As a person who has made this complaint and also written games
where the PC keeps secrets from the player, I will note that my
complaint should not be that the PC has knowledge that the player
doesn't, but rather that the PC shouldn't taunt the player with
his/her superior knowledge, and that, in general, I find it breaks
immersion if the PC knows how to, say, operate some equipment or
solve a puzzle, but the player is made to work it out for him or
However, I don't think Adam was particularly concerned with
immersing us in the character of Primo, so I should probably
withdraw the complaint entirely; but it was frustrating at
Well, the gimmick is that the player has no idea what the plan might be on
the first play-through, but knows exactly what it is on the twentieth.
Because at that point the player's been scheming about the situation for
nearly as long as Primo himself.
Adam Cadre, Brooklyn, NY
Depends on the type of game. In most games, where the player is
supposed to *be* the PC (or vice versa, or whatever), I find it
disturbing. How come there are things I (the PC) obviously know that I
(the player) don't know? It simply breaks mimesis; score another one
for the crossword over the narrative.
The common "remedy" for this - giving the PC a bad case of amnesia -
works, but it's awfully hackneyed by now.
>As a person who has made this complaint and also written games
>where the PC keeps secrets from the player, I will note that my
>complaint should not be that the PC has knowledge that the player
Thinking as a writer, I've come to the conclusion that unless you
actually do give the PC amnesia, this is unavoidable. The trick is
to make it seem natural. If absolutely necessary, the narrator
can fill in details:
| You see a floobiekrot here. (As you're only too well aware,
| floobiekrots are a rather annoying breed of spacecats).
but it can usually be done in a more elegant and seamless fashion.
>but rather that the PC shouldn't taunt the player with
>his/her superior knowledge,
I've never actually seen that - have you got any examples?
>and that, in general, I find it breaks
>immersion if the PC knows how to, say, operate some equipment or
>solve a puzzle, but the player is made to work it out for him or
And the related problem, where neither the PC nor the player knows
things that the PC should know - like the PC in "Christminster" who
doesn't know her own brother's surname - is of course also bad.
But there are exceptions. And "Varicella" is an excellent exception;
the breaking of the fourth wall is so obviously _deliberate_ that
it actually adds to the experience. But it took some time to get
the hang of the idea that not only
>However, I don't think Adam was particularly concerned with
>immersing us in the character of Primo,
On the contrary, I think Adam was concerned with that, and that
he succeeded; to me, having to re-create Primo's reasoning by
repeated save-die-restore *increased* the feeling of immersion.
In fact, I think that this kind of deliberate breaking of the fourth
wall is the recurring theme - perhaps the only commonality -
throughout Cadre's production; parts of an ongoing deconstruction of
the game/narrative and PC/player relations.
And he's quite successful at it.
Hmm, since you and Adam have both said this, clearly it must
As far as I played it (not very), I hadn't realized that I was
reconstructing some actual plans as opposed to just solving random
puzzles strewn about by the author.
>In fact, I think that this kind of deliberate breaking of the fourth
>wall is the recurring theme - perhaps the only commonality -
>throughout Cadre's production; parts of an ongoing deconstruction of
>the game/narrative and PC/player relations.
Well, Adam's games are in many ways the least immersive
ever, but they're still generally engaging (except Varicella,
for me). But I'm not sure to what degree this is him
deconstructing versus him simply not being interested in
immersion--see his review of, say, Punk Points.
(I'm using immersion in the game/VR sense of the
involved-suspension-of-disbelief that is generally
related to the IF community's word 'mimesis'.)
I think it was done badly in Varicella - it was also done badly in The
Meteor, The Stone And A Long Glass of Sherbet. PCs with defined
characters must act a certain way - if Primo had a plan then the first
twenty games are going against his characterisation.
(It might not be so bad if we only heard he had a plan after we'd succeeded
enough to show that we *are* indeed acting according to a plan, not just
studying the palace layout and the people's reactions....)
But of course there are counterexamples like Spider and the Web, which show
that this non-knowledge can be made to work excellently, even brilliantly.
True for *me* (I can't speak for Adam).
>As far as I played it (not very), I hadn't realized that I was
>reconstructing some actual plans as opposed to just solving random
>puzzles strewn about by the author.
Look, I'm sorry if I offended you. Clearly, your opinion is as
valid as mine. But I thought that went without saying.
Obviously, I was wrong.
Perhaps I should just shut up and refrain from expressing
*any* opinion on anything from now on, since I can't seem to
avoid appearing as an insufferable know-it-all.
> Perhaps I should just shut up and refrain from expressing
> *any* opinion on anything from now on, since I can't seem to
> avoid appearing as an insufferable know-it-all.
Magnus, Magnus, Magnus...
You've been expressing sensible opinions round here
for /quite/ long enough to recognise that SeanB is just a big
cuddly teddybear underneath that slightly edgy exterior...
Softly does it, I think. Roger
You'll find my Cloak of Darkness, Parsifal, Informary
and more at http://www.firthworks.com/roger/
BTW, I never have managed to kill Sierra and everybody else
except the Finance Minister. Is that possible (kill Louis
by luring him into the fountain, kill Modo and the war minister
in the usual ways, use your cousin on the Christ Minister
and the toy car on Sierra)? If so, what sort of ending do
Slight spoilers, I guess.
This is just my take, but--
I've always thought that the most interesting aspect of the player/PC
relationship in Varicella was the implication that the player's intervention
enables Varicella to achieve his nefarious ends. There's a passing reference
to Primo's plan, yes, but not much evidence that Primo has made any attempts
to put any sort of plan into practice; remember, at the beginning, he's
getting a manicure, which must say *something* about his priorities. If
Primo had always been as devious and unscrupulous as he appears to be once
you get there, I'm not sure he'd be umpteenth in line for the throne when
the game begins. The aspects of his character that come through clearly are
more inclined toward interior design than seizing power (you certainly never
get a good idea of what he thinks he'll *do* with power when he gets
it)--and the one element of Primo that's hammered home every other line,
that he dislikes a mess, is slightly at odds with the messiness of what
ensues when you get there.
Stronger spoilers ahead in my responses...
> This is just my take, but--
> I've always thought that the most interesting aspect of
> relationship in Varicella was the implication that the
> enables Varicella to achieve his nefarious ends.
What fascinated me most about that relationship was how
often I, the player, found myself helping Primo to reach his
selfish goal for very different reasons than what Primo had
in mind... one easy example of this is how much I wanted to
see the Christ Minister dead for what he did to the prince
at the end of his tutoring session.
> There's a passing reference
> to Primo's plan, yes, but not much evidence that Primo has
made any attempts
> to put any sort of plan into practice; remember, at the
> getting a manicure, which must say *something* about his
Yes, it does... to me it says that he doesn't want to get
his hands dirty, both literally and figuratively. I think
it says that if he's going to make a grab for power he's
going to do it as safely and untraceably as he can.
> Primo had always been as devious and unscrupulous as he
appears to be once
> you get there, I'm not sure he'd be umpteenth in line for
the throne when
> the game begins.
I think that Primo always was as nasty as he presents
himself when "Varicella" starts... I think what held him
back was that he was surrounded by people with more status,
more power, more money, and in some cases more deviousness
and much more willingness to take risks to get what they
> The aspects of his character that come through clearly are
> more inclined toward interior design than seizing power
(you certainly never
> get a good idea of what he thinks he'll *do* with power
when he gets
> it)--and the one element of Primo that's hammered home
every other line,
> that he dislikes a mess, is slightly at odds with the
messiness of what
> ensues when you get there.
But another way to look at that is that the situation at the
palace was destined to degenerate into a messy power
struggle as soon as the king died and that Primo's method of
dealing with it is to "clean house" and secure himself a
position close to the throne. I certainly got the
impression that things had already gotten very "messy" in
and around the palace in many ways that didn't involve Primo
as the story began.
Perhaps. But when the teddy bear suddenly develops a huge set of teeth
and bites you, it's the more of a shock.
In case anybody over-interpreted this as yet another case of my
stomping out of the newsgroup with hurt feelings: nothing so
melodramatic will happen (whether your reaction should be relief,
disappointment or indifference is of course an open question).
It's just that when the *only* reaction to my comments on a game
is a sour, sarcastic "You don't speak for everybody", I just lose
interest in the whole thing.
And on re-reading what I actually posted, I see that it didn't
even seem to help to prefix the opinions with phrases like "to me"
or "I think", which is the usually suggested way to avoid situations
like this, so I don't really know what to do.
Sean doesn't seem to be interested in anybody's opinion but his own,
anway; myself, I'm not sure I care very much anymore.
It's been pointed out to me (in email, by a third party) that
Sean may not have been sarcastic at all, but may simply have been
stating the truth in a way that I took for sarcasm.
If that's the case, I apologize, especially to Sean but to everybody
else who's been forced to endure my rantings, and hope that this
thread will be mercifullyforgotten as quickly as possible.
Oops, sorry, I was indeed not being sarcastic. Given that I
usually am, I think I should take the fall for that one, so
sorry about that, Magnus. I'm not sure why I phrased it the
way I did. Maybe I was jokingly pretending to be sarcastic?
To clarify my original post, I didn't get very far through
Varicella at all, so I had no clue how things turned out.
I hadn't realized there was really supposed to be a master
plan, as opposed to there just being an annoying cant_go
message which I tend to use as a canonical example of how
not to create immersion.
Oh, I never believed for a second that Primo had an actual plan that would
work. I do believe he *thought* he had a plan, but he actually needed my
guidance every step of the way to steer him down the happy-go-lucky path
(Well, I was misled by the game beginning to think that Primo had a plan,
but that soon turned out to not be true.)
I, the player, was much more scheming than Primo ever was. Primo got
lucky; I had to figure things out.
Charles won in the end because Primo's extraordinary luck (in the form of
yours truly) inexplicably quit ;-)
(Magnus extracts foot from mouth, in order to ingest a large portion
of fried crow)
No, it's I who should be - and am - sorry for going off the deep edge
The only explanation I can think of is that it's very unusual for
people to change their minds about a work of art like that, just
because somebody tells them, and phrases like "of course, since
both you and X tell me that Y is Z, I must have been wrong" are
almost always used sarcastically on Usenet. That, and my judgement
was somewhat clouded by a sever cold at the time. (Still is,
You are BOTH wrong! It is I who am sorry!
The Pissing Bandit
Because you weren't quick enough to sabotage anybody's breakfast
cereal before it was over?