Infocom observation - why are we always a total spaz?

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Jan 15, 2003, 12:34:56 PM1/15/03
Been playing some infocom games and something just occurred to me --
why are we always the person with like the worst aim in the universe?
Whenever we ever try to throw anything, unless it's the express
solution to a puzzle, it's always just "you miss." Even if we're in a
tiny room and the person or thing we're throwing at is like a foot
away from us, despite the fact that we're an adventurer or sometimes a
powerful enchanter, we apparently can't hit the broadside of a barn.
What's up with that?

Ross Presser

Jan 15, 2003, 6:05:57 PM1/15/03
to (Nord_and_Bert) wrote in

Well, the other obvious implentation is


You throw the rock at the <x>. You hit it nicely, but then the ceiling
falls on you.
*** You have died ***

Adam Myrow

Jan 15, 2003, 8:35:19 PM1/15/03
Some Inform games have a default response for throwing something at an NPC
of "you lack the nerve when it comes to the crucial moment." In other
Inform/Infocom games, and even some Tads games, throw is just a synonym
for drop. Similarly, typing "die" in an inform game makes it act as
though you typed "quit." "Fix" is a synonym for "tie." I found those
last two thanks to Pick Up The Phone Booth And Aisle. I don't think we've
quite reached the level of Infocom in the area of responding sensibly to
off-the-wall input. Adam Cadre's I-0 is one of the few IF pieces that do
pretty good in this area. I always find it a real treat when something
totally useless in the game still gets an intelligent response. I think my
first experience with this was eating the garlic in Zork I. When it
responded "What the heck! You won't make friends this way, but nobody
around here is too friendly anyhow. Gulp!" I really felt like anything I
typed would at least get a response. Of course, that is far from the
truth, but stuff like that just adds to the game whereas an odd response
or flat-out misinterpretation is a real let-down.

Jan 15, 2003, 8:57:40 PM1/15/03
to (Nord_and_Bert) wrote in message news:<>...

Mostly, what's up is that it's a lot of trouble to program throwing so
it works properly; in most cases, it's not worth doing so. Possibly
this is an issue more for, but here are some
things I tried to account for with thrown objects in Savoir-Faire:

a. Is the thing thrown the right shape to fly properly? (Consider
what happens if you try to throw a flat piece of paper.)
b. Is the thing too large or heavy for you to fling? (Consider trying
to throw a coffee table.)
c. Is there enough light for you to see to do the throwing?
d. Is the target too small to be hit accurately?
e. Is the thing thrown or the target fragile enough to be broken?
f. If either the thrown object or the target (or both) are broken,
what happens to the objects inside or supported? (Think of throwing a
rock at a glass table that is supporting other objects. Now think
about throwing a rock at a bottle with liquid in it, or at a glass
table with a glass bottle on it with liquid inside *that*. No joke.)
g. If the target is visible but not touchable, what happens? (Think
of throwing a rock at a target that's inside a glass bottle.)
h. If the target is on a supporter or in a container, where does the
thrown thing wind up? What if it's, say, spherical? Does it roll
i. If you throw something at a spherical item that's resting on top of
a supporter, does the target roll off? Does it break?

So now you're keeping track of the shape, size, weight, and material
composition of every portable item in your game, along with the height
of all ledges and plausible supporters, and the light levels of all
lights. You could simplify this simulation somewhat, but simplify it
very much and you get some fairly implausible outcomes. (How
satisfied would you be if you threw a glass bottle at the wall and the
game said, "You hit! Good work!" but didn't break the bottle?)

Dealing with the possibility of consequent outcomes (items inside/on
other items also falling, breaking, or otherwise moving) means that
there is also a non-trivial prose-generation problem, because you have
to describe all these events to the player.

So essentially it's too much work to bother with unless a) the author
is a rabid simulationist or b) throwing things has some considerable
significance to the gameplay.

A good standard library can change this, of course. I happen to know
that TADS3 handles at least some of these things, so maybe PCs will
start being better shots sometime soon.


Jan 15, 2003, 9:53:22 PM1/15/03
Ross Presser <> wrote in message news:<Xns9304B81D8...@>...

Why would it have to kill you? Why not "You hit your target, but the
rock does little damage. Apparently the <X> is more sturdy than you
thought." Or even just "Don't go around throwing things for no
reason, it's not polite."

Tom Kenyon

Jan 16, 2003, 6:11:30 AM1/16/03

> Why would it have to kill you?

ZORK dosen't need a reason to kill you most of the time. Jumping in the
kitchen is the one that always annoys me...

David Brain

Jan 16, 2003, 7:48:00 AM1/16/03
In article <>, (Nord_and_Bert) wrote:

> Been playing some infocom games and something just occurred to me --
> why are we always the person with like the worst aim in the universe?

Could it be because most of us are? There's always that joke about
being rejected from Stormtrooper/Starfleet Academy because you hit the
target in the shooting test too often... (I always assumed that that
was a part of the appeal of FPS games - that they helped you shoot
straight in a way that would be next to impossible IRL.)

David Brain
London, UK

Fredrik Ramsberg

Jan 16, 2003, 8:21:01 AM1/16/03
to (Nord_and_Bert) wrote in message news:<>...
> Been playing some infocom games and something just occurred to me --
> why are we always the person with like the worst aim in the universe?
> Whenever we ever try to throw anything, unless it's the express
> solution to a puzzle, it's always just "you miss."

Almost always, perhaps. I think there was a nice response if you threw
a bottle at George in Deadline.

Apart from that, I think it usually takes too much code to figure out
what would happen. Throwing a hankerchief at a chimney in a storm is
a lot less likely to succeed than throwing a dart at a doormat inside.
And then there's a bzillion other cases...



Jan 17, 2003, 2:32:40 AM1/17/03

Hey! We can too hit the broadside of a barn. Load up Nord and Bert. :D

Stuart Feldhamer

Jan 17, 2003, 12:19:29 PM1/17/03
"Mantar" <> wrote in message news:<>...

I was going to make that observation too, but since his nickname was
Nord_and_Bert I figured he knew it already. : )


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