An Open Letter to Quest Authors

Dear Quest Author,

I was enjoying your game, but you kept killing me with no warning.

I understand that text adventures have been killing players for more than 30 years, but those games offered you a chance to UNDO your last turn. When it's done this way, it is fun. I'll even see how many ways I can die, just to make sure I don't miss any funny text!

...but, if you occasionally kill me without giving me a chance to undo that turn, I will lose interest. Especially if it's a good-sized game.

Regards,
A Constant Adventurer


Hehe :D


[I understand that text adventures have been killing players for more than 30 years, but those games offered you a chance to UNDO your last turn, RESTART the story, or QUIT.]

The latter two you can do now, restart or quit. I mean what stops you from doing either?


"Richard" your obsession is getting out of hand.

I heard there was a game company named like Inform or Sierra, that made games that were tough. Like, the company. Never played one, though.


@Text_Quester

The latter two you can do now, restart or quit. I mean what stops you from doing either?

I think you missed my point (or perhaps I didn't make it very well). When a Quest game is finished, there is usually no UNDO option.

I only mentioned RESTART and QUIT because they are two of the options that are displayed when a good interactive story ends. UNDO YOUR LAST MOVE is the important one.

(I have now edited the original post to avoid confusion.)


The latter two you can do now, restart or quit.

I'm pretty sure we've always been able to restart or quit at any point when a Quest game is loaded in the runner, even if the game is over.


I mean what stops you from doing either?

Um... Nothing. I never said anything of the sort.


@jmne


I heard there was a game company named like Inform or Sierra, that made games that were tough.

I believe Infocom is the company of which you speak.


"Richard" your obsession is getting out of hand.

What obsession? Please, do elaborate.


I believe the obsession with XanMag's games.


the obsession with XanMag's games

What makes you think I am obsessed with XanMag's games?

Why not NecroDeath? I've played more of his games, and I've played each of them more than once. Plus, I even ported one of them.

I didn't even mention XM...


When I say "Quest Authors", I mean everyone. If a large game kills people and doesn't give them an option to UNDO, the game isn't very playable.


In retrospect, I don't even know what made me respond to any of these comments. I apologize for doing so.

I wish everyone well.


Don't worry Richard, you're fine.

I just tried undo in Necrodeath's Christmas game, and it worked. I also don't remember ever dying in one of Necrodeath's games.

Undo works in most games, including mine. I haven't tried undo in many games, just that it's always worked in every game that you can type in, that I've played.

Anyways, I sympathize with you. I do agree with you, and I believe large games should be easier or at least have more checkpoints or ways to undo your actions.


When you put finish in a script to end the game, there is no option to undo. That's it. That's all. Game over.

That is bad form in a big game, no matter who wrote it. I didn't name an author. I am speaking generally, to all Quest authors who care about my feedback.


For my game, I only put bad-ends or game-overs in spots after warning the player that the option could indeed kill them.

Like for example, in one scene in mine, you're chased to the edge of a 20ft cliff-side by a huge horde of zombies. I give the player 3 options (one of which is hidden and reduces their damage (they need to be clever or have high intelligence to find it)), the other two are take your chances and jump off and avoid being eaten alive, or stay and try to fight off the entire horde. By this point the player is utterly drop-dead exhausted. If they stay and fight the horde, they die.

Another is if the player takes too many Tallification Elixirs or Shortification Elixirs and are already at the maximum height and minimum height they can be, the next consume verb of either could result in a bad-end which is a 20% chance or something like that. So 80% chance they get a warning that consuming the potions at maximum height or minimum height could possibly have dire consequences. If they choose to do it again, it could be the end.

And thirdly, you are warned by the creator of an object that touching the field around the object can vaporize flesh and yet I will have the option on the object to "touch it" ...which will unfortunately throw the player against the wall as a skelly-ton (homage to Indiana Jones: The Last Crusade). If the player chooses to touch it...game-over.

Are those sorts of scenarios okay do you think? The player is in complete control and the bad-end is never unexpected. Just curious about your feedback :D

Anonynn.


the bad-end is never unexpected

This is forgivable.

...but it's a lot of work to play a text adventure. Even the majority of the old, "tough" Infocom games usually display an option to undo your last move when you die.

I mean, I know that you're just making me start the game over to punish me. Know what I'm sayin'?

Even if I have a save point, you're still making me start back from there, when you could just kill me and let me undo. I mean, you killed me already. I'm ashamed. I'm embarrassed. And, hopefully, I learned something. So, why you gotta make me retrace all those steps??? Why can't I just undo?


http://ifdb.tads.org/help-forgiveness

Going by this, most big Quest games are "cruel".

NecroDeath's games are "merciful".

Yours would probably be an edge case. I'd call it "tough/nasty".

I prefer "polite" text adventures. These can still piss the player off to no end, but still allow us to enjoy different outcomes without working too hard to do so.


Are we talking of CYOAs or TAs? Just undoing one move may still put you in that pickle jar...

[but those games offered you a chance to UNDO your last turn, RESTART the story, or QUIT.

"The latter two you can do now, restart or quit."
I'm pretty sure we've always been able to restart or quit at any point when a Quest game is loaded in the runner, even if the game is over.

"I mean what stops you from doing either?"
Um... Nothing. I never said anything of the sort.]

O_o


"the obsession with XanMag's games"

Trust me... NO ONE is obsessed with XanMag's games, except maybe XanMag himself. After all, he is "a cheap, lying, no-good, rotten, four-flushing, low-life, snake-licking, dirt-eating, inbred, overstuffed, ignorant, blood-sucking, dog-kissing, brainless, d!ckless, hopeless, heartless, [email protected], bug-eyed, stiff-legged, spotty-lipped, worm-headed sack of monkey sh!t...! Hallelujah! Holy sh!t! Where's the Tylenol?"

Anyway...

I believe the whole point of this thread is:

  1. Authors, please don't kill the player without an UNDO option.

  2. There needs to be an undo option once the author runs the FINISH GAME script.

Sounds simple, right?


Are we talking of CYOAs or TAs?

I'm talking about text adventures.

Just undoing one move may still put you in that pickle jar...

Usually not, but you speak the truth. Although, I could undo two or three (or more) times, if necessary.


Everything else in your post was just a copy & paste job with a [expletive deleted] face at the end of it.

What, exactly, is your purpose? Because I feel like you're just baiting me, but I'm hoping this is an incorrect assumption.


@ Mr. Griswold

Settle down, Clark.

I mean, you're saying what I'm saying, but it's July. Calm down. You're still planning on putting in a pool at this point.


I will NOT settle down.

"I distinctly ordered the Antarctic Blue Super Sports Wagon with the C.B. and optional rally fun pack..." and I come to play a good, quality text adventure and I get enrolled in a jelly of the month club XanMag's game. Give me another option.


This is the way the story ends.
This is the way the story ends.
This is the way the story ends.
Not with cruelty, but with options.

http://textadventures.co.uk/forum/samples/topic/6a0pqmlqwesuisig4hanww/ending-the-story-quest-5-8-0-beta


I disagree that all text adventures need an undo option. Most modern games don't have undo options. You don't play a shooter and expect to have an undo option. Most text adventures have an undo option because it's too hard and/or have puzzle elements, kind of saying "sorry we made the gane too hard, here's an undo button."

The other problem is that you can use undo unlimited in Quest, at the moment. I am sure there are ways to implement limits, but it takes away all the difficulty. I am sure there are alternatives to using undo all the time.

Edit: Oh, and I am sorry about mentioning XanMag. I just got confused what you were talking about exactly, and I forgot why you disliked his games in the first place, especially since I only played one of his games, and that was a long time ago. Sorry to XanMag too.


Give me another option.

Those Warrior Cats games seem to be popular...

If you don't like XanMag's games, you will most assuredly enjoy those.


Those Warrior Cats games seem to be popular...
If you don't like XanMag's games, you will most assuredly enjoy those.

OUCH!! Hit me where it hurts, RH - right in my fuzzy little biscuits (or whatever Warrior Cats have)

UNDO

Undid.


I disagree that all text adventures need an undo option. Most modern games don't have undo options.

I didn't say all of them need it.

...and a text adventure is far from a modern game.

You don't play a shooter and expect to have an undo option.

I'm not playing a shooter. I'm playing a text adventure.

Most text adventures have an undo option because it's too hard and/or puzzle elements, kind of saying "sorry we made the gane too hard, here's an undo button."

Mmm... That's close to what I'm saying, I guess. I mean... sort of.

Sometimes I die because a puzzle is harder than I think it's going to be, or I might not even realize that life is on the line. Other times, there are numerous ways to kill the PC in a text adventure, each of which are entertaining. It makes no sense to me to include this in a game if there is no immediate undo option, though.

Most players are not going to say, "I heard I can kill the PC 20 different ways in this game?!? Let's try one!
"Ha ha ha! That was funny for one second. Now, let me start over from my last save and do another one!"

Yeah... No. Even if we were to save directly before entering the kamikaze command, we'd still have to wait for Quest to reload the game, then probably wait for all the text to print until we got back to where we were before we decided to have a little extra fun. That defeats the whole purpose for me. It's a lot of extra work with little payoff.


The other problem is that you can use undo unlimited in Quest, at the moment. I am sure there are ways to implement limits, but it takes away all the difficulty.

You can use unlimited undo commands in pretty much every text adventure with an undo command.

...and it takes away no difficulty whatsoever. It just saves the player from having to do a lot of unnecessary typing.

Once the story has ended in failure, the player (hopefully) knows what to do in that exact moment. Lesson learned. Why would you want us to have to do a lot of typing when we could just undo the turn?

You want us to enjoy your game; right? Are you making a penny ever time we enter a command we've previously entered? Do you get a dime each time we load a saved game? A dollar each time we start a new game?

No... I'm pretty sure you're making the game to entertain us.


I am sure there are alternatives to using undo all the time.

I don't know what this means.


Either way, not letting us undo is just mean, spiteful, and controlling.


I forgot why you disliked his games in the first place

I don't dislike any of his games. (Even Furby McQuack is somewhat enjoyable.)

I don't know about his beliefs concerning steaks and bears, but besides that and killing me with a timeout in one of his early games, I have no gripes about his stuff. (It's not fair to kill parser players with timeouts. I went to the mens' room after taking a turn, which I thought had landed me in a safe location, and I was D-E-A-D when I came back to the computer. Mumble, grumble, curse.)


What'chu talkin' 'bout, XanMag?

Let's examine what I really said one more time:

If you don't like XanMag's games, you will most assuredly enjoy [Warrior Cats games].


Ah, so, I see now. I took that as an insult. As in, XanMag's games are so bad, you can do better with Warrior Cats. That would have been an incredibly witty and funny insult. I laughed when I took it that way. My wife actually said, "What's so funny?"

Forgive me. Imbibing and text interpretation do not go well together.

On a related note... Lost in Translation.

I wish I could UNDO my previous post.

Wait. I can... but I won't. It's not spam. Or is it? Hard to tell at this point.


No way, dude. I'm obsessed with your games. I'm not the kind of weirdo who bashes the things he worships. I pander to the creator.


EDITED

Question:

How many people here enjoy playing text adventures with parsers?


That's a double-edged sword.

I enjoy playing the good ones. The hunt for the good ones is a rotten stink.

Thankfully, it's pretty easy to recognize the stinkers fairly quickly.

I enjoy parser games. Clicking ain't my thing.


Yeah, I phrased that poorly.

How many of us have successfully completed more than ten text adventures with parsers?

(If ten isn't a fair number, let's make it five.)


10+. Check.


The hunt for the good ones is a rotten stink. ... I enjoy parser games. Clicking ain't my thing.

And that's why a game's page should let us know if it's a Gamebook or a Text Adventure, as Text_Quester has pointed out.


So why not program a new Finish into Quest. One with an UNDO built into it that asks if the player would like to Undo?

Anonynn.


So why not program a new Finish into Quest. One with an UNDO built into it that asks if the player would like to Undo?

Some [expletive deleted] [expletive deleted] already did:

http://textadventures.co.uk/forum/samples/topic/6a0pqmlqwesuisig4hanww/ending-the-story-quest-5-8-0-beta


All apologies, everyone (except XanMag).

My nomme de plume is, by nature, a Dick.

I thought he'd died of Bachman's Disease (which is cancer of the pseudonym, for those of you who aren't Constant Readers), but, apparently, RH will have to be dealt with in my upcoming game:

KILL RICHARD HEADKID

An interactive episode by K.V.

COMING SOON!


Long days and pleasant nights to everyone (even XanMag).


You don't play a shooter and expect to have an undo option.

They kind of do. If you die, it takes you to a checkpoint when you were still alive to try again.

So why not program a new Finish into Quest. One with an UNDO built into it that asks if the player would like to Undo?

That is a good idea.


I disagree that all text adventures need an undo option. Most modern games don't have undo options. You don't play a shooter and expect to have an undo option. Most text adventures have an undo option because it's too hard and/or have puzzle elements, kind of saying "sorry we made the gane too hard, here's an undo button."

This. So much this. The right thing to do is making it impossible for the player to get stuck or die. And plenty of adventure games, text-based or graphical, have managed. Including the greatest ever: LucasArts' SCUMM classics. And their forgiving character is a big part of why they're the greatest ever.

As for the games that can't be so forgiving by definition, like RPGs, they compensate in other ways, such as by giving players a variety of ways forward, making it possible to retreat when things are going south, and for that matter hinting when you're about to get in over your head. Not doing so is simply bad game design.

That said, I wrote a number of authoring systems, and where I could easily add an undo command, I did. More options for the player can never hurt. But the idea that it's a required feature... yeah, that's an admission that most interactive fiction is atrocious and will remain so.


So why not program a new Finish into Quest. One with an UNDO built into it that asks if the player would like to Undo?

That is a good idea.

Should I put this (or some variation of it) in a pull request?

http://textadventures.co.uk/forum/samples/topic/6a0pqmlqwesuisig4hanww/ending-the-story-quest-5-8-0-beta


[Everything else in your post was just a copy & paste job with a [expletive deleted] face at the end of it.

What, exactly, is your purpose? Because I feel like you're just baiting me, but I'm hoping this is an incorrect assumption.]

You said something and I thought you made an error so I copy and pasted to show you why I had originally said what I had.

[And that's why a game's page should let us know if it's a Gamebook or a Text Adventure, as Text_Quester has pointed out.]

Thank you, that thread got derailed and nice to see you swerved off your own track. ^_^

I personally do not see a need for an undo. Then again I have never beaten a TA before, although maybe Colossal Cave or what ever version I had played. If I had not beaten it, I had to of been close. Anchorhead was interesting. I just use a lot of saves and reloading myself. Then again I get bored easily and move on to other things anyway... >_<


I figure it could be some options like...

Finish (original)
Finish With Prompt 
(which allows you to check boxes of prompting restarts or undos so you could customize each one a bit)

or just

Finish With Undo

Anonynn.


You said something and I thought you made an error so I copy and pasted to show you why I had originally said what I had.

I think we're just completely misunderstanding each other, which happens sometimes, and it doesn't bother me if it doesn't bother you.


nice to see you swerved off your own track

I don't see how (or where) I got off track. I think my reference to your thread is related in context, and I see no other posts which fail to mention finishing the game. I do have astigmatism, though. Plus, I don't get enough sleep. So, it is definitely possible that I'm overlooking or simply not seeing something.


I personally do not see a need for an undo. Then again I have never beaten a TA before

Ah...

No offense, but I'll value your opinion on this more if you successfully complete 5 Infocom games (or at least 2 Infocom games and 3 "homemade" parsers) and return to post your thoughts afterwards. Not to say that I don't value your opinion right now... I'd just value it more if there was a little experience behind it.

...not that whether I value it or not really matters. I mean who am I, anyway? (ANSWER: Just some guy who enjoys pleasant conversation.)


In closing, on behalf of those of us who actually play your games (and by "you" I mean Quest authors), if you're going to kill us, please, give us an option to undo.

That's all I am really asking for, and do note that I'm not even demanding it.

It is my opinion that this is the way text adventures should behave, and, if you do a little research as to what the rest of the IF community has to say (which is the same thing said notables have been saying since the 1980s), you will find that most players (and authors) feel the same way.

...and, if you're not making your game for the players, who are you making it for?


FinishGame Function(s)

This will show a menu of options to display when ending the story.

http://textadventures.co.uk/forum/samples/topic/6a0pqmlqwesuisig4hanww/ending-the-story-quest-5-8-0-beta

screenshot


I found this thread on limiting undos.
https://textadventures.co.uk/forum/quest/topic/4015/limiting-undo-command

I thought people would like it.


Why, jmne?

That goes completely against the message I'm attempting to convey in this thread.

Now I'm sad...


Oh, never mind. The OP saw the light in the end:

people would be more willing to try different things if they knew they could undo their action

https://textadventures.co.uk/forum/quest/topic/4015/limiting-undo-command#26902


NOTE:

The code in that post will only allow ONE undo (if it's used as posted). You might as well just disable undo...


All authors,

Why do you create and submit games?

I do it because I want people to have fun while playing my games.

If someone wants to go wild and do crazy things to see the responses (which I have gone through the trouble of writing), and then simply undo to get back on track, I say let 'em undo!

If someone makes a bad move, let them at least have the choice of entering UNDO. Why make someone re-enter n amount of commands just to correct that last command? What sense does that make?


Sooner or later, someone will provide an example of a puzzle which UNDO would make pointless. Well, you know what? That means someone wasn't thinking about the way text adventures work while creating that puzzle.


Leave that UNDO command alone. Have faith in the player. Let them choose whether or not they want to "cheat" to get more enjoyment out of your game.

Be PRO-CHOICE.


You could, also, depending on the puzzle, make a game to prevent “undo” in specific rooms. I did a global undo in Into the Dragon’s Den but, in retrospect, I probably could have easily limited it to just a few rooms.

My reasoning for disabling Undo in that game was:

  1. I felt it was short enough (maybe not)
  2. And when you made mistakes it deducted from your health and the health was kind of like an inverse score (not sure if that makes sense now though).

:)


You could, also, depending on the puzzle, make a game to prevent “undo” in specific rooms.

> undo
You can't undo in the Hall of Hoozitwuz!


This wouldn't be so bad, as long as the game warned the player before entering the location. Something like:

>n
NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR:
You may want to save before going there! Certain commands (such as "save" and "undo") will not work in that location!!!

(You can't say I didn't warn you.)


My reasoning for disabling Undo in that game was...

1. I've played The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy so many times, I know exactly what to do. So I can beat it in less than 20 minutes. (Feels short.) But how long does it take someone who would actually benefit from the undo command to get through that game? It seems like a big game when you play it the first time. If I didn't have UNDO, I'd still be stuck trying to get that blasted Babel fish!!!

2. I thought that mistake-health-score thing made sense in Dragon's Den. I was like, "oh... that makes sense. Now let's undo! Ha-ha!" One second later... "what?!? No undo for me?!? I do see! (Mumble, grumble, curse.)" But it wasn't a big game, so I made it through without getting too annoyed to enjoy it.

3. I really, really like that game. I only mentioned it because you brought it up earlier.

4. Not being able to use undo didn't ruin Dragon's Den for me at all, but I've been playing text adventures for 30 years, so I'm not the average, steak-eating bear.


Also note that I can mod a downloaded game and fix the UNDO command in less time than it takes to create a forum post.

Whenever I post stuff like this, I'm thinking about the average player's experience and the game's ratings, not myself.


Alright, this has been bothing me! Just to be clear, you're not asking me in particular to use undo, right?

I'm so paranoid. Please don't scold me.

By the way, steak eating bear would refer to a steak eating gay hairy man. Not sure if you realized......


I think that for a puzzle, blocking undo might make sense. You want the player to be able to go back if they make a mistake, but it could spoil the challenge if they're trying every option before deciding whenever there's a choice.
But I'd think that in that case, I'd want to make it a transactional undo rather than blocking it outright. So instead of being able to go back one move and try the next option, "undo" takes you back to the start of the puzzle.

Maybe even something as … off the top of my head … a puzzle-room with an enter script that clones the room and puzzle. The room also contains a custom undo command that destroys the cloned room, creates a new clone, and puts you in that one.
(It could be quite complex making sure the player doesn't try to take anything with them, checking the inventory for items that should have been restored. Unless, of course, you clone the room including the player, and then switch POV onto the clone for the duration of the puzzle. Could even have disposable players; destroy the original when the puzzle is succesfully completed)


Just to be clear, you're not asking me in particular to use undo, right?

I'm not singling anyone out. Hence the plural form: "Quest authors".


I'm so paranoid.

That's perfectly normal. Everyone in the universe is paranoid.


Please don't scold me.

You get the hell off of my obstacle course, Private Pyle!!!

(This is a joke you won't get if you haven't seen Full Metal Jacket. I repeat: this is only a joke.)


steak eating bear would refer to a steak eating gay hairy man.

(laughing) Not when I say it. I'm talking about a fictional bear that eats steak.

...and, technically, that could refer to a big, fat, hairy, steak-eating, gay dude, but that's not usually the case when a heterosexual man is speaking. (We don't refer to those guys with the same terms of endearment they've chosen to use for each other. We just call them "big, fat, hairy, steak-eating, gay dudes".)


I think that for a puzzle, blocking undo might make sense. You want the player to be able to go back if they make a mistake, but it could spoil the challenge if they're trying every option before deciding whenever there's a choice.
But I'd think that in that case, I'd want to make it a transactional undo rather than blocking it outright. So instead of being able to go back one move and try the next option, "undo" takes you back to the start of the puzzle.

This sounds like an excellent way to handle it.


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