Object verbs and Display Lists Thoughts

XanMag

Here is an old question that has been visited before, but I'd like to bring up again.

How do we feel about the object pane and display verbs associated with them?

A typical room in my game may have a few things listed in the object pane with NO associated verbs attached. I leave the pane here to draw attention to the painfully obvious things, but any subtle thing in the description of rooms or objects I do not add to the pane. Crucial things may NOT be visible in the pane. Crucial verbs are never listed (no verb is ever listed actually). I do my best to give the player clues and cues to what should or could be done with objects in game. I really, really try to remove the annoyance of 'guess the right action/verb' (and take pride in doing so) from my games. In doing so, I think it also makes my writing a little more clever. A little more 'attended to'. I just feel like the display verbs take a lot of cleverness and thought away from writing. Whenever I play a game with these options, I tend not to read or not read as carefully as I should what the author was writing and my experience turns into a clickfest. Kind of takes away from the game in my opinion. Needless to say, but I also do not have hyperlinked words anywhere in my games.

I like the idea of unfolding an object, possibly multiple times, in order to discover some important clue or item.

Just curious on your thoughts.


crystalwizard

like the idea of unfolding an object, possibly multiple times, in order to discover some important clue or item.

as a player, when I hit that sort of stuff, i delete the game. it frustrates me and I don't play games to be frustrated.


XanMag

Room description:
The north wall is made of bricks and upon each brick a single word has been etched. There is also a large book lying here. On the southern wall is a large, locked door.

So, something like:
'x book' --> the book is titled "Dream Interpretations" and inside the front cover is a table of contents
'read table of contents' --> pg1 blah blah blah, pg 2 blah blah blah, pg 3 blah blah blah, pg 4 being trapped or isolated, pg 5 blah, pg 6 blah, etc...
'read page 4' --> the meaning of a dream like this is that the dreamer feels trapped and may need to push themselves to move beyond the feeling of being trapped or isolated.

read bricks --> there are many bricks on the wall and you quickly read them all. You see: ourselves, myself, self, dog, warden, wall, themselves, pillows, dolphin, heart, etc.

push brick (or push themselves)--> which brick would you like to push?
themselves --> The brick recedes into the wall. In the place of a brick you find a key to the locked door.

This is the kind of thing to which I am referring. Without x book, read book, and read page 4 specifically, the player would not be able to solve the puzzle. With hyperlinks or display verbs, this puzzle becomes WAY too easy, right? Just wanted to clarify.


hegemonkhan

I think if it's a puzzle, then it's probably not going to annoy anyone (unless it's too deep of object nesting/layer-discovery, as that can probably annoy even the biggest lover of puzzles), but if it's not a puzzle... then anything more than a few layers will probably annoy people (think about using folders on your computer... do you like to have to open 50 folders? 1-3 folders is alright, but more than that and you get annoyed --- you create a shortcut to the desired folder instead of opening up 50 folders to get to it, lol).


a good example would be a(n item) storage system, you need the nested/layered system to handle the storage of items, but the person playing the game doesn't want to be opening up 50 layers of storage objects to get to the stored item, 1-3 wouldn't be too bad, but not 50! In such a case, you'd need to also create an automation for your storage system as a part of your storage system, which finds/gets the desired item for the person playing the game (or putting/storing the item into the proper storage object), so they don't have to open up 50 layers of storage objects.


XanMag

I definitely do not have many, many layers that you have to sift through as I agree that would be annoying. But, using something in a unique way should not be given away by display verbs, right? As long as reasonable clues are in the descriptions...

Example from X2:

In one room, a hallway, you have this "The hallway is about five feet across - just large enough to maybe drive a small car through here."

An axle, found in a garage later in the game has this description "This is an axle to some vehicle that is about the size of a car. The axle is about five feet in length. It appears like it has recently been repaired."

There is a sign on the door that reads: "The sign is right in the middle of the laboratory door. In big bold letters, the sign reads: "DO NOT BLOCK THIS DOOR UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES!

You must block; barricade; wedge the axle between the door and the wall (essentially).

The root of my dilemma is this: with display verbs active, this becomes WAY too easy. Click on door. See block, wedge, or barricade. Hmmm... I need to find something to barricade the door with in order to solve. Too easy, right? Even having them there makes me want to just click and click and click and click instead of reading and solving. Maybe it's low impulse-control?! lol

I know there are ways to add and remove display verbs but that raises other problems in itself. What percentage of gamers prefer display cues vs none at all?


crystalwizard

I personally do not like games where I have to guess what verb the programmer decided to use. If you're going to use something unique, then at least give clues and hints. In your description above, I see nothing that makes me think i can use the axle to do something to the door. I'm not sure I'd want the verbs displayed in the pane, but I want something, some where in the room, that turns the light on and makes me think hrm, maybe I can roll the axle over to the door and block it with it.


hegemonkhan

for puzzles, you can always create/code-in a hint/help/cheat/answer-solution system too for your game

for example, a 'hint' Command that they can input which will give them 3 (consecutively less vague) clues (each time they use the 'hint' Command) for whatever room they're in (and of course also let them know if there's no puzzles, or if all the puzzles have already been completed, for the room they're in), and then after that (using the 'hint' Command a 4th time), it gives them the answer/solution/guide/walkthrough on how to solve the puzzle.


for any possible 'guess the verb' issues, you can also always code in a hint/help/cheat/answer-solution system too for your game, which will give them the verbs for whatever the room you are in and etc if they're stuck... you get the idea... hopefully....


XanMag

@crystalwizard,

My goal is to try to write games that are challenging but not frustrating. As a comparison, I found the Zork games challenging but not frustrating. In no way am I saying my games parallel Zork - just a difficulty comparison. For the axle example, I think I just left it as use axle on door but added a command that would accept use axle to block door; barricade door with axle; etc.

I would love it if you could give my game(s) a sample and give some honest feedback. You are the type of audience I keep in mind when writing games - those that want a challenge but don't want to get frustrated. They are both quite long so if you don't have time, maybe try Into the Dragon's Den which is shorter and lighter but still with similar type puzzles? In X2, there is a built-in (and quite clever) hint system to help avoid obstacles/annoyances. X1 was a fly by the seat of my pants first game experience so...

but, I think it still turned out okay. =)

Happy gaming!


DarkLizerd

push brick (or push themselves)--> which brick would you like to push?
themselves --> The brick recedes into the wall. In the place of a brick you find a key to the locked door.
This is the kind of thing to which I am referring. Without x book, read book, and read page 4 specifically, the player would not be able to solve the puzzle. With hyperlinks or display verbs, this puzzle becomes WAY too easy, right? Just wanted to clarify.

I could see where "push" being a visible verb could be a problem.
But, could you have a default response to "push a brick" being "I don't see how that would help."
But, after you read the book. you can "push a brick" and the program respond with "which one?" ???
Just a thought...


crystalwizard

I would love it if you could give my game(s) a sample and give some honest feedback.

be happy to. give me a direct link please.


XanMag

http://textadventures.co.uk/user/view/emxhs1hs8uaib5hfblmp4a/xanmag

Furby McQuack - a tutorial that turned into a game of its own. One room. Events triggered by interacting with a simple environment. Different.
Quest Tutorials and Templates - a compilation of common troubles I've seen on the forum over the years. Meant to help me solve problems as I experience them but also, hopefully, a help to others who download/"play" the game. Needs an overhaul with user friendliness.
Into the Dragon's Den - a fun little puzzle game that I wrote in rhyme. I had fun with this one.
Xanadu 1 - My first real lengthy adventure. A total hack job with code but the result is a pretty clever game. Might be a bit frustrating because the puzzles are pretty tricky with no REAL in-game help if you get stuck.
Xanadu 2 - a colossal adventure with diabolical puzzles and a pretty interesting layout. Meant to be difficult. Has a built-in hint system to help eliminate frustrations. At least get out of the prison cell before getting frustrated. It is supposed to be linear and confusing at the start as you are trying to get out of "limbo". Solid 10-11 months of developing.


Anonynn

IMO, the only time you should hide verbs is if it's something that you hint toward but don't state directly; for example, a little easter egg, prize or something like that. That way if the player stumbles across it or figures out the clues, they feel kind of satisfied and want more of it. But if you are making people "guess the verb" just to make a puzzle harder, than you might just need to redesign the puzzle :) Just a thought!

Anonynn.


XanMag

But, hopefully, my games are NOT guess the verb. I'm aiming for 'get the context clues' and make a logical decision based on clues rather than click on noun, get free clue. If that makes sense...?


crystalwizard

Okay, got a text file set up and I'll go through each one, recording my thoughts as I play. I really need to be able to get this to you privately if possible. I really do not want to post it publicly.


XanMag

[email protected]


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