How Much is Too Much?

I've set about writing my text adventure, but I've noticed something about it which concerns me a little. The amount of detail. It seems that I'm cramming in a substantial amount more detail than in most other text adventures, and I'm not bragging about it. I should hope that the quality of my writing is up to scratch, but no matter how good the writing is, what are the inherent risks of excessive descriptive passages? (Maybe mine aren't 'excessive', but they're certainly big).

I'm already aware that I'm certainly straddling the line between interactive fiction and interactive storytelling with my project. It's linear in the regard that the player has a distinct primary objective which serves as an endgame, but as the plans currently stand, there would be three possible, distinct routes which could be taken to reach it, and multiple ways to go about taking them. Puzzles in the conventional sense play a small part in the game experience, which focuses primarily on story-telling, although there would be parts where the player would have to use their head a little.

The problem is, I can't see the game working in any other way. The environment is exceptionally rich, but I don't want to put people off with walls of text. Part of me thinks that I ought to just write it out in full, then chip away as necessary, rather than start gaffa-taping lines onto it here and there later on should I decide then that I want more.

As it stands, the description for the first room, and the sizeable in-room description of the sole major object within it at the moment, not including a one-off message displayed at the start of the game describing the unique state of an object within it, is 302 words long, and just under 1800 characters. Too much?

It might be worth inviting some people to take a look (pre-alpha testers?). It's hard to judge based on things like word count. Twenty poorly chosen words can be a travesty, and three-hundred well crafted ones can be a masterpiece. It all depends. :)

I agree, in as much as I'd have to see / play a sample of the game before I could give a true opinion, but as a general rule, yes, I find walls of text off-putting. If I want to read a book, I'll do just that, but when I play a TA all I'm looking for is a brief - albeit well-written - description of my immediate location, and the options available to me.

Having said that, you can clearly write and I may be a little more tolerant in such a case.

Hmm, I see. Well, I'll flesh it out a little more and perhaps I'll see to doing just that and inviting some people to take a look. I notice that you mention your immediate location, OurJud, and I'll be the first to admit that I'm prone to drifting, although I have been making a conscious effort to restrain myself, and at least keep my drifting short and to the point when it does occur.

Not that it needs stressing, but I'll just say it's important to remember this is merely my own personal preference and not an attempt to sway you either way :)

Could you trim down that room description and shove most of the extra adjectives and adverbage off to object descriptions instead?

Clear, straightforward locations with extra layers of detail that get revealed at the player's own pace IMO is much preferred to just getting hit in the face with a wall of text.

What Marzipan said. I think it's important to realize how a text game is different to a novel. If I wanted long elaborate narratives I would have just taken a book. In games I prefer more interaction. And if there are some descriptions, it's great if they can unfold as I, the player, explore my surrounding (i.e. click on things). That way I can feel like I really am the character, and it is me who not only takes actions, but also perceives the world with his own senses.

It's actually something you can find in writing manuals: to start descriptions with more general stuff, and then go down into details. Here it can be taken to the next level, you can start with just a general sentence, and leave to the player whether they want to know the details, and if they do, in what order!

Please, make use of all these wonderful possibilities, don't just write a book with a few choices thrown-in.

I disagree. I think an IF game should feel like a novel that you control at your own pace. I have a lot of text at especially important scenes, but I break it up with "click to continue". To be honest, people seem to really like that.

It seems that there are different types of 'IF' games:

Main Types:

  1. your 'click on choices' CYOA as (nearly a pure) reading novel
  2. a roughly moderate-to-extensive RPG, but obviously without the 3D animation/world/movement (as it's a Text Adventure). Obviously, this can be a high literacy:story/plot/etc (novel) game, or not, too.
  3. see #1, but with varying (depends on the game maker's game concept) degrees of RPG mechanics involved. Obviously, this can be a high literacy:story/plot/etc (novel) game, or not, too.

Sub Types:
A. (mostly/entirely) typed-in inputs ("guess the verb" can be dealt with scripting/game design stuff)
B. (mostly/entirely) clicking on buttons/hyperlinks "easy-ness" can be dealt with in the way the game is designed/conceived.
C. hybrid of variying (depends on the game maker's game concept) degrees of both: #A and #B

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