Category Archives: text in games

Wrapping Up At the GDC Austin

I’m finally getting some time to put some thoughts together on this year’s GDC Austin, as I sit in the airport waiting for my flight back. Luckily, it’s still possible to put some thoughts together, after dumping half a beer on (and in) my laptop last night. I thought for sure that was the end of the line for the MacBook Pro, but it seems to have survived the scare.

It was an impressive amount of beer dumped directly over the power button and right half of the keyboard, and I wasn’t exactly the swiftest to respond. But after giving it some time to dry upside down, it did start up the first time I tried. After that, though, on subsequent power-ups it would only [More...] Read the rest

Also posted in characters in games, game design, interactive fiction, Vespers | 3 Responses

Curse My Expensive Font Tastes

Without question, some of the best advice I’ve been given on the business of indie game development has come from Tom Buscaglia, the Game Attorney — probably one of the best attorneys representing game developers. Much of this advice comes from his Game Dev Kit, a set of information and forms for start-up game developers, which in my opinion is an excellent resource for any small start-up indie. Above all, the best advice is:

“Quite simply, you can not sell what you do not own.”

So basically, any and all assets put into a game must be owned by the legal entity (company or individual) that owns the game, or they must have an appropriate license from the actual owner of the asset. Once [More...] Read the rest

Also posted in game design, indie game business, Vespers | 8 Responses

Conversations with NPCs

As Corvus Elrod likes to say, compelling stories arise primarily from the relationships between characters. Although these relationships can be generated or expressed in different ways, I think it’s fair to say that conversation is probably the most obvious and frequently used method in games. Yet it’s interesting to note that conversation systems in games are fairly rudimentary and, in many cases, pretty unsatisfying.

There are many reasons for that, of course; human conversation can be horrifically complicated to deconstruct, and dynamically generating realistic and meaningful conversation with computer-controlled characters is still years away, especially when you factor audio into the equation. As a result, most conversation systems in games are simplistic representations that often follow tight scripts and leave little room for exploration, which [More...] Read the rest

Also posted in characters in games, interactive fiction | 4 Responses

A Verb Analysis in IF

While preparing some blogs to discuss things like my decision to use a text parser for command input, the oversimplification of the adventure game interface, and a demonstration of our hybrid interface, I started thinking about all of the different verbs used when playing interactive fiction. Because when you really get down to it, the real heart of an adventure game — aside from the salient features like writing, story, and characters — is arguably the verbs.

My impression is that the vast majority of commands in IF are limited to a few categories, like movement or examining. But once you get beyond those common actions, you find the jucier verbs, the ones that seem to have a larger impact on advancing the game and [More...] Read the rest

Also posted in interactive fiction, Vespers | 15 Responses

Al Lowe on adventure puzzles…and text?

Rock, Paper, Shotgun has posted a nice interview with Al Lowe, the creator of the famous Leisure Suit Larry series of games from Sierra. I recommend checking it out, as Al provides a nice perspective on those old Sierra games and the current adventure game market.

In it, Al makes an interesting observation that I think is important to reflect upon:

RPS: I’ve noticed that we seem to have lost our patience with puzzles. Developers seem to be frightened of a player getting stuck. Why do you think this happened?

AL: I have a definite thought on this. I hesitate to share it as I don’t want it to come out sounding the wrong way, but I believe that in the early 80s, [More...] Read the rest

Also posted in interactive fiction, Vespers | 4 Responses