Working new verbs into a game

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Will Grzanich

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Jan 8, 2001, 11:36:32 PM1/8/01
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I'm working on the design of what will hopefully be my first finished
game, in which the player takes on the role of a thief in a
pseudo-medieval world. The PC will have various thiefy skills such as
pocket- and lock-picking, hiding in shadows, and sneaking around. This
will involve the implementation of a few new verbs. The problem is, the
player won't know to use these verbs straight away. I want the PC to be
an already experienced thief, not a novice, so I don't want to start off
with some sort of training ground at the beginning to acquaint the
player with these skills. Does anyone have any suggestions as to how
learning to use these new verbs can be worked into the pre-game? Do you
think it would be okay to just print a message at the beginning of the
game (or include a readme text file) advising all players (even
veterans) to read the help section first, and just tell them about the
new verbs there?

Thanks in advance,

-Will

Sean T Barrett

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Jan 9, 2001, 3:17:10 AM1/9/01
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Will Grzanich <wgrz...@students.depaul.edu> wrote:
>I'm working on the design of what will hopefully be my first finished
>game, in which the player takes on the role of a thief in a
>pseudo-medieval world.

No comment.

>I want the PC to be
>an already experienced thief, not a novice, so I don't want to start off
>with some sort of training ground at the beginning to acquaint the
>player with these skills. Does anyone have any suggestions as to how
>learning to use these new verbs can be worked into the pre-game?

Make the beginning of the game a prologue from back when you were not
yet an experienced thief, or where you're having a dream about being
a clumsy novice again. Or make an intro that's really a separate game
with entirely different characters, and include a command that
skips the intro and jumps into the main game.

Certainly many commercial computer games provide a 'training mission'
where you're treated as an absolute moron, but then when the game
starts properly, you're supposedly an expert. (There are exceptions,
such as Half-Life, where it's worked into the story; but for the
most part this works because commercial games don't immediately
drop you into the game, but instead into a metagame menu, so you
can select training and not feel like it's "part of the game" yet;
however, there is a fair amount of resistance to an introductory
metagame menu in the community; see the recent discussion on rgif
about printing 'ABOUT' was instructions at the beginning, instead
of waiting for the first prompt.)

>Do you
>think it would be okay to just print a message at the beginning of the
>game (or include a readme text file) advising all players (even
>veterans) to read the help section first, and just tell them about the
>new verbs there?

This is what most (every?) games do; but you are pretty much
guaranteed that some players will miss it, at least until they
get stuck the first time. When I played the comp00 games I
forgot to type 'ABOUT' in at least two or three (out of 50+)
of the games--particularly problematic for Djinni Chronicles.

SeanB
I'm going to the bear pits tomorrow. Wanna come with?

Carl Muckenhoupt

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Jan 9, 2001, 5:25:58 AM1/9/01
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I'd work the special verbs into the descriptions of a few objects
early in the game:

> examine safe
It looks like you could emfrosculate it easily.

The player who sees that will be likely to try to emfrosculate the
safe, whatever that means.

It would be good to have some sort of prologue/tutorial section that
requires the player to use all of the special actions at least once
before proceeding to the main part of the game, but this doesn't need
to be a "training ground" in the context of the game's story, even if
that's its function for the player.

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Will Grzanich

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Jan 9, 2001, 11:23:42 AM1/9/01
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Carl Muckenhoupt wrote:
>
> I'd work the special verbs into the descriptions of a few objects
> early in the game:
>
> > examine safe
> It looks like you could emfrosculate it easily.
>
> The player who sees that will be likely to try to emfrosculate the
> safe, whatever that means.

Hmm. Okay, yeah, I like that. Not "emfrosculate," but the idea. :)
And some of the actions, i.e., "pick lock," should be pretty obvious,
especially if the PC has in his inventory "a set of lock-picks."



> It would be good to have some sort of prologue/tutorial section that
> requires the player to use all of the special actions at least once
> before proceeding to the main part of the game, but this doesn't need
> to be a "training ground" in the context of the game's story, even if
> that's its function for the player.

Right, that's what I want to do - but without the "training ground"
feeling.

Thanks for your response - I appreciate it!

-Will

Will Grzanich

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Jan 9, 2001, 11:26:34 AM1/9/01
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Sean T Barrett wrote:
>
> No comment.

What, has this been done to death and I just don't know it...?



> Make the beginning of the game a prologue from back when you were not
> yet an experienced thief, or where you're having a dream about being
> a clumsy novice again. Or make an intro that's really a separate game
> with entirely different characters, and include a command that
> skips the intro and jumps into the main game.

I kind of like the dream idea. Carl's idea about just working the verbs
into descriptions early on sounds good too. I think I'll just have to
think about which works best for the situation.



> Certainly many commercial computer games provide a 'training mission'
> where you're treated as an absolute moron, but then when the game
> starts properly, you're supposedly an expert. (There are exceptions,
> such as Half-Life, where it's worked into the story; but for the
> most part this works because commercial games don't immediately
> drop you into the game, but instead into a metagame menu, so you
> can select training and not feel like it's "part of the game" yet;
> however, there is a fair amount of resistance to an introductory
> metagame menu in the community; see the recent discussion on rgif
> about printing 'ABOUT' was instructions at the beginning, instead
> of waiting for the first prompt.)

Yeah. Somehow, it's different in graphical computer games - I
definitely feel like having a training option at the beginning of an IF
game would be horribly jarring.

Thanks!

-Will

Paul Bobby

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Jan 9, 2001, 1:24:47 PM1/9/01
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On Tue, 09 Jan 2001 16:26:34 GMT, Will Grzanich
<wgrz...@students.depaul.edu> wrote:

>Sean T Barrett wrote:
>>
>> No comment.
>
>What, has this been done to death and I just don't know it...?
>


Can't speak for Sean, but my first thought that came to my mind was
the Thief and Thief2 games by Eidos. Have you played those?

They are good games, ( at least I enjoyed them ), and have the initial
theme as you suggested.

Will Grzanich

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Jan 9, 2001, 2:12:26 PM1/9/01
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Paul Bobby wrote:
>
> On Tue, 09 Jan 2001 16:26:34 GMT, Will Grzanich
> <wgrz...@students.depaul.edu> wrote:
>
> >Sean T Barrett wrote:
> >>
> >> No comment.
> >
> >What, has this been done to death and I just don't know it...?
> >
>
> Can't speak for Sean, but my first thought that came to my mind was
> the Thief and Thief2 games by Eidos. Have you played those?

Well, yeah - but they're not IF. :)

-Will

Dan Schmidt

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Jan 9, 2001, 2:54:16 PM1/9/01
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Will Grzanich <wgrz...@students.depaul.edu> writes:

Sean worked on them, which is why the no comment, I imagine.

--
http://www.dfan.org

T Raymond

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Jan 9, 2001, 4:58:21 PM1/9/01
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Will Grzanich was overheard typing about:

Hmmm, and I thought everybody knew about the well-known, but never
seen "Thieve's Handbook" which explains all such things. Of course,
if you aren't a thief and have seen one, you'll have to be killed,
but that would be by some yahoo carrying an assassins handbook. ;)

Tom
--
=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-
Tom Raymond adk AT usaDOTnet
"The original professional ameteur."
-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=

Will Grzanich

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Jan 10, 2001, 1:01:51 AM1/10/01
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Dan Schmidt wrote:
>
> Sean worked on them, which is why the no comment, I imagine.

No shit? I'm sorry - I had no idea. Wow. Neat. Um - good job, then,
Sean!

-Will

Sean T Barrett

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Jan 10, 2001, 1:17:18 AM1/10/01
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Thanks. Naturally, Dan is being too polite to mention his
involvement in the first game of the series.

Now that we got that out of the way (I think that's all of
us), I now declare this subthread not merely off-topic, but
over. I had intended it as a nudge-nudge-wink-wink, not
a toot-my-own-horn, and would rather not see it continue.

SeanB

Will Grzanich

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Jan 10, 2001, 1:28:23 AM1/10/01
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Sean T Barrett wrote:
>
> Thanks. Naturally, Dan is being too polite to mention his
> involvement in the first game of the series.

Wow. I had no idea there were so many bad-ass computer game developers
hanging about here. Keen.


> Now that we got that out of the way (I think that's all of
> us), I now declare this subthread not merely off-topic, but
> over. I had intended it as a nudge-nudge-wink-wink, not
> a toot-my-own-horn, and would rather not see it continue.

Okay - I'm done. Sorry. :)

-Will

Carl Muckenhoupt

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Jan 10, 2001, 4:52:26 AM1/10/01
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On Tue, 09 Jan 2001 16:23:42 GMT, Will Grzanich
<wgrz...@students.depaul.edu> wrote:

>> It would be good to have some sort of prologue/tutorial section that
>> requires the player to use all of the special actions at least once
>> before proceeding to the main part of the game, but this doesn't need
>> to be a "training ground" in the context of the game's story, even if
>> that's its function for the player.
>
>Right, that's what I want to do - but without the "training ground"
>feeling.

Another thought on this: If you want a constrained opening, and you're
dealing with a thief, a jail cell seems a good fit. It is kind of
cliche, though; I seem to recall someone complaining about this in a
review of the comp00 games (at least two of which started in jail
cells).

J. Robinson Wheeler

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Jan 10, 2001, 8:05:18 AM1/10/01
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Will Grzanich wrote:

>
> Carl Muckenhoupt wrote:
> >
> > It would be good to have some sort of prologue/tutorial section that
> > requires the player to use all of the special actions at least once
> > before proceeding to the main part of the game, but this doesn't need
> > to be a "training ground" in the context of the game's story, even if
> > that's its function for the player.
>
> Right, that's what I want to do - but without the "training ground"
> feeling.

Well, just because it's actually a training ground for the player and
the special verbs doesn't need you need to set the scene literally in
a medieval thieve's guild training ground. All it needs to be is a
quick section that requires one use of each verb, and not much at
stake, no horrible consequences requiring a lot of saving and restoring.

Just start it in a seedy pub and have a thief buddy sidle up to the
player and say, "Hey Moe, want to earn a quick groat? I got a real
easy job for you." (If you wanted to be blunt, you could clue the
player with Moe's thoughts, "Hmm, it would be good to brush up...
easy money...") Or, the player could skip it and go straight to the
real start of the game. Something like that.


--
J. Robinson Wheeler http://thekroneexperiment.com
whe...@jump.net

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