Phew! Now that I've fixed my keyboard I can finally join this cool topic.
Well, Brian, it's good that Pseudo uncovered that root of your problems with Zork lies not in the game itself but with the whole genre.
You're (Brian) correct in assuming that every game lies in between of total abstraction like Tetris of Geometry Wars and real-life simulation full of subjects, topics and themes, like say, Ultima VII.
But you're mistaken in presuming that path between those two is the only one which is limiting design/interaction ratio. I think there are thousands of different ways (or threads if you will) the game medium can be used to communicate themes yet waiting to be uncovered. And I have seen a lot of IF games to confirm that.but I'm saying thats where the things text adventures will typically (though maybe not always) go
Surprisingly, the IF genre is about the only one I can't prescribe some typical attributes to. There so many different variations of mechanics, subjects and overall design ideas, that I'd be very hard-pressed to name the most characteristic ones. They'll tend to be about the subject or theme moreso than the game experience.
Why so? By what is it defined? If you mean "game experience" as an "action fun" you receive by playing action games or watching exciting movie than I guess you're right. IF games experience tends to be more indirect, some might even say sophisticated. Focusing the game on subject or theme doesn't limit the amount of "experience" you receive from it.
To me the experience of playing an IF game is about as inseparable from the story as about it can be. With no formalities in between me and the game it is possible to achieve the level of immersion unparalleled be any graphic game. but whether the format can be used meaningfully.
But that's the point. No understanding of, how flexible IF medium has become, will come without experiencing the games firsthand. Zork is certainly more of a museum piece than an illustration of IF games possibilities. If you have played other IF, bring them up and we'll continue there, because it's pretty hard to argue without naming the games themselves.A novel can paint a consistent picture in a way I think IF has more trouble
Wrong. That totally depends on the subject matter and approach to it. Any book will tell more factual information about Guernica than Picasso painting but that doesn't mean the man should have chosen to write a book instead.
I really can't stop myself from bringing of one of my most beloved games by Infocom, mentioned earlier by Pseudo. A Mind Forever Voyaging
shows in a very neat manner the advantages IF games have over conventional literature. Instead of writing the 100 pages long description of dis-Utopian future the authors just tell you "See for yourself.". And you're free to go wherever you want and experience things in whatever order you wish.
And that's a much more immersive and organized approach. I can easily imagine the limitations of literature the authors would had to resort to, if they have chosen it to be a book: lots of unnecessary characters to propel the plot forward or description of protagonist actions which inevitably leads to separating an emotional connection between you and him and so on. and a graphics game can make a simulation in a way IF has more trouble.
Funny thing is that I considered most of Infocom games being just that -- simulations. That is that they're more about simulating a certain environment or profession as opposed to having more focus on plot or story. Pirate-sim
, Private Eye-sim
, Spy During Cold War - sim
, Treasur Hunter- sim
A European in Japan - sim
and many others including lots of wizard-wannabes-sims. The reason I call all those games simulation is because their stories are secondary to "how about being an X in Y environment" idea. And I might say that with few exceptions it worked rather well.but you have to introduce everything thats meaningful at once in IF. So if something is there, you know its meaningful. The only way around this in IF is building a lot of unnecessary detail.
Once again you're imagining something that's not attributable to the whole genre in general. You're picturing the perfect idea of Zork or more so Trinity, with you encountering different hot-locations with some high-lighted objects you're sure you're going to use someway into the game. I assure you most of the games I've mentioned here doesn't work that way, more so the modern IF adventures. The only way around this in IF is building a lot of unnecessary detail.
Not necessarily. In my mind the prefect workaround would be to create less puzzle-oriented IF games, but more games that are oriented on the choice made by the player. There are thousand ways to implement that without loosing any bit of the challenge. AMFV introduced a big explorable world, Border Zone -- time limit and near death situations, Deadline -- character interaction. Once again I am not even touching the surface of modern IF with games like Photopia and Tapestry immediately springing to mind.
Also do write a review, it's so fun.