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Semi-interactive fiction

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Anonymous
September 21, 2005 2:20:13 PM

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

Before I get too far into it, I wanted to ask people's opinions on a game I
am writing ...

It is more like a multi-threaded story than Interactive Fiction. The setting
is a small town where lots of things are going on ... you can wander around
invisibly and overhear conversations, examine things, etc. just like
watching a movie and controlling the camera position & angle - but you can't
take things or talk to people.

The idea is to solve several mysteries: a murder, a robbery and a romance.
To do this, you will have to gather information and work out what is going
on, which would involve replaying from the beginning several times and
gathering clues (and sorting out the red herrings from the real herrings
:-). To solve a mystery, you use a special "solve" command and answer
several questions; you are only told if you have all of the questions
correct, not individual ones (to prevent guessing). Hints will be available.

Would this be interesting to play, or is it a bit too far removed from
normal IF for people ?

Thanks for any input,

David Fisher

PS. If you are wondering why I am doing it this way, it is because I don't
want the PC to be able to wreck the story line (too much work at this stage
to allow for multiple plot lines if one becomes impossible due to the PC's
actions). The timing of events is kind of important, and the PC would
probably not even realise the consequences of their actions if they delayed
or prevented something from happening, which would make events appear to be
kind of random to the player, too ...

But if it makes it too frustrating not to be able to interact much with the
world, maybe I should try a different approach.
Anonymous
September 21, 2005 2:20:14 PM

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

"David Fisher" <david@hsa.com.au> wrote:
> Would this be interesting to play, or is it a bit too far removed from
> normal IF for people ?

I think it's awfully hard for people to know whether or not they'd like it
until they see it. If there are any examples of past games that have tried
a similar approach, it might be helpful to know what people thought about
those; if there aren't any such examples, though, your best bet is probably
to push ahead and see what people think of the finished product. In the
abstract, it's impossible to see how all the details will fit together to
make a subjective experience, and that's what counts.

If you like the idea, I wouldn't worry too much that it'll be a complete
waste of time. Even in the worst case, that everyone hates it, at least
you'll have definitively ruled out that avenue and will be able to pursue
other ideas without a nagging feeling that you should have explored this one
more. In all likelihood there'll be at least some positive ideas that come
out of it.

--Mike
mjr underscore at hotmail dot com
Anonymous
September 21, 2005 2:20:14 PM

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

David Fisher wrote:

..you can wander around
> invisibly and overhear conversations, examine things, etc. just like
> watching a movie and controlling the camera position & angle - but you can't
> take things or talk to people.
>
> The idea is to solve several mysteries: a murder, a robbery and a romance.

> Would this be interesting to play, or is it a bit too far removed from
> normal IF for people ?


I think this would definitely be worth playing through a couple of
times. I'm curious to see how you would get the PC in the correct
places at the correct times and whether there would be a mechanism
within the game for the player to keep track of clues or if that would
be an on your own kind of thing.


This small town wouldn't happen to be Cabot Cove, Maine would it? <g>


Ramona
Related resources
Anonymous
September 21, 2005 2:20:14 PM

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

This idea sounds like the interative fiction remake of the movie Ghost.
Could be cool.
September 21, 2005 2:38:46 PM

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

james cunningham wrote:
> I'm thinking of the following scenario: the player is in a room while John
> and Steve converse. If the player chooses to focus on Steve, he'll notice
> that Steve's hands shake when he assures John (for whatever reason) that
> he has only John's best interests in mind.
>
> But if the player had watched a scene involving Steve and Steve's friends
> in a poker tournament earlier in the game, he'll know Steve twitches when
> he's bluffing. The player then has a clue to follow Steve around when
> John turns up murdered. If the player had instead focused elsewhere or
> stayed unfocused, he would have no such clue and must look elsewhere for
> hints.

Ugh! You liked Suspect, did you?
I hate the idea of having to be magically in the right place at the
right time, looking at the right thing, in order to get the clues you
need. I prefer ordinary detectives over psychics.
Anonymous
September 21, 2005 5:18:19 PM

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

On Tue, 20 Sep 2005 20:20:13 -0400, David Fisher <david@hsa.com.au> wrote:

> It is more like a multi-threaded story than Interactive Fiction. The
> setting
> is a small town where lots of things are going on ... you can wander
> around
> invisibly and overhear conversations, examine things, etc. just like
> watching a movie and controlling the camera position & angle - but you
> can't
> take things or talk to people.
> [...]
> Would this be interesting to play, or is it a bit too far removed from
> normal IF for people ?

I, for one, would be very interested in playing a game like this. If the
mysteries to solve - and the method of investigation - are interesting
enough, I'll enjoy it. Certainly at worst it would be a worthy experiment
in above-Rameses-level noninteractivity.

What *are* you planning for the user to do? Will he be static, with
directions and z his only commands, or will he be able to examine things
in his environment? Will he be able to focus his attention on specific
items while the scene is progressing?

I'm thinking of the following scenario: the player is in a room while John
and Steve converse. If the player chooses to focus on Steve, he'll notice
that Steve's hands shake when he assures John (for whatever reason) that
he has only John's best interests in mind.

But if the player had watched a scene involving Steve and Steve's friends
in a poker tournament earlier in the game, he'll know Steve twitches when
he's bluffing. The player then has a clue to follow Steve around when
John turns up murdered. If the player had instead focused elsewhere or
stayed unfocused, he would have no such clue and must look elsewhere for
hints.

Or am I thinking too hard about this?

best,
james
Anonymous
September 21, 2005 5:55:55 PM

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

On Wed, 21 Sep 2005 13:38:46 -0400, Nathan <ntspam2@netscape.net> wrote:

> Ugh! You liked Suspect, did you?
> I hate the idea of having to be magically in the right place at the
> right time, looking at the right thing, in order to get the clues you
> need. I prefer ordinary detectives over psychics.

I've never played Suspect, in fact. (Nor have I heard of it, but there
are a lot of important things that I haven't heard of.) I was only
thinking aloud, fumbling in the dark for ways to keep the player more
involved in the investigation.

I agree that if too fine a detail is required to come to *any* conclusion,
then the whole game would be almost unwinnable. Alternate ways of coming
to the same, correct conclusion must be available: if the player did not
view the poker game or did not focus on Steve during the conversation,
some other reason to suspect Steve would have to be available. An
incriminating letter falls out of his breast pocket when he bends down to
tie his shoes, maybe.

Additionally, David mentioned that (a) he's comfortable with the player
having to play the game more than once, and (b) there would be more than
one mystery to solve. If the player is not trying to solve John's murder,
he could be focusing his attention on an entirely separate matter, and
could get to avenging John in a later play-through.

I think it's possible to go too far in the other direction, making it so
that a certain primary character from Life Goes On could solve the game in
one play through. Neither Hercule Poirot nor even Sherlock Holmes were
entirely without the occasional false start. That makes it *interesting*.

best,
james
Anonymous
September 21, 2005 9:26:44 PM

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

"Ramona White" <roama@hotmail.com> wrote in message
news:1127274745.398791.199440@g14g2000cwa.googlegroups.com...

>> The setting is a small town where lots of things are going on ...

> This small town wouldn't happen to be Cabot Cove, Maine would it? <g>

A bit further back in time than that, actually :-)

It's a kind of anonymous historical town ... although it does have a name
(Arellia), so maybe it's not that anonymous after all :-P

David Fisher
Anonymous
September 22, 2005 1:20:14 AM

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

On Wed, 21 Sep 2005 10:20:13 +1000, "David Fisher" <david@hsa.com.au>
wrote:

> you can wander around invisibly and overhear conversations, examine things,
> etc. just like watching a movie and controlling the camera position & angle

This reminds me of "Suspect" (mentioned in another reply) as well as
the ancient 8-bit game "Killed Until Dead," released by U.S. Gold in
1987 (how time flies...). In "Killed..." you are a detective working
from your desk and have to tap phones and set up cameras to record
conversations. You then present the suspects with the evidence; if
it's strong enough, their facial expressions (some of which were
hilarious in the C64 version) will give them away.

Here's a review: http://www.ysrnry.co.uk/articles/killeduntildead.htm

I enjoyed playing "Killed..." enormously and would certainly be
interested in your game. Keep us posted!

Edo
Anonymous
September 22, 2005 11:12:22 AM

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

"james cunningham" <jameshcunningham@yahoo.com> wrote in message
news:1127323094.ca5fcb458166af88a5c9f4164994199d@teranews...
> On Tue, 20 Sep 2005 20:20:13 -0400, David Fisher <david@hsa.com.au> wrote:
>
>> It is more like a multi-threaded story than Interactive Fiction.
>> The setting is a small town where lots of things are going on ...
>> you can wander around invisibly and overhear conversations,
>> examine things, etc. just like watching a movie and controlling
>> the camera position & angle - but you can't
>> take things or talk to people.

> What *are* you planning for the user to do? Will he be static,
> with directions and z his only commands, or will he be able to
> examine things in his environment? Will he be able to focus his
> attention on specific items while the scene is progressing?

Here's the idea so far:

* The basic commands are directions, x/examine, and "follow X"
(which just saves typing a direction when X moves), as well
as z/wait (default action if the player just hits return)

* Examining things costs no time; you can look at as many things
as you want in a single turn (as if you were watching a movie
and pressed Pause, then turned the camera in different directions)

* You can only examine things in plain view, not look inside or
under things

* You hear everything that is said at a location (but a "location"
may be a small area, eg. in a market place you can only hear the
people in one section)

> I'm thinking of the following scenario: the player is in a room
> while John and Steve converse. If the player chooses to focus
> on Steve, he'll notice that Steve's hands shake

[snip]

> If the player had instead focused elsewhere or stayed unfocused,
> he would have no such clue and must look elsewhere for hints.

The PC will notice things like this automatically ... otherwise it
might get a bit repetitive having to examine everything all the
time for fear of missing something important.

The game will be quite short (maybe 60 turns ?), but it will not be
possible to pick up everything in one go, since things happen in
many places at the same time ... it is meant to be like reading
several parallel stories, where you control which thread you are
interested in at the time, but eventually you put the pieces from
different threads together. Not impossibly difficult, but more like
needing to follow up on the information you gathered last time.

It won't be a matter of happening to be in just the right place at
the right time, though (as Nathan brought up in his post) - there
will be enough information to know where to look next, and even if
there isn't, you can just pick a place or a person and see what
happens to them next time around. There is no time limit, and you
can't miss an opportunity irretrievably, so there shouldn't be a
major problem.

Thanks for the interest !

David Fisher
Anonymous
September 22, 2005 11:20:47 AM

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

"Edo" <invalid@example.com> wrote in message
news:lic3j1d213l8ehmug2m1pglvr4hf0nsjaj@4ax.com...
> On Wed, 21 Sep 2005 10:20:13 +1000, "David Fisher" <david@hsa.com.au>
> wrote:
>
>> you can wander around invisibly and overhear conversations,
>> examine things, etc. just like watching a movie and controlling
>> the camera position & angle
>
> This reminds me of "Suspect" (mentioned in another reply) as well as
> the ancient 8-bit game "Killed Until Dead," released by U.S. Gold in
> 1987 (how time flies...). In "Killed..." you are a detective working
> from your desk and have to tap phones and set up cameras to record
> conversations. You then present the suspects with the evidence; if
> it's strong enough, their facial expressions (some of which were
> hilarious in the C64 version) will give them away.
>
> Here's a review: http://www.ysrnry.co.uk/articles/killeduntildead.htm

Very cute ! I love the idea of someone's expression changing as you
question them. Hercule Holmes is a great name for a detective, too
(probably a bit better than Sherlock Poirot).

> I enjoyed playing "Killed..." enormously and would certainly be
> interested in your game. Keep us posted!

Thanks - I'll let you know ...

David Fisher
Anonymous
September 24, 2005 11:09:45 AM

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

On Thu, 22 Sep 2005 07:12:22 +1000, "David Fisher" <david@hsa.com.au>
wrote:

>"james cunningham" <jameshcunningham@yahoo.com> wrote in message
>news:1127323094.ca5fcb458166af88a5c9f4164994199d@teranews...
>> On Tue, 20 Sep 2005 20:20:13 -0400, David Fisher <david@hsa.com.au> wrote:
>>
>>> It is more like a multi-threaded story than Interactive Fiction.
>>> The setting is a small town where lots of things are going on ...
>>> you can wander around invisibly and overhear conversations,
>>> examine things, etc. just like watching a movie and controlling
>>> the camera position & angle - but you can't
>>> take things or talk to people.
>
>> What *are* you planning for the user to do? Will he be static,
>> with directions and z his only commands, or will he be able to
>> examine things in his environment? Will he be able to focus his
>> attention on specific items while the scene is progressing?
>
>Here's the idea so far:
>
>* The basic commands are directions, x/examine, and "follow X"
> (which just saves typing a direction when X moves), as well
> as z/wait (default action if the player just hits return)
>
>* Examining things costs no time; you can look at as many things
> as you want in a single turn (as if you were watching a movie
> and pressed Pause, then turned the camera in different directions)
>
>* You can only examine things in plain view, not look inside or
> under things
>
>* You hear everything that is said at a location (but a "location"
> may be a small area, eg. in a market place you can only hear the
> people in one section)
>
>> I'm thinking of the following scenario: the player is in a room
>> while John and Steve converse. If the player chooses to focus
>> on Steve, he'll notice that Steve's hands shake
>
>[snip]
>
>> If the player had instead focused elsewhere or stayed unfocused,
>> he would have no such clue and must look elsewhere for hints.
>
>The PC will notice things like this automatically ... otherwise it
>might get a bit repetitive having to examine everything all the
>time for fear of missing something important.
>
>The game will be quite short (maybe 60 turns ?), but it will not be
>possible to pick up everything in one go, since things happen in
>many places at the same time ... it is meant to be like reading
>several parallel stories, where you control which thread you are
>interested in at the time, but eventually you put the pieces from
>different threads together. Not impossibly difficult, but more like
>needing to follow up on the information you gathered last time.
>
>It won't be a matter of happening to be in just the right place at
>the right time, though (as Nathan brought up in his post) - there
>will be enough information to know where to look next, and even if
>there isn't, you can just pick a place or a person and see what
>happens to them next time around. There is no time limit, and you
>can't miss an opportunity irretrievably, so there shouldn't be a
>major problem.
>
>Thanks for the interest !
>
>David Fisher
>

Seems to have potential to be very good. Will it be zcode?

Cheers,

BEH
Anonymous
September 24, 2005 11:13:46 PM

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

In article <Xt2Ye.716$Ur.587@newssvr29.news.prodigy.net>,
Mike Roberts <mjr_@hotmail.com> wrote:
>"David Fisher" <david@hsa.com.au> wrote:
>> Would this be interesting to play, or is it a bit too far removed from
>> normal IF for people ?
>
>I think it's awfully hard for people to know whether or not they'd like it
>until they see it. <snip>
>If you like the idea, I wouldn't worry too much that it'll be a complete
>waste of time.

I agree with Mike -- it seems to me this is a valuable experiment to try.
--
"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
September 28, 2005 12:43:24 PM

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

"Blue Event Horizon" <invalid@nospamneeded.com> wrote in message
news:lvt9j1ptaclin85ieeb09s7oot64tsfbg5@4ax.com...
>>
>> On Tue, 20 Sep 2005 20:20:13 -0400, David Fisher <david@hsa.com.au>
>> wrote:
>>
>> It is more like a multi-threaded story than Interactive Fiction.
>> The setting is a small town where lots of things are going on ...
>> you can wander around invisibly and overhear conversations,
>> examine things, etc. just like watching a movie and controlling
>> the camera position & angle - but you can't
>> take things or talk to people.

[snip lots]

> Seems to have potential to be very good. Will it be zcode?

Yes, it will ...

David Fisher
!