Design question: how would you give the illusion of a journey?

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Gadget

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Dec 13, 2000, 5:34:14 PM12/13/00
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This is something I've been asking myself ever since I started to
write games in Basic back in the eighties: How would you give the
player the feeling he is on a long journey, rather then in a limited
'arena' that most games have?

If you remember Melbourne House's take on the Hobbit, you also know
that game tried to tell the story of Bilbo's journey to the Dragon's
lair in only two dozen locations. This did not work for me.

On the other hand, giving the player an enourmous middle game that
resembles traveling through an avarage size MUD wouldn't be very
entertaining either...

How do you convey a sense of distance and more importantly, scale,
without boring the player to death?

Maybe this isn't such a grand topic as the comp but I was just
wondering how people handle this (if they do at all)... ;-)

--
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It's a plane
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Tina

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Dec 13, 2000, 6:21:49 PM12/13/00
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In article <3a38f7c9...@news.demon.nl>,

Gadget <gad...@SPAMBLOCKhaha.demon.nl> wrote:
>How do you convey a sense of distance and more importantly, scale,
>without boring the player to death?

A combination of cut-scenes and stop-points that have things within them
to accomplish might work.

For instance, you begin with the things leading up to the journey. After
you set out on a specific path, perhaps you have a cutscene that
describes that day's progress. You transport the player to a new area,
the place they'll be stopping for the night, in which perhaps there is
an interesting character or two to speak with, or an item to acquire, or
possibly an old book that contains hints about the player's ultimate
quest. Implement 'sleep' as another cutscene that takes you into the
next day's journey, and repeat.

To give a little flexibility to this system (i.e., so that not -all- the
days pass in "you wander through woods and dales" or whatever is
appropriate to the genre you're in), you can also put mid-day stops in.
Perhaps these could offer various paths to take to alter the ultimate
conclusion of the game, or perhaps they can be side-trips that simply
add color, or maybe they can be obstacles in themselves (crossing a
raging river, or getting past a guarded area, or other similar things).

And now that I've typed this, you must excuse me; I have suddenly gotten
a great idea for a game...

Joe Mason

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Dec 14, 2000, 12:08:43 AM12/14/00
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In article <3a38f7c9...@news.demon.nl>, Gadget wrote:
>This is something I've been asking myself ever since I started to
>write games in Basic back in the eighties: How would you give the
>player the feeling he is on a long journey, rather then in a limited
>'arena' that most games have?
>
>If you remember Melbourne House's take on the Hobbit, you also know
>that game tried to tell the story of Bilbo's journey to the Dragon's
>lair in only two dozen locations. This did not work for me.

For this purpose the standard IF room model wouldn't work too well. I would
try removing the room location banners and simply describe events that happen
in a paragraph without a location header. That way they would seem less tied
to a specific location and more part of an ongoing trip.

Joe

Magnus Olsson

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Dec 14, 2000, 5:24:32 AM12/14/00
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In article <slrn93glop...@xenocide.slack>,

Joe Mason <jcm...@uwaterloo.ca> wrote:
>In article <3a38f7c9...@news.demon.nl>, Gadget wrote:
>>This is something I've been asking myself ever since I started to
>>write games in Basic back in the eighties: How would you give the
>>player the feeling he is on a long journey, rather then in a limited
>>'arena' that most games have?
>>
>>If you remember Melbourne House's take on the Hobbit, you also know
>>that game tried to tell the story of Bilbo's journey to the Dragon's
>>lair in only two dozen locations. This did not work for me.

I think Infocom's "Journey" succeeded rather well in giving the
feeling of a long journey. It's a long time since I played it, but
IIRC the game's world geography was not the traditional
move-between-connected-rooms - you had less freedom in moving around,
plot decisions would take you to entirely new sub-maps with no
possibility of getting back and so on. The advantage of this was that
I got the feeling of moving on a really vast map, without the tedium
of actually having to go from location to location. The disadvantage
was the same as in a CYOA - sometimes the game wouldn't let me go back
because it thought I was finished with a section, and so on.

>For this purpose the standard IF room model wouldn't work too well. I would
>try removing the room location banners and simply describe events that happen
>in a paragraph without a location header. That way they would seem less tied
>to a specific location and more part of an ongoing trip.

Are you suggesting just getting rid of the "location banners", or
getting rid of locations in the usual sense altogether?


--
Magnus Olsson (m...@df.lth.se, m...@pobox.com)
------ http://www.pobox.com/~mol ------

JSwing

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Dec 14, 2000, 5:12:51 AM12/14/00
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In article <slrn93glop...@xenocide.slack>, jcm...@uwaterloo.ca (Joe Mason) wrote:
>In article <3a38f7c9...@news.demon.nl>, Gadget wrote:
>>This is something I've been asking myself ever since I started to
>>write games in Basic back in the eighties: How would you give the
>>player the feeling he is on a long journey, rather then in a limited
>>'arena' that most games have?
>>
>>If you remember Melbourne House's take on the Hobbit, you also know
>>that game tried to tell the story of Bilbo's journey to the Dragon's
>>lair in only two dozen locations. This did not work for me.
>

Create a vehicle to go from A to B and pack it full of crying children.
Always makes my travel seem like an eternity.

:)

JSwing

Joe Mason

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Dec 14, 2000, 4:48:28 PM12/14/00
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Hmm. That reminds me of Spiritwrak's subway. Beyond Zork, IMHO, didn't feel
like a large area - Spiritwrak had a similar layout (in scope) but as each
section was separated by a vehicle it felt more like a you were exploring
smaller areas of a larger world.

Joe

John Elliott

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Dec 14, 2000, 6:19:25 PM12/14/00
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gad...@SPAMBLOCKhaha.demon.nl (Gadget) wrote:
>If you remember Melbourne House's take on the Hobbit, you also know
>that game tried to tell the story of Bilbo's journey to the Dragon's
>lair in only two dozen locations. This did not work for me.

I think the world would be a better place if more games had rooms that
were permanently 'too full to enter' :-)

--
John Elliott

Tina

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Dec 15, 2000, 9:41:42 AM12/15/00
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In article <976836093.19359.0...@news.demon.co.uk>,

John Elliott <j...@seasip.demon.co.uk> wrote:
> I think the world would be a better place if more games had rooms that
>were permanently 'too full to enter' :-)

> ENTER INTERNET

You attempt to enter the Internet, but discover it is entirely
jam-packed. Possibly by changing the laws of physics or deleting some
users some space might be provided for your entry.

> DELETE USER

Which user do you wish to delete (45 million to choose from, too many to
list).

> DELETE BILL GATES

Bill Gates has nothing to do with the Internet.

> DELETE RANDOM WEBTV USER

Your attempt at breaking and entering is met with lethal force.

*** You have lost. ****

Richard Bos

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Dec 15, 2000, 10:21:59 AM12/15/00
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ti...@eniac.stanford.edu (Tina) wrote:

> > DELETE BILL GATES
>
> Bill Gates has nothing to do with the Internet.

Oh, if only! Unfortunately, hooligans _do_ have something to do with
football, even if the rest of us wish they hadn't.

Richard

John Bytheway

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Dec 16, 2000, 12:59:35 PM12/16/00
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> Hmm. That reminds me of Spiritwrak's subway. Beyond Zork, IMHO, didn't
feel
> like a large area - Spiritwrak had a similar layout (in scope) but as each
> section was separated by a vehicle it felt more like a you were exploring
> smaller areas of a larger world.

And _that_ reminds _me_ of Riven, with vehicles to join the islands (and
offer convinient CD-change points. I was going to post a 'Is Riven IF?
It's certainly fictional and interactive, and it has the same feel as many
text adventure IFs...' message - but then someone else pipped me to the post
(i.e. I procrastinated too long) with the old 'Is it IF if it's graphical
post just a little while ago.

John


GoddoG

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Dec 16, 2000, 1:18:57 PM12/16/00
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I think he's refering to Gates having come in to the party
late, and then doing a prescient impression of Al Gore and acting like
he created it.

GoddoG

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Dec 16, 2000, 1:18:58 PM12/16/00
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On Thu, 14 Dec 2000 05:08:43 GMT, jcm...@uwaterloo.ca (Joe Mason)
wrote:

You could use a string (branching or linear) of rooms all with
the same location name (ie: The Road To Zanzibar, Route 66, etc.,.)
with potential stop locations strung along the route(s). Depending on
the method of travel, you might want to make the access one way only.
Set a First Time description for each room that gives a paragraph on
the journey leading to that point. You can set a last room flag to
vary that description if they can travel both ways along the route.
If you have a clock in the game, set a travel time between
locations and advance it appropriately when they enter. That'll force
food & rest breaks if you're tracking those things.
If you're talking a really long epic journey on foot or
horseback or something - describe seasonal changes, too. That'll help
make it feel vaster.
If you want to add in some random attacks along the journey,
you could create some generic midpoint rooms of the road or path
itself that the player is sent to on a random check on each
appropriate stage of the journey.

That's what pops immediately to mind. Hope it triggers some
decent ideas. ;)

Andrew MacKinnon

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Dec 16, 2000, 2:04:33 PM12/16/00
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GoddoG wrote:

> jcm...@uwaterloo.ca (Joe Mason) wrote:
> >For this purpose the standard IF room model wouldn't work too well. I would
> >try removing the room location banners and simply describe events that happen
> >in a paragraph without a location header. That way they would seem less tied
> >to a specific location and more part of an ongoing trip.
>
> You could use a string (branching or linear) of rooms all with
> the same location name (ie: The Road To Zanzibar, Route 66, etc.,.)
> with potential stop locations strung along the route(s). Depending on
> the method of travel, you might want to make the access one way only.
> Set a First Time description for each room that gives a paragraph on
> the journey leading to that point. You can set a last room flag to
> vary that description if they can travel both ways along the route.
>
> If you have a clock in the game, set a travel time between
> locations and advance it appropriately when they enter. That'll force
> food & rest breaks if you're tracking those things.

To me, travel reminds me of riding in a car/plane/train. You could set
all the puzzles etc inside the car and at certain stops (e.g. hotel,
fast food restaurant, etc).

--
Andrew MacKinnon
andrew_mac...@yahoo.com
http://www.geocities.com/andrew_mackinnon_2000/

Paul E. Bell

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Dec 17, 2000, 5:40:05 PM12/17/00
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Andrew MacKinnon wrote:

That's OK for a game which has such vehicles, however, not all I-F is
"modern", or "technological".
I recently read the first two books in the Lon-Tobyn Chronicles, by
David B. Coe (the third book is currently out in hardcover, but, I'm
waiting for the paperback). I liked the treatment for the epic journey
from Tobyn Sir to Lon Sir. There were a few stops mentioned along the
way, where important things happened, like the tension between two
people making the journey came to a head, and a fight ensued, or, they
came to a woods, or mountains, or the swamp, or the first of the huge
cities of Lon Sir. Seasons changed, weather changed (it started
raining, and rained for several months of the journey).

When they got to the big cities, then, there were descriptions of travel
within the city, from location to location, by noting several places
they went by on the way, but not stopping till they got some place where
they were actually going to do something. Travel by vehicle, once they
got into one, was rapid, and explained mainly the vast vistas they could
see from the overhead highways, but, actual stops were few and far between.

I believe that kind of treatment is good for epic I-F, and, if there is
a journey you make both ways, then, perhaps two sets of descriptions, or
even two sets of rooms, with descriptions, and one-way travel, would be
most appropriate, including time/season/weather changes. In this way,
thousands of miles could be crossed in a few locations, with the player
not needing to worry about stops for food and water, unless it were
important to the story that they needed to procure some more, or that
some interaction between the PC and an NPC were necessary to the story
at that point.

In this manner, vast distances could be covered, even on foot or animal,
without the tedium of stopping every night for a thousand nights and
going through the same ritual.

Pick highlights of the journey to be stopping points, let the game take
care of the adjustments in supplies appropriately. Just make sure you
take enough supplies to get from one stop to another.

Even in space, if it takes 3 months to get somewhere, you wouldn't want
to bore the player with daily routine, nor would you want them fighting
off pirates or military at every turn.

Something more like "After 5 days of intense fighting, you break through
the line and head for ...", with this being the next location, after the
player fought his way through one battle, perhaps. (This assumes there
are battles in your game, it may have been a matter of disabling the
mines in a mine field, once the player has disabled one, the story can
go on to tell him that he disables the rest, and moves on.)

I strongly suggest that anyone here looking to write a game, read some
good Sci-Fi/Fantasy books. I highly recommend the Lon-Tobyn Chronicles
(Children of Amarid, The Outlanders, and Eagle Sage) by David B. Coe,
and The Icarus Hunt, by Timothy Zahn, as well as Tolkein and others
already mentioned over and over again here.

Helios/PKodon
--
Paul E. Bell | Email and AIM: wd0...@millcomm.com | ifMUD: Helios
IRC: PKodon, DrWho4, and Helios | webpage: members.nbci.com/wd0gcp/
Member: W.A.R.N., Skywarn, ARES, Phoenix Developer Consortium, ...
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