Disch's _Amnesia_

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tall...@hamp.hampshire.edu

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Jan 20, 1993, 8:47:55 PM1/20/93
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I recently came across an interview with Thomas M. Disch (in
Larry McCafferty's _Across the Wounded Galaxies_) in which Disch
discusses working on an Infocom game called _Amnesia_. I was
extremely intrigued, as this is the first I had ever heard of any
major SF author becoming directly involved with interactive fiction.
(Please let me know if there are others I'm not thinking of- for
example, what degree of control did Pohl have over the _Gateway_ game,
or Zelazny with _Nine Princes in Amber_?)
I don't remember seeing _Amnesia_ on any of Infocom's old
product lists. Does anyone know if it was ever released? Has
it been reissued in the Lost Treasures of Infocom series?
Has anyone played it? I'd appreciate any info, comments, or
reviews of the game, and even if it wasn't ever released, Disch's
comments in the interview about his experience writing interactive
fiction are worth looking at for inspiration or consideration.

-Tavis Allison

Damien P. Neil

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Jan 20, 1993, 10:41:10 PM1/20/93
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In article <1993Jan20...@hamp.hampshire.edu> tall...@hamp.hampshire.edu writes:
> I recently came across an interview with Thomas M. Disch (in
>Larry McCafferty's _Across the Wounded Galaxies_) in which Disch
>discusses working on an Infocom game called _Amnesia_. I was
>extremely intrigued, as this is the first I had ever heard of any
>major SF author becoming directly involved with interactive fiction.
>(Please let me know if there are others I'm not thinking of- for
>example, what degree of control did Pohl have over the _Gateway_ game,
> or Zelazny with _Nine Princes in Amber_?)

Well, there is the obvious one: Douglas Adams. (_Hitchhiker's_ and
_Bureaucracy_.) I seem to remember hearing that he was an actual author, not
just a name on the cover.
-----
Damien Neil dp...@po.cwru.edu "Until somebody debugs reality, the best
Case Western Reserve University I can do is a quick patch here and there."
CMPS/EEAP double majoring masochist - Erik Green

Hunganh Nguyen

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Jan 20, 1993, 11:14:08 PM1/20/93
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Amnesia! That sure brings back old memories! I really loved that
game - came with a complete map of NYC and subway system to boot. You could
actually visit ALL the street locations, too, and see some famous sites.
For those folks who don't know this game, it was released by
ELECTRONIC ARTS, oh, 7-8 years ago. Really fun. You were this man with
complete amnesia and for some reason, the police are after you, someone wants
to marry you, and so on. It was a HUGE int-fiction game, coming on two disks.
Took me about six years to solve, too (actually, I coulda solved it within
6 months, but I got stuck and shelved it for a while then proceeded to forget
everything I had done on it previously).
The storyline was great and the writing was top-notch, too. Definitely
up there with the best of the Infocom games (though, once again, it was NOT
Infocom)...
- Eddie

Stu Bushman

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Jan 21, 1993, 11:53:58 AM1/21/93
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In <1993Jan20...@hamp.hampshire.edu> tall...@hamp.hampshire.edu writes:

> I don't remember seeing _Amnesia_ on any of Infocom's old
>product lists. Does anyone know if it was ever released? Has

That's because Infocom didn't release it...It was released by Electronic
Arts several years ago under the name Thomas Disch's Amnesia...A very
weird IF game it was, but my original disks crashed, and I lost the
documentation when I moved so I gave up playing it...
I figured it was not meant to be 8}
Stu
sbs...@uhura.cc.rochester.edu

Jacob Solomon Weinstein

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Jan 21, 1993, 1:43:28 PM1/21/93
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tall...@hamp.hampshire.edu writes:
> I recently came across an interview with Thomas M. Disch (in
>Larry McCafferty's _Across the Wounded Galaxies_) in which Disch
>discusses working on an Infocom game called _Amnesia_. I was
>extremely intrigued, as this is the first I had ever heard of any
>major SF author becoming directly involved with interactive fiction.
>(Please let me know if there are others I'm not thinking of- for
>example, what degree of control did Pohl have over the _Gateway_ game,
> or Zelazny with _Nine Princes in Amber_?)

To quote from the "About The Author" blurb from Suspended: "Michael
Berlyn is a writer whose books include _The Integrated Man_ and _Crystal
Phoenix_ from Bantam books. He is the author of Suspend, Infidel,
and Cutthroats, all from Infocom." Of course, I don't know if he's
a MAJOR s.f. author...

Phil Goetz

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Jan 21, 1993, 6:15:34 PM1/21/93
to
> I recently came across an interview with Thomas M. Disch (in
>Larry McCafferty's _Across the Wounded Galaxies_) in which Disch
>discusses working on an Infocom game called _Amnesia_. I was
>extremely intrigued, as this is the first I had ever heard of any
>major SF author becoming directly involved with interactive fiction.
>(Please let me know if there are others I'm not thinking of- for
>example, what degree of control did Pohl have over the _Gateway_ game,
> or Zelazny with _Nine Princes in Amber_?)

Ray Bradbury and Tellarium made _Fahrenheit 451_ for the Apple //,
though it was not much like the book.

> I don't remember seeing _Amnesia_ on any of Infocom's old
>product lists. Does anyone know if it was ever released? Has
>it been reissued in the Lost Treasures of Infocom series?
>Has anyone played it? I'd appreciate any info, comments, or
>reviews of the game, and even if it wasn't ever released, Disch's
>comments in the interview about his experience writing interactive
> fiction are worth looking at for inspiration or consideration.
>
> -Tavis Allison

_Amnesia_ was released by Electronic Arts around 1986.
I thought it was really, really, bad. There were three big reasons for
this:
1. The map is enormous - like 2000 locations. Visiting them
all is very tedious.
2. You continually die of thirst or hunger, and need to sleep.
All your time is taken up searching for food, water, and a place to
sleep, so that in one day of game time (around 40 moves)
you can only explore about 5 of the 2000 locations.
3. Whenever anything interesting happens, you don't have any
control, but revert to being a reader of a non-interactive novel while
pages of description roll past you. Your character may even respond
in these descriptions, without your consent! _That_ certainly kills
any sense of involvement for me!

I never finished the game.

Phil
go...@cs.buffalo.edu

Matthew J. Stum

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Jan 22, 1993, 10:05:25 AM1/22/93
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> _Amnesia_ was released by Electronic Arts around 1986.
> I thought it was really, really, bad. There were three big reasons for
> this:
> 1. The map is enormous - like 2000 locations. Visiting them
> all is very tedious.
> 2. You continually die of thirst or hunger, and need to sleep.
> All your time is taken up searching for food, water, and a place to
> sleep, so that in one day of game time (around 40 moves)
> you can only explore about 5 of the 2000 locations.

Wait wait wait... you consider 1 & 2 to be _bad_ things? I think it's _very_
realistic... otherwise it'd be more fantasy than fiction...

> 3. Whenever anything interesting happens, you don't have any
> control, but revert to being a reader of a non-interactive novel while
> pages of description roll past you. Your character may even respond
> in these descriptions, without your consent! _That_ certainly kills
> any sense of involvement for me!

I will agree with you there though... if you're going to go to the tedious
trouble of staying alive for the "good bits" then I'd at least think you'd
get to have some fun...

--
Matt Stum Gwydion ap Myrddin Ball State University
00mj...@leo.bsuvc.bsu.edu Shire of Afonlyn, MK Muncie, IN USA

Roger Espinosa

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Jan 22, 1993, 12:52:29 PM1/22/93
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How do people *really* feel about text passages that indicate something
has happened, but without any real interactivity from the user (reader)?

Trinity had some of these; as did Leather Goddesses of Phobos, and *I*
didn't mind them. They seem (to me) to be the only way to deal with
changes in emotion or "state of mind" -- the other interactivity seems
to effect only the state of the world. Dialogue between characters
has always felt entirely unreal to me -- until playing "Fate of Atlantis"
recently, but *that* way is almost totally canned (but still, more
enjoyable that the standard "Herb looks at you quizically.")

Any opinions?

Roger

David Rees

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Jan 22, 1993, 4:04:33 PM1/22/93
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I don't know about Zelazny's involvment with the Amber game, but I believe
that I read somewhere that some of the other games put out by Trillium were written by the authors. DragonWorld, Rendezvous with Rama, and possibly Farenheit 451 had some pretty major contributions from the author of the
original novel. (I'm pretty sure of this, but may be wrong). Unfortunately, perhaps because of this, these games tend to be more of a computerized version of
the novel rather than a hard collection of puzzles. Some people prefer that, but not I.

Neil K. Guy

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Jan 22, 1993, 4:12:06 PM1/22/93
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00mj...@leo.bsuvc.bsu.edu (Matthew J. Stum) writes:
(someone else wrote:)

>> 1. The map is enormous - like 2000 locations. Visiting them
>> all is very tedious.
>> 2. You continually die of thirst or hunger, and need to sleep.
>> All your time is taken up searching for food, water, and a place to
>> sleep, so that in one day of game time (around 40 moves)
>> you can only explore about 5 of the 2000 locations.

>Wait wait wait... you consider 1 & 2 to be _bad_ things? I think it's _very_
>realistic... otherwise it'd be more fantasy than fiction...

Well, with any type of fiction there's always a line between realism
and tedium, don't you think? I mean, novels are often realistic. That
doesn't mean that they have to go in endless detail about the lives of
the characters. (and so Ernie gets up, goes to the bathroom, is about
to sit down, decides he should have a magazine, goes to the living
room, can't find one, backtracks to the study, decides he can't wait,
goes back to the bathroom, discovers someone left the seat up, etc.
etc. etc.) Boring.

Interactive fiction is meant to be reasonably interesting and fun,
isn't it? Why else play the darn things? And games that kill
you if you don't find food for a day are, in my opinion, highly
unrealistic. Sure, we need food but a human is capable of going
without food for weeks. One gets weaker as time goes by, but you don't
drop dead instantly after 10 turns without food, right?

So I guess my point is that realism isn't an absolute thing. You
don't want to have to type "Breathe air" every move. Extremes with
tons of uninteresting locations for the sake of completeness or
immensely onerous survival requirements may be marginally more
realistic, but that doesn't make them interesting. For that matter,
games where you go without eating for infinite periods of time and
which have only fifteen mappable locations don't exactly thrill me
either.

>> 3. Whenever anything interesting happens, you don't have any
>> control, but revert to being a reader of a non-interactive novel while
>> pages of description roll past you. Your character may even respond
>> in these descriptions, without your consent! _That_ certainly kills
>> any sense of involvement for me!

How does anyone else feel about computers making a lot of assumptions
for character actions? I mean, I think we all agree that having the
computer bring up a page of text that says "Over the next ten days you
decide to run for office. You hijack an armoured car to raise funds,
and are drawn into a complex web of intrigue that spans several
continents. When you come back you find your house has burned down.
What do you want to do now?" to be rather unfair. What's interactive
about that? Press the space bar to read more text? But what about
responses like "You decide not to pick up the book off the table" or
"You find a pair of binoculars, which you take"? In both cases the
game makes largely innocuous assumptions about what the player wants
to do, usually to simplify implementation. But do (these admittedly
trivial) examples kind of bug anyone else? Do you have feel like
saying "Take the book anyway, dammit!"

- Neil K. (n_k...@sfu.ca)

Phil Goetz

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Jan 25, 1993, 3:58:10 PM1/25/93
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In article <1993Jan22.100525.13970@bsu-ucs> 00mj...@leo.bsuvc.bsu.edu (Matthew J. Stum) writes:
>> _Amnesia_ was released by Electronic Arts around 1986.
>> I thought it was really, really, bad. There were three big reasons for
>> this:
>> 1. The map is enormous - like 2000 locations. Visiting them
>> all is very tedious.
>> 2. You continually die of thirst or hunger, and need to sleep.
>> All your time is taken up searching for food, water, and a place to
>> sleep, so that in one day of game time (around 40 moves)
>> you can only explore about 5 of the 2000 locations.
>
>Wait wait wait... you consider 1 & 2 to be _bad_ things? I think it's _very_
>realistic... otherwise it'd be more fantasy than fiction...

>Matt Stum Gwydion ap Myrddin Ball State University


>00mj...@leo.bsuvc.bsu.edu Shire of Afonlyn, MK Muncie, IN USA

Let me reiterate something I'm sure I've said before:
I don't want reality in my entertainment. I get reality 24 hrs a day.
I like realism, but only if it is supporting an artificial experience
which is sufficiently more interesting than my real life that I should
devote time to it. This means that any entertainment MUST be
un-reality-like in some way. Dispensing with time spent on bodily
functions (at least the boring ones) is the obvious first step.

Phil
go...@cs.buffalo.edu

P.S.- Aside from bugs, _Amnesia_ was technically well-done.

Mike Roberts

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Jan 25, 1993, 3:04:56 PM1/25/93
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> Well, with any type of fiction there's always a line between realism
> and tedium, don't you think?

This is an excellent point. I've never seen any IF that comes close to
being realistic, and I don't believe that there's any hardware available
today that would make it possible (and we software designers wouldn't
know what to do with such great hardware even if it were available).

Maybe someday. For now, though, I think that the success of a piece of
IF doesn't depend on how closely it simulates the real world, but rather
how well it evokes a world from its simulation.

> Interactive fiction is meant to be reasonably interesting and fun,
> isn't it?

And this might be an even better measure of success.


Mike Roberts mrob...@hinrg.starconn.com
High Energy Software 415 493 2430 (Voice)
PO Box 50422, Palo Alto, CA 94303 415 493 2420 (BBS)

"Time to ring in the new year, and watch as it transforms itself
from a beautiful promise of tomorrow into the ugly reality of today."
--- Lars Fusco

Mike Roberts

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Jan 25, 1993, 3:05:33 PM1/25/93
to

> But what about responses like "You decide not to pick up the book
> off the table" or "You find a pair of binoculars, which you take"?

> ... Do you feel like saying "Take the book anyway, dammit!"

My favorite example of irritating messages like this is in King's
Quest n (where n ~ 5). For pretty much anything you attempt to do,
the game responds "You don't have time for that" or "Not in that dress!"
(which suggests that perhaps there's a "take off dress" command, but no:
"Not with the players watching!"). For reasons of practicality and
playability, a game designer certainly can't and doesn't want to allow
the player to do (even nearly) all the things that would be reasonable
in the real world the game is simulating. There's something of an art
to creating the excuses for why the player can't do certain things,
and there's an even more subtle art to setting up the game in the first
place so as to minimize the number of excuses needed.

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