Unwinnable situations

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Gabe McKean

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Feb 3, 2000, 3:00:00 AM2/3/00
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Hello all.

I'm starting to design an if game, and I've been thinking of a way to solve
the problem of players getting into unwinnable solutions. From what I've
seen of most games, either it's impossible for a player to make the game
unwinnable (unless you die, of course), or the game allows the player to
screw something up and forces them to start over once they realize they
can't win. In more complex games, the latter seems to be more common, which
isn't too surprising. Of course, this adds to the challenge of the game,
but it can be annoying.

The common solution to this is to create multiple save games, so you can
always go back to an earlier point without going all the way back to the
beginning of the game. Unfortunately, I prefer to have only one save game
per if game, so I'm usually forced to start over if I screw something up.
What I am thinking of would be to not allow people to save their game once
they've made it unwinnable. I shouldn't have much trouble implementing this
in TADS, except for trying to figure out all of the possible unwinnable
situations, of course. This will allow the challenge of trying to avoid an
unwinnable situation, and remove the frustration of realizing that you've
ruined your only saved game. So, what does everyone think?

David Samuel Myers

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Feb 3, 2000, 3:00:00 AM2/3/00
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Don't crack yer head open trying to make it so that a player can't save
an unwinnable game.

Instead, in the writing, you may want to drop hints that make it clear
over time that the player has gone down the wrong path.

Personally, I get a little annoyed if the bottle top that I didn't think I
needed is important for creating a makeshift fuse and there was no way to
know that, but ... that isn't going to stop me from saving often and early
and playing the game. But if after you have the player throwing away an
item, you can hint that that mighta been a boo-boo. E.g., "You chuck the
empty coke can off the cliff, hoping it won't be of use to you. And hoping
they don't catch you for littering."

Bit more dramamtic than "Dropped.", but it's a not-so subtle nudge.

Jon Ingold

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Feb 3, 2000, 3:00:00 AM2/3/00
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If you're really clever with your puzzle/story design, it should be possible
to engineer the game so it can't become unwinnable. (I've tried to do this
with all mine, with varying degrees of success.)

But I think players would get annoyed if they only realise that they'd
messed up the game state when they try to save, and are told they can't, and
not before.

Jon

Gabe McKean

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Feb 3, 2000, 3:00:00 AM2/3/00
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Thanks for the input so far!

I think I'll try to do what Jon suggests and attempt to make the game
solvable in all situations. I don't think simply providing hints is
adequate in this situation, though I do wish more IF authors would do that
as a minimum! Anyone ever played Time: All Things Come to an End? With the
atmosphere and writing that game would have been great if it wasn't so easy
to make the game unwinnable, and if solving the puzzles didn't require
knowledge that the player can't gain until later.

As an alternative, do you think it's acceptable to blatantly tell the player
when he/she screws something up? If the reason you've made it possible to
screw up without killing yourself is to increase the challenge or realism of
the game, then doing so seems like it would defeat this purpose. That's
what made me think of not allowing the player to save the game in this
situation: It still protects the player, but it's seems less blatant (but
now that I think of it, maybe not...). At the very least it will make it
harder for the player to figure out what he/she did wrong, which is a good
thing if you want it to be part of a puzzle, but a bad thing if you don't.

BrenBarn

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Feb 4, 2000, 3:00:00 AM2/4/00
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>What I am thinking of would be to not allow people to save their game once
>they've made it unwinnable. I shouldn't have much trouble implementing this
>in TADS, except for trying to figure out all of the possible unwinnable
>situations, of course. This will allow the challenge of trying to avoid an
>unwinnable situation, and remove the frustration of realizing that you've
>ruined your only saved game. So, what does everyone think?
I think this is a cool idea. You could really take advantage of it by
having "danger" areas where the player can go in, do fun stuff (and watch in
horror as he dies gruesomely) without worrying about screwing up his overall
progress.

From,
Brendan B. B. (Bren...@aol.com)
(Name in header has spam-blocker, use the address above instead.)

"Do not follow where the path may lead;
go, instead, where there is no path, and leave a trail."
--Author Unknown

Aquarius

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Feb 4, 2000, 3:00:00 AM2/4/00
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Jon Ingold spoo'd forth:

Agreed. To me, the logical extension of preventing saves once the game
has become unwinnable would be something like:

> DROP VITAL ITEM DOWN MINESHAFT

The vital item, which you need to win the game, tumbles down the shaft,
permanently out of reach.

*** The game is now unwinnable ***

Do you want to UNDO, RESTART, RESTORE or QUIT? >

...the point being that the player could potentially try and save on the
first move after the one that breaks the game, and thus find out straight
away anyway, and that has to be better than playing for three hours only
to discover that you broke the game right at the beginning. There may be
situations where you want to play on, even *knowing* that you can't
complete the game in its current state, but I'd suggest that they're
rare.

Aquarius

--
"And how do you measure madness? Not with rods and wheels and clocks,
surely?"
-- The Joker, Arkham Asylum

Joe Mason

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Feb 4, 2000, 3:00:00 AM2/4/00
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Aquarius <aqua...@kryogenix.albatross.co.uk> wrote:
>> DROP VITAL ITEM DOWN MINESHAFT
>
>The vital item, which you need to win the game, tumbles down the shaft,
>permanently out of reach.
>
>*** The game is now unwinnable ***

I've seen this. What game did this? Wasn't Curses, was it?

Joe

Stephen Granade

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Feb 4, 2000, 3:00:00 AM2/4/00
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jcm...@uwaterloo.ca (Joe Mason) writes:

Path To Fortune did something similar, warning you in certain
situations if you were about to put the game in an unwinnable state.

Stephen

--
Stephen Granade | Interested in adventure games?
sgra...@phy.duke.edu | Visit About.com's IF Page
Duke University, Physics Dept | http://interactfiction.about.com

Andrew Pearce

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Feb 4, 2000, 3:00:00 AM2/4/00
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What I suggest is that you tell the player a little while after he does
the Bad Thing, eg. ten or twenty turns after he drops the Vital Item
down the mineshaft "You suddenly realise that you've done something that
will stop you completing your mission. There's probably no point in
continuing." Depending on how obvious the initial mistake was, it
affects how explicit you are in telling the player what he did wrong.

While it's good to prevent the game being put into an unwinnable state,
if you can't think of a good way to reverse the thing that the player
did wrong it's best to just admit it and tell him to restore, rather
than bending game logic or plot.

Andrew

Jon Ingold

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Feb 4, 2000, 3:00:00 AM2/4/00
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Joe Mason wrote in message <7Gwm4.4244$45.1...@news2.rdc1.on.home.com>...

>Aquarius <aqua...@kryogenix.albatross.co.uk> wrote:
>>> DROP VITAL ITEM DOWN MINESHAFT
>>
>>The vital item, which you need to win the game, tumbles down the shaft,
>>permanently out of reach.
>>
>>*** The game is now unwinnable ***
>
>I've seen this. What game did this? Wasn't Curses, was it?


It was most definitely *not* Curses. I had to play that damn game through
from the start at least 3 times. (I loved it).

Jon

Iain Merrick

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Feb 4, 2000, 3:00:00 AM2/4/00
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Gabe McKean wrote:
[...]

> What I am thinking of would be to not allow people to save their game once
> they've made it unwinnable. I shouldn't have much trouble implementing this
> in TADS, except for trying to figure out all of the possible unwinnable
> situations, of course. This will allow the challenge of trying to avoid an
> unwinnable situation, and remove the frustration of realizing that you've
> ruined your only saved game. So, what does everyone think?

Disallowing SAVE seems a bit harsh; it's a bit like adding insult to the
injury of getting the game into an unwinnable state in the first place,
if you see what I mean.

Assuming you can figure out when the game is unwinnable, my advice would
be to print a warning message; the player can then UNDO the move that
did the damage, or carry on playing to see what the consequences. This
is a bit blatant, perhaps, but you could also add a command to turn off
these warnings.

Hmmm... I just remembered that _Path to Fortune_ did exactly this. I
didn't much like the game, but I did like that feature. :)

--
Iain Merrick
i...@cs.york.ac.uk

Aris Katsaris

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Feb 4, 2000, 3:00:00 AM2/4/00
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Gabe McKean <gmc...@wsu.edu> wrote in message
news:87cqvk$obo$1...@leopard.it.wsu.edu...

> What I am thinking of would be to not allow people to save their game once
> they've made it unwinnable. I shouldn't have much trouble implementing
this
> in TADS, except for trying to figure out all of the possible unwinnable
> situations, of course. This will allow the challenge of trying to avoid
an
> unwinnable situation, and remove the frustration of realizing that you've
> ruined your only saved game. So, what does everyone think?

In my opinion that's bad; better than a couple other solutions but still
bad. The
thing that would happen is that after every couple moves the players would
simply check to see if "Save" was still allowed. It's perhaps better to
simply say that *** The game is now unwinnable *** as other games (Windhall
chronicles for one) have done before.

And as Windhall Chronicles have done, you might want to give a choice to
your player concerning whether he *wants* to be warned about such unwinnable
situations or not...

Aris Katsaris

Gabe McKean

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Feb 4, 2000, 3:00:00 AM2/4/00
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Andrew Pearce wrote in message <389ACDDC...@dcs.qmw.ac.uk>...

>What I suggest is that you tell the player a little while after he does
>the Bad Thing, eg. ten or twenty turns after he drops the Vital Item
>down the mineshaft "You suddenly realise that you've done something that
>will stop you completing your mission. There's probably no point in
>continuing." Depending on how obvious the initial mistake was, it
>affects how explicit you are in telling the player what he did wrong.
>
>While it's good to prevent the game being put into an unwinnable state,
>if you can't think of a good way to reverse the thing that the player
>did wrong it's best to just admit it and tell him to restore, rather
>than bending game logic or plot.
>
>Andrew

The only problem with this is that if you wait that long before telling the
player, he still has a chance to ruin his saved game, which is exactly what
I'm trying to avoid. Not everyone keeps more than one saved game, and I
don't think you should be required to do so. Besides, I think in most cases
the player would be able to figure it out for himself after ten or twenty
moves (unless it's something like the 'feed the dog the cheese sandwich'
requirement in HHGG).

J Walrus

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Feb 4, 2000, 3:00:00 AM2/4/00
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Stephen Granade <sgra...@quark.phy.duke.edu> wrote in message
news:jdr9etq...@quark.phy.duke.edu...

> jcm...@uwaterloo.ca (Joe Mason) writes:
>
> > Aquarius <aqua...@kryogenix.albatross.co.uk> wrote:
> > >> DROP VITAL ITEM DOWN MINESHAFT
> > >
> > >The vital item, which you need to win the game, tumbles down the
shaft,
> > >permanently out of reach.
> > >
> > >*** The game is now unwinnable ***
> >
> > I've seen this. What game did this? Wasn't Curses, was it?
>
> Path To Fortune did something similar, warning you in certain
> situations if you were about to put the game in an unwinnable state.

Ballyhoo had a point where, if you tried to leave a location before
performing the action which would allow you to return later, you had a
sudden vision of burning bridges. But I think that comes more under the
heading of 'not-so-subtle hints', rather than outright 'meta-game'
warnings.


JW

Mary K. Kuhner

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Feb 5, 2000, 3:00:00 AM2/5/00
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In article <87cqvk$obo$1...@leopard.it.wsu.edu>,
Gabe McKean <gmc...@wsu.edu> wrote:

>The common solution to this is to create multiple save games, so you can
>always go back to an earlier point without going all the way back to the
>beginning of the game. Unfortunately, I prefer to have only one save game
>per if game, so I'm usually forced to start over if I screw something up.

>What I am thinking of would be to not allow people to save their game once
>they've made it unwinnable. I shouldn't have much trouble implementing this
>in TADS, except for trying to figure out all of the possible unwinnable
>situations, of course. This will allow the challenge of trying to avoid an
>unwinnable situation, and remove the frustration of realizing that you've
>ruined your only saved game. So, what does everyone think?

If you're going to have the game inform the player that her position
is now unwinnable, I'd rather you did it right away, not four hours
later when I try to do a save! That would just make me angry.

As a player I'm opposed to all manipulation of meta-game commands
like SAVE, RESTORE, and QUIT. When the doorbell just rang and I need to
get out of the game *now* I don't want to find out suddenly that the game
isn't going to let me do it.

By the way, if you try to implement any such scheme, it's very important
to get it right. One Comp99 game had a mode where it was supposed to warn
you before any fatal action. It didn't quite work, and this was more
annoying than its absence would have been.

Mary Kuhner mkku...@eskimo.com

Celeste Fowler

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Feb 6, 2000, 3:00:00 AM2/6/00
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You could just take control of the save mechanism, and save the game just
prior to the user making a fatal mistake. You'd probably also want to save
every time they achieved a milestone or scored a point or something. Then
give them the option of going back to the saved game after they've either
died or wandered around pointlessly for some time.

Just an idea...

-Celeste

Nicholas Shore

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Feb 7, 2000, 3:00:00 AM2/7/00
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"Gabe McKean" <gmc...@wsu.edu> schrieb im Newsbeitrag
news:87fe6k$4q1$1...@leopard.it.wsu.edu...


Why don't you take the path that all non IF-adventure games have taken,
simply not requiring a player to keep every item from the beginning of the
game to solve the end. It gets a bit heavy in the pockets anyway. To solve a
puzzle it should be possible to access all locations necessary for solving
the puzzle. E.g. if you needed the earlier mentioned bottle top to make a
fuse, make it available in an accessable location when you know about a
puzzle. That shouldn't be too hard. You just need to make sure that no items
will be necessary from locations that have been or can be blocked off
somehow. If that's not possible due to the nature of the puzzle, perhaps you
should reconsider the puzzle. It's just simply stupid requiring a player to
keep items he has no way of knowing he will need sometime later.
And regarding the VITAL ITEM thrown into the well shaft, well, we all know
about the 'Why would you want to do that?' response. If you can program it
to happen if someone wants to so something really stupid, why not do it for
mildly stupid things, too?

Nicholas

'...and if you kill a man, you're a murderer. Kill many, you're a conqueror.
Kill'em all, YOU'RE A GOD.' Dave Mustaine

Nicholas Shore

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Feb 7, 2000, 3:00:00 AM2/7/00
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"Celeste Fowler" <celeste...@yahoo.com> schrieb im Newsbeitrag
news:nOin4.234$by4....@newsin1.ispchannel.com...
This seems to me an awefully long thread about how to tell the player when
the game becomes unwinnable. The actual question is, why make the game
unwinnable in the first place? If you want unwinnable situations, create
subquests, where the player can do things not directly connected to the main
plot, but where he might get some bonus. And if he fails there, let him
continue with the story.

Andrew Plotkin

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Feb 7, 2000, 3:00:00 AM2/7/00
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Nicholas Shore <nds.bl...@gmx.de> wrote:

> This seems to me an awefully long thread about how to tell the player when
> the game becomes unwinnable. The actual question is, why make the game
> unwinnable in the first place?

Because some games don't work the other way.

--Z

"And Aholibamah bare Jeush, and Jaalam, and Korah: these were the
borogoves..."

Gabe McKean

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Feb 7, 2000, 3:00:00 AM2/7/00
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Andrew Plotkin wrote in message <87n342$3du$1...@nntp1.atl.mindspring.net>...

>Nicholas Shore <nds.bl...@gmx.de> wrote:
>
>> This seems to me an awefully long thread about how to tell the player
when
>> the game becomes unwinnable. The actual question is, why make the game
>> unwinnable in the first place?
>
>Because some games don't work the other way.


The two most common ways I've seen for this to happen are allowing objects
to be destroyed, and one-way doors. If, for whatever reason, you decide to
allow the player to destroy his inventory, then you obviously you open up
the possibility that he or she will destroy some vital object. Of course,
now you say, "Why on earth would you implement that?" and to tell you the
truth, I probably wouldn't. But I'm sure there are good reasons to allow
this in some games (realism comes to mind), though in the games I've seen
this in the main reason seems to be to punish the player for trying to solve
a puzzle in the wrong way, i.e. 'put book in laser' will destroy the book
(or anything else), but 'put mirror in laser' will reflect the beam back at
the robot and kill it. I'm not sure if I would really consider this a
'good' reason...

As for one-way doors, these can include anything from an actual door that
locks behind you to falling off a cliff that you can't climb back up to
changing to a different 'scene' in the game. In such a case a puzzle may
depend on an object you had to pick up or an action you had to perform on
the other 'side' of the door, and now it's too late to do anything about it.
There are all kinds of reasons to do something like this in your game,
though there are also ways around it.

I seem to be receiving conflicting advice (not surprising :). Some people
are telling me that it's better to prevent the player from ever damaging the
game state, and others are telling me that it's better to avoid twisting the
game logic and plot and allow the player to do whatever they seem to
require. If I go for the latter, I definitely want to somehow prevent the
player from saving the game in an unwinnable state.

Andrew Plotkin

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Feb 8, 2000, 3:00:00 AM2/8/00
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Gabe McKean <gmc...@wsu.edu> wrote:
> Andrew Plotkin wrote in message <87n342$3du$1...@nntp1.atl.mindspring.net>...
>>Nicholas Shore <nds.bl...@gmx.de> wrote:
>>
>>> This seems to me an awefully long thread about how to tell the player
> when
>>> the game becomes unwinnable. The actual question is, why make the game
>>> unwinnable in the first place?
>>
>>Because some games don't work the other way.
>
> The two most common ways I've seen for this to happen are allowing objects
> to be destroyed, and one-way doors.
> [examples snipped]

Good analysis.

I was going to put forth _Hunter, In Darkness_ as an example, and it fits
nicely. I have lots of one-way movement in that game; and if you've played
it, you'll understand that one-way movement is an essential element of the
way I designed the thing. If I had decided to exclude that element, I
would have wound up with a very different game.

Destroying objects doesn't exactly happen in _Hunter_ (not in the sense of
making the game unwinnable); but you can use up limited resources.

> I seem to be receiving conflicting advice (not surprising :). Some people
> are telling me that it's better to prevent the player from ever damaging the
> game state, and others are telling me that it's better to avoid twisting the
> game logic and plot and allow the player to do whatever they seem to
> require.

And that's why I phrased it the way I did. Some games work better one way,
and some the other.

The frustrating part is when you don't *have* a game yet, only a nebulous
cloud of ideas, and you're trying to see which kind of game the game will
be when you finish writing it, and you can't start writing it until you
see that, and every idea you have rearranges the whole cloud like a sharp
gust of wing amongst the smoke-rings....

Gabe McKean

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Feb 8, 2000, 3:00:00 AM2/8/00
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>Personally I like games that occasionally have some feeling of danger in
the
>form of irrevocable failure.

Don't worry, there'll be plenty of danger in my game! Killing players is
one thing, but I think forcing them to go back to some point that is a good
deal earlier in the game than where they currently are gets very annoying,
and is what I am trying to avoid. When this happens to me I tend to just go
on 'auto-pilot' through the parts of the game I've previously solved, and
temporarily lose my sense of progress and discovery. If I'm in a bad enough
mood this may make me quit playing entirely.

Celeste Fowler

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Feb 9, 2000, 3:00:00 AM2/9/00
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My $.02:

Personally I like games that occasionally have some feeling of danger in the

form of irrevocable failure. I like to have to pause to wipe the sweat off
my palms. If I do something stupid, I deserve a little slap on the wrist
(oin the form of starting over or restoring). Usually I like games where
possible death or failure is part of the plot. But that's just me -- I
think I'm in the minority around here.

Also, if the game prevents me from doing dangerous things almost everywhere,
it's a little odd if the solution to a puzzle involves doing something
dangerous. For example if I try to jump off a building and the game says
"You take one look and wisely back away from the edge." I'd be a little
annoyed if later on I had to jump off a cliff to land on an invisible
bridge.

Have fun!

-Celeste


Gabe McKean

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Feb 9, 2000, 3:00:00 AM2/9/00
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Celeste Fowler wrote in message ...

>You could just take control of the save mechanism, and save the game just
>prior to the user making a fatal mistake. You'd probably also want to save
>every time they achieved a milestone or scored a point or something. Then
>give them the option of going back to the saved game after they've either
>died or wandered around pointlessly for some time.
>
>Just an idea...
>
>-Celeste


The more I think about it, the more I like the idea of adding an 'auto-save'
feature to IF games. Many other genres of computer games have already gone
in this direction, and it works pretty well. I'll have to see about
implementing it in my game.

l...@cc.gatech.edu

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Feb 9, 2000, 3:00:00 AM2/9/00
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"Gabe McKean" <gmc...@wsu.edu> writes:

> I seem to be receiving conflicting advice (not surprising :). Some people
> are telling me that it's better to prevent the player from ever damaging the
> game state, and others are telling me that it's better to avoid twisting the
> game logic and plot and allow the player to do whatever they seem to

> require. If I go for the latter, I definitely want to somehow prevent the
> player from saving the game in an unwinnable state.


The crucial question is this. Suppose the player realizes the game is
unwinnable, and they still want to save the game. Do you prevent
this?

To me this sounds fascist. Sure, keep them from *accidentally* saving
an unwinnable game. But if they really want to save, let them.

Lex

Gareth Rees

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Feb 9, 2000, 3:00:00 AM2/9/00
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Here's a dialogue between Wanda, who thinks games should always be
winnable, and Uther, who thinks that games can sometimes become
unwinnable. (Some days I side with Wanda, some days with Uther.)

W: Games should never get into stuck positions. I can't express how
frustrating it is to find after I have been playing a game for many
hours that I can't finish the game without starting all over again.

But what's worse is when I get into a position when I strongly
suspect that I may be stuck in an unwinnable position, but I can't be
sure. Do I try to proceed from where I am, or do I go back to the
beginning? Or explore both approaches in parallel?

When these things happen to me I usually decide that it's not worth
my while to carry on playing the game at all.

U: If you do that then you're missing out on some superb puzzles, like
the dog and the ham sandwich in "Hitch-hikers" or just about
everything in "Philosopher's Quest", or the beautiful way events
interlock in "A Change in the Weather".

W: No matter how good these games are, it's no fun to have to spend
hours re-typing a long series of commands.

U: You need to be a bit cleverer in the way you approach these games.
Keep lots of save files from different points in the game so that you
can go back to earlier points to check things that you may have
missed. Use the interpreter's script capability to record what you
did -- then you can redo a long series of commands just by pasting
them into the interpreter window.

W: That's almost worse than having to re-type the commands! Playing
games is supposed to be fun, not a horrible exercise in data
management.

Isn't there a principle in interactive fiction that authors should
try to stay clear of puzzles whose solutions are well known and
tedious? Once upon a time puzzles like inventory management,
mapping, mazes, and closed doors were new and interesting. Now
they're dull and modern games avoid them altogether or let the game
engine do the tedious legwork for the player.

So I think the "saved game management" puzzle is equally old and dull
and should be avoided. Especially since having to deal with all
these issues that are outside the game -- saved files, interpreter
windows and so on -- detracts from any sense of immersion in the
world of the game.

U: But games that never become unwinnable also detract from the sense of
immersion because they keep having to say "you can't do that" to
perfectly reasonable actions. If I want to drop my passport on the
fire, or lock myself in a room and throw the key out of the window,
or cast the one-use-only spell at the wrong place in the game, then I
should be able to and I should suffer the consequences. If I'm not
allowed to do those things, the game's realism suffers.

W: But those are just examples of the author being thoughtless or lazy.
It would have been easy for the author to modify the game to preserve
realism without making the game unwinnable. In the case of the fire,
why does there have to be a fire at all? If the fire is needed for
some other puzzle, then put the fire in a place you have to surrender
the passport to get into. Or there could be a way of getting another
passport. As for the one-use-only spell, why not make it a many-uses
spell? And the game could have a character who finds the key and
lets you out. Or it could be possible to jump out of the window
yourself. It doesn't take very much thought to come up with half a
dozen ways in which the game could continue.

U: Life may be too short for the author to do all that. Better to have
a game now that you can get stuck in than one that's always winnable
but still under development.

And there's more to realism than just whether you can carry out an
action. There are the consequences to consider. If interactive
fiction is to really explore serious issues, then it has to explore
the consequences of choices. But if there's no way to make a mistake
then there are no consequences and thus really no choices. I want to
be able to play games that are more than just pretty puzzle boxes.
And that means the possibility of failure.

W: I don't have any answer to that. So I guess even I admit that there
could be a good game in which one could get stuck! But the getting
stuck would have to be for a very good reason, and not just there
because of laziness, or to make the game harder.

And I think it's only fair for the game to warn players like me that
wrong choices have consequences.

--
Gareth Rees

Celeste Fowler

unread,
Feb 9, 2000, 3:00:00 AM2/9/00
to
Yes I agree with you (I think) -- it's great to let the user do dangerous
things even if you've prevented them before *if* there's some a priori
reason to suspect that's the right solution, or if it's the only solution
(the burning building or the beast of eternal stench <grin> in your
examples).

Personally I like games that have a bit of personality built in -- ones that
give humorous or sarcastic responses for example. Say the game has been
behaving like a nervous nursemaid for the past five hours, and hasn't let me
cut my fingernails in case I have undiagnosed hemophilia. There should be
some explanation if it lets me grab a chainsaw and cut my own leg off. If
my leg is stuck in a bear trap and a hungry bear is approaching, that's a
decent explanation. I just think the game itself should not act "out of
character."

My $.02.

-Celeste

Kathleen M. Fischer wrote in message <87t33l$anp$1...@nnrp1.deja.com>...
>In article <Ggio4.110$jT5....@newsin1.ispchannel.com>,


> "Celeste Fowler" <celeste...@yahoo.com> wrote:
>
>> Also, if the game prevents me from doing dangerous things almost
>everywhere,
>> it's a little odd if the solution to a puzzle involves doing something
>> dangerous. For example if I try to jump off a building and the game
>says
>> "You take one look and wisely back away from the edge." I'd be a
>little
>> annoyed if later on I had to jump off a cliff to land on an invisible
>> bridge.
>

>So having the PC do something dangerous in an end-game is only proper if
>the PC has been shown to be the daring sort? That doesn't seem right to
>me. In real life, consider the case where an otherwise mousey mother
>runs into a burning building to save her children.
>
>In your example, I wouldn't mind such a leap if there was a reason for
>it -- say if I needed the golden acorn of love that was on the other
>side, or I was being pursed by the beast of eternal stench and there was
>no other place to go.
>
>Kathleen
>
>--
>-- Excuse me while I dance a little jig of despair.
>
>
>Sent via Deja.com http://www.deja.com/
>Before you buy.

Kathleen M. Fischer

unread,
Feb 10, 2000, 3:00:00 AM2/10/00
to

BrenBarn

unread,
Feb 10, 2000, 3:00:00 AM2/10/00
to
>Keep lots of save files from different points in the game so that you
> can go back to earlier points to check things that you may have
> missed. Use the interpreter's script capability to record what you
> did -- then you can redo a long series of commands just by pasting
> them into the interpreter window.
If I were Wanda, this is where I'd give Uther a kick in the pants :-).
Seriously, though, requiring the player to rely on the technical aspects of the
medium itself (except for "meta"-IF, where you're making a statement about the
medium itself) is, for me, beyond the pale.

Iain Merrick

unread,
Feb 10, 2000, 3:00:00 AM2/10/00
to
Celeste Fowler wrote:

> Personally I like games that occasionally have some feeling of danger in the
> form of irrevocable failure. I like to have to pause to wipe the sweat off
> my palms. If I do something stupid, I deserve a little slap on the wrist
> (oin the form of starting over or restoring). Usually I like games where
> possible death or failure is part of the plot. But that's just me -- I
> think I'm in the minority around here.

Maybe. It's not quite such a clear-cut thing.

I tend not to like 'cruel' games, but I can often live with them if the
interpreter has multiple UNDO. When I realise I made a mistake twenty or
thirty moves ago, I can just hit cmd-Z frantically (or whatever the
shortcut happens to be.)

I recently finished Grip and replayed Curses. I'd say they're about
equally cruel, but it took me _much_ longer to play Curses because I
kept having to resurrect ancient saved games after making innocent
mistakes. (TADS has multiple UNDO, MaxZip doesn't. I must take a look a
nitfol some time.)

The episodic structure of Grip probably helped, too -- it's easier to
keep track of where you are, and the start of a new episode is a good
reminder to save. Curses is non-linear and confusing.

--
Iain Merrick
i...@cs.york.ac.uk

Jon Ingold

unread,
Feb 10, 2000, 3:00:00 AM2/10/00
to

> The problem is that this means you essentially have to write an
addition
>story for every way the player can lock himself out of victory.
(Obviously,
>though, you can have several "wrong" actions lead to the same new
plotline.) I
>REALLY wish I had the willpower to implement this kind of thing, because
this
>would be an AWESOME game to play.


It wouldn't be that awesome, though, because a lot of players might not
realise this is the case. They may be left thinking: "You mean I *had* to
throw the key into the chasm?!? How completely random!!! What a stupid
idea!!! >QUIT."

Then again, if they knew this, and from a writing point of view, it would be
pretty damn good.

Jon

TEWoerner

unread,
Feb 10, 2000, 3:00:00 AM2/10/00
to
My humble vote is to separate winnable into sub-categories. All games
should be complete-able, but not necessarily best-score-able. In real life
life, you can always go back and/or get something but frequently you lose an
opportunity. Also, it doesn't take much scriptwriting to throw in a
conscious thought such as "Gee, I feel like I missed something."

Let me expand. There are two types of games out there now. Given the
hypothetical situation where the PC needs to look at the [critical] compass
and then throw the rope down the well, a typo (or several typos) could
either (1) allow the compass to be thrown down the well, or (2) respond with
"You don't need to do that." What ever the writer/designer's decision is,
heartless and cruel or forgiving, I only ask they be consistent through the
game. I'd hate to be saving the game before every significant thing I do
for no reason.

Crippling the SAVE feature in some circumstances will frustrate some avid
IF'ers who, on occasion, test the limits of a game like it was a motor bike
on a dirt trail.


BrenBarn

unread,
Feb 11, 2000, 3:00:00 AM2/11/00
to
>It wouldn't be that awesome, though, because a lot of players might not
>realise this is the case. They may be left thinking: "You mean I *had* to
>throw the key into the chasm?!? How completely random!!! What a stupid
>idea!!! >QUIT."
That's a point I hadn't considered. Perhaps it would be better if you
included a message (like in a Choose Your Own Adventure book) warning players
that the game has multiple endings. This would also encourage them to replay
the game for fun, not just to get to the end.

J Walrus

unread,
Feb 11, 2000, 3:00:00 AM2/11/00
to

BrenBarn <bren...@aol.comRemove> wrote in message
news:20000211005201...@ng-fq1.aol.com...

> >It wouldn't be that awesome, though, because a lot of
players might not
> >realise this is the case. They may be left thinking: "You
mean I *had* to
> >throw the key into the chasm?!? How completely random!!!
What a stupid
> >idea!!! >QUIT."
> That's a point I hadn't considered. Perhaps it would
be better if you
> included a message (like in a Choose Your Own Adventure
book) warning players
> that the game has multiple endings. This would also
encourage them to replay
> the game for fun, not just to get to the end.

If you were going to include multiple endings *specifically*
to prevent 'unwinnability', it would make sense to have the
'alternate' endings accessible *without* throwing the key
into the chasm, to prevent the example above. Of course if
you want multiple endings just because you want your game to
have multiple endings, that's a quite different matter.


Jw

Aquarius

unread,
Feb 12, 2000, 3:00:00 AM2/12/00
to
Joe Mason spoo'd forth:

> Aquarius <aqua...@kryogenix.albatross.co.uk> wrote:
>>> DROP VITAL ITEM DOWN MINESHAFT
>>
>>The vital item, which you need to win the game, tumbles down the shaft,
>>permanently out of reach.
>>
>>*** The game is now unwinnable ***

> I've seen this. What game did this? Wasn't Curses, was it?

Blimey, might have been. I just made it up, I thought, but you might find
my subconscious retrieved it from previous annoyances. :)

Aquarius

--
Well *done*, Aquarius -- a phrase we love typing because it makes us feel
like the boss-character from a 1980s Glen A Larson action series...
NTK, http://www.ntk.net/index.cgi?back=archive99/now0618.txt&line=292#l

Stefan Blixt

unread,
Feb 14, 2000, 3:00:00 AM2/14/00
to
Z wrote:
>And that's why I phrased it the way I did. Some games work better one way,
>and some the other.
>
>The frustrating part is when you don't *have* a game yet, only a
>cloud of ideas, and you're trying to see which kind of game the game will
>be when you finish writing it, and you can't start writing it until you
>see that, and every idea you have rearranges the whole cloud like a sharp
>gust of wing amongst the smoke-rings....
>
>--Z

...and you end up having to code a response for

>SMASH GLASS VASE

in the beginning of the game, and you have to give the
glass vase to Your Love at the end to win. In addition,
let's say that the game has recently required you to
smash a window. What are you going to say?

>SMASH GLASS VASE
...er... do you really want to smash the vase? You might
need it later in the game you know...

>SMASH GLASS VASE
You throw the vase at a rock, cut yourself on a shard and
instantly bleed to death.

>SMASH GLASS VASE
You drop the vase and it bounces back up into your arms.
This is really strong glass!

>SMASH GLASS VASE
Ooh, you can't bring yourself to break this pretty little
vase.

>SMASH GLASS VASE
I dont know the word "smash".

>SMASH GLASS VASE
You can't "smash glass" the vase.

(faking a poor parser to avoid the problem)

>SMASH GLASS VASE
Violence isn't the solution here.

(although you were allowed to break something before)


...etc.

Does anyone have any actual real-IF favourites of responses of
this kind? Since I always run into the problem of dealing with
this myself, I guess there should be at least a couple of funny
ones in the IF-library.

/Blixt


Matthew T. Russotto

unread,
Feb 16, 2000, 3:00:00 AM2/16/00
to
In article <889b3b$1j3$1...@bartlet.df.lth.se>,

Stefan Blixt <fl...@bartlet.df.lth.se> wrote:
}Z wrote:
}>And that's why I phrased it the way I did. Some games work better one way,
}>and some the other.
}>
}>The frustrating part is when you don't *have* a game yet, only a
}>cloud of ideas, and you're trying to see which kind of game the game will
}>be when you finish writing it, and you can't start writing it until you
}>see that, and every idea you have rearranges the whole cloud like a sharp
}>gust of wing amongst the smoke-rings....
}>
}>--Z
}
1~}...and you end up having to code a response for

>SMASH GLASS VASE
You throw the vase upon the floor, and it breaks into millions of shards.

...

>GIVE LEXAN VASE TO LOVER
"Oooh, how nice, a beautiful glass... Hey, what's this? LEXAN? You,
you, you, ARGHHH". She throws the Lexan vase at your head. It, being
made of bulletproof plastic, is undamaged. Unfortunately, your head
is not.

***YOU HAVE DIED***
--
Matthew T. Russotto russ...@pond.com
"Extremism in defense of liberty is no vice, and moderation in pursuit
of justice is no virtue."

J Walrus

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Feb 16, 2000, 3:00:00 AM2/16/00
to

Stefan Blixt <fl...@bartlet.df.lth.se> wrote in message
news:889b3b$1j3$1...@bartlet.df.lth.se...

> Z wrote:
> >And that's why I phrased it the way I did. Some games work
better one way,
> >and some the other.
> >
> >The frustrating part is when you don't *have* a game yet,
only a
> >cloud of ideas, and you're trying to see which kind of game
the game will
> >be when you finish writing it, and you can't start writing it
until you
> >see that, and every idea you have rearranges the whole cloud
like a sharp
> >gust of wing amongst the smoke-rings....
> >
> >--Z
>
> ...etc.

>SMASH GLASS VASE
You throw the glass vase onto the ground, and it shatters into
millions of pieces. Suddenly, a heavenly chord sounds, and a ray
of light slices down through the clouds. *MORTAL,* intones a
booming voice, *YOUR SACRIFICE HAS BEEN NOTED. TAKE THIS AS A
REWARD.* The air is filled with the indescribable odour of
sanctity as a new glass vase appears in your arms.


Jw

Gabe McKean

unread,
Feb 16, 2000, 3:00:00 AM2/16/00
to
>>SMASH GLASS VASE
>You throw the glass vase onto the ground, and it shatters into
>millions of pieces. Suddenly, a heavenly chord sounds, and a ray
>of light slices down through the clouds. *MORTAL,* intones a
>booming voice, *YOUR SACRIFICE HAS BEEN NOTED. TAKE THIS AS A
>REWARD.* The air is filled with the indescribable odour of
>sanctity as a new glass vase appears in your arms.
>
>
>Jw

Wow, talk about your Deus Ex Machina :)

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