Is there a reason that Basilica de Sangre has been classified as incomplete?

The game is finished, I just double checked it now so I'm not sure why it's been classified as incomplete.

http://textadventures.co.uk/games/view/42wu0r-jheg1gro7aa8xgg/basilica-de-sangre


It looks fine to me.

Check room descriptions, objects, and so on. They also like object "look" descriptions. You can publish the game again.


I'm not completely sure how the categorize but a here's a tip:
If you mention something, most players would want to be able to interact with it. At least be able to look at it to get a more in depth description.

You are on a shoreline.
You can go west, south or east.

You're on a sandy shore, the dunes broken here and there by scrubby vegetation and jagged rocks. A beaten path leads east to the dock and west to the imposing black basalt formation of the Basilica de Sangre. It forks off to the south, leading to a small overgrown cemetary.

> look dunes
I can't see that.

> look vegetation
I can't see that.

> look rocks
I can't see that.

> look path
I can't see that.

Maybe this doesn't have anything to do with the listing of the game but either way It's something to think about. :)


I would be surprised if that led to it getting it categorised as incomplete, given how common it is (but I too do not know how they do it).


J_J

This game is complete and is currently part of ifcomp. It should be catagorized.


This looks like a mistake. Hopefully it can be sorted out quickly.


You should edit it just in case. Then you should publish it again.

If you are using the web version of Quest, go to edit the listing, click where it says "Who can access this game?" and select everybody, then select genre. If you are using the desktop version , I believe it's the same thing, just that it's on a different tab, the tab should be published games.

Then again, I may be corrected.


Thanks for the tips! I'll try reuploading and see if that helps.


Looks like that worked! Thanks to everyone for your help! :D


I did not originally place the game but I re-placed it in recommended category.


I did a spree of them last weekend so it might have been me. I’m quite brutal unless I think someone has made an effort. I often sandpit stuff for missing descriptions (they will annoy comp judges too btw) but would state that if that was a reason. I remember playing one game (which might have been yours, maybe not) where I was put in an unwinnable position and basically couldn’t progress. I would put incomplete there as it means the author assumes it’s complete but it clearly hasn’t been tested. Another one had a coding error - but again that can be stipulated as the reason for the sandpitting.

Anyway, you followed the process of querying it and it’s been placed in your suggested category. We can make mistakes and so the process works if we get it wrong.


I think In future I may leave a note on a game as to precisely why if it looks like a lot of work has gone into it to make it easier for others to see if I was mistaken or not.


@Silver,

“(which might have been yours, maybe not)”
The OP, right? Not mine?

Also, I used to be brutal and I sandpitted a crap ton of games too. If I sandpitted all those that (in my opinion) should be in the sandpit, 90% of all the new games would be there and half the 4*+ games would be there too. We are wading in muck! Lol


From this discussion, I'm not clear about the approval process for games? I would have assumed that each game is played for as long as it takes to check that it meets some minimum standard in terms of content and implementation. It would then be given one or more category labels. So, for authors who had a track record of games production the process might take very little time but more effort would be needed for new authors or games that seem to have significant problems.

Is that what happens? Also, does the discussion mean that the identity of the person doing the approving is not stored anywhere?


Yes XanMag it was in response to the op.

Davy - there’s no official guidelines on this so it’s up to whoever deals with it. The vast majority of stuff is complete garbage and it usually takes a moment or so to establish that’s the case. There can be tens of games waiting to be approved at any given time so you can’t really give them all a thorough play through. Often games are over in seconds so they get binned for zero effort. Missing descriptions usually leads to the bin also. These are text games so those descriptions are needed to visualise the game world. Plus it’s just laziness to omit doing it. Then every so often you stumble upon one that has promise. I give those a bit longer and usually they don’t get binned.

We’ve got competing interests that we try to balance really. You don’t want to upset authors who may have put a considerable amount of time into something by quickly dismissing it as terrible. But equally there’s visitors to the site to think about who might play one game which turns out to be unfinished garbage and so they don’t bother with the rest of them. Quest has got a terrible name out there for bad games in the IF world unfortunately.


Missing descriptions usually leads to the bin also.

I think this is an issue that needs to be discussed. My main contribution to this site has been the re-implementation of two games that were popular in the UK in the 1980s. Text adventures at that time generally didn't support interaction with items other that those that were explicitly named. Even 10 years ago, Quest 4 was distributed with nine sample games, all of this type, where the background was exactly that. We now seem to be in a position where a description of all mentioned objects is expected and the author considered 'lazy' if these descriptions are not provided. That takes quite a bit of extra effort, as I found when I added that detail to my 1980 games. Quest could help support that effort as I discussed recently in connection with Cloak of Darkness (type 'about' in: http://textadventures.co.uk/games/view/cxbbr4mqakkylkr80ypjhg/cloak-of-darkness-another-version).

I think there are positive aspects of the Quest site to promote. It gives everyone a chance to try their hand at creating games, and this does result in some good material. Of course, there are games that are weak, but there is also weakness in aspects of the process that perhaps should also be addressed. Why don't we provide a clear section on guidance for authors and reviewers, for example?


There was a HUGE thread on reviewing (not moderating) games a few years back started by people irked that terrible games would get five starred from an Author’s friends pushing their own games further down the list (which had also clearly been five starred by their own friends...) and it proved inconclusive. I’d be up for debating that again and/or moderating.

Like I said, I usually let games go through if they’ve had some effort put into them. I overlook missing descriptions on otherwise brilliant games but more often than not it’s the first sign of a game having been rushed and when I plough on I usually end up correct in my speculation. Honestly, some terrible games make it into categories simply because they’re slightly better than the usual garbage.

That said, I don’t see what’s terrible about a game being sandpitted. It’s still published and can be shared with friends or advertised on social media. Furthermore people can appeal the decision and have it reversed, as happened in the op.


Btw - by missing descriptions I don’t mean

You are in a room with a carpet and a clock. You can go north.

X clock
nothing out of the ordinary

I mean

You are in a room with a carpet and a clock. You can go north.

x clock
I can’t see that


Ok, I’ve had time to investigate this further. It was me who sandpitted it but not for missing descriptions. I explored an area, tried an action and then.... nothing. I was literally stuck in a state of not being able to do anything (which I interpreted as a coding fault).

This issue is also being reported by others in the Comp chat on the Intfiction forum. So this needs escalating to the tech boffins as if it isn’t an error with the coding, then it’s an error with the software/server.

https://intfiction.org/forum/viewtopic.php?f=61&t=26689


Yes, Silver, I understand what you mean by missing descriptions, but hopefully you also understand that there was a time when this was the usual way to create games. Circumstances have certainly changed and many prefer to have full coverage but perhaps there is a way for both to coexist? Certainly it would be unreasonable to go back to games such as those by CJ592 and put them in the sandpit.

Perhaps we should allow developers to create games in a 'classic' style (or whatever term you want to use) where everyone knows what to expect. The developer can then put this label on their game and it can then be moderated and reviewed accordingly. If they leave off the label then of course they would have to be judged in modern terms. This all needs to be written down, of course, with the moderators agreeing the detail. Hopefully there is some way for you guys to talk to each other. Some software adjustment may also be desirable. For example, it would be nice to have an 'appeal' button for sandpit games...where a different moderator could pick up the game and look at it again.

(I'll come back to the reviewing problem when moderating has been covered.)


Davy, I also played these games back in the 1980s (although not extensively) and I don’t recall objects described in room descriptions not being able to be seen. It would be like having missing graphics from a graphic adventure! The only way we can see these worlds is through words.
That aside, if a game has been put together well I usually ignore that omission.
But it isn’t difficult to create scenery objects for every noun mentioned even if it just says ‘nothing out of the ordinary’ which is the Quest default.


Could you point to any examples of these ‘classics’ where the author couldn’t be bothered to include examinable objects that are mentioned in room descriptions?


I agree with pretty much everything Silver has said in this thread.

...and, yes: I'm one of the people who says it's lazy when authors mention objects without creating them (and when we create objects without providing descriptions).

I stand by this. We have to put forth extra effort to fill in (or create) all the small details.

...and what do we call people who refuse to put forth extra effort?

As today's creators of interactive worlds, choosing to not create and describe something we've mentioned in our prose is being lazy.

Older games had to be small enough fit on floppy disks, so it was necessary to leave out any unnecessary objects (or descriptions). We no longer have that excuse, unless we are authoring games exclusively for players using the Frotz interpreter (or an equivalent thereof).


As far as forking older games goes, perhaps a simple caption would suffice. Something like, "This is a remake of a classic text adventure. Most of the items you can interact with are important to the story, but not all items mentioned in descriptions will be accessible in the game world. This is due to the file size restrictions the original author(s) had to work with."


Concerning the Sandpit:

Is it not a place where games are played and reviewed, just like all the other games -- except the games are not expected to be professional quality?

Is it not a playpen of sorts? A playpen which was created to protect our authors-in-training from the vile, online trolls who love nothing more than to crush an aspiring author's dreams?


Bonus Question:

Is instilling a false sense of pride ethical in an online world?


IMPORTANT NOTE:

My comments are not directed towards any specific authors (or games). I'm just speaking generally.


Could you point to any examples of these ‘classics’ where the author couldn’t be bothered to include examinable objects that are mentioned in room descriptions?

This is how Zork I on the Quest site opens:

West of House
This is an open field west of a white house, with a boarded front door.
There is a small mailbox here.
A rubber mat saying 'Welcome to Zork!' lies by the door.

>x field
You can't see any such thing.

Ok, you’ve got me. But I agree with KV’s point here - aren’t we supposed to be attempting to raise the bar here rather than simply being lazy on the basis that it used to be done that way because of file size issues?

Zork was before my time (1977 - I was aged four then and it was a couple more years before we got to borrow a Commodore PET from my father’s work place). The ones I played like Hampstead or Terrormolinis on the Spectrum in the early 80s even managed primitive graphics. I think it’s a cop out to set the standard from something that is just over forty year old (unless you’re re-building that actual thing).


Here’s a short piece on Hampstead. Truly of the 80s. I actually had Quill at one point also.

https://www.retrogamer.net/retro_games80/hampstead/


That version of Zork I is made for the Frotz interpreter (or an equivalent thereof).

It was made with an old version of Inform, and Inform compiled to Z-code, which has a very small file size limit. (Z-code is pretty much what Infocom (the Zork people) used.)

The biggest story file you can have with a Z-code game is 512K (if I remember correctly). So, you can't add unnecessary objects (or text).

http://inform7.com/learn/man/WI_2_14.html


FOR YOUR ENTERTAINMENT:

Try to save an online play-through of Zork I on this site and see what happens when you try to RESTORE your save after you've closed your browser. (Hint: Nothing happens. The save file is lost once you've closed your browser. You have to know that it won't work ahead of time; save the URL after saving your game; then load that URL in your browser to actually load your save point.)

This is because of the Parchment interpreter, which is what allows us to play Z-machine games in our browser. It was created before HTML local storage, so it doesn't quite work as well as the new file format used by Inform 7, which is Glulx. The glulx games are played in-browser with the Quixe interpreter, which does handle HTML local storage. Hence, the glulx games will save correctly when played in your browser.


Silver & KV, my view is that creating games where only items that appear in game panes (or equivalent) can be examined is a valid style that I'm calling 'classic' for convenience (could also be 'shallow' or 'sparse', if you prefer?). That would mean that it should be no problem to a moderator, as long as it is implemented consistently (if some scenery objects can be examined then all should be)...and then left up to players and reviewers to decide if that reduces the gameplay experience.

Also, I think it is a big deal to put a game forward for classification and have it effectively 'rejected' by putting it into the sandpit. After all, the developer can do that themselves, so the moderator is saying the game has been looked at and considered 'substandard'. Again my personal view here is that the text adventure site would be better seen as a friendly place where encouragement and help are offered to budding game developers/players when needed. That would mean that rejected games are much harder work for a moderator as they need to be played through to a greater extent (to see if there are any good points to mention) and a detailed explanation of rejection provided, with suitable suggestions for improvement.

...and yes, I was much older than 4 in 1977!


Moderating started because of the volume of complaints about how bad a lot of the games were. Originally only Alex did this, but then it got too much so he asked for others to get involved.

And you don’t have to waste your time searching for that discussion as I’ve done the leg work for you:

http://textadventures.co.uk/forum/site/topic/4546/looking-for-moderators

I’m honestly not sure what you’re arguing here. People get annoyed by substandard games so Alex created the sandpit for them. You appear to be saying this is wrong and that annoying visitors to the site is preferential to making sure zero effort games are kept in the sandpit.


Btw - if you want to make games where no object can be examined you can edit the examine command to reflect that. Having it say ‘I can’t see that’ to objects that are evidently there is just laziness.


I’m honestly not sure what you’re arguing here. People get annoyed by substandard games so Alex created the sandpit for them. You appear to be saying this is wrong and that annoying visitors to the site is preferential to making sure zero effort games are kept in the sandpit.

Let me clarify. First, I think moderation is essential. There may be games that are completely unsuitable. I also agree with the guidance provided by Alex on the moderation criteria (thanks for the link!):

It's really just a matter of seeing whether any real effort at all has been put into the game.

If so, it belongs in a category - probably the same category that the author suggests, although sometimes they suggest the wrong category (for example "Literature" is supposed to be for works that are based on an existing book, but sometimes authors choose that category incorrectly, presumably because they think their game has words in and therefore is literature).

Games belong in the Sandpit if they are:

- mostly incomplete
- test games
- a small school project of interest only to their teacher
- a small game clearly only for the author's own small circle friends
- full of typos and grammatical errors
- clearly the result of only a few minutes work
- just generally not worthy of being on the site
- etc...

I'm not sure what "etc." means and so would probably be better left out! Also, I'd replace "clearly the result of only a few minutes work" with "insufficient content"...but apart from that this is promoting the minimum standard idea that I was going on about. Indeed it appears more generous. In the discussion there is the particular case of Frankenstein mentioned. I presume it is this version:
http://play2.textadventures.co.uk/Play.aspx?id=ifsz8md0m0knnxpozpvjyw

The 'game' can be completed with three clicks and could reasonably be excluded on the basis of insufficient content but was let through.


Btw - if you want to make games where no object can be examined you can edit the examine command to reflect that. Having it say ‘I can’t see that’ to objects that are evidently there is just laziness.

Sorry, I don't understand this point? Can you spell it out for me? Here is a simple example to illustrate the discussion: an almost empty room, with no exits, and a single box inside it.

You are in an almost empty room.
You can see a box.

> x room
I can't see that.

> x box
A square box, made of wood, with no apparent opening.

Ok - I think I misunderstood what you were saying here:

Silver & KV, my view is that creating games where only items that appear in game panes (or equivalent) can be examined is a valid style that I'm calling 'classic' for convenience (could also be 'shallow' or 'sparse', if you prefer?). That would mean that it should be no problem to a moderator, as long as it is implemented consistently (if some scenery objects can be examined then all should be)...and then left up to players and reviewers to decide if that reduces the gameplay experience.

What is meant by ‘items that appear in game panes (or equivalent)’?
If you mean inventory then how does the protagonist pick objects up if he cannot examine them? Or do you mean only provide descriptions for objects that can be picked up and/or interacted with (basically omitting to include descriptions for scenery nouns)?


Or do you mean only provide descriptions for objects that can be picked up and/or interacted with (basically omitting to include descriptions for scenery nouns)?

Yes, that's what I mean. There were old games that didn't allow any examination and some argued that that was okay but I think the examination of non-scenery objects is now a basic requirement...and I consider "Nothing out of the ordinary" as lazy!


As I said earlier, I won’t sandpit a well put together game that omits some descriptions (even though one of the reasons for sandpitting created by Alex was about lack of descriptions), I just personally think it’s a bit lazy and we should encourage people to polish a bit more.
I don’t understand why someone would deliberately miss descriptions, unless their strategy is to produce lots of games quickly (this happens) which ultimately leads to poorer content on the site.


I'm sure DavyB says he's okay with sandpitting games, it's just sandpitting games that have no look description, and have put effort in other places, that he's annoyed at. He may be annoyed that that one game he linked to was sandpitted as well. His new version of the game is published as a work in progress, though.

I think "nothing out of the ordinary" is better than "I can't see that," just in the context of the game. To people who play Quest, they should not know that "nothing out of the ordinary" is the default description, and probably think "I can't see that" is lazy, similar to Zork. "Nothing out of the ordinary" gives a general basic description, it's normal. "I can't see that" just tells the player someone forgot to add a description here, unless the room is literally so dark you can't see.


Well it’d be nice to be presented with examples of this happening, rather than some vague accusation based on something hypothetical.


What? I just stated my opinion. That's almost exactly what happened to me the first time I played Zork, and when I first came to this website.


Two cents that are worth one cent (or less):

If a game doesn’t prove itself worthy^ in 7-8 minutes of playtime, I sandpit that turd. 99% of the games submitted are either total garbage* or obviously well-done•. This of course is my opinion and I think my opinion is relatively universal.

^fun, planned, good grammar, reasonable length to completion (ten minute minimum), enjoyable (thought provoking, funny, fun)

awful grammar (the absolute killer for me), random death without reasonable warnings, limited choices, missing descriptions of what should be described, inventory issues (get knife = you can’t take it (why the fck not?!? Now I’m pissed!! There’s a knife on the counter! I want it!!)). At least give me the common courtesy of saying something like “Sounds like a good idea but you really won’t need it. Besides you’d probably end up cutting a finger off.” Whatever.

•you’ve got my attention. Grammar is at least not cringeworthy. Effort has been put into object description and inventory ‘efforts’. I guess I should have just referenced my ‘worthy’ comment.

Last note. No one has ever complained to me or on the forum about the gazillion games I’ve pitted. So, in 99.9999% of the games that I’ve found crappy, all of the authors expected it. Or at least didn’t care enough to complain about it. Either way... it’s sandpit worthy.

On a slightly related note... I still stand by my offer... I’d love to be able to edit reviews in extreme cases. I’m still a bit salty about a recent “Good Night” review. 😬

And pardon my italics application. I’m too lazy to go back and alter it.


What? I just stated my opinion. That's almost exactly what happened to me the first time I played Zork, and when I first came to this website.

I meant examples of great games being sandpitted because of lack of descriptions. If Davy has a specific gripe then maybe he can lay the cards on the table instead of me having to defend something that I'm not even sure has happened.


Hey, let's play nicely! I raise issues that I think are fairly obvious, and should be looked at for the health of the site. Please don't call them 'gripes'. :)

As the discussion has gone on, more issues have arisen. This started when a highly respected game author (his games have appeared among the editor's picks) had a competition game put in the sandpit as "incomplete." That's now fixed but it raised the general possibility that other reasonable games, from less well known, and less confident authors, might be in the sandpit. The related issues are:

  1. Are the guidelines for moderators sufficiently clear?
  2. Are all the moderators following these guidelines in the same way?
  3. Why is the identity of a moderator not recorded when they make a decision (to help review a decision and document contributions)?
  4. Is the 'appeal process' adequate?
  5. Why is it so important to allow interaction with background objects? You can't do it in CYOA games? It was a common style in the past and I believe is still an acceptable style today. There are some players who want more depth, so authors are risking a reduced review, and perhaps that means providing clearer guidelines for authors.
  6. Following the departure of Alex, no one seems to be in charge of the moderation process to address these issues. Are moderators aware of each other? Do they communicate to agree their approach? How are new moderators appointed? ...

Sorry, at some point this should probably have been split this off as a separate thread.


This started when a highly respected game author (his games have appeared among the editor's picks) had a competition game put in the sandpit as "incomplete."

This has been explained upthread: when I tested the game it froze. Furthermore, I'm not the only person this has happened to as similar is being reported on IntFiction:

https://intfiction.org/forum/viewtopic.php?f=61&t=26689

So there's quite possibly an issue with either the Quest software or the server if not the game itself. So absolutely no fault of moderating. Despite me outlining this already upthread, you appear to have ignored it and are ploughing on with questioning the moderating process (which is fine, but it's dishonest to keep using the game from the op as your example of bad modding).


Also, when testing games, there isn't a klaxon that goes off when the game is by a 'respected author' or anything to indicate it's a competition entry. There's just a pile of games that moderators spend a few minutes playing to ascertain whether they're complete garbage or not. On this occasion a possible mistake was made because the game froze during that testing period. Are there issues with games freezing generally on Quest? I haven't been about for a few months so wasn't aware of anything and none of the other games I tested froze. But that could possibly be the reason in which case your interrogations are best directed at those who maintain the site/software rather than at me.

Final point, but this time at the op: I thought historically that games were meant to remain unlisted until the end of IFComp. Perhaps this has changed or I'm misremembering.


Silver said:
Are there issues with games freezing generally on Quest?

Definitely. When playing online, you might as well expect every game you play to freeze. (Server issues.)

I believe this became an issue just after I found this site, which I believe was just after you stopped frequenting the site for a while. (I have learned quite a bit from your old posts, by the way. Thank you for all that info!)

Oh... and there is also a timeout when playing online. If you walk away from the game for more than a couple of minutes, it's usually stuck when you get back.


Silver said:
I thought historically that games were meant to remain unlisted until the end of IFComp.

I wanted to second this, but decided to research it first and...

From https://ifcomp.org/rules/

All entries must be previously unreleased at the opening of judging. By "unreleased", we generally mean that a qualifying entry has never been widely distributed, sold, or made available for public play or download prior to the competition.


DavyB said:
Why is it so important to allow interaction with background objects?

First off, this is not an attack. It is merely my view concerning scenery objects and descriptions in modern text adventures, which seems to be shared by the majority of the people who review games on IFDB and other prominent IF websites.

I see it like this: if something is important enough for an author to mention in a description, it is worth spending time to create an object, even if the object is scenery. It adds depth to the imaginary world. We are building imaginary worlds when we create text adventures.

Imagine I asked you to close your eyes and pretend you are in a room with a small window, through which a single ray of light trickles. You can see a brochure here, and there is an exit to the north.

Would you picture the window and the ray of light in your mind's eye?

If you were to ask me about that ray of light, and I said, "I can't see that," would it not break the illusion?

Alternatively, if my response were, "It's nothing out of the ordinary," the illusion would remain intact.

But, if 80% of the objects in the game are described as "nothing out of the ordinary", that wouldn't be very enjoyable, either.

In the early days, authors had to exclude some scenery objects and descriptions due to file size limitations. So, in the classic text adventures, some objects mentioned in the prose didn't exist in the game world for the same reason no one in the 2000s put HD movies on DVDs -- it simply wouldn't fit.


DavyB said:
You can't do it in CYOA games?

This is like comparing apples to oranges; is it not?


DavyB said:
It was a common style in the past and I believe is still an acceptable style today. There are some players who want more depth, so authors are risking a reduced review, and perhaps that means providing clearer guidelines for authors.

Note that I'm not lobbying for games to be tossed into the Sandpit (to be digested by the sarlacc for a 1,000 years) just because there are a few missing scenery objects or descriptions. I'm just arguing that it is lazy on behalf of an author to exclude any scenery objects or descriptions when creating a new work in this day and age.

But, if the game being discussed is a port of an old game, I would rather everything in the game world to be left unaltered. (If this is the case (and it was ported well), the game should already be of professional quality, which should negate any worries of a moderator condemning it.)


I believe DavyB's overall message is that authors who don't place their game in the Sandpit when publishing should expect bad reviews if there wasn't enough effort put into the game. And, if someone can Sandpit games, he'd like to know exactly (and specifically) what makes a game so bad it is deemed Sandpit-worthy.

I don't believe there are any actual guidelines or specifics. Mods are players (and maybe authors) who volunteer to test out the games to see if they are worthy of a true category or if they belong in the Sandpit as part of an effort to uphold the integrity of the site.

I can't recall who mentioned sending a message to an author when a game is put in the Sandpit, but that sounds like a very good solution to me.



In this post, DavyB's example is:

You are in an almost empty room.
You can see a box.

> x room
I can't see that.

> x box
A square box, made of wood, with no apparent opening.

I've never played a text adventure in which you could examine your current location by entering X ROOM. Also, if the command did work, it would simply print the room description, which exists in this example. Anyway, I don't think any experienced text adventurers would expect X ROOM to work.

We played with that (adding an EXAMINE ROOM feature) back in February. Here's a link to the beginning of that part of the old thread:

http://textadventures.co.uk/forum/quest/topic/9m2lavmzregstombcuxrba/fun-with-doors#1cbf33a6-645b-4577-b9e3-01a342af41c4


XanMag said:
I’m still a bit salty about a recent “Good Night” review. 😬

High road, good sir.



Taking it back to the OP and the game originally referenced in this post, I (admittedly) have not played it (yet), but after reading that thread on intfiction (https://intfiction.org/forum/viewtopic.php?f=61&t=26689), it seems that most players who are using Quest 5.8 on their desktop (as everyone should be*) are experiencing the freezing issue during the last "scene" of the game. If there is an IF...THEN... statement or a SWITCH block, there could be an error somewhere in a bit of code when possessing the final target.

* I am assuming this game was created with Quest 5.8, and previous versions of Quest will not load games made with 5.8. (This was at least 1 person in that thread's issue.)

Everyone else who experienced the freeze-up at random points during play seemed to be playing online, and this is a very common issue with Quest nowadays.

...but (and this is pure conjecture), if it always happens when trying to possess a target (which is a big IF, as I haven't even tested the game out personally), there could be a slight discrepancy in some of the code in whatever script is run to possess objects.


(I have learned quite a bit from your old posts, by the way. Thank you for all that info!)

Cheers... although I was mostly just learning myself. I've just started playing with your audiovidlib - all very good, it works well.


I (admittedly) have not played it (yet)

I decided to focus on the game and see if there are problems that can be sorted out there. Downloading it, it played through to completion without a problem. Playing online (several times) there were errors most of the time but even there I did get through to the end at a quiet time this morning. The problems in some cases looked like an issue with game. In one case it said "you can't have more than one wait in operation at a time"; in another, the map position got out of step with the game and no text appeared as I moved around. When I didn't log in, the game just suddenly stopped. It rather feels as if this is all connected with the general site problem of insufficient time to play games online. I don't know enough about the game engine to explain the problems themselves but perhaps that's irrelevant anyway.

Is there a way to get rid of this online time constraint without spending a lot of money?


I use a more descriptive string when the player types x room. It gives me another opportunity to give clues as to what is worth digging into further. Why make a room that is truly empty? If it is there then put/hide something in it. It could be an item, monster, npc, or even the description of the room gives clues to what lies ahead or information needed later.

I am very annoyed by I can't see that responses.

A game having responses, good grammar and the program working correctly is still a flop if it lacks a plot or action leading to some form of entertainment for the player. Players invest a lot of time into a game as well and the creator should give them something for their time.

If a game creator has spent a week or several months making a game they should realize that other game makers have several years in their game and have yet to publish it trying to work on the little details.

I want a player to fall out of their chair at least once or twice laughing or jumping up in astonishment, yelling, "Zork can kiss my a__!", when they play one of my games. If they want to lick or smell an orc then have at it. If you get mad and want to throw that +7 sword into the lake, go ahead, have fun retrieving it after you cool down.

I don't expect creators to go that far but dang it, put a little effort into it. Sheesh. Think about the player and what he is going through and what they may want to do to advance in the game, they don't have the answers and are looking for them.

Length of game is not important to me. If it entertains then it is what it should be. A player may only experience half of the plot or find half of the items the creator put in the game and still finish it. That is what makes them fun to play again.

Just my cent worth. :)


Hear, hear!


As a general rule, if something can be seen, it should be possible to examine it and get a response. Anything else is just lazy. Using the excuse that things worked like that years ago isn't good enough. Back in the good old days when games were written within very strict size limits - 48kb for the Spectrum or 64k for the Commodore - game writers had to make concessions. They literally couldn't provide descriptions of every item the player saw or they'd never manage to fit the entire game into the size limits.

These days, that's all changed. As far as I know, Quest has no real size constraints so you can provide descriptions for every single item the player sees and you can go into as much detail as you need. There's no requirement to write a page of text describing a door or a table - and nor should you do as it would likely bore players to death - but at the very least you should make an effort to provide them with more than the old YOU SEE NO SUCH THING.


I think there are game size limits for Quest - a generous 20mb (Alex once mentioned) which you’ll only really come up against if you use a lot of audio, images or video in your game.


I think there are game size limits for Quest - a generous 20mb

...and that's only when uploading to this site.

You can make a Quest game as big as you'd like, but this site's maximum upload size is 20mb. So, if you want to host it here, you must keep it smaller than that, but, like Ag says, using multimedia is pretty much the only thing that causes a game to be so large.

If you use a lot of audio, images, or video in the game, you can host these files somewhere different and link to them from the game.

http://docs.textadventures.co.uk/quest/images.html#hosting-images-elsewhere


Also see:
http://docs.textadventures.co.uk/quest/publishing.html

Especially this bit:
http://docs.textadventures.co.uk/quest/publishing.html#size-limitations


J_J

Just to add to this. I genuinely don't think most people want to be able to interact with everything in the description. People have complained a lot about there being too many objects in my game (even though a chunk of objects are scenery).

Looking back, I spent a lot of time on things that are just turning off players. I think it is valid to have a high quality game that is more limited, and it seems to be what a lot of players prefer.


I think it is valid to have a high quality game that is more limited

As a player I'm happy to learn the particular 'style' of each game designer. What is most important, however, is that the style is consistent. If all scenery objects produce the same response "You can't see any such thing." that is fine but if some can be looked at then the game is forcing me to check them all, which is tedious when the same bland (irritating) response is provided. For me, this is poor practice rather than laziness.


J_J

But in a practical sense you are always having to indicate to a player whether an object is important. If 80 percent of your objects are puzzle or plot important and 20 percent are not, players are still having to interact with a ton of objects to figure out which are important.

I could be wrong, but the sense I've been getting is that players find this more obnoxious then just having objects you can't see.


If an item is mentioned in a room description, you should be able to examine it. That's been a hard and fast rule for years. There's nothing more annoying than getting responses of "I can't see that" to everything you try to examine as it gives the impression of an unfinished and unprofessional game. If items are unnecessary and can't be interacted with at all, what's the point in including them at all?


If an item is mentioned in a room description, you should be able to examine it. That's been a hard and fast rule for years.

That's a very strong statement! Just let me get clear. Consider the following case:

You enter a bare room. The only exit is the way you came in.
Against one wall you can see a ghost.

Are you saying that ALL games with such code MUST support the following to be considered acceptable to ALL (self-respecting) members of the text adventure community?

examine ghost
examine room
examine wall
examine exit
examine way

But in a practical sense you are always having to indicate to a player whether an object is important.

Sorry J_J missed your post initially. Yes, indeed, the important objects have to be indicated clearly and by supporting interaction with scenery there is a danger of misleading players. I like to use hypertext links in games so if an item does not have a link it is scenery and by definition unimportant. I now allow scenery to be examined but it wasn't there initially and was tedious to add in later.


@ DavyB (previous post) - Of course you should allow for all those items to be examinable. If you typed EXAM GHOST and were told "I see no such thing", that's just wrong.

I realise things are generally considered different in the Quest community than the rest of the IF community, but that's part of the reason why Quest games have such a bad reputation in the rest of the community. The games which are well received are those that cover all the responses players type, and not just respond with "I see no such thing".

EDIT: I think it's worth mentioning that this very thread was started because one of the mods considered the game in question to be incomplete because the author didn't include descriptions for items the player could see. So even with the remarkably lenient standards among the Quest community, this sort of thing is considered a bad thing.


@David W. No one is suggesting that EXAMINE GHOST wouldn't have a reply but supporting interaction with the other items is more debatable, as discussed above.

Basilica de Sangre, which started this thread, is an IFComp 2018 submission. The comments so far (https://intfiction.org/forum/viewtopic.php?f=61&t=26689) have not mentioned a lack of access to background items but flag up what is perhaps this site's most serious problem, a lack of adequate support for online play.


This post may contain sensitive material.

DavyB, are you a Trump supporter? (Just curious.)

DavyB, are you a Trump supporter? (Just curious.)

???


This post may contain sensitive material.

I meant no offense.

I was just wondering. I wouldn't think any differently of you either way. I've just learned that I have to get into a different head space to properly communicate with Trump supporters, and that door swings both ways. (And communication is a good thing, not a bad thing.)


@ DavyB: No one is suggesting that EXAMINE GHOST wouldn't have a reply but supporting interaction with the other items is more debatable, as discussed above.

So... are you suggesting it's good game design to NOT be able to interact with items the player can see? If someone types OPEN DOOR and the game responds with "you can't do that" - that's okay?


So... are you suggesting it's good game design to NOT be able to interact with items the player can see?

I think it is reasonable to create a game where interaction is only with clearly identified items. This might be stated at the beginning of the game or become obvious as it is played. If there is any ambiguity then interaction with all items should be supported.

CYOA games don't allow any interaction with items named and no one is saying they have a problem with immersion. For me, CYOA games are just a restricted form of general text adventure. With that view, this discussion is about games that fall between the two...i.e. some but not full interaction.


@KV: I meant no offense.

Apology accepted!


@ DavyB: that's what I've seen saying all along. If you can see an item, it should be possible to examine it and interact with it. Earlier on, you seemed to be suggesting something different.

Also, you can't compare IF and CYOA games as they're two totally different things. What's acceptable in one isn't in another.


If 80 percent of your objects are puzzle or plot important and 20 percent are not, players are still having to interact with a ton of objects to figure out which are important.

If this is happening in games then the author, in my opinion, needs to consider how they are either A) designing their games or B) writing their room/item descriptions.

And, I realize this is all conjecture, but I really enjoy a few objects per game that can be picked up and they get lugged around in your inventory for eternity never to be used. They always make me want to find a way to use them. All-in-all... I don't spend a whole lot of time with games that are loaded with nondescript items. I just get annoyed by them. Room descriptions mentions 18 items (or realistically 4-5) and only one gets a unique response? Bleck. TAs aren't novels (save that writing for CYOAs(and Novels!)). Really good TAs are hard to write - paint a picture with as few words as possible and still submerge the reader. Challenging!

Another thought as I ramble... If I write a room description that I think needs more details WITHOUT tempting the player to 'x [everything]' I believe it kind of a common courtesy to tell the reader in some fashion that an object is interesting or might be worth examining. "[lengthy room description...] (insert common courtesy here) [lengthy room description]".


To help clarify where we are, and perhaps move towards winding up this discussion, I feel a summary would help!

  1. I have been arguing that it is perfectly reasonable to create a text adventure game that doesn't allow interaction with scenery items named in a room description IF IMPLEMENTED CONSISTENTLY. (A 'scenery' item is one that doesn't show up in a game pane...or appear in a "You can see..." list)
  2. If interaction with some scenery items is possible/necessary THEN interaction with ALL scenery items MUST be implemented. (Otherwise, the game is effectively full of tedious red herrings .)
  3. In the not too distant past such games were commonplace. I have been referring to them as 'classic'. As an example, Quest 4 was distributed in 2008 as a bundle that included 9 games, the first 8 of which were of this type (the 9th is a one-room game). These games are still on the site and can be played: The Mansion, by Nick Dablin, The Mansion 2, by Nick Dablin, Assassin, by Mocha Man and Eager Elmer, The Lazst Resort, by B.J. Best, Spectrum, by Mocha Man, As Darkness Falls, by CJ, Shiversword: The Beginning, by CJ, Sir Loin and the Coming of Age, by CJ, Cabin Fever, by Dr. Froth.
  4. Some of these games break the consistency rule. For example, see the review comments of BJ Best for Spectrum. The same is true of Shiversword, which I played recently. I got stuck as a result and had to use the walkthrough. That's BAD PRACTICE! ...and I'm happy for such games to be put in the sandpit. Another game in the list, by the same author, Sir Loin and the Coming of Age, doesn't have this problem...though it does have other shortcomings, such as typos, that might mean that it would end up it the sandpit if reviewed today. That's also fine.
  5. All of the games by Bitterkarela are of this type (background is background!) and several have been competition entries. I have not found any reviews that complain about not being able to interact with background items. If you look at some of these games, you will see I am thanked for testing and other help. At no time did it cross my mind that these games were problematic because of a lack of interaction with background items.
  6. If the moderators on this site decide that interaction with background items is essential in all modern games then this should be explained to authors in guideline notes...and repeated at the time of submission.

Sorry if all of the above sounds a bit serious. I'm not that type of person and only on here regularly for 'fun'. I am keen to see the site thrive and so react to anything that looks like a problem for its health. Debate is part of that health and works as long as everyone is reasonably open-minded, encouraging (no shouting down ideas and no snide remarks!) and generally respectful of the debating process.

Have a good weekend!


Okay, to address some of the above points:

1. You do realise that only Quest has this game pane or “you can see…” list, right? So in any other system, would you still consider it a good idea? Have you played any non-Quest games?

2. I’d argue that interaction with all scenery items is always necessary. Why even mention an item if it can’t be interacted with? And is it really so much extra work to code in a few responses to scenery items just to make the game feel better implemented?

3. You're using Quest games – which are generally considered bad by the rest of the IF community – as an example here, which is a big mistake. Quest games have never had a good reputation. I mean, I've seen a few of the moderators on this very forum admit that 95% of the games on the main site are trash. When used by someone who knows what they're doing, Quest can produce good games, but the majority of what it produces is bad indeed.

4. It doesn’t mean the games were better because of it. If you're mentioning items in a room description but not allowing players to interact with them, how is that a good thing?

6. You know, I think this is the first time I've heard someone say that one of the hard and fast rules of the IF scene for as long as I can remember needed to be explained to authors. Every other system tends to consider interaction with scenery items as a given. Is this the way other Quest users view it?


J_J

David, I wonder if you've made a game before? The question about "is it really so much extra work to code in a few responses to scenery" was really confusing to me. It does take a long time. I really long time. I spent over 1,000 hours on my game. I think when making a game it's good to ask yourself where your time is best spent. I'm not sure putting in every background object was the best use of my time, particularly because I got complaints about it. It's something I'm going to have to really think about when I make my next game.


I've written a few games before:

http://ifwiki.org/index.php/David_Whyld

Now I'm sure if you download every game I've written and play them thoroughly, you'll find some instances of scenery items not being properly implemented, but that's more a case of "oops, I missed that" and not "it's a scenery item, why do I need to put in a description of it?"

Thinking about it, my comment "is it really so much extra work to code in a few responses to scenery" probably was wrong, because it can take a lot of time if you've got plenty of scenery items and you're allowing full interaction with them. But then no one is saying you have to include a dozen scenery items in every location and then code a dozen different responses for every little thing the player might try with them. If the item in question is, say, a bed, you should cover the basics: X BED, LIE ON BED, LOOK UNDER BED. It isn't going to take an age to type a few basic responses to them. Even very basic responses are better than the I CAN'T DO THAT to everything the player tries. Most locations are realistically never going to have more than a few scenery items anyway and providing you code a response to the most obvious responses - so that OPEN DOOR isn't met with I CAN'T DO THAT - you'll be fine.


I'm not sure putting in every background object was the best use of my time, particularly because I got complaints about it.

Yes J_J that has been my experience as well. In my case, I initially implemented the games without full interaction and then went back and updated them, so the additional cost was clear. Also, as you have indicated the responses have to carefully avoid raising curiosity, otherwise they effectively become red herrings and can annoy players in a different way.

I made the changes because of chat on the forum, not because I felt it was the right thing to do to make the games better in each case. If I play a game where the items inviting interaction are clearly identified I know not to go exploring background items and have no problem with that. It was commonplace in the 1980s, when I initially encountered such games, and still seems a general valid approach today. This view is independent of the implementation platform, though it does help if the key items can be shown in a pane or hyperlinked.

If there is no separation between key and background items then I need to interact with them all to find the important ones. So, in this case, it will be tedious if all of the background items produce the same "I can't see that" response. Perhaps that is the source of this "hard and fast rule" ...i.e. practical advice of the form "It would be a good idea in games where the player can't see the key items to provide a response for those background items that he/she might explore" becoming "A response must be provided for all background items in all games." ... i.e. something that started out as a reasonable guideline for game designers morphing into dogma.

I have just had a look at the IFComp 2017 winner (The Wizard Sniffer). It is a game of the type where the key items are mixed into the general narrative so I would expect background items to have a response. Even here, however, there isn't full coverage but it is at a commonsense level and the odd "You cannot see any such thing." doesn't affect enjoyment of the game.


This post may contain sensitive material.


The fact is that implementing scenery takes a fair bit of effort. It is not just the time it takes to type, you also have to think of something good to write. How do you say something imaginative about a kitchen table? And later you need to proof-read it. How many beta-testers check every single item?

And how far do you go? Suppose you have a well-equipped kitchen, you could easily have a dozen scenery items in there that no one actually cares about, and most players will not even notice. Should every cupboard and the fridge be openable? Do you need to implement every item inside them? Should the player be able to take all the food from the fridge?

Hmm, maybe the easiest way is to trim down the description. "It is a well-equipped kitchen." No need to implement anything, right? But surely the game experience has lessened for everyone if all your descriptions are half a dozen words to avoid upsetting the small minority who demand everything is implemented.

All that said, I personally would aim to implement everything (though someone pointed out that I had failed to do so in Deeper!). But I would not want to dictate that to every author. If their artist view is different - or if they are lazy - that is their choice.


DaveB, I'm curious as to where you got the idea from that not implementing scenery items is a good thing. On every IF internet forum I'd visited over the past 20 years - and there have been a lot - it's been considered the 'done thing' to implement them and the mark of a bad game when they're not implemented. I've known authors argue that it's a lot of hard work to cover everything - and it is - but then writing a good game is hard full stop and the game itself only gets worse when the author cuts corners because of one reason or another. Even here on the Quest forum, which is remarkably lenient regarding game design compared to the rest of the IF community, the majority of people seem to agree that scenery items should be covered.

So where does your opinion come? Is there some other IF community out there somewhere you're part of that doesn't cover scenery items? If you were very new to the scene and your only experience of IF was Quest games, I could kind of understand where you might have got that idea from, or if you've been sleeping since the 80's and have never played any modern IF, but neither are those are the case. So, please tell me, where does your opinion come from?


This post may contain sensitive material.


Wow, I took a break from the forum yesterday and now have a lot of responding to do!

The break was, however, relevant, as I was finishing off a game that can be used to illustrate this discussion. The game is at http://textadventures.co.uk/games/view/M4a7-u7KyUKbTVHAqtXQ-g/sir-loin-and-the-coming-of-age.

It is an example of the case where items for interaction are clearly highlighted. Here they have hypertext links. If that is a problem for anyone they can be switched off as can the map that is shown. Game panes can also be brought in if wanted. I have KV and several others on this site to thank for this flexibility, including the indented lists in game panes, which are very helpful in this game. (BTW KV, we are 'good'!)

The game attempts to provide reasonable responses to interaction with background items but it is easy to miss some of them. Like Pixie's example, the game includes a kitchen and, yes, I simplified the original description to reduce the number of items needing a response!

Feel free to play the whole game, as I need beta testers!


The author is not creating a true parser game (i.e., a "limited parser")

K.V. I liked the attempt to build a list of reasons why a developer might not implement interaction with all items but didn't quite understand this point. I would have considered anything implemented in Quest as a 'limited parser' game in the sense that it mostly just supports verb-noun combinations. Am I misunderstanding what you mean by 'limited parser'?


DavyB, I played that for a few minutes, and it's pretty nifty.

I'm like 99% sure no one would Sandpit your version in its current form (but, again, I only played up until Stan gave me the jug).


I do not like Windows 10, and it does not like me. So, I'm using Linux, and I can only play Quest games online, which means I only play games for two or three minutes at a time. I am currently not mellow enough to handle a text adventure freezing up, so I never play online longer than three minutes.

...which, I know. This leads to the issue with the servers, but I also know that this is an issue which can only be handled monetarily. So, my theory is that we're all stuck with those servers unless manowar starts charging for stuff, which would be the death of Quest and Squiffy.

Oooh!!! I hates Catch 22s!!!!!


Anyway, I recently discovered Ray Bradbury and am in the middle of Dandelion Wine, and the ravine at the edge of Green Town is so dark and scary at night, and all the bad things you could ever imagine are in that darkness, and...

I must bid you all a fond farewell for now!


Whoops. I didn't refresh the page before that last post, and I missed this:

DavyB said:
K.V. I liked the attempt to build a list of reasons why a developer might not implement interaction with all items but didn't quite understand this point. I would have considered anything implemented in Quest as a 'limited parser' game in the sense that it mostly just supports verb-noun combinations. Am I misunderstanding what you mean by 'limited parser'?

I just went with "limited parser" because that was the terminology the guy who won the 2017 IFComp used.

To me, that just means the author didn't do all of the required work during game creation, but many other players seemed to accept that as long as he called it a "limited parser" game.

Quest's parser is just as capable as Inform's parser (and Inform is celebrated as the best of the best in the text adventure creation software world). You are sort of correct, though. Most folks think anything created in Quest is a limited parser game because most authors don't take the time to code in all the details, which is why Silver and XanMag toss games with missing objects, responses, and descriptions in the Sandpit.


PS

Lots of folks in the IF community have also complained about the standard commands which are missing in Quest games.

Most of those standard commands were added during the update to Quest 5.8.

So, that issue has been handled, and now it's up to the authors to cover all the bases they create during game creation.


DaveB, I'm curious as to where you got the idea from that not implementing scenery items is a good thing.

I think I've probably answered this already. As a player, I've not found it a problem when games clearly separate key items from background items. As a developer, all the games I've been involved in make that distinction, so it feels like an unnecessary burden to provide something that most players may not care about. Have a look at the game I just posted this morning to see what I mean. You can interact with the background items but is it making the game significantly better? Not all authors bother with the forum, so perhaps this site should make expectations clear to prevent otherwise good games ending up in the sandpit. Guidance could be provided at the point of game submission or preferably earlier...perhaps in the form of a checklist? It would be a trivial thing to do!


This discussion has been useful in helping to make clear that there is a class of text adventure in which key items are clearly separated from background items. That distinction seems central to the whole debate that has taken place here. Recognizing this class of game and applying moderation rules accordingly would, I think, be of benefit to this site, for moderators, developers and players. Otherwise, please warn developers of the need to provide interaction with the background, as I'm sure not all will pick that up from the forum, as in the case that started this thread.

Are we done?


it feels like an unnecessary burden to provide something that most players may not care about.

Most people who listen to music don't care about lyrics, but that thankfully doesn't stop true musicians from writing them.

More importantly, most players who don't like a Quest game don't bother to leave a negative review. Even if the criticism is constructive, it usually starts a big argument.

Ask David W. He knows what I'm talking about. So does XanMag. Authors get all up on their high horses when the reviews ain't to their liking around these here parts.

Anyway, it's all about the value the author puts in. It's directly proportional to the value the player gets out.

For instance, I examined the stalls in that game you're updating. Not to see if the author took the time to code them in, but because they were mentioned in the prose. 'A-ha!' thought I. 'Must be worth examining if it's worth mentioning. Perhaps it could be a puzzle piece!'

It was not a puzzle piece, but there was a response other than "I can't see that." So, the world felt complete to me. It was worth going east to see what other things there might be to see in that world.

You see, I imagine that many of us are wanderers at heart and are still just as curious as when we were little kids in a world which was mostly new to us. All the things around we'd never examined closely, sometimes never even noticed. Sometimes we want to focus on the trees while we're in the forest. To stop and smell the air for ourselves when someone mentions the faint aroma of decaying oak leaves. To take a good, long look at the waterfall. (Those are all just random examples.)

The more details added to the game, the better the illusion holds up. When playing a well-made game, it is easier to get lost in the world, still aware it's a game, but getting more into the world itself than into the mechanics.

In a good text adventure, the author creates a world filled with objects and descriptions (and sometimes NPCs) which will lead the player down the proper path. Scenes can be planned to happen when the player performs certain actions, but lots of players just wander around aimlessly, examining and trying to take everything, until they finally decide to figure out what they're supposed to be doing and move on to the next room. The player very rarely does what the creator would expect, because the player (unlike the author) doesn't already know what they're supposed to be doing. Half of the fun is figuring that out by examining everything in the room, which should (technically) be everything which was mentioned in the text which printed when entering that room.

It's kind of like I'm standing beside a blind person (the player) in a park, and I say, "this park has billions and billions of strong, tall trees you can climb, and there is a path leading east from here."

The player seems interested. "Tell me about the trees."

"I can't see that," I say.

"Tell me about the path," the player persists. "Does it seem heavily traversed?"

And, again, I reply, "I can't see that."

"Well, climb a tree, then," the player commands.

"I don't understand your command," I say.

The player sighs, "just quit."


Now, after having gone on that rant (again, for the last time, though), I will say this (again, for the last time):

In old games, any objects mentioned which were found to not exist in the world during play were immediately dismissed. The INFOCOM instructions told us there would be things mentioned in the room descriptions which didn't actually exist in the game world. This was simply to add to the atmosphere, and those items would in no way contribute to the story were they to actually exist in the game world.

This was acceptable (but, of course, it had to be). We just moved on to the next thing when the game said, "I don't understand the word 'waterfall'."


So, yeah. I think I've tried to explain how I look at it from every possible angle.

The only thing I haven't mentioned is all the famous IF authors from the old days who still make games now. They make sure every object mentioned in the prose exists and that every existing object has a description. They take great pleasure in being able to add in all the silly responses for when the player interacts with insignificant things (or simply tries to do silly things). It's those little laughs that make games truly great, in my opinion. It also greatly increases the replay value.

It's more about what happens when you try to do something that doesn't fit the narrative than what happens when you do the right thing. This is true in my case anyway, because I usually try to do all sorts of silly things before I land on what the author expected of me.

I play a text adventure like it's a totally submergible book. Each room is a picture painted by the author, in which I attempt to fiddle with everything in sight.


That Ray Bradbury... He's got me in a silly mood.

No one pay any attention to me. I've gotten lost somewhere in the imagination.

...and I am in darkness. It is pitch black. I can't see a thing.

Did anyone else just hear that?!?

Urmagosh, you guys... There might be a grue in the other room.

I'm gonna go check it out.

Be right back!


And, again, I've posted without refreshing the page first, and I missed DavyB's last post.

I don't think "limited parser" is really a classification (but I may be wrong). That's what that one dude (who won 2017 IFComp) referred to his game as in the opening text when play began, so I just ran with it.

I think the important part is to have the message when play begins, saying any objects which don't exist are not important to the story. And/Or maybe something like "objects in BOLD or with hyperlinks available can be interacted with during the story."

But that message when play begins is the key. Let the player know the game may seem incomplete, but it was made that way on purpose. Just put some spin on it. Like, say it's a "limited parser" or something. Use some truthful hyperbole.

PS

I'm pretty sure the site adding a "Limited parser" category is out of the question. I theorize this because I've been following the 'Adult material' thread since the beginning, and I've seen no tickbox added when publishing games as of yet. (And I do think that 'Adult material' tickbox is a very good idea, by the way.)

That's why I say the opening statement during play is probably the way to go.


Now, back to your regularly scheduled programming . . .


Now you've got me wondering about a more informative message than "I can't see that".

Maybe a little parser tweak, so that if the object name a player enters can't be resolved but the word appears in the room description, it could say "It doesn't seem particularly interesting", "I don't think that's important", or "I don't think that's a productive use of my time".

Not a big change, but it could help to cover up any instances where the designer missed adding a scenery object somewhere.


I think “limited parser” can work if it’s used in an interesting way – if you're aiming for a specific feel for your game and you don't want to spend a lot of time covering unnecessary things – but if it’s being done simply because the author is lazy, then it’s never going to go down well. One thing to consider – and this seems pretty obvious but it’s surprising how often people simply overlook it – is “is this going to make the game better?” If the player types LIE ON BED, OPEN DOOR, CLIMB STAIRS, DIG HOLE, etc, and the response to each is YOU CAN’T DO THAT, there's no way that makes the game better. The more professional games try to cover everything the player will type, and at the very least they provide a response to basic commands. Quest’s default of I CAN’T SEE THAT is bad because if the player has typed a command referencing an item, it’s pretty obvious they can see it and the default comes across as amateurish. YOU SEE NOTHING VERY INTERESTING or YOU DON'T NEED TO REFER TO THAT are better.


Now you've got me wondering about a more informative message than "I can't see that".

The problem is that it also has to cover the (common?) case where the player has mistyped the named.


...a parser for the descriptive text would help...it could also help the developer!


Now you've got me wondering about a more informative message than "I can't see that".

The problem is that it also has to cover the (common?) case where the player has mistyped the named.

That's why I was thinking of matching the word entered against the description. So "kick wall" or "lick tree" might give "I don't see how that would help me " or some similarly sarcastic response from the character, but "look at aple" would still give "I can't see that" - which is pretty much the expected behaviour if you spell the name wrong.

Obviously, it's better to have actual scenery objects. But giving each command a "lazyscenery" attribute to display if the unresolved object name is a substring of the room description would make a decent fallback for the few cases where you might have forgotten to create that particular object in that room.


That's why I was thinking of matching the word entered against the description.

I was thinking of a parser that recognised the grammar of the room description to present a noun list, but even checking if the unknown string is part of the room description string is a step in the right direction. Could that be done without a parser tweak?


Imagine how much more difficult it is to make a graphical RPG than an IF game. Now imagine what Skyrim might play like if the developers didn’t bother implementing graphics for anything that couldn’t be interacted with. Or imagine what great novels would read like if authors excluded prose that wasn’t relevant to the central plot.
Putting work into the ‘flavour’ of books or RPGs is part of how we can become absorbed in these imagined worlds. The same holds true for interactive fiction.


David, I wonder if you've made a game before?

You’re only talking to probably THE most prolific IF author of all time XD


...imagine what great novels would read like if authors excluded prose that wasn’t relevant to the central plot.

Yes, and text adventures can have exactly the same content presented in their textual descriptions. It is insistence that every noun must have interactivity that is the problem. Imagine if William Shakespeare were alive today and the publisher insisted he provided a clickable link for every noun in the Kindle version of his plays? To me, that is the argument that you are presenting.


That doesn't sound like what Silver's suggesting at all, unless I'm completely and 100% misunderstanding his point. (And if you want to take the Shakespeare example to an absurd extreme: my Kindle can provide links for every noun in a book anyway.)

At the end of the day, DavyB, I don't know what you expect to get out of this discussion. Whether you like it or not, this is the way the IF scene has been from day one (memory issues withstanding) and it's the way it's likely to be until such time as IF dies out. A tiny minority preferring things to be different isn't going to change anything and there's zero chance you'll ever be able to convince the rest of the IF community to change the way they write or play games. Even here on the Quest forum, most of the users AND mods seem to prefer things the way they're always been done.


This post may contain sensitive material.


Okay guys, I think I can say no more, without repeating myself! Have a good day!!


PS

That last bit was me admitting my opinion might be crappy, and that that fact could be unbeknownst to me -- not me saying someone else's opinion is crappy. (Just for clarity's sake.)


J_J

I've finally caught up on this thread. It's fascinating. I think Basilica is proof that there are a lot of ways to make an awesome parser, and that tons of players are fine without every object being put in. This won 11th place in ifcomp (shout out to bitterkarella) and it's amazing.

And side note, I'm not saying everyone should start making all parsers like this, just that it's totally valid as a stylistic choice, and isn't inherently lazy.


If I ever placed eleventh, I would not consider it a win. I would consider it a good effort, and I'd ask myself what the difference was between my game and the first place game (or maybe the third place game).

...and that stylistic choice is definitely inherently lazy (no matter how anyone tries to spin it), and the fact that some players don't care doesn't disprove that. It is a fact. You can use a euphemism for "lazy" if that makes you feel better, but we all should be able to agree that knowingly omitting anything that is worth mentioning is an attempt to do less work than normally expected -- which is lazy.

I think the real debate is whether or not it is acceptable to be lazy while creating a work of art, and we've already covered all the talking points. It's art. "Lazy" does not apply to art.
Do whatever feels right. People will either like it or they won't.

...but most people who try to provide support on a text adventure site are trying to help with the technical side of things. We help with logic, not creativity. Asking us if it's cool to leave out scenery objects is sort of like asking a bean-counter if it's cool to go gambling with company money.


I think a lot of this goes back to the point I made earlier: does it make the game any better?

How anyone can claim that deliberately not providing descriptions for scenery items makes the game better is beyond me. Sure, some people may not have a problem with it, some people may think it's absolutely fine and dandy, but how is the game improved by having I SEE NO SUCH THING as the response instead of a description of the item in question?

It is lazy, pure and simple. Yes, you can write a perfectly good game by omitting descriptions, but you can write a much better one by including them. Yes, the game came 11th out of a competition of 77 games - which I'd admit is certainly impressive - but how much better do you think it would have done if descriptions were added?


J_J

Well, the first place game (which is also amazing) was created on and off for 11 years.

All games take time. If 2 authers spend 500 hours on a game, they are each deciding where to put that time. You can say it's lazy to make a limited parser, but it just means the author put the same amount of time elsewhere.

Is poetry lazier then a traditional novel? Are text based games lazier then games with graphics?

... I'll just peace out of this conversation again, there isn't much to say. People feel how they feel

Edit to add: I think it would be great if the base result in quest wasn't "I can't see that." That was a really good suggestion mrangel.


So...

Wait, what?

Let's unpack that point by point.

Were both games were created on and off for 11 years?

...or are you saying the time spent creating a game is all that matters, even if more time could have been spent on improvements?


Comparing poetry to novels or TAs to games with graphics is like comparing apples to oranges.


Changing "I can't see that" to something else probably won't help that much. Just seeing a default response lets us know the author was slacking off.


If someone wants to set their expectations low, that's fine with me, but intentionally creating incomplete game worlds is not a good thing.


J_J

I don't just want to keep spamming the thread...But. Okay.

Not every author is going to spend 11 years on a game. Most games are created by someone who has some form of deadline, and only a certain amount of time that can be dedicated to a game.

In a graphic based game there is always a point where the world ends. There are always objects you can see in the background of the scene but you can't interact with. "Look object" in a text based game is a form of interacting with an object.

If it's clear and consistent within the game what the boundaries of the gameplay are, it doesn't bother the player.

There can be too much focus on "complete worlds" and not quality games. A complicated interactive world mechanically can still be a shit game. Telling creators to focus on this part of game making (making it possible to interact with every background object), and invest a huge chunk of their time in this means that less time can be spent on equally important aspects of the game making processes.

... I just feel like that shouldn't be a controversial thing to say.


I do not ask anyone to spend any set amount of time on anything. I simply implore authors to avoid mentioning stuff that doesn't exist.

If something is mentioned in a room description, I will try to interact with it. Mentioning something that does not exist is illogical.

No controversy.


J_J

Stylistically, what is the problem with mentioning something in a background description, but only having listed objects be things you can interact with?

How is that different then something you can see in a game with graphics but not interact with?

For instance. It takes me out of the world if things that should exist don't. Like a kitchen that only has a bowl and a refrigerator in it would be more distracting then a complicated description of the room with a clear marker of what I can interact with.


PS

You (J_J) and DavyB do make some valid points. It's not always due to laziness. Sometimes it might just be because the author is overzealous (taking on a project he or she doesn't have the time to properly complete); other times authors just forget to include some things here and there; and sometimes an author creates a game with what we are calling a "limited parser".

If a standard parser game is fun and plays smoothly, a few missing scenery objects (and/or descriptions) will probably not be detrimental to game-play.

If a game has a "limited parser", it shouldn't get bad reviews concerning missing scenery objects as long as the author lets the player know that it is not a standard text adventure when (or before) play begins.

Do those statements please everyone?


Whoops. I made that last post without refreshing the page and missed that last one from J_J.

what is the problem with mentioning something in a background description, but only having listed objects be things you can interact with?

Nothing if it's not a traditional parser game.

How is that different then something you can see in a game with graphics but not interact with?

Games with graphics don't compare to text adventures. In text adventures, the author mentions things, and the player interacts with those things until he or she solves a puzzle. It's much more work to enter "X OBJECT" than it is to point and click on things.

It takes me out of the world if things that should exist don't.

Exactly. If something is mentioned in the room description, it should exist.

Like a kitchen that only has a bowl and a refrigerator in it would be more distracting then a complicated description of the room with a clear marker of what I can interact with.

If there are clear markers throughout the game (like bold text or hyperlinks), no one should have a problem.


J_J

I'm confused. To clarify, you agree it's fine to have a game with background objects you can't interact with, as long as the objects you can interact with are bolded or marked in some way?

Because. Isn't that what we've all been talking about? The stylistic choice if not having every object mentioned be something you can look at individually.


I'm confused. To clarify, you agree it's fine to have a game with background objects you can't interact with, as long as the objects you can interact with are bolded or marked in some way?

Yes, as long as all the objects with which you could interact were always hyperlinks or in bold. (Like you say, as long as it is consistent.)

I'm mostly agreeing with you and DavyB.

I'm just saying it's generally bad practice to omit scenery objects when creating standard parsers. Experienced players will feel like there wasn't very much effort put into the game, and text adventures require quite a bit of effort from the player.

(NOTE: Quest text adventures are not standard parsers, but they can be if the hyperlinks and panes are disabled.)


Isn't that what we've all been talking about? The stylistic choice if not having every object mentioned be something you can look at individually.

I don't think so, but I am admittedly crazy...

Everyone has agreed that a game should not be thrown into the sandpit if it is obvious that you can only interact with objects which are highlighted with bold text, hyperlinks, or perhaps in the game panes or something. (Again, this should be obvious and consistent, and it should be mentioned when (or before) play begins.)

...but then someone says something which would lead readers to believe it's okay to omit descriptions and scenery objects from text adventures (just in general), and any kids reading this should know that the IF community will bash a standard parser game with numerous missing object descriptions and/or scenery objects.


I saw J_J's post yesterday and was tempted to add a "hear, hear" but thought that would be a red rag to K.V. and David W...but perhaps my silence hasn't made any difference?

I am happier if discussions are illustrated with specific examples, so can we look at the opening scene of the game I've recently uploaded (http://textadventures.co.uk/games/view/m4a7-u7kyukbtvhaqtxq-g/sir-loin-and-the-coming-of-age-too). This is a game that clearly identifies where players should focus their attention but knowing that some moderators and reviewers care about interacting with all objects, I've done additional work. Without looking at my efforts, what objects do you think need a response in this example?

You awake in the stable, the place where you have lived since moving into the Castle Come-Here-A-Lot.

You are in the Royal Stable. It is a large wooden shed big enough to hold five stalls. However, there are no horses here at the moment. The only exit is east to the courtyard.

You can see a scroll, some hay, a trough, a nosebag and a mule.

This is a re-implementation of a game that was distributed with Quest 10 years ago. The basic wording is not mine though I have made some adjustments. You can see the original here:
http://textadventures.co.uk/games/view/togcbbtsq06tl3qgzbt0ng/sir-loin-and-the-coming-of-age


I'm really surprised that this debate is still going on. To me, it seems like a no brainer that a game with missing item descriptions is going to be less well received than one which includes them. You can argue the pros and cons of this all you like but surely it stands to reason that typing X BRIDGE and getting I SEE NO SUCH THING is worse than typing X BRIDGE and getting a description of the bridge?

So with that said, why deliberately leave your game in such a state that it's going to invite criticism? If you've gone to the effort of writing a game in the first place, why not put that bit of extra effort in and include descriptions?


A red rag to David W and myself?

That doesn't seem like a very nice thing to say.

I thought we were friends...

Unpleasantries aside, DavyB, you definitely improved that scene by adding the "stalls" scenery object and a few other nice touches. I would not have changed it to "Come-Here-A-Lot", but I know you are against profanity and such, so I see why you did that.

To answer your question: stalls, scroll, hay, trough, nosebag, and mule.

Most experienced text adventurers would not try to examine the current room with X STABLE (they would simply enter LOOK), and being able to LOOK EAST is not expected (although it is welcomed).

...and if you didn't add any new objects, that game should still be categorized properly. The original version isn't in the sandpit, and the mods said they would not sandpit it if it were published today. In this case, they can see that the author put forth the effort to create a playable game, even if it is missing a scenery object here and there.


From here on out, I shall try to keep from "spamming the thread" and/or feeling provoked when someone says they didn't say something because they didn't want to provoke the likes of me with any red rags.

Hopefully DavyB and J_J will respond to David W's last post with straightforward answers and no personal attacks. David W has been nothing but respectful.


To any kids reading this, if you create all the things you mention in the prose, most players who take the time to play your game will appreciate it.

I'm just being real with you. (Mister Rogers taught me to always tell the truth.)


Happy gaming, everyone!


A red rag to David W and myself?

To me this has felt like a very heated thread! The 'red rag' for me has been the dismissal of authors who do not provide interaction with background objects as 'lazy'. Authors need to be cut some slack here and given reasonable stylistic freedom. Also, some authors will not have picked up on the need to include background interaction and the depth of feeling among some reviewers and moderators on this subject, and so are in danger of having their games written off quickly if this interaction is missing. This effectively elevates the importance of background interaction from "improving a game" to being an "essential requirement". So, perhaps moderators on this site could agree their position and publicise it for authors? This can be at the time of submission but probably should be included in the tutorials as well.

Thank you K.V. for giving an opinion of which background items in the Sir Loin example should support interaction. You identified just one, the 'stalls'. For an author, however, the only practical choice is to cover all nouns in the descriptive text, so that means also including "(royal) stable, place, castle (come-here-a-lot), shed, horses, exit, and courtyard".

This is largely a puzzle game with very little background description so, in general, the number of objects in each location can easily double. The author is also under pressure to give 'reasonable' responses to any interaction, as 'nothing out of the ordinary' and 'you can't do that' definitely look lazy! The responses, however, must not be too interesting, giving the player the misleading impression that the background is part of the game...and, of course, avoiding the introduction of more nouns!

All of the action in Sir Loin takes place in and around the castle so the player could refer to it anywhere. I thought I had found a convenient shortcut by having the player carry around a 'castle' scenery object but it doesn't quite work (do you see why?). If supporting background interaction is considered essential on this site then Quest could do more to help. Further discussion can be found under ABOUT in my implementation of the Cloak of Darkness:
http://play2.textadventures.co.uk/Play.aspx?id=cxbbr4mqakkylkr80ypjhg


This debate suddenly seems to have taken a very heated turn, though I'm not entirely sure why. We're all trying to make better games here, and suggest ways for others to make better games - that's the whole point, right? This very thread, and all the accompanying discussion, came about because one of the mods believed a game with missing item descriptions was incomplete, and this is the Quest forum which is remarkably laid-back about things like that compared to the rest of the IF community*, so clearly there's a need for things to be clarified.

(* I made an unfortunate typo in an IFComp game years ago and it was picked up by no less than three reviewers. Here I could probably make a few typos in every sentence and no one would bat an eyelid. Heck, here I could release a game which crashed in the first location and set fire to your computer and someone would still give me a 5 star review.)

Do I think it's lazy to not include item descriptions? Of course. How can deliberately missing things like that out of a game be a good thing? Even if you personally think it's fine, it's obvious from the length of this thread and the number of people involved that the majority of people feel differently.

Like I said before, I'm really not sure what you expect to get out of this thread. You're not going to change the way the IF community has been for years unless you get a significant majority believing in things the way you do, and you clearly don't. You don't even have a majority here. At some point, you have to just accept that, regardless of what you think is best, you're in the minority and you'd be a lot better off just including item descriptions to ensure your future games don't get put in the sandpit or marked down as a result. In any event, you've probably typed more words in this thread than you would have typed in your last game if you'd included a description of every item in the game.


To me this has felt like a very heated thread!

Has it?

It hasn't to me. I never get heated (or even warmed). If I am talking (or typing), I am smiling. Perhaps my blue-collar mentality makes me seem angry in print, but everything I say (and post) is from a happy place.

I promise you, guys and gals, that I will never get mad because of anything anyone says or thinks. I may point out things I see as personal attacks, but words will never hurt me. Personal attacks do not hurt my feelings for two reasons. First, no one can put me under a more powerful microscope than the one I keep myself under. I love to find my flaws. I can either improve myself or make fun of myself, and I win either way. Second, if someone gets personal, that usually means they know they have no valid arguments.


The 'red rag' for me has been the dismissal of authors who do not provide interaction with background objects as 'lazy'.

So you have felt provoked since the beginning of this thread (perhaps longer than that)?

Man... That makes me feel kind of sad... I'm sorry.

Is it the word "lazy", or just the idea that we know someone didn't put forth as much effort as they could have? Because if it's just the word "lazy", I could stop using that word. Otherwise, I can't stop noticing when authors don't put forth as much effort as they could have, especially when the majority of authors put forth maximum effort. (I'm not trying to be unpleasant. I just believe grading on the curve is only fair to those who put forth minimal effort (for whatever reason) when there are no overachievers.)


Authors need to be cut some slack here and given reasonable stylistic freedom.

That's true. It's one reason Alex created the Sandpit -- a place where non-traditional (and/or incomplete) games can still be published on this site.


Also, some authors will not have picked up on the need to include background interaction and the depth of feeling among some reviewers and moderators on this subject, and so are in danger of having their games written off quickly if this interaction is missing.

They will learn as soon as they publish their first game. (Just like many of us did.)

It's not like the games are deleted and the author banished. It only took two days for this OP's game to get categorized once the OP asked why it had been classified incomplete. The game could be played that entire time. This site was still hosting the game. The OP only needed to provide a link. That's not writing a game off from my perspective. To me, writing a game off is the IFArchive telling an author their game is not good enough to be hosted on their site at all. This site has never done that.

This effectively elevates the importance of background interaction from "improving a game" to being an "essential requirement".

It is an expectation, and it has been for 20 years. I mean, I see what you're saying, but...

  1. The site will host any game, no matter what. Nothing is technically required except proper file formatting.

  2. A text adventure living up to standard expectations is sort of essential to most players. When a moderator sandpits something, they are trying to help the author. Instead of putting a game on the main page for everyone to bash it, they sandpit and list a reason. If the author objects (as in this case), the moderator(s) will look over the game again and either put it in the desired category or explain what the game lacks in greater detail.


So, perhaps moderators on this site could agree their position and publicise it for authors? This can be at the time of submission but probably should be included in the tutorials as well.

Three things:

  1. Each game is different, and the moderators are working off of a loose set of guidelines -- not even that, really... It's more like instinct. If the mod's gut tells them the game will get negative reviews due to a lack of effort (be it missing descriptions or scenery objects, or that a game is just too short or doesn't have enough choices), they will toss it into the sandpit and let the author know why they did so.

  2. Actual rules would be bad, I think. They would defeat your purpose as well as mine, because we would no longer be given reasonable stylistic freedom.

  3. FROM THE TUTORIAL:

The “Scenery” option means that the object won’t be displayed automatically in the room description, or the “Places and Objects” on the right of the screen.

Why might we want to do this? Well, when we created our “lounge” description in the previous section, we wrote “This is quite a plain lounge with an old beige carpet and peeling wallpaper”. What if the player types “look at wallpaper”? Quest will reply “I can’t see that here”, which will be a bit strange.

Although the wallpaper isn’t an important object, we should still have a response for “look at wallpaper”. If we make it a scenery object, it’s “in the background” as far as the game goes, as it won’t appear in the “Places and Objects” list, or in the list of objects in the description of the room. We won’t be cluttering things unnecessarily, but we will still be providing responses for anything the player might reasonably type in.

So, create a new object called “wallpaper” and tick the Scenery box. Enter a description like “The horrible beige wallpaper hangs loosely on the walls.”


Thank you K.V. for giving an opinion of which background items in the Sir Loin example should support interaction.

You are very welcome. I enjoyed the bit of the game I played.


You identified just one, the 'stalls'. For an author, however, the only practical choice is to cover all nouns in the descriptive text, so that means also including "(royal) stable, place, castle (come-here-a-lot), shed, horses, exit, and courtyard".

This is where I say, "that would be overkill. Most experienced text adventurers would not expect to be able to enter [EXAMINE (THE CURRENT ROOM)], nor would they expect to be able to examine an exit unless it was a door or a path (or something tangible)."

I think we both make valid points.

If an author doesn't know what the target audience expects from a text adventure, he or she will not know which scenery objects are expected to exist. Creating every little thing may be time-consuming, but it could mean the difference between placing 11th and placing 1st.

The worst thing that could happen is players overlooking details added by the author, and they would probably discover those details on future play-throughs, which would add replay value to a game.

I don't believe a player has ever complained about a game being too detailed (unless someone gets frustrated with red herrings).

From a programmer's perspective, all bases should always be covered.

From an artist's perspective, there are no bases except the ones he or she creates (and I would think those should be covered).

In the end, I guess it boils down to trial and error. Anyone with no (or little) experience who expects to create a work of art by following rules, guidelines, or advice will probably fail (with a few exceptions, of course).


What's the difference between these:

You are in a room with whatever in the background.

You can see a ball and a bat here.
You can go north.

>x the whatever
I can't see that.

>x the whatever
This game does not understand the word 'whatever' in that context.

>x the whatever
Nothing out of the ordinary.

>x the whatever
You don't have time to go around examining whatevers all day!

>x the whatever
It's a very interesting looking whatever, but it doesn't look like something you'll need during this adventure.

The difference to me is that those last two are somewhat entertaining -- not just the default response. When I read entertaining things, I am entertained. When I read default responses, I am not entertained. The purpose of a game is to entertain the player. Therefore, it seems like someone creating a game would want to supply entertaining responses for any command their prose might make the player want to enter.


So, in my opinion (which is shared by many), if there are numerous objects mentioned which do not exist, that is a sign of a bad text adventure (unless it is an older game which had little space for objects and descriptions).

Also, I don't view Quest games as text adventures unless the panes and hyperlinks are disabled. With the hyperlinks and/or panes, I view them as Quest games, which are not unlike text adventures, but not true text adventures -- more like hypertext adventures. With the hyperlinks and/or game panes, I can see how a player could be fine with a game that does not have scenery objects, as the important objects are clearly identified.

David W, Silver, XanMag and myself (among others here) are always talking about text adventures in general, not Quest games in particular. Perhaps that is why we can't find common ground sometimes.


This is largely a puzzle game with very little background description so, in general, the number of objects in each location can easily double.

Yes, creating an immersive world is a time-consuming process, and it is frustrating sometimes. It makes me want to mention as few background objects as possible in my room descriptions.


The author is also under pressure to give 'reasonable' responses to any interaction, as 'nothing out of the ordinary' and 'you can't do that' definitely look lazy!

Yes. This is exactly my point.

When an author says "...you can see a widget...", the default "I can't see that" (or any other default response when a game does not find the object mentioned in scope) is not a reasonable response to X WIDGET. It definitely looks lazy, as if the author didn't feel the need to create what the player can supposedly see.


The responses, however, must not be too interesting, giving the player the misleading impression that the background is part of the game...and, of course, avoiding the introduction of more nouns!

Ah... Now we're getting into interesting territory.

I say this is the difference between those of us with talent and those without. XanMag and NecroDeath (just to name two) are talented. Those dudes can come up with funny responses for anything on the spot. I am admittedly without talent. (I can entertain myself, but not many other people share my sense of humor.) But I am a fluid thinker who pays great attention to detail and will spend however much time it takes to fully understand (or accomplish) something.

Most good text adventures are not created by a single author. There are also programmers, editors, testers, etc.

Also, I do avoid the introduction of more nouns (as stated above (sorry for being repetitive)). To me (and most players), every noun introduced is a possible clue. Every possible clue should be examined. That is the core of text adventuring.


All of the action in Sir Loin takes place in and around the castle so the player could refer to it anywhere. I thought I had found a convenient shortcut by having the player carry around a 'castle' scenery object but it doesn't quite work (do you see why?).

It took me a while to find this (honestly, Pixie directed me to it and I didn't find it), but Quest has a backdrop script.

First, turn on the advanced features for the game object (if you haven't already done so):

image


Then, go the the Advanced Scripts tab, and you will see that the third field is for the Backdrop scope script:

image


In the backdrop scope script, we can add items to a list which will be checked by Quest before each turn. Any object on that list will be placed in scope and will be "there" (and in the Places & Objects pane) during each turn. It will not be added to the automatic room objects list, because it is treated as scenery.

image


image


Play the example game:

http://play2.textadventures.co.uk/Play.aspx?id=editor/007252a8-5f12-4729-83ee-67b471f84777%2fCastle+Backdrop.aslx

The entire example game's code:

<!--Saved by Quest 5.8.6794.35054-->
<asl version="580">
  <include ref="English.aslx" />
  <include ref="Core.aslx" />
  <game name="Castle Backdrop">
    <gameid>be89cc46-f155-4706-97a0-2918a95762c2</gameid>
    <version>1.0</version>
    <firstpublished>2018</firstpublished>
    <menufont>Georgia, serif</menufont>
    <feature_advancedscripts />
    <scopebackdrop type="script">
      list add (items, Castle Backdrop)
    </scopebackdrop>
  </game>
  <object name="Southwest of Castle Backdrop">
    <inherit name="editor_room" />
    <isroom />
    <usedefaultprefix type="boolean">false</usedefaultprefix>
    <descprefix>You are</descprefix>
    <object name="player">
      <inherit name="editor_object" />
      <inherit name="editor_player" />
    </object>
    <exit alias="east" to="South of Castle Backdrop">
      <inherit name="eastdirection" />
    </exit>
  </object>
  <object name="South of Castle Backdrop">
    <inherit name="editor_room" />
    <usedefaultprefix type="boolean">false</usedefaultprefix>
    <descprefix>You are</descprefix>
    <exit alias="west" to="Southwest of Castle Backdrop">
      <inherit name="westdirection" />
    </exit>
  </object>
  <object name="Castle Backdrop">
    <inherit name="editor_object" />
    <look type="script">
      dir = "a short distance from"
      switch (game.pov.parent) {
        case (Southwest of Castle Backdrop) {
          dir = "northeast of"
        }
        case (South of Castle Backdrop) {
          dir = "north of"
        }
      }
      msg ("A big, ugly castle, just " + dir + " here.")
    </look>
    <displayverbs type="stringlist">
      <value>Look at</value>
    </displayverbs>
    <not_all />
    <takemsg>{random:You can't do that, genius{once:.  Good try, though!}{notfirst:{once:, and you only get an A for the effort the first time}.}:It's much too {random:large:heavy}.:You do realize you can't pick up a castle, right?}</takemsg>
  </object>
</asl>

If supporting background interaction is considered essential on this site then Quest could do more to help.

Any one of us can create pull requests on GitHub to update or add documentation.

We also sometimes discuss things at great length in forum posts such as this.

Pixie usually waits until threads like this one finally close, then he adds the things that look helpful (and usually some other helpful or informative things he thinks of) to the Quest documentation. I think he usually waits until the threads close because that entails that common ground has usually been reached. At that point, objective facts have survived the debate, and worthy opinions have been noted.

We are Quest (you, me, Pixie, and everyone here), and we are doing more to help just by having this discussion.


Well...

I suck at not replying to this thread anymore, huh?

It's just that I don't want DavyB to think I'm trying to be mean or anything just because we see things differently.

...and it's just the principle of the thing. You can't make people think it's good practice to omit any object mentioned in a game where the point is to interact with objects which are mentioned. You can make a game with a "limited parser", and you can tell the player that this game is not as immersive as they would normally expect from a text adventure. That's acceptable (to some players), and it's impossible to please everybody.


In the backdrop scope script, we can add items to a list which will be checked by Quest before each turn. Any object on that list will be placed in scope and will be "there" (and in the Places & Objects pane) during each turn. It will not be added to the automatic room objects list, because it is treated as scenery.

I don't think that last sentence is correct.

Things added with that script aren't treated as scenery. Scenery doesn't show up in the game panes.


K.V. thanks for the very detailed reply. I want to give a thoughtful response but am rushing at the moment, as I'll be away for a few days. The 'backdrop' facility looks useful! I'll try it out.


Be careful out there, DavyB! Enjoy the weekend!


I've nearly replied a few times over the past week to K.V.s mega-posting on 29 Nov, but have so many points rattling around in my head that the expected size of the response was putting me off! To keep the response manageable, I'm going to work on one point at a time and maybe spin a few off to other threads.

The most useful start for me is to step back and find agreement, if possible, on what to call games where the background provides atmosphere but nothing relevant to the completion of the game. How do you all feel about calling these 'foreground' games? Such a label would imply, for example, that background and foreground objects are clearly distinguishable; and examining background objects would give no clues of any sort.


...assuming the concept of 'foreground' games is okay (with or without that name), how does that help?

Well, for players, the use of this label would mean that they could play the game without trying to explore the background. The game developer may have included responses for some and perhaps all background objects but it is not relevant to the completion of the game. This would be a good description of the Bitter Karella games.

For reviewers (including moderators), the 'foreground' label means a game needs to be judged on that basis. So, if background interaction is missing for some objects that is not a problem unless the reviewer is confused by descriptions and genuinely feels that more information is needed. Also, if the reviewer finds descriptions that are helpful to the progression of the game then some complaint about inconsistency is justified, as the developer has used the 'foreground' label inappropriately.

For developers, if they don't use the 'foreground' label or there is no clear separation between background and foreground objects then they have to try and provide responses to ALL background objects. Similarly, if they say they have created a 'foreground' game, nothing must be hidden away in the background.

In effect, up to now, I have been playing games where I have been trying to work out the intentions of the developer from the initial locations. It would help if I didn't have to guess. Certainly there have been times when I have been annoyed thinking I am playing a foreground game and find there is something in the background that I need to investigate.

Following this classification through, foreground items that are not relevant to the progression of the game are 'red herrings'!


FINAL THOUGHTS (EDITED)

by K.V.

I hate to ignore a thread. It seems rude.

...but I don't think I can possibly come up with anything more to say that could add anything constructive after this.

So, this will be my last post in this thread, but only because I do not wish to "beat a dead horse", as the saying goes. (No offense meant.)

For the record:

I do not think I've won a debate or anything, and I do not think anyone is completely wrong or completely right.

Now, here are my final thoughts (and such):


I think the most important thing is to let the player know they are not playing traditional parser IF when (and/or before) play begins.

I don't think this site will add a new category for parser games which purposefully omit scenery objects, and I'm even more certain that no other IF site (or community) would consider it. Not at this juncture. (Wouldn't be prudent.)

Here's why I say that: 90% of text adventurers are expecting to lose themselves in an immersive world filled with prose, puzzles, frustration, and humorous responses. We are choosing to play the most tedious and intricate of games: the text adventure. We are choosing to put forth maximum effort, and we expect the author to do the same.

If authors want to make games which purposefully omit all scenery objects, that is their prerogative. Knowing that the majority of the target audience will complain about this, said authors should make everything clear before the player enters the first command. If this is done, and the game is still enjoyable, there should be no problem. Emily Short has pulled this off once or twice.

...but even Emily Short didn't attempt to add a new category for parser games such as this when she authored them, and she is a major contributor to Inform 7 and one of the most respected members of the IF community.

She knows the audience, and she knows we are more ornery and set in our ways than any other gaming crowd. It's easier to just drop a game with special instructions on us than to attempt to persuade us that less is more.

I wouldn't advise trying to convince anyone that less can be more, nor would I advise trying to get anyone to add a category for games which are considered substandard when you are purposefully doing what makes the games substandard, as this is an obvious ploy.

Just make games. Make them however you please. If you choose to omit unimportant objects, just let that be known before the game actually starts. "Welcome, Adventurer! I call this a 'foreground game'! In this game, you only need to interact with items which are clearly marked by [WHATEVER]."

That should stop the mods from Sandpitting the game. After that, if your game is good, people will like it.

If multiple "foreground" games end up being popular, and lots of players are looking specifically for "foreground games", the rules of supply and demand dictate that a new category will come into existence.


I'd like to take this time to point out that I am not being combative (or heated), although I can see how I could be taken that way.

The truth is, I'm only trying to help out. My arguments are not just my opinions. I'm putting out the opinions of the majority of the IF community.

I'm also the kind of guy who lets someone know when I see them fighting for a lost cause. I get no pleasure from this, besides knowing that I tried to help someone avoid wasting their time and energy only to be let down in the end.

In this case, the lost cause (from my perspective) is coming up with a new category.

There seem to only be three people on this site who are pro "foreground" games: DavyB, J_J, and the OP (even though the OP does not even seem to deem this discussion worthwhile). Everyone else is pro "complete" games.

A few of us have conceded that sometimes a game can be considered "acceptable" (and sometimes even "good") when an author consistently lets the player know which objects should be ignored by somehow marking the important objects. I think that's the best anyone could expect from this discussion.

Again, I am not at all trying to be mean or rude or anything like that. There is no malice in me. I'm just being honest. The truth isn't always what we want to hear, but it's always what we need to hear. (Anyone that says otherwise is lying.)

Also, I believe that your intentions are good, DavyB. You are setting ground rules for the "foreground" games. I see where you're coming from. I'm just saying that I don't think anyone else but you (and possibly J_J) will want to move forward with this proposed sub-category.

(I will say that allowing us (the authors and the players) to tag games with labels (and to create our own labels, just like on IFDB) would be great. If we could do this, anyone could tag a game as a "foreground game", and then everyone could easily find them. (I assume IFDB allows us to do this because it is much more efficient than creating hundreds of sub-categories.))

So, in summation, I'm not saying your ideas are bad. I just think you should convince us with the games, not with the creation of a new category. If you can provide enjoyable "foreground" games, the category "foreground game" will be forced into existence. (Or that's how things seem to work these days, anyway.)


J_J said:
In a graphic based game there is always a point where the world ends. There are always objects you can see in the background of the scene but you can't interact with. "Look object" in a text based game is a form of interacting with an object.

In a game with graphics, the player can literally see which objects are within reach.

In a text adventure, the player cannot see at all. The player imagines the things which are provided in the descriptions. When a thing is mentioned in a description, that tells the player it should exist in the imagination. Telling the player that something exists when it does not actually exist is illogical.


Again, I advise everyone to set the artist free. Do whatever feels right.

...just don't be surprised when purposefully doing less work than expected isn't met with praise, no matter how you package it.



Some Words of Wisdom from Emily Short:

(These are only selections from these posts. I implore everyone to read both posts in full.)

https://emshort.blog/2017/05/04/mailbag-the-endangered-art-of-parser-if/

You should write parser IF only if...
Perhaps you are nostalgic for Infocom; perhaps you think parser is just so cool; perhaps you have a game concept that really fits parser and there’s just no better place to do it. Possibly you are tickled by a medium where you can spend half your time writing responses to commands like LICK PARROT. Maybe there’s something you aspire to learn about game design that you think parser IF could teach you.

. . .

A particular kind of control over prose. If you’re writing for parser IF, you have to know where you’re placing every noun, because every object you name to the player is a promise of future interactivity. So you learn to be sparing and thoughtful.

. . .

Finally, Quest provides a way to drive some or all of a parser narrative via hyperlinks. In practice, that often results in hybrid projects, but in theory one could do something that was mostly link-based.


https://emshort.blog/2010/06/07/so-do-we-need-this-parser-thing-anyway/

Fundamentally, however, we’ve got a bigger problem, which is that the command prompt is a lie. It tells the player “type something, and I’ll understand you.” Which it won’t.

. . .

But at the end of the day, I agree with Mike Roberts that the trick isn’t to make the parser understand whatever a novice might type, and that the average novice user would actually be happier with a smaller vocabulary that has been spelled out in full.

It’s a matter of making the game better at communicating to the player what kinds of things are valid actions in the first place — indicating the affordances of the system, in other words.

That will also help with the other problem that novices often report: a kind of paralysis of choice. If you can do anything at the command prompt, where do you start?

Yeah. That command prompt is a problem.


While I’m on the topic, I should mention that the parser isn’t a picnic for authors either. It’s thanks to that pesky command prompt that so much development time goes into implementing feedback for completely stupid and inane actions; and who among us hasn’t left in a bad response to >TOUCH MOON or >RUB PARROT, just because the possible combinations of verbs and nouns in our game world was too enormous to think through properly?

These days there are some tools to help with that, and it’s often possible to tighten up the simulation in general rather than deal with every single annoying case individually — for instance, people making far-away things in Inform 7 could do worse than to check out Jon Ingold’s Far Away extension, which would let you designate the moon “far away” and then cope sensibly with all possible moon-fingering behavior.

Still, a huge amount of creative overhead goes into the not-always-thrilling task of creating responses to commands that aren’t sensible, aren’t relevant to advancing the game or story, give the player no interesting character notes about the viewpoint character, deliver no jokey zingers, and are flat-out unlikely to be typed by anyone who isn’t actively trying to break the game.

If you don’t work on that stuff, it makes the game look buggy and unpolished. Because it is buggy, because the player can make things happen that tear a giant hole in the illusion.

But I’d be lying if I said I’ve never wondered why I was bothering, sometime during hour seven of implementing responses to the highly-unlikely instead of working on stuff the player is definitely going to see.

. . .

So what then? Do we pitch out the parser and go to a system in which the player’s options are clearly enumerated at all times?

People have played with that idea too. Sometimes the approach is to fill a screen with lots of helps: a compass rose showing directions, a map, sometimes an image of the location, plus a menu or set of buttons representing all the major verbs available at any given moment.

This can get overwhelming. If I’m playing a largely text-oriented game, I prefer not to have the window of text forced into a small corner of the screen while the rest of the territory is taken up with interaction helps. It’s unattractive — and it also represents a style of UI that’s rapidly becoming obsolete. More and more games in the commercial sector streamline away as much as they can in order not to crowd the player’s field of vision with things other than the screen in which the action is happening.

. . .

Another approach is to retain visual cues but embed them in the main text itself. Bronze and Blue Lacuna both use the technique of highlighting (in bold or in color) important nouns in the text;


Until such time as more than three people in the entire world start writing 'foreground' games, I doubt there's any real need for a new category for them.

Davyb, no offence, but this isn't an argument you're ever going to win. Since this discussion started two months ago, the number of people in favour of your ideas has reached a grand total of three (including yourself), which is exactly the number it was to begin you. In other words: in two months, you've not managed to convince a single person of your viewpoint.

Sometimes you just have to accept the fact that you're on the losing side of an argument and leave it at that. You're not going to change the way the IF community is without a majority on your side, and three is a long, long way from a majority.


Okay K.V. and David W, what I'm taking from your responses is that you understand what I'm calling a foreground game and not suggesting that it is an unhelpful classification. That is enough encouragement for me to label my own games that way, even though all of them support interaction with background objects. Let's see if others find the concept useful as well.

I was hoping to break the discussion up into more manageable bite-size pieces, including something on maintaining the illusion as you have just discussed K.V. This thread now feels overly long, however, so I'll make this my last post here and think about what to do with the other points in my head!

Thanks, this has been an interesting journey!!


DavidB, I have been silently following this thread and have enjoyed the back and forth. I believe you should hold onto your beliefs. Don't feel suppressed. That fact that there are impassioned opinions on both sides shows there is a need for discussion.

I remember a time when text adventures were filled with "I can't see that". It was a signal that I was looking in the wrong direction or I needed to reword my command. Text games were new and I was filled with awe with just the fact I was communicating with a machine.

Perhaps the two sides of this discussion are clues to our ages?

I have since moved on from the "I can't see that" response. If it is mentioned or assumed to be here then it needs a response, even if it is a generic template response with a bit of wit to let me know I'm being a bit ridiculous in my direction of commands. I am forever stuck with Emily Shorts view on "Lick duck" example. These are opportunities for me as a creator to get in a good zinger. I have no published games because of this but I still enjoy the process.

I think about every possible command that may be used about a noun and will follow it out for a few levels, with each response getting more ridiculous to match the command. The player will look for possible things to do just to see the response. It is all part of the fun. I also realize that some players want to play the game and get the satisfaction of getting to the end. The frills are not very important.

Some people have different motivations for creating games and need to see a finish line and publish. If a game does not push the envelope of entertainment then it is a waist of my time.

A game maker should ask, "What makes my game unique?"

The competitions are a way to see this push forward come to pass, but I have been a judge in these and sometimes we had to pick the most interesting turd.

I want text games that move forward with the technology of the times and still hold to the nostalgia of the originals. So I don't want to see you feel silenced or defeated in any way.

If you want to see more games as you describe then you must hold true in your belief. If you think it is worthwhile then I say more power to you.

I can play a game written in any style and love it, if the game is fun to play. The beginning needs to wow the player and show them the ropes on how to play. That will carry them through to the end.

Everyone sees text games differently. They have a limited audience of devoted gamers. A creator needs to decide why their game is being made. For entertaining purposes of others playing it, for money or to increase their writing skills.

The keys to success are, Does the game script work properly and does the game plot entertain? That is all that is important.

Peace and Joy, Mo'fricks 😎


Thank you Forgewright, that's very encouraging...and forced me to create this 'last post + 1' response!

The keys to success are, Does the game script work properly and does the game plot entertain? That is all that is important.

Yes, I agree completely, through perhaps in the order 1) great concept; 2) great implementation? The discussion in this thread covers just a small part of 2), which is one reason I became involved; the importance of providing interesting interaction with background objects that are not part of the plot seems to have been blown out of all proportion.

Never fear Forgewright, I haven't given in to the 'lie down, you're dead' suggestion, and will bring out related points in other threads...


I'm gonna get this dead horse on its feet again, dang it! Ar Ar


Ignore this post.

I'm gonna get this dead horse on its feet again, dang it! Ar Ar

Feel free to send me details if you would like friendly informal feedback on anything.


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