WANTED: Your thoughts on fantasy I-F

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C.E. Forman

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Nov 9, 1996, 3:00:00 AM11/9/96
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After reading some of the recent threads about "stale" I-F genres - pulp
sci-fi, time travel, and particularly fantasy - I'm a bit concerned about
the acceptance of "Circle of Armageddon", the next major effort by myself
and co-author Jeff Cassidy.

For those who aren't aware, "Circle" is Volume 2 of a series (NOT a
trilogy) called "The Windhall Chronicles", of which "The Path to Fortune"
("PTF") is Volume 1.

For those who have played "PTF", let me assure you that "Circle" will be
a far more ambitious attempt at I-F, as far as plot, structure, and
overall design are concerned. The setting will be the same (though the
world to explore will be expanded), and the player will be reunited with
the same cast of characters, with a number of new additions.

Whether you like traditional fantasy or not, and whether or not you are
familiar with "The Windhall Chronicles", I would very much like to get
your opinion on what Jeff and I have planned for "Circle". In order to
help give you an idea of what "Circle" will be (if released), I've made a
list of some of the major points pertaining to recent genre discussions:

1) "Circle" will be a longer, more complex game than "PTF", but its
map will be more segmented, broken into areas. These areas are
NOT self-contained (as in "Trinity" or "Jigsaw"), and sub-quests
spread across multiple regions are not uncommon, but unlike "PTF"
there will be more places inaccessible from the start, to avoid
overwhelming players from the outset.

2) "Circle" will combine the traditional (some might substitute the
adjective "generic") fantasy elements such as Tolkien characters
- elves, dwarves, gnomes - and D&D scenarios (though there is
NO monster-slaying this time around); journeying; casting spells
(though not directly from scrolls - "Circle" will have a truly
unique yet uncomplicated magic system); and collection of a
series of useful (i.e. non-useless) magical artifacts to pace
the plot. But in addition to the standard fantasy-quest stuff,
"Circle" will rise above the average LOtR clone through the use
of factual details of medieval life and customs, and a good deal
of political intrigue mixed into the plot.

3) Like "PTF", "Circle" will feature lots of characters to interact
with, but this time around they will respond to far more than
"ASK <x> ABOUT <y>". Four of the NPCs will become travelling
companions during the course of the game, and the player needs
their help with some of the puzzles. (Yes, it'll have puzzles.)
The player will also switch roles twice during the game, leaving
Aerin behind to follow portions of the story as other characters.
Sir Gunther and his awful grammar will still be a major part of
the story, but his text will be peppered with numerous mangled
literary references (Shakespeare, the Canturbury Tales, Morte
D'Arthur, etc.) to hopefully amuse those literate players who
misunderstood our intentions with Gunther in "PTF".

4) There will be no random searching for objects in "Circle" (as in
the blue stone in "PTF"). Some items may be hidden, but always
in places a player will naturally examine, not buried in the
scenery beneath mounds of useless text. There will be far fewer
useless "padding" rooms than in "PTF" and the text will be more
polished.

5) Familiarity with the ending of "PTF" will enhance the opening
scenes of "Circle" and familiarize players with the characters,
but completion of "PTF" is NOT necessary to play and win
"Circle".

6) "Circle", like "PTF", will be shareware, but "Circle" features
a better registration packet than "PTF". It will include not
only the e-mailed maps and hint booklet, but also some props from
the game (a la Infocom): Letters that enhance the political
intrigue, some ancient parchments, a map of... Well, I won't say
that last one, since it would spoil a neat surprise. Suffice it
to say that the registration package will truly enhance the
adventuring experience.

7) "PTF" was largely an excuse for me to learn Inform, and at the
time of its design the series as a whole lacked direction.
"Circle" is where the story really takes off. Jeff and I are
definitely working up to something here, though to say what
would spoil it outright.

Currently, "Circle" has been designed and layed out completely, but no
actual programming has begun. Your feedback will strongly influence the
way in which the game develops (if at all).

Now, given what I've just told you, could you please let me know:

1) What are your thoughts on traditional fantasy (i.e. straight
D&D/Tolkien clones) versus researched/"real" fantasy (i.e. "Curses",
"The Once and Future King", etc.)? Do traditional fantasy games
always appear tired and cliched to you, or can their unoriginality
be downplayed by high entertainment value, coupled with solid
puzzles, plot, and characters? (In other words, do you throw out
the whole game simply because of a generic fantasy setting?)

2) Would you even download and try a game like "Circle", as I've
described it? Would you discuss it on rec.games.int-fiction if
it were substantial enough to merit discussion?

3) If you got sufficient enjoyment out of the game, and felt that it
matched or exceeded the level of quality I've described above,
would you consider registering it? (I am NOT soliciting
registrations. Answering "yes" does not obligate you in any way
to register. I simply want to get an idea of the demand for this
type of game.)

4) Any other thoughts you have on this matter? (But please don't
feed me the "do what YOU want, not what everyone else wants" line.
If no one else is interested, I doubt we'll even bother.)

Thank you all for your time. Looking forward to your replies!

--
C.E. Forman cefo...@worldnet.att.net
Classic I-F FS/T in Ye Olde Infocomme Shoppe! (Mail for current stock.)
Read XYZZYnews at http://www.interport.net/~eileen/design/xyzzynews.html
Vote I-F in 96! Visit http://www.xs4all.nl/~jojo/pcgames.html for info!
"Circle of Armageddon", Vol. 2 of "The Windhall Chronicles" -- Feb 1997!

C.E. Forman

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Nov 9, 1996, 3:00:00 AM11/9/96
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Steven Howard

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Nov 9, 1996, 3:00:00 AM11/9/96
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In <560udf$c...@mtinsc01-mgt.ops.worldnet.att.net>, "C.E. Forman" <cefo...@postoffice.worldnet.att.net> writes:

[Description of planned game snipped.]

>Now, given what I've just told you, could you please let me know:
>
> 1) What are your thoughts on traditional fantasy (i.e. straight
> D&D/Tolkien clones) versus researched/"real" fantasy (i.e. "Curses",
> "The Once and Future King", etc.)? Do traditional fantasy games
> always appear tired and cliched to you, or can their unoriginality
> be downplayed by high entertainment value, coupled with solid
> puzzles, plot, and characters? (In other words, do you throw out
> the whole game simply because of a generic fantasy setting?)

What you're calling "traditional" fantasy bores me stupid. Now, I'm sure
there could be an amazing entertaining game concealed under the "Go forth
with your trusty sword and fetch hither the McGuffin" plot. It's just that
I'm inclined to think that an author who can't come up with a more
interesting setting than pseudo-medieval high fantasy isn't going to
dazzle me with original characters or plots. So while I might not
dismiss a game entirely based on its setting, a boring and overused
setting will make me less forgiving of other faults and less likely to
finish the game.

After the competition is over, I can point out some specific
examples of games that have some interesting features despite
being set in featureless "medieval fantasy" worlds.

> 2) Would you even download and try a game like "Circle", as I've
> described it? Would you discuss it on rec.games.int-fiction if
> it were substantial enough to merit discussion?

Really, the only feature of the game as described that interests me
is the idea of having the player change characters at certain times.
I liked this idea in "Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy" and felt it was
under-used there. However, given that the rest of the game sounds
like a text-based version of those lame "CRPG" games, I probably
wouldn't play it.

> 3) If you got sufficient enjoyment out of the game, and felt that it
> matched or exceeded the level of quality I've described above,
> would you consider registering it? (I am NOT soliciting
> registrations. Answering "yes" does not obligate you in any way
> to register. I simply want to get an idea of the demand for this
> type of game.)

Probably not. I've never registered a shareware game, because I've
never come across one that I'd actually want to own -- I play them
for a while then delete them. I-F games in particular tend to have
very little replay value, making me even less likely to want to own
one forever.

> 4) Any other thoughts you have on this matter? (But please don't
> feed me the "do what YOU want, not what everyone else wants" line.
> If no one else is interested, I doubt we'll even bother.)

If you really think this is a good game that a lot of people would want to
play, and that a significant portion would be turned off by the setting, you
should consider whether the setting can be improved. The best fantasy
novels either take place in a specific historical setting from the real world
or in a highly detailed and unusual invented world. The vast majority of
hack fantasy novels (and games), on the other hand, are set in a place
that's "kind of like medieval Europe with magic and elves." If your setting
fits better in that third category, odds are that most people will assume
the rest of the game will betray the same lack of originality. If you make
the setting obviously unusual, and the rest of the work reflects the setting,
so that the player gets the impression that this story could not have occurred
in any other setting, then you have a chance at attracting people like me
who'd toss aside the "dragons, unicorns and elves" sort of game without
a second thought.

========
Steven Howard
bl...@ibm.net

What's a nice word like "euphemism" doing in a sentence like this?

J. I. Drasner

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Nov 9, 1996, 3:00:00 AM11/9/96
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In article <562gvp$1232$1...@news-s01.ca.us.ibm.net>, bl...@ibm.net wrote:

>The vast majority of
>hack fantasy novels (and games), on the other hand, are set in a place
>that's "kind of like medieval Europe with magic and elves." If your setting
>fits better in that third category, odds are that most people will assume
>the rest of the game will betray the same lack of originality. If you make
>the setting obviously unusual, and the rest of the work reflects the setting,
>so that the player gets the impression that this story could not have occurred
>in any other setting, then you have a chance at attracting people like me
>who'd toss aside the "dragons, unicorns and elves" sort of game without
>a second thought.

Just to add to this -- and this may be digressing slightly -- I think one
of my favorite IF games, Zork II, is a good one to think about. Here's a
game that actually does feature dragons, unicorns, and elves (well, okay,
gnomes); in fact, it has the tired-and-true [sic] "dragon menaces sweet
young virgin who is the only one who can tame shy unicorn" convention. Yet
the game also features an arguably clinically insane grumpy old wizard, a
Wonderland setting, and topiary animals that will eat you. (The thought of
that last sequence STILL gives me the shivers. I can remember exactly how
freaked I got the first time the animals started to move. But anyway.)

What's my point? Good question. Basically, it seems to me that a game can
still buy into the hackneyed fantasy conventions without itself becoming a
hackneyed convention. Granted, there was certainly an element of satire in
Zork II's use of the unicorn thing. But I think it's possible to combine
the "classic" into an original universe, as those fine folks from Infocom
did so elegantly with the GUE.

Joey

****************************************************
American Gothic fanatic or just a tourist in Trinity?
Read The Trinity Guardian: http://www.best.com/~owls/AG/
****************************************************
Guildenstern: He's -- melancholy.
Player: Melancholy?
Rosencrantz: Mad.
Alice: But I don't want to go among mad people.
Cheshire Cat: Oh, you can't help that, we're all mad here.
(From "Rosencrantz & Guildenstern in Wonderland")
****************************************************
Johanna "Joey" Drasner: ow...@best.com (San Francisco)
****************************************************

chi...@fred.aurora.edu

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Nov 9, 1996, 3:00:00 AM11/9/96
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> After reading some of the recent threads about "stale" I-F genres - pulp
> sci-fi, time travel, and particularly fantasy - I'm a bit concerned about
> the acceptance of "Circle of Armageddon", the next major effort by myself
> and co-author Jeff Cassidy.
>
Um, having skipped over most of those threads, till this one, I
find myself worried about my own game as well (course by the time
I can finish it, those things will probably come back into fashion)
as SHOPPING is pretty much entirely pulp sci-fi and time travel.

So, in the best Usenet tradition, Im gonna piggyback calls for
responses on CE Formans article, and even swipe his 'points'
section. ;) ;) ;)

1) Shopping is pretty much a pulp sci-fi/ time travel game..
Your girlfriend disappears from the fitting room of the
local mall. Eventually, you find out that shes one of
5 key women throughout history that the evil Dr.
N'gen Ninany (say it aloud fast <g>) needs to turn into
zombie sex slaves in order to rule the universe.

2) The game is fairly non-linear. The prologue, and the
eplilogue are, but you can tackle any one of the 5
historical periods in any order and be sure you have all
you need in that period to complete the puzzle.

3) The game has at least two endings. Yes, male chauvinsit pigs,
it will be possible to leave your girlfriend a mindless
zombie sex slave. You wont get a full score, of course, but
I suspect that wont matter to some of you <g>

4) The game will have a fiarly large cast of NPC's.. Im thinking
10-15. I will try to make them as interactive as possible,
but hey, Im learning inform so.. <g>

5) The game will be freeware, but comments will be eagerly
appreciated.

6) Parts of the game will be sexually explicit. Think LGOP
with better puzzles and better sex <vbg>


The game is about 1/2 designed and 1/8 programmed(my puter ran out
of memory- if I can ever get Inform to work on the local universitys
Macs, I can work more on it.)

I just want to know what y'all think of the concept, and more
importantly- would you download/solve it if/when I can finish it? ;)

Chidder


John Hartnup

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Nov 10, 1996, 3:00:00 AM11/10/96
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C.E. Forman (cefo...@postoffice.worldnet.att.net) wrote:

: 1) What are your thoughts on traditional fantasy (i.e. straight


: D&D/Tolkien clones) versus researched/"real" fantasy (i.e. "Curses",
: "The Once and Future King", etc.)? Do traditional fantasy games
: always appear tired and cliched to you, or can their unoriginality
: be downplayed by high entertainment value, coupled with solid
: puzzles, plot, and characters? (In other words, do you throw out
: the whole game simply because of a generic fantasy setting?)

If it makes me laugh out loud, marvel at the prose, and satisfies me with
a neat puzzle, within the first half hour of playing (as Curses did) then
I doubt I'll care about the genre.

If the first couple of paragraphs dump me into a world I can't connect to
( " It is twenty years hence since the kingdom of Cthungle was invaded by
the evil forces of Kaal. Ever since, the people have been terrorised by
Grathos. " etc.) ... then it'll be all the more difficult to grasp my
attention quickly.

: 2) Would you even download and try a game like "Circle", as I've


: described it? Would you discuss it on rec.games.int-fiction if
: it were substantial enough to merit discussion?

Of course I'd discuss it. Although I tend to download games when I start
seeing questions about it in r.*.if...

: 3) If you got sufficient enjoyment out of the game, and felt that it


: matched or exceeded the level of quality I've described above,
: would you consider registering it? (I am NOT soliciting
: registrations. Answering "yes" does not obligate you in any way
: to register. I simply want to get an idea of the demand for this
: type of game.)

I've never registered a game - purely because the games I've *really* enjoyed
have been free. Curses and Christminster are the obvious ones.
Yours may be the first.


--
-----------------------------------------------------------
John Hartnup | You can drink your weak lemon drink
sl...@ladle.demon.co.uk| now, or you can save it 'til later.
-----------------------------------------------------------


bout...@blade.wcc.govt.nz

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Nov 11, 1996, 3:00:00 AM11/11/96
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>
>Now, given what I've just told you, could you please let me know:
>
> 1) What are your thoughts on traditional fantasy (i.e. straight
> D&D/Tolkien clones) versus researched/"real" fantasy (i.e. "Curses",
> "The Once and Future King", etc.)? Do traditional fantasy games
> always appear tired and cliched to you, or can their unoriginality
> be downplayed by high entertainment value, coupled with solid
> puzzles, plot, and characters? (In other words, do you throw out
> the whole game simply because of a generic fantasy setting?)

Nope - but you're going to have your work cut out for you avoiding those
cliches (especially in the fantasy genre). The original PTF held me for quite a
while because there was a lot to do and see, but some of the plot seemed a
little too much like a Feist novel (novice apprentice turned adventurer, young
love interest etc). The wording of your question is a bit nasty - 'traditional'
fantasy has always been for me the bees knees - it's the cut-and-paste modern
fantasy that so often bites. Some of the creatures in PTF seemed of that
'archetypal' mode (the werewolf springs to mind) - there for their fantasy
value, but not really enriching the mythology of the world. On the other hand,
the marsh cat rocked -it was a complete character unto itself, regardless of
its literary precedents. In that sense,
un/originality isn't the issue, but rather completeness. Tolkein 'borrowed'
elements but worked them into his setting completely - that, for me, makes
all the difference.


> 2) Would you even download and try a game like "Circle", as I've
> described it? Would you discuss it on rec.games.int-fiction if
> it were substantial enough to merit discussion?

Definitely.


> 3) If you got sufficient enjoyment out of the game, and felt that it
> matched or exceeded the level of quality I've described above,
> would you consider registering it? (I am NOT soliciting
> registrations. Answering "yes" does not obligate you in any way
> to register. I simply want to get an idea of the demand for this
> type of game.)

I'm a horrible person who never registers anything that I can get for free
(legally). Mostly this is because I live in New Zealand, and the price of
return postage can double a registration fee.


> 4) Any other thoughts you have on this matter? (But please don't
> feed me the "do what YOU want, not what everyone else wants" line.
> If no one else is interested, I doubt we'll even bother.)
>

It sounds like this project is really a completely new ballpark. Keep it
consistent and lavish it with detail.

-Giles


John Hartnup

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Nov 11, 1996, 3:00:00 AM11/11/96
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Steven Howard (bl...@ibm.net) wrote:

: Really, the only feature of the game as described that interests me


: is the idea of having the player change characters at certain times.
: I liked this idea in "Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy" and felt it was
: under-used there.

How about "Day of the Tentacle"? A GUI game, I know, but it lets you
play three characters in a very neat way.

John

Joe Mason

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Nov 11, 1996, 3:00:00 AM11/11/96
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"WANTED: Your thoughts on", declared C.E. Forman from the Vogon ship:

CF> 1) What are your thoughts on traditional fantasy (i.e. straight
CF> D&D/Tolkien clones) versus researched/"real" fantasy (i.e.
CF> "Curses", "The Once and Future King", etc.)? Do traditional
CF> fantasy games always appear tired and cliched to you, or can
CF> their unoriginality be downplayed by high entertainment value,
CF> coupled with solid puzzles, plot, and characters? (In other
CF> words, do you throw out the whole game simply because of a
CF> generic fantasy setting?)

"90% of everthing is crap." If you're game is among the 10%, then sure
it'll be good.

To clarify this: yes, the vast majority of generic fantasy is pretty
boring, now. But I'm perfectly content to sift through for the good
10%, the 10% that add something signigicant to the genre. Only if I get
a bit of the way into it and nothing original has shown itself will I
throw it away. (I'll confess, I threw away Path to Fortune.)

Of course, if it's highly original from the start, there's my incentive
right there - but I'll forgive a fairly standard opening, as long as
something shows up fairly soon.

In summary, it would be far better to go the extra mile and provide a
unique and original fantasy world, since that's guaranteed to pull
people in. Of course, with the "elves-and-dragons" world you're
guaranteed that people will at least recognize it and not object to it
too much. If people just don't like the original world you create,
you're screwed the other way.

CF> 2) Would you even download and try a game like "Circle", as I've
CF> described it? Would you discuss it on rec.games.int-fiction if
CF> it were substantial enough to merit discussion?

Of course. I might not play the whole thing, but I'll at least look at
it.

This might change as more and more games become available, though - if
there are too many to keep up with everything, I'll only go for the ones
that have high recommendations.

CF> 3) If you got sufficient enjoyment out of the game, and felt that
CF> it matched or exceeded the level of quality I've described
CF> above, would you consider registering it? (I am NOT soliciting
CF> registrations. Answering "yes" does not obligate you in any way
CF> to register. I simply want to get an idea of the demand for
CF> this type of game.)

<ahem> I've never registered a shareware product. I would if I had a
steady source of income, but since I don't I'm not registering anything.
Prime candidates for registration would be utilities that I used often;
I doubt I'd register many games at all. I'd probably only register
something I planned to come back to many times after I'd completed it.
This is the same logic that leads me to only buy books that I just
*have* to have a copy of; anything else I just get out of the library.
(The difference being, of course, that my family supports the library
through taxes, so there's no moral problem with using it. Using
shareware like that is on shakier ground.)

So, in summary - no, I probably wouldn't register it.

CF> 4) Any other thoughts you have on this matter? (But please don't
CF> feed me the "do what YOU want, not what everyone else wants"
CF> line. If no one else is interested, I doubt we'll even bother.)

Well, I didn't like Windhall too much - mainly because I'd just finished
Curses and Jigsaw and wasn't in the mood for another big game I think.
I'll probably go back to it after the contest entries and Time, though,
and then I'll have a better idea of how I'd like Circle of Armagedon.

Joe

joe....@tabb.com
Shad Valley Carleton '96

-- The 1996 Interactive Fiction Contest is now open! --
-- From Oct. 30 to Nov. 30, vote for the best of '96 --
-- ftp://ftp.gmd.de/if-archive/games/competition96 --


ş CMPQwk 1.42 9550 şRead the docs. Wow, what a radical concept!

Steven Howard

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Nov 13, 1996, 3:00:00 AM11/13/96
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In <E0pw...@ladle.demon.co.uk>, John Hartnup <sl...@ladle.demon.co.uk> writes:
>Steven Howard (bl...@ibm.net) wrote:
>
>: Really, the only feature of the game as described that interests me
>: is the idea of having the player change characters at certain times.
>: I liked this idea in "Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy" and felt it was
>: under-used there.
>
>How about "Day of the Tentacle"? A GUI game, I know, but it lets you
>play three characters in a very neat way.

I was thinking of text-only games, but you're right. Both Maniac Mansion
and Day of the Tentacle allowed (actually, required) the player to switch
between multiple protagonists.

Andrew Plotkin

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Nov 13, 1996, 3:00:00 AM11/13/96
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Matthew Amster-Burton (mam...@u.washington.edu) wrote:

> This has just made me think of another questions. How many works of
> IF can we collectively think of that have no fantasy elements at all?
> That is, no sci-fi, no magic, nothing that couldn't actually happen
> (farfetched is okay). Let's see...there's Deadline (haven't played
> the other Infocom detective games, so I don't know about those).
> What's everyone's prognosis for such "mundane" works? Does the medium
> fare well without magic?

I read practically nothing without magic (or sci-fi) elements. This
doesn't mean I'm morally opposed to them, and I've enjoyed the few that I
was inspired to read (by some other factor.) (There's a famous case of
one of Spider Robinson's "Callahan's Bar" stories which had absolutely
no SF or fantasy elements at all. One of the best ones in the series,
which is otherwise heavily SF.)

The other Infocom detective games were also real-world.

_Seastalker_ may or may not count as SF for you. There's nothing
particularly advanced about its tech... well, maybe the monster does it
for you. :)

About certain competition entries this year, we speak not. Last year,
weren't "The Big One" and "Tube Trouble" real-world? It's been a while.

--Z

--

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

George Caswell

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Nov 13, 1996, 3:00:00 AM11/13/96
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> This has just made me think of another questions. How many works of
> IF can we collectively think of that have no fantasy elements at all?

...From what I've seen of Infidel and Ballyhoo (no spoilers please) they
might fit...

...Of course, IMHO, good fantasy elements lend more to a story than they
take away-- it's just when a story becomes too bogged down in the details
(for example, any 24th century implementation of Star Trek...) and ignores the
factors that make the reader really relate to the story- people, conflicts,
etc. that it goes bad....

...Of course, how much I-F can -really- give that sort of real-story
performance, especially text I-F...? With no AI or dynamic prose or dialogue,
everything is limited to what the author forsees, so from an interactive
standpoint the story has very little to work with in the way of emotional
situations- few games presume to tell the player what they're feeling or
thinking, other characters, if implemented, can't be implemented well...

> That is, no sci-fi, no magic, nothing that couldn't actually happen
> (farfetched is okay). Let's see...there's Deadline (haven't played
> the other Infocom detective games, so I don't know about those).
> What's everyone's prognosis for such "mundane" works? Does the medium
> fare well without magic?
>

I tend to believe, as I said, almost anything is better with a touch of the
bizarre, inexplicable, fantastic, or otherwise. Always, though, it's the
meaning underneath that matters most. In I-F, well, there isn't usually too
much meaning underneath, except perhaps the 'plot thickening' as the player
progresses through the whole of the story. In that aspect non-fantasy stories
could be just as well off as any...
________________________________________________
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</ </


Andrew Plotkin

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Nov 13, 1996, 3:00:00 AM11/13/96
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George Caswell (timb...@adamant.res.wpi.edu) wrote:

> > This has just made me think of another questions. How many works of
> > IF can we collectively think of that have no fantasy elements at all?

> ...From what I've seen of Infidel and Ballyhoo (no spoilers please) they
> might fit...

Correct. I'd forgotten those.

> ...Of course, how much I-F can -really- give that sort of real-story
> performance, especially text I-F...? With no AI or dynamic prose or dialogue,
> everything is limited to what the author forsees, so from an interactive
> standpoint the story has very little to work with in the way of emotional
> situations-

Compared with what? There's no AI in the spine of a hardback book. (Yet.)
Somehow static fiction pulls off "real-story performance," and it's
certainly not going outside what the author foresees.

I'm not sure what you mean by "from an interactive standpoint."

I persist in insisting that there is no technique of prose writing which
is not usable in IF.

Matthew Amster-Burton

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Nov 13, 1996, 3:00:00 AM11/13/96
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George Caswell <timb...@adamant.res.wpi.edu> wrote:

> ...From what I've seen of Infidel and Ballyhoo (no spoilers please) they
>might fit...

I haven't played either. I've been curious about Ballyhoo, although
it doesn't seem to be very popular, so maybe I'll fire it up
(Masterpieces! I love it!).

> I tend to believe, as I said, almost anything is better with a touch of the
>bizarre, inexplicable, fantastic, or otherwise. Always, though, it's the
>meaning underneath that matters most. In I-F, well, there isn't usually too
>much meaning underneath, except perhaps the 'plot thickening' as the player
>progresses through the whole of the story. In that aspect non-fantasy stories
>could be just as well off as any...

George, we just don't agree on anything, do we? I tend to think that
fantasy elements detract from feeling because my suspension of
disbelief is shattered--unless the scenario is fantastic from the
beginning, which likewise strains my ability to identify with the
characters. Real life is so rich, so bizarre, so inexplicable, so
fantastic, that doctoring it up with make-believe is only going to get
in the way of organic emotion.

I believe that because of the way a story unfolds in IF, there is the
potential for truly effective emotional manipulation, but it hasn't
been done well in any game I've played. One reason for that, I think,
is that fantasy elements isolate the player from the character. Thus,
I'd like to see more true-to-life IF.

All this is IMHO, of course--I'm not trying to touch off a flamewar or
defame the many excellent fantasy games. As I've said before, all my
favorite Infocoms fall in the fantasy category. They have good
puzzles, and I love a good puzzle. But even Trinity, with its clear
message about nuclear war, was less than stirring after blundering
entertainingly through a world of giant boys, bubbling cauldrons, and
klein bottles.

Matthew


Adam J. Thornton

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Nov 13, 1996, 3:00:00 AM11/13/96
to

In article <erkyrathE...@netcom.com>,

Andrew Plotkin <erky...@netcom.com> wrote:
>I read practically nothing without magic (or sci-fi) elements. This
>doesn't mean I'm morally opposed to them, and I've enjoyed the few that I
>was inspired to read (by some other factor.) (There's a famous case of
>one of Spider Robinson's "Callahan's Bar" stories which had absolutely
>no SF or fantasy elements at all. One of the best ones in the series,
>which is otherwise heavily SF.)

Sure it did.

It was just about a very *slow* way to do time travel.

Adam
--
ad...@phoenix.princeton.edu | Viva HEGGA! | Save the choad! | 64,928 | Fnord
"Double integral is also the shape of lovers curled asleep":Pynchon | Linux
Thanks for letting me rearrange the chemicals in your head. | Team OS/2
You can have my PGP passphrase when you pry it from my cold, dead brain.

Matthew Amster-Burton

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Nov 13, 1996, 3:00:00 AM11/13/96
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erky...@netcom.com (Andrew Plotkin) wrote:

>I read practically nothing without magic (or sci-fi) elements. This
>doesn't mean I'm morally opposed to them, and I've enjoyed the few that I
>was inspired to read (by some other factor.) (There's a famous case of
>one of Spider Robinson's "Callahan's Bar" stories which had absolutely
>no SF or fantasy elements at all. One of the best ones in the series,
>which is otherwise heavily SF.)

The reason I'm interested in this topic is that I almost never read
any fantasy at all. In fact, I generally don't read fiction, although
I do claim a weakness for Tony Hillerman novels. We could analyze all
day why I don't like fiction and do like IF, but no matter. If I had
to explain why I don't read fiction, I would say that I find the real
world interesting enough, thank you, and don't find compelling the
argument that fiction is somehow more moving or germane than
nonfiction.

Why do I like IF, then? I have no idea, but because of my reading
proclivities, I am interested in exploring the angle of non-fantasy
IF. Why hasn't there been more? Is it because people who play
computer games tend to be fans of sci-fi/fantasy? Or is it something
about the medium itself that's too restrictive? Or because I'm too
damn lazy to write any?

Of course, Andrew, you're responsible for the only game I've ever
played that was so realistic, it wasn't even fiction, if you forget
about that genie. Another competition entry was suitably real-life,
and I liked it a lot, although it was too short* (see spoiler below).

>_Seastalker_ may or may not count as SF for you. There's nothing
>particularly advanced about its tech... well, maybe the monster does it
>for you. :)

Right--I thought about it for a moment before realizing that I rarely
meet up with sea monsters in my day-to-day affairs. Not that
real-world IF should approximate daily life any more than a novel
should.

>About certain competition entries this year, we speak not. Last year,
>weren't "The Big One" and "Tube Trouble" real-world? It's been a while.

"The One," although it was certainly rife with fishing mythology, was
indeed real-world. I don't remember any fantasy elements to "Tube
Trouble," but I'd have to go back and check.

Matthew

* "In the End."

Andrew Clover

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Nov 13, 1996, 3:00:00 AM11/13/96
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chi...@fred.aurora.edu wrote:

> Shopping is pretty much a pulp sci-fi/ time travel game.. Your
> girlfriend disappears from the fitting room of the local mall.
> Eventually, you find out that shes one of 5 key women throughout history
> that the evil Dr. N'gen Ninany (say it aloud fast <g>) needs to turn
> into zombie sex slaves in order to rule the universe.

Oh, I'm sure we can forgive you if you put enough humour into it.

I'll just start writing that gardening adventure I've been thinking of, to
balance the genres out... :-)

> The game has at least two endings. Yes, male chauvinsit pigs, it will be
> possible to leave your girlfriend a mindless zombie sex slave.

Cool. :-)

> Parts of the game will be sexually explicit. Think LGOP with better
> puzzles and better sex <vbg>

How about a Sexual Verbosity meta-verb for the sensitive?

BCNU, AjC

Matthew Amster-Burton

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Nov 13, 1996, 3:00:00 AM11/13/96
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"C.E. Forman" <cefo...@postoffice.worldnet.att.net> wrote:

> 1) What are your thoughts on traditional fantasy (i.e. straight
> D&D/Tolkien clones) versus researched/"real" fantasy (i.e. "Curses",
> "The Once and Future King", etc.)? Do traditional fantasy games
> always appear tired and cliched to you, or can their unoriginality
> be downplayed by high entertainment value, coupled with solid
> puzzles, plot, and characters? (In other words, do you throw out
> the whole game simply because of a generic fantasy setting?)

No, of course not. On the other hand, I'm likely to start it up and
say, "Oh, another one of these...." It's going to have to be a cut
above to hold my attention.

> 2) Would you even download and try a game like "Circle", as I've
> described it? Would you discuss it on rec.games.int-fiction if
> it were substantial enough to merit discussion?

Absolutely. You've made it sound quite worthwhile--now get coding! :)
Seriously, although I've grown weary of the faux-Tolkien genre
(actually, I hate Tolkien, but please flame me via email for that), my
favorite Infocom games were Trinity, Wishbringer, and Spellbreaker.
If you approach the quality of one of those, you've got my unflagging
interest.

> 3) If you got sufficient enjoyment out of the game, and felt that it
> matched or exceeded the level of quality I've described above,
> would you consider registering it? (I am NOT soliciting
> registrations. Answering "yes" does not obligate you in any way
> to register. I simply want to get an idea of the demand for this
> type of game.)

There I couldn't tell you. The most recent game I registered--in
fact, one of the only games I've registered, to tell the truth--was
Lost New York. It was captivating and different, and I wanted to get
the "stuff" that came with it, not to mention the hints. By the way,
I think including a hint system in the registered version only is a
great idea.

> 4) Any other thoughts you have on this matter? (But please don't
> feed me the "do what YOU want, not what everyone else wants" line.
> If no one else is interested, I doubt we'll even bother.)

Thanks for asking. I will likely play "Circle of Armageddon" but
would strongly caution against doing another game in the same genre
unless you plan from the very start to have it be markedly different
from that which has come before.

This has just made me think of another questions. How many works of
IF can we collectively think of that have no fantasy elements at all?

That is, no sci-fi, no magic, nothing that couldn't actually happen
(farfetched is okay). Let's see...there's Deadline (haven't played
the other Infocom detective games, so I don't know about those).
What's everyone's prognosis for such "mundane" works? Does the medium
fare well without magic?

Matthew


Jonathan Badger

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Nov 14, 1996, 3:00:00 AM11/14/96
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mam...@u.washington.edu (Matthew Amster-Burton) writes:

>George, we just don't agree on anything, do we? I tend to think that
>fantasy elements detract from feeling because my suspension of
>disbelief is shattered--unless the scenario is fantastic from the
>beginning, which likewise strains my ability to identify with the
>characters. Real life is so rich, so bizarre, so inexplicable, so
>fantastic, that doctoring it up with make-believe is only going to get
>in the way of organic emotion.

Have you read much "magic realism", a style of fiction common among
Latin American authors? Are "The House of the Spirits" and "One
Hundred Years of Solitude" weakened, in your opinion because they include
fantastic elements?

Steven Howard

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Nov 14, 1996, 3:00:00 AM11/14/96
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In <3289f54...@news.u.washington.edu>, mam...@u.washington.edu (Matthew Amster-Burton) writes:
>This has just made me think of another questions. How many works of
>IF can we collectively think of that have no fantasy elements at all?
>That is, no sci-fi, no magic, nothing that couldn't actually happen
>(farfetched is okay). Let's see...there's Deadline (haven't played
>the other Infocom detective games, so I don't know about those).
>What's everyone's prognosis for such "mundane" works? Does the medium
>fare well without magic?

Okay, just from "Masterpieces" we have the following (a few are
questionable): Ballyhoo, Border Zone, Bureaucracy, Cutthroats,
Deadline, Hollywood Hijinx, Infidel, Plundered Hearts, Sherlock,
Suspect and Witness. I haven't played Moonmist, so I don't know
if it qualifies or not. Still, that's roughly a third of the
Infocom games which are neither fantasy nor science fiction, and
two of my favorites (Plundered Hearts and Bureaucracy, for those
keeping score at home) are on the list.

George Caswell

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Nov 14, 1996, 3:00:00 AM11/14/96
to

On 14 Nov 1996, Jonathan Badger wrote:

> mam...@u.washington.edu (Matthew Amster-Burton) writes:
>
> >George, we just don't agree on anything, do we? I tend to think that
> >fantasy elements detract from feeling because my suspension of
> >disbelief is shattered--unless the scenario is fantastic from the
> >beginning, which likewise strains my ability to identify with the
> >characters. Real life is so rich, so bizarre, so inexplicable, so
> >fantastic, that doctoring it up with make-believe is only going to get
> >in the way of organic emotion.
>

Fantasy in one form of another is the lifeblood of fiction. Naturally we
need to associate with the world-- but there is always some fantasy. The
best of science fiction keeps this in mind, and just allows itself a few
liberties in some elements of the world. The worst of science fiction ignores
this and just throws together as much 'cool stuff' as the author can think of.
It's entirely possible for a story with an elaborate fantasy world to be a
good story-- Some non-fantasy fiction actually needs to construct a fantasy
world, because its real world is so far removed from anything its audience has
experienced.

> Have you read much "magic realism", a style of fiction common among

...Interesting. What's it like?

Magnus Olsson

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Nov 14, 1996, 3:00:00 AM11/14/96
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In article <560udf$c...@mtinsc01-mgt.ops.worldnet.att.net>,

C.E. Forman <cefo...@postoffice.worldnet.att.net> wrote:
>After reading some of the recent threads about "stale" I-F genres - pulp
>sci-fi, time travel, and particularly fantasy - I'm a bit concerned about
>the acceptance of "Circle of Armageddon", the next major effort by myself
>and co-author Jeff Cassidy.

Yes, people are complaining about "stale genres", but I think it's a
dangerous conclusion to say that this is the fault of the genres.

There is a lot of stereotyped "epic fantasy" out there, but the
problem with it is not that it's stereotyped *fantasy*, but that it's
*stereotyped*. Of course, there are some genres that have pretty
restrictive conventions, but fantasy is not one of them. Those people
condemning the entire fantasy genre because they can't stand another
bad imitation fo Tolkien are commiting the crime of throwing out the
baby with the bathwater; their penalty is, of course, that they miss a
lot of good (and original!) stuff that just happens to have some
fantasy elements.

In the case of I-F, it seems that the days when people judged a game
solely by its puzzles are gone. In I-F, plot used to be just an excuse
to throw a lot of neat puzzles at the player - and what is simpler in
that case than more or less slavishly following some precedent? Not so
anymore.

So, my advice would be: if you want a fantasy setting, go for it. Just
avoid the cliches.

> 2) "Circle" will combine the traditional (some might substitute the
> adjective "generic") fantasy elements such as Tolkien characters
> - elves, dwarves, gnomes - and D&D scenarios (though there is
> NO monster-slaying this time around); journeying; casting spells
> (though not directly from scrolls - "Circle" will have a truly
> unique yet uncomplicated magic system); and collection of a
> series of useful (i.e. non-useless) magical artifacts to pace
> the plot.

As long as the player doesn't too often get the feeling of having done
this before, this could be absolutely great.

> But in addition to the standard fantasy-quest stuff,
> "Circle" will rise above the average LOtR clone through the use
> of factual details of medieval life and customs, and a good deal
> of political intrigue mixed into the plot.

Sounds promising. The factual medieval life could be a refreshing
contrast to all the rehashed pseudo-medieval fantays settings out
there. However, it could also clash with the fantasy themes: if the
world is too realistic, magic, goblins and D&D scenarios may seem out
of place...

>Now, given what I've just told you, could you please let me know:
>
> 1) What are your thoughts on traditional fantasy (i.e. straight
> D&D/Tolkien clones) versus researched/"real" fantasy (i.e. "Curses",
> "The Once and Future King", etc.)? Do traditional fantasy games
> always appear tired and cliched to you, or can their unoriginality
> be downplayed by high entertainment value, coupled with solid
> puzzles, plot, and characters? (In other words, do you throw out
> the whole game simply because of a generic fantasy setting?)

In addition to what I've said above: any game that relies heavily on
genre conventions run a _risk_ of appearing tired and cliched. WHether
they actually do depends on how much the author has been able to
provide in addition to the genre conventions. Solid characters are a
good example of such an addition. Genre conventions can act as a
substitute for creativity - which is bad - or they can just provide a
starting point for something new.

In the case of I-F, "artistic" issues can *always* be downplayed by
entertainment value, or so it seems. Look at the first two chapters of
"Time" (which is as far as I've got): extremely cliched "mad
scientist" and cyberpunk stuff, coupled with rather lacklustre
writing, and yet people seem to *love* it as a game.


> 2) Would you even download and try a game like "Circle", as I've
> described it? Would you discuss it on rec.games.int-fiction if
> it were substantial enough to merit discussion?

Yes to both questions.

> 3) If you got sufficient enjoyment out of the game, and felt that it
> matched or exceeded the level of quality I've described above,
> would you consider registering it? (I am NOT soliciting
> registrations. Answering "yes" does not obligate you in any way
> to register. I simply want to get an idea of the demand for this
> type of game.)

It's very doubtful. Not because I'm a cheapskate, but beacuse of the
incredible hassle involved in handling overseas payments of small
amounts. Or do you perhaps accept credit cards?

> 4) Any other thoughts you have on this matter? (But please don't
> feed me the "do what YOU want, not what everyone else wants" line.
> If no one else is interested, I doubt we'll even bother.)


I'd just like to stress, once again, that the days when it was enoguh
to throw together a bunch of neat puzzles in a generic fantasy or
sci-fi setting are over. However, based on what I've seen of PTF (not
too much; I haven't had time to play more than the first few moves), I
don't think there's any risk of that.

--
Magnus Olsson (m...@df.lth.se)

Michael Straight

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Nov 14, 1996, 3:00:00 AM11/14/96
to

On 14 Nov 1996, Magnus Olsson wrote:

> In article <560udf$c...@mtinsc01-mgt.ops.worldnet.att.net>,
> C.E. Forman <cefo...@postoffice.worldnet.att.net> wrote:
> > But in addition to the standard fantasy-quest stuff,
> > "Circle" will rise above the average LOtR clone through the use
> > of factual details of medieval life and customs, and a good deal
> > of political intrigue mixed into the plot.
>
> Sounds promising. The factual medieval life could be a refreshing
> contrast to all the rehashed pseudo-medieval fantays settings out
> there. However, it could also clash with the fantasy themes: if the
> world is too realistic, magic, goblins and D&D scenarios may seem out
> of place...

Let me offer a balancing suggestion. I think one characteristic of some
of the best fanatasy is that it begins in a convincingly mundane setting
against which the wonders actually seem wonderful. Tolkein's epic begins
in the Shire and takes a long time to get to the wonders of Lorien..

To take an example from IF, I think that what makes the fantasy elements
in Curses work so well is the contrast with the very realistic and
well-described Meldrew house.

So I would encourage you to consider making the medieval setting as
realistic and down-to-earth as possible so that magic and elves seem like
magical wonders rather than cliche and everyday.

I'd also echo Magnus's comments that good writing, humor, and fun
situations can cover a multitude of sins.

Michael Straight is at 170 points in Curses.
FLEOEVDETYHOEUPROEONREWMEILECSOFMOERSGTIRVAENRGEEARDSTVHIESBIITBTLHEEPSRIACYK
Ethical Mirth Gas/"I'm chaste alright."/Magic Hitler Hats/"Hath grace limits?"
"Irate Clam Thighs!"/Chili Hamster Tag/The Gilt Charisma/"I gather this calm."


null...@aol.com

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Nov 14, 1996, 3:00:00 AM11/14/96
to

> This has just made me think of another questions. How many works of
> IF can we collectively think of that have no fantasy elements at all?
> That is, no sci-fi, no magic, nothing that couldn't actually happen
> (farfetched is okay). Let's see...there's Deadline (haven't played
> the other Infocom detective games, so I don't know about those).
> What's everyone's prognosis for such "mundane" works? Does the medium
> fare well without magic?

[MINOR SPOILERS FOR LOST NEW YORK AHEAD]


From my own experience, I'd guess that the medium fares okay, but the
implementer doesn't. When designing puzzles, it's just too tempting to
throw in a Frobozz Magic Whatever lying around, just to make life simpler.
When I decided to put in the future section of Lost New York (a game that,
other than time travel, is essentially reality-based), I breathed a great
big sigh of relief that I could use "magic" elements, and just call them
advanced technology.

Also, there is the fact that fantasy/SF elements play a huge role in the
traditional "discovering odd worlds in an otherwise normal place" appeal
of the genre -- imagine any of the college games, for instance, if they
were stripped of their fantastical elements. But then, that's a tradition
that many people here would like to see broken.

That said, my next game (if I ever stop posting and get down to coding)
will not have any SF or fantasy to it. And it is *hard* to write, or at
least to write well. What I wouldn't give for a good tachyon beam
generator...

Neil

P.S. On the subject of this year's competition entries, Ralph has no
fantasy, does it?


---------------------------------------------------------
Neil deMause ne...@echonyc.com
http://www.echonyc.com/~wham/neild.html
---------------------------------------------------------

Andrew Plotkin

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Nov 14, 1996, 3:00:00 AM11/14/96
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Steven Howard (bl...@ibm.net) wrote:
> >What's everyone's prognosis for such "mundane" works? Does the medium
> >fare well without magic?

> Okay, just from "Masterpieces" we have the following (a few are

> questionable): Ballyhoo, Border Zone, Bureaucracy, Cutthroats,
> Deadline, Hollywood Hijinx, Infidel, Plundered Hearts, Sherlock,
> Suspect and Witness. I haven't played Moonmist, so I don't know
> if it qualifies or not. Still, that's roughly a third of the
> Infocom games which are neither fantasy nor science fiction, and
> two of my favorites (Plundered Hearts and Bureaucracy, for those
> keeping score at home) are on the list.

I'd say Bureaucracy is reality exaggerated into fantasy.

But add Wedding, a recent upload to GDM which I just finished last night.
Nice work, and entirely real-world. (Well, it *contains* science fiction
elements, but not the way you mean. :-)

Matthew Amster-Burton

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Nov 14, 1996, 3:00:00 AM11/14/96
to

bad...@phylo.life.uiuc.edu (Jonathan Badger) wrote:

>Have you read much "magic realism", a style of fiction common among

>Latin American authors? Are "The House of the Spirits" and "One
>Hundred Years of Solitude" weakened, in your opinion because they include
>fantastic elements?

No, not much: I read OHYS a few years ago and didn't much like it
because I couldn't get emotionally involved with the characters. I
believe this was done by design, but it still bothered me.

Matthew

Brad O`Donnell

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Nov 14, 1996, 3:00:00 AM11/14/96
to

Jason B Dyer wrote:
>
> Joe Mason (joe....@tabb.com) wrote:
> : "90% of everthing is crap." If you're game is among the 10%, then sure
> : it'll be good.
>
> Also, "Rules of thumb work only 3/5 of the time, including this one."
>
> Jason Dyer
> jd...@u.arizona.edu

Moderation in everything, especially moderation.
--
Brad O'Donnell

Roger Giner-Sorolla

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Nov 14, 1996, 3:00:00 AM11/14/96
to

On Thu, 14 Nov 1996, Michael Straight wrote:

> Let me offer a balancing suggestion. I think one characteristic of some
> of the best fanatasy is that it begins in a convincingly mundane setting
> against which the wonders actually seem wonderful. Tolkein's epic begins
> in the Shire and takes a long time to get to the wonders of Lorien..

This is one good formula for writing fantasy. Maybe it's even the
definition of the genre. If you think of other "fantasy" works that stay
within the same reality all the way through: Jack Vance's Dying Earth
novels, Leiber's Nehwon tales, Moorcock's "Eternal Champion" series; they
usually turn out to be other genres in disguise (Vance, Arabian-Nights
picaresque; Leiber, Damon Runyon with swords; Moorcock, philosophical
epic).


Roger Giner-Sorolla University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA
rs...@virginia.edu Dept. of Psychology (Social)
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
"Please, your Majesty," said the Knave, "I didn't write it, and they can't
prove I did: there's no name signed at the end."
"If you didn't sign it," said the King, "that only makes the matter worse.
You /must/ have meant some mischief, or else you'd have signed your name
like an honest man." -- Lewis Carroll, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland


Jason B Dyer

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Nov 14, 1996, 3:00:00 AM11/14/96
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C.E. Forman

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Nov 15, 1996, 3:00:00 AM11/15/96
to

>"90% of everthing is crap."

This little catchphrase is starting to become really tired. What say
we not use it anymore? B-)

--
C.E. Forman cefo...@worldnet.att.net
Classic I-F FS/T in Ye Olde Infocomme Shoppe! (Mail for current stock.)
Read XYZZYnews at http://www.interport.net/~eileen/design/xyzzynews.html
Vote I-F in 96! Visit http://www.xs4all.nl/~jojo/pcgames.html for info!
"Circle of Armageddon", Vol. 2 of "The Windhall Chronicles" -- Feb 1997!

Ken Balakrishnan

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Nov 15, 1996, 3:00:00 AM11/15/96
to

Andrew Plotkin (erky...@netcom.com) wrote:
: I persist in insisting that there is no technique of prose writing which
: is not usable in IF.

Well, of course. A novel is nothing more than a degenerate case of IF:


You are in a study. You see a hard-cover book on the desk.

>EXAMINE BOOK

It is entitled "Moby Dick," by Herman Melville.

>READ BOOK
(picking up book first)

"Call me Ishmael. Some years ago -- never mind how long precisely --
having little or no money in my purse, and nothing particular to
interest me on shore, I thought I would sail about a little and see
<press any key to continue>


Ken

null...@aol.com

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Nov 15, 1996, 3:00:00 AM11/15/96
to

> >"90% of everthing is crap."
>
> This little catchphrase is starting to become really
> tired. What say we not use it anymore? B-)

We could replace it with "90% of everything is Theodore Sturgeon
references." :)

Neil

Kory Heath

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Nov 15, 1996, 3:00:00 AM11/15/96
to

Matthew Amster-Burton wrote:
>
> This has just made me think of another questions. How many works of
> IF can we collectively think of that have no fantasy elements at all?
> That is, no sci-fi, no magic, nothing that couldn't actually happen
> (farfetched is okay). Let's see...there's Deadline (haven't played
> the other Infocom detective games, so I don't know about those).

> What's everyone's prognosis for such "mundane" works? Does the medium
> fare well without magic?

I've been thinking about this lately. Fantasy is the only genre
that actually works *better* (for me) in IF than in straight fiction.
I think that "magic" in general is such a natural candidate for
game-like interactivity - it's more fun to play than to read
about. More broadly, anything which leans towards being
environment/object-centric (like sci-fi settings, fantasy
worlds, magic systems) is going to lend itself to IF, while the
more "mundane" environments are going to lend themselves to
stright-fiction (with focus on characterization, etc.) That's
my current theory, anyway.

Kory

Matthew T. Russotto

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Nov 15, 1996, 3:00:00 AM11/15/96
to

In article <56gh2o$q...@mtinsc01-mgt.ops.worldnet.att.net>,

C.E. Forman <cefo...@postoffice.worldnet.att.net> wrote:
}>"90% of everthing is crap."
}
}This little catchphrase is starting to become really tired. What say
}we not use it anymore? B-)

OK, here's a new one:
"95% of everything is crap"
--
Matthew T. Russotto russ...@pond.com
"Extremism in defense of liberty is no vice, and moderation in pursuit
of justice is no virtue."

Joe Mason

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Nov 15, 1996, 3:00:00 AM11/15/96
to

"Re: I-F... NO FANTASY???", declared Andrew Plotkin from the Vogon
ship:

AP>Compared with what? There's no AI in the spine of a hardback book.
AP>(Yet.) Somehow static fiction pulls off "real-story performance,"
AP>and it's certainly not going outside what the author foresees.

But in static fiction, there's not possible way it *could* go outside
what the author foresees. In I-F, if the character does something the
author *doesn't* foresee and the game world doesn't act appropriately,
the emotion of the world is blown.

AP>I persist in insisting that there is no technique of prose writing
AP>which is not usable in IF.

I'd agree with that, although some are a lot harder to use *well* in IF.
And, likewise, some are a lot easier to use well in IF then in static
fiction.

But I'd add that there are techniques *needed* by I-F that aren't needed
in static fiction, since static fiction doesn't have the same problems
as I-F.

BTW, my apologies if I'm missing the point of this discussion, since I
jumped in late.

Joe

joe....@tabb.com
Shad Valley Carleton '96

-- The 1996 Interactive Fiction Contest is now open! --
-- From Oct. 30 to Nov. 30, vote for the best of '96 --
-- ftp://ftp.gmd.de/if-archive/games/competition96 --


ş CMPQwk 1.42 9550 şThe truth is more important than the facts.

C.E. Forman

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Nov 16, 1996, 3:00:00 AM11/16/96
to

>}>"90% of everthing is crap."
>
>OK, here's a new one:
>"95% of everything is crap"

'Kay. Here's another thought, though: What about stuff that isn't crap?
Is 95% of stuff that isn't crap crap? By definition, stuff that isn't
crap is NOT crap, so how can 95% of it be crap?

--
C.E. Forman cefo...@worldnet.att.net
Classic I-F FS/T in Ye Olde Infocomme Shoppe! (Mail for current stock.)
Read XYZZYnews at http://www.interport.net/~eileen/design/xyzzynews.html
Vote I-F in 96! Visit http://www.xs4all.nl/~jojo/pcgames.html for info!

"Circle of Armageddon", Vol. 2 of "The Windhall Chronicles" -- ?????????

Admiral Jota

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Nov 16, 1996, 3:00:00 AM11/16/96
to

"C.E. Forman" <cefo...@postoffice.worldnet.att.net> writes:

>>"95% of everything is crap"

>'Kay. Here's another thought, though: What about stuff that isn't crap?
>Is 95% of stuff that isn't crap crap? By definition, stuff that isn't
>crap is NOT crap, so how can 95% of it be crap?

Who ever said that the other 5% wasn't crap?

--
/<-= -=-=- -= Admiral Jota =- -=-=- =->\
__/><-=- http://www.tiac.net/users/jota/ =-><\__
\><-= jo...@mv.mv.com -- Finger for PGP =-></
\<-=- -= -=- -= -==- =- -=- =- -=->/

Brad O`Donnell

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Nov 16, 1996, 3:00:00 AM11/16/96
to C.E. Forman

C.E. Forman wrote:
>
> >}>"90% of everthing is crap."
> >
> >OK, here's a new one:
> >"95% of everything is crap"
>
> 'Kay. Here's another thought, though: What about stuff that isn't crap?
> Is 95% of stuff that isn't crap crap? By definition, stuff that isn't
> crap is NOT crap, so how can 95% of it be crap?
>
> --

No...The idea is that 95% of the "Whole of Everything" is Crap.
Any subset of that hole Might or Might not contain Crap.

--
Brad O'Donnell

George Caswell

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Nov 16, 1996, 3:00:00 AM11/16/96
to

On 16 Nov 1996, Admiral Jota wrote:

> "C.E. Forman" <cefo...@postoffice.worldnet.att.net> writes:
>
> >>"95% of everything is crap"
>
> >'Kay. Here's another thought, though: What about stuff that isn't crap?
> >Is 95% of stuff that isn't crap crap? By definition, stuff that isn't
> >crap is NOT crap, so how can 95% of it be crap?
>

> Who ever said that the other 5% wasn't crap?
>

So -everything- is crap, then?

Admiral Jota

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Nov 16, 1996, 3:00:00 AM11/16/96
to

George Caswell <timb...@adamant.res.wpi.edu> writes:
>On 16 Nov 1996, Admiral Jota wrote:
>> "C.E. Forman" <cefo...@postoffice.worldnet.att.net> writes:

>> >'Kay. Here's another thought, though: What about stuff that isn't crap?
>> >Is 95% of stuff that isn't crap crap? By definition, stuff that isn't
>> >crap is NOT crap, so how can 95% of it be crap?
>> Who ever said that the other 5% wasn't crap?
> So -everything- is crap, then?

Nah, it's kind of a Zeno thing. If everything is X, 90% of X is crap.
Guaranteed. Don't even need to take a second look, it's so obvious. Now,
when you take a closer look, you see that 90% of what's left is, indeed,
crap. It wasn't immediately obvious because all the original crap is
there, but once you look at just the 10% of X, you see that 90% of it is
crap. Now, taking the 1% that's left, you'll naturally pay much closer
attention to that 1%, and you'll begin to notice that 90% of that is
crap, even though the other 10% of it still looks good in comparison...

So essentially, whether or not something is crap just depends on what you
compare it to. If you own 100 cars -- 10 of the Porches and the rest
Chevys -- you're going to start to think pretty lowly of the Chevys.

Paul Harker

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Nov 16, 1996, 3:00:00 AM11/16/96
to

> }>"90% of everthing is crap."
> }
> }This little catchphrase is starting to become really tired. What say
> }we not use it anymore? B-)
>
> OK, here's a new one:
> "95% of everything is crap"

Or be more postitive... 10% of stuff is pretty darn good.

Magnus Olsson

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Nov 17, 1996, 3:00:00 AM11/17/96
to

In article <Pine.LNX.3.95.961116...@adamant.res.wpi.edu>,

George Caswell <timb...@wpi.edu> wrote:
>On 16 Nov 1996, Admiral Jota wrote:
>
>> "C.E. Forman" <cefo...@postoffice.worldnet.att.net> writes:
>>
>> >>"95% of everything is crap"
>>
>> >'Kay. Here's another thought, though: What about stuff that isn't crap?
>> >Is 95% of stuff that isn't crap crap? By definition, stuff that isn't
>> >crap is NOT crap, so how can 95% of it be crap?
>>
>> Who ever said that the other 5% wasn't crap?
>>
> So -everything- is crap, then?

Of course. It's just that there's good crap, bad crap, and crap that really
stinks.

--
Magnus Olsson (m...@df.lth.se)

George Caswell

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Nov 17, 1996, 3:00:00 AM11/17/96
to

On 16 Nov 1996, Admiral Jota wrote:

> George Caswell <timb...@adamant.res.wpi.edu> writes:
> > So -everything- is crap, then?
>

> Nah, it's kind of a Zeno thing. If everything is X, 90% of X is crap.
> Guaranteed. Don't even need to take a second look, it's so obvious. Now,
> when you take a closer look, you see that 90% of what's left is, indeed,
> crap. It wasn't immediately obvious because all the original crap is
> there, but once you look at just the 10% of X, you see that 90% of it is
> crap. Now, taking the 1% that's left, you'll naturally pay much closer
> attention to that 1%, and you'll begin to notice that 90% of that is
> crap, even though the other 10% of it still looks good in comparison...
>

Eh, that's what I said. Everything is crap.

> So essentially, whether or not something is crap just depends on what you
> compare it to. If you own 100 cars -- 10 of the Porches and the rest
> Chevys -- you're going to start to think pretty lowly of the Chevys.
> --

And the porches. 99.999999999999(repeat)% of them are crap, too.

bout...@blade.wcc.govt.nz

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Nov 17, 1996, 3:00:00 AM11/17/96
to

In article <19961115155...@ladder01.news.aol.com>, null...@aol.com writes:
>> >"90% of everthing is crap."
>>
>> This little catchphrase is starting to become really
>> tired. What say we not use it anymore? B-)
>
>We could replace it with "90% of everything is Theodore Sturgeon
>references." :)
>
To digress a little - my fav catchphrase is currently:

The '90s is the '90s' version of the '90s

but is it a Sturgeon reference?

-Giles

Twist

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Nov 17, 1996, 3:00:00 AM11/17/96
to

null...@aol.com writes:

>From my own experience, I'd guess that the medium fares okay, but the
>implementer doesn't. When designing puzzles, it's just too tempting to
>throw in a Frobozz Magic Whatever lying around, just to make life simpler.

The Magic Ring problem. If a character has the all-powerfull Magic Ring,
where is the suspense of the story? If you're Tolkien you make the ring
evil so using it will corrupt the user. If you're Donaldson you make the
user a snivelling idiot ( :-) here come the Donaldson fans after me...).
If you're a bad author you let the Ring take control of your story...

>other than time travel, is essentially reality-based), I breathed a great
>big sigh of relief that I could use "magic" elements, and just call them
>advanced technology.

See, I would have exactly the opposite reaction. "Ah hell, this sounds
like I'm just waving a wand and making it happen". Too me that's a BAD
thing, because the reader might feel cheated. All depends on what you do I
guess.

>will not have any SF or fantasy to it. And it is *hard* to write, or at
>least to write well. What I wouldn't give for a good tachyon beam
>generator...

A tachyon beam generator isn't a Magic Ring. Tachyons exist in scientific
theory and therefore have a reference point in many readers minds. Even
the effects of a Tachyon beam can be postulated from existing theory (look
ma, a steller core doesn't slow it down!). A far fetched example would be
playing a tachyon beam over a person and have them grow younger. Although
astoundingly improbable (nature despises anybody who attemps to reverse
entropy, and She'll deal with you shortly) it does have that tiniest piece
of plausibility to readers, since many have heard that a "tachyon could
arrive before it was sent" or some such tripe.

On the other hand if Gandalf shakes his staff and somebody grows younger,
there's no basis for the reader to understand the action. The Emperor has
no clothes, and the reader (consciously or unconciously) knows that you,
the writer, simply made it up. Suspension of disbelief takes a hit and
maybe goes down for the count.

-Rich

C.E. Forman

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Nov 17, 1996, 3:00:00 AM11/17/96
to

>Nah, it's kind of a Zeno thing. If everything is X, 90% of X is crap.
>Guaranteed. Don't even need to take a second look, it's so obvious. Now,
>when you take a closer look, you see that 90% of what's left is, indeed,
>crap. It wasn't immediately obvious because all the original crap is
>there, but once you look at just the 10% of X, you see that 90% of it is
>crap. Now, taking the 1% that's left, you'll naturally pay much closer
>attention to that 1%, and you'll begin to notice that 90% of that is
>crap, even though the other 10% of it still looks good in comparison...

Well put. Do you realize this is the second thread like this I've
started this year?

--
C.E. Forman cefo...@worldnet.att.net

Vote I-F in 1996! Visit http://www.xs4all.nl/~jojo/index.html for info!


"Circle of Armageddon", Vol. 2 of "The Windhall Chronicles" -- ?????????

Day Evan

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Nov 17, 1996, 3:00:00 AM11/17/96
to
>>"90% of everthing is crap."
>
>This little catchphrase is starting to become really tired. What say
>we not use it anymore? B-)

How about "90% of everything is kunkel?"

:)
--
i have no .sig - wait, i guess i do

Joe Mason

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Nov 17, 1996, 3:00:00 AM11/17/96
to

"Re: WANTED: Your thoughts", declared bl...@ibm.net from the Vogon
ship:

b>Suspect and Witness. I haven't played Moonmist, so I don't know
b>if it qualifies or not. Still, that's roughly a third of the

In one of the versions the ghost was real, so it's fantasy in that
version at least.

Joe

joe....@tabb.com
Shad Valley Carleton '96

-- The 1996 Interactive Fiction Contest is now open! --
-- From Oct. 30 to Nov. 30, vote for the best of '96 --
-- ftp://ftp.gmd.de/if-archive/games/competition96 --


þ CMPQwk 1.42 9550 þOriginality is the art of concealing your source.

Matthew Amster-Burton

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Nov 18, 1996, 3:00:00 AM11/18/96
to

"C.E. Forman" <cefo...@postoffice.worldnet.att.net> wrote:

>'Kay. Here's another thought, though: What about stuff that isn't crap?
>Is 95% of stuff that isn't crap crap? By definition, stuff that isn't
>crap is NOT crap, so how can 95% of it be crap?

You guys, how many times to I have to tell you not to start these
things over the weekend, because I only read news at work. The nerve
of some people!

This reminds me of the heated discussion I had last night over whether
"waste not, want not" necessary implies, "if you waste, you will
want." Naturally, given that the latter is the inverse of the former,
it is not strictly implied. Yet the inverse of the original proverb
is *precisely* what it means to imply, which blows logic right out the
window.

ObIF: Um..., gosh, I sure like those text adventures. How about
y'all?

Matthew


bout...@blade.wcc.govt.nz

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Nov 20, 1996, 3:00:00 AM11/20/96
to

In article <Pine.LNX.3.95.961116...@adamant.res.wpi.edu>, George Caswell <timb...@adamant.res.wpi.edu> writes:
>On 16 Nov 1996, Admiral Jota wrote:
>
>> "C.E. Forman" <cefo...@postoffice.worldnet.att.net> writes:
>>
>> >>"95% of everything is crap"

>>
>> >'Kay. Here's another thought, though: What about stuff that isn't crap?
>> >Is 95% of stuff that isn't crap crap? By definition, stuff that isn't
>> >crap is NOT crap, so how can 95% of it be crap?
>>
>> Who ever said that the other 5% wasn't crap?
>>
> So -everything- is crap, then?
>
Sure. 95% of the time.

-Giles

Brad O`Donnell

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Nov 20, 1996, 3:00:00 AM11/20/96
to

Matthew Amster-Burton wrote:

>
> This reminds me of the heated discussion I had last night over whether
> "waste not, want not" necessary implies, "if you waste, you will
> want." Naturally, given that the latter is the inverse of the former,
> it is not strictly implied. Yet the inverse of the original proverb
> is *precisely* what it means to imply, which blows logic right out the
> window.


Logic is the last refuge of the uptight. Forsake it whenever
possible.

--
Brad O'Donnell

Matthew Amster-Burton

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Nov 20, 1996, 3:00:00 AM11/20/96
to

Brad O`Donnell <s7...@romulus.sun.csd.unb.ca> wrote:

> Logic is the last refuge of the uptight. Forsake it whenever
>possible.

Would that be a conditional or biconditional statement?

Matthew


Dave Gatewood

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Nov 20, 1996, 3:00:00 AM11/20/96
to

In article <329094f0...@news.u.washington.edu> mam...@u.washington.edu (Matthew Amster-Burton) writes:
>This reminds me of the heated discussion I had last night over whether
>"waste not, want not" necessary implies, "if you waste, you will
>want." Naturally, given that the latter is the inverse of the former,
>it is not strictly implied. Yet the inverse of the original proverb
>is *precisely* what it means to imply, which blows logic right out the
>window.

Hm, I don't know - I didn't think the proverb really intended that
"waste -> want." I understood it to be a statement celebrating the
assured benefits of "wasting not" - i.e., "If you use your resources
conservatively, you'll have some left for later."

And in the spirit of Nord and Bert, don't overlook the Gregorians'
First Rule of Membership: "Chaste not, chant not."

>ObIF: Um..., gosh, I sure like those text adventures. How about
>y'all?

Well said. I, too, enjoy a good text adventure.

Dave


Michael Straight

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Nov 20, 1996, 3:00:00 AM11/20/96
to

On Sun, 17 Nov 1996, Joe Mason wrote:
> b>Suspect and Witness. I haven't played Moonmist, so I don't know
> b>if it qualifies or not. Still, that's roughly a third of the
>
> In one of the versions the ghost was real, so it's fantasy in that
> version at least.

Only if you don't believe in ghosts.

Michael Straight labels Suspect fantasy because he doesn't believe in murder.
FLEOEVDETYHOEUPROEONREWMEILECSOFMOERSGTIRVAENRGEEARDSTVHIESBIITBTLHEEPSRIACYK
Ethical Mirth Gas/"I'm chaste alright."/Magic Hitler Hats/"Hath grace limits?"
"Irate Clam Thighs!"/Chili Hamster Tag/The Gilt Charisma/"I gather this calm."


Matthew Amster-Burton

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Nov 20, 1996, 3:00:00 AM11/20/96
to

Dave Gatewood <DGAT...@MUSIC.CC.UGA.EDU> wrote:

>Hm, I don't know - I didn't think the proverb really intended that
>"waste -> want." I understood it to be a statement celebrating the
>assured benefits of "wasting not" - i.e., "If you use your resources
>conservatively, you'll have some left for later."

Well, I suppose that's ONE way of looking at it. Of course, if you're
always "wasting not," you'll never get full satisfaction out of your
resources, unless your resources happen to include (a) nuclear arms,
or (b) an amount of chocolate which overwhelms the principle of
diminishing marginal returns.

Matthew

Admiral Jota

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Nov 21, 1996, 3:00:00 AM11/21/96
to

Michael Straight <stra...@email.unc.edu> writes:
>On Sun, 17 Nov 1996, Joe Mason wrote:

>> b>I haven't played Moonmist, so I don't know if it qualifies or not.

>> In one of the versions the ghost was real, so it's fantasy in that
>> version at least.

>Only if you don't believe in ghosts.

And Enchanter is only fantasy if you don't believe in wizards and magic
spells :)

John Hartnup

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Nov 21, 1996, 3:00:00 AM11/21/96
to

Dave Gatewood <DGAT...@MUSIC.CC.UGA.EDU> wrote:

>Hm, I don't know - I didn't think the proverb really intended that
>"waste -> want." I understood it to be a statement celebrating the
>assured benefits of "wasting not" - i.e., "If you use your resources
>conservatively, you'll have some left for later."

This calls for... PREDICATE CALCULUS!

I'll leave you all to it.


--
-----------------------------------------------------------
John Hartnup | You can drink your weak lemon drink
sl...@ladle.demon.co.uk| now, or you can save it 'til later.
-----------------------------------------------------------


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