E.g. If I have a house in my game, should I add a kitchen, although
it does not serve any purpose in the game, so that it would be
there only as background.
What are peoples' opinion on this?
-------------------------| \ _, "Search for the unicorn in
Ola Mikael Hansson | /*.\___ your heart, believe - and you
-------------------------| ` ( __ )\ shall find true beauty!"
dat9...@ludat.lth.se | (l (l '
>E.g. If I have a house in my game, should I add a kitchen, although
>it does not serve any purpose in the game, so that it would be
>there only as background.
I think it depends very much on *why* there is a house in your
If the house is there as a reflection of its inhabitant's
personality, for example, it would be appropriate to code the
kitchen--the player is going to be thinking about "How does
this person live?" and the kitchen is a clue to that. The
eating area in Babel provides a good image of the scientists'
lives--their lab is plush but their dining room is spartan,
and not even working quite right.
On the other hand, if the focus is not on the house and its
inhabitants, it's probably better to block off unused areas.
Many of the competition games, in my opinion, spent a lot of
time coding bathrooms which were really of no interest--
also halls and offices. If you are just passing through,
or just looking for an object, better to minimize
rooms to those which can be made interesting and meaningful.
From the competition, I'd cite Glowgrass as a game which was
missing one needed room (the parents' bedroom) because trying
to make a mental model of how the long-ago folk lived was
important to the theme of the game. On the other hand, I think
Savannah was perfectly correct to block off the bathrooms
and keep the player from going back to the hotel. And
Madame L'Estrange's decision not to have bathrooms, most halls,
streets, etc. made perfect sense for the way the game worked.
Exploring Madame's bathroom would be a pure distraction.
Mary Kuhner mkku...@genetics.washington.edu
Well, options seem to be...
Realistic method: Map every square inch your game covers. Map everything
that should be there, even if it's useless...
Occam's Razor method: Only map parts that are used. GO WEST inside your
house takes you from your bedroom to your bathroom, and GO WEST outside your
home will take you from Chattanooga to Memphis... "Red Herring" is a bad
It really depends on what you feel needs to be there. If there is not a
kitchen required to be in the game, you can add it for atmosphere, or
completeness, or so that people won't think you designed a goofy house, BUT
of course you shouldn't make it look like filler:
This is your kitchen.
Actually, if your house isn't anatomically correct, I wouldn't mind; unless
an aspect of your game might call to mind a kitchen (e.g. a jar of peanut
butter), and then have me thinking "Hey, do I have a kitchen I can
do/find/put this in?"
But hey, if 75% of buildings in IF can get along without something as
essential as a bathroom, I think nobody will mourn a kitchen... (Especially
seeing how we all feel about starvation...)
[Or, you could just put some teensy weensy kind of use in the kitchen?]
http://come.to/brocks.place | World Domination Through Trivia!
"Lemming is the eternal force of life." --from the online weeding of Dee-Bee
> When designing a game, is it better to try to minimize the number of
> rooms, or to try to have a reasonable map?
> E.g. If I have a house in my game, should I add a kitchen, although
> it does not serve any purpose in the game, so that it would be
> there only as background.
For verisimilitude, you could include a description of an exit that leads
to a kitchen, but not actually include the kitchen. Example:
Your living room is a mess, with dirty clothes strewn about everywhere.
The foul odor that fills the room probably emanates from the overflowing
trash can in your kitchen, to the north.
Phew! You take a few steps, but the horrible smell sends you running back
to the living room.
I think general wisdom says that you should include as few useless rooms
(And please, no jokes about General Wisdom. He's no Patton, but he gets
the job done.)
Ivan Cockrum www.cockrumville.com iv...@NOSPAMcockrumville.com
To reply by email, remove "NOSPAM" from the address above.
Ivan Cockrum wrote in message ...
>(And please, no jokes about General Wisdom. He's no Patton, but he gets
>the job done.)
Who is General Failure and why is he reading my A: drive?
"For small erections may be finished by their first architects; grand
ones, true ones, ever leave the copestone to posterity. God keep me from
ever completing anything." -- Herman Melville, "Moby Dick"
>>What are peoples' opinion on this?
I have wondered about this too, some people (who played version 1 of Legacy)
told me I had too many rooms in the "haunted" mansion. Some of those rooms get
used at one point by a NPC but contain no puzzles. I have decided I DO need to
distribute object better for puzzles and that will make some rooms more
interesting, but it seems to me occassionally one will have a room or two that
are simply "connectors" or are there for "reality's sake" and have no great
function in the game. Though I am modeling my house on a real-life mansion, I
have decided maybe I will delete some MORE unnecessary bathrooms, I already
deleted most of the unnecessary closets. I think it's a tough call. Part of the
problem is how to write a room description that lets the player know they
really don't need to do much in that room. Or leave ALL unnecessary rooms out?
But what if doing that makes the upstairs literally bigger than the downstairs
or something like that? (Lol, the house would topple over.) Houses are actually
harder to do well than other types of locations, I think, because you need to
be somewhat architecturally correct (especially if the player maps it and sees
that it would topple over or is inconsitent).
FD I don't know, I wonder too.
Femal...@aol.com "Good breeding consists in
concealing how much we think of ourselves and how
little we think of the other person." Mark Twain
>For verisimilitude, you could include a description of an exit that leads
>to a kitchen, but not actually include the kitchen. Example:
>Your living room is a mess, with dirty clothes strewn about everywhere.
>The foul odor that fills the room probably emanates from the overflowing
>trash can in your kitchen, to the north.
>Phew! You take a few steps, but the horrible smell sends you running back
>to the living room.
Yeah but when I see a description like this I sometimes think, is this
a puzzle -- am I supposed to go in there? Should I find a clothespin
(use clothespin on nose) ...? :)
I vote keep it as compact as possible. Nobody wants to visit fifteen
in the name of "keeping it real". After all, one of the coolest Infocom
ever made, Hitchhiker's, had only about thirty rooms, as I recall. And
LGOP represented the entirety of Cleveland with one room, called
As an example of a "serious" game, Spellbreaker represented a pretty
territory with several extremely tiny areas. I don't know why, but I
little maps and I hate big sprawling ones. (I really liked the map for
in the Weather". It was just so cute!) For some reason smaller and
abstract maps really appeal to me. Maybe it's because lots of
reduces the allegorical richness you get with abstraction. Does that
any sense, or has my brain been fried by three hours of Quake II on the
Whatever, I'm going to bed.
You have to do what is right for the story. Is the story _about_ the
house? Then you should reproduce it in great detail. Is the story merely
_set in_ the house? Then you shouldn't include areas that aren't
important to the story. Anything included in a story that is not actually
part of the story makes the story weaker. Trim it out, just like you
would in normal fiction.
This is one of this nitpicking things that no two people will will likely
agree upon. How you map out your story 'should' be based on your story.
Here is where development experience comes in handy. If you've ever
written a system that included a team of coders and lasted for a fairly
long period of time, you'll understand the value of a 'design'.
When we get an idea for a game, the urge to start coding can be
overwhelming. I'm struggling with this right now with the game I'm
building. The problem is that you need to write the _whole_ story out
If you write the story first, have an appendix for puzzle ideas, an
appendix for specific locations that are 'necessary', then you'll start
to 'see' your map.
If you do this, you'll be left with a very specific set of locations that
you then can adjoin with a simple hallway or path here and there for
continuity. Actually, Spellbreaker is a _perfect_ example of this,
because it solved the continuity and geographic problem by creating
puzzles around getting to each locale of the story, but it did _not_
create a slew of locations to 'physically' demonstrate the size of the
land. Despite the lack of physical adjoining locations, Spellbreaker left
you with the 'feeling' of being a large (geographically) game.
This is why we have yet (IMHO) to acheive anything on the level of
Infocom. They almost _never_ put a location into a story without
something important mentioned the location description. They _always_
gave you clues in each description.
To me, this is analogous to any chapter and verse about writing a short
story. The books that I've read explain the importance of _each_ word,
_each_ sentence, and _each_ paragraph moving the story in a _planned_
direction. This is why some writers can write a thousand page novel, but
would be down right horrified if they were asked to write a short story.
In this sense, bathrooms and kitchens should simply be left out, unless
they're a one stop, logical, adjoinment between two important locales.
Create locations that are self-serving. A house is one location. If you
create ten rooms in one house, that's overkill to me, especially if there
is only one puzzle involved.
My rule is one to one. One puzzle or hint for each location. If you can
accomplish that, you're reaching Infocom status.
David A. Cornelson
-------------------==== Posted via Deja News ====-----------------------
http://www.dejanews.com/ Search, Read, Post to Usenet
They have a name for that, you know. It's called "over-designing."
It is one of the three deadly sins of programing can commit.
C.) Creeping featurism
_Jigsaw_ suffers from overdesign, as does _Spellbreaker_. The world of SB is
large, but very narrow. "Every location a purpose and every purpose a location"
sounds awfully similar to an old GAG I once heard...  But anyway, you've got
to have a plan, but NEVER, EVER, OVER PLAN. All art is drained from a work of
math. Now, there is beauty in math, but not much math in art.
 (I'm refering to the one weapon for one monster problem in GAGS...)
Thanks for ignoring me
Why does the word "Bullshit" seem to appear in my mind after reading this
>My rule is one to one. One puzzle or hint for each location. If you can
>accomplish that, you're reaching Infocom status.
No, then your reaching GAGS status, my friend. You've got to have space in the
game, or else it seems too tight. There's a reason why you almost never see a
decent fantasy short story; they take too long to set up. They say the Devil is
in the details; well, the story is too.
Leave red herrings. Use them. They can create atmosphere. This is something
that people don't seem to understand around here. Just by asking this question
("should I insert unescessary rooms?") the prejudice against openess is shown.
Of course, I'm a beliver in interactive Fiction <capitilization intentional>,
rather then Adventure Games.
But that's just me.
Well, I don't think there should be too many rooms that have no apparent
function. But some are connectors, some add "atmosphere" and I'll be d__med if
I am going to make my second story bigger than the first! It would topple over.
However, even if there isn't a takeable object in every room, there can be
other sorts of information in a room.
And maybe some "unnecessary" ones with little description to match the spaces
on the floor above and/or below (or to keep a "house" a believable rectangle).
Because I map games and I KNOW others map, so a glaring inconsistency would be
I also keep thinking of Planetfall, which had all those dorm rooms and
bathrooms (called something else) and other instances like that in Infocom
games, rooms that were there for atmosphere and consistency, but had little
description (see, not all "rooms" in Infocom games had either takeable objects,
hints or puzzles).
FD :-) I guess I have answered that question to my own satisfaction.
> But anyway, you've got
> to have a plan, but NEVER, EVER, OVER PLAN. All art is drained from a work of
> math. Now, there is beauty in math, but not much math in art.
In any case, I basically agree with you. I think every location and object
should have a purpose, where purpose means "this establishes a mood",
"this makes the location more believable", and so on, not just "this
is a step in solving a puzzle" or "this is an obligatory red herring."
Thomas Insel (tin...@jaka.ece.uiuc.edu)
"If you think the United States has stood still, who built the largest
shopping center in the world?" -- Richard M. Nixon
<sarcastic> But Luc! Wait! You don't agree with me? Oh sad Luc, what can
I say? How can I make it up to you? </sarcastic>
This sort of reply reminds me of Ross Perot when he says things like,
"That's a bunch of horse manure and _everyone_ knows it!", but never
cares to get involved in a substantive discussion about whatever subject
was brought up.
Save your flames Luc, and describe _why_ you think my statement is BS.
Profanity and sound bytes are powerful tools, but inappropriate as a
means of discussion.
David A. Cornelson, Chicago
_Jigsaw_ suffers from overcompensation for the fact that _Curses_
was never really designed at all... it just happened.
Graham Nelson | gra...@gnelson.demon.co.uk | Oxford, United Kingdom
False! Not to mention heresy... But math is beautiful. Seriously. If YOU
can't see the beauty, that doesn't make it any less beautiful.
I don't see what math has to do with planning, though - I agree that
overplanning drains beauty.
Joe, who is a math major, yes
Okay, let's not get out of hand here. I am not recommending "over"
anything. I'm a big believer in balance. Certainly there is a need to get
creative and use your word processor to bang out the big story with all
of the ooey gooey neato stuff that will make your game original and
I _am_ saying that after you've brainstorned like a writer for a month or
so and written a story with dialogue, action, plot, story, dialogue,
plot, and hashed out the prologue, the middlish part, and the end game...
....then you sit down like a nice little programmer and organize your
pages of notebook paper, alien drawings, and Hamlet speeches into
something that will then transform into a set of locations, a puzzle here
and there, and everything with a _little_ bit of cohesiveness.
If you do it this way, you may be able to avoid, and this is going into
the history books although it may irritate my new friend FD :), "The
Toppling House Effect".
Not to blow my own horn or anything, but you might want to look at how
_Sins Against Mimesis_ implemented the minor details in the bedroom,
bathroom, kitchen, and Ganymede Base Room Whatever-It-Was.
Try examining the "and so on" while you're at it.
ad...@princeton.edu Cynical and drunk and boring someone in some dark cafe
>Yeah but when I see a description like this I sometimes think, is this
>a puzzle -- am I supposed to go in there? Should I find a clothespin
>(use clothespin on nose) ...? :)
Exactly. It is hard to write an exit the player CAN'T go through without
intriquing them, leaving them looking for a way to enter. In one instance, at
least, I have put a door that gives a default message ("It is locked and no one
answers", something like that) then I add, in parenthesis ("This is not
something you can open.") It is good to be as fair as possible to the player.
>> When designing a game, is it better to try to minimize the number of
>> rooms, or to try to have a reasonable map?
How concise! How true!
>In article <19980121232...@ladder01.news.aol.com>,
>LucFrench <lucf...@aol.com> wrote:
>>to have a plan, but NEVER, EVER, OVER PLAN. All art is drained from a work of
>>math. Now, there is beauty in math, but not much math in art.
>False! Not to mention heresy... But math is beautiful. Seriously. If YOU
>can't see the beauty, that doesn't make it any less beautiful.
Ummm... I think you should reread what he wrote.
>Joe, who is a math major, yes
Edan, who is a math major too, and finds beauty in it too, but is also getting
sick of it too.
I have heard it said that C.J. Cherryh is of the opinion that every
scene in a story should do at least three things, and removes any that
do not meet this criterion during editing. I suspect this applies doubly
> Why does the word "Bullshit" seem to appear in my mind after reading this
I don't know. I agree with it. My most bestest favorite authors are the
ones that do exactly that.
But they do it when writing thousand-page novels, too.
> >My rule is one to one. One puzzle or hint for each location. If you can
> >accomplish that, you're reaching Infocom status.
One puzzle, hint, red herring, piece of background information... one
No, I'm lying. There should be *two* things per location. *Then* you'll
be approaching serious quality. Three is even better.
> No, then your reaching GAGS status, my friend. You've got to have space in the
> game, or else it seems too tight.
Space is a thing.
"And Aholibamah bare Jeush, and Jaalam, and Korah: these were the
>If you do it this way, you may be able to avoid, and this is going into
>the history books although it may irritate my new friend FD :), "The
>Toppling House Effect".
Well, yes, Legacy was written in 6 weeks so it could have used more pre-design
(which the second version is currently getting.)
Er, David, are you alright? I can your legs sticking out from underneath that
collapsed house. D-a-v-i-d?
FD :-) Slightly irritated but surviving it.
Oops, misphrased. That should have been "math is art".
>>Joe, who is a math major, yes
>Edan, who is a math major too, and finds beauty in it too, but is also getting
>sick of it too.
Yes, that goes without saying...
> In article <1d3dpue.1r6...@usol-phl-pa-070.uscom.com>,
> David Glasser <gla...@uscom.com> wrote:
> >Ohmygodohmygodohmygod! I just realized something that needed
> >explanation in VirtuaTech! You only leave your one-room dorm for
> >classes! And, there is a lack of a certain necessity in it...
> >(And this isn't even mentioning the fact that there isn't a "'porter"
> >described in the opening text or any obvious way of getting food.)
> I figured there was a communal bathroom somewhere around,
> and you lived on call-out pizza and Chinese food. Not too
> different from modern dorms, really.
> Mary Kuhner mkku...@genetics.washington.edu
Ah, yes, but the opening text *specifically* says that you only leave
for classes, and you use a "'porter" for that. Funny how I ignored that
when designing the door puzzle.
--David Glasser, but then again VirtuaTech's strong point wasn't the
plot, or the puzzles, or just about anything...
>>When designing a game, is it better to try to minimize the number of
>>rooms, or to try to have a reasonable map?
>My general answer is this: if a room (or some other element of a game)
>is truly unnecessary, then you shouldn't add it.
>However, rooms can be "necessary" for a lot of reasons. Rooms that
>have no function in the plot or in the puzzles can still be
>"necessary" to add atmosphere, or to give the player a feeling of
>size, or to add background or realism, or to avoid inconsistencies.
One of the things I did as Spring grew was to go through my map and
make a mental note of why each location was there. If I could name
specifically why a room was necessary, it got to stay. Otherwise, I
cut it and patched the map back together.
The reasons I found acceptable were not always related to puzzles or
even to hints. Atmosphere was important. The feeling of space in the
game in some places required moving through the landscape. Hopefully,
though, the descriptions were sufficient to make the location feel
full without the player always thinking, I have to look at the fern, I
have to look at the walls of the canyon, I have to look at the . . .
On the subject of houses, I think many designers would do themselves a
favor by thinking about the house in Zork I. The kitchen in that game
was important. So was the living room and the attic. But the elegant
white house had no bedrooms or bathrooms (What kind of a house was
it?) because those rooms didn't figure into the plot. That game
wasn't about the house, really, and so those rooms didn't matter.
One technique I tried on the Mirror Lake Trail in "Spring" was
to disallow any command except "Look", "Inventory", movement commands,
and the meta commands (save, restore, quit . . .) . The reason was
that I didn't want the player to feel obligated to spend any time
there. The locations were there purely for effect. Any disallowed
command resulted in a "There's nothing on this trail half as important
to you as . . ." That technique would allow you to include a kitchen,
for instance, but not allow the player to waste his time fiddling with
the cupboards or the blender or whatever made its way into your
realistic room description.
For the most part, though, I think I'd prefer not even visiting the
kitchen if nothing happens there.
BTW, I thought this was a good decision. It worked.
It's sort of halfway between a long text cut-scene and a full room
implementation. You can read it, skim through it, or turn around halfway
and forget it; but it's clear to the player that the range of action is