Extra Challenges

Sometimes with video games they do special challenges like beating a CRpg with only 1 guy or something. Can we have anything like that for IF?


Zork I- bring the lantern into the machine room (difficult because of the gas room).
Zork I- beating the game without killing the troll OR the cyclops.
Zork III- finding the robot.

What do people think? I imagine there’s something similar for a lot of the old, larger games.

Is there really a robot in Zork III?

Weren’t there extra points for things like that in many versions of Adventure?

I added some optional challenges to Dreamhold. It came out a little murky, though. Some players saw them as poorly-integrated parts of the main game, rather than being optional side bits.

It’s tricky. If you offer an obvious possibility, a player might feel he has to complete it and get “stuck” working on the optional challenge rather than continuing the game. If the possibility isn’t obvious, it won’t be distracting, but the player won’t even try it until he reaches the end and types “AMUSING” (or whatever).

Something I’ve kicked around for one of my WIPs is to have XBox-style achievements, separate from the score/other forms of progress, to track cool stuff the player did. (No achievements on the scale of “you completed the tutorial”, though. That’s just lame.)

Jenni Polodna’s IFComp reviews always have the title “Author’s Game!” Like “Sarah Morayati’s Broken Legs!” Anyway, last comp, she posted a lot of scores about halfway through, under the title “Almost Half-way Mark’s Scoring Bonanzathon!” Which for a while I thought was an actual game called “Scoring Bonanzathon” by someone writing as “Almost Half-Way Mark,” in which the player gets points for absolutely everything. Finishing the tutorial, taking inventory, whatever. Like John Cooney’s Achievement Unlocked but in IF. It would’ve been awesome, if done right, which it wouldn’t have been if I’d done it. (Coincidentally, “Virtuality” by Mark in the JayIsGames comp seemed to have a pretty similar scoring system, though I didn’t understand it or pretty much anything else about that game.)

…anyway, a lot of achievements in games seem to be pretty much the same as AMUSING things. I was playing a platformer where I got an achievement for shooting myself in the face, which was not productive from a strictly goal-directed standpoint. (Though it did take some work to get to the point where I could shoot myself in the face.)

May I chime in? (my first post, that’s why I ask)

While I occassionally restore an RPG to find better possibillities to win the game – usually I try to beat the bosses just at a lower character level --, I only once have done it with IF, with Alabaster. The reason was I had known in advance Alabaster has many different outcomes and many different paths to get to them. But I would not bother playing a game again and again just for finding the single fork where I should walk the non-obvious way to unlock a single hidden puzzle. Such things rip off the whole storytelling from the game and leave just the game mechanics expsoed, which is a real turn-off to me.

Yes, that’s a real factor for adventure games.

My point in adding an achievements feature wouldn’t be to make people replay to look for easter eggs, but to reward them for trying some inventive things that aren’t strictly required to win the game.

It could be an easter egg, but it must be possible to look for it with the information the story told me so far. And, to qualify as an easter egg, it should be hilarious. At least ingenious.

For example, the scenery in some machine rooms could have the line “You hear a monotonous hum”. Ok, the player could take that for granted: “I’m in a machine room, it just sounds that way”. The story continues and the player gets the ability to shut down the machinery. He does it, but the hum doesn’t go away. An experienced player is tricked here to think the game mechanics is exposed and that’s just a bug. But a newbee may have the idea to find the real source of the hum, which is some beehive (with honey, yummy!) in the air conditioning. Or a cage of hummingbirds if the author likes bad wordplay. Of course the loose panel to get to the bees should be hard to stumble upon for the experienced player, the author has to fool him twice.

To me, a good easter egg should fool only experienced players. That’s a really hard requirement. Playing with the fact experienced players accept the game as a piece of software is a good way to do it.

I was thinking more from a player perspective than a design one.

For example, you get nothing in Zork I for brining the lantern to the machine room, but it requires you to be really tricky in order to get it to work. Or defeating the game without killing the cyclops or troll requires you to navigate the world in a different way than you might be used to.

Rather than as an easter egg thing, I was thinking about how RPGs will have single character challenges where you beat the game with 1 PC rather than 4, the ending is no different, but the challenge is higher. Are there any games you can do that with?

I assume it would be more of a deal in the large infocom games, since newere games seem smaller and more concise and aware of the player trying to break the system.

For example, in sorcerer there are 2 ways to defeat the glass maze, one requires magic, and one requires going back through the maze. Both bypass the puzzle. However if your challenge was "beat sorcerer without the " then the game would be more challenging, but without any easter egg perk or anything. Likewise you could say “beat zork I without touching the sword” forcing you to bypass the troll with the knife instead.

I was wondering if anyone had any examples of that.

In the games I play on Newgrounds there are often a few different kinds of achievements – achievements for dying in a particular way and other non-constructive things and easter eggs, achievements for completing a certain part of the game, and achievements for doing something a difficult way. It sounds like you’re looking for the latter.

It seems to me that some of these things are easy to obtain given existing IF tropes. If you have a score, that’s like an achievement for accomplishing a particular task (and sometimes getting the Last Lousy Points are another kind of achievement); the AMUSING can challenge you to get easter eggs or to manipulate the game in weird ways (for instance, IIRC Suveh Nux in the AMUSING points out that you can kill yourself); and some games use the score or some afterword text to challenge you to do things the hard way. For example, I think Attack of the Robot Zombies challenges you to use as few bullets as possible, and Backup points out that you can finish the game without killing anyone (which is something I’d tried to do anyway, because the game makes you feel bad about killing people, especially the first person you’re likely to encounter).

So I think what you’re looking for might be best accomplished with post-game text. “You’ve beaten the game; can you try doing this?”

I did get what you meant here, but kind of went on a tangent because of the designer perspective anyway.

It’s hard for me to think of good examples of what you’re asking for on the play side because there aren’t many games I’ve played enough times to have discovered tricky routes through.

The closest thing I can think of in the games I’ve written is that it might be possible to play through Metamorphoses while avoiding some of the material settings on the dragon furnace. (It lets you convert object materials to other materials, and there’s enough flexibility in the puzzles that you might not need to use all the materials in a given playthrough.) But I haven’t gone back to test and make sure that’s possible, so I wouldn’t want to suggest it.

Øyvind Thorsby’s Attack of the Yeti Robot Zombies begins with the following:

And explains further:

Which is kind of the thing you mean, since it’s not enforced by the game’s design at all, but it’s also kind of not what you mean because it’s really just the author saying how he thinks you should approach the game rather than a new challenge devised by players.

FWIW, I enjoy Achievement-collecting in XBox 360 games (prompted by emshort’s comment). I prefer it to the PS3’s “trophy” system, which doesn’t seem to carry with it an overall gamer score. I guess many works of IF have used the game’s >score for tracking mandatory as well as optional actions, but there’s just something about that little “Achievement Unlocked” pop-up that will make me at least aim towards the obtainable ones.

There are a couple things that make this really resonate with me – one easy to achieve in IF, and the other maybe not so easy.

One is, you usually have some idea of what must be accomplished in order to unlock the achievements. Most 360 games these days have “secret” achievements too (they’re listed, but without any clues), but in general, the locked non-secret achievement states that it’s for (for instance) killing 100 enemies with the plasma gun, or finishing a level in under 5 minutes. That kind of thing. Any more, I browse the list of potential achievements before doing much of anything, so I can play in a way that maximizes my chance at obtaining as many as possible.

The other thing is that on XBox Live, you can see and compare your Achievements with all your friends. It’s a way to see how far along a buddy is in the game he’s currently playing (especially when some of the achievements are based on the completion of level), and it’s just all-around fun to get Achievements that your buddy missed or vice-versa. This, I don’t know how you’d do in IF, unless it was built into one of the web-based interpreters, supported by the games, and required user log-ins. It would be cool to see something like that integrate with the IFDB, for instance, but it doesn’t seem very likely.

In games on other platforms, I hardly ever go for the extra content. I think I got all the stars in the first Super Mario Galaxy, but in general, that was more to enjoy all the levels. Translating that into Interactive Fiction, I don’t know how enthusiastic I’d be about getting extra Achievements that were isolated just to my own game experience, beyond the completion of the game itself. Hopefully others feel differently, because it sounds like an interesting idea.

With the advent of web interpreters, it’s not implausible to imagine online achievement lists for IF. Or speed-run lists, IF win scores…

Yes, it’s cheesy. But we waft around all day wondering how to make IF popular – look, I do – and these are classic strategies for making games popular.

Well, especially since beginners find interaction kind of frustrating - rewarding interaction, even with cheese, could well get people over the hump. A well-tailored list of accomplishments could also help reveal inside mechanics that the author wants to show off - either by hinting at other courses of action through locked achievement names (ie “Peacenik” for a non-violent playthrough), or by rewarding actions the player might not expect the game to notice (“Procrastinator” for a certain amount of waiting or what not).

Sort of like the AMUSE lists, but perhaps available up front, or with a little more structure (say, unlock messages).

Achievement nothing, I’d want a feelie.

I have replayed shorter IFs to see more, always cued by AMUSING. Violet, Snack Time… I’ve replayed entire RPGs beginning to end just because I wanted to spend some more time with the characters (plus the additional challenge of keeping XP levels low to spice up the game side). Legend of Dragoon…

(This thread is a bit old, but I came here to create a thread about achievements and extra challenges, and so here are my two cents.)

I only recently discovered the Xbox Live and its system of achievements, and I must admit that I got hooked in no time. I’ve always enjoyed doing a maximum of secondary quests while I’m playing a game, for that matter, but the fact that you’re awarded points if you do so is fairly gratifying and entices you in playing over and over and discover every single thing in the game.

Moreover, the simple fact that you have a score associated with your achievements (and the fact that it is very present: along with your avatar’s name, the only thing you can see is your score) is the bulk of the addiction: you’re naturally enticed in making this score grow more and more (and I must admit I don’t know why, the brain just seems to react this way!). This is to my mind why the system of achievements is better on Xbox than on Steam (other than the fact that every Xbox game has achievements): you can summarize all your achievements and see them all in a glance. (Steam achievements are just for the sake of it, and you can only see your achievements for a game, not all the achievements you have earned).

Anyway, I think an Xbox Live or Steam-like website would be a great thing for IF to gather and/or attract players. This system works really well for mainstream gaming, because of their addictive nature; why not to try applying it to IF? That would require some adaptations, of course, because IF games are really different from mainstream games (and IF players don’t look for the same experience when they’re playing an IF). But I can imagine that we could have a website in which a user logs in, and start playing a game in his browser; he can save the game on the server at any moment; there can be a list of “played games”, as well as “wish list” and such, as in the IFDB. The players would be enticed to use this website if we give links to play a game on this website rather than on Parchment, for instance; either way the player gets to play a game, and can at the same time see that a million games are waiting for him to join!

And for the achievements, why not simply use the score for a start? For each game, the user can see the score he has, as well as his rank and the max score; so you just sum up your score for every game you played in a “global score” attached to your profile. The thing is, there are quite a number of IFs nowadays that don’t have a score (because a score is quite anticlimatic if you want to focus on storytelling); for these games, either you could let it this way (after all not all the games on Steam have achievements), or you could just create an achievement “Game completed”, with possibly a good number of points attached to the achievement (this way the player is still enticed in completing the game).
All in all, it shouldn’t be very difficult to implement (the interpreter just have to detect commands affecting score and the deadflags), and doesn’t require any change in any game! And with such a system, authors may be enticed in creating subplots or easter eggs, as well as individual achievements (for which you don’t get any points added to your score for the game, but you get points added to your “overall gaming score”).
And you could even add “meta-achievements”: when you read 1 millions words, when you played more than 100 games, when you finished every game from an IF-Comp, etc, etc !

Anyway, I definitely think this idea has potential :slight_smile:

Walker and Silhouette does this in a pleasant, IF-sensitive way, I think. Gaining achievements even unlocks context! The key, I think, was that the tasks for achievement weren’t pointless or grindy – they were narrative. There were only 3, and it’s a short game, so that functions more as a proof of concept, but worth looking at.

Wait, how do you get to the unlocked context? If I’ve earned some context I want to see it! (Even if I haven’t earned any context, I want to see it, but in this case I have.)