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Degree of Difficulty

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Re: Degree of Difficulty

Postby Jjbee62 » Fri Apr 29, 2016 1:41 am

I bought an Apple ][e in the early 80's after playing Zork and Wizardry on a friend's computer. All the hours spent with graph paper, mapping out each level of the dungeon in Wizardry and all the hours spent re-rolling characters trying to get a Bishop. Even the arcade games required more work. Remember Loderunner? 126 levels with no save game function. Talk about a marathon.

We had to work a lot harder to play the games back then, so we were more willing to deal with challenges. I suppose we were more appreciative of the minor victories.

Now games have $50 million budgets and use Hollywood stars. Everything is about action, not thought or effort.
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Re: Degree of Difficulty

Postby R2T1 » Fri Apr 29, 2016 1:57 am

ParadoxGames:
What do you think?

I think you've hit the nail on the head.
Times have changed and so have we. Overabundance gives rise to a 'I don't care' attitude because when we had no way to achieve what a limited few could do, we enjoyed the experience more but always aspired to believe we could do just as well.
When the tools became available, we did just that - built our own but the output was only good from our own perspective (and maybe a few close friends).

If we all had to write these games for a living then we would either sharpen our skills or abandon the idea totally and leave them for those who can.
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Re: Degree of Difficulty

Postby Po. Prune » Fri Apr 29, 2016 7:08 am

David Whyld wrote:Another thing, though, is that the IF I grew up playing in the 80's was commercial. People paid money for the games and when money's involved, there's an expectation that you're getting a better product than if it were free. Games that couldn't be finished would end up going back to the store with a demand for a refund. Plenty of games back then had unfairly hard puzzles, but there was usually a kind of logic to them that you could figure out if you tried hard enough. Then, too, there were computer magazines galore which contained hints and tips for games, and I also remember knowing plenty of people at school who played them as well and we used to discuss puzzles. If I was stuck, odds on someone I knew could help out. These days I don't know anyone in real life who plays IF games and so I'm left to solve the puzzles on my own. Most of the time I haven't the patience.

That, David, is so true, and although I don't know about the money refund, a game in Denmark would easily cost around 15 - 20£ which was quite a sum of money back than when you had to take it out of your allowance or you had works a couple of week hauling groceries for the local merchant. So you tried your utmost to get the most out of the games.
Were the puzzles back then unfairly hard, some were for sure. I remember having to struggle with Level 9's games all the time. But the solution were right there. Yo had magazines: ZX Spectrum was one of them I remember subscribing to, and they had a hint / help section. But I'm pretty much just repeating your comment so I'll stop here :wink:
But I believe that you are right on.
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Re: Degree of Difficulty

Postby David Whyld » Fri Apr 29, 2016 9:37 am

ParadoxGames wrote:What do you think?


That’s certainly got a lot to do with it. When you pay money for something, you want to get your money’s worth out of it. You don’t buy a game and finish it an hour later and think “ah, that was definitely worth the money”, but when you're presented with a free game, that’s just the sort of thing you do. It cost you nothing so it has no real value to you.

R2T1 wrote:If we all had to write these games for a living then we would either sharpen our skills or abandon the idea totally and leave them for those who can.


That’s a lot to do with it as well. For me, game writing is a hobby. I've never made any real money out of it and I doubt I ever will. Even if I write a resounding masterpiece of interactive fiction, the odds of me being able to quit my job and live on the proceeds are miniscule. I've more chance of becoming rich by quitting my job and spending all my money on Lottery tickets. I’d like to improve as a game writer, and I'm sure the games I'm writing now are a lot better than they were when I first started, but as long as it remains nothing more than a hobby for me, I doubt my games will ever be as good as they could be if I was writing them for a living.
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Re: Degree of Difficulty

Postby Lumin » Sat May 07, 2016 11:28 pm

To get back to the original question in the OP, whether a puzzle is 'too much' or not, really depends on the focus of the game and what the author is attempting in the first place. If the game is about the puzzles, or it revolves around a fiendishly difficult one, as long as it's logically solvable and remains internally consistent and isn't buggy or anything, it's not overshadowing the story. The story in that case exists as a canvas to put the puzzles on.
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