Text adventures not superior to graphics

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The Grim Reaper

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May 19, 1994, 1:28:40 AM5/19/94
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[Ha. Bet the subject got your attention, eh?]
I've seen a lot of talk here about how vastly superior text adventures
are, how graphics adventures ruin the mind and crush the imagination, how
they destroy creativity and whatnot. Geesh, people, calm down. Sure,
text adventures are cool. I'm writing one. But they are not superior to
graphics in all respects. Putting aside the basic niceness of being able
to look at a picture of something, there are several concepts that text
adventures are very bad at handling.
o Patterns. If you don't want to give away what a pattern is of, it's
nearly impossible to describe it. Assuming you want them to figure out
what it is ("Hey, that looks like a dog!"), or it's just an abstract
pattern, how can you describe it in a text adventure? Whereas with
graphics, it's simple.
o Hidden items. Some items are hidden until you push the button. Those
work out fine in text. But for those items which you have to look at
another item to see, text tends to fail miserably. Why? Because it's
too easy to find things in text adventures! In graphics, you can have
a corner of the manuscript peeking out from under the rug or whatever,
and so they have to lift the rug to find it, but in a text adventure, the
only way I know of to code it is to just tell them there's a manuscript
there when they look at rug. Too easy, if you ask me.
o Things with lots of pieces in a specific location. This is related to
Patterns, above. In my current game, I have a 5x5 board with a number
of small stones on it, which can be moved around. The position of the
stones is vitally important, but there's no good way to tell the player
where they are, without resorting to the mood-breaking (X,Y) coordinates.
Or try showing a chess game.

So, what's my point? Well, mostly, it's "Just calm down." ;) Seriously,
graphics have their uses in a game. So don't slam 'em.

Comments, questions, whatever?

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Andrew Lewis Tepper

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May 19, 1994, 11:10:04 AM5/19/94
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I've recently been thinking of how the addition of sound to a text
adventure would change the experience. While graphics (in a way)
detract, sound may enhance it. Has anyone produced such an adventure?

Andy

Torbj|rn Andersson

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May 19, 1994, 5:48:08 PM5/19/94
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Lots. These are some I can recall, off hand...

Infocom's 'Sherlock: The Riddle of the Crown Jewels' used sound (and I
have heard that the Lurking Horror did, as well, but I haven't seen it
myself -- can someone else comment on this?). Some of the sounds were
amusing (Watson's rendition of 'Eine Kleine Nachtmusik' on Holmes'
Stradivarius has to be one of the funniest/most horrible things I've
ever heard :-), some fit quite well to the situation (a barking dog,
for instance), and some were just plain annoying (a noisy crowd that
didn't sound real at all).

Of course, the fact that I didn't find the game itself that good might
play some part in me not being that impressed with it -- some parts did
capture the "right" atmosphere (or at least what felt right to me),
whereas others seemed to owe more to the Batman TV series (villain
leaving clues and puns for the heroes to find) than to Arthur Conan
Doyle.

I'm not saying it was a bad game, but it wasn't quite what I had hoped
for, really. (But I digress ...)

Another example could be games like Deja Vu (Icom Simulations, I believe
the company was called), which used graphics, sound _and_ text. The
user-interface was point-and-click (except when talking to other
characters, but most times, you didn't get any reply anyway), so the
puzzles were a bit one-sided, but this one still remains one of my
favorites, because of the story, and is one of the few games I have
played where both text and graphics actually contributed to the game.
Anyone else remember this one? I think it was released in '84, so it's
not that old (relatively speaking :-).

There was a program for the Macintosh called 'World Builder' which
allowed you to write adventure games, which did you sound effects, such
as doors opening/closing, birds chirping, and monsters howling in pain,
but I never saw any really good adventures written in it. It seemed to
actually encourage hack-and-slash games with shoddy graphics (no
offense intended). Still, the user-interface was mostly text-based.

Anyway, if the sounds are good (and if you can adjust the volume :-), I
think that yes, they can enhance a game. But make sure they are good
sounds, or it _will_ distract. Of course, you still need a good story
for it, but that goes without saying, right? ;-)

Torbj|rn Andersson

Don Porges

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May 20, 1994, 4:30:21 PM5/20/94
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In article <8hqs5AS00...@andrew.cmu.edu>,

Andrew Lewis Tepper <at...@andrew.cmu.edu> wrote:

In addition to the other answers I see here, the Legend games (Spellcasting
x01, Eric the Unready) use sounds and some music, in addition to still
pictures.

Bob Newell

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May 21, 1994, 12:06:11 AM5/21/94
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Along the lines of the question about the use of sound in text games: I
believe the AGT master edition has this feature, as I've seen a large AGT
game with sound.

Platform dependence is the big problem. There is a sound module add-on for
TADS on the Mac. I wrote a sound-add on for TADS for the PC, but I have no
idea if they are compatible (surely not). It would be nice to develop a
standard in TADS (and Inform, I should also think) for implementation of
sound; a uniform set of commands which could be done in a system-dependent
module for each port of the product's runtime.

Anyone interested?

Greg Ewing

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May 23, 1994, 1:59:52 AM5/23/94
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In article <2rete8$j...@news.u.washington.edu>, scy...@u.washington.edu

(The Grim Reaper) writes:
|> But they are not superior to
|> graphics in all respects. Putting aside the basic niceness of being able
|> to look at a picture of something, there are several concepts that text
|> adventures are very bad at handling.

Excellent points.

I think it would be very useful to have a system which was basically
textual but with "escapes" into a different mode at selected places.
E.g. you pick up a parchment, and a window pops up with a nice
picture of yellowed paper with quilled Evlic runes and tattered edges.
You find a game of Kwump, and you get a window with a Kwump
board complete with moveable pieces. You find a calculator,
pick it up, and up pops a very detailed-looking HP41C - which is
fully functional! Etc.

I'm nowhere near enough of an artist to create a decent fully-graphical
adventure. But I could handle a few carefully-chosen graphic elements
where they would do the most good.

|> So, what's my point? Well, mostly, it's "Just calm down." ;) Seriously,
|> graphics have their uses in a game. So don't slam 'em.

I agree.

How about a graphics extension to TADS :-?

Greg Ewing, Computer Science Dept, +--------------------------------------+
University of Canterbury, | A citizen of NewZealandCorp, a |
Christchurch, New Zealand | wholly-owned subsidiary of Japan Inc.|
gr...@cosc.canterbury.ac.nz +--------------------------------------+

Darin Johnson

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May 23, 1994, 1:47:05 PM5/23/94
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> I think it would be very useful to have a system which was basically
> textual but with "escapes" into a different mode at selected places.
> E.g. you pick up a parchment, and a window pops up with a nice
> picture of yellowed paper with quilled Evlic runes and tattered edges.

A lot like Zork Zero...
--
Darin Johnson
djoh...@ucsd.edu
Support your right to own gnus.

mark...@carleton.edu

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May 23, 1994, 2:32:58 PM5/23/94
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In article <2rpgoo$p...@cantua.canterbury.ac.nz>, gr...@huia.canterbury.ac.nz (Greg Ewing) writes:
> I think it would be very useful to have a system which was basically
> textual but with "escapes" into a different mode at selected places.
> E.g. you pick up a parchment, and a window pops up with a nice
> picture of yellowed paper with quilled Evlic runes and tattered edges.
> You find a game of Kwump, and you get a window with a Kwump
> board complete with moveable pieces. You find a calculator,
> pick it up, and up pops a very detailed-looking HP41C - which is
> fully functional! Etc.

I agree. This is the ZORK ZERO, ERIC THE UNREADY, etc. type of game, which in
some ways I find more appealing than the "classic" all-text adventure game. It
is important to maintain the proper balance between the two, however, or you
end up with a bad Sierra game, where all you do is type a few words and watch
the pretty pictures. I'm still in the middle of ERIC THE UNREADY, so I'm not
fully qualified to judge, but it seems to me that it does a pretty good job of
maintaining a good balance between text and graphics. Certain things, like
games, Tower of Hanoi-type puzzles, etc, are remarkably difficult to implement
realistically in an all-text environment.


> How about a graphics extension to TADS :-?

I was browsing around on the High Energy Software BBS and found a file called
(I think) TADSG.DOC, which was about this very thing. Does anyone know
anything more about this? Has it ever been released? Is it in beta-testing?
I would, for one, be quite interested in such a beast.

stud...@eku.acs.eku.edu

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May 24, 1994, 12:10:37 PM5/24/94
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In article <DJOHNSON.94...@arnold.ucsd.edu>, djoh...@arnold.ucsd.edu (Darin Johnson) writes:
>> I think it would be very useful to have a system which was basically
>> textual but with "escapes" into a different mode at selected places.
>> E.g. you pick up a parchment, and a window pops up with a nice
>> picture of yellowed paper with quilled Evlic runes and tattered edges.
>
> A lot like Zork Zero...
> --

Yes, I think Zork Zero is a good example of this. I have very fond
rememberings of that story. In fact, for the last several months, I've
been doing some preliminary programming and planning for a NEW adventure
developement system; I think of it as a Word Processor for Interactive
Fiction. I have a pretty good paragraph editor, and a pretty fair
object model; but don't start licking your chops yet: there's more.

1-) I'm basing the interface on Zork Zero, and the developement effort
is PC-compat only. I didn't think much about this untill reading the
discussion about porting TADS to every system on the market. It has
advantages, though -- the interface, so far, LOOKS GREAT. Black text on
a white background; so far I've been happy with it on a variety of
monitors.

2-) All my plans and such were made before I knew there was a "renegade
group" of IF afficionados who were using much better tools than AGT.
Heck, I thought (ignorantly) that AGT was the best there was; this is
largely because I've seen it all over the place (was this a case of
"really strange luck?"). Anyway, I've decided to slow down for a while,
and take a look at TADS and Inform; then try writing an adventure again
before working too hard on something which may be out-of-date the day it
hits the streets.

What I probably WILL do is go ahead and finish out the interface and
build in the major capabilities:
- A built-in word-processor like message editor, allowing the
author to edit messages while reading the story. (actually, the entire
concept is a system where the story is written as it is being read;
i.e.-create a new room, then walk in to it, then write it's description)
- The ability to display pictures and play sounds -- background music,
one-shot breaking glass sounds, and the like. With the available
libraries for my compiler, this stuff is -EASY-.
- Macros and mouse-click macros. Just press ALT-I or click the box
labeled 'Inventory'.
- A map keeping and viewing system.

Some of these features are harder than others; I just hope that once
I've done that much, I'll be able to fill in a good sentence parser and
language. (Yeah, yeah -- don't tell me what I already know; that's
going to be the REALLY HARD part. That's why I want to see what's
already out there; to see what can currently be done, and theorize on
how -I'm- going to do it.)

Again, don't hold your breath for a new adventure writing system. With
the new perspective that this newsgroup has given me (I only started
reading it about a week ago) - I'm thinking another year, at the
earliest.

Any comments on a NEW system would be welcomed; heck, they would be
*GREATLY APPRECIATED*.

David Parsley - future creator of "Author/Deity - Word Processor
for Interactive Fiction"

Console Cowboy John

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May 25, 1994, 11:53:40 AM5/25/94
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stud...@eku.acs.eku.edu wrote:

: Yes, I think Zork Zero is a good example of this. I have very fond

: rememberings of that story. In fact, for the last several months, I've
: been doing some preliminary programming and planning for a NEW adventure
: developement system; I think of it as a Word Processor for Interactive
: Fiction. I have a pretty good paragraph editor, and a pretty fair
: object model; but don't start licking your chops yet: there's more.

Sounds good so far...

: 1-) I'm basing the interface on Zork Zero, and the developement effort

: is PC-compat only. I didn't think much about this untill reading the
: discussion about porting TADS to every system on the market. It has
: advantages, though -- the interface, so far, LOOKS GREAT. Black text on
: a white background; so far I've been happy with it on a variety of
: monitors.

Pretty, but no parser yet...

: 2-) All my plans and such were made before I knew there was a "renegade

: group" of IF afficionados who were using much better tools than AGT.
: Heck, I thought (ignorantly) that AGT was the best there was; this is
: largely because I've seen it all over the place (was this a case of
: "really strange luck?"). Anyway, I've decided to slow down for a while,
: and take a look at TADS and Inform; then try writing an adventure again
: before working too hard on something which may be out-of-date the day it
: hits the streets.

Good idea.

: What I probably WILL do is go ahead and finish out the interface and


: build in the major capabilities:
: - A built-in word-processor like message editor, allowing the
: author to edit messages while reading the story. (actually, the entire
: concept is a system where the story is written as it is being read;
: i.e.-create a new room, then walk in to it, then write it's description)

I like this idea!

: - The ability to display pictures and play sounds -- background music,


: one-shot breaking glass sounds, and the like. With the available
: libraries for my compiler, this stuff is -EASY-.

Good, good.

: - Macros and mouse-click macros. Just press ALT-I or click the box


: labeled 'Inventory'.
: - A map keeping and viewing system.

Probably the only feature in DOOM that I _really_ liked was the neat map
that popped up when TAB was pressed. Something similar would be nice.
Are you thinking along these lines, or more simple like beyond zork?

: Some of these features are harder than others; I just hope that once

: I've done that much, I'll be able to fill in a good sentence parser and
: language. (Yeah, yeah -- don't tell me what I already know; that's
: going to be the REALLY HARD part. That's why I want to see what's
: already out there; to see what can currently be done, and theorize on
: how -I'm- going to do it.)

Perhaps you might want to look at the INFORM compiler, for which source is
freely available, and source for interpreters are freely available too. If
you are the ambitious sort, you could make a ZIL-7(pc) language that does all
that you are interested in. At any rate, you can (sort of) get an idea of how
a working parser works and acts.

: Again, don't hold your breath for a new adventure writing system. With


: the new perspective that this newsgroup has given me (I only started
: reading it about a week ago) - I'm thinking another year, at the
: earliest.

I believe you... ;^)

: Any comments on a NEW system would be welcomed; heck, they would be
: *GREATLY APPRECIATED*.

Here are mine...

: David Parsley - future creator of "Author/Deity - Word Processor
: for Interactive Fiction"


John
/ jho...@nmsu.edu \
______/ John Holder, Sysop, IMSL CAD/CAM Lab at NMSU \__________
\ Home:505-522-5989 Work:505-646-5906 /


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