Empty Rooms problem

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Gareth Rees

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May 4, 1995, 3:00:00 AM5/4/95
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Tom Ivey <t...@mail.utexas.edu> wrote:
> The main 'setting' of the game I'm creating is a vast, rather barren
> plain. I felt the need to have some sense of travel and some just
> plain scenery.

Here are some ideas of mine (not mutually exclusive; I'm sure you could
profitably combine them).

1. Have a series of plot events that can occur on the barren plain.
Make sure that these are triggered off, not by location, but by
*time*.

For example, after making 10 moves (in any directions), the player
comes across a caravan of Bedouin; another 8 + random(8) moves after
leaving the caravan (and as long as he's at least 5 locations away
from the caravan?), he comes across the Lost City, nestled in a deep
valley between two rocky hills (or whatever).

Thus, the player gets the sensation of wandering around on a vast
plain that you seem to be after, but they never run the risk of
missing the interesting bits by going in the wrong direction.

2. Rather than having one game room for each location in the plain,
have a *single* location, plus a large array which indicates what
kind of scenery is to be found in each square, which objects have
been dropped where, and where the special events are to be found
(once it's known where they are). The single location would build
up its room description by examining the information in the array,
and thus provide the illusion of travel.

3. Take the approach of the Infocom game "Infidel": i.e., the plain is
large and trackless (and maybe liable to lead to quick death from
thirst, if you're feeling nasty) unless the player has the map (or
has paid the nomad guide, or is travelling with the caravan, or
whatever). Moving with the map takes the form of "go to lost city"
or maybe "go to map reference 29 N 150 W", and generates a
description of the appropriate journey.

--
Gareth Rees

Tom Ivey

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May 4, 1995, 3:00:00 AM5/4/95
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After picking up a copy of TADS and searching through the
file documentation and examples I've started working on my first 'IF'
game in many, many, years, and I just had a quick question to run by
the group.

The main 'setting' of the game I'm creating is a vast, rather
barren plain. In trying to sketch out something of a quick room map
to build around, I found myself drawing lots of empty or relatively
empty rooms. I just couldn't think of enough little plots or pieces
of plots or interesting things to have lying around these spare rooms,
but as it's supposed to be a large plain, I felt the need to have

some sense of travel and some just plain scenery.
On the thought of ways to get around this I came up with :
1) Just having a description when you move from one of the plains rooms
to another of travelling a long distance to give it a bit more of a feel
of such a large landscape
2) Just having rooms that were descriptions that you'd just have to
put up with walking through when there really wouldn't be much there
to do
3) Although I really don't like this solution : try in some ways to
limit the scope of the rooms and have just lots of 'edges' of the map
be non-exits that return a message to the effect of 'You walk through
the deserted plains for some time, but soon give up all hope of finding
anything in that direction' or 'Scanning the horizon, you see no
discernible signs of life to the <direction name>, and decide you'd
better try another direction' or something to that effect. Like the
old King's Quest games where there'd be just repetive scenes of desert
or ocean that led no where, and when you travelled back one screen
you were right back where you started.
4) Try to direct the player into certain directions by having plots or
whatever come up that sort of 'lead' the player in the right direction
( anything from someone telling her/him that something needed/interesting
/whatever is in _that_ direction to chasing her/him in that direction
to making it obvious by some text clue where to go next
5) Have the good ol' impassable mountains around a section of barren
plains (blagh).
6) Etc. blah blah blah etc.

So, I was just wondering if anyone could help me out/offer
suggestions/tell me what they tried in their efforts/etc.
For the background world of the game, the open space really is
a bit necessary at least for a while (Basically, there are open plains
with settlements and creatures and such scattered across them, and also
the player will be able to soar into the sky where large 'floaters' the
size of cities slowly fly through the sky. These also can be entered).

Any ideas, or just 'Yeah, I've wondered that too. What do you
think of this :' 's would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks in advance,

Tom Ivey
t...@mail.utexas.edu

Tom Ivey

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May 5, 1995, 3:00:00 AM5/5/95
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In article <GDR11.95M...@stint.cl.cam.ac.uk>, gd...@cl.cam.ac.uk (Gareth Rees) says:

>
>Tom Ivey <t...@mail.utexas.edu> wrote:
>> The main 'setting' of the game I'm creating is a vast, rather barren
>> plain. I felt the need to have some sense of travel and some just
>> plain scenery.
>

>Here are some ideas of mine (not mutually exclusive; I'm sure you could
>profitably combine them).
>
> 1. Have a series of plot events that can occur on the barren plain.
> Make sure that these are triggered off, not by location, but by
> *time*.
[Snip]
>--
>Gareth Rees

This would actually work out quite well for what I had envisioned.
Just beginning to understand some of the TADS structure and capabilities,
I've just sort of shut off certain ideas, ones that I viewed as more
complicated based on what I know so far of the language environment, but
this should work out quite well. I'm also implementing movement through
the sky for some of the huge floating creatures in the story. They'll
sort of move around any opensky areas and appear in descriptions of
ground rooms below them.
Thanks for the idea, I don't know why I didn't think of something
like that. I'm still sort of stuck in the 'room = set object and set
stuff', without thinking of just having the game sort of have a bit of
randomness to it.

Thanks again,

Tom

Phil Goetz

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May 5, 1995, 3:00:00 AM5/5/95
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In article <GDR11.95M...@stint.cl.cam.ac.uk>,

Gareth Rees <gd...@cl.cam.ac.uk> wrote:
>
> 1. Have a series of plot events that can occur on the barren plain.
> Make sure that these are triggered off, not by location, but by
> *time*.

Please DON'T do this unless you warn the player that you're doing this!

Phil go...@Cs.buffalo.edu

Magnus Olsson

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May 8, 1995, 3:00:00 AM5/8/95
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In article <3odtav$l...@azure.acsu.buffalo.edu>,

Why?

Of course, it depends on what kind of plot elements we're talking
about, but if, for example, the plot element is a horde of barbarians
swooping down on you and stealing all your treasures, then IMHO it
makes _more_ sense to have this triggered by time (the barbarians
start out from their camp at time T and take some time to reach you)
rather than by geography (the barbarians have decided to keep out of
sight until you reach map coordinates 124, 178 (remember that this is
a _featureless_ plain, so there is no tactical reason for them to
choose any particular spot to attack).

On the other hand, if the plot element is "finding the lost city of
Uxx", then the player can expect this to be linked to geography rather
than to time (you _don'_ find lost cities just by looking for a long
enough time, you must look in the right spot as well :-)), and will
probably get confused if, in session one, he walks west for fifteen
moves and discover the city, and then in the next game he walks _east_
for fifteen moves and finds the same city...

Magnus Olsson (m...@df.lth.se) / yacc computer club, Lund, Sweden
Work: Innovativ Vision AB, Linkoping (magnus...@ivab.se)
Old adresses (may still work): mag...@thep.lu.se, the...@selund.bitnet
PGP key available via finger (to df.lth.se) or on request.

Gareth Rees

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May 8, 1995, 3:00:00 AM5/8/95
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Magnus Olsson <m...@oberon.df.lth.se> wrote:
> On the other hand, if the plot element is "finding the lost city of
> Uxx", then the player can expect this to be linked to geography rather
> than to time.

Why not use a bit of ingenuity then? Maybe after wandering in the
desert for 5 days, the player comes across an inhabitant of Uxx who can
be persuaded, or bribed, or tricked into leading the player to the lost
city of Uxx.

--
Gareth Rees

Magnus Olsson

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May 9, 1995, 3:00:00 AM5/9/95
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In article <GDR11.95M...@stint.cl.cam.ac.uk>,
Gareth Rees <gd...@cl.cam.ac.uk> wrote:

SOunds like a good idea.

BTW, if one is going to include a large featureless plain or whatever in
one's game, one should make sure to catch the player's interest _before_
throwing him or her out on the plain.

I can think of few "instant turn-offs" that are more effective than having
an adventure game that starts in the middle ofa featureless plain, with
nothing to see, nothing itneresting happening, just an endless plain stretching
away in all directions. Or, if yhe game has to start on the plain, there
should at least be a very captivating introduction to the game. Or at least
things should start happening within a few moves.

I'm writing this because I recently tried a game that starts out in an
almost featureless desert. You have to explore for a while before you
find anything even remotely interesting, and even then you have no
idea of what you're doing in the desert in the first place. Need I add
that I quickly laid that game aside? :-)

Tom Ivey

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May 9, 1995, 3:00:00 AM5/9/95
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In article <3on5g0$8...@nic.lth.se>, m...@oberon.df.lth.se (Magnus Olsson) says:
>
>In article <GDR11.95M...@stint.cl.cam.ac.uk>,
>Gareth Rees <gd...@cl.cam.ac.uk> wrote:
>>Magnus Olsson <m...@oberon.df.lth.se> wrote:
>>> On the other hand, if the plot element is "finding the lost city of
>>> Uxx", then the player can expect this to be linked to geography rather
>>> than to time.
>>
>>Why not use a bit of ingenuity then? Maybe after wandering in the
>>desert for 5 days, the player comes across an inhabitant of Uxx who can
>>be persuaded, or bribed, or tricked into leading the player to the lost
>>city of Uxx.
>
>SOunds like a good idea.
>
>BTW, if one is going to include a large featureless plain or whatever in
>one's game, one should make sure to catch the player's interest _before_
>throwing him or her out on the plain.
>

Well, I keep taking all of these suggestions and ideas into
account, and therefore my way of doing it keeps changing and growing
and then being honed. I think I've finally centered on sort of a
combination between ideas : Random placement will only be used for
non-important actors or events, most probably, there will be enough
direction from visual clues and plot pushes to cease all wandering
aimlessly ( unless the player chooses to do so ). To create a larger
feeling plain, there will be little movement notes that insinuate that
you have travelled for quite some time to get to this room. There
will be an edge that is just endless pretty much, that tells you
something to the effect of "You scan the horizon, and upon seeing no
signs of life to the west decide to hold off travelling further in
that direction". Actually, there will be several random choices from
a "you can't go that direction" list to give a feel of doing more than
just deciding not to go that direction. Also, there will be several
random notes on travelling long distances.
Finally, there will just have to be some rooms where something
really terribly exciting just doesn't happen :). These will probably
just end up as places for objects to be found, but might be filled up
by randomly moving actors ( such as caravans of desert travellers,
etc, etc. ).
Whatever is the case in the final project, thanks to all who
popped in ideas, and keep them coming if you have any more. I'm sure
there will always be a new way to handle this problem popping up.

Tom

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