intfiction.org

The Interactive Fiction Community Forum
It is currently Mon Nov 24, 2014 6:54 am

All times are UTC - 6 hours [ DST ]




Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 59 posts ]  Go to page 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6  Next
Author Message
PostPosted: Sun Feb 12, 2012 7:15 am 
Offline

Joined: Fri Jul 16, 2010 2:46 am
Posts: 132
Hey all,

My new game, A Colder Light, has been out for a couple of weeks now -- I was wondering if anyone had any feedback on the UI system it uses?

For those who haven't tried it; the game is a culmination of some experiments Erik Temple and I have been working on, to use an "object-focus -> pick verb" model for interaction. But the game isn't an experiment, it's a proper [short] bit of IF. There's a link to it from my blog:

http://threeedgedsword.wordpress.com/2012/01/26/new-game-a-colder-light/

I think it manages to create a typing-like experience without the bother of typing, but I'm curious to see how other people found it. Too restrictive? Farming for options? Too easy?

If reaction is favourable, I could wrap up what I did to make it work and release it as an extension. It's pretty much plug-and-play (although it does look a bit ugly under Zoom and WinGit and such; you really need the CSS styling of Quixe to render it nicely.)

cheers!
jon

_________________
inkle: interactive stories
http://www.inklestudios.com


Top
 Profile Send private message  
 
PostPosted: Sun Feb 12, 2012 12:32 pm 
Offline

Joined: Sun Mar 01, 2009 8:02 pm
Posts: 1185
I like the interface a lot. I think it provides enough flexibility for game-play, and it feels very natural. Nice work!

I'm wondering what happens with objects for which a useful command might be less than obvious. Let's suppose there's a secret door, for instance, that can be opened by turning or pressing an object that is not obviously turnable or pressable. I'm not sure how that type of puzzle would work with this UI. I wouldn't call this a guess-the-verb puzzle -- it's a guess-the-action puzzle, which I think is a fair type of puzzle, as long as the action could be intuited somehow.

Just as a suggestion, if I scroll back and click on a highlighted word for an object that's no longer in scope, it might be nice to see an "I cannot see that right now" output message.

Also, when I click on a noun for the first time, it might be nice if the interface ran the examine action automatically, rather than forcing me to click a second time on the Examine button. Again, just a suggestion.

Another thought: In my current WIP, there are several longish text passages. These may scroll the room description up off of the screen. In such a situation, your UI would likely require that the player use the scroll-bar in order to continue playing. (The game could perhaps add a "look around" button automatically in such a case.)


Top
 Profile Send private message  
 
PostPosted: Sun Feb 12, 2012 12:50 pm 
Offline

Joined: Fri Jul 16, 2010 2:46 am
Posts: 132
Jim Aikin wrote:
I like the interface a lot. I think it provides enough flexibility for game-play, and it feels very natural. Nice work!


Thanks!

Jim Aikin wrote:
I'm wondering what happens with objects for which a useful command might be less than obvious. Let's suppose there's a secret door, for instance, that can be opened by turning or pressing an object that is not obviously turnable or pressable. I'm not sure how that type of puzzle would work with this UI. I wouldn't call this a guess-the-verb puzzle -- it's a guess-the-action puzzle, which I think is a fair type of puzzle, as long as the action could be intuited somehow.


You're right, this wouldn't really work, and I think it'd have to be designed around. So instead I'd have a couple of objects which have to be turned appropriately to a certain combination, or somesuch. (Tilt the correct book from the bookcase, that kind of thing would work well too.)

Jim Aikin wrote:
Just as a suggestion, if I scroll back and click on a highlighted word for an object that's no longer in scope, it might be nice to see an "I cannot see that right now" output message.


Great suggestion. I think I'd rather if I could strip dead links from the UI completely, but this would be a good, actually-possible-to-do solution.

Jim Aikin wrote:
Also, when I click on a noun for the first time, it might be nice if the interface ran the examine action automatically, rather than forcing me to click a second time on the Examine button. Again, just a suggestion.


People keep telling me this ;) I don't like it myself, but you may well be right.

Jim Aikin wrote:
Another thought: In my current WIP, there are several longish text passages. These may scroll the room description up off of the screen. In such a situation, your UI would likely require that the player use the scroll-bar in order to continue playing. (The game could perhaps add a "look around" button automatically in such a case.)


There should always be a look around button (and if you're focused on an item, click the "<" button to get it back). But that's an interesting problem I hadn't considered. Hmm..

cheers!
jon

_________________
inkle: interactive stories
http://www.inklestudios.com


Top
 Profile Send private message  
 
PostPosted: Sun Feb 12, 2012 1:47 pm 
Offline

Joined: Tue Mar 09, 2010 2:34 pm
Posts: 3196
Location: Burlington, VT
joningold wrote:
Jim Aikin wrote:
Another thought: In my current WIP, there are several longish text passages. These may scroll the room description up off of the screen. In such a situation, your UI would likely require that the player use the scroll-bar in order to continue playing. (The game could perhaps add a "look around" button automatically in such a case.)


There should always be a look around button (and if you're focused on an item, click the "<" button to get it back). But that's an interesting problem I hadn't considered. Hmm..


I think the issue may be the "<" button; the first time I played this, I started out by clicking on a bunch of items without even really looking down at my initial options. So "go inside" was hidden behind the "<" button, and I got stuck for a little while before I realized that was an option.

Perhaps make the "<" button more prominent and its function more obvious? Would labeling it "more" work?

I didn't have Jim's exact problem because I realized that clicking on the room name worked as "look." These various "look" and "examine" shortcuts could lead to trouble with timed puzzles where "look" and "examine" take a turn (by costing you a turn when the object you want has scrolled off the screen), but "look" and "examine" should never take a turn in timed puzzles, so that's not a big problem for you.


Top
 Profile Send private message  
 
PostPosted: Sun Feb 12, 2012 2:51 pm 
Offline

Joined: Tue Dec 01, 2009 3:45 pm
Posts: 30
joningold wrote:
Jim Aikin wrote:
Also, when I click on a noun for the first time, it might be nice if the interface ran the examine action automatically, rather than forcing me to click a second time on the Examine button. Again, just a suggestion.

People keep telling me this ;) I don't like it myself, but you may well be right.

It took me a while to get used to the idea that clicking on items wasn't going to put any text in the main window. The buttons changing can be quite subtle, perhaps especially when you're clicking on inventory and things that are far away at the top of the screen. Maybe it would help to have those links at the bottom next to the buttons. Or, if you don't want to show a full examine description, could you put some token acknowledgement of the click into the main stream? "I'm looking at the stars" or something like that? I'm not sure, it might get too clunky and repetitive.

More general comments: I thought you did a good job of covering the actions I wanted to do. I don't remember being annoyed that I wanted to try something and I didn't have the option.

One thing I do remember noticing was that it's slower to do sequences of actions, when you know what you want to try. As in, when you think "hey, I could try putting the monkey in the dishwasher", and type N, E, GET MONKEY, W, S, OPEN DISHWASHER, PUT MONKEY IN DISHWASHER. To do this by clicking is slower, and involves paying more attention to the screen to spot where the right links are. So it pulls you out of the flow a little where typing doesn't.


Top
 Profile Send private message  
 
PostPosted: Sun Feb 12, 2012 3:40 pm 
Offline

Joined: Sun Mar 01, 2009 8:02 pm
Posts: 1185
joningold wrote:
Jim Aikin wrote:
I'm wondering what happens with objects for which a useful command might be less than obvious. Let's suppose there's a secret door, for instance, that can be opened by turning or pressing an object that is not obviously turnable or pressable. I'm not sure how that type of puzzle would work with this UI. I wouldn't call this a guess-the-verb puzzle -- it's a guess-the-action puzzle, which I think is a fair type of puzzle, as long as the action could be intuited somehow.


You're right, this wouldn't really work, and I think it'd have to be designed around. So instead I'd have a couple of objects which have to be turned appropriately to a certain combination, or somesuch. (Tilt the correct book from the bookcase, that kind of thing would work well too.)


A related problem would be 'look up beelzebub in grimoire'. The author doesn't necessarily want to reveal all of the contents of a consultable information source. Ditto with conversation topics, I suppose. Some people like conversation topic lists -- I don't. But I can't recall an example of a game where all of the contents of a consultable encyclopedia were listed as nudges for the player.


Top
 Profile Send private message  
 
PostPosted: Sun Feb 12, 2012 4:29 pm 
Offline
User avatar

Joined: Mon Oct 03, 2011 12:03 pm
Posts: 734
Location: Reading
Jim Aikin wrote:
But I can't recall an example of a game where all of the contents of a consultable encyclopedia were listed as nudges for the player.

In The Spy Who Ate Lunch there is an encyclopaedia/handbook that lists the entirety of its consultable topics in a contents page. The sheer length of the list and the many-stepped nature of consulting topics in the book acts as a disincentive to looking up everything in turn.


Top
 Profile Send private message  
 
PostPosted: Sun Feb 12, 2012 5:05 pm 
Offline

Joined: Tue Mar 18, 2008 9:04 am
Posts: 717
In general, I like it too. I haven't finished -- I'm stuck trying to figure out

Spoiler: show
how to attach the blades to my moccasins


-- but I think I've played enough to get the concept. It's very pretty, plays at a nice speed in browser, and communicates affordances well, all good stuff. At least to me, it still feels like IF, in the sense of having a rich explorable setting and complex world model with lots to do. Some hyperlinked text games have pared things back enough that they engage me in a more readerly, less YOU ARE THERE way. Both are okay, but I'm especially keen to be able to present an IF-like experience in a more accessible way. So hooray for that.

Also, this isn't what you asked about, but I'm enjoying discovering by exploration the rather surprising magic/religion of this world.

Possible mild drawbacks:

I found myself looking from the top to the bottom of the screen and back a lot. I wonder whether the top of the screen is the best place for inventory. This kind of split attention problem has been an issue with pretty much every deluxe IF interface I've ever seen/worked on, so it's hardly unique to yours.

I think my ideal solution to the not-in-scope problem is to turn off the hyperlinks for items that are no longer in scope, so if you scrolled back to an earlier room, you would find that the objects there were simply not blue any more and were not actively clickable. I'm not sure how viable that is once material has already been printed to screen -- it seems like something that e.g. Vorple would be able to handle neatly via javascript, but might not be doable with your tools.

I also did get a little frustrated with the two-click method of manipulating objects when

Spoiler: show
I was trying out various rune combinations and had to keep clicking to select a rune, lay it down, see whether anything happened, select that rune again, pick it up, select another rune, lay it down...


...as that was something that I felt I could have done much more quickly by typing. I wonder whether it would be worthwhile to have the option of a custom mechanic when dealing with game elements that are going to involve repetitive uses of similar objects. For instance, one might have a hand of cards and a display that allowed you to click them each *once* to play...? It was much less polished overall in terms of graphical design, but I recall that Stark Springs' "Words of Power" had a similar interface feature to allow the player to assemble spellcasting components.


Top
 Profile Send private message  
 
PostPosted: Sun Feb 12, 2012 5:19 pm 
Offline
User avatar

Joined: Tue Apr 20, 2010 2:48 pm
Posts: 801
joningold wrote:
I think it manages to create a typing-like experience without the bother of typing

Without the "bother" of typing? Then why not drop the text entirely and introduce a 3D environment and videos? That way you get rid of the bother of reading. Of course it won't be a text adventure anymore, but at this point, who cares.


Top
 Profile Send private message  
 
PostPosted: Sun Feb 12, 2012 5:41 pm 
Offline

Joined: Sun Mar 01, 2009 8:02 pm
Posts: 1185
RealNC wrote:
joningold wrote:
I think it manages to create a typing-like experience without the bother of typing

Without the "bother" of typing? Then why not drop the text entirely and introduce a 3D environment and videos? That way you get rid of the bother of reading. Of course it won't be a text adventure anymore, but at this point, who cares.

I suspect I'm not the only IF author who would love to go exactly this route, or at least to try it out ... if only I could produce 3D video games (a) with a budget of $0, (b) without a dev team, (c) within a time-frame of 3 months, and (d) without learning any new highly technical skills.

The reason to minimize "the bother of typing" is to make the IF experience more approachable to people who didn't start out on machines that ran MSDOS or (in my case) CPM. That said, evvabody texts these days, so maybe typing is perceived less as a bother than it would have been ten years ago.


Top
 Profile Send private message  
 
Display posts from previous:  Sort by  
Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 59 posts ]  Go to page 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6  Next

All times are UTC - 6 hours [ DST ]


Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 2 guests


You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot post attachments in this forum

Search for:
Jump to:  
Powered by phpBB® Forum Software © phpBB Group