How much detail/complexity regarding interactivity should a game have?

..and what's too much/less?

I'm still fairly new to Quest but in the last couple of days I experimented with the number of objects you can interact with in one room. On the one hand via the room description and on the other hand via the menu on the top right. So far i kept coming back putting the interaction with objects like items you can pick up, look at or interact in any other way in the description using hyperlinks and put the whole navigation to the top right corner. No clickable rooms/exits in the description, except locked doors.

I soon noticed that my descriptions get very cluttered with all sorts of usable objects and I'm not quite sure if it's too much, if for example there are 20 different objects you can interact with + some of them being containers, containing.. more stuff.

What are your experiences with this kind of clutter, any solutions/ideas?

  • karg

There are broadly two types of objects; important and scenery. Some players will expect everything to be implemented so anythng mentioned can be examined - but no more than that. As for the important objects more than a couple in a room would seem excessive to me, unless the number of rooms is less than five.

But it is just opinion...

it's a balance between you (the game creator - developer's time/work) and the customers/players demands/standards/expectations/desires/interests, generally more would be better... but obviously the practicality of how much is the consideration.

I think the more interactivity you have, the more immersed the player will be. But! I think if you are going to provide a lot of objects to interact with, you should make ALL the interactions clearly defined; like providing the verbs on the objects, etc. ^_^


The more scenery objects the better. I HATE not being able to at least look at objects that are specifically mentioned in descriptions! As for non-scenery objects... I'd guess that 80-90% of the objects in my game that are listed in room descriptions/items pane are essential in some way whether it is usable/causes something to happen or perhaps there is a hint in the items description. I enjoy games where not EVERY object is critically important. But I definitely appreciate games that take the time to account for items that could be relevant.

I too like the idea of at least have the option to inspect an (useless) object, to make the world feel more alive. If your ingame goal is to build a plane and there is bread in a corner, you probably would not try to eat it if there is no hunger value for example. But adding it may contribute to the atmosphere to at least look at it if it's mentioned in the description.

Has anyone tried creating a game like The Elder Scrolls, Divinity or Fallout, where you can take or interact with literally everything? I'd be curious how this kind of scenario would feel like.

That is kind of tough.  While you do not want it overly simplified, you do not want to make it overly complicated either.  You certainly do not want a very long string or row after row of items flooding the screen and drowning the player under a sea of information, most likely junk anyway.  While at the same time not having completely uninteresting barren rooms either.

Usually people have, from my experience, just a few things in a room that stands out, if anything at all.  Not "every" room needs something usuable or be outstanding.  But having majority of rooms being empty or boring is poor game design as well.

But if you demand a realistic game where everything has to be notated and described, put the surroundings in your general room description and let the player view those items separately if they choose to.  Only put the most warranted items (or duds or joke items to break the monotony ^_^ ) out for people to see...

Saying there is a room with a dresser, bed, a picture hanging on wall, a chair, a hair brush and tea cup, but only having the hair brush and tea cup able to be looked at, regardless of what is highlighted or can be picked up is bad game design in my opinion.  A person should be able to "look bed", "look picture" or "look wall" and get a decent description of everything.  Putting the connotation of a picture on the wall, but trying to look at and it says "I do not see that" is annoying as hell. <_<

I think some worthwhile questions would be:

  1. Is it an intrinsic part of the story? If so, then good. That can include objects you need, exits you need to traverse, etc.
  2. Does it add something interesting to the game? It can add to the color, mood, visual effect, etc. Again, that's good.

Notice I didn't include "does it add to the realism". A room doesn't have to have a desk or a mirror or a nightstand. You might disagree, but I have seen far too many games where things are laid out in excruciating detail, all for nothing beyond the author's thought that a house must have a bathroom, which then must have a toilet, which you then must be able to flush, if only because a real world one does even though it has absolutely nothing to do with the purpose, theme or overall thrust of the game. And the player ends up wandering around, doing things not because they want to or take any sort of delight from them, but only because the player doesn't know what's important or not and has to try everything, and you as the author have given them the equivalent of that uncle who gives you the blow by blow of everything that happened yesterday, despite all of it being incredibly mundane.

I wouldn't go so far as to say an adventure game should be like poetry (conservation of words) or a short story (where it's said each word should be important to driving the story). But you don't want to go the other way either. If you are going to add objects to your game world, at least make them interesting!

I'm trying to create a TES/ES (The Elder Scrolls: arena, daggerfall, morrowind, oblivion, skyrim) type/like and scale of game... still working on just the character creation... laughs... (well, haven't been able to work really on it, due to school work/real life busy-ness, I've not really been able to do much quest work, sighs. I post too much too... takes up so much time, argh!), maybe when I'm 100 years old, I'll have the character creation done... laughs.

Simple answer: Enough to tell the story...
Hard answer: unknown...

I don't want to include objects just for the sake of them being there and not contributing to the story in any case (like the mentioned toilet in the bathroom). I'm thinking more of an actual story/book in which you (the player) has influence in. A detective has to solve a crime, comes to a scene and has to investigate. The author of a book has total control of what the detective does/looks at etc. but in a game the player might want to change things up a bit and dive deeper into the whole scene. Maybe theres hidden information the player won't need to progress but it adds to the world (a letter, drawing). I guess in the end this more or less goes into the direction most of you suggested.

hegemonkhan: Whats your approach when it comes to interactivity? Having only played Skyrim myself I know how much stuff there is and that not only includes objects. There are skills and other characters, etc. It seems like an never ending project ;).

It's not something I'll ever get remotely close to done, so, it's more just a learning experience. I spend all my time on just the coding (and then trying to re-do the code better or use a more scalable design, sighs, so I never make any progress on my game), and I'm only working on character creation still... haven't even tried to start on equipment, items, magic, dialogue, story/plot, world, and etc etc etc.

And I've not even had any time to work on it for like a year, due to school/school work and real life, it's on a big hiatus and hardly has anything done with it in the first place.

(if you want two really awesome games that you seem to be interested in a similar style/type of game, take a look at: Maniac Mansion and Shadowgate, both for the NES, and both of which would work well with quest's capabilities, and not requiring any fancy coding either. They're not skyrim, though, of course, lol)


this is my older and extremely poor code of some of my character creation work that I've been working on, if you just want to take a look at it (remember that this is really bad code, I've since improved it so there's not all the redundant code functions/scriptings, and etc fixing up of it, but I've not uploaded it here yet, as I'm still working on it):


I thought of implementing some sort of character creation into my game as well. So far I just made tons of notes on actual physical paper, somekind of brainstorming my ideas and I'm wondering if you have done something like that, too?! For a character creation so complex you must have in mind how certain if not all items in your game should look like (stats, equip restrictions, and so forth..)?

Thanks for the link and game tips, I'll check it out (I do know Maniac Mansion, but Shadowgate rings no bell)! And don't worry about your code, I'm just staring with coding from 0, so i wouldn't recognize bad code if it was right in front of me, haha.

I think what you want is more along the lines of this:

here's the code download if you want to poke around in it:

Here is how I did character creation, based on spending points:

I wonder if it would be worthwhile to create a thread for "Character generation ideas"???
I have an idea, 0 lines so far, that I plan on calling:
"The Adventure, from the inside"
The idea starts out where you "wake up" as a blank character,
and you go through the steps of character generation, as the character that will be in the game...
Not as you setting up your character...
You move to a wall with text on it that says: "Who are you?"
and you push buttons to spell your name...
A hole appears in the wall, you step through to the next "room"
... and the process continues until "you" are created...
Then when you step through the last hole, you are in the game...
During the process, you are "compelled" to answer the questions, as if it is not your choice...
(the payer is "making" you do these things...)

Something like that would be nice! My idea for a character creation goes in a very similar direction. Instead of having to move from room to room to do certain tasks, I'd like to achieve the same via dialog. As mentioned before.. sadly everything just exists on paper so far:

There is a number of different character attributes and every answer/reaction in the dialog adds or subtracts to a certain attribute. Depending on the outcome of this creation the character is able to solve the given tasks more or less adequate. Maybe some kind of ranking system from 1 to 5 to check the attributes against.. not sure.

if we could get enough participation/support working on (ideas/brainstorming, discussions, and/or code designs) the various libraries/systems/features (dialogue, combat, character creation, magic, equipment, items, storage, shopping, travel methods, quests/missions/events, story/plot, world stuff, journal/note-book/log-book, npcs/monsters/bosses, etc etc etc) of games, and maybe threads or sticky boards for them, that would be awesome! But, I don't think we'd get enough support/participation to justify such stuff, sighs.

remember, I'm trying to create a ridiculously-impossible ambitious RPG, laughs.

character creation (+ a pedia-information system for the whole game, which includes character creation):

type of character creation/generation you choose:

0. random: selects one of the 4 (#1-4) choices/methods directly below (if you can't decide on your own, lol)
1. preset: choose from pre-built characters
2. select: survey/quiestionaire/questions which is used to determine your character (2nd longest method)
3. custom: you have total control in determining your character (longest method but most control, as you have to make every choice involved with creating/generating your character)
4. random: a randomly generated character (tied with 'preset' as being the quickest methods, this could be quicker than 'preset' as it could still take you time on decided which 'preset' character to choose, lol. Least control)

(lots of the charactertistics below would be dependant on other characteristics and/or the design of your game)

(also, all of these individual characteristic selections below will have a 'random' choice too, to select one for you, if you want want to or can't decide)

life taxonomy: species/race/etc
sex: male/female
age integer: (select from a range of numbers)
age string: baby/child/teen/adult
name: first name/last name/middle name/nick name/prefered name
height: short/average/tall
weight: petite/light/lean/average/heavy
body type/shape: (whatever)
muscle/fat: chubby/average/brawny
skin type: skin/fur/feathers/scales
skin/fur/feathers/scales color: (whatever)
hair type: none/straight/wavy/curly
hair color: (whatever)
hair style: mohawk/bunned/spiked/braided/afro/dreadlocks/ponytail/pigtails/bald/buzzed-butch/etc
eye color: (whatever)
iris color: (whatever)
pupil color: (whatever)
eye type: (whatever)
pupil/iris shape: circular-radial/vertical/etc?
locomotion: bipedal/quadripedal/flying/floating/walking/swimming/burrowing/slithering/etc
nose size:
nose length:
nose width:
nose shape:
ear size:
ear shape: rounded-normal/pointed/etc?
lip size:
mouth size:
specialization: combat/magic/stealth/diplomacy/science
combat class: warrior/thief/barbarian/knight/amazon/valkyrie/paladin/ninja/assassin/samurai/rogue/ranger/pirate/nomad/warlord
magic class: cleric/mage/wizard/witch/necromancer/warlock/druid/paladin/valkyrie/shaman/sorcerer-sorceress/enchanter-enchantress
stealth class: thief/rogue/ranger/assassin/ninja/pirate
diplomacy class: bard/muse/politician/rogue/thief/ambassador/diplomat
science class: chemist/biologist/botanist/zoologist/philosopher/mathematician/physicist/physician-nurse-doctor/hacker/economist/sociologist/psychologist/logician
magic: fire/water/air/earth/light/dark/sun/moon/holy/unholy/life/death/physical/magical/temporal/dimensional/spacial/nature/beast-creature-animal-fiend/etc

primary attributes: strength/endurance/dexterity/agility/speed/luck/piety/intelligence/spirituality/mentiality/personality/leadership/charisma/alignment/perception/deception/creativity/etc

etc etc etc

see... very impossibly ambitious... lol

Remember that everything you code into a character does 2 things:

  1. requires you to make use of it in game
  2. takes up memory.

You code in too many attributes, you'll run out of memory on your server. AND, what exactly are you going to do in game with attributes such as nose width, eye color and so on?

You can, yes, create something that incredibly complex, but for most games they're a waste of your time and the players time. And they never get used in the game. There are a few games, The Sims for example, or Runescape, that make use of stuff like eye color and nose width, because they have 3d objects with eyes or different noses. They're graphical games and need those sorts of customization for flavor. But a text game? Are you going to have encounters where it'll matter what color your player's character's eyes are? or how wide their nose is?

What you're doing is trying to code ADnD and GURPS into a text game, and forgetting that most of the stuff in the DM guide is stuff that never gets used in the actual play of the game.

Now we are completely off-topic but who cares :D

If thats what you are going for, hegemonkhan, well.. puh. I'll intuitively have to agree with crystalwizard. For one game alone (and that being a text adventure), it seems A LOT of unnecessary attributes (nose, eyes, hair). Maybe there's a game were you'd exactly need these attributes but for a rpg kind of game on a text basis.. i don't know.

For the sake of just creating it: Good luck, you'll definately need it. Any rough idea how these unusual attributes like nose width should impact the actual gameplay?

OK, I got a simple character generator posted (in the forums) called
"The Adventure, from the inside"
You can name and sex the player and train for 5 steps...
But, I can figure out the if statement to stop the training and open the next portal...

If nothing else, it should be entertaining...

@ crystalwizard and karg:

it's just an example part of the complexity of my character creation (you can replace whatever you want for the attributes/stuff), the other part is trying to create a pedia/information system for it (and the rest of the game too)...

also, I'm well-aware of: in-game actual functionality vs player customization of character description (most of which wouldn't effect game play). It depends on the game, in what you want to do, and on you, in how much you want to do.

memory/performance probably won't be an issue (modern, and non-embed/integtrated systems, computers usually won't have memory/performance issues, especially as you're not creating some uber advanced 3d modeling for predicting whatever-real-world-physics-issues software, which would require a lot/significant amount of memory compared to the computer's capable memory)

I went down that road sometime back, and put way too many fields in the character file. I did run out of memory. Was very unhappy about it. Wasn't on a windows machine, either, was on BSDI unix.

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