Useful Classifications

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Lucian Paul Smith

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Oct 28, 1998, 3:00:00 AM10/28/98
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The talk about tagging games with genres/blurbs/whatever got me thinking
about useful ways to classify games. We have Zarf's 'cruelness' scale
which can tell us how much you'll have to back up and redo sections of the
game. This could be quite useful to know before you begin (although, of
course, it can be fun to discover this for yourself.) Quoting from one of
his posts about it (http://x13.dejanews.com/getdoc.xp?AN=170708419):

-------------
Merciful: You only ever need one save file, and that only if you want to
turn the computer off and go to sleep. You never need to restore to an
earlier game.

Polite: You only need one save game, because if you do something fatally
wrong, it's blatantly obvious and you'll *know* better than to
save afterwards.

Tough: There are things you can do which you'll have to save before
doing. But you'll think "Ah, I'd better save before I do this."

Nasty: There are things you can do which you'll have to save before
doing. After you do one, you'll think "Oh, bugger, I should have saved."

Cruel: You think "I should have saved back in the third room. Now I'll
have to start over."
-------------

Inky (ahem: Dan Shiovitz) started me thinking about another scale, this
one for how 'puzzle-less' the game was. He came up with 1-3, and I filled
out the rest:

1: If you hit 'Z' repeatedly, you will beat the game.
2: If you do the obvious thing, you will beat the game.
3: There are puzzles, but they are all seamlessly integrated into the
plot.
4: There are puzzles that only tangentially related to the plot.
5: There are puzzles, and there might be a plot, but never the twain
shall meet.

Are there other things you might want to know before playing a game?
PC identity, perhaps? That doesn't easily fit to a single scale, perhaps
because there are different forces involved:

The amount to which the PC is defined by the game (generic to fully
individualized)

The amount to which the player can bring their own characteristics to the
PC (from none at all to complete immersion; gender would be a typical
example of this)

The amount to which the game responds differently to different aspects of
the PC's definition, on both of the two previous scales.

Any others? Comments on the above?

-Lucian

HarryH

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Oct 29, 1998, 3:00:00 AM10/29/98
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In article <71895s$jj8$1...@joe.rice.edu>, lps...@rice.edu says...

>
>The talk about tagging games with genres/blurbs/whatever got me thinking
>about useful ways to classify games. We have Zarf's 'cruelness' scale
>which can tell us how much you'll have to back up and redo sections of the
>game. This could be quite useful to know before you begin (although, of
>course, it can be fun to discover this for yourself.) Quoting from one of
>his posts about it (http://x13.dejanews.com/getdoc.xp?AN=170708419):

[snip: rating Merciful, Polite, Tough, Nasty, Cruel]

>Inky (ahem: Dan Shiovitz) started me thinking about another scale, this
>one for how 'puzzle-less' the game was. He came up with 1-3, and I filled
>out the rest:

[snip: rating 1-5]

>Any others? Comments on the above?

I like it! Cruelness. Puzzleness.

Let me add a couple more:

Audience:
1. Kiddie stuff: No word having more than 3 vowels.
2. General: Kids to adults are welcomed.
3. Tough Guy: Some strong language/adult situations maybe involved.
4. Pervert: Strong language/acts.
5. Sick: Unfit for human consumption.

Realism:
1. Real World: It can happen to you.
2. Better Than Life: You win the lottery. You get the guy/girl of your dream.
3. Make believe: If we all pretend there are dinosaurs, we have a game!
4. Scifi/Fantasy: Where dragon soars, and magic flows.
5. Dream World: Nothing can be ever out of place.

I keep thinking that there should be a suitable acronym for this system.
Cruelness - Puzzleness - Audience - Realism. Any suggestion?

Now, there may be some disagreement as to how to rate a game, so
I suggest that the rating should be able to express a range of
numbers. Something like IF code:
1. Assume the category starts at 3.
2. The left side is for the lower rating.
3. The right side is for the higher rating.
4. A minus sign decrease the corresponding rating by one.
5. A plus sign increase it.


Examples:
Category | Low | High | Code
===============================
Cruelness 3 5 C++
Realism 1 5 --R++
Audience 2 2 -A-
Puzzleness 3 4 P+
Puzzleness 1 3 --P
Realism 1 4 --R+
Audience 5 5 ++A++


-------------------------------------------------------
Of course I'll work on weekends without pay!
- successful applicant


Ben

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Oct 29, 1998, 3:00:00 AM10/29/98
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In article <718nab$gq1$1...@east43.supernews.com>,

har...@iu.net.idiotic.com.skip.idiotic.com (HarryH) wrote:
>
> I keep thinking that there should be a suitable acronym for this system.
> Cruelness - Puzzleness - Audience - Realism. Any suggestion?
>

you have it in the wrong order - Cruelness. Realism. Audience. Puzzleness..

The acronym just flows right off. :)

(acutally I like the system, but I couldn't resist)


-Ben

--
bhi...@san.rr.com
http://members.tripod.com/~tunnels/

Mark J Musante

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Oct 29, 1998, 3:00:00 AM10/29/98
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Lucian Paul Smith (lps...@rice.edu) wrote:
> 1: If you hit 'Z' repeatedly, you will beat the game.
> 2: If you do the obvious thing, you will beat the game.
> 3: There are puzzles, but they are all seamlessly integrated into the
> plot.
> 4: There are puzzles that only tangentially related to the plot.
> 5: There are puzzles, and there might be a plot, but never the twain
> shall meet.

I menionted this in the MUD but it must have flown by, lost in the
deluge of alpaca jokes. You should add:

0: Type 'win', and you win.

It works in Adam Cadre's "I-0" at least.


-=- Mark -=-

Iain Merrick

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Oct 29, 1998, 3:00:00 AM10/29/98
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Lucian Paul Smith wrote:

[... game classification systems ...]

> Any others? Comments on the above?

This is a bit vague, but how about 'how much knowledge of the character
and/or universe you are assumed to have'? The categories, roughly
speaking, would be:

- Games where you don't really need to know much about the character or
the world. Anything you need to know will be explained to you. For
instance, _Curses_.

- Games where you _intentionally_ don't know certain things, and the
game revolves around learning them. _Losing Your Grip_ and _Delusions_
come to mind.

- Games where you don't know things which the character really ought to
know. This can be intriguing if it's just done for atmosphere (_So Far_,
IIRC) but bloody annoying if it's part of a puzzle (_Christminster_).
_+=3_ is a degenerate example.

- Games where you need to know things about Real Life. All games do this
to a certain extent, of course, but requiring (say) in-depth knowledge
of nuclear physics is a bit OTT. _Jigsaw_ supposedly required you to
know some Proust (but I didn't, and still managed to solve the relevant
puzzle.)

And possibly:

- Educational games, which tell you things about real life which you
didn't know. Again, all games do this to a certain extent - and again,
_Jigsaw_ is an excellent example.

--
Iain Merrick

Andrew Plotkin

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Oct 29, 1998, 3:00:00 AM10/29/98
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And in "A Change in the Weather".

--Z (no, not literally the word 'win'.)


--

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

David Thornley

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Oct 29, 1998, 3:00:00 AM10/29/98
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In article <bhines-2910...@lax-ts4-h1-45-81.ispmodems.net>,

Ben <bhi...@san.rr.com> wrote:
>In article <718nab$gq1$1...@east43.supernews.com>,
>har...@iu.net.idiotic.com.skip.idiotic.com (HarryH) wrote:
>>
>> I keep thinking that there should be a suitable acronym for this system.
>> Cruelness - Puzzleness - Audience - Realism. Any suggestion?
>>
>
>you have it in the wrong order - Cruelness. Realism. Audience. Puzzleness..
>
>The acronym just flows right off. :)
>
As an old fan of Guindon cartoons, I'd much prefer to put is as

Cruelness, Audience, Realism, Puzzleness.

Elsewhere in this thread, somebody suggested some sort of background
rating (self-contained, unknown in game terms, player doesn't know
what the character knows - can I mention parade.gam here?, requires
real-world background knowledge - prime bad example probably Zork 2,
educational). The problem is that the best I've been able to do with
that is

Puzzleness, Cruelness, Realism, Audience, Background

and that's not as good an acronym as I'd like.

Can anybody suggest more useful categories that begin with vowels,
or at least S?


--
David H. Thornley | These opinions are mine. I
da...@thornley.net | do give them freely to those
http://www.thornley.net/~thornley/david/ | who run too slowly. O-

HarryH

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Oct 30, 1998, 3:00:00 AM10/30/98
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In article <A70_1.2694$a6.83...@ptah.visi.com>, thor...@visi.com says...

>In article <bhines-2910...@lax-ts4-h1-45-81.ispmodems.net>,
>Ben <bhi...@san.rr.com> wrote:
>>you have it in the wrong order - Cruelness. Realism. Audience. Puzzleness..
>>The acronym just flows right off. :)
>As an old fan of Guindon cartoons, I'd much prefer to put is as
>Cruelness, Audience, Realism, Puzzleness.
[snip]

>Can anybody suggest more useful categories that begin with vowels,
>or at least S?

Solidness?
1. Follow the walkthru or else!
2. If you use the hint book, you're okay.
3. You're pretty much can do anything within reason.
4. Funny responses await adventurous adventurer.
5. You can do anything you want.

Jonadab the Unsightly One

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Oct 30, 1998, 3:00:00 AM10/30/98
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Lucian Paul Smith <lps...@rice.edu> wrote in article
<71895s$jj8$1...@joe.rice.edu>...

: Cruel: You think "I should have saved back in the third room. Now


I'll
: have to start over."

Pure Evil: "Hmmm... Maybe I should've done something different
way back in the Switch Room 5827 moves ago. Maybe I should
dig out my saved game and flip one of the other switches and
play through the rest of the game up to this point again..."

0: If you start the game and then go to work, you'll come
back and see "you have won" ;-)
: 1: If you hit 'Z' repeatedly, you will beat the game.


: 2: If you do the obvious thing, you will beat the game.
: 3: There are puzzles, but they are all seamlessly integrated into
the
: plot.
: 4: There are puzzles that only tangentially related to the plot.
: 5: There are puzzles, and there might be a plot, but never the
twain
: shall meet.

3-5 really don't deal with the difficulty of the puzzles, though.
There are fiendishly difficult puzzles that are tight with the plot,
and there are easy puzzles that have nothing to do with the plot.

: The amount to which the PC is defined by the game (generic to


fully
: individualized)
:
: The amount to which the player can bring their own characteristics
to the
: PC (from none at all to complete immersion; gender would be a
typical
: example of this)
:
: The amount to which the game responds differently to different
aspects of
: the PC's definition, on both of the two previous scales.

:
: Any others? Comments on the above?

How many different PCs there are? I know a lot of games
have just one, but...


-- jonadab

HarryH

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Oct 30, 1998, 3:00:00 AM10/30/98
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In article <01be03d7$4159aac0$17118fd1@jonadab>, jon...@zerospam.com says...

>: 3: There are puzzles, but they are all seamlessly integrated into
>the
>: plot.
>: 4: There are puzzles that only tangentially related to the plot.
>: 5: There are puzzles, and there might be a plot, but never the
>twain
>: shall meet.
>3-5 really don't deal with the difficulty of the puzzles, though.
>There are fiendishly difficult puzzles that are tight with the plot,
>and there are easy puzzles that have nothing to do with the plot.

That's correct. The difficulty of the puzzles is covered under Cruelness.
Puzzleness merely indicates whether the IF is Story-IF or Puzzle-IF or
somewhere in between.

Actually, it's very hard to judge the difficulties of puzzles. Some
Background is necessary. Audience also matters. Implementation (was
Solidness) is also a factor. I suggest that the puzzle difficulty level is
something that the players must find out for themselves.

Michael Straight

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Oct 30, 1998, 3:00:00 AM10/30/98
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On Thu, 29 Oct 1998, Iain Merrick wrote:

> This is a bit vague, but how about 'how much knowledge of the character
> and/or universe you are assumed to have'? The categories, roughly
> speaking, would be:
>
> - Games where you don't really need to know much about the character or
> the world. Anything you need to know will be explained to you. For
> instance, _Curses_.
>
> - Games where you _intentionally_ don't know certain things, and the
> game revolves around learning them. _Losing Your Grip_ and _Delusions_
> come to mind.
>
> - Games where you don't know things which the character really ought to
> know. This can be intriguing if it's just done for atmosphere (_So Far_,
> IIRC) but bloody annoying if it's part of a puzzle (_Christminster_).
> _+=3_ is a degenerate example.
>
> - Games where you need to know things about Real Life. All games do this
> to a certain extent, of course, but requiring (say) in-depth knowledge
> of nuclear physics is a bit OTT. _Jigsaw_ supposedly required you to
> know some Proust (but I didn't, and still managed to solve the relevant
> puzzle.)

Would this kind of classification really help you decide if you were
interested in a game? I don't see the point.

> And possibly:
>
> - Educational games, which tell you things about real life which you
> didn't know. Again, all games do this to a certain extent - and again,
> _Jigsaw_ is an excellent example.

Yes, we need more categories in which all games fit to a certain extent.

SMTIRCAHIAGEHLT


Michael Straight

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Oct 30, 1998, 3:00:00 AM10/30/98
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On Thu, 29 Oct 1998, Ben wrote:

> In article <718nab$gq1$1...@east43.supernews.com>,
> har...@iu.net.idiotic.com.skip.idiotic.com (HarryH) wrote:
> >
> > I keep thinking that there should be a suitable acronym for this system.
> > Cruelness - Puzzleness - Audience - Realism. Any suggestion?
>

> you have it in the wrong order - Cruelness. Realism. Audience. Puzzleness..
>
> The acronym just flows right off. :)
>

> (acutally I like the system, but I couldn't resist)

Usenet Rule #216 : The Internet abhors subtlety; no joke is so obvious
that someone won't explain it.

SMTIRCAHIAGEHLT


Rotonoto

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Oct 30, 1998, 3:00:00 AM10/30/98
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In "The Magic Toyshop" you're required to be able to solve one puzzle that
calls for knowledge of math and/or logic and/or programming worthy of a
Turing or a Godel. Since I don't, it spoiled the game for me. I admit,
the math part of my brain is much more impaired than most people's--but I'm
married to someone with a degree in math, & she didn't have the patience to
work on it for very long either.

Note that I'm not complaining about a "difficult puzzle" like the fake
cubes puzzle in Spellbreaker: I needed help to get thru that one, but can
see how people of normal math ability wouldn't--I know my weaknesses. This
is a puzzle where to this day I have no idea how to GO ABOUT solving it.
Would many people with ordinary background knowledge of math intuit what to
do? Evidently--the game placed in an IF competition.


Mark J. Tilford

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Oct 30, 1998, 3:00:00 AM10/30/98
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On 30 Oct 1998 13:50:51 GMT, HarryH <har...@iu.net.idiotic.com.skip.idiotic.com> wrote:
>
>That's correct. The difficulty of the puzzles is covered under Cruelness.
>Puzzleness merely indicates whether the IF is Story-IF or Puzzle-IF or
>somewhere in between.

No, Cruelness measures how easy it is to get into an unwinnable state.

--
-----------------------
Mark Jeffrey Tilford
til...@cco.caltech.edu

Iain Merrick

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Oct 30, 1998, 3:00:00 AM10/30/98
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Rotonoto wrote:

[...]


> Note that I'm not complaining about a "difficult puzzle" like the fake
> cubes puzzle in Spellbreaker: I needed help to get thru that one, but can
> see how people of normal math ability wouldn't--I know my weaknesses. This
> is a puzzle where to this day I have no idea how to GO ABOUT solving it.
> Would many people with ordinary background knowledge of math intuit what to
> do? Evidently--the game placed in an IF competition.

Yeah, that's what I was trying to get at, although as Michael Straight
pointed out my suggested categories were only slightly more useful than,
say, 'was the game written by one or more human beings?' [1]

I don't mind hard puzzles; but I _really_ hate spending days trying to
solve some puzzle, giving up and taking a peek at the walkthrough, only
to discover that I had absolutely zero chance of solving it because
there was some obscure fact I was supposed to know.

If you need to know a certain fact about the real world, that's not
quite so annoying: you can look it up, or derive it from first
principles. :) If it's a fact about the game world which the PC should
already know, it's _incredibly_ annoying.

This probably isn't a terribly important point... but it seems to me
that those sorts of puzzles are related to puzzles where you need to
know about things which only appear later on in the game. But all these
types of 'unfair' puzzles aren't _necessarily_ the same as 'cruel'
puzzles.

So it is a new category after all. Sort of.

--

[1] Even that might be useful to people who don't like Rybread Celsius
games, however.

--
Iain Merrick

Andrew Plotkin

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Oct 30, 1998, 3:00:00 AM10/30/98
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Mark J. Tilford (til...@ralph.caltech.edu) wrote:
> On 30 Oct 1998 13:50:51 GMT, HarryH <har...@iu.net.idiotic.com.skip.idiotic.com> wrote:
> >
> >That's correct. The difficulty of the puzzles is covered under Cruelness.
> >Puzzleness merely indicates whether the IF is Story-IF or Puzzle-IF or
> >somewhere in between.

> No, Cruelness measures how easy it is to get into an unwinnable state.

To be very nitpicky, cruelness (in my formulation) measures how careful
the player has to be to *avoid* getting into an unwinnable state.
("Easy/hard" is vague.)

--Z

TenthStone

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Oct 31, 1998, 3:00:00 AM10/31/98
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thor...@visi.com (David Thornley) caused this to appear in our collective
minds on Thu, 29 Oct 1998 15:48:48 GMT:

>As an old fan of Guindon cartoons, I'd much prefer to put is as
>
>Cruelness, Audience, Realism, Puzzleness.

Parc.

>Can anybody suggest more useful categories that begin with vowels,
>or at least S?

Sparc?

Effort Sanguinity Cruelness Audience Realism Puzzleness Meter
Ensemble Nuance Triteness

Effort differs from puzzleness (puzzle focus) and cruelness (sadism).
Sanguinity -> neither violence nor optimism; instead, it is
depth/complexity.
Meter -> poetic content.
Ensemble -> togetherness.
Nuance -> subtlety.
Triteness -> originality reversed.

-----------

The imperturbable TenthStone
tenth...@hotmail.com mcc...@erols.com mcc...@gsgis.k12.va.us

David Glasser

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Oct 31, 1998, 3:00:00 AM10/31/98
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Iain Merrick <i...@cs.york.ac.uk> wrote:

> [1] Even that might be useful to people who don't like Rybread Celsius
> games, however.

Do such people exist? Heresy!

--David Glasser
gla...@NOSPAMuscom.com | http://onramp.uscom.com/~glasser
DGlasser @ ifMUD : fovea.retina.net:4000 (webpage fovea.retina.net:4001)
Sadie Hawkins, official band of David Glasser: http://sadie.retina.net
"We take our icons very seriously in this class."

Marcus Heuser

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Oct 31, 1998, 3:00:00 AM10/31/98
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Andrew Plotkin <erky...@netcom.com> wrote:
| Mark J Musante (olo...@world.std.com) wrote:
|
| > 0: Type 'win', and you win.
|
| > It works in Adam Cadre's "I-0" at least.
|
| And in "A Change in the Weather".

And in DOS...

..no, not really.

bye
Marcus


Phil Goetz

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Nov 4, 1998, 3:00:00 AM11/4/98
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In article <718nab$gq1$1...@east43.supernews.com>,

HarryH <har...@iu.net.idiotic.com.skip.idiotic.com> wrote:
>Cruelness - Puzzleness - Audience - Realism. Any suggestion?

I like it.


>Examples:
>Category | Low | High | Code
>===============================
> Cruelness 3 5 C++
> Realism 1 5 --R++
> Audience 2 2 -A-
> Puzzleness 3 4 P+
> Puzzleness 1 3 --P
> Realism 1 4 --R+
> Audience 5 5 ++A++
>


Huh? I don't at all understand what this table is supposed to convey.

Phil Goetz

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Nov 4, 1998, 3:00:00 AM11/4/98
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In article <71b3so$6tb$1...@east42.supernews.com>,

HarryH <har...@iu.net.idiotic.com.skip.idiotic.com> wrote:
>Solidness?
>1. Follow the walkthru or else!
>2. If you use the hint book, you're okay.
>3. You're pretty much can do anything within reason.
>4. Funny responses await adventurous adventurer.
>5. You can do anything you want.
>

This is a good category too, though I would call it "robustness"
to be consistent with AI terminology.

Phil

HarryH

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Nov 5, 1998, 3:00:00 AM11/5/98
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In article <71qd2n$67e$1...@prometheus.acsu.buffalo.edu>, go...@cse.buffalo.edu
says...

>In article <718nab$gq1$1...@east43.supernews.com>,
>HarryH <har...@iu.net.idiotic.com.skip.idiotic.com> wrote:
>>Examples:
>>Category | Low | High | Code
>>===============================
>> Cruelness 3 5 C++
>> Realism 1 5 --R++
>> Audience 2 2 -A-
[snip]

>Huh? I don't at all understand what this table is supposed to convey.

They're just examples. IFC is not really built on tables. It's built on
(gasp) arithmetic. Every "-" means subtract 1. Assuming scores start at 3.
C++ simply means Cruelness = 3 + 1 + 1 = 5. That's the high rating(right
side). Lower rating (left side) is 3. So the Cruelness rating ranges from 3
to 5 (ie, some people think it's 3, some others think it's 4, yet others
think it 5).

Except when you indicate preference (like my sig): --C means I like games
that has Cruelness rated between (and including) 1 to 3. I suppose you can
just transpose the numbers and it won't make any difference at all. Heh. I
designed it using arithmetic so that people who don't want to know the rating
can just ignore it instead of being forced to see "1C3".

IFC0.1 1C3 2P5 1A3 1r3 2i5 <- decoded version. :)

-------------------------------------------------------
IFC0.1 --C -P++ --A --r -i++


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