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January 16, 2006

Presentation on Visualization and IF Part 1

Part 1.1 The Ugly>>

Before I get started with this entry, please play A Nightmare in Paris, a hypertext fiction game I created last year. I will refer to it and ask specific questions relating the game to the topic I'm researching.

Part 1.2 The Bad>>

Why would I have you play that game? What does it have to do with anything?

Before you answer that, let me ask this (Please answer in the form of comments, don't call me I WON'T ANSWER!):

  1. Can you draw some comparisons between the absurd elements in this game and IF? What does this game say about IF?
  2. What, according to this game, is a major weakness in IF?
  3. What, according to this game, is a mistake that IF designers too often make?
  4. Was this game frustrating? Why? What does this say about the issues raised in the previous question?

Am I mad? Possibly. But, at one level these are just a bunch of "high-flown" questions that really only matter to artists and cynical bastards like me :D. At another level, these issues are critical to advancing the art (that's right, art) of game design and making a game that Strongbad said were for "intellectual types" accessible to everyone.

Next set of questions (HA! You thought you were done, didn't you!):

  1. Why do you or don't you play IF games?
  2. Why do you think the latest Harry Potter book sold more than 2 million copies opening day, but IF titles could barely scrape 100,000 in 1985?

Now, on the surface, it may seem that the answer is simple: the graphics make the difference. But when Halo 2 outsold Harry Potter by a measely 380,000 units in their respective opening days, you have to question what exactly makes IF games less popular. But this doesn't mean there is no hope for IF. IF does many things wonderfully. Follow me to my next article that I have hidden from you (muhahaha!) and find out the good side of IF, the side of what it is doing right!

>enter the good

>You can't enter there.

Posted by EvanReynolds at January 16, 2006 11:53 PM

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Comments

Cool!

Posted by: Anonymous at September 8, 2007 12:04 AM

Absolutely, Leslie. Remember that IF was still an emerging medium in 1985, while the medium of Harry Potter (book) has been around for ages.

I threw that in there to raise the issue, but also to see if anyone would catch on to the other issue that IF has time to develop as an art form.

Stephen-That’s exactly a problem with conventional IF, sometimes the choices are too predetermined. If you think about it, in IF, the choices are predetermined. There are just less choices in hypertext.

Perhaps its not the tedium, but the puzzles don’t set well with audiences other than IF gamers. Think about it, when you first played IF, it was nerve-racking. It’s not that the puzzles are hard, it’s just that they are lateral. They focus less on development and more on the puzzle in itself.

At times, an IF game -can- seem like your sitting in on a MENSA meeting. Perhaps if IF further developed as an art, like a book, they would be more popular.

Posted by: Evan at January 18, 2006 11:30 AM

I just read Jerz’s Class Blog and so I posted the rest of my thoughts on my blog: http://blogs.setonhill.edu/StephanPuff/013835.html

Posted by: Stephan Puff at January 18, 2006 11:11 AM

Evan, you did a wonderful job at presenting your thesis statement. I like how you added in your own game (even though my computer won’t let me play it!)it added originality which makes it interesting. I have never been fond of IF games because they just seem boring to me, but you put a new spin on them which has helped me understand them more.

Posted by: Kayla Lukacs at January 18, 2006 10:52 AM

Hit me with a trashcan, ‘choose your own adventure’ isn’t much like the IF I am use to playing. The choices I made were very predetermined, so I think Juul would fit your version of IF into the middle circle of “kind of a game, but not fully.”

I’d assume that a lot of IF games aren’t popular because 1: The have jokes for gamers and don’t stretch well to the outside markets. 2: If games can have too many puzzles in them with very little reward other than solving the puzzle; tedious much?

Posted by: Stephan Puff at January 18, 2006 10:04 AM

Evan that was an incredibly thorough and well planned out presentation. I liked the fact that you incorporated your own work of hypertext fiction, which by the way was quite impressive.

I think that you had us play this game to get a sense of playing hypertext games if we were not familiar with the genre. At first glance the player might think that making good choices in the game is the way to a “happy” or prosperous ending, but that is quickly disproven [having tea with the old woman, helping by throwing the trashcan, just saying F-It all and going to the bar]. Then there is the second theory that the player should stick with the bad choices in hopes that a pattern will lead them to a desired outcome[getting drunk more, having sex with the random “woman”, throwing a trashcan].

In the end it is not whether the choices are seen as good or bad, but rahter choosing the the one lucky action that sets you up with an ending that doesn’t lead to death. It is not a matter of being happy, rich, wealthy or even drunk [as in this game] but rather being alive, an overall goal. I played “A Nightmare in Paris” 10 times and to find out that all I had to do was goto the bar and drink rum was astonishing. I never would have thought about that.

IF does incorporate some very absurd elements, but I assume that is part of the appeal. You can be face down drunk in the street one minute and then be killef by the French mafia the next. The absurd elements in “ANIP” were all very real though, just the course of events and the way they played out was not. According to this game the major weakness of IF in my opinion is the lack of variability. A player will continually play the process of elimination strategy until they take the right path. Gameplay just depends on the stroke of luck that he/she has when going through the motions of the game and choosing actions. Do you think that the lack of popularity of IF/hypertext compared to Harry Potter had to do with the time when it was released? [1985] The world may not have been as ready as it is today.

I usually don’t like IF or hypertext games, but yours was a pleasure to play. It was a mix of sark fiction and real experiences. Good luck with your paper Evan.

Posted by: Leslie Rodriguez at January 18, 2006 9:00 AM

Hmm…thats strange. I cannot open the game link.

Posted by: Kayla at January 18, 2006 7:59 AM

Everything looks fine on my end. What links weren’t working for you?

Posted by: Evan at January 17, 2006 11:18 PM

Evan, I think that your links are incorrect, they don’t seem to be working. Please let me know when they are fixed so I can look at your presentation with both eyes open.

Posted by: Kayla Lukacs at January 17, 2006 9:56 PM

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