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"Crappiness of Quest Games"

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"Crappiness of Quest Games"

Postby Lazzah » Thu Jan 23, 2014 4:19 pm

Hi all,

There has been debate on the forum as to why QUEST seems to be more popular than ADRIFT, despite ADRIFT being a better system and the quality of ADRIFT games being higher than those written using QUEST.

I saw this thread on the IF forum which you might find of interest: http://www.intfiction.org/forum/viewtop ... =4&t=10865
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Re: "Crappiness of Quest Games"

Postby David Whyld » Thu Jan 23, 2014 8:32 pm

I gave up a long time ago trying to understand why people use Quest as it always seems like the worst choice for an IF system. If you prefer a GUI, ADRIFT is a far better choice; if you prefer coding, go with Inform or TADS or ALAN or pretty much anything else.

I wrote one Quest game years ago (well, copied from an ADRIFT game actually) to see what the system was like to use and it wasn’t a pleasant experience. Buggy, lots of weird error messages, lacking the most basic built in commands (you couldn’t WEAR items back then, and the system didn’t understand UP or DOWN as directions) and a really awkward design which seemed to over complicate anything you wanted to do. From time to time over the years, I've gone back and tried updated versions to see if any of the old issues were fixed, but if anything they’ve only gotten worse and new issues seem to be added all the time.

But it’s certainly popular these days and seems to be getting more and more popular all the time. The system might be horribly flawed, the games it produces pretty dire for the most part, but Quest itself is experiencing the kind of popularity ADRIFT never had even back in its V4 glory days. Why? Well…

1) The slick new website. It’s a fairly basic design but it does the job really well. Every time I look at the Quest website, it strikes me as vibrant and exciting. The place to be. When I look at the ADRIFT website, it just looks dry and depressing. It’s essentially the same website that’s been there for over a decade now and it wasn’t much to look at back then.

2) The community blowing their own trumpet. As far as their games are concerned anyway. Want to write a game and have people sing its praises even if it’s awful? Use Quest. Guaranteed 5 out of 5 even if you misspelt the title and the game crashes after a single command.

3) The feedback. Lots of people play Quest games. Lots of people wouldn’t know a good game if it hit them over the head with a big stick and shouted “this is a good game!” but it doesn’t stop them playing said games and providing lots of feedback. If you want to receive feedback for your game, even if it’s feedback along the lines of “DIS GAM ROKS!!!” or “COOOL!!!” or “WELL IT CRASHED AND WRECKED ME COMPUTER BUT IT’S STILL A GREAT GAME!” then use Quest.

4) The system itself. Massively flawed as it is, I guess if you persevere with Quest it must be a fairly easy system to use. A very fast one as well, judging by the sheer volume of almost unplayable games thrown up on the website every day. But if you're just looking for a simple system to write a very basic game, which I'm guessing is the appeal for a good deal of people (particularly now there's no real alternative), it’s the best system to go for.
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Re: "Crappiness of Quest Games"

Postby rotter » Fri Jan 24, 2014 6:50 am

To be honest I've never really taken much notice of Quest and its website and forum. So, after Lazzah 's post I had a look. I can now see why it is popular, to start with the Textadventures website is a lot easier to navigate than over here. Certainly when it comes to looking for games to play. I find our archive impossible to find anything, to be honest. When you install Quest it appears to be one app for creating and playing - even offers games to download and play, very slick. Guess I'm going to have to play a few and report back.
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Re: "Crappiness of Quest Games"

Postby Lumin » Sat Jan 25, 2014 12:17 am

I agree completely about the website, it's very dry and technical and honestly pretty ugly, but of course we've had this discussion before and it never goes anywhere.

rotter wrote:Guess I'm going to have to play a few and report back.


This is such a bad idea.

Rotter, if it's not too late, I just want you to know that we're here for you. You know, if you want to talk about the nightmares afterwards, or just need a hug.
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Re: "Crappiness of Quest Games"

Postby ralphmerridew » Sat Jan 25, 2014 2:16 pm

There are some good Quest games. I found the two "The Mansion" games to be fun puzzleboxes, as were the "Sir Loin" games and that series's spinoffs.
(I also remember that those games were written to be played entirely with the mouse.)

As for the language itself...

I put in significant study of Quest 4 when I was writing Geas (alternate interpreter for Quest games).

1) The language itself was theoretically more powerful than ADRIFT; it was actually designed in a Turing-complete manner.
2) Quest's .asl language was a weird hybrid of an assembly language and a high-level language. (High-level refers to how close a language is to human language, and is not related to the power of that language.) Assembly languages have a very rigid syntax and are close to the internal workings; they are designed for the ease of the compiler / interpreter writer. Higher level languages are more convenient for the game author, but are harder for the compiler / interpreter writer to build.
3) Quest has a "compiler", but it really just obfuscates the .asl file. (A true compiler is written to transform the source to a form that's easier to work with.)
4) While working on Geas, there were many times I would notice that there were two or more logical ways to handle some behavior, but the documentation didn't say which. I'd do an experiment to find out which, and it would be some completely other way.

For an example on the last: Should the author have a test like "if condition_A OR condition_B AND condition_C, then ...", there are potentially four obvious ways for Quest to handle a problem like that.
i) Parenthesize left-to-right.
ii) Parenthesize right-to-left.
iii) Parenthesize around the ANDs first, then around the ORs.
iv) Parenthesize around the ORs first, then around the ANDs.
Option i or iv will have the effective condition "(condition_A OR condition_B) AND condition_C". Option ii or iii will have the effective condition "condition_A OR (condition_B AND condition_C)". So what was the result?

Effective condition is "condition_A AND condition_C". Whiskey, Tango, Foxtrot.
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Re: "Crappiness of Quest Games"

Postby David Whyld » Sat Jan 25, 2014 4:00 pm

Out of all the systems I considered switching to when I stopped using ADRIFT, Quest was the last one. Use it for a while and you'll wonder how on earth it's gained such popularity.
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Re: "Crappiness of Quest Games"

Postby ralphmerridew » Sat Jan 25, 2014 4:33 pm

No, CAT is even worse. It has worse newbie friendliness than Inform 5, and less power than ADRIFT 3.x.
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Re: "Crappiness of Quest Games"

Postby Peter Pears » Sun Jan 26, 2014 1:52 pm

Oh wow. CAT? That old thing is still mentioned? I dabbled in it when I was trying out different systems. It was fun for a while, but the limitations were a serious issue.

Since CAT was brought up, hey, does anyone remember SUDS? In the Andy Elliott days, when it was actually good?
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Re: "Crappiness of Quest Games"

Postby David Whyld » Sun Jan 26, 2014 2:07 pm

I'm sure I tried SUDS at one point but I can't honestly remember anything about it.
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Re: "Crappiness of Quest Games"

Postby Peter Pears » Sun Jan 26, 2014 2:33 pm

What impressed me at the time was that it was very powerful and versatile. There was a lot of clicking involved, it was one of those cases where "make it easier" seems to really mean "have a huge amount of options and choose/edit the one you want" (I think this was a design paradigm about a decade ago, wasn't it? I believe we've moved past it).

It would never really be popular with the IF crowd, of course, because you never input any text, it was exclusively point and click. It was IF with a graphical-adventure-game interface, Sierra-style.

But once you got past the hurdle of figuring that out in your head, man, it was great stuff. Customization, a built-in map, conversation trees, and the power of the thing! I swear you could program anything you'd want from a text adventure in that.
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Re: "Crappiness of Quest Games"

Postby ralphmerridew » Sun Jan 26, 2014 6:25 pm

One big problem with Quest is that even the best games have a minimally-implemented feel; only the things that need to be done for the plot to advance can be done. NPCs feel especially cardboardy, just reacting to a few specific actions, and rarely taking the initiative in any way.
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Re: "Crappiness of Quest Games"

Postby David Whyld » Sun Jan 26, 2014 6:54 pm

As much as anything, I think that's a problem with the Quest community as opposed to Quest itself. If people are going to sing the praises of even the worst games, then where's the incentive to try harder?
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Re: "Crappiness of Quest Games"

Postby ElliotM » Sun Jan 26, 2014 7:35 pm

I checked out SUDS a couple of weeks ago because someone had mentioned it recently. The mouse driven interface is a neat idea, but the graphics it uses now are a real detractor in my opinion. If I wanted an IF mouse driven interface, I think I would want it to look something more like Jon Ingold's The Colder Light. http://ifdb.tads.org/viewgame?id=e2rirpb4mc0tfpzq
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Re: "Crappiness of Quest Games"

Postby Peter Pears » Sun Jan 26, 2014 8:47 pm

Well, present-time SUDS is not the same as Andy Elliot's SUDS. It's now butt-ugly and there's a serious bug where you have no control over what gets printed into the room description - if you define a room with trees and flowers, you get "You are in a nice sunny meadow. full of flowers and the occasional trees. You also see flowers and trees here."

Plus, it tried to add actual parser input. The original was strictly point and click.

You know, at the time, these were actually the most accessible IF systems. Quest, ADRIFT and SUDS, and I dabbled in all (I actually purchased Adrift 4. And I think I also purchased SUDS). I have to say SUDS was my favourite. Possibly because it brought down the complexity enormously by having only a finite and small number of possible interactions and a very definite, very visible list of items to interact with at any stage - what author wouldn't relish that simplicity?

Looking back, though, there WAS a huge problem. It would really strain your wrist to play the whole thing with the mouse. Another problem was that the window-based system (like Quest!) meant the mouse was travelling all over the place - but a nice number of shortcuts, including right-click to scroll through the various actions, alleviated that.

Whew. What a trip, remembering all this. I really liked that system.

EDIT - ALso, I think I have, somewhere, the last version of Andy Elliott's SUDS, but it won't run on my x64 OS, and even if it did, there was a bug that never got ironed out properly. I believe it happened when your system language was anything other than English - "Use ... With..." would crash your game.
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Re: "Crappiness of Quest Games"

Postby ElliotM » Mon Jan 27, 2014 2:29 am

I've also looked at a wide variety of systems and engines. Trying to find the right trade off is a good way to put it. I like the simplicity of CYOA but IF does puzzles better, though Kingdom Without End was a good example of mixing the two. It may have been ported to newer systems, but I got the original AdventureBook exe's working in DosBox so that I could try it out, as Kingdom was originally written using that program. AdventureBook allowed for a keyword system based on flags, which has similarities to how many dead-tree edition cyoa/game books worked.

To get SUDS working you might try using an OS emulator if you have access to a copy of 32 bit windows lying around. A bit overkill perhaps for nostalgia purposes, but its nice to know at least some of these things can be preserved as OS and hardware continue to change.
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