Am I right? [Model World, Simulationism, AI text-procgen?]

As a player, I prefer simulation and puzzlely puzzles that may have solutions that the author never imagined but are enabled by the simulation.

I need to cut a rope, but I lost the knife. Maybe I can smash the window and cut the rope with a shard of glass. Instead of explicit code allowing the rope to be cut by the knife, the simulation might allow any object tagged as “cuttable” to be cut with any object tagged as “sharp.” I can see how authors may not appreciate having this kind of flexibility available for the player, but as a player I’d love more of it.

Under the hood, the simulation need only be as detailed and “complete” as necessary for the textual interface. It probably works with somewhat abstract concepts and the rules that govern them because the translation of the model to and from text is shorter than it would be with something more akin to a video game’s world model.

Creating a visual rendering would almost certainly require a model of the world that represents more concrete details. (Well, you could feed the text to a generative AI that brings to the work its distillation of a massive training data set to turn the descriptions of the conceptual state into a visual representation. But that’s just translating one model to another.)

Deniel Stelzer wrote:

The original Adventure didn’t have any real simulation of containers, or of liquids, for example; there’s no general model of how one thing can be “in” another thing, just special cases coded in for the bird in the cage, and the water/oil in the bottle.

Adventure was bounded by a two-word parser, making it unnecessary to have a general model of containment. If the user cannot say “put X (in|on|under) Y” then the general model is largely unnecessary. Given the constraints, that’s a valid concept to fake for the couple of cases that needed it.

[T]he [offshoots] that tried to accurately model containment generally made the experience worse for the player, because the general system makes it annoying and tedious to handle things that were previously special-cased to work exactly as you’d expect!

Don’t forget that several aspects of the original game were intentionally annoying and tedious! :slight_smile: (On the other hand, it had a cool travel system that often was less tedious than many later games that only used compass directions.) I haven’t seen the offshoots mentioned, but it seems plausible that the tediousness arose from how containment was implemented rather than introduction of the concept.

As a player, I don’t have any interest in visual representations for my IF. I wish most games didn’t even have a cover illustration. There are plenty of video games that do a marvelous job of simulation and visual representation. That’s nice, but it’s not what I want from IF, but I don’t begrudge anyone who wants to blend the two.


12 posts were merged into an existing topic: Using an AI art generator to make graphics

AI and Procedurally Generated Art is a contentious topic since many of our members are working artists and many AI art generator programs are believed to scrape copyrighted images as source material from the web without permission nor attribution and the argument was non constructive.

AI/procgen text and story as relates to authoring IF (text not imagery) is a valid point of discussion historically.

Here are some blog articles by Emily Short that may relate although some are a bit older. One notable callout:

There is no point to elements of the world model that do not contribute to the range of interaction important in the game. A game about treason and loyalty, where the interaction mostly involves personal relationships, probably does not need a detailed implementation of realistic water.


2 posts were merged into an existing topic: Using an AI art generator to make graphics

AI Art generation is a contentious topic that requires moving, removing, or locking threads and posts since many of our members are working artists who are fundamentally opposed and discussion gets heated. We ask that you please do not argue for or against the utilization of AI generated art.

AI and procedural text generation is on-topic as it’s historically always been a potential tool for authoring IF.

  • Note: Discussion about using AI text and story generation is on topic, but we will also moderate and remove forum posts that are fully AI generated and not attributed as such per the “Post only your own stuff” rule. AI discussion generator bots are not valid members of the community as they cannot agree to the Code of Conduct, and we don’t advocate this forum as a testing ground to train chatbots no matter how “real” they seem. If someone uses AI text generation assistively or for demonstration purposes we ask that you please cite the source of the text and notate you’ve done so to avoid any situation where someone is using an AI/LLM to “fool people” or masquerade as a real person in an attempt to pass the Turing-test.

I hadn’t noticed anyone else mention that TADS does have a feature allowing the player to directly input some code commands while playing the game – I’m not fully aware of all the details of how this works, and have mostly only seen it used to help with debugging by manually resetting variables, but I do wonder how far that could be pushed if a game used that functionality as a central mechanic…

Anyway on the main topic of the thread, I’d just make the historical note that I think there was a peak of interest in simulationism in the late 90s/early aughts – this was of a piece with the contemporary centrality of “mimesis” as a design goal, the idea being that obviously gamey contrivances could take the player out of the world, as well I think as an attempt to find some distinctive area where text games had a competitive advantage over mainstream, graphical games, which at that point didn’t have much interest in or capacity for fine-grained simulation. So you have things like Emily Short’s Metamorphoses (2000) as the high-water mark for this approach.

But as early a the mid-aughts, I think interest in that cluster of ideas had waned precipitously, as there was more of a recognized shift towards emulating literary genre rather than emulating reality as such, plus of course by that point you had physics and other simulationist elements becoming more common in graphical games so the novelty, I suspect, was starting to wear off.

That’s my loose understanding of the trajectory, at least – I would be very interested if anyone (*cough* @kamineko) ever wrote up a piece on the rise and fall of mimesis!


I mean…it works as described. You could probably make a TADS game where the player has to write scripts to get certain in-game objects to work as desired to solve a puzzle, like a Zachtronics game with programmable drones.

I don’t think preprocessor stuff works, and I’m not 100% sure if classes can be declared this way, but you could certainly write entire methods and functions this way, and interface directly with game code and mechanics. Anyone doing this will need to check the incoming code for keywords to make sure certain classes and variables aren’t being poked at.


I started Top Expert as a venue for my non-Infocom writing, since the audience for Gold Machine is rather fixed. The “Let’s Make IF” series is just one thing I’m up to. I have a Game Formerly Known as Hidden Nazi Mode piece on the way, and would really like to write about… did you put it this way? “The Crimes of ‘Crimes Against Mimesis?’” I don’t think I came up with that, which is a shame, since it’s so clever. Anyway, yes! Mimesis been a pet cause of mine for a couple of years now. Hopefully I can get something out in the first half of next year.


That’s awesome! I’ve bookmarked the new site but confess I haven’t always been great at keeping up with it; are you going to get it on Planet IF? That’s my usual lazy shortcut.

But yeah, looking forward to seeing all those pieces you mention – I actually just played GFKHNM based on the conversation you prompted. And I believe I did come up with the recursive Crimes Against… thing but of course the content will be way better than the title :slight_smile:


Eventually, yes. I’m waiting until the “let’s make IF” series is over, since that’s updated most weekdays. I don’t want to spam Planet IF with that amount of posts. That series will probably end in January.


There’s less coming through Planet IF than ever. It could possibly use the spamming.



Yes. I’ve been playing and testing a certain mammoth TADS game for the past weeks, and the possibility to enter CODE straight from the parser prompt has been useful a few times. I also wondered if this could be leveraged into a player-level in-game mechanic.