Interactive fiction as immersive sim?

That’s certainly how I feel as well, as this thread shows.

Something else I’ve been thinking about in relation to parser IF and world model simulation is that its world model is in some sense semantic, relational, and qualitative, in comparison to the world model of an immersive sim, which is sort of the opposite — everything is represented quantitatively and therefore “objectively”, in a sense, such that the various states objects are in aren’t inherently encoded with an understanding of their consequent relations or what those states actually mean. I think this is a consequence of the fact that the world models of parser IF are represented in terms of graph structures and containment and words and are thus given a sort of propositional logic structure, whereas immersive sims as a subgenre of 3D computer games are all represented in terms of ranges of numbers and so on.

I’m not exactly sure what this entails for parser IF really, except that this seems to make creating a world model that has rules and can react meaningfully to its own state easier, because in effect all the world model is composed of at all is the underlying semantic meaning of every state, whereas for immersive sims you first have a physics model with all these states and then you have to layer the semantic meaning of what various arrangements of things mean and entail on top of that.

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I’m not disagreeing with you, but i recently realized that the ability to drop things in games is largely pointless. A vestigial hangover from the days when inventories had pointless, annoying limits.

To be clear, I’m not suggesting dropping dropping, but i discovered when i added command suggestions (where relevant commands appear as choices), there was never a need to suggest the player drop something.

Anyway, just a thought.

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True, but something I’ve thinking about a lot is how 3D games often have to figure out how to turn their continuous spaces into stuff like graph structures or location zones, in order to check the logic of immersive sim mechanics, so I feel like parsers kinda skip a few steps and get right to the core of the mechanics.

The main challenge is trying to figure out what these 3D games reduce down to, and picking that as a starting point to build on.

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Yeah, this is what I meant by saying that parser IF world models already start out at the level of the semantic meaning and relations of things, while immersive sims have to figure out how to lay thay on top, so parser IF should be easier to do this stuff in!

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Ah, yes! My bad; I haven’t actually slept yet and my brain don’t read too good right now lol.

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Dark rooms spring to mind. I don’t like it when you can pick thing up from a dark room. But what if you extinguished your light and dropped it in the room. How do you get it back? Should the game not let you drop things in a dark location, should it warn you that you’re about to do something game-ending, should there be an exception for light-emitting items, or should the game allow it and let the player live with the consequences (even if they’re now a zombie)? Whilst creating an interactive ‘world’ and allowing the player full agency within it to experiment with interacting in ways the developer didn’t envisage, that can requires certain guardrails, I think, to ensure that the player doesn’t accidentally sabotage themselves. I’m not sure where that balance needs to be struck.

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I won’t play games that zombify me anymore, and I don’t see any reason to allow that unless you’re specifically going for an old-school vibe. I like it when, if I do something stupid like drop an extinguished light in a dark room, the game simply says something like, “Well, that was a bad decision. Let’s rewind” and does an automatic undo. Having to save and load also annoys me after all those years of doing it, so it’s nice when the game keeps track and reloads for me.

Or you could just say “Better not drop it! How would you ever find it again?”. I don’t find that annoying at all.

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I agree with @AmandaB’s notion here. I’m kinda spoiled by (semi-)modern cRPGs, which generally haven’t let you zombie around since… a long time ago. They won’t let you sell or drop essential items and won’t let you kill crucial characters (or at least let you know that you screwed up if you do, leading to the whole “with this character’s death …” meme).

Is it kind of immersion-breaking? Maybe, I guess. But then again I never knew it any other way, so it’s just kind of expected. (Same with decorative items, doors that don’t open, etc. which are kind of frowned upon in IF, I think, but in most graphical games no-one will bat an eye at some non-functional set-dressing.)

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Exactly! And beyond that, the flexible nature of pure text and a language like Inform makes it easy to not only simulate physical reactions – like the boring “electrocute water to kill the enemies” stuff from mainstream games – but also abstract things like thoughts, emotions and relationships. Again, Emily Short really did some interesting experiments in this regard.

Oh, totally. The thing is, I guess I just kind of miss the obsessive “because you can” ethic of older games like those by Origin and Looking Glass. I’m a sucker for pointless overambition. If I see a chair in an RPG and I can’t sit in it, I feel betrayed to my core :smiley:

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This is why I don’t have any chairs in my game! /j

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Interestingly, despite putting a chair in my latest game, no-one has yet sat in it (well, I’ve not checked the logs recently - but last time I checked no-one had sat in it). It’s almost like that extra line of code I added was completely wasted, but I’d rather have it and it not get invoked than have someone sit in it and not get a satisfactory response.

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Interestingly, I added two chairs in my last game, and people seemed to insist on taking them and carrying them around.

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They dont want you to know this, but the chairs are free, you can take em. I have 286 chairs.

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I never posted to the IF white whale thread, but I suppose this qualifies: I dream of parser IF with the emergent behavior of Dwarf Fortress or, at least, Nethack…

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