Sign in with
Sign up | Sign in
Your question

[REVIEW/ANALYSIS] of The Dreamhold, potential SPOILERS inc..

Last response: in Video Games
Share
December 15, 2004 1:07:03 PM

Archived from groups: rec.games.int-fiction (More info?)

This is a one-week-after review of The Dreamhold (by Andrew Plotkin,
released Dec 7th), so I believe most of the major puzzles/endings are
covered. There may be some Easter eggs yet to be uncovered; if there
are, hopefully the discoverers will fill in the blank spots.

Zarf's new game purports to be used as a tutorial game for
introducing "newbies" to IF. Consequently, he calls it a tutorial
game, includes unprompted hints in the tutorial mode as well as many
"voice over" style interrupts by the narrator. He includes the
mechanics in the tutorial mode - intrusive hints, interruptions by
the narrators, random voices relaying key information -that might be
useful in getting newbies going on an "Adventure!" But I think his
real point is to not-so-gently mock the conventions of IF-and many of
its authors--by delivering a meta-commentary on how to design and
execute an IF game. His real tutorial is for those of us stuck in the
tired conventions of IF -- amnesiac PC, wandering through rooms picking
up treasures, opening locked doors, etc.-by showing how a game of
that sort can have a significantly larger meaning. In fact, Dreamhold
may be the apotheosis of the traditional, Zork-led approach to IF. All
"adventure" games with less intricate semiotics will be a step back
after this one. My analysis/review continues below ....

{Note: Potential spoilers begin immediately after the spoiler space
below, so if you haven't played it yet and desire to do so, go no
further.}

>S
>
>P
>
>O
>
>I
>
>L
>
>E
>
>R
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>S
>
>P
>
>A
>
>C
>
>E

Beginning: The PC awakens or appears in a featureless cell, with a
headache and no memory. The game then inserts an unasked-for
interrupt, instructing the player to type help if they don't know how
to get started. Typing help gives the newbie the three most basic IF
commands (look, inventory, examine) plus the normal movement commands
needed to begin the game. The intro text is standard amnesia stuff -
"agony," "raw lightning," "you can't remember anything."


Fortunately, this is not a "locked room" puzzle, so the first time
adventurer can proceed East. Zarf's narrator then intrudes with
congrats for figuring out the game play. He then introduces himself
and describes his narrative role. After two moves, the PC is in the
crowded study of a wizard:

"You do not know where you are, but you know what this place is: a
dreamhold. A wizard's high house.

You do not find yourself afraid. A dreamhold is more than merely
dangerous."

The game really starts here, as you contemplate what the crowded study
is all about and what a dreamhold might therefore be. From my
perspective, as an experienced game player, the intro didn't give
much for a newbie to go on. But what Zarf is really doing is setting
up the main theme of the game, as well as the major focus of the game
play. Game play will involve (a) exploring the dreamhold; (b) getting
your memories back in the process, and (c) finding out what "more"
there is to the dreamhold. The "more" has meaning not just to the
PC, but to the player as a fan/author/participant in IF. "You do not
find yourself afraid," but maybe you should be.

Game Theme: The term "dreamhold" is Zarf's synonym of the
classic (though not widely known) concept of a "memory palace."
For those unfamiliar with the term, you can go back as far as Cicero to
see reports of ancients using the technique to master the "science of
memory," or memorization as an engineered construct. Essentially, a
memory palace is a method of association. Either using a real
structure or one designed in your mind, associating something you want
to memorize with objects in the rooms of the memory palace or house can
bring the items to memory. Thus, if memorizing a poem, you put the
first stanza in your favorite chair in the living room, the second
stanza by the stove in the kitchen, etc. To recall the poem in a
word-perfect fashion, you merely "walk" through the memory palace,
looking at the objects.

A line of the intro, if referred back to, reinforces this: "You
clutch at memory, and there's nothing but empty air." The PC has
amnesia and is in an empty, featureless cell. He needs to get up, move
around the house, examine the objects, if he's going to get his
memory back. Later, during the game, one of the intruding memories
speaks of the practices of memory palaces, but the initial conceit is
built in right from the start, if you only know how to look at your
situation.

There is a long history of revivals of, and adherents to, the memory
palace approach, up until the present day using computers to build
virtual reality memory palaces. Much testimony supports the efficacy
of this technique. Researchers continue to look into it and visual
association in general as an aid to Alzheimer's, senility, and other
memory-loss conditions. It also intersects somewhat with Guilio
Camillo's so-called "Theater of Memory" in the 16th century.
Camillo's concept expanded upon the memory palace to suggest that by
building a physical theater, stuffed with objects and texts, arranged
in tiers from a central point, the user of the Theater could stand on
the stage and by looking at the objects, call on all the world's
knowledge, and potentially, the power of the cosmos (sounds like
Google, eh?). Another promulgator of memory palaces was Giordano
Bruno, also in the 16th century.

Both of these ideas have major relevance in The Dreamhold. The memory
palace concept explains why wandering around in this forbidding
environment will ultimately cure your amnesia. The "theater of
memory" idea also may explain why the wizard built the Dreamhold in
the first place. It is a place of power, a source of knowledge, a
container of learning, etc. It is, potentially, the "more" than
merely dangerous aspect of the Dreamhold. It is an excellent concept,
only rarely explored in the fantasy or Sci-Fi world. I'm not sure of
another example of either the memory palace or the theater of memory in
IF, but I could have missed it. It's nice to be original, so kudos
to Zarf.

The memory palace also serves as Zarf's meta-commentary on the
practice of adventure gaming in the first place. If you grant that
much of IF still constitutes of wandering around in a series of
"rooms," then the underlying memory palace theme is a not-so-subtle
pull at the tail of that unwanted, aging elephant in IF's parlor.
The parallel is irresistible. Of course, if you prefer, you can also
think of it as a commentary on the power of IF and IF authors/players
- we're creating, sharing, and inhabiting these "memory
palaces" or even "theaters of memory" that give us great powers.
If only the rest of the world understood the "science" behind IF.

Another aspect that should be mentioned is that the dreamhold as memory
palace might be literally what is says it is, namely, a "dream" or
illusion. It may actually not be a real palace from the PC's view,
but a mental construct used by the wizard to further his
memory/learning. This of course makes the use of it in an IF game a
meta-meta, or even meta-meta-meta commentary. Wheels within wheels,
clever, and a good spoof of the "traditional" gaming environment
and perspective.

Layout of the Game: By my best count, there are 70 rooms in the game.
Fourteen (or possibly more) of these locations transform under certain
conditions. This counts all the locations I was able to reach that had
a separate room title, but doesn't double-count the rooms that
transform, since they are still in the same logical space but just have
different aspects to them.

The layout is roughly triangular, along the southern face of the
imagined mountains out of which the place is carved. There is a major
central passageway that curves from northwest to southeast, and a
secondary series of rooms that connects to that and tracks away to the
northeast, in the heart of the mountains. The three major multilevel
sections are on the corners of the triangle - the Dark Dome & Orrery
on the southwest Side of the Dreamhold, the climb up the mountain and
then down to the Pleasance Garden on the southeast side, and the
cistern at the northeast corner. Major puzzles must be solved in each
area. There is a pit that is also encountered in the northeast section
of the map that must be mastered.

Overall, the game layout is evocative. Complex enough to seem like a
wizard might have made it, not so large that you can't "remember"
it as you explore. The descriptions of the rooms are fairly
distinctive and often contain clues to the game play. I enjoyed
exploring the dreamhold's structure and found moving through it to be
easy once I had been through most of the game. You definitely got the
sense of the remoteness of the location and the boundaries imposed by
the site. Obviously, part of the end game is "how do I get out of
the Dreamhold?" The layout reinforces that desire to a great extent.
Leave the Dreamhold and presumably you have your memories intact and
you are ready to go on. Or stay and find out how you can use its
power.

Many things are going on in the descriptions that make you want to find
out more, too much to detail here. One nice note is that the basically
triangular layout of the Dreamhold is echoed in the use of the triangle
as a significant object in the translucent dome, in the pyramid in the
lower part of the dome, and in the fact that there are basically 3 main
endgames (with one minor variation on the third).

Major Puzzles: There are several major puzzles in the game, and some
"meta-puzzles" that relate to the end-game. I will describe these
meta-puzzles more in the endgame section. Other than simple entry
puzzles (find a key, unlock the door), the major puzzles to be solved
in the Dreamhold relate to either getting a series of 7 masks and how
to use those masks once found, how to collect the wizard's regalia
and how to use it once found, and how to make and use the portal
described in the wizard's immense book that the player finds in the
wizard's study. The key to solving each of these is in the
collection and use of the masks, the significance of which is discussed
below.

The masks are apparently the key objects in the memory palace, the
actual physical embodiments across the spectrum of the wizard's
thoughts. Finding them and/or getting the harder ones involves
observation, understanding, and repetition - the necessary components
of memorization, I might add, so Zarf keeps his meta-theme going. It
also emphasizes the memory palace as a "scientific" technique, as
examples show below:

--One mask requires a search of existing knowledge, surely the first
step in any scientific approach. This mask is white, the color of the
innocent.

--One mask requires you to perform a basic act of observation using a
scientific instrument. This mask is brown, the earth color that
represents the basic toil required to achieve anything in this world.

--One mask requires you to observe a physical process, then repeat a
series of those processes to get your result - toppling an icon.
This mask is gold, the color of accomplishment.

--One mask requires you to observe the mysterious workings of a
biological process, then use that process to bridge the gap to reach
your end. This mask is green, the color of longing or envy.

--One mask requires you to watch and puzzle out the workings of a
machine of unknown principles, then deduce how to use its physical
properties. This mask is blue, the color of cold logic.

--One mask requires you to figure out the complex engineering
principles of a fluid system, then manipulate the plumbing until you
get it right, including some necessary repairs. This mask is red, the
color of anger that can thwart observation or drive discovery.

--One mask requires you to figure out the nature of an astronomical
device, then position it properly through trial and error to confirm
your hypothesis. This mask is black, the color of the unknown, and the
desire/fear of conquering it.

Solving these puzzles and the easier one to get all seven masks leads
you to the mystery of how to use the masks. Without completely giving
away the show, you have to find parallel characteristics in the objects
within the house, or puzzle out the sequence of events, that allow the
masks to be linked to form the chain of memories you are seeking. A
great deal of reflection is necessary, so to speak, which is the
hallmark of a "science of memory" approach. (Note: punnish
symbolism fully intended here.)

When you have solved that mystery, then accessing the wizard's
laboratory becomes straightforward. In his lab, however, there is
another puzzle that requires scientific observation, trial and error,
and experimentation. Basically, Zarf is wedded to the "science" of
the memory palace and is reinforcing a scientific approach with almost
every significant puzzle.

End-game puzzles: There are 3 major end-games, one of which has two
paths out of it. Each of them, on the first time through, requires you
to solve the puzzles of the masks. Then, by following a sequence of
events that becomes clear after that, you are presented with a choice
of end games. On subsequent trips, you can actually complete one of
the end-games without bothering with the masks at all. But to know
that, you have to have "memory" of having seen something before,
therefore you really don't need the memories in the masks at that
point. So the meta-trick about the memory palace and IF gaming is
still firmly in place.

Ultimately, the meta puzzle relates to: how do you want to use the
memory palace? No suggestions of this are really given during the game
until you are close to the end-game. In fact, only by playing the
end-games do we see that the choice makes a difference. Again,
knowledge is power, and choice based on that knowledge is what we can
leverage with our memory palace. The endings are:

1. Restore your memories and return to your prior life. This
completes the mystery of the masks by finalizing the assembly of the
memories. You return to where you were before your unfortunate
amnesia. This ending becomes possible and is simple to attain as soon
as you complete the task in the lab.

2. Use the memory palace as a portal, either to new worlds, or to a
deeper study of the knowledge contained in the memory palace contained
in the great book. Either path is enlightening, but the dangers of
knowledge and new worlds are well known. This ending is also possible
very quickly after completing the task in the lab. It basically
represents an alternate to the first ending. Note that it also
requires you to go back to where you started - the blank slate of the
cell where the game begins, in order to get anywhere.

3. Harness the true power of the dreamhold. The final ending, which
is probably the preferred one, relates to the "more" than dangerous
aspect of the dreamhold. Bearing the accoutrements of the power within
the construct, you now stride the cosmos with the other gods. This is
basically the Guilio Camillo use of the "theater of memory," as
discussed above. (Note: this ending could also be taken as a literal
sign that the PC has died. Again, the danger of the dreamhold, but is
now in a better place.) To get this ending, the player has to do
significant extra work in understanding the rooms of the dreamhold, the
object within them, and his/her own probable destiny. But first, they
must choose to ignore the other two options or, having tested those,
learned their limitations.

Each of these endings is equally sustainable. They also represent the
potential full use of the scientific process in general: from
learning, to knowledge to power. And of course power is a dangerous
thing. The question is in the choice of what you use the power for.

Conclusion: The Meta-Meaning of the Meta Puzzle. In the context of
the game, the end-game puzzles have the meanings described in the
meta-puzzle section above. But in the larger game of IF - which is
where I believe Zarf is really focused - there are also meanings that
should be clear to the authors/consumers of IF.

The critique of IF in recent days on r.a.i.f. has been either (1) IF is
a dead art or (2) IF went wrong in ever advancing past Zork-style
adventure games. Through his intricately contrived world in the
Dreamhold, Zarf is telling authors of IF to resist both sides of this
argument. In constructing new games (dreamholds), Zarf basically
argues:

(1) relying on our memories - of Advent, Zork, and all the other
classics - is OK, but basically, all you are doing is slaying more
peasant armies (you have to play the game to get the specific memory
that relates to this) who want to pull things down around your ears.
There is nothing new there, and the barbarians will be at your gate
again soon. This correlates to designing "meaningless" treasure
hunt games, and is increasingly frowned on in IF circles although the
history of IF and the direction of adventure games outside the tight
confines of the IF world follow this course.

(2) using IF as a portal, for study, learning or examination of new
worlds, is a worthwhile endeavor and is always a good choice. Explore,
experiment. Examine other experimental games. Emulate them.
Continue to build the powers of your own "dreamhold." And if you
do, then maybe you are ready for option 3.

(3) gather the implements of knowledge/power you have accumulated
around you and enter the heavens. Take IF to a place it hasn't been
- equality with the other genres of games, movies, books, art, in
general. Push the boundaries and become an artist who lifts the whole
medium upward. Take your rightful place among those of substance and
power. Raise IF to the heights.

The IF Archive is the start of your dreamhold. You have your new
marching orders (or options). The choice is up to you, according to
Zarf.

Or, as you can tell, maybe I had too much time on my hands this past
week and this was just a treasure hunt after all . . .

PJ
December 15, 2004 8:50:37 PM

Archived from groups: rec.games.int-fiction (More info?)

Magnus Olsson wrote:

>1) You associate the colours of the masks with the actions required
>to find them. To me, it feels far more natural to associate their
>colours with the memories evoked by them (white - the innocence of
>childhood, and so on). Have you got any thoughts on this?

I think in at the basic level of the game, that is what Zarf was doing.
If you "x __ mask," you get a look at the basic expressions that you
are talking about. However, what I am trying in my analysis to say is
that there are three levels to the game:

(1) the basic level, where you play the game for fun and try to win;
(2) the meta-level, where you play the game to try and understand what
it is saying about memory palaces and the structure of IF games; and,
(3) the meta-meta level, where as an author/player, you are choosing
between the types of games and IF you will play/write/buy, etc.

>From the last two contexts, I was struck by how the colors would have
meaning beyond the meaning to the PC and to the actual player, and from
there to the whole concept of IF. Zarf might consider it a reach. But
note that the green mask was on the "far side of the river" -- evoking
"the grass is greener" envy. The gold mask was on the face of the
statue, or icon. To get it (achievement) you had to knock down the
idol whose feet, if not clay, were certainly on an unstable base. The
blue mask (logic) was on a machine whose parts and movements called for
the utmost precision in the language used to surmount it, like a tricky
semiotics game. The white mask lay in a clutter of books, papers, etc.
-- an archive, perhaps a metaphor for the IF archive. The black mask,
representing the darkness and fear of the unknown, lay torn and
discarded near the path, but not on the path, of higher enlightenment.
The brown mask, of sweat, toil, and labor, is found by minute
observation, "taking infinite pains," which is certainly what good IF
requires.

At that level my reading works. Whether Zarf meant it that way or not,
the beauty of the memory palace, or as I prefer, Guilio Camillo's
theater of memory, is that you make use of it as you will. So, now
that Dreamhold is in the public, it belongs to you and I to use as much
as to Zarf -- which is yet another meta-commentary on the whole
adventure of IF.

>2) While you might very well be right about Zarf's use of the tutorial
>form (and there's surely *some* truth in it), I don't think the author
>is outright deceiving us about the tutorial aspect - as far as I can
>tell (not being a beginner myslef), it ought to work quite well for
>its stated purpose. And there is irony - the tutorial voice at some
>points served to draw my attention away from the esoteric side of the
>game (especially when entering the dark cave - the tutorial voice made
>me overlook the way to find the dagger).

Actually, if you read the darkness hints correctly, you can see there
is more there to get in the darkness, a definite departure from most
games where stumbling in darkness kills you quickly or slowly. That is
Zarf saying to the newbie, "don't give up" while at the same time he is
making a clear statement that Dreamhold is turning adventure
conventions on their head. In fact, even one of the most obvious
points is that the "treasure gathering" here relates all to
self-improvement -- regaining memories, rebirth, moving to a higher
plane, etc. That in itself turns conventions on their heads, and he
reinforces it by disdaining both scores and turn counters. You're not
there to "score" or be efficient in your exploration. You're there to
learn about IF, at the three different levels I spoke of above.

Regarding the actual hints given, I think the tutorial is adequate, but
only in the respect that they contribute to bringing even the advanced
user to an understanding of the higher purposes/endings of the games.
If you have a newbie, give them Zork I, and a list of basic commands,
and let them have fun. While Dreamhold has a definite appeal to an
advanced player, an enhanced on-line tutorial for a new port of Zork I
would be far better at hooking a new user. But that, I think, is part
of Zarf's premise. You can't go back and live on those memories.
Thus, "tutorial" means more for you and me than it does for the newbie,
though maybe Zarf didn't want people to catch his double-meaning so
quick.

It's all open for debate, of course, but my "theater of memory" doesn't
have to be the same as yours.:) 

PJ
December 15, 2004 9:02:20 PM

Archived from groups: rec.games.int-fiction (More info?)

>Three comments, actually: I don't think that the third ending, the
>"apotheosis", is really the preferred one. It is clearly the most
>advanced one, the one an experienced player is most likely to arrive
>at (because the mural makes it obvious that there is plot beyond the
>portal ending) but it isn't where the story really ends, or should
>end. And, BTW, I found the first ending clearly undesirable: by
>restoring _everything_ the protagonist rejects the possibility of
>change, hence of redemption.

Actually, I agree with you on this. The third ending is not
"preferred" solely, and is not the end point; rather, it is the
penultimate waystation along the path to enlightenment. When you enter
the cosmos, there is much to do beyond that. And perhaps yet another
cosmos beyond that. At my meta-meta level, that work must be done in
the real world of the IF community. That is where the precepts of
Dreamhold should continue to play themselves out.

The second ending, the rebirth or study ending, is a way station
towards the third. So it is "preferred" if that is where you are in
your development, as a new gamer or older author seeking "knowledge" or
"rebirth."

The first ending, the "memory regained," rejects the possibility of
change, as you say. That is clearly a choice on the part of the
experienced player, however. For the newbie, restoring the memories
seems to be the whole point. Only by playing and replaying Dreamhold
or other comlex IF do they get the meta levels of the game, so it is
the initial waystation, and can be thought of as "preferred" as well.

At my meta-meta level, choosing the 1st ending means turning your back
on modern IF and continuing with meaningless or merely "fun" adventure
gaming. And the point is, that's a valid choice, too, but it will
eventually lose its lustre. Time can't be frozen. We are borne ever
onward, no matter how we attempt to beat back against the current.

PJ
Related resources
Anonymous
December 15, 2004 10:06:01 PM

Archived from groups: rec.games.int-fiction (More info?)

PJ wrote:
> Zarf's new game purports to be used as a tutorial game for
> introducing "newbies" to IF. Consequently, he calls it a tutorial
> game, includes unprompted hints in the tutorial mode as well as many
> "voice over" style interrupts by the narrator. He includes the
> mechanics in the tutorial mode - intrusive hints, interruptions by
> the narrators, random voices relaying key information -that might be
> useful in getting newbies going on an "Adventure!"

I'm fairly certain that it is, in fact, intended for this purpose. Yes,
it does stick close to what might be considered standard or traditional
IF -- more so than any other Zarf game I can think of. I think the
reason is that Zarf wanted to provide newbies with the best example
IF-playing experience possible -- one that would give them a sense of
what to expect, on average, from other games. This involved not
changing the basic world model of the Inform library too severely, for
instance.

> {Note: Potential spoilers begin immediately after the spoiler space
> below, so if you haven't played it yet and desire to do so, go no
> further.}
>
> >S
> >
> >P
> >
> >O
> >
> >I
> >
> >L
> >
> >E
> >
> >R
> >
> >
> >
> >
> >
> >
> >
> >
> >S
> >
> >P
> >
> >A
> >
> >C
> >
> >E
>

> Game Theme: The term "dreamhold" is Zarf's synonym of the
> classic (though not widely known) concept of a "memory palace."

Yes. This is pretty cool stuff. (In a very vague way, I drew on some of
the neoplatonic treatment of this idea for my game Metamorphoses, but
it's not explicit enough about what's going on for the significance to
be entirely clear. Dreamhold is more explicit about it.)

I've always been intrigued by the IF potential of ideas like the
theater of memory or Lull's devices, since they involve treating
concepts as symbols or physical objects, so that they can be
manipulated within the standard IF world model. Some surreal games
("End Means Escape" comes to mind) do neat things with physical
representations of the abstract. But such games usually also run the
risk of dissolving into the incomprehensible: doing a surreal game
*well* requires a lot of discipline, or what comes out is simply
nonsense. (This was one of the problems I had with "Blue Chairs" -- I
didn't finish it, but in the portion of the game I saw, it seemed as
though the symbolism was being used vaguely or carelessly, and I had
too little grasp on what was going on or what my actions were supposed
to mean.)

> The memory palace also serves as Zarf's meta-commentary on the
> practice of adventure gaming in the first place. If you grant that
> much of IF still constitutes of wandering around in a series of
> "rooms," then the underlying memory palace theme is a not-so-subtle
> pull at the tail of that unwanted, aging elephant in IF's parlor.

Here you lose me. On the one hand, I agree that one of the appealing
things about IF is that it allows the author to share a vision of the
universe -- an interactive, explorable vision -- with the players. I'm
not convinced, though, by the multiple levels of meta here.

> --One mask requires a search of existing knowledge, surely the first
> step in any scientific approach. This mask is white, the color of
the
> innocent.

This is clever, but I think some of the assignments you make are really
a stretch. I, like Magnus, read the colors as reflections of the PC's
life up to this point.

> --One mask requires you to perform a basic act of observation using a
> scientific instrument. This mask is brown, the earth color that
> represents the basic toil required to achieve anything in this world.
>
> --One mask requires you to observe a physical process, then repeat a
> series of those processes to get your result - toppling an icon.
> This mask is gold, the color of accomplishment.
>
> --One mask requires you to observe the mysterious workings of a
> biological process, then use that process to bridge the gap to reach
> your end. This mask is green, the color of longing or envy.

Right, here's one of the ones where I'm lost. Longing or envy? This
doesn't seem to be the same kind of quality as the others, and it also
doesn't seem to have much relation to the puzzle at hand, unless you
mean that one looks at something one wants and then has to go get it.
But this is true of pretty much all the puzzles.

> --One mask requires you to watch and puzzle out the workings of a
> machine of unknown principles, then deduce how to use its physical
> properties. This mask is blue, the color of cold logic.
>
> --One mask requires you to figure out the complex engineering
> principles of a fluid system, then manipulate the plumbing until you
> get it right, including some necessary repairs. This mask is red,
the
> color of anger that can thwart observation or drive discovery.

And here again my belief is stretched... It's somewhere in here that I
began to wonder whether you weren't up to some kind of meta^4
commentary on IF criticism.

> The critique of IF in recent days on r.a.i.f. has been either (1) IF
is
> a dead art or (2) IF went wrong in ever advancing past Zork-style
> adventure games.

Hm. I don't think this in fact represents widespread opinion; it's just
that we've had these discussions before, and some of those who hold
more moderate positions have ceased to reiterate them.

Honestly, there is a huge range of IF produced, and it is (I think)
counterproductive to try to fit everything into 'traditional' or
'avant-garde' slots. I'm not sure it's useful to tell people *what* to
write, anyway -- my own personal feeling is that people should write
the kinds of things they want to write. (Or, for that matter, start the
businesses they want to start.) One of the neat things about the IF
community is that so many of the players are also authors, which means
that for any interest group represented in the IF community there is at
least one potential author able to produce material: old-skool,
experimental, conversational, surreal; AIF, romance, mystery, horror,
literary, even the odd western. Yeah, there aren't enough people out
there producing pirate swashbucklers for my taste, or games about
kick-ass female spies, but there aren't enough of those movies or
commercial games either.

[Digression: One of the reasons I like not being a commercial author is
that no one has the authority to make me change a design for marketing
reasons. That doesn't mean I don't care what people think; especially
in an interactive medium, the work doesn't *function* if its audience
finds it too intractable. It's possible for a design to be broken
because of the way the audience relates to it (or doesn't relate to
it). But the primary consideration is still about whether the thing is
what I meant it to be, and at different times I've decided I wanted to
write an experimental game or an old-school one.]

Anyway. Thanks for writing the critique, and offering the extra
background on memory palaces -- I'd forgotten the details of the memory
theater.

-- Emily
December 15, 2004 10:49:28 PM

Archived from groups: rec.games.int-fiction (More info?)

Z wrote:

>Why do you think this?
>
>Can you suggest ways to make Dreamhold more effective at hooking new
>players?
>
>Since *I* was hooked by Adventure and Zork 1, I (naturally) drew on my
>memories of those experiences in trying to create a good newbie game.
>But I don't think they're *perfectly* suited for that purpose.

I think it is as simple and as complicated as the fact that newbies, by
definition, haven't experienced Zork. Thus they don't know the
conventions even of traditional IF and therefore are going to miss much
of the nuance in Dreamhold. I agree with your comments about
unwinnable states, map sizes, and the joy of succeeding in a few days,
but somehow we all got past that. Why deny it to others?

What Dreamhold doesn't have is one of the things that gave Zork such a
great hook, namely, it was GOOFY with a capital G. Goofy descriptions
are now totally passe, but back then, they were a scream. A newbie is
still "back then." Dreamhold, for all its strenghts, is primarily a
serious player's game. It doesn't have Zork's sense of total fun as the
objective (though Zork dragged on a bit, of course). Not necessarily
the first game someone should play, but maybe the 3rd or 4th of 5th,
when they've really got their feet under them.

You also decided to eliminate turns and scoring. To a newbie, progress
is all-important. Without a sense of score, minor vs. major triumphs
are hard to estimate. Of course, these days, you just jump to Google
for a walkthrough, but if you're trying to encourage a newbie to stay
on board, some more distinctive sense of progress should be felt.
Maybe when you pick up the mask, "You feel a surge of memory wash
through you, distinct but fleeting. A fragment of your former self is
made almost whole, but there is more left to do." Instead, your hint
basically says "collect the masks, dummy."

The decision to include in-game, unprompted hints vs. menu driven hints
was inspired, but the implementation seemed inconsistent. The first
hint directs you to help, which is a very fine write-up of
basic/semi-advanced adventuring. But the others seemed somewhat
ill-timed. For example, the hints at the Balcony and the River gave
away the answer before you had a chance to try any puzzle solving. The
hints in the Darkness directed you out of it before you had a chance to
think about the meaning of the darkness. It seemed more directed at
the advanced player, who knows darkness is typically bad, rather than
the newbie who wouldn't know a Grue if it ate his PC. The hint on
obtaining all masks was better, but I still think it would have been
better to add it to the last object take: "You take the ___mask.
Suddenly, the masks glow in turn: white, gold, red, brown, green,
blue, black. You feel like a milestone has been reached, but something
is still lacking." You could give a hint after that if the PC is still
wandering around 20-30 turns later without ever going to the mirror.

A corollary to this is that many of the puzzles were unhinted, as far
as I can tell. It would be a pain to implement, but if you started a
counter the first time the PC entered a puzzle room and waited X turns,
depending on the puzzle difficulty, then gave a hint, that would be
better than having the person run to Google for an answer.

Concerning the puzzles, I thought they were all pretty good. It was a
little cliche to put the first mask in the clutter so that you had to
search or x things to find it. That sort of thing is an overreaction
to Zork, where you start finding stuff and picking it up almost as soon
as your in the cellar. For a newbie, the first find should be easy,
real easy. The mask is white. Innocence, remember? After that,
however, things should have been tougher on the mountain painting and
particularly the iron key. That was an easy puzzle if you hinted at
the touch, smell, examine early in the game. To feel accomplishment,
it can't all be given to you. So I thought that the blue mask, the
gold mask (due to the hint) and the green mask (due to that intrusive
hint) were giveaways. I also felt there was no reason to put the
triangle in the dome pointing north -- you already gave away the fire
by making it clear that the wood pile was a bonfire. Why not let them
puzzle out the working of the copper triangle? And there again the
hint was too fast and too intrusive.

Overall, I thought the game was outstanding. I don't know how you felt
about the analysis I provided in my original post, but that is where
the game really worked for me, intentionally or not. A newbie would
have no clue to any of that stuff, however, and given the way the game
plays, only really has to solve 4 puzzles to get to two of the end
games: get the red mask from the cistern, which is not hard at that
level; find the black mask, which is set up for them; solve the mirror,
which is the only hard thing; and break the spell in the Iron Corridor,
which again is not really difficult. Everything else is either handed
to them on a platter or nearly so. Given that endgame, they probably
would never go on to the mural unless they had found some of the more
well-hidden regalia by pure accident. I'm not sure that's enough of an
accomplishment to keep them hooked. Note that scoring would give this
away. "The End. You have scored 150 out of a total of 300 points.
Visit the Dreamhold again soon."

Well, that's all for now. I like the game, but obviously I'm not a
newbie to IF, though I haven't posted much to this board before. Don't
take my comments too much to heart, jaded as I am. Some of this is
implementation style and general nitpickiness. Try to expose Dreamhold
to more truly new newbies and see what it does for them. Assuming, of
course, they're actually your real audience. ;) 

PJ
Anonymous
December 16, 2004 1:33:54 AM

Archived from groups: rec.games.int-fiction (More info?)

A very interesting analysis, though I'm not sure that I agree with it.

I'll try to write up my interpretation and publish it in some forum.

Meanwhile, just two comments:

1) You associate the colours of the masks with the actions required
to find them. To me, it feels far more natural to associate their
colours with the memories evoked by them (white - the innocence of
childhood, and so on). Have you got any thoughts on this?

2) While you might very well be right about Zarf's use of the tutorial
form (and there's surely *some* truth in it), I don't think the author
is outright deceiving us about the tutorial aspect - as far as I can
tell (not being a beginner myslef), it ought to work quite well for
its stated purpose. And there is irony - the tutorial voice at some
points served to draw my attention away from the esoteric side of the
game (especially when entering the dark cave - the tutorial voice made
me overlook the way to find the dagger).

As I said, I'll try return to this.

--
Magnus Olsson (mol@df.lth.se)
PGP Public Key available at http://www.df.lth.se/~mol
Anonymous
December 16, 2004 1:38:28 AM

Archived from groups: rec.games.int-fiction (More info?)

In article <32bseiF3fhfaaU1@individual.net>,
Magnus Olsson <mol@df.lth.se> wrote:
>Meanwhile, just two comments:

Three comments, actually: I don't think that the third ending, the
"apotheosis", is really the preferred one. It is clearly the most
advanced one, the one an experienced player is most likely to arrive
at (because the mural makes it obvious that there is plot beyond the
portal ending) but it isn't where the story really ends, or should
end. And, BTW, I found the first ending clearly undesirable: by
restoring _everything_ the protagonist rejects the possibility of
change, hence of redemption.

--
Magnus Olsson (mol@df.lth.se)
PGP Public Key available at http://www.df.lth.se/~mol
Anonymous
December 16, 2004 5:31:38 AM

Archived from groups: rec.games.int-fiction (More info?)

Here, PJ <pete_jasper@hotmail.com> wrote:
> Regarding the actual hints given, I think the tutorial is adequate, but
> only in the respect that they contribute to bringing even the advanced
> user to an understanding of the higher purposes/endings of the games.
> If you have a newbie, give them Zork I, and a list of basic commands,
> and let them have fun. While Dreamhold has a definite appeal to an
> advanced player, an enhanced on-line tutorial for a new port of Zork I
> would be far better at hooking a new user.

Why do you think this?

Can you suggest ways to make Dreamhold more effective at hooking new
players?

Since *I* was hooked by Adventure and Zork 1, I (naturally) drew on my
memories of those experiences in trying to create a good newbie game.
But I don't think they're *perfectly* suited for that purpose. There's
a lot of death and a lot of ways to get into unwinnable positions. The
maps are very large. Winning either game is a heavy undertaking, or
else a matter of looking at hint files. (Which didn't exist back then,
at least not in the trivially accessible form we have now.)

A large part of the fun is *succeeding*, and I wanted to make that
available. If the newbie wins in a few days, that's fine. The whole
point is to lead him on to *other* IF games.

For that matter, I wasn't a typical IF newbie -- I was very familiar
with logic puzzles (even at the age of ten), and I was very willing to
spend months of real time on a single game. Most people these days
aren't that patient (I'm not either!), and not everybody is an expert
puzzler. That's why I made the hints available (but avoidable).

--Z

"And Aholibamah bare Jeush, and Jaalam, and Korah: these were the borogoves..."
*
I'm still thinking about what to put in this space.
December 16, 2004 7:11:17 AM

Archived from groups: rec.games.int-fiction (More info?)

PJ wrote:
> A corollary to this is that many of the puzzles were unhinted, as far
> as I can tell. It would be a pain to implement, but if you started a
> counter the first time the PC entered a puzzle room and waited X
turns,
> depending on the puzzle difficulty, then gave a hint, that would be
> better than having the person run to Google for an answer.

Z replied:
>Do you mean "wait" commands, or X unproductive turns? It's hard to
>tell what's productive. The player can be making good progress even if
>he's using many, many turns.

I guess I'll try to express this in pseudocode (not meant to be any
specific language) that matches the puzzles in Dreamhold. What I am
thinking is something like this:

--IF BalconyRoomVisits >= 3 and GoldMask IS NOT TAKEN THEN
----DISPLAY HINTPROMPT(GoldMask)
------IF UserInput = Y
--------Then SHOWHINT(GoldMask)
------ELSE
--------SET BalconyRoomVisits = 2
----ENDIF.
--ENDIF.

You could also simply force the hint unprompted on them at that point,
maybe a gentler and less pointed one than "try toppling the statue" or
whatever words you used. If the problem was that the object is hidden
and not examined, you could also have a ObjectSeen = True, then do an
unprompted hint on the 3 or 4th RoomCount about the need to search the
room or object or whatever.

Another way to do it would be:

--IF BalconyRoomTurnCount >= 10 and GoldMask IS NOT TAKEN THEN
----DISPLAY HINTPROMPT(GoldMask)
------IF UserInput = Y
-------Then SHOWHINT(GoldMask)
------ELSE
-------SET BalconyRoomTurnCount = 5
------ENDIF.
--ENDIF.

Obviously, every time you entered the room you would perform one or the
other (or both, if you really wanted to make sure they didn't give up).
The RoomCount and TurnCount variables would have to based on the
puzzle difficulty. It would be hard to do this, of course, in a room
with multiple puzzle. The other problem is that there are a lot more
variables in memory, counting the turns and counting the room turns and
room visits for all your main puzzles, but on today's PCs that's not
really the issue it was with Zork. It's more in the inelegance and
sheer labor of this type of coding. A library solution to this type of
thing would be much better than building code for each room and puzzle.

Hope that helps express what I was suggesting. It's just one potential
solution. The other thread regarding the hint system is good to. I
like hint:o bject as a user means of minimizing the hint logic. But I
do like your unprompted hints. It's just trying to get them to come
out the right way is very difficult.

PJ
Anonymous
December 16, 2004 7:47:23 AM

Archived from groups: rec.games.int-fiction (More info?)

Here, PJ <pete_jasper@hotmail.com> wrote:
>
> I think it is as simple and as complicated as the fact that newbies, by
> definition, haven't experienced Zork. Thus they don't know the
> conventions even of traditional IF and therefore are going to miss much
> of the nuance in Dreamhold.

Nuance is bonus.

> I agree with your comments about unwinnable states, map sizes, and
> the joy of succeeding in a few days, but somehow we all got past
> that. Why deny it to others?

We're the one *who* got past it. We don't know how many 1980s-era
computer owners *didn't*. Zork is still there for people, but we tend
to see it as outdated, and that's (partially) because games have
genuinely gotten better (in some ways).

> What Dreamhold doesn't have is one of the things that gave Zork such a
> great hook, namely, it was GOOFY with a capital G.

Now that is true.

> Goofy descriptions are now totally passe

Actually, that's not true. What's passe is *inconsistent* goofiness --
the mixmaster of styles that Zork had. (Adventure had less of it.) We
like uniformity of style these days (and, indeed, since the
mid-Infocom period. Outside of the Zork games, which had turned into a
style of their own, Infocom kept each of their works consistent to
itself. Even Trinity, which had goofy magic and nuclear bombs, played
the balance deliberately.)

I value consistency a lot, and I'm not that strong with the goofy, so
of course Dreamhold came out the way it did.

> You also decided to eliminate turns and scoring. To a newbie, progress
> is all-important. Without a sense of score, minor vs. major triumphs
> are hard to estimate. Of course, these days, you just jump to Google
> for a walkthrough, but if you're trying to encourage a newbie to stay
> on board, some more distinctive sense of progress should be felt.
> Maybe when you pick up the mask, "You feel a surge of memory wash
> through you, distinct but fleeting. A fragment of your former self is
> made almost whole, but there is more left to do." Instead, your hint
> basically says "collect the masks, dummy."

That is true, and I should have mentioned it in my post about hints. I
*am* reconsidering this in the next release. I'm going to have:

- An explicit SCORE command, which shows both your mask progress (N out
of seven) and the number of "additional discoveries" you've made.
Also show this in the status line. This will be in novice mode only --
expert mode will work like the current version.

- A much clearer signal that when you've gotten all seven masks, it's
endgame time and you should go to a particular location and try stuff.
(This is an in-game signal, not a tutorial hint. It will exist in both
novice and expert mode.)

> The decision to include in-game, unprompted hints vs. menu driven hints
> was inspired, but the implementation seemed inconsistent.

See other thread. I'm looking for better algorithms, but it's tricky.

In all cases, when a hint appears "too soon", it's actually as a
response to what you're trying. So other people may not hit that hint
at all.

> A corollary to this is that many of the puzzles were unhinted, as far
> as I can tell. It would be a pain to implement, but if you started a
> counter the first time the PC entered a puzzle room and waited X turns,
> depending on the puzzle difficulty, then gave a hint, that would be
> better than having the person run to Google for an answer.

Do you mean "wait" commands, or X unproductive turns? It's hard to
tell what's productive. The player can be making good progress even if
he's using many, many turns.

--Z

"And Aholibamah bare Jeush, and Jaalam, and Korah: these were the borogoves..."
*
I'm still thinking about what to put in this space.
December 16, 2004 7:53:08 AM

Archived from groups: rec.games.int-fiction (More info?)

Emily wrote:

>And here again my belief is stretched... It's somewhere in here that I
>began to wonder whether you weren't up to some kind of meta^4
>commentary on IF criticism.

Well, the associations with the colors of the masks are the weakest
point of my analysis I'll admit. But as to the other ...(pause,
deadpan stare)...you don't really think I'd try to tweak the whole IF
community by tweaking Z a bit, do you?

Let's just agree that Dreamhold works on many levels, and maybe my
critique conjures up a few more as well.

PJ

"To survey a text was to possess the secret knowledge it represented.
To possess a talisman was to be custodian of the astral influences it
commanded. To survey was to possess. To possess was to command. To
command was to conjure." (Francis Yates on Guilio Camillo's Theater of
Memory.)
Anonymous
December 16, 2004 11:32:08 AM

Archived from groups: rec.games.int-fiction (More info?)

Looks like a CABAL member revision to me... ;) 
Rob
Anonymous
December 16, 2004 11:43:15 AM

Archived from groups: rec.games.int-fiction (More info?)

In article <1103161837.905152.171220@f14g2000cwb.googlegroups.com>,
PJ <pete_jasper@hotmail.com> wrote:
>Magnus Olsson wrote:
>
>>1) You associate the colours of the masks with the actions required
>>to find them. To me, it feels far more natural to associate their
>>colours with the memories evoked by them (white - the innocence of
>>childhood, and so on). Have you got any thoughts on this?
>
>I think in at the basic level of the game, that is what Zarf was doing.
>If you "x __ mask," you get a look at the basic expressions that you
>are talking about.

Well, actually I was talking about the flashbacks you get when you
wear the masks. The basic expressions sketched on the masks match
the moods of those flashbacks, and the colours.

(Snipped your analysis, not because I'm dismissing it, but because I
don't have any comments right now - just wanted to clarify this
particular point).

--
Magnus Olsson (mol@df.lth.se)
PGP Public Key available at http://www.df.lth.se/~mol
Anonymous
December 16, 2004 2:10:16 PM

Archived from groups: rec.games.int-fiction (More info?)

Andrew Plotkin wrote:
> Here, Magnus Olsson <mol@df.lth.se> wrote:
>
> > On a tangent, Katharine Kerr has a neat treatment of a wizard's
memory
> > palace taking on some kind of lief of its own (well, kind of) in
one
> > of her Deverry books.
>
> Kerr's book was my first exposure to the idea of a magical memory
> palace.

My favorite fictional use of it is in _Little, Big_.

After I read that, naturally, I decided to construct my own memory
palace, but I didn't keep it up, and now the main thing still to be
found there is my French teacher from high school, holding a couple of
random objects meant to remind me of irregular verbs.
Anonymous
December 16, 2004 2:56:12 PM

Archived from groups: rec.games.int-fiction (More info?)

In article <1103166360.971081.313010@c13g2000cwb.googlegroups.com>,
<emshort@mindspring.com> wrote:
>PJ wrote:
>> {Note: Potential spoilers begin immediately after the spoiler space
>> below, so if you haven't played it yet and desire to do so, go no
>> further.}
>>
>> >S
>> >
>> >P
>> >
>> >O
>> >
>> >I
>> >
>> >L
>> >
>> >E
>> >
>> >R
>> >
>> >
>> >
>> >
>> >
>> >
>> >
>> >
>> >S
>> >
>> >P
>> >
>> >A
>> >
>> >C
>> >
>> >E
>>
>
>> Game Theme: The term "dreamhold" is Zarf's synonym of the
>> classic (though not widely known) concept of a "memory palace."
>
>Yes. This is pretty cool stuff.

It is.

Still, I like to think that the memory palace in _Dreamhold_ isn't
entirely within the PCs mind, but has some sort of objective, material
existence - if nothing else, because I'm getting rather tired of
stories that take place entirely inside somebody's mind, or in
subjective virtual reality. (Part of the appeal of _The Matrix_ is
that although the Matrix is a VR, it's objective and common to all
people.) ISTR that the game text hints at this at some point.

On a tangent, Katharine Kerr has a neat treatment of a wizard's memory
palace taking on some kind of lief of its own (well, kind of) in one
of her Deverry books.

>(In a very vague way, I drew on some of
>the neoplatonic treatment of this idea for my game Metamorphoses, but
>it's not explicit enough about what's going on for the significance to
>be entirely clear. Dreamhold is more explicit about it.)

Interesting that you should say this, because the game almost
immediately reminded me of three other works: _So Far_ (obviously),
_Losing Your Grip_ (because it is a symbolic/metaphorical quest for
your past with objects representing mental entities), and
_Metamorphoses_ (but I couldn't think of a reason until now).

--
Magnus Olsson (mol@df.lth.se)
PGP Public Key available at http://www.df.lth.se/~mol
December 16, 2004 6:05:10 PM

Archived from groups: rec.games.int-fiction (More info?)

Z wrote:

>Room visits seems like a bad counter. You can easily pass through a
>room several times before you try to solve the puzzle. Contrariwise,
>you can try on your first visit, get stuck, and want a hint.

Yep. That's the problem with both room and turn counters -- how do
you know the player isn't purposely avoiding the problem? Counting
actions not taken is harder than counting actions attempted. But --
and here's where you pick your poison, I guess -- most players try and
solve the puzzles as they run across them. I think, in fact,you might
really need to go to a mixed strategy of hints to successfully help the
newbie.

If you go in to room x and don't solve the puzzle, but you keep going
back to that room, I think it's a fair indicator that the problem has
you stumped. If you also used turn counters while in that room, you
get a fair indication of how many tries at the puzzle (after the room
hint) are being attempted, then you could offer another hint. If you
then combine that with your "get counter," then the PC is close to
solving it but can't figure out the last bit. Of course, again you
would have to apply these at a fairly micro level, different for each
room, which is a pain to code.

The reason I suggest that that might be necessary are your cases of the
white mask and the red mask. Newbies don't realize how important "x"
and "search" are. They might roam through the study over and over
again before saying "x clutter" or whatever you implemented there. A
room hint would remind them that x and search are the real keys to this
type of game. In fact, many newbies may not even recognize more
intricate puzzles. I hope they would, but you can't know that and some
authors leave very subtle clues to the existence of a puzzle. For
example, in the Orrery, you might have had the mask hidden in the blue
globe instead of out in the open, just like the grey strip was hidden.
Then an X blue globe shows it has a latch. A newbie might x machine
and never think to X all the globes, but he knows the machine is
important and keeps coming back to find out what's up. That's when you
need a hint. He doesn't know the blue mask is available there, so how
can an object hint help him unless he keeps trying to "get machine."

The other example is the Cistern. I played originally in tutorial mode
because, since you said the game was made for a tutorial purpose, I
wanted to get the reaction of being tutored by your hints. So when I
first found the cistern, I looked up and "x catwalk" and saw the mask.
But I didn't do a "get mask" because obviously I couldn't reach
something that far away. I did pull the lever, but as it was late at
night, I spent a couple of turns standing on the glass platform and a
few more going in and out of the room and searching those areas for
clues. A newbie might not make the connection -- hear the gurgle, go
west, then see what happens. And he would never have done a "get mask"
because the puzzle he is working is not the mask, but how does the
cistern work.

Same thing in expert mode with fixing the catwalk and the black goop.
You're not up there doing a get mask. You figure out the spout, then
you're climbing up and down trying to understand how to make the black
stuff go around. So no hint.

At any rate, I think you are on to something in terms of helping
newbies with the unprompted hint. But I think authors following this
strategy will probably have to implement a mix of these approaches if
they want to effectively hint these puzzles. You have to recreate the
"blind stumbling" of the newbie or lazy players like me to understand
where the hints need to be dropped, and when. Just one approach
probably won't cover it. Dreamhold goes a lot further than most to try
and walk newbies through the process of gameplaying. Kudos for that.
PJ
Anonymous
December 16, 2004 7:33:42 PM

Archived from groups: rec.games.int-fiction (More info?)

In article <1103214728.393726.315780@f14g2000cwb.googlegroups.com>,
<robgrassi@yahoo.it> wrote:
>Looks like a CABAL member revision to me... ;) 

Shhh... don't mention the Cabal. Which doesn't exist, by the way.

--
Magnus Olsson (mol@df.lth.se)
PGP Public Key available at http://www.df.lth.se/~mol
Anonymous
December 16, 2004 9:52:43 PM

Archived from groups: rec.games.int-fiction (More info?)

Here, Magnus Olsson <mol@df.lth.se> wrote:

> On a tangent, Katharine Kerr has a neat treatment of a wizard's memory
> palace taking on some kind of lief of its own (well, kind of) in one
> of her Deverry books.

Kerr's book was my first exposure to the idea of a magical memory
palace.

More recently, there's a short story by Mary Gentle -- I think it's
"Beggars in Satin", but I could have the title wrong.

--Z

"And Aholibamah bare Jeush, and Jaalam, and Korah: these were the borogoves..."
*
I'm still thinking about what to put in this space.
Anonymous
December 16, 2004 9:52:44 PM

Archived from groups: rec.games.int-fiction (More info?)

On Thu, 16 Dec 2004 18:52:43 +0000 (UTC), Andrew Plotkin wrote:

> Here, Magnus Olsson <mol@df.lth.se> wrote:
>
>> On a tangent, Katharine Kerr has a neat treatment of a wizard's memory
>> palace taking on some kind of lief of its own (well, kind of) in one
>> of her Deverry books.
>
> Kerr's book was my first exposure to the idea of a magical memory
> palace.
>
> More recently, there's a short story by Mary Gentle -- I think it's
> "Beggars in Satin", but I could have the title wrong.
>
It also plays an important part in the book version of _Hannibal_, which
was my introduction to the idea.
Anonymous
December 16, 2004 10:12:45 PM

Archived from groups: rec.games.int-fiction (More info?)

Here, PJ <pete_jasper@hotmail.com> wrote:
> Emily wrote:
>
> >And here again my belief is stretched... It's somewhere in here that I
> >began to wonder whether you weren't up to some kind of meta^4
> >commentary on IF criticism.
>
> Well, the associations with the colors of the masks are the weakest
> point of my analysis I'll admit. But as to the other ...(pause,
> deadpan stare)...you don't really think I'd try to tweak the whole IF
> community by tweaking Z a bit, do you?

That would be very disrespectful. Ninjas for you, fellow.

--Z

"And Aholibamah bare Jeush, and Jaalam, and Korah: these were the borogoves..."
*
I'm still thinking about what to put in this space.
Anonymous
December 17, 2004 12:05:30 AM

Archived from groups: rec.games.int-fiction (More info?)

PJ wrote:
> PJ wrote:
> > A corollary to this is that many of the puzzles were unhinted, as
far
> > as I can tell. It would be a pain to implement, but if you started
a
> > counter the first time the PC entered a puzzle room and waited X
> turns,
> > depending on the puzzle difficulty, then gave a hint, that would be
> > better than having the person run to Google for an answer.
>
> Z replied:
> >Do you mean "wait" commands, or X unproductive turns? It's hard to
> >tell what's productive. The player can be making good progress even
if
> >he's using many, many turns.
>
> I guess I'll try to express this in pseudocode (not meant to be any
> specific language) that matches the puzzles in Dreamhold. What I am
> thinking is something like this:
>
> --IF BalconyRoomVisits >= 3 and GoldMask IS NOT TAKEN THEN
> ----DISPLAY HINTPROMPT(GoldMask)
> ------IF UserInput = Y
> --------Then SHOWHINT(GoldMask)
> ------ELSE
> --------SET BalconyRoomVisits = 2
> ----ENDIF.
> --ENDIF....

[more pseudocode along the same lines, snipped to save space]

> Obviously, every time you entered the room you would perform one or
the
> other (or both, if you really wanted to make sure they didn't give
up).
> The RoomCount and TurnCount variables would have to based on the
> puzzle difficulty. It would be hard to do this, of course, in a room
> with multiple puzzle. The other problem is that there are a lot more
> variables in memory, counting the turns and counting the room turns
and
> room visits for all your main puzzles...

It's trivial to slap counters on rooms and so on (one of my games
counts the number of turns spent in every single room, for
plot-management purposes). It's a lot more challenging to come up with
good criteria for recognizing stuck-ness in the player. There are
certain kinds of things that I try to flag when I'm looking for
evidence of player struggles, such as typing "LOOK" or "INVENTORY"
repeatedly (usually a sign that the player is looking for ideas --
doing these things two or three times in a row is a sort of idling
thing that people do when they can't think of a better action). It
strikes me that that kind of thing -- analysis of the pattern of player
input -- is likely to be much more effective than turn counts, given
that different players have different play styles. Some people like to
do a lot of exploring before they get down to the puzzle solving, for
instance, which would rack up a high turn count with no visible
"progress" from the game's point of view, and might make it think the
player was at a loss when in fact he was just polishing his map and
getting ready to get to work.

I'm not sure how to come up with really good system to recognize player
stuckness, though, other than maybe through some sort of machine
learning technique, where one trained the program by showing it a lot
of transcripts and marking them where the player was stuck.

This is starting to stray into rec.arts territory, but it's a subject I
find interesting.
Anonymous
December 17, 2004 1:16:32 AM

Archived from groups: rec.games.int-fiction (More info?)

Here, PJ <pete_jasper@hotmail.com> wrote:
> PJ wrote:
> > A corollary to this is that many of the puzzles were unhinted, as far
> > as I can tell. It would be a pain to implement, but if you started a
> > counter the first time the PC entered a puzzle room and waited X
> turns,
> > depending on the puzzle difficulty, then gave a hint, that would be
> > better than having the person run to Google for an answer.
>
> Z replied:
> >Do you mean "wait" commands, or X unproductive turns? It's hard to
> >tell what's productive. The player can be making good progress even if
> >he's using many, many turns.
>
> I guess I'll try to express this in pseudocode (not meant to be any
> specific language) that matches the puzzles in Dreamhold. What I am
> thinking is something like this:
>
> --IF BalconyRoomVisits >= 3 and GoldMask IS NOT TAKEN THEN
> ----DISPLAY HINTPROMPT(GoldMask)
> ------IF UserInput = Y
> --------Then SHOWHINT(GoldMask)
> ------ELSE
> --------SET BalconyRoomVisits = 2
> ----ENDIF.
> --ENDIF.

Room visits seems like a bad counter. You can easily pass through a
room several times before you try to solve the puzzle. Contrariwise,
you can try on your first visit, get stuck, and want a hint.

Same goes for turn counters. If you spend your first N moves examining
things, you're not stuck yet. Probably.

I chose the "try to take or touch" counter because it seemed like it
would at least approximate a measure of how badly the player was
failing.

--Z

"And Aholibamah bare Jeush, and Jaalam, and Korah: these were the borogoves..."
*
I'm still thinking about what to put in this space.
Anonymous
December 17, 2004 8:44:02 AM

Archived from groups: rec.games.int-fiction (More info?)

In article <cpsmnd$5ka$1@reader1.panix.com>,
Andrew Plotkin <erkyrath@eblong.com> wrote:
>That would be very disrespectful. Ninjas for you, fellow.

There are no ninjaaaaaargh
Anonymous
December 18, 2004 9:11:02 AM

Archived from groups: rec.games.int-fiction (More info?)

Here, PJ <pete_jasper@hotmail.com> wrote:
> Z wrote:
>
> >Room visits seems like a bad counter. You can easily pass through a
> >room several times before you try to solve the puzzle. Contrariwise,
> >you can try on your first visit, get stuck, and want a hint.
>
> Yep. That's the problem with both room and turn counters -- how do
> you know the player isn't purposely avoiding the problem? Counting
> actions not taken is harder than counting actions attempted. But --
> and here's where you pick your poison, I guess -- most players try and
> solve the puzzles as they run across them. I think, in fact,you might
> really need to go to a mixed strategy of hints to successfully help the
> newbie.

I think I might bail on the whole idea, and have the counters suggest
a "HINT" command, rather than actually giving hints. That way I can
make the counters conservative.

> The reason I suggest that that might be necessary are your cases of the
> white mask and the red mask. Newbies don't realize how important "x"
> and "search" are. They might roam through the study over and over
> again before saying "x clutter" or whatever you implemented there.

Examining just about any scenery object in the study will work,
including the desk. Also any verb involving the clutter. I'm not
worried about the white mask.

There's also a whole "how to examine" tutorial, which you probably
never saw because you got out into the hallway too efficiently. Try
starting the game, going up into the study, down the stairs, and back
up.

> The other example is the Cistern. I played originally in tutorial mode
> because, since you said the game was made for a tutorial purpose, I
> wanted to get the reaction of being tutored by your hints. So when I
> first found the cistern, I looked up and "x catwalk" and saw the mask.
> But I didn't do a "get mask" because obviously I couldn't reach
> something that far away. I did pull the lever, but as it was late at
> night, I spent a couple of turns standing on the glass platform and a
> few more going in and out of the room and searching those areas for
> clues. A newbie might not make the connection -- hear the gurgle, go
> west, then see what happens. And he would never have done a "get mask"
> because the puzzle he is working is not the mask, but how does the
> cistern work.

On the contrary -- he might try "get mask" right away, because it's
*not* obvious that you can't reach it. (It's obvious to an experienced
player, not necessarily to a newbie.) Or he might not (or he might not
examine the catwalk at all). But that area also triggers hints if you
type "up" from the platform.

> Same thing in expert mode with fixing the catwalk and the black goop.
> You're not up there doing a get mask. You figure out the spout, then
> you're climbing up and down trying to understand how to make the black
> stuff go around. So no hint.

There are no hints in expert mode.

--Z

"And Aholibamah bare Jeush, and Jaalam, and Korah: these were the borogoves..."
*
I'm still thinking about what to put in this space.
Anonymous
December 19, 2004 3:49:51 PM

Archived from groups: rec.games.int-fiction (More info?)

> There are
> certain kinds of things that I try to flag when I'm looking for
> evidence of player struggles, such as typing "LOOK" or "INVENTORY"
> repeatedly (usually a sign that the player is looking for ideas --
> doing these things two or three times in a row is a sort of idling
> thing that people do when they can't think of a better action). It
> strikes me that that kind of thing -- analysis of the pattern of player
> input -- is likely to be much more effective than turn counts, given
> that different players have different play styles. Some people like to
> do a lot of exploring before they get down to the puzzle solving, for
> instance, which would rack up a high turn count with no visible
> "progress" from the game's point of view, and might make it think the
> player was at a loss when in fact he was just polishing his map and
> getting ready to get to work.

"My Angel" did something along these lines - typing LOOK and INV would
generally actively advance the plot. Now that game came with a strong
notice at the beginning that the player shouldn't just type at random,
since part of the challenge was to produce coherent prose... but in the
end, most people complained. We are too well trained to type INV
repeatedly rather than use Scrollback or something.

When is stuck research? Probably when a player types something really
*useless* more than once - so not information gathering, but verbs which
generate default messages. But that's only my own personal experience of
playing... Which is why the HINT command is perhaps the only surefire
way of knowing if the player's stuck or not.

Jon
Anonymous
December 19, 2004 3:51:41 PM

Archived from groups: rec.games.int-fiction (More info?)

> Kerr's book was my first exposure to the idea of a magical memory
> palace.
>
> More recently, there's a short story by Mary Gentle -- I think it's
> "Beggars in Satin", but I could have the title wrong.

"Peace", by Gene Wolfe - the idea is not exactly explored - certainly
not explained - but it's certainly present in the structuring of the novel.

jon
December 20, 2004 8:04:44 AM

Archived from groups: rec.games.int-fiction (More info?)

Emily wrote:

>Anyway. Thanks for writing the critique, and offering the extra
>background on memory palaces -- I'd forgotten the details of the
memory
>theater.

Dreamhold does not appear to be a very good game -- it doesn't break
any new ground, puzzles aren't that exciting, memory palace concept not
totally new -- certainly not worth all the analysis that's been posted
here and elsewhere. The only purpose it seems to have is to provide a
tutorial for new players. It doesn't seem fun enough and the hints
don't work well enough, to justify all the commentary. Would people be
giving it this much thought if it weren't one of AP's games? Just
wondering.
Anonymous
December 20, 2004 6:21:12 PM

Archived from groups: rec.games.int-fiction (More info?)

Here, Dee <dforsx@hotmail.com> wrote:
>
> Dreamhold does not appear to be a very good game

I see you're posting from a brand-new hotmail account.

--Z

"And Aholibamah bare Jeush, and Jaalam, and Korah: these were the borogoves..."
*
I'm still thinking about what to put in this space.
Anonymous
December 20, 2004 9:57:32 PM

Archived from groups: rec.games.int-fiction (More info?)

In article <1103547884.599102.171010@c13g2000cwb.googlegroups.com>,
Dee <dforsx@hotmail.com> wrote:
>Dreamhold does not appear to be a very good game -- it doesn't break
>any new ground, puzzles aren't that exciting, memory palace concept not
>totally new -- certainly not worth all the analysis that's been posted
>here and elsewhere. The only purpose it seems to have is to provide a
>tutorial for new players. It doesn't seem fun enough and the hints
>don't work well enough, to justify all the commentary. Would people be
>giving it this much thought if it weren't one of AP's games? Just
>wondering.

I'm a newbie -- played Adventure 20+ years ago at college, then nothing until
last week. I knew AP only as the author of "Hunter, In Darkness" (on which
I'm currently stuck waiting for inspiration). I am playing Dreamhold because
(a) it's being discussed (b) it is advertised as a "tutorial". It has been
fun so far, so is succeeding for its apparent main target audience.
--
"Yo' ideas need to be thinked befo' they are say'd" - Ian Lamb, age 3.5
http://www.cs.queensu.ca/~dalamb/ qucis->cs to reply (it's a long story...)
Anonymous
December 20, 2004 11:10:15 PM

Archived from groups: rec.games.int-fiction (More info?)

jon syas:

"Peace", by Gene Wolfe - the idea is not exactly explored - certainly
not explained - but it's certainly present in the structuring of the
novel.

-------------------------

Wolfe's two Latro stories (collected as Latro in the Mist) include it
explicitly, as a method taught to the memory-impaired protagonist in
5th cent BCE Athens. His memory palace is *way* cool.

The stories themselves are the normal superb Wolfean works of
craftsmanship; but the plot is even more elliptical and opaque than
Dreamhold's back-story (joke, joke).
[BTW, WTF is with this new google groups not auto-quoting on replies?]
Anonymous
December 21, 2004 1:01:33 AM

Archived from groups: rec.games.int-fiction (More info?)

In article <1103547884.599102.171010@c13g2000cwb.googlegroups.com>,
Dee <dforsx@hotmail.com> wrote:
>It doesn't seem fun enough and the hints
>don't work well enough, to justify all the commentary. Would people be
>giving it this much thought if it weren't one of AP's games? Just
>wondering.

Sure, if it were this well written.

But that would probably mean it was an Emily Short, Adam Cadre, or
Graham Nelson game instead.

Adam
Anonymous
December 21, 2004 11:47:05 AM

Archived from groups: rec.games.int-fiction (More info?)

Adam Thornton wrote:
> In article <1103547884.599102.171010@c13g2000cwb.googlegroups.com>,
> Dee <dforsx@hotmail.com> wrote:
> >It doesn't seem fun enough and the hints
> >don't work well enough, to justify all the commentary. Would people
> >be giving it this much thought if it weren't one of AP's games? Just
> >wondering.
>
> Sure, if it were this well written.
>
> But that would probably mean it was an Emily Short, Adam Cadre, or
> Graham Nelson game instead.

Or Gareth Rees.

--
MSC
December 21, 2004 2:52:08 PM

Archived from groups: rec.games.int-fiction (More info?)

Here, Andrew Plotkin wrote:

>>Here, Mark S. Cipolone <mscipol...@yahoo.com> wrote:
>> Adam Thornton wrote:
>> > In article
<1103547884.599102.171...@c13g2000cwb.googlegroups.com>,
>> > Dee <dfo...@hotmail.com> wrote:

>> > >It doesn't seem fun enough and the hints
>> > >don't work well enough, to justify all the commentary. Would
people
>> > >be giving it this much thought if it weren't one of AP's games?
Just
>> > >wondering.

>> > Sure, if it were this well written.

>> > But that would probably mean it was an Emily Short, Adam Cadre, or
>> > Graham Nelson game instead.

>> Or Gareth Rees.

>Or ten other authors I could name off the top of my head. Come on,
>folks, don't do the troll's work for him.

But that begs the question. What constitutes a good game, worthy of
discussion? Other questions:

-- Is a "well-written" game synonymous with a good game?
-- Is a game by a well-known author going to be discussed a lot,
whether it's good, bad or indifferent? (And how do you get well-known
on this site, other than writing games for the IF Comp?)
-- Does any "well-written" game -- despite the lack of visibility of
the author -- get this level of discussion?

Just curious. The troll ref notwithstanding (one slightly negative
post makes a troll?), what games (types, genres, authors, etc.) are
likely to draw the most discussion here?
Anonymous
December 21, 2004 7:53:04 PM

Archived from groups: rec.games.int-fiction (More info?)

Here, Mark S. Cipolone <mscipolone@yahoo.com> wrote:
> Adam Thornton wrote:
> > In article <1103547884.599102.171010@c13g2000cwb.googlegroups.com>,
> > Dee <dforsx@hotmail.com> wrote:
> > >It doesn't seem fun enough and the hints
> > >don't work well enough, to justify all the commentary. Would people
> > >be giving it this much thought if it weren't one of AP's games? Just
> > >wondering.
> >
> > Sure, if it were this well written.
> >
> > But that would probably mean it was an Emily Short, Adam Cadre, or
> > Graham Nelson game instead.
>
> Or Gareth Rees.

Or ten other authors I could name off the top of my head. Come on,
folks, don't do the troll's work for him.

--Z

"And Aholibamah bare Jeush, and Jaalam, and Korah: these were the borogoves..."
*
I'm still thinking about what to put in this space.
Anonymous
December 22, 2004 12:14:07 AM

Archived from groups: rec.games.int-fiction (More info?)

Here, Dee <dforsx@hotmail.com> wrote:
>
> But that begs the question. What constitutes a good game, worthy of
> discussion?

Bit of an ongoing question, that. What constitutes a good book?

> Other questions:
>
> -- Is a "well-written" game synonymous with a good game?

Depends how you mean it. I've seen games with good prose writing but
poor design. But I think the quotes upthread meant "a well-written
game" in the sense of a high-quality game overall.

> -- Is a game by a well-known author going to be discussed a lot,
> whether it's good, bad or indifferent?

Yes.

I'm probably an outlying statistic, because I like this ambiguous,
elliptical style of storytelling, which incites a lot of discussion.
It's not that it's per se better than everybody else; just fun to
speculate about. Or so I assume.

Also, of course, I've been engaging the discussion about the help
system, since I want to improve it. That leads to a lot of posts.

> (And how do you get well-known
> on this site, other than writing games for the IF Comp?)

I wish I knew. Writing a lot of games still works, as far as I can
tell. I will assume the community is healthy as long as that remains
true.

> -- Does any "well-written" game -- despite the lack of visibility of
> the author -- get this level of discussion?

Do you mean "every" well-written game? No. Partially for the reasons I
mention above.

> Just curious. The troll ref notwithstanding (one slightly negative
> post makes a troll?)

I didn't necessarily mean you. I haven't decided about you yet.

Your first post was not just "slightly negative", but *prescriptively*
negative. You picked the least positive points of everything anyone
had said, distorted them (why *should* the memory palace idea have
been "totally new"? That was a discussion of influence, not a
criticism) and then presented the result as if it were the agreed
concensus of the newsgroup so far.

You also ended with "Just wondering", which in my experience is
invariably a lie wrapped around a nasty innuendo.

--Z

"And Aholibamah bare Jeush, and Jaalam, and Korah: these were the borogoves..."
*
I'm still thinking about what to put in this space.
Anonymous
December 22, 2004 9:29:21 AM

Archived from groups: rec.games.int-fiction (More info?)

In article <cq9kdf$ah5$1@reader2.panix.com>,
Andrew Plotkin <erkyrath@eblong.com> wrote:
>Come on, folks, don't do the troll's work for him.

But if we do, then he'll be out of a job, and then he'll have to go back
to being a greeter at Wal-Mart. It's a win-win situation, except
possibly for the Wal-Mart shoppers.

Adam
Anonymous
December 22, 2004 9:31:57 AM

Archived from groups: rec.games.int-fiction (More info?)

In article <1103658728.425049.271710@f14g2000cwb.googlegroups.com>,
Dee <dforsx@hotmail.com> wrote:
>But that begs the question. What constitutes a good game, worthy of
>discussion? Other questions:
>
>-- Is a "well-written" game synonymous with a good game?

Nope.

>-- Is a game by a well-known author going to be discussed a lot,
>whether it's good, bad or indifferent? (And how do you get well-known
>on this site, other than writing games for the IF Comp?)

Dunno. I don't think "Common Ground" got a lot of discussion, despite
being well-written and by a well-known author.

>-- Does any "well-written" game -- despite the lack of visibility of
>the author -- get this level of discussion?

Yeah. Plenty of games get more discussion than this.

Me, I'd like to see a nice juicy _Necrotic Drift_ thread.

Adam
Anonymous
December 22, 2004 9:18:17 PM

Archived from groups: rec.games.int-fiction (More info?)

Magnus Olsson

> >Looks like a CABAL member revision to me... ;) 
>
> Shhh... don't mention the Cabal. Which doesn't exist, by the way.

That "joke" has grown a grey beard by now.
Anonymous
December 22, 2004 9:44:02 PM

Archived from groups: rec.games.int-fiction (More info?)

Dee <dforsx@hotmail.com> skrev i
diskussionsgruppsmeddelandet:1103547884.599102.171010@c13g2000cwb.googlegrou
ps.com...
> Emily wrote:
>
> >Anyway. Thanks for writing the critique, and offering the extra
> >background on memory palaces -- I'd forgotten the details of the
> memory
> >theater.
>
> Dreamhold does not appear to be a very good game -- it doesn't break
> any new ground, puzzles aren't that exciting, memory palace concept not
> totally new -- certainly not worth all the analysis that's been posted
> here and elsewhere. The only purpose it seems to have is to provide a
> tutorial for new players. It doesn't seem fun enough and the hints
> don't work well enough, to justify all the commentary. Would people be
> giving it this much thought if it weren't one of AP's games? Just
> wondering.

I disagree. The writing is forced and heavy-handed and the back-story is
vague enough to be profound, but the playing experience was fun enough to
justify investing two hours of my time, which is more than I can say about
the majority of the comp games.

I was, however, somewhat taken aback by the author's response to your
criticism. I understand that he's some kind of big shot around here, but
calling people names just because they happen to dislike one's game is
*never* a good idea.
Anonymous
December 23, 2004 1:05:48 AM

Archived from groups: rec.games.int-fiction (More info?)

Here, Tobias Thelen <thelentob@utfors.se> wrote:
>
> I disagree. The writing is forced and heavy-handed

Same troll. Same ISP, same IP address.

--Z

"And Aholibamah bare Jeush, and Jaalam, and Korah: these were the borogoves..."
*
I'm still thinking about what to put in this space.
Anonymous
December 23, 2004 2:28:17 AM

Archived from groups: rec.games.int-fiction (More info?)

Andrew Plotkin <erkyrath@eblong.com> skrev i
diskussionsgruppsmeddelandet:cqcr3s$rrb$1@reader1.panix.com...
> Here, Tobias Thelen <thelentob@utfors.se> wrote:
> >
> > I disagree. The writing is forced and heavy-handed
>
> Same troll. Same ISP, same IP address.

Andrew Plotkin, rec.games.int-fiction, 2004-11-17:

When you write a game, you have to be prepared for players to not like
it. And you do not get to write down a list of acceptable reasons for
them to dislike it. That's the player's job. :)  Your job is smile and
nod and, if necessary, say "I'm sorry it didn't work for you."


Gee, it's a good thing you live as you learn.
Anonymous
December 23, 2004 4:00:34 AM

Archived from groups: rec.games.int-fiction (More info?)

Here, Tobias Thelen <thelentob@utfors.se> wrote:
>
> Andrew Plotkin <erkyrath@eblong.com> skrev i
> diskussionsgruppsmeddelandet:cqcr3s$rrb$1@reader1.panix.com...
> > Here, Tobias Thelen <thelentob@utfors.se> wrote:
> > >
> > > I disagree. The writing is forced and heavy-handed
> >
> > Same troll. Same ISP, same IP address.
>
> Andrew Plotkin, rec.games.int-fiction, 2004-11-17:
>
> When you write a game, you have to be prepared for players to not like
> it. And you do not get to write down a list of acceptable reasons for
> them to dislike it. That's the player's job. :)  Your job is smile and
> nod and, if necessary, say "I'm sorry it didn't work for you."

You're not a player.

--Z

"And Aholibamah bare Jeush, and Jaalam, and Korah: these were the borogoves..."
*
I'm still thinking about what to put in this space.
Anonymous
December 23, 2004 4:23:04 PM

Archived from groups: rec.games.int-fiction (More info?)

On Wed, 22 Dec 2004 18:18:17 GMT, Anthony Mahler <antmahler@mail.com> wrote:
>Magnus Olsson
>
>> >Looks like a CABAL member revision to me... ;) 
>>
>> Shhh... don't mention the Cabal. Which doesn't exist, by the way.
>
>That "joke" has grown a grey beard by now.
>
>
>
Every time you mention the Cabal, God kills a kitten.

Which, when added to the ones which dissapear mysteriously without a
trace whenever someone mentions the Cabal, is a consiterable number of
cats removed from play.
Anonymous
December 23, 2004 6:09:32 PM

Archived from groups: rec.games.int-fiction (More info?)

Andrew Plotkin <erkyrath@eblong.com> wrote:
> Here, Magnus Olsson <mol@df.lth.se> wrote:

> > On a tangent, Katharine Kerr has a neat treatment of a wizard's memory
> > palace taking on some kind of lief of its own (well, kind of) in one
> > of her Deverry books.

> Kerr's book was my first exposure to the idea of a magical memory
> palace.

> More recently, there's a short story by Mary Gentle -- I think it's
> "Beggars in Satin", but I could have the title wrong.

There's also Jeffrey Ford's _Memoranda_ (the sequel to _The Physiognomy_), which
is almost entirely set in a memory palace.

--
_______________________________________________________________________
Dan Blum tool@panix.com
"I wouldn't have believed it myself if I hadn't just made it up."
Anonymous
December 23, 2004 11:31:15 PM

Archived from groups: rec.games.int-fiction (More info?)

lraszewski@loyola.edu (L. Ross Raszewski) wrote:

>On Wed, 22 Dec 2004 18:18:17 GMT, Anthony Mahler <antmahler@mail.com> wrote:
>>Magnus Olsson
>>
>>> >Looks like a CABAL member revision to me... ;) 
>>>
>>> Shhh... don't mention the Cabal. Which doesn't exist, by the way.
>>
>>That "joke" has grown a grey beard by now.

>Every time you mention the Cabal, God kills a kitten.
>
>Which, when added to the ones which dissapear mysteriously without a
>trace whenever someone mentions the Cabal, is a consiterable number of
>cats removed from play.

There go two more, you #$%#$!

Sincerely,

Gene Wirchenko

Computerese Irregular Verb Conjugation:
I have preferences.
You have biases.
He/She has prejudices.
Anonymous
December 24, 2004 2:04:33 AM

Archived from groups: rec.games.int-fiction (More info?)

lraszewski@loyola.edu (L. Ross Raszewski) wrote:

> On Wed, 22 Dec 2004 18:18:17 GMT, Anthony Mahler <antmahler@mail.com> wrote:
> >Magnus Olsson
> >
> >> >Looks like a CABAL member revision to me... ;) 
> >>
> >> Shhh... don't mention the Cabal. Which doesn't exist, by the way.
> >
> >That "joke" has grown a grey beard by now.
> >
> Every time you mention the Cabal, God kills a kitten.

Cabal. Cabal cabal cabal cabal. Cabal cabal. Cabal.

Richard, trying to protect the blackbirds in his garden. Damn all cats.
Anonymous
December 24, 2004 3:59:41 PM

Archived from groups: rec.games.int-fiction (More info?)

In article <cqcr3s$rrb$1@reader1.panix.com>,
Andrew Plotkin <erkyrath@eblong.com> wrote:
>Here, Tobias Thelen <thelentob@utfors.se> wrote:
>>
>> I disagree. The writing is forced and heavy-handed
>
>Same troll. Same ISP, same IP address.

And same M.O.
Anonymous
December 24, 2004 4:01:08 PM

Archived from groups: rec.games.int-fiction (More info?)

In article <YEzyd.7133$L7.2457@trnddc05>,
L. Ross Raszewski <lraszewski@loyola.edu> wrote:
>On Wed, 22 Dec 2004 18:18:17 GMT, Anthony Mahler <antmahler@mail.com> wrote:
>>Magnus Olsson
>>
>>> >Looks like a CABAL member revision to me... ;) 
>>>
>>> Shhh... don't mention the Cabal. Which doesn't exist, by the way.
>>
>>That "joke" has grown a grey beard by now.
>>
>>
>>
>Every time you mention the Cabal, God kills a kitten.

Cabal.Cabal.Cabal.Cabal.Cabal.Cabal.Cabal.Cabal.Cabal.Cabal.Cabal.Cabal.Cabal.
Cabal.Cabal.Cabal.Cabal.Cabal.Cabal.Cabal.Cabal.Cabal.Cabal.Cabal.Cabal.Cabal.

(did I mention that I'm allergic to cats and I love it when the Big
Guy does the wet work?)
December 24, 2004 6:46:38 PM

Archived from groups: rec.games.int-fiction (More info?)

"L. Ross Raszewski" <lraszewski@loyola.edu> wrote in message
news:YEzyd.7133$L7.2457@trnddc05...
> On Wed, 22 Dec 2004 18:18:17 GMT, Anthony Mahler <antmahler@mail.com>
wrote:
> >Magnus Olsson
> >
> >> >Looks like a CABAL member revision to me... ;) 
> >>
> >> Shhh... don't mention the Cabal. Which doesn't exist, by the way.
> >
> >That "joke" has grown a grey beard by now.
> >
> >
> >
> Every time you mention the Cabal, God kills a kitten.

So God's a Stephen Lynch fan, then?
!