A personal opinion: Prevenative Situations

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Mordacai

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Jun 11, 1997, 3:00:00 AM6/11/97
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Ok, this is just me letting off a little steam. Feel free to disagree
whole-heartedly with what I say, just don't think I'm an un-good person
for saying it, ok? :)

There exist in many, many games, and almost all of the really famous ones
in the I-F Archive, situations which prevent you from winning the game,
but which you don't realize perhaps till many playing hours later. Andrew
Plotkin's little masterpiece "A Change in the Weather" is completely based
on this sort of thing, using lots, and lots of them all wrapped together.
It is brilliant in it's execution of this baffling task, but I can simply
not bring myself to play into it at all. Why? In brief: BECAUSE I HATE
PLAYING 75% OF A GAME AND REALIZING THAT I FORGOT SOMETHING ON THE SECOND
MOVE. There, that's out ;) Two stunning examples: Having played
Christminister, another fantasticly written, superbly though-out game, I
reached a point where I had everything I needed, except tears. I then
came to the painful realization that I'd used the opportunity to get tears
much earlier in the game, before I even knew I was looking for them. I
had a saved game, but I couldn't compell myself to go all the way back
there and re-do all the work I'd done. Similarly, in perhaps the most
revered Infocom game, Trinity, I found myself at the very end, only to
realize I'd left one vital item trapped in the third mushroom (though I
had kept a hold of plenty of non-useful stuff. Both of these games now
sit, un-finished, for I lack the strength to go through them again.

I'm not saying these sort of exclusive situations are all bad, the make
for a decidedly brilliant game in "A Change in the Weather," hoever, I for
one, can't take them. I recently downloaded another of Plotkin's works,
"So Far," and, like "ACitW," I was stunned by the brilliant writing, the
fantastic atmosphere. Then I checked the About file, read that there were
a number of preventative situations in the game, and broke into tears.

I just wanted to get that off my chest, thank you for listening ;) I'd
also like to note that any games I do eventually turn out (I've put about
24 work hours into this first one I'm working on, and I'm about half-way
there) will not contain any of these situations. Sure, there might be
actions which make it markedly harder to win, but nothing that completely
prevents sucess. Then again, I'm sure the game will have enough flaws to
make up for any gains that might give. :)

Ian Finley
mord...@aol.com

"But.... why?"

Marnix Klooster

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Jun 11, 1997, 3:00:00 AM6/11/97
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mord...@aol.com (Mordacai) wrote:

> There exist in many, many games, and almost all of the really famous ones
> in the I-F Archive, situations which prevent you from winning the game,
> but which you don't realize perhaps till many playing hours later. Andrew
> Plotkin's little masterpiece "A Change in the Weather" is completely based
> on this sort of thing, using lots, and lots of them all wrapped together.
> It is brilliant in it's execution of this baffling task, but I can simply
> not bring myself to play into it at all. Why? In brief: BECAUSE I HATE
> PLAYING 75% OF A GAME AND REALIZING THAT I FORGOT SOMETHING ON THE SECOND
> MOVE. There, that's out ;)

My preferred solution would be to have an Z-machine interpreter
which allows the following scenario.

* Start Christminster.
* Play for a long time, forgetting or missing the tears.
* Realize your mistake a couple of hours too late.
* Scroll back in the game's history until you're where you were
supposed to find the tears. (With scroll back I mean something
like Undo (Ctrl-Z) in many Windows applications. The clock is
turned back, so to speak, as with Frotz' Alt-U. However, the
text on the screen is also restored to its previous state, so
that you can see where, or rather when, you are. Of course you
can also scroll forward, just like Windows' Redo (Ctrl-Y).)
* Copy all moves you did after this point to someplace, say to
the Windows clipboard.
* Perform the moves to get the tears.
* Paste all copied moves back. This re-executes all commands
that you undid/scrolled back earlier.

Et voila!

Of course, the last step might take some time, but the main
thing is that it's fully automatic.

Would that solve your problem, Ian?

There is a catch, by the way: on SAVE the interpreter must
save the entire game history for this mechanism to be really
effective. The amount of disk space used for saved games should
be kept as low as possible, perhaps by storing the 'difference'
between saved games.

Yes -- I know I've said things like this before around here.
But I don't have the time to implement such an interpreter, and
I'd really really like to have one. And so presumably do Ian and
many others. I prefer a Z-machine interpreter, but a similar
adaptation or rewrite of the TADS runtime would be very welcome
too.

So, any takers?

> Ian Finley
> mord...@aol.com

Groetjes,

<><

Marnix
--
Marnix Klooster | If you reply to this post,
mar...@worldonline.nl | please send me an e-mail copy.

Andrew Plotkin

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Jun 11, 1997, 3:00:00 AM6/11/97
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Mordacai (mord...@aol.com) wrote:
> I'm not saying these sort of exclusive situations are all bad, the make
> for a decidedly brilliant game in "A Change in the Weather," hoever, I for
> one, can't take them. I recently downloaded another of Plotkin's works,
> "So Far," and, like "ACitW," I was stunned by the brilliant writing, the
> fantastic atmosphere. Then I checked the About file, read that there were
> a number of preventative situations in the game, and broke into tears.

But you appreciate, I hope, that I *did* mention it in the "about" text...
as opposed to letting you find out by getting stuck halfway through the game.

> I just wanted to get that off my chest, thank you for listening ;)

My generic response is, "You can probably type faster than you think."

--Z

--

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

Matthew T. Russotto

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Jun 11, 1997, 3:00:00 AM6/11/97
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In article <19970611154...@ladder02.news.aol.com>,
Mordacai <mord...@aol.com> wrote:

}MOVE. There, that's out ;) Two stunning examples: Having played
}Christminister, another fantasticly written, superbly though-out game, I
}reached a point where I had everything I needed, except tears. I then
}came to the painful realization that I'd used the opportunity to get tears
}much earlier in the game, before I even knew I was looking for them.

You can get the tears other ways. Christabel is SUCH a girl... :-)

--
Matthew T. Russotto russ...@pond.com
"Extremism in defense of liberty is no vice, and moderation in pursuit
of justice is no virtue."

Brian J Parker

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Jun 11, 1997, 3:00:00 AM6/11/97
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Were I ever to finish a mature work of IF (I did a number of them back in
high school that are just silly treasure hunts, I haven't finished a
mature project yet) I expect I'd do this:

If no-win situations were included in the game, I'd make it possible for
the player to discover as much. I'd probably add an addendum to the SCORE
command, so you might get something like:

> SCORE

You have 3 out of a possible 10 points.

Unfortunately, you are in a no-win situation.

> RESTORE

Perhaps I'd make it verbose, to give the player a hint about where they
screwed up; I'd definitely phrase it in a way more appropriate to the
game.

This is all easily said, though, by a non-author.


--
brian j parker ----------------- "The Web is basically 'text for people
black-clad cliche -------------- who can't read'"
(c)Flamma 1996 -----------------
http://www.pitt.edu/~bjpst6 ---- --A. Eldritch

Adam Cadre

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Jun 11, 1997, 3:00:00 AM6/11/97
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Mordacai wrote:
> [post snipped]

I believe one of the tenets upon which LucasArts was founded was that
games should never (or at least very rarely) end up in an unwinnable
state. One of the arguments against this is mimesis (sometimes life
ends up in an unwinnable state, at least to the extent that certain
objects you may be looking for may now be lost and irretrievable.)
But then, there's little mimesis in having your actions informed by
past lives, so as long as a game can be played more than once, I agree
that unsolvable states should be avoided wherever possible.

Of course, this is assuming you're writing/playing a game that can be
"won." If you're working on a game which isn't geared toward achieving
one single "best" outcome, you can be freer in closing off plot
branches. And if your game takes starting over into account as part
of its metaphysics, then mimesis becomes less of a problem. (And if
we were on the MUD, this would be a perfect time for an "AdamC chuckles
darkly.")

-----
Adam Cadre, Durham, NC
Now you can play I-0, the "jailbait on the interstate" game, online!
Find it at http://www.duke.edu/~adamc -- still open while I redecorate.

Philip B. Riley

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Jun 11, 1997, 3:00:00 AM6/11/97
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In article <339eda3e...@news.worldonline.nl>,
Marnix Klooster <mar...@worldonline.nl> wrote:

>My preferred solution would be to have an Z-machine interpreter
>which allows the following scenario.
>
> * Start Christminster.
> * Play for a long time, forgetting or missing the tears.
> * Realize your mistake a couple of hours too late.
> * Scroll back in the game's history until you're where you were
>supposed to find the tears. (With scroll back I mean something
>like Undo (Ctrl-Z) in many Windows applications. The clock is
>turned back, so to speak, as with Frotz' Alt-U. However, the
>text on the screen is also restored to its previous state, so
>that you can see where, or rather when, you are. Of course you
>can also scroll forward, just like Windows' Redo (Ctrl-Y).)
> * Copy all moves you did after this point to someplace, say to
>the Windows clipboard.
> * Perform the moves to get the tears.
> * Paste all copied moves back. This re-executes all commands
>that you undid/scrolled back earlier.

In defense of Christminster -- there *are* other ways to get the tears, which
you can always do. If you've finished the game, I believe they're listed in
the AMUSING things to do...


--
--------------------------------------------------------
Philip Riley pri...@math.duke.edu Duke Math Department
--------------------------------------------------------


Matthew T. Russotto

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Jun 11, 1997, 3:00:00 AM6/11/97
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In article <5nmvv2$o...@usenet.srv.cis.pitt.edu>,

Brian J Parker <bjp...@pitt.edu> wrote:
}Were I ever to finish a mature work of IF (I did a number of them back in
}high school that are just silly treasure hunts, I haven't finished a
}mature project yet) I expect I'd do this:
}
}If no-win situations were included in the game, I'd make it possible for
}the player to discover as much. I'd probably add an addendum to the SCORE
}command, so you might get something like:
}
}> SCORE
}
}You have 3 out of a possible 10 points.
}
}Unfortunately, you are in a no-win situation.

Now you've got to keep track of every possible way you can get into
such a situation. Possible, but difficult and not necessarily
reliable. I suppose as long as you didn't promise 100% reliability,
it could work.

> THROW KEYS

The keys sail in a graceful arc over the cliff.
[You are now in a no-win situation]

C.E. Forman tried something like this in _Path To Fortune_ -- you
might want to check the archives for reactions.

CURSE IN THE AVALON, BREAD THE JIGSAW VAN
An Interactive Something-or-other
Copyright 0000 by Y2K Inc.

> SCORE
In 0 moves, you have achieved 0 out of 400 points.
You are in a no-win situation.

Carl Muckenhoupt

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Jun 11, 1997, 3:00:00 AM6/11/97
to Mordacai

Mordacai wrote:
>
> Two stunning examples: Having played
> Christminister, another fantasticly written, superbly though-out game, I
> reached a point where I had everything I needed, except tears. I then
> came to the painful realization that I'd used the opportunity to get tears
> much earlier in the game, before I even knew I was looking for them.

It's never too late to get tears in Christminster. It can be too late
to get them from Edward, but it's never too late to get tears.

There, now you can pull out your saved game and look for the other
solution. (It's a better solution, IMHO - it's less cruel, it doesn't
rely on advanced knowledge at an early stage in the game, and - most
importantly - it's the one I thought of when confronted with the
problem.)

Cliff Hall

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Jun 12, 1997, 3:00:00 AM6/12/97
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Andrew Plotkin wrote:
> > I just wanted to get that off my chest, thank you for listening ;)
>
> My generic response is, "You can probably type faster than you think."

keeeerrrrrrZZZZAAAAAPPPPP! Man that one *stung*!

-Cliff
--
------ Cliff Hall, webm...@tricon.net ------
==== Editor & Publisher -=[ SYNAPSE ]=- ====
http://synapse.tricon.net

Andrew Plotkin

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Jun 12, 1997, 3:00:00 AM6/12/97
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Cliff Hall (cl...@tricon.net) wrote:
> Andrew Plotkin wrote:
> > > I just wanted to get that off my chest, thank you for listening ;)
> >
> > My generic response is, "You can probably type faster than you think."

> keeeerrrrrrZZZZAAAAAPPPPP! Man that one *stung*!

Damn, I'm sorry. I didn't mean that as a personal attack. Honest.

What I *meant* was, it's easier than you think to start a text game over
from the beginning. It's just typing, and you can get through a known
section of game faster than you think you can. Thus, "You can probably
type faster than you think [you can.]" I didn't mean "...than you [can]
think."!

I try to repeat the following statistic at least one a month: _So Far_
takes under five minutes to re-solve, if you're a fast typer and have a
fast-scrolling window. If you make a mistake and have to start over, it's
under ten minutes. _Christminster_, ok, much longer plot; still under half
an hour to start over from the beginning.

I'm not saying this is good enough for you. It's a dull half-hour, and if
it's not worth it, it's not worth it, and if you don't like losable games,
you don't like them. But if you've been burning four-hour play sessions
all weekend (like I did with _Jigsaw_), it may be relatively not such a
big deal.

LFrench106

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Jun 12, 1997, 3:00:00 AM6/12/97
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[Christminster needs tears]

>There, now you can pull out your saved game and look for the other
>solution. (It's a better solution, IMHO - it's less cruel, it doesn't
>rely on advanced knowledge at an early stage in the game, and - most
>importantly - it's the one I thought of when confronted with the
>problem.)


S

P

O

I

L

M

E

R

O

T

T

E

N

.

Would the magic word be, perchance, cry?

Matthew T. Russotto

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Jun 12, 1997, 3:00:00 AM6/12/97
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In article <19970612221...@ladder02.news.aol.com>,

LFrench106 <lfren...@aol.com> wrote:
}[Christminster needs tears]
}>There, now you can pull out your saved game and look for the other
}>solution. (It's a better solution, IMHO - it's less cruel, it doesn't
}>rely on advanced knowledge at an early stage in the game, and - most
}>importantly - it's the one I thought of when confronted with the
}>problem.)
}

}Would the magic word be, perchance, cry?

--
>cry
You're not the kind of woman who can produce tears on demand like
that.
--
But there IS a solution.

Adam Cadre

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Jun 12, 1997, 3:00:00 AM6/12/97
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Andrew Plotkin wrote:
> My generic response is, "You can probably type faster than you think."

Cliff Hall wrote:
> keeeerrrrrrZZZZAAAAAPPPPP! Man that one *stung*!

Really? The petulance of Zarf's "generic response" only made me think
more highly of the original poster.

Mark J Musante

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Jun 12, 1997, 3:00:00 AM6/12/97
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Cliff Hall (cl...@tricon.net) wrote:
> Andrew Plotkin wrote:
> > > I just wanted to get that off my chest, thank you for listening ;)
> >
> > My generic response is, "You can probably type faster than you think."
>
> keeeerrrrrrZZZZAAAAAPPPPP! Man that one *stung*!

Yeah, that was a rather unexpected insult from Mr Plotkin. I'm suspecting
that either an evil being temporarily took over his brain or there's
something far to subtle in that comment for me to grasp.

Then again, he may just tell me that I post faster than I think.

- Mark

Admiral Jota

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Jun 13, 1997, 3:00:00 AM6/13/97
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olo...@world.std.com (Mark J Musante) writes:
>Cliff Hall (cl...@tricon.net) wrote:
>> Andrew Plotkin wrote:

>> > > I just wanted to get that off my chest, thank you for listening ;)
>> > My generic response is, "You can probably type faster than you think."
>> keeeerrrrrrZZZZAAAAAPPPPP! Man that one *stung*!

>Yeah, that was a rather unexpected insult from Mr Plotkin. I'm suspecting
>that either an evil being temporarily took over his brain or there's
>something far to subtle in that comment for me to grasp.

I don't think that Andrew was intending to insult anyone's thinking speed;
I believe that you may be reading his post in a manner different from the
manner he intended. I think his intended meaning was 'Your actual typing
speed is faster than you perceive it to be.' Or, in other words, 'You type
faster than you believe you can type.'

>Then again, he may just tell me that I post faster than I think.

No comment.
--
Support the anti-Spam amendment! /<-= Admiral Jota =->\
Join at http://www.cauce.org/ -< <-= jo...@tiac.net =-> >-
\<-=- -= -=- =- -=->/

Matthew Daly

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Jun 13, 1997, 3:00:00 AM6/13/97
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jo...@tiac.net (Admiral Jota), if that is your REAL name, said:
>>> Andrew Plotkin wrote:
>
>>> > My generic response is, "You can probably type faster than you think."
>
>I don't think that Andrew was intending to insult anyone's thinking speed;
>I believe that you may be reading his post in a manner different from the
>manner he intended. I think his intended meaning was 'Your actual typing
>speed is faster than you perceive it to be.' Or, in other words, 'You type
>faster than you believe you can type.'

Are we still parsing this one? I thought that he was saying that it
takes longer to play a game than it takes to replay it. The first time
you carefully contemplate your actions (i.e. "think"), the second time
you are just parroting the words you typed the first time around.

Perhaps people are reading "think" as a synonym for "believe", but I
think he meant it to mean "cogitate."

-Matthew, going back to the big ball debate
--
Matthew Daly I feel that if a person has problems communicating
mwd...@kodak.com the very least he can do is to shut up - Tom Lehrer
My opinions are not necessarily those of my employer, of course.
--- Support the anti-Spam amendment! Join at http://www.cauce.org ---

Andrew Plotkin

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Jun 13, 1997, 3:00:00 AM6/13/97
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Matthew Daly (da...@PPD.Kodak.COM) wrote:
> jo...@tiac.net (Admiral Jota), if that is your REAL name, said:
> >>> Andrew Plotkin wrote:
> >
> >>> > My generic response is, "You can probably type faster than you think."
> >
> >I don't think that Andrew was intending to insult anyone's thinking speed;
> >I believe that you may be reading his post in a manner different from the
> >manner he intended. I think his intended meaning was 'Your actual typing
> >speed is faster than you perceive it to be.' Or, in other words, 'You type
> >faster than you believe you can type.'

> Are we still parsing this one? I thought that he was saying that it
> takes longer to play a game than it takes to replay it. The first time
> you carefully contemplate your actions (i.e. "think"), the second time
> you are just parroting the words you typed the first time around.

This is making my head hurt. That is the exact meaning I intended to
convey, but exactly the wrong parsing.

> Perhaps people are reading "think" as a synonym for "believe", but I
> think he meant it to mean "cogitate."

I think I can, I think I can, I think I can... cogitate... believe... boom!

Mark J Musante

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Jun 13, 1997, 3:00:00 AM6/13/97
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Admiral Jota (jo...@tiac.net) wrote:
> olo...@world.std.com (Mark J Musante) writes:
> >Cliff Hall (cl...@tricon.net) wrote:
> >> Andrew Plotkin wrote:
> >> > > I just wanted to get that off my chest, thank you for listening ;)
> >> > My generic response is, "You can probably type faster than you think."
> >> keeeerrrrrrZZZZAAAAAPPPPP! Man that one *stung*!
>
> >Yeah, that was a rather [snip]

>
> I don't think that Andrew was intending to insult anyone's thinking speed;

Yup -- I did read his follow-up. I knew it must have been unintentional: if
memory serves, he's never insulted anyone on this newsgroup at least since I
started reading it.

- Mark

Allen Garvin

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Jun 13, 1997, 3:00:00 AM6/13/97
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In article <5nqbhu$1...@wanda.vf.pond.com>,
Matthew T. Russotto <russ...@wanda.vf.pond.com> wrote:
>In article <19970612221...@ladder02.news.aol.com>,

>
>}Would the magic word be, perchance, cry?
>
>--
>>cry
>You're not the kind of woman who can produce tears on demand like
>that.
>--
>But there IS a solution.

SPOILER

And not just one solution, but three. One involves Jarboe's cruelty, another
takes advantage of Edward's affection for his parrot. The third can be
accomplished at any time during the game, with the use of a small prickly
object found near the library. I used the second, and didn't become aware of
the alternates until I looked at the source.


--
Allen Garvin
------------
eare...@faeryland.tamu-commerce.edu
http://faeryland.tamu-commerce.edu/~earendil

Jon Petersen

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Jun 13, 1997, 3:00:00 AM6/13/97
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Andrew Plotkin wrote:
>
> Cliff Hall (cl...@tricon.net) wrote:
> > Andrew Plotkin wrote:
> > > > I just wanted to get that off my chest, thank you for listening ;)
> > >
> > > My generic response is, "You can probably type faster than you think."
>
> > keeeerrrrrrZZZZAAAAAPPPPP! Man that one *stung*!
>
> Damn, I'm sorry. I didn't mean that as a personal attack. Honest.
>

Andrew, I think you can probably type faster than you think.
:-) Jon

Adam J. Thornton

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Jun 13, 1997, 3:00:00 AM6/13/97
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In article <EBo0A...@world.std.com>,

Mark J Musante <olo...@world.std.com> wrote:
>Cliff Hall (cl...@tricon.net) wrote:
>> Andrew Plotkin wrote:
>> > > I just wanted to get that off my chest, thank you for listening ;)
>> > My generic response is, "You can probably type faster than you think."
>> keeeerrrrrrZZZZAAAAAPPPPP! Man that one *stung*!
>Yeah, that was a rather unexpected insult from Mr Plotkin. I'm suspecting
>that either an evil being temporarily took over his brain or there's
>something far to subtle in that comment for me to grasp.

I thought he just meant that it takes a lot less time to replay the game
once you know what you need to do than it does to play it the first time.

Which is sort of true, but in the case of Big Old Games like Spiritwrak it
can still be a problem.

Adam

--
"I'd buy me a used car lot, and | ad...@princeton.edu | As B/4 | Save the choad!
I'd never sell any of 'em, just | "Skippy, you little fool, you are off on an-
drive me a different car every day | other of your senseless and retrograde
depending on how I feel.":Tom Waits| little journeys.": Thomas Pynchon | 64,928

Adam J. Thornton

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Jun 13, 1997, 3:00:00 AM6/13/97
to

In article <5nqbhu$1...@wanda.vf.pond.com>,
Matthew T. Russotto <russ...@wanda.vf.pond.com> wrote:
>In article <19970612221...@ladder02.news.aol.com>,
>LFrench106 <lfren...@aol.com> wrote:
>--
>>cry
>You're not the kind of woman who can produce tears on demand like
>that.

> Become Tracy from I-0 then cry.

Andrew Plotkin

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Jun 15, 1997, 3:00:00 AM6/15/97
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Mark J Musante (olo...@world.std.com) wrote:
> Yup -- I did read his follow-up. I knew it must have been unintentional: if
> memory serves, he's never insulted anyone on this newsgroup at least since I
> started reading it.

Then you haven't been paying attention, you swan-swallowing baboon. Get
your piccolo out of your nose, if you know what I mean, and learn to read.

--Z

(And I was really *proud* of that "salts his soup in the spoon" line.)

Erik Max Francis

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Jun 15, 1997, 3:00:00 AM6/15/97
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Mordacai wrote:

> There exist in many, many games, and almost all of the really famous
> ones
> in the I-F Archive, situations which prevent you from winning the game,
> but which you don't realize perhaps till many playing hours later.

It seems to me that there's an easy way to get around this. All the
author needs to do is keep track of when the game gets into an unwinnable
state (presuming, of course, there is a single or a small set of "win"
states; for more fluid games where there is no final "win" this doesn't
particularly apply, but then neither does the concept of getting into an
unwinnable state).

For instance:

> EXAMINE GARBAGE DISPOSAL
It's your standard Teledyne Systems vacuum disposal. There is a big
red button to the side marked CYCLE.

> PUT KEYS IN GARBAGE DISPOSAL
You put the keys to the ship in the garbage disposal.

> HIT CYCLE BUTTON
You hit the cycle button.

You hear whirring sounds as the contents are flushed out into space

[That wasn't very bright; you can't win now.]

Or, if one wants to be harsher, one can just end the game:

...
> HIT CYCLE BUTTON
You hit the cycle button.

You hear whirring sounds as the contents are flushed out into space

Unfortunately, you needed those keys to complete the game. Aren't
much of a packrat, are you?

*** You have lost ***

--
Erik Max Francis, &tSftDotIotE / email / m...@alcyone.com
Alcyone Systems / web / http://www.alcyone.com/max/
San Jose, California, United States / icbm / 37 20 07 N 121 53 38 W
\
"Covenants without the sword / are but words."
/ Camden

Joe Mason

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Jun 15, 1997, 3:00:00 AM6/15/97
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"Re: A personal opinion:", declared Andrew Plotkin from the Vogon ship:

AP>I try to repeat the following statistic at least one a month: _So
AP>Far_ takes under five minutes to re-solve, if you're a fast typer
AP>and have a fast-scrolling window. If you make a mistake and have to
AP>start over, it's under ten minutes. _Christminster_, ok, much longer
AP>plot; still under half an hour to start over from the beginning.

It takes even less time if you copy and paste the commands from a walk-
through. (Wow - a point in favour of simple list-of-command walkthru's.
I didn't think there were any!) Of course, the only game I've tried
this is is TATCTAE, and it had a few Z commands or something missing, so
it would never quite work right - very annoying.

Joe

ş CMPQwk 1.42 9550 şVultures only fly with carrion luggage.

Matthew T. Russotto

unread,
Jun 15, 1997, 3:00:00 AM6/15/97
to

In article <66.967...@tabb.com>, Joe Mason <joe....@tabb.com> wrote:

}It takes even less time if you copy and paste the commands from a walk-
}through. (Wow - a point in favour of simple list-of-command walkthru's.
}I didn't think there were any!) Of course, the only game I've tried
}this is is TATCTAE, and it had a few Z commands or something missing, so
}it would never quite work right - very annoying.

Or use the recording feature, if supported in the game. I don't
remember offhand if the Inform standard library provides a record
verb.

Florian Beck

unread,
Jun 16, 1997, 3:00:00 AM6/16/97
to

joe....@tabb.com (Joe Mason) writes:

> "Re: A personal opinion:", declared Andrew Plotkin from the Vogon ship:
>
> AP>I try to repeat the following statistic at least one a month: _So
> AP>Far_ takes under five minutes to re-solve, if you're a fast typer
> AP>and have a fast-scrolling window. If you make a mistake and have to
> AP>start over, it's under ten minutes. _Christminster_, ok, much longer
> AP>plot; still under half an hour to start over from the beginning.
>

> It takes even less time if you copy and paste the commands from a walk-
> through. (Wow - a point in favour of simple list-of-command walkthru's.
> I didn't think there were any!) Of course, the only game I've tried
> this is is TATCTAE, and it had a few Z commands or something missing, so
> it would never quite work right - very annoying.

Cut and paste doesn't work well for games with lots of output; every
time the interpreter prompts for the next page, a command is lost. And
Xzip doesn't allow me to cut and past at all.

Inform would allow to write (and read!) the player's commands via
output_stream/input_steam 4. Now *this* would be nice for the
player! Sadly in most games "script" puts out a transcript of the
whole game, which I don't find useful at all.

--
Flo

Andrew Plotkin

unread,
Jun 16, 1997, 3:00:00 AM6/16/97
to

Florian Beck (h729...@sun1.cip.fak14.uni-muenchen.de) wrote:

> > It takes even less time if you copy and paste the commands from a walk-
> > through. (Wow - a point in favour of simple list-of-command walkthru's.
> > I didn't think there were any!) Of course, the only game I've tried
> > this is is TATCTAE, and it had a few Z commands or something missing, so
> > it would never quite work right - very annoying.

> Cut and paste doesn't work well for games with lots of output; every
> time the interpreter prompts for the next page, a command is lost. And

> Xzip doesn't allow me to cut and paste at all.

From other applications, you mean? This is because xzip uses the
(obsolete) X cutbuffer mechanism for cut/paste, instead of the X
selection mechanism. There is probably some way to translate between
mechanisms, but I don't know it.

In any case, xzip probably won't let you paste multiple lines of commands
at the same time. Newlines get translated to spaces or something.

This entire idea tends to break down in the face is games with random
events, anyhow.

--Z

Matthew T. Russotto

unread,
Jun 16, 1997, 3:00:00 AM6/16/97
to

In article <m37mfve...@loki.lrz-muenchen.de>,

Florian Beck <h729...@sun1.cip.fak14.uni-muenchen.de> wrote:
}Cut and paste doesn't work well for games with lots of output; every
}time the interpreter prompts for the next page, a command is lost. And
}Xzip doesn't allow me to cut and past at all.
}
}Inform would allow to write (and read!) the player's commands via
}output_stream/input_steam 4. Now *this* would be nice for the
}player! Sadly in most games "script" puts out a transcript of the
}whole game, which I don't find useful at all.

Unfortunately, the recording verbs are only available in debugging
versions of Inform games -- they are "recording on", "recording off",
and "replay". In Infocom games, they are "#record", "#unrec", and
"#comm" (to dictionary resolution). These aren't documented (I don't
think) but are in many games.

Francis Irving

unread,
Jun 16, 1997, 3:00:00 AM6/16/97
to

On 16 Jun 1997 01:47:31 +0200, Florian Beck
<h729...@sun1.cip.fak14.uni-muenchen.de> wrote:

>Inform would allow to write (and read!) the player's commands via
>output_stream/input_steam 4. Now *this* would be nice for the
>player! Sadly in most games "script" puts out a transcript of the
>whole game, which I don't find useful at all.

It was essential for me to solve Curses, as I could search it for clues...

Francis.

Home: fra...@pobox.co.uk Work: fra...@ncgraphics.co.uk

John Francis

unread,
Jun 16, 1997, 3:00:00 AM6/16/97
to
>joe....@tabb.com (Joe Mason) writes:
>
>> "Re: A personal opinion:", declared Andrew Plotkin from the Vogon ship:
>>
>> AP>I try to repeat the following statistic at least one a month: _So
>> AP>Far_ takes under five minutes to re-solve, if you're a fast typer
>> AP>and have a fast-scrolling window. If you make a mistake and have to
>> AP>start over, it's under ten minutes. _Christminster_, ok, much longer
>> AP>plot; still under half an hour to start over from the beginning.
>>
>> It takes even less time if you copy and paste the commands from a walk-
>> through. (Wow - a point in favour of simple list-of-command walkthru's.
>> I didn't think there were any!) Of course, the only game I've tried
>> this is is TATCTAE, and it had a few Z commands or something missing, so
>> it would never quite work right - very annoying.
>
>Cut and paste doesn't work well for games with lots of output; every
>time the interpreter prompts for the next page, a command is lost. And
>Xzip doesn't allow me to cut and past at all.
>
>Inform would allow to write (and read!) the player's commands via
>output_stream/input_steam 4. Now *this* would be nice for the
>player! Sadly in most games "script" puts out a transcript of the
>whole game, which I don't find useful at all.
>
>--
>Flo

Aaah - another advantage of the good old days!

When I played Dungeon on the DECSystem-20, I always ran it over a
pseudo-tty (DECSpeak for virtual terminal) running under the control
of the operator terminal multiplexing software. That way I could use
the full set of logging and scripting commands. In particular I could
send a whole list of commands from a file. I had a set of files for
Dungeon (with breaks at all the random decision points such as the
troll room, the round room, etc.) which I could use to go back and
replay the game very fast (relatively speaking :-) - useful when you
only had a very limited amount of disk space available for save files.

When I was mucking around writing my own late unlamented game-playing
system, I had an "OBEY" command which would take input from a file.
This could be either a simple list of commands, or a full game transcipt.
If it was a transcript I looked for lines beginning with the user input
prompt (normally ">"), and ignored any other lines.
--
John Francis jfra...@sgi.com Silicon Graphics, Inc.
(415)933-8295 2011 N. Shoreline Blvd. MS 43U-991
(415)933-4692 (Fax) Mountain View, CA 94043-1389
Unsolicited electronic mail will be subject to a $100 handling fee.

Richard G Clegg

unread,
Jun 17, 1997, 3:00:00 AM6/17/97
to

Erik Max Francis (m...@alcyone.com) wrote:
: Or, if one wants to be harsher, one can just end the game:

: ...
: > HIT CYCLE BUTTON
: You hit the cycle button.

: You hear whirring sounds as the contents are flushed out into space

: Unfortunately, you needed those keys to complete the game. Aren't
: much of a packrat, are you?

: *** You have lost ***

Certainly one can end the game like that.... but.... well, let's take
an example from Planetfall... there is a vending machine with several
objects of which you must buy 1. Being an experienced player I didn't
buy any until I knew WHICH one since I could only afford one. However,
in your system this now works out as:

"You have purchased the wrong object and therefore cannot now win the
game. Sorry."

While it is possible to flag when a player has got into an unwinnable
situation this rather gives the game away in certain situations. For
example you can tell immediately if you have made a wrong move.

And then I guess there's the problem of spotting some types of
unwinnable situation. "I'm sorry, you only have 33 moves of light left
and I reckon you can't get all the treasures from Zork in under 34
moves. You have lost."

Some classic adventures simply wouldn't work under this system.
Sorceror of Claymorgue Castle is a game where most puzzles have several
solutions only some of which are correct. I never finished it because
it's so fiendish. On the other hand if it had said

"I'm sorry, you cannot now win the game you used your levitate spell
on the box which, while it seemed to help you win will in fact
eventually bring you to a grinding halt."

then it would have merely been difficult.

(I have no idea if the above is in any way related to sorceror of
Claymorgue - I gave up playing it years ago because, while I enjoyed it
greatly it was causing patchy hair-loss around my temples).

--
Richard G. Clegg Only the mind is waving
Dept. of Mathematics (Network Control group) Uni. of York.
email: ric...@manor.york.ac.uk
www: http://manor.york.ac.uk/top.html


Julian Arnold

unread,
Jun 22, 1997, 3:00:00 AM6/22/97
to

In article <m37mfve...@loki.lrz-muenchen.de>, Florian Beck
<URL:mailto:h729...@sun1.cip.fak14.uni-muenchen.de> wrote:
> joe....@tabb.com (Joe Mason) writes:
>
> > "Re: A personal opinion:", declared Andrew Plotkin from the Vogon ship:
> >
> > AP>I try to repeat the following statistic at least one a month: _So
> > AP>Far_ takes under five minutes to re-solve, if you're a fast typer
> > AP>and have a fast-scrolling window. If you make a mistake and have to
> > AP>start over, it's under ten minutes. _Christminster_, ok, much longer
> > AP>plot; still under half an hour to start over from the beginning.
> >
> > It takes even less time if you copy and paste the commands from a walk-
> > through. (Wow - a point in favour of simple list-of-command walkthru's.
> > I didn't think there were any!) Of course, the only game I've tried
> > this is is TATCTAE, and it had a few Z commands or something missing, so
> > it would never quite work right - very annoying.
>
> Cut and paste doesn't work well for games with lots of output; every
> time the interpreter prompts for the next page, a command is lost. And
> Xzip doesn't allow me to cut and past at all.
>
> Inform would allow to write (and read!) the player's commands via
> output_stream/input_steam 4. Now *this* would be nice for the
> player! Sadly in most games "script" puts out a transcript of the
> whole game, which I don't find useful at all.

ISTR Inform does have some (debugging?) verbs to allow this--"recording
on" to write the commands to a file and "replay" to read 'em back again.
Actually, I think Frotz allows this via hotkeys.

Hugo definitely achieves this--"record" to write, "playback" to read.

Of course replaying a game in this way goes wonky if there are random
events.

Jools
--
"For small erections may be finished by their first architects; grand
ones, true ones, ever leave the copestone to posterity. God keep me
from ever completing anything." -- Herman Melville, "Moby Dick"


Big Mad Drongo

unread,
Jun 23, 1997, 3:00:00 AM6/23/97
to

Marnix Klooster (mar...@worldonline.nl) wrote:
: My preferred solution would be to have an Z-machine interpreter
: which allows the following scenario.

: * Start Christminster.
: * Play for a long time, forgetting or missing the tears.
: * Realize your mistake a couple of hours too late.
: * Scroll back in the game's history [...]
: * Copy all moves you did after this point to someplace, say to
: the Windows clipboard.
: * Perform the moves to get the tears.
: * Paste all copied moves back. This re-executes all commands
: that you undid/scrolled back earlier.

: Et voila!

Voila indeedy, you've just screwed up all time-critical parts of the game
by adding an extra move near the beginning, and as a result most of the
copied moves end up as attempts to walk through walls. :-)

That and the fact that you'd need fairly hideous amounts of memory to do
all this...

Adrian

Mary K. Kuhner

unread,
Jun 23, 1997, 3:00:00 AM6/23/97
to

In article <5olh8t$5...@mercury.dur.ac.uk> Big Mad Drongo <A.G.J...@durham.ac.uk> writes:

[auto-replaying the whole game after adding one missed move early on]

>Voila indeedy, you've just screwed up all time-critical parts of the game
>by adding an extra move near the beginning, and as a result most of the
>copied moves end up as attempts to walk through walls. :-)

Actually not true for Christminster due to its unusual model of time,
but certainly a problem in general. Also, if the interpolated move
changed anything at all in the rest of the game, the playback would
probably fail or have weird results.

This would work decently for the more deterministic, modular games,
poorly for games with intricate interconnections and/or random aspects.
But then, the intricately interconnected games are relatively fun to
play through again when you realize you've missed something; it's the
ones where auto-replay would work that are the most tempting to
auto-replay, because you learn nothing new from doing it by hand.

Mary Kuhner mkku...@genetics.washington.edu

Marnix Klooster

unread,
Jul 3, 1997, 3:00:00 AM7/3/97
to

In article <5olh8t$5...@mercury.dur.ac.uk>,

Big Mad Drongo <A.G.J...@durham.ac.uk> wrote:
>
> Marnix Klooster (mar...@worldonline.nl) wrote:
> : My preferred solution would be to have an Z-machine interpreter
> : which allows the following scenario.
>
> : * Start Christminster.
> : * Play for a long time, forgetting or missing the tears.
> : * Realize your mistake a couple of hours too late.
> : * Scroll back in the game's history [...]
> : * Copy all moves you did after this point to someplace, say to
> : the Windows clipboard.
> : * Perform the moves to get the tears.
> : * Paste all copied moves back. This re-executes all commands
> : that you undid/scrolled back earlier.
>
> : Et voila!
>
> Voila indeedy, you've just screwed up all time-critical parts of the game
> by adding an extra move near the beginning, and as a result most of the
> copied moves end up as attempts to walk through walls. :-)

Of course, the player should be able to see the result of the re-executed
moves, and add or delete moves inbetween to correct for any
time-dependent or random-number-dependent behaviour.

> That and the fact that you'd need fairly hideous amounts of memory to do
> all this...

That is an implementation 'detail'. And one for which efficient
solutions exist, I'm sure. It just takes time to work them out. I'm
talking "in principle" here. (Although I still have a prototype
implementation of such a Z-machine interpreter on my To Do list. People
with enough free time on their hands to help me along with this are
encouraged to apply.)

> Adrian

Groetjes,
<><
Marnix <mar...@worldonline.nl>

[If you reply to this posting please send me an e-mail copy.]

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