Creating A Pro Wrestling Game In Parser IF

Time to let the cat out of the smelly gym bag.
If you’ll recall when I asked for assistance saving data to external files in TADS, this is what I’m using it for.
I’d like to make a series of pro wrestling games where you spend your days in the indies (in episode 1), spend some time as a jobber (in episode 2), and finally get a shot at the world championship title (in episode 3).
The biggist hurdle I’m currently trying to jump through is the best way of creating the matches themselves. It would take too long for me to implement all the moves as verbs (bodyslam, piledriver, Etc.), then I’d have to implement commands such as tap out, break hold, Etc. which would require even more code to make sure you can’t use them in every situation.
If I really wanted to, I could implement a menu of available moves that pops up only during a match, but that would break the flow of the game more than, for example, a menu-driven conversation would.
The last option I’ve come up with is using the generic ‘ATTACK’ command, but this doesn’t seem like the best option either.


Maybe just a handful of verbs - attack, dodge, shove, etc. and fill in the results with more colorful text.

Maybe have some training where the player becomes accustomed to making certain moves in response to certain situations, enemy is attacking a certain way, etc.

I think it’d probably be easiest to do menu driven matches, like a CYOA game. I also don’t know enough about wrestling to know the moves anyway, so you’d either have to suggest them on screen or give me a reference list. Either way it’d be just as immersion breaking as a menu driven fight. Or at least that’s what I think.

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I also know nothing about professional wrestling, but one middle path might be to push the player towards adjectives rather than verbs? Like, in any situation they could try to do an aggressive, balanced, or defensive move, which could be described as an appropriate move based on the specific context but wouldn’t require you to code up a million special cases (or force the player to hold a bunch of different actions in their head). This would also allow you to code in a smaller list of specific moves/commands as “special moves” that exist outside the usual ebb and flow of a match, which could make things feel less mechanical while still being manageable for both you and the player.

You at least have to include the move where you hit the guy with a folding metal chair, right?


Hm, I wouldn’t say that the time to implement the moves you listed is too much work per se. What’s going to determine the amount of work is the actual mechanics of the fight system you come up with. They could be really simple, or really complex, or somewhere inbetween. And you can still have all those commands you mentioned in either a simple system or a super complex one.

The fact you’ve chosen to do this as a parser game: To me that says, exploit the parser for the central part of the game, the wrestling! In that sense, I don’t think I’d be pleased if I went to play a parser-driven wrestling game, and it switched to a menu when you get to the wrestling. And there’ll be lots of repetition if every turn it’s printing a menu including a small roster of familiar options.

Even if behind the scenes you’ve got a finite number of moves that’s roughly equivalent to a menu, typing the commands is what the parser’s about. And think of the blessing of not having to list the same moves turn after turn. What’s exciting is what the game says about what the OTHER guy is doing, then you put in your command.

Admittedly, even for a simple combat system, that’s a fair chunk of work (creating animated opponents). But I’m not crazy about the alternatives here. If it’s a parser wresling game, I probably want to do the wrestling in the parser. (and not with the parser… hahaha!) So maybe think of a combat system that’s actually not that complicated under the hood, but lets people type their moves and shows the enemy doing a lot of different stuff. That’s the first exciting proposition that popped in my head when you sold me this thing.



Doing it with the parser also gives you the added benefit of suplexing refrigerators and elbow dropping lawnmowers outside of a match.


As long as you’re not wrestling with the parser… I’m not sure how I’m going to code the fighting system just yet, but I plan on keeping things as simple as possible, but there are several things I know I need from the get-go:

  • Variables for being prone, being stunned, being locked into a submission hold, Etc.
  • An amount of damage that the wrestlers can take before either tapping out or not being able to kick out of a pin attempt
  • An easy way to perform various moves including standing and high-flying moves.
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I wonder if introducing the moves in training, and then having a completely free parser in the matches would work? Then, your competitiveness would be as good as the attention you paid to training, and being told a parser word/move during training is what training is for, right?


That’s actually a good idea - a choice menu in training that suggests parser commands that work in free matches.

Perhaps you could even have a diegetic narrative option for the player to call up a menu on occasion - like they have a “hyper focus” ability to suggest what to do when they are stuck. This would work with Hybrid Choices really well. Players could “free wrestle” with the parser, but decide when to get menu suggestions.

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I mulled this concept over but was thinking in the direction of "it’s a light puzzle-solving / clue-following / guess-the-verb affair because either you, or your opponent, is calling the match and so it’s more about doing the right thing to please the crowd and advance the story of the match, not a RNG-driven affair.”

This blog entry from yesterday makes me wonder if the World Wide Wrestling tabletop RPG might offer some interesting mechanical inspiration…

I was thinking something similar to the TADS 3 suggested topics as far as hints, for example:
Mastodon comes running off the ropes, and for a second it looks like he’s going to attempt his finisher, the Mammoth Piledriver, but he hesitates for a second.
(You could try a side slam, a suplex, or a spear.)


Don’t forget the morality tale :wink:

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You might be interested in the pro-wrestling games on IFDB. (Both games are choice-based; both published by my company, Choice of Games and our sister company Heart’s Choice.)

IMO, your idea is a mismatch for parser games in two ways: first, parser games really struggle with combat systems, and second, text-based games struggle with “leveling up” (career development; doing the same actions but more/better).

Ideally, you’d look at some existing parser IF game with a great combat system (e.g. swordplay or gunplay) and adapt it to pro-wrestling.

But is there any parser IF game with a really interesting puzzley combat system? Every puzzley combat system I’ve ever seen in a game has been menu-based. I think all of the top-ranked combat games on IFDB are basically just using RPG-style menus “attack / item / run” with a parser interface, with no opportunity for the player to “get creative” with the parser.

In fact, most adventure-game combat puzzles are just inventory puzzles, where you have to bring/use the correct weapon to win the fight. (I’d like to give a nice call out to Monkey Island, where your “inventory” is a menu of insults and comebacks; the puzzle ultimately requires you to use your comebacks in response to novel insults.)

Second, as regards “leveling up,” this is what graphical RPGs do excellently. In a graphical RPG, you kill a bunch of low-level monsters, gaining XP each time, until you level up. When you level up, you gain more HP and deal more damage with each attack, allowing you to defeat higher-level monsters, which give you more XP. You keep grinding until you win.

IMO, repetitive text is more unpleasant than repetitive animations. Watching an attack animation over and over feels better than reading and re-reading “You attack the guard and do 14 damage.” Adding procedurally generated variety to the message just makes it worse, because it forces you to slow down and read the text more carefully.

If I had to make the game you’re imagining, I suppose I’d have a bunch of wrestlers; when you defeat a certain wrestler (The Thundertaker) you would learn a new wrestling technique (piledriver) that you could use to defeat another wrestler (Hunk Hogie). (Why would I have to defeat the Thundertaker to learn a piledriver? I dunno; that’s just how the game works.)


+1 for mentioning Monkey Island’s fantastic insult battles.

Bonus +1 for wrestler name parodies.

Watching an attack animation over and over feels better than reading and re-reading “You attack the guard and do 14 damage.” Adding procedurally generated variety to the message just makes it worse, because it forces you to slow down and read the text more carefully.

TBF, muds got away with this for quite a long time. But their battles were so enthralling that players set up scripts to automatically perform actions based on text output so they could walk away and make a sandwich. The excitement was palpable.

In other words, you’re suggesting I either create the game as a choice-based IF, or use menus in a parser game.
Menus I can understand, and in fact there’s a Quest game that uses this technique exclusively, and it was, in fact, a wrestling game.
My biggest issue with creating this as a choice-based IF is this. The way I’ve envisioned this game, ChoiceScript would be the best engine for this game, but regardless of what engine I use, I’d just feel like I was ripping off a much better game, in this case Slammed, a game published by ChoiceOfGames.

Every story has already been told. Once you’ve read Anna Karenina, Bleak House, The Sound and the Fury, To Kill a Mockingbird and A Wrinkle in Time, you understand that there is really no reason to ever write another novel. Except that each writer brings to the table, if she will let herself, something that no one else in the history of time has ever had.
– Anna Quindlen

Just make what you want. Don’t let external stuff get in the way.

Do you know how many wrestling games were released for consoles? Sometimes two or three were released in the same year by different developers. They sure didn’t let others making a similar game get in the way of profits.

Besides, isn’t Slammed basically just the text version of the story mode that was started way back in Smackdown for Playstation 1? (I haven’t played it and I’m sure I’m simplifying, but you get the idea.)


I’ll try making a choice based as well as a parser game, and see which one is better. Who knows, I might enter one of them into IntroComp this summer.