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Power of ADRIFT

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Re: Power of ADRIFT

Postby saabie » Sun Mar 20, 2016 11:30 am

Here's a few ideas for "Cloak of darkness 2 - Revenge of the cloak of darkness" to showcase a wide variety of game development techniques.
- It could be a a spy thriller or murder mystery.
- It's set on an ocean liner so you have to allow fore/aft/port/starboard movement directions as well as n-s-w-e, and perhaps the numeric keypad as well.
- There is a fully functioning elevator and a set of stairs you can climb up/dn
- The cloak is clothing so we need a layered-clothing system so we can hide it under an overcoat (many IF systems have libraries that do this for you).
- An NPC that you can converse with becomes an unconcious body when you hit them.
- You can smell anything. A gun that smells of cordite tells you that it was fired recently.
- You have a notepad that you can write anything in and read back later.
- A fully functional game of poker with a randomly shuffled deck that you can play against NPCs.
- NPC's with proper conversation trees so you can question them.
- NPC's that move around the ship on their own.
- You need to create a map of the ship as you explore (other systems can use ASCII art or images) and there should be a way to quickly go to any known location with a single command or mouse click.
- The game uses Unicode symbols beyond standard ASCII, eg. playing cards or hieroglyphics.
- A rope that you can tie things together with or lower yourself down a shaft with.
- Objects that can be broken into 2 or more pieces and others that can be assembled from pieces.
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Re: Power of ADRIFT

Postby David Whyld » Wed Mar 23, 2016 4:58 pm

That sounds pretty complicated. Doable in most systems, I'd guess, but isn't the appeal of the original CoD that it was a very simple and straightforward little program that could easily be replicated in various systems? I don't imagine you're going to get many people willing to program a fully functional game of poker in their system of choice just to prove it could be done.
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Re: Power of ADRIFT

Postby ElliotM » Wed Mar 23, 2016 8:23 pm

I do like that you've thought of some more advanced features, but that seems more like a full-size game. I've reinterpreted your list to be game/genre agnostic.

Allow renaming/alternate names for directions.
Reconnecting/moving a location or simulating the effect.
Layered clothing which affects visibility rules and scope.
'Conversible' NPCs with conversation trees that move around on their own.
A way to swap a character with an object.
A smell verb that will print a olfactory description of what __ smells like.
A way to record player input and show it them again.
A mini-game.
Go-to or mouse click a point for simple and quick movement.
Unicode symbol support.
A rope model.
Deconstruction/assembly of objects.


I think that the most important thing from that list is an NPC that moves around and can converse with you. The others seem less universal, though quick move support is nice.

These are the features of the original CoD as I see them.
Fake Exit/Exit blocking with a message (The north exit out of the foyer).
Cardinal direction movement between locations.
Responses when examining things.
Wearable object (the cloak).
Object that you can put things on (the hook).
Simulation of Light and Darkness (the bar when wearing the cloak).
Object that can be read (the sawdust message).
State tracking (tracking whether the player attempted to do anything in the dark after being warned about possibly disturbing things).
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Re: Power of ADRIFT

Postby saabie » Thu Mar 24, 2016 12:42 am

Ok, the poker was probably going a bit far :) (I might write this as a separate game to demonstrate how to layer tasks).
The original CoD demonstrates how to do a few fairly simple things, and CoD2 should not replace CoD, but be a demonstration of slightly more advanced features.
I agree that each feature should be something that someone proficient in a particular system should be able to write quickly and easily, as we want to demonstrate a technique that anybody could use and show how it could be done in different systems.
For the layered clothing I intended that this be a demonstration of how to load an existing library into a game rather than how to write it yourself.
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Re: Power of ADRIFT

Postby Campbell » Thu Mar 24, 2016 8:30 am

I'm not sure it necessarily needs to be more advanced features, but just more features generally. I find CoD very limited in scope, and also feel that some of the things it does demonstrate are a little obscure (i.e. an anti-light source and losing the game by trying to leave the dark room). So I think any sequel just needs to demonstrate more of the features that authors are likely to use when creating a modern work of IF.
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Re: Power of ADRIFT

Postby ralphmerridew » Mon Jun 06, 2016 11:05 am

Sorry about the slow response; I got really sidetracked with a bunch of other things.

About CoD: The point of the anti-light object was to show how well a system behaved outside its normal design. (Most systems have some kind of default light system built in, but I don't think any have an antilight system.)

To anybody who is claiming that it's easier, or that ____ is more important to you than power, that's fine, but it's irrelevant to this conversation.

Campbell, have you ever actually seriously looked at Inform? You've been stating confidently that ADRIFT is near Inform's power, but you obviously There are things that were done as examples in Inform 20 years ago that ADRIFT isn't up to (transparent containers, multiple indistinguishable objects, listing things together).

Somebody wrote an extension for Inform a while back that would keep track of the most recently printed objects. (IIRC, It was part of a hinting extension; it would select which hints to display based on what puzzles were solvable and what the player had seen recently.) This was easy to do because printing the name of an object is just another Inform function.

ADRIFT has very limited looping facilities. Last I checked, an author could use a loop when setting an array (set each element to a simple expression), or could run a task on each object in an array, or could have a task recursively call itself (without providing variable scoping that is standard in other languages)

In Inform or TADS, it is possible to run a loop with any condition. For example, when doing pathfinding code, one will run over all the elements in an array, but the array will be growing while the loop is running. In Inform or TADS, one can do this by adjusting the end index while the loop runs.
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Re: Power of ADRIFT

Postby Jjbee62 » Mon Jun 06, 2016 6:53 pm

After reading most of this thread for the first time, one question kept running through my mind:

How do you define powerful?

Functionally, an Intercontinental Ballistic Missile is no different from a spear. Obviously the ICBM, capable of destroying an entire country, is more powerful, but it's useless for hunting something for dinner. Power is rarely a good metric.

Compare a landscape painted by Monet to a landscape photographed by Adams. The camera is the more powerful tool, but which is better? The answer depends on the viewer.

Is Inform more powerful? Does it matter? What matters is the end result. If the author can achieve his goal and the player is satisfied with the result, whether it was accomplished with Inform, Adrift or qBasic on an old 80286 PC doesn't matter.

If you set 2 programmers the same task, you will get 2 different programs, whether or not they use the same development package. If they use different tools, some differences are due to the tool limitations, but mostly it's due to their own limitations. Is their approach strictly linear or do they view problem solving as a matrix? Are they comfortable with advanced data structures and external data sources, or do they hard code everything?

It seems you prefer Inform, which is wonderful. Use Inform and achieve great things. There are others who prefer Adrift, also wonderful. They can also achieve greatness using their tools. Arguing over which is more powerful doesn't get anything written.
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Re: Power of ADRIFT

Postby ElliotM » Mon Jun 06, 2016 8:17 pm

I think power is something worth discussing because tool limitations are relevant things to consider. Being able to work efficiently due to the way your tools are implemented is important. While most things are possible in Adrift, there are a few cases where accomplishing them requires an inefficient workflow, of which ralphmerridew shared three that could matter to an author using Adrift. While no one has posted about the need for transparent containers, I have seen people posting about being stuck with how to deal with multiple indistinguishable objects or challenges with enabling non-standard listings.
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Re: Power of ADRIFT

Postby David Whyld » Mon Jun 06, 2016 9:03 pm

More power doesn't necessarily equal a better system. I always preferred V4 to V5 even though it was a lot less powerful. Old versions of Quest (I haven't tried any of the new versions) were much more powerful than ADRIFT but it was still a far worse system.
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Re: Power of ADRIFT

Postby Jjbee62 » Mon Jun 06, 2016 11:29 pm

Power always comes with limits. If the goal is to use the most powerful platform, forget about all the different toolkits and work in Java or C++. The power to do anything, but you're stuck coding all the background stuff.

The question shouldn't be which is more powerful, but which works best for you. Every IF platform will have limitations. If they are worth fixing, they'll eventually be fixed, or someone will come up with a workaround.

In my first programming course, probably called "Introduction to Computer Programming", the professor pointed out, programming is a method, language is a tool. Choosing the right tool makes the job easier, but sometimes the wrong tool makes the program better, it forces the programmer to stretch limits to find a solution.

With any IF platform there's 2 distinct areas to worry about, Fiction and Interaction, the programmer and the writer. For a good writer who is weak in programming, the platform that makes up for his weakness is more powerful. He doesn't need Case statements and recursive functions. He needs something that let's him concentrate on the writing. A programmer needs a tool that lets him work his own magic. The power is relative.

Could Adrift be better? Absolutely, and it probably will be. Until then, working with the limitations gives us all the opportunity to improve.
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Re: Power of ADRIFT

Postby ElliotM » Mon Jun 06, 2016 11:37 pm

Of course those things matter, and I feel points similar to those have been acknowledged several times throughout this thread. Every IF platform does have its limitations, but if they are worth fixing, they are also worth discussing. If discussing things that aren't easy to do in Adrift but are in other IF platforms leads to improvements in Adrift, that can only be a good thing.
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Re: Power of ADRIFT

Postby Jjbee62 » Tue Jun 07, 2016 12:58 am

ElliotM wrote:Of course those things matter, and I feel points similar to those have been acknowledged several times throughout this thread. Every IF platform does have its limitations, but if they are worth fixing, they are also worth discussing. If discussing things that aren't easy to do in Adrift but are in other IF platforms leads to improvements in Adrift, that can only be a good thing.


I agree, the discussion of relative strengths and weaknesses is very helpful to identify areas of improvement. My complaint is that much of this thread has sounded like "my daddy can beat up your daddy."
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