On not finishing.

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d...@pobox.com

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Nov 20, 2006, 7:00:50 AM11/20/06
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I played 36 entries in the comp (all the english entries that ran on OS
X except for 2). Including Beam.

I found it really difficult to finish the games, either through lack of
time, boredom, or frustration. I finished 5 (A Broken Man, Hedge, The
Apocalypse Clock, Madam Spider's Web, Möbius). Technically I finished
Legion and Primrose Path too but in both cases with endings that I knew
weren't supposed to fully satisfy me. Floatpoint I very nearly
finished (I think) and perhaps might have if it hadn't been for time
that I spent investigating the hideous bug; I reached a point of
sufficient closure that I was satisifed in any case.

The games that I finished definitely had something positive that the
others did not. A feeling of closure. I'm pretty sure that my
impressions of those finished games were better for that feeling of
closure too. Perhaps this is why many people seem keen to reach for
the walkthrough. Personally I regard a walkthrough as cheating so I
tend to only use it as a last resort. If I'm stuck then I'm as likely
to score the game on what I've seen and move on the next, I'll only use
a walkthrough if the author has given me enough goodies already that I
think it might be worth cheating just to see what else they have done.

Can we have more finishable games please? Your scores will be better
for it.

drj

Joshua Houk

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Nov 20, 2006, 9:07:46 AM11/20/06
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On Nov 20, 4:00 am, d...@pobox.com wrote:

> The games that I finished definitely had something positive that the
> others did not. A feeling of closure. I'm pretty sure that my
> impressions of those finished games were better for that feeling of
> closure too. Perhaps this is why many people seem keen to reach for
> the walkthrough.

Nah. Personally, I reach for the walkthrough - when needed - because I
want to rate the game based on the whole game, not on what happened
prior to some possibly arbitrary stopping point. If spend an inordinate
time on a puzzle, I'll check the walkthrough, and I'll judge whether
the solution is a reasonable one or not. (Usually, of course, it is.) I
understand the straight edge philosophy of not using them, but under a
two hour time limitation, I think that walkthroughs are the lesser sin.

> Can we have more finishable games please? Your scores will be better
> for it.

Um. When you say you didn't finish 30+ of the games due to "lack of
time, boredom, or frustration," perhaps you're addressing the question
to the wrong party.

-jh

d...@pobox.com

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Nov 20, 2006, 9:42:13 AM11/20/06
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Heh. Good point. :)

When I said lack of time I meant the 2 hour rule. Several games that I
would definitely like to finish at the "proper" pace bumped into the 2
hour limit. The games that I did finish I didn't penalise for being
short (one entry I completed in about 35 minutes and scored it 7 with
no further investigation). I guess what I'm really saying is that I
think more games would do better (as in score better) to ensure that a
typical player can finish them in 2 hours, as opposed to making sure
that there is at least 2 hours of content for everyone (which seems to
be the attitude of some). I think you can reasonably satisfy both
goals, but I didn't see much emphasis on the former. I suspect the
fact that many people rely on walkthroughs makes authors a bit lazy in
this regard. They know that if someone wants to see the whole thing in
two hours then they always can by using a walkthrough.

I don't think there's much to be done about me being bored. That's
just one of things about deciding to judge all those games. I can be
easily distracted into scoring this game and starting another one.

Frustration, however is "easily" solved. Simply make the puzzles
easier. No, easier than that. No, really, easier than that even. My
limited experience of game design tells me that the designer's "really
easy puzzle" is the player's "very difficult puzzle". It's just so
hard to judge the difficulty of things when your life has been
designing them for the past 3 months. A long break definitely helps,
but may be infeasible to arrange. I think it's completely reasonable
for competition entries to have easier puzzles than non-comp games. In
this regard I was particularly impressed by Tales of the Traveling
Swordsman, especially the first part.

drj

TheR...@gmail.com

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Nov 20, 2006, 11:44:21 AM11/20/06
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There are numerous things that can turn a puzzle the designer thinks is
simple into a maddening exercise for everybody else.

Most notorious would be "Guess-the-Verb" syndrome and its evil little
cousin "Guess-the-Noun". Any time you use a verb outside of the typical
IF repertoire, you risk GTV'ing the puzzle. Ways to alleviate the
problem are hinting at the verb in text associated with the puzzle, or
better still, making it a defined ability, mentioning it in the ABOUT
text with an explanation. Probably the best way is simply to rewrite
the puzzle so the regular pantheon of verbs is all that's required.

Another one would be assuming the player will know the same things and
make the same connections as the game's author, something that GTV and
GTN are ultimately symptoms of (although not the only possible ones). I
seem to remember a fairly egregious example in a fairly inexplicable
game by the name of "Toho Academy" which at one point confronts its
protagonist (quite possibly the only furry in all of published IF) with
a legion of miniature blue monsters. The game, unsurprisingly, does not
recognize any of the words in the monsters' description, and even those
familiar with 1980's cartoons are unlikely to leap to the Waynesian
conclusion that only the word "smurfs" will apply.

d...@pobox.com

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Nov 20, 2006, 11:50:38 AM11/20/06
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On Nov 20, 4:44 pm, TheRyu...@gmail.com wrote:
> game by the name of "Toho Academy" which at one point confronts its
> protagonist (quite possibly the only furry in all of published IF)

Carmen Devine (the protagonist in Carmen Devine: Supernatural
Troubleshooter) is furry. In at least one of her forms. I refuse to
believe that that entry into the competition doubles the number of
furry IF protagonists. Surely we're simply not well read enough?

drj

Mike Snyder

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Nov 20, 2006, 11:55:19 AM11/20/06
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<d...@pobox.com> wrote in message
news:1164041438.5...@b28g2000cwb.googlegroups.com...

I gathered he meant a "furry" protagonist, which has other connotations
altogether. As I understand it (and "understanding" probably being too
strong a word), this involves sexual fetishes while dressed as and behaving
like furry animals (cats, etc).

Then again, maybe he just mean a furry protagonist.

--- Mike.


d...@pobox.com

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Nov 20, 2006, 12:08:18 PM11/20/06
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On Nov 20, 4:55 pm, "Mike Snyder" <w...@prowler-pro.com> wrote:
> <d...@pobox.com> wrote in messagenews:1164041438.5...@b28g2000cwb.googlegroups.com...


>
>
>
> > On Nov 20, 4:44 pm, TheRyu...@gmail.com wrote:
> >> game by the name of "Toho Academy" which at one point confronts its
> >> protagonist (quite possibly the only furry in all of published IF)
>
> > Carmen Devine (the protagonist in Carmen Devine: Supernatural
> > Troubleshooter) is furry. In at least one of her forms. I refuse to
> > believe that that entry into the competition doubles the number of
> > furry IF protagonists. Surely we're simply not well read enough?
> I gathered he meant a "furry" protagonist, which has other connotations
> altogether. As I understand it (and "understanding" probably being too
> strong a word), this involves sexual fetishes while dressed as and behaving
> like furry animals (cats, etc).

You're right. A closer reading supports your theory. I had
automatically interpolated a "one" after "furry" in my reading. Must
be reading all that ungrammatical text in the competition entries that
makes me do that.

drj

Adam Thornton

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Nov 20, 2006, 1:02:05 PM11/20/06
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In article <1164041061....@m7g2000cwm.googlegroups.com>,

<TheR...@gmail.com> wrote:
>I
>seem to remember a fairly egregious example in a fairly inexplicable
>game by the name of "Toho Academy" which at one point confronts its
>protagonist (quite possibly the only furry in all of published IF) with
>a legion of miniature blue monsters.

It is, perhaps, arguable that Space Moose is a furry.

Of sorts.

Adam

TheR...@gmail.com

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Nov 20, 2006, 3:14:30 PM11/20/06
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The connotation I was aiming for was "anthropomorphic animal
protagonist", though I keep forgetting that "furry" can refer
to...well, a person. >_> (Though seeing how the game had
some..._questionable_ content, the alternate definition might very well
apply to the author.)

I haven't played Carmen Devine yet, but IIRC, the character is a
werewolf, which doesn't really count unless the character also has a
lupine appearance even in human form (or a human appearance even in
lupine form). Though now that I think of it, the teddy bear from A
Bear's Night Out might count.

And...Space Moose? o_O

Emily Short

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Nov 20, 2006, 3:40:07 PM11/20/06
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See also:

-- cat protagonists ("Day for Soft Food")
-- dog protagonists ("Ralph", "Woof")

and perhaps

-- lemming protagonists ("Larry the Lemming's Urge for Extinction").
Note: I haven't played this one, so maybe the lemming is not the PC, in
fact. It's amazing what you can find on Baf's Guide, though.

Chickens aren't really furry, and neither are dinosaurs, but both have
been represented extensively in minicomp entries.

quic...@quickfur.ath.cx

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Nov 20, 2006, 4:34:02 PM11/20/06
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On Mon, Nov 20, 2006 at 06:42:13AM -0800, d...@pobox.com wrote:
>
> On Nov 20, 2:07 pm, "Joshua Houk" <jlh...@gmail.com> wrote:
> > On Nov 20, 4:00 am, d...@pobox.com wrote:
> >
> > > The games that I finished definitely had something positive that
> > > the others did not. A feeling of closure. I'm pretty sure that
> > > my impressions of those finished games were better for that
> > > feeling of closure too. Perhaps this is why many people seem keen
> > > to reach for the walkthrough.
> > Nah. Personally, I reach for the walkthrough - when needed - because
> > I want to rate the game based on the whole game, not on what
> > happened prior to some possibly arbitrary stopping point. If spend
> > an inordinate time on a puzzle, I'll check the walkthrough, and I'll
> > judge whether the solution is a reasonable one or not. (Usually, of
> > course, it is.) I understand the straight edge philosophy of not
> > using them, but under a two hour time limitation, I think that
> > walkthroughs are the lesser sin.

Agreed here.


> > > Can we have more finishable games please? Your scores will be
> > > better for it.

I didn't find too many unfinishable games. But then again, I did resort
to in-game hints when time was starting to get short.


[...]


> I guess what I'm really saying is that I think more games would do
> better (as in score better) to ensure that a typical player can finish
> them in 2 hours, as opposed to making sure that there is at least 2
> hours of content for everyone (which seems to be the attitude of
> some).

What is a "typical player"?


> I think you can reasonably satisfy both goals, but I didn't see much
> emphasis on the former. I suspect the fact that many people rely on
> walkthroughs makes authors a bit lazy in this regard. They know that
> if someone wants to see the whole thing in two hours then they always
> can by using a walkthrough.

Well, just for the record, the entries for which I had to resort to a
walkthrough due to unreasonably hard/under-clued puzzles were penalized
for it. However, the competition rules do NOT disallow longer games; the
judge just has to make a decision at the 2-hour mark and continue if he
wishes. This is, of course, risky for the author, since some judges are
obviously unhappy at overly long games. :-)


[...]


> Frustration, however is "easily" solved. Simply make the puzzles
> easier. No, easier than that. No, really, easier than that even. My
> limited experience of game design tells me that the designer's "really
> easy puzzle" is the player's "very difficult puzzle". It's just so
> hard to judge the difficulty of things when your life has been
> designing them for the past 3 months. A long break definitely helps,
> but may be infeasible to arrange.

The solution is to listen to your betatesters' feedback.


> I think it's completely reasonable for competition entries to have
> easier puzzles than non-comp games. In this regard I was particularly
> impressed by Tales of the Traveling Swordsman, especially the first
> part.

[...]

Hmm. I found TTS to have some annoying underclued puzzles. (E.g. the
spider fight. The fight itself was cool enough to warrant bonus points,
but the guess-the-verb-like puzzle to win the battle is a bit annoying.)

The problem, really, is that some puzzles are easier to some people but
hard for others, and it's really hard to judge what's a good balance. A
math-oriented geek like myself has only a slight difficulty at solving
the puzzles in Labyrinth, for example, but I can't imagine they would
solvable within 2 hours for someone who is uninterested in geometry or
logic.


QF

--
When solving a problem, take care that you do not become part of the problem.

Mike Snyder

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Nov 20, 2006, 5:01:28 PM11/20/06
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<quic...@quickfur.ath.cx> wrote in message
news:20061120223536.GD11570@crystal...

>> I think it's completely reasonable for competition entries to have
>> easier puzzles than non-comp games. In this regard I was particularly
>> impressed by Tales of the Traveling Swordsman, especially the first
>> part.
> [...]
>
> Hmm. I found TTS to have some annoying underclued puzzles. (E.g. the
> spider fight. The fight itself was cool enough to warrant bonus points,
> but the guess-the-verb-like puzzle to win the battle is a bit annoying.)

(spoilers below)

It's more like "guess the noun", as the same set of verbs (I think) continue
to work. The game gives players a chance to figure it out for a couple turns
(which, of course, is unlikely), and then it gradually starts hinting,
leading up to just handing out the answer. I think this worked for many
(most?) judges, because the first two spiders already conditioned them to
keep attacking. You'd get stuck, I think, only if the result of attacking
convinced you to stop trying (in which case you'd never even see the extra
clues). From what I could tell in beta-testing, it worked pretty well.
Players would get into the moment, attack it, think "why's *this* spider so
tough?" and try a couple more times, and see the hints. There are several
puzzles that answer themselves the same way -- giving the pendant to the
girl at the end of Part 1 comes to mind (which is also clued a couple other
ways, prior to the confrontation).

Puzzle difficulty is really subjective, I realize. All I can say is that I
tried -- and tried *hard* -- to make sure that nobody could get stuck in TTS
for very long. I wanted two hours of content and progress, not two hours of
trying to figure out a single solution to a single puzzle. Going by the
comments I've read from judges where the puzzles were just right (or nearly
just right), and from the beta phase (where most of my testers got through
most of the puzzles without even the benefit of a not-yet-in-existence
walkthrough), I'm inclined to think the TTS puzzles are just about the
difficulty (being relatively easy) that I had hoped. I can't think of any
where I would really like to make changes, except maybe the battle with the
tyrant (and there, it would mainly be just to introduce a need and a *use*
for those actions earlier).

I guess what I'm saying is, I'm more satisfied with the puzzles in TTS than
the puzzles in Distress -- and it won last year's XYZZY for best puzzles. :)
Even so, the puzzles in Distress are probably more *interesting* than the
puzzles in TTS.

---- Mike.


Gregory Weir

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Nov 20, 2006, 6:17:20 PM11/20/06
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Mike Snyder wrote:
> I gathered he meant a "furry" protagonist, which has other connotations
> altogether. As I understand it (and "understanding" probably being too
> strong a word), this involves sexual fetishes while dressed as and behaving
> like furry animals (cats, etc).

Not necessarily sexual fetishes. From what I understand, "furry" in
its simplest form means someone who is a fan of anthropomorphic
(animal) art. This often comes with a fetishization of the subject,
just as many scifi or fantasy fans fetishize their interests...
although it seems more common among the furry subculture.

Many furries also attach spiritual significance to the culture,
believing in a sort of shamanism where they have an animal soul or are
otherwise mystically linked to an animal.

But I'm getting off-topic, and in an area of which I have only
tangential knowledge.

kate-...@hotmail.com

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Nov 20, 2006, 7:08:05 PM11/20/06
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Adam Thornton wrote:
> It is, perhaps, arguable that Space Moose is a furry.
>
> Of sorts.


I was kind of thinking of Gregor Samsa and the picture of the lady with
the fur muff.

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