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Getting distracted...

Postby David Whyld » Mon Feb 05, 2018 2:55 pm

Does anyone else suffer with this? You've got an idea for a game which is, naturally, going to be The Best Damn Game Ever, so you start writing it, make decent progress, and then one day you suddenly come up with another idea. This new idea is going to be Even Better Than The First Game so you immediately abandon the first game and start writing the new one. It goes well. You're well chuffed with yourself. And then, right out of the blue, you come up with another idea for The Best Goshdarned Game Ever Written and you switch to that one. And then...

New ideas are always better than current ideas and when you're bogged down in the nitty gritty of game writing, new ideas seem better than that. I don't know if it's just me and my fondness for starting new games on the spur of the moment without thinking them through beyond the initial cool ideas, but does anyone else have this problem?
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Re: Getting distracted...

Postby P/o Prune » Mon Feb 05, 2018 3:19 pm

Count me in on this one!!
One of the benefits of having a dog is that you have to walk it once in a while (especially if you can’t persuade another family member to do it)
On the bright side, I can strongly recommend getting a dog. There’s no better way to get ideas than when you’re walking the “beast.” (that is, unless he runs away and you have to spend the next three hours running through strange people’s gardens calling out his name in a voice that become steadily more and more desperate.)
My problem is that I usually get the idea at the beginning of the walk and by the time I get back home I’ve had at least a dozen Best Damned Game Ever, and I DO mean EVER!! Ideas.
I’m lucky in that respect that I don’t even get to begin writing the game but on the other than it takes me forever and a day to even start one.
D-Day V.5 in progress 86Kb (Slowly drifting)
Anno 1700 Submitted to the 2018 IFComp.
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Re: Getting distracted...

Postby Lumin » Mon Feb 05, 2018 3:59 pm

The OP describes my every attempt at writing anything, ever. Except David at some point must have gotten a much better handle on it since he actually finishes games and in fact, for a lot of years there that was his defining character trait.

I've stopped being completely hopeless now that I plan and outline with a better sense of how long my attention span is and what I can typically accomplish in that time. (For non-IF writing my upper limit seems to be about a 25k word count before not starting something new becomes unbearable agony...)

Ideally I really should only start new projects that I know I can finish over a weekend.

Contests are the other thing that do me in since I can never, ever resist abandoning whatever my current project is to start a new one that I can enter, and then most of the time I either don't finish at all or what I wind up with is rushed and bad and needs to be scrapped and replaced...someday..... Which in practice only throws yet another unfinished project on the pile.

....but I'm getting better, I swear! Recognizing you have a problem is half the battle, right?
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Re: Getting distracted...

Postby rotter » Mon Feb 05, 2018 6:00 pm

Yep, happens to me as well - some are half finished but most have not progressed very far. Now imagine that doubled as I've also changed my mind about which system to create them in. So, I often have two version of the part started games - one in I7 and the other ADRIFT 5.
Currently working on "The Blank Wall" in ADRIFT 5 and "Again and Again" in Inform 7.
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Re: Getting distracted...

Postby DazaKiwi » Wed Feb 07, 2018 3:48 am

Yep happens to me too both in writing in general and making IF games. There is another aspect as well, the adding more ideas onto your initial game idea and ends up getting bogged down in getting other aspects working such as a shop system, night and day system etc little things to make the game more immersive and then more ideas come in. I guess its a kin to world building for a story and get lost in world building instead of reaching a point where you draw a line on world building and start writing the darn story.

I haven't made anything since the recent Adrift 4 room competition and i think i am starting to learn less is more.
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Re: Getting distracted...

Postby David Whyld » Wed Feb 07, 2018 10:26 pm

It usually gets to me at the feature bloat stage, i.e. when I'm adding loads of new features to the game that I never intended but which just occurred to me as I was writing it. And suddenly I can’t imagine writing the game without these features, so they absolutely have to be included. Which means loads of extra work and loads of extra testing, including testing of stuff I've already tested because you never know if something I've just added will wreck earlier parts of the game. Then once that’s all done, I think of another new feature which my game is crying out for, and of course I can’t simply write the game without it. So more work, more testing… the process never ends.

At some point, I start thinking up ideas for new games – much simpler games with less features – and before I know it, the first game has been pushed to one side and I'm writing the second one. Which I later realise I can’t simply write it as I first envisioned it because it wouldn’t work. But hey, if I add this new feature it'll definitely work…

I've found writing out a basic walkthrough sometimes helps. Once I've got a general idea of how the game will go, I find it easier to sit and write it. That way I'm not getting bogged down adding new features I've just thought of and can make better progress.
Last edited by David Whyld on Fri Feb 09, 2018 11:29 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Getting distracted...

Postby Lumin » Thu Feb 08, 2018 1:27 pm

I always think of the plot and characters and various cool things I want to include, only to get bogged down in the tedium of all the things that aren't those things. IF especially is awful about this. I do not want to spend 90% of my writing time describing chairs and grass. :/

I had an idea once about making a bunch of generic items and rooms--kitchens, forests, tables, toilets, clouds, etc--and putting them up for anyone to use or modify however just to do away with some of that.
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Re: Getting distracted...

Postby David Whyld » Thu Feb 08, 2018 2:59 pm

It's a pity ADRIFT can't just generate random descriptions for very basic items to save on all the tedium of creating them. Like click a button and, hey presto, there's a table, a chair and a shelf in the room, complete with generic descriptions.

I'm not sure how you'd be able to create an IF game without spending time on the boring generic stuff, though. If you strip out all the non-relevant stuff, you're left with a very poorly implemented game and they never tend to go down very well. Or you just write a CYOA where everything you type is relevant because the player isn't given the choice of doing anything you don't want them to do.
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Re: Getting distracted...

Postby Lumin » Thu Feb 08, 2018 3:20 pm

David Whyld wrote:Or you just write a CYOA where everything you type is relevant because the player isn't given the choice of doing anything you don't want them to do.


And David gets it in one. :wink:

Although ironically one of my biggest frustrations with writing CYOAs is how difficult it is to conceal secrets without tying it to stats or a particular item. There's no way to reward players who simply pay attention because you can't really be subtle about a link at the bottom of the page.
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Re: Getting distracted...

Postby David Whyld » Thu Feb 08, 2018 3:52 pm

That's one of the things that always bugs me about CYOA as well. In IF, you can have puzzles as intricate as you like but with CYOA, you're really limited in what you can do. I've seen some CYOA systems which do pretty cool things with stats and the like, but if you want good old-fashioned puzzles you need an IF system for them.

Or... maybe... a mix of the two. A CYOA game with puzzles included in good old IF format so people will still be forced to solve them the old-fashioned way and not click various links till they hit the right one.
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Re: Getting distracted...

Postby saabie » Thu Feb 08, 2018 11:39 pm

Lumin wrote:I had an idea once about making a bunch of generic items and rooms--kitchens, forests, tables, toilets, clouds, etc--and putting them up for anyone to use or modify however just to do away with some of that.
Maybe we could have a series of competitions like one for kitchenware where you submit descriptions for refrigerators, stoves, blenders, plates, canisters, taps, knives and forks.
The best ones are then put into a module containing a kitchen location with the winners objects already in place and others as options.
Then anyone that needs a kitchen in their game can download that module and tweak it as they want it.
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Re: Getting distracted...

Postby David Whyld » Fri Feb 09, 2018 11:27 am

The main issue with that, and I'm guessing the main reason why no one has just put up a big module on the main site full of generic descriptions of items, is that we all have different writing styles. I'd describe a kettle in one way, but someone else would describe it in another. It'd be strange to read a game which jumps back and forth between different styles so often.

Saying that, I quite like the idea. Getting the basics done of boring scenery items would be fine and the descriptions could always be tweaked afterwards to suit individual writing styles.
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Re: Getting distracted...

Postby David Whyld » Fri Feb 09, 2018 11:41 am

David Whyld wrote:Or... maybe... a mix of the two. A CYOA game with puzzles included in good old IF format so people will still be forced to solve them the old-fashioned way and not click various links till they hit the right one.


Seems kinda weird quoting my own post like it's some completely different poster up there. But hey, blame him. If he'd thought of this at the time, I wouldn't have had to quote him.

I've been thinking more about the hybrid IF / CYOA idea. Have the basic game as CYOA, but whenever the player runs into a puzzle, or something requiring a little something extra that CYOA doesn't handle well, it starts accepting proper parser commands instead. I'm not sure how easy it would be to do or whether you'd end up with an uneven mix of the two, but it'd be one way to avoid all those tedious item and scenery descriptions in IF games while allowing for more complicated puzzles than you generally get in CYOA games.
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Re: Getting distracted...

Postby Lumin » Fri Feb 09, 2018 12:33 pm

David Whyld wrote:
I've been thinking more about the hybrid IF / CYOA idea. Have the basic game as CYOA, but whenever the player runs into a puzzle, or something requiring a little something extra that CYOA doesn't handle well, it starts accepting proper parser commands instead. I'm not sure how easy it would be to do or whether you'd end up with an uneven mix of the two, but it'd be one way to avoid all those tedious item and scenery descriptions in IF games while allowing for more complicated puzzles than you generally get in CYOA games.


I'm (slowly, very slowly) working on a hybrid now, but it's more the opposite. Standard IF rooms with certain trigger points in the plot that ask CYOA questions about decisions it would be difficult or impossible to come up with verbs for. Seemed to play to the strengths of both genres at the time, but your suggestion could be interesting too.

In the bigger CYOAs I've been working on I've included 'hub areas' that can be navigated like an IF game without advancing the plot until you're ready to, as sort of a breathing space between story sections. I'm picturing taking that idea further now and having...idk maybe like village areas on a standard map where you talk to NPCs and equip yourself, with the meat of the game being CYOA style adventuring.
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Re: Getting distracted...

Postby Duncan_B » Sat Feb 10, 2018 4:43 am

My unfinished game "Space Mercenary" (which will, with 99.5% likelihood, remain unfinished) was a CYOA/parser hybrid. Most of the game is played through simple, numbered choices, but getting more in-depth item descriptions (no "look" or "examine," just the name of the thing), accessing cargo or inventory, providing answers when on jobs, and speaking passwords were done through "commands" proper. Granted, it was all done through a parser because it was in ADRIFT 4, so maybe it doesn't count.

A demo has been available on the games page for those interested who might not have checked it out, under "Demos." Sort by date and it should be (as of this posting) on page 2. It's probably broken in several ways yet, but it's interesting enough as an example.

Also, I'm with David on not having pre-fab items. It's not the worst, but it's a mild kind of awful to go through a game that has nothing but bland or all-purpose descriptions. It can really detract from the experience, especially if it clashes with the tone of the rest of the game. I say if you're going to write, write deliberately.
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