Categories of verbs

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PTN

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Jul 27, 2003, 7:00:26 PM7/27/03
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I was attempting to classify all of the verbs one could enter in a typical
game, perhaps to make drop down menus or something of like verbs that a
player can draw from instead of typing. The idea is to have each category a
small subset of verbs, around 10 or so, so a player looking for a verb would
not be overwhelmed with choices. Has anyone else tried this sort of
classification scheme? Here's what I have so far but I'm wondering if there
isn't a better way to break down verb choices:

SENSORY VERBS: dealing with the five senses:

LOOK
EXAMINE
READ
LOOK IN
LOOK BEHIND
LOOK THROUGH
LOOK UNDER
TOUCH
SEARCH
EAT
DRINK
LISTEN
SMELL

INTERACTION VERBS: dealing with other characters:

GREET
ASK
TELL
SHOUT
TYPE
WRITE
GIVE
SHOW
ATTACK
FOLLOW
KISS

TRAVEL VERBS: compass directions, up, down, in out.

ACTION VERBS: things you physically do -- this name needs work:

PUSH
PULL
TURN
MOVE
JUMP
CLIMB
LIE DOWN
SIT
WAIT
STAND
PLAY
BOARD
DISEMBARK

OBJECT MANIPULATION: things you do with things

TAKE
DROP
ATTACH, DE-
BREAK
CLEAN
OPEN
CLOSE
FASTEN, UN-
LOCK, UN-
SCREW, UN-
PLUG, UN-
WEAR
REMOVE
PUT
FLIP
THROW

And finally, SYSTEM VERBS.

Do these categories make sense? Are there better ways to organize the basic
commands? Thought I might try and get a handle on possible menu-driven
command options, and if it would be a possible alternative to straight
typing.

-- Peter
http://www.illuminatedlantern.com/1893

Jim Aikin

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Jul 28, 2003, 1:28:45 PM7/28/03
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> The idea is to have each category a
> small subset of verbs, around 10 or so, so a player looking for a verb
would
> not be overwhelmed with choices.

A worthy goal (though some in this group will cavil at it.)

> SENSORY VERBS: dealing with the five senses:

EAT is not a sensory verb, it's an action verb.

> INTERACTION VERBS: dealing with other characters:

WRITE and TYPE are not interaction verbs as you've defined the term. They're
applied to objects, not characters.

> TRAVEL VERBS: compass directions, up, down, in out.

Travel verbs should include SIT and STAND UP.

> ACTION VERBS: things you physically do -- this name needs work:

Action and object manipulation seem to be overlapping categories, judging by
your list. DISEMBARK and BOARD are either travel verbs, or else they require
an object.

The list of action/manipulation verbs is potentially very large indeed. What
about OIL, for instance (useful with a rusty hinge)? What about RUB (as in,
RUB THE MAGIC LAMP)? What about TIE and UNTIE?

The interesting question, I suppose, is what you plan to do with such a
list. The choice of items will depend on the intended application.

--JA


JJK

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Jul 28, 2003, 10:02:29 PM7/28/03
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PTN wrote:

> I was attempting to classify all of the verbs one could enter in a typical
> game, perhaps to make drop down menus or something of like verbs that a
> player can draw from instead of typing. The idea is to have each
> category a
> small subset of verbs, around 10 or so, so a player looking for a verb
> would
> not be overwhelmed with choices.

A Palm system that used this could be very useful. I wouldn't go for
completeness. One must only think of Adam's games to realize just how
many obscure and colorful verbs this might cover. (Both.)

Generally, on the palm, having to choose form more than 10 or so
requires scrolling.

-Jim

PTN

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Jul 28, 2003, 10:44:15 PM7/28/03
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"JJK" wrote:

> A Palm system that used this could be very useful. I wouldn't go for
> completeness. One must only think of Adam's games to realize just how
> many obscure and colorful verbs this might cover. (Both.)

A PDA was one place where I thought something like this could come in handy.
But I thought it might make an interesting experiment in interface even for
the desktop version of a game. LEGEND Entertainment had a big, cumbersome
verb list taking up half the screen, which was incredibly ineffective and I
don't think I've ever met anyone that bothered to use it after a few
fumbling attempts. But if the verbs were, instead of just listed
alphabetically, categorized in logically coherent groups, it might make just
enough sense to have value. It would be a three click prospect to enter a
sentence: One click on the group name (or icon), one click on the VERB, then
a final click on the OBJECT, if it is on screen of course. (Having a
permanently displayed inventory list or "objects in the room" list might be
a logical continuation of this, but not something I'm willing to think about
at this point).

The trouble is coming up with logical categorization of the verbs and
keeping the number low, but generally inclusive of all actions in a game. I
don't think I've done a particularly good job of this so far, as Jim made
clear in his post.

Games with more colorful or complicated verbs could make use of additional
"add-on" menus, or perhaps have their verbs inserted into the existing
lists, with others taken out, but that would lower the value of the lists
from game to game, since their content would keep changing on the user.

-- Peter

PTN

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Jul 28, 2003, 10:59:41 PM7/28/03
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"Jim Aikin" wrote:

> EAT is not a sensory verb, it's an action verb.

It is, but I guess my thinking was that it was comparable to "TASTE." Most
implementations of TASTE that I've seen in games just presume you eat the
thing, so to shrink the verb list and assume the most common verb, I listed
EAT instead.

> WRITE and TYPE are not interaction verbs as you've defined the term.
They're
> applied to objects, not characters.

Hmmm...maybe INTERACTION should be INTERACTION/COMMUNICATION

>
> > TRAVEL VERBS: compass directions, up, down, in out.
>
> Travel verbs should include SIT and STAND UP.
>
> > ACTION VERBS: things you physically do -- this name needs work:
>
> Action and object manipulation seem to be overlapping categories, judging
by
> your list. DISEMBARK and BOARD are either travel verbs, or else they
require
> an object.

On second look, I guess the "Action" list is really nothing more than travel
verbs that do not use the traditional compass directions, like "Climb,"
"Board," or "Jump", or they fall into object manipulation.

>
> The list of action/manipulation verbs is potentially very large indeed.
What
> about OIL, for instance (useful with a rusty hinge)? What about RUB (as
in,
> RUB THE MAGIC LAMP)? What about TIE and UNTIE?
>

I'm wondering how to break down the large category of object manipulation, a
more precise, smaller category. A lot of manipulation is of a
mechanical/technological nature, perhaps that could be a subcategory (plug,
unplug, screw, unscrew, turn on, turn off, etc.).

> The interesting question, I suppose, is what you plan to do with such a
> list. The choice of items will depend on the intended application.

Mainly aiming for a newbie friendly user interface. Something for those
without a desire to type to use. Menu-driven, and all that. I'd put it in my
next game, as an experiment of sorts, if I can hash it out a bit better.

-- Peter


Joe Mason

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Jul 28, 2003, 11:16:24 PM7/28/03
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In article <R2lVa.5783$R43....@fe01.atl2.webusenet.com>, PTN wrote:
>
> "JJK" wrote:
>
>> A Palm system that used this could be very useful. I wouldn't go for
>> completeness. One must only think of Adam's games to realize just how
>> many obscure and colorful verbs this might cover. (Both.)
>
> A PDA was one place where I thought something like this could come in handy.

I think Frobnitz pretty much has it nailed by letter the player enter
the verb lists. I wish its default list was a little different, but at
least it handles Enchanter spells and such. And The Gostak, even.

> But I thought it might make an interesting experiment in interface even for
> the desktop version of a game. LEGEND Entertainment had a big, cumbersome
> verb list taking up half the screen, which was incredibly ineffective and I
> don't think I've ever met anyone that bothered to use it after a few
> fumbling attempts. But if the verbs were, instead of just listed
> alphabetically, categorized in logically coherent groups, it might make just
> enough sense to have value. It would be a three click prospect to enter a
> sentence: One click on the group name (or icon), one click on the VERB, then
> a final click on the OBJECT, if it is on screen of course. (Having a
> permanently displayed inventory list or "objects in the room" list might be
> a logical continuation of this, but not something I'm willing to think about
> at this point).

Return to Zork had you click on the object to get a context list of
verbs, some of which would require a second object. I liked the system.

I think I'd like either of these two methods better than having to
recall the categories of each verb - it would be like trying to find
something in MS Word's pull-down menus. (Let's see, was it
File | Preferences, Edit | Preferences, or Tools | Options?)

Joe

Jaap van der Velde

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Jul 29, 2003, 2:54:55 AM7/29/03
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On Mon, 28 Jul 2003 21:59:41 -0500, "PTN"
<peternepstad@(removethis)gmx.de> wrote:
>> The interesting question, I suppose, is what you plan to do with such a
>> list. The choice of items will depend on the intended application.
>
>Mainly aiming for a newbie friendly user interface. Something for those
>without a desire to type to use. Menu-driven, and all that. I'd put it in my
>next game, as an experiment of sorts, if I can hash it out a bit better.

Then I wouldn't go the 'either or' way. EAT apparently is both an
action (or object manipulation) and a 'sensory verb'. Now, if a
player wants to know what the chocolate tastes like, she'll probably
try the sensory verb list. If, on the other hand, she just wants to
remedy her hunger, she might try the action list. In both cases, you'd
want the player to find the verb on the first try.

Still, you'll have to ask yourself: do players who don't want to enter
text, want to browse through lengthy menu's? Why do you think they
don't want to enter text in the first place?

If it is because they don't want to 'guess the verb for newbies' (they
might not even know EAT or LOOK AT are common verbs in IF), then I
guess your categorization isn't needed. They would just need a list
of all the common verbs and make do with that. After a while,
they'd no longer need them.

Of course, there's the handheld users, but that's a different story
altogether. For instance, on a handheld you'll have to consider
available space as well. You can't just keep stacking menu on menu
(if your start-menu looks anything like mine, you get what I mean).

Another problem I have with this type of categorization is that it
doens't really seem to fit the way a player looks for verbs. I don't
usually think 'Hmmm, a bar of chocolate, I want to perform some
sensory action on it, let's see: taste would be nice'. I start out
with 'I want to taste it'. Then, having to look it up in cumbersome
menu's would only frustrate me. An alphabetical list would be more
accessible, because I'd already know where to look. (and a list of
'favourite verbs' would be useful as well, if I'd have control over
what was in it; many handheld terps already offer it)

Anyway, it's probably all been said and done before and I'd recommend
you go and see what results previous attempts generated...

Greetings,
JAAP.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------
"Only the educated are free."
-- Epictetus (55-135), Discourses

PTN

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Jul 30, 2003, 11:18:24 PM7/30/03
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"Jaap van der Velde" wrote:

> Still, you'll have to ask yourself: do players who don't want to enter
> text, want to browse through lengthy menu's?

I would hardly consider a menu of 10 items to be lengthy.

> If it is because they don't want to 'guess the verb for newbies' (they
> might not even know EAT or LOOK AT are common verbs in IF), then I
> guess your categorization isn't needed. They would just need a list
> of all the common verbs and make do with that. After a while,
> they'd no longer need them.

The "list of all common verbs" thing was done by LEGEND, but it took up a
lot of real estate on the screen. Tucking it away in a menu would be
necessary, but then there's the hideously long menu to contend with.

> Another problem I have with this type of categorization is that it
> doens't really seem to fit the way a player looks for verbs.

Someone else suggested a way to click on an object and see the different
things that can be done with it. A lot of graphic games do this now (click
item and see a hand, eye, and dialog balloon to indicate you can pick it up,
look at it, or talk to it). But in those games, the amount of commands are
much more limited. There are dozens of commands that can be performed on any
object in text IF. Still, it might be interesting, and surely possible to
code using HTML and TADS 3, I'd guess.

> An alphabetical list would be more
> accessible, because I'd already know where to look.

Personally, I'm not a fan of alphabetical order, it's an overused
organization system. It doesn't even work well all the time as a way to
organize letters, as a glance at your keyboard demonstrates, let alone
anything else. For IF, it strikes me as just plain annoying. Imagine if you
are playing, say, some sort of intergalactic sex romp involving an
anthropomorphic moose. Now, as a newbie entering commands, a menu in
alphabetical order is more useless than just typing in commands. "I wonder
if I can FONDLE...(goes to letter F), no...how about SPANK...(scrolls to
letter S)..." and so on. Easier just to type whatever springs to mind and
see what works. On the other hand, if you have a menu represented, say, by a
giant phallus, the player could click on it and at a glance see what their
options for amore truly are. Now that's convenient.

> Anyway, it's probably all been said and done before and I'd recommend
> you go and see what results previous attempts generated...

Not that I've seen, though I only play TADS and Inform games. Previous
attempts = 0. Very few people are even coding in a directional compass to
click on, let alone devising clickable command structures. If someone has
put something similar in a game before, I'd love to see how well it works,
or doesn't, as the case may be.

-- Peter
http://www.illuminatedlantern.com/1893


Jaap van der Velde

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Jul 31, 2003, 11:31:53 AM7/31/03
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On Wed, 30 Jul 2003 22:18:24 -0500, "PTN"
<peternepstad@(removethis)gmx.de> wrote:
>"Jaap van der Velde" wrote:
>
>> Still, you'll have to ask yourself: do players who don't want to enter
>> text, want to browse through lengthy menu's?
>
> I would hardly consider a menu of 10 items to be lengthy.

No, I agree. But I was thinking ahead. Three possibilities:
1. you get a lot of menu's
2. you get a couple of lengthy menu's
3. you limit the amount of available (and sensible) verbs to something
way below that of a 'regular' piece of IF

3. may need a bit of explanation. In a system where the choice of
verbs is free, a lot of verbs make sense to the parser, but have
no response implemented by the write of the IF. However, many players
consider it fun to be able to try these verbs anyway, as discovering
that something doesn't work can be worthwhile as well. (almost all
Inform games use this approach)

If you're not one of those people, 3. would be the way to go, in which
case I'd have to agree to your point. If you want to offer a lot of
useless verbs, however, your stuck to 1. or 2.

> The "list of all common verbs" thing was done by LEGEND, but it took up a
> lot of real estate on the screen. Tucking it away in a menu would be
> necessary, but then there's the hideously long menu to contend with.

I was thinking a 'help screen'. Something you don't see all the time,
but something you can switch to, maybe select a verb and then return
to the game.

>> An alphabetical list would be more
>> accessible, because I'd already know where to look.
>
> Personally, I'm not a fan of alphabetical order, it's an overused
> organization system.

> <snip example involving eroticisms and moose>

It all depends, I guess. Alphabetical is fine if a *lot* of verbs
are involved. If you limit the amount of verbs (which you seem to
suggest by moving on to icon-driven systems), I agree that hunting
for the right verb in an alphabetical list, isn't the way to go.

>> Anyway, it's probably all been said and done before and I'd recommend
>> you go and see what results previous attempts generated...
>
> Not that I've seen, though I only play TADS and Inform games.

I couldn't tell you about any, I'm afraid. Anyone else know of a
game with categorized/clickable verbs?

Grtz,

Daniel Dawson

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Aug 1, 2003, 4:24:30 AM8/1/03
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You pick up and read article <XK%Va.577$GN6...@fe01.atl2.webusenet.com>,

written by PTN <peternepstad@(removethis)gmx.de>. It says:
>Not that I've seen, though I only play TADS and Inform games. Previous
>attempts = 0. Very few people are even coding in a directional compass to
>click on, let alone devising clickable command structures. If someone has

Well, if you don't mind me going into Infocom stuff, _Beyond Zork_ has an
on-screen map where you could click around the current room to go in some
direction (or on the room, for up and down). I was playing it recently.
(Unfortunately, the only interpreter I could get to display it perfectly was
DOS Frotz, but the rune characters are really ugly. But then, I was probably
using an old version; has the font been improved? Maybe WinFrotz can do it too,
but it seems to have trouble actually *using* the BZ font. XFrotz is not too
bad, but I couldn't match the BZ font to *any* other font on my system (perhaps
more sizes would help?), so the text box was out of whack.) As for ease of use?
Well, with all the trouble with fonts, I found it easier just to type the
directions as usual.

Also, _Journey_ has the menu-driven system. But that's a rather non-traditional
approach to IF.

--
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Rexx Magnus

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Aug 1, 2003, 10:59:01 AM8/1/03
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On Thu, 31 Jul 2003 15:31:53 GMT, Jaap van der Velde scrawled:

> No, I agree. But I was thinking ahead. Three possibilities:
> 1. you get a lot of menu's
> 2. you get a couple of lengthy menu's
> 3. you limit the amount of available (and sensible) verbs to something
> way below that of a 'regular' piece of IF
>

How about something similar to Neverwinter Nights - that's menu driven (3d
CRPG for those that don't know it) and has a rather novel idea of using a
radial menu, meaning that all options are the same amount of mouse
movement - which could be quite useful with a pocket pc.

It's quite strange, but I play games using ZipCE - and the list of
directions feels quite cumbersome, even though the list is only 10 long.
If it were radial (and possibly branching), it would feel a much better
interface. I think the most cumbersome bit about it is having to move the
pen to the bottom menu to click accurately - especially when inputting
commands using transcriber (the handwriting recognition).

--
UO & AC Herbal - http://www.rexx.co.uk/herbal

To email me, visit the site.

PTN

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Aug 4, 2003, 8:53:34 PM8/4/03
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"Daniel Dawson" wrote:

> Well, if you don't mind me going into Infocom stuff, _Beyond Zork_ has an
> on-screen map where you could click around the current room to go in some
> direction (or on the room, for up and down).

Good point -- ARTHUR also has that, but since it's written by Bob Bates, I
mix it up with the Legend games.

> Well, with all the trouble with fonts, I found it easier just to type the
> directions as usual.

Even without the font trouble you had, I also find the system
unsatisfactory, though I did use it once or twice when playing ARTHUR, I
only did because descriptions were not clear about exits and there was no
compass.

>
> Also, _Journey_ has the menu-driven system. But that's a rather
non-traditional
> approach to IF.

...and more of an example of what NOT to do, I'd say. Never could stand it,
myself.

-- Peter
http://www.illuminatedlantern.com/


PTN

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Aug 4, 2003, 8:59:31 PM8/4/03
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"Rexx Magnus" wrote:

> How about something similar to Neverwinter Nights - that's menu driven (3d
> CRPG for those that don't know it) and has a rather novel idea of using a
> radial menu, meaning that all options are the same amount of mouse
> movement - which could be quite useful with a pocket pc.

A lot of interface articles I've read insist the radial menu is the best
kind, since there is less mouse movement, and more importantly, each menu
item has a set spatial relationship with others that is easier to remember
than a simple list. Part of the idea is that your muscle memory will help
since you are moving a slightly different way for each item. Haven't seen it
applied well though (except for the classic radial menu, the compass rose).
I have been tempted to pick up NEVERWINTER NIGHTS (but then, I hardly have
time to play a 100 hour game. as these D&D ones always seem to be). Maybe
this is a good excuse (it's for interface research, really!)

-- Peter
http://www.illuminatedlantern.com/


Jessica Knoch

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Aug 5, 2003, 7:31:38 AM8/5/03
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PTN wrote:
>
> A lot of interface articles I've read insist the radial menu is
> the best kind, since there is less mouse movement, and more
> importantly, each menu item has a set spatial relationship with
> others that is easier to remember than a simple list. Part of the
> idea is that your muscle memory will help since you are moving a
> slightly different way for each item. Haven't seen it applied
> well though (except for the classic radial menu, the compass
> rose).

The Sims and its follow-ups use the radial menu to fantastic
effect. In my opinion, anyhow. They deal with more than eight
items in one of two ways: stacking choices around the ring, or
having the player hit "tab" to go to the next ring of choices.

--
Jess K.

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