[INFORM] Best Hint System?

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Snickerfit

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Dec 24, 2005, 3:24:10 AM12/24/05
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I've included a hint system in my game for some basic hints (using a
modified version of sha_hint.h). However, although hints aren't a major
issue at this point (I still have a lot of other things to work on),
I'm wondering what the best available hint system currently is, as far
as from the players' POV (ease of use, aesthetic design, what have
you). Any advice would be appreciated.

Snickerfit.

Roger Firth

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Dec 24, 2005, 3:39:03 AM12/24/05
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Not relevant to this thread, but...
My attempts to reply to your LOCK suggestion are bounced thusly:


This message was created automatically by mail delivery software.

A message that you sent could not be delivered to one or more of its
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ad...@snickerfit.com
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Cheers, Roger
--
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Snickerfit

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Dec 24, 2005, 4:51:51 AM12/24/05
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That's very strange, but then again, maybe not so strange.
"Ad...@snickerfit.com" is the official address I give out, but it's an
alias that redirects to my gmail account. Since gmail is owned by
google, it's entirely possible that trying to reply to author (to me)
through the google groups website will cause this error.

You should be able to send me an e-mail otherwise (don't use the site's
built-in reply), if you really want to. =)

fel...@yahoo.com

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Dec 25, 2005, 2:17:05 AM12/25/05
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Snickerfit wrote:
> I'm wondering what the best available hint system currently is, as far
> as from the players' POV (ease of use, aesthetic design, what have
> you). Any advice would be appreciated.
>
Most games I've played use a menu-based, invisiclues-like
hint system. That is, you type "hints", choose the topic from a
menu, then you get progressively explicit hints at the press of a
key (and you can stop whenever you want).

As an exception, EAS3 - Luminous Horizon has a conversation-
based system. Basically, you chat with your companion in the
game. That's an interesting alternative. And Dreamhold is
supposed to notice when you're stuck and give you a nudge, but
it doesn't work very well (though it may have been improved lately).
Personally, I find such systems more natural, but they are really,
really seldom used, so players might expect/prefer traditional hints.

Whatever system you choose, make sure you *do* put hints in
the game. That's what all IF style guides have to say about it.
Dutch Dapper IV managed to do whitout, but only because of
exceptionally well balanced puzzles (my opinion - don't shoot!).
That would be a third option, I guess, if you're a good enough
game designer :-) But it's a risky approach, if you ask me.

Hope that helped,
Felix

Snickerfit

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Dec 25, 2005, 2:44:09 AM12/25/05
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Hmm. I may go menu-based, or I may just stick with the simple system I
have (you type hint, it shows you the topics... you can then type hint
topic for the first hint, and then again for another or simply 'G' to
keep going through them). It's nothing fancy, but it works.

I think hints are rather a necessity for today's average IF player
(it's not exactly a "hardcore", "dun need no stinkin' help" group of
gamers anymore), but only if they *are* hints. A hint should by its
nature try to nudge you in the right direction, not solve a puzzle for
you. Even if there are 4 hints for a particular room or object, the 4th
one shouldn't be a "sledgehammer", damn-near solving of the puzzle like
some games seem to offer. I mean if that's the case, you might as well
just release a complete walkthrough with your game. =)

Snickerfit.

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Fredrik Ramsberg

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Dec 26, 2005, 6:17:42 AM12/26/05
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Snickerfit skrev:

> Hmm. I may go menu-based, or I may just stick with the simple system I
> have (you type hint, it shows you the topics... you can then type hint
> topic for the first hint, and then again for another or simply 'G' to
> keep going through them). It's nothing fancy, but it works.

If you'd rather have menu-based hints but think it will be too much
work to write the code for it, (assuming you use Inform) you should
check out SLAG, which is available at:

http://ifarchive.flavorplex.com/if-archive/solutions/slag/slag_compiler.zip

The SLAG hint compiler will turn a plain text file into Inform source
code, which you can then paste into your game (you just need to remove
the main routine and put in a call to start the hint menu when the
player types help).

Under http://ifarchive.flavorplex.com/if-archive/solutions/slag/source/
there are lots of examples of how source files for SLAG might look.

/Fredrik

Snickerfit

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Dec 26, 2005, 8:09:51 AM12/26/05
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That's the route I took (I assumed, since so much time had passed, no
one was actually going to specify an actual system to use lol). I
modified it a bit so that it looks better (the actual Perl program so I
don't have to monkey with the source it makes each time), but all in
all it's a nice system. I didn't think I could even use it until I
found out there were programs to allow you to use Perl in Windows, such
as ActivePerl.

I also tried Hints.h, which I couldn't even get to work (even after
procuring the other required files, including Utility.h which was
mis-represented as "Center.h" in the file's comments), although it
looked to much more closely resemble the InvisiClues(tm) by Infocom. It
seemed a lot of work to implement in comparison, and I finally just
stuck with SLAG because it leaves more room on the screen for menu and
hint topics, since it only uses a single-line status window at the top.

Thanks for replying though. =)

Jim Aikin

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Dec 27, 2005, 12:37:07 PM12/27/05
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"Snickerfit" <halo...@gmail.com> wrote in message
news:1135497033....@f14g2000cwb.googlegroups.com...
> Speaking of InvisiClues, *that* was a nice hint system. I remember
> using it in Sherlock. Does anyone know if there's a system like that
> currently available for Inform, and where to get it?

In "Not Just an Ordinary Ballerina," I coded it entirely by hand. I'm quite
sure I don't have the source code anymore, but I recall making the hint
system not only incremental but adaptive. If you weren't ready to work on a
given puzzle yet, it wouldn't give you the hints, it would just tell you you
needed to solve another puzzle first.

--JA


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