Graphical Interactive Fiction

Agree. Beautiful imagery, more evocative than illustrative, probably the best way for images to accompany IF. Also, namekuseijin, if you like it, you might enjoy the graphics of “Beyond”. If you haven’t played it, do - I think you’ll like it. :slight_smile: The story gets a bit overdramatic at the end, and the English isn’t always perfect, but it’s one of those games, you know…

…well, it was for me, at least.

Well, It’s an incomplete interactive fiction about Lovecraft’s Dagon on which I have been working for some time. It has some design mistakes so I abandoned it for the moment. Perhaps some day…
I though that it was a good example, that’s all. But I’m glad you like the look!

artwork from you too? Pretty neat.

I’ll try “Beyond” some day Peter. yeah, evocative is a better term…

It’d be interesting to play something like, say, one of the “Ben Jordan” games except instead of the cursor modes you use a parser. The problem with AGS is it’s parser system by default is very crude. It’d be nice to have a parser system with, say, TADS 3 or Inform 7’s level of sophistication available for AGS. Could it be done? Most likely, the only issue would be of value.

Although I will agree with you regarding the Mystery house as being a joy killer, I can’t agree with you regarding the Kings Quest graphics.
First of all you have to take into consideration that Kings Quest I was made way back in the late 80’s when computers didn’t have the incredible graphic power they do today.
Maybe we (yes I AM that old :wink: ) were not so “spoiled” back when. I remember having a lot of fun playing Sierra on-Line games. And the Space Quest series was a lot of fun even though the graphics was “crude”

I’ll offer perspective on King’s Quest, as owners of the PCjr have been rightfully shamed by history due to terrible nature of the platform. (Kidding.) (Not kidding.) (Sort of kidding.)

When someone, anyone in IT releases a new version of something, there’s an unspoken social agreement that the new hardware or software is going to be demonstrably better than what came before. If it isn’t - if someone is making a “Lite” version of a product, it’s labeled as such and cheaper. Or else it’s going to make a lot of people angry and disappointed. The PCjr left a lot of people angry and disappointed.

For whatever reason, IBM didn’t take the original PC and improve it with zero downsides when they released the PCjr. Much has been written about the keyboard the PCjr came with, and its lack of expandability, but the most damning aspect of its release was that the BIOS was not 100% backwards compatible with the PC - although the graphical capabilities of the PCjr were far superior to the PC, IBM was asking developers to specifically code for what was fast becoming an unpopular, bastard platform. I don’t know how many IBM games my family bought that had to be returned because they simply didn’t run.

IBM did want something that was coded for the PCjr from the ground up, and that game is King’s Quest. And it was GORGEOUS. Okay, Mystery House looks like pants - yeah, it’s an important game historically and so forth and maybe the game that’s underneath the stick figure drawings is fine, but it looks like something somebody’s kid put together. AGS games are routinely made in this century that don’t look anywhere near as crisp and vibrant as King’s Quest. The screenshot linked up above just popped off the screen in 1985. And in the same way that games for the 2600 eventually relied upon the fuzzy nature of a television’s pixels to give their graphics a warmth that wasn’t captured by the first few revs of the Stella emulator, a simple King’s Quest screenshot doesn’t completely capture what it meant for PCjr owners to have what was the best-looking game on the planet for a few months. It really did just burst with color. And I think the true genius of King’s Quest is that the pace and movement speed for Sir Graham was juuuuust right to handle the marriage of a joystick with a text parser.

I don’t want to come off as this huge Royalist here or anything, but King’s Quest probably single-handedly kept the PCjr as just a normal disaster, instead of a giant disaster along the lines of the Virtual Boy or Coleco Adam. I know it’s BS to appeal to how the game “felt” on its original system and configuration, but I think a little something has been lost in its emulation.

The artwork is very good. Congrats! I would love to see more IF with good ilustration.

From a traditional IF point of view I like pure text adventures better. However I’ve seen a game that had used pictures, not for room illustrations, but for objects you could GET/DROP, as well as READ. Plus the non player characters had pictures. There was also a map you could get and examine, and that depicted what the town looked like in the game. In such a way you could refer to it to get around if you somehow got lost. That way the room descriptions were up to the author to illustrate with words so the player had to still imagine what it all really actually looked like, yet there were plenty of pictures of obtainable objects to keep the game really interesting. There were also graphical progress bars for various things up in a banner (this was a Tads 2 game as I recall, which had banner windows). Another interesting thing with graphics that I’ve seen and is very useful is using a banner window to display a compass of room exits (having them grayed out if unavailable for that location). However putting in all these bells and whistles doesn’t mean your game is automatically going to be well received. You still need a good plot and descriptions and a forgiving parser. The game was called “Moving In” by Friltsar (an adult text adventure - obviously not for everyone - there were no nude or suggestive pics either, so the author used pics purely to enhance the game, not toss it outright in the gutter). It’s doubtful the game can be found now though. It drifted off the net quite some time ago.

Both Mystery House and King’s Quest use graphics which are abstractions or approximations of the things depicted, achievable by the technology of the time.

Just because photorealism became available in the medium later certainly doesn’t mean all graphics should be photorealistic, just because they can be. Au contraire, the graphics of these games are legitimate as ever. I’d also say they work better than stuff which made early gestures towards photorealism, but then really suffered in failing to stand up to that excruciating comparison as technology marched on even a bit, like Myst.

Art is artifice, not artifact, which is why the history of visual art favours degrees of abstraction over the photorealistic. The logical end of photorealism is a kind of boring documentation without the the thing that moves us, an artist’s interpretation.

Yeah, when I first saw the screenshot of Mystery House posted here my reaction was “That looks great.” It’s not surprising that people are still making games inspired by the graphics.

Building on that point, when you want to express atmosphere and tone purely in text, you’re often constrained by the amount of information a player is able to assimilate at any given time. Images, in contrast, can deliver a heavy payload of atmosphere without overwhelming the player. I’m not sure I agree with the old saw about a picture saying more than a thousand words, though. Sure, it’s pithy, but IMO it needlessly implies a competition. Some of the best games I’ve played have told their tale using text, images and music, each element serving to complement the others.

Which is also pretty banal as opinions go. I do think it’s sometimes forgotten or overlooked though, especially when it comes to commercialized games that are almost always forced to showcase spectacular visuals for the audience to take note. Even when you want to make an impact with visuals, you don’t have to go overboard or compromise with the message.

My 2 cents: for a game that illustrates this very well, you need only look to Echo Bazaar. Its graphics serve as a mood-setter, its (somewhat trivial grind-based) game mechanics provide pacing, but the core of the game remains the writing. That doesn’t mean the other elements are meaningless: these devices all combine to create the singular experience that is the Neath.

For a game that does a good job at using pictures in the way you want check out Arrival by Stephen Granade. Take note of the spaceship map especially - though obviously you will want something a little more basic. ASCII art is another alternative for mapping - though I can’t think of one off the top of my head some inform games use something called ‘the compass rose’ that shows available travel directions.

PS - Alabaster is an example of simple line drawings as a great mood-setter. And the homestarrunner folk have something in flash that you might be able to emulate.