# [Theory] When is a puzzle a puzzle?

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May 21, 1999, 3:00:00 AM5/21/99
to
Working on my example for the IF Art Show (Scenery). Have felt I have "flirted"
with puzzles in a few instances. Or maybe not. (Rules say no puzzles so my
example must have no puzzles as well.)

Started me thinking about when is a puzzle a puzzle. And when it is not.

1. Puzzling. Well, that's obvious. I guess. It isn't immediately apparent what
to do. You have to think hard or do something complex to solve it.
2. When it produces an object for another puzzle.
3. When it produces information for another puzzle.
4. When you get credit for it (i.e. score goes up).
5. When it unblocks another part of the game so the player can move forward?
Or not?
6. If it is obvious it isn't a puzzle, is it?

This difference between puzzle and non-puzzle, I am finding, may not be as
clear cut as one might think.

If you have any thoughts feel free to chime in. Or not.

Doe :-)

-----------------------------
doea...@aol.com
The Doepage - http://members.aol.com/doepage/index.htm
IF Art Gallery - http://members.aol.com/iffyart/gallery.htm
"I can live for two months on a good compliment." Mark Twain

### L. Ross Raszewski

May 21, 1999, 3:00:00 AM5/21/99
to
On 21 May 1999 05:25:59 GMT, Doeadeer3 <doea...@aol.com> wrote:
>This difference between puzzle and non-puzzle, I am finding, may not be as
>clear cut as one might think.

No kidding.
I tend to have about the most liberal definition of "puzzle" possible:
A puzzle is a point at which the player's actions directly affect the
progression of the narritive. This basically means that just
abotu everything except wandering around is a puzzle (wandering around
is a puzzle if the wandering affects the narrative; if being at point
A at time B makes the game go differently than being at point C at time D,
then wandering is part of the puzzle)

The easiest way for me to identify puzzles is to imagine I have
an infinately stupid betatester (fortunately, I do not.).
Any question which my infinitely stupid betatester asks me is a
puzzle.

Of course, this means that "Puzzleless Interactive Fiction" is
well-neigh impossible, by my definition. This makes it a pretty poor
definition for the purpose of weeding things out of your art show,
but I do find it useful for identifying places where the player
can get "stuck", or for finding cases which I have to handle --
it's easy to overlook the fact that the "solution" to the
"Okay, what do I do now?" puzzle is fairly random if you don't
count "Okay, what do I do now?" as a puzzle.
The other advantage of this system is that it's relatively easy to apply.
Most other common distinctions have to do with subjective measures of
difficulty -- If the answer to "How to I get the ring" is "unlock
the box with the vorpal key then answer the three knight's riddles,"
then it would be a "puzzle", but if the answer is "Pick it up off the table",
it's not, at least, not by common metrics.

Anyway, I probably haven't helped you with your ultimate goal of coming
up with a definition of "puzzle" that you can require NOT be in your art,
but I hope I've at least tossed otu something worth thinking about.

### gregory

May 21, 1999, 3:00:00 AM5/21/99
to
Doe wrote:

>This difference between puzzle and non-puzzle, I am finding, may not be as
>clear cut as one might think.

To try and break the definition of 'puzzle' down:

- a puzzle has to have an objective;
an objective is where the game makes the player
wonder how to do something, asking a question
of the form 'Can I...' or 'How can I', such as
'How can I get all the points?'

- a puzzle can't be obvious;
what 'obvious' means is open to interpretation,
but questions like 'How can I go north?', where
the answer is 'type >GO NORTH' is obviously
obvious.

- that's all.
(probably)

On the basis of this definition, I would say:
IF work has the smallest amount of puzzling,
someone somewhere will take it and play it as a
puzzle, trying to find all the possible responses,
guessing at verb, and the like. But without
some element of puzzle, IF loses interactivity,
and becomes F.

surely, guidelines and careful judges
will serve better than formal rules for

### Kathleen M. Fischer

May 21, 1999, 3:00:00 AM5/21/99
to
>
> Working on my example for the IF Art Show (Scenery). Have felt I
> have "flirted" with puzzles in a few instances. Or maybe not.
> (Rules say no puzzles so my example must have no puzzles as well.)
>
> Started me thinking about when is a puzzle a puzzle. And when it
> is not.

Perhaps you are puzzling over the wrong problem :)

What is it about puzzles that you don't like? Why don't you want them
in your Art Show? If you can state the particulars of what is not
appropriate, then you can drop the very nebulous word "puzzle".

Personally? I think that the point of the art show is to render an
object in text. If that object is a Rubix(sp?) Cube, then you can bet
it's going to be a puzzler for some (and a nightmare for the author).
But should it's puzzling nature prevent it from being in the show?
I would say no, assuming the author does a superb job of describing
the faces, the positions and the movements. A person examining the
object and manipulating it would never have to actually finish the
cube in order to appreciate it as a well done piece of 3D text. The
point being the object itself and NOT the "Ah-ha" feeling the player
gets when they have successfully solved it.

Conversely, if the author chooses to implement a microwave, and it
takes the player 45 minutes to figure out the right combinations of
buttons to push to cook their tv dinner, then I would say the author
failed in their attempt to render a microwave and should be judged
accordingly. Of course the same might NOT be true for setting the
clock on a VCR object. I would be especially peeved if I found out
the reason I couldn't work the microwave was because the author
left it unplugged at the start of the "game" (Doe, do you have
an alternative word for 'game'? 'Exhibit'?), though it would be a nice
touch if unplugging it caused it to stop working.

Hmmm... you know what? I think I would drop the restriction against
puzzles - neither stating they are OK nor forbidden. Instead,
focus on the end result. 3D text. If someone wants to create a
scenery that is the catacombs (thus introducing a maze - a classic
puzzle), let them. If they can do a good job of describing the cold,
damp, frightening feeling of being in such a place then I think they
have succeeded. The point in this case being the journey, not the
destination.

Kathleen (\$.02(US))

--
*******************************************************************
* Kathleen M. Fischer *
* kfis...@greenhouse.nospam.gov (nospam = l l n l) *
** "Don't stop to stomp ants while the elephants are stampeding" **

May 21, 1999, 3:00:00 AM5/21/99
to
>Subject: Re: [Theory] When is a puzzle a puzzle?
>From: "Kathleen M. Fischer" <kfis...@greenhouse.nospam.gov>
>Date: 5/21/99 8:31 AM Pacific Standard Time

>What is it about puzzles that you don't like? Why don't you want them
>in your Art Show? If you can state the particulars of what is not
>appropriate, then you can drop the very nebulous word "puzzle".
>

I like puzzles. Why not in IF-Art show? I guess I haven't explained the concept
well, then. And, frankly, I am about to give up on explaining it because I
doubt I will ever be able. Because I am not verbal enough and because I am
gestalt in my thinking and always have more than one reason for something.

1. So newbies don't have to worry about creating plot or puzzles, the biggest
stumbling blocks to people FINISHING anything.
2. Mainly so IF Art can explore what interactivity IS. I, personally, don't
think it IS puzzles (in fact I stated that as the purpose at the top of the
rules). It can include puzzles but I don't think it is THAT. That is a major
theme of IF Art exploring interactivity, experientiality. If I ALLOW puzzles
then it becomes "write a short game". Phooey. That's nothing new, I might as
well not bother with an IF Art Show.

However, I will definite puzzles in the rules so people know what I mean.

It is not something that is OPTIONAL, or just something that might block
progress to another section. It is something puzzling, deliberately,
intentionally puzzling. Find this key for this door or push these buttons in
this sequence or you have to know this code. Guess the verb is often
intentionally puzzling as well.

>Personally? I think that the point of the art show is to render an
>object in text. If that object is a Rubix(sp?) Cube, then you can bet
>it's going to be a puzzler for some (and a nightmare for the author).
>But should it's puzzling nature prevent it from being in the show?
>I would say no, assuming the author does a superb job of describing
>the faces, the positions and the movements. A person examining the
>object and manipulating it would never have to actually finish the
>cube in order to appreciate it as a well done piece of 3D text. The
>point being the object itself and NOT the "Ah-ha" feeling the player
>gets when they have successfully solved it.

One of the purposes, but not the only purpose.

>Conversely, if the author chooses to implement a microwave, and it
>takes the player 45 minutes to figure out the right combinations of
>buttons to push to cook their tv dinner, then I would say the author
>failed in their attempt to render a microwave and should be judged
>accordingly. Of course the same might NOT be true for setting the
>clock on a VCR object. I would be especially peeved if I found out
>the reason I couldn't work the microwave was because the author
>left it unplugged at the start of the "game" (Doe, do you have
>an alternative word for 'game'? 'Exhibit'?), though it would be a nice
>touch if unplugging it caused it to stop working.
>

I have been trying to call them exhibits and have only forgotten once I think.

I deliberately stated if something is confusing, help the player find the way
to do it. One can put hints in the text or even lead the player by the hand,
but make no attempt to stump the player.

progress but the "solution" is totally obvious. I also have something puzzling,
but the "solution" is totally optional and doesn't help one "finish" or
accomplish anything else.

So I will be clearer in my definitions.

And I think some people's definitions of puzzle are way too wide. Everyone is
always saying (well a lot do) this is interactive FICTION, not just games. Not
sure I agree, but proceeding on that basis...

If we continue to look at interactivity in a "game mode" then we
defineEVERYTHING as a puzzle. This will not help explore what 3-dimensionality
or interactivity or experientiality is (a lot of people don't understand what I
mean by 3-dimensionality, I give up on explaining that. But there are those who
do understand). Interactivity is something we don't all agree on, if anyone has
been paying attention. (Conversation menus are not interactive, yes they are,
no they aren't, nyah, nyah.)

Sorry for sounding cranky didn't get enough sleep last night, also I despair of
ever being able to explain myself well. I can't seem to do it.

But thanks for your thoughts and thanks everyone else for their's. And if
anyone else wants to chime in, feel free.

Not the reactions I was expecting but fruitful anyway, at least it lets me know
I must define puzzles in the rules.

Doe :-) Hmmm, but I don't think it is a puzzle when it's obvious or optional.

May 21, 1999, 3:00:00 AM5/21/99
to
Okay, I will say it once and see if it emerges semi-understandable.

The PURPOSE of the IF-Art Show IS to explore 3-dimensionality (interactivity,
experientality).

The focus: landscapes, portaits, still lifes is narrowed to make exploring
that purpose easier. It also puts IF into the "art mode" rather than the "game
mode". Which means people don't have to feel their pieces are "unfinished"
because they don't have a driving plot, great puzzles and a big impressive
"win".

The focus is not the purpose, although it has something to offer all by itself.

Doe :-)

### Paul E. Bell

May 21, 1999, 3:00:00 AM5/21/99
to
This whole argument/discussion/whatever about puzzles has become so
confusing that I think I will not even attempt to present what I was
going to.

You see, I have a door, a very complex, mystical door. It has a key,
which is not immediatly obvious; at least not at least not without
examining the door in some detail. What made this door art, to my
thinking, was the detail that went into not only the look and feel of
the door, but the inference the door presents, the magic of discovering
that the "key" and the door have something in common, the hallway
leading to the door, and the magic of the room beyond, what happens to
the surroundings when you open the door, when you enter, and close the
door, the ways in which the door moves, how it changes as you discover
the "keyhole", the "handle", and it's unique properties as you discover
other items in it's small world.

I created this door for my version of "Ruins.inf", and now everyone will
have to wait untill I finish reading the DM and building "Ruins.inf" to
see it. I thought it worthy of a place in a museum, perhaps it can be
added to a new version of "Museum.inf" sometime in the future.

Can not machines of intricate and wonderful design be both beautiful
works of art (to those who can appreciate them) and quite puzzling (to
those who can't)? I know some people who can take a car apart and put
it back together, paint and polish it, race it, draw it, and make it
purr like a kitten; but to them, the most beautiful Arabian horse would
be the worst puzzle they could immagine, were they presented with the
one. I have customers that can't figgure out how to use anything with
more than two buttons (how they use the telephone is beyond me). So,
you see, a puzzle is only a puzzle to a person who is unfamiliar with
the medium, or it's form.

As for whether IF (art) can be defined as IF (art) without puzzles,
that's debatable. If you are saying that, whenever there is a choice to
be made, the outcome should be the same, and the player/reader should
not have to consider his choices, then I see no point to the
interactivity. To me, at least, creative consequences are as much a
part of the "art" of IF as the descriptions of the rooms and objects
contained therein. A Chinese puzzle box is as much a work of art as it
is a frustrating mechanical marvel, and part of the art is how the
mechanism is worked into the design. The better artisan will have a
more devious mechanism, which will be better disguised by the artwork
thereon.

Anyone can describe a painting or a still life. IF artwork should be
dynamic, a combination of form and function, texture and response.
Witness the "Here Now" living sculptures in the graphic adventure "The
Journeyman Project 2: Buried in Time." Part of what makes them art is
discovering what forms they take on when exposed to different
frequencies.

Anyway, enough ranting, I'm off to muck around in the art of designing a
watch in Inform...

Paul E. Bell
--
_____
| | _ \ _ _ |/ _ _(
| | (_X (_/`/\ (_) (_` |\(_) (_) (_|_) (/`
)

### Paul E. Bell

May 21, 1999, 3:00:00 AM5/21/99
to
Ok, I am an artist, I have a painting, how many different descriptions
of minute details are enough to make the painting finished? I don't
know. I have a mushroom which I can kick, smell, taste, touch, step on,
throw, catch, eat, fry, boil, bake, dry in the sun, slice with a knife,
magnify under a microscope, make tea or wine out of, hold up to the sun
(blotting it out), put in a dark place (to see if it glows strange
colors), burn, carve, peel, roast, feed to <NPC>, water, freeze, listen
to (!), vaporize, analyze, ...

May 22, 1999, 3:00:00 AM5/22/99
to
>Subject: Re: [Theory] When is a puzzle a puzzle?
>From: "Paul E. Bell" <wd0...@millcomm.com>
>Date: 5/21/99 8:30 PM Pacific Standard Time

>This whole argument/discussion/whatever about puzzles has become so
>confusing that I think I will not even attempt to present what I was
>going to.

Well, you see that's the question, isn't it? What is interactivity? Is it just
puzzles, it is more? That is the experiment I envisioned behind the IF Art
of time.

>As for whether IF (art) can be defined as IF (art) without puzzles,
>that's debatable. If you are saying that, whenever there is a choice to
>be made, the outcome should be the same, and the player/reader should
>not have to consider his choices, then I see no point to the
>interactivity. To me, at least, creative consequences are as much a
>part of the "art" of IF as the descriptions of the rooms and objects
>contained therein. A Chinese puzzle box is as much a work of art as it
>is a frustrating mechanical marvel, and part of the art is how the
>mechanism is worked into the design. The better artisan will have a
>more devious mechanism, which will be better disguised by the artwork
>thereon.
>

Nope not saying that. I can't really define what a puzzle is. If I could then I
wouldn't be wondering (or asking with the IF Art Show) what interactivity is.

However, for purposes of the show I can define what a puzzle isn't. So that
people will know. If anyone remains interested in entering it, that is.

>Anyone can describe a painting or a still life. IF artwork should be
>dynamic, a combination of form and function, texture and response.

Yep, exactly. If our brains are so "hard wired" that we must define all
interactivity as puzzles, see all interactivity through the lens of puzzles,
then I suppose the question of "What is interactivity?" is moot.

However, I don't think it is.

Well, sorry folks, the IF Art Show high concept is not open to debate. It is
not the high concept Lucian sees or some other see. That is the focus, the
medium, not the concept. If you don't like it don't enter. If you don't want it
do not play or look at the entries.

I really don't think interactivity has been explored enough.

Things open to feedback and my response are panel, no panel, frequency, timing
and maximum limits, etc. Logistics..

I heard from about 15 people and posted the changes in response to that
feedback, taking everthing into account. I am pretty sure I don't want to
debate this openly, in raif however, since 1.) I don't debate well or explain
myself well. 2.) I am not up to an argument about it -- takes too much of my
time and energy. 3.) I am not sure how many are getting the idea in the first
place.

I am more curious how to define a puzzle (or how to define a non-puzzle), but I
think I've got a handle on it now. Thanks all. Over and out.

May 22, 1999, 3:00:00 AM5/22/99
to

> Started me thinking about when is a puzzle a puzzle. And when it is not.

One thing you might be tempted to use to define a puzzle is
difficulty, but IMO that is not a good definition, since
So the difficulty isn't what makes it a puzzle. Must be
something else. Something to do most likely with the potential to
become stuck (however lamebrained you'd have to be to manage...
people can be stupid sometimes, even mostly smart people, and again
difficulty isn't the issue) I would say.

May 22, 1999, 3:00:00 AM5/22/99
to
>Subject: Re: [Theory] When is a puzzle a puzzle?
>Date: 5/21/99 11:41 PM Pacific Standard Time

>Something to do most likely with the potential to
>become stuck

EXACTLY.

>(however lamebrained you'd have to be to manage...
>people can be stupid sometimes, even mostly smart people, and again
>difficulty isn't the issue) I would say.
>

Thanks. That's it in a nutshell. I may have to resort (sigh) to looking up
definitions for a puzzle in, gosh, dictionaries.

Yes, stuck is what I am/was thinking of and trying to figure out how to say it
(since some things puzzle some people and other things puzzle other people) but
somethings are usually obvious to all.

Thanks again.

### JamesG

May 22, 1999, 3:00:00 AM5/22/99
to
>
> Working on my example for the IF Art Show (Scenery). Have felt I have "flirted"
> with puzzles in a few instances. Or maybe not. (Rules say no puzzles so my
> example must have no puzzles as well.)

I think the question in the case of the Art Show should not be "Is it a
puzzle?" but "Is it art?". Certainly judges might feel that an exibit
which has puzzles that get in the way of the art and penalise the entry
for it in the judging but if the puzzle /compliments/ the art then it
shouldn't be a problem.

The Rubik's cube sitting on my desk is a puzzle - take that same cube
and sit it on a pedestal in a gallery (or implement it for the IF art
show) and it becomes art - it can be picked up and played with and
solving it is still a puzzle but the object itself is a 'solid' object.
If I do a portrait of Joe and to get him to talk about one subject you
first need to talk about another, is that a puzzle or is it simply a
veracious representation of the character? As a puzzle does it reduce
the value of the work of art or increase it?

JamesG,
tempted to try and implement a rubik's cube now...
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### Paul E. Bell

May 22, 1999, 3:00:00 AM5/22/99
to
Well, if I have an object, and part of the art of the object is to find
out that another object looks similar to something on the first object,
and mating those two together changes the first, it is concievable that,
no matter how obvious you make it, someone out there will _never_ put
two and two together and make the item work.

If part of the art of the object is the uniqueness of how it goes
together with another object, then it becomes a puzzle to those who
cannot figure out that putting on a raincoat when standing in the rain
would keep them from getting sick and dying. To some people, standing
up when lying on a bed is too much of a puzzle for them. If we target
the least likely to succeed, we limit ourselves to non-interactive
items, since these people have too much difficulty determining even that
they _should_ interact with an item (I know, I have ignored a crucial
item in a game, a matter of moving something or looking behind/under it
or reading it, and wandered for hours trying to find the solution to a
puzzle. I have even read the clue, a rhyme, which was written on an
item, and ignored the obvious solution, again spending hours, then
kicked myself for being so ignorant.), I believe that this would be the
wrong approach.

Now I'm the one who does not have a way to describe my thoughts: I think
that the execution of a complex item, in such a way that it is obvious
once you get it, yet does not just give itself away (the key is in the
door, on the player's side, and the player just has to turn it and the
door opens, is too simple; under the mat is too obvious; under the fake
rock in the flower bed, takes some work on the part of the player,
assuming he even bothers to look at the flower bed, but is more
artistic, and gives more satisfaction - to most people - I have a nephew
who looks at games/computer programs from this standpoint: what's behind
that next door to look at is more important than what I can do in this
room, so don't bother me with too much to do in this room, just hand me
the key so I can run through the maze and get to the end and go play
another game - he only likes games for the discovery of new locations,
not for the gameplay).

### Branko Collin

May 22, 1999, 3:00:00 AM5/22/99
to
On Fri, 21 May 1999 05:59:03 GMT, lrasz...@loyola.edu (L. Ross
Raszewski) wrote:

>The easiest way for me to identify puzzles is to imagine I have
>an infinately stupid betatester (fortunately, I do not.).

ITYM _un_fortunately.

(Or is the 'fortunately, I do not' about the imagining?)

HTH,

--
branko
-- loving me ... is easy cuz i'm beautiful
(shalalalala)

### Daryl McCullough

May 22, 1999, 3:00:00 AM5/22/99
to
To me, something isn't a puzzle unless it makes you think.
If there are four indistinguishable exits from a room, three
of which lead to instant death, and the fourth leads to the
treasure, it isn't a puzzle if the player is just going to
save her game and try each exit until she finds the right
one. To make it into a puzzle, there need to be clues as
to which door is the right one: clues that the player

A good puzzle provides the player with a moment of satori,
or sudden understanding in which the next step to the solution
(if not the solution itself) becomes clear. If there isn't
such a moment, then it isn't worthwhile to have the puzzle,
in my opinion.

Daryl McCullough
CoGenTex, Inc.
Ithaca, NY

### Dave G

May 22, 1999, 3:00:00 AM5/22/99
to
>
> >Subject: Re: [Theory] When is a puzzle a puzzle?
> >From: "Paul E. Bell" <wd0...@millcomm.com>
> >Date: 5/21/99 8:30 PM Pacific Standard Time
>
> >This whole argument/discussion/whatever about puzzles has become so
> >confusing that I think I will not even attempt to present what I was
> >going to.
>
> Well, you see that's the question, isn't it? What is interactivity? Is it just
> puzzles, it is more? That is the experiment I envisioned behind the IF Art
> of time.

Then perhaps it would be best not to answer the question ahead of time.

If what you envisioned for the IF Art Show is an experiment that answers
such questions as "What is interactivity?", then I think you would
realize your vision most easily by asking the entrants simply to create
works which bring new answers to those questions. The more you strictly
define what is an acceptable "answer" and what is not, the more, I
think, the answers you get will merely mimic the entries you have
already imagined (and requested), and the less they will give you any
additional insight into what is a valuable and interesting question.

> I can't really define what a puzzle is. If I could then I
> wouldn't be wondering (or asking with the IF Art Show) what interactivity is.

You've said elsewhere in this thread that you think you don't verbalize
well, that you're not getting your point across. I disagree: it's just
that this isn't a concept that *can* be boiled down to a simple set of
rules. It's something better gestured at vaguely, chatted about,
defined by examples. And in those ways you've made very clear the kinds
of areas that you're interested in seeing IF explore. So let your
entrants explore. Encourage them to do so. Encourage exploration by

I think the best current example of art (and, as you say,
experientiality) in IF is Andrew Plotkin's "The Space Under The
Window". Recall that this, too, was created as part of an art show, a
show whose sole instruction was (something like) "Create a work entitled
'The Space Under The Window'." That's the kind of instruction that
piques interest.

and some thought-provoking questions to be explored would get your
artists' creative juices flowing more than a list of specific rules and
definitions ever could. Sure, you might end up with some entries that
"miss the point entirely", but most people will "get it", and fewer
people will be nitpicky or frightened off. Most importantly, you'll be
providing an inspiration and an opportunity for that one novel artist
interactivity. I think that artist's entry is the one that justifies
the entire exercise, and your primary goal is to make sure that that
artist feels welcome, even if -- perhaps especially if -- his
definitions don't line up perfectly with your own.

### L. Ross Raszewski

May 23, 1999, 3:00:00 AM5/23/99
to
On Sat, 22 May 1999 14:04:21 GMT, Branko Collin <col...@xs4all.nl> wrote:
>On Fri, 21 May 1999 05:59:03 GMT, lrasz...@loyola.edu (L. Ross
>Raszewski) wrote:
>
>>The easiest way for me to identify puzzles is to imagine I have
>>an infinately stupid betatester (fortunately, I do not.).
>
>ITYM _un_fortunately.
>
>(Or is the 'fortunately, I do not' about the imagining?)
>

No, it's just "Fortunately, I do't have to keep answering questions for a
moronic playtester."

Also, it's "Fortunately, I haven't just insulted my playtesters by
publicly implying that they're stupid."

May 26, 1999, 3:00:00 AM5/26/99
to
>I think the best current example of art (and, as you say,
>experientiality) in IF is Andrew Plotkin's "The Space Under The
>Window".

I should never have used the word, "Art", it threw too many people.

However, it says what I meant. People have a lot of crazy ideas about Art.

I will be doing examples, which is what I have been busting my buns to finish

All these reactions and theories, frankly, it amazes me. I thought my little IF
Art Show was clear in concept and not that complicated to figure out that it
was about puzzleless IF. And that it was/is an EXERCISE, thus must have clear
and hard and fast parameters.

However, when doing an "art" piece or creating something, it is best to leave
interpretations up to the viewer.

The artist should remain mum. I shouldn't have reacted to any of this.

BTW - I was totally surprised by the entries. I didn't expect what emerged. I
have NO expectations.

Is experimenting threatening?

Doe :-|

### Andrew Plotkin

May 26, 1999, 3:00:00 AM5/26/99
to
> All these reactions and theories, frankly, it amazes me. I thought my little IF
> Art Show was clear in concept and not that complicated to figure out that it

I didn't figure that out. It seems an entirely different focus from what I
thought you were saying.

> Is experimenting threatening?

Obviously, experimenting in *specifying* games is the opposite of
experimenting in *writing* games.

--Z

--

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

May 26, 1999, 3:00:00 AM5/26/99
to
>Subject: Re: [Theory] When is a puzzle a puzzle?
>From: erky...@netcom.com (Andrew Plotkin)
>Date: 5/25/99 7:29 PM Pacific Standard Time

>I didn't figure that out. It seems an entirely different focus from what I
>thought you were saying.
>
>> Is experimenting threatening?
>
>Obviously, experimenting in *specifying* games is the opposite of
>experimenting in *writing* games.
>
>--Z

Well, what am I supposed to say? Remove the narrative frame as much as
possible? That may say a lot to you, but if I were an entrant it would say
diddly poop to me.

I have found in raif that I have to be a specific as possible or people
misunderstand me. And when giving the parameters for an exercise (the IF Art
Show is based on an exercise and hate to break it to folks really IS an
exercise) it is best to be specific. So the rules discuss introduction and
scoring (parts of plot, parts of narrative frame). Revised rules will discuss
ending as well, rather than saying, "remove the narrative frame as much as
possible".

I was also specific to try to limit length and scope of entry and remove
"puzzles". Revised rules will define puzzles so there won't be any serious
question what I mean.

Except, of course, ;-) what is a puzzle is open to question anyway.

All that is to strip it down as much as possible to the interactive "base".

The rules (original) said no puzzles. I would think that automatically meant
puzzleless IF. Okay, I admit I didn't want to beat people over the head with
it, but it was glaringly there.

And, I have to tell you, in trying to write something WITHOUT puzzles, I have
learned more about puzzles than I ever did in trying to write something WITH
puzzles.

Strange, but true.

I have to conclude most of the people arguing about the rules never read them.
And the changes I posted to raif were not the rules. I SAID they weren't the
rules. The rules are much more concise. I just threw in a lot of comments in
the changes post. Also Adam J. Thornton didn't edit the changes post and that
obviously made a difference as I have great difficulty being concise and saying
what I mean without editing.

This has all been a teapest in a teapot as far as I am concerned. And, yes, I
still feel raif is very strange. Weird. Because except for yelling at Lucian
and you, I bowed out of it quickly and made it clear I didn't want to discuss
this in a public forum because I can't express myself well.

But this rolled on and on without me. People comming up with the damnest ideas
of why I wrote the rules the way I did and what IF Art means (I think I still
haven't read that many posts). I feel like people suspected me of of things
(unspecified, because I still haven't figure this out).

I think raif has conclusion jumping down to a fine art.

And I feel thoroughly and royally "trolled".

I am sorry I yelled at you Zarf. I simply can no longer handle this kind of
public misunderstanding. I cannot handle any longer these kind of intense raif
upsets that get my brain thinking about them for days and days and interfer
with my real life. I now have a damn ucler. This tempest in a teapot stuff, as
far as I am concerned has got to stop.

Trust or attempting to trust would be nice.

I can no longer partake in any more of these debates. It isn't worth my health.

I will post the revised rules and write games the rest of you can carry on this
stuff.

Doe

### Dylan O'Donnell

May 26, 1999, 3:00:00 AM5/26/99
to

However, it is a useful trait for a betatester to be able to simulate
infinite stupidity when necessary. Someone who cottons onto a game
and goes ahead and wins it isn't that helpful to an author, since that's
the bit they're sure of before it comes out of alpha. Someone who ignores
the carefully-laid clues and wanders around scraping parrots is more
likely to find the stuff that breaks.

--
: Dylan O'Donnell : "Product is. Product is Product. Warehouse :
: Demon Internet Ltd : produces Product. Members(Warehouse) do :
: Resident, Forgotten Office : jobs --> Product is produced." :
: http://www.fysh.org/~psmith/ : -- Dan Shiovitz, "Bad Machine" :

### Andrew Plotkin

May 26, 1999, 3:00:00 AM5/26/99
to

> Well, what am I supposed to say? Remove the narrative frame as much as
> possible?

I don't have a good idea what that means. If I were to guess, I wouldn't
guess anything about puzzles *or* interactivity.

> I was also specific to try to limit length and scope of entry and remove
> "puzzles". Revised rules will define puzzles so there won't be any serious
> question what I mean.

> Except, of course, ;-) what is a puzzle is open to question anyway.

Yes.

> This has all been a teapest in a teapot as far as I am concerned. And, yes, I
> still feel raif is very strange. Weird. Because except for yelling at Lucian
> and you, I bowed out of it quickly and made it clear I didn't want to discuss
> this in a public forum because I can't express myself well.

You said that, but (1) it has nothing to do with whether anyone *else*
keeps discussing the topic, and (2) you kept replying anyway.

> I think raif has conclusion jumping down to a fine art.

It's Usenet. A message is posted only once, but it's read thousands of
times. Naturally the latter acquires more momentum.

> I am sorry I yelled at you Zarf. I simply can no longer handle this kind of
> public misunderstanding. I cannot handle any longer these kind of intense raif
> upsets that get my brain thinking about them for days and days and interfer
> with my real life. I now have a damn ucler. This tempest in a teapot stuff, as
> far as I am concerned has got to stop.

By all means, but for heaven's sake stop getting sucked back in. I don't
like watching you explode any more than you enjoy doing it.

### Michael Straight

May 26, 1999, 3:00:00 AM5/26/99
to
On 22 May 1999, Doeadeer3 wrote:

> >Subject: Re: [Theory] When is a puzzle a puzzle?

> >Date: 5/21/99 11:41 PM Pacific Standard Time
>
> >Something to do most likely with the potential to
> >become stuck
>
> EXACTLY.

But how can you be "stuck" at an art exhibit?

Since you're only there to look at the object, the worst that can happen
is that you might not notice something about it.

If the art object is a beautiful box that is well described, you're not
going to feel "stuck" if you never notice that it's a chinese box with a
secret way to open it.

On a related point, is failing to get the point of an artwork mean that
the artwork has a puzzle? What if I made an IF art object that was a
statue such that the careful observer might note it was a caractature of
some political figure. Would the fact that some people might miss the
point mean that there was a puzzle to be solved? Would that exclude the

SMTIRCAHIAGEHLT

### edr...@my-deja.com

May 26, 1999, 3:00:00 AM5/26/99
to
In article <m34skzs...@curmudgeon.home.miggy.org>,

dyl...@demon.net (Dylan O'Donnell) wrote:
> lrasz...@loyola.edu (L. Ross Raszewski) writes:
> > No, it's just "Fortunately, I do't have to keep answering questions
for a
> > moronic playtester."
> >
> > Also, it's "Fortunately, I haven't just insulted my playtesters by
> > publicly implying that they're stupid."
>
> However, it is a useful trait for a betatester to be able to simulate
> infinite stupidity when necessary. Someone who cottons onto a game
> and goes ahead and wins it isn't that helpful to an author, since
that's
> the bit they're sure of before it comes out of alpha. Someone who
ignores
> the carefully-laid clues and wanders around scraping parrots is more
> likely to find the stuff that breaks.

Absolutely. I found one of the most eye-opening experiences in
betatesting a game is to get someone who has no idea what IF even *is*.
Plop them down in front of a screen of text and a blank ">" cursor and
see how far they get. Any problem they encounter is a problem that you

The perfect beta-tester is one who understands IF well enough to intuit
the technical principles that underly the problems they encounter, but
who simultaneously (and paradoxically) understands IF so little that
they will consistently try the most incomprehensibly stupid input
imaginable. The best beta-tester I ever had typed the command "POUR
UMBRELLA" almost immediately and found a bug right off the bat.

-M.

--== Sent via Deja.com http://www.deja.com/ ==--
---Share what you know. Learn what you don't.---

May 26, 1999, 3:00:00 AM5/26/99
to

Michael Straight <stra...@email.unc.edu> wrote:
>On a related point, is failing to get the point of an artwork mean that
>the artwork has a puzzle? What if I made an IF art object that was a
>statue such that the careful observer might note it was a caractature of
>some political figure. Would the fact that some people might miss the
>point mean that there was a puzzle to be solved? Would that exclude the

You know, this is exactly how I feel about a lot of modern art. Like
there's something that the artist and his buddies and his cool critic pals
all get, and I don't, so they're snickering at me because I'm a Philistine.

But it's not a *good* puzzle. Political allegory can be a good puzzle, or,
for instance, the Goya "The Seesaw", which looks like a bunch of kids
playing on and around a seesaw until you notice that one kid is crying, and
the one on the upper end of the seesaw is terrified, and that it's a little
parable about the cruelty of..bullies? children? the human condition? I
dunno. That's a puzzle I like, because there are enough clues for me to
figure it out.

Whereas a pile of stones superglued to a bicycle seat might also be a
puzzle. But it's not one I have the resources to figure out. Like
approaching the oddly-angled rooms puzzle as a non-USAnian, let's say.

--
"My eyes say their prayers to her / Sailors ring her bell / Like a moth
mistakes a light bulb / For the moon and goes to hell." -- Tom Waits

### Neil Cerutti

May 26, 1999, 3:00:00 AM5/26/99
to
> Like approaching the oddly-angled rooms puzzle as a
> non-USAnian, let's say.

This puzzle has been labeled baseball-centric unfairly.

I grew up in a country where baseball is considered the
"National Passtime". I played "little league".

Even so, I couldn't have solved the oddly-angled rooms
without reading hints. I didn't understand why it was solved
after I had solved it, either. I don't know why some people
think this puzzle makes sense to those who play baseball.
Yes, knowing baseball gives *some* help interpreting the
symoblism involved (a club and a "diamond shaped
glass panel on the floor with a flickering light in it"),
but guessing what you are supposed to do is extremely
improbable, even for baseball players.

I admit that if you don't know baseball you have no chance
of interpreting the symbolism involved. However, I think you
have just as good a chance of solving this "puzzle" as
Babe Ruth would have.

Neil Cerutti
ne...@norwich.edu

May 27, 1999, 3:00:00 AM5/27/99
to
wrote:

>... so they're snickering at me because I'm a Philistine.
>

You wannabe! I doubt whether even the Philistines would take you,
m'dear.

Lelah

May 27, 1999, 3:00:00 AM5/27/99
to
On Wed, 26 May 1999 16:35:43 -0400, Neil Cerutti <ne...@norwich.edu>
wrote:

>> Like approaching the oddly-angled rooms puzzle as a
>> non-USAnian, let's say.
>
>This puzzle has been labeled baseball-centric unfairly.

...>

>I admit that if you don't know baseball you have no chance
>of interpreting the symbolism involved. However, I think you
>have just as good a chance of solving this "puzzle" as
>Babe Ruth would have.

Wow, I never even knew this one had anything to do with baseball! And
I do remember a group of us struggling with it and solving it finally,
many years ago.

Lelah

May 27, 1999, 3:00:00 AM5/27/99
to
In article <374dcb5...@news.nu-world.com>,

Oh dear. You seem to have anticipated part of the dialogue from the
forthcoming "Stiffy Makane: the Undiscovered Country":

"Take me, you Philistine!"

### AFranzman

May 28, 1999, 3:00:00 AM5/28/99
to
>>I admit that if you don't know baseball you have no chance
>>of interpreting the symbolism involved. However, I think you
>>have just as good a chance of solving this "puzzle" as
>>Babe Ruth would have.
>
>Wow, I never even knew this one had anything to do with baseball! And
>I do remember a group of us struggling with it and solving it finally,
>many years ago.
>
>Lelah

The wooden club is a dead giveaway. How could anyone familiar with baseball
miss it?

Alan "A.J." Franzman
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

My e-mail address does not compute.

### Neil Cerutti

May 28, 1999, 3:00:00 AM5/28/99
to

On 28 May 1999, AFranzman wrote:

> The wooden club is a dead giveaway. How could anyone familiar with baseball
> miss it?

Those who have seen other kinds of wooden clubs. Since when is a bat
called a club? I was in a club when I was a kid.

Neil Cerutti
ne...@norwich.edu

### Yo 'Ric Dude

May 28, 1999, 3:00:00 AM5/28/99
to
AFranzman wrote:
>
> >>I admit that if you don't know baseball you have no chance
> >>of interpreting the symbolism involved. However, I think you
> >>have just as good a chance of solving this "puzzle" as
> >>Babe Ruth would have.
> >
> >Wow, I never even knew this one had anything to do with baseball! And
> >I do remember a group of us struggling with it and solving it finally,
> >many years ago.
> >
> >Lelah
>
> The wooden club is a dead giveaway. How could anyone familiar with baseball
> miss it?

So you stumble upon a club in a maze, with the legend
"Babe Flathead" on the side. Translating that into
the particular sequence which you should then traverse
the maze is non-obvious, even if you are familiar with
the sport of baseball. If you're not familiar with
baseball that puts you at a slight disadvantage. Most
of the civilized world falls into the latter category.

> Alan "A.J." Franzman
> _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _
>
> My e-mail address does not compute.

-- ebm
+=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=+
| __ a.k.a. Eric B. Mitchell |
| |_) . _ _| _| _ ric...@toad.net |
| | \ ( (_ (_| (_| (_| (/_ www.toad.net/~ricdude |
| How's My Programming? Call: 1 - 800 - DEV - NULL |
+=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=+

### Joe Mason

May 29, 1999, 3:00:00 AM5/29/99
to
>So you stumble upon a club in a maze, with the legend
>"Babe Flathead" on the side. Translating that into
>the particular sequence which you should then traverse
>the maze is non-obvious, even if you are familiar with
>the sport of baseball. If you're not familiar with
>baseball that puts you at a slight disadvantage. Most
>of the civilized world falls into the latter category.

I found the maze conceptually very simple: just keep walking in such a way
as to make the panel grow brighter. Knowing that it was supposed to be a
"baseball diamond" didn't really help that much, because it still doesn't
tell you how many rooms to go before you turn, or how which way to turn the
first time. (I had the problem that I consistently envisioned it with the
wrong orientation, so it took me at least a half dozen tries even though

I came out with the distinct feeling that the baseball trappings were a "hey,
cool" feature, and that the puzzle would be solveable just as easily with only
the windows to go by - whether you were familiar with the sport or not. It's
only an excersize in pattern recognition, after all.

That still doesn't make it a GOOD puzzle: it didn't fit the setting at all,
for one thing. The Bank of Zork, on the other hand, was brilliant, memorable,
and seemed well-integrated. And completely logical - I can't understand how
this one is so universally misunderstood (or at least, not understood).

Joe
--
it a paragraph at a time. Then after having read the paragraph, read each
sentence. See the way the sentences interrelate. Then, read the words..."
-- Mike Berlyn, on learning to write

### Paul E. Bell

May 29, 1999, 3:00:00 AM5/29/99
to

Yo 'Ric Dude wrote:
>
> AFranzman wrote:
> >
> > >>I admit that if you don't know baseball you have no chance
> > >>of interpreting the symbolism involved. However, I think you
> > >>have just as good a chance of solving this "puzzle" as
> > >>Babe Ruth would have.
> > >
> > >Wow, I never even knew this one had anything to do with baseball! And
> > >I do remember a group of us struggling with it and solving it finally,
> > >many years ago.
> > >
> > >Lelah
> >
> > The wooden club is a dead giveaway. How could anyone familiar with baseball
> > miss it?
>

> So you stumble upon a club in a maze, with the legend
> "Babe Flathead" on the side. Translating that into
> the particular sequence which you should then traverse
> the maze is non-obvious, even if you are familiar with
> the sport of baseball. If you're not familiar with
> baseball that puts you at a slight disadvantage. Most
> of the civilized world falls into the latter category.

Ok, so let's assume I get the hint (which I didn't), which way is
North? Which way do I go first? Do I go n.w.s.e, ne.nw.sw.se, or
sw.se.ne.nw?

May 29, 1999, 3:00:00 AM5/29/99
to
On 28 May 1999 17:44:41 GMT, afra...@aol.compute.com (AFranzman)
wrote:

>>>I admit that if you don't know baseball you have no chance
>>>of interpreting the symbolism involved. However, I think you
>>>have just as good a chance of solving this "puzzle" as
>>>Babe Ruth would have.
>>
>>Wow, I never even knew this one had anything to do with baseball! And
>>I do remember a group of us struggling with it and solving it finally,
>>many years ago.
>>
>>Lelah
>
>The wooden club is a dead giveaway. How could anyone familiar with baseball
>miss it?
>

Thing is, there are often random items, or seemingly random items, in
mazes. (Gads, maybe they are not random, and they all "mean"
something. No, no, forget it, I'm *not* going to go back and replay
all the mazes I've seen. :)

Continual puzzle solving in IF requires one to develop a
detached/ambiguous view of objects, since often needs to find a
nonobvious use. Sometimes jumping to conclusions is a trick the
writer hopes you'll fall into. I think this is yet another reason why
some people (including me at times, when I'm tired or just fed up) get
frustrated with playing IF. We want a baseball bat to mean
"baseball", when in fact, if we speculate with our ambiguity-trained
minds, it might mean:

(fill in the blank!)

Lelah

### TenthStone

May 30, 1999, 3:00:00 AM5/30/99
to
On 26 May 1999 03:22:27 GMT, doea...@aol.com (Doeadeer3) wrote:
>All these reactions and theories, frankly, it amazes me. I thought my little IF
>Art Show was clear in concept and not that complicated to figure out that it
>was about puzzleless IF. And that it was/is an EXERCISE, thus must have clear
>and hard and fast parameters.

I'm afraid that calling anything "art" and at the same time requiring
hard and fast parameters for it is going to confuse people.

Still, I thought you conveyed your point well enough in your
definition posts. I figured out what you wanted: an expression of an
object, a situation, or a being, with a fixed time.

As for saying "no narrative frame", you're right that most people
might be confused (that the IF-writing community tends not to qualify
in any way as "most people" is a tale for another day). Saying
"no narrative", however, should be quite sufficient.

>The artist should remain mum. I shouldn't have reacted to any of this.

Now, what's the quote about great artists and being misunderstood.
Hmm.

>BTW - I was totally surprised by the entries. I didn't expect what emerged. I
>have NO expectations.

And that, it would seem to me, is the point exactly.

----------------
The Imperturbable TenthStone
mcc...@erols.com tenth...@hotmail.com mcc...@gsgis.k12.va.us

### TenthStone

May 30, 1999, 3:00:00 AM5/30/99
to
wrote:

>Michael Straight <stra...@email.unc.edu> wrote:
>>On a related point, is failing to get the point of an artwork mean that
>>the artwork has a puzzle? What if I made an IF art object that was a
>>statue such that the careful observer might note it was a caractature of
>>some political figure. Would the fact that some people might miss the
>>point mean that there was a puzzle to be solved? Would that exclude the
>
>You know, this is exactly how I feel about a lot of modern art. Like
>there's something that the artist and his buddies and his cool critic pals

>all get, and I don't, so they're snickering at me because I'm a Philistine.

...which is exactly how I feel as well, except that I think the
artists do it on purpose so that they can pretend that there is a
point, and then get a rise out of most people not getting it and a
few critics pretending to.

I mean, what's a canvas painted white? Yes, if I wanted to come up
with excuses for the canvas being white, I could find them -- perhaps
it's an expression of Existentialism, with the nothing on the canvas
representing the nothing in the center of reality. Or perhaps it's an
expression of religion, because the white light being reflected from
the canvas represents the infamous "white light" at the time of death.
Or perhaps it's an expression of Transcendentalism, saying that we
should all stop painting and doing other artificial acts, and instead
we should live in simplicity and enlightenment. Or perhaps it's a
diatribe against country life, with the steady white of the canvas
representing the constancy and dullity of routine. Or perhaps it's a
distribe against city life, with the bright white representing how
blind city dwellers have all become towards their environment, and
how idealized it is. Or perhaps it's an argument against idealism,
saying that it is artificially created on the world. Or perhaps it's
an argument for idealism, saying that the world was ideal before
humans appeared to muck it up -- but that we can restore it to the
purity of white once more. Or perhaps it's an embrace of the
universal brotherhood of mankind (1), because just as white
light is formed from all the spectra, so is humanity formed from all
the people. Or perhaps it's a complaint about American commercial
imperialism, turning the whole world into a bland uniformity. Or
perhaps it's a cry for justice in a world which sugercoats its
problems. Or perhaps it's a statement of how insignificant humans
really are, unable to change what is inherantly true in this world.
Or perhaps it's a statement of how, just as the black of the galaxy is
overcome by the white glow of the stars, humans provide the
apex to a galaxy of otherwise nothingness. Or perhaps it's an
observation of society's innocence regarding the universe. Or perhaps
it's just a depiction of the visibility conditions for a naked person
in the Arctic during a snowstorm.

So, is that superior artistry, or the easy way out?

(1) Sorry; I couldn't find a gender-neutral word which is as
provoking as brotherhood.

May 30, 1999, 3:00:00 AM5/30/99
to
>Subject: Re: [Theory] When is a puzzle a puzzle?
>From: ja...@stud.ntnu.no (Jacob Munkhammar)
>Date: 5/30/99 8:00 AM Pacific Standard Time
>Message-id: <jacob-30059...@ti29a96-0061.dialup.online.no>
>
>This may see like an odd comment, but in this discussion about allowing
>puzzles or not in the Art Show, the work "art" seems to be the real
>problem.
>
>The reason for excluding puzzles is because it is a game element. The Art
>Show is not about games, it is an experiment in exploring pure
>interactivity. Let's even call it "pointless interactivity" just for the
>sake of excluding the troublesome puzzles.
>
>Now, many are arguing that a puzzle may be art, therefore it should be
>allowed in the Art Show. Of course a puzzle can be art, but the Art Show
>
>Or so I understand it...
>
>Perhaps it should be called "The I in IF Show"? (Note the pun.)
>
>/Jacob

I would have to say this comes very close. Says it well. (Jacob emailed me his

But the word "pointless", may be misleading. Because I think there is point to
exploring pure "goal less" interactivity. So we can know what interactivity IS.

It isn't as obvious as it might appear to be. I am still not postive I
undertand it. But it is rather nifty stuff.

Also, no matter how counter-intuitive this may be to a group of (mainly)
tremendously chatty writers and/or highly logical programmers, who like to be
TOLD everything, I think the experiential has to be experiented, not explained.

We really forumlate our explanations, descriptions, theories, later,
afterwards.

That is all anyone is going to get out of me on this subject for a long, long
time. For that reason.

Think of the IF Art Show ITSELF as a puzzle and you will be "getting it", and
can have fun playing with it and solving it.

Doe :-)

### Jake Wildstrom

May 30, 1999, 3:00:00 AM5/30/99
to
In article <37515c2a...@news.erols.com>,

TenthStone <mcc...@erols.com> wrote:
>...which is exactly how I feel as well, except that I think the
>artists do it on purpose so that they can pretend that there is a
>point, and then get a rise out of most people not getting it and a
>few critics pretending to.

Exactly.

>
>I mean, what's a canvas painted white? Yes, if I wanted to come up
>with excuses for the canvas being white, I could find them -- perhaps
>it's an expression of Existentialism, with the nothing on the canvas
>representing the nothing in the center of reality. Or perhaps it's an
>expression of religion, because the white light being reflected from
>the canvas represents the infamous "white light" at the time of death.

[other fine explanations skipped]

Actually, it's an avant-garde commentary on the nothingness in the minds of the
self-styled art critics who make this sort of thing worth millions.

:-) I'm quite sure Rothko's success is a tremendous injustice to humanity,
decency, and art.

+--First Church of Briantology--Order of the Holy Quaternion--+
| A mathematician is a device for turning coffee into |
| theorems. -Paul Erdos |
+-------------------------------------------------------------+
| Jake Wildstrom |
+-------------------------------------------------------------+

### Yo 'Ric Dude

May 30, 1999, 3:00:00 AM5/30/99
to

So I'm walking through the Hirschhorn (Modern Art museum in
Washington, D.C.), and I come across a lovely piece, entitled
"White Curve". I forget the artist, but it's basically an
unframed canvas, about 6 feet tall by 4 feet wide, white on
the top half, and black on the bottom half. The boundary
between the white and black sections is a curved line, I spent
the significance of the painting, why white was on top, why the
boundary was a curve, and not a straight line, and so on, before
I had to walk into the next room to avoid rolling on the floor
in laughter at the whole thing.

And don't forget the musical masterpiece, 4'33", by John Cage,
in which the performer is instructed to remain silent for four
minutes and thirty three seconds.

In the immortal words of Andy Warhol,
"Art is what you can get away with."

-- ebm

### Erik Max Francis

May 30, 1999, 3:00:00 AM5/30/99
to
Yo 'Ric Dude wrote:

> So I'm walking through the Hirschhorn (Modern Art museum in
> Washington, D.C.), and I come across a lovely piece, entitled
> "White Curve". I forget the artist, but it's basically an
> unframed canvas, about 6 feet tall by 4 feet wide, white on
> the top half, and black on the bottom half.

Perhaps it was "White curve VII" by Ellsworth Kelly, mentioned here?

--
Erik Max Francis / email m...@alcyone.com / whois mf303 / icq 16063900
Alcyone Systems / irc maxxon (efnet) / finger m...@members.alcyone.com
San Jose, CA / languages En, Eo / web http://www.alcyone.com/max/
USA / icbm 37 20 07 N 121 53 38 W / &tSftDotIotE
\
/ Covenants without the sword are but words.
/ Camden

May 31, 1999, 3:00:00 AM5/31/99
to
Eric Mitchell wrote:
> So I'm walking through the Hirschhorn (Modern Art museum in
> Washington, D.C.), and I come across a lovely piece, entitled
> "White Curve". I forget the artist, but it's basically an
> unframed canvas, about 6 feet tall by 4 feet wide, white on
> the top half, and black on the bottom half. The boundary
> between the white and black sections is a curved line, I spent
> about three minutes listening to one lady explain to her friend
> the significance of the painting, why white was on top, why the
> boundary was a curve, and not a straight line, and so on, before
> I had to walk into the next room to avoid rolling on the floor
> in laughter at the whole thing.

Tell me about it. One time *I* was at a museum and I saw this one
painting that was supposed to be of a starry night, but the stars were
all big and the sky had swirls and shit in it and so if the painter guy
was trying to draw a starry night, all I can say is, he shoulda gone back
to painting school! And then later I saw this one painting where the
people had both eyes on the same side of their head, and the noses were
all wrong and didn't even have any nostrils -- oh, and there was another
that was supposed to be a ring-around-the-rosey or something but the
people just looked like big smears! Crap, *I* can paint better than
that! You call that *art*?

-----
Elroy F. Funbun, Hurricane Mills, TN
http://www.nra.org

### Paul E. Bell

May 31, 1999, 3:00:00 AM5/31/99
to
I won't ask you to respond, but thought you might like to read this
anyway.

and where do puzzles fit in.

First off, no matter how you define "puzzle", some one will look at an
object, and consider it a "puzzle" just to figgure out what all you can
(or cannot) do with it. I would not count this as a storyline puzzle
(one that furthers the storyline, or getting past it is a goal in the
game). Granted, if reading a book gets you the password to give to the
doorman as Harry's Bar, that's not much of a puzzle, but finding the
book or figguring out how to open it or read it is (if it's in code or
needs special glasses or something).

Interactive Fiction, on the other hand, need not have puzzles, but
should tell a story (since it is fiction). A simple story could be to
find out about the person who lives in this house or uses this room.
One would examine and manipulate the items at hand in order to get to
know the person. This may be either explicit or implied.

You may not be able to define 'interactive', but it should be easy to
define. I believe that interactivity is more than just looking at
things. Interactivity would, to me, mean that, due to my actions,
something in the story changes. It may be as simple as turning the
light on and off, or truning the pages in a book. It requires more than
just ">read book". If I open a book that is on a stand, then I should
be able to page through it, close it, turn it over, pick it up, etc.

If the emphasis of the Interactive Fiction Art Show is on the word
'Fiction', then the entry should be a work of fiction, that is, tell a
story. If the emphasis is on the word 'Art', then the author should
know if he is being asked to provide an object de' art, an item or room
from a work of I-F, which is in itself interactive.

One could split the show into two categories: one for small, puzzleless
works of fiction where things the player does change the player's
perception of the story, one for grandiose experiments in interactive
objects which could be included into a story to make it more
interesting.

I don't know but that this may be a better approach, since I believe
that you will probably end up with entries in both categories.

I could say more, but I think I will hold off for now.

May 31, 1999, 3:00:00 AM5/31/99
to
>Subject: Re: [Theory] When is a puzzle a puzzle?
>Date: 5/30/99 1:02 PM Pacific Standard Time

>But the word "pointless", may be misleading. Because I think there is point
>to
>exploring pure "goal less" interactivity. So we can know what interactivity
>IS.

I hate amending myself. But again and again I say something that gets the wrong
spin put on it. Got a letter from someone tonight and I realized the above got
the wrong spin again.

I don't mean a definition as such one would find a book. (Re: What
Interactivity IS.)

I mean what you, as an individual EXPERIENCE as interactive, what we as a group
do (if there is any group consensus). And what we don't. That kind of IS. The
"thingness" of it. We can all make up definitions, that isn't too hard.

So please I don't need any more definitions sent to me, I am not putting
together a dictionary or something, hehehe.

Doe :-) Not reading raif right now, because I am too busy to do so. Later.

May 31, 1999, 3:00:00 AM5/31/99
to
Hope my previous amendment to myself shows up about the "thingness" of
interactivity, I don't see that on my server yet.

Or this post will make no sense. Everyone has been telling me their definition
of interactivity, so here is mine:

It is a form of information processing. Just like reading is a form of
information processing, viewing a picture is a form of information processing.

Only interactivity is a form of information processing in which we are not just
passive receptors, but appear to be active participants. We appear, the key
word I think is appear, to be able to affect the source of information in
addition to just recieving from it.

Okay? Something like that.

The thingness I am interested in is how that WORKS. What you FIND interactive,
what I FIND interactive, what others FIND interactive and what we don't.

I probably didn't say that clearly either.

And I think knowing that or knowing as much as we can know about that, will
make for better games.

Plus it's lots of fun to play with.

Doe :-)

May 31, 1999, 3:00:00 AM5/31/99
to

> And don't forget the musical masterpiece, 4'33", by John Cage,
> in which the performer is instructed to remain silent for four
> minutes and thirty three seconds.

What I find interesting about 4'33" is how the piece involves the
audience. I've sat through it several times with differing groups of
people, and their reactions and the noises they make are fascinating.

Stephen

--
sgra...@phy.duke.edu | Visit About.com's IF Page
Duke University, Physics Dept | http://interactfiction.about.com

### R. Alan Monroe

May 31, 1999, 3:00:00 AM5/31/99
to
In article <19990531062745...@ng-cj1.aol.com>, doea...@aol.com (Doeadeer3) wrote:
>Doe :-) Not reading raif right now, because I am too busy to do so. Later.

In the name of levity, I propose we create the Doe awards.
Although I don't think anyone will ever be able to surpass
her, the award would go to the person who claims the most
number of times that they are exiting the discussion without
being able to resist doing so :^)

Have fun
Alan

### Andrew Plotkin

May 31, 1999, 3:00:00 AM5/31/99
to
> Eric Mitchell wrote:
> > So I'm walking through the Hirschhorn (Modern Art museum in
> > Washington, D.C.), and I come across a lovely piece, entitled
> > "White Curve". I forget the artist, but it's basically an
> > unframed canvas, about 6 feet tall by 4 feet wide, white on
> > the top half, and black on the bottom half. The boundary
> > between the white and black sections is a curved line, I spent
> > about three minutes listening to one lady explain to her friend
> > the significance of the painting, why white was on top, why the
> > boundary was a curve, and not a straight line, and so on, before
> > I had to walk into the next room to avoid rolling on the floor
> > in laughter at the whole thing.

> Tell me about it. One time *I* was at a museum and I saw this one
> painting that was supposed to be of a starry night, but the stars were
> all big and the sky had swirls and shit in it and so if the painter guy
> was trying to draw a starry night, all I can say is, he shoulda gone back
> to painting school!

Heh.

Here's the thought about art which has been floating around in my head for
the past couple of weeks. This was *also* triggered by the Hirshhorn,
which is where I met up with David Dyte and Adam Cadre and Kiz on David's
"IF Across North America" tour.

I like going into the Hirshhorn (although on that day we only walked
around it) because modern art very often strikes me as *funny*. Sometimes
attractive, sometimes not. When it is, it's sort of a side effect. Modern
artists (I generalize) are clowns; they pull out the stops on absurdity
and exaggeration in order to be memorable.

That's not a disparagement. The point of art is to communicate memorably.
And, while the *idea* of building an entire room and covering it with
Cheezy Poofs (furniture and all) is good for a chuckle -- actually *doing*
it (with care and skill and dedication) is worth a solid belly-laugh. I
respect someone who does that, and I'll go to see more of her work.[1]

(Note that this is not what Eric mentioned above, which is laughing at
silly people who try to interpret modern art. Although I'll do that too,
if they go too far.)

On the second hand, there's whaddayacall "classic art". This is sometimes
attractive, but rarely interesting to me. The West Wing of the National
Gallery has endless ranks of paintings by French people, and I never go
look at them. When the IF group was wandering around the Smithsonian, we
didn't go in there.

Where we did go in, where I dragged the group after walking around the
White House and making ObIntern jokes, was the Renwick Gallery. It's... I
don't think it has a formal subtitle, but the description here says
"decorative arts and crafts from early America to the present". And this
stuff (again, I generalize) is by people who are working with *stuff*.
"Craft", not "art". Glass (I love studio glass); carved wood; jewellery;
clothing. All sorts of stuff. There was a bell which was a curved bar
balanced on a stand, so that if you hit it it would spin around ringing.
(All sealed under glass, dammit.) There was my favorite Renwick exhibit of
all time, the Ghost Clock, which I can't explain without spoilers. There

I think what I like is the challenge of working in a medium. Well, oil
paint is a medium too, and I don't really care that Vermeer made it look
like light. I don't know exactly what I mean. But someone who take wood or
glass or clay and just pushes the hell out of what she can *do* with it;
these things I find beautiful. (Or iron, Rubik's Cubes, or telephone wire,
or one's living space.) The more ornery the material, the more I like the
result.

(Utility is in there somewhere, too. But not necessary. Most studio glass
is entirely useless, and I wouldn't dare eat off even the pieces that I
*could* eat off of. Maybe I mean toy-facility, like the bell.)

I started this with the intention of getting back to IF, and I've
forgotten how. Well, IF -- an IF program, I mean -- is a hell of an ornery
material. A game is an *awful* medium for telling stories; we have to
strain and strain and implement pages of code to make a single effective
moment in an entire game. And we're all horribly ignorant amateurs who
haven't figured out the fiftieth part of the techniques that must be
available.

This is obviously why I like it so much.

I started this with the intention of going from IF to to Doe's IF art
show, and I still don't know what I'm going to do when I get there. I
haven't even had time to look at the entries (and that after a week-long
vacation, I apologize to say.) It's perfectly obvious we need more
exercises like that; never mind my quibbling over how to define the rules
most effectively.

It would be easy to say the moral is: "Don't get caught up in modern art,
lest ye be silly, nor yet in classic art, lest ye be boring; dig your
fingers in and make *craft*." That's not what I want to say. (Because this
is a prose form, not visual, and different things interest me in prose.)
(Also because I like silly IF too -- "Lists and Lists" was nothing if not
a room covered in Cheezy Poofs -- and some of you folk certainly enjoy
Impressionism a lot more than I do.)

I have no moral. I have a desire to see what people can do with IF.
This is why I keep trying to improve the raw materials, in between playing
with them myself.

--Z

[1: Sandy Skoglund. I've never been to an installation of hers, but see
http://www.artsednet.getty.edu/ArtsEdNet/Images/Skoglund/gallery1.html for
some pictures, including the Cheezy Poof one.]

--Z

--

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

May 31, 1999, 3:00:00 AM5/31/99
to
In article <Pine.SOL.3.91.990531...@godzilla4.acpub.duke.edu>,

>Tell me about it. One time *I* was at a museum and I saw this one
>painting that was supposed to be of a starry night, but the stars were
>all big and the sky had swirls and shit in it and so if the painter guy
>was trying to draw a starry night, all I can say is, he shoulda gone back
>to painting school! And then later I saw this one painting where the
>people had both eyes on the same side of their head, and the noses were
>all wrong and didn't even have any nostrils -- oh, and there was another
>that was supposed to be a ring-around-the-rosey or something but the
>people just looked like big smears! Crap, *I* can paint better than
>that! You call that *art*?

So, Adam Cadre walks into a bar, and the bartender says, "I'm sorry, but
you'll have to leave, we don't serve postmodernists here," and so then,
like, he picks up the phone and yells "Semiotext(e)!"

### Daryl McCullough

May 31, 1999, 3:00:00 AM5/31/99
to

>
>Tell me about it. One time *I* was at a museum and I saw this one
>painting that was supposed to be of a starry night, but the stars were
>all big and the sky had swirls and shit in it and so if the painter guy
>was trying to draw a starry night, all I can say is, he shoulda gone back
>to painting school! And then later I saw this one painting where the
>people had both eyes on the same side of their head, and the noses were
>all wrong and didn't even have any nostrils -- oh, and there was another
>that was supposed to be a ring-around-the-rosey or something but the
>people just looked like big smears! Crap, *I* can paint better than
>that! You call that *art*?

Yeah, yeah. People have been wrong before in dismissing innovative
art as junk. But in the case of a canvas painted solid white, to quote
from the Eagles:

"I could be wrong, but I'm not."

Daryl McCullough
CoGenTex, Inc.
Ithaca, NY

### David Glasser

May 31, 1999, 3:00:00 AM5/31/99
to
Paul E. Bell <wd0...@millcomm.com> wrote:

> Yo 'Ric Dude wrote:

[Zork II spoilers]

> > So you stumble upon a club in a maze, with the legend
> > "Babe Flathead" on the side. Translating that into
> > the particular sequence which you should then traverse
> > the maze is non-obvious, even if you are familiar with
> > the sport of baseball. If you're not familiar with
> > baseball that puts you at a slight disadvantage. Most
> > of the civilized world falls into the latter category.
>
> Ok, so let's assume I get the hint (which I didn't), which way is
> North? Which way do I go first? Do I go n.w.s.e, ne.nw.sw.se, or
> sw.se.ne.nw?

Well, *everybody* knows that a left-handed pitcher is called a southpaw.
That *obviously* implies that the pitcher faces west, and it is clear
that the proper way to go is se.ne.nw.sw.

(Not that I got this puzzle without a walkthrough, either.)

--
David Glasser: gla...@iname.com | http://www.uscom.com/~glasser/
DGlasser@ifMUD:orange.res.cmu.edu 4001 | raif FAQ http://come.to/raiffaq
"Well, it's interesting. We're willing to kill in the name of David
Glasser." --Steven Marsh on rec.arts.int-fiction

### Ryan N. Freebern

Jun 1, 1999, 3:00:00 AM6/1/99
to
mcc...@erols.com (TenthStone) pencilled:

>Now, what's the quote about great artists and being misunderstood.

This may be totally unrelated, but I just remembered it from somewhere
and thought I'd post it:

"Skill without imagination is craftsmanship. Imagination without skill
is modern art."

I'd imagine both in a good balance is what most people consider "good"
art.

Also, re: puzzles. Not being able to understand something doesn't
necessarily render it a puzzle. Perhaps the meaning is meant to be
interpreted differently by each person who looks at it. That's what's
up with the symbolism in my poem, "They"
(http://www.corknut.org/lily.txt). So if you create something for the
art show that is very interesting, but nobody can tell exactly what it
is or what it means, it may not necessarily be a puzzle, although it
is puzzling.

I imagine Doe is looking for more recognisable objects, though. I
dunno. If I can find the time and inspiration, I may enter the next
art show. I think that since I am such a stickler for details (in my
game, The Six-Foot-Tall Man-Eating Chicken (sixfoot.z5), each NPC has
some special orders too) most any object I tried to code would end up
being fully fleshed out... so I'd like to try and see what happens.

-r

Jun 1, 1999, 3:00:00 AM6/1/99
to
>Subject: OT - The Doe Awards WAS: Re: [Theory] When is a puzzle a puzzle?
>From: amo...@earth1.net (R. Alan Monroe)
>Date: 5/31/99 8:01 AM Pacific Standard Time

>In the name of levity, I propose we create the Doe awards.
>Although I don't think anyone will ever be able to surpass
>her, the award would go to the person who claims the most
>number of times that they are exiting the discussion without
>being able to resist doing so :^)
>
>Have fun
>Alan

I specificially said people emailed me. I have not read this thread. Today is
the first time I have checked it and I was looking for responses to things I
said yesterday.

I NEVER understood the reaction to the rules. It was obviously to me they were
intended to strip out the "game elements". I put a lot of work into figuring
out how to do that. I presummed anyone reading them would NOTICE I had stripped
out the game elements. It was/is an exericise to focus on interactivity. Not
winning, not puzzles, not proving how clever one is as a writer creating
puzzles, or how clever one is as a player solving puzzles.

The rules are also semi-flexible. All rules are. I am not some kind of
dictator. I was trying to do something NICE for raif.

Because most people like the idea, I will go forward with it. Despite
objections, the rules are designed to focus on "goal less" interactivity. To
explore it. Truly, if someone wants another kind of contest, create it.

That focus is to find technique (author's part), to find experiential reactions
(player's part). Exploring the combination of technique and player
satisfaction with that technique.

However, due to childhood hearing loss (slight) and dyslexia (also somewhat
slight), I obviously do not understand words. I understand language, but not
individual words. Not the way the rest of you do.

I am tired of explaining myself. I am worn out being misunderstood and having
something read into what I say. I am tired of being frustrated when I SEE it
happen and can't figure out how to stop it and/or correct it.

Assume the IF Art Show is a good thing and will teach us about how we can do it
better.

I will carry on with that and my games. But I have had it trying to make myself
understood in raif.

Over and Out.

Doe

Jun 1, 1999, 3:00:00 AM6/1/99
to
>In the name of levity, I propose we create the Doe awards.
>Although I don't think anyone will ever be able to surpass
>her, the award would go to the person who claims the most
>number of times that they are exiting the discussion without
>being able to resist doing so :^)
>
>Have fun
>Alan
>

If you weren't being sarcastic I heartily apologize.

I just figured out how much I was not understanding yesterday.

When I read for content I get it and get it quite well. In fact, because of
that I have never figured out before what I wasn't getting. No way to explain
that.

And I have never COMMUNICATED back and forth so much in an all text medium,
that's what did it. Now I am totally un sure of everything.

Later, Doe

### Neil K.

Jun 1, 1999, 3:00:00 AM6/1/99
to

Er, see... here's where you started to go wrong.

- Neil K.

(well - unless he needed to use the bathroom or the phone or something)

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

### Florian Edlbauer

Jun 1, 1999, 3:00:00 AM6/1/99
to
"Ryan N. Freebern" wrote:

> This may be totally unrelated, but I just remembered it from somewhere
> and thought I'd post it:
>
> "Skill without imagination is craftsmanship. Imagination without skill
> is modern art."

Tom Stoppard wrote that line (well, almost). Graham Nelson quotes it
somewhere in the DM.

So yes, the epigram definitely is related to IF (and puzzles) in a
pragmatical way. It demonstrates how Grahamized we are. His ideas have
changed the discourse, returning again and again. Often we don't even know
they're his.

Possible synonyms for "Grahamized": Cursed, Balanced, Stoned and
Meteored...

Florian

### Mark J Musante

Jun 1, 1999, 3:00:00 AM6/1/99
to
> Yo 'Ric Dude <ric...@toad.net> writes:
>
> > And don't forget the musical masterpiece, 4'33", by John Cage,
> > in which the performer is instructed to remain silent for four
> > minutes and thirty three seconds.
>
> What I find interesting about 4'33" is how the piece involves the
> audience. I've sat through it several times with differing groups of
> people, and their reactions and the noises they make are fascinating.

If I were to sit through it, I would find it very difficult to hold myself
back from shouting out, "Could you play a bit louder, please?"

-=- Mark -=-

### Iain Merrick

Jun 1, 1999, 3:00:00 AM6/1/99
to
Neil K. wrote:

>
>
> Er, see... here's where you started to go wrong.

[...]

> (well - unless he needed to use the bathroom or the phone or something)

Or unless the next line is 'ouch', maybe?

Sorry.

### Michael Straight

Jun 1, 1999, 3:00:00 AM6/1/99
to
On Sun, 30 May 1999, TenthStone wrote:

> On 26 May 1999 03:22:27 GMT, doea...@aol.com (Doeadeer3) wrote:
> >All these reactions and theories, frankly, it amazes me. I thought my little IF
> >Art Show was clear in concept and not that complicated to figure out that it
> >was about puzzleless IF. And that it was/is an EXERCISE, thus must have clear
> >and hard and fast parameters.
>
> I'm afraid that calling anything "art" and at the same time requiring
> hard and fast parameters for it is going to confuse people.

You have a low opinion of sonnets, I take it?

SMTIRCAHIAGEHLT