Limited savings

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J.Pitchpine

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Oct 1, 2001, 3:33:20 PM10/1/01
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Would you ever stand a game where you have a limited amount of
savings?

Let's say that the ability to save is tied to the use of an object;
you start with a certain amount of these objects and the chance to
find more along the game, but... if you end up with none you cannot
save your progress (unless you find some other).

Comments welcome.

JP

Adam Conover

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Oct 1, 2001, 6:41:38 PM10/1/01
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In article <ec22c08e.01100...@posting.google.com>, flimbo72
@libero.it says...

I think I would find a system such as you've described annoying, simply
because some people save after every move that does anything. It might
work if the game could never be put in an unwinnable state, and if you
stated that in the opening screen or ABOUT text.

In my opinion, a better system would be one based around checkpoints --
if you could maintain one save each at various points in the game. Many
console RPGs use this system, so one can save at, for instance, the
beginning of a dungeon or directly before an especially difficult battle.

Basically -- a limited number of saves would only be not-annoying if the
player somehow knew when to use them.

(By the way, are you talking about a limited number of different save
slots -- only save1.sav to save5.sav for instance), or a limited number
of saves period, even when writing over an old save position?)

- adam

L. Ross Raszewski

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Oct 1, 2001, 5:09:27 PM10/1/01
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I'm reminded of the game 'Resident Evil'; you saved your game by
typing a report at any of the game's typewriters, but each time you
saved, it consumed a typewriter ribbon, a number of which could be
found throughout the game.

I find it pretty annoying, but I suppose that it could be cleverly
integrated in a way that was interesting, even if still annoying.

Rikard Peterson

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Oct 1, 2001, 5:52:44 PM10/1/01
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"J.Pitchpine" <flim...@libero.it> skrev i meddelandet
news:ec22c08e.01100...@posting.google.com...

> Would you ever stand a game where you have a limited amount of
> savings?

No.

> Let's say that the ability to save is tied to the use of an object;
> you start with a certain amount of these objects and the chance to
> find more along the game, but... if you end up with none you cannot
> save your progress (unless you find some other).

What would be the point? The main point with save games is that you can
quit playing when you want to and continue where you left off the next
day. With a fixed number of save games you'd be forced to replay parts
over and over again.

Rikard


Andrew Plotkin

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Oct 1, 2001, 5:55:29 PM10/1/01
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L. Ross Raszewski <lrasz...@loyola.edu> wrote:

> I'm reminded of the game 'Resident Evil'; you saved your game by
> typing a report at any of the game's typewriters, but each time you
> saved, it consumed a typewriter ribbon, a number of which could be
> found throughout the game.

This is fairly common in action games, where the basic point of the
game is "Get through scenes by your virtuoso button-clicky skills. If
your skills are weak, practice that scene until they're good enough."

In that kind of game, unlimited game-saving can undermine the game
structure. You can save before every monster (or tricky jump, or
obstacle sprint), and then try six times until you succeed by luck;
repeat this cycle ten thousand times. This is boring. Players
will always take an easy, mindless, boring route through the game in
preference to a hard, interesting route, *and then blame the game
designer* for making a boring game. You therefore need some way to
make the boring route impossible.

(Footnote: limiting the number of times the player can save is not my
favorite way to handle this. I prefer the system where you can save as
often as you want, but only in particular spots. Obviously you have to
balance how frequent the spots are, but there's always some balance to
be done in game design. :-)

A pure adventure game is an entirely different case of fish. There is
no brute-force solution to most adventure puzzles (unless the player
has been reduced to guess-the-verb or try-everything-on-everything --
in which case you should fix your game's design, not mess with the
game-save mechanics!) (And we've had mountains of discussion on how to
handle puzzles that *can* be brute-forced, like combination locks.
Disabling game-save is almost always the wrong answer.)

--Z

"And Aholibamah bare Jeush, and Jaalam, and Korah: these were the borogoves..."
*
* Make your vote count. Get your vote counted.

Norman Perlmutter

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Oct 2, 2001, 3:45:36 PM10/2/01
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On 1 Oct 2001 21:55:29 GMT, Andrew Plotkin <erky...@eblong.com>
wrote:

>This is fairly common in action games, where the basic point of the
>game is "Get through scenes by your virtuoso button-clicky skills. If
>your skills are weak, practice that scene until they're good enough."
>
>In that kind of game, unlimited game-saving can undermine the game
>structure. You can save before every monster (or tricky jump, or
>obstacle sprint), and then try six times until you succeed by luck;
>repeat this cycle ten thousand times. This is boring. Players
>will always take an easy, mindless, boring route through the game in
>preference to a hard, interesting route, *and then blame the game
>designer* for making a boring game. You therefore need some way to
>make the boring route impossible.
>
>(Footnote: limiting the number of times the player can save is not my
>favorite way to handle this. I prefer the system where you can save as
>often as you want, but only in particular spots. Obviously you have to
>balance how frequent the spots are, but there's always some balance to
>be done in game design. :-)
>
>A pure adventure game is an entirely different case of fish. There is
>no brute-force solution to most adventure puzzles (unless the player
>has been reduced to guess-the-verb or try-everything-on-everything --
>in which case you should fix your game's design, not mess with the
>game-save mechanics!) (And we've had mountains of discussion on how to
>handle puzzles that *can* be brute-forced, like combination locks.
>Disabling game-save is almost always the wrong answer.)

But action games aren't the only type involving limited saving
capacity. In many RPGs, the player is allowed to save the game only at
certain points or is not allowed to save inside of dungeons. This
applies even in some RPGs that are not based on button-clicky prowess,
but rely instead on a turn-based combat system. Well, I guess that
even some turn-based-ish RPGs still have a small element of
button-clicky prowess, i.e. pausing the game quickly enough, but some
are purely turn-based.
Anyway, if you can have limited saving in RPGs, why not in IF?

L. Ross Raszewski

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Oct 2, 2001, 4:29:23 PM10/2/01
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I think Zarf's justification applies to turn-based RPG as well as it
does to action games. Annoying though I find it to be unable to save
in the dungeon, being forced to replay a section of dungeon because I
was killed by the Big Nasty requires that I get more practice, rather
than simply retrying the fight (or even part of the fight, if saves
were allowed amidfight) untill the RNG happened to make the Big Nasty
neglect to use his Uber Attack at the critical moment.

Also, in an RPG, there's the "death, where is thy sting?" effect. If
the player is killed in an RPG, it's either because (a) he needs more
practice or (b) he screwed up. In Case (A), forcing the player to
replay a bit gives him more practice. In (B), for the death to be
"meaningful", the player should be in some way penalized for it. This
penalty comes in the form of beign forced to replay a section.

In anadventure game, case (B) may still apply. However, the question
of whether the player screwed up is debatable; perhaps the player
tried something the author didn't think of.

Andrew Plotkin

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Oct 2, 2001, 5:14:10 PM10/2/01
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Norman Perlmutter <normanpe...@sev.org> wrote:
> On 1 Oct 2001 21:55:29 GMT, Andrew Plotkin <erky...@eblong.com>
> wrote:
>>This is fairly common in action games, where the basic point of the
>>game is "Get through scenes by your virtuoso button-clicky skills. If
>>your skills are weak, practice that scene until they're good enough."
>>
>>In that kind of game, unlimited game-saving can undermine the game
>>structure. You can save before every monster (or tricky jump, or
>>obstacle sprint), and then try six times until you succeed by luck;
>>repeat this cycle ten thousand times. This is boring. Players
>>will always take an easy, mindless, boring route through the game in
>>preference to a hard, interesting route, *and then blame the game
>>designer* for making a boring game. You therefore need some way to
>>make the boring route impossible.
>
> But action games aren't the only type involving limited saving
> capacity. In many RPGs, the player is allowed to save the game only at
> certain points or is not allowed to save inside of dungeons. This
> applies even in some RPGs that are not based on button-clicky prowess,
> but rely instead on a turn-based combat system.

You're right that I described the problem too narrowly. (I originally
wrote "button-clicky *fighting* skills", but then realized that the
jumping/climbing puzzles in Tomb Raider fit the template just as
well.)

But the broader principle still applies. In an RPG, you are gathering
some resource (gold, weapon upgrades, skill upgrades, whatever).
The game balance is based on the fact that the more resources you've
got, the more likely you are to win any given battle -- but you
*could* get lucky and win anyway. That doesn't make a huge difference
once, and in a dungeon sequence with fifty battles, the law of
averages comes into play.

If you could save before every single fight, you could effectively
make your luck perfect, by dint of repeated effort. This messes up the
overall balance.

(Again, this is not the only or even the most common way that RPGs
solve this problem.)

> Anyway, if you can have limited saving in RPGs, why not in IF?

Because in most IF, the problem that limited-saving is intended to
solve, doesn't exist.

There *is* no game-design flaw in the player looking under the rug
"because he got lucky". That's a meaningless statement. That scene in
Zork 1 is not intended to make the player slowly gather the resources
necessary to look under the rug successfully -- that's no part of the
pacing inherent in Zork's design.

And even if the player is stuck on the rug challenge (he doesn't know
to look under it), his brute-force strategy doesn't require him to
save hundreds of times. The problem does exist -- looking at, under,
and behind every accessible object is a viable but tedious approach,
and if the player resorts to it, he's going to dislike the game. But
limiting saves doesn't *solve* that problem, see?

Norman Perlmutter

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Oct 2, 2001, 5:50:26 PM10/2/01
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On 2 Oct 2001 21:14:10 GMT, Andrew Plotkin <erky...@eblong.com>
wrote:

>Norman Perlmutter <normanpe...@sev.org> wrote:
>> Anyway, if you can have limited saving in RPGs, why not in IF?
>
>Because in most IF, the problem that limited-saving is intended to
>solve, doesn't exist.

Ah, the key word is most. But not all. Consider the so-called
"rogue-like" games which to my best understanding, though I've never
played one, are text-based RPGs, or, in other words, a cross between
an RPG and an IF game. Do these games implement limited saving? Could
they? Or else you could have a game that is more like IF, but still
has some characteristics of an RPG, that is, involving the gradual
buildup of resources or a combat system. Do you think NO IF should
have a limited limited saving, or just most IF?

Running Metal

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Oct 2, 2001, 6:32:38 PM10/2/01
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<< Ah, the key word is most. But not all. Consider the so-called
"rogue-like" games which to my best understanding, though I've never
played one, are text-based RPGs, or, in other words, a cross between
an RPG and an IF game. Do these games implement limited saving? Could
they? Or else you could have a game that is more like IF, but still
has some characteristics of an RPG, that is, involving the gradual
buildup of resources or a combat system. Do you think NO IF should
have a limited limited saving, or just most IF? >>

Well, the rogue-likes I've played effectively only use saves for "bookmarking"
your place when you quit. If you die, you lose your save. Pretty brutal, huh?

Alexander Deubelbeiss

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Oct 2, 2001, 6:49:31 PM10/2/01
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Norman Perlmutter wrote:
>On 2 Oct 2001 21:14:10 GMT, Andrew Plotkin <erky...@eblong.com>
>wrote:
>>Norman Perlmutter <normanpe...@sev.org> wrote:
>>> Anyway, if you can have limited saving in RPGs, why not in IF?
>>
>>Because in most IF, the problem that limited-saving is intended to
>>solve, doesn't exist.
>
> Ah, the key word is most. But not all. Consider the so-called
>"rogue-like" games which to my best understanding, though I've never
>played one, are text-based RPGs, or, in other words, a cross between
>an RPG and an IF game.

Not really. They provide most of their information in the form of
a map (often character-based), where e.g. @ represents the PC, >
the stairs leading downwards and T the big nasty troll in between.
Text descriptions are mostly short messages of the "You hit the
troll but fail to hurt it." type. But...

>Do these games implement limited saving?

Yes, and they traditionally have a characteristic limitation: You
can only save to interrupt your game and continue later, but not
as a point to return to in case your character gets killed. In
practice, saving a game ends the session, and loading a saved game
deletes the savefile.

Daniel Dawson

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Oct 2, 2001, 8:01:58 PM10/2/01
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You pick up and read article <3bba3519...@news.accesstoledo.com>, written
by Norman Perlmutter <normanpe...@sev.org>. It says:
>"rogue-like" games
...

>Do these games implement limited saving? Could
>they?

Ah, I can answer that one, since I *have* played NetHack and SlashEm (which are
practically identical, BTW; the latter is just enhanced). These games don't
allow you saving for the sake of replaying at all; you can only
save-until-later (i.e. saving causes the program to exit, and the next time you
start it, it loads up the saved game). As to whether it would be a good idea to
save-for-replay, I won't get into that right now.
--
Daniel Dawson
dda...@nospam-altavista.net (remove 'nospam-' to send mail)
http://www.crosswinds.net/~ddawson/

Greg Ewing

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Oct 2, 2001, 10:35:20 PM10/2/01
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Daniel Dawson wrote:
>
> These games don't
> allow you saving for the sake of replaying at all; you can only
> save-until-later (i.e. saving causes the program to exit, and the next time you
> start it, it loads up the saved game).

That's the way I remember Rogue worked when I played
it on BSD Unix. Also, it would only restore from an
original save file, not a copy of one -- presumably
it stored the inode number of the save file in it
somewhere.

To get around this, I wrote a program which made a
copy of the save file, waited until Rogue had deleted
it, and then immediately copied it back. If you weren't
too unlucky, the new copy would get the inode that had
just been freed, and Rogue would be happy.

It worked a treat most of the time. Occasionally,
however, it would cause Rogue to dump core. I never
found out exactly why that happened.

--
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

Daniel Dawson

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Oct 3, 2001, 1:36:27 AM10/3/01
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You pick up and read article <3BBA7967...@cosc.canterbury.ac.nz>, written

by Greg Ewing <gr...@cosc.canterbury.ac.nz>. It says:
>presumably
>it stored the inode number of the save file in it
>somewhere.

If that's true, did you ever consider where? Maybe you could copy *that* file,
and restore it later (and maybe be careful about the dates). Then again, that
could cause problems with other users' games -- *if* you had root, that is, and
could therefore even do this... Just some thoughts, anyway.

Philip Swartzleonard

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Oct 3, 2001, 4:00:39 AM10/3/01
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Andrew Plotkin || Mon 01 Oct 2001 02:55:29p:

>L. Ross Raszewski <lrasz...@loyola.edu> wrote:
>
>> I'm reminded of the game 'Resident Evil'; you saved your game by
>> typing a report at any of the game's typewriters, but each time you
>> saved, it consumed a typewriter ribbon, a number of which could be
>> found throughout the game.
>

> [...]


>
>(Footnote: limiting the number of times the player can save is not my
>favorite way to handle this. I prefer the system where you can save as
>often as you want, but only in particular spots. Obviously you have to
>balance how frequent the spots are, but there's always some balance to
>be done in game design. :-)
>

> [...]

FWIW, Resident Evil required both: you had to find the ink ribbions, then
find a typewriter to use them on. (Though most typewrites came with a pack).
But RE's problems run deeper, as the replaying that is required often
(always if you die on a boss) forces you to watch unskipable, poorly acted
game-engine-based cinematic dialog events. (Although squarsoft's rpgs tend
to be like this sometimes also...)

Add to this the problem that you only ever get 6-10 inventory spaces
(depending on which game, and some items take 2), which you need for
weapons, ammo, healing, and quest items (keys). Constantly running back to
the nearest item depot because you either just found something you don't
have room for (you can't ever drop things outside of the storage box), or
you just left behind the item you need for the next obsticle (very common
when you have no idea which of the 5 you'll need in the next unexplored
area); makes running around for items in zork 1 or 2 look like good fun...

--
Philip Sw "Starweaver" [rasx] :: www.rubydragon.com - a few thousand lines
of PHP, HTML, and CSS; but still useless :)

Richard Bos

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Oct 3, 2001, 4:05:33 AM10/3/01
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Greg Ewing <gr...@cosc.canterbury.ac.nz> wrote:

> To get around this, I wrote a program which made a
> copy of the save file, waited until Rogue had deleted
> it, and then immediately copied it back. If you weren't
> too unlucky, the new copy would get the inode that had
> just been freed, and Rogue would be happy.
>
> It worked a treat most of the time. Occasionally,
> however, it would cause Rogue to dump core. I never
> found out exactly why that happened.

Because there is _some_ justice in the universe? ;->

Richard

Richard Bos

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Oct 3, 2001, 4:05:32 AM10/3/01
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dda...@nospam-altavista.net (Daniel Dawson) wrote:

> You pick up and read article <3bba3519...@news.accesstoledo.com>, written
> by Norman Perlmutter <normanpe...@sev.org>. It says:
> >"rogue-like" games
> ...
> >Do these games implement limited saving? Could
> >they?
>
> Ah, I can answer that one, since I *have* played NetHack and SlashEm (which are
> practically identical, BTW; the latter is just enhanced). These games don't
> allow you saving for the sake of replaying at all; you can only
> save-until-later (i.e. saving causes the program to exit, and the next time you
> start it, it loads up the saved game). As to whether it would be a good idea to
> save-for-replay, I won't get into that right now.

It isn't. It is, under some circumstances, possible to fake this, but
the procedure is frowned upon, and is called "save-scumming". Not only
do such practices reduce the urgency of the game and the necessity for
thinking before moving, they have, because of this, quite a deleterious
effect on the playing skills of the save-scummer (leading to complaints
that the game is unfair, because they've been able to save-scum all the
way down to the castle, but then it threw these mean dragons at them and
he couldn't possibly beat them; generally, if he hadn't scummed, he'd
have had to build up his powers so that he could beat the dragons), and
it makes for a very boring game of whack monster - be killed - save-scum
- whack same monster again - be killed again - repeat twenty times -
kill monster, by accident - save - move on to next monster you shouldn't
be taking on yet.

Richard

Magnus Olsson

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Oct 3, 2001, 4:50:32 AM10/3/01
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In article <3bba3519...@news.accesstoledo.com>,

Norman Perlmutter <normanpe...@sev.org> wrote:
>On 2 Oct 2001 21:14:10 GMT, Andrew Plotkin <erky...@eblong.com>
>wrote:
>>Norman Perlmutter <normanpe...@sev.org> wrote:
>>> Anyway, if you can have limited saving in RPGs, why not in IF?
>>
>>Because in most IF, the problem that limited-saving is intended to
>>solve, doesn't exist.
>
> Ah, the key word is most. But not all. Consider the so-called
>"rogue-like" games which to my best understanding, though I've never
>played one, are text-based RPGs, or, in other words, a cross between
>an RPG and an IF game.

Roguelike games are much more like graphical RPGs than they are like
text adventures. Basically, you just replace the nice VGA graphics
with ASCII graphics, not with textual descriptions.

Besides, it's game mechanics that's important here, not user interface.

>Do these games implement limited saving?

Most of them, yes. Nethack allows only one save file, which is
deleted when you restore from it (so if you're killed, there's
no save file to restore from). Of course, there are ways around
this, but they are frowned upon.

>Or else you could have a game that is more like IF, but still
>has some characteristics of an RPG, that is, involving the gradual
>buildup of resources or a combat system.

In such a game, limited saving would make good sense.

>Do you think NO IF should
>have a limited limited saving, or just most IF?

I think this really is the wrong question to ask, because it depends
on how you define "IF". Zarf is talking about more-or-less traditional
adventure games.

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

John W. Kennedy

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Oct 3, 2001, 8:07:14 AM10/3/01
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Daniel Dawson wrote:
> Ah, I can answer that one, since I *have* played NetHack and SlashEm (which are
> practically identical, BTW; the latter is just enhanced). These games don't
> allow you saving for the sake of replaying at all; you can only
> save-until-later (i.e. saving causes the program to exit, and the next time you
> start it, it loads up the saved game).

That's the same thing I did back in the 70's on my S/370 port/upgrade of
the well-known BASIC "Star Trek" game.

--
John W. Kennedy
(Working from my laptop)

Andrew Plotkin

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Oct 3, 2001, 10:50:35 AM10/3/01
to
Norman Perlmutter <normanpe...@sev.org> wrote:
> On 2 Oct 2001 21:14:10 GMT, Andrew Plotkin <erky...@eblong.com>
> wrote:
>>Norman Perlmutter <normanpe...@sev.org> wrote:
>>> Anyway, if you can have limited saving in RPGs, why not in IF?
>>
>>Because in most IF, the problem that limited-saving is intended to
>>solve, doesn't exist.

> Ah, the key word is most. But not all. Consider the so-called
> "rogue-like" games which to my best understanding, though I've never
> played one, are text-based RPGs, or, in other words, a cross between
> an RPG and an IF game.

The rogue games are, historically, pure RPGs -- exactly the same sort
of game as Diablo, except with ASCII art instead of pixel art.

> Do these games implement limited saving?

Yes, although in a different sense. You can save whenever you want,
but the save file is destroyed upon reloading. So you can't use
save-and-restore to try battles twice.

> Or else you could have a game that is more like IF, but still
> has some characteristics of an RPG, that is, involving the gradual
> buildup of resources or a combat system.

These days, there is more and more tendency to mix game genres --
nearly all modern RPGs and action games have some IF content. (By
which I mean storyline, exploration of a designed world, and some kind
of world-comprehension or insight puzzles.)

To the extent that a game has resource-building challenges, which
might be brute-forced, it has a game design which may need some sort
of limit on saving.

Or it may not. Look (if you dare) at "Dark Angel", a particularly
tedious Diablo rip-off for the PS2. It has *no* IF content whatsoever
-- it's got nothing but fighting down infinitely-deep dungeons, and
gaining weapons and gold to buy more weapons. But you can save
(and restore) whenever and wherever you like. Why? Because there just
isn't much temptation to redo battles; it's easier to escape, heal,
and come back. Even if you do get killed, you're resurrected, and lose
only time. The overall shape of the game is to gain power efficiently
over many hours of play, and a single death isn't enough of a hit to
make it worth restoring.

(And now someone is going to ask me why I know so much about a
particularly tedious Diablo rip-off. Go ahead, ask me.)

Paul O'Brian

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Oct 3, 2001, 11:59:57 AM10/3/01
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On 3 Oct 2001, Andrew Plotkin wrote:

> (And now someone is going to ask me why I know so much about a
> particularly tedious Diablo rip-off. Go ahead, ask me.)

Hey Zarf, no offense, but why is it that you know so much about a
particularly tedious Diablo rip-off?

--
Paul "O'Bliging" O'Brian
FINALLY, an alternative to EXPENSIVE therapy! It's SPAG, the text
adventure magazine! Check it out at http://www.sparkynet.com/spag
Issue #26 has just arrived!

Andrew Plotkin

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Oct 3, 2001, 2:17:45 PM10/3/01
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Paul O'Brian <obr...@ucsu.colorado.edu> wrote:
> On 3 Oct 2001, Andrew Plotkin wrote:

>> (And now someone is going to ask me why I know so much about a
>> particularly tedious Diablo rip-off. Go ahead, ask me.)

> Hey Zarf, no offense, but why is it that you know so much about a
> particularly tedious Diablo rip-off?

Don't ask.

Adam Thornton

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Oct 3, 2001, 2:47:11 PM10/3/01
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In article <9pfko9$gf0$1...@news.panix.com>,

Andrew Plotkin <erky...@eblong.com> wrote:
>Paul O'Brian <obr...@ucsu.colorado.edu> wrote:
>> On 3 Oct 2001, Andrew Plotkin wrote:
>>> (And now someone is going to ask me why I know so much about a
>>> particularly tedious Diablo rip-off. Go ahead, ask me.)
>> Hey Zarf, no offense, but why is it that you know so much about a
>> particularly tedious Diablo rip-off?
>Don't ask.

Hey Zarf, no offense, but <mrph grmppghghhh mumble growf>?

Adam

Giacomo - Libero 1055

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Oct 3, 2001, 4:53:17 PM10/3/01
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>> Let's say that the ability to save is tied to the use of an object;
>> you start with a certain amount of these objects and the chance to
>> find more along the game, but... if you end up with none you cannot
>> save your progress (unless you find some other).
>
>What would be the point? The main point with save games is that you can
>quit playing when you want to and continue where you left off the next
>day. With a fixed number of save games you'd be forced to replay parts
>over and over again.
>
>Rikard

The analogy with Resident Evil fits (the first RE is actually one of my
favourite games). In RE you must find an ink ribbon (save key) and then
reach a typewriter (savespot) to use the ink ribbon in and save.
In my IF project I'd implement the save key only. Once players have one,
they don't need anything else. They can save anywhere, but saving will
consume one save key anyway. Once/if those given at the beginning are used,
finding a new one will become a necessity to go on easily. It will only be
the next puzzle to solve. Most IF games have a point where one precise
action must be performed to go on. Here, that action is optional, but sooner
or later you'll be forced to do it if you want to save.
Just a dishonest way to make the game harder or unnecessarily frustrating? I
understand the potential frustration that could derive from such a bond, but
in my opinion, two factors might mitigate it:

- On one side the author's design ability. Save keys must be available in
adequate number and carefully distributed. Hidden save keys could be
released as reward to (not really hard) puzzles. Optional ones might be
given when players accomplish a goal though the harder way, instead of the
easier one.

- On the other side, the player should be able to evaluate when it's the
right time to use a save key. To show the player's progress + how many save
keys haven't been found yet could help.

Nevertheless, there is still the possibility that players save too often,
making their way to the next save key terribly long or even running out of
save keys. In that case, the game could somewhat alert rash players and
prevent them from wasting precious save keys when too few progress has been
made since the last save. :-)

Just brainstorming. I feel it all as a creative way to make a more
compelling game, rather than an useless complication for the player. The
game will only demand wiser decisions.

JP


J.Pitchpine

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Oct 3, 2001, 5:54:18 PM10/3/01
to
Back on track... The analogy with Resident Evil fits (the first RE is

Greg Ewing

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Oct 3, 2001, 9:17:03 PM10/3/01
to
Daniel Dawson wrote:
>
> Greg Ewing <gr...@cosc.canterbury.ac.nz>. It says:
> >presumably
> >it stored the inode number of the save file in it
> >somewhere.
>
> If that's true, did you ever consider where?

I assumed it was somewhere in the save file itself,
probably encrypted. Maybe I could have hacked the
save file if I'd been so inclined, but I didn't
feel like putting that much effort into it.

Richard Bos

unread,
Oct 4, 2001, 4:13:47 AM10/4/01
to
Anson Turner <anson@DELETE_THISpobox.com> wrote:

> In article <3bbabf2c...@news.worldonline.nl>,


> in...@hoekstra-uitgeverij.nl (Richard Bos) wrote:
>
> > It isn't. It is, under some circumstances, possible to fake this, but
> > the procedure is frowned upon, and is called "save-scumming".
>

> Save the contempt. You aren't going to convert anyone who doesn't already
> agree with your masochistic theory of "play".

Suit yourself; but note that my point was mostly that it is
save-scumming which is the masochistic behaviour, because it makes the
game more repetitive and less exciting. YMMV, of course.

Richard

Magnus Olsson

unread,
Oct 4, 2001, 4:38:52 AM10/4/01
to
In article <3bbc18ce....@news.worldonline.nl>,

The general opinion on the rgouelike newsgroups seems to be (or seemed
to when I used to frequent them a few years ago) that while
"save-scumming" may not be worthy of contempt, it's anyway a kind of
cheating.

Alexander Deubelbeiss

unread,
Oct 4, 2001, 8:25:54 AM10/4/01
to
Magnus Olsson wrote:
>In article <3bbc18ce....@news.worldonline.nl>,
>Richard Bos <in...@hoekstra-uitgeverij.nl> wrote:
>>Anson Turner <anson@DELETE_THISpobox.com> wrote:

[on save-scumming in roguelikes]

>>>Save the contempt. You aren't going to convert anyone who doesn't
>>>already agree with your masochistic theory of "play".
>>
>>Suit yourself; but note that my point was mostly that it is
>>save-scumming which is the masochistic behaviour, because it makes the
>>game more repetitive and less exciting. YMMV, of course.
>
>The general opinion on the rgouelike newsgroups seems to be (or seemed
>to when I used to frequent them a few years ago) that while
>"save-scumming" may not be worthy of contempt, it's anyway a kind of
>cheating.
>

It' s just that players who save-scum change the rules of the
game, and those who go to the effort of playing by the rules
appreciate it if people don't go around saying that they've won
Game X when actually they've won Game X (Simplified Version).

Neil Cerutti

unread,
Oct 4, 2001, 9:12:09 AM10/4/01
to
J.Pitchpine posted:

>- On one side the author's design ability. Save keys must be
>available in adequate number and carefully distributed. Hidden
>save keys could be released as reward to (not really hard)
>puzzles. Optional ones might be given when players accomplish a
>goal though the harder way, instead of the easier one.
>
>- On the other side, the player should be able to evaluate when
>it's the right time to use a save key. To show the player's
>progress + how many save keys haven't been found yet could
>help.
>
>Nevertheless, there is still the possibility that players save
>too often, making their way to the next save key terribly long
>or even running out of save keys. In that case, the game could
>somewhat alert rash players and prevent them from wasting
>precious save keys when too few progress has been made since the
>last save. :-)

To take a page from Clint Eastwood in _The Good, The Bad, and the
Ugly_, there are two kinds of people in this world: those that
will save too often and ruin the difficulty and immersion of the
story, and those that barely remember to save before turning off
the game.

The first kind of person will be "saved" from their over-saving
proclivities, but they'll be frustrasted and angry at not being
able to play the style they are accustomed to. The other type of
person won't notice at all, and will be totally unimpressed by
the extra design effort you expended.

It looks like a lose-lose proposition to me, and a
misappropriation of core competencies. ;-)

--
Neil Cerutti <cer...@trans-video.net>

David Given

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Oct 4, 2001, 6:58:28 AM10/4/01
to
In article <eOLu7.17825$0Y2.2...@news.infostrada.it>,
"J.Pitchpine" <flim...@libero.it> writes:
[...]

> In my IF project I'd implement the save key only. Once players have one,
> they don't need anything else. They can save anywhere, but saving will
> consume one save key anyway.

Some 'terps allow save and restore without consulting the game, remember.
Doesn't WinFrotz do this? This means that players on those 'terp would be
able to bypass your save/restore mechanism completely.

[...]


> Just brainstorming. I feel it all as a creative way to make a more
> compelling game, rather than an useless complication for the player. The
> game will only demand wiser decisions.

I'm afraid that I'd find it just annoying. I don't *like* games that don't
let me save whenever I like. What happens if I'm called away from the
computer in the middle of a complicated puzzle? I'd have to abandon
everything I'd done so far.

My opinions on these things go like this: you can't stop the player
saving/restoring/undoing, so don't even bother trying. But that's IMHO.

--
+- David Given --------McQ-+
| Work: d...@tao-group.com | Closed mouths gather no feet.
| Play: d...@cowlark.com |
+- http://www.cowlark.com -+

Alan Trewartha

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Oct 6, 2001, 8:01:29 AM10/6/01
to
In article <trhms74...@corp.supernews.com>, L. Ross Raszewski

<URL:mailto:lrasz...@loyola.edu> wrote:
> I'm reminded of the game 'Resident Evil'; you saved your game by typing a
> report at any of the game's typewriters, but each time you saved, it
> consumed a typewriter ribbon, a number of which could be found throughout
> the game.
>
> I find it pretty annoying, but I suppose that it could be cleverly
> integrated in a way that was interesting, even if still annoying.

I've often thought about posting on the design of these commercial games --
I've only started playing them in the last year or so since i got me a cheap
N64. I found Resident Evil to be full of the most appalling game design
decisions. The worst of which (still stick in my mind) were the inventory and
the saving conventions. In fact I can't remember anything to praise it for --
oh wait it did make me jump just the once.

A

L. Ross Raszewski

unread,
Oct 6, 2001, 5:06:12 PM10/6/01
to

Hell, I didn't even ger far enough to be annoyed by the saving an
inventory conventions; the the camera/navigation system was bad enough
that I never survived the first scene.

Alan Trewartha

unread,
Oct 7, 2001, 6:41:05 AM10/7/01
to
L. Ross Raszewski wrote:
> Hell, I didn't even ger far enough to be annoyed by the saving an inventory
> conventions; the the camera/navigation system was bad enough that I never
> survived the first scene.

oh it all comes trickling back now. oh and the puzzles! the PUZZLES. my god.

David Thornley

unread,
Oct 8, 2001, 6:45:54 PM10/8/01
to
In article <3bbc5...@news.bluewin.ch>,
Alexander Deubelbeiss <deub...@gmx.net> wrote:

>Magnus Olsson wrote:
>>
>>The general opinion on the rgouelike newsgroups seems to be (or seemed
>>to when I used to frequent them a few years ago) that while
>>"save-scumming" may not be worthy of contempt, it's anyway a kind of
>>cheating.
>>
>It' s just that players who save-scum change the rules of the=20
>game, and those who go to the effort of playing by the rules=20
>appreciate it if people don't go around saying that they've won=20

>Game X when actually they've won Game X (Simplified Version).

That's one point that's made, certainly. However, there are a
good many people who believe that save-scumming makes the game
less fun, and they have made converts. The big question in a
roguelike is whether you'll win without making a fatal mistake,
and eliminating the fatal mistakes removes all the suspense, and
for quite a few people removes the thrill.

It's a matter of individual preference, provided you admit it
when you post about doing it. I don't save-scum, personally.

--
David H. Thornley | If you want my opinion, ask.
da...@thornley.net | If you don't, flee.
http://www.thornley.net/~thornley/david/ | O-

Passenger Pigeon

unread,
Oct 9, 2001, 3:51:04 AM10/9/01
to
In article <anson-A169ED....@nntp.mindspring.com>, Anson
Turner <anson@DELETE_THISpobox.com> wrote:

> Yes, I just love the thrill of starting the game over and over again,
> spending
> hours each time trying to get the character I want -- and who might
> actually
> have a chance of surviving *this* time. Believe it or not, some of us
> have
> other things to do with our time than rescue a lowercase 'd' yet again.

What, exactly, is your purpose for playing the game?

This is neither a rhetorical nor attacking question; I simply don't
understand getting amusement out of playing a roguelike when you're
essentially invulnerable.

but then I hardly ever save playing text adventures either, which is why
Spellbreaker took such a ridiculously long time for me to beat. With
regards to this subject, I may be mad.

--
William Burke, passenge...@hotmail.com contrariwise
Before you presume my rationality, I'm a Theatre major, Music minor.
I don't represent UCSC; it represents me. Go Slugs!
http://www.passengerpigeon.net (not com, not org)

Alexander Deubelbeiss

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Oct 9, 2001, 4:05:33 AM10/9/01
to
Anson Turner wrote:
>In article <C0qw7.8481$rk2.5...@ruti.visi.com>,
> thor...@visi.com (David Thornley) wrote:
>
>>[Making backups of a roguelike savegame so you can reload it is] a

>>matter of individual preference, provided you admit it when you
>>post about doing it. I don't save-scum, personally.
>
>You call it a matter of "individual preference", yet you not only
>refer to it as "save-scumming" -- hardly a neutral term -- but are
>sure to let everyone know that *you*, of course, do not engage in
>this hideous, misguided, impotence-inducing practice. Please.
>
Actually, as I've encountered the term, _scumming_ means bending
the rules of a roguelike but not to the point of actually
cheating.

Magnus Olsson

unread,
Oct 9, 2001, 5:42:25 AM10/9/01
to
In article <anson-A169ED....@nntp.mindspring.com>,

Anson Turner <anson@DELETE_THISpobox.com> wrote:
>In article <C0qw7.8481$rk2.5...@ruti.visi.com>,
> thor...@visi.com (David Thornley) wrote:
>
>> That's one point that's made, certainly. However, there are a
>> good many people who believe that save-scumming makes the game
>> less fun, and they have made converts. The big question in a
>> roguelike is whether you'll win without making a fatal mistake,
>> and eliminating the fatal mistakes removes all the suspense, and
>> for quite a few people removes the thrill.
>
>Yes, I just love the thrill of starting the game over and over again, spending
>hours each time trying to get the character I want -- and who might actually
>have a chance of surviving *this* time. Believe it or not, some of us have
>other things to do with our time than rescue a lowercase 'd' yet again.

But you don't have enough better things to do with your time to stop
you from playing NetHack altogether? :-)

I'd like a middle-ground policy on saves here. The game is too easy
and unbalanced with unlimited saving (for example, you can identify
many potions by quaffing them and then restoring), but on the other
hand it's pretty darn frustrating to lose a promising high-level
character due to some silly typing mistake or some momentary
distraction.

Diablo II handles saves and deaths rather well, I think.

>> It's a matter of individual preference, provided you admit it
>> when you post about doing it. I don't save-scum, personally.
>

>You call it a matter of "individual preference", yet you not only refer to it
>as "save-scumming" -- hardly a neutral term

At least he didn't call you a "save scum". :-)

Daniel Barkalow

unread,
Oct 9, 2001, 12:31:45 PM10/9/01
to
On 9 Oct 2001, Magnus Olsson wrote:

> I'd like a middle-ground policy on saves here. The game is too easy
> and unbalanced with unlimited saving (for example, you can identify
> many potions by quaffing them and then restoring), but on the other
> hand it's pretty darn frustrating to lose a promising high-level
> character due to some silly typing mistake or some momentary
> distraction.

What makes the Nethack issue particularly thorny, as opposed, say, to
Angband, is that Nethack is a single trip through the dungeon, without any
safe spots between encounters. In Angband, you can return to the town and
be essentially safe, and then start a new attempt; if you get killed in
this attempt, your mistakes were almost certainly all in the one bad
session. In Nethack, if you get killed far into the game, it is, as likely
as not, due to some bad habit you've had throughout the game which has
been slowly sapping your abilities relative to what they should be, until
it finally catches up with you. If you restore from a recent save, the
same sort of thing is likely to get you again before long, and it's too
late to fix the problem, most likely. Nethack likes instant deaths, but
only ones which are preventable if you have done the right thing
beforehand. This, of course, makes explore mode (Die? y/n) and backing up
save files both not work too well.

Of course, it's quite possible to have all the good habits for the early
game, but not know the ones for the middle game, and thus always die
around the end of the middle game, so you're trying to figure out the
middle game, but have to keep replaying the early game, which you've
solved. It would be nice to be able to have it skip parts you've
demonstrated a consistent ability to get past with all of the abilities
that you should have gotten up to that point. But that's not really the
usual save file to back up. Although that's a definite
possibility... (once you've gotten to point X, you can restart a save at
point Y)

-Iabervon
*This .sig unintentionally changed*

Robb Sherwin

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Oct 9, 2001, 5:29:07 PM10/9/01
to
On Tue, 9 Oct 2001 12:31:45 -0400, Daniel Barkalow
<iabe...@iabervon.org> wrote:
>If you restore from a recent save, the
>same sort of thing is likely to get you again before long, and it's too
>late to fix the problem, most likely. Nethack likes instant deaths, but
>only ones which are preventable if you have done the right thing
>beforehand. This, of course, makes explore mode (Die? y/n) and backing up
>save files both not work too well.

I've played lots of Nethack, but I am as bad at it as I am many other
games. So I've never really got into the middle game. My question,
though, is: does the game offer up any sort of "teaching" period, or
opportunity to learn what skill sets you're going to need later or, or
does it just kind of hammer you? I've praised the original "Frenetic
Five" before for its ability to teach its player how to play it and I
would gladly do so again: if Nethack really doesn't give you any
indication of what the Right Thing is, then I can totally understand
the desire to back up saved games. Say, for instance, that I ought to
be killing ghosts so that I can get the poweups necessary to kill the
Big Ghost at the End Of The Level. If I've been avoiding them
throughout play, then I am not prepared to continue the game, and a
saved game from fifteen minutes ago doesn't help me. That's fair
enough -- but only *if* there's some indication that I *should* be
slaying them.


(I'm kind of bouncing around from a specific design questions to a
general one -- and on that, I apologize. But I just found the
"Falcon's Eye" graphics add-on to Nethack and I was planning on
spending some time this weekend with it... I guess I want to know what
to expect and look out for should I get far into the game. I may be
happily save-scumming my way throughout it.)

Robb

=-=-=-=-=-
Robb Sherwin, Fort Collins CO
http://www.joltcountry.com
Reviews From Trotting Krips: members.dencity.com/petro/reviews.html

Passenger Pigeon

unread,
Oct 9, 2001, 5:41:40 PM10/9/01
to
In article <anson-A7B521....@nntp.mindspring.com>, Anson
Turner <anson@DELETE_THISpobox.com> wrote:

> Passenger Pigeon <passenge...@hotmail.com> wrote:
>
> > What, exactly, is your purpose for playing the game?
>

> "Purpose"? I'm afraid I'm not familiar with this term.

Rephrase. Do you enjoy beating a game you can't lose?

> > This is neither a rhetorical nor attacking question; I simply don't
> > understand getting amusement out of playing a roguelike when you're
> > essentially invulnerable.
>

> I don't see not having to start over from scratch as the result of one
> mismatched encounter as rendering one "essentially invulnerable". But
> then, I
> don't see losing countless hours invested playing as particularly
> amusing,
> either.

I don't see how one can view being able to recover without consequence
from death as *not* being "essentially invulnerable." You can basically
cancel out anything the game throws at you with a quick restore.

Daniel Barkalow

unread,
Oct 9, 2001, 11:22:19 PM10/9/01
to
On Tue, 9 Oct 2001, Robb Sherwin wrote:

> On Tue, 9 Oct 2001 12:31:45 -0400, Daniel Barkalow
> <iabe...@iabervon.org> wrote:
> >If you restore from a recent save, the
> >same sort of thing is likely to get you again before long, and it's too
> >late to fix the problem, most likely. Nethack likes instant deaths, but
> >only ones which are preventable if you have done the right thing
> >beforehand. This, of course, makes explore mode (Die? y/n) and backing up
> >save files both not work too well.
>
> I've played lots of Nethack, but I am as bad at it as I am many other
> games. So I've never really got into the middle game. My question,
> though, is: does the game offer up any sort of "teaching" period, or
> opportunity to learn what skill sets you're going to need later or, or
> does it just kind of hammer you? I've praised the original "Frenetic
> Five" before for its ability to teach its player how to play it and I
> would gladly do so again: if Nethack really doesn't give you any
> indication of what the Right Thing is, then I can totally understand
> the desire to back up saved games. Say, for instance, that I ought to
> be killing ghosts so that I can get the poweups necessary to kill the
> Big Ghost at the End Of The Level. If I've been avoiding them
> throughout play, then I am not prepared to continue the game, and a
> saved game from fifteen minutes ago doesn't help me. That's fair
> enough -- but only *if* there's some indication that I *should* be
> slaying them.

It's sort of different from that. For example, there are a lot of monsters
which, when killed, can be eaten for beneficial abilities, many that do
bad things when eaten, and some which do both. In some sections of the
game, it's important to have gotten certain abilities (get poison
resistance before you start to see poisoned spiked pits, e.g.) which can
be gotten earlier through a variety of methods. If you've encountered
things that kill you before, you might know what you need, and usually it
makes some sense how you get it. I've gotten really good at the beginning,
but not really at the middle, though, so I don't know what the tricks for
the middle are really like.

But more than that, there are a ton of "good habits": ways to identify
items without wasting resources and without too much risk, things you
ought to collect, things you ought to do (doing certain things
"exercises" your abilities, and if you've been doing them for a while,
your abilities have a random chance of going up; if you've been doing bad
things, they'll go down instead). There are tricks you can use to save
yourself in a bad situation, sometimes, and knowing what they are and when
they'll work is important. There are ways to get more useful items which
you can figure out. A lot of these are not directly clued: it's more that
you'll do something, and something good will happen. Essentially, it pays
to be superstitious.

> (I'm kind of bouncing around from a specific design questions to a
> general one -- and on that, I apologize. But I just found the
> "Falcon's Eye" graphics add-on to Nethack and I was planning on
> spending some time this weekend with it... I guess I want to know what
> to expect and look out for should I get far into the game. I may be
> happily save-scumming my way throughout it.)

You should be able to find a lot of spoilers, which will tell you what to
eat, how to deal with pesky monsters, how to identify stuff, what you can
do that has good odds, what precautions you can take for various things,
and so forth. These are likely to help more in Nethack than save-scumming,
since they'll get you killed less. Of course, if you just want to see the
game, explore mode and wizard mode can make it easy.

Passenger Pigeon

unread,
Oct 9, 2001, 11:28:39 PM10/9/01
to
In article <anson-C2ED36....@nntp.mindspring.com>, Anson
Turner <anson@DELETE_THISpobox.com> wrote:

> Photopia won the Competition the year it was entered. I'll leave it
> someone
> else to debate whether it's a game you can't lose, a game you can't win,
> or
> even a game at all, and whether it is meaningful to speak of winning or
> losing
> in the context of a game in which only one of those outcomes is possible.

I'm someone else. Photopia's not a game -- at least, I do not consider
it one, but rather a piece of art or literature. In fact, I'd say that
most pieces of interactive fiction are not games as I define the term.

Rephrase. Do you enjoy beating a roguelike game you can't lose?

Now, there are games I play that I *know* I will win, but they're
generally twitchy, hand-eye coordination games. I also watch bad movies
on occasion. Roguelike games, to my eye, are a form of intellectual
gratification -- people don't ascend because they pushed z-g-4 really
fast, they ascend because they prepared and planned their movements so
that they *had* that wand of death in reserve.

> You are making assumptions which, at least for me, are patently false,
> notably: 1) I save after every single turn, 2) Restoring is effortless
> and
> takes absolutely no time at all. In fact, as I have explained elsewhere,
> both
> saving and restoring take a considerable amount of time and there is
> simply no
> way I'm going to do so every turn or two.

Every level, then? Every other? Where does it become all right? Do
you think it *is* perfectly reasonable to save every turn, although you
personally don't do it? What if you had an edited version of ADOM in
which save-scumming only required one keypress?

> In any case, you seem to see the risk of dying (or losing) as the only
> possible challenge or obstacle in the game, a view with which I
> fundamentally
> disagree.

You can recover from *anything* the game throws at you with a quick
restore, not just death. Death is just the obvious one. To take an
extreme view, you can continually reload just before entering the level
Khelevaster is on until a monster on it drops an amulet of life saving.


(followups set; apologies for being offtopic)

Rikard Peterson

unread,
Oct 11, 2001, 6:31:50 AM10/11/01
to
"Passenger Pigeon" <passenge...@hotmail.com> skrev i meddelandet
news:passenger_pigeon-06...@news.la.sbcglobal.net...

> In fact, I'd say that most pieces of interactive fiction
> are not games as I define the term.

How do you define the term?


Passenger Pigeon

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Oct 11, 2001, 2:44:53 PM10/11/01
to
(various spoilers follow)


In article <9q3seo$ldrsi$1...@ID-26593.news.dfncis.de>, "Rikard Peterson"
<trumg...@bigfoot.com> wrote:

Well, I'll tell you. (and incidentally, this is apparently gross
hyperbole, but the phrase "interactive fiction" itself brings up only a
small set of programs in my mind, few of which I classify as games.
"text adventures" would be something different.)


1. Variation in ending

Simply put, you can lose a game.
Now, obviously, you can lose a lot of IF too -- but it's considered, by
many, a bad thing. The movement towards IF that can't be made
unwinnable is a movement specifically to avoid this; likewise the
tendency to discourage easy death, or indeed death at all. As Mr.
Turner mentioned, Photopia is a brilliant piece of interactive fiction,
and it always ends the same way. Now, I'm not contending that all IF is
like Photopia; however, I do think that the "ideal" IF, the IF that many
people on this newsgroup seem to push for, is an idyllic setting where
you are guaranteed eventually to reach the ending through sheer
elimination of commands. This, I think, represents a desire for IF
which is literature in its own right; it's difficult to lose "Waiting
for Godot." Or possibly difficult to win.
Or possibly difficult to end.

2. Player tests

All games represent a series of tasks to be fulfilled by the player.
Their ability to complete this tasks depends on a certain set of
qualities designated and chosen by the game designer. In a game of
basketball, you are being tested on your speed, hand-eye coordination
and stamina; in a game of tic-tac-toe, you are being tested on your
ability to look ahead. Tic-tac-toe is an easier test than basketball.
The vast majority of IF does fulfill this requirement; however, again,
the progress in the field is generally away from it. Mazes, a classic
player test, are considered almost heresy now; likewise, time limits, a
traditional feature of any game, are often scorned. I'm not sure if
puzzleless IF quite exists yet, but I think it's in the wings.


I've left a lot of wiggle room here, so I may follow up later with a few
other distinguishing features, but at the moment time does not permit.

Passenger Pigeon

unread,
Oct 12, 2001, 4:45:32 AM10/12/01
to
In article
<passenger_pigeon-3C...@news.la.sbcglobal.net>,
Passenger Pigeon <passenge...@hotmail.com> wrote:

> 1. Variation in ending
>
> 2. Player tests


>
> I've left a lot of wiggle room here, so I may follow up later with a few
> other distinguishing features, but at the moment time does not permit.

3. Strategic, not tactical

The idea of a game which can be regularly won by a first-time player is
absurd, or, at least, implies that the game is ridiculously simple. The
idea of a piece of IF that requires you to die several times before you
can figure out how to proceed is specifically mentioned as a bad thing
to do in the Player's Bill of Rights. The process of becoming good at a
game (which is another point; you can't very well be "good at Zork") is
one in which you, the player, generally lose several times while
determining exactly which skills are engaged in which ways and how best
to apply them. Not only are you required to play many times before you
can "beat" it, but this is a good thing, as it means the game has
"depth". By contrast, a first-time player of a piece of IF is generally
supposed to be able to win without knowledge of the plot before it
unfolds.


I think these are my big three.

Rikard Peterson

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Oct 12, 2001, 6:19:26 AM10/12/01
to
"Passenger Pigeon" wrote his definition of a game:

(see actual posts for definitions of terms)

> > 1. Variation in ending
> >
> > 2. Player tests
>

> 3. Strategic, not tactical

I accept that that these are things you want in a game, but I think
going so far as not accepting IF as games if they don't include these
things is going way too far. I personally like those games that you
dislike, and indeed think it's a good thing if you can win without
previous knowledge of the plot (3) and the game doesn't include
(unneccessary) timed sequences (2) or arbitary deaths (1).

For me, a game can offer enough challenge with the puzzles alone and
doesn't need the equivalents of action games.

Rikard


Passenger Pigeon

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Oct 12, 2001, 6:21:32 AM10/12/01
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In article <9q6g3d$lok2a$1...@ID-26593.news.dfncis.de>, "Rikard Peterson"
<trumg...@bigfoot.com> wrote:

> "Passenger Pigeon" wrote his definition of a game:
>
> (see actual posts for definitions of terms)
>
> > > 1. Variation in ending
> > >
> > > 2. Player tests
> >
> > 3. Strategic, not tactical
>
> I accept that that these are things you want in a game, but I think
> going so far as not accepting IF as games if they don't include these
> things is going way too far. I personally like those games that you
> dislike, and indeed think it's a good thing if you can win without
> previous knowledge of the plot (3) and the game doesn't include
> (unneccessary) timed sequences (2) or arbitary deaths (1).

I didn't mean that I disliked them; I enjoyed them very much. I simply
don't consider them "games." They are rather pieces of art or
literature.

Jurgen Lerch)

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Oct 12, 2001, 2:48:47 PM10/12/01
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Saluton!

Richard Bos <in...@hoekstra-uitgeverij.nl> wrote:
[...]


> Suit yourself; but note that my point was mostly that it is
> save-scumming which is the masochistic behaviour, because it makes the
> game more repetitive and less exciting. YMMV, of course.

With one no-save character in Angband I stopped
counting at incarnation 130-something. What is
more boring, having to replay levels 1 to
whatever or reloading the save, trying a different
approach and getting on with the game - and,
especially, getting to see the interesting things
the game has to offer further on.

Ad Astra!
JuL

--
ler...@uni-duesseldorf.de / Realität ist eine Krücke für diejenigen,
Jürgen ,,JuL'' Lerch / die mit der Fantasie nicht zurechtkommen
http://www-public.rz.uni-duesseldorf.de/~lerchj/

Jurgen Lerch)

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Oct 12, 2001, 2:52:10 PM10/12/01
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Saluton!

Passenger Pigeon <passenge...@hotmail.com> wrote:
> Rephrase. Do you enjoy beating a roguelike game you can't lose?

What do you think of people using hintfiles and
walkthroughs in IF games? (Which seems to me far
more common here as I would do myself.)

Roger Carbol

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Oct 12, 2001, 3:39:36 PM10/12/01
to
Passenger Pigeon wrote:

> 1. Variation in ending

> Simply put, you can lose a game.
> Now, obviously, you can lose a lot of IF too -- but it's
> considered, by many, a bad thing.

There are other games like this, which don't have a "hard"
definition of "losing". Consider, say, blackjack. Sure, you
can lose a hand, but when do you lose the entire game? When
you decide to quit playing, which is much like IF.

If you consider, for example, SPAG's Top Ten list of Games,
I think you'll find that most if not all of them have
definite ways to lose. And for most of them, this is a
good thing -- it's hard to imagine "Anchorhead" being
effective if the player couldn't lose (and lose horribly.)

> 2. Player tests
>
> All games represent a series of tasks to be fulfilled by the player.
> Their ability to complete this tasks depends on a certain set of
> qualities designated and chosen by the game designer. In a game of
> basketball, you are being tested on your speed, hand-eye coordination
> and stamina; in a game of tic-tac-toe, you are being tested on your
> ability to look ahead. Tic-tac-toe is an easier test than basketball.
> The vast majority of IF does fulfill this requirement; however, again,
> the progress in the field is generally away from it.

I think there's just a move to a different set of qualities. The
ability to traverse a conversation tree, for example.

> Mazes, a classic
> player test, are considered almost heresy now;

That's because, in their classic form, mazes only test the
player's ability to complete a long, boring, tedious process.
Most players get enough of that in real life. It's also why
we see fewer and fewer Towers of Hanoi implementations
hiding in thin disguises.

> 3. Strategic, not tactical
>
> The idea of a game which can be regularly won by a first-time player is
> absurd, or, at least, implies that the game is ridiculously simple.

I wouldn't necessarily call it absurd. I think many games have
a non-Boolean win condition, and as players get better at it, they
"win higher". For example, PacMan, or Tetris.

If we consider SPAG's Top Ten list again, how many of them could
be regularly won by a first-time player, if that player wasn't
cheating or using hints or whatnot? Rather few, I would say.

> The process of becoming good at a
> game (which is another point; you can't very well be "good at Zork")

I think you *can* become good at playing IF. Not exactly a
valuable life skill, but I think it exists.


There's a nice little essay about the Game-versus-Story theme
located at
<http://www.scottkim.com/thinkinggames/whatisapuzzle/>
which happens to reference Chris Crawford's The Art of
Computer Game Design.


.. Roger Carbol .. rca...@home.com

Bennett Standeven

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Oct 14, 2001, 1:21:09 AM10/14/01
to
Passenger Pigeon <passenge...@hotmail.com> wrote in message news:<passenger_pigeon-3C...@news.la.sbcglobal.net>...

> (various spoilers follow)
>
>
>
>
>
>
> In article <9q3seo$ldrsi$1...@ID-26593.news.dfncis.de>, "Rikard Peterson"
> <trumg...@bigfoot.com> wrote:
>
> > "Passenger Pigeon" <passenge...@hotmail.com> skrev i meddelandet
> > news:passenger_pigeon-06...@news.la.sbcglobal.net...
> >
> > > In fact, I'd say that most pieces of interactive fiction
> > > are not games as I define the term.
> >
> > How do you define the term?
>
> Well, I'll tell you. (and incidentally, this is apparently gross
> hyperbole, but the phrase "interactive fiction" itself brings up only a
> small set of programs in my mind, few of which I classify as games.
> "text adventures" would be something different.)
>
>
> 1. Variation in ending
>
> Simply put, you can lose a game.
> Now, obviously, you can lose a lot of IF too -- but it's considered, by
> many, a bad thing. The movement towards IF that can't be made
> unwinnable is a movement specifically to avoid this; likewise the
> tendency to discourage easy death, or indeed death at all. As Mr.
> Turner mentioned, Photopia is a brilliant piece of interactive fiction,
> and it always ends the same way. Now, I'm not contending that all IF is
> like Photopia; however, I do think that the "ideal" IF, the IF that many
> people on this newsgroup seem to push for, is an idyllic setting where
> you are guaranteed eventually to reach the ending through sheer
> elimination of commands.

Two objections: puzzles that can be solved by elimination of commands
are generally frowned upon, and some "ideal" games do have multiple
endings (but all of which are "successful" in some sense).

> 2. Player tests
>
> All games represent a series of tasks to be fulfilled by the player.
> Their ability to complete this tasks depends on a certain set of
> qualities designated and chosen by the game designer.

[...]


> The vast majority of IF does fulfill this requirement; however, again,
> the progress in the field is generally away from it. Mazes, a classic
> player test, are considered almost heresy now;

That's mainly because everyone knows how to solve them already, and so
they aren't much fun anymore.

> likewise, time limits, a traditional feature of any game, are often scorned.

With an undo feature, time limits aren't much of a challenge...

Adam Thornton

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Oct 14, 2001, 1:38:33 AM10/14/01
to
In article <24c3076b.01101...@posting.google.com>,

Bennett Standeven <be...@pop.networkusa.net> wrote:
>With an undo feature, time limits aren't much of a challenge...

Played "A Change In The Weather?"

Adam


Passenger Pigeon

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Oct 14, 2001, 2:21:22 AM10/14/01
to
(lots of spoilers, probably)

In article <82675075.01101...@posting.google.com>,
rca...@home.com (Roger Carbol) wrote:

> Passenger Pigeon wrote:
>
> > 1. Variation in ending
>
> > Simply put, you can lose a game.
> > Now, obviously, you can lose a lot of IF too -- but it's
> > considered, by many, a bad thing.
>
> There are other games like this, which don't have a "hard"
> definition of "losing". Consider, say, blackjack. Sure, you
> can lose a hand, but when do you lose the entire game? When
> you decide to quit playing, which is much like IF.

Hmm.
I define each hand of blackjack as its own game. In many card games, a
complete "game" is so short that they are traditionally played in sets
(and then for money), but each hand is still a game.

> If you consider, for example, SPAG's Top Ten list of Games,
> I think you'll find that most if not all of them have
> definite ways to lose. And for most of them, this is a
> good thing -- it's hard to imagine "Anchorhead" being
> effective if the player couldn't lose (and lose horribly.)

1. Gateway 2: Homeworld 9.0 6 votes
2. Sunset over Savannah 8.7 6 votes
3. Trinity 8.7 18 votes
4. Anchorhead 8.7 28 votes
5. Spider and Web 8.6 18 votes
6. Gateway 8.6 7 votes
7. Losing Your Grip 8.5 6 votes
8. Spellbreaker 8.5 8 votes
9. Babel 8.4 10 votes
10. Mind Forever Voyaging 8.4 14 votes

Of these games, I haven't played 1, 2 and 6, and never finished 4, 7 or
9, so it's difficult for me to discuss this list, but I'll give it a
shot with the four I do know.

Trinity: Being Infocom, this game is very easy to die in. I consider
Trinity a game rather than IF, though; though it does have a message and
a clear plot, it does not, in my opinion, act as art. It's the IF
equivalent of a pulp sci-fi novel.

Spellbreaker: Same deal.

AMFV: Here we get into a more sticky situation. AMFV is clearly IF,
with clearly defined characters, plot movement, etc.; but as a result
it's nearly impossible to die in. I think there's like three ways it
can happen; it's very carefully minimized as not really being part of
what they were trying to do. I think this supports my point; in order
to make it both game and IF, it was necessary to minimize the game-like
aspects which are apparent in most other Infocom games.

Spider and Web: Aha. This, too, is both IF and game, but I did leave
myself the leeway of saying that there were some such examples. There
aren't too many games like this, because it's really a tour de force to
design such a thing.

In fact, I don't think this list is really that relevant at all; it's a
list of "games." Photopia is not represented on this list; neither are
any IF Art Gallery entries, or other pieces of IF which are clearly
un-game-like.

I put it to you; would a transcript of a successful session, slightly
edited, be a piece of literature? If not, I don't think it's fiction --
so how can it be interactive fiction?

> > 2. Player tests
> >
> > All games represent a series of tasks to be fulfilled by the player.
> > Their ability to complete this tasks depends on a certain set of
> > qualities designated and chosen by the game designer. In a game of
> > basketball, you are being tested on your speed, hand-eye coordination
> > and stamina; in a game of tic-tac-toe, you are being tested on your
> > ability to look ahead. Tic-tac-toe is an easier test than basketball.
> > The vast majority of IF does fulfill this requirement; however, again,
> > the progress in the field is generally away from it.
>
> I think there's just a move to a different set of qualities. The
> ability to traverse a conversation tree, for example.

I hesitate to call this an ability as such. I've yet to play a game
containing a conversation tree in which the correct answer wasn't
basically obvious.

> > Mazes, a classic
> > player test, are considered almost heresy now;
>
> That's because, in their classic form, mazes only test the
> player's ability to complete a long, boring, tedious process.
> Most players get enough of that in real life. It's also why
> we see fewer and fewer Towers of Hanoi implementations
> hiding in thin disguises.

Arguably, most solitaire games test the player's ability to complete a
long, boring, tedious process. This is theoretically fun, and in fact
many enjoy it. Ever play Harvest Moon?

> > 3. Strategic, not tactical
> >
> > The idea of a game which can be regularly won by a first-time player is
> > absurd, or, at least, implies that the game is ridiculously simple.
>
> I wouldn't necessarily call it absurd. I think many games have
> a non-Boolean win condition, and as players get better at it, they
> "win higher". For example, PacMan, or Tetris.

This is a really good point, but I don't think it changes the fact that
IF *does* have a Boolean win condition, and that you are expected to be
able to reach a postiive result quickly.

> If we consider SPAG's Top Ten list again, how many of them could
> be regularly won by a first-time player, if that player wasn't
> cheating or using hints or whatnot? Rather few, I would say.

Same argument regarding the Top Ten list's validity as evidence here.

> > The process of becoming good at a
> > game (which is another point; you can't very well be "good at Zork")
>
> I think you *can* become good at playing IF. Not exactly a
> valuable life skill, but I think it exists.

You can be good at IF. You can't be good at specific instances of it.

> There's a nice little essay about the Game-versus-Story theme
> located at
> <http://www.scottkim.com/thinkinggames/whatisapuzzle/>
> which happens to reference Chris Crawford's The Art of
> Computer Game Design.

Thank you; I'll give it a read.

Rikard Peterson

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Oct 14, 2001, 5:55:46 AM10/14/01
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"Passenger Pigeon" <passenge...@hotmail.com> skrev i meddelandet
news:passenger_pigeon-13...@news.la.sbcglobal.net...

> I didn't mean that I disliked them; I enjoyed them very much.
> I simply don't consider them "games." They are rather pieces
> of art or literature.

The main difference between a book or a movie and games such as IF is
that you have to do something besides simply turning pages and read. You
have to solve problems and figure out strange ways to use objects.
That's what makes it a game and not just art. Of course then a game can
be art too, but that's a different discussion.

> --
> William Burke, passenge...@hotmail.com contrariwise
> Before you presume my rationality, I'm a Theatre major, Music minor.

Well, I'm a music student myself, so I guess none of us are rational. ;)

Rikard


Alan DeNiro

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Oct 14, 2001, 12:18:38 PM10/14/01
to
>
> I put it to you; would a transcript of a successful session, slightly
> edited, be a piece of literature? If not, I don't think it's fiction --
> so how can it be interactive fiction?


Thing is, judging the "artfulness" of IF on the basis of written
transcripts is like reading song lyrics without music. Or taking the
line breaks out of poetry and reading a poem as if it were prose. Or
judging the value of sculptures solely on how they look in books. I
would be hard pressed to call any Dylan song a strict 'poem', even
when it has many poetic elements. But that's not the point--the point
is that there's an INTERRELATIONSHIP between different structures and
forms (in this example, combination of lyrics and music, and vocal
style, if you want to include that as a component) that's greater than
the sum of its parts. They can't be disasocciated, Norton's efforts to
publish McCartney lyrics as "poems" notwithstanding. For IF, the
creator programs a mimetic engine that has little to do with linearity
of text and transcript. And the reader/player is a full collaborator
in the creation of an IF experience, right? This is quite different
from one of the AIMS of fiction altogether, except for writers like
Calvino, Nabokov, etc., who at times attempted to MIMIC the full
collaboration of a reader as an active component in a work of fiction.
This is hard to do in fiction, but the bread and butter for even the
most rudimentary IF. It's the triangular relationship between
author--computer(for lack of a more succinct word)--reader that is the
framework. Certainly, let's print out transcripts and read them with
pleasure when they're well done. But I have a hard time using that as
a critereon for whether a piece of IF is 'lit' or not.

A.

ps. Trinity isn't Infocom's attempt at pulp sci-fi, is it? Leather
Goddesses fits that role much more nicely. Trinity always struck me as
fairly mainstream SF (or science fantasy, if you will).

Passenger Pigeon

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Oct 14, 2001, 1:50:28 AM10/14/01
to
In article <24c3076b.01101...@posting.google.com>,
be...@pop.networkusa.net (Bennett Standeven) wrote:

All puzzles can be solved by elimination of commands, in the sense that
all plays can be written by lots and lots of monkeys. In IF writing,
though, it's good form to make puzzle solutions relatively simple, which
means that it really is possible, when playing an unloseable piece of
IF, to win it through sheer volume of attempts. It would still be
ludicrous, but the potential is there.

The second point is a good one, but I contend that gameness requires the
potential of an unsatisfying ending.

> > 2. Player tests
> >
> > All games represent a series of tasks to be fulfilled by the player.
> > Their ability to complete this tasks depends on a certain set of
> > qualities designated and chosen by the game designer.
> [...]
> > The vast majority of IF does fulfill this requirement; however, again,
> > the progress in the field is generally away from it. Mazes, a classic
> > player test, are considered almost heresy now;
>
> That's mainly because everyone knows how to solve them already, and so
> they aren't much fun anymore.

This is interesting. Maze-solving requires a specific intellectual
process which can be fun to apply. In the same way, everybody knows how
to solve a crossword puzzle, or to make a Tetris. I'd argue, in fact,
that quite a few Nethack players know exactly how to win at Nethack (not
just in the big picture sense, but in the sense of having a strategy so
carefully defined as to guarantee a win as long as the character is not
lost to ridiculously bad luck). In fact, virtually any "player test"
operates on the principle that the player will know exactly what to do
to complete it; the question is whether he will succeed in doing it
correctly.

> > likewise, time limits, a traditional feature of any game, are often
> > scorned.
>
> With an undo feature, time limits aren't much of a challenge..

I don't agree: remember Varicella?
In any case, though, I would say that the ability to "undo" is also
anti-game.

Rikard Peterson

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Oct 22, 2001, 7:43:43 AM10/22/01
to
"Anson Turner" <anson@DELETE_THISpobox.com> skrev i meddelandet
news:anson-4FC718....@nntp.mindspring.com...
>
> Anson, not for a moment believing that "skrev i meddelandet"
> are real words. Well, maybe "meddelandet".

Nej, det är klart. Svenskan är ett helt och hållet fiktivt språk som nio
miljoner personer använder när de inte vill bli förstådda av resten av
världen. Det är praktiskt eftersom AltaVistas babelsfisk inte heller
begriper nordiska språk. Hurdy wurdy.

;-)

(Never mind me, I'm merely babbling...)

Rikard


Bennett Standeven

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Oct 26, 2001, 1:12:17 AM10/26/01