How do you picture IF?

I was playing this delightful IF - Delightful Wallpaper - with strong characterization through the narrator’s voice. I hardly played it those many years ago because I thought the subject and tone dull - some house rental officer inspecting a new building? no, thanks. Boy was I wrong!

Anyway, once I got the setting, so suddenly changed my perspective of it, and rather than picturing an apathetic guy going through his job duties, I caught me reading it aloud in a tone quite like that of Vincent Price.

Another day I briefly listened to a podcast by Adam Cadre about Slouching Towards Bedlam. The thing that struck me quite as an oddity was his choice for cartoon depicting the work: a very wacky cartoony take on the mad doctor and his faithful robot. It didn’t quite match to me the tense drama mood that pervails that IF.

So, how do you picture IF? Do you strip bare all prose and get to the mechanics and verb-noun pairs and exits, effectively playing like a wacky Scott Adams romp? Do you read it aloud like in a campside story? Do you actually picture the surroundings as the words imprint in your mind complete with details, or it’s just words that you scan for information? If you picture it, does it look real-life or cartoony? perhaps you picture each room like a screen in a Lucasarts point-n-click? or a continuous 3D geometry?

anyway, just a curiosity. I’ve heard some people telling me they could only enjoy text adventures with graphics - even lousy ones like Level9 games. I think not being able to have a clear picture from the reading alone hampers a lot of people from appreciating IF.

btw, I always get a clear, and real-life, picture, specially from good, vivid prose. then again, I’ve always been kind of a book worm… the only exception is the map of my surroundings, which I picture precisely as a 2D map. I know this place is there and I should follow this directions to get there, etc. It’s easier to overview rather than view it inplace. though with enough walking around the geometries of physical space eventually get natural enough…

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Heh. I often picture it like a LucasArts or Sierra game, because those are the games I’ve cut my teeth in. Close-ups and all.

If I play a lot of IF in a row, I stop visualizing so much. I concentrate on the nouns and build my interaction around them.

I think that if an IF game forces me to take it slowly, like the Mulldoon games did, I’m more likely to visualise, because I’ll be carefully inspecting the game world trying to solve puzzles. Whether that leads to visualisation or whether that’s only possible if I visualize… i.e., whether that’s the cause or the consequence… I wouldn’t say. But an IF game that doesn’t make me go all that slowly gets the sketchy brain pictures. There’s a table, there’s a screwdriver atop it. Doors to the north (up) and east (right). Portrait on the wall, doesn’t even matter which wall. Three nouns, two directions, go.

As for mapping, I totally show my roots - I visualise the 2d grid map so popular in Infocom’s faux-transcripts.

EDIT - Sometimes I visualise the PC. When I do it’s ALWAYS in the SCI style I grew up with. When I visualise movement, it’s always like, say, an animation from Gabriel Knight (the original).

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Heh, it never occurred to me to picture them as computer graphics. I think I tend to picture the scene more or less the same way I do when reading a book, unless I’m stuck, and focusing on the wording itself to look for clues or nouns I might’ve missed. If there’s cover art for the game, that tends to set the tone for how I visualize it.

Something like “Heroine’s Mantle,” I picture as a live action movie but with probably made-for-tv production values. Other stuff, yeah, it’s about the same kind of visual imagination as when reading a book.