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Simulations and RPGs as IF

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Simulations and RPGs as IF

Postby Lumin » Sun Oct 13, 2013 1:09 am

This is something I've been musing on for awhile, and it's come up a bit recently in other threads, but be forewarned I'm not feeling especially coherent tonight so this post will probably wind up just being a bunch of random thoughts. Just bear with me okay! :)

Okay, first point. I know that 'RPG' is kind of a word to sneer at here, at least when people start talking about making one with ADRIFT. And while it's true it mostly only comes up when we get some random kid with no idea of what IF is going on and on about the 'huge epic fantasy RPG' they're going to make before disappearing forever, I don't think there's anything at all wrong with the basic concept. We already know tracking things like stats and skills and equipment is easily doable, and beyond that, all you need is a decent plot and a combat system that doesn't suck. The former can be done in any medium, and the latter ispossible in a text game, even if I've never seen it done specifically with IF. (see: dozens and dozens of MUDs. Which I know I bring up a lot around here, but they do do a lot of things right in ways I've never seen repeated in other kinds of games, and IF is probably their closest cousin)

Now, simulations. It's possible people aren't as familiar with this kind of game (or else they immediately think of something like The Sims), but it can mean anything from a space trading sim to Dwarf Fortress to Harvest Moon. It's a really broad genre. And it again, can be easily done with ADRIFT or any other IF language. Whether the player is racing horses or hatching dragons or training gladiators or running a cake shop, or anything else you can think of (like maybe raising a princess, :lol: ...which before you laugh is a very challenging puzzle game at its core that would be just as playable even without pretty anime drawings stuck all over it, and just managed to get greenlit for Steam) it really just comes down to keeping track of a bunch of variables with interesting descriptions attached.

And yet both genres are things I've pretty much never seen an IF author make a serious attempt at, even though it would mean 1.) a lot more people would play your game, and 2.) you could play your own game.

Believe it or not, the second option there is actually the one I find most attractive. :) We all know that old rule, it's difficult to test your own game because you can't play your own game, the way an actual player would....it's one of the tragedies of IF-authorship that you pour so much time and effort into a project, and then once it's released you can't ever derive any enjoyment from it beyond the satisfaction of a job well done.

With an RPG or sim-style game, suddenly that doesn't really apply anymore, because with enough factors and a bit of randomization, suddenly it's a different experience every time. You're no longer just typing out a pre-memorized route from a walkthrough you wrote, you're actually playing the game you made, and it's only sweeter if you made it because it was exactly the kind of game you always wanted to play. :yeah:

So to finally get around to making my point, I'm making a classic-style IF game for the End of the Year comp and probably also the Ectocomp, but after that I'm planning to dive full in to the kind of writing I've only dabbled with until now, with the hopes that one of the projects I've been working on will be finished in time for Spring Thing. Wish me luck! :welldone: <--- (I have no idea what that emoticon is supposed to be doing, but I like to think he's pretending to drive a train and I approve)
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Re: Simulations and RPGs as IF

Postby Duncan_B » Sun Oct 13, 2013 4:19 am

It's true that in the IF world that-- especially around ADRIFT-- RPG tends to be synonymous with "unfinishable n00b project." My last IFComp game had some RPG elements, but was largely passed over. I can't argue that those elements were the best part of the game, either.

Sims have been around in IF, and one could argue that a lot of the space of play in adventure is accomplished through simulation. But, genre-wise, check out Olivia's Orphanorium, which was nominated for a XYZZY last year.

That being said, I love the idea of combining the two genres in IF! I talked about my game Space Mercenary earlier, which does this a little bit. I decided to just toss it up under the "Demos" section of the site just now, in case anyone wants to check it out. I had such plans for it. I totally get what you mean about being able to play one's own game with just some degree of randomization... I used to spend more time actually playing rather than testing this one than any other project I've worked on. One of these days, maybe when I get a steady income again or if I could get someone to bankroll it, I'd like to return to it.

Good luck, Lumin! I'll happily lend a hand with testing when you get your game finished. I'm sure it'll rock the Spring Thing!

PS: I do believe that is the "keep on truckin', woo! woo!" smiley-gesture.
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Re: Simulations and RPGs as IF

Postby Lumin » Sun Oct 13, 2013 4:17 pm

Never heard of Olivia's Orphanorium, but it looks great, downloading now. Going to grab that space mercenary game and give it a look too...honestly, I wish this was more the kind of thing people meant when they talked about 'experimental IF'.

Papillion's One Week comes to mind as well...it's actually what that 'princess raising' game I linked to reminded me of the most when I played it, though the latter goes a lot deeper (and involves more arranged marriages and assassinations). Though of course One Week had a comp deadline and a 'half-hour playthrough' restriction working against it. I also recall at one point playing a similar IF game where you played a geisha...which was not AIF, believe it or not. :D

Right now, my Spring Thing attempt is a tossup between a wilderness survival sim and more of a hands off thing where you make decisions about running a colony. (There's my Open World project too...but realistically that's more something to think about for the next Spring Thing...sometime soon I still am planning to put up a development thread/blog/whatever about it though.)
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Re: Simulations and RPGs as IF

Postby Lumin » Sun Oct 13, 2013 5:52 pm

re: Space Mercenary

holy cr*p

Duncan, you need to finish this! :D
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Re: Simulations and RPGs as IF

Postby ralphmerridew » Sun Oct 13, 2013 7:45 pm

Generally, I think that, rather than an IF-specific language like Inform, TADS, ADRIFT, Hugo, etc., a person trying to write an RPG-like game would be better off using an RPG-specialized language, like Blades of Avernum.

And, for completeness sake, the successful RPG-like games I've seen:
Kerkerkruip
Beyond Zork
Treasures of a Slaver's Kingdom
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Re: Simulations and RPGs as IF

Postby Lumin » Sun Oct 13, 2013 8:56 pm

Funny you should mention the Avernum games, as with their focus on player choice and all the reading involved anyway they're actually examples of RPGs I think could have worked just as well as mostly text. You don't exactly play them for the exciting action and cutting edge graphics -- I know the guy who makes them has made some attempts to pretty up his games recently, but for years those ugly tiles were a huge barrier to people who didn't realize the main appeal was in the story.

I've played Treasures of a Slaver's Kingdom but never heard of Kerkerkruip, I'll definitely be checking that out...just checked the IFWiki entry and it's hard to believe that it's Victor Gijsber's who wrote it! :shock:

Though I think it's worth pointing out that an RPG doesn't have to be primarily about hitting monsters with a sword, or even have a focus on combat at all. The whole 'only you can personally and singlehandedly save the world from [THREAT]' thing is kind of played out anyway....in an Action RPG, the combat is the core of the gameplay and the main event, but in a more story-heavy one that's more about actual roleplay, it's often pretty obvious the monster-fighting segments are just thrown in as filler. They have nothing to do with the characters or plot, they're just a barrier and at most a pacing device the way a 'find the key' or 'arrange the blocks in the correct order to proceed' puzzle might be in IF.
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Re: Simulations and RPGs as IF

Postby David Whyld » Mon Oct 14, 2013 11:32 am

I quite like the idea of a text adventure RPG, but I agree they get a lot of bad press because the majority of people talking about them are the noobs who seem to think it's a piece of cake to write a 10,000 room epic complete with a detailed combat system, a fully idealised game world and thousands of NPCs. In all the years I've been hanging around this forum, I've yet to see one of these epic RPGs ever get off the ground, and the people who announce them disappear without trace every single time. Saying that, it's something I'd really like to happen one day.

I've been planning to write a massive RPG for years now, but I generally get bogged down with the minor details – like the combat system – and it never goes anywhere, or I find myself daunted by the sheer size and scope of the game, the amount of time and effort I'd have to devote to make it the game I want, and I go off and do something else instead. It probably is something I should do, though, if for no other reason than to prove to myself I can actually write one.
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Re: Simulations and RPGs as IF

Postby Lumin » Mon Oct 14, 2013 2:14 pm

I haven't talked in too much detail about Open World yet because I'm afraid of jinxing myself with the Talking About WIPs on the Forums Curse, but in the end if all goes well (and obviously that's assuming a lot...) it really will be '10,000 room epic complete with a detailed combat system, a fully idealised game world and thousands of NPCs'.

...well, a couple hundred NPCs. And minus the detailed combat system. A combat system is actually waaaaaay down at the bottom of the 'maybe' list of things I hope to add. Not to say it can't be done, but there are many, many more important things I want to see done right first, and it's only going in if I can find a way to make it balanced and fun.

If the player directly fights at all, the most probable thing is that it will go in in a limited, optional form, like arena battles or something.
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Re: Simulations and RPGs as IF

Postby ralphmerridew » Mon Oct 14, 2013 2:34 pm

In what system are you writing Open World?
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Re: Simulations and RPGs as IF

Postby Lumin » Mon Oct 14, 2013 2:50 pm

Well, mostly Wordpad for now. rofl

I have an ADRIFT file with a day/night and money system set up as well as a test village I use to play around with crafting and random NPCs, but that's really all just a sandbox for now. What I'm mainly focusing on at the moment is location, location, location! My #1 rule in writing this game is that the world has to be fun to explore. So I'm writing up towns and villages and fortresses and abbeys and country roads and ruins and wilderness areas with semi-realistic geographic transitions and losing my mind trying to keep track of NPCs and secrets that will eventually be in each in a separate document.
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Re: Simulations and RPGs as IF

Postby David Whyld » Mon Oct 14, 2013 2:54 pm

Is ADRIFT 5 capable of handling a game that big? I don't know what its upper limits are but a few times when I was writing very big games with V4, I found the system slowing to a crawl (opening a location to edit it could literally take 30 seconds). By the sound of things, your game is going to be quite a lot larger than that. It's probably best to see what kind of upper limit the system has before you start writing it, so you don't end up six months down the line hitting those limits with only half the game written.
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Re: Simulations and RPGs as IF

Postby Lumin » Mon Oct 14, 2013 3:01 pm

David Whyld wrote:Is ADRIFT 5 capable of handling a game that big? I don't know what its upper limits are but a few times when I was writing very big games with V4, I found the system slowing to a crawl (opening a location to edit it could literally take 30 seconds). By the sound of things, your game is going to be quite a lot larger than that. It's probably best to see what kind of upper limit the system has before you start writing it, so you don't end up six months down the line hitting those limits with only half the game written.


That's a point I've considered, but like I said, my main focus is just on doing most of the writing right now. If for whatever reason ADRIFT can't handle it, the bulk of the work will still be done, and if I had to I could try and figure out how to paste it all over to...you know, that other system. The one all the cool kids are always talking about, even though I'm sure that would cause some major delays.

Though I guess in the meantime it wouldn't hurt to start plugging rooms into a map and see if I hit any slow-down problems. Hopefully that was just a v4 problem though.
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Re: Simulations and RPGs as IF

Postby Campbell » Mon Oct 14, 2013 10:42 pm

You guys are the cool kids. Well, maybe not David any more... :whistle:
ADRIFT Developer developer.
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Re: Simulations and RPGs as IF

Postby ralphmerridew » Mon Oct 14, 2013 10:56 pm

Good luck, though I personally prefer "small, densely implemented" to "large, sparsely implemented".
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Re: Simulations and RPGs as IF

Postby Lumin » Mon Oct 14, 2013 11:00 pm

^^^Thanks, though trust me, there's going to be plenty to do.

Campbell wrote:Well, maybe not David any more... :whistle:

So no plans yet to go to his house and hang him as an example to other would-be traitors? Campbell, I'm so proud of you! :P
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