Maze design dilemma...

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S.P.Harvey

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Oct 8, 1994, 4:37:39 PM10/8/94
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The dilemma is: I've got a maze that I would prefer not be solvable by
the dropping-of-objects method. I've got a puzzle and solution that will
create the equivalent of the dropped objects. IMHO, the puzzle is
somewhat clever and has taken quite some time to code and design up to
this point.

What's considered a decent method to prevent the solving of a maze in a
method other than what's planned by the designer? It would be extremely
easy (and contrived) to code a mechanism which removes dropped objects to
another neutral spot. Alternatively, I can easily restrict the player
getting to the "end" room without solving the puzzle (an easy setting of
flags).

Neither of these seem quite satisfactory. Once the solution is in place,
the maze can be solved in a manner very similar to following the trail of
objects. I don't wish to give any more details other than what's
explained above, for fear of spoiling a puzzle.

I'd be interested to hear others' ideas on maze design and solvability.

Scott

--
----------------------| S.P. Harvey |--------------------------
"True! - nervous - very, very dreadfully nervous I had been and am;
but why _will_ you say that I am mad?" - Poe, 'The Tell-Tale Heart'
----------------------| sha...@interaccess.com |--------------------------

Erik Max Francis

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Oct 8, 1994, 11:45:27 PM10/8/94
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sharvey@interaccess ( S.P.Harvey) writes:

> The dilemma is: I've got a maze that I would prefer not be solvable by
> the dropping-of-objects method. I've got a puzzle and solution that will
> create the equivalent of the dropped objects. IMHO, the puzzle is
> somewhat clever and has taken quite some time to code and design up to
> this point.

Why do you need to have a maze in the first place? Can't you think of
a more clever puzzle than your standard "You are in a maze of twisty
passages, all alike" maze?


Erik Max Francis, &tSftDotIotE ...!uuwest!alcyone!max m...@alcyone.darkside.com
San Jose, California, USA -><- -><- ICBM: 37 20 N 121 53 W _
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Omnia quia sunt, lumina sunt. ("All things that are, are lights.") -><- \_/

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Felix Lee

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Oct 9, 1994, 9:47:48 PM10/9/94
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S.P.Harvey:

>The dilemma is: I've got a maze that I would prefer not be solvable by
>the dropping-of-objects method. I've got a puzzle and solution that will
>create the equivalent of the dropped objects.

prevent dropping of objects
player navigates the maze in an enclosed vehicle
player can't carry anything into the maze
player doesn't actually enter maze

prevent dropped objects from being useful in mapping
dropped objects disappear
dropped objects follow player ("You're on a maze of twisty rubber sheets")
dropped objects don't stay still

Specifics depend on the scenery involved.
--

S.P.Harvey

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Oct 9, 1994, 10:20:22 PM10/9/94
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Erik Max Francis (m...@alcyone.darkside.com) wrote:

: Why do you need to have a maze in the first place? Can't you think of

: a more clever puzzle than your standard "You are in a maze of twisty
: passages, all alike" maze?

I don't need to have a maze, I'd like to have a maze. Mazes are, you
must admit, part of the genre of IF. I don't think a maze is a cliche
(not yet), especially when it's worked into the overall theme and setting.

Also, my maze is not "you are in a maze of twisty passages, all alike" -
that's why I was asking for alternative solutions methods and design
ideas. Furthermore, the term "maze" does not always refer to an
unfurnished string of corridors looped randomly together... mazes need
not have the appearance of an old Wizardy dungeon. The maze in my game
involves finding the proper cubicle in an enormous office, not skulking
through catacombs and dark caverns.

As a matter of fact, I have come up with a more clever puzzle than simply
a maze to be solved by the dropping of objects. I was inquiring about
what my fellow designers, players, and IF enthuasists consider an
above-board method to prevent the solving by tradition means. Once you
solve the puzzle, you'll be able to get through the maze with no difficulty.

Sorry if I sound defensive, I suppose I am. It's distressing to have a
creation criticised before anyone's even seen the finished product.

Scott

--
----------------------| S.P. Harvey |--------------------------

"Christianity taught that humanity is worthless and vile but that if we
agree to hate ourselves, God will forgive us." - Garrison Keillor
----------------------| sha...@interaccess.com |--------------------------

David Baggett

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Oct 10, 1994, 2:44:58 PM10/10/94
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In article <376vuj$9...@nntp.interaccess.com>,
S.P.Harvey <sha...@interaccess.com> wrote:

>What's considered a decent method to prevent the solving of a maze in a
>method other than what's planned by the designer?

Omission of the maze from the game.

Dave Baggett
__
d...@ai.mit.edu MIT AI Lab He who has the highest Kibo # when he dies wins.
ADVENTIONS: We make Kuul text adventures! Email for a catalog of releases.

Russ Bryan

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Oct 10, 1994, 9:46:26 PM10/10/94
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Felix Lee <fl...@cse.psu.edu> wrote:
>The dilemma is: I've got a maze that I would prefer not be solvable by
>the dropping-of-objects method. I've got a puzzle and solution that will
>create the equivalent of the dropped objects.

Just so you know what others have done, Curses had the wonderful addition
of slaves at every intersection who would, quite simply, not allow you to
drop anything. For your office idea, maybe have it be during business hours:

You are in a maze of cubicles housed by nerdy little accountants, all alike.

> drop widget

The accounant in the cubicle looks at you with mild annoyment. "Would
you mind not littering my workspace?" He shoves the widget into your
pack and gets back to work.

--

Actually, I kinda like that.


--

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Darin Johnson

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Oct 11, 1994, 12:08:56 AM10/11/94
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> I don't need to have a maze, I'd like to have a maze. Mazes are, you
> must admit, part of the genre of IF. I don't think a maze is a cliche
> (not yet), especially when it's worked into the overall theme and setting.

They ARE a cliche already. And there has never been an
enjoyable maze. In the games that have them, they're a
nuisance you have to put up with. They're only part of
the genre because a lot of designers don't realize that
they add nothing to a game except frustration.

Of course, if you have something different, then give it
a try - but make sure the player doesn't say "oh darn,
it's the maze". By one definition, a maze is a confusing
intricate network of passages - if you have something
different, it might not actually be a maze after all.
--
Darin Johnson
djoh...@ucsd.edu -- Toy cows in Africa

Jason Noble

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Oct 12, 1994, 10:16:28 PM10/12/94
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Mazes: just say no.


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Brian Brushwood

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Oct 16, 1994, 10:37:27 PM10/16/94
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David Baggett (d...@min.ai.mit.edu) wrote:
: In article <376vuj$9...@nntp.interaccess.com>,
: S.P.Harvey <sha...@interaccess.com> wrote:

: >What's considered a decent method to prevent the solving of a maze in a
: >method other than what's planned by the designer?

: Omission of the maze from the game.

How about a maze that randomly generates itself (to a definite size).

easy enough to implement too.....

From The Eternally Sleeping Dragon
(who wakes up occassionally to flame someone)

The Grim Reaper

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Oct 17, 1994, 12:11:56 AM10/17/94
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In article <37so17$d...@styx.uwa.edu.au>,

Brian Brushwood <dra...@tartarus.uwa.edu.au> wrote:
>David Baggett (d...@min.ai.mit.edu) wrote:
>: In article <376vuj$9...@nntp.interaccess.com>,
>: S.P.Harvey <sha...@interaccess.com> wrote:
>
>: >What's considered a decent method to prevent the solving of a maze in a
>: >method other than what's planned by the designer?
>
>: Omission of the maze from the game.
>
>How about a maze that randomly generates itself (to a definite size).
>
>easy enough to implement too.....

Yes, but why would you want to??? Mazes are horribly out of date now, rather
cliched, and not fun at all to wander through. Removing the ability to use
a walk-through makes it even worse. I don't really object to having clever
mazes in the game, but to me, that means "mazes with an easy + imaginative
solution". Mazes that have arrows drawn on the floor in glow-in-the-dark
ink, mazes with a guide you can find, mazes where you can climb a tree and
look at their layout, mazes where you can smell/hear your way through, mazes
that can be manipulated so you don't have to wander through them... whatever.
Any maze that I actually have to wander through is not my idea of fun, plain
and simple. Why bother? (One of the few redeeming features of Save Princeton
was the library maze, IMO. For the uninitiated (slight spoilers, I guess)

once you started dropping objects to figure out the exits in the rooms, the
game noticed, printed a message to the effect of "Yes, that's how we all solve
the maze. Let's just cut to the chase." and zapped you to the end.

>From The Eternally Sleeping Dragon
>(who wakes up occassionally to flame someone)

+----------------------------------------------------------+
| One .sig to rule them all, one .sig to find them... |
| One .sig to bring them all and in the darkness bind them |
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| scy...@u.washington.edu |
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Greg Ewing

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Oct 19, 1994, 11:50:12 PM10/19/94
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In article <383s99...@life.ai.mit.edu>, d...@case.ai.mit.edu (David Baggett) writes:
|>
|> I think you could improve the game by giving the player a map in the
|> beginning of the game. Even if you don't label it as the solution to the
|> maze, you'll at least be giving the player the option of skipping an
|> unsatisifying puzzle.

Perhaps *before* reaching the maze, the player could encounter
something which is obviously part of the solution to a maze,
but is not immediately useable (e.g. a scroll titled
"Mappe to Ye Maze" written in invisible ink). That way
the player would be fore-reassured that the maze isn't
a standard mindless obstacle.

|> Dave Baggett
|> __
|> d...@ai.mit.edu MIT AI Lab He who has the highest Kibo # when he dies wins.

Greg Ewing, Computer Science Dept, +--------------------------------------+
University of Canterbury, | A citizen of NewZealandCorp, a |
Christchurch, New Zealand | wholly-owned subsidiary of Japan Inc.|
gr...@cosc.canterbury.ac.nz +--------------------------------------+

Magnus Olsson

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Oct 20, 1994, 11:13:21 AM10/20/94
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In article <383s99...@life.ai.mit.edu>,
David Baggett <d...@ai.mit.edu> wrote:
>In article <380sk3$7...@nic.lth.se>, Magnus Olsson <m...@marvin.df.lth.se> wrote:
>>In article <37stic$b...@nntp1.u.washington.edu>,
>
>>but I've seen a few games with mazes that have imaginative solutions, that
>>- once you've found them - eliminate all the drudgery of dropping things
>>and drawing maps. Indeed, most of these mazes are unsolvable without the
>>trick.
>
>I must confess that I don't even think mazes like this are a good idea.
>The problem is that if you miss the trick, you end up even *more*
>frustrated than if the maze had been of the standard variety. In other
>words, you end up going through the tedium of trying to solve the maze
>using the standard brute force tactics, only to find out that these don't
>work, and that you've wasted several hours.
>
>This applies equally to mazes for which the solution is hidden somewhere.
>In UU2, for example, the maze is truly evil
[...]
>You can find a map to the maze hidden somewhere, so I thought it was still
>pretty fair. Boy, was I wrong. Almost no one found the map, so the maze
>ended up being a horrendous nightmare that required extensive object
>dropping to solve.

Indeed this is an important point. Most players are so used to the
ADVENT-type mazes that they automatically assume that all mazes are the
same. I agree with you that it's extremely important to make clear to
the player at an early point that "this is not an oridnary vanilla maze,
it just looks like one".

Having a maze that is _only_ solvable through brute-force mapping is bad,
since it's been done so many times. It will just bore the player, perhaps
to the point of giving up the game for good.

Having a maze that can _not_ be solved by the brute-force method is
bad if the player doesn't realize it early on - as you say, any failed
attempt at the brute-force solution will only enhance the player's
frustration. However, in all the games I was referring to, it is
quite plain that the standard method won't work - for example, in "One
Hand Clapping", you can't see anything inside the maze, so dropping
things is clearly pointless (you can't see if the things you've
dropped earlier are lying around), in some other games all dropped
objects immedaitely disappear, and so on.

However, I think that _if_ the player realizes from the start, or
almost from the start, that he's supposed to come up with an original
solution, the puzzle can be interesting. But I'd really like some more
feedback on how many of you out there really share this feeling. And
then there's of course the question of just how obvious it should be
that it's not yet another boring brute-force maze. Some players may be
tenacious enough to try solving the maze in the brute-force way for
quite some time and still enjoy finding the smart solutions. Others
clearly aren't. And maybe some players will find it boring to have the
fact shoved into their faces in too obvious a manner?

BTW, if it's not _very_ obvious that there is a smart solution, I
think it's a bad thing if the maze is still solvable (or not obviously
unsolvable) by conventional means. For example, perhaps it would've
been better if the UU2 maze had been totally unbsolvable without the
map, and that the player had realized this after a while (for example,
the maze could have given the impression of being infinite in size, so
that however much you drop along your way, you never seem to retrun to
the same place again)? Having one very tedious and one very smart
solution to the same problem is dangerous, to say the least; the
players who find only the tedious solution may judge the entire game
based upon that.

In the case of my game, the situation _may_ be alleviated by the fact that
when the player encounters the maze, he's already seen quite a few
other puzlles that he recognizes, but whose solutions are quite new,
so that he's prepared for a maze with an unconventional solution.


To summarize, maybe one could say that in no case should the game fool
the player into attempting a long, tedious way of solving a problem if
there exists a smarter way of doing it.

>>The maze in my game will be 100% unsolvable by the original method, only
>>the user may not notice that immediately...
>
>This is great for the designer, but awful for the player! Why do I want to
>be subjected to this? I was hoping you'd finish that sentence with "only
>it is immediately obvious that the brute-force methods won't work". In
>that case I'd say that you're still taking a risk with your maze, but that
>you haven't (at least is spirit) violated the Player's Bill of Rights.

Of course you're right. I wasn't thinking very clearly when I wrote that.


[ ABout my previous game, Dunjin ]

>>Anyway, would there be any interest for a walk-thru of the mazes? I could
>>post one here if anybody feels it would make the game more attactive
>>to them.


>
>I think you could improve the game by giving the player a map in the
>beginning of the game. Even if you don't label it as the solution to the
>maze, you'll at least be giving the player the option of skipping an
>unsatisifying puzzle.

I wasn't planning any new releases of Dunjin, but this discussion has
convinced me that the game is seriously flawed as long as I don't
do anything about the mazes.

So, the next release will feature Maisie, Your Friend From The
Adventurer's Guild. Very early in the game, whe'll appear and explain
the situation with the mazes, and that she can help if you don't like
mazes.

Whenever you find yourself inside a maze, you can call on Maisie by
giving the commadnd "maze". She'll apear and teleport you to the other
side of the maze. To give the player _some_ incentive to map the
mazes, one point will be deducted from the final score for calling on
Maisie's help.

Does this sound like an acceptable solution to you people out there?


Magnus Olsson (m...@df.lth.se) / yacc computer club, Lund, Sweden
Work: Innovativ Vision AB, Linkoping (magnus...@ivab.se)
Old adresses (may still work): mag...@thep.lu.se, the...@selund.bitnet
PGP key available via finger (to df.lth.se) or on request.

The Essential Addition

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Oct 19, 1994, 11:37:59 PM10/19/94
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What makes a maze any less satisfying than any other puzzle?

I don't entirely understand what's going on here. It seems as though the
idea is to take the puzzles out of adventures entirely.

Now hold on -- don't throw this into your quoting driver and tell me
that's not what you're after, because I know that it's not. The fact is,
however, that if we are talking about the text adventure aspect of
interactive fiction -- if we're talking about TADS and Inform -- then
we're going to have puzzles and mazes and the like. Making one's way
through a maze is just as frustrating as tracking down the key to a door,
or solving an exceptionally difficult riddle, or figuring out which
object that NPC is looking for. By making the maze an exception, we are
merely splitting hairs. Personally, I find mazes to be the easiest part
of most adventures, and I do feel extreme satisfaction -- glee, actually --
when suddenly those "Twisty Passages, All Similar" become different. I
FOUND IT! The puzzle is solved.

Incidentally, folks, instead of trying to mold the text adventure to your
idea of the perfect game, you should consider just changing languages and
going to something more directed at the genre you're looking for. There
is a language known as Hypertalk -- I'm sure you've heard of it -- and,
specifically, a platform called Storyspace that does everything you are
all talking about.

The player -- or, in this case, the reader -- goes through a story in
chapters. Now, if the player wishes to, he can hit <RETURN> at every
prompt and go through the story, beginning to end, using defaults.
However, if some word interests the player, the player can type that word
and possibly get a short aside about that word, or even open up an
entirely new section of story. One such interactive book (because that's
really what we're talking about here) kept in interested for three weeks
before I finally decided that I had read everything -- there were a total
of 400+ chapters, and only 75 appeared through the defaults. At the end,
I knew every character in detail, had uncovered some private comments
(and a biblioraphy) from the author, and I swear it was unlike any
fiction I had read.

This was TRUE interactive fiction, and before any of you say that's not
what you're talking about, pick up and read one of these interactive
novels, because it is precisely what you have been describing.

Just don't knock mazes and puzzles, because as primitive as they are,
they are part and parcel of the text adventure, and don't deserve the
treatment they're getting. They are as much a part of the genre as black
hats were once a part of the Western.

--

| "I drank what?" The Essential Addition "Dave, I'm feeling |
| - Socrates rbryan@ netcom.com much better now." |
| [PRISM I: Firegods Coming in November] - HAL, 2001 |

Neil K. Guy

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Oct 20, 1994, 3:32:26 PM10/20/94
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d...@case.ai.mit.edu (David Baggett) writes:

>>Wouldn't it be a pity if people just threw these games away because they
>>found that they contained mazes?

>It may be a pity, but people will still do it. I'd stay away from mazes
>unless you're *really* careful with them.

Well just thought I'd cast my vote into the "mazes are horribly
tedious game concepts from hell" camp. It may be a pity if, as Magnus
(I think) says, players throw away a perfectly good game upon
confronting a maze, but I think it's more a pity that the designer
decided to put one in.

If, as Graham Nelson says, adventure games are "crossword puzzles at
war with a narrative" then mazes, to continue the bellicose metaphor,
are crossword puzzles that have ruthlessly vanquished fun.

- Neil K.

PS: didn't we have this discussion about two years ago? As I recall
most people concluded then that mazes are best avoided as one of those
fun for the author and tiresome for the player things.
--
49N 16' 123W 7' / Vancouver, BC, Canada / n_k...@sfu.ca

Magnus Olsson

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Oct 18, 1994, 12:20:19 PM10/18/94
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In article <37stic$b...@nntp1.u.washington.edu>,

The Grim Reaper <scy...@u.washington.edu> wrote:
>Yes, but why would you want to??? Mazes are horribly out of date now, rather
>cliched, and not fun at all to wander through. Removing the ability to use
>a walk-through makes it even worse. I don't really object to having clever
>mazes in the game, but to me, that means "mazes with an easy + imaginative
>solution".

I'm happy to see that, at last, someone has written this. I was
getting a bit worried about all the people writing blanket
condemnations of all mazes, like "if a game contains a maze, I throw
it away". Of course, I agree that the classic Advent-type maze, where
the only problem is to map the maze, and the only way of doing this is
dropping things on the floor, is totally dead nowadays, but I've seen


a few games with mazes that have imaginative solutions, that - once you've
found them - eliminate all the drudgery of dropping things and drawing
maps. Indeed, most of these mazes are unsolvable without the trick.

Wouldn't it be a pity if people just threw these games away because


they found that they contained mazes?

I'm right now writing a game that contains sort of pastiches - perhaps
even parodies - of some classical adventure problems, including the
maze. The maze in my game will be 100% unsolvable by the original
method, only the user may not notice that immediately... ;-) But it
would be a great pity if anybody were to throw the game away as soon
as they reached the maze.

Does anybody have any ideas about what to do to avoid that situation?
WOuld it be sufficient to note it in the docs? (Probably not, because
nobody ever reads the docs. :-)) Or should the user, when approaching
the maze, find some large, fiery, letters hanging in mid-air that
spell out the message "Warning: You are approaching that long-time
dread of the adventurer: a maze. Be advised that there is a simple way
through the maze, one which doesn't require you to map laboriously the
entire maze by dropping things on the floor.".

Or is the hatred for mazes so strong about IF aficionados that I
should just forget about the whole problem?

BTW, I must confess that my earlier game Dunjin (available from ftp.gmd.de)
does contain a few mazes (you only need to get through one of the to win,
and that is a pretty small one, though). I must claim youthful
ignorance as my only defence - I hadn't played very many adventure
games when I designed the mazes and to be frank I actually thought
mazes were great at the time (shudder!). Though I have received a few
complaints about the mazes, nobody has said that they gave up the game
because of them, but then if you give up a game because of the mazes
you might not be very inclined to tell the author about it...

Anyway, would there be any interest for a walk-thru of the mazes? I could
post one here if anybody feels it would make the game more attactive
to them.

Magnus Olsson (m...@df.lth.se) / yacc computer club, Lund, Sweden

S.P.Harvey

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Oct 20, 1994, 5:39:42 PM10/20/94
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The Essential Addition (rbr...@netcom.com) wrote:

: Just don't knock mazes and puzzles, because as primitive as they are,

: they are part and parcel of the text adventure, and don't deserve the
: treatment they're getting. They are as much a part of the genre as black
: hats were once a part of the Western.

TE:

Glad to hear a dissenting voice! Personally, I rather like a clever
maze, and find them part of the fun. I enjoy hunkering down in my chair,
clipboard in my lap, mapping my way through. It's a rather simple way to
get a sense of accomplishment.

I'm encouraged to hear a defense for puzzle-making. It is part of the
genre, that's absolutely correct. Puzzles are more than part of the
genre, they're inherent in the underlying structure.

I still hold that puzzles will come off as a lot less "primitve" when
they're better integrated into the environment. A lot of locked-door
puzzles and give-X-to-NPC-Y puzzles make for a primitive game, very
true. Also primitive are any games with what I call 'abstract' puzzles -
completely irrelevant puzzles simply preventing the player's progress
without linking the impediment to the storyline.

See the Zork Trilogy and Colossal Cave for further elaboration.

Scott


--
----------------------| S.P. Harvey |--------------------------

"If my answers frighten you, Vincent,
you should cease asking scary questions."
- Jules, "Pulp Fiction"
----------------------| sha...@interaccess.com |--------------------------

Jesse McGrew

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Oct 20, 1994, 11:11:08 PM10/20/94
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The Essential Addition (rbr...@netcom.com) wrote:
: What makes a maze any less satisfying than any other puzzle?

It's not (usually) solvable by clevernessm it's solvable by brute force
anr/or mapping.

: I don't entirely understand what's going on here. It seems as though the

: idea is to take the puzzles out of adventures entirely.

No, no, no.

: Now hold on -- don't throw this into your quoting driver and tell me

: that's not what you're after, because I know that it's not. The fact is,
: however, that if we are talking about the text adventure aspect of
: interactive fiction -- if we're talking about TADS and Inform -- then
: we're going to have puzzles and mazes and the like. Making one's way

Yes. Puzzles are fine. Mazes are not.

: through a maze is just as frustrating as tracking down the key to a door,

No, it's more frustrating.

: or solving an exceptionally difficult riddle, or figuring out which

: object that NPC is looking for. By making the maze an exception, we are
: merely splitting hairs. Personally, I find mazes to be the easiest part

No, a maze is different. Mazes are fine if they have some key object that
makes it easier to solve, or some obstacle object that makes them harder
(which you can vanquish), like the navigator's head in Monkey Island, the
generator in Ditch Day Drifter, or the GPS unit in my upcoming game, the
Quest for Sherman Island.

: of most adventures, and I do feel extreme satisfaction -- glee, actually --


: when suddenly those "Twisty Passages, All Similar" become different. I
: FOUND IT! The puzzle is solved.

I don't. I feel relieved for the same reason I'm relieved when I finish
mowing the lawn -- I got it over with finally.

: Incidentally, folks, instead of trying to mold the text adventure to your

: idea of the perfect game, you should consider just changing languages and
: going to something more directed at the genre you're looking for. There
: is a language known as Hypertalk -- I'm sure you've heard of it -- and,
: specifically, a platform called Storyspace that does everything you are
: all talking about.

I don't want a book I can page through, I want a text adventure with no
maze.

: The player -- or, in this case, the reader -- goes through a story in

: chapters. Now, if the player wishes to, he can hit <RETURN> at every
: prompt and go through the story, beginning to end, using defaults.
: However, if some word interests the player, the player can type that word
: and possibly get a short aside about that word, or even open up an
: entirely new section of story. One such interactive book (because that's
: really what we're talking about here) kept in interested for three weeks
: before I finally decided that I had read everything -- there were a total
: of 400+ chapters, and only 75 appeared through the defaults. At the end,
: I knew every character in detail, had uncovered some private comments
: (and a biblioraphy) from the author, and I swear it was unlike any
: fiction I had read.

Yup. That's great.
So, it's like a book with footnotes, right?

: This was TRUE interactive fiction, and before any of you say that's not

: what you're talking about, pick up and read one of these interactive
: novels, because it is precisely what you have been describing.

Yeah. That was interactive fiction, literally.
It was not, however, a text adventure. It was an electronic book with
footnotes.

: Just don't knock mazes and puzzles, because as primitive as they are,

: they are part and parcel of the text adventure, and don't deserve the
: treatment they're getting. They are as much a part of the genre as black
: hats were once a part of the Western.

Puzzles are great! I like puzzles.
Mazes are generally bad. The maze in Monkey Island was good, because you
could use the navigator head to figure out how to get through it.

Greg Ewing

unread,
Oct 20, 1994, 10:34:36 PM10/20/94
to

In article <3861eh$p...@nic.lth.se>, m...@marvin.df.lth.se (Magnus Olsson) writes:
|> [ ABout my previous game, Dunjin ]
|>
|> So, the next release will feature Maisie, Your Friend From The
|> Adventurer's Guild.
|>
|> Does this sound like an acceptable solution to you people out there?

Rather than invoking teleportation, how about something more
like this:

> read tourist guide

[introductory stuff about the dungeon...]

A Note About Mazes
------------------

This dungeon contains several quaint examples of early
adventure-game mazes. Although considered state-of-the-
art when the dungeon was built, this style of maze is
nowadays regarded as excessively tedious by many
adventurers.

You are welcome to try solving the mazes on your own
if you like. If not, you will find in the sealed
pages at the back of this booklet a set of maps
which will help you to negotiate the mazes.
To give you an incentive to try the mazes unaided,
a small deduction will be made from your points
if you open the maps.

> open maps

Riiippp...

(Your score has gone down by 1 point)

[ascii-maps here]


|> Magnus Olsson (m...@df.lth.se) / yacc computer club, Lund, Sweden
|> Work: Innovativ Vision AB, Linkoping (magnus...@ivab.se)
|> Old adresses (may still work): mag...@thep.lu.se, the...@selund.bitnet

Greg Ewing, Computer Science Dept, +--------------------------------------+

Felix Lee

unread,
Oct 21, 1994, 4:33:35 AM10/21/94
to
The Essential Addition:

>What makes a maze any less satisfying than any other puzzle?

They tend to be boring and tedious?

The most boring and tedious maze I ever encountered was the maze in
The 7th Guest. It was way too large to be effective in any sense.
It's a simple rectangular loop-free maze, solvable with the right-hand
rule. It was randomly generated, so you couldn't really solve it any
other way.

Every time you hit a dead end it would play a chilling chord and a
voice would mock, "Getting .... Lonely?" It's fine once or twice;
silly after the third or fourth time. But you get to hear it dozens,
maybe hundreds of times. At that point, it's just annoying and
stupid. The atmosphere of the game is completely destroyed.

I like good mazes, but my definition of a good maze is probably narrow
enough to exclude almost every maze I've seen. :)

>Incidentally, folks, instead of trying to mold the text adventure to your
>idea of the perfect game, you should consider just changing languages and
>going to something more directed at the genre you're looking for. There
>is a language known as Hypertalk -- I'm sure you've heard of it -- and,
>specifically, a platform called Storyspace that does everything you are
>all talking about.

Hypertext is neat, but it's missing certain types of interaction.
It's static text; there's no world behind it that you can manipulate.

I think of IF as a cross between hypertext and nethack. :)
--

Damien P. Neil

unread,
Oct 21, 1994, 10:24:47 AM10/21/94
to
In article <FLEE.94Oc...@algol.cse.psu.edu>,
Felix Lee <fl...@cse.psu.edu> wrote:

>The most boring and tedious maze I ever encountered was the maze in
>The 7th Guest. It was way too large to be effective in any sense.
>It's a simple rectangular loop-free maze, solvable with the right-hand
>rule. It was randomly generated, so you couldn't really solve it any
>other way.

Actually, that maze is trivially solvable. There's a complete map of
it in one of the upstairs bedrooms. (The design on one of the carpets --
the one in the room with the bishop's game, I think -- is the map.)

This is a perfect example of how a poorly thought out maze can harm a
game, incidentally. :> Having a nice solution elsewhere is no good if
a player doesn't realize the solution exists...

- Damien

Magnus Olsson

unread,
Oct 22, 1994, 10:06:27 AM10/22/94
to
In article <3879bs$f...@cantua.canterbury.ac.nz>,

Greg Ewing <gr...@cosc.canterbury.ac.nz> wrote:
>
>In article <3861eh$p...@nic.lth.se>, m...@marvin.df.lth.se (Magnus Olsson) writes:
>|> [ ABout my previous game, Dunjin ]
>|>
>|> So, the next release will feature Maisie, Your Friend From The
>|> Adventurer's Guild.
>|>
>|> Does this sound like an acceptable solution to you people out there?
>
>Rather than invoking teleportation, how about something more
>like this:

Well, actually I do have something more sophisticated than just
"invoking teleportation" in mind. The simplest way of implementing a
"maze cheat" (apart from providing a map; see below for reasons why I
don't want to do that) would perhaps be to have a command (say,
"mazehelp") that instantly teleported you to the other side of
the maze. THat would, however, be rather boring, and feel like just
cheating (which, of course, it is).

Enter Maisie, your Magic Friend from the adventurers' Guild. Typing
"mazehelp" will cause her to appear, drop a few sarcastic lines about
idiotic authors throwing in lots of stupid mazes, and offer to help
you through the maze. The help may vary from actual teleporting to
just showing you the way.

>> read tourist guide
>
>[introductory stuff about the dungeon...]
>
>A Note About Mazes

>> open maps
>
>Riiippp...
>
>(Your score has gone down by 1 point)
>
>[ascii-maps here]

Well, that's certainly a possible solution, but IMHO it lacks a bit in
imagination.

Also, there are some problems with just providing maps, as opposed to
bypassing hte mazes altogether:

1) The mazes in Dunjin are pretty complex. Drawing maps is almost
a hopeless task, since the passages twist around a lot (the mazes aren't
very big, but they are _very_ twisty)., especially if the maps are to
be drawn with ASCII graphics!

2) PRoviding maps means that the player doesn't have to map the mazes
himself, but he'll still have to copy donw the maps on paper (unless
he's got a printer on-line), and then read the maps while traversing
the mazes. IMHO this will be even more boring than before, since now
there's no challenge at all from the mazes, just a lot of tedious
walking around and map-reading. The only gain will be thath the player needs
to spend a little less time inside the mazes.


Magnus Olsson (m...@df.lth.se) / yacc computer club, Lund, Sweden
Work: Innovativ Vision AB, Linkoping (magnus...@ivab.se)
Old adresses (may still work): mag...@thep.lu.se, the...@selund.bitnet

The Essential Addition

unread,
Oct 22, 1994, 1:05:55 PM10/22/94
to
In article <387bgc$3...@krel.iea.com>,
Jesse McGrew <jes...@comtch.iea.com> wrote:

>It was not, however, a text adventure. It was an electronic book with
>footnotes.

No, it wasn't, but you can make whatever presumptions you like if you
want to pretend that it improves your argument.

Just as an aside, any of you who don't mind trying something new should
track down one of these hypertext novels. The one I read was called
"Afternoon, a story," and was really quite beautiful. If you're
at all interested in trying something different, contact me and I'll help
you find something.

The Essential Addition

unread,
Oct 22, 1994, 1:16:43 PM10/22/94
to
OK, before any more people misunderstand what I'm talking about, please
realize that I don't like "Twisty passages, all alike" mazes any more
than you all do. I like mazes with truly creative concepts and
solutions. I want that made clear, because twisty passage mazes are
poor, and show very little thought on the part of the author.

I just hope that you all aren't objecting to all mazes (and some of you
certainly are giving the impression that any collection of six rooms or
more with multiple exits is sinful) because of your dislike of that one
overdone type. If you are, then you're much too impatient. After all,
let's take the person who was talking about the 7th Guest maze. How did
it make you feel when you discovered that the maze's solution was always
available to you? Makes the maze a bit easier, doesn't it?

So is it the game's fault or yours?

Damien P. Neil

unread,
Oct 22, 1994, 1:34:53 PM10/22/94
to
In article <rbryanCy...@netcom.com>,
The Essential Addition <rbr...@netcom.com> wrote:

>Refer to the above subject line.
>
>The key words which Damien used were "poorly thought out." Indeed, but
>it's clear to me that it is the player who, in this case, has not thought
>things out. The solution is there. If the player missed it, then why is
>the maze at fault?

Because there is no hint or clue that the maze has another solution. If
the player has seen the map, and realized that it is a map, she will be
able to trivially solve the maze. If not, she may well attempt to solve
it using traditional methods, which are boring, tedious, and add nothing
to the game. I will admit that I don't believe a player can reach the
maze without seeing the map.

The problem is, however, not the nature of the puzzle (find the map to
the maze), it is the fact that the puzzle is not obvious! This isn't
a problem if the puzzle blocks the player from continuing, since then
she will search for a puzzle, and, hopefully, find it. However, when
the player is allowed to continue through something as tedious and
mindlessly boring as a maze, the author is at fault.

(Note: the maze in The Seventh Guest is nothing like a traditional
`Adventure' maze. It is more like a `Wizardry' maze. (Anyone remember
Wizardry?))

>Why warn players about a trick to passing the maze? If a player fully
>explores the world which a game places him in, then he should find these
>clues on his own. In my opinion, if I have provided a solution and the
>player doesn't find it, then it is the player who made the error.

If a player doesn't enjoy your game, YOU have made the error. In a puzzle-
oriented game (which most are) it is quite acceptable to frustrate the
player -- players who don't want to be frustrated are playing the wrong
sort of game. However, it is NEVER acceptable to bore the player.

Why don't I like mazes? They are unoriginal! In Adventure, the two mazes
were a neat new puzzle. Players actually had to think about how to solve
them. The problem is that half the games written since then seem to contain
the EXACT SAME PUZZLE! How would this argument sound if the question was
whether games should contain a puzzle involving a little bird in a birdcage
being used to drive off a snake? If I put that puzzle in a game, I'd be
rightly called a plagiarist. Why shouldn't the same happen with mazes?
What's more, a maze can take a large amount of tedious plodding to solve --
even when you know exactly what you need to do to solve it.

>If you want to make things easier for the player, then package an
>instruction file with every game, including such tips as "go
>everywhere," "look at everything," "think form and function," etc. In
>fact, I would argue that if you use just these three rules and a touch of
>common sense, you can solve 80% of all puzzles in interactive fiction.

I want to make things easier for the player. This is why I like to allow
players to abbreviate `look around' as `look' or `l', `look at' or `examine'
as `x', `go north' as `n', and so in. Not forcing a player to map out Yet
Another Damn Maze (tm) ranks on the same level, in my opinion.

>But any player who blames the game for not spelling out the difficult
>puzzles should read the book, and any author who truly feels that
>he must make every solution as obvious as a brick in the head should
>probably be writing for children. If the puzzles can not be solved with
>common sense and a careful reading of the text, then the puzzles are bad,
>and thus the game. But if the game is bad, then easy solutions won't
>make the game any better, and it probably shouldn't be bothered with in
>the first place.

Bluntly, I don't give a damn how hard your puzzles are. I do know that
plodding through a maze, dropping breadcrumbs left and right, and tiredly
writing the whole net of interconnections down is not difficult. It is
just very, very boring. It's also unoriginal. It isn't a puzzle. It's
just the product of an unimaginative author blindly stealing the most
tedious puzzle from a classic game, in the hopes that it will make his
game good by association.

- Damien

David Baggett

unread,
Oct 19, 1994, 3:32:57 PM10/19/94
to
In article <380sk3$7...@nic.lth.se>, Magnus Olsson <m...@marvin.df.lth.se> wrote:
>In article <37stic$b...@nntp1.u.washington.edu>,

>but I've seen a few games with mazes that have imaginative solutions, that


>- once you've found them - eliminate all the drudgery of dropping things
>and drawing maps. Indeed, most of these mazes are unsolvable without the
>trick.

I must confess that I don't even think mazes like this are a good idea.


The problem is that if you miss the trick, you end up even *more*
frustrated than if the maze had been of the standard variety. In other
words, you end up going through the tedium of trying to solve the maze
using the standard brute force tactics, only to find out that these don't
work, and that you've wasted several hours.

This applies equally to mazes for which the solution is hidden somewhere.

In UU2, for example, the maze is truly evil -- it generates room
descriptions randomly so that it *appears* to distinguish different
locations with slightly different word choices in the descriptions; in
actuality these descriptions are only misleading.

You can find a map to the maze hidden somewhere, so I thought it was still
pretty fair. Boy, was I wrong. Almost no one found the map, so the maze
ended up being a horrendous nightmare that required extensive object

dropping to solve. The maze is the worst thing in UU2. It alone pulls the
game's overall quality down a couple pegs IMO. Ditto for the maze in UU1,
and ditto for the maze in Rylvania, which in my opinion is an otherwise
nearly-perfect text adventure.

>Wouldn't it be a pity if people just threw these games away because they
>found that they contained mazes?

It may be a pity, but people will still do it. I'd stay away from mazes


unless you're *really* careful with them.

>The maze in my game will be 100% unsolvable by the original method, only


>the user may not notice that immediately...

This is great for the designer, but awful for the player! Why do I want to


be subjected to this? I was hoping you'd finish that sentence with "only
it is immediately obvious that the brute-force methods won't work". In
that case I'd say that you're still taking a risk with your maze, but that
you haven't (at least is spirit) violated the Player's Bill of Rights.

>Or should the user, when approaching the maze, find some large, fiery,


>letters hanging in mid-air that spell out the message "Warning: You are
>approaching that long-time dread of the adventurer: a maze. Be advised that

>there is a simple way hrough the maze, one which doesn't require you to map


>laboriously the entire maze by dropping things on the floor.".

Exactly. At least put in a footnote to this effect.

>Anyway, would there be any interest for a walk-thru of the mazes? I could
>post one here if anybody feels it would make the game more attactive
>to them.

I think you could improve the game by giving the player a map in the


beginning of the game. Even if you don't label it as the solution to the
maze, you'll at least be giving the player the option of skipping an
unsatisifying puzzle.

Dave Baggett


__
d...@ai.mit.edu MIT AI Lab He who has the highest Kibo # when he dies wins.

ADVENTIONS: We make Kuul text adventures! Email for a catalog of releases.

Magnus Olsson

unread,
Oct 23, 1994, 9:40:59 AM10/23/94
to
In article <rbryanCy...@netcom.com>,
The Essential Addition <rbr...@netcom.com> wrote:
>OK, before any more people misunderstand what I'm talking about, please
>realize that I don't like "Twisty passages, all alike" mazes any more
>than you all do. I like mazes with truly creative concepts and
>solutions. I want that made clear, because twisty passage mazes are
>poor, and show very little thought on the part of the author.

I think it's good you made that clarification; some of your earlier
messages gave me the impression that you were just as keen on "twisty
passage mazes" as on the more creative varieties. As for my personal
feelings, I don't think an occasional "twiaty passage maze" detracts
from a game, unless the game relies too much on the maze being
hard to solve (for example, having a maze where all connections are
either n, s, e or w, with the exception of _one_ room, where there's
a truly crucial passage going nw, isn't really fair on the player).
I can even enjoy sitting down to solve a maze the traditional way
by dropping objects and trying all exits in turn, if I don't have
anything more exciting to do. On the other hand, I don't think a plain
vanilla maze without any creative twist to it adds anything to the game,
either.

>I just hope that you all aren't objecting to all mazes (and some of you
>certainly are giving the impression that any collection of six rooms or
>more with multiple exits is sinful) because of your dislike of that one
>overdone type. If you are, then you're much too impatient.

I'm afraid that many people are reasoning exactly that way. THat's why
I jumped into this thread (or, rather, started the subthread "Mazes
Considered Harmful") - I wanted to know what could be done to make those
hard-line maze-haters accept a maze of the more creative variety.

>After all,
>let's take the person who was talking about the 7th Guest maze. How did
>it make you feel when you discovered that the maze's solution was always
>available to you? Makes the maze a bit easier, doesn't it?
>
>So is it the game's fault or yours?

I think the game designer is at fault for frustrating his players.
After all, the writer *did* know that mazes (and the standard method
of solving them) are a very well-known part of the IF universe, that
any player who comes upon the maze before finding the map is likely to
try to solve it the tedious way, that so many games have mazes that
are only solvable the tedious way that the player can't be blamed for
not looking for an easier solution.

In short, I do get the impression that the writer is thumbing his nose
at the player, saying "so you didn't find my map, but had to solve the
maze the hard way? Well, tough luck for you, stupid". And I'm not the
least surprised that this loweres many players' opinion of the game.

Mike Threepoint

unread,
Oct 24, 1994, 2:34:04 AM10/24/94
to
The Felix Lee writes!

> The most boring and tedious maze I ever encountered was the maze in
> The 7th Guest. It was way too large to be effective in any sense.
> It's a simple rectangular loop-free maze, solvable with the right-hand
> rule. It was randomly generated, so you couldn't really solve it any
> other way.

> Every time you hit a dead end it would play a chilling chord and a


> voice would mock, "Getting .... Lonely?" It's fine once or twice;
> silly after the third or fourth time. But you get to hear it dozens,
> maybe hundreds of times. At that point, it's just annoying and
> stupid. The atmosphere of the game is completely destroyed.

Tracking up and down all those corridors step by step takes long
enough, and most of the corridors are long and fold back on themselves
two or three times between intersections, which can take as long as
thirty seconds of rat's eye view of the maze. And then, the first
note of the dreaded dead end sequence...

Dreaded, not because it was scary, but because it takes about ten
seconds for "panic" music to jangle along as the view tracks down
every last step to the stone wall at the end of the corridor and to
listen to Stauf mock once again, "Feeeeling... _looonely_?". And then
the hike back to the last wrong turn.

Tedious? It was absolutely obnoxious. And deliberately so.

The minute I encountered the maze, I immediately started solving it
with the right hand rule (follow the wall by your right hand, and
you'll never return to the same dead end twice). After the third time
I ran into the dead end, I was getting impatient waiting for the game
to continue, and thinking "Is that all you can say?". About the fifth
time, I was wondering how many times I was going to have to sit
through this, and I had taken to talking to my screen, "No, actually,
I'm feeling annoyed, Stauf." By the tenth time, I wondered how many
times I was going to have to listen to the same damn interminable
music and wait for Stauf to say his stupid line so I can turn around
and get back to the last intersection already!

Fortunately, it only took around three quarters of an hour and about
sixteen dead ends following the right hand wall. It could have taken
over five times as many following the left wall.

It was even more tedious than mapping that T-Zero maze where
directions you can go are conditional on what direction you entered a
room from.

The Essential Addition writes!


> I just hope that you all aren't objecting to all mazes (and some of you
> certainly are giving the impression that any collection of six rooms or
> more with multiple exits is sinful) because of your dislike of that one
> overdone type. If you are, then you're much too impatient. After all,
> let's take the person who was talking about the 7th Guest maze. How did
> it make you feel when you discovered that the maze's solution was always
> available to you? Makes the maze a bit easier, doesn't it?

Let me see if I can describe my feelings at that moment. First, the
"aha!". Then the checking it against my sketchily drawn map of
turns. A brief sinking feeling and disappointment. Finally replaced
by some satisfaction in knowing I'd never have to systematically
explore that annoying maze again. The game had vindicated itself a
little.

> So is it the game's fault or yours?

The game's. The maze is just too damn slow, and deliberately grates
on your nerves.

Yes, there's a map to the maze. But there's no reason to expect one.
The game has other tiresome puzzles, including several where a slip of
the mouse means you have to start all over again. Playing Simon on
the piano keyboard, for example.

Felix Lee

unread,
Oct 24, 1994, 2:25:36 PM10/24/94
to
The Essential Addition:

>After all,
>let's take the person who was talking about the 7th Guest maze.

Hi!

>How did
>it make you feel when you discovered that the maze's solution was always
>available to you?

My reaction was: "Yuck. Stupid design." Of course, this could be a
"sour grapes" reaction. :)

But there were so many tedious things in The 7th Guest (like the
swap-the-knights puzzle) that I wasn't surprised to find a tedious
maze with a tedious solution, so I didn't bother trying to think
creatively. The game as whole didn't push many of my
creative-thinking buttons.

And I might argue that even with the diagram of the maze elsewhere,
it's still an annoying maze. I remember seeing the place where the
diagram was and thinking, "Oh good. I don't have to solve it." I
find rectangular wall mazes pretty boring.
--

Felix Lee

unread,
Oct 21, 1994, 4:47:45 AM10/21/94
to
Jesse McGrew:

>Mazes are fine if they have some key object that
>makes it easier to solve, or some obstacle object that makes them harder
>(which you can vanquish), like the navigator's head in Monkey Island, the
>generator in Ditch Day Drifter,

Ditch Day Drifter had a good idea, but I thought the maze was still
too large. It could be much smaller and still use the same idea. If
you could see a map of the maze, like you can in Curses, it would have
been okay, but I found it annoying as is.

I think, if you need a maze for some reason, make it entertaining.
Exhaustive search isn't entertaining. Lost and alone isn't
entertaining.

Making it interesting might be enough, but making it entertaining is a
safer choice.
--

Michael Levy

unread,
Oct 21, 1994, 6:06:47 AM10/21/94
to
In article <rbryanCx...@netcom.com>,

The Essential Addition <rbr...@netcom.com> wrote:
>What makes a maze any less satisfying than any other puzzle?

Because everyone knows how to solve them, and they're tedious. There's
no cleverness involved; Get a bunch of objects and a sheet of blank
paper, and start drawing lines. If you have some new innovative way
of presenting a maze, fine. But don't drag out the same type that's
been done so many times before.
Furthermore I feel that the moment of inspiration as to how to solve
a puzzle should be as near to the actual solving as possible. There
shouldn't be a lot of busy work (like dropping objects and drawing
detailed maps) in between.

Greg Ewing

unread,
Oct 24, 1994, 9:03:40 PM10/24/94
to

In article <38b693$4...@nic.lth.se>, m...@marvin.df.lth.se (Magnus Olsson) writes:
|>
|> Also, there are some problems with just providing maps, as opposed to
|> bypassing hte mazes altogether:

Good points. I thought of another one as well - there's
no way of enforcing the points penalty if the player can
save, read the map, then restore.

A modification to my earlier suggestion:

... As an incentive to try the mazes yourself, if you
hand in your booklet when you leave the dungeon with
the maps unopened, you will receive a small bonus.

> look

You're in a maze of twisty little passages, all very
similar.

> consult map

Tearing open the sealed section reveals a complicated
map that looks like it could be relevant. According to
the map, it looks like you should go east from here.

> e

You're in a maze of twisty little passages, all very
similar.

> consult map

According to the map, it looks like you should go north
from here.

> n

...etc...

Of course, I appreciate that having an NPC to lead you
through the maze could provide some good opportunities
for witty dialogue.

How about having a tour guide stationed outside each
maze? When you enter the dungeon you're given some
tickets with which you can purchase their help.
If you hand in the tickets at the end you get a
bonus.

|> Magnus Olsson (m...@df.lth.se) / yacc computer club, Lund, Sweden
|> Work: Innovativ Vision AB, Linkoping (magnus...@ivab.se)
|> Old adresses (may still work): mag...@thep.lu.se, the...@selund.bitnet
|> PGP key available via finger (to df.lth.se) or on request.

Greg Ewing, Computer Science Dept, +--------------------------------------+

Andrew C. Plotkin

unread,
Oct 21, 1994, 12:58:25 PM10/21/94
to
Excerpts from netnews.rec.arts.int-fiction: 20-Oct-94 Above all, pamper
the player The E. Addition@netcom.c (2932)

> Making one's way
> through a maze is just as frustrating as tracking down the key to a door,
> or solving an exceptionally difficult riddle, or figuring out which
> object that NPC is looking for. By making the maze an exception, we are
> merely splitting hairs.

Am not am not am not. :-) When I solve a difficult riddle, I feel that
I've accomplished something, been clever, and spent some effort
thinking. When I solve a (traditional) maze, I feel that I've merely
been persistent, spent no effort thinking, and been somewhat bored in
the process.

Perhaps it would help if I defined what I mean by "a traditional maze":
a large array of rooms with no distinguishing features, where the only
purpose is to figure out their arrangement. "No distinguishing features"
is the noteworthy phrase; that distinguishes the maze from the rest of
the game. Tracking down a key somewhere in the game is interesting, it's
exploring, I've seen new parts of the world. Tracking down a key (or the
exit) in a maze is seeing the same messages over and over, possibly with
variations. Whoopee.

> Personally, I find mazes to be the easiest part
> of most adventures, and I do feel extreme satisfaction -- glee, actually --
> when suddenly those "Twisty Passages, All Similar" become different. I
> FOUND IT! The puzzle is solved.

Then I can only suggest you play (and write) games that have mazes in
them. No smiley -- as I said before, this group will never agree on the
True Way to write IF games. As I also said before, I will continue to
write games that I find interesting, and I mostly expect that other
people will do the same.

--Z

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

Conrad Wong

unread,
Oct 20, 1994, 4:13:22 PM10/20/94
to
In article <380sk3$7...@nic.lth.se>, Magnus Olsson <m...@marvin.df.lth.se> wrote:
>even parodies - of some classical adventure problems, including the
>maze. The maze in my game will be 100% unsolvable by the original
>method, only the user may not notice that immediately... ;-) But it
>would be a great pity if anybody were to throw the game away as soon
>as they reached the maze.
>
>Does anybody have any ideas about what to do to avoid that situation?

Here's a thought... Map the maze by intended emotional state of the
player. If the player just walks around in the maze, he or she winds
up becoming 'Hopelessly Lost in the Maze'. Marking walls, dropping
objects or trailing strings, etc. result in having the eery feeling
that one has been somewhere before. (think of the movie Labyrinth
where the heroine tries to get through the maze by drawing chalk arrows...
And when she's gone, the maze dwellers lift up the stones with these
arrows and turn them around)

It should not look like 'A maze of twisty little passages, all alike'.
Since you're mapping based on emotional states (and on how "clued" in
the player should be to all this), you want to describe the resultant
maze very well, to create a mood in the player -- at first it may be
impressive, grand, arching, full of Gothic ornaments, then the
walls may seem to press in; the gargoyles leer at the player...

If however, the player discovers the right non-maze-ish solution
(finds a guide, stops the maze dwellers from altering the marks he leaves
behind, learns the way to properly navigate based on subtle signs),
then each subsequent correct step would result in the player moving to a
room that is less hopelessly lost, closer to 'success'. (of course
correct steps would be randomly generated, and invalidated if the
player never looks at the map or whatever, so no walkthrough could be
made)

Basically then the maze is a single line from start to finish; it just
looks like a labyrinth. This, it seems to me, would do a lot more for the
interactive feel of a game.

-- Lynx
(who anticipates a time when people will look at a maze and go 'Now where's
the secret trick to it...' and forget all about trying to map the old
fashioned way... ('gryn))
--
__ ___ ___ _/' Conrad "Lynx" Wong
/ \ _/ \----' \-' o`-g 28368 Christopher's Lane
| | / > __/_ / __/_`, _| Los Altos Hills, CA 94022
\__/ \____\`--\____\ ;/' ly...@netcom.com

"If you're happy and you know it, pet the cat!
If you're happy and you know it, then your cat will really show it..."
-- Brenda (*purr purr*)

CatCode: LY Go B Y++ L++ C++++ T++ A-- H+ S++ V+ F- Q+ PP+ B PA+ PL+++
(see rec.pets.cats for code explanation or E-mail me and ask)

Jamieson Norrish

unread,
Oct 21, 1994, 10:27:43 AM10/21/94
to
In article <386o2u$q...@nntp.interaccess.com> sha...@interaccess.com
( S.P.Harvey) writes:

I'm encouraged to hear a defense for puzzle-making. It is part of
the genre, that's absolutely correct. Puzzles are more than part
of the genre, they're inherent in the underlying structure.

As many people have pointed out before, "puzzles" are essentially
"resolvable conflicts". As such, while they are not (I think) quite
inherent to the genre (as they are not to ordinary fiction), they are
an important element which is unsurprisingly used in the majority of
works.

The problem, as you point out, is that these "puzzles" are not always
as integrated into the story/setting/characters as they might be. To
my mind, the conflicts should arise out of the
story/setting/characters - though this does not of course preclude an
author starting with a set of conflicts and building the
story/setting/characters around them, so that the conflicts seem to
arise out of them... But that's getting needlessly complicated.

Umm, so, yeah, I agree. :)

Jamie

The Essential Addition

unread,
Oct 21, 1994, 10:32:44 AM10/21/94
to
> PS: didn't we have this discussion about two years ago? As I recall
>most people concluded then that mazes are best avoided as one of those
>fun for the author and tiresome for the player things.

Was that the conclusion? Actually, I'm surprised, since as an author I
can tell you that I don't have very much fun making them. The reason I
do make them, however, is because the maze which I put into Firegods
(which stands as my first full game) is actually an integral plot point.
Believe me, we authors do not love writing mazes.

So why do they get written? My guess is that when "typical" mazes (i.e.
twisty passages, all alike) appear in recent games, it stems from a lack
of imagination on the part of the author. "Hmmm..." the author says. "I
don't want it to be THAT easy to get item X. Maybe if I put it in this
maze..." I don't support mazes for mazes' sake, but I won't flat-out
condemn them for reasons already mentioned.

David Baggett

unread,
Oct 26, 1994, 8:57:07 PM10/26/94
to
In article <rbryanCx...@netcom.com>,
The Essential Addition <rbr...@netcom.com> wrote:

>if we're talking about TADS and Inform -- then we're going to have puzzles
>and mazes and the like

I don't think using these languages forces you into a puzzle mindset. Like
I've said many times before, it's easy to imagine an IF equivalent of Upton
Sinclair's _The Jungle_, where'd you'd have no puzzles to solve. There's
no reason you couldn't use Inform, TADS, or even AGT to write such a thing.
The limiting factor here is definitely *not* the tools -- the tools are
great these days.

And besides that, if you *are* going to assume a puzzle-based game, then
the *game* aspect of the work becomes very important. Perceived fairness
is part of what keeps a game from getting frustrating.

If you're making a Pac-Man game, for example, you don't make the player get
killed as soon as a single pixel of a ghost hits a single pixel of the
Pac-Man. You write it so that the ghost has to significantly overlap the
Pac-Man before you "count" the collision. This is unfair in *favor* of the
player -- and it creates the *impression* that the game is *very* fair,
because it prevents many situations the player could erroneously perceive
as unfair (borderline cases where the Pac-Man actually got snagged, but
where the player didn't see this).

In other words, you go way out of your way to coddle the player. That
ensures that the player never feels ripped off or cheated. Note that this
is orthogonal to the issue of difficulty -- you can make your Pac-Man game
both extremely difficult (e.g., good ghost logic) and extremely fair.

Bringing it back to text adventures, I'd say you should do eveything you
possibly can to guarantee that the player will feel that the puzzles are
fair and *reasonable*. Anything involving a significant amount of tedium
is not reasonable. Hence, standard text adventure puzzles like "give X to
Y" are fine, while mazes are (generally) out. Likewise, solutions that
don't follow logically from anything are unfair and therefore verboten.

>you should consider just changing languages and going to something more
>directed at the genre you're looking for. There is a language known as
>Hypertalk -- I'm sure you've heard of it -- and, specifically, a platform
>called Storyspace that does everything you are all talking about.

This is absolutely *not* what I want to write. Hyperfiction may have
promise, but it does not interest me in the slightest. I either want
substantial interactivity or none at all. (I.e., unless there's enough
interactivity to add something significant to the work, the work might as
well be static, because static fiction can be printed, and printed fiction
is much more pleasant to read than text on a screen.)

>One such interactive book (because that's really what we're talking about

>here) ...

There is a colossal difference between a hyperfiction and interactive
fiction built around a simple sentence parser. Both mediums may have
potential, but they will not produce similar works at all. (You can see
this already -- compare Adventure, Zork, Rylvania, or Curses to Afternoon
or any of the other well-known hyperfiction works.)

>This was TRUE interactive fiction, and before any of you say that's not
>what you're talking about, pick up and read one of these interactive
>novels, because it is precisely what you have been describing.

We are doing a horrible job of describing what we want, then!

I also don't know why you give hyperfiction "truer" status than
sentence-parser based IF. Yes, the literary establishment has, but that
doesn't mean that's the correct conclusion. :)

>Just don't knock mazes and puzzles, because as primitive as they are,
>they are part and parcel of the text adventure, and don't deserve the
>treatment they're getting.

Tradition is important, but common sense is too. :)

Dave Baggett
__
d...@ai.mit.edu MIT AI Lab He who has the highest Kibo # when he dies wins.

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