I'm not sure Mass Effect and Dragon Age are such good examples of games where you have to make decisions quickly, given that at any time, you can freeze the world to look around, target enemies, issue commands to party members, look through your inventory, etc. If you don't do it that way, it becomes virtually unplayable, as your party members die within seconds of the start of combat.
I've played both games and I don't tend to pause the games for combat and I don't "die within seconds." Nor do many gamers, by all accounts. Where the story-element pauses come in -- and which is much more relevant -- is the dialogue options. You're not forced to make a decision quickly about what to say. And I do think that's a detriment because it doesn't allow you to react as you would *most likely react* as that type of persona. You can sit there and hem and haw over what dialogue choice you should take and what the likely ramifications of that are.
IF tends to model worlds in very abstract ways, but simulate a much wider variety of things that can happen in them.
Agreed. Except in many cases all that modeling or simulation is not really relevant to progressing the story or the game. A lot of it is just for atmosphere. I'm not discounting atmosphere but my point here is that all that ability to model a world to a certain level of conciseness does not necessarily lead to a better experience. It can, but it doesn't have to. A lot of times when I'm forced to do something that doesn't really propel the story, I'm turned off. (Since I brought up Mass Effect games, I'll say a big turn off for me was the roving around in the Mako. This was great modeling, I guess. Great simulation of driving around a really big world. But it was boring. And tedious. And they -- correctly -- dropped it all in the second game.)
In a big-budget 3D game, it takes such a commitment of time and resources every time you add a new system that those games tend to end up being the player doing essentially the same things with slightly different window-dressing over and over again.
But sometimes the "big-budget" aspects make up for the window-dressing. After all, people do respond to those types of gaming experiences. Can the same be said for text adventures? Maybe so. I'm not saying text games are not capable of this, but the gaming audience has, by and large, decided one way rather than the other. (One of the biggest complaints about Mass Effect, for example, was the amount of text that needed to be read.)
I don't know that saying text adventures are so much simpler to produce is really a compelling argument if only because it says nothing to quality. In fact, given that text adventures are so much simpler to produce, I would expect really high quality in the aspects that it provides: the mechanics, the parser, and, above all, the story (i.e., the level of writing that I have to read since it's all pretty much text based).
And, of course, there are some things you can do with text that just wouldn't make any sense in any other medium. Games like Nord and Bert, Ad Verbum, or Earl Grey are good examples of this.
I can't speak to the latter two -- I will look them up -- but I can speak to "Nord and Bert." There are graphical games, including many for kids, that do use various forms of word play as part of the gaming. Many LeapFrog games do this. The graphical nature of the games does not mean they can't use textual words in some cases. On the other hand, I do agree that something like "Nord and Bert" could be a great way to get kids to look at situations that force them to consider words and how they are used. But many gamers are not going to be interested in that.
I also like that IF is narrated because it allows for deeper characterization. Everything you're experiencing in the game is coming through the filter of a narrator or the player character him/herself, ....
Which works well if you have a good writer. Which goes back to what I said way before. It seems text adventures really shine when you have a good author writing the text, one who is skilled in the ability to tell a good story, who knows how to do good characterization, etc.
In graphical games the presentation is usually pretty objective and you can take it for granted that what you're seeing on screen is an accurate representation of what's happening.
Good argument. But see the F.E.A.R games which constantly play on what's really there and what's not. Hallways expand all the sudden and then you're somewhere else. Someone you were talking to dissolves in front of you. The thing you were shooting at turns out to be ten feet closer to you than expected: literally in one second.
IF allows for an unreliable narrator or lets the author more easily pick and choose what the player gets to know about and what's important to take notice of.
I do agree this is an area that graphical games could explore more. Alpha Protocol does a fairly good job of this, in terms of not really knowing what's going on. Good argument, though. Again this really puts the emphasis on the authoring skills.
It still really comes down to this for me: why does text adventure development seem to attract many non-authors? Witness many posts in the forum for Inform 7 for example, where the posters apparently don't believe in full sentences, periods, or the need to capitalize. Witness those who can't even ask a question in a way that allows people to reliably answer it. These are the writers that Inform 7 at least is attracting. I'm not saying that's the case across the board. But text adventures seem to have this appeal that "Hey, I can't program. I can't do graphics. I don't know if I want to write a book and I don't even know if I can. I sure as hell I know I can't do graphics or sound all that well. But you know what? I bet I can write a text adventure?"
That's really part of what prompted me to start this discussion. It just seems like text adventures seem to attract people who feel they "can't do other things but here's finally something they can do" and then text adventures, at least in my mind, start to become the lowest common denominator of a storytelling or gaming experience.
I can see the points you and others have made. So, again, I guess I'm wondering. Why isn't the text adventure attracing more game authors, particularly those who have studied game design? Why isn't the text adventure arena attracing more authors? I mentioned those companies Malinche and TextFyre. I don't know if there's an attempt to attract known names in the gaming or novel arenas. If not, why not? Couldn't such people help make text adventures even more exciting? Propel the medium in new ways? Or is that not a desire? But if that's not a desire, why come out with such an extensive and impressive system like Inform 7? Why have such impressive languages like TADS 3? Why have new versions of ADRIFT and Quest? Clearly people take this stuff seriously but given the current audience, it's hard to see why (at least for me).