Ah, that’s the eternal struggle, isn’t it? It’s there even in roleplaying DnD. The party is free to completely ignore the meticulous game the DM prepared for them. The DM is free to retaliate by killing them instantly somehow.
I think I know which author and quote you mean. I’m going to reproduce the quote, without ill intent, because I’d like to comment on it (but not in a way, I hope, that the author feels they have to defend themselves).
In my case, the reason is that I am primarily interested in parser
storytelling – which has a long history in IF, dating back to the IF
Art Show – and thus do not want the reader to experience a “story” that
consists of 50 turns of “You jump on the spot, fruitlessly.” That would
be an awful story.
This is really interesting, because it assumes that a player who types JUMP 50 times in a row is not to be blamed to making a boring and uninteresting story. It even assumes that it detracts from the story, which I daresay most people won’t even bat an eyelid at. However, people WILL notice if you give a non-standard response to a command like that.
I appreciate the sentiment here - trying to make interactive stories, not games. I’m not sure I follow that the parser is the best venue for it, the author’s arguments certainly failed to convince me, but if it’s what the author wants to do, I’m not sure it’s in our place to browbeat them. We are free to play their games or not (I prefer to play them, so I can at least experience something new).
The really fascinating thing about that quote is what a different mindset it has to the one that, for instance, I have. I think Jon Ingold would have a similar mindset to this author’s, because he’s also tried a lot to inovate in order to tell stories (My Angel), immerse the player (Fail-Safe), retain mimesis at all costs (Insight) and, in the end, do away with the parser (Colder Light and, of course, everything from Inkle).
And let’s be fair. If Jon Ingold said something like this he’d probably be better received. (EDIT - “Fair” works both ways - he’d have said it differently)
So I appreciate your annoyance, and I share a lot of it. I’m having a really fun time right now with Speculative Fiction. I am really not interested in fancy high-falutin’ avant-gardisms; not as much as I am interested in something well written, well implemented and with heart behind it. But, authors should be free to do what they want to do. All we can do is provide constructive feedback, based on our opinion, and accept that they may take it or leave it depending on a number of things, including - but not limited to - what they had for lunch, whether they had their favourite dessert, and whether it’s raining outside.
EDIT - I knew I’d forgotten to say something else. It’s all about implementation - if a player keeps trying verbs and they’re rejected, that’s probably worse than trying to do the same command (which works) 50 times in a row. When playing homebrew parsers, as soon as I realise the parser is pretending to understand something it doesn’t I get ready to quit the game at the slightest provocation. You can’t communicate with a game like that, unless the game is not really a game but a story and it’s going to go on regardless of what you type.
Which brings me to Photopia, and Rameses. Both are highly constrained. But they had to be parser games; they needed the illusion of the parser freedom in order to lead the story (Photopia) or downright cut the player’s wings at every corner on purpose (Rameses). Or even to make a bigger point, as in Constraints.
I really think there are enough people making more traditional parser games that we needn’t worry about oddities, which have always existed and thank god for them (isn’t Galatea an oddity? And you brought up Aisle - that was a revelation, it brought something totally new and unheard of, and is integral to IF as we today know it). Whether they’re making the sort of games we favour… isn’t that always the thing? The one we can’t (and shouldn’t!) control, to boot.
EDIT 2 - Another question. Who is writing the story? The author or the player? And does it really matter? What IS a story in parser IF - is it the transcript that includes floundering around? Or is it the story bits that happen during the game? This used to be a non-issue, but suddenly we have stories and we have games and authors and players with strong preferences on both sides.
Should authors take offense for being called out by someone who doesn’t like what they’re doing? They can’t - every author in every medium has to put up with that. Should players bully authors into making the games they want to play? Absolutely not, I don’t think, especially since there ARE other games that they want to play, so it’s not like a barren field.
Pffff. I was trying to reach a grand conclusion and all I can think of is “cut out the drama, people, let’s play the games”. It’s lacking a certain something. But it’s kinda true. It tends to cut discussions short, though.