Hyperlinks in Parser IF?

As I resume work on my five-years-old-and-counting WIP, I find that at some point I tried using the TADS 3 hyperlink system to create clickable links in the text – for example, click on the name of an object to examine it.

What do people (both authors and players) think of using hyperlinks in this way? To me, it clutters up the text and also encourages players to get lazy about thinking up commands to type. But possibly I’m too old-school.

The game itself is definitely old-school, so maybe I should just ignore the possibility of adding command links. But maybe it would be a friendly feature to have.


I think it’s an interesting interface; if you’ve never played an IF, you’ll click on a noun, see “>examine noun” appear, and start to understand the kind of commands the game expects. You could also do it for directions (click on ‘north’ to >go north), either in the text or in a compass in the status bar (or something like that). I don’t think it ‘makes players lazy’, because there’s not a whole lot you can do with just >examine, so the player will have to think of other verbs/commands at some point. I kinda see it as “move around and take in your surroundings, get a feel for the place and explore it, and then start thinking and doing work by typing things on the keyboard” - maybe?

I can see your point about cluttering the text, though. On the other hand, it clarifies which objects are implemented by the game, reducing frustration (and I think the objects you can interact with should be pretty clear in a room description - the “you got stuck because you weren’t expecting to be able to interact with this object / forgot about this object” is not a fun puzzle IMHO). But you could provide an option to make them disappear, I guess?

Good suggestions – thanks. By default, the TADS interpreter displays the directions in the status bar as links, so that’s not a problem. I think I’ve figured out an efficient way to make the in-text links look nice. (By default, TADS shows them in ugly blue underlined.) The idea of letting the player turn off in-text links if desired should be manageable.

The downside of providing links for objects you can examine is that there are a LOT of them – and many of them are just scenery. The player who clicks on all of them and then learns that 75% of them aren’t useful may get a little frustrated. But if you leave out the links for examining the useless scenery items, the links become too obvious as clues that this particular object is useful, on top of which many players will never read all of the descriptions of scenery.

I’ll have to experiment to try to find a happy medium.

FWIW, when I see links, I’m immediately divided, and start trying to figure out what the game expects of me. If the game expects me to click my way through, fine, I’ll do that. If the game expects me to mostly type and occasionally have the hyperlink shortcut, I’ll just type all the way.

To the best of my recollection, I have never enjoyed a game which forced my right hand to travel between the keyboard and the mouse for any length of time. I prefer to all-type or all-click. Or right-hand-on-mouse, left-hand-on-keyboard.

I tend to agree with Peter. If the game has hyperlinks, I’ll usually just try to play it with the hyperlinks, and sometimes I’ll ignore them completely. So the game will probably have to be navigable entirely with hyperlinks if it has them at all. (Occasional exceptions for a clickable compass rose or something like that.)

I think Ecdysis (ifdb.tads.org/viewgame?id=aqtol7ejlzadgnsz) did it right. If you haven’t tried this game, then I think it’s a good idea to load it up and take a look.

The thing I like about it, is that the hyperlinks are only there to point out the most obvious things, as well as those non-obvious ones that the author considers important, but just writing them out to the screen regardless would result in word diarrhea (games shouldn’t print out whole pages of text at once; only just the minimum and it should be up to the player to explore and discover the rest.)

I also like the fact that the hyperlinks are optional and could have been implemented in a different way. One that doesn’t involve hyperlinks. On the first room for example, right at the start, there’s a hyperlink for “remember dreams.” The game could use a footnote here instead if the player disabled hyperlinks (or if the interpreter doesn’t support them.)

I’m actually a parser guy. I don’t like non-parser text adventures. But I liked this game. It did 100% right, in my book. It has the full parser, and the hyperlinks are only there to enhance the parser, not to replace it.

Well, OK. Maybe it only did 99% right, since some of the hyperlinks in the game feel like a walkthrough sometimes. But that’s up to the author to decide. You can still use them for the overall benefits, but avoid those that effectively solve the game for the player.

Ecdysis does do something very right - some of the links trigger actions you’re unlikely to think of (like “remember dreams”, as RealNC said). That does enhance the experience.

It’s also a fully hyperlink-playable game. You can play it all with the mouse, occasionally using the left hand to L .

(it’s also a game I never enjoyed as much as I think I ought to, because any game with hyperlinks brings me out of the game and into this “hotspot-searching” mode, but that’s another discussion for another time)

I just played through Ecdysis with Gargoyle and there were no hyperlinks. What am I missing?

One thing I’ll say is that hyperlinks make playing on a phone or tablet a lot smoother. They also make for a nice tactile element if you’re simulating a webpage in your game, or you want to mark out extra-fictional elements, like footnotes (as in IFDB Spelunking).

Hear hear, a game that can be fully navigated by hyperlinks is superb on a mobile device. But that harks back to - one or the other, not a mixture of both.

Joey, you’re not missing much, but you’re definitely missing some atmosphere. Do you have access to another TADS interpreter? Like QTads, maybe?

This ties in nicely with the recent discussion re need for terp development… It actually damages the games! Joey had an experience that was definitely not the experience the author intended, and had no way of knowing that.

Gargoyle only does text-only Tads games. No hyperlinks or graphics.

If you’re on a Mac or Linux, try QTads instead (qtads.sourceforge.net/).