if I've shot off my mouth about this or not, but I am a
firm advocate of details. In fact, when I sent off a Top 10 Items of
Importance in Games list to Interplay as part of my resume, I included
Details as my #1 item of importance.

Details are interesting to me, and they add play time and replayability to
your game. The problem of overwhelming a player with too much to explore
and look at is more one of structure than excessive detail. Properly
presented, details and useless rooms are bonuses for players instead of
something to wade through.

Mind you, they are terribly time consuming to add. ;)
--
"Stress? WHO ME???!!! Never."

Florian Beck

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Feb 6, 1997, 3:00:00 AM2/6/97
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jd...@nevis.u.arizona.edu (Jason B Dyer) writes:
> We will be moving away from the likes of Trinity, Curses, and A Mind
> Forever Voyaging? Those three have aspects that are simply atmosphere.

And those games did it very well. But every genre gets stale when
writers keep using traditional techniques just because its the way IF
is supposed to be written. Better move along *before* the genre gets
stale.

>
> Even Christminster had some locations that were "unimportant".

I'm have nothing against unimportant locations (though no author would
admit that any of his locations are unimportant). But many
stories will not work well with world-exploring and map-drawing. Only
stories in exotic, unknown locations will.

You have to explore the world of Zork. You have to draw maps. That
adds to the story. That's even what the story is about. The same for
Adventure. Or Path to Fortune. Or numerous others. But it will not add
to games like In the End. And Christminster would not have gained
anything if the player had to explore and draw a map of Cambridge.


--
Flo

Kathleen Fischer

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Feb 6, 1997, 3:00:00 AM2/6/97
to Gerry Kevin Wilson

Gerry Kevin Wilson wrote:
>
> In fact, when I sent off a Top 10 Items of
> Importance in Games list to Interplay

I don't suppose this list is available publicly anywhere :) :) :)

Kathleen (who always likes to know what's important, even if she DOESN'T
have time to do anything about it!)

--
*******************************************************************
* Kathleen M. Fischer
* kfis...@greenhouse.llnl.gov
** "Don't stop to stomp ants while the elephants are stampeding" **

Magnus Olsson

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Feb 7, 1997, 3:00:00 AM2/7/97
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In article <5ddhqt$3...@agate.berkeley.edu>,

Gerry Kevin Wilson <whiz...@uclink.berkeley.edu> wrote:
>Details are interesting to me, and they add play time and replayability to
>your game.

They also add a sense of reality. I'm not speaking of realistic
simulations here, but rather of having enough detail that I don't get
the feeling of walking through a set of props and objects that can be
used for one purpose only. This is of course most important for NPC's:
an NPC that just sits there waiting for one crucial action doesn't
seem to be alive.

>Properly
>presented, details and useless rooms are bonuses for players instead of
>something to wade through.

IMHO, a room that's there to provide detail is not a useless room. A
useless room is one that was added for padding only, like the closets
in "Detective".

I'm a minimalist in the sense that I don't think IF should contain
rooms and objects just "because they would be there in real life". A
500-room hotel doesn't have to implement the 499 rooms where no action
takes place.

Jason Compton

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Feb 7, 1997, 3:00:00 AM2/7/97
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Magnus Olsson (m...@bartlet.df.lth.se) wrote:
: I'm a minimalist in the sense that I don't think IF should contain

: rooms and objects just "because they would be there in real life". A
: 500-room hotel doesn't have to implement the 499 rooms where no action
: takes place.

On the other hand, as a player I often hate hotel-type scenes because my
hand is constantly being forced. I step into the elevator from the lobby
and am immediately deposited at Room 1214 because that's the only place in
the world I might possibly want to be. Too much of that, done carelessly,
and the game loses its charm.

--
Jason Compton jcom...@xnet.com
Editor-in-Chief, Amiga Report Magazine (847) 741-0689 FAX
AR on Aminet - docs/mags/ar???.lha WWW - http://www.cucug.org/ar/
Pythagoras with the looking glass... ...reflects the full moon.


Magnus Olsson

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Feb 7, 1997, 3:00:00 AM2/7/97
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In article <5dfe85$s...@flood.xnet.com>,


Jason Compton <jcom...@typhoon.xnet.com> wrote:
>Magnus Olsson (m...@bartlet.df.lth.se) wrote:
>: I'm a minimalist in the sense that I don't think IF should contain
>: rooms and objects just "because they would be there in real life". A
>: 500-room hotel doesn't have to implement the 499 rooms where no action
>: takes place.
>
>On the other hand, as a player I often hate hotel-type scenes because my
>hand is constantly being forced. I step into the elevator from the lobby
>and am immediately deposited at Room 1214 because that's the only place in
>the world I might possibly want to be. Too much of that, done carelessly,
>and the game loses its charm.

Indeed. And this is exactly the kind of "bad minimalism" that I don't
like. The hotel has to implement as much rooms, objects, and so on to
make it feel real. Not realistic, perhaps, since that would require a
complete simulation of reality, but sufficiently detailed that it
feels like a hotel and not a prop. On the other hand, the author
should not feel compelled to put in too much detail "Just to make it
realistic". It's a balance between only putting in what is "really"
needed (making for a dry, abstract, and probably dull game) and
putting in *everything* (which is impossible).

Matthew Amster-Burton

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Feb 7, 1997, 3:00:00 AM2/7/97
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m...@bartlet.df.lth.se (Magnus Olsson) wrote:

>Indeed. And this is exactly the kind of "bad minimalism" that I don't
>like. The hotel has to implement as much rooms, objects, and so on to
>make it feel real. Not realistic, perhaps, since that would require a
>complete simulation of reality, but sufficiently detailed that it
>feels like a hotel and not a prop. On the other hand, the author
>should not feel compelled to put in too much detail "Just to make it
>realistic". It's a balance between only putting in what is "really"
>needed (making for a dry, abstract, and probably dull game) and
>putting in *everything* (which is impossible).

One possible solution is a hotel with plenty of extra *doors*, but the
player has a key that will only open the proper one. This is plenty
realistic and fair, IMHO. Of course, then some players will try their
key (or their hammer) on every other door, but I don't think you can
blame the author for this.

Matthew

Kathleen Fischer

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Feb 7, 1997, 3:00:00 AM2/7/97
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Jason Compton wrote:
>
> Magnus Olsson (m...@bartlet.df.lth.se) wrote:
> : I'm a minimalist in the sense that I don't think IF should contain
> : rooms and objects just "because they would be there in real life". A
> : 500-room hotel doesn't have to implement the 499 rooms where no action
> : takes place.
>
> On the other hand, as a player I often hate hotel-type scenes
> because my hand is constantly being forced. I step into the
> elevator from the lobby and am immediately deposited at Room 1214
> because that's the only place in the world I might possibly want
> to be. Too much of that, done carelessly, and the game loses its
> charm.

The Grand Hotel Lobby
The sign outside boasts 500 rooms and from the size of the place you
believe it. At the north end of the lobby is a massive mahogany
information desk. There is an elevator here manned by a bell boy and a
side door leading to a staircase.

> enter elevator
"Floor please?" asks the bell boy as you step into the elevator.

> tell bell boy 3
"I'm sorry, that floor is being renovated at this time. Perhaps you
should recheck your room reservation at the information desk."

> tell bell boy 2
"I believe they are testing for asbestos there today... I'm sure they
could help you at the information desk."

> exit
You step out of the elevetor.

> u
Opening the door you discover the janitor busily mopping the floor.
"Sorry ma'am..." says the old man as he stops for a moment to rest
against his mop and wipe his brow. "Should be done is just a few
minutes, though." He sighs heavily then turns back to his mopping. At
the rate he's going it could easily take him all day.

> enter elevator
"Floor please? Oh, hello again." says the bell boy.

> tell bell boy 4
The bell boy shakes his head. "There was a fire there last week." He
bends a little closer and whispers "They say it was an accident, but I
don't believe them. Just last week I heard a guy on that floor say he
was going to burn the place to the ground if they didn't give him better
room service in the morning. He's in room 1214 now, I belive."

> tell bell boy 1
The bell boy nods and push the button for the first floor...

Neil K. Guy

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Feb 7, 1997, 3:00:00 AM2/7/97
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Matthew Amster-Burton (mam...@u.washington.edu) wrote:

: One possible solution is a hotel with plenty of extra *doors*, but the


: player has a key that will only open the proper one. This is plenty
: realistic and fair, IMHO. Of course, then some players will try their
: key (or their hammer) on every other door, but I don't think you can
: blame the author for this.

Well, this is the tack I've taken with my game in progress. The problem
is that I find some players get really annoyed at having a lot of doors
they can never open, and consider it unfair.

- Neil K. Guy

--
the Vancouver CommunityNet * http://www.vcn.bc.ca/
(formerly the Vancouver Regional FreeNet)

Gerry Kevin Wilson

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Feb 7, 1997, 3:00:00 AM2/7/97
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In article <32fb5f10...@news.u.washington.edu>,

Matthew Amster-Burton <mam...@u.washington.edu> wrote:
>
>One possible solution is a hotel with plenty of extra *doors*, but the
>player has a key that will only open the proper one. This is plenty
>realistic and fair, IMHO. Of course, then some players will try their
>key (or their hammer) on every other door, but I don't think you can
>blame the author for this.

Here's what a multi-level hotel needs to be fully realized in an I-F game,
imho. This is if I were using it as a central location for the game, and
the player had to return there several times to sleep and so forth:

Lobby. Fully furnished. Preferably with some interesting touches to make
it worthwhile, like pictures of famous people who've stayed there,
brochures of local areas of interest, etc. I feel that if you aren't
willing to put in at least enough detail to make a room interesting, a)
You should be ashamed of yourself. and b) Hustle the player through it as
fast as possible, then close it off in the forseeable future.

Elevator or stairs. I recommend both. Stairs are an easy addition after
coding up an elevator, and all hotels have them.

A dummy non-interesting floor. This floor serves as all the floors except
the important one. It is really easy to use global variables and a little
fancy coding to add differences depending on what floor the player is on.
Trust me. All rooms should be locked, or occupied. Knocking on occupied
rooms should get some sort of Go away message, and can get as complicated
as you want. A foreign maid can be a nice touch here, if rather
stereotypical. A more interesting maid could snap pictures f you and talk
into a wrist mike when she thought you weren't looking.

The interesting floor. This should have the player's room on it, with TV,
telephone, bathroom (possibly make it a communal bathroom, one per
floor.), bible in the dresser drawer, and probably some coupons good at
local attractions.

Then, if you were doing a conspiracy game, throw in a missing 13th floor,
some spies, a few mysterious events that the player is guaranteed to see
at some point, and you have a really neat setup.

On the other extreme, you can do a perfectly serviceable Florida motel
with two or three rooms. Lobby, door facade, and room.


As others have said, and this post attempts to illustrate, there are no
hard and fast rules on how much detail to add. No matter what your level
of detail, you will probably find people who love it, and people who hate
it. Write the way you like to write, and let's not worry about what
current market trends show players enjoying the most (Probably Command and
Conquer, which would be less than amusing to write or play as a text
game.) Write a fun game and let people know about it, and everything will
sort itself out.

--
My new email address is: whiz...@pobox.com.
If that's too long for you, try g...@pobox.com.

Erik Hetzner

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Feb 7, 1997, 3:00:00 AM2/7/97
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In article <5dfhed$8...@bartlet.df.lth.se>, m...@bartlet.df.lth.se (Magnus
Olsson) wrote:

> Indeed. And this is exactly the kind of "bad minimalism" that I don't
> like. The hotel has to implement as much rooms, objects, and so on to
> make it feel real. Not realistic, perhaps, since that would require a
> complete simulation of reality, but sufficiently detailed that it
> feels like a hotel and not a prop. On the other hand, the author
> should not feel compelled to put in too much detail "Just to make it
> realistic". It's a balance between only putting in what is "really"
> needed (making for a dry, abstract, and probably dull game) and
> putting in *everything* (which is impossible).

> --
> Magnus Olsson (m...@df.lth.se, zeb...@pobox.com)

I'm jumping in a bit here where I don't know what I'm talking about :) but
it seems to me that the best way to implement this would be to make it so
you /can/ go to every room in the hotel -- you just can't open the doors.
:) This could be programmed without actually creating five hundred
objects, since the layouts are mostly the same on every floor.

Problems might be caused if you were breaking into rooms, instead of
having the key (ie you could break into any room). Perhaps one could
create a sort of randomness to the rooms -- ie you could break into them,
and there would be random scattered objects of no importance? And have
random characters walk about. All of this just to add realism, not
interest.

What I'm talking about here is pseudo-everything. We have 20 different
possible objects, and each room has 4 of them, or is empty, or whatever.

Only problem is rooms looking different every time you visit them. :)

And the face that this would be a pain to code.

--
Erik Hetzner <e...@uclink4.berkeley.edu>

Mary K. Kuhner

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Feb 8, 1997, 3:00:00 AM2/8/97
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e...@uclink4.berkeley.edu (Erik Hetzner) writes:

>Problems might be caused if you were breaking into rooms, instead of
>having the key (ie you could break into any room). Perhaps one could
>create a sort of randomness to the rooms -- ie you could break into them,
>and there would be random scattered objects of no importance? And have
>random characters walk about. All of this just to add realism, not
>interest.

Problem is that the player, noting that she can break into rooms, and
that there are objects in them, may very well worry that there exists
some room and object which she *needs*. Generally speaking, when I'm
not stuck I'll waltz by boring stuff, but when I'm stuck I'll feel
obliged to go back and carefully look at it *all*. I am not going to
appreciate having to go through 500 hotel rooms. And the kinds of
warn-offs you might use to keep me from doing so may hurt verisimilitude
as much or more as omitting the rooms in the first place.

In general, I'm opposed to coding up random locations. Non-useful
locations, sure, but if you are not interested enough as a designer to
actually design the individual location, I am not interested enough as
a player to explore it. And if it's there, and I'm stuck, sooner or
later I will have to explore it.

Mary Kuhner mkku...@genetics.washington.edu

Magnus Olsson

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Feb 8, 1997, 3:00:00 AM2/8/97
to

In article <32FB63...@greenhouse.llnl.gov>,
Kathleen Fischer <kfis...@greenhouse.llnl.gov> wrote:

>Jason Compton wrote:
>> On the other hand, as a player I often hate hotel-type scenes
>> because my hand is constantly being forced. I step into the
>> elevator from the lobby and am immediately deposited at Room 1214
>> because that's the only place in the world I might possibly want
>> to be. Too much of that, done carelessly, and the game loses its
>> charm.

(...)

(Sorry for quotin so much, but I think all of the above transcript is
relevant).

Actually, this is a solution that I don't like very much. It feels
like I'm being led by the hand through the plot. Of course, the effect
can be consciously used (for example, to create a Kafkaesque
nightmare, or in a comedy), but it tends to get on ones nerves if used
only to restrict the complexity of the game. In the words of Espen
Aarseth (I hope, I'm quoting from memory) it gives you the feeling of
being trapped inside somebody else's story.

Actually, if you don't want to give the player the illusion of freedom
to explore the hotel at will, I think it's better just to tell the
player explicitly that he's not supposed to, rather than inventing a lot
of contrived excuses:

"As you enter the hotel lobby, you realize the difficulty of your task.
There must be hundreds of rooms here, and you have no idea in which of them
Mr. Johnson is staying."

Trying to take the elevator or the stairs gives you a message that
it's no use; you have no idea of where to go and it would take far too
long to search the entire hotel. Once you've figured out where Mr. Johnson is
staying, you can go directly to his room. Trying to go to any other room
gives you the message "Your mission was to contact Mr. Johnson, and he's
in room 1234, so what would you want in room 4321?". Until you discover,
of course, that your kidnapped girlfriend is in room 2341, in which case
you have a reason to go there as well.

Of course, many people will actually prefer to have an implementation of
all 500 rooms, so they can bore themselves stiff knocking on all the locked
doors. And other people will prefer being able to barge into room 2233,
disturbing the people in there, and starting an entirely new plot...

Laurel Halbany

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Feb 8, 1997, 3:00:00 AM2/8/97
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m...@bartlet.df.lth.se (Magnus Olsson) wrote:

>Indeed. And this is exactly the kind of "bad minimalism" that I don't
>like. The hotel has to implement as much rooms, objects, and so on to
>make it feel real. Not realistic, perhaps, since that would require a
>complete simulation of reality, but sufficiently detailed that it
>feels like a hotel and not a prop. On the other hand, the author
>should not feel compelled to put in too much detail "Just to make it
>realistic". It's a balance between only putting in what is "really"
>needed (making for a dry, abstract, and probably dull game) and
>putting in *everything* (which is impossible).

There are also ways to omit detail without actually omitting detail,
i.e. creating the impression that those rooms and areas *are* there,
you just can't or won't get to them for some reason or other (one that
is believable and sensisble).

For example, in the hotel, if you get off at the "wrong" floor and
start knocking on doors, you could get responses like

"You realize that you're already late for your meeting in room 1215
and ought not to waste time."

"The cleaning ladies probably wouldn't let you go snooping around."

"Don't you think the people in these rooms would prefer not to be
bothered?"


----------------------------------------------------------
Laurel Halbany
myt...@agora.rdrop.com
http://www.rdrop.com/users/mythago/

Matthew Daly

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Feb 8, 1997, 3:00:00 AM2/8/97
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In article <5dgdni$f...@agate.berkeley.edu> whiz...@uclink.berkeley.edu (Gerry Kevin Wilson) writes:
>
>Then, if you were doing a conspiracy game, throw in a missing 13th floor,
>some spies, a few mysterious events that the player is guaranteed to see
>at some point, and you have a really neat setup.

Maybe it's just a US thing, but my experience is that most hotels don't
have a 13th floor.

-Matthew
--
Matthew Daly I feel that if a person has problems communicating
mwd...@kodak.com the very least he can do is to shut up - Tom Lehrer

My opinions are not necessarily those of my employer, of course.

Matthew Daly

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Feb 8, 1997, 3:00:00 AM2/8/97
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In article <5dg7cd$e...@milo.vcn.bc.ca> n...@vcn.bc.ca (Neil K. Guy) writes:
>
> Well, this is the tack I've taken with my game in progress. The problem
>is that I find some players get really annoyed at having a lot of doors
>they can never open, and consider it unfair.

Makes you wonder how these people can stand to walk down a city
street in real life, eh? :-)

Jason Compton

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Feb 9, 1997, 3:00:00 AM2/9/97
to

Matthew Daly (da...@PPD.Kodak.COM) wrote:

: In article <5dgdni$f...@agate.berkeley.edu> whiz...@uclink.berkeley.edu (Gerry Kevin Wilson) writes:
: >
: >Then, if you were doing a conspiracy game, throw in a missing 13th floor,
: >some spies, a few mysterious events that the player is guaranteed to see
: >at some point, and you have a really neat setup.
:
: Maybe it's just a US thing, but my experience is that most hotels don't
: have a 13th floor.

I think he's saying that there really WOULD be a 13th floor but not one
that the general public could access.

Neil K. Guy

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Feb 9, 1997, 3:00:00 AM2/9/97
to

Matthew Daly (da...@PPD.Kodak.COM) wrote:

: > Well, this is the tack I've taken with my game in progress. The problem


: >is that I find some players get really annoyed at having a lot of doors
: >they can never open, and consider it unfair.
:
: Makes you wonder how these people can stand to walk down a city
: street in real life, eh? :-)

Heh. Well, of course you're right. In real life most doors with locks on
them *are* locked in a modern city. But, whether it's because in adventure
games people want to be omnipotent (perhaps related to the mindset that
says any object not directly used for solving a puzzle is a red herring
and therefore annoying) or because trying doors is boring, reactions to
games seem to be different. I've put in a few labour-saving devices to try
to avoid the latter, but not much one can do about the former.

Though to be fair in real life you generally don't need to go around
trying every door you see to check whether or not it's locked unless
you're a professional burglar. In games, however, you do.

- Neil K. Guy

David Glasser

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Feb 9, 1997, 3:00:00 AM2/9/97
to
> Then, if you were doing a conspiracy game, throw in a missing 13th floor,
> some spies, a few mysterious events that the player is guaranteed to see
> at some point, and you have a really neat setup.
>
> On the other extreme, you can do a perfectly serviceable Florida motel
> with two or three rooms. Lobby, door facade, and room.
>
> As others have said, and this post attempts to illustrate, there are no
> hard and fast rules on how much detail to add. No matter what your level
> of detail, you will probably find people who love it, and people who hate
> it. Write the way you like to write, and let's not worry about what
> current market trends show players enjoying the most (Probably Command and
> Conquer, which would be less than amusing to write or play as a text
> game.) Write a fun game and let people know about it, and everything will
> sort itself out.
>
> --
> My new email address is: whiz...@pobox.com.
> If that's too long for you, try g...@pobox.com.I think that Jigsaw did something like this--in the Proust sequence, once you
could use the lift, there were two important floors, and once you found
Proust's floor, you didn't have to do all the elevator stuff manually.

On a completely unrelated note, is Jigsaw a sequel to Curses? I ask this
because, well, examine the rucksack.

David Glasser
dsgl...@hotmail.com
http://www.geocities.com/SoHo/6028


Carl Muckenhoupt

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Feb 10, 1997, 3:00:00 AM2/10/97
to

mkku...@phylo.genetics.washington.edu (Mary K. Kuhner) writes:

>Problem is that the player, noting that she can break into rooms, and
>that there are objects in them, may very well worry that there exists
>some room and object which she *needs*. Generally speaking, when I'm
>not stuck I'll waltz by boring stuff, but when I'm stuck I'll feel
>obliged to go back and carefully look at it *all*. I am not going to
>appreciate having to go through 500 hotel rooms. And the kinds of
>warn-offs you might use to keep me from doing so may hurt verisimilitude
>as much or more as omitting the rooms in the first place.

Hmm... This makes me think of computer role-playing games. The larger
ones (especially the later Ultimas) do exactly this - that is, they
provide lots of area for the sake of realism, perhaps with the
occasional secret reward. Also, what amounts to the same thing, there
will be NPC's with tons of irrelevant dialogue. The effect? It depends.
In the better ones, there's enough guidance and enough redundancy that
the player doesn't need to explore everything and talk to everyone.
In the worse ones, you get exactly the syndrome that Ms. Kuhner
describes. RPG's can probably get away with big worlds more easily than
adventure games, though, because of differing expectations - no one
expects to kill every last orc, especially if they respawn. (I wonder
if adventurers tend to be more inclined towards perectionism than
RPGers?)

--
Carl Muckenhoupt | Text Adventures are not dead!
b...@tiac.net | Read rec.[arts|games].int-fiction to see
http://www.tiac.net/users/baf | what you're missing!

Matthew Daly

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Feb 10, 1997, 3:00:00 AM2/10/97
to

In article <5djrmi$m...@milo.vcn.bc.ca> n...@vcn.bc.ca (Neil K. Guy) writes:
>
> Heh. Well, of course you're right. In real life most doors with locks on
>them *are* locked in a modern city. But, whether it's because in adventure
>games people want to be omnipotent (perhaps related to the mindset that
>says any object not directly used for solving a puzzle is a red herring
>and therefore annoying) or because trying doors is boring, reactions to
>games seem to be different. I've put in a few labour-saving devices to try
>to avoid the latter, but not much one can do about the former.
>
> Though to be fair in real life you generally don't need to go around
>trying every door you see to check whether or not it's locked unless
>you're a professional burglar. In games, however, you do.

Have there been any games that have taken this on? I'm thinking of
a larger extension of the skyscraper puzzle in Zork 0, which had
"thousands" of rooms that you could enter, and you'd be at it your
entire life if you didn't have a hint about which specific room had
something interesting in it.

I agree that there aren't many games with doors you can't open, things
you don't need to take, maybe even NPCs that you can't interact with --
but that's primarily because I-F was originally conceived on machines
with very little room for such fluff, IMO.

(Oh, yeah. Time Zone is like this. I hated it. :-)

Adam Dawes

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Feb 12, 1997, 3:00:00 AM2/12/97
to

Hi Carl!

CM> that is, they
CM> provide lots of area for the sake of realism, perhaps with the
CM> occasional secret reward.

Did you ever play any of the (completely non-IF related) Mercenary games? I
distinctly remember an entire solar system of planets, each of which had
multiple cities, each of which had tens or even hundreds of buildings, each of
which you could enter.

99.999% of them were entirely empty. It made what could've been such an
exciting game in to a bit of a farce, really.. Realism isn't always the most
important thing in computer games, IMHO.

.\dam. [Team AMIGA] //\ Ad...@darkside.demon.co.uk \//
> Homepage at http://www.geocities.com/TimesSquare/1225/


Avrom Faderman

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Feb 12, 1997, 3:00:00 AM2/12/97
to

In article <5dgorh$k...@nntp5.u.washington.edu>,

Mary K. Kuhner <mkku...@phylo.genetics.washington.edu> wrote:
>e...@uclink4.berkeley.edu (Erik Hetzner) writes:
>
>>Problems might be caused if you were breaking into rooms, instead of
>>having the key (ie you could break into any room). Perhaps one could
>>create a sort of randomness to the rooms -- ie you could break into them,
>>and there would be random scattered objects of no importance? And have
>>random characters walk about. All of this just to add realism, not
>>interest.
>
>Problem is that the player, noting that she can break into rooms, and
>that there are objects in them, may very well worry that there exists
>some room and object which she *needs*.

The way to keep this from happening is just not to let the player
break into all the rooms. There are some ways to do this that have
been discussed elsewhere in this thread:

For example, one way, as I think Laurel Halbany suggested, is to say
"You shouldn't go snooping about" or "Don't you have to be on the
12th floor?" This works, although I feel a bit ambivalent about it,
since it sort of reeks of railroading.

Another way is just not to give the player keys or lockpicking tools
to any of the unimportant doors, as has been suggested a couple of times.

Here's a third way, which I'm a bit partial to: Have one or a few
randomly generated rooms that an individual break-in will lead to.
But have breaking into a random room end the game, and soon, in a
predictable way so that it doesn't seem like sudden death--a maid
notices something is amiss and calls hotel security, for example.
That way the player will never be tempted to go through an exhaustive
search of the hotel, hundreds of rooms needn't be coded, and the
illusion of a full-size hotel can be preserved for those who are
irritatingly persistent at banging down doors.

I'm quite partial to permanently-locked doors, whether the locks are
simple or more extravagant. They lend a real sense of scope and space
to what can in fact be a fairly small game.

Some (fairly minor, but quite real) spoilers for a couple of games
whose names I won't even mention yet since that alone would give a bit
away...


I thought _So_Far_ used permanently locked doors to brilliant effect.
It's not, in retrospect, even a particularly large game, but until you
finish it, it seems _huge_. So many areas to explore! In the far
half of the dome, inside the castle, beyond the gate, along the
side-streets in the silent city, in the house with the strange hooting
creature...although, of course, these _aren't_ areas to explore.
They're just doorways to nowhere, although none of the failure
messages let you _know_ they're doorways to nowhere.

An isolated example of a brilliant permanently locked door from a game
that generally had some (perhaps intentional, but real) problems with
claustrophobia: It's from _In_the_End_. I didn't get around to
voting in the XYZZY awards, but if I had, I would at least have
seriously considered voting for "Getting into Annie's House" as the
best single puzzle of the year. The solution to this puzzle is,
though surprising and counter to most conventions of I-F, brilliantly
logical and in fact inevitable given the general structure of the
game.

-Avrom

Trevor Barrie

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Feb 13, 1997, 3:00:00 AM2/13/97
to

n...@vcn.bc.ca (Neil K. Guy) wrote:

>: > Well, this is the tack I've taken with my game in progress. The problem
>: >is that I find some players get really annoyed at having a lot of doors
>: >they can never open, and consider it unfair.
>:
>: Makes you wonder how these people can stand to walk down a city
>: street in real life, eh? :-)

[...]

> Though to be fair in real life you generally don't need to go around
>trying every door you see to check whether or not it's locked unless
>you're a professional burglar. In games, however, you do.

You shouldn't. If your game requires the protagonist to try doors in a city
at random until they find one that's unlocked, fix it.


Neil K.

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Feb 13, 1997, 3:00:00 AM2/13/97
to

In article <33027775...@news.peinet.pe.ca>, tba...@cycor.ca (Trevor
Barrie) wrote:

> > Though to be fair in real life you generally don't need to go around
> >trying every door you see to check whether or not it's locked unless
> >you're a professional burglar. In games, however, you do.
>
> You shouldn't. If your game requires the protagonist to try doors in a city
> at random until they find one that's unlocked, fix it.

Well, no. My game does not *require* the protagonist to do any such thing.
There are a lot of overlapping clues and directions that should establish
reasonably early on to the player where to go. But still, when I've given
the game to friends to try out I've noticed people wandering around, trying
each door.

- Neil K. Guy

--
t e l a computer consulting + design * Vancouver, BC, Canada
web: http://www.tela.bc.ca/tela/ * email: tela @ tela.bc.ca

Matthew Daly

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Feb 13, 1997, 3:00:00 AM2/13/97
to

In article <5druhf$k...@Turing.Stanford.EDU> av...@Turing.Stanford.EDU (Avrom Faderman) writes:
>
>Here's a third way, which I'm a bit partial to: Have one or a few
>randomly generated rooms that an individual break-in will lead to.
>But have breaking into a random room end the game, and soon, in a
>predictable way so that it doesn't seem like sudden death--a maid
>notices something is amiss and calls hotel security, for example.
>That way the player will never be tempted to go through an exhaustive
>search of the hotel, hundreds of rooms needn't be coded, and the
>illusion of a full-size hotel can be preserved for those who are
>irritatingly persistent at banging down doors.

Are you kidding? Rather than deter me, this would take up all of
my time. I would spend all day and half the night trying to figure
out how to get away with the break-in without alerting the maid.
You've taken "The door is locked, and you don't have the key", which
is very open-and-sh^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H matter-of-fact, and
turned it into something that looks like a puzzle.

Edan Harel

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Feb 13, 1997, 3:00:00 AM2/13/97
to

da...@PPD.Kodak.COM (Matthew Daly) writes:

>In article <5dgdni$f...@agate.berkeley.edu> whiz...@uclink.berkeley.edu (Gerry Kevin Wilson) writes:
>>

>>Then, if you were doing a conspiracy game, throw in a missing 13th floor,
>>some spies, a few mysterious events that the player is guaranteed to see
>>at some point, and you have a really neat setup.

>Maybe it's just a US thing, but my experience is that most hotels don't
>have a 13th floor.

I think thats what he means. Put in a 13th floor that no one, except
it's inhabitants know about. And the architect (but then, he was brutally
killed last tuesday so no one would let the secret out.)

Uh oh, I just did too.

*BLAM*

Edan "R.I.P." Harel
--
*********Edan Harel******edh...@remus.rutgers.edu*****AKA Bozzie************
Math & CS Major * http://remus.rutgers.edu/~edharel * Computer Consultant
"Structure is the essence of matter, and the essence of structure
is mathematics." - The Monitor [_Doctor Who: Logopolis_]

Richard H. Poser II

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Feb 14, 1997, 3:00:00 AM2/14/97
to

On 13-Feb-97 05:36:54, fake...@anti-spam.address
(Neil K.) wrote the following:

>In article <33027775...@news.peinet.pe.ca>, tba...@cycor.ca (Trevor
>Barrie) wrote:

>> > Though to be fair in real life you generally don't need to go around
>> >trying every door you see to check whether or not it's locked unless
>> >you're a professional burglar. In games, however, you do.
>>
>> You shouldn't. If your game requires the protagonist to try doors in a city
>> at random until they find one that's unlocked, fix it.

> Well, no. My game does not *require* the protagonist to do any such thing.
>There are a lot of overlapping clues and directions that should establish
>reasonably early on to the player where to go. But still, when I've given
>the game to friends to try out I've noticed people wandering around, trying
>each door.

> - Neil K. Guy

I would probably put a counter such that every two or three doors a message
would be printed, such as aren't you getting tired of knocking on doors,
perhaps you should actually get to work at solving the problems, puzzles,
etc...

Just my 2 cents...

Richard H. Poser II (The Next Regeneration) <rhp...@Fair.Net>
--
The Whomiga Times: http://www.america.net/~rhposer
Doctor Who Pinball: http://www.america.net/~rhposer/pinball
Selected RADW Links: http://www.america.net/~rhposer/RADW
--
Official RADW Birthday Clearinghouse / Team AMIGA


Snaps

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Feb 15, 1997, 3:00:00 AM2/15/97
to

m...@bartlet.df.lth.se (Magnus Olsson) wrote an interesting piece,
here's my twopennyworth:

>I'm a minimalist in the sense that I don't think IF should contain
>rooms and objects just "because they would be there in real life". A
>500-room hotel doesn't have to implement the 499 rooms where no action
>takes place.

I'm reminded here of Level 9's "Snowball", where you _can_ visit every
one of ~2 million rooms right at the very start. I thought is a trifle
'unfair', myself.


-- Si

Opinions expressed are those of every right thinking person.

David Kinder

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Feb 15, 1997, 3:00:00 AM2/15/97
to

Snaps (sim...@nostromo.dungeon.com) wrote:

: I'm reminded here of Level 9's "Snowball", where you _can_ visit every


: one of ~2 million rooms right at the very start. I thought is a trifle
: 'unfair', myself.

Well, it doesn't take long to figure out where you have to go to from
the start. You are given a set of co-ordinates to find a crew member,
which can be worked out with a bit of patience. I thought Snowball was
one of the best examples of use of lots of rooms to give an impression
of space.

David

Avrom Faderman

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Feb 15, 1997, 3:00:00 AM2/15/97
to

In article <5dvkii$h...@kodak.rdcs.Kodak.COM>,

Matthew Daly <da...@PPD.Kodak.COM> wrote:
>In article <5druhf$k...@Turing.Stanford.EDU> av...@Turing.Stanford.EDU (Avrom Faderman) writes:
>>
>>Here's a third way, which I'm a bit partial to: Have one or a few
>>randomly generated rooms that an individual break-in will lead to.
>>But have breaking into a random room end the game, and soon, in a
>>predictable way so that it doesn't seem like sudden death--a maid
>>notices something is amiss and calls hotel security, for example.
>>That way the player will never be tempted to go through an exhaustive
>>search of the hotel, hundreds of rooms needn't be coded, and the
>>illusion of a full-size hotel can be preserved for those who are
>>irritatingly persistent at banging down doors.
>
>Are you kidding? Rather than deter me, this would take up all of
>my time. I would spend all day and half the night trying to figure
>out how to get away with the break-in without alerting the maid.
>You've taken "The door is locked, and you don't have the key", which
>is very open-and-sh^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H matter-of-fact, and
>turned it into something that looks like a puzzle.

Yes, but at least you'd be spending the day and a half doing something
_interesting_. I don't think this is _better_ than "the door is
locked, and you don't have the key," necessarily, but it's different
and gives a bit of variety. And it makes the game seem bigger, which
is an advantage.

Spoiler for _So_Far_.

I spent several hours, at least, trying to figure out how to leave the
main road in the silent city in any of the places you're not supposed
to. It was several hours well spent, I thought. Well, not as well
spent as they would have been working on my thesis, perhaps, but
well-spent given that I had resolved to waste the afternoon anyway.

I wouldn't, by the way, have enjoyed spending that self-same several
hours searching each of 200 rooms of virtually identical description
for the one room with something interesting in it.

-Avrom

Neil K.

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Feb 16, 1997, 3:00:00 AM2/16/97
to

In article <1446.6984...@fair.net>, Richard H. Poser II
<rhp...@fair.net> wrote:

> I would probably put a counter such that every two or three doors a message
> would be printed, such as aren't you getting tired of knocking on doors,
> perhaps you should actually get to work at solving the problems, puzzles,
> etc...

That's actually similar to what I ended up doing. I tried to spot the
areas where people wasted time and tried to put in subtle hints at those
points if it looked like they were banging their head against the
proverbial wall. How successful that all is I don't know.

Drone

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Feb 17, 1997, 3:00:00 AM2/17/97
to

Edan Harel wrote:
>
> da...@PPD.Kodak.COM (Matthew Daly) writes:
>
> >In article <5dgdni$f...@agate.berkeley.edu> whiz...@uclink.berkeley.edu (Gerry Kevin Wilson) writes:
> >>
> >>Then, if you were doing a conspiracy game, throw in a missing 13th floor,
> >>some spies, a few mysterious events that the player is guaranteed to see
> >>at some point, and you have a really neat setup.
>
> >Maybe it's just a US thing, but my experience is that most hotels don't
> >have a 13th floor.
>
> I think thats what he means. Put in a 13th floor that no one, except
> it's inhabitants know about. And the architect (but then, he was brutally
> killed last tuesday so no one would let the secret out.)
>

Man, I *love* stuff like that. I think IF would fit the conspiracy genre like a
glove. That kind of game might come closest to reproducing the feeling I had when
I discovered DUNGEON, that aura that was lost with my "IF innocence" -- like I'd
found a secret place in the computer that no one else knew about. I'm sure many
people here know what I'm talking about.

Drone.
--
"Esse est percipi."
foxg...@globalserve.net

Drone

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Feb 17, 1997, 3:00:00 AM2/17/97
to

Yes. Although I'm not familiar with any Level 9 games (how can I get ahold of
some?), both Infidel and Starcross kicked off with similar "impression of space"
tricks, and I found it effective -- although Infidel was subsequently
disappointing.

Cliff Hall

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Feb 17, 1997, 3:00:00 AM2/17/97
to

Drone wrote:

>
> Edan Harel wrote:
> > Put in a 13th floor that no one, except
> > it's inhabitants know about. And the architect (but then, he was brutally
> > killed last tuesday so no one would let the secret out.)
> >
>
> Man, I *love* stuff like that. I think IF would fit the conspiracy genre like a
> glove.

There's a pretty cool game out there called Paranoia that I played on a
SCO system once. Its parser was very lame (in fact it wasn't even a
parser,
it was like 'scene description, then your options are 1, 2 or 3' type
stuff), but
the conspiracy theory was pretty cool. It centered around the concpiracy
of christmas as a ploy to keep the over-comercialized sociatal behemoth
alive...

-Cliff

--
----------------------------------------------------------------
Cliff Hall, <cl...@tricon.net>
Editor & Publisher -=[Synapse]=- http://synapse.tricon.net
Deliriously Serious Softworks, Inc. http://clha.tricon.net

Magnus Olsson

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Feb 18, 1997, 3:00:00 AM2/18/97
to

In article <33091B...@tricon.net>, Cliff Hall <cl...@tricon.net> wrote:

>Drone wrote:
>> Man, I *love* stuff like that. I think IF would fit the conspiracy genre like a
>> glove.
>
>There's a pretty cool game out there called Paranoia that I played on a
>SCO system once. Its parser was very lame (in fact it wasn't even a
>parser,
>it was like 'scene description, then your options are 1, 2 or 3' type
>stuff), but
>the conspiracy theory was pretty cool. It centered around the concpiracy
>of christmas as a ploy to keep the over-comercialized sociatal behemoth
>alive...

Yeah, that game was pretty funny.

It should be mentioned that it's based on the RPG "Paranoia" (which
I've never played, but had described to me).

David Kinder

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Feb 18, 1997, 3:00:00 AM2/18/97
to

Drone (foxg...@globalserve.net) wrote:
: Yes. Although I'm not familiar with any Level 9 games (how can I get ahold of
: some?)

Get the Level9 interpreter from

ftp://ftp.gmd.de/if-archive/level9/interpreters/level9/

and some images of the games from any site carrying BBC or Spectrum snapshots
(or indeed any other format) of the games, e.g.

http://home.virtual-pc.com/isblpx/index.html
(The Spectrum Adventurer Page)

David

Erik Max Francis

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Feb 18, 1997, 3:00:00 AM2/18/97
to

Magnus Olsson wrote:

> Yeah, that game was pretty funny.
>
> It should be mentioned that it's based on the RPG "Paranoia" (which
> I've never played, but had described to me).

Yes, the RPG (which I've never played either, but I do own it) has much the
same atmosphere as that game. I'm not sure where that game came from, as
there are other "Choose-Your-Own-Adventure" style demo games put forth in
the Paranoia rulebooks. I have a sneaking suspicion that it came from some
compendium set to the game, and someone just copied it into a game, but I'm
not sure . . .

--
Erik Max Francis, &tSftDotIotE / email: m...@alcyone.com
Alcyone Systems / web: http://www.alcyone.com/max/
San Jose, California, United States / icbm: 37 20 07 N 121 53 38 W
\
"I am become death, / destroyer of worlds."
/ J. Robert Oppenheimer (quoting legend)

Adam J. Thornton

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Feb 18, 1997, 3:00:00 AM2/18/97
to

In article <33091B...@tricon.net>, Cliff Hall <cl...@tricon.net> wrote:
>There's a pretty cool game out there called Paranoia that I played on a
>SCO system once. Its parser was very lame (in fact it wasn't even a
>parser,
>it was like 'scene description, then your options are 1, 2 or 3' type
>stuff), but
>the conspiracy theory was pretty cool. It centered around the concpiracy
>of christmas as a ploy to keep the over-comercialized sociatal behemoth
>alive...

Based on the late lamented West End RPG of the same name.

Adam
--
"I'd buy me a used car lot, and | ad...@princeton.edu | As B/4 | Save the choad!
I'd never sell any of 'em, just | "Skippy, you little fool, you are off on an-
drive me a different car every day | other of your senseless and retrograde
depending on how I feel.":Tom Waits| little journeys.": Thomas Pynchon | 64,928

they got purple; purple's a fruit

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Feb 19, 1997, 3:00:00 AM2/19/97
to

And behold, Magnus Olsson <m...@bartlet.df.lth.se> did spake, speaking:

> In article <33091B...@tricon.net>, Cliff Hall <cl...@tricon.net> wrote:
> >Drone wrote:
> >> Man, I *love* stuff like that. I think IF would fit the conspiracy genre like a
> >> glove.
> >
> >There's a pretty cool game out there called Paranoia that I played on a
> >SCO system once. Its parser was very lame (in fact it wasn't even a
> >parser,
> >it was like 'scene description, then your options are 1, 2 or 3' type
> >stuff), but
> >the conspiracy theory was pretty cool. It centered around the concpiracy
> >of christmas as a ploy to keep the over-comercialized sociatal behemoth
> >alive...
>
> Yeah, that game was pretty funny.
>
> It should be mentioned that it's based on the RPG "Paranoia" (which
> I've never played, but had described to me).

It's available in the Slackware Linux release. Kinda cute. I enjoyed the
Ultraviolet clearance thang, though the game relies on randomness a bit too
much for dying and combat. *shrug*

--
spa...@error.net, chief engineer (toot toot!) Spatula Labs, error.net/~spatula

"Pez is cheap; smiles are priceless." - C. L. McCoy
mstie#43790


Drone

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Feb 19, 1997, 3:00:00 AM2/19/97
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Thank you!

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