Input wanted from IF Players

Hi! I am a IF author and I am wondering if any of you IF Gamers would like to, in a sense, share in the creation of an IF game! I am looking for a new game idea, and I have a vague sense of what I would like to do with it, but what I am really wondering is, what - as a player - would you like to see in a game? As a gamer myself, I know that I have lists of game features and story ideas that I would like to see incorporated into games, IF or otherwise. I assume that every gamer has a similar “wish list” - even if it’s just in their head! That is what I am here to pique your brain about. If you could, answer these questions- as briefly or as wordy as you like- and let me in on what you want in an IF game:

  1. When you play an IF game, do you want more puzzles or more text and story-line?

  2. What has been your biggest dissapointment in the IF games you have played in past? What has been your greatest joy in IF games that you have played in the past?

  3. If you could play an IF game about ANYTHING in the known universe, what would it be about?

  4. Is there any other comment/suggestion you would like to make about IF games and their content and/or gameplay?

Your time is greatly appreciated! I look forward to reading the responses! I find gamers to be some of the most imaginative people in this world!

Peace and love to all~
Aubrey Brightheart

All of this is, of course, extremely subjective.

  1. Personally, I think puzzles have been done to death. I am very interested in games that explore ways of interaction and pacing that are not puzzles. Do something interesting in that regard, and your game will be one I wish to play - even if what you try to do fails. :slight_smile:

  2. My biggest disappointment was with games that did not allow me to interact on the dimension of the story I was most interested in. For instance: the game poses an interesting moral dilemma, but I only get to solve the puzzles, not take a stance on the dilemma.

  3. Surprise me!

  4. We need to return to longer pieces. All of us are writing short stories, whereas novels are the more powerful art form. (Ok, I even disagree with that myself, if the statement is left unqualified, but you’ll understand what I’m getting at.)

  1. More text and more storyline. I can’t figure out the puzzles half the time and don’t care about them the other half. A game that I can make progress at without having to solve a puzzle every few moves is going to go down better with me than a puzzlefest.

  2. Not sure really. Games that don’t have a good ending (if I’m spending weeks struggling to finish a game, at least me achieve something worthwhile at the end) are always a disappointment. Greatest joy? Finding something truly original in a game, or maybe discovering something about a game that I don’t think anyone else knows. (Odds on, everyone else knows about it but the illusion that I’ve found it first is nice.)

  3. The winning lottery numbers.

  4. I agree with Victor. Longer games. Let me have something to sink my teeth into. Don’t spend 6 months writing a game that I’ll finish in 6 minutes. Also, have replay value. If I particularly like a game, and there are multiple paths through it, I’ll play it again and again to see what else it has to offer. If there’s only one path, I’ll play it once and then forget about it.

If we’re allowed to lobby for styles/genres that we’d like to see – I really enjoy historical IF, and wish there were more of it.

As for what people liked or didn’t like about past games, probably the best way to build up a sense of such things is to read a lot of reviews of IF, and see what people thought worked and didn’t work.

  1. I prefer puzzles that fit in the story. The optimum being a great, immersive story with difficult (but not too difficult) fair puzzles that seem natural part of the plot. I think “Spider and Web” did this pretty well.

  2. I don’t play games I don’t like for long enough to be truly disappointed. Of course I remember the times an infocom title didn’t live up to my expectations. After the era of commercial IF, I was overwhelmed by Necrotic Drift (which raimains one of my favorite text adventures of all time), Anchorhead and Gateway II: Homeworld (I now it’s commercial, but I played it just a year ago).

  3. That doesn’t really matter to me, but I tend to like science-fiction and fantasie/horror stories. On the other hand, I also loved “Blue Chairs” and I couldn’t tell you exactly what that’s about.

  4. Make your game logical, fair and with a reasonable plot. Text adventures should follow the same rules as a good movie or novel do.


  1. Original story line with naturally-fitting puzzles (possibly optional, with lots of clues). I don’t like being “stuck”; there needs to be a clear way forward.

I’m probably not an average IF player in this respect, though - other people don’t seem to mind being stuck as much. If a try for a while and then turn to the walkthrough, and find that the solution was unfair, that puts me off completely and I stop playing (or just play through the rest using the walkthrough).

  1. Disappointment - unfair puzzles, along with parsers not understanding things they need to (eg. synonyms).

Joy - stuff I can actually do! Puzzles that are not too obvious but not to hard, either. Being guided but not over-restricted is also fun for me (ie. having genuine choices, but not being overwhelmed with unguided freedom). I also like stories that fit together well, and have a satisfying conclusion.

  1. Just to contradict myself - I love the idea of a game where you can do “anything”. If the goals were really clear, I would be thrilled with a game that had several hundred solutions to a puzzle. “Metamorphoses” was a step in this direction with its transformation of objects, but the story line didn’t grab me too much.

One of my way-too-big background projects is along these lines - you can turn into an animal (any animal at all; I have a list of several hundred, along with their abilities). That one will probably never get finished, but it’s fun to think about.

  1. Comments - don’t be restricted to what exists already. There are standard ways of doing things like conversation and world modelling, but there is scope for some radically different approaches as well.

General thoughts … when you write a game, think about gameplay - what the experience will be like for the player:

Author thinks - “Give them a whole world to explore!”
Player thinks - “OK, here I am in the middle of nowhere … what on earth am I supposed to do now?”

Author thinks - “I’ll give the PC more character by letting the player experience their daily routine.”
Player thinks - “OK, get out my wallet, show my id … that’s the third time now … I wish this happened automatically …”

Author thinks - “X needs to happen before Y, so I better stop the player from entering that room until they’ve done X.”
Player thinks - “Why can’t I go into that room? ‘You don’t want to do that yet’. Yes I do! Don’t tell me what I want!”

David Fisher

  1. I prefer non-puzzly games, or if it has puzzles, I like easy puzzles. Or if the puzzles aren’t easy it should still be possible to make progress in someway. My main problem is I have a short attention span, as soon as I stop making progress, my interest quickly fades

  2. I wouldn’t really say I have had many disappointments, as I usually don’t have much in the way of expectations. The games that have given me the greatest joy are ‘The Dreamhold’, ‘Savoir Faire’, and ‘Fallacy of Dawn’, and I have enjoyed other games by the authors of these as well.

  3. I don’t really care what a game is about, execution is everything.

  4. Lots of things I could say. One of them is, if you have puzzles, try to make it so that the player’s erroneous attempts to solve it gently guide him or her to the solution, instead of shutting them out with ‘You can’t do that’, ‘thats not a verb I recognise’ messages. That way even puzzle-weaklings can solve the game, without having to endure the humbling process of continually checking the walkthrough/hints.

  1. When you play an IF game, do you want more puzzles
    or more text and story-line?

I want a more puzzling plot and a good balance between reading and playing.

What I mean is that I don’t want to read through tons of text describing what the protagonist is doing and then when I finally get to the command-prompt, I’m left to a bare fictional world to deal with, bland and boring, just waiting me to go north, catch the bad guy and then proceed to the next tons of “exciting” teen literature.

Puzzles would also be nice to unlock plot branches rather than treasures.

  1. What has been your biggest dissapointment in the IF games
    you have played in past? What has been your greatest joy in IF
    games that you have played in the past?

I downloaded a Malinche game demo which played a lot like my rant from above. That was pretty disappointing, coming from the Last Commercial Grandmaster Implementor as it did.

I’ve had several great joys in playing community IF works like Photopia, Curses, Kissing the Buddha’s Feet, All Roads, Anchorhead or Savoir-Faire. Be it polished writting style, clever puzzles, twisted plots or great settings.

  1. If you could play an IF game about ANYTHING in the known
    universe, what would it be about?

Even the most trivial story can sound fenomenal in the right hands, with the right narration, with the right choices given to the player. Heck!, Photopia’s story is rather conventional, but the narration is utterly brilliant, specially as all interlocks in the ending as the player is left thinking how perfectly it all fits together!

  1. Is there any other comment/suggestion you would like to make
    about IF games and their content and/or gameplay?

I agree with Emily about historical settings. I think we’ve had too much of cave crawling and futuristic alienesque worlds. At least scifi authors could begin extrapolating current trends in science, not 1000 years in a 1950’s imagined future…

Aubrey Brightheart, huh?
hmm, is that you, Sherman? trying to bribe us? out of ideas?..