ADRIFT Forum


The place to discuss the ADRIFT Interactive Fiction toolkit

How long should descriptions be? - an open-ended question

The place to chat about ideas, writing, this forum, or anything related to Interactive Fiction that isn't specific to ADRIFT.

Please also visit the Interactive Fiction Community Forum for further discussions.

Postby Hanadorobou » Sun Jul 28, 2002 9:15 pm

I used to think that short descriptions were better than long ones because the player can get his virtual hands dirty trying stuff in the game without having to do more reading than is necessary. Now I'm not so sure. I'm recognizing more and more the effect that a (good) long description can have; it can really enhance atmosphere.

The compromise I'm leaning towards is to make room descriptions fairly short, but to make object and character descriptions as long as they need to be. I think that's the best way to go. Don't tell the player more than he wants to know about any given thing. But if he does want to know about something, then tell him about it and tell it good.

I also feel that early on in a game, descriptions (and room description especially) had better be short, atleast until you have the player hooked...
Thoughts anyone?
User avatar
Hanadorobou
 
Posts: 462
Joined: Mon Jun 24, 2002 6:28 pm
Location: Portland, Oregon  USA

Postby Mercury » Sun Jul 28, 2002 9:52 pm

..



Edited By Mercury on 06 Aug. 2002 at 13:03
Mercury
 
Posts: 319
Joined: Sat Jun 29, 2002 11:24 am

Postby theleaf » Sun Jul 28, 2002 9:55 pm

I used to think that short descriptions were better but then I realised that making IF games is just that, Interactive Fiction. I mean, if you were reading a book you wouldn't really be satisfied with 'Bob walked into the cave, it was dark.'

I try and imagine I'm writing a story not a game for someone.

Hope that helps...
"Bye!"

"Seeya!"

"Thanks for the mint."
User avatar
theleaf
 
Posts: 384
Joined: Fri Jul 19, 2002 1:44 pm

Postby theleaf » Sun Jul 28, 2002 9:59 pm

Mercury wrote:Having 10 rooms that look the same is redundant, and a see-through technique of bad writing.

Heh heh, reminds me of the wilderness areas in Legend of Gul Darak that came with the initial release of Legends :p .
"Bye!"

"Seeya!"

"Thanks for the mint."
User avatar
theleaf
 
Posts: 384
Joined: Fri Jul 19, 2002 1:44 pm

Postby DuoDave » Mon Jul 29, 2002 12:47 am

It depends on the game and the style you are attempting to achieve.

If you are writing a game with fewer rooms, longer descriptions. However longer descriptions must be carefully crafted, elaborately describing the rooms and items. It must seem rich and deep.

If the player must traverse many locations especially ones that are meaningless, long descriptions can slow the player down. Shorter descriptions are called for in locations that have less meaning.
User avatar
DuoDave
 
Posts: 1137
Joined: Mon Jun 24, 2002 1:37 am
Location: Melbourne, Florida

Postby Sockets » Mon Jul 29, 2002 3:33 am

I prefer not too short and not too long. As long as the description is good then I'll read it. Really, it depends what you want to focus on. I or F. Not that you can't have the best of both, it's just something you wouldn't try in your first game. Make a game with enough I and the player will be playing for weeks. Make a game with enough F he'll beat it in 3 days.

Personally, I like a game which adjusts it's difficulty.



Edited By Sockets on 28 July 2002 at 08:34
Forgive me for the past...
Sockets
 
Posts: 374
Joined: Mon Jun 24, 2002 12:01 pm

Postby Mystery » Mon Jul 29, 2002 3:52 am

I think it all depends on the attention span of the player. Since that can vary....I'd write the way that you prefer.
User avatar
Mystery
Moderator
 
Posts: 4766
Joined: Sun Jun 23, 2002 4:32 pm
Location: Virginia Beach, Virginia USA
Points: 10

Postby Cannibal » Mon Jul 29, 2002 2:19 pm

I think a variety is definitely the answer. A description can be 10 lines long but if it is poorly written with little atmosphere then it may as well have been only 1 line.

I think what has to be unacceptable is the basic.

You are in a room. You can move north, south or east.

That, to mean, is lazy writing, nothing more, and it doesn't inspire you to continue.

Equally, not everyone is the next Poe...

I do enjoy a spark of imagination, though, esp with tasks like open door, search room, etc, you can really tart these up rather than just "you open the door with the key" or "you open the chest and find"

Cannibal
Games:
The Plague (Redux), The Woods Are Dark, The Night That Dripped Blood
User avatar
Cannibal
 
Posts: 1752
Joined: Sun Jun 30, 2002 8:10 pm
Location: England
Points: 10

Postby theleaf » Mon Jul 29, 2002 2:40 pm

Cannibal wrote:I do enjoy a spark of imagination, though, esp with tasks like open door, search room, etc, you can really tart these up rather than just "you open the door with the key" or "you open the chest and find"

I've tried to do that with Phobos, try climbing down the 'Fox' hole in the East end of Cal-Uin and you'll see what I mean (You'll need the climb skill to climb by the way [Duh! ] ).



Edited By theleaf on 29 July 2002 at 15:41
"Bye!"

"Seeya!"

"Thanks for the mint."
User avatar
theleaf
 
Posts: 384
Joined: Fri Jul 19, 2002 1:44 pm

Postby NickyDude » Mon Jul 29, 2002 10:46 pm

If you have to have long descriptions, break the text into managable pieces (a lesson learnt in DTP! ) Take the following for example:

A faithful half-elf sent on a spying mission to the Black Tower came galloping back to the Vale three days ago with a frantic warning. From within the caverns of Craggen Rock, Balthus Dire had recruited an army of Chaotics and was preparing them to attack the Vale within the week.
King salamon was a man of action. Messengers were sent throughout the Vale that day to prepare defences and to summon the menfolk to action. Riders had also been sent to the Great Forest of Yore to warn the half-elves that lived there and to make an appeal for allied forces. King Salamon was also a wise man. He knew well that the news would inevitably reach the Grand Wizard of Yore, a white sorcerer of great power, who lived deep within the forest. The wizard was old, and would not last through a battle of this magnitude. But he schooled a number of young magicians, and perhaps one of his students in the magic arts with courage and ambition would aid the king and his subjects... You are the star pupil of the Grand Wizard of Yore. He has been a difficult Master and your own impatience has often got the better of you. Perhaps a little too headstrong, you left immediately for Salamon's court. The king welcomed you enthusiastically and explained his plan


Bit much isn't it, but break it down...

A faithful half-elf sent on a spying mission to the Black Tower came galloping back to the Vale three days ago with a frantic warning.

From within the caverns of Craggen Rock, Balthus Dire had recruited an army of Chaotics and was preparing them to attack the Vale within the week.

King salamon was a man of action. Messengers were sent throughout the Vale that day to prepare defences and to summon the menfolk to action. Riders had also been sent to the Great Forest of Yore to warn the half-elves that lived there and to make an appeal for allied forces. King Salamon was also a wise man. He knew well that the news would inevitably reach the Grand Wizard of Yore, a white sorcerer of great power, who lived deep within the forest.

The wizard was old, and would not last through a battle of this magnitude. But he schooled a number of young magicians, and perhaps one of his students in the magic arts with courage and ambition would aid the king and his subjects...

You are the star pupil of the Grand Wizard of Yore. He has been a difficult Master and your own impatience has often got the better of you. Perhaps a little too headstrong, you left immediately for Salamon's court. The king welcomed you enthusiastically and explained his plan


and it's more managable for the player.
ImageI reject your reality and substitute my own...
User avatar
NickyDude
Moderator
 
Posts: 2466
Joined: Sun Jun 23, 2002 10:36 pm
Location: UK
Points: 10

Postby MileOut » Mon Jul 29, 2002 11:31 pm

NickyDude wrote:Balthus Dire

Why do I know that name? Or why does it ring a distant bell?
User avatar
MileOut
 
Posts: 410
Joined: Mon Jun 24, 2002 8:12 am
Location: Glasgow, Scotland

Postby Astridian » Thu Aug 08, 2002 1:41 am

Optimal description length varies with each story and element of each story. Long, flowing prose does not complement scenes full of action or tension; short, abrupt prose isn't an effective tool to use when trying to lull the player into having a sense of security. It all depends on context.
Astridian
 
Posts: 440
Joined: Sun Jun 23, 2002 9:47 pm
Points: 10

Postby Cannibal » Thu Aug 08, 2002 11:23 am

That's a very good point - snappy descriptions are good for tense moments where lavish prose is excellent at scene setting.

I made a terrible mistake in the only game I have up in that - some of the descriptions were a little rich with plenty attention to detail - but I then overlooked the thing that the player would attempt to interact with the things I had described. Cue plenty of "Nothing Special" responses :(

So, a big description is good, but w would remember what you have described and that the player will possibly look to interact with it.

Cannibal
Games:
The Plague (Redux), The Woods Are Dark, The Night That Dripped Blood
User avatar
Cannibal
 
Posts: 1752
Joined: Sun Jun 30, 2002 8:10 pm
Location: England
Points: 10

Postby The Mad Monk » Thu Aug 08, 2002 2:51 pm

Why do I know that name? Or why does it ring a distant bell?


It's the Fighting Fantasy book "Citadel of Chaos".

the player will possibly look to interact with it.


Scratch that. The player WILL interact with it.
In related news, Kenneth Ham reveals that he knows precisely squat about fossils. Film at eleven.

That's Poodle's lovely avatar up there...
User avatar
The Mad Monk
 
Posts: 2842
Joined: Mon Jun 24, 2002 8:42 pm

Postby MileOut » Thu Aug 08, 2002 3:46 pm

Ah ha! Knew I knew his name from somewhere!
User avatar
MileOut
 
Posts: 410
Joined: Mon Jun 24, 2002 8:12 am
Location: Glasgow, Scotland

Next

Return to General IF

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 2 guests