Amoral Behaviour in IF

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Jean-Henri Duteau

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Jun 19, 1995, 3:00:00 AM6/19/95
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Thought I'd throw my two cents (or cent and a half, I am Canadian) in the
ring. I think the poster who talked about IF being simply logic puzzles
with some story around them (well, he didn't say that, but it's my post so
I'll say what I want. pbbbttt 8->) hit the nail on the head. Dungeon
started us all down the path and the Zorks' propogated it and no IF since
has really changed much. I think all widespread IF has so far been simply
that...logic puzzles with story built around it (note the adjective
widespread, I have used/played IF that wasn't like that, but it wasn't
widely available to the general public). We all try to add something
different, a new tone, a new plot, etc. but it's all the same.

My other point, however, deals with this sudden realization: what's to
stop us from making a fun IF that requires moral behaviour? Really, it
would actually add to the puzzles. You have to get by the troll in the
caves and you have to do it without killing him. For that matter, you
have to get to the caves without trespassing first. You'd probably have
to give a warning in the beginning, so your players don't go kill the
troll, but it would be challenging. Especially challenging because all of
the IF players so far would have to change their mindset.

However, having said the above, I wonder if our current tools would allow
us to make such a fun IF. You would need extremely fleshed out NPCs to
allow more interaction. If you can't use that sword, you're going to
think of a hundred different ways to get around the Troll. And I, as a
dutiful IF programmer, had better allow you to do most of those hundred
different things.

Well, enough thoughts for now, let's see where this takes us, 8->

Jean Duteau
Currently working on Revenge!
--
My brain is too full to come up with some measly paltry humourous
signature.

russ...@wanda.pond.com

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Jun 20, 1995, 3:00:00 AM6/20/95
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In article <3s4vim$3...@Owl.nstn.ca>,
Jean-Henri Duteau <nstn...@fox.nstn.ca> wrote:

}My other point, however, deals with this sudden realization: what's to
}stop us from making a fun IF that requires moral behaviour? Really, it
}would actually add to the puzzles. You have to get by the troll in the
}caves and you have to do it without killing him. For that matter, you
}have to get to the caves without trespassing first. You'd probably have
}to give a warning in the beginning, so your players don't go kill the
}troll, but it would be challenging. Especially challenging because all of
}the IF players so far would have to change their mindset.

Done poorly, it inspires nothing more than nausea. Ultima IV did it
reasonably well, but mostly did it by making the other creatures
hostile enough to attack YOU.


Paul O'Brian

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Jun 20, 1995, 3:00:00 AM6/20/95
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nstn...@fox.nstn.ca(Jean-Henri Duteau) writes:

>My other point, however, deals with this sudden realization: what's to
>stop us from making a fun IF that requires moral behaviour?


It seems to me that several attempts have been made to do just this. Within the
"Zork" series, Zork III seemed to eschew the traditional "plunder" plot by
revamping the concept of how points are scored. Also, the device of the dungeon master that worked throughout the game (hope that's not too much of a spoiler) seemed to want to enforce a certain kind of "do unto others" morality as well. Moreover, though I'm aware it's near blasphemy to mention "Return to Zork" in this crowd, I thought that that game had an interesting
way of handling morality too -- you're free to commit immoral acts (such as random murder), but the "Guardian" comes and steals all your possessions as retribution, making the game unwinnable. Moreover, I believe you're caught pilfering some possesions in Rebecca's house at one point, and she finds you and knocks you out cold for it. Am I reading too much in to see these features as comments on the original "kill and steal" mentality of the earlier Zork games (not that there's much of any other relation between "Return" and the text games)?

I would also argue that some, if not most, other Infocom games implicity place the player on the side of "right" -- the detective attempting to bring a murderer to justice, the sci-fi hero trying to save a planet or all of humanity, the wanderer who learns the evils of nuclear war, etc. I guess the difference is that those games don't REQUIRE moral behavior on a turn-by-turn basis; it seems to me that this latitude is how much room the player has to fashion her in-game "persona" over against the implied wishes of the author. How much of this remaking the game allows seems to me to be an authorial choice. I can allow the player almost free rein over the morality of the character's actions or, at the other end of the spectrum, preclude all such actions with a "You decide it would be wrong to do such a thing." type of message.

Perhaps an interesting game would be one which deliberately called notions of conventional morality into question...?

--
Paul O'Brian obr...@ucsu.colorado.edu
"No one knows how I feel or what I say unless you read between my lines"
-Stevie Nicks

Jason Dyer

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Jun 21, 1995, 3:00:00 AM6/21/95
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Jean-Henri Duteau (nstn...@fox.nstn.ca) wrote:
: My other point, however, deals with this sudden realization: what's to
: stop us from making a fun IF that requires moral behaviour? Really, it
: would actually add to the puzzles. You have to get by the troll in the
: caves and you have to do it without killing him. For that matter, you
: have to get to the caves without trespassing first. You'd probably have
: to give a warning in the beginning, so your players don't go kill the
: troll, but it would be challenging. Especially challenging because all of
: the IF players so far would have to change their mindset.

There have been several 'moral issue' type things in adventure games.
I felt real guilty using the resurrection spell in Death Gate to randomly
kill someone else..
I was a bit disgusted with Sam & Max's disregard for property/lives of
people they don't know.
Supposedly the end of the Daedalus Encounter has a moral issue thing in
it, anyone know about it?
The best one I've seen those, was in this old game called Star Trek: First
Contact where for the end of the game as a test there was a door that
someone had to go through; the first person to go through would die.
You could order either Spock or McCoy to go through. If you think on
this a few turns, a villian from early in the game appears that you
can order to go through. But to actually win, you have to go through
the door yourself. (this is probably what you are talking about)
Also, in SPAG #4 there was something mentioned called The KORC Trilogy
that supposedly does all sorts of that kind of thing.

--
Jason Dyer - jd...@indirect.com

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