twisty little puzzles, all different

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Jim Aikin

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Dec 30, 1997, 3:00:00 AM12/30/97
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So I'm running around in circles outside Christminster College. Other
than figuring out how to get the busker to give me a toffee, I don't
seem to have made the slightest progress. The don is still sleeping on
the key (if it's even the key I need to unlock the gate, which in this
sort of situation is rather unlikely, in my experience). I've tried
asking the constable to knock on the gate; doesn't work. I've tried
attracting the attention of somebody in the high window, even the
parrot; doesn't work. I've even tried bribing the constable with the
toffee. Doesn't work. And I've been at it, off and on, for a couple of
hours now.

In between, I've paid a few visits to Century Park. There, I've found a
grand total of two jigsaw puzzle pieces (one, really, since the first
one is given to you) and discovered, in a general way, where I'll need
to put them. I've found a curious device that seems as if it might be a
component for a time machine, and it seems likely a time machine is what
I'll need in order to proceed, as the inside of the monument appears
quite limited in scope. But when I press the white button on the curious
device, nothing obvious happens. Nothing less than obvious either, as
far as I can see. The display case remains locked, I can't catch the
bird, and I don't know what to do (if anything) with the collage statue.
In my last few visits, I have made no progress beyond this point.

This is not a request for hints. This is a lament.

I love the idea of interactive fiction. I played all six of the original
Zork games, years ago, on my very first computer (a Kaypro). I sent away
for the hint books, of course; I never would have gotten through the
games otherwise. Friends helped me through the tough spots in both
Adventure and, more recently, Myst. I love the idea of interactive
fiction -- as an artist and an amateur programmer, I'm enthralled by the
prospect of being able to create my own miniature worlds -- and I'm
delighted by some of the whimsical scenarios I've been privileged to
explore.

What I _don't_ love, as a reader/player, is being stuck. And what
concerns me as an artist is the question of whether it makes sense to
put months or years of effort into a type of creative work whose raison
d'etre seems to be to frustrate and obstruct the reader at every turn.

It seems to me that such a genre is not merely self-limiting (in terms
of widespread reader acceptance) but actually contains the seeds of its
own downfall. When I write a piece of traditional fiction, I can indulge
the fond hope that it will gratify and delight my readers, or at least
keep their interest piqued. If it aggravates and bores them, I can
hardly blame them for dropping it without finishing it. Writers of
difficult, "literary" works understand that they're likely to have a
small audience because a special background and reading skills are
required. But even they are able to assume that readers possessed of the
requisite skills will be able to finish reading the work, once they
start it, not be stopped dead halfway through. Stopped dead, moreover,
for trivial reasons -- because they don't happen to have thought of
hypnotizing the badger with the panpipes, or telling the gravedigger to
climb the cherry tree, or some such.

Is this a plea for easier puzzles, or for more and broader hints?
Possibly. But if the puzzles are easy, the hints broad, there may not be
much left of the genre. What would a text adventure be like, if there
were no puzzles at all, only a world to explore? A lot harder to
program, I'd imagine. "That's not something you need to refer to in the
course of this game" won't cut it anymore. And can a character that you
can't actually converse with ever have real depth? It seems doubtful.

When I was playing Riven, I wanted to go into the houses in the village
and see how the people lived. To have only one path through the village
frustrated the heck out of me. When I finally (after locating a Web site
with hints) got through to the Moiety age, and here was this _enormous_
environment full of rooms glowing invitingly with lamplight, and I only
got to see the inside of one miserable stinking prison cell?? I felt
cheated. The deepest, most complex piece of interactive fiction ever
written, and it left me feeling frustrated and cheated. Not a good omen.
(I have yet to finish the game, because the Fire Marble puzzle, even
with hints amounting to a solution, is so tediously complicated.)

What about it, sports fans? Am I alone in seeing this as a problem? Are
there solutions that you've envisioned (or, better yet, implemented)? Or
will the audience for IF always be limited to those with superhuman
patience, oodles of free time, and a weird combination of well-developed
lateral thinking abilities coupled with a relatively inert imagination?

Feel free to fulminate or even flame. These are only my personal
opinions, based on my (limited) experience with the genre. Maybe I'm
dead wrong -- but I'm one of the people who would love to play your game
when it's finished, so you'll have to deal with my desires and
limitations sooner or later. Maybe a lively discussion on these issues
will help move IF forward. Or maybe it already _is_ forward, and I'm the
one who's backward....

--Jim Aikin (jai...@pacbell.net)

The Rogue

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Dec 31, 1997, 3:00:00 AM12/31/97
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Y'know, up until now I've been lurking in the IF ngs, glomming every new
bit of code that appears on the gmd sever, and basically keeping to myself.
My only real attempt at intruding into this mystic realm of game creation
was submitting my votes to the 97 competition (Which i managed to screw up,
sorry 'bout that Colin <g>) But here's a subject I had to throw my unasked
for opinions out on...

Jim Aikin <jai...@pacbell.net> wrote in article
<34A973...@pacbell.net>...


> So I'm running around in circles outside Christminster College. Other
> than figuring out how to get the busker to give me a toffee, I don't
> seem to have made the slightest progress. The don is still sleeping on
> the key (if it's even the key I need to unlock the gate, which in this
> sort of situation is rather unlikely, in my experience). I've tried

<snip>

Yeah, I've been there. Had to bow to the pressure and check the hint file
for the solution to this one. And I only seemingly got a step beyond you.
Now I"m hung up again.

> In between, I've paid a few visits to Century Park. There, I've found a
> grand total of two jigsaw puzzle pieces (one, really, since the first
> one is given to you) and discovered, in a general way, where I'll need
> to put them. I've found a curious device that seems as if it might be a

<snip>

Yep. I actually never even found the one on my own. Had to peek at the help
file to find the second piece and the device. From there, though, I had no
problems with this one, with one exception. In fact, I was so entranced
with this game by the time I finally clawed my way to the end of it, I
inflicted it on my poor wife, who kept telling me, "I can't play these
things, I can never figure out anything... wait. What's this? What if I did
this with it.."

> What I _don't_ love, as a reader/player, is being stuck. And what
> concerns me as an artist is the question of whether it makes sense to
> put months or years of effort into a type of creative work whose raison
> d'etre seems to be to frustrate and obstruct the reader at every turn.

On behalf of the creators of these games, (who don't need my defense, but
I'm already on a roll) I have to agree with you on this point, BUT...
It's a matter of perspective. Not every puzzle is the same for every
player. Lemme give you an example. After I finished Jigsaw (by far the best
piece of IF written, IMHO) I went back, and played it again, with the
walkthroughs, and hint files, and such, looking for the little things I may
have missed along the way. Now, according to the walkthrough I consulted,
one of the most difficult puzzles in the game involves a B-17 bomber (or
B-52?) I'll say nothing more specific to avoid spoilers. This one was a
walk in the (century) park for me. I nailed on the first try. No cheating,
just intuitive (I guess you'd call it). And yet, I wouldn't have gotten
anywhere without finding that second puzzle piece, and it wasn't even a
puzzle hiding it, just me not looking in all the right places. What is
obvious, or at least fairly self-evident to one player/programmer ain't
always the same to everyone else.

<snip>


> required. But even they are able to assume that readers possessed of the
> requisite skills will be able to finish reading the work, once they
> start it, not be stopped dead halfway through. Stopped dead, moreover,
> for trivial reasons -- because they don't happen to have thought of
> hypnotizing the badger with the panpipes, or telling the gravedigger to
> climb the cherry tree, or some such.

This is more of the same, I think. Let's say you create a game. You use
Win95 exclusively. You know it inside and out. Now in your game, you place
a computer with information necesary information in the game. Now everyone
knows when you start Win95, you click on the startmenu, and then click on
find to search for the file you need. In fact, it's so second nature to
you, that all you include as a description is:
The system is up and running. The standard Win95 GUI screen greets you.
There is a mouse on it's pad, nestled next to the keyboard, and it seems to
be inviting you to use it.

Now, your player runs Unix exclusively. Or he's an "old school PC" user,
who can perform wonders with MSDOS and Windows 3.1, but he's never even
seen Win95. Or maybe he's an exclusive Amiga user. You see what I'm getting
at? Granted, I'm using a bit of an odd example here, but I think most
"really difficult" IF puzzles are in more ways than not, failing on this
level. It's pretty self evident to the creator what you'd do next, but not
necessarily obvious to every potential player.

Now, if you discover the 'problem' here, it's fairly easily repaired by
including something in the description about a start button on the GUI, or
including a help system on the game's computer, or soemthing along these
lines. But the programmer first needs to be aware that something is NOT
self-evident about the puzzle, before he can take steps to include a clue
or two about it's possible solution.

> Is this a plea for easier puzzles, or for more and broader hints?
> Possibly. But if the puzzles are easy, the hints broad, there may not be
> much left of the genre. What would a text adventure be like, if there
> were no puzzles at all, only a world to explore? A lot harder to
> program, I'd imagine. "That's not something you need to refer to in the
> course of this game" won't cut it anymore.

Seems we're pretty much of a mind about this. But keep in mind including a
description for every 'useless' piece of scenery in a game is a formidable
task in a well fleshed out, well designed game environment. These guys and
gals aren't getting a thing from us players beyond the occasional thank
you, or "God that game was GREAT" letter. All the time invested in the
creation of these games is voluntary, so I guess all we can do is encourage
these folks, and hope they keep up the good work they've done so far to
keep the genre alive; the odd constructive criticism or suggestion can only
help, I would think.

> What about it, sports fans? Am I alone in seeing this as a problem? Are
> there solutions that you've envisioned (or, better yet, implemented)? Or
> will the audience for IF always be limited to those with superhuman
> patience, oodles of free time, and a weird combination of well-developed
> lateral thinking abilities coupled with a relatively inert imagination?

Beta testers. Go beta, rah rah rah! <g> Seriously, though, I'd think a
variety of beta's, (as opposed to a group of close friends, who know the
way the programmer thinks) would preclude most of these problems, I would
think.

> Feel free to fulminate or even flame. These are only my personal
> opinions, based on my (limited) experience with the genre. Maybe I'm
> dead wrong -- but I'm one of the people who would love to play your game
> when it's finished, so you'll have to deal with my desires and
> limitations sooner or later. Maybe a lively discussion on these issues
> will help move IF forward. Or maybe it already _is_ forward, and I'm the
> one who's backward....

Dunno... We're all just human, and we all have our blind spots. It does
help if you have a significant other/close friend who you can harass about
the games every once in a while. They can spot those "obvious" things
you're overlooking, because you're too close to the problem, having tried
everything you can think of, and developed a blind spot regarding the
puzzle you're stuck on now.

Of course, I'm on pretty thin ice here, as my soel contribution to the IF
genre was a game I made on my C64 back in high school, using the old
Adventure Gamer's Creation Kit (or something like that, it's been a while
now) for a group of my friends. It did have a couple well done puzzles
(IMO) but if you didn't go to my high school, hang out with MY crew, and
know the things we took for granted, you'd NEVER have been able to get
anywhere with the game...

Maybe the answer's getting to know a game maker, and start buying them
drinks regularly, and getting to know how their mind works <G>.

> --Jim Aikin (jai...@pacbell.net)

Keep the Faith,
The Rogue
rogue<AT>magiccarpet<DOT>com

"I'm stuck here on the inside, lookin' out, I'm just another case...
Where's my makeup, where's my face? On the inside...."
Alice Cooper

Jeff Hatch

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Dec 31, 1997, 3:00:00 AM12/31/97
to

Jim Aikin wrote:
>
> So I'm running around in circles outside Christminster College. Other
> than figuring out how to get the busker to give me a toffee, I don't
> seem to have made the slightest progress. The don is still sleeping on
> the key (if it's even the key I need to unlock the gate, which in this
> sort of situation is rather unlikely, in my experience). I've tried
> asking the constable to knock on the gate; doesn't work. I've tried
> attracting the attention of somebody in the high window, even the
> parrot; doesn't work. I've even tried bribing the constable with the
> toffee. Doesn't work. And I've been at it, off and on, for a couple of
> hours now.
[snip]

> This is not a request for hints. This is a lament.
> I love the idea of interactive fiction.
[snip]

> What I _don't_ love, as a reader/player, is being stuck. And what
> concerns me as an artist is the question of whether it makes sense to
> put months or years of effort into a type of creative work whose raison
> d'etre seems to be to frustrate and obstruct the reader at every turn.

My #2 IF pet peeve is illogical actions which must be performed to win
the game. Christminster's starting has one, but from what I gather
these aren't too common these days.

But my #1 pet peeve is getting stuck, and it doesn't seem that much is
being done about that, aside from walkthroughs and hints. I'd like to
see more multiple solutions, certainly. What I dream of, though, is a
cross between the old Choose-Your-Own-Adventure style stories and modern
interactive fiction. Let the player tackle puzzles in different
orders. Add difficult puzzles which don't need to be solved at all, but
may make other puzzles easier. Create NPCs that will provide assistance
if the player is stuck for long. If the player fails to solve enough
puzzles, give them a well-written ending that's not quite as good as the
one they'd get if they solved them all. In short, make the "interactive
fiction" more an interactive fiction and less a collection of puzzles.
Then even if you can't solve everything, you can still enjoy most of the
story.

Easier said than done. Myself, I haven't written a single line of an
interactive fiction in over three years. Maybe this summer...or next
January, yeah, I'll have time then...

-Rúmil

Banzai88

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Dec 31, 1997, 3:00:00 AM12/31/97
to

In article <34AA13...@hatch.net>, Jeff Hatch <je...@hatch.net> writes:

>>Jim Aikin wrote:
>>
> > So I'm running around in circles outside Christminster
>> College. Other than figuring out how to get the busker to give me a toffee,
>> I don't seem to have made the slightest progress. The don is still sleeping
>> on the key (if it's even the key I need to unlock the gate, which in this
>> sort of situation is rather unlikely, in my experience). I've tried
>> asking the constable to knock on the gate; doesn't work. I've tried
>> attracting the attention of somebody in the high window, even the
>> parrot; doesn't work.
>> I've even tried bribing the constable with the toffee. Doesn't work. And
>> I've been at it, off and on, for a couple of hours now.
[snip]
>> This is not a request for hints. This is a lament.
>> I love the idea of interactive fiction.
[snip]
>> What I _don't_ love, as a reader/player, is being stuck.
>> And what concerns me as an artist is the question of whether it
>> makes sense to put months or years of effort into a type of creative
>> work whose raison d'etre seems to be to frustrate and obstruct the
>> reader at every turn.

> My #2 IF pet peeve is illogical actions which must be performed to
> win the game. Christminster's starting has one, but from what I gather
> these aren't too common these days.


So much for my confirmed lurker status here...

For a little background, I'm not a BIG IF player. I get in a mood, hit some
of the pages, d/l a game or two, and do my darndest to work through it.
That puts me behind the curve already when it comes to figuring this stuff
out, I know.

But it seems that even the best-written games I come across, invariably
have some puzzle in them that is so off-the-wall when it comes to the
solution, that it completely throws me out of the feeling of being "in the
game." Solutions that, were the situations happening in real life, there's
no way in heck anyone would ever think of doing it. Kind of like
murder mysteries that introduce all sorts of new info at the very end
so there's know way the viewer had a chance beyond blind luck of
figuring out who the killer was.

I hate that. I love games that give me the feeling, however fleeting,
of 'being there' and it seems that many of these puzzles are designed
not to further the gaming experience, but to just prove how clever the
designer is.

It bugged me so much, I was gonna write one of my own, just to see if I could
keep the puzzles relatively logical (for instance, no going up three floors and
to
the very rear of a building to press a button that opens a door in the cellar)
and still keep it interesting for the target audience. (which kind of relates
to The Rogue's post about obviousness being in the eye of the designer,
I suppose) but being an complete know-nothing when it comes to any
programing I've kind of had to table that plan for now. I gave AGT a shot,
which was going fine save for the fact that after a while, it starts to lock
my system up for unknown reasons. I blame the Death Dwarves for this.

Okay...so maybe a long "me too" isn't the greatest of beginnings, but
this topic touched a nerve. I don't so much want easier puzzles, as I
do ones that make sense. Hopefully, there's a difference.


Chris

Banzai88(at)aol(dot)com
The Connor MacLeod Homepage: http://members.aol.com/banzai88
"The line most people say they won't cross...it's usually something
they've already done when they thought no one was watching."
- Jim Profit


Lucian Paul Smith

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Dec 31, 1997, 3:00:00 AM12/31/97
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Jim Aikin (jai...@pacbell.net) wrote:

: What I _don't_ love, as a reader/player, is being stuck. And what


: concerns me as an artist is the question of whether it makes sense to
: put months or years of effort into a type of creative work whose raison
: d'etre seems to be to frustrate and obstruct the reader at every turn.

There is an extent to which the author of a work of IF can work to make a
puzzle more logical, or, (and this is important), make *not* solving the
puzzle more enjoyable. There should be an article in the upcoming XYZZY
News about this.

But this can only go so far. It may be true that you cannot fool all of
the people all of the time, but the reverse is also true--you cannot be
entirely clear to all of the people all of the time.

And the solution to this (to my mind) is hints. Not walkthroughs, mind
you, but hints. There's a seemingly-little-oft visited directory on GMD
that everyone should be familiar with:

ftp://ftp.gmd.de/if-archive/solutions/uhs/

UHS stands for Universal Hint System, and is a shareware program which
will give you Invisiclue-style hints for a wide variety of games. Curses
is in there, my own hints for 'So Far' are in there, and there are tons of
others for text-only as well as many graphical adventures.

I've actually written up a big ol' article on the IF Patterns pages about
hints, trying to figure out what the issues involved are, and how to best
write hints. If you like, you can read it at:

http://c2.com/cgi/wiki?IntFicHints

-Lucian "Lucian" Smith

Gbggb(hint: try rot-13)

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Jan 2, 1998, 3:00:00 AM1/2/98
to

Jeff Hatch wrote:
>
[snip]

> But my #1 pet peeve is getting stuck, and it doesn't seem that much is
> being done about that, aside from walkthroughs and hints. I'd like to
> see more multiple solutions, certainly. What I dream of, though, is a
> cross between the old Choose-Your-Own-Adventure style stories and modern
> interactive fiction. Let the player tackle puzzles in different
> orders. Add difficult puzzles which don't need to be solved at all, but
> may make other puzzles easier. Create NPCs that will provide assistance
> if the player is stuck for long. If the player fails to solve enough
> puzzles, give them a well-written ending that's not quite as good as the
> one they'd get if they solved them all. In short, make the "interactive
> fiction" more an interactive fiction and less a collection of puzzles.
> Then even if you can't solve everything, you can still enjoy most of the
> story.

That reminds me of I-0 for some reason. Except that I've gotten stuck at
the car repairman's, and wonder how to get on except by hitchhiking
(hints wanted, please!)

Totto

Paul O'Brian

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Jan 2, 1998, 3:00:00 AM1/2/98
to

On Tue, 30 Dec 1997, Jim Aikin wrote:

> What I _don't_ love, as a reader/player, is being stuck. And what
> concerns me as an artist is the question of whether it makes sense to
> put months or years of effort into a type of creative work whose raison
> d'etre seems to be to frustrate and obstruct the reader at every turn.

You know, the model for much current IF seems to have been inherited from
the halcyon days of Infocom when you could actually make serious money
from text adventures. I wonder how much of the puzzle paradigm comes from
old marketing motives.

If you're selling your text adventure, one of the features you want to
hawk is how many hours of enjoyment the consumer can derive from it. You
can provide these hours in a number of ways: lots of text, huge numbers of
locations, difficult puzzles. All of these strategies have been tried in
all combinations, with varying degrees of success. I remember seeing a lot
of early articles about Infocom games which mentioned that the games
provided 40 hours (or some such number) of playing time. The implication,
of course, is that these text games stack up to "Space Invaders" because
they provide as many hours of fun for your gaming dollar.

Now that there is no gaming dollar to speak of, perhaps we'll see a shift
in approach? I would argue that we already have, to some degree, seen such
a shift... witness such games as I-0. My own interest in IF is not really
for the puzzle-solving. It's for the immersive fictional experience, so I
hope that we see more games who focus on that side of the puzzle-to-story
continuum.

Paul O'Brian obr...@ucsu.colorado.edu
"I think it's important to remember that no one falls into a simple set of
labels. Even more important is to learn from your mistakes, and to fight
for the positive choice." -- Lindsey Buckingham


Lelah Conrad

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Jan 3, 1998, 3:00:00 AM1/3/98
to

On Fri, 2 Jan 1998 12:42:30 -0700, Paul O'Brian
<obr...@ucsu.Colorado.EDU> wrote:


( excerpted):


My own interest in IF is not really
>for the puzzle-solving. It's for the immersive fictional experience, so I
>hope that we see more games who focus on that side of the puzzle-to-story
>continuum.


Hear hear! More story, more immersion, fewer moments of what the &*&^%
do I need to do with this lemming!

Lelah

Douglas W. Gale

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Jan 4, 1998, 3:00:00 AM1/4/98
to

support the smith bill wrote:
>
> While I'm rambling here, it's just occured to me that nouns tend to be
> a fairly unrestricted element in IF games; that is, readers won't try
> to use a noun unless it's explicitly mentioned in the game.

I'd like to add that it's nice to at least acknowledge the fact
that a player/reader has tried to do something reasonable with one
of your nouns (most often just looking at it).

>
> Of course, this convention has been played about with (I recall one
> little game where the only way to solve it was by using an article of
> clothing which wasn't mentioned anywhere), but all in all I feel that
> this convention is a good thing, since it provides an element of
> rapport between reader and author.

On a similar note, should players be able to refer to parts of their
body (feet, hands, and fingers especially) without having to let them
know that in fact they do have feet and fingers available to them?

> Verbs however are much more restricted...

I seem to remember playing an older IF game that had a 'verbs' verb,
which of course, listed -some- of it's know verbs. I was under the
impression at the time that there was a reason a complete list wasn't
given. My guess was that the author didn't want to give away a puzzle.
But...would it be so wrong for the player to have access (in the game)
to a list of all the verbs available?

--dgale, hopefully not jumping in with old questions

Philip Bartol

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Jan 5, 1998, 3:00:00 AM1/5/98
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In article <68e339$7mt$1...@joe.rice.edu>, lps...@rice.edu (Lucian Paul Smith) wrote:
>And the solution to this (to my mind) is hints. Not walkthroughs, mind
>you, but hints. There's a seemingly-little-oft visited directory on GMD
>that everyone should be familiar with:
>
>ftp://ftp.gmd.de/if-archive/solutions/uhs/

I've used those before.... it's a nice system....

Sometimes hints don't help... for instance... I was playing Delusions <SP?>
and have gotten stuck, I've read through all of the on-line hints, but they
all covered things that I had figured out by myself, but there is no mention
on how to get whatever is on top of the shelves in your room down, and I'm at
a loss there....

Puzzles (as someone already has noted) are subjective to the person playing, I
borrowed a copy of Kings Quest IV (I think) and couldn't solve it without
going through a walkthrough of the game... but the Space Quest games that
I've played I've had relaitively no problem with, I didn't need but a few
hints from my neighbor who loaned me the games to play (he'd already beaten
them). Same with the Leasure Suit Larry games... To solve the Kings Quest game
you needed to know quite a few fairy tales, SQ and Larry just required some
logic and thought.

I've been (as a way to learn Inform) adapting the "Dog Star Adventure" from
the C64 over to Inform. [SPOILER] One of the puzzles is to get past a security
robot. One solution (maybe the only in the original) is to feed him a Big Mac.
The original game is quite simple, no "EXAMINE" command (as I recall), I've
added to the description of the robot (when examined) the line "It could just
be your imagination, but it seems to look hungry." Since (at this point) the
only piece of food is a Big Mac, someone might get the idea better. (face it,
feeding a Big Mac to a robot isn't very logical). I also allow for shooting
the robot with your blaster.

I'll upload the completed conversion to the archive when I'm done with it
(I've taken a break for a few weeks, but I'll get back on it.)

BTW - What is the deadline for the '98 IF Comp? I've got an idea for a game,
I've been working on the concept a bit here and there (jotting notes, etc.)
and I thought I might enter it next year.

Well, that's my 8 1/2 cents worth..

PHIL

Philip Bartol

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Jan 5, 1998, 3:00:00 AM1/5/98
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In article <34AA13...@hatch.net>, je...@hatch.net wrote:
>see more multiple solutions, certainly. What I dream of, though, is a
>cross between the old Choose-Your-Own-Adventure style stories and modern
>interactive fiction. Let the player tackle puzzles in different
>orders. Add difficult puzzles which don't need to be solved at all, but
>may make other puzzles easier. Create NPCs that will provide assistance

I remember when I first got Wishbringer and played it (me and my mom both have
played IF, starting back with Scott Adams on our TI99/4A). There were a couple
places where you could solve a "puzzle" a couple of different ways...

The game I've been thinking about creating would have two possible endings....
maybe more, but two main ways to win the game. Have any other IF games (found
in the Archive or not) done this sort of thing?

The hard part about letting people solve puzzles out of order is if you're
using the puzzles to develop the story (as I've read that some people do), it
would require that each puzzle would have to monitor the state of the others
if it would affect the flow of the story. For instance, if you had a situation
where you had to read an article in todays paper (after figuring out how to
get a copy), that there is information in the article for solving something
later. And if you had another situation where you had to get some information
from a NPC (by talking to them, giving them something, etc.) you couldn't
refer to anything in the article unless it's been read (i.e. - "The young
woman looks remarkably like the one pictured next to the article in todays
times.") You would have to have the description check and see if the article
had been read, if it had you could refer to the person that way, otherwise....
I think I read about a bug in a game like that.... the game refers to the
handwriting on a note that you have not gotten to yet.

PHIL

Jeff Hatch

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Jan 5, 1998, 3:00:00 AM1/5/98
to

Philip Bartol wrote:
[snip]
> The hard part about letting people solve puzzles out of order is if you're
> using the puzzles to develop the story (as I've read that some people do), it
> would require that each puzzle would have to monitor the state of the others
> if it would affect the flow of the story. For instance, if you had a situation
> where you had to read an article in todays paper (after figuring out how to

> get a copy), that there is information in the article for solving something
> later. And if you had another situation where you had to get some information
> from a NPC (by talking to them, giving them something, etc.) you couldn't
> refer to anything in the article unless it's been read (i.e. - "The young
> woman looks remarkably like the one pictured next to the article in todays
> times.") You would have to have the description check and see if the article
> had been read, if it had you could refer to the person that way, otherwise....
> I think I read about a bug in a game like that.... the game refers to the
> handwriting on a note that you have not gotten to yet.

Quite true. To make matters worse, the style of IF I'm dreaming of
would occasionally allow plot development through NPC actions, even
while the player is doing nothing. I estimate that such a game would
take at least twice the programming effort of an average IF, probably
much more. I'm still planning to try it someday.

-Rúmil

Carl Klutzke

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Jan 7, 1998, 3:00:00 AM1/7/98
to

In article <34B025E4.B0CDCF82@ozz_but_only_with_1_z.net>,

Douglas W. Gale <dg...@oz.net> wrote:
>support the smith bill wrote:
>>
>On a similar note, should players be able to refer to parts of their
>body (feet, hands, and fingers especially) without having to let them
>know that in fact they do have feet and fingers available to them?

I certainly think so. As long as you can't do the Hitchhiker's thing and
leave body parts all over the game.

I had to implement body parts in my game in case someone wanted to swat
the fly with her hand, rather than the sword, for instance. It wasn't too
hard, though I had to make those body parts change when the player changed
shapes into different creatures.

>I seem to remember playing an older IF game that had a 'verbs' verb,
>which of course, listed -some- of it's know verbs. I was under the
>impression at the time that there was a reason a complete list wasn't
>given. My guess was that the author didn't want to give away a puzzle.
>But...would it be so wrong for the player to have access (in the game)
>to a list of all the verbs available?

It could be. Magic words are often implemented as verbs, so listing them
in the help would give away something that should be discovered in the
course of play. And if you use lots of synonyms for verbs, the verb list
can be quite long. I tried to put almost every verb necessary to play in
the hint system, except for some that would give too much away (magic
words being the primary example).

Carl


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