Walkthroughs - are we really trying to solve puzzles?

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Alpha

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Aug 24, 2000, 3:00:00 AM8/24/00
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Hi folks,

I am wondering if walkthroughs spoil Interactive fiction...

I know we all get stuck sometimes at a certain point in an adventure and we
look up clues but after looking at the clue I often by accident read the
next puzzle clue my accident!

Thus spoiling the game somewhat!!

The whole point of interactive fiction is to problem solve yourself and the
enjoyment is the reward of solving the puzzles!

Your thoughts people!

Alpha


J. Robinson Wheeler

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Aug 24, 2000, 3:00:00 AM8/24/00
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Alpha wrote:

> I know we all get stuck sometimes at a certain point in an adventure and we
> look up clues but after looking at the clue I often by accident read the
> next puzzle clue my accident!
>
> Thus spoiling the game somewhat!!
>
> The whole point of interactive fiction is to problem solve yourself and the
> enjoyment is the reward of solving the puzzles!
>
> Your thoughts people!

Well!

Let me think about this!

I think that, in general, walkthroughs are evil last-resorts that are
guaranteed to kill your enjoyment of the game even if you're careful about
reading them!

Because what happens is, you can never just take one look at a walkthrough
-- the next puzzle you get to, you end up going to the walkthrough that much
sooner, instead of really trying to solve it -- and eventually, you end up
just typing it in instead of getting any satisfaction out of the challenge!

I know this doesn't add much to what you already said, but those are my
thoughts!


--
J. Robinson Wheeler! http://thekroneexperiment.com
whe...@jump.net Coming Soon

M. St. Bernard

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Aug 24, 2000, 3:00:00 AM8/24/00
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"J. Robinson Wheeler" wrote:
>
> Because what happens is, you can never just take one look at a walkthrough
> -- the next puzzle you get to, you end up going to the walkthrough that much
> sooner, instead of really trying to solve it -- and eventually, you end up
> just typing it in instead of getting any satisfaction out of the challenge!

Could be, and that will -- I think -- legitimately spoil the
experience. And I've done this myself.
But have you ever gotten completely stuck, and fruitlessly struggled
for weeks, drawn diagrams, resorted to metaphysics, screamed, felt
stupid, and finally consulted the walkthrough...only to say afterward,
"holy cow, what an dumb puzzle! I would NEVER have figured that out!"
This has certainly happened to me. Some puzzles are extremely poorly
designed, or they are designed in a way that's counterintuitive to me,
and no amount of creative thinking on my part will solve them.
If, afterwards, I realize I was missing something logical or obvious,
then I will regret consulting a walkthrough. And sadly, that happens as
well. :-)

Muffy.

Adam Cadre

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Aug 24, 2000, 3:00:00 AM8/24/00
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> I am wondering if walkthroughs spoil Interactive fiction...

Not for me. What spoils interactive fiction is not being able to make
progress. Walkthroughs *prevent* spoilage.

> The whole point of interactive fiction is to problem solve yourself
> and the enjoyment is the reward of solving the puzzles!

Not for me. What I enjoy is an interesting, well-written story, and
getting fun responses to anything I try. My preferred method of playing
IF is to follow a walkthrough, occasionally deviating from it to see
what happens if I knock over a vase, kiss my sidekick, drink the
hydrochloric acid, etc. But I don't find problem-solving to be very
entertaining. If I did I'd pass the time taking trig tests.

-----
Adam Cadre, Sammamish, WA
web site: http://adamcadre.ac
novel: http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0060195584/adamcadreac

Mark Musante - Sun Microsystems

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Aug 24, 2000, 3:00:00 AM8/24/00
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Adam Cadre (a...@adamcadre.ac) wrote:
> > I am wondering if walkthroughs spoil Interactive fiction...
>
> Not for me. What spoils interactive fiction is not being able to make
> progress. Walkthroughs *prevent* spoilage.
>
> > The whole point of interactive fiction is to problem solve yourself
> > and the enjoyment is the reward of solving the puzzles!
>
> Not for me. What I enjoy is an interesting, well-written story, and
> getting fun responses to anything I try. My preferred method of playing
> IF is to follow a walkthrough, occasionally deviating from it to see
> what happens if I knock over a vase, kiss my sidekick, drink the
> hydrochloric acid, etc. But I don't find problem-solving to be very
> entertaining. If I did I'd pass the time taking trig tests.

And there you have both sides of the coin: story and puzzles.

As an author, you have to be aware that if you weight your game heavily
towards story, you're going to put off those of us who like solving
puzzles. And if you weight your game heavily towards puzzles, you're
going to put off those of us who want a good story.

However, as Adam points out, a walkthrough allows those who prefer
story IF to enjoy puzzle IF.

So the answer is obvious: make a game with a good story, throw in some
devious puzzles, tack on a walkthrough (or some other means of bypassing
parts where players could get stuck), and your game will be enjoyed
by all.


-=- Mark -=-

ical...@my-deja.com

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Aug 24, 2000, 3:00:00 AM8/24/00
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> > The whole point of interactive fiction is to problem solve yourself
> > and the enjoyment is the reward of solving the puzzles!

In article <39A514...@adamcadre.ac>,
re...@adamcadre.ac wrote:

> Not for me. What I enjoy is an interesting, well-written story, and
> getting fun responses to anything I try. My preferred method of
> playing IF is to follow a walkthrough, occasionally deviating from it
> to see what happens if I knock over a vase, kiss my sidekick, drink
> the hydrochloric acid, etc. But I don't find problem-solving to be
> very entertaining. If I did I'd pass the time taking trig tests.

Amen.

irene


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

Ryan Franklin

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Aug 24, 2000, 3:00:00 AM8/24/00
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Alpha <Alph...@care4free.net> wrote:
> The whole point of interactive fiction is to problem solve yourself and the
> enjoyment is the reward of solving the puzzles!

God, I hope that's not the whole point of interactive fiction.

--
hint: walkthroughs spoil _your_ game, they don't spoil _everyone's_
ry...@cobweb.scarymonsters.net


Joshua Wise

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Aug 24, 2000, 3:00:00 AM8/24/00
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"Ryan Franklin" <ry...@cobweb.scarymonsters.net> wrote in message
news:39a5...@cobweb.scarymonsters.net...

> Alpha <Alph...@care4free.net> wrote:
> > The whole point of interactive fiction is to problem solve yourself and
the
> > enjoyment is the reward of solving the puzzles!
>
> God, I hope that's not the whole point of interactive fiction.

I would say that IF, in its youth, was just this, puzzle solving. No one
can tell me that the fisrt 3 Zorks had any cohesive story line, they were
puzzle fests. And, for many people, the ZORK trillogy IS IF. IF is
defined, in many people's minds as just that. However, with the advent of
the "Pure Story" challenge: "Let's see how well we can make IF a story and
put as few, if any puzzles in at all", IF has become defined differently for
others. The kind of IF Adam Cadre writes/likes, "story" IF is much
different than the Blanc/Lebling IF.

When dealing with "Cadre" IF, some people may find that puzzles are an
unnecessary stumbling block in the way of the story. Others, when playing
the Blanc/Lebling IF might find a detaild plot to be distracting.

There are obviously uncountable shades of gray between these two extremes.

Concerning walkthroughs, however, I assume that the Blanc/Lebling players
should be slow to pick one up (unless, as stated, the puzzles are simply
badly written), and the Cadre players should feel very comfortable using
them as a tool to further a story.

My humble thoughts,
Josh

Vincent Lynch

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Aug 24, 2000, 3:00:00 AM8/24/00
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Ryan Franklin <ry...@cobweb.scarymonsters.net> wrote:
> Alpha <Alph...@care4free.net> wrote:
>> The whole point of interactive fiction is to problem solve yourself and the
>> enjoyment is the reward of solving the puzzles!
> God, I hope that's not the whole point of interactive fiction.

It's the whole point of _some_ interactive fiction!

> hint: walkthroughs spoil _your_ game, they don't spoil _everyone's_

I tend to think that if a game requires you to use a walkthrough, it's badly
designed.

(I originally wrote about five pages of ranting about game design at this
point, but I suspect it wasn't very interesting.)

-Vincent

BrenBarn

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Aug 24, 2000, 3:00:00 AM8/24/00
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>I am wondering if walkthroughs spoil Interactive fiction...
I think that's a decision you have to make for yourself.

>The whole point of interactive fiction is to problem solve yourself and the
>enjoyment is the reward of solving the puzzles!

This a subjective statement. It is not true for me, personally, and so
its possible it may not be true for others. If you don't want to use
walkthroughs, don't use them :-); I think it's impossible to make any sort of
catch-all statement about what's "good" or "bad" about walkthroughs.

--BrenBarn (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

Ryan Franklin

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Aug 24, 2000, 3:00:00 AM8/24/00
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Joshua Wise <yesu...@earthlink.net> wrote:
> When dealing with "Cadre" IF, some people may find that puzzles are an
> unnecessary stumbling block in the way of the story. Others, when playing
> the Blanc/Lebling IF might find a detaild plot to be distracting.
>
> There are obviously uncountable shades of gray between these two extremes.

A good point. It's kinda neat, though, if you look back at the
Invisiclues for the Zorks, to see that they really cater to the kind of
mindset that likes story. (The Invisiclues were often amusing and
contained completely superfluous information, some of which I still
remember to this day.) And clearly, one of the major points of providing
the Invisiclues was because there are a lot of people who are willing to
bang their brains against a puzzle for only so long and not a minute
longer. So they targeted the hint books to appeal to both story fiends
and impatient puzzle-solvers.

I freely admit to being one of those people. Sure, I feel good when I
solve a puzzle ("I AM A GENIUS! BEHOLD MY MIGHTY GIANT BRANE!"), but I
wouldn't want to just sit down and do puzzles all night. I want a story,
and part of making the story entertaining is maintaining an appropriate
pace. If a puzzle comes up that I can't figure out in a timely fashion, I
don't want to keep coming back to it every night for four weeks until
inspiration hits; I'm willing to have a walkthrough tell me the answer so
I can move on. (Getting a larger reward--the fun of seeing the game in
its entirety at a comfortable pace--for less effort seems like a better
deal than getting the smaller reward of stroking my ego by solving a
puzzle on my own even though it means I have to sit there, stumped, for
days on end.)

This is probably why I liked _A Mind Forever Voyaging_ so much. ;-)

--
look ma, it's all story!
ry...@cobweb.scarymonsters.net

kevin and emma

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Aug 24, 2000, 3:00:00 AM8/24/00
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hi, i guess it depends on your point of view. if you refer to a walkthrough
immediately you come across a puzzle, then i would say it does spoil the
game and (only my opinion) it begs the question, why "play" the game at all
if your only going to follow the walkthrough? however, personally, i try and
solve a puzzle in every way i can think of, then i leave the game for a
while, come back, try again, and if i've had no luck, then i look for hints
or a walkthrough to help. as for reading the next solution etc, that is
surely a case of applying self control. certainly as a novice gamer, it is
frustrating to be stuck permanently at a puzzle and if this happens in
several games, you do tend to think "what's the big deal with these games?".
i am speaking as a novice here and have encountered these thoughts myself. i
do try and solve the puzzle as exhaustively as i possibly can before looking
for help. sorry for my rambling here!
cheers
kevin
"Alpha" <Alph...@care4free.net> wrote in message
news:8o2lpd$3sf$1...@lure.pipex.net...
> Hi folks,

>
> I am wondering if walkthroughs spoil Interactive fiction...
>
> I know we all get stuck sometimes at a certain point in an adventure and
we
> look up clues but after looking at the clue I often by accident read the
> next puzzle clue my accident!
>
> Thus spoiling the game somewhat!!
>
> The whole point of interactive fiction is to problem solve yourself and
the
> enjoyment is the reward of solving the puzzles!
>
> Your thoughts people!
>
> Alpha
>
>
>
>
>

kevin and emma

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Aug 24, 2000, 3:00:00 AM8/24/00
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i agree upto a point. i enjoy a logical puzzle were the solution is gettable
by thinking along sensible lines. what i hate are puzzles which are obscure
with totally unnecessary wondering about and the need for repeticious
actions. for example, i found the bell, book and candle puzzle in zork1 a
bit troublesome at first but with a bit of logical thinking, solvable.
whereas, i found the octagonal room thing in ballerina tedious and
unnecessary. okay i know these games are "fiction" but ballerina is set in a
shopping centre, how logical is an octagonal room in a tower with fantasy
like other worlds attached to it?
yes i'm probably not making much sense here (rather like some puzzles!) and
so i'll shut up and go away now as i'm about to post a request for help with
ballerina anyway.
cheers
kevin
"Adam Cadre" <a...@adamcadre.ac> wrote in message
news:39A514...@adamcadre.ac...

> > I am wondering if walkthroughs spoil Interactive fiction...
>
> Not for me. What spoils interactive fiction is not being able to make
> progress. Walkthroughs *prevent* spoilage.
>
> > The whole point of interactive fiction is to problem solve yourself
> > and the enjoyment is the reward of solving the puzzles!
>
> Not for me. What I enjoy is an interesting, well-written story, and
> getting fun responses to anything I try. My preferred method of playing
> IF is to follow a walkthrough, occasionally deviating from it to see
> what happens if I knock over a vase, kiss my sidekick, drink the
> hydrochloric acid, etc. But I don't find problem-solving to be very
> entertaining. If I did I'd pass the time taking trig tests.
>

Ross Presser

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Aug 24, 2000, 3:00:00 AM8/24/00
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alt.distingui...@earthlink.net (Joshua
Wise).wrote.posted.offered:

>When dealing with "Cadre" IF, some people may find that puzzles are an
>unnecessary stumbling block in the way of the story.

Apparently Mr. Wise has not played "Varicella".
--
Ross Presser * ross_p...@imtek.com
A blank is ya know, like, a tab or a space. A name is like wow! a
sequence of ASCII letters, oh, baby, digits, like, or underscores,
fer shure, beginnin' with a letter or an underscore.

Michael Kinyon

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Aug 24, 2000, 3:00:00 AM8/24/00
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kevin (of kevin and emma) wrote:
[snip]

> ...as for reading the next solution etc, that is


> surely a case of applying self control.

Well, yes and no. Many walkthroughs are rather badly written,
and unless one has complete tunnel vision, one may not be able
to avoid reading a bit ahead of where one really wants help.

It is interesting that although there exist various essays "out there"
about designing and writing games (and even about playtesting,
which is my own domain), there seems to be little discussion about
the art of writing a walkthrough. Any takers?

Cheers,
MK
******
Michael Kinyon
Dept. of Mathematics & Computer Science
Indiana University South Bend
South Bend, IN 46634 USA
email: mki...@iusb.edu
www: http://www.iusb.edu/~mkinyon

kar...@fermi2.chem.yale.edu

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Aug 24, 2000, 3:00:00 AM8/24/00
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Adam Cadre <a...@adamcadre.ac> wrote:
>> I am wondering if walkthroughs spoil Interactive fiction...

> Not for me. What spoils interactive fiction is not being able to make
> progress. Walkthroughs *prevent* spoilage.

I think the poster meant spoil in the sense of spoiler. Kind of.

> But I don't find problem-solving to be very
> entertaining. If I did I'd pass the time taking trig tests.

Obviously spoken by someone who was never on a math team. I *did* pass the
time taking trig tests, many moons ago. How embarrassing! Good thing I've
grown up, so that now I can pass the time reading Obfuscated Perl or
coding up an ASCII implementation of Solitaire.

-Amir

J.D. Berry

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Aug 24, 2000, 3:00:00 AM8/24/00
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In article <39A584DD...@iusb.edu>,

mki...@iusb.edu wrote:
>
> It is interesting that although there exist various essays "out there"
> about designing and writing games (and even about playtesting,
> which is my own domain), there seems to be little discussion about
> the art of writing a walkthrough. Any takers?
>

Interesting that you mention this. The recent discussion on Invisiclues
got me to thinking about how to write an effective walkthrough on paper.
If I finish my game for the Comp, I hope to have an example for
discussion.

Jim

Joshua Wise

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Aug 24, 2000, 3:00:00 AM8/24/00
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"Michael Kinyon" <mki...@iusb.edu> wrote in message
news:39A584DD...@iusb.edu...

> kevin (of kevin and emma) wrote:
> [snip]
>
> > ...as for reading the next solution etc, that is
> > surely a case of applying self control.
>
> Well, yes and no. Many walkthroughs are rather badly written,
> and unless one has complete tunnel vision, one may not be able
> to avoid reading a bit ahead of where one really wants help.
>
> It is interesting that although there exist various essays "out there"
> about designing and writing games (and even about playtesting,
> which is my own domain), there seems to be little discussion about
> the art of writing a walkthrough. Any takers?

It seems to me that with the simple use of HTML, one could create a quick
hint system/walkthrough for a game. I did a very small example of this on
my webpage for Deephome
http://www.angelfire.com/nj2/Yesuslave/help.htm

There should be a way of creating a small program that a person can download
that will give them a comprehensive hint system/walkthrough for a game. In
fact isn't there a program out there called the Universal Hint System?
Couldn't we use this, or implement something similar?

Josh


Joshua Wise

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Aug 24, 2000, 3:00:00 AM8/24/00
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"Ross Presser" <rpre...@NOSPAMimtek.com.invalid> wrote in message
news:8F9A92BC...@209.155.56.90...

> alt.distingui...@earthlink.net (Joshua
> Wise).wrote.posted.offered:
>
> >When dealing with "Cadre" IF, some people may find that puzzles are an
> >unnecessary stumbling block in the way of the story.
>
> Apparently Mr. Wise has not played "Varicella".


Pardon the misnomer then, perhaps instead of "Cadre" style, a more
specifically "fotopian" style might suit my more specific companions. I do
admit to never having played Varicella, being astonishingly particular about
the games I play, not truly based on their own merrits but often on their
subject matter. *shrug* I'm more of a fan of Wossname than I am of A
Change in the Weather, even though I did like Weather fairly well. But this
is all off topic.

I hereby ammend my statement and my misuse of Adam's Good name, and submit
this ammendation to my folly. I unreservedly completely and sincerely
appologize and retract my statement.

The most appologetic
Josh

Kathleen M. Fischer

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Aug 24, 2000, 3:00:00 AM8/24/00
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In article <U0ip5.188$I4....@newsread1.prod.itd.earthlink.net>,
"Joshua Wise" <yesu...@earthlink.net> wrote:

> There should be a way of creating a small program that a person can
download
> that will give them a comprehensive hint system/walkthrough for a
game. In
> fact isn't there a program out there called the Universal Hint System?
> Couldn't we use this, or implement something similar?

Don't know... but I will say that while hint systems and walkthru's are
great for players, they greatly reduce feedback to the author, and
publicity for the game in the form of hint requests to the newsgroups.

Just ask the author of Ballerina about that sometime :) (which, IMHO,
has the best in-game help systems I've ever seen, hence you rarely see
comments about the game in this group even though the puzzles are
obscenely difficult (again, in IMO) Great game though! Run out and play
it if you haven't.)

Kathleen

--
-- The Cove - Best of Landscape, Interactive Fiction Art Show 2000
-- ftp://ftp.gmd.de/if-archive/games/zcode/Cove.z5
--
-- Excuse me while I dance a little jig of despair

Michael Kinyon

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Aug 24, 2000, 3:00:00 AM8/24/00
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Joshua Wise wrote:

> "Michael Kinyon" <mki...@iusb.edu> wrote in message
> news:39A584DD...@iusb.edu...

[snip]

> > It is interesting that although there exist various essays "out there"

> > about designing and writing games (and even about playtesting,
> > which is my own domain), there seems to be little discussion about
> > the art of writing a walkthrough. Any takers?

[snip]

> There should be a way of creating a small program that a person can download
> that will give them a comprehensive hint system/walkthrough for a game. In
> fact isn't there a program out there called the Universal Hint System?
> Couldn't we use this, or implement something similar?

Sure. The UHS can be found at
http://www.uhs-hints.com/
It's a pretty good system. Or as you say, there are various other ways
of building such things.

However, I was not really talking about the mechanics of
constructing a hint system or a walkthrough. I was really addressing
more the "art" (ha!) of writing one of these. And in fact, to split hairs
even further, I was really just talking about walkthroughs, which was
the topic about which the Original Poster At The Top Of This Thread
was attempting to provoke all of us.

Implicit in your follow-up, though, is a good point. Hint systems tend to
be written by the original authors of a game, and if they give enough
spoilers, they preempt walkthroughs. Walkthroughs are generally
(though certainly not always) written by some zealous player.

OK, I have an idea:

**** Walkthrough Comp ***

Your entry should be a walkthrough for a nonexistent game.
(Cf. Stanislaw Lem's _Perfect Vacuum_) You will be judged
on the quality of your writing by some arcane voting procedure.

I am starting to really like the idea. However, it is a little too close
to the real comp right now, and besides, authors are probably too
busy with Toaster Comp. So let's wait a bit and try it.

Adam J. Thornton

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Aug 24, 2000, 11:31:35 PM8/24/00
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In article <39A5B321...@iusb.edu>,

Michael Kinyon <mki...@iusb.edu> wrote:
>OK, I have an idea:
>**** Walkthrough Comp ***
>Your entry should be a walkthrough for a nonexistent game.
>(Cf. Stanislaw Lem's _Perfect Vacuum_) You will be judged
>on the quality of your writing by some arcane voting procedure.
>
>I am starting to really like the idea. However, it is a little too close
>to the real comp right now, and besides, authors are probably too
>busy with Toaster Comp. So let's wait a bit and try it.

You are most godly, Mr. (Dr.?) K.

And where the hell you been?

Adam
--
ad...@princeton.edu
"My eyes say their prayers to her / Sailors ring her bell / Like a moth
mistakes a light bulb / For the moon and goes to hell." -- Tom Waits

Tina

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Aug 25, 2000, 3:00:00 AM8/25/00
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In article <8o3s5d$rab$1...@wisteria.csv.warwick.ac.uk>,

Vincent Lynch <ma...@mimosa.csv.warwick.ac.uk> wrote:
>I tend to think that if a game requires you to use a walkthrough, it's badly
>designed.

I tend to think that if _I_ need to use a walkthrough (the game never
really makes me do this, you know; maybe you've been playing some tougher
games, the kind that hang out down in Harlem) while it _may_ be because
the puzzle was poorly designed, there's a good chance it's just because I
happen to suck at that type of puzzle.

Carl Muckenhoupt

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Aug 25, 2000, 3:00:00 AM8/25/00
to
It should probably be pointed out - because the people who don't like
puzzles may not realize it - that "LOOK AT MY BIG BRANE" is not the
only satisfaction resulting from solving a really good puzzle. Much
more compelling than pride of accomplishment is the moment of
realization, when all the pieces come together neatly because you're
suddenly thinking about things differently. The effect can leave me
dazzled, not at my own brilliance, but at the brilliance of the
author. And this effect really is diminished by reading the solution
in a walkthrough, in much the same way that having a joke explained to
you isn't funny - the walkthrough enables you to understand the thought
processes that the autor was trying to induce, but that's not the same
as actually experiencing them.

Mind you, I'm only talking about the best puzzles. But those are the
puzzles that keep me interested in puzzle games.

Ross Presser

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Aug 25, 2000, 3:00:00 AM8/25/00
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alt.distingui...@earthlink.net (Joshua
Wise).wrote.posted.offered:

>I unreservedly completely and sincerely appologize and retract my
>statement.

No big deal. I just remembered my own headbanging in Varicella and
thought how humorous it was to think Adam Cadre never tried intense
puzzles. Varicella definitely is a strong story game too, though --
it's no Zork.

Vincent Lynch

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Aug 25, 2000, 3:00:00 AM8/25/00
to

I'm not sure this is entirely separate, though. For a start, I don't think
the speed with which I reach for a walkthrough is just a function of the
difficulty of the puzzle; it depends on whether I feel I'm making any
progress, whether I'm expecting it to have a fair solution, whether there's
another puzzle I can work on at the same time, etc. These are all dependent
on how well the game is designed.

Also, an author isn't doing themselves any favours by putting in puzzles which
stop people from getting to the good bits.

Yes, all of this depends on the player, but that's essentially true for all
aspects of the design.

-Vincent

Vincent Lynch

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Aug 25, 2000, 3:00:00 AM8/25/00
to
Michael Kinyon <mki...@iusb.edu> wrote:
> Implicit in your follow-up, though, is a good point. Hint systems tend to
> be written by the original authors of a game, and if they give enough
> spoilers, they preempt walkthroughs. Walkthroughs are generally
> (though certainly not always) written by some zealous player.

That's a good point. I feel that having a player go to a walkthrough is a
way in which the author loses control. It's not just in that the player may
read something they shouldn't; it takes the player out of the author's world,
and reminds them that the solution is just a series of command inputs.

Whereas a well written set of built-in hints can hopefully keep the player
immersed in the game world, with just the feeling of the author looking over
their shoulder and pointing them in the right direction.

(That probably sounds incredibly pretentious, but I can't think of a better
way to put it right now.)

Then again, I also agree with Kathleen's point about built-in hints, which is
why I generally don't like them either. ;-)

-Vincent

Michael Kinyon

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Aug 25, 2000, 3:00:00 AM8/25/00
to
"Adam J. Thornton" wrote:

> In article <39A5B321...@iusb.edu>,
> Michael Kinyon <mki...@iusb.edu> wrote:
> >OK, I have an idea:
> >**** Walkthrough Comp ***
> >Your entry should be a walkthrough for a nonexistent game.
> >(Cf. Stanislaw Lem's _Perfect Vacuum_) You will be judged
> >on the quality of your writing by some arcane voting procedure.
> >
> >I am starting to really like the idea. However, it is a little too close
> >to the real comp right now, and besides, authors are probably too
> >busy with Toaster Comp. So let's wait a bit and try it.
>
> You are most godly, Mr. (Dr.?) K.

Thank you , Adam, but I'm not quite ready for deification yet. (And yes, it's
Dr.,
but I only require my family to use that title when addressing me.) I knew
that
of all the Old Guard of r.*.i-f, Walkthrough Comp would get your attention.


> And where the hell you been?

Getting on with Real Life, I suppose. I still playtest on request if I can
manage the time, but <LIE>my days of shameless self-promotion as playtester
are but a pleasant memory</LIE>. I have only recently returned to lurking
and now nonlurking in the newsgroups, and so many things you all have been
taking for granted (e.g., the disappearance of Dr. Nelson) have come as
quite a surprise to me. And finally, my nonwork time is taken up with
managing the entertainment and personal plumbing of my three week old son.

Cheers,
MK


Michael Kinyon

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Aug 25, 2000, 3:00:00 AM8/25/00
to
"Kathleen M. Fischer" wrote:

> ...I will say that while hint systems and walkthru's are


> great for players, they greatly reduce feedback to the author, and
> publicity for the game in the form of hint requests to the newsgroups.

My favorite example of this is what happened to _Curses_. There
was no walkthrough for the game for a rather long time, and hint
requests certainly dominated r.g.i-f. After Russ Bryan wrote his
walkthroughs, discussion of _Curses_ dropped nearly to nil.

The irony is that in the weeks preceding his writing of the walkthrough,
Russ had posted somewhat derogatory comments about using hints
when playing games.

Cheers,
MK

BrenBarn

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Aug 25, 2000, 3:00:00 AM8/25/00
to
Michael Kinyon mki...@iusb.edu wrote:
> It is interesting that although there exist various essays "out there"

> about designing and writing games (and even about playtesting,
> which is my own domain), there seems to be little discussion about
> the art of writing a walkthrough. Any takers?

Well, I'd say one way to write a walkthrough, at least for text IF, is to
just provide a script of commands. The player can then feed in these commands
and read the game text, if that's what he wants. Definitely an efficient and
unambiguous method, but somehow I sense you're looking for a more verbose type
of walkthrough.

<and, in a different message>


>**** Walkthrough Comp ***
>
>Your entry should be a walkthrough for a nonexistent game.
>(Cf. Stanislaw Lem's _Perfect Vacuum_) You will be judged
>on the quality of your writing by some arcane voting procedure.

Wow, that idea sounds great. Are we shooting for quality or humor here?
Also, would "transcript" walkthroughs be acceptable? It would be like one side
of a phone conversation, and no one would know what was going on:
>L
>X STRANGE PURPLE CLOUD
>STAB CLOUD WITH IRON ROD
>TIE ROD TO TALL, WARPED CARVING
>JUMP OVER RIVER OF GOO
>GET PECULIAR LOAF. EAT IT.

:-)

BrenBarn

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Aug 25, 2000, 3:00:00 AM8/25/00
to
kar...@fermi2.chem.yale.edu wrote:
>[Adam Cadre wrote:]

>> But I don't find problem-solving to be very
>> entertaining. If I did I'd pass the time taking trig tests.
>
>Obviously spoken by someone who was never on a math team. I *did* pass the
>time taking trig tests, many moons ago. How embarrassing! Good thing I've
>grown up, so that now I can pass the time reading Obfuscated Perl or
>coding up an ASCII implementation of Solitaire.

Amen. I actually spent my lunchtime hours for several weeks creating a
new number system, just for fun.

Even weirder, I don't like puzzly IF!

BrenBarn

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Aug 25, 2000, 3:00:00 AM8/25/00
to
Vincent Lynch ma...@mimosa.csv.warwick.ac.uk wrote:
>For a start, I don't think
>the speed with which I reach for a walkthrough is just a function of the
>difficulty of the puzzle; it depends on whether I feel I'm making any
>progress, whether I'm expecting it to have a fair solution, whether there's
>another puzzle I can work on at the same time, etc. These are all dependent
>on how well the game is designed.

This reminds me of that quote (from zarf, if I recall) that says something
like: "Being stuck is not the state of being unable to solve a puzzle. Being
stuck is the state of *believing* you are unable to solve a puzzle."

I'll go further and say that, if you're basing your judgement of the
puzzle on, as you say "whether I feel I feel I'm making any progress" and
"whether I'm expecting it to have a fair solution", I think you're using
different critera than "how well the game is designed". In other words, how
"well" the game is designed may have zero effect on whether YOU feel you're
making progress.

This is just like the discussion we had over on r.a.i-f on the thread
about winning and losing. Does the game have a "quality" separate from any
player, or does it have a unique quality for each player? But since this
thread is really supposed to be about walkthroughs and puzzles, this is kind of
off topic.

Vincent Lynch

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Aug 25, 2000, 3:00:00 AM8/25/00
to
BrenBarn <bren...@aol.comremove> wrote:
> Vincent Lynch ma...@mimosa.csv.warwick.ac.uk wrote:
>>For a start, I don't think
>>the speed with which I reach for a walkthrough is just a function of the
>>difficulty of the puzzle; it depends on whether I feel I'm making any
>>progress, whether I'm expecting it to have a fair solution, whether there's
>>another puzzle I can work on at the same time, etc. These are all dependent
>>on how well the game is designed.
>
> This reminds me of that quote (from zarf, if I recall) that says something
> like: "Being stuck is not the state of being unable to solve a puzzle. Being
> stuck is the state of *believing* you are unable to solve a puzzle."
>
> I'll go further and say that, if you're basing your judgement of the
> puzzle on, as you say "whether I feel I feel I'm making any progress" and
> "whether I'm expecting it to have a fair solution", I think you're using
> different critera than "how well the game is designed". In other words, how
> "well" the game is designed may have zero effect on whether YOU feel you're
> making progress.
>
> This is just like the discussion we had over on r.a.i-f on the thread
> about winning and losing. Does the game have a "quality" separate from any
> player, or does it have a unique quality for each player? But since this
> thread is really supposed to be about walkthroughs and puzzles, this is
> kind of off topic.

OK, but the point I'm making is that whether or not using a walkthrough is
appropriate doesn't just depend on the player, it depends on the game. Some
games will be completely ruined with a walkthrough, some won't at all, and
it's not always possible, as a player, to tell.

And in some games it may be that most players will go to a walkthrough (due
to a near-impossible first puzzle, or whatever) and the walkthrough will
spoil the game for them. I'd say such games are badly designed.

-Vincent

Michael Kinyon

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Aug 25, 2000, 3:00:00 AM8/25/00
to
BrenBarn wrote:

> Michael Kinyon mki...@iusb.edu wrote:

[snip]

> <and, in a different message>
> >**** Walkthrough Comp ***
> >
> >Your entry should be a walkthrough for a nonexistent game.
> >(Cf. Stanislaw Lem's _Perfect Vacuum_) You will be judged
> >on the quality of your writing by some arcane voting procedure.
>
> Wow, that idea sounds great. Are we shooting for quality or humor here?

Yes.


> Also, would "transcript" walkthroughs be acceptable?

Why not? There seem to be a lot of possibilities. That's what would make
it interesting.

> >L
> >X STRANGE PURPLE CLOUD
> >STAB CLOUD WITH IRON ROD
> >TIE ROD TO TALL, WARPED CARVING
> >JUMP OVER RIVER OF GOO
> >GET PECULIAR LOAF. EAT IT.

>REZROV SKULL
>RESTART

Cheers,
MK

Mike Sousa

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Aug 25, 2000, 3:00:00 AM8/25/00
to
<rambleOn>
>remove author hat
Okay, you're no longer wearing an author hat.

>wear player hat
Okay, you're now wearing the player hat.

I hate resorting to walkthroughs. I'm weak, I admit it. Once I start reading
it, I can't stop. I would prefer to email the author and ask for a direct
nudge, but if the WT is available, I feel obliged to leave the author alone and
download it.

I much prefer in-game hints, but not the kind that show you a menu and lets you
select which one. Remember. I'm weak. I'll take a peek to save time. I have
a family, a job, a make-believe social life, so if the hint is there for the
taking, I reluctantly take it.

Sherbet did a decent job of displaying hints, only showing you menu options to
areas that you've been. An adaptive hint system, I guess that's what you call
it.

I prefer a hint system that nudges you along. <shameless plug>I tried that
with Above and Beyond!, but came up short, for many reasons. </shameless plug>
The problem with that is it can work well for linear games (puzzles) but if you
get to an area that has several puzzles available at the same time, it's quite
difficult to implement. I think there was a recent game that incorporated
this, but the name escapes me.
<rambleOff>

The ideal hint/walkthrough system for me, remember, I'm weak, is one that does
this:
depending on where you are in the game, what you have tried and how many times
you've asked for that hint, the response(s) will go from a gentle nudge to the
full solution.

>remove player hat
Okay, you're no longer wearing the player hat.

>wear author hat
Okay, you're now wearing an author hat.

I guess I'll be working on the hint system of my WIP next.

Alpha wrote:

> Hi folks,


>
> I am wondering if walkthroughs spoil Interactive fiction...
>

> I know we all get stuck sometimes at a certain point in an adventure and we
> look up clues but after looking at the clue I often by accident read the
> next puzzle clue my accident!
>
> Thus spoiling the game somewhat!!
>

> The whole point of interactive fiction is to problem solve yourself and the
> enjoyment is the reward of solving the puzzles!
>

> Your thoughts people!
>
> Alpha


J. Robinson Wheeler

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Aug 25, 2000, 3:00:00 AM8/25/00
to
Michael Kinyon wrote:

> BrenBarn wrote:


>
>> Michael Kinyon wrote:
>>> **** Walkthrough Comp ***
>>>
>>> Your entry should be a walkthrough for a nonexistent game.
>>> (Cf. Stanislaw Lem's _Perfect Vacuum_) You will be judged
>>> on the quality of your writing by some arcane voting procedure.
>>
>> Wow, that idea sounds great. Are we shooting for quality or humor here?

>> Also, would "transcript" walkthroughs be acceptable?
>
> Why not? There seem to be a lot of possibilities. That's what would make
> it interesting.


Hmmmmm. This is how "Four in One" got started, as a walkthrough transcript
for a nonexistent Marx Brothers game. Then one day I woke up thinking I knew
how to actually write the game.

Be careful what you create, it may come back to honk you.


--
J. Robinson Wheeler http://thekroneexperiment.com
whe...@jump.net

Alpha

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Aug 25, 2000, 3:00:00 AM8/25/00
to

"Michael Kinyon" <mki...@iusb.edu> wrote in message
news:39A5B321...@iusb.edu...

I was really just talking about walkthroughs, which was
> the topic about which the Original Poster At The Top Of This Thread
> was attempting to provoke all of us.
>
<snipped>

Hi folks,

My original posting was just to ask you all for your thoughts on
walkthroughs whether or not they spoil interactive fiction.

I was most interested to read that some people find them useful, some find
them as I do a distraction, and some just like them for the enjoyment of the
storyline without the need to solve ANY clues.

I am a veteran of adventures and I remember many a late night tapping away
on my commodore 64 keyboard all those years ago :)
I remember one clue that I'll give as an example; remember Infocom's
hitch-hikers guide to the galaxy and the Babel fish?

Boy was that puzzle baffling!!! I spent many a time banging my head on a
wall with that one!
But I still remember the pure enjoyment when I DID solve the puzzle. I felt
like a million bucks!!

Walkthroughs are useful only if you have tried everything you can think of
and should ONLY be used as a last resort!! :)

Regards,

Alpha


BrenBarn

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Aug 25, 2000, 10:08:41 PM8/25/00
to
>OK, but the point I'm making is that whether or not using a walkthrough is
>appropriate doesn't just depend on the player, it depends on the game. Some
>games will be completely ruined with a walkthrough, some won't at all, and
>it's not always possible, as a player, to tell.

Hmmm. I see what you're saying, but its tough to think of a solution.
Because it doesn't depend just on the game either; it's a combination of game
and player. But -- hmm, I have a little Descartes-type argument coming up
after these messages. . .

>And in some games it may be that most players will go to a walkthrough (due
>to a near-impossible first puzzle, or whatever) and the walkthrough will
>spoil the game for them. I'd say such games are badly designed.

Okay, how about this. . . If you play the game for the first time and use
a walkthrough (either from the beginning or after a certain point), you
experience the game a certain way. Had you played it for the first time
without the walkthrough, you'd have experienced it differently. But if you
play the game a second time, without using the walkthrough, you have a third,
still different experience.

Now, what I'd call "spoiling" is when the first case (1st time, with
walkthrough) is "better" -- whatever that means to you -- than the second (1st
time, no walkthrough). But you can't play a game for the first time twice. So
how can you know whether the game was spoiled? All you can really do is
suspect -- either by comparing the part of the game you played with the
walkthough to the part you played without, or by using your own instincts --
that it would have been better without the walkthrough.

And now, leaving that strange tack, I'll say that MY opinion is that the
player's definition of -- aw, heck, I'm about to repeat myself. I'll leave it
at that for now, and maybe when I've thought about it for awhile, I'll be able
to finish this concept off.

BrenBarn

unread,
Aug 25, 2000, 10:10:55 PM8/25/00
to
>> Wow, that idea sounds great. Are we shooting for quality or humor
>here?
>
>Yes.

Oh. THAT kind of humor. :-)

Adam J. Thornton

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Aug 25, 2000, 11:38:12 PM8/25/00
to
In article <B5CC4F63.21CD%whe...@jump.net>,

J. Robinson Wheeler <whe...@jump.net> wrote:
>Be careful what you create, it may come back to honk you.

In the immortal words of Stiffy Makane, HONK HONK!

Adam J. Thornton

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Aug 25, 2000, 11:34:32 PM8/25/00
to
In article <39A68171...@iusb.edu>,
Michael Kinyon <mki...@iusb.edu> wrote:

>Thank you , Adam, but I'm not quite ready for deification yet. (And yes, it's
>Dr.,
>but I only require my family to use that title when addressing me.) I knew
>that
>of all the Old Guard of r.*.i-f, Walkthrough Comp would get your attention.

Why me? Why me, Lord?

>And finally, my nonwork time is taken up with
>managing the entertainment and personal plumbing of my three week old son.

Congratulations!

Adam J. Thornton

unread,
Aug 25, 2000, 11:37:31 PM8/25/00
to
In article <20000825112133...@ng-bg1.aol.com>,

BrenBarn <bren...@aol.comRemove> wrote:
>Also, would "transcript" walkthroughs be acceptable? It would be like one side
>of a phone conversation, and no one would know what was going on:
>>L
>>X STRANGE PURPLE CLOUD
>>STAB CLOUD WITH IRON ROD
>>TIE ROD TO TALL, WARPED CARVING
>>JUMP OVER RIVER OF GOO
>>GET PECULIAR LOAF. EAT IT.

More like

>X CLOUD
>PURPLE
>STRANGE PURPLE
>STAB IT WITH ROD
>IRON
>TIE IRON ROD TO CARVING
>TALL
>TALL WARPED
>JUMP OVER RIVER
>GOO
>GET LOAF
>PECULIAR
>EAT IT

Of course, in older versions of TADS, you'd doubtless end up with
"Which peculiar loaf do you mean, the peculiar loaf or the peculiar
loaf?"

Gene Wirchenko

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Aug 26, 2000, 12:55:00 AM8/26/00
to
bren...@aol.comRemove (BrenBarn) wrote:

>Vincent Lynch ma...@mimosa.csv.warwick.ac.uk wrote:
>>For a start, I don't think
>>the speed with which I reach for a walkthrough is just a function of the
>>difficulty of the puzzle; it depends on whether I feel I'm making any
>>progress, whether I'm expecting it to have a fair solution, whether there's
>>another puzzle I can work on at the same time, etc. These are all dependent
>>on how well the game is designed.
>
> This reminds me of that quote (from zarf, if I recall) that says something
>like: "Being stuck is not the state of being unable to solve a puzzle. Being
>stuck is the state of *believing* you are unable to solve a puzzle."

Someone used it as a sig. I collect sigs. Therefore:

'"Stuck" is not a state of being unable to solve a puzzle. "Stuck" is
a state of *believing* that you are unable to solve a puzzle.'
- Andrew "Zarf" Plotkin, waxing philosophical again

Andrew made an excellent point.

> I'll go further and say that, if you're basing your judgement of the
>puzzle on, as you say "whether I feel I feel I'm making any progress" and
>"whether I'm expecting it to have a fair solution", I think you're using
>different critera than "how well the game is designed". In other words, how
>"well" the game is designed may have zero effect on whether YOU feel you're
>making progress.

The above plus I have gone to a walkthrough or checked the source
code where I've begun to suspect a bug or misdesign. In one game, to
move in the subway, you pressed a button. The button was not in the
room description and was not a separately described item. I don't
like games that require that I "read author's mind".

> This is just like the discussion we had over on r.a.i-f on the thread
>about winning and losing. Does the game have a "quality" separate from any
>player, or does it have a unique quality for each player? But since this
>thread is really supposed to be about walkthroughs and puzzles, this is kind of
>off topic.

Probably both. How much of one vs. the other would depend on the
game.

Sincerely,

Gene Wirchenko

Computerese Irregular Verb Conjugation:
I have preferences.
You have biases.
He/She has prejudices.

Chris M.

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Aug 26, 2000, 1:28:15 AM8/26/00
to
On 25 Aug 2000 15:21:33 GMT, bren...@aol.comRemove (BrenBarn) wrote:

>Michael Kinyon mki...@iusb.edu wrote:
>> It is interesting that although there exist various essays "out there"
>
>> about designing and writing games (and even about playtesting,
>> which is my own domain), there seems to be little discussion about
>> the art of writing a walkthrough. Any takers?
>
> Well, I'd say one way to write a walkthrough, at least for text IF, is to
>just provide a script of commands. The player can then feed in these commands
>and read the game text, if that's what he wants. Definitely an efficient and
>unambiguous method, but somehow I sense you're looking for a more verbose type
>of walkthrough.
>

><and, in a different message>

>>**** Walkthrough Comp ***
>>
>>Your entry should be a walkthrough for a nonexistent game.
>>(Cf. Stanislaw Lem's _Perfect Vacuum_) You will be judged
>>on the quality of your writing by some arcane voting procedure.
>

> Wow, that idea sounds great. Are we shooting for quality or humor here?

>Also, would "transcript" walkthroughs be acceptable? It would be like one side
>of a phone conversation, and no one would know what was going on:
>>L
>>X STRANGE PURPLE CLOUD
>>STAB CLOUD WITH IRON ROD
>>TIE ROD TO TALL, WARPED CARVING
>>JUMP OVER RIVER OF GOO
>>GET PECULIAR LOAF. EAT IT.
>

For a game I just put out into beta, I wounded up doing this to help
the testers, and while doing it, found that I had rooms that didn't
work correctly.

So for me, it was helpful :-)

Chris

Michael Kinyon

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Aug 26, 2000, 3:00:00 AM8/26/00
to
"Adam J. Thornton" wrote:

> In article <39A68171...@iusb.edu>,
> Michael Kinyon <mki...@iusb.edu> wrote:
> >I knew that of all the Old Guard of r.*.i-f, Walkthrough

> >Comp would get your attention.
>
> Why me? Why me, Lord?

Because There Can Be Only One.
Unless we can get a sequel out of it.

MK

Michael Kinyon

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Aug 26, 2000, 3:00:00 AM8/26/00
to
Alpha wrote:

> "Michael Kinyon" <mki...@iusb.edu> wrote in message
> news:39A5B321...@iusb.edu...
> >I was really just talking about walkthroughs, which was
> > the topic about which the Original Poster At The Top Of This Thread
> > was attempting to provoke all of us.

[snip]

> My original posting was just to ask you all for your thoughts on
> walkthroughs whether or not they spoil interactive fiction.
>
> I was most interested to read that some people find them useful, some find
> them as I do a distraction, and some just like them for the enjoyment of the
> storyline without the need to solve ANY clues.

Very good. You have collected the data, and summarized it
quite adequately. Applying Occam's Razor, it follows that the
decision to use or not use a walkthrough--as well as how much
guilt to feel about doing so--is an entirely personal matter.

However, you concluded:

> Walkthroughs are useful only if you have tried everything you can think of
> and should ONLY be used as a last resort!! :)

How fortunate that you included an emoticon (smiley) at the end
of your assertion. It certainly does the job of distracting my
attention away from your obtuseness.

MK

Alpha

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Aug 26, 2000, 3:00:00 AM8/26/00
to

"Michael Kinyon" <mki...@iusb.edu> wrote in message
news:39A7D6ED...@iusb.edu...

> However, you concluded:
>
> > Walkthroughs are useful only if you have tried everything you can think
of
> > and should ONLY be used as a last resort!! :)
>
> How fortunate that you included an emoticon (smiley) at the end
> of your assertion. It certainly does the job of distracting my
> attention away from your obtuseness.

Michael I didn't think I was *being* obtuse! :)

This has become a good thread and the subject about walkthroughs; i.e.. The
pro's and the con's is interesting - so come on, gimme a break eh?

Alpha

Michael Kinyon

unread,
Aug 26, 2000, 3:00:00 AM8/26/00
to
Alpha wrote:

Actually, I do owe you the benefit of the doubt. After all,
if it were not for your original post and the subsequent discussion,
I would not have had the idea for Walkthrough Comp.
So I gladly extend an olive branch in your direction.

And for what it's worth, I did indeed need a nudge to solve the
very last piece of the Babelfish puzzle in _HHGTTG_. However,
I didn't feel too guilty. I was too busy laughing.

Cheers,
MK

Alpha

unread,
Aug 26, 2000, 3:00:00 AM8/26/00
to

"Michael Kinyon" <mki...@iusb.edu> wrote in message
news:39A7D6ED...@iusb.edu...
> However, you concluded:
>
> > Walkthroughs are useful only if you have tried everything you can think
of
> > and should ONLY be used as a last resort!! :)
>
> How fortunate that you included an emoticon (smiley) at the end
> of your assertion. It certainly does the job of distracting my
> attention away from your obtuseness.

Michael I didn't think I was *being* obtuse! :)

This has become a good thread and the subject about walkthroughs; i.e.. The
pro's and the con's is interesting - so come on, gimme a break eh?

Alpha

Alpha

unread,
Aug 26, 2000, 3:00:00 AM8/26/00
to

"Michael Kinyon" <mki...@iusb.edu> wrote in message
news:39A82793...@iusb.edu...

> Alpha wrote:
> > This has become a good thread and the subject about walkthroughs; i.e..
The
> > pro's and the con's is interesting - so come on, gimme a break eh?
>
> Actually, I do owe you the benefit of the doubt. After all,
> if it were not for your original post and the subsequent discussion,
> I would not have had the idea for Walkthrough Comp.
> So I gladly extend an olive branch in your direction.

As in Level 9's "Lords of Time" when the vikings give you an olive branch?
:))

Thanks, gratefully received!


>
> And for what it's worth, I did indeed need a nudge to solve the
> very last piece of the Babelfish puzzle in _HHGTTG_. However,
> I didn't feel too guilty. I was too busy laughing.

Yup, has to be Infocom's funniest next to Leather Goddesses :)

Keep on adventuring!

Regards,

Alpha

Tina

unread,
Aug 26, 2000, 9:53:10 PM8/26/00
to
In article <8o5ts2$eac$1...@wisteria.csv.warwick.ac.uk>,
Vincent Lynch <ma...@mimosa.csv.warwick.ac.uk> wrote:

>Tina <ti...@eniac.stanford.edu> wrote:
>> I tend to think that if _I_ need to use a walkthrough (the game never
>> really makes me do this, you know; maybe you've been playing some tougher
>> games, the kind that hang out down in Harlem) while it _may_ be because
>> the puzzle was poorly designed, there's a good chance it's just because I
>> happen to suck at that type of puzzle.
>
>I'm not sure this is entirely separate, though. For a start, I don't think

>the speed with which I reach for a walkthrough is just a function of the
>difficulty of the puzzle; it depends on whether I feel I'm making any
>progress, whether I'm expecting it to have a fair solution, whether there's
>another puzzle I can work on at the same time, etc. These are all dependent
>on how well the game is designed.

Okay, so maybe I'm reading this wrong, but it sounds to me like what
you're saying is that if you have to reach for a walk-through it is
entirely, 100%, always and completely the author's fault for poor design.
It couldn't possibly be really good design that just happens to include an
area of weakness of yours.

Or am I missing something?

I just don't think 'needing to hit a walkthrough' and 'bad game design'
are inextricably linked. In fact, I'm quite sure of it. It is a rare,
rare, rare game in which I do not need to consult hints or a walkthrough
a few times, which if I were using that standard (as I've interpreted it)
would mean I have absolutely never seen a well-designed game, which of
course is not the case. The case is, I happen to tend to be very bad at
certain types of puzzles (and, alternately, very good at certain types
that drive other people mad), and it's an entirely individual thing.

Of course, it -may- be because it was poorly designed -- information
necessary to solve the puzzle (or items required) may be difficult to
come by, or possibly the actions needed to solve the puzzle are so
bizarre that most people would never think of them, and in that case I
would agree that it's poor design. But I don't think that's always what
it means.

>Also, an author isn't doing themselves any favours by putting in puzzles which
>stop people from getting to the good bits.

I think you misspelled "some people". For an example of just how very
differently people perceive various games, take a look at the middle
scorers of any comp. Some people's 'hard' is other people's 'easy', and
vice versa. So an author may put in a puzzle that he feels is perfectly
straightforward and that his beta testers (since I'm assuming any good
design inherently includes beta testing) found possible to solve, and
then it goes to Joe Player, who is completely stumped by it.

>Yes, all of this depends on the player, but that's essentially true for all
>aspects of the design.

If I need to consult a dictionary while reading a piece of fiction, that
does not make the fiction poorly written even if a specific section is
inaccessible to me without outside help. It just means I ran into
something I don't know. It happens frequently, being that I am not
omniscient, nor is anyone else (except possibly zarf).

Tina

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Aug 26, 2000, 9:56:14 PM8/26/00
to
In article <8o71m8$odq$1...@lure.pipex.net>,

Alpha <Alph...@care4free.net> wrote:
>hitch-hikers guide to the galaxy and the Babel fish?
>
>Boy was that puzzle baffling!!! I spent many a time banging my head on a
>wall with that one!
>But I still remember the pure enjoyment when I DID solve the puzzle. I felt
>like a million bucks!!

To further illustrate the point I made in another post, this seems like
an excellent time to point out that I considered the babel fish puzzle
relatively straightforward and had no difficulty solving it.

Where -I- got stuck in HHTTG was with no tea.

Adam J. Thornton

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Aug 26, 2000, 10:06:10 PM8/26/00
to
In article <39A7D3EF...@iusb.edu>,
Michael Kinyon <mki...@iusb.edu> wrote:

>"Adam J. Thornton" wrote:
>> Why me? Why me, Lord?
>Because There Can Be Only One.
>Unless we can get a sequel out of it.

I'm either flattered or terrified.

J. Robinson Wheeler

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Aug 27, 2000, 3:00:00 AM8/27/00
to
Adam J. Thornton wrote:

>> GET LOAF
>> PECULIAR
>> EAT IT
>
> Of course, in older versions of TADS, you'd doubtless end up with
> "Which peculiar loaf do you mean, the peculiar loaf or the peculiar
> loaf?"

Hm, I must not be using the latest TADS version correctly, because I still
get messages like that coming from my work-in-progress.

BrenBarn

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Aug 27, 2000, 3:00:00 AM8/27/00
to
>The ideal hint/walkthrough system for me, remember, I'm weak, is one that
>does
>this:
>depending on where you are in the game, what you have tried and how many
>times
>you've asked for that hint, the response(s) will go from a gentle nudge to
>the
>full solution.

Well, I guess I'm weak too, because that's what I'd like. Except what I'd
like even more is if it didn't give you a hint per se, but just pushed the game
itself along, perhaps letting it unfold in a different way than it otherwise
would have.

Konnrad / T Taylor

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Aug 27, 2000, 3:00:00 AM8/27/00
to
> But have you ever gotten completely stuck, and fruitlessly struggled
> for weeks, drawn diagrams, resorted to metaphysics, screamed, felt
> stupid, and finally consulted the walkthrough...only to say afterward,
> "holy cow, what an dumb puzzle! I would NEVER have figured that out!"

Dizzy, Prince of the Yolkfolk. Jump off the side of screen while on a cloud that would
logically kill you onto a secret screen where you talk to God.

Arghhhhh!

TOM

Konnrad / T Taylor

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Aug 27, 2000, 3:00:00 AM8/27/00
to
> Not for me. What I enjoy is an interesting, well-written story, and
> getting fun responses to anything I try. My preferred method of playing
> IF is to follow a walkthrough, occasionally deviating from it to see
> what happens if I knock over a vase, kiss my sidekick, drink the
> hydrochloric acid, etc. But I don't find problem-solving to be very
> entertaining. If I did I'd pass the time taking trig tests.

Story is good, good, logical puzzles are good.


Both are good.

TOM

Vincent Lynch

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Aug 27, 2000, 8:38:10 PM8/27/00
to
Tina <ti...@eniac.stanford.edu> wrote in message
news:8o9sa6$8kg$1...@nntp.Stanford.EDU...

> In article <8o5ts2$eac$1...@wisteria.csv.warwick.ac.uk>,
> Vincent Lynch <ma...@mimosa.csv.warwick.ac.uk> wrote:
> >Tina <ti...@eniac.stanford.edu> wrote:
> >> I tend to think that if _I_ need to use a walkthrough (the game never
> >> really makes me do this, you know; maybe you've been playing some
> >> tougher games, the kind that hang out down in Harlem) while it _may_ be
> >> because the puzzle was poorly designed, there's a good chance it's just
> >> because I happen to suck at that type of puzzle.
> >I'm not sure this is entirely separate, though. For a start, I don't
> >think the speed with which I reach for a walkthrough is just a function
> >of the difficulty of the puzzle; it depends on whether I feel I'm making
> >any progress, whether I'm expecting it to have a fair solution, whether
> >there's another puzzle I can work on at the same time, etc. These are
> >all dependent on how well the game is designed.
>
> Okay, so maybe I'm reading this wrong, but it sounds to me like what
> you're saying is that if you have to reach for a walk-through it is
> entirely, 100%, always and completely the author's fault for poor design.

I didn't say that. But of course it's the author's fault! If I'm the one
playing a game, I expect the author to have written it with _me_ in mind;
it's no good the author telling me that it's _my_ fault for not being clever
enough to solve his puzzles, or understand the points he was trying to
convey. A good author will write a game that a large number of people will
enjoy.

> It couldn't possibly be really good design that just happens to include an
> area of weakness of yours.
>
> Or am I missing something?

Perhaps you think I mean that if a game requires me to use a walkthrough,
then it's utterly worthless, and the author has failed entirely. That's not
what I'm trying to say. If I've said "bad design", I mean imperfect design;
and no, I haven't seen many perfectly designed games recently. But I insist
that it's a design issue.

(For instance, I really enjoyed The Mulldoon Legacy, because even though I
found a lot of the puzzles really hard, earlier puzzles had logical
solutions, and the game was open enough that I was rarely left with just one
problem to tackle. It's a huge, difficult game, and I needed help exactly
once, I think. I believe that was due to good design. I don't believe it
was because I happened to be really good at solving Jon's puzzles.)

> >Also, an author isn't doing themselves any favours by putting in puzzles
> >which stop people from getting to the good bits.
> I think you misspelled "some people".

I think you misunderstood. I didn't say _all_ people.

> For an example of just how very
> differently people perceive various games, take a look at the middle
> scorers of any comp. Some people's 'hard' is other people's 'easy', and
> vice versa. So an author may put in a puzzle that he feels is perfectly
> straightforward and that his beta testers (since I'm assuming any good
> design inherently includes beta testing) found possible to solve, and
> then it goes to Joe Player, who is completely stumped by it.

This seems to assume that judges rate games purely according to how
difficult they find them!

> >Yes, all of this depends on the player, but that's essentially true for
> >all aspects of the design.
> If I need to consult a dictionary while reading a piece of fiction, that
> does not make the fiction poorly written even if a specific section is
> inaccessible to me without outside help. It just means I ran into
> something I don't know. It happens frequently, being that I am not
> omniscient, nor is anyone else (except possibly zarf).

I'm not sure how this relates to the point above... But if a piece of
fiction uses words that most of its target audience won't understand (and
it's not the Jabberwocky ;-) then I'd say it's badly written.

Hmmm. I suspect we're not really disagreeing much, except about the way in
which I'm putting things. But I don't subscribe to the view that
_everything_ is dependent on the player.

-Vincent

BrenBarn

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Aug 28, 2000, 12:03:01 AM8/28/00
to
"Vincent Lynch" vincen...@lineone.net wrote:
>If I'm the one
>playing a game, I expect the author to have written it with _me_ in mind;
>it's no good the author telling me that it's _my_ fault for not being clever
>enough to solve his puzzles, or understand the points he was trying to
>convey.

I can't tell if you're joking here or not. If I had written this, I'd
definitely have been joking. But I don't see a smiley or anything, so I fear
you may be serious.

If you're joking: Ha! Don't we all. :-)

If you're not: I don't know what to say. The author may not even know you
exist; how can he possible write a game for you?

>A good author will write a game that a large number of people will
>enjoy.

I don't know about "will". I don't even know what a "good" author is. Is
a game that 1000 people enjoy better than a game that 100 people love
passionately?

>Perhaps you think I mean that if a game requires me to use a walkthrough,
>then it's utterly worthless, and the author has failed entirely. That's not
>what I'm trying to say. If I've said "bad design", I mean imperfect design;
>and no, I haven't seen many perfectly designed games recently. But I insist
>that it's a design issue.

<snip>


>But I don't subscribe to the view that
>_everything_ is dependent on the player.

Do you subscribe to the view that "_everything_" is dependent on the
author? If not, which way do you lean?

>But if a piece of
>fiction uses words that most of its target audience won't understand (and
>it's not the Jabberwocky ;-) then I'd say it's badly written.

Ooooh. I wouldn't say that -- not by a long shot. Of course, you can
think whatever you want, but I think this may be the root of some of the
disagreement on this thread.

Adam J. Thornton

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Aug 28, 2000, 12:53:27 AM8/28/00
to
In article <8oboaf$8qh$1...@newsg1.svr.pol.co.uk>,

Konnrad / T Taylor <t...@stutaylor.SPAMISBAD.freeserve.co.uk> wrote:
> Dizzy, Prince of the Yolkfolk. Jump off the side of screen while on a cloud that would
>logically kill you onto a secret screen where you talk to God.

For real?

I finished Dizzy's Big Adventure *only* with
a) the Game Genie for infinite lives
b) a walkthrough
and
c) leaving the game on overnight, twice, while I got some rest.

I refuse to believe that ANYONE ever finished it without cheating.

LoneCleric

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Aug 28, 2000, 3:00:00 AM8/28/00