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General IFComp Discussion for 2017. No spoilers, please!

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PostPosted: Fri Nov 17, 2017 10:13 pm 
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Some anecdata to back up CMG's and craiglocke's claims: Recently I helped demo some IF games to an audience that mostly had not played IF before. They kept wanting to do silly plot-inappropriate things like burn Grunk's pants. And they loved it when the game gave an intelligent response.

The parser does seem to be an invitation to try anything.


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PostPosted: Fri Nov 17, 2017 10:22 pm 
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An invitation to be immature, I'd say. Perhaps I'm being cynical, but "being able to do anything" rarely translates into "being able to do the responsible thing" in a parser game. It's always EAT PANTS or KISS TRASHCAN, etc.


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PostPosted: Fri Nov 17, 2017 10:39 pm 
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I don't think you're being cynical. Maybe the opportunity to be immature is part of the appeal of parser? If you want, you get to simulate acting stupidly with no real-world consequences.


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PostPosted: Sat Nov 18, 2017 2:02 pm 
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Opportunity to catch the author out, more like. And then if the author turns out to be ahead of you, it's a strongly positive experience.


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PostPosted: Sat Nov 18, 2017 5:05 pm 
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I think this relates directly back to what Adam Cadre said, some twenty years ago, about the joy of IF being the ability to "wander around in someone's world and knock over the vases while [you're] there".

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PostPosted: Sat Nov 18, 2017 5:15 pm 
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The thing is, I don't personally agree with that being the joy. I think it's a concession you have to make because you know players will do silly things, and this funnels the medium at large toward absurdity.

It occurred to me I'd accidentally succeeded with Midnight. Swordfight. because KISS is a main verb. My later games weren't as silly, and down they went. So I picked a silly verb this year: EAT. And what do you know.

Well, what do I know. I wasn't playing text games five years ago, let alone twenty.


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PostPosted: Sat Nov 18, 2017 10:07 pm 
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I meant, the joy as a player. Why else would a player try silly things, if they didn't derive some sort of joy from it?

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PostPosted: Sat Nov 18, 2017 10:33 pm 
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Me too. As a player, my joy in playing IF doesn't come from typing gags and hoping the author implemented them. But I know I'm in the minority, and I know other people like doing that. I try to write with it in mind now. I think it's the reason why "light comedy" is the default parser genre.


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PostPosted: Sat Nov 18, 2017 11:09 pm 
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It's not about the gags. It's about the reward of the game accommodating the player. Gags are simply the most obvious reward when the actions themselves seem absurd. If you can find a serious, sensible way of rewarding a player who wants to "burn pants" in a serious drama, I guarantee that people will just eat it up.

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PostPosted: Sun Nov 19, 2017 3:08 am 
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IMO, "light comedy" is the default for point-and-click adventures, too. (Even games that aren't primarily about comedy tend to have a lot of gags.)

Those games have a similar problem: what are you supposed to do when the player clicks on the torch and then clicks on the pants?

Inventory in adventure games is almost always absurd. How am I carrying all of this stuff? Why did I take these things? Why do I have these things? Why can't just go to a hardware store and buy normal, general-purpose tools? Why am I able to solve all of the puzzles with this random stuff I found along the way?

I think this is an inevitable outcome of puzzle-story adventure games. To have a feeling of solving a puzzle, there has to be a reasonably large number of possible solutions, but some of the options will be absurd. So the author's only options are to answer absurdity with absurdity, or to try to punish players for their absurdity with a boring negative response.

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