tile-based IF?

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jack

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Nov 16, 1997, 3:00:00 AM11/16/97
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I've been thinking about this a lot lately, so let me just bounce it off
you:

Do you think that a tile-based graphical game could qualify as IF, if
the story and characters were the absolute focus (and were strong
enough)? I mean, not just an engine tacked on to a text-adventure...
something along the lines of Ultima 6+7 (if you have only seen Ultimas
after that or the 3d ones that's not what I'm talking about! )
*But* with a lot more story/exploration/puzzle and a lot less of the
mechanical aspects of role playing. Much more like a text adventure, but
with the graphical/physical elements that come along with a tile-based
game. If you have played Ultima 7 or U7 part 2, you know what I mean...
that game was close to IF at times.

I'm thinking not so much a *hybrid* but a blend, where it's combined
and then smoothed, made even simpler, to allow the story to come right
through.

Some specifics: I would do it full-screen, or "letterboxed" with most
of the screen being the map and a small bar at the bottom for the text
window. I'd want simplicity. There would still be a lot of text in the
game, tho... but that ties in more with the particular plot I'm thinking
of than with the engine. I'd do it in color, but not go overboard. No
3d. Again, along u7 lines... but I'd want everything (including the
interface) to be streamlined (even more than u7 was.) For instance, in
U7 you have to feed your party of characters often or they starve. I
don't want that; nor would I really want a party (tho having a companion
would be cool. )

I really love IF, it's where I started... it holds the most interest
for me when I play computer games now (tho I like other types too.) I
have wanted for awhile to make a tile-based game, and I've come up with
a story that I would like to do but it could be done as text or as a
tile-game with text. Personally I would prefer the tile/text game, or
Tile/IF or whatever. At the moment, I'm writing background stuff for the
story itself (mythological material that would appear in the game) but
leaving things open until I decide how I'm going to do it. I have also
written some code for the tile engine.

Would you consider playing something like this? I'm thinking along
somewhat minimalistic lines (only compared to today's games :-)) where
it's just the map screen, a text area, and the inventory. Not armor,
swords, or shields.... the character is a bit more realized and
specific. Yet you define him/her with your actions. No "hit points" or
strength, intelligence, charisma, dexterity, none of that. That's great
and very cool in RPG's but I want to do something different. No rooms of
instant-death.

The game would probably be spread out over a somewhat larger area,
since tile-games are so much more "zoomed-out" than text IF.... text
lends itself to smaller locations like houses. In Ultima 7 Part II,
"Serpent Isle", the gameworld is HUGE and there's a million things to do
and a huge mythological, ritualistic culture to explore and discover,
and a big epic plot going on, etc. This is one of my favorite games ever
(in fact I am playing thru it a second time soon as I finish part I :-))
and it's great, but this approach can lack intimacy because of its sheer
size. Actually, any method, any media is a kind of limitation because
some things just don't work in some media. I want to do something
different. I'd want a smaller game, perhaps set on a small island, but
with several major locations and lots of things to do. I'd limit it
somewhat (whereas in U7 + u7p2 each is an entire world with islands,
continents, oceans, etc.)

My motivation... I love tilegames just as much as I love IF, and I want
to really combine the spirit of both into something new. I have played
lots of RPG's and while some have great stories, and that's fine, none
really go towards the IF direction too much (that I'm aware of.)
I'd want the engine and interface to be simple, so that they don't have
to figure out how to play... it's all going to be intuitive,
unobtrusive, so that the participant can just focus on the experience
and the story and the characters, and the environment.
Of course, being in a different medium (or mode of representation) the
game is going to be different from traditional IF, because you can do
different things in each, there are lots of things that would work in
one but not in the other... but I want to discover those limitations and
work within that.
I would like to have very ambient music... music that doesn't intrude,
that complements and augments the situation wihout being flashy. Part of
the atmosphere.
I don't know all that much about the history here.... have there been a
lot of experiments carrying IF spirit over into other mediums, or into
modified mediums?

Oh, god, look at how much I've *typed*! :-)

Dave O'Toole
d...@iname.com

Russell "Coconut Daemon" Bailey

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Nov 16, 1997, 3:00:00 AM11/16/97
to

I think IF can be carried over regardless of whether its description
method is text or graphics. I would suggest looking at Graham's "Craft
of Adventure," because one thing it shows nicely is that IF is a form
more than a format. In fact, my current project, Thraine, takes this
attitude, although I wouldn't classify it solely as IF. Although
interactive and thoroughly fictional, it is really more an exploration
of mind than space, although the gameworld is very large. But enough
about my odd putterings... I really think your idea has merit. I'd
like to see it developed and hear more about it. I feel that just as
romantic sagas span formats from poem to novel to theatre, so can IF
extend beyond one method of presentation.

Russell

Erik Max Francis

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Nov 17, 1997, 3:00:00 AM11/17/97
to

jack wrote:

> Do you think that a tile-based graphical game could qualify as
> IF, if
> the story and characters were the absolute focus (and were strong
> enough)? I mean, not just an engine tacked on to a text-adventure...

I'd say certainly. After all, the medium of the text adventure is just
an interface. There can be many interfaces.

Besides, many tile-based games, including the Roguelikes (Omega in
particular comes to mind) obvious emphasize combat, but there is an
underlying story that changes depending on your actions. This certainly
is interactive fiction at some level.

--
Erik Max Francis, &tSftDotIotE / mailto:m...@alcyone.com
Alcyone Systems / http://www.alcyone.com/max/
San Jose, California, United States / icbm://+37.20.07/-121.53.38
\
"Since when can wounded eyes see / If we weren't who we were"
/ Joi

John Miles

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Nov 17, 1997, 3:00:00 AM11/17/97
to jack

jack wrote:
>
> I've been thinking about this a lot lately, so let me just bounce it off
> you:
>
> Do you think that a tile-based graphical game could qualify as IF...

<snip>

I'd argue that the answer's an unequivocal 'yes,' despite what some of
the more devout purists on this group might say. I'm a fan of the early
Infocom games as well as the early Ultimas (was lead programmer on U5 at
OSI as a matter of fact :) and did some interesting work along these
lines in the late 80s, looking for ways to turn my hybrid Zork-Ultima
concept into a product. I've always thought it might be fun to try to
resurrect my idea on modern hardware, but would never have the time or
bandwidth (or the graphical-artistic ability) to tackle it at this
point.

There is a complete test scenario at
ftp://ftp.gmd.de/if-archive/games/appleII/mindtrap.zip that shows the
extent of my work in this direction. It requires a 128K Apple II
emulator (simple directions for locating one and installing/using it are
in the readme file) to run. Check it out, see if it's close to what you
have in mind! Would be curious to hear what you think.

-- jm (posted on r.a.i-f and emailed)

------------------------------------------------------
Note: My E-mail address has been altered to avoid spam
------------------------------------------------------

John Miles

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Nov 17, 1997, 3:00:00 AM11/17/97
to

jack wrote:
>
> John Miles wrote:

> >
> > jack wrote:
> > >
> > > I've been thinking about this a lot lately, so let me just bounce it off
> > > you:
> > >
> > > Do you think that a tile-based graphical game could qualify as IF...
> >
> > <snip>
> >
> > I'd argue that the answer's an unequivocal 'yes,' despite what some of
> > the more devout purists on this group might say. I'm a fan of the early
> > Infocom games as well as the early Ultimas (was lead programmer on U5 at
> > OSI as a matter of fact :) and did some interesting work along these
> > lines in the late 80s, looking for ways to turn my hybrid Zork-Ultima
> > concept into a product. I've always thought it might be fun to try to
> > resurrect my idea on modern hardware, but would never have the time or
> > bandwidth (or the graphical-artistic ability) to tackle it at this
> > point.
> >
>
> You were on the U5 team?! Wow! Did it really erase Iolo from the disk if
> you let Blackthorn behead him like I heard?
>

Not in so many words, but certainly, whatever character got beheaded
(don't remember if it was hardwired to Iolo or just the 1st non-player
member of the party) was "dead" and irretrievable for the rest of the
game!

> BTW, I will check out your program as soon as I get a chance, I'll let
> you know.
>
> Modern hardware, yes... although 3d is currently beyond my skills. I
> personally think u6 and 7 hold up today, and for someone seriously
> interested in the story, wouldn't be such an issue. What I am thinking
> of is between u6 and u7: I would like the smaller tilesize of u6, but I
> want to model things as prisms with xyz dimensions aside from their
> little tile... vga 256 colors with the cool, atmospheric shifting
> palette effects that blew me away in u7, and in a high-res mode
> (specifically 320x400, 2x higher res than the ultimas to date. So I am
> hoping the graphical look would be updated a bit....
>

That leads to a subtle dilemma. It's tough to say just how detailed
you'd want the graphics to be. You have to decide whether you want to
do a graphics game with some text, or a text game with some graphics.
If you painstakingly portray every visual aspect of the environment with
the graphics, it could end up making the text, however well-written,
seem redundant.

Imagine reading a novel with a color plate on every other page -- at
some point the reader is likely to say "enough of the pretty pictures...
just let me IMAGINE it!".

-- jm

Neil K.

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Nov 17, 1997, 3:00:00 AM11/17/97
to

jack <jac...@telegram.infi.net> wrote:

> Then again, I don't know if any other computers support a graphics mode
> that has such an odd aspect ratio. Maybe I should shoot for 320x240 (the
> square-ppixel mode) that loses some resolution vs. 320x400 but would be
> much more readily transferrable to the Mac. Does the mac have a similar
> mode?

The MacOS system software supports any logical screen size you tell it -
it's not hardcoded in. You're then limited by the physical hardware. On
modern Macs that basically means the size of the screen you have. 14" and
15" monitors generally mean 640 x 480 or 832 x 624 pixels. (though of
course multisync monitors can handle other sizes in between and beyond,
and all modern Macs also support different video output modes.) This also
means that you can draw to multiple devices. Since the Mac II was
introduced in 87 or 88 it's been possible to hook two, sometimes more on
some models, monitors to the same Mac and have the whole available real
estate available as a virtual desktop - often an irregularly L-shaped one.

The lowest common denominator these days is pretty well 640 x 480.
There's a handful of really old colour Macs out there that run only in 512
x 384 pixels mode on 12" and 13" monitors, but they're very much in the
minority. So if you wanted to hardcode your game to display 320 x 240
pixels it'd be fairly easy to port to the Mac - you'd simply pixel double
everything. The downside is that you're then dealing with blocky images
that scream "I'm a PC port!" to Mac users, who are used to higher quality
images. I think you'd be better off trying to devise some sort of
resolution-independent - or at least more flexible - drawing scheme,
though of course there are always speed tradeoffs.

Oh, and Mac pixels, like those on all civilized computers, are always
square. That whole business of circles mysteriously turning into ellipses
when they're rotated 90 degrees is so ugly!

- Neil K.

--
t e l a computer consulting + design * Vancouver, BC, Canada
web: http://www.tela.bc.ca/tela/ * email: tela @ tela.bc.ca

jack

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Nov 18, 1997, 3:00:00 AM11/18/97
to

John Miles wrote:

> That leads to a subtle dilemma. It's tough to say just how detailed
> you'd want the graphics to be. You have to decide whether you want to
> do a graphics game with some text, or a text game with some graphics.
> If you painstakingly portray every visual aspect of the environment with
> the graphics, it could end up making the text, however well-written,
> seem redundant.
>
> Imagine reading a novel with a color plate on every other page -- at
> some point the reader is likely to say "enough of the pretty pictures...
> just let me IMAGINE it!".
>

That's it. I'd have to be careful, but this is possible. I would let
visual things be visual, but have text for texty things, like
characters' conversations, etc. For instance, I'm not going to have it
describe rooms. But if something happens that is not easily communicable
by a mere sound or image, its importance will be conveyed to you through
text. I'm probably not going to have a parser or text input. It's going
to be done with the mouse or dir keys. Object manipulation would all be
non-text, unless it has a message for you like if you are reading a
scroll or book, or if something weird happens that wouldn't work just as
graphics or a sound. I mean, this is something, that *interface-wise*
and *visually* would be much closer to a tiley game than to Zork-style
games. But I would incorporate what I consider to be the important
elements (story, simplicity (as in we don't have distracting, often
irrelevant stats), atmosphere, etc.) I want to incorporate and
streamline. If it seemed clumsy or thrown-together I probably wouldn't
finish it. I will have learned something though.

John Miles

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Nov 18, 1997, 3:00:00 AM11/18/97
to

That sounds like a smart outlook. I'd encourage you to try it!

Trevor Barrie

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Nov 18, 1997, 3:00:00 AM11/18/97
to

In article <3470F42F...@telegram.infi.net>,
jack <jac...@telegram.infi.net> wrote:

>If you've played Ultima 8: Pagan, I don't blame you... lots of people
>*hated* that one. It was a big departure, *everything* changed from the
>past series. I think Origin learned their lesson with that experiment
>tho, as they are reportedly back to basics with u9. I personally am in
>the minority that liked U8, although I really can't compare it to u7. U7
>ruled.

Lukewarm on U7 myself. U4 & 5 were tops. (Not sure which I'd put first;
5 had more of a story, but in some ways it was a more _standard_ story,
with a villain and everything.)


Russell "Coconut Daemon" Bailey

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Nov 19, 1997, 3:00:00 AM11/19/97
to

> If you painstakingly portray every visual aspect of the environment with
> the graphics, it could end up making the text, however well-written,
> seem redundant.
Yarks! I know exactly what you mean. I'm writing, directing, and
coding the current project I'm on, and that's one of the major balance
issues the artists and I are dealing with-- what's prose and what's
graphics, what drama is done with turn of phrase and what is done with
cinematography. Very tricky.

Russell

jack

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Nov 20, 1997, 3:00:00 AM11/20/97
to

Yeah! Now that I've decided pretty much how the story will be
presented, I have started thinking and writing some scenes. I am taking
the Lord British approach... he says it's better not to write a story
and script until some of the technological decisions are made. For
instance, in the Ultima book he explains why he dropped the 3-d dungeons
that had been done in all the ultimas up to 6. He decided to make
everything one consistent mode, more seamless. He alse said that if you
split your game engine, you have to come up with things that work in
both ways or it'll be like playing two halves of a less-integrated game.
So, instead of thinking about the scene and how I would translate it to
a combined text/graphics approach, I started imagining the scene
directly in terms of the engine: I visualize everything the player would
do in this situation, everything they will see and hear and read. It's
kind of the reverse.
For instance, I am going to have the main character visit Hell,
briefly. I thought this would be neat, to talk to the "Devil"... except
in this particular Hell there is a Respite Hour once every few milennia,
where all the souls rest for what takes an hour but seems like a year.
The character could obviously only visit safely during this short time.
So I decided to have the four seasons manifest themselves during this
conversation, like an entire year passing. The time limit will be
obvious, as flowers grow and bloom in Spring, and then a minute later
while still talking (this would be a major turning point so it will be a
big conversation) the scene will turn to dusty, hazy summer. This will
all be visual, but in the text he will tie this in: "Look around you.
Autumn has already begun. You have very little time. When winter ends,
the fifth season will begin, and you will not want to stay for that. You
would be here for the duration." The scene turns to colored leaves and
Halloweenish fall weather as he explains things to you, and then to
winter. These changes would be going on both onscreen (outside the
windows the ground would slowly cover with snow, etc, and the palette
would change to reflect the seasons' colors. It would be subtle. The
Devil will also explain what's going on, but not narrate it like in a
text adventure. He'd simply call your attention to it.
That's my approach... to choose things that work in that situation but
not try to fit in things that don't. So instead of weeding out all my
ideas that wouldn't work in the engine, I'm coming from a 'generative'
approach, trying to think of what scenes and situations would fit into
the story, and it kind of falls into place. I don't know, does this make
any sense? It's hard to describe the particular angle from which one is
approaching something.

Complete subject change (and rant mode on): Technological fetishism! I
have to tell you, that it looks like tile games might be in danger of
becoming obsolete/extinct. This wonderfully expressive and flexible
method of game-representation (also very democratic, because games can
be made by people without huge resources for 3d and the latest
technology... like text) is starting to fall into disrepute now that
everybody is playing the latest 3d-rendered games where everything is in
svga 16million colors. Maybe you have heard how it's impossible to sell
a DOS game now even in shareware. Some people judge a game by its
platform, even if their pltform will run it as is the case with win95
and dos apps. All that technology can be cool, but they're forgetting
that story and characters and drama are the real thing, and that a text
game can be 1000 times better than something that looks like a movie but
has no story or gameplay. Even the latest big RPG "Baldur's Gate" has
dropped the tile idea for fully rendered overhead environments, in the
same tile-style, where each screen is unique and rendered separately.
(read: more development costs because everything is modeled
individually, and the game is like 4 cd's!!! And according to the site
they only have 10 minutes or so of video for the intro/endgame!)
I'm talking about my recent involvement in a gigantic, cosmic,
multi-topic, multi-faceted thread-of-the-ages on rec.games.programmer.
Most of it involved an enormous programming language debate unrelated to
this, but in one branch there is a big ongoing "directx monologue" about
how this somehow improves games. The people over there, I think, are
never going to get anywhere. Everyone there is trying to get an edge on
the latest technological advancements, but nobody is talking about story
and plot! That's why I have decided to kind of ignore that group and
choose this one instead. I love the int.fiction groups.
Not only do they think that technology is the answer, but they also
have scorn for 'lesser' (read: more than 1 year old) technologies! I
mean, if a new technology can make a story more realistic or accessible,
great; but how often does that magic combination happen when all the
time has been spent on tech? I was looking into some info on
compatibility regarding the VGA x-modes 320x400 and 320x240. At the
moment, since I'm planning a sort of tile-game version of an IF
interpreter (one binary that runs on any platform with an interpreter)
I'd want a mode like 320x240 that I know will work on more than one
platform and won't restrict me. However, people on that group are
telling me that win95 may not even support that universal vga mode in
the future, and that I should use 640x480 at the minimum. In the context
on letting new people make games, like people who do it in their spare
time for enjoyment (or sheer drive to tell a story), people who don't
have the time or skill to render art in such high-res, that's bad! The
grass-roots thing is where the real drive and innovation comes from. For
first tests, to get a game development job, you have to have written at
least one game. I think that for a game designer, the evaluation
criteria should be weighted heavily towards the story/gameplay side...
after all not every brilliant designer can be a great visual artist too!
I just think the whole technology-obsessed thing is dumb. Tile-games
came into maturity with engines like u7 and 8, and now are a great way
to tell a *story*. It's another choice! Now that the technology is
mature enough to 'forget about' people are throwing it out! I should
start a Society for the Preservation and Study of Tile Based Games!!
Actually, I could collect some info and post it on a new page on my
website. I have been thinking about adding new pages besides the current
one (on a british music group)... other topics. Would anyone like to see
this? I have lots of tile info, like how to program one, and of course I
would post my own developments/writings. Specifically, I would like to
write a paper (I already have done some of this) classifying and
documenting the many kinds of tile-engines and giving examples and even
code as a link. I would include links to this group and all the major IF
sites too, to give it a focus. I'd go from simple, early engines like
the early ultimas, to more complex things like u6, and advancements like
the prism-modeling of u7 and multi-layering of things. This would be
some work, but I'm interested in it anyway and would love to work on it
in my spare time. I'd also be happy to accept submissions and ideas,
too. Philosophically, I'd want to promote tile-engines as merely a
flexible and expressive way to *represent a world in fiction*, and for
other uses as well. It would be an information dissemination thing,
getting the info on how to do tile engines out to the people.

Is this a dumb idea? I can never tell because I'm too charged-up when I
just think of it. :-)

(rant mode off, preaching-to-choir mode off :-))

:-) -d...@iname.com

Russell "Coconut Daemon" Bailey

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Nov 20, 1997, 3:00:00 AM11/20/97
to

I love tile engines. I really do. Although Thraine (my current
project) doesn't use tiles for graphics, I think they are an excellent
technology. I'd be very interested in contributing to your project. As
far as these engines being dead, though, I think you're mistaken.
Many currently popular titles use tile rendering. I'm thinking of
Diablo, Warcraft II, Crusader, Command and Conquer, and Fallout.
Although only two of those are RPGs of any sort, I think that they
prove the tile systems to be commercialy viable yet. Further, I
wouldn't predict the genre based on Baldur's Gate at all; BG is just
another attempt to revive the fading AD&D CRPG license.

Interesting notion, though, this "tile tutorial." Keep me posted.

Russell

jack

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Nov 20, 1997, 3:00:00 AM11/20/97
to

David Bubar

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Nov 21, 1997, 3:00:00 AM11/21/97
to


jack wrote:

> Yeah! Now that I've decided pretty much how the story will be
> presented, I have started thinking and writing some scenes. I am taking
> the Lord British approach... he says it's better not to write a story
> and script until some of the technological decisions are made. For
> instance, in the Ultima book he explains why he dropped the 3-d dungeons
> that had been done in all the ultimas up to 6. He decided to make
> everything one consistent mode, more seamless. He alse said that if you
> split your game engine, you have to come up with things that work in
> both ways or it'll be like playing two halves of a less-integrated game.
> So, instead of thinking about the scene and how I would translate it to
> a combined text/graphics approach, I started imagining the scene
> directly in terms of the engine: I visualize everything the player would
> do in this situation, everything they will see and hear and read. It's
> kind of the reverse.

Wow what a concept!!

> For instance, I am going to have the main character visit Hell,
> briefly. I thought this would be neat, to talk to the "Devil"... except
> in this particular Hell there is a Respite Hour once every few milennia,
> where all the souls rest for what takes an hour but seems like a year.
> The character could obviously only visit safely during this short time.
> So I decided to have the four seasons manifest themselves during this
> conversation, like an entire year passing. The time limit will be
> obvious, as flowers grow and bloom in Spring, and then a minute later
> while still talking (this would be a major turning point so it will be a
> big conversation) the scene will turn to dusty, hazy summer. This will
> all be visual, but in the text he will tie this in: "Look around you.
> Autumn has already begun. You have very little time. When winter ends,
> the fifth season will begin, and you will not want to stay for that. You
> would be here for the duration." The scene turns to colored leaves and
> Halloweenish fall weather as he explains things to you, and then to
> winter. These changes would be going on both onscreen (outside the
> windows the ground would slowly cover with snow, etc, and the palette
> would change to reflect the seasons' colors. It would be subtle. The
> Devil will also explain what's going on, but not narrate it like in a
> text adventure. He'd simply call your attention to it.

Cool!!

> [snip]

> I'm talking about my recent involvement in a gigantic, cosmic,
> multi-topic, multi-faceted thread-of-the-ages on rec.games.programmer.
> Most of it involved an enormous programming language debate unrelated to
> this, but in one branch there is a big ongoing "directx monologue" about
> how this somehow improves games. The people over there, I think, are
> never going to get anywhere. Everyone there is trying to get an edge on
> the latest technological advancements, but nobody is talking about story
> and plot! That's why I have decided to kind of ignore that group and
> choose this one instead. I love the int.fiction groups.

I hate directX. 1) its garbage. 2) It is not crossplatform. 3)For 3d It can't hold
a candle to OpenGL or Mesa

> Not only do they think that technology is the answer, but they also
> have scorn for 'lesser' (read: more than 1 year old) technologies! I
> mean, if a new technology can make a story more realistic or accessible,
> great; but how often does that magic combination happen when all the
> time has been spent on tech? I was looking into some info on
> compatibility regarding the VGA x-modes 320x400 and 320x240. At the
> moment, since I'm planning a sort of tile-game version of an IF
> interpreter (one binary that runs on any platform with an interpreter)
> I'd want a mode like 320x240 that I know will work on more than one
> platform and won't restrict me.

Great go for it

> However, people on that group are
> telling me that win95 may not even support that universal vga mode in
> the future, and that I should use 640x480 at the minimum.

That sounds like there loss.

> [snip]

> I just think the whole technology-obsessed thing is dumb. Tile-games
> came into maturity with engines like u7 and 8, and now are a great way
> to tell a *story*. It's another choice! Now that the technology is
> mature enough to 'forget about' people are throwing it out! I should
> start a Society for the Preservation and Study of Tile Based Games!!
>

Put it on your web page.

> Actually, I could collect some info and post it on a new page on my
> website. I have been thinking about adding new pages besides the current
> one (on a british music group)... other topics. Would anyone like to see
> this? I have lots of tile info, like how to program one, and of course I
> would post my own developments/writings. Specifically, I would like to
> write a paper (I already have done some of this) classifying and
> documenting the many kinds of tile-engines and giving examples and even
> code as a link. I would include links to this group and all the major IF
> sites too, to give it a focus. I'd go from simple, early engines like
> the early ultimas, to more complex things like u6, and advancements like
> the prism-modeling of u7 and multi-layering of things. This would be
> some work, but I'm interested in it anyway and would love to work on it
> in my spare time. I'd also be happy to accept submissions and ideas,
> too. Philosophically, I'd want to promote tile-engines as merely a
> flexible and expressive way to *represent a world in fiction*, and for
> other uses as well. It would be an information dissemination thing,
> getting the info on how to do tile engines out to the people.
>
> Is this a dumb idea? I can never tell because I'm too charged-up when I
> just think of it. :-)
>
> (rant mode off, preaching-to-choir mode off :-))
>
> :-) -d...@iname.com

I don't think it is Dumb!!! Try Java and if that does not work out try Linux.
It has great tools and you can't beat the price.

Michael Straight

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Nov 21, 1997, 3:00:00 AM11/21/97
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On Thu, 20 Nov 1997, jack wrote:

> I just think the whole technology-obsessed thing is dumb. Tile-games
> came into maturity with engines like u7 and 8, and now are a great way
> to tell a *story*. It's another choice! Now that the technology is
> mature enough to 'forget about' people are throwing it out! I should
> start a Society for the Preservation and Study of Tile Based Games!!

Have you seen Exile? Check out www.spidweb.com ("spidweb" is not a typo).
A great grass-roots, story-rich, tile-based rpg, done by 2-3 people.
Almost as cool as the IF scene.

SMTIRCAHIAGEHLT

Russell "Coconut Daemon" Bailey

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Nov 21, 1997, 3:00:00 AM11/21/97
to

I'll reply in more depth later, but I just wanted to know, what is the
site you mentioned?

Russell

jack

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Nov 21, 1997, 3:00:00 AM11/21/97
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Russell "Coconut Daemon" Bailey wrote:
>

Here's the URL for that programming site I saw:
http://www.geocities.com/SiliconValley/Vista/6774/TileBased.html

That site is at Game Programming Galaxy, so their focus is not at all
on writing, or storytelling, drama, fiction.. of course the programming
is necessary to realize such projects, but it should be secondary to the
real focus and purpose.

I've been thinking... Here's my little project manifesto. It sounds
awfully huge, but it's not nearly the nightmare it seems to be. I'd love
to work on such a project, as I will be in college for CS for a few
years and have lots of time, and I would be happy to apply my skills in
creating this system. Here we go:

If you're interested, email my real address *not* the reply-to address:
d...@iname.com
----------------

When innovators created IF text technology (parsing, etc) a long time
ago, it all had to be done from scratch. Later on, people abstracted the
essential features out of the Text-IF domain, and created specialized
languages and tools like Inform etc. to facilitate easier and faster
creation of IF. As this happened, a set of stylistic genres and
interface conventions came into being. It has come to a mature point I
believe, a cool point where the technology allows people to focus on the
story and the game itself, because the tools available make it so easy.
Even better, things like binary multi-platform compatibility (as long as
that platform has an interpreter) widen the audience of an IF work
considerably, and also work to preserve it even when the target
platforms are no longer in existence.

I believe that Tile-IF can be brought to this point as well, and indeed
it is already a long way to reaching it: a wide range of styles and
conventions (different perspectives, etc) have been created, and new
variations are popping up all the time. The technology itself is mature,
and even somewhat out of date (~5 yrs) hardware will support all but the
most complex tile systems.

Fruition of this genre would mean that people with *some* (not a lot)
of programming experience, some writing ability, and drawing (or a
cooperative artist friend) should be able to do a complete tile game. It
means that the artists (and I mean writers, graphic artists, and
designers) should be able to focus on the content itself, that is the
resources (tile images, characters, scripts, music, sound) rather than
the arcane programming issues that have been done a million times over.
Some knowledge of computer programming concepts should be enough to
learn a standardized scripting language. General solutions to the more
mechanical problems (graphics display, event scripting, sound
sequencing, input/output, the dreaded following algorithm) should be
abstracted into a set of flexible and reusable tools, like those
available for Text IF. These tools should support multiple style
options, such as how conversations are presented, how one interacts with
objects, etc. and allow new methods and styles to be added, often in the
system's own scripting language. More complex or fundamental changes to
tile-engines themselves would probably have to be done in a language
such as C++. But the interpreter and scripting language should be able
to do as much as possible.

This means that a set of standard tile engines, "pluggable" into a
standard framework and development system, would be available. These
would be flexible enough to work in many situations. For more
experienced programmers, more complex variations on existing
tile-systems or completely new tilesystems would be possible, and if
they follow a common interface, could be plugged back into the
framework. For instance, both standard and isometric engines would be
supported.

We would also need:
1. Documentation of styles, genres, dramatic conventions,
storytelling-- essentially an "Interactive Fiction History of Tile
Engines", basically tile system theory and history from a strongly IF
point of view. This includes documentation of "Tile-IF design patterns"
and more general "IF patterns." (If you haven't heard of design
patterns, it's a specific way of classifying a general solution to a
very common problem, by abstracting the problem, giving concrete
examples, and documenting a solution. Patterns were originally started
in architectural design by Christopher Alexander, but have entered into
computer science as a complement to object technology. Patterns'
applicability is *much* broader than programming, though. They are a
concise way of communicating problem/solution experience.
2. A simple but powerful scripting engine, for everything from simple
object event responses to character conversations and behavior, to
environmental effects, to new rule-systems for the particular campaign
(game-world) that the IF is set in
3. A development system, also preferably available on multiple
platforms, would allow for tile-editing, map-editing, binding of
resources such as sound and music (actual editing of sound & midi would
be left to external programs) script editing and object property
editing, conversations, rule scripting (to govern magic, money etc.)
that would save into a couple files (sound, image, script, map) that
would all be readable by interpreters that support that system version,
on different platforms.

The Benefits we would reap:

1. More and different Interactive Fiction- both new styles of
Interaction and new styles of Fiction. This would help open up a large
segment of IF people whose real talents lie in more visual and character
storytelling, rather than in prose-writing. (Not to knock prose!!! :-)
2. more experimentation and diversity, due to the more 'democratic'
availability of tools, and ease of use. This is what I think we're
seeing in IF-- exploration of other forms, methods, systems. Like the
'demo' Balances.... experimentation. Interested people would create new
things.
3. possible network worlds...? I have no experience programming
networks, so I'd need other people.
4. Fun!

Cooperation: A Call for Contributors in Multiple Big or Small Areas. :-)

This is a big project, and I would like to work with others on it. I
have already done some abstract system models and object models, and
some code... I have experience in C++ and some windows (though I would
like to have it multiplatform). I just never realized until recently
that this direction was available and could be turned into this project.
So, I would like to issue this call for collaborators, system
designers, interface people, who would like to work on this in a
*relaxed, spare time* sort of way, (which doesn't mean nothing gets done
either..) I'm in college for CS at the moment, so I might make this an
independent study sort of thing anyway... I *DON'T* want to pressure
anybody. If you're genuinely interested in this, or in helping the
project in some other way (such as article-writers for the site, people
who just contribute information or opinions, ideas, etc for the
documentation, etc, then respond and we'll talk. If you love IF and wish
to help, or contribute in even a small way, let me know!
I can create and run a webpage as a sort of 'base' for operations. :-)
As soon as I have some material (probably to start, some of the more
theoretical texts dealing with IF and story and tilesystems available on
the internet) along with this thread and a revised 'manifesto', I'll get
a page up and running on my website. In the meantime and afterward, I'd
love to hear any suggestions/opinions/comments/experiences/ideas you
might have!


Thank you.
David O'Toole
d...@iname.com

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