[Design] Catering for newbies

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James Wyatt

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Jun 11, 2001, 8:28:09 AM6/11/01
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The game I'm writing at the moment is being designed for a school
network, so it's specifically aimed at people new to the IF world. My aim
above all others is for my granny to be able to play it.

Having watched a couple of people play, I've noticed a few patterns:

1) The Monkey Island effect. People have often typed:
'walk to glass cabinet'
'use key in door'
'talk to scientist'
because these are the mainstays of graphic adventures (which Joe Popcorn is
a
lot more used to.)
I'm implementing menu-driven conversation because it's so much more
user-friendly. For 'use' I gently remind the player that they have the whole
of
the English language to choose from and should be a bit more specific.

2) Skimming through text. I made the mistake of putting an important
instruction at the end of a large chunk of text, and almost everyone ignored
it.
Instead I use menu-driven conversations to have long talks happen bit by
bit.

Other things I'm implementing to stop cries of 'I don't get it!' from
players:

- The game is divided into chunks, with passwords rather than savegames
(I use Winfrotz, which has unlimited undos). There aren't any dependencies
between chunks, so players can pick the game up from wherever they left off.
The puzzle to enter the endgame involves using numbers found in each chunk-
although some of these are hidden- to see how good a player really is. (I'm
thinking of it as the equivalent of getting all the hidden crystals in a
platform
game.)

- The puzzles start off easily. The first section can be solved just by
using the
'wait' verb ten times- although nobody has worked this out yet, and everyone
is convinced that they finished it by walking east ten times.

- The parser's been heavily modified. Many verbs have been extended so that
if the player types something that it doesn't recognise
('get key before anybody notices me') it tells them how they might rephrase
it. ('Why not just try 'get key'?)

Anyone have any other thoughts on this?


James Wyatt

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Jun 11, 2001, 8:30:05 AM6/11/01
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Oops. Sorry. It's an adventure game, not IF.


Joe Mason

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Jun 11, 2001, 11:28:12 AM6/11/01
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In article <tP2V6.36843$Uy2.4...@news1.cableinet.net>,

James Wyatt <james....@virgin.net> wrote:
>- The parser's been heavily modified. Many verbs have been extended so that
>if the player types something that it doesn't recognise
>('get key before anybody notices me') it tells them how they might rephrase
>it. ('Why not just try 'get key'?)

That's a great idea, and I hope you post your modifications!

(Also, with a modified parser its especially important to get lots of beta
testing in case you accidently break something fundamental.)

Joe

Aris Katsaris

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Jun 11, 2001, 3:04:29 PM6/11/01
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James Wyatt <james....@virgin.net> wrote in message
news:hR2V6.36849$Uy2.4...@news1.cableinet.net...

> Oops. Sorry. It's an adventure game, not IF.

I've never yet seen an adventure game which wasn't IF. Though admittedly
there does exist a lot of IF which isn't adventure games...

Aris Katsaris


Andrew Merenbach

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Jun 11, 2001, 3:21:29 PM6/11/01
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Y'know, I really liked the Indiana Jones computer games. I liked the
"menu-driven" effect, where you clicked on what you wanted to say, and it
can be useful in adventure games where moods change. In fact, it's even
better, because it means that there doesn't have to be a "definite" number
of responses programmed in for every question or topic, and there are just
three or four (or whatever) paths that the player can start out with in any
given conversation. As I said, NPC's can be given "moods" based on what the
player says.

In fact, I wish somebody would convert those old Indy games into text
adventures. Maybe with the original music, too. That way,
_The_Last_Crusade_, which only works with the now-unobtainable 16 colors (at
least on a Mac), is useless. It'd be so cool!!!

Too bad about copyright issues. But maybe somebody should do an
"underground" thing for it, and then release it to a bunch of places
simultaneously, and it'd be so widely played it'd be impossible to regulate,
and LucasArts probably doesn't care about those old games, anyhow. (I
called tech support, and they did NOT release a patch for Indy to make it
work under 256 colors. Dang the luck!)

Just ramblings...

--
Andrew M.

Andrew Merenbach

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Jun 11, 2001, 3:31:03 PM6/11/01
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I'm sure there have been postings of this sort before, and I do know that
there is a "use.h" library for Inform, but it'd be handy to make it
standard--I'm implementing it all over in my games. For instance:

Verb 'use'
* door -> Enter
* clothing -> Wear
* switchable -> Switch ! note: I've made a new routine, "SwitchSub"
* noun -> Use;

[ SwitchSub; if (noun hasnt on) <<SwitchOn noun>>; <<SwitchOff noun>>;];
[ UseSub; if (noun hasnt usable) "You can't usefully use ", (the) noun,
".";];

And in this way, if a noun has the "usable" attribute it can be used. For
instance, a candle object:

Object candle "candle"
with
name 'candle' 'wick',
description "It's a candle.",
before [; Use: <<Burn self>>;],
has usable;

Now, one might say, "What a waste of an attribute! Just use a property
instead!" And one might be right. And I may very well change all the
objects in my game to use a property rather than an attribute. But there
are so MANY objects that could provide a "use" response, that I'm probably
not, unless I'm positive it'll save some space.

--
Andrew M.

Gunther Schmidl

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Jun 11, 2001, 1:38:19 PM6/11/01
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I think there is a modification library use.h or usage.h or similar that
provides a variety of options for USE x commands. Try looking on the
Archive, in programming/inform5.5/library/contributions, and ditto with
.../inform6/...

-- Gunther


RUYelluh

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Jun 11, 2001, 5:49:57 PM6/11/01
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>- The parser's been heavily modified. Many verbs have been extended so that
>if the player types something that it doesn't recognise
>('get key before anybody notices me') it tells them how they might rephrase
>it. ('Why not just try 'get key'?)


Not a thought, but a question:

How on earth do you program THAT?

OKB -- not okblacke

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Jun 11, 2001, 5:50:47 PM6/11/01
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Andrew Merenbach amere...@mac.com wrote:
>Y'know, I really liked the Indiana Jones computer games. I liked the
>"menu-driven" effect, where you clicked on what you wanted to say, and it
>can be useful in adventure games where moods change.

I agree. I found Fate of Atlantis masterful, and the conversations were a
major factor in this.

--OKB (Bren...@aol.com) -- no relation to okblacke

"Do not follow where the path may lead;
go, instead, where there is no path, and leave a trail."
--Author Unknown

T Raymond

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Jun 12, 2001, 10:10:43 AM6/12/01
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Andrew Merenbach was overheard typing about:

> I'm sure there have been postings of this sort before, and I do
> know that there is a "use.h" library for Inform, but it'd be
> handy to make it standard--I'm implementing it all over in my
> games. For instance:
>
> Verb 'use'
> * door -> Enter
> * clothing -> Wear
> * switchable -> Switch ! note: I've made a new routine,
> "SwitchSub" * noun -> Use;
>
> [ SwitchSub; if (noun hasnt on) <<SwitchOn noun>>; <<SwitchOff
> noun>>;]; [ UseSub; if (noun hasnt usable) "You can't usefully
> use ", (the) noun, ".";];
>

While I'm not very INform literate, it sounds like it might be err
useful. You may want to consider that deafult message though:

"You can't find a reasonable use for " ...

might be a little better. I might just be a language freak though.
Just an opinion :)

Tom
--
=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-
Tom Raymond adk AT usaDOTnet
"The original professional ameteur."
-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=

Alex Watson

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Jun 13, 2001, 4:14:15 PM6/13/01
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"It's Andrew Merenbach, Alex." "Who?" "You know, that weirdo from
rec.arts.int-fiction." "Oh, right." [blip] Incoming message:

> I'm sure there have been postings of this sort before, and I do know that
> there is a "use.h" library for Inform, but it'd be handy to make it
> standard--I'm implementing it all over in my games. For instance:
>
> Verb 'use'
> * door -> Enter
> * clothing -> Wear
> * switchable -> Switch ! note: I've made a new routine, "SwitchSub"
> * noun -> Use;
>
> [ SwitchSub; if (noun hasnt on) <<SwitchOn noun>>; <<SwitchOff noun>>;];
> [ UseSub; if (noun hasnt usable) "You can't usefully use ", (the) noun,
> ".";];
>
> And in this way, if a noun has the "usable" attribute it can be used. For
> instance, a candle object:
>
> Object candle "candle"
> with
> name 'candle' 'wick',
> description "It's a candle.",
> before [; Use: <<Burn self>>;],
> has usable;
>
> Now, one might say, "What a waste of an attribute!

Well, I will say this. I'll add that there's no need for an attribute at
all, because if an object provides a before routine with ##Use in it, it
will override the default verb routine anyway.

On a slightly different note, I made a Use routine which checked for
attributes (such as switchable, clothing, etc.) and then printed a
"(wearing the towel)" message, so the player could be sure what action was
being performed.

--
Alex Watson
http://www.watson1999-69.freeserve.co.uk/froup/
Replies to me[AT]watson1999-69.freeserve.co.uk
"The future will be better tomorrow." - Quayle.

Alex Watson

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Jun 13, 2001, 4:17:27 PM6/13/01
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"It's RUYelluh, Alex." "Who?" "You know, that weirdo from rec.arts.int-

fiction." "Oh, right." [blip] Incoming message:

In Inform, add a library messages object (or maybe you have to replace
something in the parser to do this, I'm not sure) saying something like
"Why not just try ~", (address) verb_word, " ", (name) lm_o, "?"; rather
than "I only understood you as far as wanting to etc."

"With the promise of 'milk and honey', no wonder so many vegans are
atheists, too." - till [afda]

Robb Sherwin

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Jun 13, 2001, 4:41:32 PM6/13/01
to

According to this: http://www.microsoft.com/Office/clippy/default.asp
Microsoft's Clippy is looking for work.

Obligatory faux IF transcript follows:

=-=-=-
>maime greu with MY BARE HANDs nad eat it's entrail's!!!!11

It looks like you're trying to kill a grue. Would you like help?
=-=-=-

(Sorry. I deserve any "it looks like you're trying to be funny, would
you like help etc." post that follows.)

Robb
=-=-=-=-=-
Robb Sherwin, Fort Collins CO
Knight Orc Home Page: www.joltcountry.com
Reviews From Trotting Krips: ifiction.tsx.org

Peer Schaefer

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Jun 13, 2001, 5:02:13 PM6/13/01
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The problem with the "use" verb is that it may provide the player an
unwanted hint. For example, if the player doesn't know what an object
is good for, she can simply "use" it. From the result (or the error
message) she can conclude what the object is for.

To avoid this problem, you must catch all use-actions that go to
objects that have no obvious purpose.

After all, I think implementing a "use" verb CAN be a good idea, but
it requires carefull coding and can result in unwanted spoilers.

Greg Ewing

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Jun 14, 2001, 12:58:24 AM6/14/01
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Peer Schaefer wrote:
>
> The problem with the "use" verb is that it may provide the player an
> unwanted hint.

That shouldn't be a problem as long as you only let
it perform obvious actions. Anything else should result
in "You'll have to be more specific about how you want
to use that" OWTTE.

--
Greg Ewing, Computer Science Dept, University of Canterbury,
Christchurch, New Zealand
To get my email address, please visit my web page:
http://www.cosc.canterbury.ac.nz/~greg

Neil Cerutti

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Jun 14, 2001, 8:24:34 AM6/14/01
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Robb Sherwin posted:

>On 11 Jun 2001 21:49:57 GMT, ruye...@aol.com (RUYelluh) wrote:
>
>>>- The parser's been heavily modified. Many verbs have been extended so that
>>>if the player types something that it doesn't recognise
>>>('get key before anybody notices me') it tells them how they might rephrase
>>>it. ('Why not just try 'get key'?)
>>Not a thought, but a question: How on earth do you program
>>THAT?
>
>According to this:
>http://www.microsoft.com/Office/clippy/default.asp Microsoft's
>Clippy is looking for work.
>
>Obligatory faux IF transcript follows:
>
>=-=-=-
>>maime grue with MY BARE HANDs and eat it's entrails!!!!11

>
>It looks like you're trying to kill a grue. Would you like help?
>=-=-=-

*SPOILER SPACE*

There is some evidence that the Lean and Hungry Gentleman from
Zork I found some sort of work at Microsoft after Infocom was
dissolved. A paperclip *is* rather lean and hungry looking. And
he wouldn't have had to give up his pastime of being annoying.

--
Neil Cerutti <cer...@together.net>
*** The museum bought your antique personal computer for $150. ***

Al Staffieri Jr.

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Jun 14, 2001, 5:10:40 PM6/14/01
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>The first section can be solved just by
>using the
>'wait' verb ten times- although nobody has worked this out yet, and everyone
>is convinced that they finished it by walking east ten times.

That's probably because people new to IF won't know you can "WAIT" to let time
pass. They assume you must do some kind of game action.

-----
Al Staffieri Jr.
http://members.aol.com/AlStaff/index.html

Mac Game Creator Toolkit CD-ROM
http://www.macgamecreator.com

(Remove NOSPAM from my E-mail address when replying by mail)
-----

James Wyatt

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Jun 15, 2001, 5:10:37 PM6/15/01
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>Not a thought, but a question: How on earth do you program
>THAT?

At the moment I use, for example, with go:

extend "go" * topic -> gohelp;

gohelp [; "You can only move in compass directions. Try ~go north~ or ~go
south~.^
Oh, and you can also use ~go up~, ~go down~, ~go in~ or ~go out~.";
];

(I'm not sure whether the syntax is perfect in this post, but it works in
the game
so don't point it out please.)

Admittedly this doesn't change depending on what the player typed. But this
is probably enough to stop them becoming despondent when the player types
"walk to the glass cabinet".


Elise Stone

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Jun 16, 2001, 10:01:40 AM6/16/01
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On Mon, 11 Jun 2001 19:31:03 GMT, Andrew Merenbach
<amere...@mac.com> wrote:

>I'm sure there have been postings of this sort before, and I do know that

>there is a "use.h" library for Inform, but <snip>

Yes, slightly over a year ago, this thread:
http://groups.google.com/groups?hl=en&lr=&safe=off&ic=1&th=e471cda4aa46a8f7,50&seekm=86ss9c%242usc%40edrn.newsguy.com#p

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