Whizzard's Guide to Text Adventure Authorship v2.0 by G. Kevin Wilson (c) 1994 [ Version 2.

0 - In this version, I attempt to organize the earlier versions, make the guide more suitable for printing, and such. This version supercedes all previous versions. It attempts to be more profession and useful. This will be the last version of the Guide. From now on, rather than release new guides, a supplement will appear from time to time.] /===================================\ ------------------------------------- This guide is dedicated to the - memory of Infocom. Although they - live on, it'll never be the same. ------------------------------------\===================================/ Thanks also to Stephen Granade, Activision, Origin, and the rest of the gang at rec.arts.int-fiction. ================================================================== The Table of Contents page ================================================================== 1 ............What does Interactive Fiction mean to me? 2 2-4 ...........................The three parts of a game. 3 5 ............Writing IF as compared to writing a book. 6 6 ................................The Elements of plot. 7 7 ..The Story, or 'Where do I find an idea for a game?' 8 8 .......................................The Zen of IF. 8 9 ..........................The Thirty-Six basic Plots. 9 10 ..................An in-depth look at my 9 favorites. 14 11 ...................Developing your game's Atmosphere. 22 12 .................The other people in your game, NPCs. 24 13 .....................The player's good buddies, pets. 26 14 ..Bringing it all together...Writing your first game. 27 15 .........................................Betatesting. 28 16 ..............The gimmick and its place in your game. 30 17 ....Packaging your game with an eye for registration. 30 18 ................Marketing and distributing your game. 30 19 .................................Assorted Miscellany. 32 Afterword and closing comments.......................... 49 Useful Addresses........................................ 49 An advertisement for Vertigo Software................... 50

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Other Sources of Info on Text Adventures Internet Newsgroups: rec.arts.int-fiction, rec.games.programmer (for graphic adventures and programming.), and occasionally rec.games.int-fiction. If you like to get others' opinions of your ideas, or whatever, bring them to r.a.i-f. It's my favorite newsgroup. It's also a good place to look for betatesters for your games and to do a little bit of advertising. Be sure that you understand that r.a.i-f is primarily for discussing authorship, while r.g.i-f concentrates on game hints and such, looking for old Infocom games or selling them, etc. See you there! FTP sites: ftp.gmd.de is the primary repository of the great IF of our time. There are also several authoring systems, and lots of Infocom information as well. Authoring systems: There is an authoring-system-FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) on ftp.gmd.de that will cover this section quite well. Let me recommend either TADS or Inform. They are both excellent systems, each with its own strong points. TADS is shareware, registration $40, while Inform is freeware. I personally use TADS though, as I prefer its C formatted programming style. Inform reminds me of LISP a bit. Most of the authorship systems are available on ftp.gmd.de. Other Good Guides: TADS Manual - A beautifully bound guide available upon registration of TADS, or separately for $25. See the appropriate version of TADS for more info. Inform manual - Contains the Player's Bill of Rights, among other things. The Inform manual parts on writing text adventures have been republished as "The Craft of the Game", on ftp.gmd.de:/if-archive/info/. WorldClass manual - A guide to Dave Baggett's new library file for TADS. It is quite thorough, although it does not contain any general information on writing text adventures. This can be found in ftp.gmd.de:/if-archive/programming/WorldClass/. Magazines: Currently, there are two magazines concerned with text adventures. The first is my very own SPAG. Info can be ftp'ed at ftp.gmd.de in the /if-archive/SPAG/spag.faq file. The other magazine is called XYZZYnews, a relative newcomer to the IF scene. Where SPAG focuses on reader submitted reviews, XYZZYnews is more geared to be a general text adventure magazine, with rumors, interviews, the whole nine yards. The contact is Eileen, at XYZZYnews@aol.com. My e-mail address is currently whizzard@uclink.berkeley.edu. Note: Please interpret he as he/she whenever being used to refer to the player. 2

1 --------- What does Interactive Fiction mean to me? ---------------------Well, IF means a lot of different things to different people. Hence the title above. This is simply an explanation of what IF means to ME. You may not agree, that's your right. IF is an artform, a work of love. I use the term to refer to text adventures exclusively. So, IF is to graphic games what books are to Network television. They are geared towards a more cerebral audience. The people that write IF usually have a deep-set love for language and its nuances. We are not satisfied with a few little mouse icons as a user interface. Instead we try to harness as much natural language as we can. Thus, you might be able to type >PICK UP EVERYTHING EXCEPT THE BLOW-UP DOLL, and a good IF game will understand you. Bear in mind, however, that any language, such as English, is hopelessly large. We simply cannot cover every conceivable word, but we try. Also, you should realize that IF has a fairly small market these days. It has been shoved aside by graphic games and given a bad name in the eyes of the new generation of computer users. My personal theory is that each new generation is being raised with more and more emphasis placed on visual stimulus in the form of television, WINDOWS 3.1, etc. This carries over into their recreation, and so, we are left with a smaller percentage of the populace each year that is literate enough to enjoy a good text adventure and understand the references made in them. C'est la vie. The upshot of this is that, if you enjoy IF, you really need to support the few authors that produce it, or it's going to die out. So be sure to register your games and run out and buy Lost Treasures of Infocom 1 and 2 so that Activision knows what we like. There are a few requirements for any would be IF author. You need patience, lots of free time, an eye for organization, excellent writing skills, and, most importantly, a spell checker. IF players demand literacy in their games. You need to have a broad background of reading and playing IF. The broader your base, the more ideas you'll find will come to you. If you carry a small notebook around with you, you'll never forget a good idea that hits you at an inopportune moment. Just scribble it down really quick, and it's preserved for posterity. This is good, because, thanks to Murphy's Law, you will never get a truly good idea when it is convenient for you to do so. Mine like to come in the shower, while I'm shampooing my hair. Something about shampoo in your eyes attracts ideas like flies to honey. You should try it sometime, if you don't believe me. So, develop your IF background, and carry a notebook. There you go, you're an official IF author. Here's your membership card, and here's how to do the secret handshake. Enjoy. Anyways, that's a fair view of my impression of IF. Oh, here's a list of my criteria for IF: [] [] [] [] [] [] Is it fun to play? Does it get my message across? Does it allow the player much freedom? Are the characters unique and well-done? Does it have replayability? Does it have a point?

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2 ----------- The Three Parts of a Game. Part 1: The Beginning ----------IF can be split into three distinct sections, the beginning, the middle, and the end. The beginning should be fast moving, short, and attention grabbing. Here is where you will lose most of your potential players. If they get bored early on, then they'll delete the game without ever giving it a chance. I've been known to do this myself. Don't make the initial puzzles too difficult. Don't worry if the beginning is fairly linear in nature, you'll have plenty of time to branch it out in the middle. Also, if your game has no set main character, here is where you should have the player decide on the character's sex. The bathroom approach in Leather Goddesses of Phobos was a good one, or the ticket in Ballyhoo. Try to avoid the generic method of just asking what their sex is though, IF is all about atmosphere and mood. Here is a list of important things to do in the beginning of your game: [] [] [] [] [] Establish the setting. Grab the player's attention. Reveal the character's purpose and motivation. Establish the character's sex or identity. Introduce important characters for later use.

3 ----------------------------- The Middle. -------------------------------Now that you've done all that, you've got to start giving the player some room to maneuver. There should be several puzzles available to them at any one time. Not all of the puzzles should be mandatory, and several should have multiple solutions that work. I prefer at least one difficult solution and one easier solution. This should be reflected through the points awarded. Also, have some areas that are only available to the player if he solves a puzzle one way, and a different area if he solves it another way. Here's an example: There is corridor ending in a blank wall just ahead. On the wall is a lever. Examining it further, you see a pair of wings above it, and a fish below it. The lever sticks out at a 90-degree angle. Path 1: >PULL LEVER UP The corridor begins to grind upwards. As it does so, a beam of light strikes the ground before you, gradually widening as the new exit is exposed. Finally, the grinding noises stop, and you are left with a gorgeous view of the blue sky. >UP You climb up the tilted corridor and find yourself on top of a mesa. Clouds rush by above you in a manner reminiscent of time-lapse photography. They seem to flicker through a variety of shapes familiar to you. Giraffes, elephants, and horses all dance before you in a vast kaleidoscope of the heavens. There is a pair of wings lying nearby.

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> GET WINGS AND WEAR THEM Ok. > FLY (Up.) You fly up into the sky, reveling in the magnificent feeling of freedom that comes over you. As you climb in altitude, the wax on your wings begins to melt in the desert sun. > UP You dip and bob on the gentle wind currents, climbing ever higher. Suddenly, the feathers on your wings begin to flutter off as the wax that holds them in place melts. You flail your arms wildly as you plunge screaming down to the ground, to no avail. ** YOU HAVE DIED ** Path 2: >PULL LEVER DOWN The corridor begins to grind downwards. As it does so, the rippling effect of light reflecting off of water becomes visible to you. Finally, the grinding noises stop, and you are left with a wonderful view of an underground beach and ocean. >DOWN You climb down the tilted corridor and find yourself on top a deserted beach. There is a beautiful ocean stretching out before you in this sunless grotto. Waves lap at the white sands, and seashells litter the beach alongside clumps of pale seaweed and driftwood. Peering into the shallow water just offshore, you can just make out the form of a pentagram. >ENTER PENTAGRAM Wading out into the shallows, you cautiously approach the pentragram, aware of legends that demons or spells are sometimes contained in them. Reluctantly, you step into the center of it. Your eyes are blinded by a bright flash of light. When you can see again, you realize that you have been transformed into an octopus. >SWIM Confused at first by your numerous limbs, you gradually get into a sort of motion that involves pulling yourself along. You are surrounded on all sides by a beautiful coral reef. Your eyes seem to be quite similar to what they were in human form, so you get the colors as well. Tiny fish dart around you, and a succulent crab scuttles past.

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make them stick to it. and the fish are bigger. replayability. The bomb is ticking away its last minute. There is a silver globe on the right armrest and a dull black cube in the left. Looking around. ** YOU HAVE DIED ** From that point. Provide a unified theme to the setting and descriptions. This is where you want to ham up your writing and get a sense of urgency going. be it monster. for there's a shark swimming right at you! >SOUTH You try to make a break for the safety of the shallower part of the reef. They can always restore an old game and try the other path. maze. >REMOVE CUBE FROM ARMREST 6 . Understand that the player has been through hell to get here.The End. So you want to make him sweat a bit. Here's an example of a decent ending: >LOOK You are in the control room of the alien ship headed for Earth. The last puzzle shouldn't be all that tough to figure out though. 4 ---------------------------. That's why you're putting in all these alternate pathways and multiple solutions. but you want to deliver the ending to him as well. There needs to be a time limit for this part of the game. or the evil Vorlung is about to pull the switch that will transform beautiful Marie into a six-armed monster. and you end up as a light dish of kalimari. -----------------------------------Now it's time to close up all your loose ends. Foreshadow what is to come in the end. you see a chair. Once the player has chosen a pathway. man. He's flushed and excited. Much bigger in fact. thrilled to be at the end of the game.>NORTH You have entered a deeper part of the reef. Branch the story out to allow the player more freedom. Expand on the characters you introduced in the beginning. You should design your game so that the player can go through two or three times and see different puzzles and places each time. or whatever. the player would either be flying or swimming to his destination. Here's another list of important things: [] [] [] [] [] [] Establish a series of sub-goals for the player. you can see an image of your planet swelling in size as this runaway ship continues on its disastrous collision course. The Big Nasty (tm) is the final challenge. The coral is less concealing here. but your fear agitates the shark. Each path would have its own challenges and rewards. Provide numerous puzzles for the player's enjoyment. I tend to try to keep the paths at around the same difficulty level though. and send in your Big Nasty (tm). Looking out its viewport. It appears to have been designed with someone far thinner and taller than you in mind. explain anything that you already haven't explained. or at least you assume that it's a chair.

Writing IF as compared to writing a book. >LOOK AT DULL CUBE The dull cube is exactly the same size and shape as the gold cube. but I can't think of any at the moment. The tip of the spaceship is beginning to melt. the game above centers around finding a backup navigation cube and getting into the control room to repair things before the ship crashes into the Earth. and begin to wonder how to convince the people gathering outside the ship that you're not an alien invader. There might be a few techniques that I would use. You sink. repetition (as in something that shows up in several settings as a philosophic theme to your game. but I feel that it will eventually become a nice quirk. as shown by the reentry flames. for fear of another poor ending. Anything you can use in a creative writing class would therefore be appropriate in your game. The earth looms immensely in the viewport. -----------------There's one primary difference. Without a worthwhile endpoint. [] Create a sense of urgency. [] Keep the last puzzles simple. except that it seems to be burnt on the outside. Personally. characterization.) personification. Good writing is good writing. This includes things like foreshadowing. I am going to try to make my games so that you can never see the entire thing in one run-through. One nice touch is to have the game post up some suggestions for things the player can go back and try differently. the player is going to feel reluctant to any more of your games. Use your imagination and make 'em sweat it out. 7 . I believe that almost any literary technique is valid in IF. but you have a short amount of time to work it out. it might suggest that they go back and pull the lever in the other direction. You really should also put in at least one or two 'happy' endings. A small midwestern town seems to be in for a rude surprise in a minute or two. interaction. For example. Ack. The player MUST be able to control his own destiny within the context of your story. exhausted. Way off topic. Fire begins to trail off the nose of the ship as it begins to enter the atmosphere. subtle metaphors. This will undoubtedly upset many people..Ok. Ok. Another good ending is used in Trinity. giving my games a reputation for being worth the money paid for them. The flames lick around the cockpit viewport. One more list: [] Use a time limit.. And that's about the sum of it. etc. I've done it again. >PUT GOLD CUBE IN LEFT ARMREST The cube fits snugly into the recess left by the dull black cube. litter might appear in many locations in a game about environmental decay. So in my water/wing example. to the floor. *** YOU HAVE WON *** So you see. where you have to cut the wires and prevent the atomic test. The last puzzle is simple. Immediately the back of the chair lights up with strange scrolling letters as the ship begins to level out for a more gentle landing in Indiana. back on track. 5 ------------.

] Buildup . His best friend comes running in to ask him to hide him from the police. A decent. I found a good description of the elements of plot in. [I have had several people send me e-mail verifying this particular statement. multiple solutions are great for avoiding this. Here are the parts of plot that they mention: Setting the Scene The Hook The Buildup Cliffhangers Plot Twists Climax Resolution I'll look at each of them in turn as they relate to IF. vitally so.a.) Here's a good point. the world is okay again. Don't let up at all. They keep life interesting. but not great.The Elements of Plot -------------------------This is a reprint of an article I posted to r.Whap! Something happens. Don't let the player get bogged down in one spot. Vampire RPG. and then let it out on the next turn. The player will sit there with his mouth open for a moment. A friend could betray the player.Give the player some challenges to overcome that in some way relate to the plot. does something." Cliffhanger . Allow him to 'look at myself' if you want. Give the player a sense of accomplishment as he nears his goal. his spaceship blows up. when pulled. Setting the Scene . if you have a long intro.6 -------------------------. but only after a turn has passed. but keep drawing him into the game. Maybe the bad guy is just a puppet controlled by an even greater threat. Trinity does a great job of this. One of them was quite certain that his game had died for lack of a good hook. Plot Twist .i-f: Anyways. and give it the promise of exciting adventure. Make it dramatic. As Vampire RPG says. Something that makes the player suck in his breath. etc. Or maybe the player really DID commit the murder! Switch gears so fast you strip them. Tantalize them. The Hook . with a relaxed setting for the first scene.A cliffhanger is pretty much a teaser. then he'll be hooked on your game forever. allow the player the option to restore a saved game before you make him sit through it. Hollywood Hijinx did a really crappy job of this. a murder occurs. How about a lever that. sudden.By all means throw in plot twists. Just as the player is about to scream in frustration.Give the player a few moments to get used to his character before you start throwing things at him. I try to put the intro a bit into the game. example is Trent's multiple deaths in LGOP. "Do not falter. The hook is important to the game. I find it makes a nice touch to give a physical description there. (If you have a pre-arranged character that is. 8 . draw them into the game. and life is wonderful. Get the suspense building up as soon as possible. of all places.

Ok. and bummoxed the mighty spiffywhacker. or early in the morning. Then. the damsel is rescued. Ruins the whole game. make it just as jarring as the Hook so he'll come back for the next one. if you want. but what the hell. 9 .The Zen of IF -------------------------------Ok. and Everything.) ----As you can see.Climax . 'All prams lead to Kensington Gardens. Appears to have been carelessly tossed aside in the rush to appease mouse-hungry users. late at night. Let the player enjoy it with a spectacular ending. Then.. write it down quick. let them relax with a job well done. The Interactive Fiction Classifieds: WANTED: A good plot. I suggest that you play your favorite music and read a good book. keep it fairly short. while keeping a notebook handy. The more stories you've seen and read. If the player isn't breathing hard. This is your moment to ham it up. Reward. Lost up in a tree. 8 --------------------------. Both barrels. enough dilly-dallying. don't waste it! Resolution .' Great sentimental value. as a final teaser. if you like. That works for a lot of people. the more likely you are to understand what makes a story 'good'. the government is overturned. it's my textfile. just as the Big Nasty (tm) kicks up the white flag. Actually. most of my opinions on the elements of plot are unchanged. It's an unbelievable downer when you finish one of them.. or you'll lose it forever. You probably will have some other way to come up with ideas. But on the other hand. LOST: One umbrella. It seems to somehow portray the lost innocence and fun in video games. cries the player. and the player has to take him down again. you're not doing your job. the Universe. (A shot of an unnoticed Alien egg. Embellished with the slogan. Moving right along. Inquire at Activision. Unwind the player. he pulls a fast one. so I thought I'd take some time out and plug a little humor into this now monstrous manual to Zork. where's the Big Nasty (tm)? Give it to them. We seem to have lost ours. (The Rube Goldberg ending in LGOP is classic) This is the last impression your game will leave on the player. Once you get the idea.. you've suffered through a fair amount of information on writing IF. It takes time and a certain mood. an idea will hit you. And. that's just the way I do it. FOUND: One battered old text parser. I think the trick to coming up with ideas is to have a broad reading base. I've furled the magic fumongerabob. Make their blood run cold as time ticks away until the end of the world unless they stop it.The Story. or 'Where do I find an idea for a game?' ------------Writers often get asked this question.The One Ring is molten slag. I don't. throw in some foreshadowing. 7 --------. So read everything you can get your hands on. I've played too many games with a crappy ending in reward for solving fiendish puzzles..

Her article inspired this interpretation of Polti's work. Supplication: A persecutor and a supplicant take a grievance before a power in authority.Replete with ideas for using them. Very little. This can be any sort of court case or any variation on that theme.The Thirty-Six Basic Plots -----------------------Some years ago. A force of nature is sometimes more threatening than a sinister villain.. A whole series of Jaws movies will back me up on this one. or even the population of an entire world. Feel free to send me some jokes and such to flesh out this section. a man named Polti noticed that a few basic plots were fairly commonly used. The threatener can be animate or inanimate. -The Thirty Six Basic Plots in Text Adventures First of all. Deliverance: An unfortunate or group of unfortunates is delivered from a threatener by a Rescuer. Enjoy. a distraught village. but I wouldn't want to play it. a hurricane. 2. purposeless quests. After reading her work. a robot." "Imagination sold and serviced here. and (horrors!) a graphical user interface! Won't that nice gentleman with the brass lantern come to save us.Text from a bottle found washed ashore near the new Infocom's HQ: "Help! We are being held hostage in a soulless land filled with gaudy graphics. "Text adventures do it with words. The Bumper Sticker Section Here's a collection of bumper stickers for text adventure fans.. :-) 1." "Your dungeon or mine?" "I brake for text parsers." Well..I drop mice off of tall buildings. Personally. The unfortunates can be the player. Later. a friend. send me some mail and let me know. or universe." "I keep my mouse where it belongs. Perfect for text adventures in my opinion. an army. an earthquake. Miller who published an article in a local gaming magazine. you'll just have to talk to Polti. if you use a little creativity. This is one of the classic folklore plots. please?" -The Inhabitants of Zork. I did say 'a little' humor. Miller adapted this premise to role-playing games like Dungeons & Dragons. and if you disagree about these plots. 9 ---------------------. _The 36 Basic Dramatic Situations_ by George Polti is the work that this is based on. and if you find this useful. You could have a dragon. Oh. So. I would also like to thank Loren J. Let's look at the various characters. this strikes me as a better subplot than a full plot. I brought this article to the Internet." "Danger: A Mind Forever Voyaging at the wheel. at least in a text adventure. a volcano... in the closet. the player's spouse. here are the 36 Basic Plots. I mean. without further ado. Perry Mason is great for TV." "I'm a betatester for Logitech. or a breakdown in the laws of 10 . sure. a person named Loren J.

And who says that a text adventure has to be set around a human? Maybe the player is an alien. planets being demolished to make way for galactic bypasses. Or maybe the middle class has finally had enough of our bureaucratic government. Whatever the case. 4. Or maybe it's just an isolated incident of spectacularly bad fortune. like maybe a grudge against his uncle or something. and an Adversary. Make the player a firefighter. Then. Look at any of a zillion cornball action movies for ideas.good stuff. but I wouldn't write about slavery. I didn't think there were any victors in a disaster. although I guess that Polti is referring to the disaster itself. a Goal. or a rescue pilot. abductor. This one has the added bonus of having a built-in sequel. So. don't.. and some conspirators. or better yet. 6. the point is that there's no real villain in this plot. storms. Revenge: An avenger and a criminal duke it out. trying to overthrow our government? All sorts of different angles. _Bureaucracy_ was based around that theme. Pick your setting at will. This plot would suggest a rescue or an escape. It seems to me that I'm not looking at this the same way. but I suppose he had his reasons. But then. I can't stand those movies. Polti feels that this plot is so different from #3. A nice gimmick for a game would be to allow the player to try it from both viewpoints. Maybe the main character is cursed by bad luck wherever they go. Famine. Stir in some peasants. I would find a game from the viewpoint of a kidnapper in poor taste. and shake well. you need a Tyrant. and someone who is responsible for the abductee (maybe the abductee themself). The rescuer is most likely to be the player. in the tradition of all those stories. 8. Personally though. just victims. 3. evil guards.). 7. and a meteor storm ahead.. and a thousand motives for revenge. Abduction: An abductee. The goal? Nearly anything. Also I could see a game of human hunting. or even a super hero. 5. Pursuit: Fugitive from punishment is pursued by a pursuer. I really won't dwell on this plot because there are a thousand different ways to use it. _The Fugitive_ immediately springs to mind. It disgusts me. I would set it from the 11 . and the player is a cop protecting the system that he doesn't even believe in anymore. But then. Victim of Cruelty or Misfortune: This involves unfortunates and a Master or Unlucky person. This plot has promise. _The Running Man_ has a similar plot (the book. I would say that this plot has a lot of potential for text adventures. floods. and a victorious power or messenger. or a way to avert the whole disaster. I assume that it refers to a slave master here. or some sort of metaphorical Nature. Disaster: This one says Vanquished power. you might think of a nice plot twist and give that role to another character. I could see the player as the captain of a colonizing ship bound for Mars with a traitor on board. Daring Enterprise: This involves a Bold Leader (tm). :) 10. not the movie. Revolt: For this. an unlucky person meeting with misfortune isn't too bad an idea. 9. Vengeance by family upon family: I'm not sure exactly why Mr. otherwise they might feel a little left out of the game. give them some people to save.nature.

I still like the split personality murder plot. Or any other sort of debilitating madness that the player must overcome. after all. However. Or maybe the lovers are forced to kill someone who stumbles in on their little affair. We need the _______ of Unearthly might. Just plain old hatred doesn't cut it as a storyline. Look at _Hacker_. Shades of _Hollywood Hijinx_ here folks. This was the greatest example I've ever seen of this plot. 18. I like madness. Bring back the holy Salmon. but don't start with it. :P ) 11. Enigma: You need an interrogator. and a problem. but he did have several great ideas. For this one. Two words. _The Prisoner_. Gee.) 15. There's a lot of censorship floating around these days. Fatal Imprudence: Sort of like fatal stupidity. working away at his mind. object of their desire. Well then.abductee or guardian's viewpoint. a seeker. The trick with this one is that you have to overlay it onto some exciting story or another. you need an Imprudent person and a victim or lost object. a sought-after object. Familial Rivalry: Preferred kinsman. I'm sure that you guys can do better with this one. Use your imagination. myself. and just that stupid login prompt. I did like the atomic Chihuahua. This is a classic for murder mysteries all over the world. 12 . That was fun. you have two adulterers. Involuntary Crimes of Love: I suppose this could be classified as Not-quite-Murderous Adultery. No instructions. 14. it's a good plot. (Thanks Tipper. stomping and smashing things. 17. (Although. even though I only saw one or two episodes. Everything I've heard suggests that this plot is bad form for a game. Or how's about this? The player is catatonic. Either he has to escape to the real world. rejected kinsman. The ambassador to the USSR accidentally leaves a compromising document in a briefcase that is stolen. Madness: Madman. Familial Hatred: Here you need two family members that (well duh) hate each other. Anyways. Bilbo. Anyways. 13. you get the idea. Go fetch the ring. Watch yourselves if you use this plot. aware only of some fantasy world inside his own mind that is slowly becoming hostile to him. here's another subplot for ya. This plot starts too slowly. I don't always agree with Polti. and the betrayed party or parties. Mortimer. can you get it for us? Tried and true on one hand. (I hope to rectify this someday and see the whole thing. Fred. Maybe you can develop into this plot. or find a way to truly enter his world before his family pulls the plug on him. 12. or a guard watching the crown jewels falls asleep and well. Murderous Adultery: Exactly why this is in a seperate category from adultery I may never know. Here's an original plot. overused on the other. and an optional arbitrator. Maybe he's the victim of some exotic poison. That's what familial hatred means.) _Amnesia_ was the text adventure version of this plot. I don't see why the madman can't be his own victim. and a victim. Obtaining: There are two or more opposing parties. 16. struggling against the slow fall into insanity.

maybe something about a mercy killing. Not neccessarily love. Really. Rivalry between superior and inferior: Superior. An inter-racial friendship in the deep South 10-20 13 . beloved. I'm gonna come a' gunnin' for ya. etc. or an aristocrat and a commoner both seek the same public office. I can't think of anything better to get a player moving than a love interest/promise of nookie in the future. 22. 23. goody. 25. It need not be the player that does the sacrificing. _I_ liked it. so he bumps her off. 27. just someone the sacrificer really cares for and relates to. Hater. Oedipus Rex. Another mystery plot or a nice subplot that adds a poignant touch to any game. object of passion. called _Enemy Mine_. My plot outline for _The Last Day_ uses this as character motivation. An enemy loved: Beloved enemy. theme of dissolution. Ah. 29. this is an element of _Romeo and Juliet_ as well.19. This is an excellent plot. or maybe the loved one is needed in a greater cause or something. or I'm going to look pretty silly. even though they weren't really affected by the slavery. person or thing sacrificed. and a revealer. Oh. inferior. Maybe a boss and an employee are both out for the same girl. anyway. 26. Kinsman kills unrecognized kinsman: Whoa. Just think of the Civil War. I'll bet he's got incest in here somewhere. Reminds me of _Romeo and Juliet_. just think of _The Scarlet Letter_ here. yet ANOTHER adulterous plot. Ideal. What sort of obstacle? The tire run? :) Anyhow. 21. Adultery: deceived spouse. I'm not really sure what would possess someone to give up someone they love. This might make an interesting story. Obstacles to love: Two Lovers. this sounds like The Hand that Rocks the Cradle or some such movie like that. Hmm. Could've sworn he used this one already. maybe strong friendship or comraderie instead. Crimes of Love: Lover. There have been innumerable causes throughout history. but if anyone takes a Victorian romance novel and makes it into IF. Lover. 28. I hope there's at least one good plot in this last batch of 12. Killer. More Romeo. Well. and many many more that you could use as the motivation for a heroic sacrifice. 20. person or object sacrificed. and a need for sacrifice. unrecognized victim. Or the American Revolution's quest for freedom. but there's a good sci-fi movie that has some of this. two adulterers. object of rivalry. wait. thing or person sacrificed. Really. Obstacle. or for the benefit of another NPC. all plots need that sort of enhancement. Anyways. beloved victim. Lover finds out beloved doesn't love him anymore. Not neccessarily a blood relation. All Sacrifice for Passion: Lover. Discovery of dishonor of a loved one: Ponder. 24. but it needs to be garnished with other subplots as well to make a really good game. Self sacrifice for Kindred: Hero. by George. it could be an NPC sacrificing themselves for the player's benefit. Kinsman. Self Sacrifice for an Ideal: Hero. but I'm sure you guys will come up with something clever. Sacrifice of Loved ones: Hero. It's not too difficult to think of other stories for this plot. This guy really has a one track mind. thousands of people gave their lives to free the slaves in the south.

love/sex.. executioner. etc. flee the country. and a zillion others. even today. Oh boy! _Three's Company_! Seriously. and I'll be sure to add it into _Whizzard's Guide to IF Authorship_. _Interview with a Vampire_? The culprit would be confessing a past crime to someone. Man. Other ambitions center around money. 32. author of mistake. Unfortunately. Disaster. self sacrifice for love/an ideal. Recovery of a lost one: Seeker. alternatively. supposed accomplice. lots of possibilities here. this is an absolutely lame story premise. Immortal. The player learns of an uncle. where you have to prove you didn't do it. like New York. That's 9 out of 36 that I think have promise. or WWI or II. _The Vanishing_ would be a good example to look at. The hater is going to take his bigotry out on the enemy and lover though. Final Fight. I guess I'll finish off by listing those plots which. in no particular order: Deliverence. I'm not positive on this one. or. in my mind. conflict with a god. They are called politicians.. He decides to go see what happened/get revenge on their killer. etc. one found..) 31. You may disagree with my choices of course. Ambition: Ambitious person. Of course. guilty party. Faulty Judgement: Mistaken one. Ambition is nearly always a facet of some other aspect of a person's makeup. Hmm. Daring enterprise. adversary. have the most merit for IF currently. This figures into most action movies as a sub-plot as well. Conflict with a God: Mortal. coveted thing. Maybe you could write a game about a would-be video game designer who's having trouble breaking into the business. Pagan. victim. object of jealousy. This sounds like a good start to a prison escape game. 36. who has been claimed by some exotic death. :) . Or maybe you've been hankering to write the IF version of Job? Don't forget the Greek gods. these are just my particulars. parent. desire to avoid manual labor. I suggest you take up writing sitcoms instead of IF. discussing a victim. madness. it also figures into way too many video games as well. Pursuit. This one is fun because the player is faced at an initial disadvantage and has to work from there. If you want to write the _Dave_ of home computing. in some places. friendly witness. Mistaken Jealousy: Jealous one. There are a few people who simply lust for power. or killed simply by some street thug. 34. victim of mistake. Here goes. Having reached the end of the 36 plots. based on this article. and loss of loved ones. Hmm. 35. . Loss of loved ones: Kinsman slain. author of mistake. Super Mario Bros.the player is sentenced to death for a murder he didn't commit. sister. 33.years ago. an enemy loved. don't let me stop you. Or. I guar-on-tee it. of course. 30. I hope you enjoyed this post. interrogator. My source gives only a tiny bit of information on it. he was hard up for ideas toward the end. or so I would suppose. You could send the Angel of death after the player in a variety of settings. the list goes on. King Kong. Remorse: Culprit. Roman Babylonian.

state. Group of UnfortunatesThe character's village. Setting the scene: Portray a tranquil setting. The buzzsaw scene in Hollywood Hijinx was very vaguely an example of this. Abused child. Resolution: Either the rescuer successfully completes his rescue. Climax: There should be a confrontation between the rescuer and the threatener. ThreatenerAny army or other natural disaster. Hook: Something happens to bring the plight of the unfortunate(s) to the rescuer's attention. with only a faint hint of what is to come. These are the ones that. world. 1) Deliverence: Unfortunate That blonde bombshell in almost every old detective movie. Or perhaps he discovers the true unfortunate held captive by the phony one. RescuerThe player. You need to either provide an overwhelming motive for him to get involved. Cliffhanger: Create imminent danger to an unfortunate with a puzzle between the rescuer and the rescue. Scientist's daughter (Mad or otherwise) Mind-controlled innocent. or provide an alternate storyline for the character to follow. or he flubs it. all the way up to an alien invasion. to an escaped dying prisoner. to me. of course. and dimension are all good ones. Perhaps the unfortunate represents the only true danger to the rescuer.14 10 ---------------An indepth look at my 9 Favorites ------------------------This part is new. galaxy. I decided to spend some more time going over my favorite plots. have the most potential for use in IF. The rescuer may be on vacation. Reveal your plot twists now. whatever it may be. 15 . city. Buildup: The rescuer decides to look into the matter. It may anything from a murder. country. The character's family too. universe. or whatever you like. Plot Twist: The unfortunate has been lying to the rescuer in some manner or another. or (for humorous effect) greatly overstated. Be sure to eyeball the section on game endings in this guide for general info. Either the danger was understated.

He is left in a dangerous and precarious position. If the player has powers. The puzzles get more fiendish as pursuit becomes more and more serious. or some device important to the character's efforts fails him. is captured by that deeper organization. (ET!) A falsely villified person (Re. Plot Twist: Friendly fugitive betrays him.. Buildup: The player begins to see signs of a subtle. but vast network that is working against him. Any or all of the above are appropriate. Or perhaps is captured trying to protect the character. enemy telepaths. Also give the player an idea of any unusual powers has.2) Pursuit: Fugitive from punishmentFord Harrison (j/k) An unjustly accused convict A persecuted minority of some sort. often used in sci-fi versions of this plot. Perhaps a similar fugitive. air force. The player reaches deep inside himself and discovers a new power that was previously dormant or supressed and uses that power to overcome his enemies. Or perhaps a close call with an enemy agent. He also defeats the evil organization and rescues his love interest. or has to perform something particularly hairy to get away. An arranged rendevous doesn't show up. more sinister organization planted inside it. tries to rescue his love interest. such as a telepath or space alien. secret service.. Helicopters and advanced equipment show up more and more until. 3) Disaster: Vanquished PowerMankind Any government Civilization Victorious PowerMother Nature Atomic War 16 . Everyone. _The_Running_Man_) PursuerPolice. Hook: Perhaps the player's escape from his enemies. Maybe the enemy is just a cover for a deeper. Resolution: The player wins his freedom or flees to another country or what have you.. Climax: The fugitive confronts the head of the organiztion. either an old hand or a possible love interest. Maybe a friendly person has to bail him out. chasing him and or abilities he scene: you need to justify the pursuit. Setting the Firstly. Tell the player who is why. give him the chance to use them here. Cliffhanger: Something goes wrong.

I would avoid any sort of dream sequence/ earthquake simulator in virtual reality endings.. but you'd have to steer clear of anything tying it to Trinity.. then add some foreshadowing. 17 . or get himself and/or his family to a safe place. with a slippery hold on an exposed root. we have nastier things in store for the climax.Natural Disaster Pollution Anarchy MessengerTV/Radio A neighbor A raiding party Setting the scene: Establish the setting. and watch out for reviews comparing your game to it. That would one-up it. After all. Earthquakes are a good. the character's goal is either to save lives. The end really does come. there are ways to do it. Buildup: The survivors emerge from the rubble. perhaps military. can be a difficult challenge after the character has settled into a home. current topic for disaster games right now. The disaster is real. An organized. Most of them involve finally settling down in their safe haven and starting over. Or the rescue team arrives. Create a feeling of tension and suspense for the player. Frenzied looting and killing begins. You get the idea. Resolution: There are several ways to end a disaster adventure. like an old man with a sign saying 'The End is Near' or something. Hell. well-armed group of raiders. Use your imagination. The player has to protect himself (and his family?) I think the game I'm describing here is going to need a warning label for Tipper Gore. Anyway. admittedly. foreign invaders. or the invaders are repulsed. and betrayal by a friend. it should be exciting and fast-paced. Plot Twist: An unexpected source of the disaster. Atomic war could be fun to write about too. Hook: The unthinkable happens. It has to be. He should accomplish this during the buildup. with a time limit. a disaster is hard to follow-up by definition. Any earthquake sufficiently offshore can generate a tsunami. The raiders are shooting at you. Secret government experiments gone wrong. maybe tempered with humor from a religious cult or crazy old coot. Other plot twists include follow-up disasters (germ warfare). It cheapens what the player has accomplished. Serious themes abound. The car is teetering on the edge of the bridge. Cliffhanger: The child is hanging from the edge of the cliff. Climax: Well. even the old man is rather shocked. But still. Whatever you do here.

Other ideas can consist of delayed impending death caused by the things going wrong. Something vital but fairly easily repairable goes wrong. People are becoming worried and many want to pull out. Buildup: More and more things start to go wrong with the Big Plan. Perhaps it was on purpose. Cliffhanger: His wife steps into an elevator.4) Daring Enterprise: Bold LeaderThe character. He can be: A spaceship captain A military leader A visionary inventor or investor A colonist An engineer GoalColonize the planet Get the settlers there alive Build your revolutionary invention Get elected Finish your engineering marvel Successfully complete your project or experiment AdversarySaboteur The government A politician The elements An alien race Shortage of funds or materials or labor Setting the scene: Define the Daring Enterprise. He has only a few moments in which to save her by activating a backup system. His head is filled with ambitious dreams and an idealistic outlook. Concentrate on fast-paced action. Suddenly it begins falling the forty stories to the ground. Hook: Take great enjoyment in destroying his idealistic outlook. shorting out the control box for the runaway elevator. Climax: The player confronts the source of his difficulties. The man who sold them their materials was pawning off shoddy goods that break easily. The player would be rather interested to find that out. The player begins to follow a trail of clues that leads him towards the climax. Plot Twist: It isn't sabotage. What the hell is the player trying to do anyways? How can he possibly pull it off? Who is his adversary? Does he know all this? Where is the game taking place? Try to create a tone of excitement and breathless anticipation. The player must unify them or all is lost. I can't 18 . Perhaps it claims the life of his spouse or a dear friend. or using some anti-gravity device or another. Justice is tinged with revenge here. The character is excited with his project or he wouldn't be a part of it.

it changes. Setting the scene: You don't necessarily have to make mention of the madness. and do it quickly.) 5) Madness: MadmanThe player. I'd like to do a game about a comatose patient lost in his own mind or a fantasy world therein. or find a way to remain in the fantasy world permanently (and maybe physically). We study it in all its myriad forms. The goal would be to either escape your mind. I can think of way too many to start listing them here. a guide. use your imagination. I would replace the normal status line with and EEG graph like _/\_/\_/\_ that progresses to /\/\/\/\/\ then __________ or some erratic pattern as the patient's condition worsens. Resolution: This should involve the completion of the project or invention. His idyllic fantasy world becomes an ensnaring nightmare. . and events in the fantasy world reflect what is happening in reality. Choose from a wide array of illnesses. or the player will get bored and quit. We just can't make any sense of it. torn between two worlds. but you had better explain things if its one of the big selling points of your game. Good luck. I like to think that there's a madman somewhere looking for a cure for sanity. or a negative place that is worse than reality. He is projected back and forth. until nothing is left. screaming for his soul. hundreds actually. a fun plot. The player has to decide what to do to resolve the rift. his other personality did. You have to come up with your own ideas. Again.stress this enough. 19 . because it will slowly destroy his mind. Your game has to show a reality different from ours.) and has to figure out a way to prevent the personality from killing him. then police pursuit could blend and mesh with images of hideous beings pursuing him. Mankind takes a giant step forward thanks to the daring and cleverness of the player. Something thrilling and exotic. The police arrive and arrest him for a murder he didn't commit. Or perhaps it's a different type of madness. Do a little ego boosting. Like I said. The player. Hook: After the player adjusts to his situation. Buildup: Reality and madness roll over him in succeeding waves. VictimAccidentally murdered person. trying to cure these people who don't perceive reality in the same manner as us. Madness is something that is endlessly fascinating to us. The madness may either constitute a positive place. There are other ideas that could be used for a plot. causing the player to commit terrible deeds by accident. The climax HAS to be the most exciting and stressful in order to make a successful game. The madman Madman's loved one. This guide is only that. Perhaps even a murder. by definition. He finds a suicide note that his other personality wrote (if he's aware of the other personality.

Cliffhanger: Have the player cross between worlds at particularly stressful moments. He is a hero wherever he stays. if he doesn't in a clash. Perhaps you could also describe what he's up against. something fatal happens.] Plot Twist: His love interest is fighting for the other side. In any event. Cliffhanger: He's almost captured. Climax: A big confrontation between the player and his love interest. I've seen some excellent implementations of it. his life has become better since he went mad. Plot Twist: His madness has been caused purposely by someone or something. Resolution: The player's access to one world or the other is cut off. Perhaps because of his love interest. The 20 .G. Climax: The two worlds come together the real world and his family or the Maybe he has some climactic thing to decide. and his family/love interest is at his side. Watch Star Wars for ideas. Buildup: Perhaps the war for freedom (or whatever) has been going on for awhile now. S. or perhaps. and the rebels finally have the chance to strike a death blow against the oppressive government. Or he is captured. this storyline is anything but original. In a perverse twist. describing what he's fighting for and why he's doing that. leaving his fate in the other world in doubt. but then. Hook: An initial battle or event that causes the player to take arms against the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune. Of course. do in each world before he can manage it. then threatened with torture. He lives happily ever after. 6) Self Sacrifice for love/ideal: HeroThe player The player's love interest Ideal/LoveFreedom Player's love interest Peace Equality Thing or person sacrificedPlayer's love interest Player A golden oppertunity Setting the scene: Define the player's current situation. He must decide between fantasy world (and a love interest?). in spite of. leaving him in the world of his choice. [Thanks.

they might even be in love with each other. Climax: A rescue force arrives and doesn't approve of the relationship between them. 7) An Enemy Loved: Beloved EnemyAlien Opposing army member LoverThe player HaterOther members of the player's army. but wiser. Resolution: The world is safe. primitives. hoping not to be found. Resolution: Traditionally. (Ok. Cliffhanger: The enemy is about to be killed. Don't try to pass moral judgements like that without a good in-story reason. If the two are of the opposite sex. and has the satisfaction of having accomplished his purpose. 8) Conflict with a God: MortalThe player. I'd hate to try and sell such a controversial game. etc. They face natural challenges or disasters together. Members of the human/alien race Setting the scene: Explain where the player is. The player is sadder.outcome of this battle will determine the future of our world. each needing the other's skills and talents. Plot Twist: I'm at a loss here. but I say let the player make that decision. A fight would mean the death of both of them. 21 .) Eventually the player has to protect his friend/lover and must choose between rescue and friendship/love. One of the player's worshippers. so the 'opposite sex' bit isn't very 90s. while it searches the bushes around him. Buildup: The two of them learn to survive together. and let him know about the enemy. They form a friendship eventually. the player would reject his society for his loved enemy. I can't think of anything that can really compete with the inherent irony of this plot. wild beasts. Hook: He encounters his enemy in a situation where the war they are in has no real meaning. or the player is hiding from an undefeatable enemy. The love interest sees the error of her ways and sacrifices herself for the player.

Friendly witnessFriend of player ExecutionerAssassin Bounty hunter Random slaying I would use this plot as an element in a game rather than basing the game around it. contesting with another god over his worshipper. Resolution: Either the worshipper was found lacking. This plot is fairly flexible with what you can do with it. Plot Twist: His 'god' is really a collection of special effects. Either the player is being tested or toyed with by his god. 22 . Also setup the character's position in life. Or he has to guide his follower through some tests or hardships. any relative. Hook: I can see two angles on this. The player. Either has numerous possibilities. The god decides to do things personally rather than rely on agents to do what he wants done. Buildup: The worshipper experiences a series of tests of his faith. Or a Job-like scenario from Job or God's point of view. Death is after him because he is immortal. Climax: There is a direct mortal-immortal confrontation. I'm sure the player would enjoy the novelty of being a god. but it's not gripping enough by itself to be a full story. It's an excellent way to add drama to a story. and what his relations with his god/worshipper are. 9) Loss of Loved Ones: Kinsman slainPick a relative.ImmortalThe player's god. The worshipper considers converting to a new religion. Setting the scene: Define just who the player is. or he IS a god. Or he has to evade Death. Cliffhanger: Your guess is as good as mine. which seems to have some grudge against him. I could see a confrontation between the player and Death. passed the test. or switched religions.

Freezing in the ice cold waters that killed many of the survivors. Horror: I'll start here because it's one of the easier effects in my mind. But. this is only my personal opinion. and then strikes another just in time to illuminate a living corpse's face staring mindlessly at him. misshapen. and will befriend the strange young man who calls his name. Then. My idea of mysterious is this: Something called _Lost in the Fog_. Next. I'd delve deep into horror stories of all sorts and come up with a suitable Big Nasty (tm)..It's probably inaccurate to describe exciting as an atmosphere. but perhaps. (Flying fish. (Also. or he backwards? One of the player's ancestors is aboard the ship. and of course. First. and the player can swim for the sound. discovering that its crew is somehow alive as well. anyone want to write a game about Jack the Ripper? I'd be glad to help with publishing and packaging and such.but it doesn't. clutching a life preserver. hilarious stuff. miraculously afloat. Mysterious .) Scared the hell out of me because I was busy relaxing. a fish jumped him. and hears footsteps. It's the little touches that make the big impacts. just perhaps. I'd have some innocent item produce frightening effects. I'll look at some specific atmospheres and see how I would create them. Just then.Developing your game's Atmosphere ------------------------This is another reprint. I'll do my best to see if I can decipher some of it both for my own information and anyone who is interested.. I'd use words like leprous. Creaking doors.) Hmm. They've become quite hackneyed. Have they been transported forward in time. (I still think Horror of Rylvania is great. I MIGHT use. adrift. But the trouble is. Atmosphere is vital to the feel of a text adventure.. and realizes that history can't be changed. Brings it home better. Also. I might even plunk the player into a dark room with a nasty. I'd use a couple of Cliffhangers (see my plot post) to frighten or unnerve the player. sinister men huddling in London alleys with scalpels. I liked one scene in Piranhas 2 where this guy drops his watch into a murky sink and you just know a fish is gonna eat him when he reaches in. 23 . it seems that death is inevitable. I get images of thick fog and strange lights. Just then. He climbs aboard. I'll look at umm. The player is a survivor from the Titanic. a bell rings distantly through the fog. inexplicable and the ever popular moonlit trip from the tongue. it's also a very tenuous thing to grasp hold of. any Twilight Zone episode (the old series)) Exciting . it can be avoided. and cancerous.. footsteps. Anything that gives a diseased feel to the story. I'd start out by watching my vocabulary closely. Now. To do this. He finds the sound is coming from an old Spanish Galleon. the ship went down in a vast vortex that appeared inexplicably in its path.. just as he turns around. But according to legend. but I would put the player's personae in danger rather than a companion. I don't like secret passages in old houses though.11 -------------. Then. Of corpses that have no business being where they are. the player hears a loud rushing sound. (There's a thought.some sort of wasting curse or slow possession would be fun.This one is fun.. Probably not. MAYBE. or even a graphic adventure.) Words like tenuous. player only hears a slight breathing and a steady scraping of feet that gets closer as he fumbles a match. The player evades the footsteps and searches the ship.

ESPECIALLY in this atmosphere. seduction. and active. There are two ways to go about it. tastes. I'd want to encounter and study an alien race. bombs.(As if the other atmospheres weren't. I'm just joking.) I think the closest Infocom game to come to this was well. the odd mad genius out to destroy the world. gunfights. How about a game set in a series of parallel universes. It might be much more fun to write about a bounty hunter chasing down a mark. (Someday. Don't let the commonplace slip into the game. so here it is. white water rafting or a high-speed motorboat chase. I can think of at least as many bad guys as I have plots. In that case. when I'm a big rich game writer. heheh. it can also be very. Don't let up except for the odd romantic moment. Make the Big Nasty (tm) fit the setting appropriately. This style would be great for a James Bond styled game. airplanes. :) Keep things moving is rule number one here. I'll just fly there and visit. etc. Actually. so it's hard to write something that even a majority of people will find funny.Lots of active verbs. and only you can save these multiple worlds. very funny. Instead. For example: 24 . skydiving. Big muscle men. I'd never use any of those hackneyed characters. Vocabulary . actually. Vocabulary . respond with something clever. the force behind the imminent destruction of the parallel universes. I hope to use one in a game someday. I would consider exotic to be set in a lush tropical forest. Otherwise I would spend a week making up consistant information on it. (Notice that I haven't ruled out a hanglider anywhere. a strange snake-god in a lost city. If you can't come up with original ideas. and of course. then come up with a new hobby. words that have connotations of motion. One. Just keep the player aware at all times that he is in unfamiliar lands. Chinese plotters with fu manchu 'staches. try to make everything humorous. use humor as a reward for exploring. Keep the descriptions full of dreamy words and use all five senses here. Smells. unless it's to contrast it with the strange local customs. sinister Russian agents. Anyways. but one that can be mixed with the others. or in Jamaica with a mysterious houdoo cult. moving sentences. People have different senses of humor. Two.but I want to. (Although it is better to tie that info into your puzzles. if the PC does something abysmally stupid. While this can be very. none of them. loa-possessed cultist for the houdoo game. Humor . if then. I would spend a week or two on researching its most bizarre aspects. At least if I were writing a spy game. very unfunny. A crazed. it would all be standard gear.) Puzzles. and that needs to be rectified as soon as possible. This was written by Stephen Granade and submitted to me.If it was set in a real place. should reward the player with new areas to explore. skyscrapers. Lots of leaping off cliffs. or on an alien planet where you do more than explore an old station. I'd probably use the odd spy gadget or two though. When the PC does something clever but unworkable in trying to solve a puzzle.) You could have car chases. I enjoyed it. It's okay to have rooms that have no purpose other than interesting descriptions and information. Lots of fun stuff to do. Originality is something lacking in a lot of games. And here we have a new atmosphere for the guide. Conversely. they are all heading towards a similar destruction. zing him. feels.This is not necessarily a separate atmosphere. moving trains. with my own embellishments added in. Exotic .) The action doesn't neccessarily have to keep going at all times in this atmosphere. so nyah. all somewhat different? Say. everything you can pack into it to make the player experience being there. a la THGTTG.

The thick metal door on the north wall is pitted. tentacles reach out and grab you! Before you can react. 12 ---------------. and most likely. You get the idea. By now. Two pigeons have decided to build a nest in your hair. putrid-smelling room behind the door. you can't slide the bars back at all. you hold it in. then start to open the door. A sign on the door reads. Be sure that you build up a feeling of unity in your descriptions. Let your imagination run wild. hoping to see a gory spectacle. Charred lab benches form a barricade of sorts in the southeast corner. and you have this terrible urge to go to the bathroom. jump!" You are tempted. so they radio in for a longer one. There you are slowly decapitated. they have dragged you into the dark. as if an incredibly corrosive acid had been splashed against it. "Alien Hospitality Suite. The wind blows the window shut.. most every game needs its moment of levity. jump. For the sake of the crowd below.. After all. An open doorway leads west. and I think he deserves a round of applause. there is a large crowd gathered below. My comments on humor follow. 25 . Unfortunately. Stephen's done a great job though. as if the scientists who work here had been fighting for their lives. The language used should tie together the setting and the emotions you wish to evoke. used. NPCs --------------------First. three punk rockers assemble below you. Rube Goldberg scenarios." > OPEN DOOR You slide the bars back.. and your body used as a breeding ground for aliens! Just kidding. the ladder they brought is too short. if only for a moment. See? Humor can be a really fun tool to work with. Perhaps the player has a loyal friend who follows him everywhere. Picture the player out on a ledge. and join the police over at Don's Donut World for a Crueller and coffee. along with a police car. atmosphere is important for any game. Thank you Stephen.The lab shows signs of a recent battle. another reprint. Somewhat later. I am always looking for submissions for the guide. and silly situations. They hold up their cigarette lighters and chant "jump. muttering acerbic comments about their adventures under his breath. to take their advice. As you do. After awhile. Much obliged to you for that great example.. then I'll expand my views somewhat..and aim for them. a firetruck arrives.. > EXAMINE DOOR The door possesses sturdy metal bars which hold the thing shut. one-liners. I originally left a humor section out of the guide because I didn't feel I could do it justice. Anything on game writing that would fit in with the tone of it will be considered.The other people in your game. As you can see from the long descriptions. chasing after his winning lottery ticket.] Other notable techniques include puns. and.[Stephen's part ends..

their belongings. maybe they think the PC has gone mad and kill the PC. or the key and doormat puzzle. There are too many possibilities for you to contemplate. 2. Their unique personalities and quirks will stick in the player's mind far longer than the puzzles you set for him to defeat. they should react according to their personality. 3. Sir Robin was King Arthur's cowardly knight. First.. maybe the police come and arrest the player.5 Laws of IF NPC Creation: 1. I find this endlessly annoying. and if it follows the player. 26 . give the NPC an interesting description and some interesting mannerisms. the more it brings out the personality of the NPC. This is just one of those rules that everyone blindly follows without questioning. What do most people remember. I can't really do a definitive work on NPCs. EVER have an NPC comment on the player's body odor. push. Particularly handle #2 and #4. Give 'em some emotions. (For the Monty Python impaired. or maybe the NPC just dies.This gives the player a mental image of the NPC.2] If you pay attention to these details. a lot of things for it to do in certain places in your game. I'll list a few important characteristics below. kill. even if ya gotta steal 'em from somewhere else. with a brief sentence on each. Be sure to have betatesters try very hard to break your NPCs. Next. My one exception to this rule is the senile old wizard. But it SHOULD be known to you. Make 'em unique. Oh. your NPCs will be more believable and interesting to the player.Not neccessarily known to the player. 4) Motivations . [-v1.Such as a foreign accent. Finally. there are basically only a few things that you want to worry about. give the NPC a lot to talk about. 5) Interests . odd speech pattern. one last. etc. or they're extremely frightened of the dark and panic blindly when shut into a dark room. If a PC attacks them. Tells a lot about a person. These characters are just as important as the player in the overall development of your game. 3) Body Language . 1) Appearance . gesticulates. NPCs are the backbone of your game. Maybe they think it's a joke. such as kiss. Never.Shows in their room's furnishings. smiles. whom I find endlessly amusing. Why? Damned if I know. neglected thing.) 5. Have fun. Instead. and some conflict to sort out. etc. In IF. EVER. ensure that the NPC reacts properly to the basic verbs in your game. 2) Speech Mannerisms . Don't stereotype them please. and eveything else will fall into place. 'Sir Robin charges valiently into battle. they have feelings too. Don't let the PC run roughshod over 'em.' just doesn't make any sense. the Wizard of Frobozz.. Make their actions consistant with their personalities. The smaller the detail. Allow NPCs to react to one another in more than just a passing manner. hit. Maybe the NPCs daughter is dying. 4.How the NPC stands.

horse?) (everyone sing along. Part of the game is determining how best to use that companion (say. Any item that simply has a number of uses and lingers in the game seems to me to become a sort of pet. 1) The player is a wizard.. (Floyd. his shoes start remarking about the treatment he's been giving them.) This can be a good thing. Pets are not constrained to living creatures. especially for those who have seen the original cartoon.. well obviously. In THGTTG. it just is. 1. 5) Non-living interacting pets. here are some pet ideas. pets -----------------------This is a reprint of another article. or a talking. (Via the talking credit card in Time Trax. objects can interract with the player in a number of bizarre ways. that could be a rather amusing plot device. the aunt's thing almost took on a personality of its own. on Nintendo systems) 3) Heheh. but a really exotic pet. or a bad thing. for example. 2. or a cursed ring. with a non-human companion. so items start talking to him and arguing among themselves. so you don't buy that bit in #4.. of course.Remember that cartoon with the frog that would sing and dance. or Talkie Toaster in Red Dwarf. nor is it necessarily harmful. like a Monkey's paw. Take.. a british comedy sci-fi show. so maybe there's this certain object that shows up everywhere.) Pets tend to be very versatile objects. Okay. and has a friendly bird that helps them spot danger.. And the two teleport spots in Starcross. Robots are the pet of choice in this department. just by following you around.. either. the radio in Wishbringer that gave you advice. the player is a rhinocerous. Let me know if you've seen any used already.13 ----------------. but only when no one else was around? Well. his TV plays evangelist. for instance. 2) (A more general idea) The player is a non-human. Ok.The player's good buddies.) This could also be interesting if you have a human player.. like a shapechanging blob of jelly. (see A Boy and his Blob. That's by no means the only way an item can develop a personality.) The term pets can apply to any object that follows the player around fairly consistantly. here's a whimsical thought. nor are they even constrained to animate beings. but there are a lot of humorous ideas packed away under this heading. (Or maybe you find a talking dog with a similar limitation. with an imp familiar that is more often than not leading the player into danger. frequently their personality will pervade the entire game. ("Oi! Not another puddle! Walk around it you arsehole!") Or perhaps they can just naturally talk. depending on how it is handled. A pet is not necessarily helpful. The Jack-of-all-traits in Nord and Bert was quite interesting just because of all the things you could do with it. this one on pets.) 27 .A horse is a) 4) Non-living pets. Maybe the player is losing his grip on reality as a result of some poison in his body. His couch plays psychiatrist.

begin to narrow your focus. Just as an example. disease. Now.14 ------------Bringing it all together. We're going with disease.? I like the government plot.P. there was no communication between the local and the federal government on the matter. the only survivor of a drug bust that was apparently a covert site for the govenment's testing. which is often the hardest part. germ warfare gone astray. concentrating on horror. Unfortunately for the player. Lovecraft. that's always a nasty one. toxic waste. so many disgusting monsters. government plot. There are a few different starting points you can use when writing a game.) I tend to start with atmosphere. big scabby armor-plated growths to ward off bullets. or madman. now you have a starting point. ancient Indian burial ground. Perhaps the scientists killed all the SWAT members after changing. Maybe a monster. you need to think of something that is WRONG. let's give em claws. being from Berkeley. pointy teeth. exotic and terrifying like H. "Why the heck would I want to write a dumb old text adventure?" The answer is simple... Maybe you're a writer looking for a new way of doing things. you decide to write a horror game.. he's a member of the local SWAT team. But what? Hmm. for each of you. Now. Just make sure it has global search and replace capabilities.is it going to be a thriller.. You don't want to waste time converting back and forth from ASCII everytime you want to compile. That will likely have some ramifications in the final solution of the game. We'll start with the disease's source. and of course.. a funky hairdo. what do you suggest? Mad scientist. the effects of a 6 month exercise program. you'll need them.. or how about mixing horror with another atmosphere like space opera to come up with an unusual setting? I think we'll go with the exotic one for now.. We now have a game about a disease that causes humans to transform into something horrible. maybe. so we need a few more things to go on.Grunts.. They are: 1) 2) 3) 4) Setting Atmosphere Plot Characters (Wishbringer started from the plastic rock packaged with it. a nervous trigger finger and a broken vial have unleashed a squad of Grunt/scientists/SWAT team members on the world. or maybe you were weaned on Infocom? Whatever your reason. a reason why the hero is trying to do something instead of heading for the hills. what does our disease do that's so bad? Infectious madness? Gross deformities? A craving for human snacks? Horrific transformation? I like the last one. In horror.umm.Ok. or maybe the SWAT team was changed too. It'll do for now. Let me warn you now to use a good ASCII text editor to write your games with. Anyways. home of the conspiracy theory. look out! Welcome to IF 101. Ok. something really campy.. but different. Ok. Now why the heck is the player dumb enough to get wrapped up in this mess? I'll tell you why. I would say it likely that he was far enough away from the vial and 28 . Once I have in mind the sort of game I want to write.er. that's a stumper. everything begins falling into place. So. We need a cause for the disease. and a predilection for homo sapien. We need a catchy name. You may be asking yourself. so little time. meteor/comet. except for the player. now we have our disease.. It just has to feel WRONG. I use one called dcom.. So. doubtless it's a good one... So. the Infinite Permutations of Story in IF.Writing your first game-----------More reprints. On to the meaty part of this message. a setting..

okay. we would spend time expanding on the characters and bringing them to life. Grunts are basically like people except for their sharp claws and teeth. Luke. the stage is set. In addition. and taste for human flesh.Farmhand Debbie . is a bit dubious until screams come from the house. He has to stop the Grunts before they get to the city and begin changing the populace. [Last post] Ok. Grunts. The player has had the opportunity to 29 . It's too late for the farmer. fortunately. throw it all in the car that he fixed. and maybe find some parts lying around in the tool shed. The cars have been sabotaged. but the kid hides in the trunk.quick-witted enough to put his gas mask on. and hit the road. David .A SWAT team member.) Anyway.Kid that player saved and is stowed away in the trunk of his car. Now.) Okay. Luke . there's your basic premise. [Next reprint follows] Right. In the last installment of this post. for lack of a better name. Start vague. is going to become a horrible pain in the butt. We (okay. Don't question the fact that they don't steal the cars. David's the only survivor. trying to look inconspicuous. The Grunts have just taken off down the road. If he looks around. and work your way down. he's likely to find out the story behind the disease and an antidote. He comes to a farmhouse that's on fire. Now. He can cannibalize parts from any of the cars. He needs to fix one to get back to town before the Grunts. so he manages to outrun the Grunts and gets to a dairy farm on the outskirts of suburbia. He was a widower. the player should stock up. he manages to realize what's happening and gets his gas mask on in time. The setting? Some woods on the outskirts of <insert major city here>. the farm hand. we determined that we were going to write a horror game based on a disease that turns people into. and possess enough intelligence to smash the radios in the vehicles they brought. Now that our little adventuring band is complete. (Not to mention some interesting diseases and such. We'll call him David.Farmer's Daughter We have established that the Grunts retain some vestige of human intelligence. It never fails for me. I have decided that the Grunts are clever. or maybe he has to find some simple way of changing them back or killing them. he hears cries for help inside and rescues a kid about 13 years old. Screeching to a halt. We have also determined that the bacteria may only be spread through an exchange of bodily fluids. David. armor plating. just accept it until we can think of either a good excuse. in case you're wondering. I) decided that it was going to be set on the outskirts of a town that shall remain anonymous for now. First thing we need to do now is to devise his first obstacle. and our hero is lying in the bushes. I think that the player can use one or two more people in his little 'band'. and the two of them rescue the farmer's daughter from some Grunts. and is released in a drug bust gone bad. or a more plausible scenario. He tries to leave David behind. since it's too dangerous. Fortunately for the player. Btw. (You do a lot of this at first. the farmhouse was raided by Grunts. Since then. Well. he should stock up on good weapons since he's at a government installation (mistakenly believed by the SWAT team to be a drug plant) that had some fairly high tech stuff. of course. not to mention a love interest. the characters in our horror game are: The player .

here's some advice to keep you working on your game. saving folks. resolution. 29 . after all.) He walks out to the Grunt. demeaning process of debugging. then hits him with a syringe full of vaccine. Fiction is. Finally. The very first command one friend entered crashed the game. etc. He has enough for several injections. infecting the populace all over again. etc. 15 -------------------------. explaining why I made this post. ultimately.blister agent. Build-up and Resolution are the most important two IMHO. pfft. Call for volunteers on r. let's skip to the ending. not to mention research into the cause of the disease. Announce its future release over the Net. some adrenaline in a usable form. There are several distinct sections to a game: build-up. about people. So. though. conflict. not even after the game is released. just off the top of my head. biggest Grunt confronts the player atop the area's drinking water reservoir. We are now ready for the confrontation/master plan. The last.arm himself and acquire companions. Then. One of these is the vaccine for the Grunt bacteria. puzzles a bit less so. Or maybe the other diseases in the collection would be of some use? There's a umm. Also corner a few of your local friends and tie them to a chair and make them play it for you. Lots of tracking down and disabling of Grunts. various illegal drugs.a. But do try to get all the really nasty ones out first. (Hope he used the vaccine) He forces the Grunt away from the water. Or you could probably think of a better one. Having people waiting for your game helps keep you to task. Betatesting is an experiment in publicly embarrassing yourself. The puzzles would consist of using these items in a variety of ways. if you want to produce quality games. Take it in stride. I like to begin with a broad atmosphere and narrow downwards. and set yourself a deadline. The player can't just shoot him. You really need a good sized troop of testers. and people flake because of an unexpectedly heavy classload this semester. Gird your loins for the horrible. Starting out. Anyway. This will happen. You won't find every bug. During the first conflict. Don't feel threatened. End of story. You'll get a faster response on bugs that way. I know from experience. So cheer up.i-f. He gets out a cattle prod taken from the farm earlier on (retroactively inserted. This is. avoiding Grunts. Once you have set the stage with a plot. The characters in your story are of utmost importance. I'm sure we can imagine the sort of things that would go on in the middle of this game. You'll be glad you had so many responses when mail starts bouncing back to you saying no such account. and keep your mind on the fact that you aren't paying your testers anything. now numbering about 5-8. One possible plan would be to head for the nearest zoo and get a tranq gun to use against the Grunts.. It's got to be done. I have found that my game will work perfectly unless I let someone else touch the keyboard while it's running. and he gave me a dirty look.. (What good movie monster isn't?) He does have a supply of diseases/vaccines that he may or may not have identified. so he'd be well advised to inject himself with some of it. the player discovers that the Grunts are pretty much bulletproof. Voila. items come naturally and easily. So the player plays it slick. prodding it back with the prod.Betatesting ----------------------------------I can't emphasize this part of game design enough. The player and his little retinue rush to head off the Grunts. or he'll fall down and pollute the water. He gets scratched up by the Grunt. He has a syringe as well. let me now close off this story with some hints and help. you'll probably get from 10-30 eager beavers.

Frankly. Another aspect of packaging is notification of contests and/or newsletters available from your company. but they're putting themselves out on a limb for your program.O Box to serve as a registration sending point. Suspended its six robots. so I won't worry about it. you'll probably also need to get a P. Seastalker its little radar map. In the new world economy. There is a distribution group that says they will send your game out to thousands of BBSes on a CD for just $100 a year (to cover membership). You should put some serious consideration into a gimmick. you will accumulate a core group of steady customers that you can easily get input from. Bear this in mind as you plan your game. Watch your taxes. I'm planning on strictly printed props like diary pages and flyers. and I give credit where credit is due. However. 31 . usually. or any of a zillion other things I could do. 17 ------. I'll include all these important info things at the end of this guide. A newsletter will probably have no immediate benefits. I may go out on a limb and have a Space Miner's Union Member card done up. A company can survive just off a good hardcore user group if it's big enough. if I get a good response. By the way. Get 'em while they're dying to get the free hint book and paper cup included with every copy of your game. let em order two copies. Hell. pounds. I'm always glad to get ideas.Marketing and distributing your game --------------------Oh what a tangled web we weave. Lastly. Later. There are also the various credit card vendors that will take your credit card orders for a small part of your fee. You cannot cripple it in any way. I don't think it's any of their business whether you cripple your game or not. Look at your budget (or lack of one) and decide what you can afford to include. Trinity had its pop-up poetry. This isn't easy to do. what do most people remember about Infocom games? The neat little trinkets and books that came with them. Even something as mundane as a rock can become an exotic keepsake if you do things right. 18 --------------. You have to include their various legalese files with your game. yen. don't forget the IRS. etc. The one cent that you are paying more per copy adds up quickly to equal lost revenue and funds for your next game.16 ------------. You may not use any obstrusive regstration reminders in your game. Find out what packaging will cost as soon as possible. you want to be able to gain access to as many dollars. If anyone comes up with an intriguing gimmick they don't want. You should be planning the more physical aspects of it even as you write it. I highly recommend contests open only to registered users.The gimmick and its place in your game --------------------Think of all the old Infocom games and consider how many of them had a gimmick built into the game. pass it along to me. It's called ASP. This strikes me as an excellent strategy to attract impulse shoppers to our games. rubles. I may try it later on and let you guys know how it works. They cause your game to stand out from the crowd. They have some conditions which they slap on you for the privilege of you paying them to distribute your game. and marks as you can. For my first game. The trick is to keep your costs down and shop around until you find the VERY best buy for your buck. It's just one more thing to help convince them that their money would be best invested in your wallet.Packaging your game with an eye for registration ----------------Now.

but try not to kiss up too much. My best wishes go with you. If your program is good. Try harder next time. but don't hold your breath. or nearly so. congratulations. and contains postcards to send off to certain government departments requesting forms that you need and other legal information. is 30 days from time of order. If you fail to meet this deadline. Get orders out in a timely manner. IF seems to have a small market. a registered user. it's not fair to let them win the goodies too. I would suggest print advertising if it weren't for the tremendous expense involved. Keep track of your registered users. or. Eventually you may have a respected company.2] A letter should be enclosed in any event. it's very informative. If you have future projects planned. Now that you've jumped those hurdles. Work your way up to the point where you can afford trinkets for your packages. according to the law. Do this only after you have a product that stands up to betatesting and looks as good as you're willing to pay for. Good god. if you've gotten this far. [timely. at least enough to make it worth your while. A text adventure should be judged on merit rather than lack of flashy graphics and sound. From what I can tell.[I recently purchased a book called _Starting and Operating a Business in California_. 32 . or a list of those people who sent in the warranty cards from Lost Treasures of Infocom 1 and 2. you must send them a letter offering a refund. Enclose a short note notifying the magazine that they are not eligible for any contest you're running. there is a set of these books. Jenkind. by Michael D. then try to stick a 'catalog' in with your registered version describing them. their choice. stop sending them sample copies to review. Post it on flyers around your school. They should feel rewarded for their honesty. If you're lucky and your game is good. one for each state. but I think if we have enough quality products out there that are well marketed. I suggest getting it. if they are violently opposed to text adventures. it'll get some rave reviews. I really hope that the money starts flowing in. As I said. If you get poor reviews. not like they're doing you a favor. Cross your fingers and whisper a quiet prayer to the gods that blessed Zork. we might be able to edge our foot back in the door. and glossy pictures on the box covers. offer to write articles on the hardships of IF. The magazine is just doing its job as it sees fit. don't neglect your customers. what I wouldn't do for a roster of the Zork User's Group. This is one of the elite of the computer world.2. See if your local computer stores are interested in carrying a few registered versions in stock. -v1. or the bulletin board at work. or having them accept the delay. Too bad they'll never use it in the manner in which it is meant to be used. Be courteous.] Now. You have released a new text adventure out into the hungry waters of the market. keep in close contact with them. Sadly. then it deserves the registration. and send out pamphlets when you have another game and some money to spend on them. answer their questions. able to leave the difficult whitewater shareware market and move on to the smoother retail market. you did well. and Activision has the latter. Contact every magazine listed at the bottom of this guide and offer to send them a registered version to review. Keep pushing your game every chance you get. try not to take it too hard. Anyway. unless you state in advance that it will take longer. you're going to try for some FREE advertising. You're giving them a free sample. -v1. People are always interested in a small 'home-town' company. Well. the former no longer exists.

A sword. a lot of motion. All that lava and steam and sulfer bubbling around. I have seen it offered on ftp sites as far away as Finland. The room is very 'busy'. is selling the game commercially and just releasing a demo. the Guide has received a really good response since I released it.Sight is almost always a major part of any text adventure. published 6 times a year. send a check or money order for $36 ($50 outside North America) to: Interactive Entertainment Design 5251 Sierra Road San Jose. Nobody.) For a year subscription to this magazine. Of course. and a weathered leather wrapping around the handle. I think that the authors just spent a lot of time on that room. a splash of rust near the tip. But. Also. I have started writing a regular game writing column for Intelligent Gamer magazine. in case you want a copy. I have another reprint from r.[Another useful marketing technique used by Adventions.i-f for you here on the use of the 5 senses in IF: --------1. 1. for instance. could do justice to this room in a movie or picture. nearly a visual assault. Sight . Since the first appearance of the Guide. Just remember these things when writing room descriptions. 33 . Back issues are $5 apiece.2] 19 ---------------------------. The other thing that is so effective is the sheer number of things described so prosaically. but that's okay with me. is seldomly used as well as it could be. It's an instinctive thing dating back to our hunting days. in my opinion. CA 95132 My excerpts appear in Volume 7. can have details such as a large nick halfway down the blade. one that Dante would be proud of. 2. excerpts from the Guide were re-published in Chris Crawford's _Interactive Entertainment Design_ (Chris is the author of Balance of Power and other games. since that seems to be the most well known room in IF. The image summoned up is one of Hell. First off. rather than the whole game. An item doesn't even neccessarily have to be useful in the game to look interesting. except perhaps Steven Spielberg.2: Well.a. volumes 1-6 are available for $30 per volume. there's a lot going on there. Number 4. one of the larger producers of text adventures.[-v1. Most of the changes to the Guide will be concentrated in this section for the convenience of those who have read the earlier versions. that means that this section is going to be a bazaar of different things. refining it until they had what they wanted. the only such column to appear in a game magazine (See the magazine overviews for more info). Lastly.2] Version 1. Consider Adventure with its volcano room. But what makes this room so visually interesting? Well.) Even a very mundane item can be described in flowing terms if you put the effort into it.Assorted Miscellany ----------------. The Internet never ceases to amaze me. obviously the motion is part of it. although the player may try and do something with it if it is.) Our eyes are drawn to motion first. -v1. Note that this kills your chances of using ASP to distribute your game.

Sharp. Now think what an excellent trap that smell would make. you know it's there. Colors are essential to an effective visual presentation. and you came home to the smell of cookies baking. It is second only to sight in the amount of information it can gather for the player. or having an argument. Oh yes. what if you lived alone. Really. or if they are. I think I'll go back and pay more attention to it as I read through my room descriptions. and neglect the background sounds when it's in our own best interest to include them.Of course.3. I'm guilty too. Doesn't that make you feel comfortable. Lastly. you can see and hear it. once to mention the lack of birds in Avalon. and a bit hungry? What sort of memories does it evoke? Grandma. Think of how much information you hear just sitting in your room. The adventurer is wandering around some caves. the fresh smell of a pine forest. or watching tv. And consider all the textures we encounter everyday. Touch . Three rooms. Ok. 34 . they're not moving around. I can think of only two places I used it. if you think about it. I can think of one point where breathing should definitely be heard. Is it quiet? Then nobody's around.. I mean. You can tell when someone is fixing breakfast. and the listener can recognize the sounds. He follows the smell. Touch is our only real link to reality.) We don't see the world in black and white. so I'll move on to the next sense. then it doesn't matter what else you think you see or hear. and once when you hear a voice nearby and follow it to its source. most likely. Avalon neglects sound just as much as the next game. even if our monitor is monochrome. most of us can't afford to include scratch n' sniff cards with our games. I'll try and expand more on the senses that I will be using. so who did? I'm sure you see how this works now.Here's another highly underrated sense in IF. so we do the next best thing and describe the smells. now that I've detailed what I'll be doing without in Sight Unseen. The tangy scent of oranges. you're sure that you didn't put any cookies in the oven before you left. and ends up on the dinner menu of some monster who smells like chocolate chip. :) Or think. Now consider how much of this usually makes it into IF. Do you hear laughter and the sounds of a ball being kicked or hit? Someone's playing a sport outside your window. Consider the smell of cookies baking. the sweet smell of a forest meadow filled with flowers in bloom.Sound has been largely ignored in IF. I know. and another that could use the crash of the thundering surf. which is a shame. Do you hear footsteps? Someone's walking nearby. If you can feel it.these things have a very strong emotional impact on people. and you can tell whether they're walking towards or away from you unless the place you're in has weird acoustics. That's just off the top of my head. we concentrate on all the human noises in IF.. That's a pretty lousy record for a game with about 50 rooms so far. Now. Touch is the final arbitrater on what is real. I shouldn't say second. It has more emotional impact that way... So look over your game with an eye for sound. and what isn't.dum de dum. *sniff* Mmmm. or making love upstairs. smooth. I'd just like to mention that I think this technique works more effectively when applied to a few select rooms in your game rather than every room. rough. all sorts of things... because it can gather just as much info as sight if attention is paid. but you could be hallucinating for all you know. fuzzy. actually you also deal with the loss of hearing in one spot. :) Smell .cookies. How do you know that something is real? Sure. Hearing ..

every problem looks like a nail. but that's about all we use it for. Of course. we got a good laugh out of that. At this point. since it hasn't had much in the way of new articles. One is frightening. Every time you add an object to your game. Consider trying to put your back against the wall in a dark cave and bumping into something large and hairy. exponential growth. Let's just say that the default response to 'light x' is: "The x burns feebly for a moment. Take a piece of rope and play with it for 35 . :) It could be interesting. light bookstore.edu for more info. ---------------------Finally. When choosing the warmest blanket for the night. light cat. The players WILL. you must consider its connections to every other object and creature in the game. they'll hear from my lawyer. and how the player goes up in a blaze of glory. and let me know that you heard about SPAG from the Guide rather than the newsgroups so that I know what info to send you. light lake." Now. Observe how seldomly the standard response makes sense. any sane game writer will flee gibbering into the woods.a. Here's an example: You're writing a game set in New York. Taste . which do you go for. so no one feels cheated by this version. soft. and pointed out to him the terrible curse of all text adventure authors. WILL eventually try to set every godforsaken item in your game on fire. You have to include messages telling about how concrete and water don't burn.berkeley. Maybe include little bags of powder or something. I'm just one busy little fellow. then flickers out. on r. Info is also available on ftp. When all you have is a hammer. and you can't eat all the time. and half the time we don't even notice what we're feeling. doughy. every day. light plane. Although it might be nice to slip it into your game sometime. I should point out that I am also publishing a periodic e-mail zine about text adventures. 1956. but it anyone puts 'decaying corpse' in there. or two other similar substances. E-mail me at whizzard@uclink. it might be useful to tell the difference between salt and sugar. how the police arrest the player for arson.I put this sense last because it has very limited usefulness in real life and in IF. Consider the feel of running your hands through someone's hair. There's a lot to be learned by touching things. it's a great sense. light salesman. not might. squishy. ---------------------Also. Now think about adding a rope to your game. Well. light myself. the other terrifies into immobility. Bad move. or the fuzzy one? We touch things all the time. but we don't use it unless we're eating something. I know you can see this coming: light concrete. hard. one fellow mentioned the idea to make a CD-ROM text adventure. You put a Zippo lighter in the player's pocket.gmd.serrated. Well. etc. here's one or two to quench your thirst: The Terrible Traps of Object Interaction Once. To be sure. maybe we should pay more attention.i-f. gritty. be they lover or whatnot. and feeling its point pricking at your neck.faq. the quilted one. merely as a decoration. 10 megs long. called SPAG (Society for the Preservation of Adventure Games). Think of the difference between having a knife waved at you.de in /if-archive/SPAG/spag. how the cat and salesman yell and run around while on fire.

Additional: Since the last time I worked on the Guide.e. Provide technical and general support for your game. This is what Graphical User Interfaces (GUIs. so there aren't nearly as many things to worry about. In this column I will address what I think makes a good game. Even if you were to win a lawsuit. Expect hours and hours of frustration. CRAP) were designed to avoid. You really need the sort of background these 36 . or alternatively. watch your copyright infringement and don't libel anyone in your game. and Steve Meretzky (author of "Leather Goddesses of Phobos" and the "Spellcasting" games). Be warned: it's no small task you are looking at. Pay your taxes. you'll just annoy the player. Either one could be disastrous financially for you. Before you begin. Just use some common sense. These devices have so many uses that you will bog yourself down trying to cover them all. and keep it down to a manageable size. just the art of the game itself. books. with a liberal dose of betatesters. You've played hundreds of games and now wish to join the ranks of Richard Garriot (Lord British of "Ultima" fame). Avoid using general purpose tools to solve puzzles like axes. and welcome to the first installment of what will hopefully be a regular column in "Intelligent Gamer. Consider it a free bonus. the legal fees and time wasted on it could be crippling to you. Pretty neat. The Art of the Game Article 1 Greetings. Okay. If you try to do a cop-out. hair-pulling. (See a good small business book for more info. explosives. and older games. like sledgehammers. So You Want to Write Video Games? A worthy goal. Intelligent Gamer stopped being published. your company is not incorporated. If you lose a court case over your company's product. beat down a locked door with a sledgehammer.) then there is a term you should know: Unlimited personal liability. Filled three pages yet? Ok." My column is about writing games. then you can be sued for everything both you AND your partner own. and other stuff. There are only a few verbs in those systems. then you can be sued for everything you own. Rather than consign my articles to oblivion. The REAL solution is to be careful what you add to your game. I encourage feedback and suggestions of any sort.awhile. and don't allow the player to say. Make a list of all the things you can do with the rope. one last article. and how you can make one. huh? Liability insurance might just be something to look into. this is more a cop-out than a solution.) Also. If you are operating as a sole proprietorship or as a partnership (i. No actual source code or machine specific techniques. so don't do it. and you'll be fine. now you can run screaming into the hills. Still. and eyeing that bottle of arsenic near your desk. I'm going to toss them in here. then I've got to tie this off and work on SPAG: Other Things you need to do for your Game: [] [] [] [] Provide some sort of instructions for beginners. If you are in a partnership. you should be armed with a wide reportaire of movies. Provide a set of hints for paying users. to be sure.

but the first method has been used in many games. Alan Dean Foster. barter with him. All of them are outstanding for one reason or another.P. and anyone else you can get hold of. Robert A. and combat. now that your knowledge of past works is a bit more caught up. I'll look at the characters. at the same time. the characters in your game need a way to talk to the player's character. or as complicated as having the player speak into a microphone. Heinlein. Piers Anthony. One thing that has not been attempted in many games is communication between characters other than the player. An accent or speech characteristic is useful for separating that character from the others in your game. You could use something as simple as offering the player a list of sentences to choose from. available as "The Lost Treasures of Infocom" (reviewed in the February 1994 issue of "Intelligent Gamer") from Activision. Tolkien's "The Hobbit" Douglas Adams' "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy" Peter Beagle's "The Last Unicorn" William Gibson's "Neuromancer" Arthur Conan Doyle's "Sherlock Holmes" series These are just a few that are quite representative of their respective genres.R. Maybe it's only a three person society. it's called society. H. You want to try and create a society within your game. A character should also have a goal and a means for accomplishing this goal. The more small touches you can add to a character. And definitely try to play the old Infocom games. For now. Try playing anything by LucasArts or a few of the "Ultima" games by Origin. The more the merrier! Some movies that feature good setting. There. Just as in fine literature. You have to make the player somehow relate to his alter-ego in the game. and kill him. On a much broader scale. trade. Therefore. Isaac Asimov. Communication is as complicated as you'd like to make it. characters and plot are: * * * * * The Princess Bride Monty Python's Search for the Holy Grail 2001: A Space Odyssey Terminator 2 Pretty much anything with Steven Spielberg's hand in it. There are three major things a game needs: [] Characters [] Plot [] Setting I will cover each of these in more depth in future columns. Just be sure to give each character a distinctive set of beliefs and mode of speech. Other suggested authors are David Gerrold. Gary Gygax. you can begin. but it should still try and simulate the interactions of real people with one another. games are about people. this involves physical appearance and surface traits. and letting the computer answer through a sound card. you also have to get his alter-ego to relate to the other characters in the story. The latter is still rather difficult. Here's a required reading list for any would-be game author: * * * * * J. the more realistic and interesting he or she will become. Society involves communication. Terry Pratchett. and an excellent read nonetheless.things can give you. 37 . On a simple scale.R. Lovecraft.

including a discussion of the 36 basic plots. there are three major schools of thought on plot. The Art of the Game Article 2 Well. The vast majority of ideas in this department remain untouched.gmd. but is often overlooked in the gaming world. not to bore him to death. External conflict involving sharp. while magic might form the currency in a fantasy setting. If you are interested. Unconventional weapons. that's all for this month.de. I'll write about plot. And so. The idea is to give the player a little adrenaline rush. The primary argument I have against them is the incredible lack of interest 38 . Put some thought into it. a piece of information. Good use of it advances the plot while letting the player take out his aggression on some small. on to the plot. Anyhow. since most character interaction will fall into one of them. Internal conflict is used to reveal things about the character. The Minimalists argue that games should be an experience in exploration and simulation. Also bear in mind that there are many forms of formal combat that don't involve anyone dying at all: chess. What is valuable to the character. armor. Anything else is irrelevant. In my opinion. 1) The Minimalists 2) The Linearalists.Trade means simply that characters must be able to transfer items back and forth between one another. Well. A character can be defined by what the player perceives him to be. And yet. 3) The Branchologists. Bear this in mind when writing your game. trade and conflict) should be sufficient to create believable characters. Let me know what you think. The Ins and Outs of the Plot Tree Now. One important thing to note is that repetitous and unnecessary combat is boring and doesn't belong in a good game. these are all examples of conflict between two or more characters. barter may well be a more appropriate form of exchange. or at least found it useful. they are very dangerous people. I have a guide on the Internet called "Whizzard's Guide to Authoring Text Adventures. and what does the character have to trade in exchange? Must it be money? In a medieval setting. It contains lots of stuff on writing games. From what I can tell. unless it shows up later in the game. I'm glad the folks at Intelligent Gamer liked last month's enough to keep me around. Next month. such as gold. while external conflict is more of a motivator. as authorship-guide. The exchange of items is a common part of our lives. Finally. enough stalling. You just can't please everyone. Trade is the lifeblood of society." It is available for anonymous FTP from ftp. if you ask ten people what they like in a plot. in the /if-archive/info dir. even as communication is the brain. if all goes well. squishy monsters. pointy implements is often referred to as combat. and magic are a big plus. or even a disease. you'll get 15 different answers. jousting and fencing are all good examples. these three things (communication. pushing the character around even as he struggles with his own inner problems. An item can be be nearly anything. They want to be able to start their own plots and toss them aside at will. consider the role of conflict in the game. I hope you enjoyed this article. I'm going to write about plot in this month's column. as I promised last month. so pick a consistant philosophy and stick to it.

having spent so much time in the guide on plot. This means that any item or event that is in one path must have an equivalent item/event in each alternate path. or let them know that they can no longer win the game. you need to make sure that. and shackles on your legs. and those 36 are described in my Authorship Guide to IF. one more nice technique is to have two plot branches which are mutually exclusive of each other. in my usual itemizing fashion. I'm not going to detail the numerous plots available for your use.hmmm. A very restrictive plot. They bore me to tears. Either it kills the player. I'm glad you asked. through this one plot.I have in flight or sub simulations. I like to have several major plot branches. I shall detail a few types of plot branch. not only does each path arrive at the clockwork glockenspiel. 4) 3) 2) 1) Dead End Optional path Inclusive split Exclusive split The dead end is the plot branch most of us have seen way too often. we have the school of Branchology.. Suffice it to say that there are at least 36 of them. a few. Plays like a book. and a couple of endings.. what is there left to discuss here? Good question. After breaking out the old save game.' You are herded. This is the middle ground. I don't think there's any money in that approach. You've got to ensure that the player can reach a winning ending no matter what path he decides upon. More often than not.. do not collect 200 points. feels like a book. ideas. and characters. reads like a book. This adds variety and replayability to your game. Now. the answer is no. I'll discuss the art of plot branching. 39 . The only way we can allow a bunch of plots and twists at present is to program each one individually. So. do not make any decisions. Finally. and the Minimalists want a constantly changing web of them. It is handled in one of two ways. for the sake of your players' sanity. if you need a magic mirror to turn the clockwork glockenspiel into a radish just after a two branch plot split. but each path also provides a magic mirror or a reasonable facsimile thereof.. either kill them outright.) Ah. look at LucasArts games like "Day of the Tentacle"). Not one. Oh yes. These folks are simply writers that have yet to grasp the 'interactive' in 'interactive fiction. This school advocates a FEW plots. in fact. If you decide to use this type of branch (It's not mandatory. though. and the delete command runs amuck in my game directory. or it just gets him permanently stuck (Do not pass go. with blinders on your eyes. do not try to escape. most of the guide concentrates on plot. I usually think to myself "Is this worth it?". Frankly. do not enjoy yourself. Do not turn your head.). Nothing generates a lynch mob faster than a puzzle that requires an innocent item from the beginning of the game. not a constantly changing web of them. In fact. It involves a bit of careful planning. It's enough work to write one plot. It's not a bad read for the serious game writer. The Linearalists prefer one plot. Now. a few optional side branches. You'd have to work on a game for years to get it even close to that level of adaptability. then please. It takes a delicate touch to create a story in such a manner that portions of it are optional and yet still has a sense of unity throughout. (Grrr. IMHO. I have it. sheep-like. mentioned in last month's column. of which I am a practicing member.

An exclusive split is something that is just beginning to show up in some of the newer games. So. you've got to stick by your decision come hell or high water. and then went on babble endlessly about plot in the second. or you'll be left with a short. You must make a game that is satisfying first to these people.) The player should not be forced into this path. like avoiding a maze. If you want to include plot branching. On the other hand. this isn't a Dead End. on the other hand. I talked about characters. the player will get every treasure (maybe). and not just an imaginary decision. The 'choice' I was given of what to say didn't mean anything. It makes a game that much more interesting. In the first installment. That way. I've made it through the second cut. So don't let the 'decisive' dimensions of your game outstrip the 'linear' dimensions. without much ado about anything. There's really no choice involved. Just as a final cautionary note. just maybe. it's because these two. however. it wasn't a real choice. that's why it's called optional. though. Of the four techniques. But that's entirely up to you. letting him know that his decision is final. Now. I tried many of these in different manners. but none of them had the slightest effect on the game. When you decide which path to follow in this split. Sooner or later. Personally. do it right. There are many who do not wish to play your game multiple times. One example I saw recently was a game (which shall remain anonymous) that had as an integral part of itself conversation where you choose one sentence from several. to the plot branching advocates. Perhaps it is the freedom and responsibilty that they place on the player that I like. or making a later puzzle easier. and am now here to bring you the third installment of the Art of the Game. The Art of the Game Article 3 Ah yes. and then and only then. I could think of a few more reasons. (Well. same Whiz-zine. Or maybe. Something happens to prevent you from returning to the fork. are something I like. Indeed. same Whiz-time. An inclusive split is simply a branch of two or more paths that the player has to 'choose' between.. Next month I'll be discussing setting. If you're going to do something. I would find it a nice touch if you prompt the player for a save here. and try the other path. DO use SOME branching.).Optional paths. restore to the save. I've decided to gush forth on the topic of setting.. Every branch you add to your game will mean an exponential increase in the amount of work you're doing for a game that is the same length as before. allow the player some control over the story. After all. but be strong. actually. the player can try one path. But it shouldn't be TOO hard to discover. rather than simply a perceived one. The player will end up going down every path eventually whether he likes it or not. let me warn beginning game writers against too much plot branching. The only purpose they serve for the player is either to give him more points. there's no turning back. The players will cry. or to make for a happier ending to the game. this path may not even be readily apparent to the player. Be sure to catch this action packed column. and taking the other path (not death. I enjoy exclusive splits and optional paths the most. beg. 40 . Or perhaps it is simply that the novelty of these techniques has not worn off yet. and plead for it. unsatisfying game. of the four. looking for the differences. are the only ones that actually give the player a real decision. but the order in which to get them is up to him. This is like the old gather-the-treasure puzzles. I don't think that 'decisions' that have no effect on the game should be included.

There is no research or photographs for you to fall back on. one of the old Infocom games. etc. streetmaps. or "an alien spaceship". First things first. The time period can be very important to the setting. what games their children play.R. Setting involves a lot more than that. then pull out your research and see how it relates to your game. and careful research will add another dimension to the game. First. There. but still vital part of your game. For a good example of setting an ordinary game in an interesting time period. Feel free to send me a copy of your map if you like. is your setting real or imagined? If it's real. what their houses are like. then things get a bit more involved.. we are going to make a fantasy realm out of it.. tourist guides. not a travelogue. Try to either include or refer to major landmarks. unusual plants and animals native to the area. So. try "The Witness". Now. Most of your puzzles would likely be held around these landmarks. If there are any spawling empty places. or is it so necessary to the plot that you want the player to have to walk through these barren spots each time they pass through. Be sure to pick out major landmarks. visualize the place clearly in your mind. Read through these materials looking for colorful and unusual things about the area. setting and time. and what the scenery is like. Learn a bit about what they eat there. Convert over the rest of the location like this. And one more bit of advice on using a real locale. Forests become either ancient elven glades or rotted haunted woods. would it be possible to condense them down by simply describing them as long. then try to get photographs. Now that you have your terrain and basics mapped out. Convert them over and add them in as well. aerial maps. I'd be interested to see what folks come up with. you often learn some very interesting facts about the area. Tolkien's Middle Earth.if all else fails. their customs. Another thing to take into account is when you want the game to take place. Look for ways to slip in some of the more interesting tidbits unobstrusively. An imagined locale is inherently more difficult to deal with. or at least an interesting setting does. If you like."I Don't Think We're on Venus anymore.R. It's quite simple to slap something together. but if you want the player to feel like he's in a real place. but hopefully interesting setting. let's take your favorite place in the world and turn it into a locale for a game to be set in. Use only your very favorite things directly. Besides. Once you have these two things. empty places." Setting is an often overlooked. I don't just mean coming up with some half-baked idea like "a ghost-town". There aren't even any roadmaps. drawing obvious parallels and maintaining the landscape. consider the steps that you just went through in making your land: 41 . wing it. Shopping malls become either tiny villages or exotic arabian bazaars. Learn about the people. Those are the things to pay particular attention to. There are no novels written about the people who live there unless you are using an established world such as J. now you have a fairly barren. draw a map as you go to keep track of things. firmly fixed in your mind. Include some sort of explanation as to what the area originally was before you converted it over. consider the main landmarks of your place and how they fit into what you have imagined already. Then try to get a feel for the everyday in the area. Just for an interesting exercise. Otot. You may not always use all or even most of this information. you're writing a game. now that we've done that. but it will help you to create a believable setting. whatever you can find.

it is easy to turn it towards an entirely fictitious setting. let's put squat. and you should spend plenty of time on it. Wet? Squishy? Dried and cracked? Fragmented into mysterious levitating pieces that you fly between? Whatever. logically create your landscape. Insert habitats and dwellings. What sort of things inhabit your game? In our mushroom example. Determine terrain type. wetter regions. leechlike monsters that hang out around blue mushrooms. the general half-baked idea I mentioned before. It's not good as an entire setting. Now that you see how to do this. 1) Determine topology: Next. This could be an alternate way to get into the black mushroom. and winged. 0) Determine general theme: You know. next you decide where the high and low points are. Place landmarks. if any. whether there is any water at the low points (or the high points if you have something special in mind) and what the ground itself is like. and thin. climbing the puffball and getting blown to the mushroom. Determine topology. tall yellow mushrooms in the higher. Ok. The leeches cling to the underside of their mushrooms. In our case. hopping birdmen around the yellow mushrooms. 42 . while the black mushroom is inhabited by an evil slime-mold and his hench-amoebas. drier areas. there is a huge red mushroom with a staircase leading up its stalk. We're going for the fungi motiff here. one more landmark. we've got flora. and a gigantic black mushroom accessible only by convincing the birdmen to carry you there. or the player. 2) Determine terrain types: This will come easily after #1. let's have squat blue mushrooms in the low. but it's a good starting point. such as the skittering 8-legged squirrels that run around pretty much everywhere. 5) Fill in details: This is the best part. Oh yes. now we need fauna. 3) Insert habitats and dwellings: Ok. dropping on unwary prey. Say that you have decided in step 0 that your game is set in a mystical forest of mushrooms.[] [] [] [] [] [] Determine general theme. You simply decide on what sort of vegetation there is. In our game. This is probably at least a fair approximation of the process. which is what all this was leading up to. A wise old crab-creature lives in the red mushroom. There is a big green puffball that regularly explodes with astonishing force on one screen. The birdmen hop from the top of one mushroom to the next and eat small insects and pieces of the mushrooms they live on. aka the lay of the land. 4) Place landmarks: Here's where you begin taking your plot into account. Fill in details.

" They also have poor eyesight. I find that yellow mushrooms are poisonous to the slugs. Keep that fan mail pouring in. considering the long fall to the ground and their fragile bone structure. the player needs to win the gem. of course. The leeches greet one another by saying "Beware the light.Detail the quirks of the land. his carapace is covered in scintillating jewels. and the supply is fairly far off. Maybe you need another landmark or two for this area? Well. this column begins a three part mini-series on thaumatology. To them. (Well. That's all for this month. except for one spot. Where have we left a spot for a gem? The leaping contest. The player can also drink through them in relative safety. However. So. if the players watch. Finally. alchemy. The player can avoid them by simply sticking to the lit patches. Maybe you get some sticky slime from them to stick to the mushrooms when you leap around? Maybe you have to do something else with them instead. The leeches are afraid of the sun. So. The player might hold one captive in the light and force it to spill its guts even. the player needs a gem. but can sense vibrations easily. Joe's pretty pleased with my column. See how neat that works out? If you put a little thought into the setting. you'll have no shortage of puzzles and such. "Nobody does that voodoo like you do so well. so it lives another month. then either ride the puffball or bribe the birdmen with puffball spores to carry him to the black mushroom. quite deadly to humans. here we go again. since there is a limited supply. In addition. any of their members that falls off the top of the mushrooms is considered dead. The puffball spores are considered a great delicacy among both races. and of the people and customs the people have. They refer to it as the 'burning pain' and will do anything to stay out of it. and the blue are poisonous to the birdmen. Remember. So. there are lots of types of mushrooms out there. It seems fairly obvious that the crab has some info about how to defeat the slime mold. good gaming all! The Art of the Game Article 4 Well. prestidigitation. houdoo. Until then. and often hold contests with prizes for the winners.. there are reeds along the shore that. But what does he want? Well. Next month I will be starting a three part serial on magic in games." 43 . get the info. a topic that is VERY near and dear to my heart. without any further geas' being laid upon you. The spores are also good for human consumption. They believe the ground is unclean and ostracize those who have trodden on it. the details will win the player over. and witchcraft. can't I?) As I promised last month. are used by the squirrels to drink. it's quite easy to fool them. go back to the crab. I can dream. Not unreasonable. We still haven't decided how the player can win the leaping contest." and the other replying "I 'ware it well. let's consider the crab-creature and the slime mold. where he will use the crab's advice/item to defeat the slime mold. in 'Shroomville. So. the birdmen have a real love of leaping from mushroom to mushroom. sorcery.. the general concept just grabs his attention. The water supply is limited and choked with bacteria and mushroom spores. Thus. but it will probably have something to do with the leeches.

like all things.What appears the same. And doing it again. Rest.) No way would I use this. Cast spells until out of 'magic' points. Again. I enjoy a good sword and sorcery game. A representation of the victim is made.You've decided that your game needs magic. direction finder spells. The Law of Contagion figures in to such things as teleportation spells. Or if a mage had a gemstone that was mined in the far north. The best thing about this spell system is that it's convenient for the player. which was the whole point. This is another dried up method of spellcasting. or bag and shaking thoroughly. 1. I'm here to try and lead you in the direction of the right way of implementing magic in your game. Now that you've seen the two primary tennets. A shred of clothing from someone could pull towards that person. which is the reason to include magic in the first place. been there. bulky items. So small. location spells. Voodoo dolls are a prime example of it. Basic Laws of Magic: ==================== The Law of Contagion . Cast spell. Symbolically. you have to consider the different methods of delivery for the magic. and a bowl of water the ocean. and by integrating the Law of Contagion (by adding a personal item or bit of blood. and again. The water is stirred to create a whirlpool. More hackneyed stuff here. is always together. an introduction to some ancient 'tennets' of magic. Cast spell. Well. bravo. forgets name. the twig is snapped to fell the tree. Mix reagents/other stuff together. The Law of Sympathy is often thought of as used in houdoo (voodoo). and could use his magic to reunite the home and stone. 3. while being carried along with the stone. If you really must do this. Say for instance that a wizard were to break a stone from the wall of his home and carry it with him. Likewise. Mix more junk together. easily carryable items could represent large. allowing a witch to track him. what are the specifics of your system? I will list a few that I have seen done first. it could be enticed to pull towards its place of origin. It lacks color and intrigue. This method has been used in so many games that it deserves a game that lampoons it. But. an enchanted antler could even help a hunter to find deer. give the player the option to turn on automatic mixing for spells that he has mixed at least once. and then a few that I've never seen done. is the same. Memorize spell. he would be carrying around his home. Nothing surprising or exciting. The Law of Sympathy . or hair) it would then be possible to do harm or good to the victim. there's a right way and a wrong way. becoming a handy compass in the process. gourd. I'm sick of dropping bat guano and lizard's breath into some lousy bowl. No 44 . First. Or at least what people used to believe. and again. Repeat until nauseous.What was once together. (Character casts spell. A good dollmaker could. become a very powerful sympathetic wizard. done that. spit. conceivably. In other words. A twig could represent a tree. Re-memorize spell. and anything else similar. 2.

now comes the cry. The player clicks on the bowl to stop adding blood. in Wizfoobia. Lay lines and other lines of Power. apprentices get only a cross of four nails. so it would be best if you were to assign each nail in the circle a sphere of influence and develop generic rules for mystic connections made between the nails. My reason is still that they add no enjoyment. They also carry quite a bit of gold wire with them. or he would 45 . Magic always has its price. "Amazing how many spells require the blood of a wizard. Of course. and her lines of force. which are then stored in memory as a courtesy to the player. How's that for flavor? To finish. Suitable for a grim or gothic game. not to mention the threat of losing their soul. while other lines provide the shape. For example. journeymen get the eight nail pattern shown above. as well as nexus points. @ / \ @ /@ \ / @---/---@ / \ @/ \@ @ figure 2. Lines have long been attributed with being both source and expression of magic. and masters have an additional ninth nail driven into the center of the circle. Say. and usually involves pain and injury to those daring enough to wield it. and accessible only to wizards. The player must balance his use of magic with his wizard's survival. "Can you do any better?" Well. 2. The remainder of this column will be devoted to new systems of magic. Now. I could foresee a side view of a bowl. wizards carry around small circular boards with nails of silver driven into the board at regular intervals. 1. perhaps the number of nails that the circle has indicates the wizard's rank. which slowly fills up. There are a helluva lot of possible spells to make with this system. Any wizard so foolish as to offer up his last drop of blood for a spell will be rewarded with spectacular results. @\ To cast spells. drop by drop. Or at least systems that I haven't seen done yet. but at least I'm going to make the attempt. maybe not. The lay lines provide the 'oomph' for the spells. known as lay lines.): ----/ @ \ /@ @\ / @ \ \@ @/ \ @ / ----figure 1. isn't it?" Blood is both the water of life and the fount of magic in this system. or memorability to anything. I'm sure you realize by now that I don't like any of the above methods of spellcasting. In addition. each with maximums to the power the wizard can control. The board looks like this: (ratty ASCII drawing follows. Hallelujah. there being several types of lay lines. the player connects the nails to form patterns. the wizard would have to either be near a lay line and draw power from it. a world I just made up a second ago. Not an easy task to those who think of magic as an easy solution to anything. wizards draw from the power of the earth. the meeting place of lay lines. Visible only to wizards. just before he is dragged off by a demon.diddling around with spellbooks or reagents. In this system. The character actually is intelligent enough to know how to cast spells on his own. flavor.

) 6. speech. =-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-= That's about all. is Jewish. sort of an expanded version of the earlier article in the guide. or small items that are able to store magic as well.) 2.. by allowing a larger number of options to the player. Quirks. These little tidbits and others are a part of the heart and soul of your character.. My fevered brow is sagging. the NPC must react to the player's actions or the player will quickly become bored with it. It is usually. what'll I write about in parts 2 and 3 of my miniseries on magic? Good question. There was one more article.) 3. but it really doesn't have anything to do with text adventures. and 2 that are essential to its usefulness in your game. Here's a list of things that a sucessful author is aware of with his characters: 1. Sam the grocer is 87 years old. actually.) 4. better to let the player have the initiative when dealing with NPCs. constantly smokes cheap cigars. and after that. but I'll tell you everything I know. I may not be able to tell you all there is to know on the subject.. in fact. miracles. and I try to keep my column small for you 2400bps modemers out there in any event.) Personality Quirks The details are what bring a character to life. And very lastly of all. Appearance and actions are almost secondary. and has a wife that only a mother-in-law could love.) Motivation Just what makes the NPC tick? Why is he wasting time chumming around 46 . This power could increase with experience. uses the word 'oi' constantly. there are 3 that stand out as important to the character's likability. That's all for this month. aiding in the visualization of the NPC. The NPC and You What is it that makes a character come alive and leap from the screen in the hearts of millions? Just what is this intangible attraction that draws us to seek out computerized beings and fall in love with them. On the other hand.. and the player could make focii. stored up the last time he went near a lay line. Next month: Shamanic magic. here's a more recent article on NPC's. and motivation are the 3 most important things that I look at when deciding if a character will be liked. 2. 1. if I give everything away now. It is possible to have NPCs that are not described and take no original actions of their own.) 5.have to summon the power from within himself. Reactions and abilities are the 2 important things that contribute to your game as a whole. This preserves the illusion of freedom better. Until next time. but not essential to it. but not always.) Personality Quirks Motivation Physical Appearance Speech Characteristics Actions Reactions Abilities Of these. yet remain interesting and entertaining. I'm sure I can't..) 7. Besides.

later. one of your friends asks you about Joe. nose.. for instance. chauvenism. so much the better. Point out the obvious first. Simply establish certain patterns of speech and stick to them. but for now. this is enough. NPCs are one reason I favor a pre-defined character for the player to control. "The guy with the big nose." we all know what a load of crap that is too. and I feel more comfortable spending extra time to expand the NPC into a fully rounded being. ally or judas. a very important part of how we were raised. 4. Maybe in your game setting there is no racism. For more complex ones. Or. There are other aspects to that accent. It allows me more lassitude in defining the player's reactions. The classic gangster. if possible.) Actions Amazing how little initiative NPCs in text adventures have. you meet a guy with a really big um. lover or archenemy? An NPC should have SOME opinion of the player. like a wart on the nose. Otherwise the NPC steps out of character. and that is 'not good'. A troll will attempt to kill the player with an axe. You've got to know these things. A man sees a pretty woman with nice big. or a grocer will tell the player about today's specials. and doesn't care what she's really like. this falls under reactions. He wrote down the southern accents just as he heard them. Be sure not to stick thoughts in the player's mind unless you are using a well-defined character though. but I leave them to you to play with. Simply pick those parts of speech that come across as 'improper' and make sure to stick to your changes. If you inventing an accent.. you must decide how they can best serve their purpose. but in most worlds there will be. even if the player doesn't and never will. or to provide a solution to a puzzle. since the player can have advance knowledge of it. and never quite succeed.ahem. or present a puzzle themselves.) Physical Appearance Now. sexism. For the basic NPC. like 'yous'. for example. He only sees her assets. huge pectoral muscles. unless everyone is identical.with the player when he so many other important things to do? Everyone has an angle. or judgemental folks. you look blank until he adds. many resent having words put in their mouths. isn't it? Well. and his hormones kick in. if you use a pre-defined character). 6. so replace 'ir' with 'io' and make second person pronouns plural. it leaves the player room to maneuver. rather than ignoring him. Any actions they take will neccessarily be related to their primary purpose. keep the NPCs simple to use. Just some advice though. while we've all heard "Don't judge a book by its cover. The player should know what his character is seeing (and thinking. It shames us and we try to hide our ugly secrets from everyone else. breaking that rule only on purpose. It's always there with us. what's the NPC's? Is he friend or foe. It's quite simple to do the same for any other accent.) Speech Characteristics Mark Twain is one of the most famous authors to use this technique. or nice round assets. I am attempting other things in Avalon. NPCs are there to spur the player on. 3." It is part of our make-up. 5.) Reactions Reactions are perhaps the most important thing an NPC has going for 47 . let's stick to the traditional stance. as a very visually oriented people. has a thick New York accent.

In any event. expect him to be confronted with every metallic object in your game afterwards. Ethel. You must be careful here. You want meat? Oi! Have we got meat. as a broad ability is subject to abuse. As long as an NPC is suitably tested and annoyed. she's been declawed. People are complex. Most NPCs tend to personify stereotypes of some sort. or provide atmosphere. that's my latest wife. "Hullo. I take that back. You won't be able to of course. This I tend to disagree with. minding the register. I prefer to use it to mislead the player. elderly woman works the register.) Abilities Finally. killed. If you have a blacksmith who fixes a sword. you'll have no problems in this department. the smug bastards. he should answer questions on magic. Clutched in his mouth is the nastiest cigar you've ever had the pleasure to be downwind of. he extends his right hand to you to shake. If a wizard casts a spell. 7. It saves time. if somewhat predictable. That's up to you. sounding quite a bit like Mel Brooks. but I do it in certain strategic places. betatesting is not for the weak of stomach. In my games. He speaks around the cigar. they must always provide atmosphere.it. and NPCs are people. eaten. we can't be beat!" Next to the stand is a barrel of pickles. Never could stand them. This is acceptable. Players love to abuse the NPCs in horrible little ways. but try nonetheless. all long and yellow and firm. NPCs must either fulfill a goal. I'm Sam. My first wife left me for a banana. I try to discourage wanton NPC murder. You want cheese? We've got so much cheese that our mice die of indecision. NPCs nearly always have a straightforward motive urging them along. The sad fact is that you will be expected to somehow magically divine every single action that a player can inflict on an NPC. The back room is to the east. To end. as well as personal ones. Welcome to my humble store. if he were to be so unfortunate as to meet the player. whatever their purpose. just try to have the NPC react believably as often as possible. A fat. >look at sam 48 . Watch for examples of the techniques I've mentioned. Wiping his hands on his apron. used sparingly. Speaking of bananas. Be prepared. expect the cruel players to attempt to feed it that poisonous ginsu weed you mentioned 8 rooms back. I don't do this a lot. Try to have the NPC maintain its illusion of sentience as much as possible by letting it know about relevant topics. made love to. Don't worry. It's a good dramatic device. and have a very limited repertoire of spells. >look The Grocery Store You are surrounded by food and drink of every description. with a banner overhead proclaiming "For Kosher Meat. No. In using a stereotype. and used as an ashtray. you need to carefully catalog what the NPC is going to do for the player. kicked. Other good reactions to plan for include gift-giving and questioning. In addition. Towards the rear of the shop lies a deli. There is an old man wearing an apron here. taken. Begin by assuming that every NPC will be kissed. And if a beast eats a glove. of course. here's a short example of how a player might treat Sam the grocer. And bread? Oi! Such a selection we have! The only thing we don't have is bananas.

Sam only smiles and nods approvingly. "Oi! I never really thought that would work. and makes you a six foot submarine sandwich. Just a joke. fat ones. Taking you by the hand. Those mice eat better than I ever did." >ask sam about mice "Don't you worry about the mice.Sam is old and fat. Sam pulls you back out into the main store. His hair is black. Sal stands behind you." The Back Room Filled with old. back to the deli. not wanting Ethel to notice. as you can tell by the faint scent of rogaine as he nears you. >kiss sam "What are you. Still. what are you doing? You can't go back there! Don't make me call the police. so let me present you with a token of my thanks. I'll give you $5!" >get fruitcake Sam quietly slips you $5. expired food. Big ones. little ones. you've saved my store. You want them. At least I think they didn't. >drop fruitcake Suddenly there is a mad scramble as the rodents head for the front door. men didn't kiss men." >kill sam Your hands close around Sam's throat. I'll let them go for $1 apiece. Still. matching his moustache in all but curl. and unkempt." >ask sam about fruitcake "Oi! You ARE crazy. curly. "My boy. they ever get out of hand. Still. and you squeeze your hardest. He wears a dirty apron and smokes a cheap cigar. some sort of maladjusted pervert? In my day. en masse. the way only 49 . don't you know? Still. Soon the store room is cleared of mice. they float. the back room is a haven for mice of all kinds. stranger things have happened. I slip some of Ethel's fruitcake in the back room and you can watch them stampede out the front door. wringing his hands and asking you to leave. Who knows. you take a piece of that fruitcake off my hands. you eat them. There are even a few that could probably take your arm in two bites. mister. "Hey. you would make a fine masseuse! Oi! What hands!" >ask sam about pickles "Pickles? So what's there to know? They're green. Sam's hairline is receeding. >east Sam follows along behind as he sees you walk into the back room. Sal hugs you. skinny ones.

edu as /systems/ibmpc/msdos/info/sharebk1. I would work my way up to some of the things he describes. A lot of time has gone into it at this point.com 129.wustl. you buy lottery tickets.edu . Vertigo software. Excellent book. the magazines I promised in Ch.FAX READ GAME BYTES MAGAZINE! Found at: ftp.edu .121 205-730-4019 . would you? I enjoy these sort of things. and start to sell some copies. Good book.rwericks@ingr. I hope that you've found it somewhat witty and not too boring. I'm not too clear on what's involved.. The only mention of text adventures per se is a small blurb in the 'Not Hot' section advising you not to write them. Here's something I forgot in my original posting of this guide. There are some registration services overseas that you might use. You do want as much distribution as possible.zip. If you guys got something out of it.252. and then a plug for my own company. Our FTP site is BUSOP. I believe that I will just refer you to it here because I can't hope to match the number of useful addresses he has in this book. but I don't mind too much. Definitely try to find and use an uploading service though. I say write your game. send me a copy. in regards to the book.uml. There are also some helpful hints interspersed in there. And definitely rig an agreement with some company to handle credit card orders. Truly a handsome reward.he can. All the addresses and phone numbers and such are in this book./systems/msdos/Games/Game_Bytes Intelligent Gamer"Let's see. If you do../msdos/Games/Game_Bytes wuarchive. It is ftp'able from wuarchive. but be warned. Actually. That's really all I would worry about until you get a magazine review or two. This is a fairly comprehensive guide.. With the $5. I really hope that you've profited from my work.. then I feel that time well spent. though. Congratulations! Afterword and Closing ------------------------------------------------------Thank you for taking the time to read my guide to writing text adventures.EDU in 50 . You might write that "Intelligent Gamer" is a monthly electronic magazine that will review games (shareware or commercial) that are sent to us. What follows this is a list of useful places to contact as you are getting your game together. You move to Rio and live your life in the lap of luxury. Well.wustl. Goodbye and remember: "Imagination sold and serviced here. Also. Finally. it will depress you. You needn't read it if you don't want to. but don't let your hopes get up too high. Game BytesRoss Erickson ." A List of Useful Addresses -------------------------------------------------Most useful addresses you can get from The Shareware Book. He takes the standpoint of a hardcore businessman that sells business software. 18.voice 205-730-6445 .WAYNE. and win 40 million the next week.CIT. Oops.135.here are the addresses I have for them. Maybe after awhile you could try and distribute overseas. that about covers it. I also hope that you'll write a text adventure. there will be a warning. but it seems complicated. Without further ado.

But all is not well in Avalon. [From what I can tell. of course. if people would like to see current and back issues. I'll put it in. but they may be gone forever.622@compuserve. includes: A beautifully packaged disk containing the latest version of Avalon. Truly a sad moment for computer game fans.the directory pub\pselect\intgmr.00. [Additional Addendum: Intelligent Gamer is no longer being published. Arthur and his knights are fading spirits. where King Arthur was sent after his mortal battle with Mordred. is when the grenade comes rolling across the floor.2] -----------------------------Advertisement Warning--------------------------***************************************************************************** ----------------------------------------------------------------------------Mankind must put an end to War. and you'd like to. I believe that the old issues are still there. Vidbits has gone under.com If you don't see your gaming magazine here. For you see. only Mordred has poisoned it. Printed reviews are great for publicity. -v1. . being dead is a real pain in the butt. let me know. 76703. 51 ." Indeed. And somehow. and you're about to die. All issues are free. And that's only the beginning! Man. or War will put an end to Mankind.John F. They'll probably ask you for two copies of your game. you're an enlisted man in Vietnam. That. Or at least that's what they want from me. as Alexander Smith once wrote. you're supposed to use the Holy Grail to restore yourself to life. while Mordred and Morgan Le Fay play havok with the land. and deadly dragons. so will no longer be listed. You've also got to deal with cruel faeries. But you're not worried about that right now. Your name is Frank Leandro. But. The year is 1968. senile sorcerors. Coming sometime before July 1995! Avalon. Kennedy War has never been pretty. you find yourself suddenly caught up in the land of Avalon. priced to sell at $25. A gorgeous artwork on the cover of the package.] Computer Gaming WorldThis is the only printed magazine on the list. It probably never will be. and you're in the middle of a hot poker game. Definitely try for it. "Death takes away the commonplace of life.

You will even discover where Elvis is hiding! All encoded for your safety. Peer into his soul and discover what makes him tick. the game manual. the original cover artwork for Avalon. as seen in the game itself. The Brass Lantern #1. valuable coupons. All this. and a catalogue of upcoming Vertigo games.A FREE hint book that reveals the darkest secrets of Avalon. Also included in the hint book is a printed version of the 'Wrytings of Merlyn'. Three pages torn from the Diary of Frank Leandro. the official Vertigo software newsletter. Several flyers from various pro and anti-war organizations that give you the facts behind the war. and a mock up of Frank Leandro's dogtag. Prizes include a lifetime 10% discount on all Vertigo products. and a random drawing to boot. .

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