Adventure game popularity

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DMB

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Apr 4, 1996, 3:00:00 AM4/4/96
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Subtitle: Thoughts by a lurker

It strikes me that adventure games are not superpopular, and
perhaps this has to do with the mentality of computer users,
who have been trained in two ways:
1) GUIs instead of CLIs(*). Those who have been brought up with
Windows/Macintosh have a different attitude from those of us
trained on DOS/Unix/whatever. Speaking for myself, I like typing
in random words at the command line and seeing what happens. It
gives me an illusion of more control over the computer. It's also
more like talking to another person; eg, "do this, computer" and it
does. (Whereas icons and things make it feel more mechanical to me.)
So that when it comes time to play a text adventure, I am
familiar with that atmosphere, willing to try a bunch of things
rather than looking for a set list of commands. Is it possible to
write IF using a GUI? In my limited experience, I've seen
Spellcasting 101 try it, or something like it, but I think listing
all the possible options somehow diminishes the fun of the game.
(Just go down the list until you solve the problem.) This connects
to another thought:
2) Unlike any other computer application I can think of, the whole \
*point* in text adventures is to obscure the proper command from
the user. There are no help files saying "If faced with a broken
bridge, type 'WAVE ROD' (without quotes) to fix it." On the other
hand, this is what people are trained to expect. Being frustrated
because you can't figure out what the computer wants is not seen as
desirable.

Perhaps what I'm really talking about here is just the limits of puzzle
IF, or its limited appeal nowadays. As long as I'm babbling uselessly,
I would guess that IF has always appealed more to people with experience
in computer programming, and that may be because it's generally been
puzzle-based. There's an analogy between figuring out how to write a
program and figuring out how to solve puzzles in IF. Even the
environment is somewhat the same (entering commands, running the
program over and over again to get it right, trying to get all the
points = trying to get rid of all the bugs).
Do I have any proposed solutions? Maybe look into the GUI thing
some more, as it's more familiar to more people.
I don't know if any of this makes any sense.
---------------------------------------------------------------------
Daphne Brinkerhoff : made the Oracularities *twice* - searching
io2...@maine.maine.edu : for MST3K "POD PEOPLE" - where's HAM95 FAQ

Russ Bryan

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Apr 4, 1996, 3:00:00 AM4/4/96
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DMB (But not the one we generally know):

> Perhaps what I'm really talking about here is just the limits of puzzle
> IF, or its limited appeal nowadays.

I'm sorry, but here's where I jump in and shout "huh?" Puzzle-based (in
the stricktest sense) I-F seems to be the only thing people are buying
these days. If you take a look at Seventh Guest, Eleventh Hour, Zork
Nemesis, and the greater majority of non-shooter games out right now,
you'll notice that they ALL are dependant on graphical puzzles.

Where the lack of appeal would seem to be is in true interactive games,
where you must interact with other characters in order to advance in the
game. The aforementioned games are NOT interactive, or at least no more
interactive than a Rubik's Cube.

I'm having a revelation right now, and it concerns me a bit because it's
making me redefine how I define a puzzle. Puzzle I-F suddenly seems to me
to be a series of chess problems in The Seventh Guest. What we are
working with here is so far beyond what Seventh Guest is doing. I
wouldn't even call the challenges of text adventures puzzles -- they are
examples of problem solving, requiring interaction with the environment
around you. It is the most natural gaming experience available. I mean,
what the hell kind of villain thwarts the hero's progress with soup cans
in the kitchen pantry (Seventh Guest)?

I wish I could somehow get out into that public arena and show people what
they're trading for some pretty pictures and a couple of nifty sound
effects.

We are the only subtlety left in gaming today.

George Caswell

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Apr 4, 1996, 3:00:00 AM4/4/96
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On Thu, 4 Apr 1996, DMB wrote:

> Subtitle: Thoughts by a lurker
>
> It strikes me that adventure games are not superpopular, and
> perhaps this has to do with the mentality of computer users,
> who have been trained in two ways:

I think it would be more a matter of publicity. There are still
people out there who loved Planetfall or Zork or Leather Goddesses and
for one reason or another haven't figured out they can go back... <g>

> 1) GUIs instead of CLIs(*). Those who have been brought up with
> Windows/Macintosh have a different attitude from those of us
> trained on DOS/Unix/whatever. Speaking for myself, I like typing
> in random words at the command line and seeing what happens. It
> gives me an illusion of more control over the computer. It's also

Not necessarily an illusion. I know firsthand that there are limitations
to the current GUIs. (Under Unix, for example, it's not too tricky on
the command line to come up with a command that will look for all the
infocom games in several directories, go through that list, getting info
on each data file, and looking for all the ones that are version 5, have
sound, etc., and print out the filenames... Try doing some such with
Windows.. <g>)

> more like talking to another person; eg, "do this, computer" and it
> does. (Whereas icons and things make it feel more mechanical to me.)
> So that when it comes time to play a text adventure, I am
> familiar with that atmosphere, willing to try a bunch of things
> rather than looking for a set list of commands. Is it possible to
> write IF using a GUI? In my limited experience, I've seen

Supposedly, Sierras, Lucasartses, and the like are just graphical
interactive fiction. Practically, however, they are fun games, but
rarely of the level of interactivity or depth of a good text adventure.
I personally am of the opinion that there's nothing fundamentally
non-intuitive about a text interface, nor is there anything (apart from
technology) fundamentally limiting about graphical interfaces.. how
they're usually used, though, limits GUIs and (somewhat) makes text
interfaces trickier for newbies...
You -can- 'write IF using a GUI', but it involves a lot of typing.
You can also write IF that -uses- a GUI... but currently the tools for
such are limited.

> 2) Unlike any other computer application I can think of, the whole \
> *point* in text adventures is to obscure the proper command from
> the user. There are no help files saying "If faced with a broken
> bridge, type 'WAVE ROD' (without quotes) to fix it." On the other
> hand, this is what people are trained to expect. Being frustrated
> because you can't figure out what the computer wants is not seen as
> desirable.
>

Well, the point is to challenge the player to come up with the right
-idea-. Then, ideally, they'll know the command to use.

> ---------------------------------------------------------------------
> Daphne Brinkerhoff : made the Oracularities *twice* - searching
> io2...@maine.maine.edu : for MST3K "POD PEOPLE" - where's HAM95 FAQ

^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ USM, UMO, or none of the above?

....T...I...M...B...U...K...T...U... ____________________________________
.________________ _/>_ _______......[George Caswell, CS '99. 4 more info ]
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</.............</...................


Andrew C. Plotkin

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Apr 5, 1996, 3:00:00 AM4/5/96
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DMB <IO2...@MAINE.MAINE.EDU> writes:
> Subtitle: Thoughts by a lurker
>
> It strikes me that adventure games are not superpopular, and
> perhaps this has to do with the mentality of computer users,
> who have been trained in two ways:
> 1) GUIs instead of CLIs(*).

Definitely. I think GUI is better for many tasks, but a few things
work better in CLI, and interactive fiction is one. Most people these
days have been convinced that CLI is inherently inferior.

I shall sit on my anti-Microsoft rant.

> 2) Unlike any other computer application I can think of, the whole \
> *point* in text adventures is to obscure the proper command from
> the user. There are no help files saying "If faced with a broken
> bridge, type 'WAVE ROD' (without quotes) to fix it." On the other
> hand, this is what people are trained to expect. Being frustrated
> because you can't figure out what the computer wants is not seen as
> desirable.

This is exactly wrong. We authors go to *tremendous* lengths to make
sure that the command is *easy* to discover. We put in vast lists of
synonyms and alternate grammar forms. Most of the burden is supported
by having a very conventional "adventure English", of course.

The tricky part is supposed to be deciding *what* to do. Once you know
that, you should be able to execute that with no trouble.

This distinction is important. All puzzle-type games, from Zork to
Myst to King's Quest to solitaire and peg-jumping puzzles, make it
tricky to decide *what* to do. The difference in popularity between
text games and the other styles cannot be caused by this aspect.

--Z

"And Aholibamah bare Jeush, and Jaalam, and Korah: these were the borogoves..."

Cardinal Teulbachs

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Apr 6, 1996, 3:00:00 AM4/6/96
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russ...@aol.com (Russ Bryan) wrote:

> I mean,
>what the hell kind of villain thwarts the hero's progress with soup cans
>in the kitchen pantry (Seventh Guest)?

My nominee for the wisest words ever uttered in this newsgroup...


Trevor Barrie

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Apr 8, 1996, 3:00:00 AM4/8/96
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card...@earthlink.net (Cardinal Teulbachs) wrote:

>russ...@aol.com (Russ Bryan) wrote:

Of course, now I'm going to _have_ to try to come up with a story
wherein it makes sense for the villain to do this...:)

George Caswell

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Apr 8, 1996, 3:00:00 AM4/8/96
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How about... the hero learns there's a small bomb hidden in a sealed
tin can in the kitchen... naturally, the villain doesn't want to -move-
the bomb to keep the hero from getting it... so he floods the room with
cans....

Or the hero could be really, really hungry, and looking for some
canned fruit... then the villain could... uh.... flood the kitchen with
soup cans.... hmmm...

Or the hero could be an alien from the planet Teflon, whose sole
weakness is a fatal reaction to tin...

tv's Spatch

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Apr 10, 1996, 3:00:00 AM4/10/96
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And thus did George Caswell <timb...@the-eye.res.wpi.edu> spake, speaking:

>On Mon, 8 Apr 1996, Trevor Barrie wrote:


>> Of course, now I'm going to _have_ to try to come up with a story
>> wherein it makes sense for the villain to do this...:)
>>
> How about... the hero learns there's a small bomb hidden in a sealed
>tin can in the kitchen... naturally, the villain doesn't want to -move-
>the bomb to keep the hero from getting it... so he floods the room with
>cans....

> Or the hero could be really, really hungry, and looking for some
>canned fruit... then the villain could... uh.... flood the kitchen with
>soup cans.... hmmm...

> Or the hero could be an alien from the planet Teflon, whose sole
>weakness is a fatal reaction to tin...

Personally, I think the Disgruntled Supermarket Employee approach would be the
best here.


- spatch, The disgruntled supermarket employee flings a soup can in the
direction of your head, hollering "Clean up, aisle 4!" -


--
tv's Spatch, MSTie #43790. My mother was a Bozoette in high school.
"Hey! There's no food here! You tricked me, you big dumb liar cat!"
- 2 Stupid Dogs
Big dumb liar cats abound at: http://uptown.turnpike.net/S/spatula


Cthulhu

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Apr 10, 1996, 3:00:00 AM4/10/96
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In article <8lNJgPq00...@andrew.cmu.edu>, "Andrew C. Plotkin" <erky...@CMU.EDU> wrote:
>DMB <IO2...@MAINE.MAINE.EDU> writes:
>> Subtitle: Thoughts by a lurker

>Definitely. I think GUI is better for many tasks, but a few things


>work better in CLI, and interactive fiction is one. Most people these
>days have been convinced that CLI is inherently inferior.
>
>I shall sit on my anti-Microsoft rant.

Let me put something into perspective. The FIRST thing I'm going to do once I
learn how, is to write an OLE2-compliant, drag n' drop-utilizing,
all-the-whiz-bang-features ZIP INTERPRETER for Win95

George Caswell

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Apr 10, 1996, 3:00:00 AM4/10/96
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On Wed, 10 Apr 1996, tv's Spatch wrote:

> And thus did George Caswell <timb...@the-eye.res.wpi.edu> spake, speaking:
>
> >On Mon, 8 Apr 1996, Trevor Barrie wrote:
>
>
> >> Of course, now I'm going to _have_ to try to come up with a story
> >> wherein it makes sense for the villain to do this...:)
> >>
>

> Personally, I think the Disgruntled Supermarket Employee approach would be the
> best here.
>
> - spatch, The disgruntled supermarket employee flings a soup can in the
> direction of your head, hollering "Clean up, aisle 4!" -
>

Ah, but that wouldn't be in the kitchen pantry, now would it?? <g>

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