Excess locations?

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Joshua Wise

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Dec 9, 1999, 3:00:00 AM12/9/99
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Hell all,
I wanted the oppinions of some experienced gamers, writers, and
programmers. In designing a game, do you think that creating extra
"rooms" in which you can do nothing that pertains to the game, for the
sake of creating an atmostphere or a feeling of wholeness to a
location is useful? i.e. instead of having one room in which you can
do the one thing needed, there are five rooms, each with a description
that will enhance the sense of where you are, but you can't actually
do anything in them?

Josh

Jesse Burneko

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Dec 9, 1999, 3:00:00 AM12/9/99
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On Thu, 9 Dec 1999, Joshua Wise wrote:

> Hell all,
> I wanted the oppinions of some experienced gamers, writers, and
> programmers. In designing a game, do you think that creating extra
> "rooms" in which you can do nothing that pertains to the game, for the
> sake of creating an atmostphere or a feeling of wholeness to a
> location is useful?

Well, as with most things in IF, I think it comes down to a matter of
taste. I personally don't mind them. I mean if a game takes place in a
large hotel well then it ought to have a kitchen and a dining room even if
nothing relevant ever happens there. Obviously you don't want to
implement every useless room in such a hotel but corridors with locked
doors would be apropriate.

I have, however, recieved at least one complaint about my use of
stairwells in my Breath Of Fresh Blair (blair.z5). I use them purely to
connect the first floor to the second floor. It was suggested to me that
I remove them completely and only imply their existance with some message
like:

"Stepping into the stairwell you ascend the stairs to the second floor."

And simply let up and down take you directly to the locations were you
would otherwise need a w - u/d - e sequence to pass through the
stairwells.

I'm still coding stairwells though since I feel this is more natural.

Jesse Burneko


Jon Ingold

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Dec 9, 1999, 3:00:00 AM12/9/99
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Joshua Wise wrote in message <384feef6...@news.recom.com>...

>Hell all,
>I wanted the oppinions of some experienced gamers, writers, and
>programmers. In designing a game, do you think that creating extra
>"rooms" in which you can do nothing that pertains to the game, for the
>sake of creating an atmostphere or a feeling of wholeness to a
>location is useful? i.e. instead of having one room in which you can
>do the one thing needed, there are five rooms, each with a description
>that will enhance the sense of where you are, but you can't actually
>do anything in them?


Well, I'm not an experience gamer or writer but personally I hate them.
Pretty much every room in my game The Mulldoon Legacy has a purpose. I got
sick of "Sorcerer" syndrome (which shows I'm an inexperienced gamer as I'm
sure there are far worse games for this kind of thing) where you wander
around playing with useless scenery for hours not realising you've gone
wrong at the beginning, convinced there's something meaningful in it all..

However, it does depend on the kind of game. I think I'm right in thinking
that say, in So Far there are lots of 'scenery' locations and if they
weren't there the game would lose most of what it has; a realistic backdrop.

Jon

BrenBarn

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Dec 10, 1999, 3:00:00 AM12/10/99
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> In designing a game, do you think that creating extra
>"rooms" in which you can do nothing that pertains to the game, for the
>sake of creating an atmostphere or a feeling of wholeness to a
>location is useful? i.e. instead of having one room in which you can
>do the one thing needed, there are five rooms, each with a description
>that will enhance the sense of where you are, but you can't actually
>do anything in them?
Well, by "you can't actually do anything in them" I assume you mean "you
can't do anything that affects the end result of the game". (In other, you
should be able to DO things, like pick up objects or play with something in the
room, but it won't affect whether you win or lose.)
In that case, I wholeheartedly believe that "excess locations" are a
superb addition to a game. Obviously, this can be taken too far (a maze, for
example, could be considered as a series of extraneous rooms), but in general,
I'm an advocate of giving a game atmosphere.
What I would like even better, though, is having lots of rooms in which
whatever you did DID affect the game later on. This is getting into a larger
issue, but I'd like it if things you did in one room determined which of
several alternative storylines you'd see at a later point in the game.

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

Miseri

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Dec 10, 1999, 3:00:00 AM12/10/99
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In article <Pine.GSO.4.10.991209...@aludra.usc.edu>,
Jesse Burneko <jbur...@aludra.usc.edu> wrote:

> Well, as with most things in IF, I think it comes down to a matter of
> taste. I personally don't mind them. I mean if a game takes place in
a
> large hotel well then it ought to have a kitchen and a dining room
even if
> nothing relevant ever happens there. Obviously you don't want to
> implement every useless room in such a hotel but corridors with locked
> doors would be apropriate.
>
> I have, however, recieved at least one complaint about my use of
> stairwells in my Breath Of Fresh Blair (blair.z5). I use them purely
to
> connect the first floor to the second floor. It was suggested to me
that
> I remove them completely and only imply their existance with some
message
> like:
>
> "Stepping into the stairwell you ascend the stairs to the second
floor."
>
> And simply let up and down take you directly to the locations were you
> would otherwise need a w - u/d - e sequence to pass through the
> stairwells.
>
> I'm still coding stairwells though since I feel this is more natural.
>
> Jesse Burneko
>

Whereas I, being one of the people who complained about the Blair
stairwell, feel that stairwells feel more unnatural. They're just
vertical passages. Oh, and I dislike corridors with nothing in them but
locked doors that will never be opened. I guess the question is whether
anything interesting and redeeming happens in these passageway
locations.

Example of completely useless and annoying locations: "Hallway Outside
Dining Room", from Infocom's "Suspect".


Sent via Deja.com http://www.deja.com/
Before you buy.

Jesse Burneko

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Dec 10, 1999, 3:00:00 AM12/10/99
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On Fri, 10 Dec 1999, Miseri wrote:

> Whereas I, being one of the people who complained about the Blair
> stairwell, feel that stairwells feel more unnatural.

But Blair was modeled on a real building that really had stairwells there.
So is the Kirby House in my X-Child. All kinds of buildings in reality
have stairwells so how can they be unnatural?

> Example of completely useless and annoying locations: "Hallway Outside
> Dining Room", from Infocom's "Suspect".

But a house like that would have a hallway there. You need these types of
locations for believability and realism.

Jesse Burneko


Kevin Lighton

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Dec 11, 1999, 3:00:00 AM12/11/99
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Jesse Burneko <jbur...@aludra.usc.edu> wrote:
> On Fri, 10 Dec 1999, Miseri wrote:

>> Whereas I, being one of the people who complained about the Blair
>> stairwell, feel that stairwells feel more unnatural.

> But Blair was modeled on a real building that really had stairwells there.
> So is the Kirby House in my X-Child. All kinds of buildings in reality
> have stairwells so how can they be unnatural?

I think the complaint is that the stairwells are implemented as separate
rooms without having any real game purpose for doing so. IMO, unless there's
something to do on a stairwell, it shouldn't be a separate location. (If
there's one stairwell where something that isn't automatically obvious to
do, then implementing other staircases as rooms to prevent the important one
from standing out too soon is reasonable.) A description like the following
should do for most cases:

Front Hallway
This is the front hallway of the white house. The kitchen is to the north,
the living room is to the west, and a stairway leads up to the second floor.
The front door is to the south, and there is a closet in the west wall.

Where going up from here would put you in the second floor hallway.

>> Example of completely useless and annoying locations: "Hallway Outside
>> Dining Room", from Infocom's "Suspect".

> But a house like that would have a hallway there. You need these types of
> locations for believability and realism.

Personally, I feel locations really should only be implemented if:
1) There's something game related to do in the location at some time in the
game.
2) The exits from the room couldn't be reasonably implemented if the room
wasn't there, and can't be cut reasonably. (More than 2 exits or 2 exits
at a sharp angle, although the latter could be done by giving the player
a message about a turn in the path when they go that way.)
3) The room has to exists for believability, and there's no way to block off
the passage.
4) The room is needed to keep the importance of another room from being too
obvious.

As an example, in one game I wrote (as far as mapping on paper and working
out puzzles), I cut the number of hallways to about 1/3 of the original number
simply by letting each hallway area reach 3 rooms to each side instead of
one.

Ja, mata
--
Kevin Lighton shin...@operamail.com (preferred to the From: address)
http://members.tripod.com/~shinma_kl/main.html
"Townsfolk can get downright touchy over the occasional earth-elemental in
the scullery. Can't imagine why..." Quenten _Winds of Fate_

Miseri

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Dec 11, 1999, 3:00:00 AM12/11/99
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In article <Pine.GSO.4.10.991210...@aludra.usc.edu>,
Jesse Burneko <jbur...@aludra.usc.edu> wrote:

> But Blair was modeled on a real building that really had stairwells
there.
> So is the Kirby House in my X-Child. All kinds of buildings in
reality
> have stairwells so how can they be unnatural?

Stairwells are passageways, not rooms. When I enter a stairwell, it is
for the purpose of entering whatever other room or passageway is at the
other end of the stair. Nobody implements the doorway threshold between
two rooms, so why implement a stairwell, which is in essence a very
similar thing?

To explain: Unless a stairwell also happens to be an isolated fire
stair, I don't "experience" the stairwell until I place my foot on the
first step. Before then, I am in whatever room the stairwell location
would have attached itself to. After that, I am in constant motion,
going either up or down. The fact that I am moving up or down suggests
to me that I am not in a "real" location, but in one of those little
lines between boxes in a text adventure map. The fact that I can set
foot on the stair from the room next to the stairwell suggests to me
that I can already start going "up" or "down" from that room, and the
stairwell as a separate location is superfluous.

I think I could only accept the implementation of a stairwell if:
1) fire stairs - there is a door separating the stairs from the rest of
the plan.
2) junction - there is more than one room (other than the one above)
adjoining the stairwell location. Probably the best reason for a
separate stairwell location.
3) intrigue - there is a reason for isolating the stairs, and that is
that strange and interesting things must happen there, quite apart from
the rest of the map.

> > Example of completely useless and annoying locations: "Hallway
Outside
> > Dining Room", from Infocom's "Suspect".
>
> But a house like that would have a hallway there. You need these
types of
> locations for believability and realism.

Not in this case. "Hallway Outside Dining Room" had two exits: North to
the Dining Room, and South to ... Hallway Outside Ballroom. Hallway
outside Ballroom had three exits: North and South to Hallways, and East
to the Ballroom. You see how the Hallway Outside Dining Room doesn't
serve a purpose? Much easier to go directly into the Dining room by
going north from the Hallway outside Ballroom. It's not a question of
implementing something that has to be there for believability and
realism; that thing is already there, and it's a question of dividing
that one natural element into two or more unnatural and unnecessary
bits.

In any case, the Suspect house is pretty ridiculous anyway, at least
around the ballroom area. No-one in their right mind builds a house
where the ballroom is between all the stairs (and therefore the sleeping
areas) and the kitchen and dining room (eating areas). Ballrooms are
specifically "special occasion" rooms that are only used once in a
while. This sort of layout is only going to cause inconvenience in the
mornings (greater distance to walk from bed to breakfast), higher
utility bills (may have to heat a huge unused space) and a sense of
useless "why am I here" isolation in the dining room when experiencing
it through IF.

Michael Gentry

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Dec 11, 1999, 3:00:00 AM12/11/99
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It sort of depends on what you mean by "atmosphere" and/or "wholeness," but
in general, this is a bad idea. Say you stick a few extra rooms into your
forest, to make it seem "bigger." By the time you're done, you've got a
bloated, redundant map with lots of very similar room descriptions, which is
disappointing to explore and irritating to have to navigate through
afterward.

The ideal room description should be able to convey a sense of atmosphere
and wholeness on its own merit. If you need a second room after that, you're
probably either spreading yourself too thin or being redundant.

Go back and play "Curses," which has a big, sprawling map with many rooms.
Read each room description carefully, and think about what it contributes to
the overall map, and to the overall game. Are any of those rooms really
"extra?" Could any of those rooms be eliminated without losing anything more
than a bit of atmosphere?

In a well-designed game, each location should contribute something unique,
both to the geography of the space you are trying to create and to the
gameplay that you want the player to experience.

My two verdigreasy pennies.

-M.


BrenBarn <bren...@aol.comRemove> wrote in message
news:19991209195123...@ng-fm1.aol.com...

Jesse Burneko

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Dec 11, 1999, 3:00:00 AM12/11/99
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On Sat, 11 Dec 1999, Miseri wrote:

> To explain: Unless a stairwell also happens to be an isolated fire
> stair, I don't "experience" the stairwell until I place my foot on the
> first step.

> 1) fire stairs - there is a door separating the stairs from the rest of
> the plan.

Well in Blair and Kirby and indeed in all the residence halls at the
college where these buildings exist the stair wells were of this nature.
You passed through a set of exterior doors into the stairwells then you
ascended or decended to the floor of your choice and then you passed
through another door into the hallway that was connected to the rooms.

I think the stairwells everyone keeps imagining are the kind that are
attached directly to one room and exist directly onto another room. That
isn't the case in either Blair or Kirby.

Jesse


TenthStone

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Dec 16, 1999, 3:00:00 AM12/16/99
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On Sat, 11 Dec 1999 14:40:47 GMT, Miseri <odd...@openface.ca> wrote:
>I think I could only accept the implementation of a stairwell if:
>1) fire stairs - there is a door separating the stairs from the rest of
>the plan.
>2) junction - there is more than one room (other than the one above)
>adjoining the stairwell location. Probably the best reason for a
>separate stairwell location.
>3) intrigue - there is a reason for isolating the stairs, and that is
>that strange and interesting things must happen there, quite apart from
>the rest of the map.

Well, also
4) the possibility of intrigue - the nature of the work requires it.
For instance, if I were searching a house for a hidden passage,
letting me search the stairwell would be a good idea, even if
the passage ultimately turned up in the den.

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

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