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Topics - NilG

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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'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 / Menu Bar Issues
« on: June 21, 2019, 11:02:04 AM »
Hi again, a couple of lingering questions I have (and quite possibly the last I'll have, at least for a while).

I'm encountering two problems/unexpected behaviors with my menu bar options:

1)  As the attached image shows, the text for "Inventory" is screwed up.  I've tried changing this text to Inv and a couple of other things, but for reasons I can't figure out, this particular string is consistently getting mangled regardless of what's in it, while the others seem fine.

2)  When I hit Esc throughout play, my Hints On/Off box pops up.  This should be triggered by Ctrl-H, and I don't see any reason that Esc would also trigger.

My best guess for these issues, of course, is coder error, haha.  This is the init for my MenuBar script, where I assume the problems are:

Code: [Select]
(class TheMenuBar of MenuBar
state 0

(method (init)
(AddMenu { Game_} {About Game`^b:Help`#1:Toggle Hints`^h})
{ File_}
{Restart Game`#9:Save Game`#5:Restore Game`#7:--! :Quit`^q}
{ Action_}
{Pause Game`^p:Inventory`^i:--!:Retype`#3:Look At`^l:Read`^r:Recall`^e:Ask About`^a:Tell About`^t:--! :Colors`^c}
{ Speed_}
(if (DoSound sndSET_SOUND)
(AddMenu { Sound_} {Volume...`^v:Turn Off`#2=1})
(AddMenu { Sound_} {Volume...`^v:Turn On`#2=1})
(if (< (Graph grGET_COLOURS) 9)
(SetMenu MENU_COLOURS 32 0)
(SetMenu MENU_COLOURS smMENU_SAID '/color')
(SetMenu MENU_SAVE smMENU_SAID 'save[/game]')
(SetMenu MENU_RESTORE smMENU_SAID 'restore[/game]')
(SetMenu MENU_RESTART smMENU_SAID 'restart[/game]')
(SetMenu MENU_READ smMENU_SAID 'read[/book]')
(SetMenu MENU_HINTS smMENU_SAID 'hint')
(SetMenu MENU_QUIT smMENU_SAID 'done[/game]')
(SetMenu MENU_PAUSE smMENU_SAID 'delay[/game]')

Does anything look off here that could account for either of these issues?  I've got to be missing something.

SCI Syntax Help / Loading External Scripts on the Fly?
« on: June 09, 2019, 09:48:07 PM »
This may be a stupid question, but I've got a couple of rooms that are on the edge in terms of heap space, and it's causing some issues already (like can't open Inventory at times).  The rooms are basically done, but the game itself will probably have more quite a few more global variables and things that will end up pushing them over.  I'm looking into tightening things up, but I was wondering if there is any way to load an external script on the fly?

What I'd really like to do is have, say, one script that deals with 'ask' responses and one that deals with 'look' responses for this room.  I'm trying to account for as much user input as I can, and if I could take even just these two subsets of user inputs and set it in some way that an external script is called when the user 'asks' something then disposed immediately after, for example, I feel like it could go a long way to alleviating heap issues.  It's hacky, but it would get the memory where it needs to be if just the handling of these two inputs could be offloaded and put into memory only on-demand.

I may be grossly misunderstanding things here, but just checking on the possibilities.  I'm looking for ways to legit tighten up and rein in the script as well.  I'm hoping not to have to cut things, though that will probably be the only alternative for at least one of the rooms at this point, if I can't figure something else out, so figured I'd ask at least.

SCI Syntax Help / Dialog Box Edges Hiding Objects Behind
« on: June 01, 2019, 12:51:54 PM »
Just going to go for broke and ask this one, slight as it is, since I notice it every time I play through and forays into the two windows scripts haven't made me any smarter.

I've noticed when dialog windows open, they seem to hide objects a few pixels to either side of them.  The attached is an example.

I'm a shitty artist and trying to work around this by creating most background objects as separate views placed onto the scene.  It ain't pretty, but it's prettier than my attempts at vector-based art.

This really isn't a big deal and doesn't affect play at all, I just notice that background objects like the bookcase in the attached get hidden around the left/right sides of each dialog window (showing the yellow wall instead in this case) and was wondering if there's a modification that can be made to prevent this while maintaining pretty much everything else as is about the dialog box?

SCI Syntax Help / Music/Playing Note Sticks When Leaving a Room
« on: May 29, 2019, 06:34:22 PM »
I'm finally for real wrapping up the last few things for a demo, and things are working pretty much as expected.  Music's one of those last things, and I've put some in a number of the rooms.  For the most part, all's well, rooms without music shut up, rooms playing different music switch as expected, all that goodness.  I'm finding when I leave one room in particular, though, if there's a particular flute sound playing, the flute note sticks and doesn't unstick until I've reentered the room and the music progresses to that point again.  Even entering different rooms with different music just piles the noise on top, rather than silencing the stuck note.

This "effect" kinda seems like a blast from the past in the Adlib or MIDI synth with some of the older games (this setup here specifically is just using GM), but since this appears to be happening consistently for this room and this one instrument, I was wondering if anyone had any thoughts on how to force it to shut up when the user leaves the room?

SCI Syntax Help / Saying Anything But
« on: April 27, 2019, 06:44:35 PM »
Me again,

Another stupid syntax question that I haven't been able to sort through.  I am trying to do something like the following:

(if (and (Said '[/*') (not (Said '/bulb[<green,red]'))) (= takeOrTouch 0) (self handsOff:))

Basically, I would like '/bulb[<green,red]' to get passed up to the locale script, but I still want to specify a response for anything else that is said.  This and various other things I've attempted have given me a bad spec error; I managed to get it almost working with a convoluted use of local variables, but when I do that, I get a "responseless" statement on top of the expected behavior for any other items I have specified in the room prior to the *.  I have a couple of ideas that might sort this latter method out involving pEvent claimed, but again, it already seems convoluted, and I assume there's probably just a straightforward way of doing this.

Besides, this is over time coming to happen in multiple statements across multiple rooms, so I'd rather not dirty up the code all over the place with hacky workarounds when I'm pretty sure I'm just missing some element of the syntax.  I've got enough crappy hacks in my illiterate code.   ::)

Thanks again in advance.

SCI Syntax Help / Printing Variable Contents
« on: April 22, 2019, 01:21:24 PM »
Hey all,

Probably a ridiculous beginner question, but I've taken a look a couple of times and just don't know how to print out the contents of a variable, just so I can check what a local or global is set to.  Not looking for anything magic, I just haven't been able to sort the syntax to a Print statement that allows it to print the contents rather than the variable name itself.

So yeah, I think pretty basic, but could be useful in some debugging while wrapping up, and just in better understanding some of the behind-the-scenes behavior.

SCI Syntax Help / Parsing Noun/Qualifying Adjective Words
« on: April 04, 2019, 05:07:45 PM »
I encountered something that seemed interesting to me while testing out some of the responses I get to certain inputs, and while I sort of see the reason behind the response, I'm not sure what the reason behind the reason for the response is.   :)

So among multiple look statements, there's one that pretty straightforward:

Code: [Select]
(if (Said '/car,shuttle')
car works fine.  shuttle, however, just prints the basic room response.  After looking a bit, I see this is because "shuttle" is both a noun and a qualifying adjective.  If I remove the "adjective" attribute, it works.

I'd set it as an adjective because you can look at the shuttle door, for example, to differentiate it from looking at a different door.  From what I can tell, things are still working in that regard with shuttle just set to "noun," so all good (I think!).

But now I'm wondering, as I have a few other nouns I've also made qualifying adjectives for similar reasons, could that be problematic down the line?  Do nouns function as qualifying adjectives when used in that way within the said statement?  Is there a reason, in the above example, that 'shuttle' would be taken to be an adjective instead of a noun when there's nothing following it?  'look AT shuttle' works like I'd expect, but 'look shuttle' doesn't.

I've reviewed a few of the pages around here and may have missed it, but haven't seen anything specific to this.  I feel like the word type associations can be fickle, and have had to play around with them in a few places to get things to work for similar reasons.  It always seems to be ultimately manageable, I was just wondering if anyone know why it interprets things in these ways, treating a word like an adjective when it's also a noun and there's nothing else for it to qualify in the input?

Hi again,

This may not quite be a syntax question, but I'm encountering a problem with the white control line in one of my rooms.  Previously, I'd had just a very rough mock up of the rooms, and all control lines seemed to work fine.

The past couple of weeks, I've buckled down and started working on actual backgrounds.  All's been great here until working on one outside scene today.  After coming up with an improved-but-still-rough start where I could place the entries (player can go west, south, or in a building on the screen), I went ahead and created control lines to cage the ego in and open passage where desired.

Testing it out, I've found that the south white control line only seems to apply when the player is coming from the south room; that is, if I come from the east or out of the building, the user can skip right over the white line and end up in the south room through any point on the lower end of the screen.  If, on the other hand, the player has just come from the south room, the white line applies and properly keeps the user confined to the room unless the entry area is used.  All of the other lines in this room seem to work as expected regardless of the entry point; it's just this one wall that fails anytime the user comes from one of the other two rooms.

The entry code is identical for all entry points other than positions and loops:

Code: [Select]
(switch gPreviousRoomNumber
  (gEgo posn: 230 142 loop: 2)
  (gEgo posn: 25 148 loop: 0)
  (gEgo posn: 198 185 loop: 3)
(gEgo posn: 150 130 loop: 1)

and the exit code is similarly plain:

Code: [Select]
(method (doit)
(super doit:)
(if (& ctlCYAN (gEgo onControl:))
(gRoom newRoom: 7)
(if (& ctlFUCHSIA (gEgo onControl:))
(gRoom newRoom: 5)
(if (& ctlYELLOW (gEgo onControl:))
(gRoom newRoom: 6)

I'm pretty puzzled what the issue could be.  I've redrawn the control lines a few times in a few different positions, but I'm finding the same behavior regardless.  Any ideas what I could be doing wrong here?

SCI Syntax Help / Customized Dialogue Windows
« on: February 15, 2019, 10:56:08 AM »
Hi again.  Most of the code for the demo is done (act 1 of a 3 act game).  Still a ton to do, replace edited Sierra backgrounds with original ones, add and pretty up some views, clean up some code (aside from a bit of scripting and the C++ courses I took in high school 20 years ago, I'm not a programmer), and waaaaay too many "responseless" possibilities.  Still, there are two complete positive paths through the end of the section I have, it's been amazingly rewarding, and thank you so much for the help with my absolute beginner's questions.

One thing that isn't necessary, but I'd love to include, and I realize it may require a ton of rewrites or additions, is customized dialogue boxes for conversation, similar to QfG2.  Basically just background and text colors customized depending on who's speaking.  Snail Trek (love it and looking forward to Cascadia Quest) also has something very similar; I don't know that speech bubbles would fit stylistically here, but it is basically that idea.

I've looked at the code and guess what's there can be used to implement this, but as a non-coder, my method for doing so would probably be super convoluted.  Is there any kind of built-in method for the customization of dialogue boxes, or a sample of code that doesn't suck for doing so?  I can certainly add sucky code, but I know many of you have been here for a long time doing these things, so figured I'd ask before tromping ahead recklessly.  :D  Thanks!

SCI Syntax Help / Instance Priorities
« on: February 02, 2019, 07:00:00 PM »
I've got another question for you fine folks here about instance priorities.  Basically, I'm not sure how they work to layer instances in a desired manner.

For example, in one of my rooms, the player can open a dresser, which brings up an instance of the openDresser visually on the screen.  No problem there.  Now say the player moves or looks under the clothes.  I switch to a new loop where the clothes are shifted to show the bottom of the drawer, and there's supposed to be a book sitting there.  Functionally, in fact, there is!  But visually, I cannot get the book to appear overtop the dresser instance.  It's initialized but hidden by default; when the clothing is moved, I call show: on it, but no book.

If the drawer's closed and the openDresser instance isn't there, the book shows without issue if I call for it.

I know that instances have Priority properties, and I've imagined this should take control of the layering, but it doesn't seem to matter what I put here; whether the book is a higher priority that the openDresser or a lower, it's just not showing up.

I've seen some similar behavior in other rooms where a couple of instances are stacked on each other; it seems they just appear in some mix of the order they're initialized and displayed in.

Am I off in thinking the instance Priority can be used to direct instance placement relative to one another?  Is this property only applicable to background/Pic priorities?  Is there some other way to prioritizing instances to direct where they show relative to each other?

I know in the above instance I could just add another loop with the book, so it's not like there aren't workarounds, but I'd really like to know if my expectation is off or I'm bungling it up somehow, just so I get it.  Thanks again in advance.

SCI Syntax Help / Unlocking Locales and Regions
« on: January 29, 2019, 07:21:45 PM »
Hi again!

As the title suggests, I'm trying to incorporate locales and/or regions in some of my scripts, but I seem to be running into an error; it compiles and the game runs up until the room is loaded, as which point I get the "Oops!" error and a crash.  I've read over the tutorial at and things look right to me, but I must be missing something.

I've placed the script alias in

Code: [Select]
and have set up a basic test script:

Code: [Select]
;;; Sierra Script 1.0 - (do not remove this comment)
; SCI Template Game
; By Brian Provinciano
; ******************************************************************************
; Lieven Locale Script

(include "")
(include "")
(use "controls")
(use "game")
(use "main")
(use "obj")
(instance Lieven of Locale
    (method (handleEvent pEvent)
        (super handleEvent: pEvent)
(if (Said 'smell/hands') (Print 1 7))

Finally, I've set it in the room:

Code: [Select]
(instance rm001 of Rm
picture scriptNumber
north 0
east 0
south 0
west 0

(method (init)
(super init:)
(self setLocales: LIEVENLOCALE_SCRIPT)
(gEgo posn: 150 147 loop: 1 cel: 0)
(SetUpEgo 1 6)
                … etc etc

But no luck yet.  I also tried setting everything as a region with the same result.  Can someone help me see what I'm missing with this?  Thanks in advance.

Another question for the SCI gurus, I'm using a switch state to move along an automated scene (perhaps there's a better way to do this, I'm all ears for sure).

Currently, I have the following set up within it.

   (theMessenger posn: 155 160)
               (= seconds 1)
   (theMessenger setCycle: Walk setMotion: MoveTo 155 157)
   (= cycles 1)
   (theMessenger loop: 0 setMotion: MoveTo 205 143)
   (= seconds 2)
   (theMessenger loop: 1 cel: 0)
   (= seconds 2)

This works okay, but I'd like to cut out the waiting periods between the states, if possible.  Two issues I'm seeing with this:
    • Setting cycles or seconds to 0 just seems to stop everything entirely, rather than skipping over the waiting period.
    • If I set #4 to something low like 1 cycle, the loop updates even though the movement is still going on, I'm guessing because MoveTo waits for an ok call while loop doesn't.

    So it works, but I have awkward halts between movements and am sure there must be a better way to do this then figuring out the animation cycles required to wait before travel is complete to change loops.

    Is there some alternative to seconds and cycles that waits for the commands to fully be carried out in each state and all called methods to get the ok when necessary, then immediately moves on to the next state?  Or is there another way to do this?  Is a switch state not even the best option?

    Also, while I'm asking, if I'm working an SCI0 parser, it looks like there's no Path Motion method; is the best way to make multiple MoveTo calls like above, or is there some other way to direct a multi-step path?

    Thanks in advance!  Trying to figure things out on my own the best I can, but occasionally getting caught up between the two different scripts, various versions of SCI, and limited documentation.[/list]

    The SCI Companion doc notes that:

    "Both languages can be mixed and matched in the same project (but not the same file), though it is not recommended you do so (but this might be the case if you are converting an old project to the Sierra Script syntax file-by-file)."

    This makes sense, and ultimately I'm shifting everything I'm gathering to Sierra Script, which is my project's overall pref/setting (been working on this with some scripts already, and even just translating from one script to the other is tightening up my grip on the syntax substantially), but it made me curious whether there are specific known risks in mixing/matching the two script types within a single project?  Do certain elements fail to work across them very well?  Or is this not recommended mainly because it just results in more muddled code than we'd want?

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