Photopia: Talk to ... [Possible spoiler]

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Jon Petersen

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Nov 18, 1998, 3:00:00 AM11/18/98
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Lelah Conrad wrote:
>
> Although I'm glad I've now played a game with the menu choice option
> ("Talk to ..." instead of ask/tell), it just doesn't work for me.
> Getting those lists was the only big flaw I found in Photopia.
> Visually, they broke mimesis for me.

I don't know... I'd much rather have choices than the "mimesis-breaking"
ASK ALLEY ABOUT MOM. "I don't know anything about that!" And I liked the
personality that was revealed through the conversational choices.

But really this is the same old argument (My First Stupid Mimesis
Argument?) and nobody will get anywhere. Just thought I'd chime in with
my opinion.

This is really irrelevant, but what the hey: At this late date, let me
say I was shocked, shocked and appalled not to find something like the
following in _Sins Against Mimesis_:

> BREAK MIMESIS
"You know," says the plant, "you're playing a goddamn computer game."

Ah well--perhaps in MY game with a mimesis plant.

Jon

Lelah Conrad

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Nov 19, 1998, 3:00:00 AM11/19/98
to
Although I'm glad I've now played a game with the menu choice option
("Talk to ..." instead of ask/tell), it just doesn't work for me.
Getting those lists was the only big flaw I found in Photopia.
Visually, they broke mimesis for me. I would have preferred ask/tell,
I think. With ask/tell, if you don't ask, you don't have to know
about all the other options. With this game, I felt obligated to work
through the lists, just because they were there. I would have felt
wrong, somehow, for not choosing to read them all. Especially since I
knew she was going to die. [How could I not feel obligated to keep
talking as long as possible with somebody whose number is clearly up?]

Lelah

Joe Mason

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Nov 19, 1998, 3:00:00 AM11/19/98
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*** SPOILERS: Muse (none for Photopia in this post) ***

Jon Petersen <en...@ucla.edu> wrote (not insribed, ok? wrote):


>Lelah Conrad wrote:
>>
>> Although I'm glad I've now played a game with the menu choice option
>> ("Talk to ..." instead of ask/tell), it just doesn't work for me.
>> Getting those lists was the only big flaw I found in Photopia.
>> Visually, they broke mimesis for me.
>

>I don't know... I'd much rather have choices than the "mimesis-breaking"
>ASK ALLEY ABOUT MOM. "I don't know anything about that!" And I liked the
>personality that was revealed through the conversational choices.

A really good (bad?) example of this is in _Muse_:

>ask her about her mother's grave
Chatting with Konstanza, even on frivolous subjects, was a pleasant experience,
and it was a while before I realized how far we had digressed.

Joe
--
I think OO is great... It's no coincidence that "woohoo" contains "oo" twice.
-- GLYPH

Matt Kimball

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Nov 19, 1998, 3:00:00 AM11/19/98
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Lelah Conrad <l...@nu-world.com> wrote:
> Although I'm glad I've now played a game with the menu choice option
> ("Talk to ..." instead of ask/tell), it just doesn't work for me.
> Getting those lists was the only big flaw I found in Photopia.
> Visually, they broke mimesis for me. I would have preferred ask/tell,
> I think.

Yes, I think a system more integrated with the parser is more ideal,
but is it more practical? Ask/tell isn't enough for me. I want more
freedom. (At least, I want the illusion of more freedom. Heh).

You know, we have a list of conventional commands for interacting with
objects. take, drop, examine, wear and so on. I wonder if it would
be possible to come up with a list of character interaction commands
richer than ask/tell which would be useful for a wide variety of
games? All you authors who have attempted to implement a set of
character interaction commands, what did you use?

I seem to remember being impressed with the interaction in In The End.
Any other games which implemented something similar?

--
Matt Kimball
mkim...@xmission.com

J. Robinson Wheeler

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Nov 20, 1998, 3:00:00 AM11/20/98
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Matt Kimball wrote:
>
> Lelah Conrad <l...@nu-world.com> wrote:
> > Although I'm glad I've now played a game with the menu choice option
> > ("Talk to ..." instead of ask/tell), it just doesn't work for me.
> > Getting those lists was the only big flaw I found in Photopia.
> > Visually, they broke mimesis for me. I would have preferred ask/tell,
> > I think.
>
> You know, we have a list of conventional commands for interacting with
> objects. take, drop, examine, wear and so on. I wonder if it would
> be possible to come up with a list of character interaction commands
> richer than ask/tell which would be useful for a wide variety of
> games? All you authors who have attempted to implement a set of
> character interaction commands, what did you use?

What I noticed, when trying to add WHAT, WHO, WHERE as more specific
forms of ASK, was that there was a real problem with trying to create
the "to be" verb. I was using TADS, but Inform is equally not set up
for am/is/are/was/were/be/being/been ... I had to do a wonky kludge
using prepositions that just seemed awful.

>FRED, WHERE'S GINGER?
>GINGER, DOES FRED HAVE THE TOP HAT?

Oh well.

--
J. Robinson Wheeler
whe...@jump.net http://www.jump.net/~wheeler/jrw/home.html

Daryl McCullough

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Nov 30, 1998, 3:00:00 AM11/30/98
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l...@nu-world.com (Lelah) says...

>
>Although I'm glad I've now played a game with the menu choice option
>("Talk to ..." instead of ask/tell), it just doesn't work for me.
>Getting those lists was the only big flaw I found in Photopia.
>Visually, they broke mimesis for me. I would have preferred ask/tell,
>I think. With ask/tell, if you don't ask, you don't have to know
>about all the other options. With this game, I felt obligated to work
>through the lists, just because they were there.

I agree, sort of. In the LucasArts game "Monkey Island", which used
menus for conversation, I always tried out all possibilities in every
conversation, just to see what would happen. (I mentioned this once
before, and I was flamed by someone who pointed out that there was
no way that I could have tried every possibility; well I certainly
tried to).

However, in Photopia, it is hard to see how ask/tell could have
worked, either. The problem is that you are not playing yourself,
you are playing somebody's father, or mother, or secret-admirer,
or whatever. You don't know what information your character has
to impart, so I don't see how you could have had meaningful
conversations using the ask/tell paradigm.

Is there another approach? Maybe if the menus were given in a less
mimesis breaking way: perhaps if instead of being given a menu, the
game had simply described what was going on inside your head, and
then you could choose to say any of these things out loud using
the ask/tell paradigm.

Daryl McCullough
CoGenTex, Inc.
Ithaca, NY

Joe Mason

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Nov 30, 1998, 3:00:00 AM11/30/98
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[Doe:]

>>Although I'm glad I've now played a game with the menu choice option
>>("Talk to ..." instead of ask/tell), it just doesn't work for me.
>>Getting those lists was the only big flaw I found in Photopia.
>>Visually, they broke mimesis for me. I would have preferred ask/tell,
>>I think. With ask/tell, if you don't ask, you don't have to know
>>about all the other options. With this game, I felt obligated to work
>>through the lists, just because they were there.

I didn't find this a problem because the lists were so short. It's obvious
you were *supposed* to work through all the options. Come on, ASK ALLEY
ABOUT POSSIBLE PARAMOURS? How could you resist?

[Darryl:]


>However, in Photopia, it is hard to see how ask/tell could have
>worked, either. The problem is that you are not playing yourself,
>you are playing somebody's father, or mother, or secret-admirer,
>or whatever. You don't know what information your character has
>to impart, so I don't see how you could have had meaningful
>conversations using the ask/tell paradigm.

I agree with that. I wouldn't change a thing, myself.

Joe
--
Surely you're not trying to tell us that you've never, nay _never_ walked
across miles and miles of Scottish heath searching for a witch only to
find that three go by all at once? -- Den of Iniquity

Andrew Plotkin

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Nov 30, 1998, 3:00:00 AM11/30/98
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Joe Mason (jcm...@uwaterloo.ca) wrote:
> [Doe:]
> >>Although I'm glad I've now played a game with the menu choice option
> >>("Talk to ..." instead of ask/tell), it just doesn't work for me.
> >>Getting those lists was the only big flaw I found in Photopia.
> >>Visually, they broke mimesis for me. I would have preferred ask/tell,
> >>I think. With ask/tell, if you don't ask, you don't have to know
> >>about all the other options. With this game, I felt obligated to work
> >>through the lists, just because they were there.

> I didn't find this a problem because the lists were so short. It's obvious
> you were *supposed* to work through all the options. Come on, ASK ALLEY
> ABOUT POSSIBLE PARAMOURS? How could you resist?

*Resist*? I'd be way too embarrassed to ask a girl that now, never mind in
high school. I couldn't make myself do it in Photopia.

--Z

--

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

Brandon Van Every

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Nov 30, 1998, 3:00:00 AM11/30/98
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Daryl McCullough wrote in message <73uj6k$e...@edrn.newsguy.com>...

>
>Is there another approach? Maybe if the menus were given in a less
>mimesis breaking way: perhaps if instead of being given a menu, the
>game had simply described what was going on inside your head, and
>then you could choose to say any of these things out loud using
>the ask/tell paradigm.


I think one UI tweak would be to eliminate numbers as the selection
mechanism. It makes you think about numbers, about doors in Let's Make A
Deal. A cursor arrow highlighting approach is slightly less intrusive.

I think it's just "The Art Of The Branch." It's an irreducible feature of a
multiple choice medium. You have to concentrate on making the play of the
branches interesting, the fact that there's a medium of branches is not
going to go away. Is it conceivable to make a series of branch dialogues
that the player does NOT wish to fully pursue? So that the player does not
feel a compulsion to try every option?

Since many players are exhaustively inquisitive, I think you'd have to make
the branches like a maze, with twists and turns that are easily missed, and
many exits. So that the player never really notices or knows what they've
missed. Designing good branches would be like designing a SIMPLE maze in
plain view. You are working with the perceptions, how the architecture
looks as you round a corner. That door over there, it is not so easily
noticed, but it is in plain view and present.

Often people's actions flow from their core assumptions. In The Game Of
Immortals the fundamental epistomology of the Gods is not fully explained.
We just keep telling scenes, and the authors kinda enjoy keeping secrets
from each other. We DO have coherent models for the realities of our Gods,
but we're not fully sharing. And so we let each other wander in our wakes.
Sometimes someone protests, saying "That makes no sense!" And we answer
"Yes it does, think more broadly. Stop pretending that it doesn't make
sense, and start embracing how it COULD make sense." Then you see the door
of the maze, that was standing there all along. And the reality revealed is
horrid.

Excellent example from Photopia: the maze. Definitely a play on your core
assumptions.

Another possibility is to pare down the branches to essentials. Make 2
branches. 1 of the branches folds back into the other. The purpose here is
to reveal significant information, to change the very meaning and reading of
the story. To deal a Recognition. It's really forking the story 2
different ways, if you go to the left or the right. Consider: what is the
story of Oedipus Rex if he learns of his father BEFORE or AFTER he marries
his mother?


Cheers, 3d graphics optimization jock
Brandon Van Every Seattle, WA
-----------------------------------------------------------------------
If we are all Gods and we have thrown our toys the mortals away
and we are Immortal What shall we do
and we cannot die to entertain ourselves?


Brandon Van Every

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Nov 30, 1998, 3:00:00 AM11/30/98
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Andrew Plotkin wrote in message ...

>Joe Mason (jcm...@uwaterloo.ca) wrote:
>
>> I didn't find this a problem because the lists were so short. It's
obvious
>> you were *supposed* to work through all the options. Come on, ASK ALLEY
>> ABOUT POSSIBLE PARAMOURS? How could you resist?
>
>*Resist*? I'd be way too embarrassed to ask a girl that now, never mind in
>high school. I couldn't make myself do it in Photopia.


I didn't even know what a "Paramour" was, aside from knowing something about
its Latin roots. I was afraid I might be asking something kinky....
Besides I'm a middle school boy, it's too high-falutin', I thought it would
break character for how a middle school boy should be acting.

Joe Mason

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Dec 1, 1998, 3:00:00 AM12/1/98
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Brandon Van Every <vane...@earthlink.net> wrote (not insribed, ok? wrote):

>
>>> I didn't find this a problem because the lists were so short. It's
>obvious
>>> you were *supposed* to work through all the options. Come on, ASK ALLEY
>>> ABOUT POSSIBLE PARAMOURS? How could you resist?
>>
>>*Resist*? I'd be way too embarrassed to ask a girl that now, never mind in
>>high school. I couldn't make myself do it in Photopia.
>
>
>I didn't even know what a "Paramour" was, aside from knowing something about
>its Latin roots. I was afraid I might be asking something kinky....
>Besides I'm a middle school boy, it's too high-falutin', I thought it would
>break character for how a middle school boy should be acting.

I thought so too, but I tried it anyway. Turns out he doesn't actually
phrase it that way. It comes out more like,

"So, uh... You're not, like, seeing anyone or anything, are you?"

Trevor Barrie

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Dec 1, 1998, 3:00:00 AM12/1/98
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>l...@nu-world.com (Lelah) says...

>>
>>Although I'm glad I've now played a game with the menu choice option
>>("Talk to ..." instead of ask/tell), it just doesn't work for me.
>>Getting those lists was the only big flaw I found in Photopia.
>>Visually, they broke mimesis for me.

I don't know - this is usually how I feel about menu-based conversation,
but they did work well in Photopia. I mean, I'm reasonably certain that
I wouldn't have thought to type "tell alley about our lack of animosity"
on my own, but the game would have been poorer without that great line.

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