Preferred "design philosophy?"

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fiziwig

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Jan 4, 2006, 6:25:55 PM1/4/06
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This is by no means meant to suggest that my preferences in design
style are "best" or "better", so if you disagree, that's fine. No need
to flame. I'm just curious how others feel about overall design
philosophy in IF.

Maybe it's just because I'm stupid, but far too often I get completely
stuck in the very first room of a new adventure, and finally loose
interest before ever stumbling onto the solution to the first problem.

To me, one of the most frustrating aspects of many IF games is that I
get stuck in one spot and cannot move anywhere until I guess, by shear
dumb luck it seems, that I must push the clown's nose before I will be
allowed to proceed. Trying to go north, or south, or east, or whatever,
I am told that I don't really want to go that direction right now.
Well, as a matter of fact, I DO want to go that dirction right now.
Just to relieve the boredom and explore the world a little, if nothing
else. Besides, exploring is much more interesting than standing in one
spot examining everything in sight and playing guess the verb until my
typing fingers go numb.

I much prefer games where I am always free to move in any direction,
and where steps that need to be completed can be completed in nearly
any order. Being stuck for hours in square one before being allowed to
see any more of the world is just frustrating. If I can't figure out
to push the clown's nose in square one right off, well, I should be
able to go on to some other part of the game world to complete a
different part of the puzzle, and come back to square one tomorrow or
the next day. Instead, most games set me down in front of locked door
number one waiting for me to chance upon the wild guess that will
unlock that door, then allow me to move to locked door number two. This
leaves me with the feeling that I'm being lead by the nose down a
one-way street with no opportunity to explore. I would rather be turned
loose within a labyrinth and allowed free reign. And if I wander WAY
off the beaten track then maybe, far out in the suburbs, ten miles from
square one, I will find a two-story tall billboard that says "Hey
dummy! Go back to square one and push the #$!$%&!! clown's nose!" And
by then I will have solved several other parts of the puzzle, but "out
of order."

I guess it boils down to this: I'd rather feel stupid and free in a
"real world" than to feel stupid AND in prison, AND forced to guess how
to follow someone else's script.

--gary shannon

Daphne Brinkerhoff

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Jan 4, 2006, 7:07:24 PM1/4/06
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fiziwig wrote:

(stuff I snipped)

> I much prefer games where I am always free to move in any direction,
> and where steps that need to be completed can be completed in nearly
> any order.

Instead of making substantive comments, I'm just going to say: you, my
friend, need to play Perdition's Flames. It leapt into my mind as I
read your post.

Okay, I'll make a minor substantive comment. The stuff you disliked,
if taken to an extreme, is what some people call "railroading", and
many other people besides you dislike it. On the other hand, games
that are wide-open can lose out on the story aspect. It's hard to make
a meaningful storyline if anything can be done at any time.
Fortunately there are authors who write all kinds of games, including
the kind you prefer.

--
Daphne

Dan Shiovitz

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Jan 5, 2006, 12:11:57 AM1/5/06
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In article <1136417155.4...@g14g2000cwa.googlegroups.com>,
fiziwig <fiz...@yahoo.com> wrote:
[..]

>To me, one of the most frustrating aspects of many IF games is that I
>get stuck in one spot and cannot move anywhere until I guess, by shear
>dumb luck it seems, that I must push the clown's nose before I will be
>allowed to proceed. Trying to go north, or south, or east, or whatever,
>I am told that I don't really want to go that direction right now.
[..]

>I much prefer games where I am always free to move in any direction,
>and where steps that need to be completed can be completed in nearly
>any order. Being stuck for hours in square one before being allowed to
>see any more of the world is just frustrating. If I can't figure out

Yeah, hmm. I partly agree and partly disagree. On the one hand, it's
definitely a virtue to have the world feel large, like there are
plenty of things to do and see right from the start. It's also nice
when the puzzles don't feel contrived -- it's lame when there's just
one puzzle to work on at any given time, and you work on it because
obviously the game isn't going to go anywhere until it's solved, and
then some other puzzle will magically open up. On the other hand, I
also dislike games where there are a dozen puzzles available to work
on but you can only solve two of them because the other ten require
items you haven't seen yet, or are otherwise keyed off other puzzles.
I also get kind of freaked out when I start up the game and am plopped
into the middle of a big area with no guidance as to where to go
first. That's a lot of information to take in all at once, whereas if
I'm just given a few rooms and objects I can ease into the game and
get my bearings.

So how are authors supposed to reconcile these two issues? Well, there
is some middle ground there. Obviously player tastes are going to
vary -- it sounds like you might like games that are a little more
wide-open than I like -- but I think it's safe to say that when IF
games have parts that are narrow, the author should put a lot
of work into making sure the player won't be stuck there for too long;
and when in parts that are broad, the author should put a lot
of work into making sure the player sees the scope of choices available
but also gets pointed particularly towards where they should start
work.

I realize this sounds wishy-washy, which is a fair charge. On the
other hand, it's hard to talk about this kind of thing in general,
since obviously everyone hates both extremes, and the interesting bits
are games that fall in the middle and looking at what tradeoffs they
made. If you've recently played a specific game or two that are good
(or bad) examples of this issue, I'd be very interested to hear which
games and what you thought of them. (Also, I feel obliged to mention
that I talk a fair bit about the introduction, about player guidance,
and about game scope in my "How To Write a Great Game" essay,
http://www.drizzle.com/~dans/if/great-games.html)

>--gary shannon
--
Dan Shiovitz :: d...@cs.wisc.edu :: http://www.drizzle.com/~dans
"He settled down to dictate a letter to the Consolidated Nailfile and
Eyebrow Tweezer Corporation of Scranton, Pa., which would make them
realize that life is stern and earnest and Nailfile and Eyebrow Tweezer
Corporations are not put in this world for pleasure alone." -PGW

fiziwig

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Jan 5, 2006, 2:01:16 AM1/5/06
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I think you summed it up perfectly. It's finding that balance. I shall
have to read your essay, for sure, since I'm getting ready to try my
hand at designing a game. (I wrote one in 2002, but nothing since then.
http://fiziwig.com/intfic/index.html In retrospect think my own game
was TOO wide open.)

I, too, would hate to be dropped in the middle of 100 square miles of
desert with total freedom and not a clue what to do. I'd also hate
being droped in a one-room dungeon cell and nowhere to go or nothing to
do until I guess the verb. I'd think a few rooms to start off with, and
loads of hints and information provided about where to go from there,
so you don't feel at a complete loss right from the start. And maybe
the forward progress is motivated more by moving the story line along
than just solving riddles. Maybe that's the motivation to keep the
player focused on what's important. Oh well, I'm bordering on stuff
that belongs in the "other" newsgroup. ;-)

--gary

Autymn D. C.

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Jan 5, 2006, 5:49:04 AM1/5/06
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loose -> lose
shear -> sheer
Perdition's Flames is awesom (old adjective, not noun). But its, like
Curses's or Zork's or whatever's, ending is always a letdown, as it's
too short and empty of meaning or reward. And I wish that any game at
all had dungeons/rooms/items made by an RNG like Nethack does--that's
why people still play it. At least plop the player into a random
entrance.

-Aut

Dan Shiovitz

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Jan 5, 2006, 12:39:01 PM1/5/06
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In article <1136458144.2...@g49g2000cwa.googlegroups.com>,

It's a little hard to distinguish your pedantic corrections of other
posters from your own original thoughts, but assuming those last
sentences are a request, you might be interested in is Muffy St. Bernard's
Wumpus 2000, which has a pretty nethack-y feel. Another, smaller game
you might be interested in is Peter Berman's Kiss Chase.

>-Aut

dwh...@gmail.com

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Jan 5, 2006, 1:45:38 PM1/5/06
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Strange how you continually make a point of correcting other posts yet
litter your own with so many spelling mistakes.

awesome -> awesome
its -> it's
Curses's -> Curses

And don't even get me started on your grammar.

fiziwig

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Jan 5, 2006, 2:26:41 PM1/5/06
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For me I don't think it's so much of a matter of story line as it is
avoiding situations where the only way to proceed is to play a boring
guessing game to figure out what the author is waiting for you to do.
("I'm thinking of a number between one and a million. The door will
open if you can guess my number.")

When I figure out a puzzle, ideally, I should be able to go back over
the transcript and say, yes, I should have known how to do that because
of this clue, and that thing I saw. I'm not saying the answers be given
outright but that, in retrospect at least, you can see that you were
indeed given all the information you needed to simply do the right
thing, straight away, without having to spend hours on blind random
guessing. If, that is, you had spent a few minutes thinking about the
meaning of the clues. In Dwenodon (The one and only IF I ever wrote,
back in 2002) a certain puzzle required throwing a magic coin into the
fountain. There were several references in descriptions and random
conversations of passers by all refering to throwing coins into the
fountain for luck. The player who paid attention should have had no
trouble figuring out what to do with that mysterious magic coin. It
wasn't, in other words, some random action pulled out of the blue with
no rhyme or reason.

I guess if I can play a game through to the end and then go back and
point out where every required action could be logically deduced from
what was known, without guesswork, then I'd be happy. The recent "A
Sugared Pill", for example, starts you out trapped in an alley with a
lighter and a very flammable stuffed toy. It's not rocket science to
deduce what needs to be done to solve the first puzzle. But if you
could only solve that first puzzle by some action that could not be
deduced, but only guessed at, then that would be poor design. IMHO.

It's rewarding to SOLVE a puzzle by deduction, but pointless, and not
rewarding at all, to simply have to guess at the solution.

--gary

Adam Thornton

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Jan 5, 2006, 4:32:42 PM1/5/06
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In article <1136486738.4...@g14g2000cwa.googlegroups.com>,

<dwh...@gmail.com> wrote:
>Strange how you continually make a point of correcting other posts yet
>litter your own with so many spelling mistakes.
>
>awesome -> awesome
>its -> it's
>Curses's -> Curses

One out of three is not terribly impressive, dwhyld.

The first one is clearly a typo...except that you mean to correct
"awesom" to "awesome."

The unapostrophized "its" is correct.

The third one is slightly trickier. What *is* the correct possessive
form of a singular noun which is a proper name which is the plural of a
noun?

I would myself go with "Curses's", although "_Curses_'s" would have been
clearer.

Adam


Michael Martin

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Jan 6, 2006, 3:47:27 AM1/6/06
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>The third one is slightly trickier. What *is* the correct possessive
>form of a singular noun which is a proper name which is the plural of a
>noun?

>I would myself go with "Curses's", although "_Curses_'s" would have been
>clearer.

Totally off-topic (other than "proper mechanics in IF are good"), but
that's right. It's a singular noun (since curses are plural, but
Curses is singular), and even singulars that end in s get the 's.

--Michael

Autymn D. C.

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Jan 6, 2006, 12:43:49 PM1/6/06
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Adam Thornton wrote:
> In article <1136486738.4...@g14g2000cwa.googlegroups.com>,
> <dwh...@gmail.com> wrote:
> >Strange how you continually make a point of correcting other posts yet
> >litter your own with so many spelling mistakes.
> >
> >awesome -> awesome
> >its -> it's
> >Curses's -> Curses
>
> One out of three is not terribly impressive, dwhyld.
>
> The first one is clearly a typo...except that you mean to correct
> "awesom" to "awesome."

No, both, I /openly/ explained my spelling in the parentheses. I am
a'reforming speech back yester the illiterates such as "dwhyld" wrecked
English in their blind blendings of wordly parts:

awesome (n.) -> awesom (a.);
it follows that
-full (n.) -> -ful (a.),
-less (n.) -> -les (a.).

Look in the origins of English words in dictionary entries to see how
bad it's gotten. Foreigners make the -full mistake, and yet clueles
dolts like these here think that English should be contradictorily
riht.

For that last word, read my message in the talk page of the Wikipedian
article "Flying spaghetti monsterism".

> I would myself go with "Curses's", although "_Curses_'s" would have been
> clearer.

clearer how??

-Aut

Adam Thornton

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Jan 7, 2006, 12:23:21 PM1/7/06
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In article <1136569429.9...@g43g2000cwa.googlegroups.com>,

Autymn D. C. <lysd...@sbcglobal.net> wrote:
>Look in the origins of English words in dictionary entries to see how
>bad it's gotten. Foreigners make the -full mistake, and yet clueles
>dolts like these here think that English should be contradictorily
>riht.

If you want a regularized language, you know where to find Esperanto.
Or Volapuk. Or, for that matter, go for the gusto and begin writing and
speaking in the Universal Character.

>> I would myself go with "Curses's", although "_Curses_'s" would have been
>> clearer.
>
>clearer how??

In that the addition of the underscores would have underscored the point
that _Curses_ itself is a singular proper noun, and in fact the title of
a long textual work.

Adam

Autymn D. C.

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Jan 8, 2006, 9:24:37 AM1/8/06
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Adam Thornton wrote:
> If you want a regularized language, you know where to find Esperanto.
> Or Volapuk. Or, for that matter, go for the gusto and begin writing and
> speaking in the Universal Character.

These aren't English.

> >> I would myself go with "Curses's", although "_Curses_'s" would have been
> >> clearer.
> >
> >clearer how??
>
> In that the addition of the underscores would have underscored the point
> that _Curses_ itself is a singular proper noun, and in fact the title of
> a long textual work.

What book is this in? Besides, I was already clear by a'putting all
nouns in that clause in the same case. dwhyld is a but an illiterate
who can't even spell its.

-Aut

Autymn D. C.

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Jan 8, 2006, 7:20:12 AM1/8/06
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Adam Thornton wrote:
> If you want a regularized language, you know where to find Esperanto.
> Or Volapuk. Or, for that matter, go for the gusto and begin writing and
> speaking in the Universal Character.

These aren't English.

> >> I would myself go with "Curses's", although "_Curses_'s" would have been
> >> clearer.
> >
> >clearer how??
>
> In that the addition of the underscores would have underscored the point
> that _Curses_ itself is a singular proper noun, and in fact the title of
> a long textual work.

What book is this in? Besides, I was already clear by a'putting all

dwh...@gmail.com

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Jan 9, 2006, 7:28:18 AM1/9/06
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Autymn D. C. wrote:
>
> What book is this in? Besides, I was already clear by a'putting all
> nouns in that clause in the same case. dwhyld is a but an illiterate
> who can't even spell its.
>
> -Aut

And you, my dear, would know all about illiteracy, wouldn't you?

> Besides, I was already clear by a'putting all
> nouns in that clause in the same case

And once again in English please.

Adam Thornton

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Jan 9, 2006, 12:59:00 PM1/9/06
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In article <1136652211.4...@f14g2000cwb.googlegroups.com>,

Autymn D. C. <lysd...@sbcglobal.net> wrote:
>Adam Thornton wrote:
>> If you want a regularized language, you know where to find Esperanto.
>> Or Volapuk. Or, for that matter, go for the gusto and begin writing and
>> speaking in the Universal Character.
>These aren't English.

English is a language with many irregular forms. Your quixotic crusade
to rectify this fact is amusing, but probably, for you, ultimately
frustrating.

Adam

Autymn D. C.

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Jan 12, 2006, 12:48:10 AM1/12/06
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dwh...@gmail.com wrote:
> Autymn D. C. wrote:
> >
> > What book is this in? Besides, I was already clear by a'putting all
> > nouns in that clause in the same case. dwhyld is a but an illiterate
> > who can't even spell its.

> And you, my dear, would know all about illiteracy, wouldn't you?

I know about the world and more.

> > Besides, I was already clear by a'putting all
> > nouns in that clause in the same case
>
> And once again in English please.

All of that's in English but "clear", "nouns", "clause", and "case".
Let me see if I can bring over...: asweep, clepes, shuttin, and fallen.

-Aut

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