I admit freely that I still enjoy those old games tremendously! :-) I have
recently replayed many of my old Infocom games, many of which boil down to
treasure hunts (be it the coloured rods in Starcross, Buddy's treasures in
Hollywood Hijinx, fluff in HHGTTG, not to mention the Zorks) and require the
mapping of large areas. I think that's fun if it's done very well and if the
background story lends some (!) credibility to the tasks you perform in the
But I'm not posting this to make a point for a particular type of IF game.
Rather, I'm asking if you still enjoy this type of game.
Should IF authors still write games that revolve around collecting
treasures, solving hard puzzles, and require mapping? Is it okay if those
games present the same old thing with good new puzzles and an interesting
background story? Or have you, the IF playing community, had enough of that?
Thorsten Franz, Bonn, Germany (shlomo.g...@gmx.de)
I definitely feel that way. Of course, I feel that *anything* that
lacks a new twist, angle, or idea is a thing of the past.
> But I'm not posting this to make a point for a particular type of IF game.
> Rather, I'm asking if you still enjoy this type of game.
"And Aholibamah bare Jeush, and Jaalam, and Korah: these were the borogoves..."
* George W. Bush was elected with just five votes.
>But I'm not posting this to make a point for a particular type of IF
>game. Rather, I'm asking if you still enjoy this type of game.
>Should IF authors still write games that revolve around collecting
>treasures, solving hard puzzles, and require mapping? Is it okay if
>those games present the same old thing with good new puzzles and an
>interesting background story? Or have you, the IF playing community, had
>enough of that?
I'm not very fond of mapping but I like treasure hunts and solving puzzles.
I like this place, and willingly would waste my time in it.
-- William Shakespeare, As You Like It
Personally, I never got a great deal out of treasure hunts, even when they
were the only IF about. A big aspect of this is the feel of a game; even
though Anchorhead. e.g., rotates around object puzzles and find-the-key
stuff, it's constructed in such a way that it feels _right_ somehow. Other
games which maybe have no more and no harder puzzles feel more puzzle-based,
because there's not much in the game apart from some locations with some
objects in, which you put together in method X, Y and Z to get to the next
If a game *requires* mapping, it's often due to locations not being
individual or evocative enough, or due to them fitting together in
irrational ways. If locations are well-developed enough, and arranged in
fairly orderly ways, I can usually remember their arrangement; to me,
'requires mapping' all too often equals 'huge numbers of poorly realised
rooms, most of which serve no function whatsoever'. I'm quite happy to be
proved wrong, of course, and I often am. ;)
Puzzles, to me, only serve any function when they fit in with the plot and
don't dominate. It's also important that they are not so difficult that it
is quite likely that the PC would never be able to solve them in RL.
(Obviously, this is just a characterisation thing, but if Princess Ditzball
has to construct five-tier wumpus traps out of binder twine, dustbin lids
and the kitchen sink in six turns in order for the game to proceed,
The treasure romp, in my humble opinion, isn't really a genre that had much
in it; a few games exhausted its potential, and most of what came therafter
was just the same thing with nice new shoes. There's a big difference
between a set of puzzles with a vague theme linking them, and interactive
Whether they 'should be' a thing of the past isn't really anybody's place to
say. I mean, people still churn out swords-and-sorcery fiction and ladette
lit long after the genres became worn-out and tedious. I don't object to
it's existence, or think that we should root it all out; that's not how any
media work. As with anything, you write what you feel happy with. I won't
play the stuff, but I don't think that's the criteria you need to be looking
>Should IF authors still write games that revolve around collecting
>treasures, solving hard puzzles, and require mapping? Is it okay if those
>games present the same old thing with good new puzzles and an interesting
>background story? Or have you, the IF playing community, had enough of that?
I feel (MHO) that in the first place authors should write what they
like. However, I realize an author is not alone in this world: he want
his games to be played (or she wants, etc.). I personally like
treasure hunts very much.
There are musicians that try to find new paths in making music and
there are musicians that are happy to find new, tiny variations to
existing blues styles. By the same token there can be IF authors that
try and find new ways, and IF authors that try to find only small
variations on existing themes.
I think that if you scratch an IF player, you'll find a writer. Not too deep
down, we really want to be writing our own scripts. Anytime I'm involved in
something like IF, there's a part of me that resents being stuck inside
somebody else's plot--no matter how good it is. And just tricking me into
feeling I'm "interacting," by feeding me puzzles or treasure-hunt clues,
doesn't work. Here I am wanting to exercise my right brain, and you're
giving me left-brain stuff to do. No fun.
What I'd like to see is some kind of IF where the player participates in the
writing, so to speak. Don't know how that would work, but it sums up how I
What an intriguing observation! I wonder if this is universally true,
though. (Not that I think taking a poll on RAIF (or even RGIF) would yield
unbiased results.) And is the obvious generalization true as well, that all
readers are actually writers at heart?
Although I have wanted to write IF soon after playing my first game, I
attribute this inclination to the fact that I feel this way about all
media--books, television, movies, songs--rather than to the nature of IF
> something like IF, there's a part of me that resents being stuck inside
> somebody else's plot--no matter how good it is. And just tricking me into
> feeling I'm "interacting," by feeding me puzzles or treasure-hunt clues,
> doesn't work. Here I am wanting to exercise my right brain, and you're
> giving me left-brain stuff to do. No fun.
I would divide player activity into three basic categories: reading &
visualization, exploration, and puzzle-solving. And to me, only the last
category really exercises either the right brain or the left brain. I don't
see how puzzleless IF exercises the player's noggin more than straight
fiction would. (Don't get me wrong; I certainly feel these can be very
> What I'd like to see is some kind of IF where the player participates in
> writing, so to speak. Don't know how that would work, but it sums up how
Aside from freeform exercises like those I imagine are given in creative
writing workshops, I can't see how a computer could really interact with the
player in a creative way, at least not until our understanding of
intelligence and creativity has advanced for many, many years. One way of
looking at IF is that it provides a convenient illusion of understanding the
player's desires and creativity, by restricting the player's options more or
Until HAL and its ilk come online, true creative collaboration will, I
believe, be restricted to human domains, such as collaborative storytelling
and (non-computer-moderated) role-playing games.
W. Top Changwatchai
chngwtch at u i u c dot edu
Aside from that, if you want to write a Infocom-style treasure hunt
because it's something you know how to do and don't have to think
all that much about the game as a whole, don't. If you want to write
it because you have neat ideas and this is the way to use them, go
>I think that if you scratch an IF player, you'll find a writer. Not too
>down, we really want to be writing our own scripts[...]
>What I'd like to see is some kind of IF where the player participates in
>writing, so to speak. Don't know how that would work, but it sums up how I
Hold on... you want to play IF and write your own _at the same time_?
I'm an explorer at heart, love maps, and find the eventual hard-earned
treasure-grab tremendously satisfying. So, yes, I still love these
kinds of games. They might not win you a prize in the contest, but I'll
bet lotsa people will play them.
Just my 2p.
To answer this question I will interview myself:
Q. If someone wrote a nice puzzler, would I play it?
A. Yes. I still enjoy a good puzzle hunt.
I also enjoy Victorian mansions, fugues, and Old English poems.
Q. Would I write about it on raif?
A. Probably not as much. It's more exciting to talk about
stylistic or technical innovations. This is why in the established
arts (meaning those in which you can get tenure), people don't
talk about how good works are, just about what techniques they
use and how they fit into some theory of art or taxonomy of style.
Literary critics can have successful careers without ever
criticizing (or perhaps even reading) a piece of literature.
Though I think that's going a bit far.
Q. Would I rather have seen them write something "new" instead?
A. I would rather see a great instance of an old style
than a mediocre instance of a not-entirely-new style.
Q. Do I feel that IF would be more interesting on the whole
if people spent less time writing puzzle-based IF?
A. Yes, that form is overrepresented.
Q. Do I think new forms are "better" than old forms?
- Phil Goetz
James Wyatt wrote:
> I'd really like to play a new-style Advent game, like the IF equivalent
> of Activision releasing their new Battlezone.
> I really enjoyed playing the original Advent, and it'd be interesting to see
> happen to it with modern ideas and programming.
Mike Arnautov, author of Adventure 660, is currently developing a 770
point version. He may still be accepting online beta-testers. The best
place to investigate further would be the Advent forum at
Hope that was of some help,