Growing impatient with IF (vent) [Somehow became "Let's talk about AIF". Go figure]


#1

Yay, another “I’m-just-going-to-vent-a-bit” thread. Even the IntFic helpful pop-up is telling me, as I write this, that “Your topic is similar to…” and links me to my other vent. Well, it’s absolutely right. :slight_smile:

I find myself growing strangely impatient with IF. These days, I can start a game quite happily, and then when something happens - maybe I’ll get stuck, maybe I’ll run into implementation issues, maybe I just don’t really find a point to it all - I’ll disconnect from it and it won’t be long before I move on to the next one. Rinse, repeat.

It’s when I get stuck that this gets strangest. I usually needs hints at least once - those hints will show me how the game is thinking, and what sort of mindset I need to succeed. But it’s also the point where I’m liable to go “Oh. Well, that’s ludicrous/illogical/unlikely to be solved by me. I don’t trust the game/my ability to complete it anymore”.

And I get tired! I get so tired as I move further into the game.

Today I completed Counterfeit Monkey. I’d started it months ago in iFrotz, then had to stop when I got to the bureau because I couldn’t deal with that horrible slowdown any more (CM is only really playable on a desktop/laptop). I remember being excited by it, and enjoying it.

A few days ago I picked it up again. Mostly it was drudgery to get back to the point I was before, dreading - and I do mean dreading, it almost put me off entirely - a particular point where I’d gotten myself thoroughly stuck before (the Waterstone puzzle). I could only solve that with hints/solution on the IntFiction board, and it’s really not something I’d drum up myself (one of the solutions resulted in a word I didn’t know, where the other used the synthesiser in ways I hadn’t realised were possible).

Anyway! I got to the new spot, and I found myself seriously enthused again! I was really enjoying myself, and when the game gave me a moral choice I had a gut reaction rather than an intellectual one: I felt very strongly about the choice I was going make.

And then the game hit me with anagrams, which I’m rubbish at. And even after then, I just felt… drained. I had to rely strongly on hints for the endgame, mostly because I didn’t have the energy to continue.

I’ve recently tried replaying Curses!, as well. Exhausting! I felt I could never trust the game not to put me in an unwinnable situation, so I was paralyzed, afraid of doing anything! Not that I was making progress even when I did save and tried something dangerous.

Of course, puzzles are the very heart of IF, or text adventures, or what have you. I mean, I quite enjoy solving them. I love those ah-ha! moments. But I find that I have less and less patience to actually get to them! And sometimes I do think games are terribly unfair in the connections they expect players to make - and if I think a game is being unreasonable I’m not nearly as likely as I was, years ago, to persevere. I’ve got too many other games to play!

So what does this mean? I dunno. I mean, I DID looooooooooove The Mulldoon Legacy, which has to mean something!

I guess I don’t really know what I want from my IF any more! That’s a very strange thing, as I continue to collect it!

(I was a lot more patient with CM when I could play it on my mobile, mind you)


#2

You know what? I never thought about what I actually want from IF. But on the other hand, I also never thought about what I want from any other kind of game either. I either like something, or I don’t, and I never stop to think about why that is. I would make a terrible reviewer.

If I really force myself to come up with reasons why I like text adventures, I can only come up with two. Nostalgia and the illusion of infinite freedom. The nostalgia part is self-explanatory.

The infinite freedom thingy is about the game pretending that every location and every object in the game is modeled after reality and that you can do whatever you want at that “>” prompt. Which is so not true at all. There’s a gazillion of things one could potentially do, but only a handful of those things are actually meaningful and accounted for by the author.

Finding out which things are important out of the gazillion of unimportant ones is… fun! Even better if the game accounts for many of the random things you might try and give you a funny (or otherwise appropriate) response. I think this is what draws me to IF in the first place.

I can see why this would make some people grow impatient, especially when playing on a mobile device. If I was playing on such a device, I would probably want to shoot someone after 10 minutes. IF involves an amount of typing where a full-sized keyboard in really needed, IMO. It’s a bit like playing an FPS with a console controller as opposed to using a mouse and keyboard. Yeah, it kind of works, but not really. You might as well try to play basketball by dribbling with your chin instead of with your hands. And I don’t know what the solution to this is. How would you make a text adventure on a mobile device as easy to play as on a keyboard? I don’t know :stuck_out_tongue:


#3

Let me clarify, I’m a lot MORE patient with IF on my mobile phone. iFrotz allows for double-tapping words for adding them to the command line and it also offers autocomplete that’s based on the game’s own dictionary. Playing on my mobile decive means I can try something out anywhere anytime, when my mind’s clearer. So if anything, for me, mobile playing is what’s keeping my interest alive!

EDIT - Mind you, I’ve grown used to playing FPSes with the controller, so… :wink:

EDIT 2 - Then again, maybe I’m gettin grumpy. I read the reviews on some of the games I’ve given up early on, non-IF, and they’re great reviews. Games that annoyed me very early on, enough for me to stop, are getting great reviews. So maybe I’m just getting old.


#4

I think my expectations have changed over time. When I was younger, I had fewer IF games, they were larger and more difficult than most of today’s comp-sized games, I wasn’t as experienced solving them, and hints were less readily available.

I’d come home from school, mess around with a game for a while, maybe make some progress and maybe not, and repeat the next day and the next. I’d have several games ongoing at once, and CRPGs like Wizardry, Ultima, Bard’s Tale, and Might and Magic were also in the mix. I expected that it was going to be challenging and that it was going to take a while. The result was that most of these games provided the feeling of a world that I’d inhabited for a long time and was sad to leave, similar to the experience that one has after finishing a long novel or series.

Today, I sometimes find myself with a more urgent focus of “win now!” and even a vague sense of annoyance at being impeded, perhaps because of all the story-oriented and bite-sized games that I’ve played in the interim. I think, for large puzzle games, it’s good to fight those reactions and approach them as an ongoing exploration where one enjoys the journey, chips away at various puzzles over time, and puts the game aside for a while if it stops being fun. I said something along these lines to Peter in a thread about Curses! on the intfiction forums, to which he responsed (paraphrasing): “Dude, I have been. It’s still frustrating.” Edit: There’s a good argument to be made that the purpose of the puzzles is largely to force this long-term exploration and to prevent the player racing through the game and forgetting it. From that standpoint, hints and walkthroughs are the devil.

I strongly prefer playing on a desktop rather than mobile, where there’s a real keyboard, space for a cup of coffee and a map, and where I can enjoy IF in solitude rather than On the Go™! I’ve seen suggestions for mobile IF that allows voice input, and the thought of it does not appeal. Yeah, I want to be stuck next to someone in line or on public transportation yelling “move rug! open trapdoor! down! light lamp! north! kill troll with sword!” into their phone. No thanks. Although yelling “save!” at inopportune times might be entertaining.


#5

Hmmm, that sounds quite familiar…

In the case of Curses, it totally was. It also doesn’t help that I know full well, by now, that there are puzzles I simply will not be able to solve on my own. Maybe it’s the mindset they require, maybe it’s that it’s using an object the way I would never have considered, maybe it’s that - like a case in CM - I just never knew the word.

I mean, in my experience, the longer I’m stuck without feeling I can trust the game, the more likely I am to just quit when I find the puzzle’s solution (unless I really did think the puzzle was fair, in which case I’ll go at the game with renewed vigour).

I suppose I should force myself to do as you suggest, especially for longer games… but the longer that goes on for, the more I dread coming back to the game. Surely there’s no point in insisting if I’m actively dreading playing the game? Finding excuses not to?

Often these days I find myself tired after solving a puzzle, going “thank God that’s all over! Let’s save the game immediately so I never have to do this one again!”.

EDIT - Good grief, I sound like an old stereotyped cartoonish geezer talking about sex!

EDIT - Also, my mind is admittedly elsewhere most of the time. I always have other professional concerns. Now that I come to say it out loud, I realise that certainly doesn’t help…


#6

If you’re not enjoying the process, don’t. Unless you’re enjoying a meta-process (like competing with others to solve it first) enough to compensate.

Save before the sex. Consult walkthrough and restore as necessary.


#7

It’s the unreliable parser errors that get to me, really. I never really know whether my action was accepted, gracefully refused or just unrecognised.

I generally muddle through all right. I remember a time when I actually got the Last Lousy Point. Ah, memories…


#8

I’m a bit more impatient on replaying them. It used to just be cool these were THERE. But then knowing a bit more, I don’t want to level grind etc. Or have some random monster combo trash me.

Plus there were fewer games back then so we could dedicate time to each one.

I know that there are games I enjoy replaying, and that works about as well as dedicating a large chunk of time. I find I can (roughly) get the same feeling from staring at a game’s map, etc., and not using a walkthrough all at once.

Though I have to admit if a world gets too big I give up a bit. Ultima VI threw me for quite a loop. It’s as if I don’t want too much realism & I need that gray space to imagine.

I think it’s hard to go back to the days before you knew about user friendliness, but there’s enough ahead to enjoy. The only problem is that you feel like you may be missing something if you spend too much on a game you really like because there might be something even better out there. And you still have to live in the moment.

This talk captures how we can be made impatient by having too many choices: https://www.ted.com/talks/barry_schwartz_on_the_paradox_of_choice?language=en


#9

It’s actually kind of funny as I was thinking about this not too long ago. I play so few games anymore as I just don’t have patience for them any more. I enjoy writing games, I enjoy writing utilities for games and developers, and I enjoy reading about games, but just not so much playing them anymore.


#10

I know writing a game takes a lot of time out of playing them, and the thing is, I’m likely to interrupt playing a game if it’s a good one and gives me an idea. So, good games = play less because they inspire me to write. Bad games = play less because they’re bad.

I also think now I’ve seen all the ways a game can be buggy, I half wonder how -any- games ship without big bugs, so I’m a bit worried. (I also take more of a testing mindset to games than in the past.)


#11

I’m now imagining a combination of AIF with the “parser is a character” trope. Your mention of Counterfeit Monkey didn’t help…

EDIT: Ah fuck I didn’t check the last post date. Oops.


#12

Like that matters. :slight_smile:

AIF has been on my mind because of the AI for IF thread. Maybe its time has come round at last?


#13

All we need is an author with enough AIF experience to pull it off…


#14

Joking aside, I’ve seen some pretty good stuff in some AIF games.


#15

Badly rendered 3D boobs?


#16

ASCII boobs would be more likely. :slight_smile: But no. Occasionally an AIF game will be more than just a porn scene. Mind you, some porn scenes themselves are quite well implemented, technically speaking.

I have fond memories of Blow Job Drifter because it’s so friggin’ ridiculous it makes me chuckle. :slight_smile:

Technically AIF, “Briar” is also interesting as a portion of Sleeping Beauty, much closer to the original than Disney. Interestingly, it’s possible to play it without triggering any sex bits.

Some AIF are little more than short puzzles followed by an attempt at titillation (Casting isn’t far from that description). I’m fine with that - it’s like Leisure Suit Larry, only racier.

And there’s stuff like “A Dog’s Life”. Definitely not for everyone, because you play as a dog and the game ends in bestiality - with pre-rendered 3d pictures… but until that point it’s a pleasant game, with some bona-fide puzzles, a story, a conflict, an antagonist, and even a couple of scenes where you have to sync your behaviour to your master’s for full score. I really liked it.

Hard to keep up with the AIF scene, though. I know it still exists because a few weeks (months?) ago the Erin newsletter got updated with a bunch of games…


#17

Um… (raises his hand very tentatively to hit word count)


#18

[quote=“PeterPiers, post:16, topic:263, full:true”]
the game ends in bestiality - with pre-rendered 3d pictures…[/quote]
You know, this is the kind of stuff where I can’t tell if it’s intended as a joke from the author, or if they’re serious about it :smiley:


#19

They’re serious. I can provide you with a saved game if you want to see it for yourself. :slight_smile: Again, it only gets AIF at the end, and it’s really obvious when it does - until that point you can play it straight, as you would another IF game with a non-human protagonist.


#20

I… I think I’ll pass, ha ha! I mean, I like dogs as much as the next guy, but not that much.