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My General Thoughts on ADRIFT and a game style Question

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My General Thoughts on ADRIFT and a game style Question

Postby ParadoxGames » Fri Sep 25, 2015 1:35 pm

Hey there.

I enjoy writing and have always wanted to write my own text adventure. I understand that the current trend is to call them, "interactive fiction", but I'm from the old-school, and old habits die hard, so forgive me whenever I use the term.

I want to say that ADR-IFT is a Godsend. My mind would be frazzled if I tried to program a text adventure from scratch! I discovered the program after someone suggested TWINE, which I discovered to be little more than a souped-up "Create Your Own Adventure/Find Your Fate" book generator. So I searched for a better one and found a few; AFRIFT is awesome.

To get on topic, I just started messing with an experiment to learn how to work the software, and it evolved into something actually with some nice structure and backstory. So I continued to develoip it and I think I have a beginning of a game. I call it PROJECT ENTROPY. I don't really like the name, but I'm keeping it anyway.

The premise isn't too original: the player character awakens as the first cyborg, whose own mind is a digital upload of a human's mind. As the game progresses, the player ventures to seek out the true nature of whoever was the mind donor.

Here's the thing: in some text adventures, you must solve a certain number of puzzles before proceeding to the next scene (often within a limited number of turns), and it's all very linear. I never like that kind of play. Even games with innovative play, like "A Mind Forever Voyaging" is linear in nature, each round of play takes you to a new setting and you can't go back. I prefer something more free-form where you can unlock new, previously inaccessable areas, but always be able to return and seek the clues you need to continue, or just to further explore the world and discover its hidden surprises.

The last part of that is where the question comes in. As the game is more fleshed out, there will be characters early in the game who provide the incentive for the main character to want to uncover the mysteries of the game. They're not rendered yet. But also early in the game are several objects that allow the player to delve into the backstory, and really get immersed in the world of the game, should the player wish. One is a computer "character" named DANA which can be asked about topics found in the game. For instance, you can "ask Dana about Project Entropy", and Dana provides information about the project the game is named for. The information often contains other terms that you can also search Dana for. It's sort of like the guide in the "Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy" text adventure. Only that provides about 40 responses and Dana will be loaded. Some provide clues that help solve mysteries and puzzles, and one entry in particular is required to win (and there will be enough elsewhere in the game to suggest the notion to the player that Dana holds this answer), but Dana is designed to provide insight about anything the person encounters in the game that may seem cryptic, enigmatic, or unusual/nonexistent in the real world.

Another object in the game is a holographic news feed. The player character can turn on this device to listen to the latest news. The news feed lasts for one hour and repeats, and changes once daily. Listening to this device is not required to win the game. It does provide clues, however, it provides extensive backstory of the outside world in the game and its natue, and also provides clues in the knowledge that makes some mysteries easier to solve.

Here's the thing: I love this kind of thing in text games for two reasons: 1) I like to develop fictional worlds and these are great devices to do that, and 2) they are fun diversions to turn to within the game, to make the player feel there is more to control. If a player gets frustrated at some point, they can turn to either of these objects to take a break from the strenuous playing. But is it considered too much of a red herring, as a person may expect it to hold crucial keys to winning the game, and then feel obliged to explore these fully? That's my question.
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Re: My General Thoughts on ADRIFT and a game style Question

Postby Po. Prune » Sat Sep 26, 2015 7:29 am

I know that some authors write a "read me" file besides the introduction to their games. I know that some players easily skip over those files but then at least you've done what you could.
From reading your post I get the feeling that you're not exactly a novice to writing adventure games (yes, I'm old school too :yeah: ) So I'll refrain from repeating my usual advice about not trying to make the game too big or too complicated. :wink:
Good luck with your game, looking forward to giving it a try.
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Re: My General Thoughts on ADRIFT and a game style Question

Postby ParadoxGames » Mon Sep 28, 2015 2:29 pm

Actually, I really -AM- new to writing text adventures, though I have played a few of them in my time, esp. Infocom and Sierra games. But I do have some programming skills, and some writing skills, and I'm trying to apply them here. However, I am going to ignore your advice and delve right into a big game with many locations, items, and tasks. It's just the way I am to start grand.

I did make a small game, "Farmer's Dilemma", which, as I apply what I learned since then to fix some of the structure of the game, maybe I'll post it. It's a small game with 2 locations and only 4 objects, but it's a solid enough game that I think I can upload to the games collection on adrift.co.

I was playing a few of the .taf files on this site, though, and found that some of them keep you trapped in a single room until you solve the puzzles, then move to the next room and are trapped until you solve the puzzles, etc., and I didn't like that too much. My plan was to have an area of about 12-15 rooms that the player can explore at first, and after unlocking some of the mysteries, gaining access to new areas to explore and figure things out, and so forth. But I felt that a great game would give the player some freedom to do things and explore, even if the player can't figure out the solutions to things. And the extra stuff may provide the clues to people who have trouble with what to do to advance.

Thanks for your thoughts!
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Re: My General Thoughts on ADRIFT and a game style Question

Postby Po. Prune » Mon Sep 28, 2015 4:37 pm

ParadoxGames wrote:Snip! However, I am going to ignore your advice and delve right into a big game with many locations, items, and tasks. It's just the way I am to start grand.

It's ok to ignore my advice :) The only reason I gave it because, over the years (and I've been here quite a long time) almost everyone who started with Adrift, creating a monster of a game ended up giving up and I feel it's a shame to lose talent just because they jumped in head first. A small game like you mention 2 locations, 4 objects etc. would probably have benefit them tremendously.

ParadoxGames wrote: I was playing a few of the .taf files on this site, though, and found that some of them keep you trapped in a single room until you solve the puzzles, then move to the next room and are trapped until you solve the puzzles, etc., and I didn't like that too much. My plan was to have an area of about 12-15 rooms that the player can explore at first, and after unlocking some of the mysteries, gaining access to new areas to explore and figure things out, and so forth. But I felt that a great game would give the player some freedom to do things and explore, even if the player can't figure out the solutions to things. And the extra stuff may provide the clues to people who have trouble with what to do to advance.
Thanks for your thoughts!

Sounds interesting and I wish you all the luck. The Adrift forum isn't all that big and it would be great to have yet another enthusiast. I'll be looking forward to see what you come up with.
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