BAD adventures

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Williamson, Gil

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Aug 8, 1996, 3:00:00 AM8/8/96
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Except for the year in which I entered Sir Ramic Hobbs, I was a
judge in Dave Malmberg's AGT contest, and there were some REAL
dogs among the entries. However, the game play faults from
immature and computer illiterate "programming" were much less
offensive to me than the literary and stylistic faults from
immature and crude adventure writing. My top ten hates were:

1 Bad spelling (I'm not talking about typos) - so unnecessary

2 In-jokes (there was a thread about this here) but not just
in-jokes. Anything set in the author's own house/college/firm

3 Parodies of soap operas with which I was familiar

4 " " " " " wasn't "

5 Unnecessary detail in actions. In the midst of an adventure
about saving the Universe from man-eating Plasma Monsters, the
player has to perform a multi-command "puzzle" to get his shoes
on before he leaves his house, then he has to eat, drink and
visit the restroom every ten moves

6 Getting killed every 2 moves

7 Getting marooned. eg Once you've eaten the ice cream, there's
no way you're going to bribe the toddler that comes along much
later, so you have to start a large section again

8 HUGE epic-like adventures in boring worlds (borrowed from
Tolkien but with Weird Names) that you have no chance of
finishing in this lifetime (and nor has the author)

9 Unfair puzzles.

10 Unimaginative parsing. eg CLIMB STAIRS is accepted, but UP
isn't.

Of these, probably only 10 is partly the result of bad
programming. All the rest are bad style.

I found I seldom agreed with the final judgement, with the
exception of SOGGY, and my favourites were compact, classic
adventures which were soluble without resort to the source code.

Other judges seemed to favour the Grand Design (pet hate 8,
above).

What are YOUR top ten?

Gil

Kevin Soucy

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Aug 8, 1996, 3:00:00 AM8/8/96
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On Aug 08, 1996 10:31:11 in article <BAD adventures>, '"Williamson, Gil"
<Gil.Wil...@syntegra.bt.co.uk>' wrote:

>Except for the year in which I entered Sir Ramic Hobbs, I was a
>judge in Dave Malmberg's AGT contest, and there were some REAL
>dogs among the entries. However, the game play faults from
>immature and computer illiterate "programming" were much less
>offensive to me than the literary and stylistic faults from
>immature and crude adventure writing.

Hey Gil. Glad to see you on the Internet. You are absolutely correct in
your Top Ten list as to why some games, in general, suck. (I'm not just
talking about AGT games either) Up until recently, I hadn't even put out a

game because it always fell into one of the ten categories. I'd step back
from my source code for a minute and say to myself "Boy this sucks." After

that, the idea for the game would sit on the back-burner of my brain where
it would simmer for many years it seems. But then, on a BBS I found a file

Called CA-TSA, written by none other than yourself, which changed my
authoring skills immsensely. My biggest problem was that I never fully
designed the game out on paper before programming. That design-as-you-go
style is actually the worst possable idea anyone writing IF could have, and

it leads to many of the top ten problems. This is mostly due to the fact
that programming takes energy away from the story generation. I suggest,
if anyone reading this is still writing their games that way, that you stop

and think for a second. Get out a big notepad and a sharp pencil. Think
about all of the possable rooms in a given area of the game, and write them

down in a column. Next to the room names, fill in some possable objects
that the player might find in each room. Then, begin the puzzle writing
process by tying those objects to each other and asking yourself questions
like "Is this logical?", and "How many things could I possably do with THIS

object?". You may be surprised at how well your games grow in that
environment. (I sure have.)

"AGT Master"

Stee...@Usa.Pipeline.Com

Kevin Soucy

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Aug 8, 1996, 3:00:00 AM8/8/96
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Matthew Amster-Burton

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Aug 8, 1996, 3:00:00 AM8/8/96
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Stee...@usa.pipeline.com(Kevin Soucy) wrote:

>object?". You may be surprised at how well your games grow in that
>environment. (I sure have.)

Are any of your games available for d/l?

Matthew

Kevin Soucy

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Aug 8, 1996, 3:00:00 AM8/8/96
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On Aug 08, 1996 19:31:37 in article <Re: BAD adventures>,

'mam...@u.washington.edu (Matthew Amster-Burton)' wrote:

>Are any of your games available for d/l?

My first game, Godfery's Crusade, should be avalable as shareware by the
holidays. It might have been sooner had I not dreamed up a neat way of
conducting the battle scenes. I've always found killing an opponent with
one blow kinda drab, so I've devised a way to battle using action commands.
EX: SWING SWORD has a different response than THRUST SWORD. And you have
to DODGE LEFT, DODGE RIGHT, and BLOCK as well! Battles will be quite
different from one another, since the monster has to do the same!

"AGT Master"

Stee...@Usa.Pipeline.Com

Matthew Amster-Burton

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Aug 8, 1996, 3:00:00 AM8/8/96
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"Williamson, Gil" <Gil.Wil...@syntegra.bt.co.uk> wrote:

>My top ten hates were:

>3 Parodies of soap operas with which I was familiar

>4 " " " " " wasn't "

What? Can you elaborate? Are you saying a common occurrence (common
enough to make #3 and #4 of your pet peeves) in the AGT contest was
people doing soap opera knockoffs?

Matthew

Cardinal Teulbachs

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Aug 9, 1996, 3:00:00 AM8/9/96
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Stee...@usa.pipeline.com(Kevin Soucy) wrote:

> That design-as-you-go
>style is actually the worst possable idea anyone writing IF could have, and
>it leads to many of the top ten problems. This is mostly due to the fact
>that programming takes energy away from the story generation. I suggest,
>if anyone reading this is still writing their games that way, that you stop
>and think for a second. Get out a big notepad and a sharp pencil. Think
>about all of the possable rooms in a given area of the game, and write them
>down in a column. Next to the room names, fill in some possable objects
>that the player might find in each room. Then, begin the puzzle writing
>process by tying those objects to each other and asking yourself questions
>like "Is this logical?", and "How many things could I possably do with THIS

>object?". You may be surprised at how well your games grow in that
>environment. (I sure have.)

Agreed. It's one thing to come up with a great new toothpaste. It's
another to get it into the tube.

--Cardinal T

I mean, what the hell kind of villain thwarts the hero's
progress with soup cans in the kitchen pantry?
--Russ Bryan

Cardinal, I follow up your post in the hopes that some
day I too will be quoted in your sig.
--Matthew Amster-Burton

Hey! This isn't what I said! What'd you do with my
quote?
--Bonni Mierzejewska


Michael Blaheta

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Aug 9, 1996, 3:00:00 AM8/9/96
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Quoth Kevin Soucy:

> My first game, Godfery's Crusade, should be avalable as shareware by the
> holidays. It might have been sooner had I not dreamed up a neat way of
> conducting the battle scenes. I've always found killing an opponent with
> one blow kinda drab, so I've devised a way to battle using action commands.
> EX: SWING SWORD has a different response than THRUST SWORD. And you have
> to DODGE LEFT, DODGE RIGHT, and BLOCK as well! Battles will be quite
> different from one another, since the monster has to do the same!

Urk. I will reserve judgement until I see it (and play it, which may
take longer since I use a Mac), but this has extreme annoyance
potential. My own instinct suggests that people who want an RPG will
play one.

Don

Bob Adams

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Aug 9, 1996, 3:00:00 AM8/9/96
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In article <4udfer$o...@nntp4.u.washington.edu>, Matthew Amster-Burton
<mam...@u.washington.edu> writes

>
>What? Can you elaborate? Are you saying a common occurrence (common
>enough to make #3 and #4 of your pet peeves) in the AGT contest was
>people doing soap opera knockoffs?

And worse. However, there were some truly awful AGT adventures submitted
based on all sorts of storylines. I mean awful programming, spelling,
lack of play-testing rather than awful storylines. Fortunately a few
good ones also got entered.

I've felt for a long time that some of the adventures entered into the
AGT contests and given "highly commended's", reflected very badly on the
reputation of AGT. Sadly, a lot of this dross is still around today,
even in the IF archives.

An Alien ate my cardigan and suchlike... <Shudder.>

--
Bob Adams

Bob Adams

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Aug 9, 1996, 3:00:00 AM8/9/96
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In article <4udk4m$m...@news1.t1.usa.pipeline.com>,
Stee...@usa.pipeline.com writes

>
>My first game, Godfery's Crusade, should be avalable as shareware by the
>holidays. It might have been sooner had I not dreamed up a neat way of
>conducting the battle scenes. I've always found killing an opponent with
>one blow kinda drab, so I've devised a way to battle using action commands.
> EX: SWING SWORD has a different response than THRUST SWORD. And you have
>to DODGE LEFT, DODGE RIGHT, and BLOCK as well! Battles will be quite
>different from one another, since the monster has to do the same!

For those of us who don't fancy a long drawn out typing session of
repeated "ducks" and "swings", can you include "kill monster" as a
command so as we can get on with the adventure?

--
Bob Adams

Kevin Soucy

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Aug 10, 1996, 3:00:00 AM8/10/96
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On Aug 09, 1996 23:45:46 in article <Re: BAD adventures>, 'Bob Adams

<ams...@amster.demon.co.uk>' wrote:

>For those of us who don't fancy a long drawn out typing session of
>repeated "ducks" and "swings", can you include "kill monster" as a
>command so as we can get on with the adventure?

I won't go that far....<G> But I will say that for each of the game's 3
minor battles, there will be a different move that will kill the monster
with one blow. That move will usually have something to do with the
objects in the room. Of course the 4th and final battle is against a
necromancer whom hurls magical stuff at you.... You have to get close to
him in order to kill.

"AGT Master"

Stee...@Usa.Pipeline.Com

Kevin Soucy

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Aug 10, 1996, 3:00:00 AM8/10/96
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On Aug 09, 1996 23:50:55 in article <Re: BAD adventures>, 'Bob Adams

<ams...@amster.demon.co.uk>' wrote:

>And worse. However, there were some truly awful AGT adventures submitted
>based on all sorts of storylines. I mean awful programming, spelling,
>lack of play-testing rather than awful storylines.

Aye. Almost all storylines start out good, but some of them do flater and
make me wonder what the author was thinking. Let me add to this by saying
that stinky storylines are not only isolated to AGT games. My most recent
example of this, (And I've probably said it before.) was the Inform game
Theatre. I was hooked to that game at first, enjoying the creepy
atmosphere and the nicely done puzzles. But everything came to a
screeching halt when I entered the sewers under the theatre and found the
witch. What really bugged me was that I thought a ghost was haunting the
place, not a for-some-strange-reason-she's-still-alive witch. And her
father, turned into a goblin, was equally dissapointing, because HE was
still alive! Those parts didn't make any sense, and took enjoyment away
from what might have been a very entertaining story.

"AGT Master"

Stee...@Usa.Pipeline.Com

Trevor Barrie

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Aug 12, 1996, 3:00:00 AM8/12/96
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Stee...@usa.pipeline.com(Kevin Soucy) wrote:

>Aye. Almost all storylines start out good, but some of them do [falter] and


>make me wonder what the author was thinking. Let me add to this by saying
>that stinky storylines are not only isolated to AGT games.

Well, no, of course not.

>My most recent example of this, was the Inform game Theatre.

Now you're on thin ice, son.:) IMO, Theatre is one of the top, oh, six games
available at GMD, storywise.

>I was hooked to that game at first, enjoying the creepy
>atmosphere and the nicely done puzzles. But everything came to a
>screeching halt when I entered the sewers under the theatre and found the
>witch.

The ending was admittedly somewhat rushed.

>What really bugged me was that I thought a ghost was haunting the
>place,

Then you came to the wrong conclusion. Not the authour's problem.

>not a for-some-strange-reason-she's-still-alive witch.

The game made it quite clear early on that you were dealing with a being who
was, if not immortal, at least long-lived. Why shouldn't she still be alive?

>And her father, turned into a goblin, was equally dissapointing, because HE
>was still alive!

So...?

>Those parts didn't make any sense,

How not?


Admiral Jota

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Aug 12, 1996, 3:00:00 AM8/12/96
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Stee...@usa.pipeline.com(Kevin Soucy) writes:

>On Aug 09, 1996 23:50:55 in article <Re: BAD adventures>, 'Bob Adams
><ams...@amster.demon.co.uk>' wrote:

***** THEATER SPOILERS *****


>Let me add to this by saying

>that stinky storylines are not only isolated to AGT games. My most recent

>example of this, (And I've probably said it before.) was the Inform game
>Theatre. I was hooked to that game at first, enjoying the creepy


>atmosphere and the nicely done puzzles. But everything came to a
>screeching halt when I entered the sewers under the theatre and found the

>witch. What really bugged me was that I thought a ghost was haunting the
>place, not a for-some-strange-reason-she's-still-alive witch. And her


>father, turned into a goblin, was equally dissapointing, because HE was

>still alive! Those parts didn't make any sense, and took enjoyment away
>from what might have been a very entertaining story.


I think that you may have misunderstood what was going on a little bit.
You may want to play the game over again. I rather liked the game's
story, and I think it was much more coherent than the majority of the AGT
games that I've played. Sadly, AGT seems to have a higher of really bad
games than any other system I know of.


--
/<-= -=-=- -= Admiral Jota =- -=-=- =->\
__/><-=- http://www.tiac.net/users/jota/ =-><\__
\><-= jo...@mv.mv.com -- Finger for PGP =-></
\<-=- -= -=- -= -==- =- -=- =- -=->/

Kevin Soucy

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Aug 12, 1996, 3:00:00 AM8/12/96
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On Aug 12, 1996 02:09:12 in article <Re: BAD adventures>, 'tba...@cycor.ca

(Trevor Barrie)' wrote:

>The game made it quite clear early on that you were dealing with a being
who
>was, if not immortal, at least long-lived. Why shouldn't she still be
alive?

It wasn't quite clear enough for me.

"AGT Master"

Stee...@Usa.Pipeline.Com

Julian Arnold

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Aug 12, 1996, 3:00:00 AM8/12/96
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In article <4um3np$8...@bud.peinet.pe.ca>, Trevor Barrie

<URL:mailto:tba...@cycor.ca> wrote:
>
> Stee...@usa.pipeline.com(Kevin Soucy) wrote:
>
> >Aye. Almost all storylines start out good, but some of them do [falter] and
> >make me wonder what the author was thinking. Let me add to this by saying

> >that stinky storylines are not only isolated to AGT games.
>
> Well, no, of course not.
>
> >My most recent example of this, was the Inform game Theatre.

SPOILERS (btw, "Theatre," in its entirety, is not an example of a bad
adventure)


> Now you're on thin ice, son.:) IMO, Theatre is one of the top, oh, six games
> available at GMD, storywise.
>

> >I was hooked to that game at first, enjoying the creepy
> >atmosphere and the nicely done puzzles. But everything came to a
> >screeching halt when I entered the sewers under the theatre and found the
> >witch.
>

> The ending was admittedly somewhat rushed.
>

> >What really bugged me was that I thought a ghost was haunting the
> >place,
>

> Then you came to the wrong conclusion. Not the authour's problem.
>

> >not a for-some-strange-reason-she's-still-alive witch.
>

> The game made it quite clear early on that you were dealing with a being who
> was, if not immortal, at least long-lived. Why shouldn't she still be alive?
>

> >And her father, turned into a goblin, was equally dissapointing, because HE
> >was still alive!
>

> So...?


>
> >Those parts didn't make any sense,
>

> How not?

What I found disappointing about the game was the inconsistent use of
paradigms from two different schools of horror. On the one hand there
were elements such as the haunted ticket booth/haunted theatre/animated
mannequins-- sort of understated, supernatural,
there's-something-behind-you horror-- which were very well done.

OTOH there was the library slug and the pit monster-- basic
sub-Lovecraftian schlocky stuff-- which I guess is OK if you like that
sort of thing.

IMO these two elements didn't mix well.

You could even go further and say that, for the most part, the whole
underground tunnel bit bore little resemblance or relevance,
stylistically, to what had gone before, and the snake-in-the-box was,
again stylistically (and physically?), an anomaly.

The endgame was rubbish.

Jools
--


Susan

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Aug 12, 1996, 3:00:00 AM8/12/96
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>>For those of us who don't fancy a long drawn out typing session of
>>repeated "ducks" and "swings", can you include "kill monster" as a
>>command so as we can get on with the adventure?

>I won't go that far....<G> But I will say that for each of the game's 3
>minor battles, there will be a different move that will kill the monster
>with one blow. That move will usually have something to do with the
>objects in the room. Of course the 4th and final battle is against a
>necromancer whom hurls magical stuff at you.... You have to get close to
>him in order to kill.

Okay, well, as long as there are not more than 4 battles you can
compensate us by not putting in any huge tedious mazes. :)

* Susan * <Sus...@ix.netcom.com>

Kevin Soucy

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Aug 12, 1996, 3:00:00 AM8/12/96
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On Aug 12, 1996 10:52:44 in article <Re: BAD adventures>,

'Sus...@ix.netcom.com (Susan)' wrote:

>Okay, well, as long as there are not more than 4 battles you can
>compensate us by not putting in any huge tedious mazes. :)

Can't stand huge tedious mazes myself.<G> The only area that could be
considered a maze would be the forest outside the castle. It's actually a
series of rooms that look identical, giving the player the feeling of being
lost in an enchanted forest. (Every 5 steps in one direction will take you
back to where you started from.)

"AGT Master"

Stee...@Usa.Pipeline.Com

Greg Ewing

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Aug 13, 1996, 3:00:00 AM8/13/96
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Bob Adams wrote:
>
> In article <4udk4m$m...@news1.t1.usa.pipeline.com>,
> Stee...@usa.pipeline.com writes
> >
> > EX: SWING SWORD has a different response than THRUST SWORD. And you have
> >to DODGE LEFT, DODGE RIGHT, and BLOCK as well!
>
> can you include "kill monster" as a
> command so as we can get on with the adventure?

Actually I wouldn't mind something like this, as long
as there was some real skill involved in figuring out
the right techniques for fighting each opponent, e.g.

The dwarf takes a swing at you from his right
shoulder, momentarily exposing his left flank.

> thrust right

He dodges your attack, and you collect his axe
with your neck. Your life is over.

whereas if you'd done

> block left

His axe meets your sword with a mighty clash,
throwing him off balance.

> thrust right

Your sword sinks into his spleen and he crumples
to the ground, gasping "Who designed this combat
system anyway..."

Greg

Colm McCarthy

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Aug 13, 1996, 3:00:00 AM8/13/96
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Sus...@ix.netcom.com (Susan) wrote:

> Okay, well, as long as there are not more than 4 battles you can
>compensate us by not putting in any huge tedious mazes. :)

(Looks at game currently in development)

Oh well, back to the drawing board :-)

======= Text adventure games =======
== They're not just for beautiful ==
========= people anymore ===========


Phil Goetz

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Aug 13, 1996, 3:00:00 AM8/13/96
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In article <4uiv8q$f...@news1.t1.usa.pipeline.com>,

Kevin Soucy <Stee...@usa.pipeline.com> wrote:
>On Aug 09, 1996 23:50:55 in article <Re: BAD adventures>, 'Bob Adams
><ams...@amster.demon.co.uk>' wrote:
>
>>And worse. However, there were some truly awful AGT adventures submitted
>>based on all sorts of storylines. I mean awful programming, spelling,
>>lack of play-testing rather than awful storylines.
>
>Aye. Almost all storylines start out good, but some of them do flater and

>make me wonder what the author was thinking. Let me add to this by saying
>that stinky storylines are not only isolated to AGT games.

There are very few people writing IF who know how to construct a story.
One reason that I haven't produced any IF computer games in the past, gee,
ten years, is that I decided I could get more of an edge on other IF writers
by learning to write traditional linear stories first. I decided not to
sink time into another interactive fiction until I got one short story
published. Since then I've been writing stories, reading mountains of
"How to Write" books, and papering my office with rejection slips.

The problem with this approach is that if you are inept enough, like me,
you can go ten years without actually publishing anything, and in all
that time get zero feedback, except from writers' groups
full of other people who don't know how to get published.
(After a few dozen photocopied rejection slip you begin to wonder if
the editors even READ your stories...)

Anyway, this group focuses on the hi-tech side of IF, and I think that's
appropriate, but people who want to write good IF should realize that
they're going to need a long intership studying the basics of story.
Our "puzzle" mindset may have obscured this, but I think it's true.

I would think people who are serious about writing IF would also
be serious about writing other types of fiction. Am I wrong?
Let me start an informal poll here. Who of our IF authors also writes
static fiction?

Phil Go...@cs.buffalo.edu

Phil Goetz

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Aug 13, 1996, 3:00:00 AM8/13/96
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In article <4ueqci$l...@flood.xnet.com>,
Michael Blaheta <mbla...@flood.xnet.com> wrote:
>Quoth Kevin Soucy:

>> EX: SWING SWORD has a different response than THRUST SWORD. And you have
>> to DODGE LEFT, DODGE RIGHT, and BLOCK as well! Battles will be quite
>> different from one another, since the monster has to do the same!
>
>Urk. I will reserve judgement until I see it (and play it, which may
>take longer since I use a Mac), but this has extreme annoyance
>potential. My own instinct suggests that people who want an RPG will
>play one.
>
>Don

*** pedantic mode ON ***

Before we start splintering into hostile camps, let me gently suggest
that Michael meant "combat games". Combat RPGs bore me, but I think of
RPGs in general as what IF is striving towards.

Phil Go...@cs.buffalo.edu

hey, did I forget to switch pedantic mode off? funny, that...

Gerry Kevin Wilson

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Aug 13, 1996, 3:00:00 AM8/13/96
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In article <4uoupo$d...@prometheus.acsu.buffalo.edu>,
Phil Goetz <go...@cs.buffalo.edu> wrote:

>I would think people who are serious about writing IF would also
>be serious about writing other types of fiction. Am I wrong?
>Let me start an informal poll here. Who of our IF authors also writes
>static fiction?

I dabble. I haven't had time in awhile though, with all my I-F projects.
The experience is useful, but is by no means an end-all be-all sort of
thing. There are simply too many differences between the two artforms to
port too many techniques over. A lot of fictional devices break down when
you aren't sure that the player will ever see them. Still, as shown by my
authorship guide, a sufficient amount of carry-over does exist to ensure
that I-F writers must have some skill in writing F.

--
<~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~|~~~~~~~>
< Join in the 1996 Interactive Fiction Competition. | ~~\ >
< The Deadline is September 30, 1996. Enter, judge, betatest or ?? | /~\ | >
<_______________________...@uclink.berkeley.edu_|_\__/__>

Kevin Soucy

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Aug 13, 1996, 3:00:00 AM8/13/96
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On Aug 13, 1996 04:03:04 in article <Do IF writers write?>,

'go...@cs.buffalo.edu (Phil Goetz)' wrote:

>Who of our IF authors also writes static fiction?

You got my vote. I write static fiction every once and a while. The
difference with static and IF is that you have to decide how you want to
reveal your story to the player. The player, being the main character in
the story, is usually pretty clueless at the beginning. As the game
progresses it reveals to the player the story from an inside point of view.
In some ways, IF is much easier to write as opposed to static fiction,
since you really don't have to plot out the main character's emotion, or
dialog.

"AGT Master"

Stee...@Usa.Pipeline.Com

Andrew Plotkin

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Aug 13, 1996, 3:00:00 AM8/13/96
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Phil Goetz (go...@cs.buffalo.edu) wrote:
> Anyway, this group focuses on the hi-tech side of IF, and I think that's
> appropriate, but people who want to write good IF should realize that
> they're going to need a long intership studying the basics of story.
> Our "puzzle" mindset may have obscured this, but I think it's true.
>
> I would think people who are serious about writing IF would also
> be serious about writing other types of fiction. Am I wrong?
> Let me start an informal poll here. Who of our IF authors also writes
> static fiction?

Not me. The only writing I have done has been for puzzles and games. Some
of this has been more static than text adventures, though.

I'm certainly serious about *reading* static fiction. And I'm doing it as
comparison, not contrast. I mean, I read books and think "I want the
story / writing in my IF to do *this* sort of trick." Or, more often,
"Damn, I wish the story / writing in my IF were this good."

--Z

--

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

Neil K. Guy

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Aug 13, 1996, 3:00:00 AM8/13/96
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Andrew Plotkin (erky...@netcom.com) wrote:

: I'm certainly serious about *reading* static fiction. And I'm doing it as

: comparison, not contrast. I mean, I read books and think "I want the
: story / writing in my IF to do *this* sort of trick." Or, more often,
: "Damn, I wish the story / writing in my IF were this good."

Oh, gawd, I can relate to that. I've tried writing (static, if you will)
non-fiction over the years but have concluded I'm really not very good at
it. Sometimes that makes reading a really good book a bit depressing.

- Neil K.


Nulldogma

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Aug 13, 1996, 3:00:00 AM8/13/96
to

Me three. I write non-fiction <blatant plug> (see, for example, the cover
story of this week's _In These Times_) </blatant plug>, but I haven't
written any static fiction since high school. One of the reasons I got
into writing I-F was that it would give me a way of writing fiction while
hiding my ineptitude behind the conventions of a game.

Of course, I want to make the F in my I-F better and better, but at least
I'm getting writing done, and read, without being smothered under a pile
of rejection slips...

Neil
---------------------------------------------------------
Neil deMause ne...@echonyc.com
http://www.echonyc.com/~wham/neild.html
---------------------------------------------------------

Den of Iniquity

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Aug 13, 1996, 3:00:00 AM8/13/96
to

On 12 Aug 1996, Admiral Jota wrote:

> Sadly, AGT seems to have a higher of really bad games than any other
> system I know of.

Ah, but isn't this inevitable when you make programming 'easy'? Is it not
true that if you give any fool the power to create his own adventure,
then you will get a lot of adventures made by fools?

Heaven knows what terrible things could issue forth if someone made it
possible to write a game with NO CODING... ;)

--
Den
,_________________________________________________________________________,
| "I don't know the word 'available'." - a hypothesised excerpt from the |
| forthcoming masterpiece 'Avalon' |
'~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~'

John Holder

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Aug 13, 1996, 3:00:00 AM8/13/96
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Kevin Soucy (Stee...@usa.pipeline.com) wrote:
: On Aug 12, 1996 10:52:44 in article <Re: BAD adventures>,

: 'Sus...@ix.netcom.com (Susan)' wrote:
:
: >Okay, well, as long as there are not more than 4 battles you can
: >compensate us by not putting in any huge tedious mazes. :)
:
: Can't stand huge tedious mazes myself.<G>
Yay!

: The only area that could be


: considered a maze would be the forest outside the castle. It's actually a
: series of rooms that look identical, giving the player the feeling of being
: lost in an enchanted forest. (Every 5 steps in one direction will take you
: back to where you started from.)

This sounds kinda cool - a maze that isn't really... ;)
--
John Holder (jho...@frii.com) http://www.frii.com/~jholder/
UNIX Specialist, Paranet Inc., Denver, Colorado, USA, Earth
Death is just God's way of dropping carrier detect...

Matthew Amster-Burton

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Aug 13, 1996, 3:00:00 AM8/13/96
to

Den of Iniquity <dms...@york.ac.uk> wrote:

>Heaven knows what terrible things could issue forth if someone made it
>possible to write a game with NO CODING... ;)

Perhaps this is one of the weighty issues addressed on Pearl Jam's new
album, No Code.

Matthew

Matthew Amster-Burton

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Aug 13, 1996, 3:00:00 AM8/13/96
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go...@cs.buffalo.edu (Phil Goetz) wrote:

>I would think people who are serious about writing IF would also
>be serious about writing other types of fiction. Am I wrong?
>Let me start an informal poll here. Who of our IF authors also writes
>static fiction?

I don't know that I can be considered an IF author, since I've never
actually completed anything more than a goofy exercise to show to my
friends, but I'll chime in anyway.

I've never been any damn good at writing fiction. In third grade or
so, I decided to write a novel. I plotted out all the chapters, then
got sick of it in chapter two and had everyone run over by a truck. I
don't think I'm any better now. So, like Neil, I'm a journalist.
Worse yet, a rock journalist. I write for Addicted to Noise
(www.addict.com), Microsoft Music Central (www.musiccentral.msn.com),
and freelance elsewhere, including (here comes my plug--prepare to hit
'n') the 9/1/96 Sunday San Fran Chronicle. "Pop Quiz," in the
Datebook section.

Strangely, though, as long as I don't try to write way outside my
experience, the writing I've done for IF project I've started isn't
too bad. Maybe it's the exhilaration of not having to produce more
than a paragraph at a time.

Matthew

Kevin Soucy

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Aug 13, 1996, 3:00:00 AM8/13/96
to

On Aug 13, 1996 13:33:23 in article <Re: BAD adventures>, 'Den of Iniquity

<dms...@york.ac.uk>' wrote:

>Heaven knows what terrible things could issue forth if someone made it
>possible to write a game with NO CODING... ;)

Wait and see. That's another thing I plan on trying to handle. (All a
part of my huge agenda...)

"AGT Master"

Stee...@Usa.Pipeline.Com

Jacob Solomon Weinstein

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Aug 13, 1996, 3:00:00 AM8/13/96
to

go...@cs.buffalo.edu (Phil Goetz) writes:

>I would think people who are serious about writing IF would also
>be serious about writing other types of fiction. Am I wrong?
>Let me start an informal poll here. Who of our IF authors also writes
>static fiction?

I'm pretty much a jack-of-all-trades--as of yet, it remains to be
determined if I'm good at any of them. I've written, of, probably 200
pages worth of short stories--my first published fiction appeared in The
North American Review earlier this year. I spent a year writing
non-fiction for _Washingtonian_ magazine. I finished the first draft of my
first novel in the spring, and hope to have it revised and ready to send
out by the end of the fall. And I'm finishing up my first screenplay.
Also, I've written 3 TV spec scripts with a partner. If all goes well, in
a few weeks I'll be starting a paid job as a joke-writer for a humorous
Web page.

And in the best of all possible worlds, I'd finish my contest entry in
time to enter it--but I'm not sure that's going to happen.

I think that writing anything imporves ones writing; I'm a better writer
of IF for having written static fiction, and vice versa.

For one thing, writing Save Princeton gave me confidence that I can see a
major project through from start to finish. This was a useful thing to
know about myself when I sat down to write page 1 of my novel.

Also, I think that the intellectual rigor of programming is a useful skill
to apply to static fiction. It's much harder for a writer to cheat when
writing a game; in a static story, if two events don't quite follow
logically, one can often get away with it, but a logical flaw can render a
game unplayable.

Nonetheless, I think that, right now, it's easier to write an acceptable
game than an
acceptable novel, because we have lower standards for games. The plot and
characters of Save Princeton, for example, would not have been good enough
for a novel.

I do think it's harder to write a great game than a great novel--partly
because there isn't as long a tradition to show one how it's done, and
partly because programming is such a damn pain in the ass.

-Jacob

Dan Shiovitz

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Aug 13, 1996, 3:00:00 AM8/13/96
to

In article <4uoupo$d...@prometheus.acsu.buffalo.edu>,
Phil Goetz <go...@cs.buffalo.edu> wrote:
>In article <4uiv8q$f...@news1.t1.usa.pipeline.com>,
>Kevin Soucy <Stee...@usa.pipeline.com> wrote:
>>On Aug 09, 1996 23:50:55 in article <Re: BAD adventures>, 'Bob Adams
>><ams...@amster.demon.co.uk>' wrote:
>>
>>>And worse. However, there were some truly awful AGT adventures submitted
>>>based on all sorts of storylines. I mean awful programming, spelling,
>>>lack of play-testing rather than awful storylines.
>>
>>Aye. Almost all storylines start out good, but some of them do flater and
>>make me wonder what the author was thinking. Let me add to this by saying
>>that stinky storylines are not only isolated to AGT games.
>
>There are very few people writing IF who know how to construct a story.

Well, we don't know how to construct an *IF* story. There are, I'm sure
you'll agree, a certain amount of differences (though the similarities
should not be discounted either). One that springs immediately to mind
is the difficulty of giving the player some vital realization in the game.
If it is necessary that they guess that the stableboy is actually the
long-lost prince, it's tricky to stage things so they'll figure it out
in time to stop his evil uncle from taking the throne, but not be able
to then replay it and put the prince in charge after two moves, because
they already know who he is from the last time they played.

[..]


>Anyway, this group focuses on the hi-tech side of IF, and I think that's
>appropriate, but people who want to write good IF should realize that
>they're going to need a long intership studying the basics of story.
>Our "puzzle" mindset may have obscured this, but I think it's true.

Somewhat, yes. I think a discussion here about the differences between
the two mediums would be useful. A few that spring to mind:
It's more difficult to develop the protagonist's character.
Character-to-character interaction is more difficult in general.
It is often necessary to prevent the main character from doing "irrational"
things.
IF may be required to be much more action/event/gadget-oriented than static
fiction.

Umm.. ok, that's all I can think of after a minute or two. Anything else?

>I would think people who are serious about writing IF would also
>be serious about writing other types of fiction. Am I wrong?
>Let me start an informal poll here. Who of our IF authors also writes
>static fiction?

Badly. And nothing published since the sixth grade or so, which hardly
counts ;). But yes, I do.

>Phil Go...@cs.buffalo.edu

David Baggett

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Aug 13, 1996, 3:00:00 AM8/13/96
to

I must confess that for the most part I've actually retreated into static
fiction. Not as a kind of apprenticeship as you describe, but because IF
is (ironically) so limiting.

Dave Baggett
__
d...@ai.mit.edu
"Mr. Price: Please don't try to make things nice! The wrong notes are *right*."
--- Charles Ives (note to copyist on the autograph score of The Fourth of July)

Stephen Griffiths

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Aug 13, 1996, 3:00:00 AM8/13/96
to

jo...@laraby.tiac.net (Admiral Jota) wrote:

>Sadly, AGT seems to have a higher of really bad games than any other >system I know of.

AGT may not be the ultimate I.F. authoring system, but I think it
should be noted that the prevalence of bad AGT games is not necessarily
due to the inherent limitations of AGT.

A couple of other reasons could be ....

a) the AGT system has been available for a very long time so many AGT
games were written when amateur I.F. standards weren't so high.

b) AGT is easy to use so people who don't want to invest a lot of
time with writing I.F. are more likely to use it than authoring systems
which require greater effort to learn.


Neil K. Guy

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Aug 14, 1996, 3:00:00 AM8/14/96
to

Earlier I miswrote:

: Oh, gawd, I can relate to that. I've tried writing (static, if you will)

: non-fiction over the years but have concluded I'm really not very good at
: it. Sometimes that makes reading a really good book a bit depressing.

Um, I meant fiction. I think my non-fiction is quite passable. It's
fiction where I start depressing myself.

- Neil K.

--
Neil K. Guy * n...@vcn.bc.ca * n...@tela.bc.ca
49N 16' 123W 7' * Vancouver, BC, Canada

Den of Iniquity

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Aug 14, 1996, 3:00:00 AM8/14/96
to

On 13 Aug 1996, Phil Goetz asked:

> Who of our IF authors also writes static fiction?

I don't quite count... But I can put hand on heart and say that I'd _like_
to write both i-f and (shudder) 'static' fiction but although I start
projects in both I never get more than 5% written with either of them
before losing enthusiasm and incentive. I guess I'm just not cut out for
_any_ kind of work. ;)

(Can't wait till that thesis needs to be written...)


--
Den

(And who thought up the term 'static' fiction anyway? I know that when
you create 'interactive' fiction, normal fiction suddenly cries out for an
adjective, but the word 'static' just gives me the creeps.

JefJames

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Aug 14, 1996, 3:00:00 AM8/14/96
to

>Anyway, this group focuses on the hi-tech side of IF, and I think that's
>appropriate, but people who want to write good IF should realize that
>they're going to need a long intership studying the basics of story.
>Our "puzzle" mindset may have obscured this, but I think it's true.

I'm kind of confused by this whole thread. We're talking about IF stories
vs. regular stories, but I think they're qualitatively different animals.
I can't think of any IF game I've ever played, even the ones I loved, that
I would be interested in sitting down and going through if the puzzles
weren't there. I mean, imagine Zork as a storyline, without having to
sovle anything. I don't think "There's this person who comes to this
house, finds a trapdoor, explores a dungeon, kills a troll, and gets a
bunch of expensive items" makes a very entertaining or gripping story
without the challenge of the puzzles. And even in games that are designed
to be more story, such as Advention's Legend, the story might have made
the context for the puzzles more interesting, but it wouldn't have made me
sit down and read straight through sans puzzle-solving, just to find out
what was up with the watchmaker of whatever. I don't think you
necessarily should separate the puzzle mindset out; to me, that's as
important (probably a lot more important) to what makes a good IF game as
the story-writing.

my $.02
Jeff

Glen Smith

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Aug 14, 1996, 3:00:00 AM8/14/96
to

In article <Pine.SGI.3.91.960813...@tower.york.ac.uk>,
dms...@york.ac.uk says...

>
>On 12 Aug 1996, Admiral Jota wrote:
>
>> Sadly, AGT seems to have a higher of really bad games than any other
>> system I know of.
>
>Ah, but isn't this inevitable when you make programming 'easy'? Is it not
>true that if you give any fool the power to create his own adventure,
>then you will get a lot of adventures made by fools?
>
>Heaven knows what terrible things could issue forth if someone made it
>possible to write a game with NO CODING... ;)
>
>--
>Den

A game with NO CODING sounds dangerous. :) Especially when the worst
adventure I've seen consisted of room descriptions like "You hear
something scream.", offering no clue as to what exits it has (No joke!)
and all exits except for one lead to death, in EVERY room! I hate to say
it, but it was also an AGT adventure. I'm working on my first adventure
using Inform. Any tips on how to keep it from becoming a "bad adventure"?


Joe Mason

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Aug 14, 1996, 3:00:00 AM8/14/96
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"Do IF writers write?", declared Phil Goetz from the Vogon ship:

PG>stories first. I decided not to sink time into another interactive
PG>fiction until I got one short story published. Since then I've been
PG>writing stories, reading mountains of "How to Write" books, and
PG>papering my office with rejection slips.

That's a problem, all right... :-) I think the important thing is not
to get something *published*, but to know the basics. One thing that's
for sure is that static fiction is a lot easier then IF, so its a good
way to get some experience. The more you write, the better you get at
it if you're serious about improving, so I'd suggest that IF authors try
to pump out a good volume of static fiction, too.

PG>I would think people who are serious about writing IF would also
PG>be serious about writing other types of fiction. Am I wrong?

Nope, I think you're dead on.

PG>Let me start an informal poll here. Who of our IF authors also
PG>writes static fiction?

I've never been published, save in the local paper and my high-school
yearbook, but I do write static fiction. As a matter of fact, of the
three games I've started so far, two of them started out as short
stories which I realized would work as well or better as IF.

Joe

-- Coming soon: "In the End", a work of Interactive Fiction --
-- More about the 1996 IF Contest at rec.arts.int-fiction --
-- October 1 at ftp.gmd.de/if-archive/games/competition96 --

ž CMPQwk 1.42 9550 žSuicidal twin kills brother by mistake. Details at 11:00

Joe Mason

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Aug 14, 1996, 3:00:00 AM8/14/96
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"Re: Do IF writers write?", declared Kevin Soucy from the Vogon ship:

KS>inside point of view. In some ways, IF is much easier to write as
KS>opposed to static fiction, since you really don't have to plot out
KS>the main character's emotion, or dialog.

Hmm. I'd say the exact opposite is true - its much harder to write then
static fiction, because you *can't* plot out the main character's
emotion or dialog, so you have to be able to tell a story no matter what
happens, but at the same time not constrain the player into doing just
what you want and nothing else.

On the other hand, I think _So Far_ is a good example of how the main
character's emotion *can* be plotted out, without getting in the way of
the player's freedom. I think in one sense IF with prose as lush as
that in _So Far_ and _A Change in the Weather_ has the main character's
emotion at the center of everything, since every description is
emotional. The player is manipulated into feeling the same thing as the
main character in much the way static fiction authors manipulate the
reader's emotions.

(BTW, speaking of manipulating reader's emotions, I think everybody
should read _Ender's Game_ by Orson Scott Card and _Tigana_ by Guy
Gavriel Kay. And watch _Schindler's List_, of course.)

Joe

-- Coming soon: "In the End", a work of Interactive Fiction --
-- More about the 1996 IF Contest at rec.arts.int-fiction --
-- October 1 at ftp.gmd.de/if-archive/games/competition96 --

ş CMPQwk 1.42 9550 şWagner's music is better than it sounds. - Twain

Joe Mason

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Aug 14, 1996, 3:00:00 AM8/14/96
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"Re: Do IF writers write?", declared Andrew Plotkin from the Vogon ship:

AP>Not me. The only writing I have done has been for puzzles and games.
AP>Some of this has been more static than text adventures, though.

Wow... Then I salute you, sir. You appear to have mastered a most
difficult art very quickly. :-)

AP>I'm certainly serious about *reading* static fiction. And I'm doing
AP>it as comparison, not contrast. I mean, I read books and think "I
AP>want the story / writing in my IF to do *this* sort of trick." Or,
AP>more often, "Damn, I wish the story / writing in my IF were this
AP>good."

I had the interesting experience of getting a story idea and thinking,
"Damn. Too bad there's no way I could do that as IF."

So I'm going to enter it for the Whizzies. :-)

Joe

-- Coming soon: "In the End", a work of Interactive Fiction --
-- More about the 1996 IF Contest at rec.arts.int-fiction --
-- October 1 at ftp.gmd.de/if-archive/games/competition96 --

ž CMPQwk 1.42 9550 žPatrol-issue self-contained multi-purpose scrub brush: Taken.

bout...@blade.wcc.govt.nz

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Aug 15, 1996, 3:00:00 AM8/15/96
to

In article <4uoupo$d...@prometheus.acsu.buffalo.edu>, go...@cs.buffalo.edu (Phil Goetz) writes:
>
>Anyway, this group focuses on the hi-tech side of IF, and I think that's
>appropriate, but people who want to write good IF should realize that
>they're going to need a long intership studying the basics of story.
>Our "puzzle" mindset may have obscured this, but I think it's true.

I'm a firm believer in the adage that to write you need to read. If you know
what works for you as a reader, then you have more of a chance of translating
that into your writing. Even if this means that you write like nobody else has
ever done, purely because nobody has written what you'd like to read, at least
you're pleasing one person with your efforts.


>I would think people who are serious about writing IF would also

>be serious about writing other types of fiction. Am I wrong?

>Let me start an informal poll here. Who of our IF authors also writes
>static fiction?

I have written one 60,000 word novel and innumerable short stories. I have
never received a rejection letter, largely because I have never sent anything
to a publisher. There's a couple of reasons for this, one of which is that
having enjoyed the hell out of writing and (especially completing) a work, I
see no real need to tarnish that feeling with a rejection slip. Doing it is
more important for me than having others acknowledge it. I write everything
from manuals to propaganda for a living, anyway, so the idea of an impersonal
audience of 1000s isn't such a huge thrill, as I already have one.

Writing IF is a similar thing. I had done very little programming prior to this
so the thrill of getting a large chunk of code to compile is quite a rush. The
personal satisfaction I get from this is far greater than, say, winning a
couple of prizes for stories in secondary school (high school?). I'm
entering it into the contest, not so much because I think I'll win (heh, I must
have broken at least three of those 'what makes a bad adventure' things
already), but because it provides a) a deadline, which I work better under and
b) a good chance to get feedback in a small time frame, before I start
concentrating on the next one. But I digress.

The other reason is a superficial one. In this country, I have yet to see a
mainstream book published that wasn't some kind of grim realist scenario, and I
just don't write that kind of thing. I like to have fun with what I create. If
I want realism, I'll go for a walk.


John Holder

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Aug 15, 1996, 3:00:00 AM8/15/96
to

Kevin Soucy (Stee...@usa.pipeline.com) wrote:
: >Heaven knows what terrible things could issue forth if someone made it
: >possible to write a game with NO CODING... ;)
:
: Wait and see. That's another thing I plan on trying to handle. (All a

: part of my huge agenda...)

"Do or do not - there is no try!" - Yoda

Michael Blaheta

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Aug 15, 1996, 3:00:00 AM8/15/96
to

Quoth Glen Smith:

> A game with NO CODING sounds dangerous. :) Especially when the worst
> adventure I've seen consisted of room descriptions like "You hear
> something scream.", offering no clue as to what exits it has (No joke!)
> and all exits except for one lead to death, in EVERY room! I hate to say
> it, but it was also an AGT adventure. I'm working on my first adventure
> using Inform. Any tips on how to keep it from becoming a "bad adventure"?

1) Plan ahead. While this is not required for a good game, it seems to
help.

2) Playtest. Once *you* think your adventure is done, have at least one
(preferably more) person play it with an eye towards bugs and
inconsistencies. What you miss, often other people will pick up on.

There are other things too, but I'd say these (especially #2) are the
most important.

Don

Den of Iniquity

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Aug 15, 1996, 3:00:00 AM8/15/96
to

On 13 Aug 1996, Kevin Soucy wrote:

> On Aug 13, 1996 'Den of Iniquity <dms...@york.ac.uk>' wrote:
>
> >Heaven knows what terrible things could issue forth if someone made it
> >possible to write a game with NO CODING... ;)
>
> Wait and see. That's another thing I plan on trying to handle. (All a
> part of my huge agenda...)

I _am_ intrigued.

I can just imagine it: you've created your masterpiece based in your own
cellar and you select 'compile'...

:: Warning - could not compile ::
:: Error number 12.1 - your adventure is completely kunkel. ::

--
Den

Kevin Soucy

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Aug 15, 1996, 3:00:00 AM8/15/96
to

On Aug 15, 1996 00:38:08 in article <Re: BAD adventures>, 'jho...@frii.com

(John Holder)' wrote:

>>>Heaven knows what terrible things could issue forth if someone made it

>>>possible to write a game with NO CODING... ;)

>>Wait and see. That's another thing I plan on trying to handle. (All a
>>part of my huge agenda...)

>"Do or do not - there is no try!" - Yoda

Ok, fine, that's another thing I plan on doing. My dream is to start a
shareware text adventure publishing company, and submitted adventures will
be carefully screened before they are released. Shareware retail per game
will be around 10$ + Shipping, and the author will get 50% of that per copy
sold. Those prices will be the reason why the games will be so carefully
screened. If a game sucks, who's gonna buy it? Also note that I'm not
going to just turn people's games away if they aren't deemed worthy...I'm
going to help them get their games up to par.

Space Aliens laughed at my Cardigan might have been a good game
if..........

"AGT Master"

Stee...@Usa.Pipeline.Com

mathew

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Aug 15, 1996, 3:00:00 AM8/15/96
to

In article <4ut4dv$p...@newsbf02.news.aol.com>,

JefJames <jefj...@aol.com> wrote:
>I'm kind of confused by this whole thread. We're talking about IF stories
>vs. regular stories, but I think they're qualitatively different animals.
>I can't think of any IF game I've ever played, even the ones I loved, that
>I would be interested in sitting down and going through if the puzzles
>weren't there.

Try playing "A Mind Forever Voyaging". I found myself playing that to
find out what was going to happen, not to get past puzzles.


mathew
--
me...@pobox.com home page with *content* at http://www.pobox.com/~meta/

Help prevent economic censorship on the net - support the Open Text Boycott
See http://www.pobox.com/~meta/rs/ot/

Glen Smith

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Aug 15, 1996, 3:00:00 AM8/15/96
to

In article <4uqp6h$i...@wnnews1.netlink.net.nz>, stev...@moc.govt.nz
says...

>
>jo...@laraby.tiac.net (Admiral Jota) wrote:
>
>>Sadly, AGT seems to have a higher of really bad games than any other
>system I know of.
>
>AGT may not be the ultimate I.F. authoring system, but I think it
>should be noted that the prevalence of bad AGT games is not necessarily
>due to the inherent limitations of AGT.
>
>A couple of other reasons could be ....
>
>a) the AGT system has been available for a very long time so many AGT
>games were written when amateur I.F. standards weren't so high.
>
>b) AGT is easy to use so people who don't want to invest a lot of
>time with writing I.F. are more likely to use it than authoring systems
>which require greater effort to learn.
>
I agree. I'm not saying AGT is bad, but the worst adventures I've seen
were the ones made by people who probably wouldn't take the time to learn
a more complicated system. Also, it seems that the worst adventures I've
seen usually have an outrageous registration fee. One in particular was
$60. Is this a common occurance with bad adventures, or is it just me?

bout...@razor.wcc.govt.nz

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Aug 16, 1996, 3:00:00 AM8/16/96
to

In article <4utad8$b...@data.csw.net>, ksm...@CSWNET.COM (Glen Smith) writes:
>
>A game with NO CODING sounds dangerous. :) Especially when the worst
>adventure I've seen consisted of room descriptions like "You hear
>something scream.", offering no clue as to what exits it has (No joke!)
>and all exits except for one lead to death, in EVERY room! I hate to say
>it, but it was also an AGT adventure. I'm working on my first adventure
>using Inform.

Me too - so don't expect my advice to be definitive :)

> Any tips on how to keep it from becoming a "bad adventure"?

It sounds like you've seen a few - note what made them bad and then avoid those
pitfalls.

The text of 'Craft of Adventure' by Mr Nelson has a 'Player's Bill of Rights'
which will also give you a few pointers (it's on ftp.gmd.de). That could be a
good place to start. I guess, by extension, bearing the player's perspective in
mind while you write is a valuable technique, eg, if the player could die 9
times before finding the right exit, they're likely to be annoyed/turned off.
Don't give them the opportunity. Write the game you'd like to play.

-Giles


Russell L. Bryan

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Aug 16, 1996, 3:00:00 AM8/16/96
to

Phil Goetz wrote:

> The problem with this approach is that if you are inept enough, like me,
> you can go ten years without actually publishing anything, and in all
> that time get zero feedback, except from writers' groups
> full of other people who don't know how to get published.
> (After a few dozen photocopied rejection slip you begin to wonder if
> the editors even READ your stories...)

Never attribute your rejection notices to your being inept. Any writer can
tell you about their own personal mountain of rejection slips. It sounds
like you're losing hope, and that would be a huge mistake.

> I would think people who are serious about writing IF would also
> be serious about writing other types of fiction. Am I wrong?
> Let me start an informal poll here. Who of our IF authors also writes
> static fiction?

I'm actually writing my first novel at the moment. That is the reason why
I'm putting off my IF entry. In fact, I'm writing a novelization of the
game I was writing.

-- Russ

Carl Muckenhoupt

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Aug 16, 1996, 3:00:00 AM8/16/96
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ksm...@CSWNET.COM (Glen Smith) writes:

>A game with NO CODING sounds dangerous. :) Especially when the worst
>adventure I've seen consisted of room descriptions like "You hear
>something scream.", offering no clue as to what exits it has (No joke!)
>and all exits except for one lead to death, in EVERY room! I hate to say
>it, but it was also an AGT adventure.

Ah. Well, that explains it. Part of the default AGT command set is a
LIST EXITS command that lists the directions you can go in.
So the author may have simply assumed that putting the exit list in the
room description wasn't necessary. (And let's face it - if Infocom had
put LIST EXITS into their games, it would be part of the standard
TADS and Inform libraries today, and we would all assume that the player
knows about it.)

> I'm working on my first adventure

>using Inform. Any tips on how to keep it from becoming a "bad adventure"?

Many. Check out "The Craft of Adventure" (available at GMD), particularly
the section titled "The Player's Bill of Rights", for some good initial
tips.

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

Martin Terman

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Aug 16, 1996, 3:00:00 AM8/16/96
to

A professional writer had once gotten enough questions about what
sort of things a writer should do that he wrote a column on it. I don't
have the text online, and the book the column is in is packed away. But
the first point the author had was: read.

He pointed out that any wanna-be writer is writing, but many of them
aren't doing much reading, which is vital for an author to get a vital
store of information with which to write. Not to mention seeing things
to emulate or avoid in other writers.

I would probably say that anyone who wants to write an IF game should
probably play a bunch of IF games, good and bad, to get an idea of what
techniques are out there, and to make a list of things to emulate and
other things to avoid.

And lots of reading of conventional stuff, non-fiction as well as
fiction, to get a good store of ideas and concepts and characters to
put into a game as well.

The writing and programming side can be assumed.

--
Martin Terman, Therapy and Behavioral Counseling for Troubled Computers.
Disclaimer: Sticks and stones may break my bones, but flames are just ignored
email: mfte...@access.digex.com home page: http://access.digex.net/~mfterman/
"Sig quotes are like bumper stickers, only without the same sense of relevance"

Richard G Clegg

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Aug 16, 1996, 3:00:00 AM8/16/96
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JefJames (jefj...@aol.com) wrote:

: weren't there. I mean, imagine Zork as a storyline, without having to


: sovle anything. I don't think "There's this person who comes to this
: house, finds a trapdoor, explores a dungeon, kills a troll, and gets a
: bunch of expensive items" makes a very entertaining or gripping story
: without the challenge of the puzzles.

Well, maybe it doesn't sound good written like that... but I think it
could be a real work of art if written from the troll's point of view
"I live in a house, it has many doors..."

--
Richard G. Clegg There ain't no getting round getting round
Dept. of Mathematics (Network Control group) Uni. of York.
email: ric...@manor.york.ac.uk Eschew Obfustication
www: http://manor.york.ac.uk/top.html


Message has been deleted

Dan Dalton

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Aug 17, 1996, 3:00:00 AM8/17/96
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Wow mine came with it...hmmm I need to slow down.

John Wood

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Aug 17, 1996, 3:00:00 AM8/17/96
to

ksm...@CSWNET.COM (Glen Smith) writes:
> In article <4uqp6h$i...@wnnews1.netlink.net.nz>, stev...@moc.govt.nz
> says...
> >
> >b) AGT is easy to use so people who don't want to invest a lot of
> >time with writing I.F. are more likely to use it than authoring systems
> >which require greater effort to learn.
> >
> I agree. I'm not saying AGT is bad, but the worst adventures I've seen
> were the ones made by people who probably wouldn't take the time to learn
> a more complicated system. Also, it seems that the worst adventures I've
> seen usually have an outrageous registration fee. One in particular was
> $60. Is this a common occurance with bad adventures, or is it just me?

What you two are saying is true, but I feel it is a bad argument to use
against the creation of easy-to-use tools. For example, with the advent
of affordable desktop publishing, I have noticed many more badly-designed
pamphlets, posters and fanzines. This is unfortunate, but DTP has been a
boon to good designers as well - they can produce high-quality work faster
than before, and attempt more ambitious projects. I would therefore class
DTP as a "good thing", despite the extra waste paper. IMO, the same
applies to adventure writing systems.

Suppose that AGT were capable of producing any game you could write with
Inform or TADS, but with less effort on the part of the author. I believe
one of two things would happen (and probably both):

(a) The "quality" authors would start using AGT, and bring out adventures
more often (or else more advanced games);
(b) Inform and/or TADS would be upgraded to make them as easy to use.

This would be a good thing, and to turn our back on the possibilities
because

(c) Bad authors would find it easy to knock out a lot of rubbish

would be very sad. I shall be delighted if Kevin succeeds in his aims
(although I'll miss the coding 8-).

As a recent thread attested, 90% of everything is crap. In a fertile
environment you'll also find plenty of roses...
<PRETENTIOUS MODE OFF>

John


Carl Muckenhoupt

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Aug 19, 1996, 3:00:00 AM8/19/96
to

as40...@orion.yorku.ca writes:

>The other thing is that even I tend to skim text when I'm playing, and I
>consider myself a very careful reader. I also know I never do the same with
>fiction (or non-fiction) on the page that keeps my interest. Could be the heat
>of the moment rushing me to get tapping away on my next command. But I'm
>relatively sure that this is pretty common in the world of IF, since it's
>pretty common in the world at large.

If I am not mistaken, people in general are a lot more liable to skim
text when it's on a screen than when it's on a page. Possibly it's due
to the physical strain of staring into a CRT, possibly it's just that
we subconsciously know that things on screens are liable to change.

Francis Irving

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Aug 19, 1996, 3:00:00 AM8/19/96
to

On 16 Aug 96 21:58:52 -500, as40...@orion.yorku.ca wrote:

>
>The other thing is that even I tend to skim text when I'm playing, and I
>consider myself a very careful reader. I also know I never do the same with
>fiction (or non-fiction) on the page that keeps my interest. Could be the heat
>of the moment rushing me to get tapping away on my next command. But I'm
>relatively sure that this is pretty common in the world of IF, since it's
>pretty common in the world at large.

I have this problem to. With me it's mainly due to a reluctance to
read the same thing twice - and that's something which you have to do
often in IF (maybe I should turn verbose back off again...). But
often you have to read it carefully, or else you miss something new.

Also, when reading a room description carefully I like to try
examining and doing things to every item as I go along, so I don't
forget about them later.

Francis.


Greg Ewing

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Aug 20, 1996, 3:00:00 AM8/20/96
to

as40...@orion.yorku.ca wrote:
>
> The other thing is that even I tend to skim text when I'm playing, and I
> consider myself a very careful reader. I also know I never do the same with
> fiction (or non-fiction) on the page that keeps my interest.

I think it's the "keeps one's interest" that's the key here.
In traditional fiction (TF), it doesn't matter much if you skim
over a boring part. The worst that can happen is that you'll
miss some detail required to make full sense of later events;
it won't stop you from reading the rest of the story.

But in IF you have to be much more careful, since missing
something important can get you stuck. Furthermore, there's
much more potential to get bored in IF, since you often
see the same piece of text multiple times, from revisiting
rooms and looking at items which only have default descriptions,
etc. This makes it easy to lose concentration.

So I think that one is made much more aware of when one
has unwisely skimmed over something in IF, rather than
skimming happening more in IF than TF.

Greg

Greg Ewing

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Aug 20, 1996, 3:00:00 AM8/20/96
to

bout...@razor.wcc.govt.nz wrote:
>
> if the player could die 9
> times before finding the right exit, they're likely to be annoyed/turned off.
> Don't give them the opportunity. Write the game you'd like to play.

Hmmm... Maybe he did, and he just happened to be a
suicidal masochist who would welcome the opportunity
to die multiple painful deaths :-)

Greg

Greg Ewing

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Aug 20, 1996, 3:00:00 AM8/20/96
to

Den of Iniquity wrote:
>
> but the word 'static' just gives me the creeps.

Perhaps "classic fiction" or "traditional fiction" would be
a more dignified way to refer to it?

Greg

Andrew Plotkin

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Aug 20, 1996, 3:00:00 AM8/20/96
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