Randomness in Games

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The Grim Reaper

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Sep 17, 1994, 6:07:05 PM9/17/94
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In article <35fke5...@gecko.cis.ohio-state.edu>,
john t baker <bak...@cis.ohio-state.edu> wrote:
>I'm about a third of the way through the implementation of my first
>interactive fiction game, and I wanted to take a poll of opinions. In
>my game there is an obstacle (a pit), and the chance of the player
>being able to jump it is completely random. There is no other way past
[...]
>As a player, would that frustrate you, or would you kind of view it like
>the troll in Zork I, where it's no big deal that it's random 'cause once
>you get past it once you don't have to deal with it again?

I don't like this sort of thing, myself. It doesn't really add anything
to the game, IMO, since it's just the toss of dice whether you go over or
not. And with save/restore, why bother just making them restore the game?
Unless, of course, the death message is really cool :P
On the other hand, I was assuming the pit means death if you fall into it.
If you can climb the other side or something, then sure, I don't mind
falling in sometimes, as long as it doesn't kill me.
Or, in a different case, if the game has a place where the player has to
fight somebody, I wouldn't mind random messages, as long as the result
isn't random (ie, you hack at him for a couple rounds, and then always manage
to kill him).

>--
>John Baker
>"It ain't an easy life being a self-parody."
> - John Baker

+----------------------------------------------------------+
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| The Grim Reaper (Reaper of Souls, Stealer of .sigs) |
| scy...@u.washington.edu |
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David Michael Tuller

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Sep 17, 1994, 6:03:23 PM9/17/94
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In article <35fke5...@gecko.cis.ohio-state.edu>, bak...@cis.ohio-state.edu (john t baker) writes:
|> I'm about a third of the way through the implementation of my first
|> interactive fiction game, and I wanted to take a poll of opinions. In
|> my game there is an obstacle (a pit), and the chance of the player
|> being able to jump it is completely random. There is no other way past
|> the pit until the character is on the other side, when they will find
|> information that will allow them to successfully navigate the pit
|> 100% of the time in the future for that game.

|>
|> As a player, would that frustrate you, or would you kind of view it like
|> the troll in Zork I, where it's no big deal that it's random 'cause once
|> you get past it once you don't have to deal with it again?

I would prefer that you eliminate the randomness. How is the player supposed
to know that they could make if they tried again? Suppose someone was
trying to get past the pit, but kept falling in. They would (naturally)
assume that there is something else to do before you can make it across and
may not realize that it is random until someone tells them. This would be
unfair to the player unless you hint (subtly) that there is randomness
involved.

David M. Tuller
tul...@rpi.edu

john t baker

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Sep 17, 1994, 6:34:09 PM9/17/94
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Oh... something I forgot to mention. I need the pit as it is necessary
to solve another puzzle in the game. I want it to *look* like an
obstacle, it's real use is as a solution to a puzzle. And examining
the pit will all but bonk the player over the head with the fact that
it's random (50/50) as to whether they get across or not.

John Payson

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Sep 17, 1994, 9:39:48 PM9/17/94
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In article <35fqt1...@gecko.cis.ohio-state.edu>,

john t baker <bak...@cis.ohio-state.edu> wrote:
>Oh... something I forgot to mention. I need the pit as it is necessary
>to solve another puzzle in the game. I want it to *look* like an
>obstacle, it's real use is as a solution to a puzzle. And examining
>the pit will all but bonk the player over the head with the fact that
>it's random (50/50) as to whether they get across or not.

I generally disapprove of randomness in games. In Zork III, for example,
there's a random chance that when you dive under the water you will get
munched by a fish. Can even happen the first time you do it. I fail to
see how this adds *ANYTHING* to the game. Similarly, one is supposed to
wait until one has grown in strength before attacking the thief in Zork I.
With save/restore, however, this is not necessary. IMHO, one should either
have what it takes to solve a puzzle or not. Being able to randomly bluff
one's way though doesn't cut it.

There are a *few* places where I don't mind randomness TOO much; in Sorceror,
for example, if one visits the amusement park before the toll road, there is
a (random) way to get one's Zorkmid back, but it's much easier to just visit
the toll road first as the recovery is much easier via that route. So here
randomness is the penalty one pays for not being too clever, though one still
has to solve a puzzle to get through it.
--
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------
supe...@mcs.com | "Je crois que je ne vais jamais voir... | J\_/L
John Payson | Un animal si beau qu'un chat." | ( o o )

john t baker

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Sep 17, 1994, 4:43:49 PM9/17/94
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I'm about a third of the way through the implementation of my first
interactive fiction game, and I wanted to take a poll of opinions. In
my game there is an obstacle (a pit), and the chance of the player
being able to jump it is completely random. There is no other way past
the pit until the character is on the other side, when they will find
information that will allow them to successfully navigate the pit
100% of the time in the future for that game.

As a player, would that frustrate you, or would you kind of view it like
the troll in Zork I, where it's no big deal that it's random 'cause once
you get past it once you don't have to deal with it again?

This is all rather sketchy information, I know, but please mail or post your
opinions, as I'm probably going to go with majority opinion on this.

russell wallace

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Sep 18, 1994, 9:06:13 AM9/18/94
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In <35fpa9$8...@news.u.washington.edu> scy...@u.washington.edu (The Grim Reaper) writes:

>In article <35fke5...@gecko.cis.ohio-state.edu>,
>john t baker <bak...@cis.ohio-state.edu> wrote:
>>I'm about a third of the way through the implementation of my first
>>interactive fiction game, and I wanted to take a poll of opinions. In
>>my game there is an obstacle (a pit), and the chance of the player
>>being able to jump it is completely random. There is no other way past
>[...]
>>As a player, would that frustrate you, or would you kind of view it like
>>the troll in Zork I, where it's no big deal that it's random 'cause once
>>you get past it once you don't have to deal with it again?

>I don't like this sort of thing, myself. It doesn't really add anything
>to the game, IMO, since it's just the toss of dice whether you go over or
>not. And with save/restore, why bother just making them restore the game?
>Unless, of course, the death message is really cool :P
>On the other hand, I was assuming the pit means death if you fall into it.
>If you can climb the other side or something, then sure, I don't mind
>falling in sometimes, as long as it doesn't kill me.

I can't see much point in the random pit puzzle myself (because it has
no element of skill or thought), though at the same time I don't think
it does much harm, all you need do is save-jump-restore until you're
over, shouldn't take more than a minute or two.

>Or, in a different case, if the game has a place where the player has to
>fight somebody, I wouldn't mind random messages, as long as the result
>isn't random (ie, you hack at him for a couple rounds, and then always manage
>to kill him).

Here I don't agree; the better your combat skill, weapons and armor (and
the better the tactics you the player use, where applicable) the better
your chance should be, but the result of a combat should never be
predetermined. Randomness has a place in games, IMO, and combat is that
place.

--
"To summarize the summary of the summary: people are a problem"
Russell Wallace, Trinity College, Dublin
rwal...@vax1.tcd.ie

Robert A. DeLisle

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Sep 18, 1994, 6:40:23 PM9/18/94
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I don't play rpg because I think these random fights are stupid.
I play intelligent games which depend on thought rather than action.
Sometimes I do play an action type game, but it is not rpg or 3d.
AAD
Oh, that pit would be frustrating. Make it a puzzle.

john t baker (bak...@cis.ohio-state.edu) wrote:
: I'm about a third of the way through the implementation of my first

Felix Lee

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Sep 18, 1994, 8:39:32 PM9/18/94
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Russell Wallace:

>Randomness has a place in games, IMO, and combat is that
>place.

Well, as long as the game gives me some sort of feedback about my odds
of success, then I don't mind. If it's a blind chance situation, then
you might as well make it deterministic. I'll just save+restore at
that point until I succeed.

One of the most useful objects in "nethack" is a stethoscope, which
tells you exactly how many hitpoints an enemy has. Information like
this actually makes the game more interesting, because it increases
the range of tactical choices. If you can't assess an enemy's
condition, then the choices you make are mostly arbitrary.

These days, most combat-style arcade games will show you precise life
bars for your enemies. They also have a deterministic combat
framework: attacking with X under conditions Y will do exactly Z
amount of damage. There's randomness in enemy behavior, but not in
the mechanics of combat.
--

Eric Smith

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Sep 18, 1994, 8:57:51 PM9/18/94
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In article <35g5p4$r...@Mercury.mcs.com> supe...@MCS.COM (John Payson) writes:
> There are a *few* places where I don't mind randomness TOO much; in Sorceror,
> for example, if one visits the amusement park before the toll road, there is
> a (random) way to get one's Zorkmid back, but it's much easier to just visit
> the toll road first as the recovery is much easier via that route.

Unfortunately the Apple II ZIP interpreter supplied with Sorcerer had a *very*
non-random "random number generator", such that it was actually impossible to
win the slot machine. I didn't realize there was another solution, so I
found and fixed the random number generator. (I had previously disassembled
an earlier version of the interpreter.)

My advice: don't make anything completely dependent on the randomness of a
random number generator. Make sure there's a way to solve the problem even if
the RNG is stuck.

Eric

Greg Ewing

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Sep 19, 1994, 12:43:27 AM9/19/94
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|> the chance of the player
|> being able to jump it is completely random. There is no other way past
|> the pit until the character is on the other side, when they will find
|> information that will allow them to successfully navigate the pit
|> 100% of the time in the future for that game.

I'd suggest that you make the pit inconvenient but non-lethal,
and have the player always fall in the first time. If he only
has to cross it once before finding the information, there's
not much point in making it random, since that would mean he
stood a 50% chance of missing out on the fun of doing it
the hard way.

If the pit must be crossed several times before finding out how
to avoid it, there might be some merit in making it random
to relieve boredom. But only if it has to be crossed enough
times for the player to experience it both ways.

In any case, it should definitely *not* be randomly lethal.
With save/restore, that's just purely annoying.

|> John Baker

Greg Ewing, Computer Science Dept, +--------------------------------------+
University of Canterbury, | A citizen of NewZealandCorp, a |
Christchurch, New Zealand | wholly-owned subsidiary of Japan Inc.|
gr...@cosc.canterbury.ac.nz +--------------------------------------+

Matthew Russotto

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Sep 18, 1994, 2:31:26 PM9/18/94
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On 9/17/94, john t baker distorted All's sage advice about Randomness in Games:


jt> I'm about a third of the way through the implementation of my first
jt> interactive fiction game, and I wanted to take a poll of opinions. In
jt> my game there is an obstacle (a pit), and the chance of the player
jt> being able to jump it is completely random. There is no other way
jt> past the pit until the character is on the other side, when they will
jt> find information that will allow them to successfully navigate the pit
jt> 100% of the time in the future for that game.

That's a terrible thing. If you're going to have a random way to get across
the pit, you should also have a (hard to discover) sure way. Otherwise the
randomness is just frustrating.


Paul Francis Gilbert

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Sep 19, 1994, 10:07:20 PM9/19/94
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bak...@cis.ohio-state.edu (john t baker) writes:

Randomness can be just too frustrating in puzzles like this. I agree that it
has its place in combat, but not in puzzles like this. Even if you more less
"bonk" the player on the head that it's random, it destroys the purpose of it
being random in the first place, and additionally the player just might think
it too mean that what the game was actually telling it was that it wasn't sure,
but when he tries to jump and gets killed the first time, he'll assume that
he just can't jump far enough.

An alternate way to do it would be either
i) Form another minipuzzle to complete (say for example finding or making a
pogo-stick :-> )
ii)Keeping the jump as random, but if he falls, have him land jarringly in the
chasm bottem (losing HPs if its that sort of game), and allowing him to
climb up the chasm walls on either side.


--
Paul Gilbert | s940...@yallara.cs.rmit.edu.au
Bach App Sci, Bach Eng | The opinions expressed are my own, all my own, and
Year 1, RMIT Melbourne | as such will contain no references to small furry
Australia | creatures from Alpha Centauri.

Felix Lee

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Sep 19, 1994, 10:00:22 PM9/19/94
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Darin Johnson:
>One thing I learned when porting Dungeon, is how combat works.
>The more points you have, the stronger you are.

yah, I think I figured that out when I set out to kill the thief as
early as possible. It was noticeably harder, but that just meant I
had to retry more often before I succeeded. The combat system didn't
add much to the gameplay.
--

Robert Paige Rendell

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Sep 19, 1994, 8:47:34 PM9/19/94
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bak...@cis.ohio-state.edu (john t baker) writes:

>I'm about a third of the way through the implementation of my first
>interactive fiction game, and I wanted to take a poll of opinions. In
>my game there is an obstacle (a pit), and the chance of the player
>being able to jump it is completely random. There is no other way past
>the pit until the character is on the other side, when they will find
>information that will allow them to successfully navigate the pit
>100% of the time in the future for that game.

I gather that the idea is that you don't want the player to blithely
hop back and forth over the pit without finding the info on the far side of
it and solving that particular puzzle. Since randomness, from other posts
in this thread, is verboten, I would suggest making it an automatic success
the first time they jump the pit, and after that, you could make it random
(or even automatic failure). Of course, it's important to let the player
know that the odds have changed after the first jump... perhaps something
like:

> jump pit
You back up a bit, and take a running leap at the four-meter-wide pit. Half
way across, you realise that you're not going to make it, but it's about
two meters too late for second thoughts.

*** SPLAT ***

You hit the far wall, and scrabble for handholds... and your hand grabs a
protruding rock, a short way below the lip of the pit! You hang there for a
second, catching your wind, until the rock lets you know, by wobbling, that
it isn't terribly secure. You scramble up, dislodging the rock just as you
make it over the lip. Seven seconds later, you hear the faint sound of stone
impacting on stone.

--
Robert Rendell \((/
ren...@molly.cs.monash.edu.au ~oo~
What do you know about Tweetle beetles? Well... /))\

Darin Johnson

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Sep 19, 1994, 8:54:03 PM9/19/94
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> Russell Wallace:
> >Randomness has a place in games, IMO, and combat is that
> >place.
>
> Well, as long as the game gives me some sort of feedback about my odds
> of success, then I don't mind. If it's a blind chance situation, then
> you might as well make it deterministic. I'll just save+restore at
> that point until I succeed.

One thing I learned when porting Dungeon, is how combat works.
The more points you have, the stronger you are. Most of the
formulas and all are pretty much worthless though, but it's
fun to see all the messages.
--
Darin Johnson
djoh...@ucsd.edu
Support your right to own gnus.

Brian Brushwood

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Sep 20, 1994, 4:30:25 AM9/20/94
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john t baker (bak...@cis.ohio-state.edu) wrote:
: I'm about a third of the way through the implementation of my first

: interactive fiction game, and I wanted to take a poll of opinions. In
: my game there is an obstacle (a pit), and the chance of the player
: being able to jump it is completely random. There is no other way past
: the pit until the character is on the other side, when they will find
: information that will allow them to successfully navigate the pit
: 100% of the time in the future for that game.

I think its a lame idea....if you want to stop them from coming back the
same way, why dont you have a bridge which collapses after you've been
over it? or a rock fall which blocks the passage? if you want the ppl to
come back AFTER a certain puzzle is done then you could supply them with
the means to get back ie. dynamite to remove a rock fall....a couple of
planks of wood to tie together to make a bridge...a rope to swing across
with.....etc. etc.

From The Eternally Sleeping Dragon
(who occassionally wakes up to flame someone)

Randolph M. Jones

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Sep 20, 1994, 10:54:41 AM9/20/94
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In article <35fqt1...@gecko.cis.ohio-state.edu>,

john t baker <bak...@cis.ohio-state.edu> wrote:
>Oh... something I forgot to mention. I need the pit as it is necessary
>to solve another puzzle in the game. I want it to *look* like an
>obstacle, it's real use is as a solution to a puzzle. And examining
>the pit will all but bonk the player over the head with the fact that
>it's random (50/50) as to whether they get across or not.

I tend not to like randomness in these type of games myself. In this case,
why not make the pit into TWO puzzles, rather than a random obstacle and a
puzzle. The first puzzle would be how to get across the pit (of course,
you'd have to come up with something for this), and that could "hide" the
second puzzle that the pit is used for.

Fred Sloniker

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Sep 20, 1994, 11:43:52 AM9/20/94
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Olly Betts wrote:

>Do you realise how far a stone drops in 7 seconds?

Yes. (:3

(mutters to self) Let's see, assuming negligible air resistance,
x = .5 a t^2 + v0 t + x0, where in this case a=9.80 m/s/s, t=7, v0=x0=0...
(hauls out mutant calculator bought for Physics class) 2.40 10^2 m, or in
Murrican units, 788 feet (about 53 stories).

Hmm.

(looks around curiously)

Any pre-med students care to tell me if the human body can retain physical
*integrity* when it hits stone at 68.6 m/s (about 150 mph)? (:3

>Will eat % for food.

Cute. VDCute. (:3

OBint-fiction: randomness has a place in interactive fiction. "Hitchhiker's"
demonstrates that place (to make sure the player actually gets the information
he's supposed to, instead of retaining it from a past life).

---Fred M. Sloniker, stressed undergrad
L. Lazuli R'kamos, FurryMUCKer
laz...@u.washington.edu

Fred's Fourth Law: It must be art. I don't understand it.

Olly Betts

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Sep 20, 1994, 3:04:33 PM9/20/94
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In article <35mvvo$a...@news.u.washington.edu>,

Fred Sloniker <laz...@u.washington.edu> wrote:
>Olly Betts wrote:
>
>>Do you realise how far a stone drops in 7 seconds?
>
>Yes. (:3
>
>(mutters to self) Let's see, assuming negligible air resistance,
>x = .5 a t^2 + v0 t + x0, where in this case a=9.80 m/s/s, t=7, v0=x0=0...
>(hauls out mutant calculator bought for Physics class) 2.40 10^2 m, or in
>Murrican units, 788 feet (about 53 stories).

Air resistance is a major factor here. Stones start whistling if you
drop them anything approaching 100m. Bodies will probably fall slower,
being larger and less dense than stones. It's still a long way though.

>OBint-fiction: randomness has a place in interactive fiction. "Hitchhiker's"
>demonstrates that place (to make sure the player actually gets the information
>he's supposed to, instead of retaining it from a past life).

Indeed. It still feels a bit unsatisfactory to me, though I guess it is
valid from a quantum mechanics viewpoint. Assuming that HH doesn't
allow you to solve the puzzle by randomly guessing the answer, that is
-- ie you must give the correct answer having previously found it out.
If you haven't found it out, any answer is wrong. The puzzle must also
prevent you from exhaustive guessing (which it does if I'm thinking of
the same puzzle in HH).

Olly
--

TEAddition

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Sep 20, 1994, 2:11:06 PM9/20/94
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In regard to randomness, I'd like to point out that there are times when
random outcomes are, IMHO, mandatory. For example, many games have a
random combination to a safe -- now if this were not random, then all of
the steps taken to discover that combination become useless. How do you
all feel about randomness in this regard?

I ask because the question then becomes "when do I establish the actual
combination?" Let's say that, in the above scenario, the safe is near the
end of the game -- there's an extremely important amulet within the safe.
Now, the let's say that after getting the combination, the player decides
to restore a saved game (I guess she made a mistake somewhere along the
line) and then goes straight to the safe. Should the player be able to
use the old combination? In other words, should I set the combination
during game initialization or at some point along the path to discovering
what the combination is?

My problem is that I am actually designing a puzzle similar to this, and
it is quite possible that a player might try a combination before the
combination has been set (i.e. the player hasn't solved the puzzle,
therefore all combinations fail), but that same combination actually turns
up with the random number generator, and will therefore work, after all.

Suggestions?

Randolph M. Jones

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Sep 20, 1994, 3:57:31 PM9/20/94
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In article <35n8jq$j...@newsbf01.news.aol.com>,

TEAddition <teadd...@aol.com> wrote:
>My problem is that I am actually designing a puzzle similar to this, and
>it is quite possible that a player might try a combination before the
>combination has been set (i.e. the player hasn't solved the puzzle,
>therefore all combinations fail), but that same combination actually turns
>up with the random number generator, and will therefore work, after all.

I think the usual thing done here is to make the puzzle simply unsolvable
until the player has done whatever is necessary to discover the solution
to the puzzle. Using your example, the player would not be able to open
the safe initially, no matter what the player tries. However, when the
player finds a piece of paper with the combination on it (or whatever), the
combination gets created at random and becomes "fixed" for the rest of the
game. The "tool" puzzle at the end of Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy is
done like this.

S.P.Harvey

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Sep 20, 1994, 7:23:13 PM9/20/94
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Mark B Sachs (sa...@cadetblue.crayola.cse.psu.edu) wrote:

: In this case, randomness works out just fine; I suspect there's an
: every-answer-is-wrong-until-you-get-to-the-right-point-in-the-plot
: aspect to it, too. This does, however, expose what my main beef with
: Hitchhiker's was -- that often you have only one chance to do something
: and a _very_ short time limit in which to figure it out, and if you
: miss your chance you've already lost, although you may not even realize

My biggest HHG gripe was the miserable little dog and sandwich puzzle.
It wasn't the element of randomness, but the
if-you-miss-your-chance-the-game-cannot-be-won element that I so strongly
object to. I haven't played HHG in years, but this still tugs at the
back of my mind. I remember how infuriated I was when I was literally
FORCED to restart the game from square one. Lame.

Scott

--
----------------------| S.P. Harvey |--------------------------
"Most of the world was mad. And the part that wasn't mad was angry.
And the part that wasn't mad or angry was just stupid.
I had no chance. I had no choice." - Charles Bukowski, 'Pulp'
----------------------| sha...@interaccess.com |--------------------------

john t baker

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Sep 20, 1994, 8:36:52 PM9/20/94
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In article <35nbo1$i...@sunforest.mantis.co.uk> ol...@mantis.co.uk (Olly Betts) writes:
>Air resistance is a major factor here. Stones start whistling if you
>drop them anything approaching 100m. Bodies will probably fall slower,
>being larger and less dense than stones. It's still a long way though.

Bodies reach maximum velocity at about 120mph (as I recently learned on my
first free-fall skydiving adventure where I got to fall for a mile and a
half :}) and they reach that speed rather quickly.

But in any event, thanks for all of your opinions, and I have decided to make
the pit completely non-random due to the overwhelming majority opinion.

I'll let everyone know when It's ready for beta-test.

Mark B Sachs

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Sep 20, 1994, 6:27:10 PM9/20/94
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In article <35nbo1$i...@sunforest.mantis.co.uk> ol...@mantis.co.uk (Olly Betts) writes:

Yes. The puzzle in question is... well... *spoilers* for Hitchhiker's

The puzzle is when you are getting Marvin to open the ship's hatch
for you. He is willing to meet you exactly once, in a space so narrow
that you can only bring in one object with you; and he wants one of
ten tools, randomly selected each time. If you don't bring the right
tool, you're basically SOL, as Marvin won't come to help you a second
time. There is a plot device elsewhere in the game that allows you
to see into the future and discover exactly which tool Marvin will
ask you for.

In this case, randomness works out just fine; I suspect there's an
every-answer-is-wrong-until-you-get-to-the-right-point-in-the-plot
aspect to it, too. This does, however, expose what my main beef with
Hitchhiker's was -- that often you have only one chance to do something
and a _very_ short time limit in which to figure it out, and if you
miss your chance you've already lost, although you may not even realize

it for hundreds of turns yet. For example, the Babel fish puzzle. You
are allowed, forced in fact, to go to the next part of the game whether
or not you obtain the Fish; but without the Fish, you can't get the
atomic vector plotter. You can muck around forever on the Heart of
Gold without realizing what an awesome mistake you made by not getting
the Babel fish and/or the plotter.

Oh, and it was also prone to killing you at a moment's notice for
trivial reasons -- one would think that entering the wrong password
into the Vogon computer should just give you an ACCESS DENIED, not
cause the computer to explode and kill you. That's some security
system the Vogons have there... Taking a cue from that, I've been
reworking my ALAN game to have less random death. If you step into
a destroyed elevator filled with smoke, you no longer plunge through
the floor and fall 186 stories to a messy end; you instead manage
to save yourself from falling and recoil into the corridor just in
time. It's possible to die in my game, but you'll know exactly
what you're getting into if that happens.

-Mark

Olly Betts

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Sep 20, 1994, 10:25:32 AM9/20/94
to
In article <35lbf6$l...@harbinger.cc.monash.edu.au>,

Robert Paige Rendell <ren...@cs.monash.edu.au> wrote:
>it isn't terribly secure. You scramble up, dislodging the rock just as you
>make it over the lip. Seven seconds later, you hear the faint sound of stone
>impacting on stone.

Do you realise how far a stone drops in 7 seconds? A common technique
for estimating the depth of shafts when exploring previously-unexplored
caves is to drop a rock down and time the drop. Taking air resistance
into account, a 3.5 second drop is over 50m. This is long enough to
make you wonder if the rock hit some mud silently or something and to
reach for another rock. If they drop for much longer without hitting
the walls, they start to whistle. I don't remember the figures off the
top of my head, but 7 seconds will clearly be well over 100m (which is
approx 330 feet). Assuming Earth gravity and atmosphere of course.

John Payson

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Sep 21, 1994, 12:35:22 AM9/21/94
to
In article <35mvvo$a...@news.u.washington.edu>,
Fred Sloniker <laz...@u.washington.edu> wrote:
>OBint-fiction: randomness has a place in interactive fiction. "Hitchhiker's"
>demonstrates that place (to make sure the player actually gets the information
>he's supposed to, instead of retaining it from a past life).

That isn't "really" randomness, IMHO, as the choice of tool has nothing to
do with the rest of the game (save that any tool which has become unavailable
is automatically selected). That is to say, if you've gotten all ten tools
and gotten the [censored] to let you know which was needed, the "randomness"
will in no significant way affect the gameplay and if you've not done those
things, the "randomness" will always make you lose.

BTW, in Wishbringer, there is a nasty dog named "Alexis". To get past the
dog you must say "Alexis, heel." If, however, you have not found the clue
which tells you this:

The hellhound can sense thatn you're just guessing her name and barks more
angrily.

Or somesuch. Anyway, though, I don't really consider arbitrary selection of
combinations, passcodes, etc. to be really "random".

Jamieson Norrish

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Sep 23, 1994, 9:32:43 AM9/23/94
to
In article <35lg4o$6...@goanna.cs.rmit.oz.au>
s940...@yallara.cs.rmit.OZ.AU (Paul Francis Gilbert) writes:

ii) Keeping the jump as random, but if he falls, have him land


jarringly in the chasm bottem (losing HPs if its that sort of
game), and allowing him to climb up the chasm walls on either
side.

Some people have said that combat is the only place for randomness as
was described for the original pit puzzle, with the addendum that it
would be nicer if other factors (equipment, for example) had an
influence. I question why combat is so different from other actions.
Assuming "that sort of game" (where the character is quantified in
some way, rather than being a generic entity who can do anything,
provided the puzzle solutions are found), why could there not be a
"jump" skill of some sort?

I know, I know, people will jump (hrm) up and down and say that that
makes the game not so much interactive fiction as, well, a single
player MUD. They will say that it removes the pure medium for solving
puzzles (whilst interacting with a nifty atmospheric "world") and
replaces it with something where the character can suffer due not to
lack of skill on the part of the player, but on the part of the
character. That is what it boils down to, I think.

For me, in multi-player environments, the character is all-important.
This doesn't necessarily hold true in single-player games, but I don't
think that avenue should be rejected out of hand. I can imagine games
(admittedly far less linear than most IF) where different characters
could approach the situations in different ways, depending on both the
player, and the abilities/disabilities of the character. The point
being that no way would be better or worse, or lead to gaining more or
less points, or winning or not winning the game. Just different.

Any thoughts? I freely admit that my background is mainly in
multi-player (and hence multi-character) environments, but I don't
think it's ruled out for single player games. Hehe, look at some
arcade games, with a choice of different "characters" to play, who
have different strengths and weaknesses.

Jamie

Jamieson Norrish

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Sep 23, 1994, 9:34:38 AM9/23/94
to
Immediate apologies if this is the second (or first of two, depending
on timing) copy of this post. Sometimes things go wrong, and other
times things just *look* like they go wrong.

In article <35lg4o$6...@goanna.cs.rmit.oz.au>
s940...@yallara.cs.rmit.OZ.AU (Paul Francis Gilbert) writes:

ii) Keeping the jump as random, but if he falls, have him land


jarringly in the chasm bottem (losing HPs if its that sort of
game), and allowing him to climb up the chasm walls on either
side.

Some people have said that combat is the only place for randomness as

Fred Sloniker

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Sep 23, 1994, 4:27:22 PM9/23/94
to

Felix Lee <fl...@cse.psu.edu> wrote:

>I don't think the problem is so much "purity" of interactive fiction,
>but rather, the existence of save/restore or undo. Why bother with
>random chance of failure if the player can just make it unhappen?

Why bother with certain failure (i.e., death) if the player can just make
it unhappen?

(Just an irrelevant comment from someone who enjoyed "Monkey Island" more
than most adventure games and int-fiction he's played because he *didn't*
have to save every five minutes just to feel 'safe'...)

---Fred M. Sloniker, stressed undergrad
L. Lazuli R'kamos, FurryMUCKer
laz...@u.washington.edu

"Did you wreck the car?" "No." "Did you raise the dead?" "Yes!" "But the
car's okay?" "Uh-huh." "All right, then."

The Grim Reaper

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Sep 23, 1994, 5:58:13 PM9/23/94
to

In article <JAMIE.94S...@akeake.its.vuw.ac.nz>,

Jamieson Norrish <ja...@akeake.its.vuw.ac.nz> wrote:
>In article <35lg4o$6...@goanna.cs.rmit.oz.au>
>s940...@yallara.cs.rmit.OZ.AU (Paul Francis Gilbert) writes:
>
> ii) Keeping the jump as random, but if he falls, have him land
> jarringly in the chasm bottem (losing HPs if its that sort of
> game), and allowing him to climb up the chasm walls on either
> side.
>
>Some people have said that combat is the only place for randomness as
>was described for the original pit puzzle, with the addendum that it
>would be nicer if other factors (equipment, for example) had an
>influence. I question why combat is so different from other actions.
>Assuming "that sort of game" (where the character is quantified in
>some way, rather than being a generic entity who can do anything,
>provided the puzzle solutions are found), why could there not be a
>"jump" skill of some sort?

Hmm... well, personally, I don't think the *outcome* of combat should be
random (ie, the fight with the assassin in LGOP), so I'm perhaps a little
biased on the skill issue too. I don't like the idea of a jump skill, just
because (like you say later) I don't like failing because of the toss of
a random number generator or something. That's not why I play i-f. I play
i-f to solve puzzles, and to enjoy the game world, and random chance IMO
detracts from that. Now, I don't see anything wrong with having several
characters that have binary skill levels (they can or can't do something...
perhaps one is a broad jumper, one is a warrior, etc), and so different
characters will be forced to take different routes, depending on their skill
areas. But this isn't the same as just being able to take a certain route
because of pure chance.

[...]
>Jamie

+----------------------------------------------------------+
| One .sig to rule them all, one .sig to find them... |
| One .sig to bring them all and in the darkness bind them |
+----------------------------------------------------------+
| The Grim Reaper (Reaper of Souls, Stealer of .sigs) |
| scy...@u.washington.edu |
+----------------------------------------------------------+

Felix Lee

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Sep 23, 1994, 8:11:52 AM9/23/94
to
Jamieson Norrish:

>Assuming "that sort of game" (where the character is quantified in
>some way, rather than being a generic entity who can do anything,
>provided the puzzle solutions are found), why could there not be a
>"jump" skill of some sort?

I don't think the problem is so much "purity" of interactive fiction,


but rather, the existence of save/restore or undo. Why bother with
random chance of failure if the player can just make it unhappen?

Well, games like Doom have save/restore, but there's not really much
chance involved there either. It's mainly playing skill, and I can't
find anything analogous in the IF genre. ("Arrggh. I just got killed
by another typo. I'm going to get past this typing problem even if it
takes me all night.")
--

Felix Lee

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Sep 24, 1994, 12:24:11 AM9/24/94
to
Fred Sloniker:

>Why bother with certain failure (i.e., death) if the player can just make
>it unhappen?

Atmosphere? If the game has any dead-ends at all, then you might as
well make some of them final.

Actually, dead-ends that aren't final are more frustating. It's
usually not much fun to expend effort in trying to get past a point
that doesn't really have a way through.

Maybe it would be better if a game had no dead-ends at all, but this
is hard to do. "Curses" goes pretty far to keep your options open,
but there are a few essential things that you can't backtrack to if
you miss them, without using save/restore.
--

Paul Burriesci

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Sep 24, 1994, 6:00:41 AM9/24/94
to
scy...@u.washington.edu (The Grim Reaper) writes:

>Hmm... well, personally, I don't think the *outcome* of combat should be
>random (ie, the fight with the assassin in LGOP), so I'm perhaps a little
>biased on the skill issue too.

Another excellent example of non-random combat is the
amoeba in Planetfall. Granted, it does warrant a couple
of saves and restores, but it definately shows how
combat can be handled in a non-random way and yet
remain a challenge.


--
Paul Burriesci | Wheel's on fire, rolling down the road.
pbur...@adobe.com | Best notify my next of kin, this wheel shall explode.

Matthew Russotto

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Sep 22, 1994, 4:29:55 PM9/22/94
to
On 9/21/94, R. Dominick distorted All's sage advice about Randomness in Games:


RD> There is an alternate solution for this puzzle, which does not require
RD> the "plot device elsewhere" (though, as with most other alternate
RD> solutions, you won't finish the game with all the points), but does
RD> require some timing. It has to do with the
RD> thing-your-aunt-gave-you-which-you-don't-know-what-it-is, and the fact
RD> that it always returns to your inventory a few turns after you drop
RD> it. Of course, you actually have to take the time to figure out that
RD> you can put things into the thing-[...] -- a *lot* of things.

The 'thing' won't fit in the narrow space, and won't show up anywhere useful,
at least not in the HGTTG version I played.

RD> attention? On the other hand, when has there been a red herring of
RD> such great complexity as the Babel Fish machine? I can't think of one,
RD> in any game.

Curses has one-- a set of puzzles worth 55 points.


Tim Hollebeek

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Sep 25, 1994, 7:02:33 PM9/25/94
to

On the other hand, this sequence is kind of odd-looking:

> turn dial to 765
Ok.

> open safe
It doesn't open.

> read paper
The scrap of paper has '765' scrawled on it.

> turn dial to 765
Ok.

> open safe
The safe opens, revealing ...

etc. The problem is there is a basic unrealizism (yes, it's a word :)
) in being able to save/restore etc. Why is it unacceptable to deal
with this by asserting that small details are different each time you
play?

Felix Lee

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Sep 26, 1994, 4:23:28 PM9/26/94
to
Tim Hollebeek:

> On the other hand, this sequence is kind of odd-looking:
> > turn dial to 765
> Ok.
> > open safe
> It doesn't open.
> > read paper
> The scrap of paper has '765' scrawled on it.
> > turn dial to 765
> Ok.
> > open safe
> The safe opens, revealing ...

one way of avoiding this oddity is to use delayed decision. Keep
track of all the numbers the player has tried, or perhaps just the
last hundred they've tried, and ensure that the number on the scrap
isn't the same as any of those.

> etc. The problem is there is a basic unrealizism (yes, it's a word :)
> ) in being able to save/restore etc. Why is it unacceptable to deal
> with this by asserting that small details are different each time you
> play?

Because in a small way it violates narrative consistency and destroys
the illusion of reality. Save/restore is like putting down a book and
picking it up again in the same spot. Changing the details from page
to page can be very jarring, unless there's a reason for it.
--

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