Do we need Text?

6 views
Skip to first unread message

Jerome Chan

unread,
Jul 25, 1992, 1:38:40 AM7/25/92
to
Do we really need text to create a good interactive adventure game? Has
anyone come across a non-text input based interactive adventure?

Just Curious.

---
The Evil Tofu

"No Lah! Sure or not one? Dunno leh! Nebber Mind! Like that one!
Terriblur Lah!"

Adam Justin Thornton

unread,
Jul 25, 1992, 8:34:42 PM7/25/92
to
In article <1992Jul25.0...@usenet.ins.cwru.edu> y...@po.cwru.edu (Jerome Chan) writes:
>
> Do we really need text to create a good interactive adventure game? Has
>anyone come across a non-text input based interactive adventure?
>
> Just Curious.

I would postulate that text is necessary, simply because the subleties of
text input allow a great deal more precision than a simple point-'n'-click
menu; sure, it would be possible to design a mouse-driven non-textual interface
that let you do as much as a text interface, but it would be so obnoxious and
have so many levels that a good text parser would be much easier to use.

The closest I've seen to a useful non-text interface is Star Trek; even that
fell far short, IMHO, of a late-model Infocom parser.

I just bought LTOI2 today; it's a lot of fun so far, although _Sherlock_ seems
pretty arbitrary. I'm having fun with Border Zone, and Plundered Hearts and
Nord & Bert both look pretty neat. The rest I've played and (exept for Sea-
stalker) loved.

Adam
--
"Man is conceivied in sin and born in corruption and he passeth from the
stink of the didie to the stench of the shroud. There is _always_
something." -- Robert Penn Warren | Vote Cthulhu in '92! | ad...@rice.edu
If Rice shared my opinions I wouldn't have this disclaimer | 64,928

Jerome Chan

unread,
Jul 25, 1992, 9:41:19 PM7/25/92
to
In article <1992Jul26.0...@rice.edu> Adam Justin Thornton,

ad...@owlnet.rice.edu writes:
>I would postulate that text is necessary, simply because the subleties of
>text input allow a great deal more precision than a simple
point-'n'-click
>menu; sure, it would be possible to design a mouse-driven non-textual
interface
>that let you do as much as a text interface, but it would be so
obnoxious and
>have so many levels that a good text parser would be much easier to use.

Perhaps an intelligent icon based interface? If you wanted to look inside
a box, you could double click on the box and a list of legal operations
on the box would appear in a dialog, based on the situation and you could
then choose what you wanted to do. For movement, we could have a list of
possible exits. The present location of the player could be described in
ether text or a picture. Disregarding programming complexity and speed,
would this interface provide almost as much flexibility as a text-based
one?

Gilberte Houbart

unread,
Jul 26, 1992, 5:53:02 PM7/26/92
to

I'm not really an expert in game playing and may be I don't get what
the real question is here but what about Spaceship Warlock which comes
on a CD-ROM for the Mac? It's completely mouse driven and has more the
feeling of a movie rather than the feeling of a book. The text input
is really limited to some very short answers (like when you get into a
cab and ask for a destination) which in fact turns out to be the real
limitation but because you can't really meet anyone in this world
since you can't really communicate not because of the user interface
problem per se (you just click on the door of the cab to get into it).

This problem will only be solved with knowledge based systems where
you'll be able to communicate with self aware characters. There is
some research exploring that with some promising results.

Gilberte

ps: I'm interested in interactive storytelling but for a different
purpose than games.

Adam Justin Thornton

unread,
Jul 26, 1992, 4:45:01 PM7/26/92
to
In article <1992Jul26.0...@usenet.ins.cwru.edu> Jerome Chan <y...@po.cwru.edu> writes:

>Perhaps an intelligent icon based interface? If you wanted to look inside
>a box, you could double click on the box and a list of legal operations
>on the box would appear in a dialog, based on the situation and you could
>then choose what you wanted to do. For movement, we could have a list of
>possible exits. The present location of the player could be described in
>ether text or a picture. Disregarding programming complexity and speed,
>would this interface provide almost as much flexibility as a text-based
>one?

Yeah, but if you're going to go to this much trouble, why not do it like
Legend, and allow a "click-on-compass-rose" movement and a "click-on-word-
list" pseudo-parser (with, perhaps, added things like a picture of a bag
for inventory), but also allow text input with it?

Also, why _should_ you be given a list of what you can do with the box? Part
of the puzzle should be figuring out what do do with it, and if you're
restricted to six choices than the puzzle will seem (whether it is or not)
a lot more restricted.

Neil K. Guy

unread,
Jul 26, 1992, 7:27:09 PM7/26/92
to
Of course, if we're on the topic of games with a non-text interface,
does anyone remember the Deja Vu, Uninvited and Deja Vu II series of
games that ICOM Simulations put out for the Mac a few years back?

They were a reasonably good implementation of a non-text interface,
IMHO. They'd have a detailed (well, fairly detailed given that they
only ran in B&W) picture of your surroundings in the middle, available
exits to the right of the screen, a brief text description at the
bottom and a series of buttons on the top. The buttons were the verbs
- open, consume, operate, speak, etc. So to unlock a door you'd click
on a key, click on Operate and then click on the door. To pick
something up you'd simply drag the object you wanted out of the "room"
window and drop it into your inventory window; a window which had both
"Clean Up" and "Mess Up" commands.

The games also had digitized sound to spice things up a bit. They
weren't bad, really. I felt, however, that they were a bit limited in
terms of things you could do. I mean, "Operate" is a pretty generic
verb. Give me a good Infocom parser interface any day!

Anyone know what happened to that series? They stopped after
producing four or five games. Not enough money in it? I'd like to see
colour games using the same basic interface - could look good!

- Neil K. (n_k...@sfu.ca)

Thomas Nilsson

unread,
Jul 27, 1992, 2:35:28 PM7/27/92
to
ne...@fraser.sfu.ca (Neil K. Guy) writes:

> Of course, if we're on the topic of games with a non-text interface,
>does anyone remember the Deja Vu, Uninvited and Deja Vu II series of
>games that ICOM Simulations put out for the Mac a few years back?

> They were a reasonably good implementation of a non-text interface,
>IMHO.

I also liked their version of point-and-click user interface much
better than e.g. that in Leisure Suit Larry. Mainly because you don't
mix type of input and there is no question about if the game expects a
typed command in this situation. You've only got the choices listed.
Of course this made the puzzles somewhat resticted, yes, but still I
think they managed to create some interesting games.


> Anyone know what happened to that series? They stopped after
>producing four or five games. Not enough money in it? I'd like to see
>colour games using the same basic interface - could look good!

The series was also available for the Amiga at least (in color!).

--
Little languages go a long way...
----------------------------------------------------------------------
Thomas Nilsson Phone Int.: (+46) 13 12 11 67
Stenbrotsgatan 57 Phone Nat.: 013 - 12 11 67
S-582 47 LINKOPING Email: th...@softlab.se
SWEDEN Thomas_...@augs.se
----------------------------------------------------------------------

Clark Quinn

unread,
Jul 27, 1992, 11:28:51 PM7/27/92
to
In article <neilg.7...@sfu.ca> ne...@fraser.sfu.ca (Neil K. Guy) writes:

> Of course, if we're on the topic of games with a non-text interface,
>does anyone remember the Deja Vu, Uninvited and Deja Vu II series of
>games that ICOM Simulations put out for the Mac a few years back?

> They were a reasonably good implementation of a non-text interface,
>IMHO. They'd have a detailed (well, fairly detailed given that they
>only ran in B&W) picture of your surroundings in the middle, available
>exits to the right of the screen, a brief text description at the
>bottom and a series of buttons on the top. The buttons were the verbs
>- open, consume, operate, speak, etc. So to unlock a door you'd click
>on a key, click on Operate and then click on the door. To pick
>something up you'd simply drag the object you wanted out of the "room"
>window and drop it into your inventory window; a window which had both
>"Clean Up" and "Mess Up" commands.

Yes, the ICOM games were really quite elegant in their utilization of
"direct manipulation" interface. You could use the buttons to
accomplish actions, but for the most obvious ones there were more direct
ways to execute. For instance, rather than click on the open button,
you could double-click on the door and it would attempt to open it.
Double-clicking on an object would pick it up if it was in the room, or
examine it if it was in your inventory (this may not be exactly right,
memory is haze, but the gist is the important thing). Also, there might
be active areas in the picture you could click on to reveal that a rock
was movable and therefore also a door. There was a place to type text,
but only for talking/communication.

The point here is that the field of human-computer interaction has
determined that there may be more direct ways of accomplishing goals
with a computer than a command interface. The "direct manipulation"
notion is that you act with an interface device in some analogically
related way to the way you act in the world. The only time a keyboard
is useful is when you're entering text (still the best device). And if
you want to act in a game the way you act in the world, a more direct
way to pick up an object is to have it "stick" to your mouse pointer
and be draggable the way you'd grab it for real. Menus support
recognition so you don't have to recall commands, visible icons of the
objects in a room and in your possession don't require the execution of
an inventory or look command.

I've noticed in this group a strong preference for text oriented games, and
that's clearly an individual choice. But there is a lot to be said for
graphic representations of information. Mapping, for instance, is a skill
I have but do not necessarily care to exercise in every game I may
encounter. Graphic maps remove the burden from me.

While some may take interactive 'fiction' to suggest text, I'd like to
consider that interactive entertainment can be fictional or not, and
that graphic versions are an appropriate topic of discussion. In my
research I've developed a graphic adventure game that *does* include
text (necessary for the cognitive reasons the game was developed), but
uses a (relatively) direct manipulation interface (the other benefit of
this environment is that it not only supports problem-solving research
but also HCI research). The project for our group in the next few months
is to improve the interface to the point where the interface is
effectively "transparent", so that subjects can use the game with a
minimum of computer knowledge and no typing skills.

And *that*, I'd argue, is a worthwhile goal, interactive fiction that
doesn't require typing skills so there's a wider base of potential
enjoyers. -- Clark

---------------------------------------------------------------------------

_--_|\ Dr. Clark N. Quinn
/ \ School of Computer Science and Engineering +61-2-697-4034
\_.--._* The University of New South Wales Fax +61-2-313-7987
v PO Box 1 cnq...@cs.unsw.oz.au
Kensington, NSW
AUSTRALIA 2033

"A California Yankee in the Land of Oz"

Jorn &

unread,
Jul 28, 1992, 1:58:22 PM7/28/92
to
gilb...@media.mit.edu (Gilberte Houbart) writes:
:
: ps: I'm interested in interactive storytelling but for a different
: purpose than games.

Do tell...?

Mark Kantrowitz

unread,
Jul 28, 1992, 8:01:30 PM7/28/92
to
In article <1992Jul25.0...@usenet.ins.cwru.edu> Jerome Chan <y...@po.cwru.edu> writes:
> Do we really need text to create a good interactive adventure game? Has
>anyone come across a non-text input based interactive adventure?

Text is not necessarily a prerequisite for good interactive
entertainment. There is nothing inherent in a text-based medium which
yields consistently good stories, and, conversely, nothing prevents
other media (interactive radio drama, interactive animation) from
supporting good stories.

Nevertheless, we shouldn't abandon text interfaces in the pursuit of
interactive entertainment. Adding interactivity to traditional media
such as text, radio, and television produces entirely new media. Good
stories can be produced in any of these media by artists who exploit
the structure of the medium to fulfill artistic goals. For example,
Sarah Sloane's thesis argues that interactive fiction has the
potential for producing more powerful stories than traditional
noninteractive texts. If text didn't die with the introduction of
television, why should it acquire sudden mortality with the addition
of interactivity?

--mark

Gilberte Houbart

unread,
Jul 30, 1992, 4:55:25 PM7/30/92
to
To answer your question about my previous posting: I said I was
interested in storytelling for a different purpose than games because
I'm trying to see what I can learn from in order to apply this to news
stories and may be invent a new way of reporting news.

My reserch goal right now is to present in an interactive hypermedia
based system different perspectives on a same topic. In other words I
would have different interviews of different persons having
conflicting/overlapping opinions about one topic. The problem then is
how does the viewer navigate in this context once s/he is in control,
how can s/he get involved and interested, follow a thread in a
meaningful way without getting lost, how these real stories relate to
fiction stories...etc

I am looking right now into systems developed for decision making
where people attending a meeting can use interactive computer tools in
order to describe an opinion, justify it with arguments or explain how
it relates to another statement generated by another person attending
the meeting. The point is that this means representing different
opinions and how they relate.

I can't tell much more because I'm still in the early stages of this
project but I could keep you posted whenever I have some results.

I should add that this is not meant to replace a "normal" linear news
magazine because I believe that most of the people are not likely to
increase the time they spend reading their newspaper or magazines and
there is a time cost in interaction. However this might be useful for
analysts or in an educational environment (being less passive might
motivate and catch more the attention of the viewer, specially a high
school student!) or just for people at home who would watch it as they
would a documentary (they would be ready to sit down and *play* around).

And thank you for your interest!

Gilberte

Top Changwatchai

unread,
Jul 31, 1992, 2:55:56 AM7/31/92
to
In article <1992Jul27....@ida.liu.se> th...@ida.liu.se (Thomas Nilsson) writes:
>ne...@fraser.sfu.ca (Neil K. Guy) writes:
>
>> Of course, if we're on the topic of games with a non-text interface,
>>does anyone remember the Deja Vu, Uninvited and Deja Vu II series of
>>games that ICOM Simulations put out for the Mac a few years back?
>
>> They were a reasonably good implementation of a non-text interface,
>>IMHO.
>
>I also liked their version of point-and-click user interface much
>better than e.g. that in Leisure Suit Larry. Mainly because you don't
>mix type of input and there is no question about if the game expects a
>typed command in this situation. You've only got the choices listed.
>Of course this made the puzzles somewhat resticted, yes, but still I
>think they managed to create some interesting games.
>
>
>> Anyone know what happened to that series? They stopped after
>>producing four or five games. Not enough money in it? I'd like to see
>>colour games using the same basic interface - could look good!
>
>The series was also available for the Amiga at least (in color!).
>

Leisure Suit Larry and the Quest games by Sierra On-Line aren't a bad example
of graphics-based adventure games (as opposed to text adventures with
pictures, like Zork Zero), although the early ones did require a little
typing, in the form of the ancient VERB-NOUN or PERSON, VERB-NOUN form. The
latest Sierra adventure games, however, do have a no-typing interface, which I
agree suits this type of game much better. Lucasfilm's adventures, such as
The Secret of Monkey Island, also have a no-typing interface (and a better
one, in my opinion).

There's also a different level of enjoyment in these graphics adventures,
which I think succeed better when they stress an engaging storyline, good
graphics, and clever humor. The big appeal of the text adventures was the
challenge of solving the puzzles (although story and atmosphere are still
important).

On another note, I'm interested in writing a text adventure. Does anybody
have suggestions for how to go about this (at the level of coding and
algorithms)? (I'm sure this is a FAQ; I'd appreciate it if somebody just
pointed me to the FAQ file, if there is one.)

Thanks,

Top

Reply all
Reply to author
Forward
0 new messages