A new Subject

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Gerry Kevin Wilson

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Nov 22, 1993, 9:13:10 PM11/22/93
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Well, looks like it's time to start up a new discussion around here. So here
goes. I would like to address the topic of pets/companions. Now, as you all
know, pets require an inordinate amount of programming since they are
constantly required to interract with the player. Much more so than anything
else in a game. Here are a few of my thoughts on pets and then a few questions.
1.) The term pets can apply to any object that follows the player around
fairly consistantly. A pet is not necessarily helpful, nor is it
necessarily harmful, it just is. Pets are not constrained to living
creatures, nor are they even constrained to animate beings. Take, for
example, the radio in Wishbringer that gave you advice.

2.) Pets tend to be very versatile objects, frequently their personality
will pervade the entire game. (Floyd, of course.) This can be a good
thing, or a bad thing, depending on how it is handled.

Okay, here are some pet ideas. Let me know if you've seen any used already.

1.) The player is a wizard, with an imp familiar that is more often than not
leading the player into danger.

2.) (A more general idea) The player is a non-human, with a non-human
companion. Part of the game is determining how best to use that companion
(say, for instance, the player is a rhinocerous, and has a friendly bird
that helps them spot danger.) This could also be interesting if you
have a human player, but a really exotic pet, like a shapechanging blob
of jelly. (see A Boy and his Blob, on Nintendo systems)

3.) I've often considered writing a game from the viewpoint of a blind person
and their seeing eye dog. The perspective would probably have to shift
fairly frequently to keep it interesting. Or even a game just about a
blind person, where you have to use your other senses to do things.
Combined with a good plot, such as someone out to murder you, this could
be a very exciting on-the-edge-of-your-seat type of game.

4.) Heheh, here's a whimsical thought...Remember that cartoon with the frog
that would sing and dance, but only when no one else was around? Well,
that could be a rather amusing plot device, especially for those who have
seen the original cartoon. (Or maybe you find a talking dog with a similar
limitation, or a talking....horse?) (everyone sing along...A horse is a)

5.) Non-living pets. Robots are the pet of choice in this department, but
there are a lot of humorous ideas packed away under this heading.
In THGTTG, the aunt's thing almost took on a personality of its own,
just by following you around, so maybe there's this certain object that
shows up everywhere, like a Monkey's paw, or a cursed ring. That's
by no means the only way an item can develop a personality, either.
The Jack-of-all-traits in Nord and Bert was quite interesting just
because of all the things you could do with it. And the two teleport
spots in Starcross. Any item that simply has a number of uses and
lingers in the game seems to me to become a sort of pet.

6.) Non-living interacting pets. Ok, so you don't buy that bit in #5, well
obviously, objects can interract with the player in a number of bizarre
ways. Maybe the player is losing his grip on reality as a result of
some poison in his body, so items start talking to him and arguing among
themselves. His couch plays psychiatrist, his TV plays evangelist, his
shoes start remarking about the treatment he's been giving them.
("Oi! Not another puddle! Walk around it you arsehole!") Or perhaps
they can just naturally talk. (Via the talking credit card in Time Trax)

Well, that's about all I can think of at the moment, here come the questions.

1.) Do characteristic speech patterns such as accents make a pet more
interesting, or simply hard to understand? (Just asking for opinions here)

2.) Does anyone have a 'circular evaluator' for commanding pets in TADS?
What I mean by this is that, once you type the critter's name, a new prompt
like WALDO> appears and each command you type is directed to the pet rather
than the player. So, WALDO> look would make Waldo look, rather than the
player.

3.) Any thoughts on allowing simultaneous actions between pet and player?
(example, dog, e. n. n. e. sw. followed by w, n, n, w, se to trigger two
weight pads and open a door within 5 moves or so.)

Ok, that's all for now, Infocom true believers.
--
*=== If there's one thing I've learned in this silly old thing called ===*
*=== Life, it's....umm....oh Hell, I've forgotten. ===*
*=== whiz...@uclink.berkeley.edu ===*
*=== Disclaimer: I am insane. Deal with it. ===*

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