1. Very nice overall.
2. The author is very protective.
3. It would likely be a pain to go through the process required to make
a hint file for a game, get his permission to compile it, and then
set up a 'site license' to allow you to distribute it and the
unregistered reader with your game. Or better yet, a game-specific
4. Given all this, and the fact that I don't care to pull a Dave Baggett
and fiddle with DAGs(?) or whatnot to figure out just the right hint,
do we have any ideas from the pool of authors out there?
Basically, I'm just bringing up the old hint system thread again.
Fortunately I have plenty of time to consider ideas, since any hint
system will not be in use until Sight Unseen, which is gonna be a while
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>I still have no idea how to write a TSR program in C or C++.
Even if you could, your hint system wouldn't work on a Macintosh, Atari ST,
Amiga, Unix workstation, etc. Besides that, I think you can do a better
job on a *text adventure* hint system just by writing it in TADS anyway.
I took a look at Shades of Gray after reading your review of it. It has, I
think, a good example of an awful IF hint system. Here are a couple
reasons I didn't like it:
1) The interface is different from the game's interface. In the game, you
type sentences and occassionally answer yes/no questions. In the hint
system, you have to use the cursor keys and move the selection bar
around. This change in "interface mode" irritated me, and I suspect
it confuses people who are not computer game players (e.g., people
who come into computer games via IF, from reading traditional fiction).
2) The hints are completely useless. They're almost all smart-ass
remarks. This is fine once in a while, but quickly wears thin. If
you're not going to put any useful information in the hints, don't
have hints. If players wanted more riddles, they wouldn't be
resorting to hints in the first place!
3) You can see all the hints all the time.
4) You have to guess what hint is most likely to help you and least
likely to spoil a later puzzle. If you guess wrong, you get either
a worthless hint or have a future encounter in the game ruined for
you. All offline hint systems (like books) have this problem to
a certain extent -- the more nonlinear the game is, the worse the
At some point (after Legend is out) I'll probably clean up the hint system
source and release it. It's a tiny amount of code, but it needs some
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I still like the idea of the Plot Map with embedded Hint System.
(I ought to, I came up with it)
The idea is very simple, and incorporates the good idea of Dave Baggett with
a Directed Acyclic Graph.
The idea is simple. For each of the puzzles or situations that the player
may be in, you create a room. You create an object that 'ghosts' the
player. You start the ghost object in the 'begin situation room'.
Every time your player solves a puzzle (or acts appropriately according to
the plot), you move the ghost object through the exit named for that
solution, or action. This puts the ghost object in another room.
The game/story is over when there are no further exits from the room.
Every situation has possible hints that can be given to the user. Each Hint
is an object stored in the room for that situation. The Hint text is stored
in the descripton of the object. The only complication is converting the
HINT command into a LOOK command in the room that the ghost object currently
This has the advantage of giving no hint before its time. (since the ghost
object isn't in the room with those hints anyway.) But has the
disadvantage of being unable to give hints about things that have already
been done. (how often do you want a hint on how to solve something you
already have solved?)
I guess you could move all the previous hint objects to next room when you
move the ghost if you really had to give old hints...
PLOTMAPS, plotmaps! Rah Rah Ree!
Actually, I didn't like UHS all *that* much. I found the windows format
and having to move the mouse all over more annoying than helpful. However,
the basic "layering" of hints (ie, allowing you to give gradually broader
and broader hints) is nice.
>4. Given all this, and the fact that I don't care to pull a Dave Baggett
> and fiddle with DAGs(?) or whatnot to figure out just the right hint,
> do we have any ideas from the pool of authors out there?
>Basically, I'm just bringing up the old hint system thread again.
>Fortunately I have plenty of time to consider ideas, since any hint
>system will not be in use until Sight Unseen, which is gonna be a while
IMO, the best way to do it is using something like a DAG. First of all,
try using the "hint (dobj)" verb I suggested earlier. I think this makes
it easier for the user to get a hint on an object they want to know about,
rather than just being able to get one hint about the current game situation.
Also, use some of the ideas from the DAG, but you don't have to make it
as complex as he does (making a whole separate plot map to move a shadow
around on). Just have some simple if statements:
else if ( hands.set = nil )
"Look at the clock a bit more closely, perhaps. What's wrong with it?";
else if ( hand.set = true and door.isfound = nil )
"This is a cuckoo clock, isn't it? Wonder what will happen when it strikes
This lets you have some idea of what the player has done, without making
it too complex.
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Actually, I didn't like UHS all *that* much. I found the windows
format and having to move the mouse all over more annoying than
helpful. However, the basic "layering" of hints (ie, allowing you
to give gradually broader and broader hints) is nice.
Wait a minute; you do mean that the hints would get more and more
specific, don't you? Even if just a hint about a single object, it
would be best to start at the general (and hence less useful), and
move up to the specific. The same with a puzzle in general - first
clarify the type of puzzle, then move on to the specifics.
Or have I missed something?
> Now, I've looked at the UHS system. Let me make a few
> remarks about it.
> 1. Very nice overall.
> 2. The author is very protective.
> 3. It would likely be a pain to go through the process required to make
> a hint file for a game, get his permission to compile it, and then
> set up a 'site license' to allow you to distribute it and the
> unregistered reader with your game. Or better yet, a game-specific
The UHS, so far, has basically been a game player-oriented system, as
opposed to a designer-oriented one. I'd agree with your points, and I've
heard the same criticisms before from other game designers. The only
problem is that removing the current restrictions from publicly available
versions of the compiler creates all kinds of headaches for me and for
The most important problem is that authors never consulted me when
they wrote UHS files with compilers that didn't have the current system
of authorization codes and such. Several times, several different
people would end up working on files for the same game, and none of
them would know about it until one version was uploaded, and I'd have
unhappy hint writers who thought they'd wasted time on a file that
wasn't needed. With large-scale commercial programs, this is a real
And similarly, a lot of the people who wrote hints just didn't know how
to write them. I've been flamed many times before about files that were
written without my permission or help, because the hints just weren't
of high enough quality. Between making the users happy and making
hint authors' life a bit easier, I decided for the former.
As long as the game designers are writing the hints, there really isn't
a problem, though. I just need to have a set of general rules that
save me the most trouble. If you, or any other designers, are
interested in writing UHS hints for your own games, please e-mail
me here at AOL. I'm sure there's some solution -- if I have to, I'll
just distribute the compiler code generator to people here who want
(Universal Hint System)