A bill of players' rights

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Graham Nelson

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May 18, 1993, 6:38:52 PM5/18/93
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[Graham asked me to post this for him as his posting software is currently
not distributing his articles correctly.]

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A Bill of Player's Rights
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Perhaps the most important point about designing a game is to think as a
player and not a designer. I think the least a player deserves is:

1. Not to be killed without warning

At its most basic level, this means that a room with three exits, two of
which lead to instant death and the third to treasure, is unreasonable
without some hint. Mention of which brings us to:

2. Not to be given horribly unclear hints

Many years ago, I played a game in which going north from a cave led to a
lethal pit. The hint was: there was a pride of lions carved above the
doorway. Good hints can be skilfully hidden, or very brief (I think, for
example, the hint in the moving-rocks plain problem in "Spellbreaker" is a
masterpiece) but should not need explaining even after the event.

A more sophisticated version of (1) leads us to:

3. To be able to win without experience of past lives

Suppose, for instance, there is a nuclear bomb buried under some anonymous
floor somewhere, which must be disarmed. It is unreasonable to expect a
player to dig up this floor purely because in previous games, the bomb blew
up there. To take a more concrete example, in "The Lurking Horror" there is
something which needs cooking for the right length of time. As far as I can
tell, the only way to find out the right time is by trial and error. But
you only get one trial per game. In principle a good player should be able
to play the entire game out without doing anything illogical. In similar
vein:

4. To be able to win without knowledge of future events

For example, the game opens near a shop. You have one coin and can buy a
lamp, a magic carpet or a periscope. Five minutes later you are transported
away without warning to a submarine, whereupon you need a periscope. If you
bought the carpet, bad luck.

5. Not to have the game closed off without warning

Closed off meaning that it would become impossible to proceed at some
later date. If there is a papier-mache wall which you can walk through at
the very beginning of the game, it is extremely annoying to find that a
puzzle at the very end requires it to still be intact, because every one of
your saved games will be useless. Similarly it is quite common to have a
room which can only be visited once per game. If there are two different
things to be accomplished there, this should be hinted at.

6. Not to need to do unlikely things

For example, a game which depends on asking a policeman about something he
could not reasonably know about. (Less extremely, the problem of the
hacker's keys in "The Lurking Horror".) Another unlikely thing is waiting
in uninteresting places. If you have a junction such that after five turns
an elf turns up and gives you a magic ring, a player may well never spend
five turns there and never solve what you intended to be straightforward.
On the other hand, if you were to put something which demanded investigation
in the junction, it might be fair enough. ("Zork III" is especially poor in
this respect.)

7. Not to need to do boring things for the sake of it

In the bad old days many games would make life difficult by putting
objects needed to solve a problem miles away from where the problem was,
despite all logic - say, putting a boat in the middle of a desert. Or, for
example, it might be fun to have a four-discs tower of Hanoi puzzle in a
game. But not an eight-discs one.

8. Not to have to type exactly the right verb

For instance, looking inside a box finds nothing, but searching it does.
Or consider the following dialogue (amazingly, from "Sorcerer"):

>unlock journal
(with the small key)
No spell would help with that!

>open journal
(with the small key)
The journal springs open.

This is so misleading as to constitute a bug. But it's an easy design fault
to fall into. (Similarly, the wording needed to use the brick in Zork II
strikes me as quite unfair. Or perhaps I missed something obvious.)

9. To be allowed reasonable synonyms

In the same room in "Sorcerer" is a "woven wall hanging" which can instead
be called "tapestry" (though not "curtain"). This is not a luxury, it's an
essential.

10. To have a decent parser

This goes without saying. At the very least it should provide for taking
and dropping multiple objects.

The last few are more a matter of taste, but I believe in them:

11. To have reasonable freedom of action

Being locked up in a long sequence of prisons, with only brief escapes
between them, is not all that entertaining. After a while the player begins
to feel that the designer has tied him to a chair in order to shout the plot
at him.

12. Not to depend much on luck

Small chance variations add to the fun, but only small ones. The thief in
"Zork I" seems to me to be just about right in this respect, and similarly
the spinning room in "Zork II". But a ten-ton weight which fell down and
killed you at a certain point in half of all games is just annoying.

13. To be able to understand a problem once it is solved

This may sound odd, but many problems are solved by accident or trial and
error. A guard-post which can be passed only if you are carrying a spear,
for instance, ought to have some indication that this is why you're allowed
past. (The most extreme example must be the notorious Bank of Zork.)

14. Not to be given too many red herrings

A few red herrings make a game more interesting. A very nice feature of
"Zork I", "II" and "III" is that they each contain red herrings explained in
the others (in one case, explained in "Sorcerer"). But difficult puzzles
tend to be solved last, and the main technique players use is to look at
their maps and see what's left that they don't understand. This is
frustrated when there are many insoluble puzzles and useless objects. So
you can expect players to lose interest if you aren't careful. My personal
view is that red herrings ought to have some clue provided (even only much
later): for instance, if there is a useless coconut near the beginning, then
perhaps much later an absent-minded botanist could be found who wandered
about dropping them. The coconut should at least have some rationale.

The very worst game I've played for red herrings is "Sorcerer", which by
my reckoning has 10.

15. To have a good reason why something is impossible

Unless it's also funny, a very contrived reason why something is
impossible just irritates. (The reason one can't walk on the grass in
"Trinity" is only just funny enough, I think.)

16. Not to need to be American to understand hints

The diamond maze in "Zork II" being a case in point. Similarly, it's
polite to allow the player to type English or American spellings or idiom.
For instance "Trinity" endears itself to English players in that the soccer
ball can be called "football" - soccer is a word almost never used in
England.

17. To know how the game is getting on

In other words, when the end is approaching, or how the plot is
developing. Once upon a time, score was the only measure of this, but
hopefully not any more.

--
Graham Nelson <ga...@phx.cam.ac.uk>

Adam Justin Thornton

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May 18, 1993, 9:04:16 PM5/18/93
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In article <1993May18.2...@infodev.cam.ac.uk> ga...@phx.cam.ac.uk writes:
>[Graham asked me to post this for him as his posting software is currently
>not distributing his articles correctly.]
>---------------------------------------------------------------------------
> A Bill of Player's Rights
>---------------------------------------------------------------------------
> Perhaps the most important point about designing a game is to think as a
>player and not a designer. I think the least a player deserves is:
>
> 1. Not to be killed without warning
>

Yup, as long as we understand "killed" as "killed through something other
than gross stupidity." E.G. "> PLUG MYSELF INTO SPARKING WALL SOCKET"

> 2. Not to be given horribly unclear hints

What the designer considers obvious may, however, not appear so to the player.

> 3. To be able to win without experience of past lives

>To take a more concrete example, in "The Lurking Horror" there is


>something which needs cooking for the right length of time. As far as I can
>tell, the only way to find out the right time is by trial and error.

Actually, my real-world knowledge of microwaves let me get it on the first
try. That wasn't _really_ an unfair puzzle. The bomb-in-the-floor would be.

> 4. To be able to win without knowledge of future events

Yes and no. Yeah, it sucked having to play HHGTTG all over again paying
attention to the tools. But to take this to its logical conclusion means that
it turns into a game you can't lose. More examples in the next "right".

> 5. Not to have the game closed off without warning

If you can't close the game off, you can't lose it. If you screw up, you screw
up. And mechanics may require you to only let the player realize he has made
a serious boo-boo later. LGOP2 DOESN'T let you screw up. It's an awful game.

> 6. Not to need to do unlikely things

>(Less extremely, the problem of the
>hacker's keys in "The Lurking Horror".)

Agreed, but I don't agree with the hacker problem: when you examined him, you
saw the keys. When you found a locked door...(plus, GUE is MIT: it's common
knowledge that tunneling is a favorite pastime thereabouts)

> 7. Not to need to do boring things for the sake of it

Absolutely.

> 8. Not to have to type exactly the right verb

Subcase of 10.

> 9. To be allowed reasonable synonyms

Likewise.

> 10. To have a decent parser
> This goes without saying. At the very least it should provide for taking
>and dropping multiple objects.

No question. Luckily, all the modern scripting systems (I think) have this
included. TADS, my personal preference, is certainly (with a little help to
adv.t) adequate.

> 11. To have reasonable freedom of action

In other words, puzzles to solve in parallel as well as in series. Yup.

> 12. Not to depend much on luck

No question.

> 13. To be able to understand a problem once it is solved

Hell yes. I'd disagree with your Bank of Zork analysis. To us geekish types
it was pretty clearly a state machine. My vote would go to Witness. I solved
the game without ever figuring out who did what to whom when and why. All I
did was the standard adventure things and everything solved itself without me
having to reason out what had happened. Hated it.

> 14. Not to be given too many red herrings

I agree. But then I don't think games should be realistic. I _want_ a tidy
universe where everything has a function when I play.

> 15. To have a good reason why something is impossible

Yeah, but it requires a LOT of code and beta-testers...

> 16. Not to need to be American to understand hints

Sure. But it's not always obvious what is and what isn't a common referent.

> 17. To know how the game is getting on

Agreed. No arguments here.

Interesting, and, I think, mostly accurate. Anyone else?

Adam
--
ad...@rice.edu | These? Rice's opinions? Yeah, right. | "Might there have
been fewer crimes in the name of Jesus, and more mercy in the name of Judas
Iscariot?"--Thomas Pynchon | "This is not an assault."--FBI to David Koresh,
as they broke holes in the wall and began firing in teargas. | 64,928 | Fnord

Philip Stephens

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May 19, 1993, 1:03:02 AM5/19/93
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Graham Nelson writes:

> 4. To be able to win without knowledge of future events

> For example, the game opens near a shop. You have one coin and can buy a
>lamp, a magic carpet or a periscope. Five minutes later you are transported
>away without warning to a submarine, whereupon you need a periscope. If you
>bought the carpet, bad luck.

A classic example of this is in _Hitch Hikers Guide to the Galaxy_, in
which the significance of the dog at the start of the game is not revealed
until almost towards the end. I could've killed Douglas Adams for that!

> 8. Not to have to type exactly the right verb

> For instance, looking inside a box finds nothing, but searching it does.

This is probably one of my biggest gripes about the Infocom games that
I've played. The number of times that I had to try every permutation of a
sentence before the parser would recognise what I wanted to do was more
than I would have expected...every game had at least one of these.

> 13. To be able to understand a problem once it is solved

> This may sound odd, but many problems are solved by accident or trial and
>error. A guard-post which can be passed only if you are carrying a spear,
>for instance, ought to have some indication that this is why you're allowed
>past. (The most extreme example must be the notorious Bank of Zork.)

Actually, I thought that the solution for the Bank of Zork made perfect
sense. After all, if you're trapped in a room with no exits, and no
objects in your possession that could be of any use, then what else have
you to try and do? :-) (Besides, the solution is hinted at in a note in
the bank).

> 14. Not to be given too many red herrings

> A few red herrings make a game more interesting. A very nice feature of
>"Zork I", "II" and "III" is that they each contain red herrings explained in
>the others (in one case, explained in "Sorcerer"). But difficult puzzles
>tend to be solved last, and the main technique players use is to look at
>their maps and see what's left that they don't understand. This is

>frustrating when there are many insoluble puzzles and useless objects.

For me, more annoying than red herrings are those puzzles that cannot be
solved until you gain access to objects which are hidden until a different
puzzle is solved. The Zork trilogy is an example of this: particularly Zork
II. In that game, there were several "doors" that needed to be gotten
through in the same area, but they could only be done in a particular
order, and the objects used in the solutions were often ambiguious in their
purpose to make me waste my time trying to open a door that couldn't be
opened. Very frustrating and tiring.

--
| Philip Stephens, Systems Programmer. | %%%% % Labtam Australia Pty Ltd |
| Address: 43 Malcolm Road, Braeside, | % % % % "Applied Ingenuity" |
| Victoria, 3195, AUSTRALIA. | % % % % We make the fastest RISC |
| Internet: phi...@labtam.labtam.oz.au | %%%%% %%%%% X terminals in the world |

Mark Christopher Macsurak

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May 19, 1993, 7:09:53 AM5/19/93
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In article <C791n...@rice.edu> ad...@owlnet.rice.edu (Adam Justin Thornton) writes:
>
>Hell yes. I'd disagree with your Bank of Zork analysis. To us geekish types
>it was pretty clearly a state machine.
>
>Adam
>--

You UNDERSTOOD the Bank of Zork? I can't remember the exact solution right now,
although I believe it is solvable by trial and error, almost like solving a
maze... where you have to find a specific pattern or something.

You refer to it as a state machine... could you please explain what it is and
how the Bank of Zork is a state machine? Thanks, I have suffered for many many
years without this information. Please e-mail or post.

-big...@leland.stanford.edu

G.D. Rees

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May 19, 1993, 3:59:15 PM5/19/93
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In article <1993May18.2...@infodev.cam.ac.uk>, ga...@phx.cam.ac.uk
(Graham Nelson) writes:
|>
|> 1. Not to be killed without warning
|>
|> At its most basic level, this means that a room with three exits, two of
|> which lead to instant death and the third to treasure, is unreasonable
|> without some hint.

I wonder why games bother to kill the player at all. I guess it can add
something to the atmosphere of tension if you feel that you can be killed
or hurt at any moment. But which of these games would you rather play:

You are on the south side of a chasm.
>north

You plunge to your death.
*** You have died ***

or:

You are on the south side of a chasm.
>north

You decide not to throw yourself to your death.

The first game merely annoys the player in a manner that contributes nothing
to the plot, and if that kind of thing occurs a lot then the player will just
learn to save more frequently. The second game also demonstrates that the
player's guess was wrong, but in a way that allows the player to quickly try
other guesses instead of having to go back to their last save file and
re-solve the last couple of problems. I intuit that the second game is
likely to hold the player's attention for longer.

I think Colossal Cave had the right idea: when you died, you were merely
docked a few points and sent back to the start location.

--
Gareth Rees <gd...@phx.cam.ac.uk>

Gareth Rees

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May 19, 1993, 4:03:11 PM5/19/93
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In article <C791n...@rice.edu>, ad...@owlnet.rice.edu (Adam Justin Thornton) writes:
|> In article <1993May18.2...@infodev.cam.ac.uk> ga...@phx.cam.ac.uk writes:
|> >
|> > 1. Not to be killed without warning
|> >
|>
|> Yup, as long as we understand "killed" as "killed through something other
|> than gross stupidity." E.G. "> PLUG MYSELF INTO SPARKING WALL SOCKET"

But in adventure games you have to try stupid things - throwing yourself off
cliffs just in case a giant bird comes and carries you off to its nest,
attacking the dragon with your bare hands, plugging yourself into the wall
socket in case such a crude electroshock treatment cures you of your madness.

--
Gareth Rees <gd...@phx.cam.ac.uk>

Darin Johnson

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May 19, 1993, 8:21:24 PM5/19/93
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>>To take a more concrete example, in "The Lurking Horror" there is
>>something which needs cooking for the right length of time. As far as I can
>>tell, the only way to find out the right time is by trial and error.

Hmm, I heated it, wasn't hot enough, heated some more, etc, until
I got it right :-) Never tried heating it for a half hour or anything,
might have been interesting...

>> 5. Not to have the game closed off without warning
>

>LGOP2 DOESN'T let you screw up. It's an awful game.

I think he's referring to things like Beyond Zork, where if you
help the baby hippo thing, before doing something else, you
cannot finish the game. Uncalled for. This doesn't mean that
games should be stupid to the point that it says "you feel you
forgot something, so you stay" when you stry to move. In my opinion,
games that let you screw up, then not find out about it for a week,
are AWFUL GAMES. If you do screw up, you should find out about it
within several moves.

>> 6. Not to need to do unlikely things
>>(Less extremely, the problem of the
>>hacker's keys in "The Lurking Horror".)

This seemed logical to me. Things were locked, so ask the hacker
for his keys. But I agree that unlikely things are very annoying
(hello sailor, walk through wall, leave teapot in alcove, etc).

--
Darin Johnson
djoh...@ucsd.edu
"You used to be big."
"I am big. It's the pictures that got small."

Gareth Rees

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May 19, 1993, 3:47:29 PM5/19/93
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In article <C791n...@rice.edu>, ad...@owlnet.rice.edu (Adam Justin Thornton) writes:
>> 6. Not to need to do unlikely things
>> (Less extremely, the problem of the hacker's keys in "The Lurking Horror".)
>
> Agreed, but I don't agree with the hacker problem: when you examined him, you
> saw the keys. When you found a locked door...(plus, GUE is MIT: it's common
> knowledge that tunneling is a favorite pastime thereabouts)
>
> [...]

>
>> 16. Not to need to be American to understand hints
>
> Sure. But it's not always obvious what is and what isn't a common referent.

You say, "it's common knowledge" above. Common to whom? Certainly over here in
the UK rather little is known about what goes on at MIT.

--
Gareth Rees <gd...@phx.cam.ac.uk>

Palmer T. Davis

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May 19, 1993, 4:22:43 PM5/19/93
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>> 13. To be able to understand a problem once it is solved
>
>>(The most extreme example must be the notorious Bank of Zork.)
>
> Actually, I thought that the solution for the Bank of Zork made perfect
>sense. After all, if you're trapped in a room with no exits, and no
>objects in your possession that could be of any use, then what else have
>you to try and do? :-) (Besides, the solution is hinted at in a note in
>the bank).

Huh?! What do you mean, "trapped in a room with no exits?" I've solved
the Bank, and I vaguely have half a clue as to what's going on, but at no
time did I wind up in a room with no exits. Might you be thinking about
the Royal Puzzle, instead?
--
Palmer T. Davis ___ UN-altered REPRODUCTION and DISSEMINATION of
<pt...@po.cwru.edu> \X/ this IMPORTANT Information is ENCOURAGED.

Adam Justin Thornton

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May 19, 1993, 4:49:59 PM5/19/93
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In article <1993May19.1...@infodev.cam.ac.uk> gd...@phx.cam.ac.uk writes:
>In article <C791n...@rice.edu>, ad...@owlnet.rice.edu (Adam Justin Thornton) writes:
>>(plus, GUE is MIT: it's common
>> knowledge that tunneling is a favorite pastime thereabouts)
>>> 16. Not to need to be American to understand hints
>> Sure. But it's not always obvious what is and what isn't a common referent.
>You say, "it's common knowledge" above. Common to whom? Certainly over here in
>the UK rather little is known about what goes on at MIT.

Got me. See? In _LH_, my referents coincided with Meretzky's, but not with yours.
The problem is that we all will tend to write games that reflect the language and
thoughts of our culture. At Rice, we obviously have a lot more in "common" with
the MIT Hackish crowd than the UK folks. Common to whom is the question we
_should_ try to keep in mind, which is, I think, what #16 means. It's very easy
to forget that one's world isn't the only one.

Neil K. Guy

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May 19, 1993, 9:32:03 PM5/19/93
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gd...@cl.cam.ac.uk (G.D. Rees) writes:

> [...] But which of these games would you rather play:

> You are on the south side of a chasm.
> >north

> You plunge to your death.
> *** You have died ***

>or:

> You are on the south side of a chasm.
> >north
>
> You decide not to throw yourself to your death.

The former. The latter makes presumptuous assumptions. Maybe I *do*
want to kill myself for some obscure thanatoid reason. Then, if I'm
playing a well-written game that uses an UNDO feature like that built
into TADS, I simply undo the last move. No problem.

>I think Colossal Cave had the right idea: when you died, you were merely
>docked a few points and sent back to the start location.

This may be appropriate for fantasies like Colossal Cave, but is
frankly rather daft for games that are set in more (dare I say it?)
realistic worlds. IMHO.

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

Palmer T. Davis

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May 20, 1993, 1:49:17 PM5/20/93
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In a previous article, djoh...@cs.ucsd.edu (Darin Johnson) says:
>
>>> 5. Not to have the game closed off without warning
>>
>>LGOP2 DOESN'T let you screw up. It's an awful game.
>
>I think he's referring to things like Beyond Zork, where if you
>help the baby hippo thing, before doing something else, you
>cannot finish the game. Uncalled for.

AAAAAARRRRGGGGHH!!!! So *that's* why I can't get anywhere further!
Growf! Grrrrrr....

(I s'pose a better way to put it might be "Not to be unduly penalized
for reasonable behavior.")

Stephen R. Granade

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May 20, 1993, 5:04:22 PM5/20/93
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In a previous article, ne...@fraser.sfu.ca (Neil K. Guy) says:

> [...munch...] Maybe I *do*


>want to kill myself for some obscure thanatoid reason. Then, if I'm
>playing a well-written game that uses an UNDO feature like that built
>into TADS, I simply undo the last move. No problem.

This would be my arguement w/the "no death w/o warning" rule. If there
is an UNDO feature, dying presents no handicap. I would accept dying
w/o warning under two conditions:

1) The death is amusing. BEWARE! This is easy to overuse, and the
temptation is great. "Boy, wouldn't it be funny to have the player
crushed by falling rocks *again*?"

2) The death is informative. Let's say you have an unlabeled bottle
that is half-full of some green liquid. If the player drinks it,
plants sprout all over his body and he dies. The player can UNDO
that move, and he has hopefully learned that the liquid is some
sort of plant growth formula.

Any thoughts on this?

Stephen
--
_________________________________________________________________________
| Stephen Granade | "My research proposal involves reconstructing |
| | the Trinity test using tweezers and |
| sgra...@obu.arknet.edu | assistants with very good eyesight." |

Philip Stephens

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May 20, 1993, 7:54:00 PM5/20/93
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Palmer T. Davis writes:

>Huh?! What do you mean, "trapped in a room with no exits?" I've solved
>the Bank, and I vaguely have half a clue as to what's going on, but at no
>time did I wind up in a room with no exits. Might you be thinking about
>the Royal Puzzle, instead?

No, I'm refering to what happens when you try to walk out of the bank
with the treasure in your possession--you get thrown into a room with no
exits; you can either wait around until a Goblin comes along and offers to
lead you out (in exchange for the treasure, of course), or you can find
your own way out...
This is the Apple ][ version of Zork III I'm talking about here. Is
there another solution to the Bank of Zork, or are there different versions
of the puzzle? I'm not talking about the Royal Puzzle, that much I'm sure
about!
Hmmm. Curious.

Chris Nebel

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May 20, 1993, 11:14:38 PM5/20/93
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I prefer the rule of "let them kill themselves if they're persistent about
it." In other words, the first attempt draws a warning of some kind; the
second goes ahead and does the action, with the ensuing death (or whatever).
Here's an example:

You are standing at the edge of a cliff. The lake lies below you, cool and
inviting. You could dive in from here.

>DIVE

You step to the edge to dive off, but stop. Just for a second, you thought
you saw something large moving in the water below.

[At this point, the player can leave, or...]

>DIVE

You execute a perfect swan dive and slice cleanly into water and straight
into the mouth of a shark that was just wondering where its next meal was
coming from. The shark is very pleased with this turn of events. You are
not.

*** You have bit the Big Banana. ***

I consider this the best of both worlds: you can kill yourself if you really
want to, but you don't get killed without warning.

Chris Nebel
ne...@systemix.com

Neil K. Guy

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May 21, 1993, 12:51:44 AM5/21/93
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bz...@cleveland.Freenet.Edu (Stephen R. Granade) writes:

>1) The death is amusing. BEWARE! This is easy to overuse, and the
> temptation is great. "Boy, wouldn't it be funny to have the player
> crushed by falling rocks *again*?"

>2) The death is informative. Let's say you have an unlabeled bottle
> that is half-full of some green liquid. If the player drinks it,
> plants sprout all over his body and he dies. The player can UNDO
> that move, and he has hopefully learned that the liquid is some
> sort of plant growth formula.

I might add one more - that if the death is unannounced it usually
makes sense. In other words, if I leap off a 300 metre cliff I should
expect to die. If I jump on an electrified rail line for a train I
should expect to die. If I walk through a doorway marked with an X I
should not expect to die. I must agree that senseless deaths are
tiresome and frustrating.

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

Jon Thackray

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May 20, 1993, 7:27:08 AM5/20/93
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In article <neilg.7...@sfu.ca> ne...@fraser.sfu.ca (Neil K. Guy) writes:

gd...@cl.cam.ac.uk (G.D. Rees) writes:

> [...] But which of these games would you rather play:

> You are on the south side of a chasm.
> >north

> You plunge to your death.
> *** You have died ***

>or:

> You are on the south side of a chasm.
> >north
>
> You decide not to throw yourself to your death.

The former. The latter makes presumptuous assumptions. Maybe I *do*
want to kill myself for some obscure thanatoid reason. Then, if I'm
playing a well-written game that uses an UNDO feature like that built
into TADS, I simply undo the last move. No problem.

Well there are games around where you have to make the ultimate
sacrifice, for example Acheton and Last Days of Doom from Topologika.
In Acheton, one had to arrive in Hades and solve a puzzle to complete
the game. There were plenty of opportunities to die within the game,
but from many of them one couldn't complete even after having died. So
part of the puzzle was to find a correct place to die. Under these
circumstances, dying seems a perfectly valid thing for the game to do.
What is unreasonable is to make the player explore a maze, where many
wrong turnings cause death and end of game, ie death happens too often
and there's nothing to be gained from it.
--

Jon Thackray jo...@harlqn.co.uk 44 223 872522 (voice)
Harlequin Ltd. jg...@phx.cam.ac.uk 44 223 872519 (fax)
Barrington Hall
Barrington
Cambridge CB2 5RG
England

Matthew Crosby

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May 26, 1993, 9:01:45 PM5/26/93
to
In article <JONT.93Ma...@ml.harlqn.co.uk> jo...@harlqn.co.uk (Jon Thackray) writes:
>In article <neilg.7...@sfu.ca> ne...@fraser.sfu.ca (Neil K. Guy) writes:
>
> The former. The latter makes presumptuous assumptions. Maybe I *do*
> want to kill myself for some obscure thanatoid reason. Then, if I'm
> playing a well-written game that uses an UNDO feature like that built
> into TADS, I simply undo the last move. No problem.
>
>Well there are games around where you have to make the ultimate
>sacrifice, for example Acheton and Last Days of Doom from Topologika.
>In Acheton, one had to arrive in Hades and solve a puzzle to complete
>the game. There were plenty of opportunities to die within the game,
>but from many of them one couldn't complete even after having died. So
>part of the puzzle was to find a correct place to die. Under these
>circumstances, dying seems a perfectly valid thing for the game to do.
>What is unreasonable is to make the player explore a maze, where many
>wrong turnings cause death and end of game, ie death happens too often
>and there's nothing to be gained from it.

And of course there is always Infidel. Many people didn't like that ending,
but I did.

--
-Matt cro...@cs.colorado.edu
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the net!

Hsu I-wei

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May 30, 1993, 1:48:25 PM5/30/93
to
In article <neilg.7...@sfu.ca>, ne...@fraser.sfu.ca (Neil K. Guy) writes:
|> gd...@cl.cam.ac.uk (G.D. Rees) writes:
|>
|> > [...] But which of these games would you rather play:
|>
|> > You are on the south side of a chasm.
|> > >north
|>
|> > You plunge to your death.
|> > *** You have died ***
|>
|> >or:
|>
|> > You are on the south side of a chasm.
|> > >north
|> >
|> > You decide not to throw yourself to your death.
|>
|> The former. The latter makes presumptuous assumptions. Maybe I *do*
|> want to kill myself for some obscure thanatoid reason. Then, if I'm
|> playing a well-written game that uses an UNDO feature like that built
|> into TADS, I simply undo the last move. No problem.

UNDO!?!?!? I think not. How about this then?

You are on the south side of a chasm.
>north

You stop at the edge of the chasm.
>north
Ok, you plunge to your death.

Stephen R. Granade

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May 31, 1993, 1:01:23 PM5/31/93
to

In a previous article, fi...@athena.mit.edu (Hsu I-wei) says:

>UNDO!?!?!? I think not. How about this then?

Again, I really see nothing inherantly evil in using the undo to get
back out of a death. I dont' think deaths should be overused, but
then I don't see the need for all of this "Are you sure you want to
kill yourself?" We could take that a step further & ask the player,
"Are you sure you want to use that object right now?" Dying adds
a bit of frustration & occasionally humor. A game that isn't very
frustrating is either quickly solved or it quickly becomes boring.
A game that is too frustrating is not played for long.

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