Mimesis and hotspots

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carolyn...@yahoo.com

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May 4, 2005, 7:31:28 AM5/4/05
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I read Zarf's review of "Divided" this morning, and I found myself
thinking about hotspots.

We get annoyed by a text-based IF game when every object is not
implemented -- it interferes with our mimesis. In contrast, graphical
games tend to rely on hotspots and the equivalent to show which objects
are and are not implemented. The reasons why are obvious: it is much
easier to rattle off a few lines of text for people who want to
interact with something strange than it is to arrange for every object
in a graphical game to have a reaction. There are almost undoubtedly
more objects in a graphical game, after all.

Still, I have never been wild about the Great Search for Hotspots, and
I was wondering: of the graphical games you've played (where "you" is
this collective audience), which ones have the greatest level of
mimesis? How did (or didn't?) they deal with the Great Hotspot Problem?

Jan Thorsby

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May 4, 2005, 8:37:49 AM5/4/05
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<carolyn...@yahoo.com> skrev i melding
news:1115206288....@o13g2000cwo.googlegroups.com...

> Still, I have never been wild about the Great Search for Hotspots, and
> I was wondering: of the graphical games you've played (where "you" is
> this collective audience), which ones have the greatest level of
> mimesis? How did (or didn't?) they deal with the Great Hotspot Problem?
>

I guess Police Quest. It did not have hotspots, it had text interface. But
maybe it is not what you meant then, though it is graphical.


Andrew Plotkin

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May 4, 2005, 9:36:12 AM5/4/05
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Here, carolyn...@yahoo.com wrote:
> I read Zarf's review of "Divided" this morning, and I found myself
> thinking about hotspots.
>
> We get annoyed by a text-based IF game when every object is not
> implemented -- it interferes with our mimesis. In contrast, graphical
> games tend to rely on hotspots and the equivalent to show which objects
> are and are not implemented. The reasons why are obvious: it is much
> easier to rattle off a few lines of text for people who want to
> interact with something strange than it is to arrange for every object
> in a graphical game to have a reaction.

Myst 4 added an audio "knock", "clink" or "clunk" reaction to every
visible object in arm's react. That was nice. (However, knock-only
objects did not get cursor hotspots, so it doesn't really affect your
point.)

> There are almost undoubtedly
> more objects in a graphical game, after all.

Sure. Or say this: a text game room can be as long or short as the
author wants, but every graphical game room has to have 360 degrees.
Blank space is (can be) dull, independent of how important the room
is.

> Still, I have never been wild about the Great Search for Hotspots

You say this as if it were a personal reaction, but I'd say it's an
important point. Players *do* get annoyed at graphical games where you
have to "pixel-hunt". They don't *want* to rely on the hotspots. At
least, I don't. It's the same reaction as players who find they have
to type "x this", "x that" for every object in a room to figure out
which ones are important.

(Having a lot of implemented but description-only scenery objects is
nice, and we tend to admire it, but there can still be "too many" if
they obscure the important elements of the game.)

The game quality where you can *see* what's important, and the cursor
(or parser) reaction is a minor confirmation, I call "focus".

--Z

"And Aholibamah bare Jeush, and Jaalam, and Korah: these were the borogoves..."
*
I'm still thinking about what to put in this space.


"And Aholibamah bare Jeush, and Jaalam, and Korah: these were the borogoves..."
*
I'm still thinking about what to put in this space.

carolyn...@yahoo.com

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May 4, 2005, 10:19:11 AM5/4/05
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Jan Thorsby wrote:

> I guess Police Quest. It did not have hotspots, it had text
interface. But
> maybe it is not what you meant then, though it is graphical.

Well, when I was thinking about the topic, I realized that the most
interactive graphical game I've ever encountered was probably Nethack.
Everything you encounter has purpose and can be manipulated. However:
a) it has a viciously difficult learning curve,
b) it doesn't fit into the standard concept of "graphical", and
c) it has no puzzles -- which is the primary reason why the Great
Hotspot Hunt is a problem. I've never had a problem related to Diablo
and hotspots, either, but that's like saying "I never get seeds stuck
in my teeth when I eat candy canes."

But going text-based seems like an interesting solution to the problem.

I suppose I could have posted this under r.a.i.f just as well as here.
I'm curious both about existing games that avoid the hotspot problem
and techniques to avoid it.

Rexx Magnus

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May 4, 2005, 11:03:03 AM5/4/05
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On Wed, 04 May 2005 14:19:11 GMT, scrawled:

> I suppose I could have posted this under r.a.i.f just as well as here.
> I'm curious both about existing games that avoid the hotspot problem
> and techniques to avoid it.

If it didn't hinder actual movement, some kind of magnetism or cursor
gravity would be a good idea, to attract the pointer towards nearby
hotspots.

The best way that I can think of to implement this in a myst type game
would be to have *two* pointers. One pointer representing the player's
controller (so that you can select other UI elements without hindrance,
and also move the view) - whilst the other follows the controller pointer
but falls off into the magnetic/gravity regions and changes shape as it
approaches hotspots. Thus leaving the player free to press the specified
button/key to activate it, or ignore it and still be free to use the mouse
for movement.

--
http://www.rexx.co.uk

To email me, visit the site.

RootShell

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May 4, 2005, 11:28:06 AM5/4/05
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carolyn...@yahoo.com wrote:
> I'm curious both about existing games that avoid the hotspot problem
> and techniques to avoid it.

I think that TheInventory (http://www.theinventory.org) made an article
about that in the 3rd issue (January 2003, page51).

I know it's not a lot, but there are more of this (pixel hunting in
adventure games) in other issues of TheInventory, always associated with
bad game development/design.

Maybe that's information usefull to you.

Not sure where, but some years ago I found (searching in google) a
large/medium article about the technics that should used to make graphic
adventure games, and i remember that 'anti-pixel hunting' technics were
shown there. Maybe you can do that google search yourself.

Regards,
RootShell

--
RootShell, Lisbon, Portugal, Europe, Earth ;)
To protect against spam, the address in the "From:" header is not valid.
In any case, you should reply to the group so that everyone can benefit.
If you must send me a private email, use -> RootShell AT netcabo DOT pt

Arthur Boff

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May 4, 2005, 12:14:23 PM5/4/05
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I seem to remember the Secret of Monkey Island was really quite good
at making sure you noticed the hotspots - they were good at making
sure the interactive elements stood out against the background, or
were animated, or were drawn with more detail and so forth.

Aaron A. Reed

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May 4, 2005, 10:53:17 PM5/4/05
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That was my experience with Monkey Island too, but this sort of thing
can be terribly subjective. That's why it's helpful to play with
someone else, who can ask you "Why don't you pull the big lever?" which
you've never seen before in a dozen searches through the screen...

Paul Drallos

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May 4, 2005, 10:55:37 PM5/4/05
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carolyn...@yahoo.com wrote:

> Still, I have never been wild about the Great Search for Hotspots, and
> I was wondering: of the graphical games you've played (where "you" is
> this collective audience), which ones have the greatest level of
> mimesis? How did (or didn't?) they deal with the Great Hotspot Problem?
>

The Tex Murphy games, Under a Killing Moon, Pandora Directive and Overseer.
They offered full 3D movement, 4 pi steradian panning (horizontal and vertical panning), getting down on the floor or up on your tip-toes. Nearly every object in the rooms was either active, or came with some voice comment. You could look under the beds, in garbage cans, all the drawers, open refrigerators, turn on the stoves,...almost everything is implemented.

Plus, there is full motion video. No computer-generated characters in these games.

Jan Thorsby

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May 5, 2005, 5:29:53 AM5/5/05
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<carolyn...@yahoo.com> skrev i melding
news:1115206288....@o13g2000cwo.googlegroups.com...
> How did (or didn't?) they deal with the Great Hotspot Problem?

One could have a button that when pushed caused all the hotspots to light up
or be outlined or have little arrows or signs with names on them pop up next
to them.


Boluc Papuccuoglu

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May 5, 2005, 6:43:57 AM5/5/05
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Although most people hated it, I would say Gabriel Knight III for
sheer possibilities of interaction with objects. You did not just
click on search to look under the table, you bent down and LOOKED
under the table, etc.

Rikard Peterson

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May 5, 2005, 7:15:31 AM5/5/05
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Jan Thorsby wrote in news:4279e866$1...@news.broadpark.no:

Simon the Sorcerer 2 did that (and it was needed in that game!), but it
did not show exits, so I ended up looking in a walkthrough to find one
of the rooms.

Rikard

Rexx Magnus

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May 5, 2005, 7:19:24 AM5/5/05
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On Thu, 05 May 2005 09:29:53 GMT, Jan Thorsby scrawled:

Neverwinter Nights does this (highlighting monsters and interactable
objects with a blue aura when tab is pressed) - but it does sometimes ruin
it if you're supposed to search for something.

samwyse

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May 5, 2005, 7:40:06 AM5/5/05
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On or about 5/4/2005 10:03 AM, Rexx Magnus did proclaim:

> If it didn't hinder actual movement, some kind of magnetism or cursor
> gravity would be a good idea, to attract the pointer towards nearby
> hotspots.
>
> The best way that I can think of to implement this in a myst type game
> would be to have *two* pointers. One pointer representing the player's
> controller (so that you can select other UI elements without hindrance,
> and also move the view) - whilst the other follows the controller pointer
> but falls off into the magnetic/gravity regions and changes shape as it
> approaches hotspots. Thus leaving the player free to press the specified
> button/key to activate it, or ignore it and still be free to use the mouse
> for movement.

Just my two cents worth, but I think it's a bad idea. I have to
interact with remote servers that have an iLO (Integrated "Lights Out")
interface, basicly a networked KVM switch. There are two cursors there,
one (a simple crosshair) is "yours", the other (a more conventional
pointer) is the remote computers. Isues with mouse accelleration means
that not only are the two mice never in the same place, but when you do
get them sync'ed, they go their seperate ways within seconds. The end
result is total confusion. Newbies can hardly use the interface, while
I've learned all the keyboard shortcuts so I can do things without
touching the mouse.

Paul Drallos

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May 6, 2005, 8:47:41 PM5/6/05
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Jan Thorsby wrote:

> <carolyn...@yahoo.com> skrev i melding
> news:1115206288....@o13g2000cwo.googlegroups.com...
>
>> How did (or didn't?) they deal with the Great Hotspot Problem?
>

I forgot to mention this aspect of the Tex Murphy games. The first two games had a navigation and interaction mode which one could toggle between by pressing the space bar. In interaction mode, the cursor would change when rolled over a hotspot. The mode toggling was a bit of a nuisance.

In the last game, Overseer, the toggling was eliminated but I can't remember how it was changed.


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