Nor from it.
But was it a game that kids might try playing themselves? Or a game for adults about kids? Or both?
I know some of you are probably talking to the topic creator, others are talking to me, and others are shooting ideas generally. But here’s where I’m at.
It occurred to me in looking at my game’s output that occasionally I felt weird reading all the compass directions. My kids aren’t toddlers, they walk and talk and such. But it’s the only part that makes me feel weird… occasionally. Without getting into it, I’ve already spent a lot of time pitching the prose generally and I like how it is.
Something else that happened was that, where originally I figured this was a game basically adults would play, I started to realise maybe kids who were directed to it would be interested in playing it. This in turn made me wonder, ‘Do they know compass directions? Will they find them weird?’
I learned compass directions in 1980 playing Mystery House with my dad, and so feel like I never didn’t know them, but times have changed.
What I programmed for this game yesterday is a switch. Compass directions always work when typed. But if you throw the switch (choosable at startup, changeable any time), it lets you also type ‘left, right, forward, backward’ for w,e,n and s respectively, plus a bunch of synonyms (ahead, back, front, anything like that.)
Also when the switch is thrown, all directions are described in the game in terms of ahead, behind, left and right, and the exit lister displays them that way.
People keep talking up their pain at the idea of being confused by even the appearance of direction information they might confuse for relative, but I think if it’s clearly stated at startup when you choose your set, that ahead = north, left = west, etc., I see no problem - besides which, such folk will choose compass directions anyway and never even see left/right and friends.
If you ask, ‘Why even add this layer then if left, right and friends equal the compass directions, which you’re going to have to state?’… the only answer now is, kids already get left, right, forward, back, especially when pointing at a map, which I will probably provide, and it’s a cartesiany map.
So actually my idea of psychological worry about compass directions became one about ‘maybe kids would like left and right etc. instead’ over about 48 hours. By making it optional, and changeable anytime, I feel I will have covered the bases. That’s if I don’t change my mind before then anyway, but hey, it’s all programmed
… I think I changed my mind again. I googled and found sites about teaching compass directions to 2nd graders. So if 7 year olds (and probably hothoused and helicoptered 5 year old) are likely to have been exposed to a compass, well, my ahead/behind dealie isn’t necessary.
However, if anyone wants to use the code I lovingly put together for it, plus the hacked version of Eric Eve’s exit lister which works with it, just ping me.
Only if your new directions are as complicated as compass directions, or more complicated. I think there’s a lot of scope for linear directions (forward, back; up,down) and circular directions.
I’ve been exposed to a compass, but it doesn’t mean I know which way is north.
Really, I think the questions is: is your game in the first person? Otherwise, it isn’t really your characters speaking in compass directions, so it doesn’t need to have much bearing on their mindsets.
Here’s an interesting thought. I have more trouble with fore/aft/port/starboard (I never know whether fore is north or south, and whether port is east or west) than with the old Spectrum game “Colour of Magic”… which has the bizarre directions hubward/rimward/turnwise/widdershins. Thing is, it’s a game set on Discworld, so they rearranged directions to make sense on a circular surface. And after the inital confusion, it actually works pretty well. I may never be able to tell the difference between fore and aft, but I know where the hub and the rim of a circle are.
I don’t really draw such a clear distinction between first person and other persons, but rather I think about whose POV it is, and what is the balance in the writing between the thoughts in the characters’ heads - as if they were speaking them - and omniscient narration. And also what conceits I’m prepared to go with concerning what language the protagonists may or may not have themselves.
So we know we already make a bunch of handy concessions between the player and the character in IF, but since my game consists entirely of kids moving around, their thoughts reflected in the prose, and talking about the other kids moving around, as I say, there were moments when I saw lots of compass directions at once and it suddenly didn’t seem right. But - psychologically speaking, it’s been both not-easily-overcomeable, and as far as almost everyone in this topic has thought, not worth overcoming. Leaving only the issue of, would kids (EG going down to 7-8 years old?) who might play the game have problems with compass directions? And if so, would they benefit from ‘forward/back/left/right’ standins?
due to lack of english i try to stay short.
Peter, it was fun to read you. Did agree much. I think with fore and hubward you finally got my point. It is not about the right words, it is about words “native” to the player. Which changes with experience and - but i learned not to try to explain
Severedhand, you sayed you already have written the testbed, and testers, how about using it?
Btw, can you post it somewhere? And could rimwise and fore be added too, so everyone can be tortured?
About language, i think IF is artificial anyway (at start), so a bit artificial left/right/birdseyethinking is in order.
How about quoting it, so the forest is ‘left’, not left? Its short and i would think “that ‘other’ left”. But thinking in ‘left’ and map would have avoided some starving once (muds are so realtime…)
I will try to organise the code and put it somewhere it can be downloaded. I already tried it in my game and it works fine. But it will require me to write some notes on how to use it, as well.
I have the opposite problem. I learned compass directions from stargazing with my dad, and later the Boy Scouts, but I can’t deal with them inside a videogame, IF included. I think I know them only proprioceptively, not verbally or whatever? Likewise, even if my character in a videogame is upside down, I don’t “feel” that way myself. The videogame is too disembodied.
I mean, if I stop and think about it I can figure things out, but my in-game orientation still won’t “stick” in my mind.
I hesitate to even mention it, since that would feel like I’m committing to actually completing it, but I’ve been planning implementation of the opening levels of the original Metroid game from the Nintendo Entertainment System as an IF. Once you take out the tedious jumping (and falling) and abstract the shooting, you have the core of an interesting (if not overly complicated) puzzler.
I thought this project would have a target audience of exactly one, but I casually mentioned it (in the context of a discussion about labors of love with no real benefit) and was surprised that several people got really excited about it. Apparently, I’m not the only one who really enjoyed platform shooters in the mid-80s while being terrible at them.
Left/right/up/down is eminently appropriate for this case. But I’d be hard-pressed to think of another one for which it would fit so well.
Assuming your game takes place in at least a two-dimensional world, then the directions will be equally complicated, since two vectors are the basis of a plane and consequently you’ll need at least two pairs of directions (FBUD is mathematically equivalent to NSWE, after all). What’s more or less intuitive is another question, but that’s subjective.
Anyway I’m just saying that I was surprised at how many objections I got (and that the people who made them are being reasonable to do so), and you’ll probably get them as well.
But only two commands. Think of railroads. The only choice is at switches.
Nope, I mean linear. Forward/back or up/down. The world is three dimensional, but the movement doesn’t have to be.
I’m telling you what objections I did get over three games with non-standard movement.
People complained about relative directions (but didn’t seem to have too much trouble with them, probably because I listed the exists prominently). Some people complained about radial directions and other people praised them. And lots of people liked linear movement, including people who said they got confused by standard IF navigation. (My other games are either set in one location, or handle movement automatically.)
One thing that helped there, IIRC, was that you didn’t have to take anything much from one location to another, or at least from one branch to another; the branches were basically all self-contained episodes, weren’t they? It might have been much more annoying if we’d had to shuttle things around the map. Of course, it’s often annoying when you have to shuttle things around the map, no matter what directions you’re using.
My oldest is 8, and even she isn’t very good with left and right yet, but I talk to all of my kids about compass directions. Maybe it’s because our family is very place-oriented, and we live in a city with a grid pattern of streets.
I do think characterization is a good reason to change anything fundamental about a game, though. If you have a PC who views the world in an unusual set of directions, or a world that affects the PC’s sense of direction in an unusual way, that’s a good reason to change the interface of the game.
Have any of you guys tried this?
ifarchive.org/indexes/if-arc … ilfre.html
I think the positioning is a little inconvenient but it has just what you are talking about.
Click on compass includes normal wording plus up and down.
Click on helper words include left and right.