Non-compass mentis

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Gary Shannon

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Feb 2, 2002, 12:23:36 PM2/2/02
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It just occured to me to wonder what it would be like to play a game in
which compass directions were never used. If the game kept track of the
direction the player was facing in a room then the more natural(?)
descriptions like: "The exit is on your right. On your left is the door to
the kitchen.", and commands like: "go right", "go left", "straight ahead",
etc, could be used.

The trick would be that a feature that was on your right as you faced a door
would be on your left as you came back out that door. Descriptions would
have to adapt, as would responses to movement commands.

Has anybody seen a game that does that? Would it be too confusing to play?
(Just thinking out loud here.)

--gary

--
-=<@>=-=<@>=-=<@>=-=<@>=-
Te audire no possum.
Musa sapientum fixa est in aure.
-=<@>=-=<@>=-=<@>=-=<@>=-


Sean T Barrett

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Feb 2, 2002, 1:04:10 PM2/2/02
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Gary Shannon <fiz...@starband.net> wrote:
>Has anybody seen a game that does that?

"Six Stories" and "Hunter, In Darkness" from several comps ago.

SeanB

L. Ross Raszewski

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Feb 2, 2002, 1:10:29 PM2/2/02
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On Sat, 02 Feb 2002 17:23:36 GMT, Gary Shannon <fiz...@starband.net> wrote:
>
>It just occured to me to wonder what it would be like to play a game in
>which compass directions were never used. If the game kept track of the
>direction the player was facing in a room then the more natural(?)
>descriptions like: "The exit is on your right. On your left is the door to
>the kitchen.", and commands like: "go right", "go left", "straight ahead",
>etc, could be used.
>
>The trick would be that a feature that was on your right as you faced a door
>would be on your left as you came back out that door. Descriptions would
>have to adapt, as would responses to movement commands.
>
>Has anybody seen a game that does that? Would it be too confusing to play?
>(Just thinking out loud here.)
>
>--gary
>

This gets brought up from time to time. Usually, it's concluded that
the compass directions are standard for a reason; the fact that we use
relative directions in the real world relies on the increased amount
of sensory data we have available to us. In the abstraction that is
the text world, relative directions such as 'left' and 'right' are
either set within a fixed reference frame (ie The kitchen is *always*
left of the living room), or they have some system of reorienting
themselves (as you suggest). The former case is, of course,
unnatural, and almost entirely identical to a compass with different
names. THe latter doesn't work.

And here's the reason it doesn't work: Not Enough Information. In the
real world, there is an "immediacy" to my sense of left and right
which doesn't exist in IF.

Further, I suspect that we actually *do* use an absolute sense of
direction, just one that isn't compass-aligned. There is no "real"
difference in how I make the trip from my bedroom to my library,
regardless of which direction I'm facing when I start. I never think
"THe bathroom is on the left", I think "It's over there".

What I'm getting at isn't that a compass-based movement system is more
realistic in any literal sense -- it isn't. But it *is* more
realistic in a practical sense. That is, it more realistically models
the way we *think about navigation*, in that we think of navigation as
absolute, and we think about the spacial relationships between areas
as atomic. It may indeed be what I *do* to "STAND UP. FACE DOOR. WALK
FORWARD. OPEN DOOR. WALK FORWARD. SIDESTEP LEFT. FORWARD", but what
I'm *thinking* is "Get up. Go to the library." (ANd it's more subtle
than that. I actually don't advocate an auto-navigating GO TO ROOMNAME
system, because (it's tedious to type and) the rooms I'm going to pass
through on the way are indeed part of my conscious thought process,
just not in the direct sort of way that "GO to the library" is.


Which way I'm facing has nothign at all to do with navigation, unless
I'm badly lost. THis is because I will *automatically* turn to face
the right direction. I never even think "The coffeepot is on my right"
-- I think "THe COffee pot is on the microwave, which is next to the
fridge, which is across from the sink, which is next to the back door,
which is *right over there*

Adam Thornton

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Feb 2, 2002, 1:21:03 PM2/2/02
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In article <a3ha2l$eri$6...@foobar.cs.jhu.edu>,

L. Ross Raszewski <lrasz...@loyola.edu> wrote:
>This gets brought up from time to time. Usually, it's concluded that
>the compass directions are standard for a reason; the fact that we use
>relative directions in the real world relies on the increased amount
>of sensory data we have available to us.

In current usage, probably. In the historical roots of the adventure
game there's a very good but different reason.

>Which way I'm facing has nothign at all to do with navigation, unless
>I'm badly lost.

Which is the default case when caving. Or rather, if you aren't paying
attention to your compass you soon *will* be badly lost, with
potentially dire consequences.

Adam

Skeet

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Feb 2, 2002, 1:29:26 PM2/2/02
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On 2 Feb 2002 18:10:29 GMT, lrasz...@loyola.edu (L. Ross Raszewski)
wrote:

>On Sat, 02 Feb 2002 17:23:36 GMT, Gary Shannon <fiz...@starband.net> wrote:
>>
>>It just occured to me to wonder what it would be like to play a game in
>>which compass directions were never used. If the game kept track of the
>>direction the player was facing in a room then the more natural(?)
>>descriptions like: "The exit is on your right. On your left is the door to
>>the kitchen.", and commands like: "go right", "go left", "straight ahead",
>>etc, could be used.
>>

[snip]


>>
>
>This gets brought up from time to time. Usually, it's concluded that
>the compass directions are standard for a reason; the fact that we use
>relative directions in the real world relies on the increased amount
>of sensory data we have available to us. In the abstraction that is
>the text world, relative directions such as 'left' and 'right' are
>either set within a fixed reference frame (ie The kitchen is *always*
>left of the living room), or they have some system of reorienting
>themselves (as you suggest). The former case is, of course,
>unnatural, and almost entirely identical to a compass with different
>names. THe latter doesn't work.
>
>And here's the reason it doesn't work: Not Enough Information. In the
>real world, there is an "immediacy" to my sense of left and right
>which doesn't exist in IF.
>
>Further, I suspect that we actually *do* use an absolute sense of
>direction, just one that isn't compass-aligned. There is no "real"
>difference in how I make the trip from my bedroom to my library,
>regardless of which direction I'm facing when I start. I never think
>"THe bathroom is on the left", I think "It's over there".
>

[snip]
As far as commercial IF goes, the only game I can immediately think of
that tried to avoid compass directions at all was _Nord and Bert_.
It's been a while since I played it, so I don't remember if compass
directions were completely absent -- but I remember that the grocery
store section simply told you which aisle you were in and which aisles
you could get to from your current location (by typing an aisle name).
This being the only example I can remember, I wasn't impressed with
it. In fact, if the "adjacent aisles" didn't appear in the status
line, it probably would have been totally unworkable.

It's ludicrous, but in almost every game I play, I equate "north" with
"straight ahead", "east" to "to the left", etc. when I'm visualizing
an area. Of course, this always assumes that after I enter a room, I
turn to face north. As a side-effect, I'm always a little thrown by
games where you start at the north side of the map and everything's to
the south -- it seems counter-intuitive somehow. Oddly, it doesn't
seem like very many games are set up like this anyway. (Don't think
I've ever seen this specifically mentioned, but now that I think about
it, most games *do* seem to start you in the southern half of the
mappable area. Or maybe it's just my northocentric memory.)

But like Gary mentioned, otherwise it becomes overly complicated; if a
room had four entrances, the room description would necessarily have
to differ (at least in one or two lines) for each possible entry.
Besides sounding like a somewhat major programming issue (this coming
from a non-programmer), I don't think I could get used to it. The old
standard one-description-per-room, "There are exits to the north and
southwest" system is just too ingrained for me.

---------------------------------
Do I dare
Disturb the universe?
In a minute there is time
For decisions and revisions which a minute will reverse.
(T.S. Eliot)

L. Ross Raszewski

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Feb 2, 2002, 1:40:56 PM2/2/02
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On Sat, 2 Feb 2002 18:21:03 +0000 (UTC), Adam Thornton <ad...@fsf.net> wrote:
>In article <a3ha2l$eri$6...@foobar.cs.jhu.edu>,
>L. Ross Raszewski <lrasz...@loyola.edu> wrote:
>>This gets brought up from time to time. Usually, it's concluded that
>>the compass directions are standard for a reason; the fact that we use
>>relative directions in the real world relies on the increased amount
>>of sensory data we have available to us.
>
>In current usage, probably. In the historical roots of the adventure
>game there's a very good but different reason.

Yes. I considered saying "became standard for a reason" rather than
"are standard for a reason". I know the historical origins aren't
quite what I said here, but I think my reasons speak more to why the
compass system, once introduced, caught on.


Gary Shannon

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Feb 2, 2002, 5:38:36 PM2/2/02
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Everyone had good reasons for prefering compass directions, and I agree
them. In addition, using left/right/ahead/ would tend to make maping pretty
clumsy and error-prone.

--gary


J.W. Yearsley

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Feb 2, 2002, 6:14:31 PM2/2/02
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"Gary Shannon" <fiz...@starband.net> wrote in message news:<OgV68.4011$s8.145...@twister2.starband.net>...

> It just occured to me to wonder what it would be like to play a game in
> which compass directions were never used. If the game kept track of the
> direction the player was facing in a room then the more natural(?)
> descriptions like: "The exit is on your right. On your left is the door to
> the kitchen.", and commands like: "go right", "go left", "straight ahead",
> etc, could be used.
>
> The trick would be that a feature that was on your right as you faced a door
> would be on your left as you came back out that door. Descriptions would
> have to adapt, as would responses to movement commands.

(delurking)

Most graphical games, especially Myst and its offspring,
use something like this, but that's because of their
inherent visual limitation where it can only portray about
a 180 degree field of view (more realistic, perhaps, but
it doesn't really add anything). In IF, one does not have
to implement two different rooms for different player positions
in one "room" - commands don't include player movements within
rooms. For example, examining something usually implies walking
over to something and looking at it. But the walking part isn't
mentioned - it's just implied. Same with IF movement overall -
it's implied the player turns left, walks through the north
archway and down the hall to the next room, but it's simplified
to ">go north". And again, it does carry over from cave or
dungeon exploration, but it's a effective system. It's a
simplification technique.

(relurking)

- J.W.

Terence

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Feb 2, 2002, 3:37:36 PM2/2/02
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>It's ludicrous, but in almost every game I play, I equate "north" with
"straight ahead", "east" to "to the left", etc. when I'm visualizing
an area.

I always thinh of 'W' as being left and 'E' as being right - as if you are
looking at the standard compass directions..

N
W E
S


Like Skeet, ahead is 'N' and back is 'S'. But his left and right being 'E'
and 'W' respectively appear to me to be counter-intuitive.

Any other method would involve remembering if you are coming or going.


Jon Ingold

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Feb 3, 2002, 7:55:55 AM2/3/02
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"Gary Shannon" <fiz...@starband.net> wrote in message
news:OgV68.4011$s8.145...@twister2.starband.net...
>
> It just occured to me to wonder what it would be like to play a game in
> which compass directions were never used. If the game kept track of the
> direction the player was facing in a room then the more natural(?)
> descriptions like: "The exit is on your right. On your left is the door
to
> the kitchen.", and commands like: "go right", "go left", "straight ahead",
> etc, could be used.

My game of two years ago, "My Angel", disposed of compass directions, using
"forward" and "backward" and many a synonym in between - but then it also
disposed of "locations", more or less.

Jon


Gary Shannon

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Feb 3, 2002, 12:44:27 PM2/3/02
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"Jon Ingold" <ji...@cam.ac.uk> wrote in message
news:a3jc4a$add$1...@pegasus.csx.cam.ac.uk...

Sounds interesting. If it's in the archieves I'll have a look at it. (I'm
just returning after an absence of about 150 years from IF, so there's a lot
I've missed.)

--gary

Jon Ingold

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Feb 3, 2002, 2:23:03 PM2/3/02
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> Sounds interesting. If it's in the archieves I'll have a look at it. (I'm
> just returning after an absence of about 150 years from IF, so there's a
lot
> I've missed.)

http://www.ifarchive.org/if-archive/games/zcode/My_Angel.z5

Jon


Jon Ingold

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Feb 3, 2002, 2:23:53 PM2/3/02
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"Terence" <ter...@anywhere.isp> wrote in message
news:a3hide$lok$1...@news5.svr.pol.co.uk...

> >It's ludicrous, but in almost every game I play, I equate "north" with
> "straight ahead", "east" to "to the left", etc. when I'm visualizing
> an area.
>
> I always thinh of 'W' as being left and 'E' as being right - as if you are
> looking at the standard compass directions..

I always think of 'W' as right and 'E' as left, for no good reason
whatsoever, and I imagine it's very irritating for beta-testers.

Jon


Skeet

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Feb 3, 2002, 3:53:07 PM2/3/02
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On Sat, 2 Feb 2002 20:37:36 -0000, "Terence" <ter...@anywhere.isp>
wrote:

Heh... please pardon my spatial dyslexia. I meant east as to the
right.

Skeet

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Feb 3, 2002, 3:59:05 PM2/3/02
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On Sun, 03 Feb 2002 17:44:27 GMT, "Gary Shannon"
<fiz...@starband.net> wrote:

>
>Sounds interesting. If it's in the archieves I'll have a look at it. (I'm
>just returning after an absence of about 150 years from IF, so there's a lot
>I've missed.)
>
>--gary

I knew your name sounded familiar. Aren't you a fellow ex-employee of
Dynamix?

Benjamin Haines

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Feb 3, 2002, 5:11:18 PM2/3/02
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On Sun, 3 Feb 2002 19:23:53 -0000, Jon Ingold <ji...@cam.ac.uk> scribbled:

>>
>> I always thinh of 'W' as being left and 'E' as being right - as if you are
>> looking at the standard compass directions..
>
> I always think of 'W' as right and 'E' as left, for no good reason
> whatsoever, and I imagine it's very irritating for beta-testers.
>

As do I, except I also tend to do this while driving--which I imagine
is very irritating to passengers, especially those who object to being
hopelessly lost. ;)

-ben, who has decided that many things can be explained by a small
accident in his neural wiring

Gary Shannon

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Feb 3, 2002, 8:18:27 PM2/3/02
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"Skeet" <mitc...@ameritech.net> wrote in message
news:m79r5ug81pt121123...@4ax.com...

> On Sun, 03 Feb 2002 17:44:27 GMT, "Gary Shannon"
> <fiz...@starband.net> wrote:
>
> >
> >Sounds interesting. If it's in the archieves I'll have a look at it.
(I'm
> >just returning after an absence of about 150 years from IF, so there's a
lot
> >I've missed.)
> >
> >--gary
>
> I knew your name sounded familiar. Aren't you a fellow ex-employee of
> Dynamix?

Yes, I am. I worked on Cyberstorm I and II, Pro Pilot 2000, Trophy Bass,
etc. until they shut us down.

To whom do I have the pleasure of speaking?

--gary

Skeet

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Feb 3, 2002, 9:00:29 PM2/3/02
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On Mon, 04 Feb 2002 01:18:27 GMT, "Gary Shannon"
<fiz...@starband.net> wrote:

>
>"Skeet" <mitc...@ameritech.net> wrote in message
>news:m79r5ug81pt121123...@4ax.com...

>> I knew your name sounded familiar. Aren't you a fellow ex-employee of


>> Dynamix?
>
>Yes, I am. I worked on Cyberstorm I and II, Pro Pilot 2000, Trophy Bass,
>etc. until they shut us down.
>
>To whom do I have the pleasure of speaking?
>

I don't think we actually ever met. I worked on Tribes and Tribes 2,
until I got laid off the day after T2 hit the shelves. Turns out the
company only stayed open about 6 more months after that. Here's to
the good old days. *clink*

david carlton

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Feb 4, 2002, 2:59:11 PM2/4/02
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In article <OgV68.4011$s8.145...@twister2.starband.net>, "Gary Shannon" <fiz...@starband.net> writes:

> Has anybody seen a game that does that?

_The Bane of the Builders_, from Comp 2001, had a maze which did that.
I kind of enjoyed it: it was a way to put a maze in a game which was
different from what I was used to, was "mazey" enough to be satisfying
if that's what you're looking for, but which wasn't particularly
tedious to play through. (The maze was longer than it had a reason to
be given its function in the game, but I didn't have a hard time
playing through the maze without mapping it. Admittedly, it helped
that the maze only had a few branches.)

david carlton | <http://math.stanford.edu/~carlton/>
car...@math.stanford.edu | Go books: <http://math.stanford.edu/~carlton/go/>

I'm ANN LANDERS!! I can SHOPLIFT!!

David Thornley

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Feb 4, 2002, 5:39:11 PM2/4/02
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In article <ro1k7tt...@jackfruit.Stanford.EDU>,

david carlton <car...@math.stanford.edu> wrote:
>In article <OgV68.4011$s8.145...@twister2.starband.net>, "Gary Shannon" <fiz...@starband.net> writes:
>
>> Has anybody seen a game that does that?
>
>_The Bane of the Builders_, from Comp 2001, had a maze which did that.
>I kind of enjoyed it: it was a way to put a maze in a game which was
>different from what I was used to, was "mazey" enough to be satisfying
>if that's what you're looking for, but which wasn't particularly
>tedious to play through. (The maze was longer than it had a reason to
>be given its function in the game, but I didn't have a hard time
>playing through the maze without mapping it. Admittedly, it helped
>that the maze only had a few branches.)
>
What made it really easy was that it was simply connected. If it
had been multiply connected (i.e., you need to go to somewhere in
an island part of the maze), I would have found it exceedingly
frustrating. Having the "left-forward-right-backward" movement
made it very easy to do the "left hand on the wall" trick.

--
David H. Thornley | If you want my opinion, ask.
da...@thornley.net | If you don't, flee.
http://www.thornley.net/~thornley/david/ | O-

Julian Fondren

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Feb 4, 2002, 10:39:46 PM2/4/02
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buz...@TheWorld.com (Sean T Barrett) wrote in message news:<Gqx3I...@world.std.com>...

> "Six Stories" and "Hunter, In Darkness" from several comps ago.

IIRC, "Hunter, In Darkness", didn't keep up with the direction the
player faced, and didn't change any directions -- the author might
as well have declared in the beginning that east was right, etc,
and wrote it more normally.

(But I think the directionals worked well, anyway.)

Julian Fondren

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Feb 4, 2002, 10:56:22 PM2/4/02
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Skeet <mitc...@ameritech.net> wrote in message news:<kabo5u85reg9l1t1l...@4ax.com>...

> As far as commercial IF goes, the only game I can immediately think of
> that tried to avoid compass directions at all was _Nord and Bert_.

To play this on my palm, I have to get a teensy font in, so I can see more
of the title line for the 'store' area. Ick.

> the south -- it seems counter-intuitive somehow. Oddly, it doesn't
> seem like very many games are set up like this anyway. (Don't think
> I've ever seen this specifically mentioned, but now that I think about
> it, most games *do* seem to start you in the southern half of the
> mappable area. Or maybe it's just my northocentric memory.)

Hee =) I don't think of directions in quite the same way, but I'm also
momemtarily disoriented with starting on the northern end of a map.
It *feels* wierd.



> But like Gary mentioned, otherwise it becomes overly complicated; if a
> room had four entrances, the room description would necessarily have
> to differ (at least in one or two lines) for each possible entry.
> Besides sounding like a somewhat major programming issue (this coming
> from a non-programmer), I don't think I could get used to it. The old
> standard one-description-per-room, "There are exits to the north and
> southwest" system is just too ingrained for me.

Well, MOOs don't have compasses built into them; you just have exits
which have names, and if an exit's name is 'N', that's fine, but it's
usually 'kitchen' or something.

>LOOK
You are in a small dark room with pink walls and a low ceiling.
Oh, and a thick red carpet.

You can leave to the Kitchen, the Parent's Bed Room, or just go Outside.
>OUTSIDE
You are in a large dark room with scenic walls and a high ceiling.
Oh, and a thick green carpet.

...

No... I don't like it.

1. too much typing
2. relationships between rooms is less apparent

Well, maybe an Author will do it right.

Magnus Olsson

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Feb 5, 2002, 5:23:35 AM2/5/02
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In article <76ea4fd3.02020...@posting.google.com>,

Julian Fondren <clever...@hotmail.com> wrote:
>buz...@TheWorld.com (Sean T Barrett) wrote in message
>news:<Gqx3I...@world.std.com>...
>> "Six Stories" and "Hunter, In Darkness" from several comps ago.
>
>IIRC, "Hunter, In Darkness", didn't keep up with the direction the
>player faced, and didn't change any directions

That's not my recollection - but I don't think the changing
directions mattered very much, if indeed they changed, because of
the nature of the game.

> -- the author might
>as well have declared in the beginning that east was right, etc,
>and wrote it more normally.

I must disagree, strongly - that would have lessened the psychological
effect of being lost rather drastically.


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

Kodrik

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Feb 6, 2002, 6:53:42 PM2/6/02
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Adam Thornton wrote:

> In article <a3ha2l$eri$6...@foobar.cs.jhu.edu>,
> L. Ross Raszewski <lrasz...@loyola.edu> wrote:
>>This gets brought up from time to time. Usually, it's concluded that
>>the compass directions are standard for a reason; the fact that we use
>>relative directions in the real world relies on the increased amount
>>of sensory data we have available to us.
>
> In current usage, probably. In the historical roots of the adventure
> game there's a very good but different reason.

It wouldn't be too hard to have a variable that keeps track of your facing
and translates "go right" into the appropriate NWSE directions.
But then, how do you do NE if your facing north, "go half-right"?

Lewis Raszewski

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Feb 7, 2002, 12:37:46 PM2/7/02
to

It would not be hard for the system, certainly. But it would probably
be very hard for the user.

--
L. Ross Raszewski
The Johns Hopkins University
Wyman Park 407

"The Castellan will have me shot!" -- Guard
"That's all right. I'll have him shot." -- The Doctor, Doctor Who: The
Invasion of Time

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