The trend in adventure games

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Jonathan Scott Haas

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Sep 27, 1992, 8:38:51 PM9/27/92
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I'm starting this thread to talk about the type of game that seems
to be the norm today. You know the type... big on graphics, big on
disk space, short on puzzles, short on executable commands.

The game that, to me, epitomizes the "modern" adventure game is
Leisure Suit Larry V. I think I can say without fear of contradiction
that it sucks. First off, it's horribly easy. Of course it is. What
do you expect? What kind of complex, challenging, clever puzzles can
exist when the only things you can do are "walk", "talk", and "use"?
(oh yes... and let's not forget "unzip".) Secondly, the thing takes
8 megs. 8 megs! What ever happened to the good ol' days, when fantastically
complex, intricate adventures ran easily on the Commodore 64, with its
feeble 40K (or so) of RAM and its 100K floppy disks? Are the improved
graphics worth it?

You can see the change when you look at the differences between Monkey
Island I and Monkey Island II. For MI II, they improved the graphics
marginally, while reducing the number of commands from 12 to 9,
increasing the number of disks required (going by the Amiga version)
from 4 to 11 (thus making it almost unplayable on my floppy-based
system), substituting gaudy pictures of words for the neat, crisp
font they used in the original, and substituting big, gaudy
pictures of inventory items for the neat, crisp list in the original.
An improvement? Well, I've heard that the puzzles and humor are
better (I haven't finished it yet), but I'm saddened by most of the
changes, especially what's happened to the inventory. Are big pictures
of inventory items better than neat words? Especially when they
make it an absolute necessity to keep the disk with the inventory
pictures in the drive at all time, and slow the game down a lot?

What's happening? Do we, the adventure gaming public, actually prefer
these dinosaurs of graphical adventures to the enjoyable text-based
adventures of our younger days? How much longer will we continue to
shell out our hard-earned money for a $50.00 adventure game, only
to discover that it is trash? I can say one thing for sure: I will never,
never buy another Sierra/Dynamix adventure... and Lucasfilm is pushing
it.

--
__/\__ Jonathan S. Haas | Jake liked his women the way he liked
\ / University of Michigan | his kiwi fruit: sweet yet tart, firm-
/_ _\ posi...@engin.umich.edu | fleshed yet yielding to the touch, and
\/ | covered with short brown fuzzy hair.

Joseph T. Devlin

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Sep 27, 1992, 9:33:51 PM9/27/92
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>I'm starting this thread to talk about the type of game that seems
>to be the norm today. You know the type... big on graphics, big on
>disk space, short on puzzles, short on executable commands.

[Long discussion deleted]

Yeah, I think it's safe to assume that we're all familiar with these
types of games. I've got to agree with Jonathon on this. I can't begin
to express how much enjoyment I got out of the original Infocom games
and even the classics like adventure. When the emphasis was on clever
puzzles and snazzy command interfaces such that you didn't have to blindly
find the completely obscure word that meant "jump" - that's when life
was fun.
All these crazy graphic interfaces are so damn limiting both in the
sense that you're forced to swallow someone else's (cheesy) idea of
what this adventure looks like (same as watching _The Hobbit_ cartoon
instead of reading the book. Who wants to see some schmoe's idea of
what hobbits should look like - I can see them perfectly well in my
mind's eye, thank you) and also the commands then are just too weak.

>What's happening? Do we, the adventure gaming public, actually prefer
>these dinosaurs of graphical adventures to the enjoyable text-based
>adventures of our younger days?

No! Death to these "dinosaurs of graphical adventures"!



> How much longer will we continue to shell out our hard-earned money
> for a $50.00 adventure game, only to discover that it is trash?

Now that's crazy - let your friends buy them and then together discover
they're trash (the games not your friends!).

My $0.02, anyway.

- Joe

*************************************************************************
Joseph Devlin * email: jde...@pollux.usc.edu
University of Southern California *
Department of Computer science * "I spent four loney days in a
Los Angeles, CA 90089 * brown LA haze..." - J.B.
*************************************************************************

Gary L Snethen

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Sep 28, 1992, 1:55:59 AM9/28/92
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In <1a5ndv...@pollux.usc.edu> jde...@pollux.usc.edu (Joseph T. Devlin) writes:


>>I'm starting this thread to talk about the type of game that seems
>>to be the norm today. You know the type... big on graphics, big on
>>disk space, short on puzzles, short on executable commands.

>[Long discussion deleted]

> Yeah, I think it's safe to assume that we're all familiar with these
>types of games. I've got to agree with Jonathon on this. I can't begin
>to express how much enjoyment I got out of the original Infocom games
>and even the classics like adventure. When the emphasis was on clever
>puzzles and snazzy command interfaces such that you didn't have to blindly
>find the completely obscure word that meant "jump" - that's when life
>was fun.


Here here!

I agree [almost] entirely!

Never have a seen a better graphic representation in a game than the one
I envisioned while manipulating the panels of the sliding room in Zork 3, and
no graphic adventure could ever portray me more accurately than Enchanter
and Sorcerer did... (In each of them, I actually interacted with myself!
And the visual portrayal was correct down to the last detail! And the shiver
that ran up my spine could not have come without the incredible animation
that added feature after feature until at last, I could doubt it no more --
I was staring into my own face.)

But these graphic adventures have their place... Few six year-olds will
sit and play text adventures, and fewer yet will be patient enough to deal
with difficult english parsers that won't tolerate flawed English such as
"Give the troll the axe." (This isn't to say that they SHOULD... God forbid
the parsers forgive too many grammatical errors, "l at alumin key" is JUST
right... ;) The graphics and sounds are fun... and the interface, although
cryptic and limiting, is somewhat intuitive, and can get people feeling
comfortable with GUIs... (yes, things can be cryptic and intuitive at the
same time... ;)

These people, who prefer these games, are not our breed. I am a computer
hobbyist... a hacker in the original, unmolested sense. I far prefer
Unix to any other operating system. I prefer DOS, with it's intolerable
limitations to Windows, with its intolerable and intolerably slow limitations.
In fact, as a side note... How many of you wish that Microsoft would make
a command line version of windows so that we could run windows applications
without having to use the program manager or even see the Windows logo?

But there are the others... the new 'generation'... although I feel
silly calling them that... I am only 23. These people prefer mindless
games, with repetitive thinking skills... like 'mine sweeper' and 'tetris'
hours and hours on end, and cannot tolerate having to think. Or the
other group, the strategists... who like complicated simulation software
that has no real goal other than to consume weeks of your life at a time.

I pray we aren't forgotten in this new age of computers... Where common
computer illiterate high school students have humming 486/50s and Quadras
sitting on their desks so that they can 'type a paper once in a while.'

I like Sierra games, and I would not wish any harm befall them. In my mind,
they are quite orthogonal to Infocom's line of games, and could not possibly
replace them... They offer a different appeal to a different side of me.

Well, off to solve Lurking Horror... Thank goodness there are still two or
three Infocoms I haven't solved yet... Someone think up a solution QUICK!

;)

---Xeno

Hey, think I'll use the signature of my 'youth'...

Zorker --I=======-

David Baggett

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Sep 28, 1992, 1:29:14 AM9/28/92
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In article <Wcz-7m#@engin.umich.edu> posi...@engin.umich.edu (Jonathan Scott Haas) writes:
>I'm starting this thread to talk about the type of game that seems
>to be the norm today. You know the type... big on graphics, big on
>disk space, short on puzzles, short on executable commands.

The conventional wisdom (which I don't have any evidence against) is
that people now judge text-oriented games as "primitive computer games"
rather than "sophisticated fiction." Glitz sells very well, and game
designers have to eat. The problem with interactive fiction these days
is a matter of marketing -- there isn't any. There's a small but very
fanatical user base out there; it's just that no mainstream company
wants to be associated with anything but the "cutting edge" of
graphics, sound, virtual reality object oriented artificially
intelligent graphical user interface technology, etc. 1/2 :-)

>What ever happened to the good ol' days, when fantastically
>complex, intricate adventures ran easily on the Commodore 64, with its
>feeble 40K (or so) of RAM and its 100K floppy disks? Are the improved
>graphics worth it?

You can still get interactive fiction; it's just harder to find because
it's no longer mainstream. Not only that but text games have the
potential to be much more complex since we have a lot more memory
available. IF games can now really be novel-sized.

>What's happening? Do we, the adventure gaming public, actually prefer
>these dinosaurs of graphical adventures to the enjoyable text-based
>adventures of our younger days? How much longer will we continue to
>shell out our hard-earned money for a $50.00 adventure game, only
>to discover that it is trash?

You can get shareware text adventures for which the registration fee is
ten dollars (US). Yet the vast majority of people who play them won't
register. (For those of you who are ready to bitch about shareware
authors bitching, please take this as a data point and not an attempt
to make you feel guilty.) Unfortunately, it seems that there are a lot
more people who bemoan the fate of their favorite genre than are
willing to do much to support it. Again, not a criticism, just an
informed observation.

Infocom established many of the basics of the genre, but they left an
unimaginable amount of variation totally unexplored (in many cases
because they were at the limits of 8-bit machines). Things like
intelligent actor planning, text generation, etc. haven't ever been
tried to any great extent, not to mention the whole spectrum of themes
you find in conventional literature that have no current counterparts
in the interactive fiction genre. (For example, there isn't even a
single work of interactive fiction with a tragic hero in it.)

I think tools like TADS make experimentation within the genre much
easier than it was ten years ago, but surprisingly we still aren't
seeing many people produce interactive fiction games. Perhaps such
tools just take a while to catch on.

Dave Baggett
--
d...@ai.mit.edu MIT Artificial Intelligence Laboratory
ADVENTIONS: interactive fiction (text adventures) for the 90's!
d...@ai.mit.edu *** Compu$erve: 76440,2671 *** GEnie: ADVENTIONS

mol...@wkuvx1.bitnet

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Sep 28, 1992, 1:37:12 PM9/28/92
to
In article <28...@life.ai.mit.edu>, d...@lf.ai.mit.edu (David Baggett) writes:
> In article <Wcz-7m#@engin.umich.edu> posi...@engin.umich.edu (Jonathan Scott Haas) writes:
>>I'm starting this thread to talk about the type of game that seems
>>to be the norm today. You know the type... big on graphics, big on
>>disk space, short on puzzles, short on executable commands.

If you don't know the type, just pick up a copy of King's Quest V or
Leisure Suit Larry V. When Sierra got rid of their "parser" they got
rid of 95% of the challenging puzzles. The best game they have done
recently was Conquests of the Longbow, and that gets points for story,
NOT interface or puzzles.

> The conventional wisdom (which I don't have any evidence against) is
> that people now judge text-oriented games as "primitive computer games"
> rather than "sophisticated fiction."

I think that part of what happened was all these incredible Super
Awesome Lookatthisresolutiongeewhizitsincredible VGA adapters came
out, people bought them, and then looked at text adventures and said
"gosh, I have this amazing adapter, I want a game that USES it since I
paid $1000 for it..." and the game companies said, "well, you'll have
to sacrifice plot, puzzles, and interface to have it, but we'll make
it if you'll buy it..." and the public said "Great! Now my computer
and my televsion can be just the same! I'll take 20! The less
actual work my imagination has to do, the happier I am!!!" :-(

>>What ever happened to the good ol' days, when fantastically
>>complex, intricate adventures ran easily on the Commodore 64, with its
>>feeble 40K (or so) of RAM and its 100K floppy disks? Are the improved
>>graphics worth it?

No, no, no, no, and NO. Anyone who disagrees, should become a network
television executive.

> You can get shareware text adventures for which the registration fee is
> ten dollars (US). Yet the vast majority of people who play them won't
> register. (For those of you who are ready to bitch about shareware
> authors bitching, please take this as a data point and not an attempt
> to make you feel guilty.) Unfortunately, it seems that there are a lot
> more people who bemoan the fate of their favorite genre than are
> willing to do much to support it. Again, not a criticism, just an
> informed observation.

One point which seems to have been left out is that one of the best
facets of IF is that you become a character in a computerized novel.
Today's games want you to be a character in a computerized MOVIE. The
whole difference between a novel and a movie is that in the novel, the
screen is inside your mind. It's not a coincidence that movies made
from books are NEVER better than the book, and those who read and
loved the book are always disappointed, because to cram 400 pages of
text into a 2 and 1/2 hour visual display while preserving the
integrity of the book is simply impossible. The same thing has
happened here. Would anyone who has played a game like Zork II enjoy
a new version of the game that used today's new amazing graphics? I
would hate it, because I don't like someone else's vision of what the
characters and scenes should look like. The same thing has happened
here -- we've sacrificed the novels for the movies in computer games,
and it sucks.

> Infocom established many of the basics of the genre, but they left an
> unimaginable amount of variation totally unexplored (in many cases
> because they were at the limits of 8-bit machines). Things like
> intelligent actor planning, text generation, etc. haven't ever been
> tried to any great extent, not to mention the whole spectrum of themes
> you find in conventional literature that have no current counterparts
> in the interactive fiction genre. (For example, there isn't even a
> single work of interactive fiction with a tragic hero in it.)

You might notice that in order to create a game such as you describe,
one would have to be a real author. Today's games are written by
programming whizzes who may or may not be actually able to write.
Companies like Origin that have script teams and programming teams
make the games, but I believe that there are less and less real
WRITERS in the world today.



> I think tools like TADS make experimentation within the genre much
> easier than it was ten years ago, but surprisingly we still aren't
> seeing many people produce interactive fiction games. Perhaps such
> tools just take a while to catch on.

I think that tools like that do make it easier, but I think that the
true problem is that making an IF game is a monumental task, and too
much of today's computer gaming population is more inclined to want
whiz-bang graphics than a REAL game.



> Dave Baggett
> --
> d...@ai.mit.edu MIT Artificial Intelligence Laboratory
> ADVENTIONS: interactive fiction (text adventures) for the 90's!
> d...@ai.mit.edu *** Compu$erve: 76440,2671 *** GEnie: ADVENTIONS

-- M. Sean Molley

Norman St. John Polevaulter

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Sep 28, 1992, 9:23:23 PM9/28/92
to
Be fair, though. Graphical adventures aren't ALL bad. Monkey Island II, for
example, depends on silly sight gags and slick animation/stills for a lot
of what it does. It would certainly lose something transferred from graphics
to all-text. Just like the best text adventures -- Planetfall or Spellbreaker,
say -- would lose their impact blown up to 22 megs of graphics and chrome.
(I can still remember the escape capsule scene and climactic chase from PF,
and the end of Spellbreaker -- full of drama and tension. These would cough
and die as graphics.)

Just as movies of books tend to lose something, books of movies also usually
turn out pretty bad. There's room enough in the universe for both movies and
books.

Of course, the problem in Interactive Fiction Land is that movies have
largely crowded out books, but that's a slightly different topic. (Come to
think of it, there was hardly anyone making text adventures except Infocom,
wasn't there? So once the Big I went belly-up there was nobody to fill the
gap remaining behind. I think that may be the reason for the graphics glut...)

"Two hundredth verse, same as the first!"
[Your blood pressure just went up.] Mark Sachs IS: mbs...@psuvm.psu.edu
DISCLAIMER: If PSU knew I had opinions they'd probably try to charge me for it.

David Librik

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Sep 28, 1992, 8:50:22 PM9/28/92
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mol...@wkuvx1.bitnet writes:

>In article <28...@life.ai.mit.edu>, d...@lf.ai.mit.edu (David Baggett) writes:
>> Infocom established many of the basics of the genre, but they left an
>> unimaginable amount of variation totally unexplored (in many cases
>> because they were at the limits of 8-bit machines). Things like
>> intelligent actor planning, text generation, etc. haven't ever been
>> tried to any great extent, not to mention the whole spectrum of themes
>> you find in conventional literature that have no current counterparts
>> in the interactive fiction genre. (For example, there isn't even a
>> single work of interactive fiction with a tragic hero in it.)

>You might notice that in order to create a game such as you describe,
>one would have to be a real author. Today's games are written by
>programming whizzes who may or may not be actually able to write.
>Companies like Origin that have script teams and programming teams
>make the games, but I believe that there are less and less real
>WRITERS in the world today.

I think this is unfair; there's more to it than that. Creating real
characterization, themes, sub-plots, and suggestions of greater profundity
(both "game depth" and "philosophical depth") is much, much harder in
Adventure games than in stories. Even the best Adventure creation systems
(like TADS) don't make it less than an utter pain in the butt.

If I write a story and want to give a character some psychological depth,
I can choose what she says as the story progresses. But Adventures are
driven by an input-and-response scheme that makes specifying character
behavior difficult. Robert Abernathy the Adventure Wizard (in UU2) is
hardly a figure from Dostoievsky, but I imagine he took a good deal of
code just to circulate around and make random witty comments.

In my TADS game, I wanted Leya (a woman you rescue near the end of the game)
to have some simple behavior patterns: she was bothered by violence -- the
game is full of necessary but unpleasant activities -- though she eventually
becomes somewhat resigned to it. Her responses, and general attitude towards
you (used to determine certain reactions to commands), would be based on a
simple model of "current mindset." Unfortunately, this sort of thing is
near impossible to do in any straightforward way. The techniques of a
writer's craft don't help you any, because Real Writers don't spend their
time trying to come up with algorithms and canned responses for a hundred
unanticipated commands. In the end, I had to fall back on the Old I.F.
Standard, the well-placed comment: a few remarks at appropriate times (i.e.
in response to appropriate actions) sketch out a metal picture for the reader.
(It's a bit like Chinese art: a few perfectly-placed brush strokes have to
take the place of naturalism in representation. You see a few squiggles, but
your mind thinks "distant, inaccessible line of mountains.")

But I don't think a more "pre-fabricated" Adventure development system is
the answer. The good thing about TADS is that it lets you get down and
specify _exactly_ what you want the game to do: that is, you program it.
An Acme "BILD-A-PERZONALITY" kit would only work if it were so constructed
as to let the programmer override any defaults, and still have the expressive
power to describe character behavior. In TADS, at least, it would be nice
to have some way to encapsulate _within the Actors_ their reactions to
"external" events. But what is an "external" event is hard to say ...

- David Librik
lib...@cory.Berkeley.EDU

Gary L Snethen

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Sep 29, 1992, 1:38:22 AM9/29/92
to
In <28...@life.ai.mit.edu> d...@lf.ai.mit.edu (David Baggett) writes:


>in the interactive fiction genre. (For example, there isn't even a
>single work of interactive fiction with a tragic hero in it.)


Hey now! What about Floyd? ;)

---Xeno

Tom Almy

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Sep 29, 1992, 11:15:48 AM9/29/92
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In article <xeno.71...@pv34ad.vincent.iastate.edu> xe...@iastate.edu (Gary L Snethen) writes:

>But these graphic adventures have their place... Few six year-olds will
>sit and play text adventures, and fewer yet will be patient enough to deal
>with difficult english parsers that won't tolerate flawed English such as
>"Give the troll the axe." (This isn't to say that they SHOULD... God forbid
>the parsers forgive too many grammatical errors, "l at alumin key" is JUST
>right... ;)

>I pray we aren't forgotten in this new age of computers... Where common


>computer illiterate high school students have humming 486/50s and Quadras
>sitting on their desks so that they can 'type a paper once in a while.'

I run a BBS which specializes in "text" and has text games online for callers
to play. I've got "mainframe" Zork, a text adventure I wrote, and the Eliza
program. It is incredible to watch people play these -- if you can't spell
you can't get far, and far too many people are lacking in these skills.
Yes, it is easy to see why menu driven games (or any programs for that
matter) are so popular. Why suffer and type when you can just push a button?

--
Tom Almy
to...@sail.labs.tek.com
Standard Disclaimers Apply

Ben Gamble

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Sep 29, 1992, 12:47:49 PM9/29/92
to
In article <mumble> Norman St. John Polevaulter <MBS...@psuvm.psu.edu> writes:
|Be fair, though. Graphical adventures aren't ALL bad.

I agree, especially with regard to Space Quest III, and most
particularly getting into the complex on Pestulon. Watching the
Terminator's footsteps sent chills down my spine.

--
Ben Gamble B0 f- t+ w- g+ k- s- m- e r-v p
gam...@owlnet.rice.edu
Oh ye who go about saying unto each other: "Hello sailor":
Dost thou know the magnitude of thy sin before the gods?

Magnus Olsson

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Sep 29, 1992, 12:40:43 PM9/29/92
to
In article <1992Sep28....@wkuvx1.bitnet> mol...@wkuvx1.bitnet writes:
>In article <28...@life.ai.mit.edu>, d...@lf.ai.mit.edu (David Baggett) writes:
>> Infocom established many of the basics of the genre, but they left an
>> unimaginable amount of variation totally unexplored (in many cases
>> because they were at the limits of 8-bit machines). Things like
>> intelligent actor planning, text generation, etc. haven't ever been
>> tried to any great extent, not to mention the whole spectrum of themes
>> you find in conventional literature that have no current counterparts
>> in the interactive fiction genre. (For example, there isn't even a
>> single work of interactive fiction with a tragic hero in it.)
>
>You might notice that in order to create a game such as you describe,
>one would have to be a real author. Today's games are written by
>programming whizzes who may or may not be actually able to write.
>Companies like Origin that have script teams and programming teams
>make the games, but I believe that there are less and less real
>WRITERS in the world today.

The problem, I think, is not that there aren't any "real" (literary)
writers with the know-how to write interactive fiction, it's rather a
matter of pay-off. I mean, writing a good piece of IF is probably at
least as difficult and takes much more time than writing a full-length
novel. The reward for writing a good novel is much higher than for
writing a good piece of IF, however - even a rather unsuccessful novel
will reach a *lot* more people than will a computer game. Not to
mention, of course, that IF is not an established art form (yet), and
will probably give the writer no recognition whatsoever outside a
rather limited circle of computer geeks.

I've written one adventure game (The Dungeons of Dunjin) and I've got
ideas for at least two more. I haven't written any novels yet, but I've
got a few ideas in that area, too. Considering that I've so far gained
about $150 on Dunjin (it's distributed as shareware), plus some
*extremely* limited recognition on rec.games.misc (the game has been
mentioned twice by people other than myself), I don't think it's very
likely that I'll ever find the time to write another piece of IF. I've
simply got better and more worthwhile uses for my time...

Magnus Olsson | \e+ /_
Dept. of Theoretical Physics | \ Z / q
University of Lund, Sweden | >----<
Internet: mag...@thep.lu.se | / \===== g
Bitnet: THEPMO@SELDC52 | /e- \q

mol...@wkuvx1.bitnet

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Sep 29, 1992, 1:09:55 PM9/29/92
to
In article <librik.7...@cory.Berkeley.EDU>, lib...@cory.Berkeley.EDU (David Librik) writes:
>
(All the things I previously said deleted)

>>make the games, but I believe that there are less and less real
>>WRITERS in the world today.

> I think this is unfair; there's more to it than that. Creating real
> characterization, themes, sub-plots, and suggestions of greater profundity
> (both "game depth" and "philosophical depth") is much, much harder in
> Adventure games than in stories. Even the best Adventure creation systems
> (like TADS) don't make it less than an utter pain in the butt.

I agree, of course, that turning a story into a game is quite a
difficult proposition. In point of fact, when I write an interactive
fiction game, I actually do write the "story" first -- in other words,
I write a story, in which the puzzles and whatnot of the game are
explored by a second-person character (the "you" from those Choose
Your Own Adventure books is an appropriate analogy). Then, I try to
take the story and turn it into a game ... and, inevitably, I lose
more than I get on the PC. However, I contend that today's games
simply do not make the effort. There are exceptions -- when I
mentioned Origin, I was actually trying to compliment them ... in the
Ultima roleplaying games, for example, there is an attempt to bring
depth to some of the recurring characters in the game.



> If I write a story and want to give a character some psychological depth,
> I can choose what she says as the story progresses. But Adventures are
> driven by an input-and-response scheme that makes specifying character
> behavior difficult. Robert Abernathy the Adventure Wizard (in UU2) is
> hardly a figure from Dostoievsky, but I imagine he took a good deal of
> code just to circulate around and make random witty comments.

Sure it takes a lot of code to get an "actor" to bum around and say
things, even at random. The "input-and-response" scheme that drives
text adventures is not necessarily a limitation, however. My view of
an IF game is like a novel, and each time you see the prompt, it's
asking you to turn the page, so to speak, by taking an action.
Whether you take the action the game designer intended or not, is
another question, but too many games consist of characters which are
not "characters" at all, but rather objects which respond to the
player when he addresses them directly, or appear when you try to do
something you shouldn't, and then fade away until you do it again.



> In my TADS game, I wanted Leya (a woman you rescue near the end of the game)
> to have some simple behavior patterns: she was bothered by violence -- the
> game is full of necessary but unpleasant activities -- though she eventually
> becomes somewhat resigned to it. Her responses, and general attitude towards
> you (used to determine certain reactions to commands), would be based on a
> simple model of "current mindset." Unfortunately, this sort of thing is
> near impossible to do in any straightforward way. The techniques of a
> writer's craft don't help you any, because Real Writers don't spend their
> time trying to come up with algorithms and canned responses for a hundred
> unanticipated commands. In the end, I had to fall back on the Old I.F.
> Standard, the well-placed comment: a few remarks at appropriate times (i.e.
> in response to appropriate actions) sketch out a metal picture for the reader.
> (It's a bit like Chinese art: a few perfectly-placed brush strokes have to
> take the place of naturalism in representation. You see a few squiggles, but
> your mind thinks "distant, inaccessible line of mountains.")

I think that we are diverging from the question of plot in adventure
games and difficulty of coding. No, "Real Writers" don't come up with
a billion canned responses for off-the-wall commands. I think that
should be the last stage of developing a game. I write my games,
assuming the player will do one of the more logical items in a range
of possible actions, and write the main text that way. Then, after
it's done, I go back and put in the "fixes" for the cute player who
has to try and put the spinach in the gas tank, or gnaw on the
princess's arm, or whatever. I don't consider those things a part of
the real story; they are supplementary to prevent the game from
crashing and aren't truly a part of the plot. We don't have the
technology to write "artificial people" for characters in IF games,
but at the same time, we can portray them as independent creatures,
who are not waiting on the whim of the PLAYER to give them their
impetus for action. And I agree that making the characters "real" to
the player is more difficult in a game than in a novel, because in a
novel the reader has no impact on the outcome. When the reader of a
novel turns the page, the same text is there no matter what, but the
"next page" of an adventure game is not fixed until the player types
in his commands. The difference is subtle, but very real.



> But I don't think a more "pre-fabricated" Adventure development system is
> the answer. The good thing about TADS is that it lets you get down and
> specify _exactly_ what you want the game to do: that is, you program it.
> An Acme "BILD-A-PERZONALITY" kit would only work if it were so constructed
> as to let the programmer override any defaults, and still have the expressive
> power to describe character behavior. In TADS, at least, it would be nice
> to have some way to encapsulate _within the Actors_ their reactions to
> "external" events. But what is an "external" event is hard to say ...

I haven't used TADS yet, but what I hear is mostly very good things
about it, so I will have to check it out. One of the other adventure
development kits available is called ALAN, and in that language the
programmer specifies "scripts" for each "actor" or character of
importance. Thus, one could write a large number of different
"scripts" for a main character such as you describe and then select on
based on external conditions (did the player do such-and-such). In
fact, the program could contain an internal "value" scale similar to
the suspicion level in Infocom's Border Zone which determined which
script was taken. In Border Zone, the Frobnian inspector was more or
less suspicious of you as a spy depending on conditions like blood on
the floor, suspicious actions, items, etc. and then you were searched
to a degree more or less severe depending on how suspicious he was of
you. Something similar to that could work well with your character --
the more violence she sees, the more she becomes "accustomed" to it,
and her scripts -- which might vary by only a sentence or two -- would
change accordingly for future actions and descriptions.

It's a difficult question, and one which the designers at Infocom
never got to fully answer. I wonder what sort of games they would be
turning out if they were still around, considering today's amazing
PC's, with their tremendous memory and other advantages over the old
8-bit machines? True "novel" characterization may be impossible, but
I believe that the author of an interactive fiction game can give the
player a very real sense of who these other characters are. Indeed,
imagine a game where the PLAYER and his CHARACTER might be diametric
opposites -- the character might have to take actions the player would
never do himself, or the player might want to take a course of action
that the character would be opposed to. A main character who would
never kill or steal, for example, could be a challenge to play. The
story, in this case, might be told from a first-person point of view,
and when the player attempted an "immoral" (from the character's view)
action, respond with something along the lines of "I would never do
such a thing." Just a thought...

> - David Librik
> lib...@cory.Berkeley.EDU

-- M. Sean Molley, CS Department, Western Kentucky University

Doug DeJulio

unread,
Sep 29, 1992, 12:59:53 PM9/29/92
to
In article <Wcz-7m#@engin.umich.edu> posi...@engin.umich.edu (Jonathan Scott Haas) writes:
>I'm starting this thread to talk about the type of game that seems
>to be the norm today. You know the type... big on graphics, big on
>disk space, short on puzzles, short on executable commands.

Fortunately, it's not ALL this way. Have you heard of a company
called Legend? They make true interactive fiction. I have solved two
of their games (Spellcasting 101 and TimeQuest) and played a third
(Spellcasting 201), and from my experience I plan to buy everything
they put out.

The games are billed as graphical text adventures. You get multiple
windows on screen. One has a bunch of icons, one has a map or context
sensitive picture, and one has a series of descriptions and prompts
just like the old Infocoms. There's also digitized sound. The icons
and graphics can be fun, but they're not required to play the game!
Neither are the sounds. In fact, you can from the command line start
up the games so that the "infocom" window takes up the whole screen,
giving a pure text adventure. You can also hit a key to throw the
game into this mode, which I often did when the text descriptions were
big and I didn't want to scroll.

These games are also very long and involved compared to what normally
comes out these days. I would say I had more fun playing "TimeQuest"
than I did playing many original Infocom games. It's a difficult,
involved, historical game with a couple of puzzles so convoluted they
still dazzle me (and I'm still surprised I solved some of them). S101
& S201 are more whimsical, in the nature of Leather Goddesses of
Phobos, but they're also wonderful.

The downside -- as far as I know, the games are only out for the PC at
the moment. They'll run on an 8088 with a CGA card, playing digitized
sounds through the normal PC speaker, but you still need PC
compatibility to run them. If many more of these games come out
though, it may be worth getting a cheapo XT clone to play 'em.
--
Doug DeJulio
dd...@cmu.edu

Tim Pierce

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Sep 29, 1992, 3:43:37 PM9/29/92
to

>I've got "mainframe" Zork, a text adventure I wrote, and the Eliza
>program. It is incredible to watch people play these -- if you can't spell
>you can't get far,

I have a LOT of trouble believing that. Zork will accept a lot of
abbreviations for common verbs and nouns. Most of the things that you
want to type will typically already be displayed on the screen. We're
talking carelessness here.

>Yes, it is easy to see why menu driven games (or any programs for that
>matter) are so popular. Why suffer and type when you can just push a button?

Heaven preserve us.

Get a dictionary and leave it next to your computer. Why encourage
*illiteracy*, for God's sake?

--
____ Tim Pierce / "You are just naive and repressed because
\ / twpi...@unix.amherst.edu / penis envy is here and it's now and it's
\/ (BITnet: TWPIERCE@AMHERST) / all around you." -- Neal C. Wickham

J A Stephen Viggiano

unread,
Sep 29, 1992, 12:08:20 PM9/29/92
to
In article <Wcz-7m#@engin.umich.edu> posi...@engin.umich.edu (Jonathan Scott Haas) writes:
>I'm starting this thread to talk about the type of game that seems
>to be the norm today. You know the type... big on graphics, big on
>disk space, short on puzzles, short on executable commands.
>
>The game that, to me, epitomizes the "modern" adventure game is
>Leisure Suit Larry V. I think I can say without fear of contradiction
>that it sucks. First off, it's horribly easy. Of course it is.

I bought my copy of LSL5 (my only venture into Larryland) and SQ4 from a
16-year old son of a collegue. I had just gotten my copy of the
_Lost_Treasures_ I, and tried to talk him into buying a copy. The dialog went
something like this:

Me: Just think! You get 20 games for the price you paid for LSL5 alone!

Him: Oh, are they like _Planetfall_?

Me: Yes! That's one of the games in the collection!

Him: I've got that one, and I didn't like it. It didn't have any pictures.
It wasn't in color. It didn't have sound.

Me (realizing that I was fighting a loosing battle): Yes, but they make you
THINK! You can use your imagination! GOD WILL LOVE YOU MORE IF YOU
PLAY CHALLENGING, IMAGINATIVE TEXT-ONLY ADVENTURE GAMES!!! :-)

Him: But they don't have graphics, they don't have color, they don't
have sound . . . . [Get the idea?] Listen -- how many disks are in
that _Lost_Treasures_ collection?

Me: Five.

Him: Ha! LSL5 has EIGHT (!) and they're high density disks, filled with
color graphics and sound. The animation . . . .

[At this point I gave up. It was easier to get what I wanted from The Thief
in _Dungeon_.]

Well, I played both games; SQ4 was more of a challenge, and had some
adventure-like features, but, as you said, LSL5 makes a cakewalk look like
a herculean labor. I got stuck precisely once (at the video poker machines),
and was informed that the only way around that chestnut was to "cheat."

To top it all off, the superb built-in digital audio in my Mac IIfx wasn't
good enough for either game. They made a few squawks, and played some music,
but, I was informed, I would need a card from Roland in order to take full
advantage of the digitized sound. The Sierra folks thoughtfully included an
order form in each game, touting a "special price" of a measly $545. Remember
_Castle_Wolfenstein_ on the Apple ][? Didn't need any extra hardware to get
speech out of that game, and in German, no less! (,,Was ist Das?'')

Was this enough? Well, something really got me steamed. The SQ4 game kept
referring to itself as an adventure game, to Roger Wilco (the hero) as an
Adventurer, etc.

Did I enjoy both games? Yes, I did! Will I buy others like them? Yes, I shall!
But, I shall *never* consider them to be adventure games, just entertaining
fluff. That's all they are! And I don't think there's anything wrong with that,
per se. Please, please, PLEASE, just don't call them adventure games!

It's not a trend in adventure games, only a trend in what they're calling
adventure games. The Unkuulian seerees wuz dam guud; runz nyce on an Acme (TM)
Cheezix (TM) kompyuter; and wurthee of the laybell "Advenchoor Gayme" even
bye the moest dye-hard Advenchewoor.

David Baggett

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Sep 29, 1992, 6:09:03 PM9/29/92
to
In article <xeno.71...@pv34ad.vincent.iastate.edu> xe...@iastate.edu (Gary L Snethen) writes:

I was thinking more along the lines of Macbeth. Just because Floyd's
situation is tragic doesn't mean he's a tragic hero. :-)

Norman St. John Polevaulter

unread,
Sep 29, 1992, 9:51:50 PM9/29/92
to
(There may be spoilers for TRINITY in this)

In article <1992Sep29....@wkuvx1.bitnet>, mol...@wkuvx1.bitnet says:
>imagine a game where the PLAYER and his CHARACTER might be diametric
>opposites -- the character might have to take actions the player would
>never do himself, or the player might want to take a course of action
>that the character would be opposed to. A main character who would
>never kill or steal, for example, could be a challenge to play. The
>story, in this case, might be told from a first-person point of view,
>and when the player attempted an "immoral" (from the character's view)
>action, respond with something along the lines of "I would never do
>such a thing." Just a thought...

Mmm... no offense, but I disagree. IMHO, games where you are prevented
from doing something because the CHARACTER of you in the game is squeamish
or too moral or too whatever are all too common -- nearly every IF game
uses this at some point and I find it terribly annoying. For example, in
TRINITY, at one point you're stuck in a cave with a horrible monster and
have to get out. The key to getting out is a tiny hole in the wall. I was
trying to figure out what the hole was, and would try LOOK THROUGH HOLE or
PUT FINGER IN HOLE; the game would reply "You're afraid to do that, because
you might lose your [eye/finger] to something in the hole." Well, big deal!
All things considered (for example, the slavering monster eyeing me hungrily)
one would think it's worth the small risk just to find out what the heck this
hole is supposed to be! (It turns out to be a keyhole, in fact. There was
never any danger at all.)

Of course, this sort of thing isn't applied _consistently_; it might be
more acceptible if it were. But generally speaking, I want this to be ME
in the game, and be able to do anything I want without running up against
mental barriers that don't exist in reality.

Oke S

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Sep 30, 1992, 11:31:52 AM9/30/92
to
In article <BvCMn...@rice.edu> gam...@owlnet.rice.edu (Ben Gamble) writes:
| In article <mumble> Norman St. John Polevaulter <MBS...@psuvm.psu.edu> writes:
| |Be fair, though. Graphical adventures aren't ALL bad.
|
| I agree, especially with regard to Space Quest III, and most
| particularly getting into the complex on Pestulon. Watching the
| Terminator's footsteps sent chills down my spine.

Well I thought SQ3 WAS a bad game. It was far too easy (even for me, and I
admit to being a pretty hopeless player). It seemed to me as if the writers had
written a funny story with the odd puzzle rather than an adventure.

Now if you were to call Manhunter New York or Manhunter San Francisco a good
game I'd agree with you...

--
This signature is copyright 12/6/1992 Simon Oke. All rights reserved. If you
like it and keep a copy for your own use, you owe me $20. Please pass it on
to your friends with all documentation. Email ok...@essex.ac.uk.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------
"Hell's bells!" the machine roared as it plummeted fifteen storeys and
smashed itself to bits on the ground below.

Robert Blumenfeld

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Sep 30, 1992, 11:08:58 AM9/30/92
to
In article <BvCu...@unix.amherst.edu>, twpi...@unix.amherst.edu (Tim Pierce) writes:
|> In article <12...@sail.LABS.TEK.COM> to...@sail.labs.tek.com writes:
|>
|> >I've got "mainframe" Zork, a text adventure I wrote, and the Eliza
|> >program. It is incredible to watch people play these -- if you can't spell
|> >you can't get far,
|>
|> I have a LOT of trouble believing that. Zork will accept a lot of
|> abbreviations for common verbs and nouns. Most of the things that you
|> want to type will typically already be displayed on the screen. We're
|> talking carelessness here.

Abbreviations, yes, but misspellings, no. Try leaving out the second
letter of just about anything, or transposing two letters, and see how
far you get. And although the nouns will be on the screen, it's the
verbs that get things done, and they're not there.

|>
|> >Yes, it is easy to see why menu driven games (or any programs for that
|> >matter) are so popular. Why suffer and type when you can just push a button?
|>
|> Heaven preserve us.
|>
|> Get a dictionary and leave it next to your computer. Why encourage
|> *illiteracy*, for God's sake?

I agree. In fact, I think the motivation of winning the game, or even
of continuing to play, can be a great force in teaching kids how to spell
and how to use the dictionary.


-- Bob

mol...@wkuvx1.bitnet

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Sep 30, 1992, 11:46:53 AM9/30/92
to

That wasn't quite what I meant... I was actually thinking about a
general application of characterization... however, I agree that when
things like that are spottily used in a game, the overall impression
is that the designer didn't really want to write any more text than he
did, so he limited your range of actions. That's annoying, but a fact
of life, it seems.



> Of course, this sort of thing isn't applied _consistently_; it might be
> more acceptible if it were. But generally speaking, I want this to be ME
> in the game, and be able to do anything I want without running up against
> mental barriers that don't exist in reality.

Perhaps you are right... I may be trying to link IF and role-playing
too closely. Mayhap we should go the OTHER way and try and write an
interactive "world" of sorts, where you can try anything you want, as
long as you're willing to pay the consequences. That would be a
monumental task indeed, almost a virtual reality issue.

Possibly the REAL challenge for IF is convincing the player that he
really IS inside the novel, instead of sitting in front of a screen
playing a game. I know that the truly great Infocom games like _A
Mind Forever Voyaging_ gave me a real sense of "presence" in the game.

Then again, games like _Suspended_ force the player to think in a
whole new way. I like that a lot. The debate goes on, but I think
that in either case, the winner of discussions like this is really the
player, because IF designers who think about things like this will
write better games (IMO). Keep up the thread!



> "Two hundredth verse, same as the first!"
> [Your blood pressure just went up.] Mark Sachs IS: mbs...@psuvm.psu.edu
> DISCLAIMER: If PSU knew I had opinions they'd probably try to charge me for it.

-- M. Sean Molley, CS Department, Western Kentucky University

Johan Andersson

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Sep 30, 1992, 12:53:10 PM9/30/92
to
In article <12...@sail.LABS.TEK.COM> to...@sail.LABS.TEK.COM (Tom Almy) writes:

> Why suffer and type when you can just push a button?

Because a GUI gives you all your options up front. This is great in normal
software but utterly boring in an IF game. Natural language at least gives
you an illusion of an unlimited interface.

/Johan

--
Johan Andersson | "You don`t have conversations with microprocessors
Chalmers, Sweden | you tell them what to do, and then you helplessly
Email: | watch the disaster when they take you literally."
d8a...@dtek.chalmers.se | Sah`ot in David Brins "Startide Rising"

Gary L Snethen

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Oct 1, 1992, 4:57:52 AM10/1/92
to
In <14...@chalmers.se> d8a...@dtek.chalmers.se (Johan Andersson) writes:

>In article <12...@sail.LABS.TEK.COM> to...@sail.LABS.TEK.COM (Tom Almy) writes:

>> Why suffer and type when you can just push a button?

>Because a GUI gives you all your options up front. This is great in normal
>software but utterly boring in an IF game. Natural language at least gives
>you an illusion of an unlimited interface.

>/Johan

Perfect... bless you!

That is exactly what I've been trying to put my finger on... The graphical
interfaces restrict you to 'act' on 'object' with 'object'... The generic
verb is what I hate most... There is an implied 'do something with this'
when you click on a character with an object...

If I want to throw a trumpet at a tiger, for example... Instead, you may end
up playing it (but only if that is the 'right' thing to do...) So the game
becomes a "Where's Waldo" adventure where you try to find all the objects
on your current graphic screen and click on them with each of the objects in
your inventory. If you do this on every screen, you are almost guaranteed
to solve the adventure (unless timing is involved).

---Xeno

Robert Blumenfeld

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Oct 1, 1992, 9:43:15 AM10/1/92
to


Try some of the Legend Software stuff (Spellcasting 101, 201;
Timequest). Theirs is a hybrid GUI/text that's quite flexible. It
does give you clues via a menu of objects and verbs, but if you ignore
that side of the screen (which can be turned off completely if you
fear temptation), you're right back in a classic text adventure.
And I can tell you from experience, just clicking on an object usually
doesn't do much more toward solving the puzzles (Timequest has one
which requires at least six separate actions and sub-puzzles) than
letting you know the object is usable.

-- Bob

David Baggett

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Oct 1, 1992, 10:31:26 AM10/1/92
to
In article <1992Sep30....@wkuvx1.bitnet> mol...@wkuvx1.bitnet writes:
> Mayhap we should go the OTHER way and try and write an
>interactive "world" of sorts, where you can try anything you want, as
>long as you're willing to pay the consequences. That would be a
>monumental task indeed, almost a virtual reality issue.

"Mayhap?" :-)

The problem with the "virtual reality" idea is that the game would be
hideously boring because it would have no plot. If the author has a
plot (or plots) s/he will by definition end up forcing some
situations. The idea that a game in which you could "just do anything
you wanted" would be fun (or computationally feasible) is totally
unrealistic. (For one thing, it's an "AI-complete" problem, in that
we'd need to "solve AI" to do it.)

If the game designer plots the game at all, you won't be able to do
"just anything," and sometimes this means you might get some lame
excuse from the program, e.g., "Gosh, the forest is just *too* thick to
allow travel in any direction but north and south." But this isn't a
bad thing -- it's just a not-so-subtle hint that you won't be following
the plot (i.e., making progress through the story) if you do what
you're trying to do. (One could argue that you should be able to
read a novel backwards and get a different story, but the fact that
the pages are numbered in a particular order is a not-so-subtle hint
that you wouldn't get much out of reading them in the wrong order. Yet
we don't complain about this!)

To think that this kind of constraint can be done away with is to
misunderstand the fundamental elements of the genre, IMHO, which are
the same as they are in traditional fiction: plot, characterization,
setting, theme, climax, etc..

>Then again, games like _Suspended_ force the player to think in a
>whole new way.

And *that's* the potential of the genre: exploration of themes that are
tremendously difficult in traditional fiction. Consider an IF game
(work?) written from the standpoint of a retarded person. I.e., you
control or "are" someone with a decidedly different view of the world.
Attempts to explore this within the confines of conventional fiction
tend to be very difficult to follow (e.g., Faulkner's _The Sound and
the Fury_), but could perhaps be clearer in an interactive setting. As
always, the limitation with IF is that we've barely made a dent in
solving the central problem: making machines that can *reason* about
some (potentially artificial) environment.

mol...@wkuvx1.bitnet

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Oct 1, 1992, 3:37:08 PM10/1/92
to
In article <28...@life.ai.mit.edu>, d...@case.ai.mit.edu (David Baggett) writes:
> In article <1992Sep30....@wkuvx1.bitnet> mol...@wkuvx1.bitnet writes:
>> Mayhap we should go the OTHER way and try and write an
>>interactive "world" of sorts, where you can try anything you want, as
>>long as you're willing to pay the consequences. That would be a
>>monumental task indeed, almost a virtual reality issue.

> "Mayhap?" :-)

Hey, now, let's not get personal here... :-)

> The problem with the "virtual reality" idea is that the game would be
> hideously boring because it would have no plot. If the author has a
> plot (or plots) s/he will by definition end up forcing some
> situations. The idea that a game in which you could "just do anything
> you wanted" would be fun (or computationally feasible) is totally
> unrealistic. (For one thing, it's an "AI-complete" problem, in that
> we'd need to "solve AI" to do it.)

That wasn't quite the point... I was merely taking the statement made
by a poster that he wanted to "do whatever he wanted" and taking it to
its logical extension. I would say that the "world" has a plot --
each of us is faced with a million and one different "puzzles" each
day, and we solve them (or not) in any of a billion ways. I'm not
recommending that in a computer game, since we get more than enough of
it out of real life... which is why we play the games in the first
place.

> If the game designer plots the game at all, you won't be able to do
> "just anything," and sometimes this means you might get some lame
> excuse from the program, e.g., "Gosh, the forest is just *too* thick to
> allow travel in any direction but north and south." But this isn't a
> bad thing -- it's just a not-so-subtle hint that you won't be following
> the plot (i.e., making progress through the story) if you do what
> you're trying to do. (One could argue that you should be able to
> read a novel backwards and get a different story, but the fact that
> the pages are numbered in a particular order is a not-so-subtle hint
> that you wouldn't get much out of reading them in the wrong order. Yet
> we don't complain about this!)

I agree, but once again the parallel between a novel and an IF game is
close but not exact -- in the novel you are restricted completely to
the next page. In a good IF game, there is an overriding plot, yes,
but having to bop from point A to point B to point C to... with no
possible variations leads to a kind of linear stagnation. Flexibility
is the key here; if you recall some of the old Infocom propaganda,
they harped that their games were never the same story for two people,
because each person would approach the story in a different manner.
Obviously, there has to be a plot, else there is no game; however,
that plot need not be rigidly defined, forcing the player to crawl
down a tunnel until he gets to the end where BINGO! everything is
resolved in one fiery burst of textual glory.

> To think that this kind of constraint can be done away with is to
> misunderstand the fundamental elements of the genre, IMHO, which are
> the same as they are in traditional fiction: plot, characterization,
> setting, theme, climax, etc..

You are right, but they have to be implemented in a slightly different
way. The trick is to get the player into the plot and keep him moving
along without him realizing that you're "herding" him from place to
place -- so that after the game is finished, he can sit back with
satisfaction that HE did all the work, NOT the game itself.

>>Then again, games like _Suspended_ force the player to think in a
>>whole new way.
>
> And *that's* the potential of the genre: exploration of themes that are
> tremendously difficult in traditional fiction. Consider an IF game
> (work?) written from the standpoint of a retarded person. I.e., you
> control or "are" someone with a decidedly different view of the world.
> Attempts to explore this within the confines of conventional fiction
> tend to be very difficult to follow (e.g., Faulkner's _The Sound and
> the Fury_), but could perhaps be clearer in an interactive setting. As
> always, the limitation with IF is that we've barely made a dent in
> solving the central problem: making machines that can *reason* about
> some (potentially artificial) environment.

The machine doesn't necessarily have to reason; the PLAYER does. The
machine has to respond to the player, and that can be simulated by the
author to a great extent. If we put too much pressure on the program,
and it comes through, soon the computers will be writing all the IF
and we'll be out of a job :-)



> Dave Baggett
> --
> d...@ai.mit.edu MIT Artificial Intelligence Laboratory
> ADVENTIONS: interactive fiction (text adventures) for the 90's!
> d...@ai.mit.edu *** Compu$erve: 76440,2671 *** GEnie: ADVENTIONS

-- M. Sean Molley, CS Department, Western Kentucky University

Tim Pierce

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Oct 1, 1992, 4:50:52 PM10/1/92
to
Finally, I've gotten around to addressing Jonathan's original post.

In article <Wcz-7m#@engin.umich.edu> posi...@engin.umich.edu (Jonathan Scott Haas) writes:

>I'm starting this thread to talk about the type of game that seems
>to be the norm today. You know the type... big on graphics, big on
>disk space, short on puzzles, short on executable commands.

Thank God someone else sees it this way. I had given up modern
adventure gaming for lost.

>The game that, to me, epitomizes the "modern" adventure game is
>Leisure Suit Larry V. I think I can say without fear of contradiction
>that it sucks. First off, it's horribly easy. Of course it is. What
>do you expect? What kind of complex, challenging, clever puzzles can
>exist when the only things you can do are "walk", "talk", and "use"?
>(oh yes... and let's not forget "unzip".) Secondly, the thing takes
>8 megs. 8 megs! What ever happened to the good ol' days, when fantastically
>complex, intricate adventures ran easily on the Commodore 64, with its
>feeble 40K (or so) of RAM and its 100K floppy disks?

Once upon a time, we could fit most of our Desert Island Games on a
single measly floppy disk. The idea that I'd want to devote ten disks
to a single game is preposterous. I was highly amused to note that I
"only" needed five 720K floppies for The Lost Treasures of Infocom I.

>An improvement? Well, I've heard that the puzzles and humor are
>better

I would be surprised. The puzzles and concept in Monkey Island I were
head and shoulders above any other graphic adventure I'd seen to date
(Indiana Jones impressed me considerably), but the game's overall
enjoyability still doesn't hold a candle to Infocom.

>What's happening? Do we, the adventure gaming public, actually prefer
>these dinosaurs of graphical adventures to the enjoyable text-based
>adventures of our younger days?

Apparently so. I hate to sound like the Grumpy Old Man, but I simply
do not accept the New World Order of adventure games. Apparently
graphic adventures touched far more people than the original text
adventures did, and seeing a potential new market out there, software
companies jumped at the chance, leaving an empty market for text
adventures. It's too bad.

Bjorgvin Runar Leifsson

unread,
Oct 3, 1992, 10:26:22 AM10/3/92
to
posi...@engin.umich.edu (Jonathan Scott Haas) writes:

>I'm starting this thread to talk about the type of game that seems
>to be the norm today. You know the type... big on graphics, big on
>disk space, short on puzzles, short on executable commands.

Thank you, Jonathan, for starting this thread. I couldn't agree more with you
and I can see that most of the people that has followed your articles agrees
more or less with your reasoning.
IMHO, Sierra is a good example of a company that has put graphics and sounds
in front of text and puzzles. I own a Mac SE20 and will not be able to
upgrade to a machine that can effectively run the new games. So after I
bought Space Quest III (and finished it on one weekend), I decided to quit
buying Sierra products - a company that cannot provide games for older types
of a specific computer (no matter if it is Mac or IBM or something else) is
just not my kind of company.

Bjorgvin R. Leifsson
b...@kopasker.is

Ron Dippold

unread,
Oct 3, 1992, 6:20:22 PM10/3/92
to
If you haven't seen it, possibly the worst example of this now is
Leather Godesses of Phobos II. 15 megs on the hard disk. Incredibly
easy. All the space is taken up by graphics and speech.

What's really bad is that this is the sequel to an excellent Infocom
game, and apparently at least one of the Infocom people is involved in
this monstrosity.

For a look in the other direction, there's the Spellcasting xxx
series, which at least combines graphics with an excellent parser and
"real" plots and puzzles. I believe this is from Steve Merzetsky,
another Infocomite.
--
"Do you want to dance? No? Do you want to have sex? No? Well, neither
do I, but let's get it over with."

ars...@watson.ibm.com

unread,
Oct 6, 1992, 7:07:13 PM10/6/92
to
In <BvGn8...@unix.amherst.edu> twpi...@unix.amherst.edu (Tim Pierce) writes:
> In article <Wcz-7m#@engin.umich.edu> posi...@engin.umich.edu (Jonathan Scott Haas) writes:
===I'm starting this thread to talk about the type of game that seems
===to be the norm today. You know the type... big on graphics, big on
===disk space, short on puzzles, short on executable commands.
..
===What's happening? Do we, the adventure gaming public, actually
===prefer
===these dinosaurs of graphical adventures to the enjoyable text-based
===adventures of our younger days?

> Apparently so. I hate to sound like the Grumpy Old Man, but I simply
> do not accept the New World Order of adventure games. Apparently
> graphic adventures touched far more people than the original text
> adventures did, and seeing a potential new market out there, software
> companies jumped at the chance, leaving an empty market for text
> adventures. It's too bad.

Has anyone stopped to believe that we are a minority, and companies
like Infocom could not make a profit off of us? I'm sure the pirate
problem would not be as bad, because those 13 year olds in San Diego
would not be interested in games that take up less than 4M of disk
space...

I don't really want to believe that either. LSL XXXIV and its
predecessors & (or is that && ?) contemporaries appeal to the Nintendo
market, the generation of computer users 10 years younger than us.
Sure, I've played some Genesis and Nintendo games, and have spent my
share of quarters in video arcades. But the largest segment of the
computer game market is those 13-21 year old (gee, I'm 21...) boys,
who right now are the ones playing Nintendo too much. People between
20 and 30 probably don't have enough money to buy all the Nintendo
games they want (at $50 a pop), so its the kids' parents buying those
games. We were left alone with Apple II's, Atari 800's, Commodore
64's, and original IBM PC's, which did not have enough power to drive
the kind of graphics we see now. We were the early adopters of PC
games, and I would guess more intelligent (or geeky) than the current
group of 13-21 year old game players.

There is a big market there for the Style-but-no-Content games that
the younger market is eating up. As a professional developer wanting
to make money, are you going to write IF, or something that has 100
times the audience? IF would cost less (don't need all those artists,
programmers to figure out the 1200 different display adapters for the
PC, hackers to generate 3D rendering code, etc) than the flashy
graphics games, indeed! Higher profit margins, I would guess, too.
But I really don't think that the market for IF is as big as the
market for graphics-intensive games.

Now what about Underworld, just as a side note? There is a story
there, as well as flashy graphics. Not many choices when talking to
people (the responses are rather polarized), but would this meet
requirements for IF? Not up to Infocom standards, either...

Also, I really enjoyed Ultima IV, so I bought V. It was too much like
IV, so I didn't buy VI, but I did buy VII. Ultima VII was,
graphically, a great experience. Loved it. Needed a faster computer
to run it on, though! The interface was improved (easier to move
things around, but I really did like U6 better), and conversations
were more straightforward. You could say it is more honest, by
explicitly telling you what you can talk about. It was nice to see
three-way conversations! Lots of role-playing, but it was all on the
computer's side!

Do I miss Infocom-like games? Not really. Things like SIEGE, Ultima
Underworld, and Spaceward Ho! have kept me busy (as well as working,
going to college (yeah, right!), and programming). There is a lot
more technology out there for IF games to explore. Take a text-based
game, and add in graphics; or add more interaction to the "movies"
that Sierra is coming out with...

---Line 77---
Andrew R. Southwick (no net address; see respond-to above!)
IBM, by virtue of the contract I signed (I think), owns my soul, but
they are not responsible for anything I do.

Darin Johnson

unread,
Oct 7, 1992, 12:51:12 PM10/7/92
to
Well, I thought Monkey-Island-II, which fits well into this category
of graphic/animated/huge game, was great. I had lots of fun with it,
worried over the puzzles, etc. In short, it was worth the money. On
the other hand, I ftp'd dungeon (zork) for free, spent a few hours
trying to compile, then got bored real quick with it. I wouldn't have
even tried it really, cept everyone says what a cool classic it is.
Maybe I'll pick it up again sometime and force myself through it...

(original adventure was cool though, probably cuz I played it back
when I had never seen computer games before, and you had to be
rich to have graphics - although I prefer games that don't require
months to finish)
--
Darin Johnson
djoh...@ucsd.edu
Where am I? In the village... What do you want? Information...

Oke S

unread,
Oct 12, 1992, 10:44:33 AM10/12/92
to
In article <BvELK...@rice.edu> gam...@owlnet.rice.edu (Ben Gamble) writes:

|In article <mumble> ok...@essex.ac.uk (Oke S) writes:
||Now if you were to call Manhunter New York or Manhunter San Francisco a good
||game I'd agree with you...

|Well, sure, those _are_ good games. Indeed, my only complaints with
|those two are: excessive linearity at times, and excessive manual
|precision required to navigate a few of the arcade sequences, most
|especially the lava maze in SF. To nearly finish that game, and then
|spend hours repeatedly running into magma veins just because my
|one-man drilling unit was nearly impossible to control, was just too
|damn frustrating.

Well, you've mentioned a bit that I've never seen, so you should be able
to answer this: How do I get the shopkeeper to take notice of me? I don't
know what to do to get any reaction from him.


--
This signature is copyright 12/6/1992 Simon Oke. All rights reserved. If you
like it and keep a copy for your own use, you owe me $20. Please pass it on
to your friends with all documentation. Email ok...@essex.ac.uk.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------

In the beginning, the universe was created. This made a lot of people very
angry and has been widely regarded as a bad move.

Matthew Crosby

unread,
Oct 14, 1992, 7:00:25 PM10/14/92
to
In article <92272.212...@psuvm.psu.edu> Norman St. John Polevaulter <MBS...@psuvm.psu.edu> writes:
>Be fair, though. Graphical adventures aren't ALL bad. Monkey Island II, for
>example, depends on silly sight gags and slick animation/stills for a lot
>of what it does. It would certainly lose something transferred from graphics
>to all-text. Just like the best text adventures -- Planetfall or Spellbreaker,
>say -- would lose their impact blown up to 22 megs of graphics and chrome.
>(I can still remember the escape capsule scene and climactic chase from PF,
>and the end of Spellbreaker -- full of drama and tension. These would cough
>and die as graphics.)
I agree! But don't forget Floyds Death!!!


>
>Just as movies of books tend to lose something, books of movies also usually
>turn out pretty bad. There's room enough in the universe for both movies and
>books.
>
>Of course, the problem in Interactive Fiction Land is that movies have
>largely crowded out books, but that's a slightly different topic. (Come to
>think of it, there was hardly anyone making text adventures except Infocom,
>wasn't there? So once the Big I went belly-up there was nobody to fill the
>gap remaining behind. I think that may be the reason for the graphics glut...)
>
Well, I don't know. In the old days, a huge number of places put out AG's with
the ability to turn the graphics off, and they where always static. Magnetic
Scrolls, Melbourne House, etc, etc...


--
-Matt
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the net!
mcr...@nyx.cs.du.edu -or- cro...@kinglear.cs.colorado.edu

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