About a Llama Adventure

I played Llama Adventure before I was familiar with IF. I was an ignorant as far as “x something”, “l” or “x me” was concerned, so having to type “look around” from time to time never bothered me, and I never tried to “examine me” - it does nothing, by the way. So I truly enjoyed Llama Adventure and it stroke me as an easy piece to interact with. The numbers in Jay is Games also speak for themselves: Number of Plays - 444,259; Add to Faves - 333

So, why is that? I can only speak for myself:

Visually it is extremely elegant, both in colour scheme, font rendering and background imagery;
The simple sound bit works great as a guide;
The commands are simple and well explained, and it counts on the player not knowing what he should be doing;
It tries to complete your commands, but I didn’t find that necessary at the time;
The text “flows”, instead of “being replaced”. This replacement is something that I found out to be extremely irritating to newcomers. My wife, for instance, complaints that the effort to know where the new body of text begins is huge;
It starts off with a simple menu, instead of throwing you a quotation or right into the story itself.

It has some bad things - and you can like the story itself or not, of course - but I only got to be aware of those defects AFTER I begin messing around with “real” (cof cof) IF:

Not every object is implemented and many actions are unaccounted for.

In fact, if you approach it as you would any IF Comp entry, with all it’s conventions, you will probably get frustrated. This is something that, I believe, only bothers IF “veterans”. People that find the game somewhere and just want to have a great, text-based experience - like me, at the time - won’t feel it to be a bad thing; actually, they won’t feel it at all. The truth is anyone will play Llama Adventure without any problem and without any additional explanation.

Sometimes a lot of discussion goes around what IF needs to appeal to a wider audience, and every time I think about the issue, Llama Adventure pops to mind. Many recent stories have been doing some of these small things, like starting with a menu (Alabaster is a great example), or easing the interaction with keywords, but generally I think there is a lot to be done, like:

making the text flow instead of just making it appear on screen;
clearly distinguish the prompt from the rest of the text;
being overall pleasant to the eye;
making the flow of interaction natural.

Some of these things are author dependent, some are interpreter dependent; some are probably easy to deal with, some will probably be hard (like the flow of text thing, I guess); but the question is should it be done?

I thought of this subject today because of the Quixe discussion in the Competition Results thread. I never saw a Llama Adventure referenced in these forums, and wondered why, so I decided to pull the subject.

And now I’ve pulled the subject.

making the text flow instead of just making it appear on screen;

Interesting that you should bring it up. I’ve always hated Glulx’s (and Git’s) habit of just replacing the text, instead of - as Windows Frotz does - scrolling it up, for the very same reason you describe: it’s simply MUCH easier on the eyes.

However, there doesn’t seem to be enough interest in the matter one way or another. I pointed it out to Maher when I e-mailed him about Filfre, a long time ago. He replied that due to the way the text was output, there was no easy way to achieve the “flowing” effect… but he didn’t seem too bothered about it. And I can understand why - no one else seems to be.

When there’s a long response from the game or there’s a cutscene that’s been divided to parts by keypresses I tend to lose the spot where I was reading. What I would really like is to have the terp show the most recent turn in slightly different color than the previous turns so that you could quickly find the place where you were reading, for example have the latest turn in black and previous turns in dark gray.

(It wouldn’t be too hard to make Parchment do this, but I haven’t gotten around to do it myself yet.)

I can understand the appeal of smooth scrolling, and there’s no reason a Glk library couldn’t do it. (Adds note to iPhone design notes.)

And with color changing, you’d get trained pretty quickly to start reading from the start of the color change, and so people would be less likely to miss those little messages that sometimes come up as you’re moving between rooms, which are notoriously easy to miss.


Yeah, I think flowing text is both practically helpful and also attractive to behold. It was also one of the reasons I clocked Leadlight at 8mhz rather than just let the emulators go at unlimited speed - it meant the text still flowed down the screen.

I take it all back. Apparently, there IS interest in the matter, it just hadn’t been brought up yet. :slight_smile: