Hints in IF game

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kodrik

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Jan 6, 2002, 6:23:01 AM1/6/02
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What would be the best ways to implement hints?

A few suggestions:
* Every room can have a number of hints depending on the current
situation of the game. If multiple hints are available for a
situation, one will randomly be displayed.
* Hint request for a room can be accessed by typing "hint".
* A special command such as "Hint: how do I open the door?" can
display a specific hint if it exists.
* Requesting hints can lower the score, the authors decides of the
score modificator for each hint.

Suggestions/ideas?

Aris Katsaris

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Jan 6, 2002, 6:34:05 AM1/6/02
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"kodrik" <kod...@zc8.net> wrote in message
news:269806b2.02010...@posting.google.com...

> What would be the best ways to implement hints?
>
> A few suggestions:
> * Every room can have a number of hints depending on the current
> situation of the game. If multiple hints are available for a
> situation, one will randomly be displayed.
> * Hint request for a room can be accessed by typing "hint".
> * A special command such as "Hint: how do I open the door?" can
> display a specific hint if it exists.

All these seem to me to be such minute variations on a theme that
it doesn't make a difference between them.

> * Requesting hints can lower the score, the authors decides of the
> score modificator for each hint.

And this seems to me to be unnecessary. What's the point when
people can save and restore? Besides scoring is really becoming
outdated nowadays. It can still serve as a progress indicator, but
it's not a reward by itself - the reward ought to come through the
experience of the game...


The real important distinction is between hints that are incorporated in
the game and hints that are external (accessed through a command or
in a separate txt file, etc)... Both of these have their worth. The amulet
in "Worlds Apart" is probably the best example of these. That game
also has external hints, so you could compare the two possibilities.

As a (bad IMO) example of a game who has a hint system stuck
somewhere between "incorporated" and "meta", you could see
Dangerous Curves... My review at
http://users.otenet.gr/~katsaris/curves.htm describes why I didn't
like that one...

Aris Katsaris


Sean Don

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Jan 6, 2002, 12:15:24 PM1/6/02
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kodrik <kod...@zc8.net> wrote in message
news:269806b2.02010...@posting.google.com...

> What would be the best ways to implement hints?


>
> A few suggestions:
> * Every room can have a number of hints depending on the current
> situation of the game. If multiple hints are available for a
> situation, one will randomly be displayed.
> * Hint request for a room can be accessed by typing "hint".
> * A special command such as "Hint: how do I open the door?" can
> display a specific hint if it exists.


In regards to an "external" hint system; I've always preferred the "type
hint", or the Q&A format, simply because it's the most navigatable.
Obviously because its "external", it doesn't really ruin the game's
mimesis.

<snip>


Sean

Magnus Olsson

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Jan 7, 2002, 6:35:48 AM1/7/02
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In article <269806b2.02010...@posting.google.com>,

kodrik <kod...@zc8.net> wrote:
>What would be the best ways to implement hints?
>
>A few suggestions:
>* Every room can have a number of hints depending on the current
>situation of the game. If multiple hints are available for a
>situation, one will randomly be displayed.
>* Hint request for a room can be accessed by typing "hint".
>* A special command such as "Hint: how do I open the door?" can
>display a specific hint if it exists.

All this is good in theory, but a lot of work to implement.

You're assuming that hints are related to a specific room, but
what if they aren't? For example, you could have some mysterious
gadget that you're carrying around, but where finding out what
it oes and how to use it are puzzles. Where do you put hints
relating to this object - in the room it was found in?

>* Requesting hints can lower the score, the authors decides of the
>score modificator for each hint.

THis is generally considered a bad idea - all it does is to force
the player to undo after each hint, or (if you have no undo
capability) to save/ask for a hint/restore.

--
Magnus Olsson (m...@df.lth.se, m...@pobox.com)
------ http://www.pobox.com/~mol ------

kodrik

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Jan 8, 2002, 4:35:28 AM1/8/02
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> You're assuming that hints are related to a specific room, but
> what if they aren't? For example, you could have some mysterious
> gadget that you're carrying around, but where finding out what
> it oes and how to use it are puzzles. Where do you put hints
> relating to this object - in the room it was found in?

The engine would treat a hint exactly as it does any object. You can
set the scope of the item on local/global and associate all kinds of
requirements for it to ba activated.
If that is the best way to offer hints then I have almost nothing to
do. But I want to be sure there is no other way before I implement it
in the engine.

> >* Requesting hints can lower the score, the authors decides of the
> >score modificator for each hint.
> THis is generally considered a bad idea - all it does is to force
> the player to undo after each hint, or (if you have no undo
> capability) to save/ask for a hint/restore.

What if hints lowered your scores in your saved games also?
Once you asked for a hint, even if you go to a previous save, the
score lost would be carried over. Authors decide for each hint how
much it shoudl cost (default of 0).

Magnus Olsson

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Jan 8, 2002, 4:46:21 AM1/8/02
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>> >* Requesting hints can lower the score, the authors decides of the
>> >score modificator for each hint.
>> THis is generally considered a bad idea - all it does is to force
>> the player to undo after each hint, or (if you have no undo
>> capability) to save/ask for a hint/restore.
>
>What if hints lowered your scores in your saved games also?
>Once you asked for a hint, even if you go to a previous save, the
>score lost would be carried over. Authors decide for each hint how
>much it shoudl cost (default of 0).

You're really going to great lenght to antagonize the player,
are you? :-)

Seriously speaking, I think this depends on how much the score means
for the player. I have the feeling that in most modern IF, either
there is no score, or the score mostly works as an indicator of how
far you've progressed in the game, so lowering the score for a hint
would just be a nuisance, not a real incentive not to ask for hints.

And if the score really matters to the player, he can cheat anyway
- for example, by running tow parallel game sessions, asking for hints
in one of them and keeping the other "hint free".

kodrik

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Jan 8, 2002, 8:52:03 AM1/8/02
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> Seriously speaking, I think this depends on how much the score means
> for the player. I have the feeling that in most modern IF, either
> there is no score, or the score mostly works as an indicator of how
> far you've progressed in the game, so lowering the score for a hint
> would just be a nuisance, not a real incentive not to ask for hints.
>
> And if the score really matters to the player, he can cheat anyway
> - for example, by running tow parallel game sessions, asking for hints
> in one of them and keeping the other "hint free".

Let's just assume that the score does matter and cheating, while not
impossible, would require more work than its worth.
Would authors choose to penalize the score for some hints or is this
feature useless for an IF author.

Mark W

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Jan 8, 2002, 4:21:31 PM1/8/02
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How about rotating descriptions for items? It could either cycle
through them in order or display them randomly. Maybe the description
could change based on items in your inventory or your location.

This could amost make sense in game terms, like.

>North.

Crystal Grotto.

>Examine Elvish Blade

The Elvish Blade is faintly glowing.

or

>Examine Rubber Tubing

It looks like ordinary Rubber Tubing.

>Examine Rubber Tubing

The Rubber Tubing is Donut Shaped.

>Examine Rubber Tubing.

Don't make me have to tell you that it's a xxxx. (spoiler ommited)

Mark

Robotboy8

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Jan 8, 2002, 11:01:05 PM1/8/02
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Oh God no. As a matter of personal preference, I examine things many times
throughout the course of a game, to see if any new information jogs my mind as
I read the description. But if I'm getting hints I don't want this way, we
have a problem.

--
Sanity is a sure sign of a lazy mind.

Mark W

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Jan 9, 2002, 2:05:30 AM1/9/02
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robo...@aol.com (Robotboy8) wrote in message news:<20020108230105...@mb-fl.aol.com>...

>
> Oh God no. As a matter of personal preference, I examine things many times
> throughout the course of a game, to see if any new information jogs my mind as
> I read the description. But if I'm getting hints I don't want this way, we
> have a problem.

You're right. I'm making description an *active* part of the puzzle
rather than a passive one. I too constantly re-examine items as I move
around trying to figure out how things are supposed to go together.

For what it's worth, my most memorable experiences with Interactive
Fiction were during the 80's before I had a computer with a modem (my
mother refused to put money into a computer she knew was part of a
dying breed). In other words, before I had an easy way to get hints
from other people. I didn't have a job and I could easily spend hours
trying to figure out various puzzles and challenges.

I hardly remember games that I use FAQs to get through. What's
memorable about that? At that point it becomes a passive experience,
not an interactive one. FAQs and hints can be seen as bad for all the
same reasons teachers banned Cliff Notes in school.

You are standing in front of a white house.

>Help

On the other hand, different people have different experiences gaming,
and I know there are books and interactive fictions I don't get into
because I don't want them sucking up my time. Perhaps because of my
experiences in the 80's, I assume good adventure games take forever to
complete. Maybe even years.

I'm also assuming the author wrote interactive fiction worth having
headaches over.

YMMV.
mark

Message has been deleted

James Wyatt

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Jan 9, 2002, 12:05:01 PM1/9/02
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"Magnus Olsson" <m...@df.lth.se> wrote in message
news:a1ef5d$4kv$1...@news.lth.se...

> In article <269806b2.02010...@posting.google.com>,
> kodrik <kod...@zc8.net> wrote:
> >> >* Requesting hints can lower the score, the authors decides of the
> >> >score modificator for each hint.
> >> THis is generally considered a bad idea - all it does is to force
> >> the player to undo after each hint, or (if you have no undo
> >> capability) to save/ask for a hint/restore.
> >
> >What if hints lowered your scores in your saved games also?
> >Once you asked for a hint, even if you go to a previous save, the
> >score lost would be carried over. Authors decide for each hint how
> >much it shoudl cost (default of 0).

How about if at the end of the game the AMUSING was only available if the
player didn't use hints? That seems more important than score, to me.


Andrew Plotkin

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Jan 9, 2002, 12:16:51 PM1/9/02
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Then the player is *really* pissed. "You want me to replay this entire
game, which I just finished, in order to see your 'AMUSING' comments?
Bite me."

--Z

"And Aholibamah bare Jeush, and Jaalam, and Korah: these were the borogoves..."
*
* Make your vote count. Get your vote counted.

David A. Cornelson

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Jan 9, 2002, 2:16:42 PM1/9/02
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"kodrik" <kod...@zc8.net> wrote in message
news:269806b2.02010...@posting.google.com...

I think this is out of touch with modern IF development. It's my sense that
many authors are concentrating on scenes and how the PC (and NPC's) move in
between. I think hints should follow this path as well, giving the PC some
way to develop knowledge of the current scene and any future scenes.
Certainly if the PC is "stuck" they should have some way of garnering
immediate knowledge as to how to get "unstuck". The downside is that players
can then fly through your game at top speed and pretty much miss the details
that as an author, you spent hundreds of hours developing.

My answer is an internal hint clock. The PC is allowed some undefined method
of gathering information and if they get stuck, well, the standard reply is,
"Keep looking around, there's got to be _something_ you've missed!"

Eventually though the internal hint clock recognizes the futility of the
players movements and either provides the solution or a nicer touch might be
some new object is employed to deliver the PC from stuckiness.

In any case, I think that an extraordinary effort should be made to make
solution knowledge somehow available within the construct of the story. In
my WIP, you will eventually see a complete integrated hint system. It is
part of the story and part of the PC's character.

As for hints having any effect upon the game itself (less/more points) or
the outcome is simply ludicrous. None of the players that I know would enjoy
this sort of behaviour and would more than likely close the program, never
to be reopened.

Jarb


kodrik

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Jan 10, 2002, 3:26:56 AM1/10/02
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> I think this is out of touch with modern IF development. It's my sense that
> many authors are concentrating on scenes and how the PC (and NPC's) move in
> between. I think hints should follow this path as well, giving the PC some
> way to develop knowledge of the current scene and any future scenes.
> Certainly if the PC is "stuck" they should have some way of garnering
> immediate knowledge as to how to get "unstuck". The downside is that players
> can then fly through your game at top speed and pretty much miss the details
> that as an author, you spent hundreds of hours developing.
>
> My answer is an internal hint clock. The PC is allowed some undefined method
> of gathering information and if they get stuck, well, the standard reply is,
> "Keep looking around, there's got to be _something_ you've missed!"
>
> Eventually though the internal hint clock recognizes the futility of the
> players movements and either provides the solution or a nicer touch might be
> some new object is employed to deliver the PC from stuckiness.

Very good point

Magnus Olsson

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Jan 10, 2002, 4:33:51 AM1/10/02
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In article <a1htu3$a4g$1...@news.panix.com>,

Andrew Plotkin <erky...@eblong.com> wrote:
>James Wyatt <james....@virgin.net> wrote:
>> "Magnus Olsson" <m...@df.lth.se> wrote in message
>> news:a1ef5d$4kv$1...@news.lth.se...
>>> In article <269806b2.02010...@posting.google.com>,
>>> kodrik <kod...@zc8.net> wrote:
>>> >> >* Requesting hints can lower the score, the authors decides of the
>>> >> >score modificator for each hint.
>>> >> THis is generally considered a bad idea - all it does is to force
>>> >> the player to undo after each hint, or (if you have no undo
>>> >> capability) to save/ask for a hint/restore.
>>> >
>>> >What if hints lowered your scores in your saved games also?
>>> >Once you asked for a hint, even if you go to a previous save, the
>>> >score lost would be carried over. Authors decide for each hint how
>>> >much it shoudl cost (default of 0).
>
>> How about if at the end of the game the AMUSING was only available if the
>> player didn't use hints? That seems more important than score, to me.
>
>Then the player is *really* pissed. "You want me to replay this entire
>game, which I just finished, in order to see your 'AMUSING' comments?
>Bite me."

I've thought about it a little, and I think the crux of the matter is
this:

You should make it hard, or costly, or unattractive, for the player to
ask for a hint *when trying to solve a puzzle*. You should *not*
punish the player at the end of the game for having read a hint while
playing it.

The psychology is that if I'm trying to solve a puzzle, and think I'm
stuck, the threat of future punishment isn't much of a deterrent:
"Sure, I won't be able to read the 'AMUSING' text later on; big deal
if I can't even finish the game!"

This, I think, is why things like deducting from the score or
disallowing 'AMUSING' aren't very good ideas.

Eytan Zweig

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Jan 10, 2002, 8:45:05 AM1/10/02
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"Magnus Olsson" <m...@df.lth.se> wrote in message
news:a1jn5v$et0$4...@news.lth.se...

Why must you even try to deter players from using hints? The proper way to
stop a player from using hints is to make the challange of solving the game
enjoyable by the player. As long as the challange is enjoyable, a player
won't use hints. The moment the challange is no longer enjoyable, the player
will resort to them. Sure, some players will turn to hints anyway, never
giving the game a chance. But that's their problem, not yours.

For me, the attitude that penalizes, or even tries to deter, the player from
using hint actually says: "I can't write a game compelling enough for the
average player to care about it, but I'm too arrogant to admit this, so I
must use tricks to make him play the way I want him to."

If players are resorting to hints in your puzzles, write better puzzles, or
switch to writing puzzle-less IF. Using tricks to make hints unattractive to
players is no the recourse - after all, by using hints the player is
admitting to him or herself that he or she is incapable of solving the
puzzle alone. If that concept is not unattrictive enough for him or her, no
other one will be.

Finally, there's no way to prevent you from asking for help on rgif, or
downloading a walkthrough - so in essence the people you are penalizing
aren't the normal members of the IF community, who have access to these
resources. The people you're penalizing are the casual players, who don't
know where to look for resources but might have encountered the game in some
other context. These are the people you should be attracting, trying to make
them join the community, not repelling.

Eytan

kodrik

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Jan 10, 2002, 10:33:38 AM1/10/02
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> The psychology is that if I'm trying to solve a puzzle, and think I'm
> stuck, the threat of future punishment isn't much of a deterrent:
> "Sure, I won't be able to read the 'AMUSING' text later on; big deal
> if I can't even finish the game!"
>
> This, I think, is why things like deducting from the score or
> disallowing 'AMUSING' aren't very good ideas.

In my case, points are equivalent to experience, and experience equals
more knowledge to be able to do more things.

Knowledge can also be carried from one adventure to the next. An
adventure can be completed without any knowledge, but knowledge can
open new paths within the adventure.
See exprience as for an RPG, it will affect the possibilities offered
to your character for the next games.

Knowing this, if you want a hint for an object, you will think twice.
The punishment is not drastic because it will not affect this
adventure, but it will affect your character growth.
You can think of it as not gaining experience or less experience from
finding the object with external help.
If in everquest, a group helps you kill a creature, your experience
will be affected and you will reconsider going solo and getting
experience or grouping, making the kill easier, but sacrificing
experience.

In in this spirit. The points will not prevent you from winning the
game but they are an attractive reward on your overall IF play.
So, there is a deterrant to requesting hints, although not one that
will jeopardize your experience in this adventure.

With this in mind, as an author, would you penalize points
(experience) for some hints

Magnus Olsson

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Jan 10, 2002, 11:19:01 AM1/10/02
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In article <a1k62f$rdqb1$1...@ID-101183.news.dfncis.de>,

Eytan Zweig <eyt...@yahoo.com> wrote:
>
>"Magnus Olsson" <m...@df.lth.se> wrote in message
>news:a1jn5v$et0$4...@news.lth.se...

>> You should make it hard, or costly, or unattractive, for the player to
>> ask for a hint *when trying to solve a puzzle*. You should *not*
>> punish the player at the end of the game for having read a hint while
>> playing it.
>
>Why must you even try to deter players from using hints? The proper way to
>stop a player from using hints is to make the challange of solving the game
>enjoyable by the player. As long as the challange is enjoyable, a player
>won't use hints. The moment the challange is no longer enjoyable, the player
>will resort to them.

[Removing author's hat, putting player's hat on head]

Here's my problem with hints: I've got a weak character. I may resist
the temptation to ask for a hint as long as, in your words, the
challenge is enjoyable, but sooner or later I'll get stuck and need a
hint. In that case, I don't want the author to tell me that I'm
cheating (which is the impression I get from penalties such as
deductions from my score). I don't even want it to be difficult to get
a hint in that case. Why? Because my getting stuck may very well
be the author's fault.

But I find that once I've turned to the hints, it's very easy to
keep reading hints; the threshold is lowered each time I get one.
After a while, I find myself typing in moves from a walkthrough.

So I think it's reasonable for the author to somehow try to slow down
this process, because that will stop me, the player, from ruining things
for myself. Ideally, the "hint dispenser" should be intelligent enough
to tell me that I really should try a little harder before asking for
another hint, because it's already given me a lot of information.

However, I've so far seen no hint dispensing mechanism (short of actual
humans, on the newsgroups or elsewhere) intelligent enough to do that.

>For me, the attitude that penalizes, or even tries to deter, the player from
>using hint actually says: "I can't write a game compelling enough for the
>average player to care about it, but I'm too arrogant to admit this, so I
>must use tricks to make him play the way I want him to."

Well, my reaction is usually less extreme than that, but if I feel
that the author is punihsing me for asking for hints I'm bound to feel
a bit miffed.

>If players are resorting to hints in your puzzles, write better puzzles,

That's very easy to say. The collective experience of this newsgroup
seems to be that it's almost impossible to write puzzles that nobody
will get stuck on and that nobody will view as unfair. I think players
simply are too different for everybody to be able to solve all
puzzles.

Jon Ingold

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Jan 10, 2002, 11:19:27 AM1/10/02
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> If players are resorting to hints in your puzzles, write better puzzles..

Nope, doesn't work like that. A really good puzzle is often a hard puzzle;
hard puzzles require time to solve. In fact, the thing that makes them at
all satisfying to solve is that they take time *but then they break*. In the
interim - between puzzle-setting and puzzle-solving - the player is going to
very very tempted to use hints. If he does, it will detract from the
puzzle-satisfaction. But at that time, the player may be thinking "I will
never solve this anyway".

The best puzzles (IMO) are those you solve on a flash of inspiration - in
the library - at the bus-stop - overnight. In those you have no idea - there
is a bolt of lightning - you've got it, and you know it's right.

> Finally, there's no way to prevent you from asking for help on rgif, or

Hints on email/rgif are probably the best way to go really: because there's
a time-delay between asking for help and getting it; and because the hints
can be more carefully tailored for how far through the particular player is.

Jon


Lucian P. Smith

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Jan 10, 2002, 2:26:58 PM1/10/02
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Magnus Olsson <m...@df.lth.se> wrote in <a1ketl$l0j$1...@news.lth.se>:
: In article <a1k62f$rdqb1$1...@ID-101183.news.dfncis.de>,
: Eytan Zweig <eyt...@yahoo.com> wrote:
:>
:>Why must you even try to deter players from using hints?

: Here's my problem with hints: I've got a weak character. I may resist


: the temptation to ask for a hint as long as, in your words, the
: challenge is enjoyable, but sooner or later I'll get stuck and need a
: hint.

: But I find that once I've turned to the hints, it's very easy to


: keep reading hints; the threshold is lowered each time I get one.
: After a while, I find myself typing in moves from a walkthrough.

I agree here--making hints more difficult to get reminds me that I don't
actually want to use them all the time. But making them more difficult is
substantially different than penalizing me for reading them.

In the old Invisiclue booklets, you had to flip to the right page and
scratch a pen across a piece of paper. Not a huge effort, but still one
that made you remember what you were doing, and helped lessen the
likelihood of you getting too many.

When I made invisiclues for 'So Far', I made them without clickable links
to each new clue, so you actually had to edit the location bar in the
browser and type the next number. Same idea; dunno how effective it was.

'Edifice' had an in-game method of giving you hints, but it wouldn't give
you the next one until a daemon had run checking if you had spent at least
five moves out of that area (and I didn't tell people that was what it
checked for, either--just told them 'go and try something, and if it
doesn't work, come back.') As I found out from responses to the game,
that worked OK, but it was supremely irritating if the hints lagged behind
what the player had tried already. The second release was more careful
about tracking what the player had done, and guessing what hint series
they would need next. Again, not being on the receiving end of this, I'm
not sure how well it worked, but it seemed to suffice, at least.

Making the hints easy to get to but penalizing the player for it in some
way (lower score, no 'Amusing', even verbal abuse) only serves to irritate
the player and *lower the trust the player has for the author*. Trust is
crucial. It's a common phenomenon that people will run to hints
immediately for a newbie author, but hold off in a game by Zarf. Why?
They trust him. Or, if they don't trust him to present puzzles they can
solve on their own, they'll run to hints early on because of it. Maybe if
I had known who wrote 'Shade', I would have liked it better, because I
would have known I could trust the game. As it was, it broke my trust
early on when I got stuck (didn't know the 'to-do' list changed) and never
regained it.

Within an isolated work of IF, you have to develop a bond of trust between
you (the author) and the player quickly, and reinforce it at every turn.
Penalizing the player for reading hints tells them 'I don't trust you to
only read the hints you need.' If you don't trust them, why should they
trust you? On the other hand, giving hints too freely tells them you
don't trust *yourself* to communicate effectively with the player. The
balance is hard to strike.

-Lucian

Mark W

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Jan 10, 2002, 5:36:22 PM1/10/02
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"Lucian P. Smith" <lps...@rice.edu> wrote in message news:<a1kpu2$fib$1...@joe.rice.edu>...

In one of my favorite games, Alternate Reality, there was an Oracle.
You'd throw money into a fire and it would tell you what you had to do
next. This might be good in IF games too. You'd have to travel to the
oracle to get the hints. It would be in-game so it wouldn't lose
continuity, and you'd have to travel to the oracle to get the hints.

Because the Oracle sensed what your next step should be (based on
items in your inventory like "has the silver key", or internal flags
like "reached third level"), there's no chance of someone saving right
there and just going in and asking about things. So you solve the
problem of them getting the hints too easily and taking them outside
the game.

My $3.50

Mark

Eytan Zweig

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Jan 10, 2002, 5:57:27 PM1/10/02
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"Jon Ingold" <ji...@cam.ac.uk> wrote in message
news:a1kevr$iuo$1...@pegasus.csx.cam.ac.uk...

> > If players are resorting to hints in your puzzles, write better
puzzles..
>
> Nope, doesn't work like that. A really good puzzle is often a hard puzzle;
> hard puzzles require time to solve. In fact, the thing that makes them at
> all satisfying to solve is that they take time *but then they break*. In
the
> interim - between puzzle-setting and puzzle-solving - the player is going
to
> very very tempted to use hints. If he does, it will detract from the
> puzzle-satisfaction. But at that time, the player may be thinking "I will
> never solve this anyway".
>
Ok, I wasn't being very clear above. What I meant by "better puzzles" is
puzzles that keep the player interest. They don't have to be original, or
easy, or difficult, or have a fancy solution - but they have to convince the
player that he wants to solve them. Sure, that's a hard, hard task. I'm not
sure I could do it. And it's a subjective thing anyway - what interests
player X doesn't interest player Y (for instance, I don't enjoy Zarf's
puzzles - I love his writing, style, atmosphere, and ideas, but in none of
his games did I meet a puzzle I enjoyed. I'm definitely in the minority
here, though). Which is why, for me, there is nothing wrong with a player
resorting to hints. The only experience he's potentially damaging, after
all, is his own (unless he then writes a review and pretends he didn't use
hints, but that's a different story).

> The best puzzles (IMO) are those you solve on a flash of inspiration - in
> the library - at the bus-stop - overnight. In those you have no idea -
there
> is a bolt of lightning - you've got it, and you know it's right.

For me, the best puzzles are those which can be solved by careful
reasoning - where all the pieces are there and you just need to play with
them to see how they fit together. Inspiration is nice, but if I *need* it,
it's not a good puzzle in my book. Which just goes to show how subjective
the puzzle experience is, since the best puzzles for you are unattractive to
me.

Eytan


Eytan Zweig

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Jan 10, 2002, 6:14:52 PM1/10/02
to
"Magnus Olsson" <m...@df.lth.se> wrote in message
news:a1ketl$l0j$1...@news.lth.se...

> In article <a1k62f$rdqb1$1...@ID-101183.news.dfncis.de>,
> Eytan Zweig <eyt...@yahoo.com> wrote:
> >
> Here's my problem with hints: I've got a weak character. I may resist
> the temptation to ask for a hint as long as, in your words, the
> challenge is enjoyable, but sooner or later I'll get stuck and need a
> hint. In that case, I don't want the author to tell me that I'm
> cheating (which is the impression I get from penalties such as
> deductions from my score). I don't even want it to be difficult to get
> a hint in that case. Why? Because my getting stuck may very well
> be the author's fault.
>
> But I find that once I've turned to the hints, it's very easy to
> keep reading hints; the threshold is lowered each time I get one.
> After a while, I find myself typing in moves from a walkthrough.
>
> So I think it's reasonable for the author to somehow try to slow down
> this process, because that will stop me, the player, from ruining things
> for myself. Ideally, the "hint dispenser" should be intelligent enough
> to tell me that I really should try a little harder before asking for
> another hint, because it's already given me a lot of information.
>
> However, I've so far seen no hint dispensing mechanism (short of actual
> humans, on the newsgroups or elsewhere) intelligent enough to do that.
>

I more or less agree with you here, though I think it's important for a hint
system to be able to give you every single step if you actually decide you
want it. There's nothing worse (well, there are many things worse, but it's
still pretty bad) than a hint system that stops at a point the author
decides is enough for you to solve the puzzle, but you in fact have no idea
how to go on.

> >If players are resorting to hints in your puzzles, write better puzzles,
>
> That's very easy to say. The collective experience of this newsgroup
> seems to be that it's almost impossible to write puzzles that nobody
> will get stuck on and that nobody will view as unfair. I think players
> simply are too different for everybody to be able to solve all
> puzzles.
>

As I said in another reply, what I meant by "better puzzles" are puzzles
that will encourage the players to solve them. Basically, I think the burden
of making the player want to solve the puzzles should be on the puzzles, not
the hint system. Sure, you'll never appeal to all players, but you don't
need to - and if you think you will, you're already doing something wrong. I
think that instead of trying to ensure that the players who don't want to
invest the proper effort in the game will do so, IF authors should
concentrate their efforts on making sure that the player who do want to
invest the effort in their games get a better experience.

Eytan


Eytan Zweig

unread,
Jan 11, 2002, 1:43:52 AM1/11/02
to
kod...@zc8.net (kodrik) wrote in message news:<269806b2.0201...@posting.google.com>...

No. It's my nature to always try to recieve the optimal gameplay
experience. If I were to play a system such as you're suggesting, and
the games would penalize my use of hints, I'd do one of the following:

A - Look for an external hint source, such as a walkthrough.

B - If none is available, and I enjoyed the game enough and would like
to continue the character, I'd play once using hints, write them down,
and then restart a new character (or load a "pure" character), and
play the entire game again based on my knowledge, and end up with
maximal experience.

C - If I don't feel the game worth the effort, I would abandon it, and
never play another game by the same system/author again. And yes,
penalizing hints would be a strong enough motivation for this.

I'm not very exceptional in this - there are many people who will do
exactly that, and if you're aiming at attracting a wider crowd (which,
given your other posts in the newsgroup, I'm sure you are), you'll be
a attracting many more - especially among more casual gamers, who form
the vast majority of the gaming public.

Eytan

Bruce Hollebone

unread,
Jan 11, 2002, 3:05:49 PM1/11/02
to
On 10 Jan 2002, kodrik wrote:
>
> Knowledge can also be carried from one adventure to the
> next. An adventure can be completed without any knowledge,
> but knowledge can open new paths within the adventure.
> See exprience as for an RPG, it will affect the
> possibilities offered to your character for the next games.

This paragraph outlines my problem with your argument. I
generally do not play a game through more than once. For one
thing, I don't have time to do so, but mostly simply
because redoing puzzles is not very fun. Since solving the
puzzles and/or exploration is my main motivation for playing,
there is no payoff for replaying. You get me the first time
through, or not at all.

If I need hints, I'll just get them from the newsgroups or find
a walkthrough. This is doubly true if you make life difficult.
If you make things too difficult, I'll just stop playing.
Getting rid of undo is a good example of this.

--
Kind Regards,
Bruce.

kodrik

unread,
Jan 12, 2002, 3:47:40 AM1/12/02
to
> My answer is an internal hint clock. The PC is allowed some undefined method
> of gathering information and if they get stuck, well, the standard reply is,
> "Keep looking around, there's got to be _something_ you've missed!"
>
> Eventually though the internal hint clock recognizes the futility of the
> players movements and either provides the solution or a nicer touch might be
> some new object is employed to deliver the PC from stuckiness.
>
> In any case, I think that an extraordinary effort should be made to make
> solution knowledge somehow available within the construct of the story. In
> my WIP, you will eventually see a complete integrated hint system. It is
> part of the story and part of the PC's character.
>
> As for hints having any effect upon the game itself (less/more points) or
> the outcome is simply ludicrous. None of the players that I know would enjoy
> this sort of behaviour and would more than likely close the program, never
> to be reopened.

I'll try to support that and forget about penalizing score.

Mark W

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Jan 12, 2002, 12:36:39 PM1/12/02
to
kod...@zc8.net (kodrik) wrote in message news:<269806b2.0201...@posting.google.com>...


What about Wishbringer, where the stone solved the puzzle for you and
you simply didn't gain the point for the puzzle?

Mark

kodrik

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Jan 12, 2002, 12:59:44 PM1/12/02
to
> If I need hints, I'll just get them from the newsgroups or find
> a walkthrough. This is doubly true if you make life difficult.
> If you make things too difficult, I'll just stop playing.
> Getting rid of undo is a good example of this.

Ijust remembered somthing that could be considered a hint system that
I did with phpZork. There were too many newbies at IF playing that had
no clue what do to. So I added a command "messages" that list 30
random long inputs that other player typed during their adventures.
Going through the commands of others can help you figure out what to
do. ou don't know which commands are bad or good but it opens some
horizons.

I just typed messages and this is what I got:
read leaflet
go to light
open trapdoor
drop egg case
turn on lamp
open grating
take mailbox
attack man with stilletto
read leaflet
go down stairs
lift grating
open trap door
unlock grating
blow up boat
follow bird
open mailbox
climb down with rope
break window
open mailbox
look grating
get a leaflet
read guidebook
open gratinng
enter house
pry open the window
look at kitchen
go to house
that fucker took every damn thing
open mailbox
examine north wall

I think it helps at finding things in the game. From just this list,
you know there is a window, that something can be done with the
mailbox, that the rope has some use, that someone can take your
stuff...
Would that be a good add on for a game or might it give too much away?

Magnus Olsson

unread,
Jan 15, 2002, 9:17:04 AM1/15/02
to
In article <772ca430.0201...@posting.google.com>,

Mark W <deve...@mailandnews.com> wrote:
>In one of my favorite games, Alternate Reality, there was an Oracle.
>You'd throw money into a fire and it would tell you what you had to do
>next. This might be good in IF games too. You'd have to travel to the
>oracle to get the hints. It would be in-game so it wouldn't lose
>continuity, and you'd have to travel to the oracle to get the hints.

I tend to dislike this.

Either it breaks the fourth wall in a major way ("What business has
this hint-dispenser to impersonate an NPC?") or it just provides
alternative solutions that are much simpler than the real ones ("Why
should I even try to find a key when I can just ask the Oracle where
it's hidden?").

The latter can of course be done in a good way - maybe an Oracle as an
actual NPC, or a very clever and helpful sidekick who steps in and
solves the puzzles for you if you're stumped.

But if the hint-dispenser really is that, and not a bona-fide NPC
providing alternative solutions, I'd prefer it to be clearly a
meta-entity - just as saving the game is usually done by entering the
meta-command "save", rather than having to find a "save crystal" and
rub it.

>Because the Oracle sensed what your next step should be (based on
>items in your inventory like "has the silver key", or internal flags
>like "reached third level"), there's no chance of someone saving right
>there and just going in and asking about things.

This could of course be done for any in-game hint system. I actually
implemented such a hint system for the DOS version of "Dunjin". And
already ADVENT had something similar - it would even offer you hints
on its own initiative ("You seem to be stuck. Would you like a hint?").

Mark W

unread,
Jan 15, 2002, 12:44:43 PM1/15/02
to
m...@df.lth.se (Magnus Olsson) wrote in message news:<a21dl0$t7r$1...@news.lth.se>...

> In article <772ca430.0201...@posting.google.com>,
> Mark W <deve...@mailandnews.com> wrote:
> >In one of my favorite games, Alternate Reality, there was an Oracle.
> >You'd throw money into a fire and it would tell you what you had to do
> >next. This might be good in IF games too. You'd have to travel to the
> >oracle to get the hints. It would be in-game so it wouldn't lose
> >continuity, and you'd have to travel to the oracle to get the hints.
>
> I tend to dislike this.
>
> Either it breaks the fourth wall in a major way ("What business has
> this hint-dispenser to impersonate an NPC?") or it just provides
> alternative solutions that are much simpler than the real ones ("Why
> should I even try to find a key when I can just ask the Oracle where
> it's hidden?").
>
> The latter can of course be done in a good way - maybe an Oracle as an
> actual NPC, or a very clever and helpful sidekick who steps in and
> solves the puzzles for you if you're stumped.
>
> But if the hint-dispenser really is that, and not a bona-fide NPC
> providing alternative solutions, I'd prefer it to be clearly a
> meta-entity - just as saving the game is usually done by entering the
> meta-command "save", rather than having to find a "save crystal" and
> rub it.

In your scenario the hint dispensing system breaks you out of the
game. The Mimesis, if you care to use that word. After all, what
business does this oracle have knowing that someone hid the key on top
of the dusty bookshelf?

The system I was describing was more along the lines of it telling
your destiny. It didn't get you out of any jams, but would predict the
next place you needed to go. I guess this game was more geography than
puzzle based (or the puzzles are more geographical in nature), so this
worked well.

Perhaps something along the lines of a fortune teller. "I see you
climbing a tower of knowledge" could be akin to "Look on top of the
bookshelf."

> >Because the Oracle sensed what your next step should be (based on
> >items in your inventory like "has the silver key", or internal flags
> >like "reached third level"), there's no chance of someone saving right
> >there and just going in and asking about things.
>
> This could of course be done for any in-game hint system. I actually
> implemented such a hint system for the DOS version of "Dunjin". And
> already ADVENT had something similar - it would even offer you hints
> on its own initiative ("You seem to be stuck. Would you like a hint?").

I was talking about a punative hint system that caused you not to get
points, one which people would not want to use, or would not want the
system to know they had used. The Oracle would tell you something you
truly didn't know and not just give you the answer to the puzzle at
hand.

I guess in IF it would roughly translate into telling you which puzzle
you had to solve next.

A really nasty trick would be to add one level of complexity to the
puzzle every time you asked for a hint. The hint system would send you
on a wild goose chase for an item (a) to unlock (b) to unlock (d), but
you could've (much easier) opened (d) with item (c). This way the hint
system doesn't actually make the game any easier.

Mark

Magnus Olsson

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Jan 15, 2002, 1:03:58 PM1/15/02
to
In article <772ca430.02011...@posting.google.com>,

Mark W <deve...@mailandnews.com> wrote:
>m...@df.lth.se (Magnus Olsson) wrote in message
>news:<a21dl0$t7r$1...@news.lth.se>...
>> In article <772ca430.0201...@posting.google.com>,
>> Mark W <deve...@mailandnews.com> wrote:
>> >In one of my favorite games, Alternate Reality, there was an Oracle.
>> >You'd throw money into a fire and it would tell you what you had to do
>> >next. This might be good in IF games too. You'd have to travel to the
>> >oracle to get the hints. It would be in-game so it wouldn't lose
>> >continuity, and you'd have to travel to the oracle to get the hints.
>>
>> I tend to dislike this.
>>
>> Either it breaks the fourth wall in a major way ("What business has
>> this hint-dispenser to impersonate an NPC?") or it just provides
>> alternative solutions that are much simpler than the real ones ("Why
>> should I even try to find a key when I can just ask the Oracle where
>> it's hidden?").

(...)

>In your scenario the hint dispensing system breaks you out of the
>game. The Mimesis, if you care to use that word. After all, what
>business does this oracle have knowing that someone hid the key on top
>of the dusty bookshelf?
>
>The system I was describing was more along the lines of it telling
>your destiny. It didn't get you out of any jams, but would predict the
>next place you needed to go.

OK. Since you wrote that the oracle gave you hints, I assumed you meant
explicit hints on how to solve puzzles.

>Perhaps something along the lines of a fortune teller. "I see you
>climbing a tower of knowledge" could be akin to "Look on top of the
>bookshelf."

If odne well, this could be fun.

>> >Because the Oracle sensed what your next step should be (based on
>> >items in your inventory like "has the silver key", or internal flags
>> >like "reached third level"), there's no chance of someone saving right
>> >there and just going in and asking about things.
>>
>> This could of course be done for any in-game hint system. I actually
>> implemented such a hint system for the DOS version of "Dunjin". And
>> already ADVENT had something similar - it would even offer you hints
>> on its own initiative ("You seem to be stuck. Would you like a hint?").
>
>I was talking about a punative hint system that caused you not to get
>points, one which people would not want to use, or would not want the
>system to know they had used. The Oracle would tell you something you
>truly didn't know and not just give you the answer to the puzzle at
>hand.

I think the point you made about the oracle - that since its advice is
context-sensitive, you can't abuse it in some ways - is very general
and applies just as well to your oracle as to a more explicit hint
system.

Mark W

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Jan 17, 2002, 1:34:00 AM1/17/02
to
kod...@zc8.net (kodrik) wrote in message news:<269806b2.02010...@posting.google.com>...

> What would be the best ways to implement hints?
>
> A few suggestions:
> * Every room can have a number of hints depending on the current
> situation of the game. If multiple hints are available for a
> situation, one will randomly be displayed.
> * Hint request for a room can be accessed by typing "hint".
> * A special command such as "Hint: how do I open the door?" can
> display a specific hint if it exists.
> * Requesting hints can lower the score, the authors decides of the
> score modificator for each hint.
>
> Suggestions/ideas?

In Zork III (I believe it was 3), when you died you became a ghost and
eventually found your way back to the world of the living. I believe
that was a puzzle in and of itself. Now while Zork is a hodge podge of
things with no real thread pulling them together, you might be able to
do something similar. When a character dies in a particular way, he
becomes a ghost and can examine other aspects of the puzzle, or gets a
hint based on the way in which he dies (which will prevent people from
killing themselves just to get hints).

Of course, this all depends on the game. In a horror game this might
work. In a comedy this might work. In a Sci Fi... well, it's up to the
author.

Or perhaps Obi Wan can just whisper in your ear "Use the tea bag,
Arthur."

Mark

Daniel Dawson

unread,
Jan 18, 2002, 11:52:51 AM1/18/02
to
You pick up and read article <772ca430.02011...@posting.google.com>,

written by Mark W <deve...@mailandnews.com>. It says:
>In Zork III (I believe it was 3), when you died you became a ghost and
>eventually found your way back to the world of the living.

No, you're thinking of Zork I. And you become a ghost only under certain
circumstances (i.e. if you remove certain item(s) from a certain place).

Z2 and 3 also have reincarnation, but no 'haunting' AFAIK. Z2's is
interactive, and may or may not (I'm not sure) provide a clue to a certain
puzzle in the game.
--
Daniel Dawson
dda...@nospam-altavista.net (remove 'nospam-' to send mail)

Magnus Olsson

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Jan 20, 2002, 10:57:40 AM1/20/02
to
In article <a29g57$244$1...@ddawson.ddawson>,

Daniel Dawson <dda...@nospam-altavista.net> wrote:
>Z2 and 3 also have reincarnation, but no 'haunting' AFAIK. Z2's is
>interactive, and may or may not (I'm not sure) provide a clue to a certain
>puzzle in the game.

It did for me.

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