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A matter of directions (What do you think?)

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A matter of directions (What do you think?)

Postby Po. Prune » Wed Dec 16, 2015 11:37 am

Having read the review of one of the later released game I stumbled across one of the points of "criticism" The reviewer complained that the cardinal directions were capitalized and that the other directions were abbreviated (NE, SE etc.)

Having a few games under my belt, I've always preferred having the exits from a location within the text:

The garden in front of the hotel is quite big. It gently slopes down towards the north from the porch, ending abruptly on the edge of a steep cliff. A white picket fence has been erected a few yards from the edge, preventing careless guests to wander too close to the vertical drop.
A few trees are standing here and there, providing shelter from the sun and a few guests are sitting around tables underneath them enjoying the incredible view over the Mexican Gulf. An old crooked tree stands just on the other side of the fence, leaning dangerously over the edge of the cliff. Its naked branches reaching towards the sky except one which is reaching out horizontally from the gnarled trunk.
Close to the foot of the tree, an old weathered head stone leans slightly to one side.
To the south lies the hotel, looking peaceful in the summer sun.


But that's just me and that's usually how I write my games. That lead to the opposite reaction from this reviewer.
The player complained that the exits were not obvious enough as they were "hidden" in the text. He suggested that I capitalised the directions so it would be easier to distinguish them from the rest of the text.
As for the abbreviation of directions in general. I've been on the adventure scene since the 80's when I laid my hands on my first 48K Spectrum and I can't remember any point when it wasn't accepted that directions were abbreviated.

I know that as an author of games you will never be able to make everyone happy. But I found this quite interesting and thought I'd ask your opinion. So what do you think?

*Edit* I have replaced the example used because someone draw my attention to some faults. :blush:
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Re: A matter of directions (What do you think?)

Postby ElliotM » Wed Dec 16, 2015 5:37 pm

I guess this could be all part of a larger question of how to write room descriptions. I would say that writing room descriptions lands on a spectrum between functionality/utility on one end and immersion on the other. People who like functionality will prefer things like capital directions, giving them their own line, listing important objects separately, etc. People who like immersion more would like your example, because it is more like a book or a piece of narration. Its all relative, but I think it ultimately falls down to how much someone wants to read in order to know what they want.
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Re: A matter of directions (What do you think?)

Postby David Whyld » Wed Dec 16, 2015 8:08 pm

I find one of the problems with games that feature lots of locations and text is that it becomes a pain after a while to see where the exits are. There's too much text to simply see at a glance where the exits are. So in many cases I think it's best to list the exits clearly.
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Re: A matter of directions (What do you think?)

Postby rotter » Wed Dec 16, 2015 10:22 pm

If the location text is fairly long my own preference is to have them listed at the end. Otherwise in the text is fine.
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Re: A matter of directions (What do you think?)

Postby Dksmall » Thu Dec 17, 2015 3:05 am

I was always taught to capitalize the compass points, in text, games, or otherwise. I prefer hang all the exist called out at the end of the description and have been using that option within Adrift.
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Re: A matter of directions (What do you think?)

Postby Po. Prune » Thu Dec 17, 2015 9:08 am

David Whyld wrote:I find one of the problems with games that feature lots of locations and text is that it becomes a pain after a while to see where the exits are. There's too much text to simply see at a glance where the exits are. So in many cases I think it's best to list the exits clearly.

I'm just curious David. Why would you need to see the exits "at a glance"? Isn't the idea that the player reads the whole text?
By listing the exits clearly, do you mean capitalise them or have them separately at the end?
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Re: A matter of directions (What do you think?)

Postby David Whyld » Thu Dec 17, 2015 10:39 am

Having the exits available at a glance just makes it handy. When you have a game with a lot of locations and text, it's a pain to read through so much text every time just to see where the exits are. With a small game, you can generally remember the exits in each location, but with dozens of locations it's no longer easy to remember where they all are.
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Re: A matter of directions (What do you think?)

Postby ElliotM » Thu Dec 17, 2015 6:58 pm

Another way of putting it would be that if you have text that a player will need to reread many times it pays to make it easy to do so.
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Re: A matter of directions (What do you think?)

Postby Lazzah » Fri Dec 18, 2015 11:12 am

David Whyld wrote:Having the exits available at a glance just makes it handy. When you have a game with a lot of locations and text, it's a pain to read through so much text every time just to see where the exits are. With a small game, you can generally remember the exits in each location, but with dozens of locations it's no longer easy to remember where they all are.

If you play the game with the map displayed you can see the exits from a location "at a glance".
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Re: A matter of directions (What do you think?)

Postby David Whyld » Fri Dec 18, 2015 11:24 am

I meant in general, not just ADRIFT. For what it's worth, I haven't played an ADRIFT game in quite a while now and I never had a map set to be displayed. I also seem to remember the map in V5 being buggy and listing exits wrongly quite a few times.
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Re: A matter of directions (What do you think?)

Postby Lazzah » Fri Dec 18, 2015 11:46 am

David Whyld wrote:I meant in general, not just ADRIFT. For what it's worth, I haven't played an ADRIFT game in quite a while now and I never had a map set to be displayed. I also seem to remember the map in V5 being buggy and listing exits wrongly quite a few times.

It doesn't show "wrong" exits, if you define a false exit sometimes it doesn't show that exit on the map. I have a bug report up for this.
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Re: A matter of directions (What do you think?)

Postby David Whyld » Fri Dec 18, 2015 11:53 am

It was one of Po Prune's games where I first noticed the exits problem (one set in a castle, I don't remember the name. Might be something to do with Camelot.) Exits to the southwest and down were both listed as southwest, which made it confusing seeing which way I could go. In V4, down exits were clearly listed with an arrow, but in V5 they weren't.

But that's beside the point anyway. Like I said, it's a long while since I last played an ADRIFT game, I never played with the map displayed and other systems don't have a map at all.
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Re: A matter of directions (What do you think?)

Postby Lazzah » Fri Dec 18, 2015 12:28 pm

David Whyld wrote: I never played with the map displayed and other systems don't have a map at all.

Then they're not as good as ADRIFT, are they?! :haha:
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Re: A matter of directions (What do you think?)

Postby NickyDude » Fri Dec 18, 2015 3:11 pm

The garden in front of the hotel is quite big. It gently slopes down towards the NORTH from the porch, ending abruptly on the edge of a steep cliff. A white picket fence has been erected a few yards from the edge, preventing careless guests to wander too close to the vertical drop.

A few trees are standing here and there, providing shelter from the sun and a few guests are sitting around tables underneath them enjoying the incredible view over the Mexican Gulf. An old crooked tree stands just on the other side of the fence, leaning dangerously over the edge of the cliff. Its naked branches reaching towards the sky except one which is reaching out horizontally from the gnarled trunk.
Close to the foot of the tree, an old weathered head stone leans slightly to one side.

To the SOUTH lies the hotel, looking peaceful in the summer sun.


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Re: A matter of directions (What do you think?)

Postby Campbell » Wed Dec 23, 2015 10:29 am

Perhaps a better way would be for the initial description to have directions embedded within the text, and then subsequent visits to the location to have them written explicitly at the end of a more succinct piece of text, akin to the verbose/terse settings some systems use.
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