Is this fair?

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Kathleen Fischer

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May 14, 1996, 3:00:00 AM5/14/96
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I'm wondering what people's opinions are on the following:

Suppose you walk into a room and get the following description (not
one I'm going to use, but I would like to do something along the
same lines)

Courtyard
<blah blah> In the exact center of the courtyard is a large, unkempt
herb garden surrounding a marble statue.

> x statue

The marble horse is standing perfectly still in the center of the herb
garden.

> x garden

Parsely, Sage, Rosemary, and Thyme mingle together in a haphazard
fashion. Peeking out from under all the greenery is a small plaque.

> x plaque

Etched into the weathered marble surface is the word "XYZZY".

My question is this: Is it fair to hide the plaque in this fashion?
Do you like to root around places looking for stuff or would you rather
it was out in the open. This is obviously not a puzzle... the plaque
being hidden mearly to "slow down" the player. Still, I have always
liked discovering little things like this and wondered if others do too.

Thanks for your time,
Kathleen

--
// Kathleen Fischer
// kfis...@whirlwind.llnl.gov
// *** "Don't stop to stomp ants while the elephants are stampeding" ***

Russ Bryan

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May 14, 1996, 3:00:00 AM5/14/96
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In article <3198BE...@whirlwind.llnl.gov>, Kathleen Fischer
<kfis...@whirlwind.llnl.gov> wrote:

> Parsely, Sage, Rosemary, and Thyme mingle together in a haphazard
> fashion. Peeking out from under all the greenery is a small plaque.
>
> > x plaque
>
> Etched into the weathered marble surface is the word "XYZZY".
>
> My question is this: Is it fair to hide the plaque in this fashion?

Absolutely. This is a common way of hiding items, and is significantly
better than requiring the player "search Thyme" to find it.

--
"Forever caught in desert lands, one | russ...@earthlink.net
Has to learn to disbelieve the sea." | Writer for Hire, Apply Within
-- Tony Banks, Genesis | All Forms of Payment Accepted

Coming soon (See Whizzard's Avalon Glossary for definition of "soon")
=-> S P H E R E: An Interactive Obsession by Russ Bryan <-=

RobRachel

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May 14, 1996, 3:00:00 AM5/14/96
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>Courtyard
<b>lah blah> In the exact center of the courtyard is a large, unkempt
>herb garden surrounding a marble statue.
>
>> x statue
>
>The marble horse is standing perfectly still in the center of the herb
>garden.
>
>> x garden
>
>Parsely, Sage, Rosemary, and Thyme mingle together in a haphazard
>fashion. Peeking out from under all the greenery is a small plaque.
>
>> x plaque
>
>Etched into the weathered marble surface is the word "XYZZY".
>
>My question is this: Is it fair to hide the plaque in this fashion?

It's fair, but it can make things difficult. I would only do it if either:
1. The clue is helpful but not mandatory
2. You mention somewhere else that there is something in the garden
3. You have other gardens around with other hidden treasures
4. You have an online help "feature" (e.g.the demon in Curses)

-Rob

Magnus Olsson

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May 14, 1996, 3:00:00 AM5/14/96
to

In article <3198BE...@whirlwind.llnl.gov>,
Kathleen Fischer <kfis...@whirlwind.llnl.gov> wrote:
>Courtyard
><blah blah> In the exact center of the courtyard is a large, unkempt
>herb garden surrounding a marble statue.

[...]

>> x garden
>
>Parsely, Sage, Rosemary, and Thyme mingle together in a haphazard
>fashion. Peeking out from under all the greenery is a small plaque.

[...]

>My question is this: Is it fair to hide the plaque in this fashion?

Perfectly fair. Lots and lots of games do things like this; in fact, I
don't think any experienced adventurer would be surprised to find the
plaque only after examining the garden. After all, it's only realistic:
if you walked into the courtyard in real life, you probably wouldn't
find the plaque immediately.

What's unfair, however, is when one is required to do an unreasonable
amount of searching to find something that *should* be in plain view,
or when you have to use just the right words to search something, and
using the wrong words gives a message to the effect that you don't find
anything.

>Do you like to root around places looking for stuff or would you rather
>it was out in the open. This is obviously not a puzzle... the plaque
>being hidden mearly to "slow down" the player. Still, I have always
>liked discovering little things like this and wondered if others do too.

As long as it's not overdone, I like this kind of "depth" in room
descriptions. It's nicer to discover things through exploration than
to just be told that they are there.

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

Nulldogma

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May 15, 1996, 3:00:00 AM5/15/96
to

I'll chime in as well: I like this kind of thing, and think it's perfectly
fair as long as it's not too deeply or illogically buried.

Neil

Richard G Clegg

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May 15, 1996, 3:00:00 AM5/15/96
to

(Re: plaque hidden in garden)

>My question is this: Is it fair to hide the plaque in this fashion?

It's fair - but why are you doing it? The player will gain no
satisfaction from such a "find the hidden thing" puzzle - unless there's
a clue somewhere mentioning that or perhaps you've included other
gardens with very obvious plaques to create the expectation of one.

Nobody will ever think "clever me, I thought to type `examine garden' -
what an ingenious puzzle" and a number of players might think "How
damn annoying, I was looking for a clever puzzle answer."

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


Andrew C. Plotkin

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May 15, 1996, 3:00:00 AM5/15/96
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rg...@york.ac.uk (Richard G Clegg) writes:
> (Re: plaque hidden in garden)
> >My question is this: Is it fair to hide the plaque in this fashion?
>
> It's fair - but why are you doing it? The player will gain no
> satisfaction from such a "find the hidden thing" puzzle - unless there's
> a clue somewhere mentioning that or perhaps you've included other
> gardens with very obvious plaques to create the expectation of one.
>
> Nobody will ever think "clever me, I thought to type `examine garden' -
> what an ingenious puzzle" and a number of players might think "How
> damn annoying, I was looking for a clever puzzle answer."

Disagree. I *do* think "Clever me, I thought to examine the garden."
And I will gain satisfaction from it. I like finding things.

--Z

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

Matthew Daly

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May 15, 1996, 3:00:00 AM5/15/96
to

In article <3198BE...@whirlwind.llnl.gov> Kathleen Fischer <kfis...@whirlwind.llnl.gov> writes:
:
:Courtyard

:<blah blah> In the exact center of the courtyard is a large, unkempt
:herb garden surrounding a marble statue.
:
:> x statue

:
:The marble horse is standing perfectly still in the center of the herb
:garden.
:
:> x garden

:
:Parsely, Sage, Rosemary, and Thyme mingle together in a haphazard
:fashion. Peeking out from under all the greenery is a small plaque.
:
:> x plaque

:
:Etched into the weathered marble surface is the word "XYZZY".
:
:My question is this: Is it fair to hide the plaque in this fashion?
:Do you like to root around places looking for stuff or would you rather

:it was out in the open. This is obviously not a puzzle... the plaque
:being hidden mearly to "slow down" the player. Still, I have always
:liked discovering little things like this and wondered if others do too.

Well, you didn't need to examine the statue to get to the plaque, so
it's not that long a routine. Walk into the room, see that there is
a garden, look at the garden, see the plaque, read the plaque, get
the password.

I think it's like the way I percieve things in the real world. When
I walk into a room with, say, a bookshelf, I notice the bookshelf
but not the individual books.

Two caveats, though:

- If the plaque were important, it should be in the room description
the next time that you enter the room without having to re-examine
the garden.

- You shouldn't "hide" things that would be immediately obvious from
a cursory evaluation of the room. For instance "x garden" shouldn't
reveal "...parsley, sage, rosemary, thyme ... One of the bushes
seems to be burning but not being consumed." :-)

-Matthew Daly

Russ Bryan

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May 15, 1996, 3:00:00 AM5/15/96
to

In article <wlaTPJK00...@andrew.cmu.edu>, "Andrew C. Plotkin"
<erky...@CMU.EDU> wrote:


> Disagree. I *do* think "Clever me, I thought to examine the garden."
> And I will gain satisfaction from it. I like finding things.

This is true -- I'm surprised so many people are claiming its unfairness.
Examining every object is a caveat of playing any text adventure, and it
would be a waste of time if we never found anything in the process.

=====================================\ /=============================


"Forever caught in desert lands, one | russ...@earthlink.net
Has to learn to disbelieve the sea." | Writer for Hire, Apply Within
-- Tony Banks, Genesis | All Forms of Payment Accepted

-------------------------------------/ \-----------------------------

L.J. Wischik

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May 15, 1996, 3:00:00 AM5/15/96
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[ "You are in a garden with a statue." Examine statue. "There is a herb
garden underneath." Examine garden. "There is a plaque." Examine plaque.
"It has the letters XXYZ on its." ]

Why do you have to examine the statue to see the garden? Surely that
would have been obvious in the first glance.

It seems that there are two aspects to 'examine'. The first is prompting
the computer to give more information about a scene, which would have
been too tedious to include in the first description. Your example of
examining the statue to see the garden is an example of this.

The second is getting your character to walk up to the thing, pick it up,
rummage through the leaves. Your example of examining the herb garden is
an example of this.

The act of the eyeballs of the character moving to set upon an object lie
half way between the two.

I personally think that the first sort is a bit silly because it can hide
important details from you-the-player that would be immediately apparent
to you-the-character. The character would immediately have seen the herb
garden, but you did not. How 'bouts, if you have a case of this, you put
in some textual clue that there is more text to describe that just
couldn't be fitted in?

"You are in a large garden. There is a statue [...]."
meaning that there is a statue of which more detail would be
immediately apparent but this marjin is too small to contain it.

--
Lucian

Kathleen Fischer

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May 15, 1996, 3:00:00 AM5/15/96
to ljw...@thor.cam.ac.uk

ljw...@thor.cam.ac.uk (L.J. Wischik) wrote:
>[ "You are in a garden with a statue." Examine statue. "There is a herb
^^^^^^

> garden underneath." Examine garden. "There is a plaque." Examine plaque.
> "It has the letters XXYZ on its." ]
>
>Why do you have to examine the statue to see the garden? Surely that
>would have been obvious in the first glance.

Uh... you don't:

(From the original post)


>Courtyard
><blah blah> In the exact center of the courtyard is a large, unkempt
>herb garden surrounding a marble statue.

^^^^^^^^^^^

There it is, in black and white.... one herb garden!

:)


--
// Kathleen Fischer
// kfis...@greenhouse.llnl.gov

M. Sean Molley

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May 15, 1996, 3:00:00 AM5/15/96
to

In article <...>, Russ Bryan <russ...@earthlink.net> wrote:

>In article <...>, Kathleen Fischer <kfis...@whirlwind.llnl.gov> wrote:
>
>> Parsely, Sage, Rosemary, and Thyme mingle together in a haphazard
>> fashion. Peeking out from under all the greenery is a small plaque.
>>
>> > x plaque
>>
>> Etched into the weathered marble surface is the word "XYZZY".
>>
>> My question is this: Is it fair to hide the plaque in this fashion?
>
>Absolutely. This is a common way of hiding items, and is significantly
>better than requiring the player "search Thyme" to find it.

Unless, of course, the player is a Thyme Lord.

Sorry, sorry, sorry (winces and waits for flying soup cans)

ObIntFiction: Yes, it's fair to hide the plaque in this fashion, as long
as you don't have to dive through five or six levels of description to
get to it. The player may reasonably be expected to examine all things
in the room description, whether they are "significant" or not. Many
players are quite religious about it, in fact, and become rather hostile
if they try to examine something and are told that it doesn't exist. :)

Sean
-----
M. Sean Molley, Computer Science Department, Western Kentucky University
mol...@pulsar.cs.wku.edu

>--

>"Forever caught in desert lands, one | russ...@earthlink.net
> Has to learn to disbelieve the sea." | Writer for Hire, Apply Within
> -- Tony Banks, Genesis | All Forms of Payment Accepted
>

Matthew Daly

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May 15, 1996, 3:00:00 AM5/15/96
to

In article <wlaTPJK00...@andrew.cmu.edu> "Andrew C. Plotkin" <erky...@CMU.EDU> writes:
>rg...@york.ac.uk (Richard G Clegg) writes:
>
>> Nobody will ever think "clever me, I thought to type `examine garden' -
>> what an ingenious puzzle" and a number of players might think "How
>> damn annoying, I was looking for a clever puzzle answer."
>
>Disagree. I *do* think "Clever me, I thought to examine the garden."
>And I will gain satisfaction from it. I like finding things.

I agree with both of you.

The key word in Mr. Clegg's comment is "puzzle". I think that it's true
and obvious that exploration of one's world shouldn't be a puzzle. If
seeing a plaque under some herbs in a garden is supposed to be
difficult, than it's a bad UI and the program's fault. For instance,
if you describe the garden in such lush detail in the location
descriptor that the user wouldn't think to type "examine garden", then
that's a failure on the designer's part.

On the other hand, as Mr. Plotkin notes, exploration of the world
is part of the fun, and typing commands that advance knowledge of
the world feel good, even if they don't "score points". So, on the
other end of the spectrum, you wouldn't want to say "You are in
an office. There is a desk in the middle of the office. In the
second left-hand drawer of the desk is a diary. Yesterday's
diary entry says...." SEARCH DESK and READ DIARY are intuitive
things to try, but the user should have to type them in without
too much prodding from the computer.

-Matthew Daly

Gareth Rees

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May 16, 1996, 3:00:00 AM5/16/96
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Kathleen Fischer <kfis...@whirlwind.llnl.gov> wrote:
> > x garden

> Parsely, Sage, Rosemary, and Thyme mingle together in a haphazard
> fashion. Peeking out from under all the greenery is a small plaque.

> x parsely
A small herb whose stalks form a tree structure, with a token at each
leaf. It has sprung from its own seed, which makes it a recursive
descent parsely.

--
Gareth Rees

Gord Jeoffroy

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May 16, 1996, 3:00:00 AM5/16/96
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gd...@cl.cam.ac.uk (Gareth Rees) wrote:

>> x parsely
>A small herb whose stalks form a tree structure, with a token at each
>leaf. It has sprung from its own seed, which makes it a recursive
>descent parsely.

Oh, dear God....

--Gord, who notes that Sage and Rosemary so far have been
unadulterated in this thread, and who wonders which of the two
describes Gareth best...


Kathleen Fischer

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May 17, 1996, 3:00:00 AM5/17/96
to

(Re: plaque hidden in garden)

pdar...@rwd.goucher.edu (Phil Darnowsky) wrote:
>Essentially, it will annoy experienced players and confound novices.
>Don't do it.

Could you please elaborate? Why would it it be annoying/confounding?

Thanks,
Kathleen

Phil Darnowsky

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May 17, 1996, 3:00:00 AM5/17/96
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Richard G Clegg (rg...@york.ac.uk) wrote:
: (Re: plaque hidden in garden)
: >My question is this: Is it fair to hide the plaque in this fashion?

: It's fair - but why are you doing it? The player will gain no


: satisfaction from such a "find the hidden thing" puzzle - unless there's
: a clue somewhere mentioning that or perhaps you've included other
: gardens with very obvious plaques to create the expectation of one.

Essentially, it will annoy experienced players and confound novices.
Don't do it.

Farrell / Benjamin (COM)

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May 19, 1996, 3:00:00 AM5/19/96
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Oh, Dear Gord,

Well .. Rosemary is Gareth's Baby .. whether or not Gareth is Rosemary's
Baby, and thus Gareth is a recursive descent Rees is another matter
entirely ...

--OH.

(Followups to Silly Game Elements Part IV)

Joe Mason

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May 21, 1996, 3:00:00 AM5/21/96
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"Re: Is this fair?", declared Phil Darnowsky from the Vogon ship:

PD>: (Re: plaque hidden in garden)
PD>: >My question is this: Is it fair to hide the plaque in this fashion?

PD>: It's fair - but why are you doing it? The player will gain no
PD>: satisfaction from such a "find the hidden thing" puzzle - unless there's
PD>: a clue somewhere mentioning that or perhaps you've included other
PD>: gardens with very obvious plaques to create the expectation of one.

PD>Essentially, it will annoy experienced players and confound novices.
PD>Don't do it.

Not true - well, not neccessarily. It depends on how the game flows. If its a
game with a very rich background world, it'll help make it seem more realistic,
because there's more objects to examine that actually *do* things. I, for one,
would love this. On the other hand, if you want the player to move through this
section fast (or its a really big game and you don't want the player to get hung
up exploring things that don't affect the story) it'd be better to leave it out
in plain sight.

Joe

-- Coming soon: "In the End", a work of Interactive Fiction --
-- More about the 1996 IF Contest at rec.arts.int-fiction --

þ CMPQwk 1.42 9550 þVultures only fly with carrion luggage.

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