[CONTENT] Directionless IF

17 views
Skip to first unread message

Joao Mendes

unread,
Jun 13, 2002, 10:57:07 AM6/13/02
to

Hi, all, :)

I'm a bit troubled by the unfailing compass that IF avatars seem to have,
wherein they always know exactly what direction north is.

Does anyone ever write IF where no compass points are used, rather allowing
motion between rooms by naming room exits? Examples would be something
like:

Dining Room
You are in a large dining room.A wooden door leads to the kitchen, an
archway leads to the entrance hall and a small portico leads to an alcove.

> north

You do not have a compass with you.

> door

Kitchen
You are in a kitchen. A wooden door leads to the dining room and a smaller
door leads outside.

> door

Which door do you mean, the wooden door or the small door?

> wooden

Dining Room

etc...

Thoughts, anyone?

J.

P.S. I used the [CONTENT] marker in the subject to distinguish from any
particular development language...

Stephen Bond

unread,
Jun 13, 2002, 11:37:49 AM6/13/02
to
Joao Mendes wrote:
>
> Hi, all, :)
>
> I'm a bit troubled by the unfailing compass that IF avatars seem to have,
> wherein they always know exactly what direction north is.
>
> Does anyone ever write IF where no compass points are used, rather allowing
> motion between rooms by naming room exits?

I think most versions of ADVENTURE allow you to navigate by naming the
adjacent room you want to go to. Not quite the same, but I could forsee
problems with naming exits in locations that don't have any clear exits:
e.g. a location in the middle of a forest or an open plain.

And anyway, even if it isn't always realistic for the PC to know them,
I prefer using compass directions: they help me build a better mental
map of the game world. When I'm going north, south, east, and west, I
feel like I'm moving through a space; when I'm going from the kitchen
to the dining room to the hall, I just feel like I'm moving along a
string of random locations. This is also true in general.

For another alternative to compass directions, you might want to check
out HUNTER, IN DARKNESS by Andrew Plotkin, which uses relative
directions (left, right, forward, back) for navigation.

Stephen.
http://www.maths.tcd.ie/~bonds/

Andrew Plotkin

unread,
Jun 13, 2002, 12:04:21 PM6/13/02
to
Here, Stephen Bond <ste...@sonycom.com> wrote:

> For another alternative to compass directions, you might want to check
> out HUNTER, IN DARKNESS by Andrew Plotkin, which uses relative
> directions (left, right, forward, back) for navigation.

But in a deliberately restricted way, so as not to drive the player
nuts.

--Z

"And Aholibamah bare Jeush, and Jaalam, and Korah: these were the borogoves..."
*
* Make your vote count. Get your vote counted.

L. Ross Raszewski

unread,
Jun 13, 2002, 1:16:05 PM6/13/02
to
On Thu, 13 Jun 2002 14:57:07 +0000 (UTC), Joao Mendes
<public...@anywhere.invalid> wrote:

>I'm a bit troubled by the unfailing compass that IF avatars seem to have,
>wherein they always know exactly what direction north is.

[Snipped lots of explanation that doesn't need repeating]

This comes up a lot. I think the answer I've finally settled on is
that we use compass directions with the assumption that the avatar (By
the way, I really like using the term 'avatar' for player characters;
it hasn't been popular in the past, but I've seen it quite a bit of
late) is using them loosely.

Basically, there just isn't another navigational system as easy to get
a handle on. THe problem is that movement in the real world is a very
automatic thing, and it works that way because we have a much more
immediate sense of our surroundings. WHen I want to go to the
kitchen, I don't think 'east. down. east.' Neither do I think
'forward. down. right.' I don't even think 'exit library to
hall. enter stairs. exit stairs in living room. exit living room to
kitchen.' In fact, I don't really think "go to the kitchen" -- I just
*do it*. IF (at least, IF that's not painful to read) can't convey
enough detail about the environment to give you the immediacy of
location and movement to produce the sort of movement we do in real
life, and, so far as we can tell, other navigational systems make it
easier to get lost. THe best directionless system is a 'go-to' system
(go to kitchen), but this too loses something over a directional
system, in that it doesn't convey the spacial relationship between
locations. With the limited information we have available in IF (THe
answer here is not 'better descriptions' -- too much detail in a
description hurts its effectiveness; IF is not pure simulation), it's
*so much* easier to get lost that a fixed reference frame is a more
than acceptable compromise.

Of course, you could have a fixed reference frame and name the
directions something misleading (you could call the A, B, C, and D if
you liked), but other terms don't carry the sense of directionality
(Fore, aft, port, and starboard work very well when the game world is
some kind of ship. If there were english words for 'toward the front
of the building', 'toward the rear of the building', and the
orthagonal axis, these would be great in indoor contexts, but no such
words exist (at least, not common words)), and the convenience to the
player outweighs the small boost in "realism".

Aris Katsaris

unread,
Jun 13, 2002, 1:36:17 PM6/13/02
to

"Joao Mendes" <public...@anywhere.invalid> wrote in message
news:Xns922CA1DEDE6DFj...@194.65.14.150...

>
> Hi, all, :)
>
> I'm a bit troubled by the unfailing compass that IF avatars seem to have,
> wherein they always know exactly what direction north is.
>
> Does anyone ever write IF where no compass points are used, rather allowing
> motion between rooms by naming room exits?

Has been done before... Right now I remember "In The End", half of
"Photopia" and "Hunter, in Darkness". There have been a couple other examples
also, I think.

<g> I specially liked however the way this was treated in "Varicella"...

Aris Katsaris


Joe Mason

unread,
Jun 13, 2002, 2:20:12 PM6/13/02
to
In article <aealad$os9$1...@usenet.otenet.gr>, Aris Katsaris wrote:
>> I'm a bit troubled by the unfailing compass that IF avatars seem to have,
>> wherein they always know exactly what direction north is.
>>
>> Does anyone ever write IF where no compass points are used, rather allowing
>> motion between rooms by naming room exits?
>
> Has been done before... Right now I remember "In The End", half of
> "Photopia" and "Hunter, in Darkness". There have been a couple other examples
> also, I think.

I have a more elaborate example in betatesting now. I've recieved one
report that it's hard to form a mental map so far, so I'm thinking about
how to make it clearer.

(I'm the author of "In The End", for those who don't know me. Hi.)

Joe

J. D. Berry

unread,
Jun 13, 2002, 3:51:07 PM6/13/02
to
Joao Mendes <public...@anywhere.invalid> wrote

> I'm a bit troubled by the unfailing compass that IF avatars seem to have,
> wherein they always know exactly what direction north is.

It's trading a superficial realism for an easier interface. Ironically,
the easier interface makes the world seem more real. With no compass
directions, the player must consciously calculate the result of his/her
move.

If you can ingrain a unique method of movement into a player, and
quickly, then there's no need to trade. You have an easy interface.
But it's not so easy to do.

> Does anyone ever write IF where no compass points are used, rather allowing
> motion between rooms by naming room exits?

I can't think of any by room EXITS, such as by doors, but
off the top of my head:

Hunter, in Darkness (relative movement)

In the End (other room locations mentioned)
Sparrow's Song

Ribbons (different perspectives)

There are plenty of others, I'm sure.


> Examples would be something
> like:
>
> Dining Room
> You are in a large dining room.A wooden door leads to the kitchen, an
> archway leads to the entrance hall and a small portico leads to an alcove.
>
> > north
>
> You do not have a compass with you.
>
> > door
>
> Kitchen
> You are in a kitchen. A wooden door leads to the dining room and a smaller
> door leads outside.
>
> > door
>
> Which door do you mean, the wooden door or the small door?
>
> > wooden
>
> Dining Room
>
> etc...

Exactly. Didn't that seem frustrating to you? You knew where you wanted
to go, but you had to think about how to do what should have been
natural.

The compass directions are a (generally) accepted convention to
facilitate movement in non-graphical games. Perhaps had we as a
community had grown up around the 'door' convention, that would
have seemed natural.

Most of this has been covered in other threads, so I'll end my
comments here.

Jim

A.P. Hill

unread,
Jun 13, 2002, 3:58:57 PM6/13/02
to
In my opinion,
When I participate in IF, I usually look at myself as an 'Adventurer'.
Someone more special than the norm. Similiar to a Ship's mate , who
probably tends to use 'port' and 'starboard' to describe directions to
a restroom, I would like to think that the professional adventure
tends to use compass terminology in all circumstances. This special
adventurer, being seasoned through the ages, can even detect
directions by subtle environmental conditions similiar to deep gnomes
or dwarves. So, I would have to say, let the programming 'stay' in
the code to allow adventurers the ability to move swiftly and
efficiently rather than methodical. Describing exits in that fashion
sounds cool though in room descriptions, but I would use the time in
would take to code out compass directions for something else like
verbose words such as fart, laugh, etc.

A.P. Hill

tarage

unread,
Jun 13, 2002, 5:39:08 PM6/13/02
to
L. Ross Raszewski wrote:
> enough detail about the environment to give you the immediacy of
> location and movement to produce the sort of movement we do in real
> life, and, so far as we can tell, other navigational systems make it
> easier to get lost. THe best directionless system is a 'go-to' system
> (go to kitchen), but this too loses something over a directional
> system, in that it doesn't convey the spacial relationship between
> locations. With the limited information we have available in IF (THe

Something that I've toyed with is the idea of learning within IF. For
example, once you had gone from the Library to the Kitchen once, your
character would know how to do it again. Or, once you had successfully
figured out how to drive the car or sail, you could do it again
(assuming that one time is all that is required for the sake of leaving
out skill-based systems). Therefore, all you (as the player) would have
to type was "go to kitchen." The turn counter would update, and you
would be in the kitchen. If there was no route to that place, the parser
could say, "You can't get there from here." If you hadn't ever been
there before, the parser would return, "You don't know how to get
there." The actual implementation for this esp. as regarding navigation,
I haven't thought through, but I just wanted to chime in on the subject.
After all, typing, "N.W.N.E.S.D." to get somewhere does get old after a
while. Perhaps you could implement this as some kind of macro defined by
the player, where "drive car" expanded into "push in clutch with foot.
take off parking break. put key in ignition slot. turn key."

~Tarage

Joao Mendes

unread,
Jun 13, 2002, 8:59:28 PM6/13/02
to

Hi, :)

Andrew Plotkin <erky...@eblong.com> wrote in
news:aeafq5$rf4$2...@reader1.panix.com:

> Here, Stephen Bond <ste...@sonycom.com> wrote:
>
>> For another alternative to compass directions, you might want to
>> check out HUNTER, IN DARKNESS by Andrew Plotkin, which uses relative
>> directions (left, right, forward, back) for navigation.
>
> But in a deliberately restricted way, so as not to drive the player
> nuts.

Can you expand on that without spoilers? :)

J.

Joao Mendes

unread,
Jun 13, 2002, 9:02:32 PM6/13/02
to

Hey, all :)

ber...@earthlink.net (J. D. Berry) wrote in
news:ff102855.02061...@posting.google.com:

> Joao Mendes <public...@anywhere.invalid> wrote
>
>> I'm a bit troubled by the unfailing compass that IF avatars seem to
>> have, wherein they always know exactly what direction north is.
>
> It's trading a superficial realism for an easier interface.
> Ironically, the easier interface makes the world seem more real. With
> no compass directions, the player must consciously calculate the
> result of his/her move.

<snip>

>> Does anyone ever write IF where no compass points are used, rather
>> allowing motion between rooms by naming room exits?
>
> I can't think of any by room EXITS, such as by doors, but
> off the top of my head:
>
> Hunter, in Darkness (relative movement)
>
> In the End (other room locations mentioned)
> Sparrow's Song
>
> Ribbons (different perspectives)

Cool list.

>> > door
>>
>> Which door do you mean, the wooden door or the small door?
>>
>> > wooden
>>
>> Dining Room
>>
>> etc...
>
> Exactly. Didn't that seem frustrating to you? You knew where you
> wanted to go, but you had to think about how to do what should have
> been natural.

I see. Good explanation. Thanks.

(Can you tell that I'm rather new to IF? ;)

BTW, thanks to all the others who posted on this thread, you guys had
interesting comments.

J.

Jaap van der Velde

unread,
Jun 14, 2002, 5:42:50 AM6/14/02
to
On 13 Jun 2002 17:16:05 GMT, lrasz...@loyola.edu (L. Ross Raszewski)
wrote:

> (By the way, I really like using the term 'avatar' for player characters;
> it hasn't been popular in the past, but I've seen it quite a bit of
> late)

It has. My feeling has always been that an avatar aptly describes
the main character in a simulationist game where you are encouraged
to 'play yourself'. The term 'player character' has more of a role
playing atmosphere about it, you are 'in character' instead of
virtually present.

My .02,
JAAP.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
"Anyone who thinks people lack originality should watch them folding
roadmaps."
-- Franklin P. Jopnes

Stephen Bond

unread,
Jun 14, 2002, 6:12:36 AM6/14/02
to
Jaap van der Velde wrote:
>
> On 13 Jun 2002 17:16:05 GMT, lrasz...@loyola.edu (L. Ross Raszewski)
> wrote:
>
> > (By the way, I really like using the term 'avatar' for player characters;
> > it hasn't been popular in the past, but I've seen it quite a bit of
> > late)
>
> It has. My feeling has always been that an avatar aptly describes
> the main character in a simulationist game where you are encouraged
> to 'play yourself'. The term 'player character' has more of a role
> playing atmosphere about it, you are 'in character' instead of
> virtually present.

I dunno, it sounds a bit too mystical for me: I can never speak of
having an 'avatar' without feeling a bit like a Hindu god. Also, I'm
not convinced that playing an incarnation of yourself is substantially
different from playing the role of someone else. So I'll stick with
plain old PC.

A 'Best Avatar' award at the XYZZYs would sound pretty cool, though.

Stephen.
http://www.maths.tcd.ie/~bonds

Magnus Olsson

unread,
Jun 14, 2002, 7:08:37 AM6/14/02
to
In article <aeak0l$rvl$4...@foobar.cs.jhu.edu>,

L. Ross Raszewski <lrasz...@loyola.edu> wrote:
>On Thu, 13 Jun 2002 14:57:07 +0000 (UTC), Joao Mendes
><public...@anywhere.invalid> wrote:
>
>>I'm a bit troubled by the unfailing compass that IF avatars seem to have,
>>wherein they always know exactly what direction north is.

>Basically, there just isn't another navigational system as easy to get
>a handle on.

And I think this has a lot to do with the way we (for some definition
of "we" - YMMV) play adventure games: either drawing maps on paper,
or at least trying to visualize a map while playing.

Yes, it breaks mimesis if you stop to think about it - how come the PC
has such an uncanny sense for compass directions, despite having spent
the last few days running around in twisting tunnels miles
underground?

But I think that most players just accept it as a convention and stop
thinking about it. There are other conventions about movement in IF
that are rather strange as well: how come, for example, that the
player can't turn around and look behind him (as he can in graphical
games)?

--
Magnus Olsson (m...@df.lth.se)

Magnus Olsson

unread,
Jun 14, 2002, 7:13:03 AM6/14/02
to
In article <3D0910FC...@NOSPAM.bellsouth.net>,

tarage <tar...@NOSPAM.bellsouth.net> wrote:
>Something that I've toyed with is the idea of learning within IF. For
>example, once you had gone from the Library to the Kitchen once, your
>character would know how to do it again.
(...)

>Therefore, all you (as the player) would have
>to type was "go to kitchen." The turn counter would update, and you
>would be in the kitchen.

There was actually something like this already in ADVENT: for some
locations, once you'd been there, you could just type the name of
the location and your avatar walked there.

However, IMHO it didn't work very well in ADVENT, mostly, I think,
because it didn't work for all locations and it wasn't obvious which
locations it worked for. And people tended to confuse it with the
magic words that teleported you to other places - there was no
obviouis distinction between typing KITCHEN and having your character
*walk* to the kitchen, and typing FOOBAR and being teleported to
the magic lake (not that there's either a kitchen or a magic lake in
ADVENT, nor do these particular commands work there).
--
Magnus Olsson (m...@df.lth.se)

Fredrik Ramsberg

unread,
Jun 14, 2002, 7:34:34 AM6/14/02
to
tarage <tar...@NOSPAM.bellsouth.net> wrote in message news:<3D0910FC...@NOSPAM.bellsouth.net>...

> Something that I've toyed with is the idea of learning within IF. For
> example, once you had gone from the Library to the Kitchen once, your
> character would know how to do it again. Or, once you had successfully
> figured out how to drive the car or sail, you could do it again
> (assuming that one time is all that is required for the sake of leaving
> out skill-based systems). Therefore, all you (as the player) would have
> to type was "go to kitchen." The turn counter would update, and you
> would be in the kitchen. If there was no route to that place, the parser
> could say, "You can't get there from here." If you hadn't ever been
> there before, the parser would return, "You don't know how to get
> there."

To some extent, this is implemented in our game Vacation Gone Awry. The
player can type GOPLACES to see a list of locations that are probably
currently reachable (as far as the protagonist knows). Only visited
locations can be reached, and the path can only go through visited locations
as well. However, the game does not keep track of which doors have been
used, so the path may go through doors which have not been used before.
The path can not contain any actions, other than walking in different
directions and opening doors.

If the path could contain actions, I think it'd be hard to do a generic
search algorithm. If you don't use a generic search algorithm, but just
remember chains of commands which have been used to get from A to B, I think
you'd get a lot of undesirable results. If the player has gone from A to B,
passing the hallway, and from C to D, also passing the hallway, the game
would still not be able to find a path from C to B. Neither would it
necessarily be able to find a path from B to A, since some actions may not
be reversible in a predictable way.

The actors in Vacation Gone Awry use the same system as the player. For a
little comic effect, one can repeatedly close a door that an actor tries to
open. The actor eventually understands that he/she won't get through that
door right now, and tries to find a way around the door.

I feel certain that there are other games that have implemented this in
greater detail, but I thought I'd share my experience from this with
you anyway.

/Fredrik

Eytan Zweig

unread,
Jun 14, 2002, 8:44:05 AM6/14/02
to

"Magnus Olsson" <m...@df.lth.se> wrote in message
news:aecj3v$ldp$2...@news.lth.se...

That's less of a problem if you do it consistently, and if you limit the
player to going to adjacent rooms; the problem is what happens when you mix
systems, or allow going to distant rooms. Especially if there are
timing-based events in the game - imagine something is scheduled to happen
in 2 turns and you try to move to a room 3 movement units away. What
happens? If movement takes only 1 turn no matter how far you go, it's
teleportation. If you allow the movement to stop mid-way, you need A -
proper path-finding so that the game will even know where to place you, and
B - it will be jarring to the player no matter what ("I typed KITCHEN and
ended up in the garden? huh?"). If you allow things to occur unnoticed or
not occur at all while moving, you risk major plot-problems. So, I'm
assuming movement to adjacent rooms only remains the only viable choice.

But there is a more basic problem - movement by typing location names means
that the player has to know what locations that he hasn't been to yet are
called. So, unless you plan for a "guess-the-direction" puzzle, you can't
get away with saying "there is a door here"; you have to say "there is a
door beyond which there is a garage". This can be the cause of quite
cumbersome text, as well as being severly limiting about the kind of
locations you may have (you can't have any location that's not clearly
describable from outside).

Eytan


> --
> Magnus Olsson (m...@df.lth.se)


Andrew Plotkin

unread,
Jun 14, 2002, 10:50:20 AM6/14/02
to

Probably.

A "true" relative direction system would keep track of the direction
the player was facing -- probably based on the direction the player
entered the room from. (But also perhaps changing as the player
examines different things around the room.) So from the living room,
the kitchen would sometimes be to the left, sometimes to the right,
etc.

Now in some sense this is realistic, but players really don't *want*
to have to orient themselves to figure out which way the kitchen is,
in order to go to the kitchen. (Certainly my mental model of my
apartment does not undergo a transformation every time I turn around.)
They just want to get to the damn kitchen -- preferably in two
keystrokes.

So in _HiD_ I used an *absolute* compass. In every room, there is a
fixed direction for the player to face. Really I'm using the classic
compass model; I just respelled "north", "east", etc.

And then I pulled every trick in the book to make this fixity
palatable. In some rooms you have a known goal, so you are "by
default" facing that direction. Some rooms are too narrow to turn
around in. The game has a lot of one-way passages, so when you leave
some rooms you'll never return. "Up" and "down" (which are not
relative at all) are heavily used. "Back" is implemented rarely, and
where it *is* implemented, the action text mentions "backing up" or
"crawling backwards" to downplay the possibility that you've turned
yourself around.

And overall, _HiD_ is a very small game. You never have to retraverse
a long path through rooms you've already explored -- the situation in
which players clamor for "N.E.S.S.SE.E" to work.

In a full-sized game, the tricks I used would not have held up. In a
small competition game, I was able to get away with it.

John Elliott

unread,
Jun 14, 2002, 3:12:45 PM6/14/02
to
Magnus Olsson <m...@df.lth.se> wrote:
: Yes, it breaks mimesis if you stop to think about it - how come the PC

: has such an uncanny sense for compass directions, despite having spent
: the last few days running around in twisting tunnels miles
: underground?

On the other hand, if you're trying not to get lost in Gatwick Airport,
where everything's nicely rectilinear, then compass navigation comes in
very handy (I found myself actually using compass directions in real life
while navigating around it).

--
------------- http://www.seasip.demon.co.uk/index.html --------------------
John Elliott |BLOODNOK: "But why have you got such a long face?"
|SEAGOON: "Heavy dentures, Sir!" - The Goon Show
:-------------------------------------------------------------------------)

Francesco Bova

unread,
Jun 14, 2002, 5:18:27 PM6/14/02
to
An example I can think of is a Hugo game called Nothing More, Nothing Less
(NMNL).

Movement around your flat is dictated by typing in various room names.
Although I thought it was a worthy effort and a fairly novel idea, the
implementation didn't really work for me as typing in compass directions
wouldn't yield any ideas on how to proceed. For example:

>east

Huh? I have absolutely no clue where the cardinal directions are.

=-=-=-=-

The response makes sense of course, and ultimately maintains mimesis, but
unfortunately leaves me with the problem of trying to remember what the
various room names in the flat were, and that grew somewhat tedious. I think
the responses to cardinal direction inputs in NMNL would have been fine if
they would have been followed up with a sentence saying, "However, your
bedroom door opens up into the living room." or some such thing.

I think what it comes down to is a matter of familiarity, and as an IF
player, I've grown so accustomed to mapping out a landscape in my head with
the use of cardinal directions that it's jarring and somewhat frustrating to
have to do anything different. I wrote a review of NMNL for SPAG a while
back that you may want to take a look at, which elaborates on some of my
criticisms. Better yet, you could give the game and shot and judge for
yourself.

Francesco


Jdyer41

unread,
Jun 14, 2002, 8:10:57 PM6/14/02
to
>Francesco Bova writes:
>For example: [from Nothing More, Nothing Less]

>
>>east
>
>Huh? I have absolutely no clue where the cardinal directions are.

Also, how many people don't know which way the sun rises
in relation to their own house?

There are many times where I don't know compass directions
offhand but I could figure them out given a moment's thought,
the same amount of thought it would take to think 'go through
the door here'.

One thing to experiment with if you're worried about this sort
of thing is to try removing compass descriptions from the
room descriptions. Beyond Zork's interface allowed for this:

> The horizon is lost in the glare of morning upon the Great
>Sea. You shield your eyes to sweep the shore below, where
>a village lies nestled beside a quiet cove.
> A stunted oak tree shades the inland road.

T-Zero also did this:

>Field of Stone.
>You are on a gently sloping field of stones. Terns swoop
>interminably in slow arcs across the sky. The stones look as if
>they could be overturned.

but less effectively so because you had to manually type EXITS
whenever the room directions were undescribed. (Leading the
player to type EXITS in *every* room. I admittedly do this
in normal IF just to be careful but it shouldn't be forced.)

Also, completely conventional IF will sometimes remove compass
descriptions if the only exit is back out the way you came.

Jason Dyer
jdy...@aol.com

Jaap van der Velde

unread,
Jun 15, 2002, 5:51:29 AM6/15/02
to
On Fri, 14 Jun 2002 10:12:36 GMT, in rec.arts.int-fiction:

> Also, I'm not convinced that playing an incarnation of yourself is
> substantially different from playing the role of someone else.

Here I have to disagree. Many of the discussions about content on
this group focus on the aspect of realism of a game and the freedom
of a player to do as (s)he pleases. When you play the role of someone
else, say a reliable prison guard, you will have a set of rules to
adhere to, to stay in character. Whereas when you play yourself, you
want the freedom to act and react in whatever way you like. Whether
you like either type of game better than the other is not the issue,
but I do think they are different.

> So I'll stick with plain old PC.

Of course, that's just fine with me :-)

Grtz,
JAAP.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
"I worry that the person who thought up Muzak may be thinking up
something else."
--Lily Tomlin

Andrew MacKinnon

unread,
Jun 15, 2002, 10:13:54 AM6/15/02
to
Stephen Bond <ste...@sonycom.com> wrote in message news:<3D08BC4B...@sonycom.com>...

I agree with the above statement. People (generally) don't use compass
directions in real life, but the IF community is already accustomed to
them.

A compromise solution would be to not mention compass directions in
the room description; but do mention them as a result of examining the
particular exits, as well as an "exits" command. Verbs-- walk down
hallway, enter office, exit building-- among others, should be
implemented in this case.

Andrew Plotkin

unread,
Jun 15, 2002, 11:48:07 AM6/15/02
to
Here, Andrew MacKinnon <tvy2e...@sneakemail.com> wrote:

> People (generally) don't use compass directions in real life, but
> the IF community is already accustomed to them.

I would say that people don't use compass directions in real life, but
they do have an absolute directional model of familiar locations.

> A compromise solution would be to not mention compass directions in
> the room description; but do mention them as a result of examining the
> particular exits, as well as an "exits" command.

It is boring to type "exits" frequently. This is not a minor point.

Paul Drallos

unread,
Jun 15, 2002, 2:21:12 PM6/15/02
to
A problem about naming exits instead of using compass directions is that
naming the exit or room you want to travel to implies that the
adventurer knows what rooms lie adjacent or else the exits will need
some kind of description to distinguish them. But that gets tedious to
read, and may give clues as to what lies beyond. Part of being an
adventurer is to go blindly into the unknown.

Walter Sandsquish

unread,
Jun 15, 2002, 2:56:49 PM6/15/02
to
ber...@earthlink.net (J. D. Berry) wrote in
news:ff102855.02061...@posting.google.com:
> Joao Mendes <public...@anywhere.invalid> wrote
>
>> I'm a bit troubled by the unfailing compass that IF avatars seem to
>> have, wherein they always know exactly what direction north is.
[...]
>> Does anyone ever write IF where no compass points are used, rather
>> allowing motion between rooms by naming room exits?
>
> I can't think of any by room EXITS, such as by doors, but
> off the top of my head:
>
> Hunter, in Darkness (relative movement)
>
> In the End (other room locations mentioned)
> Sparrow's Song
>
> Ribbons (different perspectives)

It's been a long time since I played it, but I believe Infocom's
"Seastalker" allowed the player to use either compass directions
or GO TO [LOCATION].

There is a TADS library extension by Lars Joedal, called goto.t,
that allows TADS authors to use a system similar to this. If the
player has already seen a location, the code will map out a path
to it and move the player there step by step. According to the
readme file, obstacles will still stop the player's progress.
I don't know TADS, so I can't vouch for how well it works or
how easy it is to use.

John Colagioia

unread,
Jun 15, 2002, 3:16:35 PM6/15/02
to
Joao Mendes wrote:

>Hi, all, :)
>


>I'm a bit troubled by the unfailing compass that IF avatars seem to have,
>wherein they always know exactly what direction north is.
>

Interestingly, I never really thought of directions in IF this way. I
tend to think of them as an abstraction of "some" coordinate system.
That is, north is just shorthand for "thataway," and east is shorthand
for "to the right of north."

In some rare cases (in the presence of a compass, for example), these
may overlap.

I think someone in this group once mentioned that he felt very
uncomfortable when the player didn't start on the "south end" of the
map, and I believe these two understandings of direction are intertwined
to some extent. Consider, for example, your living room. Where is it?
It isn't "north. east. east. south. east." It also isn't "out. left.
ahead. left left," or something. It's kind of "over *that* way," isn't it?

>Does anyone ever write IF where no compass points are used, rather allowing

>motion between rooms by naming room exits? Examples would be something
>like:
>
[...]

>>north
>>
>You do not have a compass with you.
>

I seem to remember an Inform game that did exactly that, up until you
found the compass. Probably a demonstration. Let's see...

Ah, here we go:

http://www.ifarchive.org/if-archive/infocom/compilers/inform6/library/contributions/spin.z5

[...]

Gareth Jones

unread,
Jun 15, 2002, 3:24:17 PM6/15/02
to
"Eytan Zweig" <eyt...@yahoo.com> writes:

> That's less of a problem if you do it consistently, and if you limit the
> player to going to adjacent rooms; the problem is what happens when you mix
> systems, or allow going to distant rooms. Especially if there are
> timing-based events in the game - imagine something is scheduled to happen
> in 2 turns and you try to move to a room 3 movement units away. What
> happens? If movement takes only 1 turn no matter how far you go, it's
> teleportation. If you allow the movement to stop mid-way, you need A -
> proper path-finding so that the game will even know where to place you, and
> B - it will be jarring to the player no matter what ("I typed KITCHEN and
> ended up in the garden? huh?"). If you allow things to occur unnoticed or
> not occur at all while moving, you risk major plot-problems. So, I'm
> assuming movement to adjacent rooms only remains the only viable choice.

In Level 9's Gnome Ranger (and probably in their other later games
too), there was a `go to' command which abbreviated a list of
directions in much the same way as `take all' abbreviates a list of
objects:

What gnext> Go to witches cottage

Ingrid went west and was in a marsh...

Ingrid went gnorthwest and was on a small road...

Ingrid when gnorth and was in front of the Witch's cottage. The
gate slammed shut like a trap...

What gnext> undo

Ingrid was on a small road...

This meant that the player was perfectly aware of what was going on,
timed events worked in a natural manner and so forth. It provided a
good way of quickly traversing the map, allowing important locations
to be separated without annoying the player. It did suffer from the
drawback that it would choose the shortest distance between two points
even if the path was not traversable at the time due to an unsolved
problem, and that, as in the example I gave, you might have meant `go
to the witch's cottage but don't go in' because that caused you to die
(but, as illustrated, undo undid only the last movement, not the
entire `go to' command, so in this particular it did not matter).

Level 9 had some quite sophisticated commands that I occasionally miss
in recent IF, in addition to `go to', I can recall `follow somebody'
and `wait for somebody' (or something or for a specific number of
turns). They both worked in the same way as `go to', executing a
sequence of commands that the player could have typed. If you
implemented these then you might want an `undo' that can undo more
than one move.

--
Gareth Jones

Joao Mendes

unread,
Jun 15, 2002, 10:19:15 PM6/15/02
to

Hi, :)

Andrew Plotkin <erky...@eblong.com> wrote in

news:aecvrc$762$1...@reader1.panix.com:

<major snippage - thx 4 the expo, btw>

> In a full-sized game, the tricks I used would not have held up. In a
> small competition game, I was able to get away with it.

Ah... I see your point. Also, this falls in together with what other people
have been posting on the subject...

... and yet there must be away... <mumble mumble> ;)

Cheers,

J.

Joe Mason

unread,
Jun 16, 2002, 11:04:54 AM6/16/02
to
In article <20020614201057...@mb-mg.aol.com>, Jdyer41 wrote:
> Also, how many people don't know which way the sun rises
> in relation to their own house?

Me.

> There are many times where I don't know compass directions
> offhand but I could figure them out given a moment's thought,
> the same amount of thought it would take to think 'go through
> the door here'.

I once walked for 40 minutes in exactly the wrong direction trying to
get home. I said to myself, "I need to go west, which is... left from
here." When I finally got tired and started thinking something was
wrong, I turned around and realized I was walking directly away from the
setting sun.

However, at the time I lived at the base of the tallest tower on the
planet, which can be seen from everywhere in the city and from quite a
ways outside it. So navigating by landmarks doesn't work for me either.

> but less effectively so because you had to manually type EXITS
> whenever the room directions were undescribed. (Leading the
> player to type EXITS in *every* room. I admittedly do this
> in normal IF just to be careful but it shouldn't be forced.)

You could provide "EXITS ON" and "EXITS OFF" (similar to NOTIFY for
score notification) to add the exits list to the end of every room
description or not.

> Also, completely conventional IF will sometimes remove compass
> descriptions if the only exit is back out the way you came.

Be careful with this, though - it's a common source of bugs, where you
add an exit and forget to add it to the room desc.

Joe

Trent

unread,
Jun 16, 2002, 11:11:36 AM6/16/02
to
"Andrew Plotkin" <erky...@eblong.com> wrote in message
news:aefnjn$7cv$1...@reader1.panix.com...

> Here, Andrew MacKinnon <tvy2e...@sneakemail.com> wrote:
>
> > People (generally) don't use compass directions in real life, but
> > the IF community is already accustomed to them.
>
> I would say that people don't use compass directions in real life, but
> they do have an absolute directional model of familiar locations.

Yes, it seems to me that although people may not normally use compass
directions to get through their day, they could if they wanted to. As long
as we are worried about breaking mimesis, then I think the only fair way to
manage things is to implement compass directions along with the other
methods of navigating. A message such as, "You do not have a compass" bugs
me, because I think most people know where the directions are, if they want
to. Of course, after spending a few days in twisty cave passages....

-Christopher


Jaap van der Velde

unread,
Jun 16, 2002, 6:16:50 PM6/16/02
to
On Sat, 15 Jun 2002 15:16:35 -0400, John Colagioia
<JCola...@csi.com> wrote:
> Interestingly, I never really thought of directions in IF this way. I
> tend to think of them as an abstraction of "some" coordinate system.
> That is, north is just shorthand for "thataway," and east is shorthand
> for "to the right of north."

That's interesting though, I do the same, but I was wondering:
what direction do you expect the character to face initialy?
Does it depend on the scenery? (you're in a bedroom and the
door you see is probably to the east, as the door in your
actual bedroom is too?) I catch myself usually assuming my
character is facing north whenever the character arrives at
a new location.

Grtz,
JAAP.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
"The last refuge of the insomniac is a sense of superiority to the
sleeping world."
-- Leonard Cohen, The Favourite Game

Andy M

unread,
Jun 16, 2002, 11:58:58 PM6/16/02
to

"Trent" <chris...@the-ether.port5.com> wrote in message
news:IU1P8.32450$Dz1.3...@twister.nyc.rr.com...

> methods of navigating. A message such as, "You do not have a compass"
bugs
> me, because I think most people know where the directions are, if they
want
> to. Of course, after spending a few days in twisty cave passages....
>
> -Christopher

What you said about twisty cave passages made me think of something. Has
anyone ever put a situation into a game where your compass stops working for
some reason (say, the place where you are is permeated by a strong magnetic
field) and thus the common directional commands stop working temporarily?
You might then switch to a "go through wooden door" style movement, but it
wouldn't be for a long enough period of time to really irritate the player.
Perhaps this loss of direction would present some serious problem, and the
puzzle would be to restore usefulness to your compass and/or find some
clever way to surmount the problem it causes.

The most obvious scenario is that you'd be lost in a maze, unable to
navigate from room to room coherently. But no one likes a plain maze. No
doubt with a little thought and creativity, you could come up with something
much better. The Carousel Room from Zork 2 had a touch of this, but the
difference was that you could still use directional commands, they just
worked sort of randomly.

--Andy


John Colagioia

unread,
Jun 17, 2002, 10:31:26 AM6/17/02
to
Jaap van der Velde wrote:

>On Sat, 15 Jun 2002 15:16:35 -0400, John Colagioia
><JCola...@csi.com> wrote:
>
>>Interestingly, I never really thought of directions in IF this way. I
>>tend to think of them as an abstraction of "some" coordinate system.
>>That is, north is just shorthand for "thataway," and east is shorthand
>>for "to the right of north."
>>
>That's interesting though, I do the same, but I was wondering:
>what direction do you expect the character to face initialy?
>Does it depend on the scenery? (you're in a bedroom and the
>door you see is probably to the east, as the door in your
>actual bedroom is too?) I catch myself usually assuming my
>character is facing north whenever the character arrives at
>a new location.
>

I tend (and this may sound a little weird) to assume the early direction
of motion is "north." Which, when I think about it, sounds pretty
strange, because this literally means that I'll make notes to myself
like "OK, it's to the north, which is west..." That's right, despite
having to type "s" quite a few times, I firmly believe that the road is
north of Arthur Dent's house...at least from that abstract point of view.

So, I guess the answer is, I assume that the player is facing north
through the first Go verb. Kind of.

Interestingly, after I've reoriented the map, I don't really give much
thought ot which way the PC faces. I suppose I've always assumed that
the PC is sort of always in motion (to see what's around), rather than
standing, waiting for his next command.

Stark Springs

unread,
Jun 17, 2002, 3:26:06 PM6/17/02
to
"Andy M" <an...@dreamforge.com> wrote in message news:<68dP8.588$1n4.5...@news2.news.adelphia.net>...

>
> What you said about twisty cave passages made me think of something. Has
> anyone ever put a situation into a game where your compass stops working for
> some reason (say, the place where you are is permeated by a strong magnetic
> field) and thus the common directional commands stop working temporarily?
> You might then switch to a "go through wooden door" style movement, but it
> wouldn't be for a long enough period of time to really irritate the player.
> Perhaps this loss of direction would present some serious problem, and the
> puzzle would be to restore usefulness to your compass and/or find some
> clever way to surmount the problem it causes.
>
Actually, yes. The only example that I can think of right now is Bane
of the Builders, although there are probably many more. You fall into
a maze, spinning randomly as you do so. Inside the maze you can only
use left, right, forward and back. Most players hated it :)

Stark

David Thornley

unread,
Jun 17, 2002, 2:01:05 PM6/17/02
to
In article <3D0B929...@csi.com>,

John Colagioia <JCola...@csi.com> wrote:
>
>Interestingly, I never really thought of directions in IF this way. I
>tend to think of them as an abstraction of "some" coordinate system.
> That is, north is just shorthand for "thataway," and east is shorthand
>for "to the right of north."
>
I am much more comfortable on shipboard in an IF game where "north"
means "forward", "east" means "starboard", "south" means "aft",
and "west" means "port". This applies even when the ship isn't
really going north (but can get confusing when it's docked not
facing north).

So, yes, I think of directions that way too.

FWIW, I wasn't really clear on what was right and what left all the
time until my early teens, and only in my thirties did clockwise
and counterclockwise become natural (i.e., could tell one from the
other without first visualizing a clock). People with stronger
internal reference frames may think differently.


--
David H. Thornley | If you want my opinion, ask.
da...@thornley.net | If you don't, flee.
http://www.thornley.net/~thornley/david/ | O-

Kevin Lighton

unread,
Jun 17, 2002, 9:23:38 PM6/17/02
to
A cat leaping onto Stark Springs's computer produced this output:

> "Andy M" <an...@dreamforge.com> wrote in message news:<68dP8.588$1n4.5...@news2.news.adelphia.net>...
>>
>> What you said about twisty cave passages made me think of something. Has
>> anyone ever put a situation into a game where your compass stops working for
>> some reason (say, the place where you are is permeated by a strong magnetic
>> field) and thus the common directional commands stop working temporarily?
>> You might then switch to a "go through wooden door" style movement, but it
>> wouldn't be for a long enough period of time to really irritate the player.
>> Perhaps this loss of direction would present some serious problem, and the
>> puzzle would be to restore usefulness to your compass and/or find some
>> clever way to surmount the problem it causes.
>>
> Actually, yes. The only example that I can think of right now is Bane
> of the Builders, although there are probably many more.

There was a game in the 1999 IF Competition, whose name escapes me, which
had a section called the Klein Desert where you couldn't use compass
directions, since the desert was a klein bottle.

Ja, mata
--
Kevin Lighton lig...@bestweb.net or shin...@operamail.com
http://members.tripod.com/~shinma_kl/main.html
"I thought he was too arrogant to have an escape pod!" Vyse, _Skies of
Arcadia_

John Colagioia

unread,
Jun 18, 2002, 8:53:57 AM6/18/02
to
David Thornley wrote:

>FWIW, I wasn't really clear on what was right and what left all the
>time until my early teens, and only in my thirties did clockwise
>and counterclockwise become natural (i.e., could tell one from the
>other without first visualizing a clock). People with stronger
>internal reference frames may think differently.
>

I'm still not always clear on them in my late-twenties. I used the term
"right" just as a convenient reference name to "over to that side
(whichever side that is)." I still catch myself checking to see which
hand makes the 'L' from the back, from time to time...

Clockwise, though, I think I've finally gotten...Of course, I bought a
novelty clock that runs backwards, so...

In any case, my point (which I've surely obscured) is that I don't use
compass directions, per se, but I do use fairly absolutist directions in
describing where things are. Giving those directions compass names
strikes me as a usable compromise.

Paul O'Brian

unread,
Jun 18, 2002, 9:45:45 AM6/18/02
to
On Tue, 18 Jun 2002, Kevin Lighton wrote:

> There was a game in the 1999 IF Competition, whose name escapes me, which
> had a section called the Klein Desert where you couldn't use compass
> directions, since the desert was a klein bottle.

Erehwon, by Rick Litherland.

--
Paul O'Brian obr...@colorado.edu http://ucsu.colorado.edu/~obrian

L. Ross Raszewski

unread,
Jun 18, 2002, 7:31:00 PM6/18/02
to
On Tue, 18 Jun 2002 08:53:57 -0400, John Colagioia <JCola...@csi.com> wrote:
>David Thornley wrote:
>
>>FWIW, I wasn't really clear on what was right and what left all the
>>time until my early teens, and only in my thirties did clockwise
>>and counterclockwise become natural (i.e., could tell one from the
>>other without first visualizing a clock). People with stronger
>>internal reference frames may think differently.
>>
>
>I'm still not always clear on them in my late-twenties. I used the term
>"right" just as a convenient reference name to "over to that side
>(whichever side that is)." I still catch myself checking to see which
>hand makes the 'L' from the back, from time to time...
>

I will generally make a writing motion before declaring either
direction to be 'left' or 'right'.

Jayzee

unread,
Jun 19, 2002, 11:38:20 AM6/19/02
to
John Colagioia <JCola...@csi.com> wrote in message news:<3D0B929...@csi.com>...

> Joao Mendes wrote:
>
> >Hi, all, :)
> >
> >I'm a bit troubled by the unfailing compass that IF avatars seem to have,
> >wherein they always know exactly what direction north is.
> >

(snip)


> I seem to remember an Inform game that did exactly that, up until you
> found the compass. Probably a demonstration. Let's see...
>
> Ah, here we go:
>
> http://www.ifarchive.org/if-archive/infocom/compilers/inform6/library/contributions/spin.z5
>
> [...]

Hi Everyone

While I've no problems using compass directions for travel per se, I
do find the way that this influences room descriptions to be
unrealistic. Okay, sure when people are outdoors, or describing large
scale areas, then they use compass directions "the west side of the
mountain" or "the path runs down the hill, turning to the south as it
nears the roadway below" but this is just not the way that people
think about small-scale locations like interiors. Those are described
in relation to the person viewing the scene "I think you'll find the
invitation on the mantelpiece behind you" or "just go upstairs and the
bathroom is on your left". The only people that talk about "the window
in the south wall" or the "spacious kitchen to the north" are
real-estate agents.

I'd found the library module called "spin" a little while ago. The
author writes room descriptions using relative directions e.g. "ahead
of you is a low archway, and there is a window to your right", and the
game keeps track of which way a player is facing, amending any
relative directions in the room descriptions to match the direction
the player is facing. Actually the author writes "@N a low archway,
and there is a window @E" with @N and @E being 'lowstrings' (whatever
they are) that the game replaces with the appropriate text.
Unfortunately I've had no luck getting this to work using the
ORlibrary - the code compiles quite happily, but these mysterious
"lowstrings" don't print at all. Can anyone shed any light? The DM4
just mentions them, without explaining what they are or how they
relate to the ordinary (though presumably more aristocratic) "string".
(As you can tell, I'm no programmer.)
If you're feeling generous, I'd also appreciate advice on how to
nobble the code in "spin" that disables the ordinary compass
directions. I've no objection to players using compass directions
rather than "go left" or "go back" as spin allows - in fact if I can
work out how to code it, I'd like to put a switch in so that players
could type COMPASSTRAVEL ON and the room descriptions would then show
north, south etc in the traditional style.

A side thought for the "exits" verb; would it be possible to make this
the response to a blank return? (The parser normally responds "excuse
me?") I think hitting return for a list of (currently known) exits
wouldn't be too arduous.

Many thanks,

Jayzee

John Colagioia

unread,
Jun 19, 2002, 8:43:03 PM6/19/02
to
Jayzee wrote:
[...]

>If you're feeling generous, I'd also appreciate advice on how to
>nobble the code in "spin" that disables the ordinary compass
>directions.
>

I haven't taken a *good* look at the code in question (though I did
glance at it briefly, and mentioned it elsewhere in the thread), but I
think it's a full program, rather than a library, which is why you're
having trouble integrating it.

If you rip out the "content" (rooms and non-direction objects) of the
code, and replace it with your own, that'll work at least until someone
with more patience and experience can hack through and turn it into a
proper library.

>I've no objection to players using compass directions
>rather than "go left" or "go back" as spin allows - in fact if I can
>work out how to code it, I'd like to put a switch in so that players
>could type COMPASSTRAVEL ON and the room descriptions would then show
>north, south etc in the traditional style.
>

Actually, you make a good point (actually, you made the good point
above, which I snipped in an effort to get to your
question/request--oops!). It's not the *movement* that's
counterintuitive, but the room descriptions.

However, be that as it may (whatever *that* means...), it's a lot harder
to describe rooms properly, since you honestly *don't* know which way
the player is facing.

I mean, you can make the assumption that the player stands at attention
when he arrives in a room, and make that his current orientation, but is
that really any more realistic than, for example, assuming that he
instantly reorients himself to face the "most interesting" thing in the
room? And is either option any more realistic than assuming that the
player has "cased" the room, and you're just reporting the abstract
results (in terms of compass directions)?

>A side thought for the "exits" verb; would it be possible to make this
>the response to a blank return? (The parser normally responds "excuse
>me?")
>

The easy, though icky, way is to track down the spot where "excuse me"
appears, and execute the routine associated with the relevant verb
("ExitsSub()," or "<<Exits>>" in Inform, for example). You can do
better than that by figuring out where the "blank line parsing" happens,
and make the call there, but that strikes me as a lot more work.

>I think hitting return for a list of (currently known) exits
>wouldn't be too arduous.
>

I don't know. It's not exactly intuitive. It's something that
(assuming it's undocumented, since modern IF tends to not be packaged,
for obvious reasons) will either be found by accident, or not at all.

If you *must* keep the directions separate from your room descriptions,
I'd suggest something else I don't like (but is at least cleaner,
overall): Put the compass rose up in the status line so that there's
*no* typing involved.

Michael Lodge

unread,
Jun 21, 2002, 10:47:34 AM6/21/02
to
> Actually, you make a good point (actually, you made the good point
> above, which I snipped in an effort to get to your
> question/request--oops!). It's not the *movement* that's
> counterintuitive, but the room descriptions.
>

The use of compass directions is an abstraction. When walking around my
house (or even a building I have never been in before) I don't use compass
directions. But then I don't use left, right, forward and backward either.
I think of directions as 'this way' or 'that way'. If I turn around I don't
conciously re-orient myself. 'This way' is still 'this way', even if it is
now behind me.

Because 'this way' and 'that way' aren't very helpful as movement commands,
a substitute 'North' or 'South' is used instead. As these are commands that
are easily understood as directions, they make good choices. Putting these
compass directions into the room description may not be the way people would
really describe a room if they were talking to someone, but it tells the
player how the exits are layed out, and how to get to all of them. More
importantly, IMO, the directions are the same each time I enter the room.

for example:

I'm in the dining room. There is a hall to the east, a kitchen to the west,
and a back door to the north. If I enter the room from the hall, the
kitchen is forward. If I enter from outside, the kitchen is to my left. If
I entered from the kitchen, the kitchen is now behind me. Using compass
directions, I simply go west in all cases - no problems with what direction
I am facing.

I tend to think that this is a huge benefit when wandering through a game,
as once I have a mental map, I can wander from room to room without thinking
about it (much like I do when walking through my home).


David Keller

unread,
Jun 24, 2002, 8:11:59 PM6/24/02
to

"Magnus Olsson" <m...@df.lth.se> wrote in message
news:aecirl$ldp$1...@news.lth.se...
> In article <aeak0l$rvl$4...@foobar.cs.jhu.edu>,
> L. Ross Raszewski <lrasz...@loyola.edu> wrote:

> >On Thu, 13 Jun 2002 14:57:07 +0000 (UTC), Joao Mendes
> ><public...@anywhere.invalid> wrote:
> >
> >>I'm a bit troubled by the unfailing compass that IF avatars seem to
have,
> >>wherein they always know exactly what direction north is.
>
> >Basically, there just isn't another navigational system as easy to get
> >a handle on.
>
> And I think this has a lot to do with the way we (for some definition
> of "we" - YMMV) play adventure games: either drawing maps on paper,
> or at least trying to visualize a map while playing.

>
> Yes, it breaks mimesis if you stop to think about it - how come the PC
> has such an uncanny sense for compass directions, despite having spent
> the last few days running around in twisting tunnels miles
> underground?
>
> But I think that most players just accept it as a convention and stop
> thinking about it.
============
I'd agree with the above slightly modified by comments by some other posts
in this thread such as:

Interestingly, I never really thought of directions in IF this way. I
tend to think of them as an abstraction of "some" coordinate system.
That is, north is just shorthand for "thataway," and east is shorthand

for "to the right of north." - John Colagioia

Some system of directing and describing movement and spatial relationships
has to be used and this "compass" method seems a very natural and efficient
one to me.


BTW, I live in a very urban area (nearly a sprawl) and this thread has made
me aware that I do think and talk, in "compass" directions very much.
Probably not true compass directions so much as a mix of that and compass
directions as they are incorporated in street names. This includes quite an
awareness of which direction rooms and walls are in. Particularly in summer
I'm aware of compass directions and their relationship to the relative
position of the sun during different times of the day.

David K


Ross Presser

unread,
Aug 10, 2002, 11:04:00 PM8/10/02
to
alt.distinguished.""David Keller"
<davi...@earthlink.net>".wrote.posted.offered:

[bigsnip to get to the point I'm interested in]

> BTW, I live in a very urban area (nearly a sprawl) and this thread
> has made me aware that I do think and talk, in "compass"
> directions very much. Probably not true compass directions so much
> as a mix of that and compass directions as they are incorporated
> in street names. This includes quite an awareness of which
> direction rooms and walls are in. Particularly in summer I'm
> aware of compass directions and their relationship to the relative
> position of the sun during different times of the day.
>
> David K

I know exactly what you mean; I feel very sure of compass direction
myself a great deal of the time. However, this is when I'm on my home
turf: around my house, my job, my neighborhood, the roads I drive on to
get from one of these places to another, etc. But most of the IF
tradition features an *adventurer*, who is almost by definition away
from his familiar stomping grounds; how is it then that he never, as
it's said in Yiddish, gets "verdrayt" (literally "turned," connoting
confused)?

Kevin Forchione

unread,
Aug 11, 2002, 2:24:34 AM8/11/02
to
"Ross Presser" <rpre...@NOSPAMimtek.com.invalid> wrote in message
news:Xns9266EAB23...@216.148.53.90...

I wouldn't say that... try playing the next large IF game you encounter
without drawing a map. North is north, and south is south, but until you
know what lies beyond they're just as meaningless as left, right, forward,
and backward.

--Kevin


Stephen L Breslin

unread,
Aug 16, 2002, 2:44:05 AM8/16/02
to
On Sun, 11 Aug 2002 06:24:34 GMT, "Kevin Forchione"
<ke...@lysseus.com> wrote:

>"Ross Presser" <rpre...@NOSPAMimtek.com.invalid> wrote:
>> > Particularly in summer I'm
>> > aware of compass directions and their relationship to the relative
>> > position of the sun during different times of the day.

What about during night time? And why is this relevant to IF? Do you
want your real life experiences modeled in your IF games? Why? Why is
this observation relevant?

>> I know exactly what you mean; I feel very sure of compass direction
>> myself a great deal of the time. However, this is when I'm on my home
>> turf: around my house, my job, my neighborhood, the roads I drive on to
>> get from one of these places to another, etc. But most of the IF
>> tradition features an *adventurer*, who is almost by definition away
>> from his familiar stomping grounds; how is it then that he never, as
>> it's said in Yiddish, gets "verdrayt" (literally "turned," connoting
>> confused)?

I'm not so sure how relevant a Yiddish lesson is to this question, and
it's also peculiar that you'd think "adventurer" in *'s has any
bearing. Player characters very often explore locations they're
familiar with. Plus, you don't need to make any of these claims to
talk about directions. Should the compass function one way when the
player character is in familiar envorins, and another way when he's in
unfamiliar surroundings? Why are you bringing up the concepts of
familiarity and unfamiliarity?

It's true that the compass is reliable in most games, but there are
games where it's not. It's more reliable than it would be if for some
reason everyone were trying to make absolute simulations, but what
basis do you have for reasoning that making unreliable compasses
improves game play all across the board? Sounds like one of those
misguided tangents about "realism" or whatever.

Are you arguing that it would be more fun if your compass was
periodically confused? Why?

I'm not sure why Kevin thinks you're talking about mapping....

>I wouldn't say that... try playing the next large IF game you encounter
>without drawing a map. North is north, and south is south, but until you
>know what lies beyond they're just as meaningless as left, right, forward,
>and backward.

True. North implies an absolute direction, while left is relative;
with you, I'm not comfortable calling this meaningful. Backwards can
point definitely to the room you were last in....

(I rarely draw maps. I align myself with north, and draw a mental
spatial picture with north signifying forward, and south signifying
backwards.)

Directions are in a sense meaningless, as you say, to the extent that
you don't know for sure where you're going until you've been there.
They become meaningful when you've explored the location they point
to. I'm not sure how this relates to the question of directionless
IF....

Ross Presser

unread,
Aug 16, 2002, 10:35:26 AM8/16/02
to
Stephen L Breslin <bre...@acsu.buffalo.edu> wrote in
news:3d5c99d7...@news.buffalo.edu:

>>"Ross Presser" <rpre...@NOSPAMimtek.com.invalid> wrote:
>>> > Particularly in summer I'm
>>> > aware of compass directions and their relationship to the relative
>>> > position of the sun during different times of the day.

Watch the attributions. I did not write this sentence - it was part of
David Keller's post.

[Stephen L Breslin wrote the rest of the quoted material in this
article.]

> I'm not so sure how relevant a Yiddish lesson is to this question, and

Relevance may be missing, but it occurred to me while I was typing that
(one of) the Yiddish words for confused was literally "turned", which
seems to me to be a good description of having a confused compass.

> it's also peculiar that you'd think "adventurer" in *'s has any
> bearing. Player characters very often explore locations they're
> familiar with. Plus, you don't need to make any of these claims to
> talk about directions. Should the compass function one way when the
> player character is in familiar envorins, and another way when he's in
> unfamiliar surroundings? Why are you bringing up the concepts of
> familiarity and unfamiliarity?

In real life I do not carry an actual compass; nevertheless, on familiar
environs I am often aware of compass directions, while on unfamiliar
turf I am not. I think it would be an interesting gimmick to imitate
this in a game, where I assume the player is not carrying a compass,
since I am usually not explicitly told that he is.

> It's true that the compass is reliable in most games, but there are
> games where it's not. It's more reliable than it would be if for some
> reason everyone were trying to make absolute simulations, but what
> basis do you have for reasoning that making unreliable compasses
> improves game play all across the board? Sounds like one of those
> misguided tangents about "realism" or whatever.

I have never reasoned that it would improve game play all across the
board. I've never said that. I've never even READ that.

I do not wish to impose any sort of compass rule on anyone. I do not
even wish to suggest that most games would be better without a compass.
My post was prompted solely by my identification with the experience of
"innate" direction-finding on my home turf, which David described and
which struck a chord with me.

> Are you arguing that it would be more fun if your compass was
> periodically confused? Why?

Once in a while, yes, it could be more fun. I can imagine a game where
getting lost was part of the adventure. Sometimes in real life, getting
lost helps you discover new things.

> I'm not sure why Kevin thinks you're talking about mapping....

Neither am I, but I'll let Kevin respond to you himself.

You seem very confrontative in your post, and I'm not sure why.

--

Ross Presser * rpre...@imtek.com
"Ten minutes with google will tell you more about anything
than you ever wanted to know." -- Ross Presser, 2002

Stephen L Breslin

unread,
Aug 16, 2002, 5:45:00 PM8/16/02
to
On 16 Aug 2002 14:35:26 GMT, Ross Presser
<rpre...@NOSPAM.imtek.com.invalid> wrote:

>>>"Ross Presser" <rpre...@NOSPAMimtek.com.invalid> wrote:
>>>> > Particularly in summer I'm
>>>> > aware of compass directions and their relationship to the relative
>>>> > position of the sun during different times of the day.
>
>Watch the attributions. I did not write this sentence - it was part of
>David Keller's post.

I attributed the quotation to you, not the sentence; if you could
count >'s, you'd have figured that out already. Anyway, no need to get
your panties in a wad. I'm watching. In fact, I'm watching you.

>> I'm not so sure how relevant a Yiddish lesson is to this question, and
>
>Relevance may be missing, but it occurred to me while I was typing that
>(one of) the Yiddish words for confused was literally "turned", which
>seems to me to be a good description of having a confused compass.

While it may sometimes be useful to introduce foreign concepts to
clarify a familiar meaning, the concept of "getting lost" doesn't
really need clarifying with an etymological excursion in Yiddish. Are
you trying to show off your Yiddish or something? It don't clarify
matters, bub.

>[...] [in] familiar


>environs I am often aware of compass directions, while on unfamiliar
>turf I am not. I think it would be an interesting gimmick to imitate
>this in a game, where I assume the player is not carrying a compass,
>since I am usually not explicitly told that he is.

Ok. Well, in my case, the contrary is true. When I'm in a familiar
place, I don't know which way is north, but when I'm in a foreign
place, I keep track of the compass directions so I won't get lost.
(This is a lot easier in the daytime as another poster noted.)

But anyway, could you relate this to the discussion of directionless
IF? Again, it sounds like you're ejaculating your personal experiences
without any point. I don't see that talking about our various
psychologies is all that relevant, unless someone draws a connection
somewhere.

>I have never reasoned that it would improve game play all across the
>board. I've never said that. I've never even READ that.

I was suggesting one of many points you could have been making. I
still don't know what your point is. My point is that the drive to
make games realistic is motivated by a fallacy (which you seem to be
falling into, although you're not making a point so it's hard to pin
you down). Why do you think your personal experience is relevant to
the discussion, and how are you trying to apply it?

>I do not wish to impose any sort of compass rule on anyone.

It would be absolutely idiotic if you were. I don't consider you that
much of an idiot.

>I do not
>even wish to suggest that most games would be better without a compass.

Ok, good. So my questions have at least helped you identify what point
you are *not* making. The question remains: what point are you making?

>My post was prompted solely by my identification with the experience of
>"innate" direction-finding on my home turf, which David described and
>which struck a chord with me.

So are you talking about cognitive science, or IF? Can you explain why
your point is relevant?

>> Are you arguing that it would be more fun if your compass was
>> periodically confused? Why?
>
>Once in a while, yes, it could be more fun. I can imagine a game where
>getting lost was part of the adventure. Sometimes in real life, getting
>lost helps you discover new things.

Ok, so why don't we apply this to IF? What sort of conditions would be
optimum for screwing up the compass, and what would be a good way to
screw it up, without destroying the player's trust in the interface
(as opposed to the game)?

>You seem very confrontative in your post, and I'm not sure why.

Maybe I'm just highlighting the fact that you didn't think very much
before you wrote. Maybe you feel threatened by the fact that someone
noticed you were being dumb. I'm confronting you so I can get a
relevant thought out of you. I'm beginning to get the feeling I'm
going to fail in this project.

PS. It's spelled confrontational. I'll spare you the etymology. :)

Jonathan Penton

unread,
Aug 16, 2002, 3:43:41 PM8/16/02
to
<snip>

> >You seem very confrontative in your post, and I'm not sure why.
>
> Maybe I'm just highlighting the fact that you didn't think very much
> before you wrote. Maybe you feel threatened by the fact that someone
> noticed you were being dumb. I'm confronting you so I can get a
> relevant thought out of you. I'm beginning to get the feeling I'm
> going to fail in this project.

Ross, I found your comments on how you view compass directions interesting
and relevant, and I did rot find your Yiddish comments distracting.

--
Jonathan Penton
http://www.unlikelystories.org

Ross Presser

unread,
Aug 16, 2002, 3:42:28 PM8/16/02
to
Stephen L Breslin <bre...@acsu.buffalo.edu> wrote in
news:3d5d6cce...@news.buffalo.edu:

> Maybe I'm just highlighting the fact that you didn't think very much
> before you wrote. Maybe you feel threatened by the fact that someone
> noticed you were being dumb. I'm confronting you so I can get a
> relevant thought out of you. I'm beginning to get the feeling I'm
> going to fail in this project.

Indeed, you have failed; you will not be able to get anything at all out of
me in the future, because I have plonked you.

Knight37

unread,
Aug 16, 2002, 4:17:08 PM8/16/02
to
It's elementary, my dear Ross Presser
<rpre...@NOSPAM.imtek.com.invalid>:

> Stephen L Breslin <bre...@acsu.buffalo.edu> wrote in
> news:3d5d6cce...@news.buffalo.edu:
>
>> Maybe I'm just highlighting the fact that you didn't think very much
>> before you wrote. Maybe you feel threatened by the fact that someone
>> noticed you were being dumb. I'm confronting you so I can get a
>> relevant thought out of you. I'm beginning to get the feeling I'm
>> going to fail in this project.
>
> Indeed, you have failed; you will not be able to get anything at all
> out of me in the future, because I have plonked you.
>

As have I. What a jackass.

--

Knight37

Human beings are a disease, a cancer of this planet. You are a plague, and
we are the cure.
-- Agent Smith, "The Matrix"

Joao Mendes

unread,
Aug 18, 2002, 11:07:36 PM8/18/02
to
Hi, :)

Knight37 <knig...@email.com> wrote in
news:Xns926C9B7E7...@130.133.1.4:

> It's elementary, my dear Ross Presser
> <rpre...@NOSPAM.imtek.com.invalid>:

>> out of me in the future, because I have plonked you.

> As have I. What a jackass.

1) I don't plonk. Ever. It's a principle. :/

2) I can't bring myself to disagree with the both of you.

3) This whole exchange felt extremly odd, as I recall Mr. Breslin
introducing useful content into other threads.

Either a) he was not in his usual mood when he posted that; b) someone
cracked his account; or c) I'm misreading the whole situation and some
other explanation is the truth.

Either way, whenever I get this sort of response, I usually ignore it
without response. But I never plonk. :/

Cheers,

J.

Reply all
Reply to author
Forward
0 new messages