Wall of text

Deckrect
Hello, community!

I am currently working on a project as a test for my skills and the proper handling of Quest tool. However, even if a test, i am not doing this in a lazy or unworried mood. I am designing the game as a full game, to be ready for publishing, and learning and investigating as i build it up. To accomplish such task, i have been reading a lot her at the forum, external forums, papers, works, essays and blogs. There is a repeating topic about the said "wall of text", which sounds very pejorative and a drawback when most players face it. However, i have no idea about how much would be too much. So, instead of working on hypothesis, i decided pasting here an actual text from my game. It is planned to show up just after the game forewords and instructions, what means it is the very first thing the player reads after the actual game begins:

-------------------------Room description--------------------------

The whole digging site number 5 rests about 3 yards underground. This is the south chamber – a 6x6 yards squared room bathed in darkness and as dry as the open desert outside. There is a passage heading north connecting this chamber to the main chamber of this small complex.

Previous studies suggests this very chamber used to be a bedroom, making the scientists believe it would have been a workshop or even a house.

-----------------------On first time only-----------------------------

Since Margareth finished unearthing this chamber in special, she converted the place into her personal resting place. She tends to work for hours on the site’s mysteries and secrets, trying to find out more of its past, use and inhabitants.

The only light source is the old oil lamp, which timidly casts a yellow color over the walls, the flooring, a bedroll and a copy of “The Running Heir” – the novel book she reads during breaks. Also, an empty backpack lies between the bedroll and a can of baked beans.

Margareth stretches her back. Not tired. Not yet. She takes a look around, thinking how much work she had here and that the mysteries at digging site number 5 are about to come to an end. She wonders how the things at the new structure found would be going, and then her mind drifts to the others – now considered less important – digging sites. It’s been days since last time she compared notes to her colleagues, and perhaps during the time she got herself entombed, something new would had been unearthed. By Margareth’s calculations, she would be there, focused only on work, for a full day. However, she would not get surprised if finding it already passed two days since she did dive into work.

---------------------End of description-----------------------------------

So, what can be said about it? Does it sounds too vague, too detailed? Are there too many words, making it a "wall of text"?

I would like hearing comments, please.

The Pixie
Looks fine to me. The first time bit is on the long side, but as long as there are not many like that in the game, it is fine.

Deckrect
Thank you, Pixie. Most of character's personal impressions, i am leaving for first time texts. So, player will not have to face all the information once again. Also, impressions may find out of context if expressed every time the character enters a "room".

As i favor game books instead of Text Adventures, i guess i tend typing a lot. And Text Adventures are not about that much text, i suppose.

Anonynn
I tend to write very long "walls of text" because I like to be very descriptive in "Apocamorphosis", however, what I do is break them up with a "press to continue" button, which I think helps the player a lot. So anytime I have something more than maybe two or three paragraphs, I'll break it up with a continue button. That way the player can progress through the information when they are ready. Also, if you have a long "first time" script, it helps to have a shortened description for the otherwise. :)

If you need any suggestions lemme know :D


Anony.

Deckrect
Using the press to continue button seems to be a nice idea. I confess in gereral I avoid using this resource. But for this purpose it may be efficient, as will avoid screen scrolling. I will try implementation and test.

About suggestions, well, I pretty much appreciate any help you would give me.

HegemonKhan
you can always, create a 'help/intro/whatever' Command (and many other types of custom Commands too: 'hint', 'info', 'character info/stats', 'equipment', 'magic', etc etc), and thus only need to briefly mention this in the opening (game.start) scripting:

(I'll just use the 'help' label/name, even if it's not descriptively accurate for your post's scripting content, lol)

<game name="blah">
<attr name="start" type="script">
msg ("For help, type in this: help")
</attr>
</game>

<command name="help_command">
<pattern>help</pattern>
<script>
ClearScreen
// msg ("-------------------------Room description--------------------------

The whole digging site number 5 rests about 3 yards underground. This is the south chamber – a 6x6 yards squared room bathed in darkness and as dry as the open desert outside. There is a passage heading north connecting this chamber to the main chamber of this small complex.

Previous studies suggests this very chamber used to be a bedroom, making the scientists believe it would have been a workshop or even a house.

-----------------------On first time only-----------------------------

Since Margareth finished unearthing this chamber in special, she converted the place into her personal resting place. She tends to work for hours on the site’s mysteries and secrets, trying to find out more of its past, use and inhabitants.

The only light source is the old oil lamp, which timidly casts a yellow color over the walls, the flooring, a bedroll and a copy of “The Running Heir” – the novel book she reads during breaks. Also, an empty backpack lies between the bedroll and a can of baked beans.

Margareth stretches her back. Not tired. Not yet. She takes a look around, thinking how much work she had here and that the mysteries at digging site number 5 are about to come to an end. She wonders how the things at the new structure found would be going, and then her mind drifts to the others – now considered less important – digging sites. It’s been days since last time she compared notes to her colleagues, and perhaps during the time she got herself entombed, something new would had been unearthed. By Margareth’s calculations, she would be there, focused only on work, for a full day. However, she would not get surprised if finding it already passed two days since she did dive into work.

---------------------End of description-----------------------------------")
wait {
ClearScreen
}
</script>
</command>


----------------

or, you can always create a selection of whether to bypass it or not, too:

(using the 'ask' Function/Script for this example, as it's the simpliest method of creating a selection choice)

<game name="blah">
<attr name="start" type="Script">
ask ("Skip Intro?") {
if (result) { // yes (true): skip intro
// if you always want to have something here at start of game
} else { // no (false): do NOT skip intro
// your wall of text
}
// or, alternative design:
// if (not result) { no (false): do NOT skip intro
// wall of text
// }
</attr>
</game>


----------

and there's the 'firsttime{} / otherwise {}' Script/Function you can use, or you can create your own manually via creating your own Boolean Attribute for toggling.

HegemonKhan
for example, with my own "game" (hah - I'm still just working on the character creation, lol), I'm doing a pretty extensive character creation (ambitious skyrim-like RPG... that maybe I'll finish when I'm 100 years old and with a Ph.D in CS ... lol):

character generation:
1. preset: choose amongst pre-made characters (fastest if you're not trying to decide what character you want, lol)
2. random: your character is randomly created (this is probably the fastest - unless you know what preset character you want, lol)
3. select: questionaire / asked a bunch of various questions and your repsonses to them determine your character (examples: http://luct.tacticsogre.com/inquisition.html and http://www.geocities.ws/xesmeraude/beginning.html )
4. custom: full control over your character generation (but takes the longest - though I include in for every/most individual character decision things, a choice to have it be randomly selected too)

here's a initial sampling of it:

(this doesn't include the character generation type selection, only the custom character creation code, as I worked on the character generation type selection after I posted this old code quite a while ago now)

viewtopic.php?f=18&t=4988 (HK's Crude Character Creation Code and Sample Game)

I'm still a very noob coder, so lots of redundency (?refactoring - is this the word? needed) and it's very messy/poor/bad code, I've slightly improved upon it, but not by much, sighs.

HegemonKhan
P.S.

since you seem to be interested in "digging/archaelogy",
here's a really awesome old Mac (Apple) sci-fi "dig" game:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Dig

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H6938d1Geuk (full playthrough)
or
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EGzX_7ZN8_U (full playthrough)

Deckrect
Hahaha! The Dig! When you mentioned, it didn't ring a bell. However, watching the movie i could recall my game experience. Was a great game at the time. One of my favorites, among Star Trek 25th anniversary!

I was just trying to establish a general mood for the main character a vague, but present, sense of objective. I am trying to not go wild, because if so, i will just write 1000 words for the first character presentation.

I decided using a very simple way to check character: just use the "Look at" combined with "self" or "Margareth". It describes the character, the health status, the composure status and the current clothing. Sounded more logical than using an artificial command.

This game is an exercise of doing a complete and detailed game. But i have no intention of having things more complicated than needed, so i am not using a system as labored as you are in your game.

My concern here, in this thread, is just checking if i am controlling myself and not writing too much, not suffocating the player.

Anonynn

Aside from the "Click to Continue" method I also do something like...

---First Time---
The room you're standing in is cold and drafty.{once: From the threshold of the doorway though, you can see the glow of a burning candle against the far wall, which is shining brightly and adding security and comfort to your situation. Behind it, eerie shadows to dance across the wall in a hypnotic rhythm. You also notice scattered punctures throughout the space; the floors, the walls, the ceiling --- they all look to have been eaten through by something. You wonder what could have caused it.}..It makes you hesitant to enter any further.

---Look---
The room you're standing in is cold and drafty...It makes you hesitant to enter any further.

Sorry about the sloppy writing @_@ I was trying to come up with something quick.


Marzipan

My first impression is that it does seem a bit much. Though it's not even do much the amount of information as the way it's all structured. For instance in the 'first time only' section you point out objects that the player will presumably try to interact with, but it's a description they're only getting once.

The basic room description itself is pretty non descript, even bland. Instead of keeping it separate from the rest, is there any reason some of the more detailed bits about Margaret and the background couldn't be moved to the room, the objects, Margaret herself, for the player to discover?

It's interactive fiction, you want to invite the player to interact. There's no need to hit them in the face with these things.


Anonynn

I tend to see it as...the first time you enter a space you sort of scan it all with your eyes. So you catch some of the more obvious things like...a bookshelf, cobwebs, a candle and a desk as well as a general feeling/scent for/of the room.

But after "looking at object" more closely, I imagine the player walking up to that specific object and noticing particular details that you didn't see before when you scanned it. Like scratch marks that could indicate a monster etc.

I do see what you're saying though. Perhaps it just depends on what the player wants in a story...some like a lot of description to immerse them, but others just want a little detail so they can fill in the rest with their imagination. I'm not sure which way is more sought after.

I tend to get a lot of compliments regarding the writing sucking in the player but they don't represent everyone unfortunately. ^___^ Maybe their should be a vote!


Marzipan

I tend to see it as...the first time you enter a space you sort of scan it all with your eyes. So you catch some of the more obvious things like...a bookshelf, cobwebs, a candle and a desk as well as a general feeling/scent for/of the room.

But after "looking at object" more closely, I imagine the player walking up to that specific object and noticing particular details that you didn't see before when you scanned it. Like scratch marks that could indicate a monster etc.

Well yes, that's been established as the standard way rooms and objects work for decades now.


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