Adventures waste professional time

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Brandon Van Every

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Jun 7, 1998, 3:00:00 AM6/7/98
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Brandon Van Every wrote in message <6ldo1n$76a$1...@guysmiley.blarg.net>...
>
>Now for the profound (?) part:
>
>This model of adventure gaming is completely broken from the standpoint of
>professionals with little free time on their hands. When I was a kid this
>was great stuff, but now I don't have time for an intellectual head-bang.
I
>get plenty of that from my job. Can we develop some model of adventure
>gaming other than puzzle solving? Maybe exploration? Touchy-feely
>experiences? Software toys? Drama? Anyone got any brilliant ideas? (Gee
>and I said it was going to be profound....)


Belated profound model for neo-adventure games:

1) no puzzles

2) large exploratory space

3) player affects the world as part of a drama. If the player does nothing,
the
drama unfolds in one way. If the player does something, the drama unfolds
in
another way. Ergo: it is impossible to get stuck. The story merely
continues. The reward of the game is the drama itself, not the conclusion
of the drama.

4) add software toys to taste


Cheers,
Brandon Van Every

Brandon Van Every

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Jun 8, 1998, 3:00:00 AM6/8/98
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Sean T Barrett wrote in message ...
>
>I would like to know if anyone has ever *tried* to solve this
>problem in the puzzle-solving genre. Maybe it's a totally hard
>problem and there's nothing you can do about it--there's no way
>to avoid people getting stuck.


I think there are 2 ways. The key is that the player must never be allowed
to be stuck. This is antithetical to the traditional adventure game, where
making people get stuck is the whole point of the exercise. "But how will I
know if I'm having any *fun*, if I don't get a little stuck?" The verdict
among older professionals with little time on their hands is out: getting
stuck is NOT fun.

1) soft theory: include puzzles. But, the action moves on even if they do
not get solved. Time-based events can interrupt a stuck player, and move
them along to something else. The game must also be designed so that the
player doesn't "lose" anything when he is moved along. i.e. he can go back,
or he can replay later, or it's really not material to finishing the game.

2) hard theory: abandon puzzles entirely. Concentrate on exploration,
dramatization, and strong characterization as the rewards of the game.

>But I'm currently stuck in the latest Monkey Island game, and
>I'll start it up, play for a half hour, go to some location and
>try clicking every object in my inventory on every object in the
>scene, pick an object in my inventory and click it on every other
>object in my inventory, and repeat.


And indeed, this is a complete waste of one's copious free time. If I told
you that I wanted you to crank up some banking software, then click a bunch
of boxes for no apparent purpose, you'd say that's boring, right? The great
achievement of many adventure games, is convincing us that because it's a
"game," we're supposed to regard this activity as fun.

>As I see it, the basic problems are as follows:
>
>Difficulty in solving puzzles as intended:
> - lack of clues or hints


Zork Nemesis actually had a clue system. But I refused to use it, that
would be "wimping out." That's the problem with this solution, it is
defined as "cheating." Many people feel morally obligated not to cheat.
And even if they don't feel cheating is the issue, they may want to
experience the game "as the author intended." It's a very different
experience to flip to the solutions and just breeze through everything, you
miss much of what an author had to offer.

> - lack of logic
> Everything is emaulated, not simulated, so there
> is no predictability about whether an idea will work.


This is an insoluable communcations problem between author and audience.
Even if you had a simulation system, there's no guarantee that the audience
would understand the rules of the simulation system. You might know a lot
about real-world physics and the chemical properties of matter, but most
people forgot whatever little they learned in high school. Nor do they
necessarily think physics/chemistry problems are fun/interesting. And you
might be out of your element if I based my simulation system on
anthropological principles of human interaction. Or, you might differ as to
how the system should have been implemented. Finally, simulation systems
are never complete, and the incompleteness will always generate errors in
someone's understanding.

"Do I understand what the author intended" is the dialectic at the core of
traditional adventure games. We may have to broaden this dialectic, to "am
I enjoying how I'm interacting with the author's work?" The issue of
authorial intent becomes a sideshow, not the main event.

>(Why are we posting about this to rec.games.programmer?)


Because I started the thread, I hang out on rec.games.programmer, and I'm
currently campaigning for a hierarchy split comp.games.development.*. It is
to include an *.art and a *.design newsgroup. So I'm drumming up business
for the upcoming Call For Votes. If you like this kind of discussion, be
sure to vote when the time comes!


Cheers,
Brandon Van Every

Gerry Quinn

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Jun 8, 1998, 3:00:00 AM6/8/98
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In article <6lhg4e$mc0$1...@guysmiley.blarg.net>, "Brandon Van Every" <vane...@blarg.net> wrote:

>> - lack of logic
>> Everything is emaulated, not simulated, so there
>> is no predictability about whether an idea will work.
>
>
>This is an insoluable communcations problem between author and audience.
>Even if you had a simulation system, there's no guarantee that the audience
>would understand the rules of the simulation system. You might know a lot
>about real-world physics and the chemical properties of matter, but most
>people forgot whatever little they learned in high school. Nor do they
>necessarily think physics/chemistry problems are fun/interesting. And you
>might be out of your element if I based my simulation system on
>anthropological principles of human interaction. Or, you might differ as to
>how the system should have been implemented. Finally, simulation systems
>are never complete, and the incompleteness will always generate errors in
>someone's understanding.
>

CRPGs such as Nethack have consistent(ish) physics. Maybe the secret
is to make good puzzles using the standard game physics.

It's one area where I thought Dungeon Master and its sequels really
starred.

- Gerry

===========================================================
http://indigo.ie/~gerryq/Brewster/brewster.htm
Brewster Kaleidoscopic Screensaver for Windows 95
The only saver that simulates a real kaleidoscope
===========================================================

Brandon Van Every

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Jun 8, 1998, 3:00:00 AM6/8/98
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awr...@ecst.csuchico.edu wrote in message
>
>Maybe the problem is that there's nothing to do *but* get stuck.

That's a really good insight into what's wrong. All these adventure games
are designed around getting stuck. Why not instead design them to have
events continually unfold? Answer: because nobody's really tried it, and it
would be more work. At least, until someone hits upon a successful model
for how to design it.

After all, movie scripts were pretty cheesy in the dawn of cinema. You
might say they're also cheesy now, but there are good independent films out
there, and even mainstream Hollywood films have some reasonably sound
principles of moving things along.


Cheers,
Brandon Van Every

Julian Fleetwood

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Jun 8, 1998, 3:00:00 AM6/8/98
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This thread has reminded me of an idea that has been floating around in my
head for a while.

Interactive Fiction and computer games in general seem, to me, to be the
only
entertainment medium which is not contributing to our "instant oatmeal
society" (quoting The Simpsons) ... movies, TV, CDs, and videos are all
fairly passive forms of entertainment - that we sit down and experience for
a set amount of time - where as, computer games (IF and Adventure in
particular) require the player to think and interact with for a variable
amount of time to have experienced all of it.

The idea of puzzle-less IF would demote IF to the other aforementioned
entertainment forms, but only if it was still defined as IF: This is more or
less a proposal for a new medium that uses the IF interface, _not_ a new
type of IF.

This new entertainment could be a good idea, especially since IF provokes
the imagination so well, and would be even more effective with the kind of
features offered by StoryHarp.

Julian Fleetwood
--
Keen supporter of the 'Train Spotting as an Olympic sport' campaign
Home Page: http://www.tip.net.au/~mfleetwo/index.htm
Interactive Fiction Dimension: http://www.tip.net.au/~mfleetwo/if/if.htm
Comic Book Store Guy Page: http://www.tip.net.au/~mfleetwo/cbsg/comic.htm

Thatcher Ulrich

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Jun 9, 1998, 3:00:00 AM6/9/98
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In article <6lhqtd$kej$2...@news.indigo.ie>, Gerry Quinn
<ger...@indigo.ie> says...

> In article <6lhg4e$mc0$1...@guysmiley.blarg.net>, "Brandon Van Every" <vane...@blarg.net> wrote:
>
> >> - lack of logic
> >> Everything is emaulated, not simulated, so there
> >> is no predictability about whether an idea will work.
> >
> >
> >This is an insoluable communcations problem between author and audience.
> >Even if you had a simulation system, there's no guarantee that the audience
> >would understand the rules of the simulation system. You might know a lot
> >about real-world physics and the chemical properties of matter, but most
> >people forgot whatever little they learned in high school. Nor do they
> >necessarily think physics/chemistry problems are fun/interesting. And you
> >might be out of your element if I based my simulation system on
> >anthropological principles of human interaction. Or, you might differ as to
> >how the system should have been implemented. Finally, simulation systems
> >are never complete, and the incompleteness will always generate errors in
> >someone's understanding.
> >
>
> CRPGs such as Nethack have consistent(ish) physics. Maybe the secret
> is to make good puzzles using the standard game physics.
>
> It's one area where I thought Dungeon Master and its sequels really
> starred.

Boulderdash is another example of a closed, complete, mostly
deterministic, simplified simulation that you could interact with
in a few well defined ways, which made a fantastic game. Not
really an adventure game though; more like an action/puzzle game.

--
Thatcher Ulrich
http://world.std.com/~ulrich

Nikolaus Strater

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Jun 9, 1998, 3:00:00 AM6/9/98
to

Brandon van Every wrote:

> This is an insoluable communcations problem between author and audience.
> Even if you had a simulation system, there's no guarantee that the audience
> would understand the rules of the simulation system. You might know a lot
> about real-world physics and the chemical properties of matter, but most
> people forgot whatever little they learned in high school. Nor do they
> necessarily think physics/chemistry problems are fun/interesting. And you
> might be out of your element if I based my simulation system on
> anthropological principles of human interaction. Or, you might differ as to
> how the system should have been implemented. Finally, simulation systems
> are never complete, and the incompleteness will always generate errors in
> someone's understanding.

I disagree.
It won't be easy maybe to make a simplified, sufficiently general
physical system which would be usable in adventures, which most people
would find intuitive, but I still think it's possible.

You don't have to remember high-school stuff - the aim is to model in a
non-exact qualitative way simple daily experience. That alone is hard
enough to do on a general level. There is a branch of modern physics
called Naive Physics which attempts to do this using symbolic systems.
Maybe their findings could be used in adventure-world simulations.

The idea is to use just commonsense-type knowledge in
adventure-problems, not things which would only be known to specialists
(there is an incredibly silly problem near the end of Under a Killing
Moon: you have to use a resuscitation-machine with buttons for chemicals
and such, things which only a professional person would know - all you
can do is trial and error, one wonders just what kind of pressure makes
designers use ideas like that...)

They don't think it's interesting? It's possible to make them use their
daily knowledge intuitively, and if it works, it'll be interesting to
them.

Human interaction is another problem entirely, the bigger problem by far
- but there are the well-known ways to turn down the human element,
albeit I believe the greatest fascination derives from it, but I posted
about this some time ago.

kol
(posting from Sisso's place)

Brandon Van Every

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Jun 9, 1998, 3:00:00 AM6/9/98
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Julian Fleetwood wrote in message <357cc...@newshost.pcug.org.au>...


>
>Interactive Fiction and computer games in general seem, to me, to be the
>only
>entertainment medium which is not contributing to our "instant oatmeal
>society" (quoting The Simpsons) ... movies, TV, CDs, and videos are all
>fairly passive forms of entertainment - that we sit down and experience for
>a set amount of time - where as, computer games (IF and Adventure in
>particular) require the player to think and interact with for a variable
>amount of time to have experienced all of it.
>
>The idea of puzzle-less IF would demote IF to the other aforementioned
>entertainment forms, but only if it was still defined as IF: This is more
or
>less a proposal for a new medium that uses the IF interface, _not_ a new
>type of IF.

>
>This new entertainment could be a good idea, especially since IF provokes
>the imagination so well, and would be even more effective with the kind of
>features offered by StoryHarp.

I'm not sure I understand your thesis here. In all mediums there is the
good and the bad. I go to art galleries on a regular basis partly because
they stimulate my mind. There are also excellent movies that do the same,
even if mainstream Hollywood isn't into it. TV it's a much rarer occurance,
but it does happen. And frankly the plot development of most commercial
adventure games is downright bone-headed and stupefying. Is finding 4
crystals to make a larger crystal for the 1000th time, and banging your head
against the method to accomplish this transmutation, somehow a brain
stimulating activity? Nonsense, it's instant oatmeal for programmers. (Or
maybe really bad tasting instant oatmeal, I'm not quite sure which....)

So to me, the good-or-bad is not a property of the interface itself. I
don't see why categorizing on the basis of interfaces adds insight into the
nature of what I'm suggesting. Maybe there's an insight but I'm not seeing
it. Can you explain some more?

What I'm really proposing, is that the PLOT unfolds differently. It's not
"do something, get stuck, do something, get stuck." In that mode, the plot
is all about getting stuck. Why not have the plot continuously unfolding?
Avoid anything that would make the plot get stuck. You might have to do 5x
more plot development and/or story branches, but that's ok, because you
won't be designing any puzzles. Your job is now to design plots, not
puzzles.

The key is to have recombined plot elements bring new conjunctive
relationships in the viewer's mind. Then the continuing flow of the story
will operate at an advantage, not a disadvantage.

Sanity check: are we getting into a definitional schism here? When someone
says "Interactive Fiction," does that automatically mean puzzle solving? I
don't think so, but if the common usage of the term is otherwise, please
tell me. Wouldn't want to have an unnecessary argument over definitions,
like the last time I appeared in r.a.i-f. :-)


Cheers,
Brandon Van Every

Francis Irving

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Jun 9, 1998, 3:00:00 AM6/9/98
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On Tue, 9 Jun 1998 03:41:36 GMT, ulr...@world.std.com (Thatcher
Ulrich) wrote:

>Boulderdash is another example of a closed, complete, mostly
>deterministic, simplified simulation that you could interact with
>in a few well defined ways, which made a fantastic game. Not
>really an adventure game though; more like an action/puzzle game.

Absolutely. The description of another world which you can completely
understand, and then make interesting puzzles resulting from them.
Bottom up.

(Blatant plug: If you have an Amiga or UAE, try Plasma Bubble
http://www.meta.demon.co.uk/plasma, which is a Boulderdash/Repton like
game which I think has this particular property in abundance)

Francis.

Home: fra...@pobox.co.uk Web: www.meta.demon.co.uk

Brandon Van Every

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Jun 9, 1998, 3:00:00 AM6/9/98
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Nikolaus Strater wrote in message <357CDA...@strater.force9.co.uk>...


>
>You don't have to remember high-school stuff - the aim is to model in a
>non-exact qualitative way simple daily experience. That alone is hard
>enough to do on a general level. There is a branch of modern physics
>called Naive Physics which attempts to do this using symbolic systems.
>Maybe their findings could be used in adventure-world simulations.


Yeah but you're trying to use "everyday stuff" to formulate PROBLEMS.
People don't run around day to day dealing with PROBLEMS, they just walk.
They just avoid objects. They just catch things. They aren't trying to
find out if gee the universe has some neato physical/chemical property that
when recombined allows them to walk 50% faster thereby crossing the bridge
in sufficient time. Or levitate over water. Or whatever. As you try to
bridge from everyday reality to a set of problem tasks, you are creating a
system of assumptions that your audience does not necessarily share. In
fact, I don't think it's even vaguely likely that they'll share all your
expectations. Not unless you playtest the thing TO DEATH, against an
incredible sample of people. And I'd wager hard $$$$ that your playtesting
will reveal your system of simulation is not so complete and logical as you
thought out, in someone else's view. You are the designer, you are blinded
by your own design, it makes sense to YOU.

>The idea is to use just commonsense-type knowledge in
>adventure-problems, not things which would only be known to specialists


Can you give us a specific example of a good problem that would be based
only upon common sense? I'm happy to critique it, from the perspective
outlined above.


Cheers,
Brandon Van Every

Bill

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Jun 9, 1998, 3:00:00 AM6/9/98
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Brandon Van Every asks:

>Can you give us a specific example of a good problem that would be based
>only upon common sense? I'm happy to critique it, from the perspective
>outlined above.

Best example (from the movie, Die Hard III) .... having to put exactly 2
gallons of water into a container (to defuse a bomb) ... with only a 5
gallon and 3 gallon container at your disposal. Was that right?

Bill

okbl...@usa.net

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Jun 9, 1998, 3:00:00 AM6/9/98
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In article <357cc...@newshost.pcug.org.au>,

"Julian Fleetwood" <mfle...@pcug.org.au> wrote:
>
> The idea of puzzle-less IF would demote IF to the other aforementioned
> entertainment forms,

The implication I get from your statement is that these other forms of
allegedly passive entertainment are inferior and that IF is above them--a
station it would have to share with its cousin the logic puzzle, the
crossword and the acrostic.

If so: emphatically disagreed.

If we were looking to categorize the two types of IF/AG, we could probably
divide them into puzzle-oriented games (which could be called Adventure Games,
in homage to the original) and games which centered around drama,
conflict, comedy, and so on (which could be called interactive fiction, in
homage to what Infocom tried to achieve).

The latter would always be superior to the former, if one used as a value
system the ability to affect people emotionally and to suggest new or
alternate realities. That is, the New York Times crossword puzzle may be a
greater intellectual challenge than watching Shakespeare, but Shakespeare
conveys more meaning, beauty, emotional challenge, etc., than the puzzle.

This is not to say that there isn't a place for the AG. But even the best
aspects of Collossal Cave were those that allowed one to believe the alternate
reality: the dwarves, the volcano, the mirror room, the pirate. Without these
aspects, the AG is not much different from "A train leaves from New York for
Chicago at 2PM travelling 120 miles an hour while another train leaves from
Chicago at 2:15PM travelling 115 miles an hour...."

Probably the worst TV affects people more than the best IF--but TV can cheat.
They can rely on the skills of a few very competent artists to carry through
the really trite, hackneyed parts. A Patrick Stewart can deliver some of the
worst lines ever written effectively.

And if it were only the intellectually challenging and non-passive aspects of
AGs that made them unpalatable, wouldn't Sierra AGs be wildly successful?
Wasn't Myst--the most popular computer game of all time, according to the
box--relatively challenging or at least provocative? (These are not rhetorical
questions: I don't know the answers.)

[ok]

-----== Posted via Deja News, The Leader in Internet Discussion ==-----
http://www.dejanews.com/ Now offering spam-free web-based newsreading

Brandon Van Every

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Jun 9, 1998, 3:00:00 AM6/9/98
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Bill wrote in message ...


Interesting puzzle, fill 5 gallon jug, then pour 3 gallons into 3 gallon
jug, leaving only 2 in the 5 gallon jug. But even in the movie Die Hard III
it was hopelessly contrived. Is this the be-all end-all of physics
simulation systems? I think you can come up with a better problem, I'm not
convinced Die Hard III is some kind of "best" example.


Cheers,
Brandon Van Every

Paul A Krueger

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Jun 9, 1998, 3:00:00 AM6/9/98
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Bill wrote in message ...
>

>Best example (from the movie, Die Hard III) .... having to put exactly 2
>gallons of water into a container (to defuse a bomb) ... with only a 5
>gallon and 3 gallon container at your disposal. Was that right?


Pour 5 into 3 leaving 2?
That just steals from Zork 0, which used 9 gloops and 4 gloops and needed 6.

Fill 9 gloop. (9/0)
Pour 9 into 4 (5/4)
Dump 4 (5/0)
Pour 9 into 4 (1/4)
Dump 4 (1/0)
Pour 9 into 4 (0/1)
Fill 9 gloop (9/1)
Pour 9 into 4 (6/1)

Also, A Mind Forever Voyaging, also by Infocom, is a good piece of mostly
puzzleless interactive-fiction. You play a sentient computer calculating the
cumulative affect of a proposed social/economical reshaping as seen through
the eyes of the person you once believed yourself to truly be. The one
puzzle comes at the end when you have to outsmart the organizer of the Plan
(the data you collect shows the Plan to be a complete failure).

Russ Williams

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Jun 10, 1998, 3:00:00 AM6/10/98
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Bill wrote in message ...
>Brandon Van Every asks:
>
>>Can you give us a specific example of a good problem that
>>would be based only upon common sense? I'm happy to
>>critique it, from the perspective outlined above.
>
>Best example (from the movie, Die Hard III) .... having to put
>exactly 2 gallons of water into a container (to defuse a bomb)
>... with only a 5 gallon and 3 gallon container at your disposal.
>Was that right?

I think it was 4 gallons with 3 & 5 gallon containers.
Another example would be the 'Microsoft' U2 on a bridge
problem.

The problem is that you risk getting the player just as stuck if
they can't figure it out. Most people don't seem to do well on
logic problems, so you could seriously limit your audience if
you're not careful.

It depends what you're looking for. If you want problems that
can be solved by common sense, the you'll end up with
Doom-style 'find the key' or Quake-style 'find the switch'
puzzles. Not much good for an adventure... (Although they
are ample for many other genres)

---
Russ

Sean T Barrett

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Jun 10, 1998, 3:00:00 AM6/10/98
to

Brandon Van Every <vane...@blarg.net> wrote:
>Sean T Barrett wrote in message ...
>>As I see it, the basic problems are as follows:
>>
>>Difficulty in solving puzzles as intended:
>> - lack of clues or hints
>
>Zork Nemesis actually had a clue system.

What I actually meant here is more hints/clues like
a detective uses to solve a problem in a mystery story.

Commercial adventure games seem to simply expect you
to eventually intuit the correct solution: use X on Y.
But in general they don't seem to give you any information
that would help make you think of it; in some sense, they
seem to at least expect you to brute force it in the
sense of *thinking* about all of the objects you're
carrying (as opposed to the full brute forcing of *trying*
all the objects you're carrying).

This is not *entirely* true. In Curse of Monkey Island,
interactions with Blondbeard provide numerous clues,
in a very obvious transparent way. "Have I told you
how much I like that gold tooth?" Guybrush asks. "Hey,
it must be important," the player says to himself--there
must be some other way to get it. Of course, here the
clue is effective meta-, pushing the player out of the
game.

In the same interaction bit, you lean about blondbeard
losing his access card to a place you want to go. You
can reason forward logically from his description of losing
it to guess where it is. At this point, however, you're
stuck with the problem: maybe it's inside that thing on
the table, but how to get it out? It ought to be cuttable,
but it's not.

[spoiler]

This particular puzzle falls apart of lack of what Doug
Church's CGDC lecture called "player intentionality".
Unlike the common intentionality problem, where the player
drunk walks through the world because he doesn't know
what his goal is, here the problem is that the player
knows his goal, but is given no information about *how*
to accomplish it. No player is going to say to himself,
"You know, the thing I need to get through that chicken
is a bunch of maggots. Now where would a bunch of maggots
be? How about in this barrel of biscuits? Now how do I
get them out of a biscuit? Maybe I'll take a bite of one!"
No, it won't work like that. *Once* the player happens
to randomly decide to take a bite of the biscuit, he *discovers*
the maggots. Is there any logic at this point to the fact
that the maggots can dissolve a chicken and not a biscuit?
Maybe, but it's not apparent to the player.

As far as I can tell, these guys just didn't try.

A clue or a hint would be somewhere else in the game where
you're told how the maggots on Plunder island really fancy
chicken, and another place where you're told they like to
hide out in biscuits. Not that providing these clues would
necessarily make the game more or less fun, but that's just
more the sort of thing I meant.

Sean

ma...@scriptpro.com

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Jun 10, 1998, 3:00:00 AM6/10/98
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In article <6lkmao$8meg$1...@newssvr04-int.news.prodigy.com>,

"Paul A Krueger" <WEIRD...@prodigy.net> wrote:
>
>
> Bill wrote in message ...
> >
<snip>

>
> Also, A Mind Forever Voyaging, also by Infocom, is a good piece of mostly
> puzzleless interactive-fiction. You play a sentient computer calculating the
> cumulative affect of a proposed social/economical reshaping as seen through
> the eyes of the person you once believed yourself to truly be. The one
> puzzle comes at the end when you have to outsmart the organizer of the Plan
> (the data you collect shows the Plan to be a complete failure).
>
>

Yes. AMFV was brilliant. Effectively you walked around recording various
activities and events during simulation. Missing an individual event was
quite possible, but you always had the option to restart the simulation and
try to get more data. This was Infocom's finest hour.

It seems to me that including puzzles in an "adventure" type game is not
necessarily a bad thing, but allowing a failed puzzle to stop the plot dead is
unacceptable.

The RPG Betrayal at Krondor addressed this problem by breaking the story up
into "chapters", each with a single, clear, achievable end goal but many, many
interlocking subplots. Screwing up one of the subplots may have cost you the
opportunity to learn something, or get a cool item or something, but never
prevented you from completing the chapter objective and moving on. Of course,
they had Feist writing the plot, so the quality was high...

michael...@ey.com

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Jun 10, 1998, 3:00:00 AM6/10/98
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In article <Xtif1.12953$Kx3.12...@news.rdc1.sdca.home.com>,

"Bill" <bv...@inetworld.net> wrote:
>
>
> Brandon Van Every asks:
>
> >Can you give us a specific example of a good problem that would be based
> >only upon common sense? I'm happy to critique it, from the perspective
> >outlined above.
>
> Best example (from the movie, Die Hard III) .... having to put exactly 2
> gallons of water into a container (to defuse a bomb) ... with only a 5
> gallon and 3 gallon container at your disposal. Was that right?
>

But that isn't a very good common sense puzzle, because it doesn't make
common sense that you would ever encounter such a problem during the course
of a normal day (even, and this is one reason why I hated that movie, if your
normal day involves defusing bombs).

How about:

You're trying to reach a window in an alley, but the window's too high. So
you move a garbage can under the window and stand on it. Voila. Common sense.
And a little physics (gravity + some simple spatial relationships).

Is that the kind of thing you're looking for?

--M.

David Brain

unread,
Jun 10, 1998, 3:00:00 AM6/10/98
to

In article <EuBDw...@world.std.com>, buz...@world.std.com (Sean T
Barrett) wrote:

> What I actually meant here is more hints/clues like
> a detective uses to solve a problem in a mystery story.

What annoyed me the most about Starship Titanic was that there *were* some
superb puzzles (the location of Titania's eyes or the singing boatman)
that forced you to look at the environment in an intelligent fashion, but
these were dangerously undermined by some puzzles (Titania's nose for
instance) which were merely a case of "use X on Y", and other puzzles
which were merely frustration channels (the Chicken comes to mind here).
Oh, and some puzzles which were disconnected from the story entirely (you
can finish without defusing the bomb or even discovering it, which makes
the ending rather confusing...)

I can only think of one actual puzzle that *required* a Bot at all
(although there were several that interacted with one), and none which
needed a fancy parser.

But *I* liked the game a lot. Mind you, I thought that Myst and Riven
were pretty good designs too :-)

--
David Brain
London, UK

> Light creates shadow; light destroys shadow. <
> Such is the transience of darkness. <

GLYPH

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Jun 11, 1998, 3:00:00 AM6/11/98
to

> > Brandon Van Every asks:

> > Best example (from the movie, Die Hard III) .... having to put exactly 2
> > gallons of water into a container (to defuse a bomb) ... with only a 5
> > gallon and 3 gallon container at your disposal. Was that right?

Whoa, whoa. That ain't right. That would be too easy! Anyone remember
the real sizes of the containers?

- GLYPH

Nikolaus Strater

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Jun 11, 1998, 3:00:00 AM6/11/98
to

Brandon Van Every wrote:
>
> Nikolaus Strater wrote in message <357CDA...@strater.force9.co.uk>...
> >
> >You don't have to remember high-school stuff - the aim is to model in a
> >non-exact qualitative way simple daily experience. That alone is hard
> >enough to do on a general level. There is a branch of modern physics
> >called Naive Physics which attempts to do this using symbolic systems.
> >Maybe their findings could be used in adventure-world simulations.
>
> Yeah but you're trying to use "everyday stuff" to formulate PROBLEMS.
> People don't run around day to day dealing with PROBLEMS, they just walk.
> They just avoid objects. They just catch things. They aren't trying to
> find out if gee the universe has some neato physical/chemical property that
> when recombined allows them to walk 50% faster thereby crossing the bridge
> in sufficient time. Or levitate over water. Or whatever. As you try to
> bridge from everyday reality to a set of problem tasks, you are creating a
> system of assumptions that your audience does not necessarily share. In
> fact, I don't think it's even vaguely likely that they'll share all your
> expectations. Not unless you playtest the thing TO DEATH, against an
> incredible sample of people. And I'd wager hard $$$$ that your playtesting
> will reveal your system of simulation is not so complete and logical as you
> thought out, in someone else's view. You are the designer, you are blinded
> by your own design, it makes sense to YOU.
>
> >The idea is to use just commonsense-type knowledge in
> >adventure-problems, not things which would only be known to specialists
>
> Can you give us a specific example of a good problem that would be based
> only upon common sense? I'm happy to critique it, from the perspective
> outlined above.
>

Hey, it sounds like you think I like over-complex scientific problems
and such, I can guess what type of person you think I am. But I'm not
the usual scientific, narrow-minded type, I dislike mathematical
problems, like the one given by another person here in answer to your
question, with a complicated series of boring, same-type actions.

Nor was I thinking about typical 'adventure-problems' (at least not
primarily). I was thinking more along the lines of fluid interaction
with the environment, about additional dimensions of interactivity, so
to speak.

Funnily enough it's *you* who are thinking in a too complex way about
this. Yes they just 'catch things'. But no, I don't agree they 'just
avoid things'. I think they 'like to play' with things. They like to
'try out' things.

Let's say it rains, and let's say you, the player, is holding a small
bowl out into the rain, in the normal way. It should fill up with water.
If you turn it round, the rain should flow around it. Now that's an
example of what I was talking about. Simple commonsense physics, nothing
about 'neato properties', just normal properties. But to get those
simple things into a game is already very difficult to do.

I thought you had played loads of adventures already, like myself. Now
you *must* have been in the position then of wanting to try things out,
simple things which always work in normal life, but which don't in the
game. Let's say you find a metal cone, and you need water to cool
something down somewhere else. You try: Fill cone with water. -and you
get one of: That doesn't work., That's wrong., or something even more
infuriating. Obviously it's just because in the program the cone is
object 125, water is object 233, and there's no link between 125 and 233
in the dumb system the game uses.
This kind of thing pisses players off, not just because they get stuck,
but because it's illogical that you shouldn't be able to do simple stuff
like that.

Take any one single object, say a match. Is it true that you can only do
one thing with it? No. There's always a number of other uses, if you
think about it. You can use them to reach something through a small
hole. You can prod something with them without having to touch it
directly. You can stir liquids with them. You can glue them to other
matches to make small wooden frame-models. You can arrange them to leave
a message. You can sharpen them to use as a sort of pin. Etc.

Now even such very simple constructions, like any person whatsoever (no
special IQ needed :-) would play around with, aren't easy to get into a
program. We need some representation of physical onjects which allows
for these things.

This 'playing around with' then leads naturally into adventure-type
problems. But since you can then combine objects in manifold ways, you
automatically have many different ways of solving a problem. It's
impossible of course to allow for *all* possible combining-actions, but
I think it's possible to get a pretty good system to work which will
have intuitive boundaries (say you could fix a knife to a rod, to make a
kind of lance, but sticking another rod onto it, to make an even longer
lance, would result in an object that would always fall apart on its
first use).

It's true that different people have different kinds of expectations of
the physical world. But hey, not all *that* different. And anyway, isn't
the physical element in action games *precisely* what made them so
successful: the body-movement, the weapons, the explosions, it's all
intuitive physics everywhere. More things to try out will always make
people more interested. It's your word against mine, I guess :-)

In any case, what I'm working on is to find a representation of physical
objects that allows them to be combined to produce other (still simple,
only slightly more complex) objects which are *not* defined in the
program to begin with. Only the combinations that are actually produced
by the player are represented in the game.

Anyway, this is one of my 2000 running projects, but I'm getting
somewhere just now, my only problem is, I'm running out of dosh to
support myself and will have to suspend my game-programming/designing in
the near future to get some bread on the table. Blast!!! Why does the
world need money! Why can't we just get our food for nothing! What's the
big deal anyway. Some farmer-boy might like to play my game, so his dad
might as well give me his potatoes in return. One life-provision of
potatoes for one good game! How does that sound? (Not that I could
survive *just* on potatoes, but...

But hey, I'm rambling, time to stop... :-)

kol


Russ Williams

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Jun 11, 1998, 3:00:00 AM6/11/98
to

GLYPH wrote in message <357FAE...@hotmail.com>...

5/3 to get 4.
Fill 5, pour into 3, pour remainder into 3, fill 5, pour 1 into
3 leaving 4.

---
Russ

Brandon Van Every

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Jun 11, 1998, 3:00:00 AM6/11/98
to

Nikolaus Strater wrote in message <357FF7...@strater.force9.co.uk>...


>
>One life-provision of
>potatoes for one good game! How does that sound? (Not that I could
>survive *just* on potatoes, but...


Yeah I hope you brought salt and pepper. :-(

Anyways, I think the pathway you're walking down with physics simulation is
to please a certain kind of player. You're into people who poke around and
try stuff, i.e. classical adventure gaming geeks. Any system you devise
will seem cool to them as long as it's "reasonably complete." They'll like
it simply because it's techno-cool. (Although some might dislike it because
it gives the player too much flexibility to solve problems, thereby making
problem-solving a boring activity.)

People in the mass market will ask a tougher set of questions. "Why do I
care about this? Why is the rain bucket and the bowl and the matchstick
poked through the hole cosmically meaningful? Why should I be running
around trying stuff? That sounds like work. Why won't this stupid thing
recombine? I'm stuck again." These kinds of questions don't even make
sense to the classical adventure gaming geek, they don't understand why
anyone would dislike puzzles or simulation physics. Or else they have an
inkling, but don't care, and would prefer to design games that please
themselves. Nothing wrong with that in and of itself, but it does limit the
market potential significantly.

For the mass market, I think the overriding goal should be to tell a good
story. Anything that gets in the way of the story should be done away with.


Cheers,
Brandon Van Every

weird...@prodigy.net

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Jun 11, 1998, 3:00:00 AM6/11/98
to

In article <6lpdp2$v6n$1...@guysmiley.blarg.net>,

"Brandon Van Every" <vane...@blarg.net> wrote:
> People in the mass market will ask a tougher set of questions. "Why do I
> care about this? Why is the rain bucket and the bowl and the matchstick
> poked through the hole cosmically meaningful? Why should I be running
> around trying stuff? That sounds like work. Why won't this stupid thing
> recombine? I'm stuck again."

So where's the adventure if you take this all away? What you propose seems to
me to be what I could get from watching a $7 Movie video or a slide show. Yes,
puzzleless IF has been done well once or twice, but even then you still had
goals to accomplish and must still figure out how the goals can best be met.

Also, people ask your first 3 questions generally don't buy adventure games.
Period. "Adventure geeks" OTOH, would take one look at *your* game and say,
What's their to do? Why not watch a movie? You want *how much?*

Brandon Van Every

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Jun 11, 1998, 3:00:00 AM6/11/98
to

weird...@prodigy.net wrote in message
<6lpp69$1le$1...@nnrp1.dejanews.com>...


>In article <6lpdp2$v6n$1...@guysmiley.blarg.net>,
> "Brandon Van Every" <vane...@blarg.net> wrote:
>> People in the mass market will ask a tougher set of questions. "Why do I
>> care about this? Why is the rain bucket and the bowl and the matchstick
>> poked through the hole cosmically meaningful? Why should I be running
>> around trying stuff? That sounds like work. Why won't this stupid thing
>> recombine? I'm stuck again."
>
>So where's the adventure if you take this all away? What you propose seems
to
>me to be what I could get from watching a $7 Movie video or a slide show.

Except that we will use the recombinative properties of the computer medium
to make stories with multiple paths. The user will play the game several
times to see how it can work out differently. Ever gone to a movie and
wanted something different to happen?

> Yes,
>puzzleless IF has been done well once or twice,

And it should be done moreso. Would cinema be any good if people had only
done movies once or twice?

> but even then you still had
>goals to accomplish and must still figure out how the goals can best be
met.
>
>Also, people ask your first 3 questions generally don't buy adventure
games.
>Period.

Incorrect. They buy Myst and Riven by the droves. Why? Because it's the
only non-violent, butt-simple, mass-acceptable adventure game out there, and
some schmo at a store tells the new computer owning person "...well,
recommendations... try Myst." And the funny thing is, it isn't even that
well done for a mass audience. Myst had a few boner puzzles to make even an
experienced adventure game player tear out his hair, let alone Joe and Jane
average. I'm thinking particularly of that horrible maze. Why were they so
stupid to think that they must put a maze in the game?

Also, there are plenty of people who buy the game, ask the questions, then
put the game down. But hey, you've already $$ the cash register. And if
more people like it than dislike it, then you're not going to get a bad rep
just because the minority of the buying public didn't see the point.

> "Adventure geeks" OTOH, would take one look at *your* game and say,
>What's their to do? Why not watch a movie? You want *how much?*


I'm plenty happy to wait until the mass media reports on a great puzzleless
game, then the geeks will line up just to see what they've been missing.


Cheers,
Brandon Van Every

Julian Fleetwood

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Jun 11, 1998, 3:00:00 AM6/11/98
to

>The implication I get from your statement is that these other forms of
>allegedly passive entertainment are inferior and that IF is above them--a
>station it would have to share with its cousin the logic puzzle, the
>crossword and the acrostic.

No no no no no!!!

I am not keen on starting another IF vs. X thread!!!

I obviously picked the wrong words, all I was trying to do was convey that
interactive and non-interactive entertainment are two different groups
(using "demote" was obviously a bad choice :) ) and that puzzle-less IF
could not be easily placed in either group.

>If we were looking to categorize the two types of IF/AG, we could probably
>divide them into puzzle-oriented games (which could be called Adventure
Games,
>in homage to the original) and games which centered around drama,
>conflict, comedy, and so on (which could be called interactive fiction, in
>homage to what Infocom tried to achieve).
>
>The latter would always be superior to the former, if one used as a value
>system the ability to affect people emotionally and to suggest new or
>alternate realities. That is, the New York Times crossword puzzle may be a
>greater intellectual challenge than watching Shakespeare, but Shakespeare
>conveys more meaning, beauty, emotional challenge, etc., than the puzzle.

I agree whole heartedly! Both non-interactive and interactive entertainment
forms can be beautiful and thought-provoking, I just felt that if I was
given the choice out of interactive and non-interactive entertainment of
equal merit I would pick interactive.

>Wasn't Myst--the most popular computer game of all time, according to the
>box--relatively challenging or at least provocative?

Again I agree, and (I'm probably going out on a limb here) furthermore I
actually enjoyed Myst and felt it was a wonderful game.


Julian Fleetwood
--
Keen supporter of the 'Train Spotting as an Olympic sport' campaign
Home Page: http://www.tip.net.au/~mfleetwo/index.htm
Interactive Fiction Dimension: http://www.tip.net.au/~mfleetwo/if/if.htm

Comic Book Guy Page: http://www.tip.net.au/~mfleetwo/cbg/comic.htm

Julian Fleetwood

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Jun 11, 1998, 3:00:00 AM6/11/98
to

>Is finding 4
>crystals to make a larger crystal for the 1000th time, and banging your
head
>against the method to accomplish this transmutation, somehow a brain
>stimulating activity? Nonsense, it's instant oatmeal for programmers. (Or
>maybe really bad tasting instant oatmeal, I'm not quite sure which....)

LOL! :)

>So to me, the good-or-bad is not a property of the interface itself. I
>don't see why categorizing on the basis of interfaces adds insight into the
>nature of what I'm suggesting. Maybe there's an insight but I'm not seeing
>it. Can you explain some more?

Okay, the points I am stating are; That by definition Interactive Fiction
uses a text interface, and that entertainment can be defined in to two
types; Interactive and non-interactive. I am _not_ trying to argue that
non-interactive entertainment is inferior to interactive (I apologise, the
use of "demote" was inappropriate). What I'm trying to say is that while IF
has puzzles it is most definitely in the interactive group. However, if
puzzles were removed from IF then it's position would be somewhere in
between the interactive and non-interactive groups - therefore a new medium
of entertainment, not genre of IF.

>Sanity check: are we getting into a definitional schism here? When someone
>says "Interactive Fiction," does that automatically mean puzzle solving? I
>don't think so, but if the common usage of the term is otherwise, please
>tell me. Wouldn't want to have an unnecessary argument over definitions,

>like the last time I appeared in r.a.I-f. :-)

I don't want to start an argument either, but for the sake of explaining my
prior comments, I personally believe that IF without puzzles is no longer IF
(not that there is anything wrong with that :) ).

Dave Chapeskie

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Jun 12, 1998, 3:00:00 AM6/12/98
to

In article <357FAE...@hotmail.com>,

GLYPH <graham...@hotmail.com> wrote:
>> > Brandon Van Every asks:
>> > Best example (from the movie, Die Hard III) .... having to put exactly 2
>> > gallons of water into a container (to defuse a bomb) ... with only a 5
>> > gallon and 3 gallon container at your disposal. Was that right?
>
>Whoa, whoa. That ain't right. That would be too easy! Anyone remember
>the real sizes of the containers?

I believe it was a 3 gallon container and a 5 gallon container and you
had to end up with 4 gallons in one of the containers.

The solution would be:

- Fill 5 gallon container
- Transfer 3 gallons over (until the small container is full)
- Empty 3 gallon container
- Transfer remaining 2 gallons
- Fill 5 gallon container again
- Transfer 1 gallon over (until the small container is full)

You now have 4 gallons in the 5 gallon container. You used a total of
10 gallons to achieve this (unless you recycled).

By the way, I agree with a previous poster who said that this was a
contrived problem which is extremely unlikely to come up naturally or in
the manor it did in the movie.
--
Dave Chapeskie <dch...@ddm.on.ca>, DDM Consulting

Michael Straight

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Jun 12, 1998, 3:00:00 AM6/12/98
to

On Thu, 11 Jun 1998, Brandon Van Every wrote:

> Incorrect. They buy Myst and Riven by the droves. Why? Because it's the
> only non-violent, butt-simple, mass-acceptable adventure game out there, and
> some schmo at a store tells the new computer owning person "...well,
> recommendations... try Myst." And the funny thing is, it isn't even that
> well done for a mass audience. Myst had a few boner puzzles to make even an
> experienced adventure game player tear out his hair, let alone Joe and Jane
> average. I'm thinking particularly of that horrible maze. Why were they so
> stupid to think that they must put a maze in the game?

[Spoilers below for Myst]

I though the maze was a great, perfectly fair puzzle. You start out
thinking you might be able to navigate it, and quickly get way over your
head. They you start paying attention to the sounds. Which you should
have done anyway because every puzzle in that whole world revolved around
sound--the keyboard combination to get there, the sound tower/door
combination (the existence of which made absolutely no sense except as a
puzzle, but I thought it was so much fun to play with that I totally
overlooked that). Once you make sense of the sounds, navigating the maze
is simple.

I can't think of a maze in any adventure game or work of IF that I liked
as much as the one in Myst.

Sorry you didn't enjoy it.

SMTIRCAHIAGEHLT


Brandon Van Every

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Jun 12, 1998, 3:00:00 AM6/12/98
to

Julian Fleetwood wrote in message <3580b...@newshost.pcug.org.au>...


>
>Okay, the points I am stating are; That by definition Interactive Fiction
>uses a text interface, and that entertainment can be defined in to two
>types; Interactive and non-interactive. I am _not_ trying to argue that
>non-interactive entertainment is inferior to interactive (I apologise, the
>use of "demote" was inappropriate). What I'm trying to say is that while IF
>has puzzles it is most definitely in the interactive group. However, if
>puzzles were removed from IF then it's position would be somewhere in
>between the interactive and non-interactive groups - therefore a new medium
>of entertainment, not genre of IF.


Let's say there are no puzzles. Instead, the user is confronted by an event
and gets 5 canned multiple choice responses to the event. He picks one,
he's steering the flow of the story. The point of the exercise is to
explore the many ways a story could unfold, rather than getting stuck with
The One True Story. It is still interactive fiction, as the user is
controlling his interactions and steering the course of events. It is,
however, *puzzle-less* interactive fiction.


Cheers,
Brandon Van Every

Paul A Krueger

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Jun 12, 1998, 3:00:00 AM6/12/98
to

Okay, let's look at your 3 questions.

1. Why do I care about this?
Answer: Why is this an "adventure geek" puzzle? Every artistic endeavor that
was, is and will be must answer this question to the satisfaction of its
patrons.
2. Why is the rain bucket and the bowl and the matchstick poked through the
hole cosmically meaningful?
Answr: it's not. Every game writer must decide what to include. And some
people won't agree with the authors. The only way around this is to not
include any items, objects or characters. But if you do that, there'll be
more people writing games with RAIF-POOL than playing your game.
3. Why should I be running around trying stuff?
Answer: Look at the title of this newsgroup. Recreation Arts INTERACTIVE
Fiction. That means DOING something. Even if you only run around looking at
things (ie. Acts 1-2 of AMFV) you're still running around.

Also, I don't believe you *can* have puzzleless IF. You've mentioned
striving for a game where if you do nothing, something happens and if you do
do something, something else happens. That means that causing x to happen
instead of y is a puzzle, even if only a Choose Your Own Adventure type.

I agree with you that more adventures should have plots. I only disagree
that this can only be done by removing all puzzles.

Brandon Van Every

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Jun 12, 1998, 3:00:00 AM6/12/98
to

Michael Straight wrote in message ...


>
>I can't think of a maze in any adventure game or work of IF that I liked
>as much as the one in Myst.
>
>Sorry you didn't enjoy it.


BARF! BARF! BARF! BARF! BARF!!!!!! It was the most tedious damn maze
puzzle I've ever played in *any* adventure game, bar none. Not in the least
because it ran soooooo slowly on a 100 MHz PowerMac. I don't see the excuse
there, a 100 MHz PowerMac should have been just fine.


Cheers,
Brandon Van Every

Ola Sverre Bauge

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Jun 13, 1998, 3:00:00 AM6/13/98
to

[snipped to the bone]
Julian Fleetwood wrote...

>Okay, the points I am stating are; That by definition Interactive
>Fiction uses a text interface,

That's text adventures you're thinking of. Any meaningful definition of
interactive fiction would have to embrace such things as hyperfiction
etc; if not, you're defining the term interactive fiction exclusively to
cover only text adventures, in which case you might as well say 'text
adventures'.

Ola Sverre Bauge
o...@bu.telia.no
http://w1.2327.telia.com/~u232700165

Brandon Van Every

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Jun 13, 1998, 3:00:00 AM6/13/98
to

Paul A Krueger wrote in message <6lsbgd$dq3s$1@newssvr04-


>
>1. Why do I care about this?
>Answer: Why is this an "adventure geek" puzzle? Every artistic endeavor
that
>was, is and will be must answer this question to the satisfaction of its
>patrons.


Patrons aren't uniform, there are different markets. To date, most of the
computer adventure gaming world has gone after a highly specialized niche of
geek puzzle solvers. The idea of going after a mass audience that has no
interest in solving puzzles has been completely ignored. It's about
expanding the market. It's also not equivalent to "dumbing things down."
When's the last time you saw a movie that was thought-provoking, but didn't
ask you to solve any puzzles?

>2. Why is the rain bucket and the bowl and the matchstick poked through the
>hole cosmically meaningful?
>Answr: it's not. Every game writer must decide what to include. And some
>people won't agree with the authors. The only way around this is to not
>include any items, objects or characters. But if you do that, there'll be
>more people writing games with RAIF-POOL than playing your game.

But the emphasis in a "rain bucket and bowl" system is that the
simulationist consistency of physical rules is the overriding goal and value
of the gaming universe. Else you wouldn't need the simulationist system.
You'd just say "I'm trying to tell a story, is a rain bucket and bowl going
to help me tell a good story?" You'd include it if it does, you'd exclude
it if it doesn't. You wouldn't need or even want all this scaffolding of a
simulationist universe.

>3. Why should I be running around trying stuff?
>Answer: Look at the title of this newsgroup. Recreation Arts INTERACTIVE
>Fiction. That means DOING something. Even if you only run around looking at
>things (ie. Acts 1-2 of AMFV) you're still running around.


The passivity of the mass audience is often neglected. When they play a
traditional puzzle-oriented adventure game, they simply get to a puzzle, get
stuck, they fail to see any purpose in the activity, they put the game down,
and they never buy your products again. But if there are no puzzles and the
action keeps going even in the face of the most obstinant passivity, they'll
make it to the end of the game. Then they can be encouraged to replay it
differently a few times. If you've done your job as a storyteller, they'll
buy the next game you produce.

>Also, I don't believe you *can* have puzzleless IF. You've mentioned
>striving for a game where if you do nothing, something happens and if you
do
>do something, something else happens. That means that causing x to happen
>instead of y is a puzzle, even if only a Choose Your Own Adventure type.


Puzzles imply that there's a right and a wrong way to proceed. Whereas plot
branches only imply that you can experience a different story if you go down
the different branches. You are interacting in order to explore a certain
version of a story.

>I agree with you that more adventures should have plots. I only disagree
>that this can only be done by removing all puzzles.


Sure, you can make a strongly plotted adventure that still has puzzles. I
just think that getting stuck on a puzzle always slows down a game and makes
it unpalatable to a large chunk of the people out there. Compromise designs
are also possible: the game has puzzles, but the puzzles get "resolved
somehow" after a certain time interval elapses.


Cheers,
Brandon Van Every


Ron Hiler

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Jun 13, 1998, 3:00:00 AM6/13/98
to

Hey Brandon,

Just a quick thought.

The closest game I can think of that sort of matches what you are saying
was called Voyuer (or something similar).

It came out two or three years ago. I never played it (not my type of
game), but from what I gathered, the idea was you were a voyuer looking
into another building, presumably from your window. I think the idea
was to solve a murder, or somesuch. Anyway, the action was continually
going on, and when the end came, you just started over, looking in the
windows. You could just watch what was going on, or look for the
windows which would help you solve the murder.

Anyway, there wasn't a whole lot of puzzle solving, from what I
understand, and it was pretty passive.

As I remember it, that was the main complaint (from Computer Gaming
World). There was nothing to do. You just sat back and watched.

I think your idea could probably be done, but you'd be drawing a fine
line between being too passive and getting into the traditional puzzle
solving adventure. And if you are going to be telling a story through
FMV, you better have some decent acting! Not the usual **** that gets
passed off for acting in most FMVs, hehe.

Anyway, good luck with it.

Ron

--
What do you get when you cross Sim-City, Stars!, and Civilization?
"Manifest Destiny" - the race for world domination.
Sneak preview at http://www.geocities.com/TimesSquare/Alley/3043/
Coming soon....

Matt Ackeret

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Jun 13, 1998, 3:00:00 AM6/13/98
to

In article <6li24s$guf$1...@guysmiley.blarg.net>,

Brandon Van Every <vane...@blarg.net> wrote:
>After all, movie scripts were pretty cheesy in the dawn of cinema. You
>might say they're also cheesy now, but there are good independent films out
>there, and even mainstream Hollywood films have some reasonably sound
>principles of moving things along.

Yeah, this is off topic.

I am not trying to state that "all new movies are better than old movies"..

However, the "moving things along" part is something that bores me about lots
of old movies. Lots of old movies (and this even means many of the supposedly
good ones that have survived through the quality-sifter of time) are 90 minutes
or under, but they still have long stretches of _nothing happening_. I mean,
like you see someone drive away for half a minute or so.

No, I don't mean I want explosions happening every ten seconds, or explosions
at all. But just keep the story going, advance the plot, don't have
scenes that aren't relevant to the plot.. no "dead air"..

(There are some old movies that are counterexamples to the above -- like the
Maltese Falcon.. I still don't know if I know what the hell is going on in
that movie.. It's complicated.)
--
mat...@area.com

Link

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Jun 13, 1998, 3:00:00 AM6/13/98
to

Brandon Van Every wrote in message <6lumjh$ms8$1...@guysmiley.blarg.net>...

>
>Paul A Krueger wrote in message <6lsbgd$dq3s$1@newssvr04-
>>
>>1. Why do I care about this?
>>Answer: Why is this an "adventure geek" puzzle? Every artistic endeavor
>that
>>was, is and will be must answer this question to the satisfaction of its
>>patrons.
>
>
>Patrons aren't uniform, there are different markets. To date, most of the
>computer adventure gaming world has gone after a highly specialized niche
of
>geek puzzle solvers. The idea of going after a mass audience that has no
>interest in solving puzzles has been completely ignored. It's about
>expanding the market. It's also not equivalent to "dumbing things down."
>When's the last time you saw a movie that was thought-provoking, but didn't
>ask you to solve any puzzles?

I think you're walking a fine line when you're talking about capturing a
passive audience with a game. Videogames are (even still) a fairly niche
market... some people like 'em, some don't. Maybe it's more comparable to
sports... some like watching hockey, some don't. Fewer still like to
play... but there's a lot of money in the industry.

Appeasing a passive audience with a game may be impossible. I'm not saying
it is for sure.. but I suspect it is. However, it might be possible to draw
a passive audience into *watching* a game being played. For example: Quake
(and its variants) have a limited audience but get very favourable reviews.
Myst, which has a much larger is continually stomped on by the game critics
for being too passive (much as I hate game mag reviewers, I agree with them
on this one).

It'd be interesting to see how well Quake would fare if you could
buy/download a cheap 'viewer' app -- all the rendering capabilities &
dungeons... but contains no playability. Get some nice camera algorithms
and log in to the big matches going on (the viewer could play 'camera
switcher' or something).


Here's another thing to consider... if a game has no puzzles or whatever to
slow the player down.. how much content are you going to need to produce?
Lots! (what's the record for Quake done quicker... 15 minutes or
something?) When a game player plunks down his/her money, they're expecting
at least 40 hours of play... probably more.. and then re-playability. Tough
to do if the game is content-driven, with a 3D rendering engine and
CD-quality sounds, not to mention that each generation of 3D engine brings
yet another magnitude of detail to your scene. So, ok even if you produce 2
or 3 hours of solid content... how is the player going to feel about paying
$50 for 2 hours of fun? That's pricey compared to a video rental (hmm.. you
might get away with it if you plan on recouping costs through cartridge
rentals, but forget about the PC market then).


- Mike


Gerry Quinn

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Jun 14, 1998, 3:00:00 AM6/14/98
to

In article <6lv2s9$r741$1...@iris.area.com>, mat...@area.com (Matt Ackeret) wrote:

>Yeah, this is off topic.
>
>I am not trying to state that "all new movies are better than old movies"..
>
>However, the "moving things along" part is something that bores me about lots
>of old movies. Lots of old movies (and this even means many of the supposedly
>good ones that have survived through the quality-sifter of time) are 90 minutes
>or under, but they still have long stretches of _nothing happening_. I mean,
>like you see someone drive away for half a minute or so.
>

I'm curious - can you give examples? I'm not enough of a film buff to
flame you, but I've never noticed the above (except maybe in
Solaris, which isn't very old...)

- Gerry

===========================================================
http://indigo.ie/~gerryq/Brewster/brewster.htm
Brewster Kaleidoscopic Screensaver for Windows 95
The only saver that simulates a real kaleidoscope
===========================================================

Nikolaus Strater

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Jun 14, 1998, 3:00:00 AM6/14/98
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Brandon van Every wrote:
>Nikolaus Strater wrote in message <357FF7...@strater.force9.co.uk>...

>>
>>One life-provision of
>>potatoes for one good game! How does that sound? (Not that I could
>>survive *just* on potatoes, but...

>Yeah I hope you brought salt and pepper. :-(

I always do! :-)
Anyway I'm quite hopeful, never mind life's little (or not so little)
trip-ups.

>Anyways, I think the pathway you're walking down with physics simulation is
>to please a certain kind of player. You're into people who poke around and
>try stuff, i.e. classical adventure gaming geeks. Any system you devise
>will seem cool to them as long as it's "reasonably complete." They'll like
>it simply because it's techno-cool. (Although some might dislike it because
>it gives the player too much flexibility to solve problems, thereby making
>problem-solving a boring activity.)

>People in the mass market will ask a tougher set of questions. "Why do I


>care about this? Why is the rain bucket and the bowl and the matchstick
>poked through the hole cosmically meaningful? Why should I be running
>around trying stuff? That sounds like work. Why won't this stupid thing

>recombine? I'm stuck again." These kinds of questions don't even make
>sense to the classical adventure gaming geek, they don't understand why
>anyone would dislike puzzles or simulation physics. Or else they have an
>inkling, but don't care, and would prefer to design games that please
>themselves. Nothing wrong with that in and of itself, but it does limit the
>market potential significantly.

Well, I don't think you're even getting remotely close to the point
I'm making. So I'm probably wasting my time here, but just one more
try...

I'm not on about making more tedious adventure-puzzles. I'm on about
merging the intuitive 'action-physics' that is used in 3d-shooters
with the slower commonsense everyday physics, a generic model for
which has not yet been implemented in any game whatsoever. Adventure
games have been trying go in that direction, but are unsuccessful,
because, as you say, you get stuck, but you only get stuck because all
they implement is a hit-and-miss kind of representation.
You may not be getting my point, because you simply can't imagine what
such a system would feel like.

>For the mass market, I think the overriding goal should be to tell a good
>story. Anything that gets in the way of the story should be done away with.

Yeah, but if you *just* tell a story, it's a book, or a film, right?
It's impossible to divulge interaction with the real world from its
physics.

kol

BTW: I just noticed this also goes into rec.arts.int-fiction. I'm not
really into that, but I'm keeping Brandon's original
posting-directions, at least for this one (more) post.


Gunther Schmidl

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Jun 14, 1998, 3:00:00 AM6/14/98
to

>I'm on about
>merging the intuitive 'action-physics' that is used in 3d-shooters
>with the slower commonsense everyday physics, a generic model for
>which has not yet been implemented in any game whatsoever.

Looking Glass' game "System Shock" has an impressive physics model, as have
"Carmageddon" (SCI) and "Unreal" (Epic).

If I'm not completely and utterly misunderstanding you.

--
+------------------------+----------------------------------------------+
| Gunther Schmidl | "I couldn't help it. I can resist everything |
| Ferd.-Markl-Str. 39/16 | except temptation" -- Oscar Wilde |
| A-4040 LINZ +----------------------------------------------+
| Tel: 0732 25 28 57 | http://gschmidl.home.ml.org - new & improved |
+------------------------+---+------------------------------------------+
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+----------------------------+------------------------------------------+

Joe Mason

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Jun 14, 1998, 3:00:00 AM6/14/98
to

Nikolaus Strater wrote:
>
> BTW: I just noticed this also goes into rec.arts.int-fiction. I'm not
> really into that, but I'm keeping Brandon's original
> posting-directions, at least for this one (more) post.

Yeah, keep it in. It's on-topic here, and gives us a good break from
the coding style threads. <shudder>

Joe

Joe Mason

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Jun 14, 1998, 3:00:00 AM6/14/98
to

Gunther Schmidl wrote:
>
> >I'm on about
> >merging the intuitive 'action-physics' that is used in 3d-shooters
> >with the slower commonsense everyday physics, a generic model for
> >which has not yet been implemented in any game whatsoever.
>
> Looking Glass' game "System Shock" has an impressive physics model, as have
> "Carmageddon" (SCI) and "Unreal" (Epic).

I'm playing System Shock now, and I agree with you completely. And I
would definitely like to see more games take this tack. Does anyone
know if System Shock was followed up by anything else based on the same
principles?

I think this type of thing is being approached from the other end, too.
Jedi Knight, while being mostly a straight action game, seemed to be
taking place in a world which had internal consistency, rather than
being there simply because the player is. Quake II tries to do this
too, with transmissions from other marines and the background noise of
aircraft, etc. Now, I haven't seen it, but I've heard that theres
another 3D shooter (name forgotten) which has the same type of "marines
vs. beasties" plotline, but has the marines as fully integrated parts of
the game, performing squad actions, etc. What's more, there are scenes
which are acted out by the various NPC's (marines & monsters) within the
game engine, rather than in cutscenes. I don't know whether these
scenes actually build plot, but I think the technology could be easily
used for that.

Joe

Brandon Van Every

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Jun 14, 1998, 3:00:00 AM6/14/98
to

Link wrote in message <6lv52e$dim$1...@news.interlog.com>...


>
>Appeasing a passive audience with a game may be impossible. I'm not saying
>it is for sure.. but I suspect it is.

Suspicions are the kinds of things that need to be played out by
entrepreneurs, not armchair generals. If something just ain't gonna work,
sure, you don't start a business on that. But if it's in the realm of
suspicion, fortitude might carry it through. And lack of fortitude
certainly won't. It reminds me of when I thought I knew everything there
was to know about playing Axis & Allies. Then I played a different kind of
player and I learned a few things. Most importantly, I learned there are
many ways to skin a cat, and there isn't some magic equation which resolves
all of the possibilities into the "best" way to skin a cat. It's a matter
of reaction and sensitivity, stick-and-move.

> However, it might be possible to draw
>a passive audience into *watching* a game being played. For example:
Quake
>(and its variants) have a limited audience but get very favourable reviews.
>Myst, which has a much larger is continually stomped on by the game critics
>for being too passive (much as I hate game mag reviewers, I agree with them
>on this one).


For the kind of money Myst makes, I'd gladly take such a critical stomping.
;-)

>It'd be interesting to see how well Quake would fare if you could
>buy/download a cheap 'viewer' app -- all the rendering capabilities &
>dungeons... but contains no playability. Get some nice camera algorithms
>and log in to the big matches going on (the viewer could play 'camera
>switcher' or something).


How entertaining is Quake as a spectator sport, compared to boxing or
wrestling? Compared to tennis? Quake players would watch it, but they
already have the viewing software. What's the draw for non-Quake players?
What sorts of action or theatrics would be necessary to make it worth
watching?

>Here's another thing to consider... if a game has no puzzles or whatever to
>slow the player down.. how much content are you going to need to produce?
>Lots! (what's the record for Quake done quicker... 15 minutes or
>something?)

Yeah but that's for redundant Quake shoot-em-up content. Hardly a fair
comparison.

> When a game player plunks down his/her money, they're expecting
>at least 40 hours of play... probably more..

That might be true of the traditional gamer market. What about the
nontraditional mass market? There's no reason to assume they share the same
expectations. Indeed, a certain segment of that market I'm interested in,
is the people who *don't* have 40 goddamn hours to waste on some stupid
game. In particular, not on some stupid game that spends 20 of those hours
making them get stuck on acinine puzzles. That's a lot of valuable
productive time lost in the name of so-called "entertainment."

> and then re-playability. Tough
>to do if the game is content-driven, with a 3D rendering engine and
>CD-quality sounds, not to mention that each generation of 3D engine brings
>yet another magnitude of detail to your scene. So, ok even if you produce
2
>or 3 hours of solid content... how is the player going to feel about paying
>$50 for 2 hours of fun? That's pricey compared to a video rental (hmm..
you
>might get away with it if you plan on recouping costs through cartridge
>rentals, but forget about the PC market then).


Yes there's a dollar vs. content equation at work here. The math is left as
an exercise for the entrepreneur. ;-)


Cheers,
Brandon Van Every

andreww

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Jun 15, 1998, 3:00:00 AM6/15/98
to

Dave Chapeskie <dch...@ddm.on.ca.> wrote in article
<6lqh17$6hj$1...@squigy.ddm.on.ca>...

>
> By the way, I agree with a previous poster who said that this was a
> contrived problem which is extremely unlikely to come up naturally or in
> the manner it did in the movie.

I'd have to add that it is also a fairly well-known puzzle, so the player
may know it and think "Not this hackneyed old puzzle again!".

Andrew.

Chris Isaacson

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Jun 15, 1998, 3:00:00 AM6/15/98
to

Brandon Van Every wrote:

> Link wrote in message <6lv52e$dim$1...@news.interlog.com>...
> >
> >Appeasing a passive audience with a game may be impossible. I'm not saying
> >it is for sure.. but I suspect it is.
>
> Suspicions are the kinds of things that need to be played out by
> entrepreneurs, not armchair generals. If something just ain't gonna work,
> sure, you don't start a business on that. But if it's in the realm of
> suspicion, fortitude might carry it through. And lack of fortitude
> certainly won't. It reminds me of when I thought I knew everything there
> was to know about playing Axis & Allies. Then I played a different kind of
> player and I learned a few things. Most importantly, I learned there are
> many ways to skin a cat, and there isn't some magic equation which resolves
> all of the possibilities into the "best" way to skin a cat. It's a matter
> of reaction and sensitivity, stick-and-move.

AHH the mark of a TRUE gamer..

While technically, almost every game could be broken down into discrete
"strategies", and a Mix.Max alg be used to determine that "magic equation" or
at least a "Golden path". The problem with this approach is twofold:

1. The search space gets SO large that even with "minimal" branching, it is
almost always impractical.
2. Deviating from this "Golden path" doesn't mean failure unless your
opponent can determine the exact way around this.

Add an element of pure randomness, and even the Min-Max approach stops
working as well.. Even Chaos theory can play a role as deviation from the
"Golden Path" can be unpredictable. These are the elements that make games
worth playing outside their mathematical scope. True gamers really understand
this concept and are willing to take the time to develop new strategies that are
outside the "norm".

I think the question here is how to make a game that takes full advantage of
human's (or even supercomputers) not being able to "mathematically solve" the
particular game.

Actually I beleive time value is important to every player. I've seen
Doom/Quake players that havn't spent any real time sovling the solo version,
but play for hours multi.. Asteriod or Pac-Man are also good examples.. These
games may not have "40 hour" puzzles, but everyone expects the game to last...
The question becomes: "When and were do you "lose" your audience"..

> > and then re-playability. Tough
> >to do if the game is content-driven, with a 3D rendering engine and
> >CD-quality sounds, not to mention that each generation of 3D engine brings
> >yet another magnitude of detail to your scene. So, ok even if you produce
> 2
> >or 3 hours of solid content... how is the player going to feel about paying
> >$50 for 2 hours of fun? That's pricey compared to a video rental (hmm..
> you
> >might get away with it if you plan on recouping costs through cartridge
> >rentals, but forget about the PC market then).
>
> Yes there's a dollar vs. content equation at work here. The math is left as
> an exercise for the entrepreneur. ;-)
>
> Cheers,
> Brandon Van Every

From what I've seen, people don't like adventure games that require
"Shotgun" approaches to solving puzzles by making the user try every
combination. This is an example of not using the "Game space" properly. As
stated above, in essence every game boils down to a search of this, and its how
the author conducts this search that makes the game interesting. The difference
of when this is acceptable or not lies in how the person relates to this
search. People enjoy the puzzle aspect if the puzzle somehow relates to them.
Also people want to be able to use past knowledge in order to reduce the search
to a manageable level. When a game "loses" a player, he no longer is having fun
as it becomes a search w/o "meaning". Also, every player wants a certain level
of passivity in a game. Those who are entertained by movies like the "author"
to take full control of the search and they just sit back and watch it unfold.
Others want a more hands on approach.

Those who can merge clever mechanics while still maintaining a connection to
his/her audience tend to succeed

Chris Isaacson


Mary K. Kuhner

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Jun 15, 1998, 3:00:00 AM6/15/98
to

Link wrote in message <6lv52e$dim$1...@news.interlog.com>...

>It'd be interesting to see how well Quake would fare if you could


>buy/download a cheap 'viewer' app -- all the rendering capabilities &
>dungeons... but contains no playability. Get some nice camera algorithms
>and log in to the big matches going on (the viewer could play 'camera
>switcher' or something).

I don't know about Quake, but Doom has a reputation as a very
*bad* spectator sport: it tends to cause motion sickness if
you are watching rather than controlling it. I suspect all of
the members of the family share this problem, so the market for
a passive viewer app might be rather limited.

There's also the problem that if I want to watch games being played,
I can do what I did tonight--go down to Wizards of the Coast and
hang out in the vid-game room. This is free.

My husband and I are both computer game players and have only one
computer, so we do a fair amount of spectating. I think the things
that make a game worth watching are novelty value (new things
happening, not just the same monsters over and over), crisis
situations (oh no! How are you getting out of this one?), and
some degree of strategy (so that the non-player can kibbitz).
We did XCOM as a team, with one of us doing the combat scenes and
the other all the development work in between: that was quite
fun.

Incidentally, as spectator sports "Babel" and "Bear's Night
Out" and "Sunset Over Savannah" were my household's picks. All
three got my husband to watch for a substantial hunk of the game.
("Spider and Web" would have been a winner except I selfishly
played it on a Friday night when he wasn't home.) Oddly, so far
of the Infocom games "Nord and Bert" takes the prize....

Mary Kuhner mkku...@genetics.washington.edu

athol-brose

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Jun 15, 1998, 3:00:00 AM6/15/98
to

In article <6m2dbc$57j$1...@nntp5.u.washington.edu>, Mary K. Kuhner wrote:
>Incidentally, as spectator sports "Babel" and "Bear's Night
>Out" and "Sunset Over Savannah" were my household's picks. All
>three got my husband to watch for a substantial hunk of the game.
>("Spider and Web" would have been a winner except I selfishly
>played it on a Friday night when he wasn't home.) Oddly, so far
>of the Infocom games "Nord and Bert" takes the prize....

I would suspect that Nord and Bert makes a good spectator sport
because of it's nature: fun, silly word games lend themselves to both
watching for the jokes and group play ("Hey, have you tried...?")

Lelah Conrad

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Jun 15, 1998, 3:00:00 AM6/15/98
to

On 15 Jun 1998 06:01:16 GMT,


>Incidentally, as spectator sports "Babel" and "Bear's Night
>Out" and "Sunset Over Savannah" were my household's picks. All
>three got my husband to watch for a substantial hunk of the game.

I had great luck sucking spouse in for "Infidel" and daughter in for
"Plundered Hearts". I wonder if, because these are genre fiction and
the pictures are already somewhat in the heads of the players, it is
less necessary for the spectator to be reading along? They can
already imagine the tombs and sailing ships, and can just yell out
"Try this!" in the background.

Conversely, it might be difficult to play something that creates a
completely new world from scratch as a team, since both would have to
play closer attention to text?

Lelah

Michael Duffy

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Jun 15, 1998, 3:00:00 AM6/15/98
to


Brandon Van Every wrote:

> Interesting puzzle, fill 5 gallon jug, then pour 3 gallons into 3 gallon
> jug, leaving only 2 in the 5 gallon jug. But even in the movie Die Hard III
> it was hopelessly contrived. Is this the be-all end-all of physics
> simulation systems? I think you can come up with a better problem, I'm not
> convinced Die Hard III is some kind of "best" example.

The best physics system solution I've seen was in one of the eariler Ultimas.
There was a switch on the other side of a moat that lowered the drawbridge.
Now, you couldn't cross the moat, and you had to find some way to actiavate the
switch. The designers intended you to get the telekinesis spell and activate
the switch from afar. However someone on the internet figured out that you
could kill a party member, throw the dead body to the other side of the moat,
resurrect the dead party member, and have that person now on the other side of
the moat throw the switch.

The trick here is that a simulated world was set up which worked within it's own
set of physical laws. An adventure game is usually set up as an
avatar-with-inventory world where inventory objects can only be applied on
certain "locks" throughout the game. If the world were set up where tables,
chairs, boxes, apples, burning sticks, etc were all actual game objects with
height, weight, destructable / indestructible / burnable / inflammable flags,
and other game world properties, then they can be manipulated in conjunction
with one another to get around obstacles in ways the authors did not originally
intend.

Later,
Michael Duffy
mdu...@ionet.net

Joe Mason

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Jun 15, 1998, 3:00:00 AM6/15/98
to

Brandon Van Every wrote:
>
> How entertaining is Quake as a spectator sport, compared to boxing or
> wrestling? Compared to tennis? Quake players would watch it, but they
> already have the viewing software. What's the draw for non-Quake players?
> What sorts of action or theatrics would be necessary to make it worth
> watching?

One of the guys on my floor came in 3rd or something like that in the
North American championship. He was knocked out just before getting to
a prize spot by the guy who ended up winning Carmack's Porsche.

Anyway, we all watched the movie of the game, and it was quite
entertaining. Of course, we knew one of the guys so we knew who to root
for, but I can see Quake as a spectator sport.

Joe


>
> >Here's another thing to consider... if a game has no puzzles or whatever to
> >slow the player down.. how much content are you going to need to produce?
> >Lots! (what's the record for Quake done quicker... 15 minutes or
> >something?)
>
> Yeah but that's for redundant Quake shoot-em-up content. Hardly a fair
> comparison.
>
> > When a game player plunks down his/her money, they're expecting
> >at least 40 hours of play... probably more..
>
> That might be true of the traditional gamer market. What about the
> nontraditional mass market? There's no reason to assume they share the same
> expectations. Indeed, a certain segment of that market I'm interested in,
> is the people who *don't* have 40 goddamn hours to waste on some stupid
> game. In particular, not on some stupid game that spends 20 of those hours
> making them get stuck on acinine puzzles. That's a lot of valuable
> productive time lost in the name of so-called "entertainment."
>

Nikolaus Strater

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Jun 15, 1998, 3:00:00 AM6/15/98
to

Gunther Schmidl wrote:
>Looking Glass' game "System Shock" has an impressive physics model, as have
>"Carmageddon" (SCI) and "Unreal" (Epic).

>If I'm not completely and utterly misunderstanding you.

No you're not, it seems :-)

I've only tried Carmageddon of the three, as yet, and I agree, it
*does* have one of the best physics models I've seen so far. The only
thing is that the 'physics' there, as in aircombat-sims, say, mostly
revolves around collisions and body movement (although not having
tried the other two, I can't say anything about them). But there is a
link there between this more quantitive kind of physics and the more
qualitative everyday kind of physics, as exemplified by my 'match' and
'bowl' examples.

It's easier to design a more or less complete physics system for
quantitative modelling, since the mathematical equations suggest it.
But for qualitative modelling there isn't yet a general system (the
'Naive Physics' part of physics tries to go there, but their symbolic
systems aren't always easy to understand), certainly none so far (to
my knowledge) that's designed for adventures.

kol


Nikolaus Strater

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Jun 15, 1998, 3:00:00 AM6/15/98
to

Joe Mason wrote:
>I think this type of thing is being approached from the other end, too.
>Jedi Knight, while being mostly a straight action game, seemed to be
>taking place in a world which had internal consistency, rather than
>being there simply because the player is.

Yes that's it. I tried Jedi Knight as well, and I guess that more
complete 'physics-feel' comes from the fact that you have the extra
types of force-weapons which you can play around with.

They also try to do this sort of thing in computer-RPGs of course, but
there the problem is that it's not a continuous activity, it's on/off
kind of. (I mean you can get used to it, if you're an computer-RPG
freak, but with RPGs I personally prefer the real, human-to-human
ones.) The various abilities there are also more like gimmicks, that
is there is no physical relation between the various powers/spells.
Eg. you can use your lightning-spell to kill monsters, but you can't
even light a fire with it, if you wanted to.

kol

Nikolaus Strater

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Jun 15, 1998, 3:00:00 AM6/15/98
to

Joe Mason wrote:
>Yeah, keep it in. It's on-topic here, and gives us a good break from
>the coding style threads. <shudder>

Ok, will do :-)


Michael Duffy

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Jun 15, 1998, 3:00:00 AM6/15/98
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Brandon Van Every wrote:

> This model of adventure gaming is completely broken from the standpoint of
> professionals with little free time on their hands. When I was a kid this
> was great stuff, but now I don't have time for an intellectual head-bang. I
> get plenty of that from my job. Can we develop some model of adventure
> gaming other than puzzle solving? Maybe exploration? Touchy-feely
> experiences? Software toys? Drama? Anyone got any brilliant ideas? (Gee
> and I said it was going to be profound....)

Wow! Another cool thread in rec.games.programmer! Could this be the start of a
trend?

Sorry to come into this discussion late, but I've been in Japan and away from a
computer for the past week.

Brandon brings up several points which are of keen interest to me both as a game
designer and as a game player. I used to think that I like adventure games
because I love a good story, but too many brain bashing puzzles have seriously
turned me off on the genre. Anyways, several points I'd like to address.

* Limited playing time. As a full time professional, I don't have nearly the
time to invest in games as I did when I was in junior high school. Back then an
80-100 hour game would be a welcome challenge. Now, a 20 hour game is a major
drag on my free time. I want to play games, but I also want to do other things
in my limited free time. Possible solutions to this include:

1) shorter games. This is happening naturally as games take more resources to
produce. However short games get flamed on the internet for being a lot of
money for a little entertainment.

2) time consuming side quests. This is where the main plot doesn't take too
long to solve which is good for professionals without much free time. However
if there are a lot of side quests to pursue that don't deal directly with the
main plot, then people with a lot of time on their hands can work to solve all
the side quests. The problem here is that you can expend a lot of development
effort on things that are not seen by a lot of players.

3) Multiple short quests. This is where a product has multiple stories, each of
which is only about 10-15 hours of game play. This way you can play a complete
adventure in a limited amount of time, but the people with lots of time on their
hands can play multiple adventures. This is the approach we were originally
planning on taking with our product and I still think it is a sound idea,
however we discovered that multiple stories requires new sets of characters,
graphics, locations, etc and this eats up a lot of development resources (more
than we currently have).


* Puzzle based games. Most games categorized as adventure games are puzzle
based games. However puzzle based games have the nasty feature of having the
player get stuck, and often either have to cheat or abandon the game
altogether. I remember statistics from quite a while ago that suggested that
only about 20% of the people who bought adventure games actually finished them.
I know I have a few adventure games sitting on my shelves because they just
became too tedious to finish (Gabriel Knight II, for example) Brandon suggests
that it may be possible to create puzzle-less adventure games, and others in
this thread suggest that when you take out the puzzles, you are left with a
movie.

I've actually been working on some theory behind RPGs that applies to adventure
games as well. I like story based games. I dislike lock-and-key puzzle games
(give the stick to the dog so he'll leave the bee hive alone).

The thing to remember is that you don't need puzzles to have an adventure game.
You need obstacles. A puzzle is just one type of obstacle; there are many
others. For example, the Japanese have a type of adventure game genre known as
the relationship sim. This includes games like Princess Maker, Graduation,
Tokimeki Memorial, and many, many others. In these games you interact with the
game characters through conversation and other means in order to attain an end.
Sometimes this means trying to get a date with the girl of yoru choice (Tokimeki
Memorial), or sometimes it means trying to change that character's future
(Princess Maker, Graduation). The obstacles in these games include multiple
choice puzzles (branching trees), timing (certain events happen at certain
times, and some events happen simultaneously in different locations),
exploration (who is where at what time), and management (where are time, money,
and other resources invested?) Some obstacles require multiple replays in order
to solve in the desired manner. That is an obstacle in and of itself; discover
the correct actions through replay and then perform them once in the correct
order to obtain the desired result.

Obstacles are used to regulate game play so you don't zip through the game.
They don't need to be difficult, they only need to occupy time. For example,
battles are one type of obstacle that aren't necessarily difficult, but to
require time to complete. You extend game play by adding more battles.
Unfortunately the Final Fantasy games take this to an extreme where a large part
of your gameplay time is taken up by pointless random battles.

The way to avoid the "getting stuck" syndrome is the elimination of dead ends.
Lock and Key obstacles are notorious for offering "stuck" situations. You must
find the correct key to pass the lock. This key can be a piece of information
gained through conversation, an object you must find in the world, an object
that must be obtained from another character perhaps through overcoming yet
another obstacle, etc. Other obstacles don't have bad stuck situations because
they don't have dead ends. The logic puzzles in Myst were usually good because
you had *some* outcome for each of your actions. You were just challenged with
the task of creating the outcome you desired to pass the obstacle. Pressing
button one does A, button two does B, button three does C, buttons one and two
together do D, and you have to figure out how to get this contraption to do H.
The solution is there, you just haven't figured out how to find it yet. Maybe
if you leave for a while and rest your brain you'll be able to figure it out.
The important thing is that you know it can be solved, and you aren't completely
stuck. Compare this to not knowing where a key could possibly be, which means
you are really stuck.

You can also eliminate dead ends through multiple solutions. You can pass an
obstacle by doing A, B, or C. If you pass it with A you will get a bigger
reward than if you pass it with C. A is hard, B is average, and C is easy.
Sure you could pass it with C, but you know you'll enjoy the game more if you
pass it with A. This lets the player decide how much time to spend on a puzzle
before going "awww... screw it! I'm moving on."

I have tons more thoughts on this topic, but I'm running late for dinner at a
friend's house. Barbeque night. Yum yum! Gotta go.


Later,
Michael Duffy
mdu...@ionet.net


Joe Mason

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Jun 15, 1998, 3:00:00 AM6/15/98
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Nikolaus Strater wrote:
>
> Yes that's it. I tried Jedi Knight as well, and I guess that more
> complete 'physics-feel' comes from the fact that you have the extra
> types of force-weapons which you can play around with.
>
> They also try to do this sort of thing in computer-RPGs of course, but
> there the problem is that it's not a continuous activity, it's on/off
> kind of. (I mean you can get used to it, if you're an computer-RPG
> freak, but with RPGs I personally prefer the real, human-to-human
> ones.) The various abilities there are also more like gimmicks, that
> is there is no physical relation between the various powers/spells.
> Eg. you can use your lightning-spell to kill monsters, but you can't
> even light a fire with it, if you wanted to.

Yes, I see what you mean. Hmm... I'm trying to think of a
counter-example, but none come to mind in the pure RPG field. In
Adventure games, of course, there's the Enchanter spell system (most
recently seen in Zork: The Grand Inquisitor, if I interpret what I've
heard about it correctly). In the places where I've seen it implemented
it always seemed fairly complete, with many places to use each spell.
Of course, that comes more from the structure of the game - the
traditional adventure game style - than from the spell system.

And we've come full circle away from talking about a simulationist
approach, so, to get back to it...

Can anyone name a game where the spell system applied the game's physics
logically to all spells (or vice versa, you might say)?

Joe

Michael Duffy

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Jun 15, 1998, 3:00:00 AM6/15/98
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Brent Burkholder wrote:

> Michael Duffy wrote in message <3585AE67...@ionet.net>...


>
> >* Limited playing time. As a full time professional, I don't have
> nearly the
> >time to invest in games as I did when I was in junior high school.
>

> No one forces you to play continuously until completed. Longer games
> don't have to be to the exclusion of the rest of your life.

True, but consider playing an 80+ hour game (say, Might and Magic IV or
Daggerfall) where you only have time to play maybe 5 hours a week. You
are looking at 16 weeks to complete the game, which works out to 4 months
of play if you actually find the 5 hours every week (which in my case
isn't likely). This is fine for a game which is light on story, but for a
heavy story game, you won't remember the beginning of the story when you
finally reach the end. Try picking up a game after three or four weeks of
not playing it and try to remember all the clues to the puzzles and what
the heck you were doing when you last played. I'd prefer 10 hour games
which I could finish in two weeks and clearly remember the entire thing.
This is also a short enough time where if you only got to play once a
month and wanted to blow an entire Saturday on a game, you could finish it
in one sitting. I could definately work that into my lifestyle.

> >3) Multiple short quests. This is where a product has multiple
> stories, each of

> >which is only about 10-15 hours of game play.

> Not neccessarily multiple stories, but multiple acts. Gabriel Knight:
> Sins of the Fathers did this perfectly. The successful completion of
> each Act was like finishing a game, and then you were ready to tackle
> the next. There was the same content as if they'd run it all
> together, but by giving out rewards the whole way through you felt
> good about making progress (and in your case, you wouldn't feel bad
> about not playing for a few days so that you could take that camping
> trip :)


You still have the problem of forgetting the story if there are long times
between your gaming sessions. Also, if you are really busy, you might not
get to all of the acts. If you have multiple short quests / short
stories, then you can even play just a few of them and although you never
find time to play them all, you still have a complete (or several
complete) story experiences. This is what I liked about the game
Sorcerian (Falcom game published by Sierra back in about 1989). Although
it was more an action game than RPG, I could play a complete adventure in
a sitting or two and be done with it. I have the reward of finishing an
adventure, and it doesn't eat up all my time. Then when I have time, I
can play another adventure or two and get a complete experience.


Later,
Michael Duffy
mdu...@ionet.net


Sean T Barrett

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Jun 17, 1998, 3:00:00 AM6/17/98
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Joe Mason <jcm...@uwaterloo.ca> wrote:
>Can anyone name a game where the spell system applied the game's physics
>logically to all spells (or vice versa, you might say)?

Probably not what you're looking for, really, but
"Four Crystals of Traziere" (differently named in
Europe, I think) [for the Amiga, dunno about other
machines] had a very systematic spell construction
system. The scope of spells was relatively narrow,
as you might expect given the task of making
everything cooperate appropriately.

Sean

Brian J. Hollister

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Jun 17, 1998, 3:00:00 AM6/17/98
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Nikolaus Strater wrote in message <358ca6c0...@news.dial.pipex.com>...