Most Hated Puzzles and Other Things

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FemaleDeer

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Feb 6, 1998, 3:00:00 AM2/6/98
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Okay, I am rewriting, "The Family Legacy", making a lot of progress on Version
2. Let's see I have eating, drinking, sleeping in the game, which most people
can't stand. I also have a code written down somewhere for something the player
can't proceed past until they find the code, some people really loathe that.

Hmmm, maybe I should stick in a little maze just to be on the safe side. So I
will be sure to cover all the most hated items and puzzles found in IF games.

Seriously, what else do you abhor? I would sort of like to keep the hate level
toward my game (when it is finally released) down to a dull roar. Strangely, I
prefer good vibes to thrown tomatoes.

FD :-) This is probably a dumb question.
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concealing how much we think of ourselves and how
little we think of the other person." Mark Twain

Neil K.

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Feb 6, 1998, 3:00:00 AM2/6/98
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femal...@aol.com (FemaleDeer) wrote:

> Okay, I am rewriting, "The Family Legacy", making a lot of progress on Version
> 2. Let's see I have eating, drinking, sleeping in the game, which most people
> can't stand. I also have a code written down somewhere for something the
player
> can't proceed past until they find the code, some people really loathe that.
>
> Hmmm, maybe I should stick in a little maze just to be on the safe side. So I
> will be sure to cover all the most hated items and puzzles found in IF games.

Regarding the eating, sleeping and drinking business... I think what most
people hate is not necessarily dealing with basic bodily IF needs*, but
being summarily killed if they fail to do so. A game that lets you eat and
drink stuff is fine - it's a game that kills you if you don't drink and
eat every ten turns that will make players angry. It's pointless, and
thoroughly unrealistic. Fortunately in real life we can all go for long
periods without drink or water, though it may not be a particularly
enjoyable thing. :)

* well... the more interesting ones anyway. Fortunately, breathing and
going to the toilet are rarely implemented in IF.

Sleeping is a bit different. If your game tosses the player into
unconsciousness every few turns, then the same irritation factor
associated with drinking and eating crops up. But a game that makes you
sleep after some reasonable number of turns (at least in the hundreds)
isn't going to be so bad. Particularly if it's an integral part of the
story or forms part of a puzzle, as Enchanter did. At least, that's my
take.

Codes... well. As Zarf (I think) points out in XyzzyNews, you want the
player to find a can and search for a can opener, not the other way
around. Same, I'd say, with codes and the like. Codes are simple variants
on the locked door and missing key puzzle, so they can be banal or fine
depending on how they're implemented.

- Neil K.

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

Benjamin Kenward

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Feb 6, 1998, 3:00:00 AM2/6/98
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Neil K. (fake...@anti-spam.address) wrote:
: * well... the more interesting ones anyway. Fortunately, breathing and

: going to the toilet are rarely implemented in IF.

>INHALE
You take a breath.

>EXHALE
You exhale.

>INHALE
You take a breath.

>Z
You start to feel dizzy from lack of oxygen.

>Z
You collapse unconcious. Maybe you should remember to breath next time.

*** You have lost. ***


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Tony Ellis

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Feb 6, 1998, 3:00:00 AM2/6/98
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Interesting question. I hate being forced to solve codes, which you
mention, but I've always felt that eating and sleeping were fine in the
right kind of game (ie Planetfall, where the whole issue was Survival On A
Strange World). Mazes can be very tedious, even if they use what the author
considers to be a clever new twist.

Other hates:contrived, you'd-never-guess-that-I-was-a-programmer-would-you
type logical puzzles, shoe-horned into the narrative by teleporting the
player to the Plane of Prime Numbers or something. People who played
Spellbreaker may know what I'm talking about.

Old chestnuts: puzzles that require you to guess the right verb. Puzzles
which are just disguised locked-door-and-key scenarios. But you knew these
were evil already.

What puzzles do I love? Lateral-thinking problems, where you feel genuinely
clever for having solved them, rather than just knackered and relieved. See
HHGTTG for details.

Joe Mason

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Feb 6, 1998, 3:00:00 AM2/6/98
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In article <fake-mail-060...@van-52-1135.direct.ca>,

Neil K. <fake...@anti-spam.address> wrote:
>
> * well... the more interesting ones anyway. Fortunately, breathing and
>going to the toilet are rarely implemented in IF.

With the exception of Coming Home and My First Stupid Game, of course.

And wasn't there a game the required "INHALE. EXHALE. INHALE" in order to go
into meditation?

Joe

Lelah Conrad

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Feb 7, 1998, 3:00:00 AM2/7/98
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On 6 Feb 1998 08:13:04 GMT, femal...@aol.com (FemaleDeer) wrote:


>Seriously, what else do you abhor?

I really hate things that detract from story line. I like to be
sucked in by a good tale, and I like forward momentum. To me, most
timed puzzles, eating and drinking, etc. just take away from that
momentum. Then again, I'm more on the "literature" side than the
"puzzle" side when it comes to IF. I'm reading/playing IF more for
the story than for the puzzles.
When I encounter a puzzle, I prefer it to be like a challenge
or obstacle that someone might face in the context of a real
situation. Maybe if I was in an IF game about a homeless character,
for example, then finding the necessities of life (warm places to
sleep, soup kitchens, etc.) would be part of the plot and become
important. Facing these kinds of challenges helps me become more
fully immersed in the character role, and thus develops the sense of
immersion in the story. Most often, though, I don't want to see
bodily funcitons in IF any more than I want to read about them in
fiction. I want action, interaction, plot and setting! And real, not
contrived, or distracting, challenges!

Lelah

"Why did I spend so much time giving you paradox and mystery, when all
you wanted was cause and effect?" -- Christoper Frye

Jeff Johnson

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Feb 7, 1998, 3:00:00 AM2/7/98
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FemaleDeer wrote in message
<19980206081...@ladder03.news.aol.com>...


>Okay, I am rewriting, "The Family Legacy", making a lot of progress on
Version
>2. Let's see I have eating, drinking, sleeping in the game, which most
people
>can't stand. I also have a code written down somewhere for something the
player
>can't proceed past until they find the code, some people really loathe
that.
>
>Hmmm, maybe I should stick in a little maze just to be on the safe side. So
I
>will be sure to cover all the most hated items and puzzles found in IF
games.
>

>Seriously, what else do you abhor? I would sort of like to keep the hate
level
>toward my game (when it is finally released) down to a dull roar.
Strangely, I
>prefer good vibes to thrown tomatoes.

I think in many ways it depends on the player. For instance, I have a knack
for languages, and when I played Infidel, one of the first things I did was
learn how to read the hieroglyphics. I think that helped me solve puzzles
faster than most people. (I solved Infidel blindingly fast in IF terms.) It
gave me a sense of accomplishment. Other people might not have gotten much
of a boost and subsequently probably didn't like the unintelligible symbols
everywhere.

Ditto with Starcross. I could tell immediately that the environmental
controls offered methane, oxygen, and some other gas (been a while since I
played) just by the description of the symbols. This was due to my chemistry
background.

However, in some ways certain genres of IF are going to be appealing to only
a select group of people. I've never played Plundered Hearts, but I know I'm
no reader of romance novels, and I'm not sure if it would appeal to me or
not. I can be pretty safe with any Sci-Fi IF I play, though.

Even when they make sense, as I will agree they did in Planet/Stationfall, I
find food puzzles bothersome. The sleep idea is okay. It made for a good
puzzle in Scott Adam's The Count, because you had to find a place to hide
items to keep them from being stolen while you slept.

Multipart puzzles, like getting the Babel fish, can be really cool if used
sparingly. However, once you've gotten three pieces of a four-piece puzzle
together, the fourth should not be next-to-impossible to solve. It can be
really frustrating to think, "Okay, now THIS TIME it's going to work," only
to find out that you still need to do one more thing.

(My apologies if this was posted twice. I tried to cancel the previous
message.)

Lelah Conrad

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Feb 7, 1998, 3:00:00 AM2/7/98
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On Sat, 7 Feb 1998 01:54:35 -0500, "Jeff Johnson"
<pawp...@net.megastar> wrote:

>However, in some ways certain genres of IF are going to be appealing
to only
>a select group of people. I've never played Plundered Hearts, but I know I'm
>no reader of romance novels, and I'm not sure if it would appeal to me or
>not.

Here's an example of a genre labelling problem, imho. Plundered
Hearts is a _swashbuckler_, a la The Three Musketeers, much more than
a romance novel. I've never even read a romance novel, which is why I
hadn't even considered playing PH. However, my pirates and swordplay
loving daughter (a Robin Hood collector, in fact) looked at the box
and contents of the pouch and was immediately tempted. It's not what
you think! In terms of action writing, it's the best I've seen so
far, e.g: (probable spoilers below):


Haven't you always wanted to swing from a chandelier into a roomful of
people at a fancy dress ball? Throw something through a window to
climb onto a dangling rope ladder? Launch yourself out to sea with
the momentum of being inside one of a stack of barrels that have
thunderously rolled off the deck? And don't forget the duel on the
beach with the villain ...


Lelah

FemaleDeer

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Feb 9, 1998, 3:00:00 AM2/9/98
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Thank you all for your answers.

It has been very helpful. I wasn't talking specifically about the things I
mentioned, but what you, personally hate.

But the input is valuable. I wish more had answered, but it looks like people
would rather beat dead horses (IF standards, GUI, etc.) instead.

FD :-) THANKS again.

Dennis Matheson

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Feb 9, 1998, 3:00:00 AM2/9/98
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Joe Mason wrote:
>
> In article <fake-mail-060...@van-52-1135.direct.ca>,
> Neil K. <fake...@anti-spam.address> wrote:
>>snip<<

>
> And wasn't there a game the required "INHALE. EXHALE. INHALE" in order to go
> into meditation?
>
> Joe

I recall that one of the Scott Adams adventures required
"HYPERVENTALATE" as a verb at one point.
--
"You can't run away forever, but there's nothing wrong with
getting a good head start" --- Jim Steinman

Dennis Matheson --- Dennis....@transquest.com
--- http://home.earthlink.net/~tanstaafl

Joe Mason

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Feb 10, 1998, 3:00:00 AM2/10/98
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In article <6bn99p$5t...@gcs.delta-air.com>,

Dennis Matheson <"Dennis..Matheson@"@transquest..com> wrote:
>
> I recall that one of the Scott Adams adventures required
>"HYPERVENTALATE" as a verb at one point.

That must have been incredibly annoying - especially as its spelled
"HYPERVENTILATE".

Joe


Paul F. Snively

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Feb 10, 1998, 3:00:00 AM2/10/98
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In article <Eo559...@undergrad.math.uwaterloo.ca>,
jcm...@undergrad.math.uwaterloo.ca (Joe Mason) wrote:

Actually, I didn't mind that one so much--you're in some sort of space
environment and it's fairly clear when you're in a room with air and when
you're not, and as I recall, you actually managed to get from one room with
air to another room with air just as you expire if you didn't
hyperventilate. It seemed like there were plenty enough clues--at least for
someone with at least an OK grasp of basic physiology.

Of course, the topic here is hated puzzles, isn't it? How does everyone
feel about the general class of puzzles that require some sort of knowledge
that's outside the context of the game? The above is a good example--the
game didn't include the physiology information; it relied on the player
having that. Another example from yesteryear was a game in which you killed
a monster and, later, the monster's mother, and before you could finish the
game, you had to give the monster's name. At least if you got it wrong, the
game would helpfully point out, "Beowulf disagrees..."

Still later, when I was at ICOM Simulations working on Déjà Vu II: Lost in
Las Vegas, we were approached by Simon and Schuster, who are owned by
Paramount, about doing a MacVenture based on the then-forthcoming Star Trek
V script. We put a lot of thought into it, and concluded that the player
couldn't be any of the major characters--Kirk, Spock, Bones, Scotty, or
even Chekov, Sulu, or Uhura--because of all the "world-knowledge" that
portraying such a character would imply, and there was no way we could
reasonably do the exposition of said world-knowledge for the player's
benefit. So we proposed a game where the player was a yeoman or ensign or
somesuch--with occassional access to the bridge (and, more importantly, the
bridge crew), but definitely a third party. S&S/Paramount wasn't happy
about it, and the project was ultimately shelved after several management
shuffles at S&S.

Oh well. Star Trek V was a bow-wow anyway.

> Joe

Paul

Dennis Matheson

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Feb 10, 1998, 3:00:00 AM2/10/98
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Joe Mason wrote:
>
> In article <6bn99p$5t...@gcs.delta-air.com>,
> Dennis Matheson <"Dennis..Matheson@"@transquest..com> wrote:
> >
> > I recall that one of the Scott Adams adventures required
> >"HYPERVENTALATE" as a verb at one point.
>
> That must have been incredibly annoying - especially as its spelled
> "HYPERVENTILATE".
>
> Joe

Actually it wasn't, since the Adams adventures only recognized the first
few letters of whatever you typed in, so HYPERV was really all you
needed. Infocom only used 8 characters at most (iirc). Quite a boon
for us bad spellers. 8)

Dancer

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Feb 11, 1998, 3:00:00 AM2/11/98
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You only actually needed to type 'BREATHE', which was the word I hit on
after giving the matter some serious thought.

D


Dennis Matheson wrote:

--
Did you read the documentation AND the FAQ?
If not, I'll probably still answer your question, but my patience will
be limited, and you take the risk of sarcasm and ridicule.

Philip Bartol

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Feb 11, 1998, 3:00:00 AM2/11/98
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>That must have been incredibly annoying - especially as its spelled
>"HYPERVENTILATE".

It's ok, since you only needed to have, what, 4 or 5 characters so you could
just type "HYPER"....

PHIL

Todd D. Cadwallader

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Feb 11, 1998, 3:00:00 AM2/11/98
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4 or 5?

> HYPER

You suck in air repeatedly.

> HYPE

You proudly boast of your upcoming work of interactive fiction, coming
"real soon now".

Todd (who really should listen to that voice telling him that this joke
really isn't that funny, and he should go back to lurking like a good boy)

"One of the advantages of being disorderly is that one is constantly
making exciting discoveries."
--A. A. Milne


Laurel Halbany

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Feb 11, 1998, 3:00:00 AM2/11/98
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On Tue, 10 Feb 1998 05:09:36 GMT, ch...@mcione.com (Paul F. Snively)
wrote:

>How does everyone
>feel about the general class of puzzles that require some sort of knowledge
>that's outside the context of the game?

Hm, I think there was a discussion about this a while back. At any
rate, I tend to dislike such puzzles unless the information is a) very
widely known, not specialist and/or b) easy to look up.

So perhaps you have a puzzle where you have to offer the correct wine
to a chef to match, say, grilled steak., and you have a wine cellar
full of bottles. Requiring the player to choose a Puligny-Montrachet
'94 is too specialized and not something you could find in a standard
reference book. (By which I mean a dictionary or basic encyclopedia.)
I don't think it would be too out of line, though, for the solution to
be choosing a red wine instead of a rose' or a white; that's a small
range of choices if guessing is necessary, and not very specialized
knowledge.

The trap is when the author thinks 'everybody knows' something that he
or she does. Examples would be the baseball diamond puzzle--even many
baseball-fan Americans didn't get that, let alone Brits--or the
passing-the-port puzzle in Christminster.

> Another example from yesteryear was a game in which you killed
>a monster and, later, the monster's mother, and before you could finish the
>game, you had to give the monster's name. At least if you got it wrong, the
>game would helpfully point out, "Beowulf disagrees..."

Which is a good solution, IMO, because it's not that hard to locate a
copy of Beowulf or a reference work that mentions Beowulf. Asking the
player to name Zimri-Lim's little brother is out of line, though.


Den of Iniquity

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Feb 11, 1998, 3:00:00 AM2/11/98
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On Wed, 11 Feb 1998, Laurel Halbany wrote:
>The trap is when the author thinks 'everybody knows' something that he
>or she does. Examples would be the baseball diamond puzzle--even many
>baseball-fan Americans didn't get that, let alone Brits--or the
>passing-the-port puzzle in Christminster.

I thought it was common knowledge that _no-one_ knows which direction to
pass the port?

I think there's something else one needs to be aware of - that if you take
something from one setting and stick it in another, there's no reason that
the player will assume that all the other bits and pieces of knowledge
that are normally associated with that object should also naturally be
dragged from the original setting into the new. So if one's fantasy
adventure contained an anachronistic personal stereo, is it natural for
the player to assume that the equipment needs batteries? Or, for a better
example....

[a very mild Zork spoiler which doesn't actually reveal a solution per se]

...Should one encounter a minotaur in a setting which seems to carry its
own layers of 'mythology' (with flatheads, grues and the like), is it
reasonable to assume that other related aspects of this mythology be
naturally carried along with the beast? Or is this just a case of parallel
evolution?

--
Den


Jeff Hatch

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Feb 11, 1998, 3:00:00 AM2/11/98
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Joe Mason wrote:
>
> In article <6bn99p$5t...@gcs.delta-air.com>,
> Dennis Matheson <"Dennis..Matheson@"@transquest..com> wrote:
> >
> > I recall that one of the Scott Adams adventures required
> >"HYPERVENTALATE" as a verb at one point.
>
> That must have been incredibly annoying - especially as its spelled
> "HYPERVENTILATE".

The Infocom parser only understood the first six letters of a verb
anyway, so "HYPERVENTALATE" would have worked. I don't know if the
Infocom parser would have understood the difference between "its" and
"it's" or not.

-Rúmil, irrelevantly

Lars Duning

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Feb 12, 1998, 3:00:00 AM2/12/98
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Which of course implies that the player a) knows that Beowulf is a work
he can look up, and b) knows it as 'Beowulf'.
For example, I didn't know a) until the related episode of ST-VOY.
--
Lars Duening; la...@cableinet.co.uk (Home)

rras...@hotmail.com

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Feb 12, 1998, 3:00:00 AM2/12/98
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In article <34E271...@hatch.net>,
je...@hatch.net wrote:

> The Infocom parser only understood the first six letters of a verb
> anyway, so "HYPERVENTALATE" would have worked. I don't know if the
> Infocom parser would have understood the difference between "its" and
> "it's" or not.
>

That's okay -- most of us don't either. :-)

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Steve McKinney

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Feb 13, 1998, 3:00:00 AM2/13/98
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Jeff Hatch had this to say:

>The Infocom parser only understood the first six letters of a verb
>anyway, so "HYPERVENTALATE" would have worked. I don't know if the
>Infocom parser would have understood the difference between "its" and
>"it's" or not.

I'm just nitpicking, but later versions of the Infocom parser (the one
used in Sherlock, for instance) understood the first nine letters of a
word, so that EXAMIN would not work, but EXAMINE would.
--
Steve McKinney <sj...@bellsouth.net>

"Never let your sense of morals keep you from doing what is right."
--Isaac Asimov

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