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Messages - NilG

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I might not have strictly kept to the topic, or maybe the subject title's a bit off.  I definitely don't think PnC sucks, and would also agree that much of the "freedom" is illusory, though I'd also have to side on the parser vs dialog trees.  Technically, you can convey the same information either way, but I've always felt like the parser version plays out more as a user-driven conversation.  QFG1 and 2, which I've played through more times than I can count, can still occasionally give me a surprise when I ask a character about something I'd never thought to ask before.  That's largely due to designers' attention, of course (just did a recent run through of Police Quest 1 after many years and was surprised by how many "ask about" questions had nothing whatsoever, no matter how relevant to what was actually going on).  There was always just some extra bump in joy I felt when I found something new to ask on my own or some way to work with the parser as compared to PnC.

Speaking of the Yeti, though, one other thing...  this was a long time ago, so my memory could be hazed out, but while I don't recall eating the pie prematurely or having a ton of trouble with the Yeti, I suspect it was due to the "click everything on everything" manner of playing that becomes easy when you feel stuck.  Maybe that's a user-caused issue (don't do something unless you can think of a reason you're doing it), but I can guarantee the thought of throwing the pie in the Yeti's face Three Stooges style never crossed my mind.  It really is pretty silly as a "puzzle."  In that case, is it better to have the potentially more forgiving PnC over the parser?  Would "use pie with yeti" have yielded the same, or something like "A good idea, but how?"  I really don't know.  Come up with a better puzzle and it would work either way?  Perhaps.

Plus, on the other hand, "put bag in the bottle" or whatever the specific line from LSL2 was, shows how painful untested parsing can be, even when it's generally pretty good throughout a game.

You guys are right, though, the maximum enjoyment in either method comes from the developer caring enough to reward exploration with information, be it humorous or interesting, or just something to acknowledge that you can see what you can see.  The rest is probably subjective.

Deaths and maybe dead-ends can have their place...  The warning for the labyrinth is a nice touch, and when ignored, maybe it's all fair game.  I feel like there've been game puzzles where the correct thing was to ignore the narrator, as well, so it's potentially confusing, but if you can get a feel for the game and its characters, it could be pretty amusing.  I think Collector's got a good point: how long do they let you putter around as the walking dead?  Leisure Suit Larry 2 felt like one that could let you follow the linear story for hours before nailing you with a missing item.

And QFG, Roger "Red Shirt" Wilco, there are some humorous deaths.  I'm not a personal fan of random wolf attacks as you enter a screen or getting shot three seconds after someone else enters the screen, though both of those are fairly avoidable with some reflexes and care, and also save early, save often.  I guess it depends on the death and the payout; it's good to have some gravity to your actions, and the inconvenience of restoring really... isn't, so much. 

Great point about appearance and animation helping counter flaws.  There's a limit to what they can help pad, but they do provide some grace when done well enough to really be immersive.  Animation over text when possible can make a huge difference for sure, and it helps if those detailed screens let you interact with all those detailed details.

Fetch quests to excess... Oh yeah.  As an avenue for narrative progression, it can definitely make sense, but "take ****," walk for a couple minutes, "give **** to ****," repeat, does not a puzzle make.  Interesting things can be done with tricks and subterfuge on the characters or other variations to add some interest, but then there's a puzzle involved.

Out-of-Place puzzles...  I'll have to pay attention during my play through to the slide block puzzle.  Anachronistic puzzles, that sort of thing.  Not quite moon logic, but not quite part of the presented world.  An interesting thought, for sure.

Okay, more than enough words from me.

Just to kick off a discussion...

I would never want to talk shit on a single game and certainly have no desire to pick out a specific game from 20 years for its faults.  There've been plenty of "Worst Adventure Game" threads throughout the years, but...

Since I feel most of us have been playing adventure games for a long time (and some of us may have not been, but the question remains), what are some of the things that have popped up in adventure games that have transfigured joy into irritation or flat out rage?

Not a new question either, of course, but wanted to share my own thoughts on a few things and see what you all thought:

Parser Vs PnC - Possibly the primary question for us old assholes.  I'm a parser fan because of the freedom of exploration.  I also understand, particularly after coming up with a demo in the format, how reliant the experience is on the understanding of syntax and basic words/synonyms.  It's something of an early AI, and very limited by memory when not by care.  I always enjoyed parser, though, that ability to look at or try anything.  I remember reading the KQ Companion and how the skull in KQ3 was a rudimentary computer.  Goofy?  Sure.  As a kid, I recall wondering why I didn't look at that thing closer.  Parser doesn't widen the world, really; PnC can do all the same, but it always seemed to me when I was younger that the world was limitless.  You could type ANYTHING and maybe get a response.  I enjoyed PnC as well, but was initially disappointed when Sierra went the PnC route.  Of course, that wasn't the biggest issue with their first game in that direction, though many of them weren't initially introduced by the change, either:

Dead Ends - These kind of suck.  When I was in my single digits or an early teen, it was fine.  All the time in the world.  As an older dude, dead ends kinda suck.  It's tough to come up with a balance that avoids it, particularly in the older memory limitations.  But I get it; I can't imagine an adult or most kids today saying, "Sure, my bad, I'll go back and replay 6 hours because maybe I missed something then."  Didn't mind it then.  Don't have time for it now.

Deaths - Maybe a touchy topic or not.  I don't think deaths are awful in and of themselves, but sudden death is frustrating.  Again, as a kid, I learned to bounce when the random wolf appeared, but sometimes death makes sense in the context.  GK1 did it pretty well, I feel.  I think there are two kinds of adventure game deaths. and both can be avoided by saving and restoring, but there's no fun in entering a new screen and dying because fuck you, that's why.  It's a puzzle game, not a shitty luck game.

FMV - Obsolete as it was now, anyway.  GK2, which I enjoyed as a still young teenager, isn't generally placed on the same level as GK1 for I think obvious reasons.  Same could be said for early 3D games, I guess.  I'm not a graphics guy, necessarily, but there are certainly differences, and if the technology is negatively impacting the game portion of the... game, then there's probably an issue.

Bad/Impossible Puzzles - Ifnkovhgroghprm and Cat Mustache are obvious and explored to death.  This is one I feel like I may be trying to balance still.  I'm not sure if the puzzles in Sect are all fair or if there's a bunch of easy ones and hard ones.  I can think of one puzzle (as a backup to avoid a dead-end) that probably needs more clarification/hinting, and that's one way around this kind of puzzle.  Hints within the text or visuals can probably help bang this one out almost universally, as long as the puzzles aren't completely lacking in logic.  Don't want to make it too easy, but don't want a game full of picking up hammers and using them on nails, either.  Random, ambiguous letters in unrelated houses obviously don't work to improve it.  It needs to make sense.  Bad puzzles are a killer seeing as that's the point, right?

Basic Storytelling - Just for the sake of completeness, have an interesting story or an interesting game, like in any other medium.  If your game is some dude trying to go to White Castle or finish their term paper, the game itself better be interesting.  I shit every day; not gonna make a game around it unless Toilet Paper Quest comes with a pretty epic tale.

Surface exploration; definitely interested to hear any other opinions, though?  I feel like we all want to create entire worlds that (or recreate variations of this world in a way which) keeps things interesting and triggers a desire to explore.  What's prevented that in some otherwise stellar games?

BONUS!  Not enough information - Not as big, but if there's something on the screen that can't be deciphered visually, mention it in the general look or at least make it explorable with the right word.  Sometimes the screen just has a bunch of shit on it, and it's all garbage.  That's fine; just catch it with something.  It's perfectly fine to have garbage on the screen, but give it a LOOK response or something.  It sucks to look at that thing which is obviously a ***** and get a generic "don't know what you're talking about" message, particularly if the game's well aware of the word used.

It's tough and imperfect to create an entire world, which I think is part of the thought behind these games, and we want to make them interactive without being frustrating.  A tall order, probably.  Further thoughts into what just sucks sometimes about adventure games?

I'd be game for a playtest and feedback, too, if you'd like.

The Games and other Sierra Adventure stuff / Re: What are we working on?
« on: November 11, 2019, 02:03:34 AM »
Back to it with Sect.  I hope to have one of those elusive full games up here, someday.  ;)  It'll be a while yet, but progress is good.

Very cool, looks like they've about quadrupled the goal so far, too.  Definitely interested.

Thanks, Doan!  I hope it's enjoyable for sure.

Think it's time to take a breather for a month or so, take some time to really sit down and enjoy the games posted here myself.

Excellent, thank you much.

I've uploaded the demo version for The Sect of Achturan for approval.  I'd actually done a silent upload a month ago and then promptly found a few minor issues that bugged the hell out of me, but this version's pretty solid; the older one can be discarded.

Left in the debugger code for fun.  Any and all feedback/criticism welcome for sure!

SCI Syntax Help / Re: Menu Bar Issues
« on: July 19, 2019, 10:08:03 PM »
Taking another look at this, now that I've switched to flags, gotten that working, and cleaned up a bunch of other stuff.

I see that Graph's a Kernel thing, and grGET_COLOURS is defined as 2, but I'm having some trouble figuring out just what this is doing.  Can/Does grGET_COLOURS get redefined to make this statement false in some cases?  Is there a reason this chunk could be screwing with my memory use?  As noted, the Colors function doesn't seem to work anyway in my game or when I plug those two above files into the template, though it does in the raw template, so I must still have something weird going on in my MenuBar script, but I'm having trouble seeing what it is.

SCI Syntax Help / Re: Can someone explain Flags to me?
« on: July 12, 2019, 10:08:30 PM »
That does seem to make the difference here, from a few brief tests.

SCI Syntax Help / Re: Can someone explain Flags to me?
« on: July 12, 2019, 08:00:42 PM »
Most telling, I guess, is that this:

Code: [Select]
(if (Said 'what')
(Bset 0)
(FormatPrint "Bset 0: %d" (Btst fAlleyLightBusted))
(Bset 5)
(FormatPrint "Bset 5: %d" (Btst fBrokenSandwichThrown))
(Bset 69)
(FormatPrint "Bset 69: %d" (Btst 69)))

shows that 0 and 5 get set, but the last printout still says "Bset 69: 0"  Moreover,

Code: [Select]
(Bset 0)
(FormatPrint "Bset 0: %d" (Btst fAlleyLightBusted))
(Bset 69)
(FormatPrint "Bset 5: %d" (Btst fBrokenSandwichThrown))
(FormatPrint "Bset 69: %d" (Btst 69)))

shows that Btst fBrokenSandwichThrown (which is the element 5) is getting set in this latter case as well, even with the number specified.  So 5 seems to be getting set in either case, which I guess may point to the issue being in selecting the array element, as troflip noted?  I checked setting 70, as well, and find that 6 gets set instead.

I'm not sure why, yet, though; I've gone back and recopied the Bset from this script again, and have experienced the same even when I leave it as is (allowing for the no return warning to pop-up).  I've run a search and verified that there isn't some other Bset procedure I've added somewhere else that's getting called in lieu of the one in (and there's only the one there).  It does seem strange.

SCI Syntax Help / Re: Can someone explain Flags to me?
« on: July 10, 2019, 10:05:09 PM »
RoomScript event handler:

Code: [Select]
(if (Said 'throw>')
(if (Said '/rock/light')
(if (not (gEgo has: INV_LIEVENROCK)) (Print 6 57)
else (self setScript: lightsOut)))
(if (Said '/rock/window')
(if (not (gEgo has: INV_LIEVENROCK)) (Print 6 57)
else (Print 6 93)))

and then it's actually set in the lightsOut script:

Code: [Select]
(instance lightsOut of Script

(method (changeState newState)
(= state newState)
(switchto state
(Print 6 58)
(theLight loop: 2 cel: 0)
(= seconds 1)
(= cycles 1)
(gEgo view: 002 loop: 1 cel: 0)
(= cycles 1)
(if (!= (gEgo cel:) 5) (gEgo cel: (+ (gEgo cel:) 1)) (self changeState: 2)
else (= seconds 1))
(= cycles 1)
(if (!= (theLight cel:) 2) (theLight cel: (+ (theLight cel:) 1)) (self changeState: 4)
else (= cycles 1))
(= gDefaultPalette 1)
(Rm drawPic: 6)
(theDoor cel: 1)
(theFirstDumpster cel: 1)
(theLight loop: 3)
(thePuddle cel: 1)
(if (not (Btst fGreaseJarInTrash)) (theSecondDumpster cel: 1)
else (theSecondDumpster cel: 3))
(theTrashPile loop: 1)
(theTrash1 cel: 1)
(theTrash2 cel: 1)
(theTrash3 cel: 1)
(theTrash4 cel: 1)
(theWallLine show:)
(Bset fAlleyLightBusted)
(theGlint dispose:)
(= cycles 1)
(gEgo view: 0 loop: 1 cel: 7)
(Print 6 59)
(= seconds 2)
(Print 6 60)
(= cycles 1)

SCI Syntax Help / Re: Can someone explain Flags to me?
« on: July 10, 2019, 08:46:47 PM »
Yeah, throwing the rock corresponds to the alley light bustage.

Huh.  It does say it's 69, so that seems a good thing.  I guess it's Btsting the right one, since it keeps treating it as false, instead of switching to the else Print statement.

The fifth flag is for an event taking place on another room altogether, and one that isn't even in use yet outside of the enumeration (all events still utilize the original global variable).  Search confirms that it doesn't pop up in any of the other files...

SCI Syntax Help / Re: Can someone explain Flags to me?
« on: July 10, 2019, 06:35:49 PM »
I've currently got 71 flags enumerated and a 10 item gameFlags array.  gameFlags is itself the final global variable.  I've got 73 other globals before that I've added, though the ones related just to this screen are commented out, bringing that to 71.  None of the other three global variables which were previously associated with this screen, which are also used in other rooms, should be in play here.

    "gameFlags: %04x %04x %04x %04x %04x"

dump for gameFlags 0 - 9:

Starts out:
0000 0000 0000 0000 0000 0000 0000 0000 0000 0000
which is fine.  A couple will get set to true initially, but not implemented, so all false is good.

Nudge bag:
0400 0000 0000 0000 0000 0000 0000 0000 0000 0000

Throw rock:
8400 0000 0000 0000 0000 0000 0000 0000 0000 0000

Nudge bag after throw rock:
0400 0000 0000 0000 0000 0000 0000 0000 0000 0000

fAlleyLightBusted is the very first flag enumerated, so my understanding's fuzzy, but the addition there is expected?  fTrashMoved is the second to last of 71, so that one looks to be in the wrong place as far as I understand.  It's resetting the whole first byte or maybe array element altogether maybe when it flags what seems to be the wrong bit anyway?

SCI Syntax Help / Re: Can someone explain Flags to me?
« on: July 10, 2019, 02:23:45 AM »
I do Compile All each time before a test run and almost always rebuild just to kill the redundancy, but I just went through and compiled both Main and rm006 specifically to be sure.  Still no luck.  No saved games; I've largely relied on the debugging shortcuts, but even when I do save, I crush any save files to be safe.  There aren't any currently.

In, I just have the enum in a list format:

Code: [Select]

No numbers specified, so I don't *think* that's the case, but is it possible?

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