Some questions about 'You cannot go that way'

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Joel G.

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Jan 13, 2002, 7:04:39 PM1/13/02
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I have a problem of confining a player to a certain space within a
larger area. I'm using this as an example, rather than parts of my
actual game.

You are in a desert...[some description goes here]...
...a town is north.

> go south
There is nothing but sage brush in that direction.

Would be a good excuse for why a person shouldn't go south or is that
going to leave players unsatisfied or annoyed? Should I prompt the
player, asking them if they are certain that they really want to
travel in that heading and then give them 20 worthless locations to
stumble around in?

Should I confine my use of 'You cannot go that way' to inside
locations or should custom messages be used everywhere in the game?

-Joel

TheCycoONE

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Jan 13, 2002, 8:26:06 PM1/13/02
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"Joel G." <uar...@hotmail.com> wrote in message
news:d4523686.02011...@posting.google.com...

> South

You would surely die if you were to continue in that direction. [warning =
0]

>South

You wander in the desert breifly before night falls and you are killed by
greus.


Gregg V. Carroll

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Jan 13, 2002, 8:31:54 PM1/13/02
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On 1/13/02 7:04 PM, Joel G. at uar...@hotmail.com posted:

> You are in a desert...[some description goes here]...
> ...a town is north.
>
>> go south
> There is nothing but sage brush in that direction.
>
> Would be a good excuse for why a person shouldn't go south or is that
> going to leave players unsatisfied or annoyed? Should I prompt the
> player, asking them if they are certain that they really want to
> travel in that heading and then give them 20 worthless locations to
> stumble around in?
>
> Should I confine my use of 'You cannot go that way' to inside
> locations or should custom messages be used everywhere in the game?

I don't know how to do this in Inform, but I know that in Infocom's Infidel,
you could wander around and eventually die in the desert, which I suppose
added some reality to the game. But really, it's just another obstacle
blocking your movement in fancier clothing. Enchanter let you wander down a
really long road, and made it somewhat entertaining to do so, but it's still
an obstacle. Plenty of games block movement by means of "impassable forests"
and so on. I'm especially willing to forgive it in Infocom games, just
because of the memory constraints of the time. It is something of a
convention to block movement that way, even now, if for no other reason than
to contain the game space.

That said, I'm pretty sure the way to go about this, should you choose to
allow the player to wander around in the desert, is not to create 30 blank
interconnecting desert rooms, but to write a block of code that tracks the
player's input at that point in the game, and creates a dynamic map on the
fly. That would be the way to go. So the player could enter a bunch of
compass direction commands, and have to reverse them to get back to where
s/he started. Adam Cadre did something like this in Photopia, with the "Mars
crash landing" section of the game. A blank, featureless desert might be
infinitely easier, however, since Photopia required distinct locations. I
have no idea if he's willing to share insights into that section of code or
not, however. I think he wrote it from scratch.

Gregg

Joel G.

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Jan 14, 2002, 12:59:29 AM1/14/02
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"Gregg V. Carroll" <gr...@midcoast.com> wrote in message news:<B8679F33.20F1%gr...@midcoast.com>...


> Adam Cadre did something like this in Photopia, with the "Mars


> crash landing" section of the game. A blank, featureless desert might be
> infinitely easier, however, since Photopia required distinct locations. I
> have no idea if he's willing to share insights into that section of code or
> not, however. I think he wrote it from scratch.


>


> Gregg


Just to let people know, before anyone starts throwing code at me,
I'm using Alan. I think I may let people wander around for some
time...but not forever like theCycoONE suggests. I like the idea of
having locations that are created as the player moves around, but if
that is something unique to Adam Cadre's game, it wouldn't be in my
interest to steal it, even if the Alan syntax can handle something
like that.
Photopia...landing on mars...hmmm, sounds like a game I should go
download...

-Joel

Alexandre Owen Muniz

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Jan 14, 2002, 12:49:10 AM1/14/02
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Minor spoilers for YAGWAD and So Far follow:


"Joel G." wrote:
>
> I have a problem of confining a player to a certain space within a
> larger area. I'm using this as an example, rather than parts of my
> actual game.
>
> You are in a desert...[some description goes here]...
> ...a town is north.
>
> > go south
> There is nothing but sage brush in that direction.
>
> Would be a good excuse for why a person shouldn't go south or is that
> going to leave players unsatisfied or annoyed? Should I prompt the
> player, asking them if they are certain that they really want to
> travel in that heading and then give them 20 worthless locations to
> stumble around in?

First, no location should be a worthless location. That doesn't mean that every location
needs to have a puzzle or a takable object, but the player's experience of that location
should add something to their experience of the game as a whole.

But to answer your question: give the PC a good motivation to be in the town, and the
player will go along with it if you don't want them to go in other directions. (And if the
PC doesn't have a good motivation to go to the town, the road outside of the town is a bad
place to start. Pick up the action when something interesting happens to the PC inside the
town.)

YAGWAD is a good example of this. You start with the motivation to go north, because
that's where the dragon is. On the southern edge of the forest, there aren't any physical
obstacles, just motivational ones. On the northern side there are a cliff and swamp and
some other physical barriers, because a player might be inclined to disagree if told he or
she couldn't go that way because it didn't look like there was anything interesting there.

Another example is the second section of So Far. Try to go the wrong direction on the
road, or past the castle, (places where a curious player might want to go,) and you get
messages about the vegetation being too dense. but try to go a direction that isn't on one
of the paths in most other locations, and you just get a messages telling which directions
the paths lead. Which is fine, because at that point, you should have a good motivation to
go to one of the places where the paths lead.

This might not apply well to the desert road example, but another way to instill the
illusion of freedom while keeping the pc on the map is to give the pc a lot of movement
choices when he or she is at the edges. If the player is at the corner of the map, he or
she might be less likely to complain about not being able to go farther south or west if
you let north, east, northeast, and northwest all work as directions to move.


>
> Should I confine my use of 'You cannot go that way' to inside
> locations or should custom messages be used everywhere in the game?

'You cannot go that way' should only happen if it is physically impossible to go that way,
and then only if the player should already know why it is impossible.

If you don't want to use too many custom messages, consider using SmartCantGo, (if you're
using Inform; I imagine something similar can be done in other systems.) Telling players
the directions they can go begs the question of why they can't go some other way, but it's
a useful begging of the question.

**Owen

Mark W

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Jan 14, 2002, 1:36:57 AM1/14/02
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"Gregg V. Carroll" <gr...@midcoast.com> wrote in message news:<B8679F33.20F1%gr...@midcoast.com>...

I think you have to balance player frustration at being able to wander
around pointlessly and eventually dying (or not) with a lack of
realism. I forget which essay it was in (probably one by Graham
Nelson) that descibes the creation of an abby for a game. The original
(unpublished) version had lots of rooms and subrooms (like courtyard
north, courtyard south) that served no purpose but to make the abbey
full and realistic.

It was eventually paired down due to the memory constrictions of the
times (or perhaps good taste prevailed). He then goes on to say that
it's a convention in gaming now that every room contain somethin
useful in it. Every room be there for a reason.

I can point to fiction, or even non fiction as an example. Even in the
medium of books that don't have the time and money constraints of
movies, you never have passages like "John picked up his keys, put
them in his right pants pocket, turned the doorknob, opened the door,
exited his apartment, closed the door, took the keys out of his pants
pocket, found the right key, locked the door and walked down the hall
fifty paces, passing on the way apartments 3F, 3G and the garbage
dispoasl. When he arrived at the elevator..."

An alternate, more realistic way of handling this is to allow the
player to wander around, but don your narrator's cap and tell him he's
doing the wrong thing. "You go south. There's more sand and more
dunes. You think about Paul Coehlo in the city to the North and feel
that you should stop playing in the sand when there's work to do"
perhaps timing out (you run out of water/the sun sets, etc.)
eventually killing him off and giving him an easy way to return to the
place he was just at (it's always north, hey he just said "go north",
he never said how far).

My $1.25

Mark

Tom Smith

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Jan 14, 2002, 10:14:35 AM1/14/02
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On 1/13/02 7:04 PM, Joel G. at uar...@hotmail.com posted:

> You are in a desert...[some description goes here]...
> ...a town is north.
>
>> go south
> There is nothing but sage brush in that direction.
>
> Would be a good excuse for why a person shouldn't go south or is that
> going to leave players unsatisfied or annoyed? Should I prompt the
> player, asking them if they are certain that they really want to
> travel in that heading and then give them 20 worthless locations to
> stumble around in?
>
> Should I confine my use of 'You cannot go that way' to inside
> locations or should custom messages be used everywhere in the game?

'You cannot go that way' is acceptable; a customised version is the
best option. Gratuitously killing a player ("you wander into the
desert and die") went out of fashion some time ago. Writing a dynamic
map creation utility for desert... well, you know, if you really want
to; you'd spend your time better adding more depth to descriptions or
beta-testing, or (to be frank) playing Snake...

Tom Smith

TheCycoONE

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Jan 14, 2002, 3:41:35 PM1/14/02
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<snip>

> Just to let people know, before anyone starts throwing code at me,
> I'm using Alan. I think I may let people wander around for some
> time...but not forever like theCycoONE suggests.

I actually suggested that you warn the player that entering the desert may
be a dangerous move, and then kill them off if they're stupid enough to do
it. Not enough death by stupidity in IF these days. :-)
<snip>


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