The Start of My IF Adventure
Unit Two: "Rebellion Run: The Start"
Review of 2 Interactive Fiction games
The first game I played is my favorite: Lost Pig. From this game, I want to take the ability to wake-up a character (the sleeping gnome) and the idea of escaping a place with another character. Grunk has to find the pig in the beginning, but he ends up needing to escape the underground cave with the pig.
The HitchHiker's Guide to the Galaxy Game was fun to play and the other game I took ideas from. Though I didn't get all the way through, I was happy to recognize familiar events and plot. It inspired me to create my own game after a story I started. This, however, I found is not helpful to other players (as they haven't read my story). Items would have descriptions that progressed the story, but didn't much affect the game if you already knew the story plot.
Setting and tone of your game
The setting of my game is an underground government building in an alternate future. At first the game was supposed to be a serious escape with some romance thrown in. Then, it had to change to a short comedy and romance because of limited time.
Influences (what factors influenced your choices)
I wasn't able to make the whole escape idea so I shortened and changed the game to a comedy/romance that takes place in four rooms. There were also some coding problems that stopped me from making the game too complicated.
For example, I wanted to lock doors. I couldn't do it so I just got rid of those rooms and worked within a single room. I also wanted to have descriptions of a room change when you enter at different points. Maddie Gillespie helped me a little bit with making scenes and moving other characters to other rooms. In other cases, I tried to work around the description by making some things scenery or objects with different options (unused, used/asleep, awake).
My opening screen is mysterious to set the tone and setting. It tells you that there isn't something right about place that the characters live. The dialogue is between two characters you never meet.
If the player figures out to turn on and off the TV, they learn more about this weird place. Examining other objects like the fridge, bed, or mirror will tell you more.
There is a ringing you have to stop in the beginning. Thanks to Dr. Jerz, the ringing will continue until you find the phone and pick it up. This motivates the PC with a clear objective. Other creative factors include limiting the actions like waking up another character until the phone is taken care of.
I made the coding for cut scene myself. That was my first real accomplishment. I added a "say" to happen after the "take" command. This cut scene also only happens once.
The coding I am most proud of is the "flush" command. I made the "flush" command from scratch (using only the Inform Guide) and put limits on it so that you cannot flush anything, but the toilet. Also, so that flushing at different times produces different results.
After Jessie told me how to end the play, I created three different endings with points myself. This programming was actually easy because by this point I understood the mechanics a bit better. I'm proud of this accomplishment because near the middle of my coding (a few days in) I didn't even know how I would finish the game in time or what the ending would be. Now I have three suitable endings with a variety of points.
After the player picks up the phone, I rewarded the player with a cut scene/change in action. There is a crash that happens during the play. The player goes to the scene of the crash and is able to converse with the other character now. I learned to give and to ask other characters things thanks to Jessie Krehlik.
Some descriptions have also changed and there are less restrictions to actions.
I didn't figure out how to make the points earned show up earlier than the ending, that would have been more motivation.
I was able to create three endings. I wanted four, but I couldn't get the code to work. Once the other character enters another room, I wanted the game to end in so many turns. It ended up that, depending on the action of the PC, the story has two lose screens and one win screen. If the player misses the first action, they will not be able to win. Depending on which end screen you get, you can earn 10, 5, 0 points.
I primarily used the Inform 7 Recipie Book. A lot of coding help came from my professor Dr. Jerz and my classmates Jessie Krehlik (and her old blogs), Maddie Gillespie, and Megan Seigh.
Usability Test Report
The first tester took 20 minutes to complete the game. He needed some encouragement and tips on how to play Inform Seven. I gave him the card, but he still didn't know where to start or the what the command button was.
After he got the hang out it, it went rather smoothly with him examining most everything. From him I found that I needed a description of the faucet, the bedroom items (which didn't even exist), and to change some of the bedroom descriptions after the first cut scene. I added the descriptions, but I couldn't get the coding to work for the multiple descriptions for the bedroom items.
From his dallying near the end, I found he didn't know that Number 21 was a woman or that the FFPU was a fridge. For the next tester, I didn't further describe that 21 was a woman. I did spell out the FFPU the first time and put in the code to understand the acronym.
The second tester had played IF before, but only for a short time. He knew the basic commands and it took him 16 minutes to complete the game. He actually found the win scene. The last tester had found the lose screen, but still earned 5 points.
I learned that when I had made changes after the first tester I messed up the constant ringing and some changing descriptions.
There was the same problem with Number 21 again. He knew it was a person, but didn't know the girl wasn't awake after they fell out of bed. This caused him to try to punch or kick 21. I changed the description of the 21 when the PC tries to wake her to something more obvious. "It seems the fall already did that for you."
I learned some new orders that I would implement if I had time. The tester tried to: set new orders on phone, call on phone, switch off phone, listen to 21 (when she's awake), talk to 21, show 21 the phone, give the phone, unplug the FFPU.
The final tester hadn't played IF before, but new the story from what she'd read of my writing. It took her 25 minutes, but she knew to talk to the character after she woke up. From here, I found the last part always tripped up the testers, but it is supposed to be difficult.
The girl (other character) speaks in quotes/riddles. The testers eventually figured out what she needed (of which there are three options). I decided I would leave this the same. I found that only the last tester turned on or off the TV and didn't even get to the prompts.
Perhaps I should start with the TV off and have it turned on prompt an informational screen. I also found that when the TV is off the description of the living room is still "cartoons play in the background."