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Are static objects REALLY that important?

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Re: Are static objects REALLY that important?

Postby ralphmerridew » Sun Aug 04, 2013 9:07 pm

David Whyld wrote:I used to be quite fond of coloured text until someone (I think it was KFAdrift) pointed out what an eyesore it was. (Of course, he was a lot more polite than that.) And then I took a good long look at the game I was writing - with red font for the location title, green text in italics for exits, normal white text for the location description, yellow text for NPCs and blue text for items - and realised that, yes, it did look a real eyesore. Since then, I've steered well clear of coloured text.


Are you sure it's not a case of "you played HLA Adventure"? That game was a real angry fruit salid.

Multiple windows would be possible in Inform 7, if you're still interested in that game.
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Re: Are static objects REALLY that important?

Postby David Whyld » Sun Aug 04, 2013 9:24 pm

Peter Pears wrote:David: you know, that's actually an issue of mine with Quest, the multiple windows... I can never tell whether I'm supposed to guide myself by the screen or the windows. Should I ignore items not in the windows? Should I navigate exclusively by point-and-clicking on the windows? That and the non-existent implementation... well, so far I've only played one Quest game I've liked: "Cabin Fever". I am hoping that Quest 5 (and a change in mentality that, unfortunately, you report hasn't happened) will change that somewhat.


I think I remember "Cabin Fever" - was it by Dr Froth? His "Gathered in Darkness" was pretty decent, too. He seems to have disappeared after two games, which is a shame because he was the only person I've ever known who successfully managed to write a good game with Quest. I know he was disappointed with the way "Gathered in Darkness" was received by the Quest community, who pretty much ignored it, despite it doing well (by Quest standards) in that year's IFComp, while still writing glowing reviews of unplayable drivel, so I guess he only followed half of the advice I gave him at the time - go off and use a different system.

And yes, I hate the windows or side panels or whatever they're currently calling 'em in Quest. Most of the time I hide them altogether, only to find that key items aren't mentioned in the text at all but only in the windows, which means I have to unhide them.
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Re: Are static objects REALLY that important?

Postby David Whyld » Sun Aug 04, 2013 9:25 pm

ralphmerridew wrote:Multiple windows would be possible in Inform 7, if you're still interested in that game.


One day maybe, but it's years since I last thought much about it. For the time being, I'm working on getting my IntroComp entry finished.
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Re: Are static objects REALLY that important?

Postby Lazzah » Mon Aug 05, 2013 8:23 am

FYI multiple windows will be one of the enhancements in the next version of ADRIFT (v.5.0.31).
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Re: Are static objects REALLY that important?

Postby Lazzah » Mon Aug 05, 2013 10:14 am

Lumin wrote:I'm playing Lazzah's Fortress of Fear now, and to me that is a unique game I've almost never seen anything similar to.

Interesting comment, Lumin. I would consider "FoF" to be similar in style to my other adventures and to a lot of other text adventures from the classic period. Having said that, you may not have played any of those games, you would have to play them on a Spectrum simulator. I think Peter Pears has played the original Spectrum version of "The Axe of Kolt" but didn't get very far. (Gave up too easily, from what he told me! :) )

With regards to David's comment about coloured text, I have used different colours for the title page, but during the game I only use a different colour for certain messages and for the "Press any Key to Continue...." prompt. I hope this isn't too garish for your tastes?

P.S. I hope you are enjoying FoF?????
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Re: Are static objects REALLY that important?

Postby Peter Pears » Mon Aug 05, 2013 11:00 am

Heh. What I told you was based on my reminiscences. Since then I've checked my savegame list. Here it is, just in case you find it useful!

01 - After some work
02 - Zorak
03 - A new day - find the wizard
04 - Up in the mountains
05 - Zorak was a fine fellow
06 - Clapper
07 - Gold
08 - Domino
09 - Lamp and tinderbox
10 - Fur coat
11 - Night in the mountais
12 - Safe
13 - Outlaws
14 - Need sieve for Rowe
15 - Well, chop those logs
16 - Planks, tools and chainmail
17 - Outlaws got theirs
18 - Hammer
19 - Well, got the pin, at leat
20 - Washed
21 - Nice and dry

I think for the last couple I was already checking the hints. The point at which I apparently decided to give up was after the last save (hope the savegame name means anything to you, I've forgotten it completely!). I got 20 savegames in, so I was interested. Normally I only give up after being interested if either the game does something unfair, something to shake my confidence (I don't think it did), or I discover, upon hitting the walkthrough, that I should have done something earlier which I didn't do, or maybe I just very much dislike a certain puzzle, the sort of dislike that makes me wonder if there are going to be any more of the sort.

I know this is not as helpful as it could. On the other hand, looking at the list, I think I got further than I told you. The blizzard was just the most memorable bit.
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Re: Are static objects REALLY that important?

Postby Lazzah » Mon Aug 05, 2013 11:23 am

Peter Pears wrote:Heh. What I told you was based on my reminiscences. Since then I've checked my savegame list. Here it is, just in case you find it useful!

01 - After some work
02 - Zorak
03 - A new day - find the wizard
04 - Up in the mountains
05 - Zorak was a fine fellow
06 - Clapper
07 - Gold
08 - Domino
09 - Lamp and tinderbox
10 - Fur coat
11 - Night in the mountais
12 - Safe
13 - Outlaws
14 - Need sieve for Rowe
15 - Well, chop those logs
16 - Planks, tools and chainmail
17 - Outlaws got theirs
18 - Hammer
19 - Well, got the pin, at leat
20 - Washed
21 - Nice and dry

I think for the last couple I was already checking the hints. The point at which I apparently decided to give up was after the last save (hope the savegame name means anything to you, I've forgotten it completely!). I got 20 savegames in, so I was interested. Normally I only give up after being interested if either the game does something unfair, something to shake my confidence (I don't think it did), or I discover, upon hitting the walkthrough, that I should have done something earlier which I didn't do, or maybe I just very much dislike a certain puzzle, the sort of dislike that makes me wonder if there are going to be any more of the sort.

I know this is not as helpful as it could. On the other hand, looking at the list, I think I got further than I told you. The blizzard was just the most memorable bit.

You got about 2/3's the way through Part 1. Only another 3 parts to go! I hope you will give the ADRIFT version of "The Axe of Kolt" a go when it is released, hopefully later this year if I can find some reliable playtesters! The gameplay is similar to the original although everything has been expanded and enhanced, much has been added and a few things removed.
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Re: Are static objects REALLY that important?

Postby Lumin » Mon Aug 05, 2013 4:48 pm

Personally I'm always wary of being so evocative in room descriptions as you were in your example. I would have made it a bit more utilitarian and used most of your text in a block of text shown only the first time the player enters the room. Then again, I never actually made a game, just played a lot of them. ;)


In most cases I'd agree with you, but then again in most cases I'd be deliberately cutting my room descs down in order to avoid having a bunch of objects to describe. But this particular game is going to have a big focus on exploration. The player will spend a lot of time roaming the wilderness and countryside and the last thing I want is 200 rooms that all amount to 'You're on a road that leads through a hayfield/forest/whatever, exits are north, south, east, and west.' I'm putting a lot of effort into making each area visually distinct ("imaginationally" distinct? Not sure what to call it in a text game...), and peppering them with interesting NPCs and objects so the player hopefully will feel like traveling from one city to another is a little adventure in itself.

Though if they don't feel like taking in the scenery, that's fine, exits will be colored to make them easier to spot while skimming.

And yeah, it can get rough from a writing perspective. Try making 16 unique rooms describing a cherry orchard sometimes, it gets old real fast. :O


Oh, and Lazzah, I haven't gotten very far yet, but expect me to be hitting you up for puzzle solutions soon because no matter how much I love these kinds of games, I'm absolutely terrible at them, and my IF skills seemed to have atrophied somewhat these last few months. :x And I've played a few of the classic IF games (with a walkthrough handy...) but my point about it being 'unique' is that almost no one is making these kind of big, puzzle-centric, old school games anymore, or at least not the last time I checked.

....and is anyone else getting this weird lag in the reply box while trying to type a message?
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Re: Are static objects REALLY that important?

Postby David Whyld » Mon Aug 05, 2013 7:54 pm

Peter Pears wrote:Fair enough, I do agree it's an aggressive turn of phrase. It came out of reading a few reviews by Whyld, a years back, on some Quest games, and the responses he received. The games in question did atrocious things, things that any IF player (from the RAIF/IntFiction crowd, at least) would balk at, because... well, have you played Cypher? Or read about it? It's pretty much the same thing. People trying to create a text adventure ignoring, in Cypher's case, decades of parser improvements and conventions that make it *easy* for the player to interact. By ignoring them - and at the time, the people responding to Whyld's reviews seemed PROUD to ignore them - they continued making buggy, lousy games and congratulated themselves that they were doing good things. They were like children eating mudpies (and I mean *eating*), telling themselves it was the finest chocolate. Onlookers beware of telling them otherwise.


I think a good deal of that is simple resentment towards negative comments made by people who aren't considered part of the community, a knee jerk reaction which basically boils down to "How dare they come here and say that about our games?" I have to admit I've felt the same way myself a time or two in the past, usually when I've read an incredibly negative comment about an ADRIFT game from a non-ADRIFT user who seems to have taken issue with something I considered pretty unimportant in the scheme of things and gone on at length about how terrible it was, how it ruined his life and how he's seriously contemplating Ending It All as a result. Probably akin to Lumin's comment above about the grass not being described makes it the WORST GAME EVER!!!

Saying that, with the benefit of a little hindsight, I can concede that some of the criticism was valid. A lot of ADRIFT games in the past suffered from a lack of proper testing (and yes, I'm guilty of that as much as anyone), bad puzzles, flawed game design, etc, but at the same time I'm quite relieved we never started churning out the kind of pretentious sucked dry of all human emotion games which seem to be favoured by the larger IF community these days. A particularly cringe-worthy comment I remember reading a few years back when "Lost Pig" won the IFComp (and a well deserved win it was, too) was someone (the then editor of SPAG I think it was) bemoaning the fact that a game about an orc searching for his pig had won the IFComp instead of a more 'worthy' game. I read that and wondered since when has the IF world become so damn boring?

And… I've veered completely off the point I was trying to make, which was something along the lines of: people in communities like this - ADRIFT and Quest being the main two - tend to have ideas of what constitutes a proper IF game which don’t necessarily go hand in hand with what the rest of the IF world thinks. This isn't a bad thing in itself - as I said before, I'm pleased the ADRIFT community doesn’t bring out dreary, pretentious games simply because some people like them - but at the same time it does mean that things seldom change for the better here. I think ADRIFT's finest moment was with "The PK Girl" over a decade ago, and while there have certainly been some good games written since then, there's nothing that has really pushed the system to its limits and shown what it's capable of.

As for Quest… well… that just goes from bad to worse. It's experienced a massive surge in popularity recently with lots and lots of games being written with it, but I'm not sure that’s a positive thing considering how awful most of them are. It seems to have taken ADRIFT's place as the "go to" system for people to use who aren't interested in or capable of learning a programming language, which I guess is a positive thing from the ADRIFT point of view because now the majority of bad games are being written with a different system. Now, the Quest community is one that could definitely benefit from listening to outsiders telling them what to do, but also a community which reacts very negatively to any form of constructive criticism.
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Re: Are static objects REALLY that important?

Postby Peter Pears » Mon Aug 05, 2013 9:18 pm

And yeah, it can get rough from a writing perspective. Try making 16 unique rooms describing a cherry orchard sometimes, it gets old real fast.


If you were a newcomer to IF, trying to get your first project started, all excitement, I'd advise to try cutting it down. It is necessary to have so many rooms? Pruning might be beneficial... and so on, and so forth.

But you obviously know what you want, and are going about it the way you want, and you seem very well informed, so go and dazzle us, and shows that, once again, if it's awesome, it's just awesome.

but at the same time I'm quite relieved we never started churning out the kind of pretentious sucked dry of all human emotion games which seem to be favoured by the larger IF community these days.


I'm starting to wonder who that large IF community is. I agree with you, incidently, especially about the Lost Pig thing, I'm just not sure it's quite as bleak as all that. As far as I know, the people who've been in the community for long enough for their opinion to be theoretically more valid than others (and what a can of worms that sentence is, but I'm only trying to make a small point, so bear with me please) are the people who still enjoy a good old-fashioned dungeon crawl. The SPAG comment might be unfortunate, but it reflects only the editor's view, and I'm not sure it represents the bleakness you describe but rather the fact that, despite all the attempts there have been to make IF more "worthy" in how many levels, a simple, fun, heartfelt, polished little old-school-ish comedy still takes everyone by storm. It's like trying to write The Name of the Rose and seeing everyone lapping up Da Vinci's Code.

What I've felt - honestly - that was lacking from ADRIFT games, and often is, is a coherent world model, and coherent rules for the model. Verbs that act properly all the time and not just when the author wants them to. Objects partially or poorly implemented. But that's because I come from a viewpoint where polish and coherence are almost built-into the engines. I actually bought Adrift 4, and used it a fair amount. It allowed me to do any number of things, as an author, and it was pretty wild, but when I came to play it and try stuff out it was always obvious how hard things were going to be to debug and polish. I still cringe when I remember the task list, and my attempts to edit default responses (WITHOUT .alr still), and the organisation of it all. It was a tool for making great things... with a rather shaky base.

That was Adrift back then. It's come a long, long way, and so has the community, I'm sure. I don't know that it needs a game to push the system, just a damn good game. You know, one of my favourites is actually "A Day at the Iachini House", oldschool puzzlefest, unpretensious, very nice. And I take pleasure in the "Clueless Bob" series, and the "Choices" series, and the "Back to Life" series. I'm writing this off the top of my head, I know you're the author of some of these, just don't know how many of them. ;)

My point. Right. I had one. Ah, here it is: showcasing the engine might not be important. Just churn out fantastic games, please.
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Re: Are static objects REALLY that important?

Postby David Whyld » Mon Aug 05, 2013 9:39 pm

Peter Pears wrote:That was Adrift back then. It's come a long, long way, and so has the community, I'm sure. I don't know that it needs a game to push the system, just a damn good game. You know, one of my favourites is actually "A Day at the Iachini House", oldschool puzzlefest, unpretensious, very nice. And I take pleasure in the "Clueless Bob" series, and the "Choices" series, and the "Back to Life" series. I'm writing this off the top of my head, I know you're the author of some of these, just don't know how many of them. ;)


All of them aside from "A Day at the Iachini House" :)
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Re: Are static objects REALLY that important?

Postby Lumin » Mon Aug 05, 2013 11:08 pm

Huh, never heard of Iachini House. Doesn't seem to be uploaded here but I found a copy on rotter's site, looks like David had some nice things to say about it back in the day so I'll definitely give it shot sometime.

Peter Pears wrote:If you were a newcomer to IF, trying to get your first project started, all excitement, I'd advise to try cutting it down. It is necessary to have so many rooms? Pruning might be beneficial... and so on, and so forth.


Oh, absolutely. I would pretty much never ever advise anyone to do what I'm doing, and I'm sure I've given people the same advice in the past. But I've started my share of big ambitious projects that have ultimately gone nowhere, and I'm pretty sure by this point I can recognize all the signs of biting off more than I can chew. :lol: The really nice thing about this project is that the handful of more complex things I'd like to do that take advantage of v5's new features are firmly in the 'optional' category. Otherwise all I need to make it work are simple tasks and a whoooole lot of writing.

I may eventually make a thread about it once I get a little farther along, but then again every time I start rambling about a project on the forum I seem to jinx it somehow...
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