Get thee to a forest, walk up and down therein, and take notes. Apologies if you have
already done so, but if you think that a forest is essentially a bunch of repetitive
descriptions, it must have been a poor forest. Pay attention to natural obstacles like
streams, steep inclines and dense shrubs that can serve as boundaries for the PC while
suggesting that the forest continues indefinitely beyond.
And if, after exploring the the forest until *you* are satisfied that you comprehend its
vastness, you don't have material for 100 location descriptions, be satisfied that what
you do have should be enough to communicate to the player what you felt. From an IF
gameplay standpoint 100 locations used mainly for scenery seems probably a little
You might want to check out "She's got a Thing for a Spring"; while I haven't played it
myself, it is reputed to have some of the best naturalistic outdoor scenery of any game
within the IF canon.
The last couple of weekends I've gone for little walks in the forest, and I never went
fifty yards without finding something to marvel at: a patch of salmonberries by a stream,
a snag pitted with woodpecker holes, a few trilliums, done blooming and with their
seedpods engorged and starting to split open, the patterns in birdsongs, thimbleberries
blooming. (I have a Thing for a Berry. Mmm, some good huckleberries too, the first for me
of the season... But I digress.)
Do you really need 100 rooms of forest? Is it for some sort of
"find the X-mark" puzzle? If not, 5-8 rooms would be enough, IMHO.
I think, when player gets to your forest, and walks around 5 rooms
or so, he'll stop reading the room descriptions anyway. "Oh, another
'In the Forest' room? Go west..."
P.S. please if you get a chanse put some flowrs
on Algernons grave in the bak yard.
Whatever you do, don't make the same mistake I did. In The Unholy
Grail I had a large ocean. I decided to make it large to reduce the
chance of the player finding a particular part of it without knowing
where they were going. The thing I forgot to take into account is that
people play games to have fun, not as an excercise in tedium. These
days I assess every design desision for entertainment value. In other
words, making your forest 10 x 10 locations might be a good way to
give the impression of it being vast, but it might be a very annoying
way to convey that fact. In reality, a four location forest with
well-written descriptions would probably be a much better way to
achieve the same effect.
No, not yet at least. I just wanted to provide a really large area to
explore, as opposed to just a few different locations which represent a much
> I think, when player gets to your forest, and walks around 5 rooms
> or so, he'll stop reading the room descriptions anyway. "Oh, another
> 'In the Forest' room? Go west..."
Yeah you could be right, except this will be an RPG where NPCs will be
wondering around so it won't just be a matter of just another in the forest
room all the time. I hope to have enough things changing so it does not get
Also if I were to make a forest type area made up of 100 different rooms,
and possibly other areas in the game of a similar size I'd include probably
include some type of automapping feature, probably with graphics instead of
text. That way you could always see where you were on the map, instead of
wandering around aimlessly through a bunch of similar room descriptions.
"Stuart Allen" <stu...@jacl.animats.net> wrote in message
> Well stated. Point taken. Although doesn't that make it impossible to do
> something like you were trying to do (making something difficult to find
> without having knowledge of where it is)? How could I have a cabbin hidden
> in the middle of a big forest which is only 5 or 6 rooms large? I see what
Well, if you have a map, you reach the cabin. With no map, you wander
around a forest....
My favorite "mazes" are from the Monkey's Island series. Without a map,
you can wander around visually interesting terrian until you get back
to the start. When you get a map, you still need to figure it out. A
non-spoiler example might be:
Map to Hidden Treasure:
Go west 4 degrees
Go up 160 degrees
Go down 400 degrees
You can cheat :-).
Start out with a forest of 5 rooms, and *no cabin* - or, rather, no
way of reaching it. Then, when the player gets the information on how
to reach the cabin you make it possible to reach it.
This can be done in several ways. One way would be to have a
particularly confusing or impenetrable part of the forest where the
player can make no progress unless he knows where he's going:
You take a few steps off the path, into the dense undergrowth, but
it's almost impossible to make any progress. Frustrated, you return
to the path.
but then, later, when the player *knows* that the cabin is to the east,
he will succeed:
You take a few steps off the path, into the dense undergrowth, but
it's almost impossible to make any progress. Knowing that the cabin
is in this direction, you persist, and finally emerge in a small
This will have to be done well, so the player doesn't feel that
you're cheating (even though you really are!).
YM `rubber chicken with a pulley in the middle'. HTH. HAND.
There's another really good example of a maze at the end of MI, too; the
cave maze. The one that keeps rearranging itself when you're not
+- David Given --------McQ-+ "If you're up against someone more intelligent
| Work: d...@tao-group.com | than you are, do something insane and let him think
| Play: d...@cowlark.com | himself to death." --- Pyanfar Chanur
+- http://www.cowlark.com -+
Heh, yeah, I remember trying futilely to map the underground caverns in MI
1. But that's because we *liked* mapping stuff.
I think the most important thing (and this advice probably applies very
generally) is to let the player know early on what sort of experience to
expect. Is it going to be a traditional maze? Is there going to be a
gimmick? Making it clear the *type* of gameplay the player can expect can
greatly reduce frustration levels.
Other helpful gameplay distinctions:
- Do I need to save often and possibly backtrack, or does this game have no
- How important are the details in game? Do I need to take extensive notes
to solve tricky information-based puzzles, or will the game keep the story
moving forward regardless?
- Will puzzles require anally searching over, under, and behind every
object? Are there "tricky" actions required to solve puzzles, such as
shaking packages and examining knotholes in boards? If there are 100
numbered cubbyholes, does the game expect me to check every one?
- In general, is the game mostly puzzle-oriented or story-oriented?
Finally, it seems you are trying to meld RPG elements with adventure-game
elements. Personally, I think the two game types don't fit well together.
The "puzzles" in RPG's are generally limited to "talk to everybody,"
"explore," and "find X for obstacle Y" where X and Y are explicitly given.
It seems to me the attraction of RPG's is the combat and building more and
more powerful characters. So you need monsters, lots of random elements,
and "levels" which mainly consist the same types of terrain and obstacles so
the player can practice using his skills.
On the other hand, for me adventure games focus on a tight story and novel
puzzles, without the distractions of pausing every few turns for combat, or
having to explore an entire grid of forest squares. The elements which make
RPG's fun are the very elements which detract from the adventure game
experience. Whereas the intellectual elements which make adventure games
fun also make RPG's difficult and unsatisfying.
W. Top Changwatchai
chngwtch at u i u c dot edu
> Well stated. Point taken. Although doesn't that make it impossible to do
> something like you were trying to do (making something difficult to find
> without having knowledge of where it is)? How could I have a cabbin hidden
> in the middle of a big forest which is only 5 or 6 rooms large?
See the forest stuff in Anchorhead. Directional movement doesn't necessarily
have to always have the same result if you move in direction X from place Y.
You can also make the forest seem larger by simulating movement with
modified no-exit messages that go something like, "You stumble through the
undergrowth for a while." (and getting rid of objects that were lying on the
floor, etc). This'll only work with the right sort of room description, of
course; not every room in the forest has a gurgling waterfall, three oak
trees with lichen on the north side, and a small primitive shrine to the
You could also, if you want to conceal things within the forest, make a
single room and modify its directional properties so that they alter two
coordinate values, so, for example, going west returns a "You stroll through
the woods" message, clears all dropped objects, maybe changes some random
elements in the room desc, and adds one to the X coordinate of the room;
when the X and Y coordinates reach certain target values, you can put the
player into special rooms.
> James wrote:
>> Anyone have any thoughts on modeling a large area such as a big open field,
>> or a forest? I'm thinking about making a really large forest like maybe like
>> 10 separate locations by 10 separate locations. By separate locations I mean
>> if the player was at one end of the forest the player would have to type
>> north 10 times to reach the other end. The problem is how many times can you
>> describe essentially the same thing in a different, and interesting way. I
>> don't want the forest to become a bunch of repetitive descriptions, even
>> though that's essentially what a forest is to begin with, but at the same
>> time I want the player to be able to travel through the forest, and realize
>> it's vastness. There will be npc wandering around at the same time to keep
>> the world alive. Any suggestions on how to go about doing something like
> Get thee to a forest, walk up and down therein, and take notes. Apologies if
> you have
> already done so, but if you think that a forest is essentially a bunch of
> descriptions, it must have been a poor forest.
Or a timber plantation.
> Pay attention to natural
> obstacles like
> streams, steep inclines and dense shrubs that can serve as boundaries for the
> PC while
> suggesting that the forest continues indefinitely beyond.
> And if, after exploring the the forest until *you* are satisfied that you
> comprehend its
> vastness, you don't have material for 100 location descriptions, be satisfied
> that what
> you do have should be enough to communicate to the player what you felt. From
> an IF
> gameplay standpoint 100 locations used mainly for scenery seems probably a
> excessive anyway.
Heroine's Mantle does this at one point. It's not *that* annoying, for
various reasons: you're very quickly given coordinates to go to, you were
prevented from wandering around until you had those coordinates, and you
can't just wander around for too long. And you had the syntax to speed up
things. If the only way to beat it *was* random wandering, or the order of
gameplay made it likely that the player would end up, it's always Very
> You might want to check out "She's got a Thing for a Spring"; while I haven't
> played it
> myself, it is reputed to have some of the best naturalistic outdoor scenery of
> any game
> within the IF canon.
> The last couple of weekends I've gone for little walks in the forest, and I
> never went
> fifty yards without finding something to marvel at: a patch of salmonberries
> by a stream,
> a snag pitted with woodpecker holes, a few trilliums, done blooming and with
> seedpods engorged and starting to split open, the patterns in birdsongs,
...some abandoned rolls of barbed wire, a nineteenth-century mantrap, a
colourful collection of old plastic bags, torn silage sheeting, broken
bottles, a dead sheep... oo, wow, half a chocolate bar.
Billy Harris <wha...@mail.airmail.net> wrote in message
I thought about doing something like this too, but I don't want to have the
cabin magically appear when you find a map. I want it to always be there,
possible for an explorative player to find, but a map would also be
availible to find the cabin.
Yes I think that's important too. This isn't a typical adventure game it's
definately supposed to be a genre bender. I don't want the linearness of
most adventure games which seem to progress on tracks to an extent. Granted
there needs to be some form of guidance for the player to keep him involved
in the story, but at the same time I want him to be able to side track away
from it, and explore on his own. Hence a large forest made up of 100 rooms.
In a regular adventure game that would be tedious, and frustrating, at least
until you had a map. I guess it's all in the execution.
> Other helpful gameplay distinctions:
> - Do I need to save often and possibly backtrack, or does this game have
> dead ends?
Hopefully it will be dead end free.
> - How important are the details in game? Do I need to take extensive
> to solve tricky information-based puzzles, or will the game keep the story
> moving forward regardless?
Probably some auto-note taker for important information.
> - Will puzzles require anally searching over, under, and behind every
> object? Are there "tricky" actions required to solve puzzles, such as
> shaking packages and examining knotholes in boards? If there are 100
> numbered cubbyholes, does the game expect me to check every one?
> - In general, is the game mostly puzzle-oriented or story-oriented?
Perhaps some puzzles will require the player to perform a very thorough
search, but I realize if this is overdone it can become frustrating. The 100
numbered cubbyholes is the same idea as the forest. I wouldn't expect a
player to have to search through each one to progress through the game
without some clue or reference to the correct cubbyhole, but I would still
like to make all 100 of them there for the player to search through if he
wishes, and still be able to find something in one of them. Granted most
people would obviously rather find a reference to the correct one, but I
think it would cool to still be able to do it on your own, manually
> Finally, it seems you are trying to meld RPG elements with adventure-game
> elements. Personally, I think the two game types don't fit well together.
> The "puzzles" in RPG's are generally limited to "talk to everybody,"
> "explore," and "find X for obstacle Y" where X and Y are explicitly given.
I disagree with you about adventure games, and rpgs not fitting well
together. I think they would compliment each other quite nicely. I think the
game will be a lot more adventure based than rpg based. The rpg part isn't
about running around and leveling up your character for 3 hours to kill the
huge dragon. It's more about being able to play through the game as the type
of character you'd like to play as, through a story (open ended enough to
allow different characters), and I'd like to integrate the clever puzzle
elements of adventure games instead of the simple item gathering, and talk
to everybody mentality present in most rpgs. I'd like combat to be involved,
and character abilities to offer unique ways to progress through the game.
Supposing you choose to be a warrior type character, and you were in a room
with a large wooden door. Somewhere there way a key to let you out, you
could try to find it (maybe it's not even in that room) or instead being a
warrior if your bashing skill was high enough to could try to force the door
open. If you were a wizzard you could cast some type of spell to open the
door. Perhaps a thief could lockpick the door. The characters are integrated
into the puzzles.
Yes that's exactly what I'm trying to do, mix an rpg for it's character
development, and special skills unique to the character you choose to play
as, and integrate that into a good story with puzzle elements. I want to
capture the feeling of being able to explore another world. At the same time
I want a story which gives the player some type of guidance. The exploration
element would allow the player to deviate from the "track" of the story to
look around happen to find things possibly not essential to the overall
story. Like side quests.
> It seems to me the attraction of RPG's is the combat and building more and
> more powerful characters. So you need monsters, lots of random elements,
> and "levels" which mainly consist the same types of terrain and obstacles
> the player can practice using his skills.
Yes to an extent.
> On the other hand, for me adventure games focus on a tight story and novel
> puzzles, without the distractions of pausing every few turns for combat,
> having to explore an entire grid of forest squares. The elements which
> RPG's fun are the very elements which detract from the adventure game
> experience. Whereas the intellectual elements which make adventure games
> fun also make RPG's difficult and unsatisfying.
From that statement I would imagine anyone who likes adventure games don't
also like rpgs. I happen to like both, I don't know how many other people
do. I don't want the player to have to pause every few turns for combat. I
don't want it to be excessive, but I want that element there. I plan on
having the enemies in the room descriptions, moving around. Not simply
random encounters that would be frustrating. I know the genres have their
differences, but I think they can be melded together to produce a nice
unique experience, which could appeal to both adventure game players, and
rpg game players. You bring up some good points though. The way you talk
about having to explore "an entire grid of forest squares" makes it sound to
me like you're imagining that as a puzzle in an adventure game which at some
point could impede your progress. I don't think it would be much of a
problem if the solution was more than just having to manually search through
every room to find the right one ie. if a map was somewhere in the game, or
there were hints to direct the player in the right direction. Just ploppling
a big forest in the middle of the game, and expecting the player to find
something in it wouldn't be much fun, I'll agree there.
"Magnus Olsson" <m...@df.lth.se> wrote in message
I'm going to download it now. Thanks.
> You can also make the forest seem larger by simulating movement with
> modified no-exit messages that go something like, "You stumble through the
> undergrowth for a while." (and getting rid of objects that were lying on
> floor, etc). This'll only work with the right sort of room description, of
> course; not every room in the forest has a gurgling waterfall, three oak
> trees with lichen on the north side, and a small primitive shrine to the
> forest deity.
I prefer your suggestion below which allows for more varied descriptions.
> You could also, if you want to conceal things within the forest, make a
> single room and modify its directional properties so that they alter two
> coordinate values, so, for example, going west returns a "You stroll
> the woods" message, clears all dropped objects, maybe changes some random
> elements in the room desc, and adds one to the X coordinate of the room;
> when the X and Y coordinates reach certain target values, you can put the
> player into special rooms.
That's exactly what I'm doing right now. I just don't like my descriptions.
This way I don't have to make 100, or even 10 different locations, just one
with some random elements, or random descriptions until certain coordinates
I agree with you 100% about this one. And I'm going to digress to
I used to be an avid BattleZone player, the ATARI arcade game with
wireframe graphics. I wasn't any good at it, but I was intrigued by
rumours I'd heard that it was possible to reach the mountains (always
visible in the background), and that IN the mountains you could find a
"nest" where all the enemy tanks were coming from. This nest was
supposedly near the active volcano.
No matter how many times I was told this wasn't true, I refused to
believe it...I'd plug quarters into that game and just race towards the
mountains. To hear today that this rumour was entirely false makes me
feel sort of sad and let down, but I bet that if I were playing
BattleZone today, I'd still be tempted to find a way into the mountains.
Years later, I played a lot of "Test Drive 3." I didn't give a damn
about beating the other cars. My instinct was to spot a powerline in
the distance, and drive straight for it, looking for back roads and
secret things that you'd never see if you played the game PROPERLY.
That was the whole game for me. I don't think I ever finished a race.
Finally, games like Half-Life and Quake. I love those games, but I
wish that people would stop trying to kill me...I want to duck into the
shadows and look for cubbyholes...I want to find every vent and climb
inside. I want tunnels and secret passages! Even in real life: show me
an overgrown path or a pried-open storm sewer, and don't expect me to
emerge for a couple of hours.
My point: I have no idea where this obsession comes from, but I'm sure
I'm not the only one who shares it. As far as I'm concerned, very
little compares to the tantalizing suspicion that SOMETHING is out
there, and it's not necessary to find it, but if I search hard enough I
So, a 100 room forest with unnecessary things hidden in it will
fascinate me. Granted, the rooms better be interesting, and there
should be some sort of logic behind it all. For instance (in keeping
with the BattleZone example): where are the NPC's coming from? Is there
a cave somewhere in the forest that's spawning them? Could I find the
cave by paying attention to the way the NPC's walk around, or by
following their footsteps? THAT would make 100 rooms worthwhile for me,
especially if finding the cave isn't essential to the plot.
There, I've confessed.
Thank you. I'm glad to hear someone out there agrees with me. I'd just like
to fully realize the world as much as I can. I don't think a five or six
room forest is a forest at all. I think the size of the areas in the game
should be modeled some what relative to each other. I mean if you're going
to model a bedroom with just one room, then you've got a forest with 6
rooms, that's a pretty small forest. You could always do little tricks
telling the player why he shouldn't or can't go through the forest, but I
HATE when games do things like that. I, as the player should decide what I
should, and shouldn't do. Obviously you can't model everything as fully as
you'd like to, but something like a forest I think begs to be properly
implemented for exploration reasons alone.
Going back to the forest example, this gives me the idea of implementing a game
of flags at a camp, allowing the player to explore the vast woods at the camp.
It would contain 100 or so "rooms", representing all the cabins, open areas,
playing fields, wooded areas, etc. at camp. A player could give you a tip on
where the flag is and then you are able to go to the precise area where the
flag is and run for it. I'm sure there are more practical uses for this
approach, but if many rooms are used in (a) puzzle(s), clues of some sort
should always be provided.
There is such a guess-the-room puzzle in Dangerous Curves in the hospital.
There are lots of rooms (7 floors of rooms * 40 rooms per floor = 280 rooms
total). However, if you ask a nurse "where is walter", you will be directed to
a particlar room.
How does everyone else feel about this? A game I am working on at the
moment is set in a large desert, but the action only takes place
within a small portion of it. I don't want the player wasting time by
exploring such a vast place when the only important area consists of
about ten rooms, but I also don't want the player to feel cheated if I
don't allow them access to the rest of the landscape. Any suggestions?
>> You could always do little tricks
Have you played Infidel by Infocom? They way it's done there is
just perfect. (The general idea is that you may wander in the desert
for a while, getting some different room descriptions, then you'll
get thirsty, then you'll start seeing funny hallucinations,
then you die)
In that sence desert is definitely easer to make than a forest :)
I would suggest you map out some differences in local geography to
figure out how you want to make the locations subtly different. The
trees could thin out in one direction, the elevation might change.
Maybe several "rooms" are on a hill. Perhaps there is a stream or a
river running through (I didn't think of that, it's mentioned in one of
the major IF design documents). Maybe in years past there was a fire
that didn't cross the river and you have new trees on one side and old
trees on the other.
I once went walking with friends in a park with a lot of redwood
forest. A good bit of the area was on a large hill. The trail went
around the hill such that the incline was slight and it didn't make much
difference that you were walking up- or downhill at times. We spent a
lot of the day wandering amongst the redwoods where it was shady and
pretty much expected the whole place to be similar.
Walking around to the sunny side was like stepping into another world.
The plants were different, many of them were different colors, it was
uncomfortably hot and sunny, and not a redwood in sight. It was really
surprising and a little eerie.
Whatever features you might use, I think a big map is more navigable if
they fit together in some way that makes sense. I like it better, too,
I find it more enjoyable if it seems like a real place. A surprising
feature that actually fits doesn't seem so arbitrary.
Although I'm not a big fan of RPG's, I do like "action" RPG's such as Diablo
II and Nox. In fact, these two games successfully combine the action and
RPG genres, so maybe there is hope for the adventure/RPG combination.
(Personally, I think the combination of 3-D with graphical adventure games
is a bust; 3-D almost requires a dumbed-down interface, which severely
limits the types of puzzles you can have.)
If you can find a way to blend the two genres, then more power to you! I do
like many of the points you brought up, and am looking forward to seeing
what you can come up with.
>> Perhaps some puzzles will require the player to perform a very thorough
>> search, but I realize if this is overdone it can become frustrating. The 100
>> numbered cubbyholes is the same idea as the forest. I wouldn't expect a
>> player to have to search through each one to progress through the game
>> without some clue or reference to the correct cubbyhole, but I would still
>> like to make all 100 of them there for the player to search through if he
>> wishes, and still be able to find something in one of them. Granted most
>> people would obviously rather find a reference to the correct one, but I
>> think it would cool to still be able to do it on your own, manually
Just one player's opinion, but....
I *hate* it when the game allows me to search 100 cubbyholes.
I start thinking, "This is stupid. I'm not going to repeat
this action 100 times. There *must* be a clue." But if I don't
find the clue fairly quickly I think "The author let me do it.
Maybe there *is* no clue, maybe I just have to search all
those damned cubbyholes."
It saps my energy. I can be persistent in looking for the clue
if I am sure there is a clue, but if I'm not sure--maybe
the author made a bad error of judgement!--I may lose all
motivation to go on. Or I may search 100 cubbyholes (and
it's always in the last one, somehow) and end up deciding
that I hate the game because it was so tedious.
I know this is partly my own fault, but I do prefer it if
authors don't put me in this position.
I nearly ruined "Hunter, in Darkness" for myself this way.
The first playthrough I found the clue for the maze quickly,
but I died and had to start over, and the second time I
didn't happen to see the clue. I decided I'd map the maze
instead. This is well-nigh futile, and I was nearly at
the point of abandoning the game when I realized I was
being stupid and should look for clues instead.
I would *much* prefer "You look through a few cubbyholes
at random, but find nothing of interest."
Mary Kuhner mkku...@eskimo.com
I felt the same way about many arcade games, particularly games of the
Jump'n'Run type, and I love secret passage in IF games.
(Takes mental note to replay Moonmist and Theatre.)
Thorsten Franz, Bonn, Germany (shlomo.g...@gmx.de)
Infidel has been pointed at, which I think might serve as an excellent
Also look at the Trinity end game (desert near ranch house), where you could
explore a large area if only you didn't run out of time.
Like in Trinity, you could make reaching off-road locations more
time-consuming than walking around near the important area, justifying this
with an uneven terrain. As a reward for hard-boiled explorers, you could
make it *just barely* possible to reach the most distant regions of your
unimportant area and hide an interesting item that is not necessary to
complete the game.
Trinity - the main area - contains an excellent implementation of a forest.
It's got many of the elements that have been pointed out in other posts such
as a river, different kinds of trees and bushwork, it's segmented into areas
and feels natural, extensive, and interesting.
In most of my games, large spaces are coded as squares no larger than 3x3.
However, these connect in odd ways that are impossible to map in a linear
fashion. Also, they wrap around the edges. This is to give the impression
that while you are in a large space, you are not _hopelessly_ lost... or are
If I say so then it is so; if it is so, it's probably because I said so.
If you can manage to put something different and interesting
in all 100 cubbyholes, it could even be fun to do it that
Greg Ewing, Computer Science Dept, University of Canterbury,
Christchurch, New Zealand
To get my email address, please visit my web page:
"Mary K. Kuhner" <mkku...@eskimo.com> wrote in message