The problem with the IF Competition

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Adam Donahue

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Sep 21, 1997, 3:00:00 AM9/21/97
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I much as I view the IF Competition as a terrific annual tradition, it
also seems to be causing a general problem: it leaves us in an IF lull
for the rest of the year! Now, there have been some interesting releases
in the last few months, but most of these were classified by their
authors as "short games," or "experimental," or "first attempts." It
seems like everyone's holding their best for the competition. When it
comes, we'll all have our hands full with gaming--and we'll all be loving
it, I'm sure! But nonetheless, this "gaming gap" seems to have appeared,
and I was wondering what you all thought about it.

Admittedly, it's not a very big problem. But perhaps one solution would
be to re-frame the competition into some kind of annual awards. This
would also eliminate the time constraints the gamers feel, and allow more
time for people to really get into the nicities of a game--those things
which give the game its personality; things that are not always easy to
"discover" in two hours of playing time.

But maybe I'm proposing a solution to another problem. I just can't help
but feel that people are holding back their best for this annual
contest, when we're dumped on with really more games than we have time to
fully appreciate. (Though, I guess, we could take control ourselves and
set up some "timetable" for gaming that would keep us occupied until the
next year's contest. Heh.)

Adam

--
-- Adam Donahue
-- Internet and Media Consultant
-- mailto:ad...@cyber-guru.com
-- phone:212.443.9639


Andrew Plotkin

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Sep 22, 1997, 3:00:00 AM9/22/97
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Adam Donahue (don...@acf2.nyu.edu) wrote:
> I much as I view the IF Competition as a terrific annual tradition, it
> also seems to be causing a general problem: it leaves us in an IF lull
> for the rest of the year! Now, there have been some interesting releases
> in the last few months, but most of these were classified by their
> authors as "short games," or "experimental," or "first attempts."

Well, anyone who is working on a long game is by definition *not*
planning to enter it. So you can't blame the lack of long games on the
competition.

> this "gaming gap" seems to have appeared,
> and I was wondering what you all thought about it.

> Admittedly, it's not a very big problem. But perhaps one solution would
> be to re-frame the competition into some kind of annual awards.

We've got annual awards. (One instance makes annual, right? :-) That's in
February, at least it was last year.

My feeling is that a competition is a very different thing from
best-of-year retrospective awards. Different goals, different experience
for the players (judges). Having both is a good thing.

The competition concentrates effort, but it does it so *well*. If you'd
asked me last August whether seventy IF games would be released in 1997,
I would have giggled. If you'd asked me two months after that, when the
thirty-odd competition games appeared, I would have said "Nahh." Anything
which elicits this much creativity from people -- I'm not messing with it!

I would just point out that, now that there *is* a gap, it's a great
target for people who want their games to get more personalized attention.
(Or more than two hours of attention, if you like.) It's a token reward,
but so are the competition rewards, really.

I am -- ok, fine, I'll announce this -- I am working on a non-competition
game. I could have had it done by the competition deadline. I decided not
to. It's a little long, it will get a little more time and a lot more
beta-testing[*] than a competition game would. That's fine. It will appear
sometime after the competition is over and all the results are in.

--Z

[* Don't call us, we'll call you. Please.]

--

"And Aholibamah bare Jeush, and Jaalam, and Korah: these were the
borogoves..."

Mark Stevens

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Sep 22, 1997, 3:00:00 AM9/22/97
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On 21 Sep 1997 20:48:24 GMT, don...@acf2.nyu.edu (Adam Donahue)
wrote:

>I much as I view the IF Competition as a terrific annual tradition, it
>also seems to be causing a general problem: it leaves us in an IF lull
>for the rest of the year!

This does seem to be the case. Most people now seem to plan their
creative exploits around the competition timetable. I just about to
start programming my first Inform adventure, having just recently
drafted up a detailed design document. I don't know when I'll get it
finished, but if it's before the 1998 competition, I'll certainly
release it as soon as I can and resist the temptation to hold on.

>Admittedly, it's not a very big problem. But perhaps one solution would
>be to re-frame the competition into some kind of annual awards.

That's probably the best solution -- let people release what they
want, whenever they want and then have a Golden Grue Awards ceremony
around Christmas.

It seems a bit silly to have so many IF games popping up at the same
time. As a player, I only get time to play a couple of games -- and I
want to play them properly, not whiz through two dozen of them with a
walkthrough just for the sake of casting a fair vote. Those people who
want to play the games properly -- and devote their full attention to
them -- aren't being given a chance to adequately express any sort of
preference.

I think there are pros and cons for both the competition and awards
methods, although on balance I think an annual awards ceremony would
be more beneficial to the players (a steady flow of new IF spread over
the year) and fairer on the authors (not having to go up against two
dozen other IF releases every time).

Michael Straight

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Sep 23, 1997, 3:00:00 AM9/23/97
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On Mon, 22 Sep 1997, Mark Stevens wrote:

> It seems a bit silly to have so many IF games popping up at the same
> time. As a player, I only get time to play a couple of games -- and I
> want to play them properly, not whiz through two dozen of them with a
> walkthrough just for the sake of casting a fair vote. Those people who
> want to play the games properly -- and devote their full attention to
> them -- aren't being given a chance to adequately express any sort of
> preference.

Thats the reason I probably won't try to vote, even though I really like
text adventures. I still haven't gotten to some of the high-scoring games
from the 97 competition ("Sherbet" and "Delusions") because I'm still
wrestling with Jigsaw. And I never finished "Small World" because there
was some talk of a revised version coming out, so I put it aside to wait
for that. Was the revision ever released?

I'm surprised authors aren't more ambivalent about the contest. Sure you
get a lot of attention, but how do you feel about working so long on a
game only to have folks rush through it in a couple hours? I guess for
some games and some game players, two hours is sufficient to really enjoy
a game, but even a short game like "Kissing the Buddha's Feet" gave me
more than two hours of fun.

SMTIRCAHIAGEHLT


Art Gecko

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Sep 23, 1997, 3:00:00 AM9/23/97
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Mark Stevens (ma...@sonance.demon.co.uk) wrote:

: It seems a bit silly to have so many IF games popping up at the same
: time. As a player, I only get time to play a couple of games -- and I
: want to play them properly, not whiz through two dozen of them with a
: walkthrough just for the sake of casting a fair vote. Those people who
: want to play the games properly -- and devote their full attention to
: them -- aren't being given a chance to adequately express any sort of
: preference.

I'll probably vote this year the same way I did last year - if
I enjoy the game and progress at a steady rate, I'll vote after
2 hours without consulting a walkthrough. If I start a game and
find it poorly written, or impossible to solve, I'll consult a
walkthrough to evaluate it more fairly (and be sure I don't miss
some juicy redeeming part at the end.) Either way, it's most
likely I'll vote higher on the first type of game than the second,
and after the competition will return to play the good ones.

Which I suppose means I'm biased in favor of good beginnings over
good endings, but that's a problem inherent in all kinds of fiction.
I certainly don't buy something from a bookstore without reading
the first page.

Anyway, as an author, I'm looking forward to the post-competition
glut. As mentioned elsewhere in this thread, although I could've
forced my game through in time, I decided to wait. More time
to beta-test and rewrite, and a virtually captive audience come
March. :)

--Liza

--
Visit the ifMUD: it's the best thing since bottled soup!
http://fovea.retina.net:4001/


Andrew Plotkin

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Sep 23, 1997, 3:00:00 AM9/23/97
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Michael Straight (stra...@email.unc.edu) wrote:

> On Mon, 22 Sep 1997, Mark Stevens wrote:

> > It seems a bit silly to have so many IF games popping up at the same
> > time. As a player, I only get time to play a couple of games -- and I
> > want to play them properly, not whiz through two dozen of them with a
> > walkthrough just for the sake of casting a fair vote. Those people who
> > want to play the games properly -- and devote their full attention to
> > them -- aren't being given a chance to adequately express any sort of
> > preference.

> I'm surprised authors aren't more ambivalent about the contest. Sure you


> get a lot of attention, but how do you feel about working so long on a
> game only to have folks rush through it in a couple hours?

The intent (once upon a time) was to create a game that *could* be fairly
appreciated in two hours. As an author, if you really think that your
game will be undervalued after two hours' play, then that means it's not
a competition game.

> I guess for
> some games and some game players, two hours is sufficient to really enjoy
> a game, but even a short game like "Kissing the Buddha's Feet" gave me
> more than two hours of fun.

Yes, it's an approximation. Can't do much about that.

Also remember that the games do not disappear at the end of the month.
There's always a crop of re-releases and even expansions after the contest
is over, and those are more spread out and can garner more individual
attention. And there will be new players. (How many of you came across
"Weather" or "Uncle Zebulon" after the '95 contest, because you weren't
around here during '95?)

--Z

Edan Harel

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Sep 23, 1997, 3:00:00 AM9/23/97
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sicka...@see-sig.com.au (JC) writes:


[Snip, cutting down the game sizes to one hour]

>think this is a good situation. Cutting down the size of the entries could
>address both these problems, and bring the competition back to an auxillary
>activity rather being the major focus of our efforts.

With all due respect, IMNSHO, this is an awful idea for several resons:
(a) It's hard enough for some people to figure out what a two hour limit is
on a story, cutting itdown to one hour would be worse. I remember the
troubles I had setting up some programs last year; It might take 20 minutes
or so to set up a program which is writen in a language your not farmilar
setting up, or you might have bugs with it, and so on. That would mean
less percentage of playing time.

(b) That one hour limit is fthe time limit that`s supposed to be
for *everyone* (at least logically speaking). An author wants even the
weakest adventure player to see much of his authorial (is that a word? :))
wit, or whatever, so he tries to make it playable, and more hopefully
finishable (assuming it has a good finish) for everyone. That means
it's gotta be even simpler (not necciasrily a bad idea; I've always
thought that easier puzzles tend to help the atmosphere in some games...
Since puzzle solutions help extend the plot, and what horror or thriller
would work if, after some chilling scene, the player spends 4 hours
trying to solve somthing...). And some players might finish the
game within 15-20 minutes and think, hmm that game didn't have much in it,
or hmm that game had lots of plot, but little interaction...

Of course, a smaller game would allow, hopefully, for more flexibility
on the part of the game.

>There are a couple of ways you could make the competition games shorter.
>The simplest would be to change the rules so games must be winnable within
>1 hour. Another idea, which I like better, would be that entries must
>revolve around a single scene or puzzle. This seems more focused on the
>idea of competition game's being short, self contained, compact pieces.
>For some reason I've got a feeling that this would be more appealing for
>non-IF people to have a look at and play, and would be better to show what
>IF can do.

Focusing on a single scene might be better; I remember considering
making a game and designing it around a climax of a story. The problem
lies in the fact that you would need to put a summary of what took place
before, something I know I don't like to read when I play. Still, it
could be a good idea for a small game, but too confining for a competition.

I prefer a yearly awards, perhaps in different catagories (Sci-fi, mysteries,
fantasy, novice, experienced programmer, humor, writing style, puzzles,
etc).

--
"I have yet to see any problem, however complicated, which, when you looked
at it the right way, did not become still more complicated." -Poul Anderson
"For every problem, there is one solution which is simple, neat and wrong."
-H. L. Mencken

JC

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Sep 24, 1997, 3:00:00 AM9/24/97
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Hey, I don't know if I like this idea, but another possibility is to cut
down on the length of the competition games and thus the length of time to
play them. With current IF tools and the time it takes to develop a two
hour game, people seem to be spending a lot of time developing competition
games, becoming their primary focus for much of the year. Playing the
competition games is becoming very time consuming too. With around 70
entries this year (which is likely to grow in years to come) and 2 hours to
play each game, it adds up to 140 hours to play all the games. I don't


think this is a good situation. Cutting down the size of the entries could
address both these problems, and bring the competition back to an auxillary
activity rather being the major focus of our efforts.

There are a couple of ways you could make the competition games shorter.


The simplest would be to change the rules so games must be winnable within
1 hour. Another idea, which I like better, would be that entries must
revolve around a single scene or puzzle. This seems more focused on the
idea of competition game's being short, self contained, compact pieces.
For some reason I've got a feeling that this would be more appealing for
non-IF people to have a look at and play, and would be better to show what
IF can do.

Hmmm, I'm still not sure I like it, I can see some problems with it;
whatdaya think?


jrc...@ozemail.com.au

Francis Irving

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Sep 24, 1997, 3:00:00 AM9/24/97
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On 23 Sep 1997 21:02:50 -0400, edh...@romulus.rutgers.edu (Edan
Harel) wrote:

>I remember the
>troubles I had setting up some programs last year; It might take 20 minutes
>or so to set up a program which is writen in a language your not farmilar
>setting up, or you might have bugs with it, and so on. That would mean
>less percentage of playing time.

I always played them for two hours, _after_ I got them working!
Besides, it would have been unfair to bill, say, the first TADS game I
played with the time it took to download a TADS interpreter...

Francis.

Work: fra...@ncgraphics.co.uk Home: fra...@pobox.co.uk

Edan Harel

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Sep 24, 1997, 3:00:00 AM9/24/97
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fra...@ncgraphics.co.uk (Francis Irving) writes:

[snip]

>I always played them for two hours, _after_ I got them working!
>Besides, it would have been unfair to bill, say, the first TADS game I
>played with the time it took to download a TADS interpreter...

Ahh, someone with lots of free time on his hand :)

I would always download a TADS interpreter everytime I downloaded a TADS
game (Same with Inform).

JC

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Sep 27, 1997, 3:00:00 AM9/27/97
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On 23 Sep 1997 21:02:50 -0400, edh...@romulus.rutgers.edu (Edan Harel)
wrote:

>sicka...@see-sig.com.au (JC) writes:


>
>[Snip, cutting down the game sizes to one hour]
>

>>think this is a good situation. Cutting down the size of the entries could
>>address both these problems, and bring the competition back to an auxillary
>>activity rather being the major focus of our efforts.
>

>With all due respect, IMNSHO, this is an awful idea for several resons:
>(a) It's hard enough for some people to figure out what a two hour limit is
>on a story, cutting itdown to one hour would be worse.

Perhaps.

The competition is young, which may have something to do with why most
people are unsure what constitutes a two hour game; as time goes on it may
become more apparent.

>I remember the troubles I had setting up some programs last year; It might
>take 20 minutes or so to set up a program which is writen in a language your
>not farmilar setting up, or you might have bugs with it, and so on. That
>would mean less percentage of playing time.

Assuming that they are 70 entires this year, with two hours playing time
each, that's 140 hours in total. Say had to set up interpreters/languages
for five differnt systems, and assuming that it took 20 minutes for each,
that's 1h 40 mintues fiddling around. With 2 hours per game that means
98.5% of your time is playing the games, and 1.5% fiddling around. With 1
hour per game it's (approx) 97% playing the games, and 3% not. That's
hardly a signifant amount. Of course, this is assuming that you play all
the games in the competition, but even if you only played half the games
it's still not that significant.

>(b) That one hour limit is fthe time limit that`s supposed to be
>for *everyone* (at least logically speaking). An author wants even the
>weakest adventure player to see much of his authorial (is that a word? :))
>wit, or whatever, so he tries to make it playable, and more hopefully
>finishable (assuming it has a good finish) for everyone.

Your definition of "finishable for everyone" means it's aimed towards those
who are "worst" at solving puzzles, meaning that the better players will
breeze through -- which isn't going to give the best overall picture of the
game.

>That means it's gotta be even simpler

It doesn't have to be simpler, just shorter. The effect may be achieved
through simplification, but there is a large distinction between the two.
If there was a shortened playing time I'd say that most people would change
the size of their game, not the "complexity" -- it's easier to do, and I
believe it would achieve better results.

>(not necciasrily a bad idea; I've always
>thought that easier puzzles tend to help the atmosphere in some games...
>Since puzzle solutions help extend the plot, and what horror or thriller
>would work if, after some chilling scene, the player spends 4 hours
>trying to solve somthing...). And some players might finish the
>game within 15-20 minutes and think, hmm that game didn't have much in it,
>or hmm that game had lots of plot, but little interaction...

As I said, shorter, not necessarily simpler. The same can be applied to
two hour games; 30-40 minutes instead of 15-20.

>Of course, a smaller game would allow, hopefully, for more flexibility
>on the part of the game.
>

>>There are a couple of ways you could make the competition games shorter.
>>The simplest would be to change the rules so games must be winnable within
>>1 hour. Another idea, which I like better, would be that entries must
>>revolve around a single scene or puzzle. This seems more focused on the
>>idea of competition game's being short, self contained, compact pieces.
>>For some reason I've got a feeling that this would be more appealing for
>>non-IF people to have a look at and play, and would be better to show what
>>IF can do.
>

>Focusing on a single scene might be better; I remember considering
>making a game and designing it around a climax of a story. The problem
>lies in the fact that you would need to put a summary of what took place
>before, something I know I don't like to read when I play.

Sure, if the game was designed around the climax of a story, then you'd
need to put in a short summary; but this isn't true of the general case.
What if the game was just centered around getting the soccerball off the
roof, or getting out of the shopping center carpark -- it's no different to
a normal game. In some ways you could argue that in most cases this type
of game needs *less* of an introduction than a "normal" game, in a similar
way to short stories.

[...]

jrc...@ozemail.com.au

Adam Cadre

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Sep 27, 1997, 3:00:00 AM9/27/97
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James Cole wrote:
> It doesn't have to be simpler, just shorter. The effect may be
> achieved through simplification, but there is a large distinction
> between the two.

I'm more inclined to call it a false distinction. Let me quote a bit
more for the sake of context:

> If there was a shortened playing time I'd say that most people would
> change the size of their game, not the "complexity" -- it's easier to
> do, and I believe it would achieve better results.

> [...]


> What if the game was just centered around getting the soccerball off
> the roof, or getting out of the shopping center carpark -- it's no
> different to a normal game. In some ways you could argue that in most
> cases this type of game needs *less* of an introduction than a
> "normal" game, in a similar way to short stories.

To the extent that there isn't much storytelling involved in getting a
soccer ball off a roof, it looks as though you're discussing a game
consisting of a string of puzzles. I'm not going to complain about
that. Let's run with it. Say that a two-hour comp game consists of
six hard puzzles. Now the comp rules demand the game be cut down to
an hour. One solution is to make the game a string of six easy puzzles.
Reaction: "Wow, much simpler -- those puzzles were easy!" The other
solution, the one you seem to be arguing for (though I'm sure you'll
say that this isn't what you're "on about"): make the game a string
of three hard puzzles. Reaction: "Wow, much simpler -- only three
puzzles!" Reducing the complexity of the elements increases simplicity;
reducing the number of complex elements increases simplicity.

That said, I would bet that this kind of quantitative logic will turn
out to be inapplicable to the large majority of entries, so it's a moot
point anyway.

-----
Adam Cadre, Durham, NC
http://www.duke.edu/~adamc
http://www.retina.net/~grignr

HarryH

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Sep 27, 1997, 3:00:00 AM9/27/97
to

In article <60416o$h00$1...@news.nyu.edu>, don...@acf2.nyu.edu says...

>
>I much as I view the IF Competition as a terrific annual tradition, it
>also seems to be causing a general problem: it leaves us in an IF lull
>for the rest of the year! Now, there have been some interesting
releases
>in the last few months, but most of these were classified by their
>authors as "short games," or "experimental," or "first attempts." It
>seems like everyone's holding their best for the competition. When it

Sorry to hear that. I've planned several long games. Even had titles, on
them. Unfortunately, unless I can find a way to do it in a couple
weekends, they probably won't get made. Waaaayyy too busy. I don't even
have time to post here often.

Long games tend to pop up anytime (I wouldn't give away my long games
for free), but short ones may get delayed until the next competition
round. For example, I had planned a short humane story to enter on this
competition, but have to postponed to enter it next year since I didn't
have time to do it. If anything, I'm at my worst entering this
competition (sigh).

-------------------------------------------------------
Of course I'll work on weekends without pay!
- successful applicant


Second April

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Sep 27, 1997, 3:00:00 AM9/27/97
to

> >Focusing on a single scene might be better; I remember considering
> >making a game and designing it around a climax of a story. The problem
> >lies in the fact that you would need to put a summary of what took place
> >before, something I know I don't like to read when I play.
>
> Sure, if the game was designed around the climax of a story, then you'd
> need to put in a short summary; but this isn't true of the general case.
> What if the game was just centered around getting the soccerball off the
> roof, or getting out of the shopping center carpark -- it's no different to
> a normal game. In some ways you could argue that in most cases this type
> of game needs *less* of an introduction than a "normal" game, in a similar
> way to short stories.

Actually, "Ralph," from the 1996 competition, is kind of along these
lines--it's easily finishable in one hour, it centers around one fairly
simple task and it's fairly puzzle-heavy. My impression was that most
people enjoyed it, but that it seemed too short and lightweight to put
alongside "Meteor..." or "Tapestry". If the competition's rules were
changed, we might get more "Ralph"s and fewer "Tapestry"s--is that a good
thing? There are tradeoffs either way.

Shortening the competition's games might, however, get more IF written in
the rest of the year, for time reasons and because people will want to
write something more substantial than their competition I-lost-my-glasses
game. (Hey, wait...that actually sounds like a good idea...everything's
blurry, have to rely on other senses...hmmm, I'll look into that.) And the
socially conscious stuff like "Tapestry", if people are dying to write it,
wouldn't really fit into the shortened format as well and might show up
elsewhere in the year, when it has more chance to be appreciated.

Duncan Stevens
d-st...@nwu.edu
312-654-0280

SONG OF A SECOND APRIL

April this year, not otherwise
Than April of a year ago,
Is full of whispers, full of sighs,
Of dazzling mud and dingy snow;
Hepaticas that pleased you so
Are here again, and butterflies.

There rings a hammering all day
And shingles lie about the doors;
From orchards near and far away
The gray wood-pecker taps and bores,
And men are merry at their chores,
And children earnest at their play.

The larger streams run still and deep;
Noisy and swift the small brooks run.
Among the mullein stalks the sheep
Go up the hillside in the sun,
Pensively; only you are gone,
You that alone I cared to keep.

--Edna St. Vincent Millay


JC

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Sep 29, 1997, 3:00:00 AM9/29/97
to

On Sat, 27 Sep 1997 03:51:14 -0400, Adam Cadre <ad...@acpub.duke.edu>
wrote:

>James Cole wrote:
>> It doesn't have to be simpler, just shorter. The effect may be
>> achieved through simplification, but there is a large distinction
>> between the two.
>

>I'm more inclined to call it a false distinction. Let me quote a bit
>more for the sake of context:
>

>> If there was a shortened playing time I'd say that most people would
>> change the size of their game, not the "complexity" -- it's easier to
>> do, and I believe it would achieve better results.

>> [...]


>> What if the game was just centered around getting the soccerball off
>> the roof, or getting out of the shopping center carpark -- it's no
>> different to a normal game. In some ways you could argue that in most
>> cases this type of game needs *less* of an introduction than a
>> "normal" game, in a similar way to short stories.

>To the extent that there isn't much storytelling involved in getting a


>soccer ball off a roof, it looks as though you're discussing a game
>consisting of a string of puzzles.

No. As I'm sure you know, getting a soccer ball off the roof could involve
as much storytelling as any other game. The amount of storytelling is
heavily dependant of the particular game; it could be anything from a very
story oriented piece to just a string of puzzles. Anyway, this point is
really of no consequence to what I was discussing.

And of course there's "puzzless" IF.

> I'm not going to complain about
>that. Let's run with it. Say that a two-hour comp game consists of
>six hard puzzles. Now the comp rules demand the game be cut down to
>an hour. One solution is to make the game a string of six easy puzzles.
>Reaction: "Wow, much simpler -- those puzzles were easy!" The other
>solution, the one you seem to be arguing for (though I'm sure you'll
>say that this isn't what you're "on about"):

*Arguing for*? -- all I said was that it didn't *have* to involve making
the puzzles easier, and that I didn't think that's what most people would
do. "it's easier to do, and I believe it would achieve better results"
was stated as my justification, if that's what you were referring to.

>make the game a string of three hard puzzles.

Not necessarily hard; just not simple, easy puzzles. Consider it similar
to chopping a coherent piece out of a game.

> Reaction: "Wow, much simpler -- only three
>puzzles!" Reducing the complexity of the elements increases simplicity;
>reducing the number of complex elements increases simplicity.

Less puzzles doesn't inherently mean less complexity.

(1) Reducing the complexity of the elements increases simplicity.

Less puzzles means less elements, not less complex elements. An extreme
example of this is Dave Baggett and Carl de Marcken's "+= 3". It only
involves one location and one small puzzle, yet the puzzle is extremely
difficult and complex to solve. (The game was intended to show that a
puzzle can be logical yet virtually impossible to solve.)

Longer games have more opportinities for complexity: the longer the game is
the more complex the act of understanding the puzzle, and bringing it to
its resolution, *can* be -- but there is no direct correlation between
length and complexity. I think that a one hour game is significantly long
enough for there not to be much of a difference in this respect.

(2) Reducing the number of complex elements increases simplicity

Yes, in the whole, but it's a relative thing. Consider the following
example: "Two hour game" has 2 complex puzzles, 2 medium puzzles, and 2
really easy puzzles. "One hour game" has 1 complex puzzle, 1 medium
puzzle, and 1 really easy puzzle. The 1h game has less complex elements
than the 2 hour game, but it's *not* any simpler. And what if there was a
game consisting of just one complex puzzle -- that was geared towards
solving in an hour?

--

Of course, in reality it's not so clear cut as this, being heavily
dependant on the particular game -- there are many variables which come
into play. However, it's clear, through this haze, that in most cases a
shorter game doesn't imply less complexity. There is a large distinction
between length and simplicity.

>That said, I would bet that this kind of quantitative logic will turn
>out to be inapplicable to the large majority of entries, so it's a moot
>point anyway.


jrc...@ozemail.com.au

Adam Cadre

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Sep 29, 1997, 3:00:00 AM9/29/97
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JC wrote:
> Consider the following example: "Two hour game" has 2 complex
> puzzles, 2 medium puzzles, and 2 really easy puzzles. "One hour
> game" has 1 complex puzzle, 1 medium puzzle, and 1 really easy
> puzzle. The 1h game has less complex elements than the 2 hour
> game, but it's *not* any simpler.

Yes it is. It consists of only three parts now, rather than six.
Hence, simpler. The amount of work needed to solve the game has been
halved. Hence, simpler. You're practically defining what "simpler"
means.

Julian Arnold

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Sep 29, 1997, 3:00:00 AM9/29/97
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In article <342f99d1...@news.netspace.net.au>, JC
<URL:mailto:sicka...@see-sig.com.au> wrote:
> [...]

> Less puzzles doesn't inherently mean less complexity.
>
> (1) Reducing the complexity of the elements increases simplicity.
>
> Less puzzles means less elements, not less complex elements. An extreme
> example of this is Dave Baggett and Carl de Marcken's "+= 3". It only
> involves one location and one small puzzle, yet the puzzle is extremely
> difficult and complex to solve. (The game was intended to show that a
> puzzle can be logical yet virtually impossible to solve.)

Not complex, just obscure and (purposely) badly designed (according to a
rather sensible convention).

Jools
--
"For small erections may be finished by their first architects; grand
ones, true ones, ever leave the copestone to posterity. God keep me
from ever completing anything." -- Herman Melville, "Moby Dick"


JC

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Sep 29, 1997, 3:00:00 AM9/29/97
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On Sat, 27 Sep 1997 03:51:14 -0400, Adam Cadre <ad...@acpub.duke.edu>
wrote:

>James Cole wrote:
>> It doesn't have to be simpler, just shorter. The effect may be
>> achieved through simplification, but there is a large distinction
>> between the two.
>

>I'm more inclined to call it a false distinction. Let me quote a bit
>more for the sake of context:
>

>> If there was a shortened playing time I'd say that most people would
>> change the size of their game, not the "complexity" -- it's easier to
>> do, and I believe it would achieve better results.

>> [...]


>> What if the game was just centered around getting the soccerball off
>> the roof, or getting out of the shopping center carpark -- it's no
>> different to a normal game. In some ways you could argue that in most
>> cases this type of game needs *less* of an introduction than a
>> "normal" game, in a similar way to short stories.

>To the extent that there isn't much storytelling involved in getting a

>reducing the number of complex elements increases simplicity.

Less puzzles doesn't inherently mean less complexity.

(1) Reducing the complexity of the elements increases simplicity.

Less puzzles means less elements, not less complex elements. An extreme
example of this is Dave Baggett and Carl de Marcken's "+= 3". It only
involves one location and one small puzzle, yet the puzzle is extremely
difficult and complex to solve. (The game was intended to show that a
puzzle can be logical yet virtually impossible to solve.)

Longer games have more opportinities for complexity: the longer the game is


the more complex the act of understanding the puzzle, and bringing it to
its resolution, *can* be -- but there is no direct correlation between
length and complexity. I think that a one hour game is significantly long
enough for there not to be much of a difference in this respect.

(2) Reducing the number of complex elements increases simplicity

Yes, in the whole, but it's a relative thing. Consider the following


example: "Two hour game" has 2 complex puzzles, 2 medium puzzles, and 2
really easy puzzles. "One hour game" has 1 complex puzzle, 1 medium
puzzle, and 1 really easy puzzle. The 1h game has less complex elements

Adam Cadre

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Sep 29, 1997, 3:00:00 AM9/29/97
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JC wrote:
> Consider a fractal such as a mandelbrot set.

Why? Text adventures aren't fractal.

JC

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Sep 30, 1997, 3:00:00 AM9/30/97
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On Mon, 29 Sep 1997 09:15:52 -0400, Adam Cadre <ad...@acpub.duke.edu>
wrote:

>JC wrote:
>> Consider the following example: "Two hour game" has 2 complex
>> puzzles, 2 medium puzzles, and 2 really easy puzzles. "One hour
>> game" has 1 complex puzzle, 1 medium puzzle, and 1 really easy
>> puzzle. The 1h game has less complex elements than the 2 hour
>> game, but it's *not* any simpler.
>

>Yes it is. It consists of only three parts now, rather than six.
>Hence, simpler. The amount of work needed to solve the game has been
>halved. Hence, simpler. You're practically defining what "simpler"
>means.

You said that a smaller number of complex parts decreases complexity (and
thus increases simplicity), and I agreed with you, in terms of *net*
complexity. However, complexity is not simply a function of the total
"mass" present. Consider a fractal such as a mandelbrot set. Whether you
view a portion of it or all of it there is still the same amount of
complexity. This is due to the fact that it is generated from one simple
equation (z(n+1) = z(n)^2 + C) which produces a structure of infinte
complexity. Using your reasoning, a smaller region within a mandelbrot set
has less complexity than its enclosing area -- "The inner region has less
complexity because it's enclosng area not only contains it's complexity,
but it *also* has that of the surrounding areas". Yet this simple "mass"
calculation is incorrect, the inner region is just as complex as it's
enclosing area.

Complexity is not related simply to quantity, but also structure and
function. More complexity doesn't mean more complex.

jrc...@ozemail.com.au

Damien Neil

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Sep 30, 1997, 3:00:00 AM9/30/97
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On Mon, 29 Sep 1997 22:56:23 -0400, Adam Cadre <ad...@acpub.duke.edu> wrote:
>JC wrote:
>> Consider a fractal such as a mandelbrot set.
>
>Why? Text adventures aren't fractal.

That smells like a challenge to me. :>

- Damien

Edan Harel

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Oct 1, 1997, 3:00:00 AM10/1/97
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Adam Cadre <ad...@acpub.duke.edu> writes:


>> Consider a fractal such as a mandelbrot set.

>Why? Text adventures aren't fractal.

Well, if you consider any single smaller part of a text adventure (in either
terms of turns/moves or in terms of location", you could make the case
that it's composed of "smaller" text advetnrues, however, that's chiefly
in "simpler" text adventures, where the puzzles don't cross each other.

Magnus Olsson

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Oct 1, 1997, 3:00:00 AM10/1/97
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In article <60sn8l$n...@romulus.rutgers.edu>,

Edan Harel <edh...@romulus.rutgers.edu> wrote:
>Adam Cadre <ad...@acpub.duke.edu> writes:
>
>
>>> Consider a fractal such as a mandelbrot set.
>
>>Why? Text adventures aren't fractal.
>
>Well, if you consider any single smaller part of a text adventure (in either
>terms of turns/moves or in terms of location", you could make the case
>that it's composed of "smaller" text advetnrues, however, that's chiefly
>in "simpler" text adventures, where the puzzles don't cross each other.

But this process bottoms out very quickly: text adventures have an
inherent granularity in terms of moves and "atomic" objects.

The entire point fo fractals is that they *never* bottom out; fractals
are an infinite regression of boxes within boxes within boxes...

--
Magnus Olsson (m...@df.lth.se, zeb...@pobox.com)
------ http://www.pobox.com/~zebulon ------
Not officially connected to LU or LTH.

Edan Harel

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Oct 1, 1997, 3:00:00 AM10/1/97
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m...@bartlet.df.lth.se (Magnus Olsson) writes:


>>>Why? Text adventures aren't fractal.

>>Well, if you consider any single smaller part of a text adventure (in either
>>terms of turns/moves or in terms of location", you could make the case
>>that it's composed of "smaller" text advetnrues, however, that's chiefly
>>in "simpler" text adventures, where the puzzles don't cross each other.

>But this process bottoms out very quickly: text adventures have an
>inherent granularity in terms of moves and "atomic" objects.

>The entire point fo fractals is that they *never* bottom out; fractals
>are an infinite regression of boxes within boxes within boxes...


Yes, perhaps, although a case *could* be made that even a room devoid
of objects would be "interactive" and thus it doesn't bottom out as
long as you have at least one object, ie the room, to interact
with:

>North
You can't go that way.

>South
You can't go that way.

etc.

Could be interactive in the order of the commands.

But this is beside the point. I don't think the original person who
mentioned the mandelbrot set was trying to suggest that IF was a fractal,
but merely that it had some fractal-like qualities. I, myself, don't agree
with his assertion that a simpler game could neccisarily be as "dense" as
the original (or whatever he was trying to prove), but I think sidetracking
and going down on him merely because he brought a (perhaps unusual)
example of a related phenomena to help his assertion is the best way to
debate him.

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